40 Days To Personal Revolution: Final Recap

Date: April 1, 2015 at 10:18 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 20

“Waste zero time beating yourself up for what you haven’t accomplished. It’s pointless.”

I put off writing this post because I haven’t really wanted to acknowledge that the 40 Days to Personal Revolution program has ended. I tried to convince Bethany that I actually signed up for a program called 120 Days to Personal Revolution, but she said, “No, Ali, that’s not what this is. It’s 40 days. Child’s pose. Namaste.” So yeah, this is my final recap from the 40 Days program at Lyons Den Power Yoga.

Ladies, gentlemen, and puppies, I am proud to introduce the graduating class of 40 Days to Personal Revolution! CAN YOU FIND ME? (It's a game I like to call "find the sweaty jazz hands.")

Ladies, gentlemen, and puppies, I am proud to introduce the graduating class of 40 Days to Personal Revolution! CAN YOU FIND ME? (It’s a game I like to call “find the sweaty jazz hands.”)

As always, here’s the rundown of previous posts before we get started: The introduction, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, and Week 5. Get caught up if you need to, and then come right back. I have a lot to say.

It should come as no surprise that my main takeaway from the 40 Days program was that I loved it. I signed up for 40 Days not because I had a big life decision to make or a moral dilemma that needed pondering and solving.

I signed up for this “challenge” for Day 1 through Day 40, with no expectations about where my life would be or how I would feel on Day 41. In hindsight, that was actually a pretty uncharacteristic move for me. I’m normally all about the big goals, the concrete plans, and the search for definitive answers. I’ve always been an “end game” girl, not a “journey, not the destination” person. But this was my approach, and it worked out wonderfully. For once, I loved not having set expectations or aspirations, and just seeing where the 40 days took me.

The theme for our final week of the program was Triumph. Every class felt like a little party, our final meeting was filled with breakdowns, breakthroughs, tears, and lots of hugs, and I felt so close to the other 46 participants.

Post-class inversion practice! Playing around with Tanya and Seulki and handstands and forearm stands. I'm on the far right. But you figured that out already probably.

Post-class inversion practice! Playing around with Tanya and Seulki and handstands and forearm stands. I’m on the far right. But you figured that out already probably.

We celebrated our “graduation” exactly how you’d expect: with a 90-minute class (we were packed into the heated room, and I loved the closeness) just for the 40 Days participants, led by Bethany, with a live drummer! We must have done 6,200 handstands within those 90 minutes. We started class upside-down, doing handstands, and eventually worked our way into an entire handstand series. My arms are still dead, and I’m walking around like a gorilla with long, useless arms by my sides. (I doubt gorillas’ arms are actually “useless,” because don’t they use them to throw poop at each other? So…not useless.)

Day 40: my final star. Now I don't get silver sparkly star stickers when I go to class. SO WHAT IS THE POINT?

Day 40: my final star. Now I don’t get silver sparkly star stickers when I go to class. SO WHAT IS THE POINT?

The class was ridiculously fun and lighthearted, and I was surrounded by so many of my favorite people. I smiled for hours that day — including at the after-party, where I had three glasses of champagne and just goofy-grinned and said “I love you, Namaste” to everyone all night.

Champagne and Dani: two things I love!

Champagne and Dani: two things I love! Why does my head look so huge in this photo?

Bethany gave a really lovely and heartfelt mini-speech at the end of class, and at the end I tried to thank her in return, for creating this amazing space and community for all of us, but instead of saying the words I had eloquently rehearsed in my head, I immediately got that choked-up lump in my throat, and cried in front of everyone. Needless to say I will not be giving a toast at Brian’s and my wedding. Unless I drink four glasses of champagne. Then, yes, toasts and Namastes for all.

Seulki, Ali, and Annette. I didn't know either of their names before 40 Days, and now they are two of my very favorite people. Seulki has a paleo cupcake company! She brought me two cupcakes one day and I brought them home and waited until Brian took a nap so I could eat them in secret without having to share.

Seulki, Ali, and Annette. I didn’t know either of their names before 40 Days, and now they are two of my very favorite people. Seulki has a paleo cupcake company! She brought me two cupcakes one day and I brought them home and waited until Brian took a nap so I could eat them in secret without having to share.

Now that I’m on the other side of the 40 Days program, here are my greatest takeaways…

The program is what you make of it. That whole “nothing changes if nothing changes” mantra, right? I put a lot into the program, both through the physical practice and upping my mental game on and off the mat. As a result, I feel so much stronger in my yoga practice (handstand! forearm stand! tripod headstand! flipping my down dog into wheel! tripod headstand into wheel! dropbacks!) and like an entirely new person mentally. Seriously.

CASUAL FOREARM STAND. I'm the one on the right. High-waisted shorts all day every day.

CASUAL FOREARM STAND. I’m the one on the right. High-waisted shorts all day every day. Since starting yoga just over a year ago, this pose terrified me. I couldn’t even hold the prep for forearm stand (Dolphin Pose). And then, on Day 37 of the program, I fearlessly kicked right up for the first time. It felt triumphant and magical.

Meditation can be really nice. I had never meditated before the program. Brian always tried to get me to give it a shot, but when Brian tells me to do stuff I whine and complain and can come up with a list of 10 reasons not to do whatever he suggests. But when Bethany said meditation was part of the program, I was all in, committed, ready to sit in silence for days at a time. Well, that’s not true, clearly: My meditation game was strong for the first three weeks, but once we got into 15- and 20-minute meditation sessions and beyond, I abandoned the practice completely. Still, I enjoyed and appreciated the shorter meditations and can definitely see myself meditating going forward. I struggled to quiet my mind many times and tried lots of different meditation strategies (silence, with music, listening to a podcast/guided meditation, etc.), but the experimentation was a fun part of the process.

HAVE YOUR YOGA AND EAT IT TOO. This is a cake.

HAVE YOUR YOGA AND EAT IT TOO. This is a cake.

Many of the weekly themes really hit home for me, especially presence, equanimity, and restoration. I am so much more present and aware now, which can be difficult in these very busy lives we all lead. I’m more focused, I’m more calm, and I’m less anxious. When bad or frustrating things happen, I literally say to myself, “Equanimity, Alison.” I acknowledge what’s happening and I deal with it. No reaction. And restoration — that was the week I had my breakdown and oh my god took an unplanned rest day. The drama of it all. I felt so much better afterward. Triumph!

And Brian has noticed my little transformation! This morning he told me that I’m “so much better at rolling with the punches, and even more beautiful and talented than ever.” He didn’t say the second part out loud, but I could tell he was saying it on the inside.

My comfort zone is the opposite of what I originally declared it to be. During Week 1, I said I wanted to get out of my comfort zone by running harder and really pushing myself to do speed workouts, which I typically avoid. By Week 4, I threw that idea away. My comfort zone is working hard and always being on the go. Getting out of my comfort zone means taking better care of myself, resting more, and listening to my body more than I listen to my training plan. Go figure.

BRIAN, CAN WE PRINT THIS GIANT-SIZE AND HAVE OUR ENTIRE LIVING ROOM WALL JUST BE THIS PHOTO? LMK. Thanks.

BRIAN, CAN WE PRINT THIS GIANT-SIZE AND HAVE OUR ENTIRE LIVING ROOM WALL JUST BE THIS PHOTO? LMK. Thanks.

My relationship with my body is an ever-present struggle. I wish I could say that at the end of the 40 days, I felt as though my body looked as great as it feels, but that’s not the case. I feel strong as hell and did things in class I never would have even attempted a few weeks or months ago. Hell yeah! But I still criticize myself every time I look in a mirror, and hate that I wrote in my journal more than once that “I wish my body looked as strong as it feels.” I am so my toughest critic here (at least I hope I am — yikes, I hope no one out there is as mean to me as I am to myself!), but I’m aware of it and I want to change. So…work in progress.

Feeling strong and happy!

Feeling strong and happy!

I also know that the breakthrough that needs to happen here probably won’t be the result of a physical change (like getting a flat stomach or suddenly having less large thighs), but a mental one. In other words, I think the problem is less about my actual, physical body and more about what’s going on in my head. (Does any of this make sense? Have I lost you? This all makes perfect sense to me.)

I should journal more! I love blogging, but I loved journaling. Believe it or not, I don’t share everything here. It was nice to spend some time a few days a week writing down my private, secret thoughts, hopes, dreams, wishes, and haikus.

My pre-class setup. Yoga block, water bottle with 60 hair elastics on it (always be prepared), journal, book, Le Pens.

My pre-class setup. Yoga block, water bottle with 60 hair elastics on it (always be prepared), journal, book, Le Pens.

I learned to shift my vision in a simple but effective way. Instead of seeing big life changes as scary and uncertain, I now see them as “amazing, exciting opportunities.” Game-changer.

Replacing “but” with “and” is a great tool. And I love it.

A final thought, because I’ve already kept you here too long, and I know and I’m sorry (meh, I’m half-sorry)…

The community throughout the 40 days was absolutely crucial for me. I made so many new friends, and I don’t mean like, “I have a few new yoga friends now.” I made lifelong friends. I shared deeply with these people, and they opened up to me in return.

Half of our small group: Jill, Ali, and Spencer. They kept me accountable every day of the program.

Half of our small group: Jill, Ali, and Spencer. They kept me accountable every day of the program.

Being with these people, all of whom were in the program wanting different outcomes, was a powerful reminder that [and I’m sure there’s a more eloquent way to say this] we all have our shit. Life really isn’t easy for most people, despite how it looks on Facebook or Instagram or anywhere you can apply a filter.

We (or maybe just me) spend so much time online — on social media, reading blogs, etc. — and it can get a little discouraging, if not exhausting, constantly just getting the highlight reels from peoples’ lives. I so appreciated the human connection aspect of this program, and the rawness with which people shared at our meetings. People really let down their guards and inspired me to do the same. We all let each other in, and many of us were strangers when the program started! It was deeply comforting being reminded that life can be really messy sometimes. As much as people can post their picture-perfect avocado toast breakfasts and impeccably clean and well-decorated homes and impossibly toned bodies, we all have our stuff.

Posing with the special sticker chart!

Posing with the special sticker chart!

Maybe some people really are as perfect as they seem on the internet. But spending so much time with 40+ individuals was a beautiful and important reminder that everyone has something going on. That girl with the sick job and the really cute yoga outfits and the slammin’ body who can do handstand before every chaturanga and make it look easy? She has stuff going on. We are all working through stuff, and most of us don’t have the answers most of the time. I found so much comfort in that, and have been inspired to act more compassionately as a result. I’m truly, madly, deeply grateful for these connections.

I KNOW I've already posted this picture. SORRY.

I KNOW I’ve already posted this picture. SORRY.

Oh, and the 40 Days program was in no way a competition — seriously — but at the end, Bethany announced who had taken the most number of classes throughout the 40 days.

We got prizes for taking so many classes!

We got prizes for taking so many classes!

I took 35 classes in 40 days. First place. Boom.

(OK, it was a three-way tie for first. But still.)

“Nothing is certain. You’re gonna take leaps in life. And some of them may work out — and some won’t.”

20 Responses to "40 Days To Personal Revolution: Final Recap"

Cheryl Acevedo says: April 1, 2015 at 10:48 am

Wow, this post was really moving! We really do all have our shit but I definitely get caught up thinking I’m the only one. Congrats on your 40 days!!

Great recap! Seems like an incredible program that you put a lot into, and got a lot out of it. Great job and congrats on “winning” 😉

WOW 35 classes in 40 days is incredible. I laughed out loud reading this. One of your funniest. Love that you slyly ate 2 cupcakes sans sharing. Im also impressed you didn’t eat them on the subway on the way home.

Also you WON yoga? Is that a thing now?!

Thank you Ali for letting me (and all your other readers) share in your journey vicariously! You hit the nail right on the head about everyone having their sh*t to deal with (eloquent shmeloquent, call a spade a spade right?). That’s a great takeaway, and thank you for your honesty. Oh and Happy April Fool’s…hope no one’s pranked you yet 🙂

YOU ARE AWESOME! 😀

Nancy D. says: April 1, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for all the recaps. I just started to do yoga on a regular basis and it has really impacted my life. I definitely hear you on the body image thing. When I start to criticize myself I try to remind myself how strong I am and how confidence is way more sexy and empowering than negative thoughts. I imagine pushing the negative thought away like an object. It’s a journey.

Keep doing you!! #handstands

I’ve looked forward to every one of these posts so basically I’m as sad as you are that this is ending. What an awesome experience. I’m going to look out for something like this in my area. Also, this: “I hope no one out there is as mean to me as I am to myself.” That is SUCH a great reminder. I think I’m gonna tape that up at my desk rn. brb.

Lauren W. says: April 1, 2015 at 3:20 pm

This was so amazing to follow and read your recaps. Cannot tell you how much I related to each one of your posts (especially the above body image argument with self) – and it really is comforting to know everyone has ups and downs. Thanks so much for sharing!!

Ali this is AWESOME. It almost makes me want to do a handstand some day. Almost….almost.

Love so many things about the program and about what you wrote. Life DOESN’T have a filter (I know, because I would rock sepia all the time if it did). And “and” vs. “but” is so useful in life, work….really any time.

Thanks for sharing!

” a little discouraging, if not exhausting, constantly just getting the highlight reels from peoples’ lives”…..loved this and very true. I so enjoyed reading your 40 day journey.

I’ve been reading for over two years now, and this is my favorite post so far! Thank you!

you do look strong, and abs!!

Interesting how you document your whole process and the weeks of what you been through. I have read all your post about the 40 day revolution. I have to say it was a great read. Kudos to you.

Catherine Mantooth says: April 4, 2015 at 8:39 am

I just wanted to say, I know that when you were really sick you were considering not blogging. And I fully support people when they decide to step away from blogs or social media or …whatever… it is in life that they need a rest from. But I’m really thankful that you didn’t stop. It’s very encouraging to see you being joyful after going through such a hard season.

For what it’s worth, I have Central Park photography that I took while running all over our apartment, on the walls and in photo books. It can be done with minimal spousal grumping.

I have so enjoyed hearing about your 40 day journey Ali, thanks – what an experience. I can’t stop thinking that it seems like something I want (need!) to do. I’m in NY, is it something Lyon’s Den will run regularly? I don’t currently have a home studio, and my Google fu is failing me – searching for local studios offering Baron’s 40 day just brings me to places who have already run it, nothing upcoming.

Thanks 🙂

Jasmine says: April 7, 2015 at 7:00 pm

2 things…first, I am proud to say that you’ve inspired me and I’m taking part in a 30 day yoga challenge (even though I don’t feel like I’m good at yoga). Number 2, and this may sound totally weird and geeky, but, talk to me about Le Pens? Are they worth it/should I get some?

Love this! That concept: “we all have our shit,” I have learned more than ever recently!! It’s such an empowering thing to realize and it really helps me put my life into more perspective. Congrats on completing those 40 days!!