Before Cayden's visit, my daily routine was as follows: wake up, go to work, eat My Fit Foods for lunch, go to yoga after work and eat My Fit Foods for dinner. That routine had paid off considerably in the waistline department, but it didn't do much for my social life. I knew Cayden's visit would throw off my routine, but two weeks of dates, dinners and social activities with my one true love would be well worth the added pounds. Still, I wanted to make sure I didn't fall completely off the wagon. When your wedding is only a few months away, 16 days of guilty pleasure can mean the difference between breathing and not breathing in your wedding dress.
So I decided to give Cayden a taste of my routine, which started with a trip to My Fit Foods to pick out lunch and dinner for the day. We both chose Denyse's Killuh Chili for lunch, and for dinner I grabbed a container of Chicken Fettucini Alfredo and Cayden grabbed the Tenderloin Stir Fry.
"You're going to love it,"I said as we waited for the food to heat up in the microwave. I'd never eaten at My Fit Foods before because it always felt more like a grocery store to me than a restaurant, but Cayden and I decided to eat our lunch together there instead of at the cubicles in the office.
"I don't know," Cayden said. "I'm pretty picky when it comes to chili."
The second our heated meals were in front of us, the air between us filled with the spicy scent of green chilies and red and yellow bell peppers. My mouth literally watered.
"So far, so good," Cayden said, leaning over to inhale the spicy black bean chili.
I wanted to dig in, but I didn't want to miss his reaction. I scooped the perfect proportion of beans, ground turkey, spices and tomato chunks onto my fork and waited. I watched him scoop up the same combination and bring it to his mouth. He chewed with a critical expression, his eyebrows furrowed and his eyes stared intently at his plate, the way someone might stare at a Magic Eye.
"Well?" I asked when he swallowed. His eyebrows lifted in consideration.
"Wow. That's a lot of flavor," he said, somewhat surprised. "And spicy, too. Just how I like it."
I was so relieved, you would have thought I'd cooked it myself. I would have been offended if he'd said it didn't meet his chili standards. Props to the My Fit Foods chef.
Later that night, I introduced Cayden to my latest obsession: hot yoga. Joyce, Joey, Cayden, Rae and I met up for an 8:15 Wood class at the Sunstone Yoga by my house. Joyce and I decided it would be best to take the boys to a Wood class rather than a Fire class. Wood focuses on the abs, and Cayden has beautiful abs. (And yes, I still giggle when people say "wood.") Fire focuses on spine strength and balance. Cayden couldn't balance on a balance beam if it were four feet wide with handrails.
The five of us walked into the yoga studio and my glasses fogged up immediately. I kicked myself for forgetting to switch into contacts before class. During Wood class, the studio is 90 degrees with 60 percent humidity, which always reminded me of the one year I lived in Houston.
I put my finger to my lips to remind Cayden that there was no talking in the studio. He tried to hold back his laughter when he saw my foggy glasses.
He followed along as we pulled our yoga mats off the rungs on the wall and took blocks from the bin. We set up in the front row and flattened our towels down on our mats. I sat down and reached for my toes, preparing my muscles for leg lifts. Cayden opted for the stretching routine he usually does before a long workout at the gym, which included a hip stretch that reminded me of Will Smith's "Jump On It" dance. It took everything I had not to laugh.
I was excited to see that it was Katie, one of my favorite instructors, leading the class. She liked to add a bit of humor to her classes, which helped me momentarily forget about the buckets of sweat pouring off my body and the burn in my abs.
A big part of yoga class is concentration. Concentrating on yourself, your body, how your muscles react in different positions, how your breathing affects your strength and balance, how the slightest movements can strengthen the tiny muscle fibers in your body. Usually, I have no problem focusing on that. But that night, I couldn't stop myself from sneaking peaks at Cayden. His shoulders and biceps were so large that they seemed to smash his head as we lifted our arms up during the breathing routine. He looked so large and bulky and awkward.
I snuck a peak at him while we were on our backs for leg lifts.
"Now lift your right leg slowly, flex your toes back and kick through the heel. Up, up, up, like your'e kicking the ceiling," Katie said.
Cayden had told me on a number of occasions that he's the least flexible person on the face of the Earth. But I didn't truly believe him until that night. The highest he could lift his leg was a 45 degree angle, with a slight bend in his knee. His leg shook as he tried to hold it there and hands pressed so firmly into the mat that I was sure he'd leave hand imprints well after class ended.
So when it came time for power crunches, I knew he was screwed. During power crunches we do 8 crunches with our knees bent at 90 degrees, then 8 with our legs straight up in the air, then 8 with our legs straight and spread wide, then 8 with them straight up in the air, then we do that whole thing all over again two more times for a total of 96 crunches. Usually by the last set my abs are on fire and my legs shake so violently you'd think I was born without quadriceps. The worst part is, when that's over, you don't get to put your legs down. You go right into 24 lower-abdomen hip lifts.
Cayden displayed the violent shakes after the first 8 crunches. I realized that his inflexibility meant he had to work three times harder. I can hold my legs straight up in the air with little effort, but Cayden had to use all of the strength in his abs, hip flexors and quads to pull his legs up to 45 degrees. He dropped his legs to the ground and grabbed at his hip flexors after 16. Then he used all of his might to pull them back up for another 8 before letting them drop to the ground again for a moment to recover. It reminded me of my first few wood classes. After the first one, I swore I'd never go back.
"If you need to stop, just focus on your breathing and join us when you're ready," Katie said to the entire class.
Cayden breathed a sigh of relief.
But when it came time for push ups, I was the one who was screwed. What Cayden lacked in flexibility, he made up for in upper body strength. I, on the other hand, had always been the chunky kid who couldn't complete one pull up in gym class.
I forced myself to stay in the plank position, but each 12-second push up felt like an full minute as my shoulders burned and my lower back fought to arch.
"Remember, it's OK to hold plank if you're not ready for pushups," Katie said. "Now down for four, three, two, one. Now hold for four, three, two, one. Now back up for four, three, two, one."
I watched beads of sweat pour down the bridge of my nose and drip in the exact same spot on my towel. My arms started to shake and 6-second inhales and exhales shorted to 3 seconds. Without looking, I could sense Cayden next to me doing the most perfect pushups, probably with a look of relaxation on his face. My face, on the other hand, had veins popping out where veins shouldn't exist.
One-armed strong cat.
Seated spine twist.
Bent-knee balancing stick.
Geometric leg lifts.
After an hour, we lay on our backs for our final position: Shavasana. It's my most favorite position. Katie turned off the lights and we rested there with our arms at our sides, palms up, and our legs down with our feet open. During Shavasana, you focus on your breathing. You fill your lung up until your belly pooches and then you let it all out, slowly, until it feels like you're melting into the ground. Every muscle tingles. You can feel every sweat bead roll off the side of your thigh or down your scalp. It's like taking a bath in your own success, as weird as that sounds. And when you finally peel yourself off the floor and head for the locker room, you feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment quickly followed by an overwhelming sense of air conditioning.
"Well?" I asked Cayden as soon as we were out in the hallway.
"Oh, my god," Cayden said, shaking his head. "I don't think I'll be able to walk tomorrow."
I slung a sweaty arm around his sweaty waist and pretended to help him walk. If he'd actually put any weight on me, I would have collapsed.
"Don't worry," I said, patting him on the butt. "Tomorrow we'll do Fire."