Bikram Yoga: Too Skinny?

Writing about this because the comment has happened a few times now and the most recent was quite emphatic.  That comment  being that “Tony is too skinny”.  Usually this is followed with “You need to feed him more”.

Like I don’t feed him!  Like he doesn’t eat!!

We’re like Jack Sprat & Co.  – Standing  next to Tony makes me look like I eat everything while he sits there and starves.  Well, before you cast your judging eyes on me, allow me to retort!

First of all, I’m not fat, I just look rounder because I’m standing next to him and he’s leaner and longer than me.  Secondly he eats a LOT!!  After said comment was made, I interviewed him while we were eating dinner which I usually cook and then distribute such that he gets 2/3-3/4 of the portion of the meal and he will always go for seconds.

Interview went like so:

Me:  So what did you eat today?

Tony:  An apple, a pear, a banana, a couple slices of cheesecake that someone baked and brought in to work, some cookies and a couple of Graze snacks, oh and a packet of chips.

I didn’t ask anymore, he ate all of the above on top of his breakfast intake which normally is a glass of lemon water, a glass of kefir, and 2 glasses of smoothie (which contains bananas, dates, spinach, moringa, spirulina, baobab etc etc etc whatever superfoods we have in the cupboard) and another glass of water and lunch which, that day was baked chicken (with peppers, tomatoes, onions) and rice.  Dinner was chicken soup with savoy cabbage, broccoli, carrots, barley, rice noodles etc.

The other night, I took the skins off the chicken thighs which I put into the baked chicken dish… and I fried the skin in its own fat, added salt and he ate that while watching a movie (7 skins. He had 4 of the biggest ones and I ate the rest).  Crispy.  Salty.  Chicken skin.  Every time we eat pork or ham or bacon, I give him 90% of the fatty bits and he eats them all.

C’mon man, what are you talking about “I don’t feed him”?!?!?!  That was the second night in a week that I made him crispy chicken skin for an after dinner snack!

Last week we ate pasta pretty much every single day and if not pasta, we were eating loaves of home baked sourdough he made, with cheese and chutney (or chowder which had whole milk, lardons and double cream).  We’re not on any fancy diet or juicing.  He’s not particularly stressed, he’s eating well, he’s eating a lot.

So I asked him this:  “Are you feeling tired or sick?  Are you feeling like you have enough energy?”

And his answer was “No, not tired, not sick.  Yeah!  I have heaps of energy!”

So there you have it, he is proof that you can eat whatever you want, as much as you want and you can still get “too” skinny.

How you ask?  I know that there are some weight obsessed people out there who want to know how to get too skinny.  Well, I’ll tell you how, first you start off skinny and next, you do yoga like he does, up to 7 days a week, every week, for almost a year.

Now, back to that sentence.  If you think about it, the sentence actually isn’t “Tony is too skinny.”

but “Tony is too skinny…. for what I perceive a normal body should look like.”
– “I“, being the person stating the sentence.
– “Perceive” being only that individual’s subjective point of view, based on their experiences and decisions.
– “Normal” being the average of everyone that exists on the planet (which at this point in time has high rates of morbidly obese people).
– “Should” being society’s general rule of what one must do to be accepted by the many.

Even knowing the above, I still had a hint of worry but then I realised, I wasn’t worried about Tony… I was worried about what other people thought.

If others think he’s too skinny, then I start questioning.. is he too skinny?  What if he’s too skinny?  Does that mean he’ll be more prone to being sick?  Am I looking after him?  Does being skinny make him weak?  Am I feeding him enough? But before anybody said anything, he looked fine to me!

All I did by writing this blog is prove that I worry about what other people think, enough to feel the need to justify that he eats enough by listing everything he eats!

But surely as long as he remains disease free, vibrant, mobile, strong, energetic, happy, clear in mind and focus and continues to have a voracious appetite then his physique is by the by?!

We both got on the scales and divided our weights by our heights.  Tony did a quick calculation and  worked out that I weigh 28.66kg per metre (in height) and he weighs 35.96kg per metre.  Using my density, if I was the same height as Tony, I would weigh 51kg and if he was my height, he’d weigh 54kg (that was me at my fattest!!).

If he weighs 7kg heavier than I do per metre in height and he is too skinny, what does that make me?

My opinion?  He’s shape shifting.  When we went to the Mary Jarvis workshop, she mentioned that people start the practice one shape, then when they start training hard, they get really skinny like they shed the old body but this leads the way for the new body to emerge, all the muscles come back and they’re all nicely shaped and defined the way they’re supposed to be.  Perhaps Tony’s body is just in the shedding part and is getting ready to start reforming!

Also, there are postures within the practice that are supposed to adjust your metabolism so that you lose weight if you have to and gain weight if you have to.  If this is true and this does work then we can only trust that Tony’s body is doing what it needs to do to optimise itself.  Perhaps, being “too” skinny is Tony’s body at its optimum.  Besides, how is he supposed to bend if there are rolls of fat in the way?

So with that in mind… whether or not he’s “too” skinny is only an opinion.  I just need to become more aware of when I let other people’s opinions disrupt our homeostasic balance (even if it’s only for a moment, entertaining it is dangerous).  He is healthy,  energetic, positive and centered.  He eats as much as he wants, he eats until he’s satisfied and he chooses what will be on the menu.

Sure he shows his ribs in a couple of postures… but that’s what the dialogue says “Your rib cage visible in the mirror.”

With the number of people in the yoga room whose rib cages never show and the knowledge that most of the Western population is actually not just fat but obese…. what if Tony isn’t actually “too” skinny?  What if Tony is what normal actually looks like… and we’ve just forgotten that?

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