And my back!

I have the official doctors orders: I can walk, but no running OR YOGA until further notice.

Bummer.

-C

There was an interesting editorial piece in the Seattle Times today, by Vicky Hailett, about the difference between men and women when it comes to exercise. The article claims that men exercise for the sake of exercising; “for guys to sweat is a badge of honor,” writes Hailett. Women, on the other hand “[look] at being active as a means to have wine with dinner.” EXCUSE ME???

As you can probably tell already, I don’t agree with this. I have never worked out in order to eat more. I have never worked out to be social. I have never been afraid of sweat; and I have never been unwilling to “hoist a dumbbell.”

As you probably have gathered from reading this blog, I actually love to sweat. I love to work out not because it allows me to indulge in sweets and wine, but because it makes me feel good, inherently.

What this article seems to profile is in fact two types of people who work out in unproductive ways. First there are the people (the women, according to Hailett) who don’t like exercising; who exercise as a means of achieving better health, and so they can eat a little more without gaining weight, but who have not found the joy in exercising. Second are the people who over extend themselves because they are image conscious: these people want to be seen going to the gym, lifting the heaviest weights, and running the furthest, but they do it without regard for their health or capability. These are the people who end up injured.

Another aspect of the article that I take offense to is Hailett’s reasoning. She argues that women tend to not be able to find the joy in exercise, because most of them have been brought up to be inactive, and not to value fitness. The unfortunate thing is, that according to the Women’s Sports Foundation, 62% of all children ages 9-12 report that they engage in no physical activity after the school day ends. That’s not very many boys or girls who are regularly participating in physical activity as children. Girls who take part regularly in sports make up 32.4% whereas boys make up 49%, so yes, there are more boys participating in sports, but the girl’s reasons to participate include “having fun […], improving skills, and doing something they are good at (22).” Since only 10% of girls who are not active in this age group will become active by the age of 25, I would argue that most women who are active, have not been brought up devaluing sports and physical fitness. I would say they definitely have found joy in being active.

I know I am generalizing a lot here, but I really find it hard to believe that I am in the minority when it comes to women valuing exercise outside of its ability to give them a slimmer physique. I love to move my body, and sweat, and run, and cook healthy food, and eat a cookie sometimes, and brush my teeth and give myself downtime to decompress. These are all equally important ways I take care of myself, and I assure you that when I do eat that cookie, I’m not calculating how many miles I will have to run to work it off.

Am I alone here? How do you fit in to this? How do you view exercise in your life?

Contemplatively yours,

-C

All statistics taken from: http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/binary-data/WSF_ARTICLE/pdf_file/191.pdf

February. The month of love, and romance, and chocolate truffles. The month of chicken wings, and bbq, and Superbowl Sunday. The month of… another fitness challenge?

Well kiddos, it’s true. I was invited by my friend Kaleesha to participate in a little Facebook event called The February Challenge, and I encourage all of you to participate as well. I’m not a health nut, I’m not a gym monkey, but I do love a challenge, especially a group challenge.

**click on the link now and check out the challenge, otherwise this will simply not make sense beginning now**

I haven’t entirely decided what my challenge options will be yet. As most of you know, I like to set goals that are challenging, but not unattainable. I like the idea of doing 7 hours of cardio a week, for example, but I’m pretty sure it won’t happen. Five, on the other hand, I could probably do.

I’m joining in with Kaleesha on my bad habits: eating at night and chewing my nails. Even just those things alone will do wonders for my health. I’ll keep you updated on my other picks!

I like the idea that you can do anything for 28 days (yep it’s a short month, remember?). I love the mentality of one day at a time, one step at a time, one millimeter at a time, if you’re walking in the right direction eventually you will get there. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of what you can do.

Competently yours,

-C

It’s a shame that I actually am having to force myself onto my blog today after nearly a month of utter internet silence. It’s a shame because this past month I have made such major progress towards becoming a runner.

Briefly, I’ll give you a running update, and after that I’ll get to the more interesting stuff:

1. My 10:36 minute miles has dropped to a 9:56 minute mile – that is a :40 second difference in just a month! A lot of that was made possible because I am learning how and when to push myself in running (which, for the record, is SO different from in yoga).

2. I have gone from thinking of the treadmills as “vicious, evil, monsters who like to revel in my humiliation” to being able to go into the gym and jump up on one like he’s my favourite pony and I’ve ridden since I was born.

3. The shins. Ohhhh the shins. ouch. They aren’t really getting better, but I do find that with a 30 minute warm up on the elliptical the pain is significantly reduced. I also find alternating between running a mile, walking for 2-3 minutes, and running another mile helps immensely.

4. I can finally say I am at a place where I know if I had to run Beat The Bridge tomorrow, I could do it. I probably wouldn’t be particularly thrilled with my performance, but I know I could finish it, and even probably run the whole way.

Now to the juicy stuff. It’s a new year (2011! Yeah!) and since this blog so much focuses on setting goals, and achieving them, you are probably expecting some epic resolutions for the coming 12 months. The fact is, that is simply not the kind of goal setter I am. As you may have noticed, I set my big goals kind of randomly, when the timing feels right, and when the right challenge comes along. This very seldom coincides with December 31st (actually, it tends more to coincide with November, for whatever reason). One of the mantras I do live by, however; is “keep setting goals and achieving them.” This mantra is what drives the rhythm in my life. I set goals, small ones and bigger ones, every single day. Take a look in my day planner, and you’ll see what look like mini to do lists on almost every page. I am a goal setter, that is who I am, and the beginning of a new year does nothing to encourage that or discourage it in any way. Goal setting gives my life meaning.

This year, however, I would like to add a bit of a theme to the goals I will set, and that is I want each of them to make me a better person in a new way. My big goals I’ve blogged about so far have been athletic ones, but the new big goals I am going to tackle are not. I have a few ideas, but I haven’t quite fluffed them out yet. In this way, this new year will be different. I will continue to set goals and achieve them, I will continue to challenge myself both physically and mentally, and I will continue to let this add meaning and value to my life, but I will expand my ideas of what can be thought of as a goal.

As a quick refresher, remember to set goals that are SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and have a Timeframe! Good luck with your own resolutions, and I wish you all the most productive, successful, SMART, New Year you have ever had!

-C

Sometimes when I read over what I have recently written, I am able to get better perspective on my own advice. I think I have a lot to teach myself, for example, on October 25th, I wrote that the hardest part about running would be making the time to get dressed, leave my house, and hit the pavement. Once I get to that point, I’m going to do the gosh darn run – it’s inevitable. On October 28th, I wrote about the good aspects of running for exercise, and I now have that bookmarked on my browser, because I find it heartening to read.

Today I cross trained for 30 minutes, and tomorrow is another running day. I am telling you all now, I am not going to skip tomorrow’s run. It’s going to happen, because I know (and I think you all know too) that I am more than disciplined enough to make myself put on a pair of shorts and runners and trot out into the cold (has everyone else noticed how freaking cold it’s gotten?!).

Something one of the teachers said during my last class at Bikram Yoga Seattle, was that the main reason they ask you not to leave class, is that if you allow yourself to leave class once, leaving will always be an option. If you don’t ever leave, it’s never an option to leave. The first time you do it is the hardest, after that it just gets easier and easier. The truth is, it is easy to skip a run. The world doesn’t end, time doesn’t stop, I haven’t been smote down by any God yet, but it does make me feel kind of bad about myself. That is arguably worse than most other consequences.

So some things I am going to do for myself this week:

*Make a new absolutely killer running playlist. Song suggestions appreciated and welcome btw.

*Drink more water. Since I’ve worked in the school district, I have drunk so much less water! I feel significantly worse because of that, and I need to get back in the habit. I used to drink 10 glasses a day easily, now I’m lucky if I get 3.

*Plan, plan, plan, and plan. I need to schedule my days better, right now they are too unstructured to be productive.

*Lastly, I am going to try my hardest to get more sleep at night. I need to wake the eff up.

So with those four goals in mind, I will depart. I hope to have a much more positive, successful, and fulfilling week this time around. What are your goals to make yourself healthier this week?

-C

I have skipped runs. I have never been a person who believes in excuses, but I witnessed something really scary two weeks ago Tuesday, and I am afraid to run in the dark. My recent slew of days where I am leaving my house before 8, and getting home 12 hours later, have made it nearly impossible for me to find daylight to run in.

I’m disappointed, because I don’t like feeling like I haven’t met my goals. I was supposed to increase my distance this week. I am curious about the amount of progress I would have made by now, had I run more in the past two weeks.

I can’t change where I am now, but I can change my behaviour starting tomorrow. First of all, I’m going to look at my schedule, and see how I can fit runs in during the day. If that means packing running clothes and bringing a back pack, and jogging all over West Seattle every day after work, I’ll do that. If I must, I’ll even consider joining a gym, although you all know how I feel about gyms (see this post).

This is the first time that I have shared a failure here. I love to share my successes, but I want to iterate to all of you, and to try to convince myself, that sometimes it’s ok to fail. When I was working at Lululemon last year, a bit of wisdom they imparted upon me, was that when you’re setting goals, you should set them so high, that you don’t reach about 50% of them. That’s a tough bit of info to digest. My jerk reaction to that is that it’s crazy, but maybe that reaction is really just a reflection of my fear of failure. Maybe the possibility of failure is something I have to open myself up to.

Running has put me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. My yoga challenge was difficult, but for me the yoga studio has always been a safe, comfortable place to be. I’m good at it, and I like it, and it relaxes me. Running is not something I feel good at, it isn’t particularly relaxing, and I don’t get as much instant gratification from it. Writing this down, and realizing I have so far to go in this endeavor, is making me feel frustrated and kind of sad. I want to be confident in my ability to do this, and I want to believe I have the discipline to make myself continue this challenge, but I am not feeling very positive about any of it at the moment.

Hopefully this week will bring about some positive changes. Send me good energy everyone… I am sending it right back.

-C

I had about 3 1/2 hours of sleep last night… off to a great start. I was thinking, as I started my day sans planned AM run, that I could start tomorrow instead, but then, at 9:38 AM, Amanda Marcus texted me. “Just got back from the first 2 miles…” it read. That was that, I knew I had to stick to my guns.

Tonight I learned that, like yoga, the hardest part of running is making the time, and getting out the door. If you can manage to get yourself changed into your workout clothes, and on the pavement, you’re not going to turn back; so with my iPod charged, and my puppy companion in hand, I set off down the driveway.

I ran about half the way, which probably isn’t much to all you marathon runners out there, but I’m proud of myself. I actually did better ,and felt stronger than I anticipated I would. I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet, so I will leave you with a few observations.

First of all, my ability to tune out pain amazes me. Yoga gave me the mental strength necessary to push my physical limits, and trust that my body can do the things I want it to. Even though my lungs were burning, my calves were aching, and my lower jaw was throbbing (is this normal??) I did not stop. The only time I stopped running and walked instead, was going up and down the big hills, and that was mostly because I was afraid of falling.

On that note, the hills are a huge problem. I am all for running hills, but the route I chose (using http://www.mapmyrun.com) happened to be exactly half composed of enormous hills. I think I will do my other route next time, and hopefully I will be able to run more of it.

Tomorrow is my cross training day, and I’m planning on doing 30 minutes of biking, walking, or swimming. Swimming would be a nice change of pace to try sometime, but probably not tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will bike for 30 minutes.

Wish me luck!

-C

So the title of this blog is “30 days of yoga…1 day at a time.” What you may not have noticed, is the subtitle, “Addicted to self improvement.”

Some of you may read this blog because you love yoga, more of you probably read this blog because you love (or at least tolerate) me. My goal in writing what I do is three fold:

1. Help people become inspired to challenge themselves in their own lives,

2. Help people feel like they are not alone in their struggles, whatever those struggles may be, and,

3. encourage people to find healthy and productive ways of working through the aforementioned struggles.

Since these things are not yoga-specific topics, this blog is about to seriously evolve.

I have recently begun to deal with a struggle of my own in my life, and that is Type 1 Diabetes. For those of you who are unfamiliar, type one diabetes is a genetically based, incurable, auto-immune disease. In brief, when a person has diabetes, the body is unable to produce insulin, and the cells of the body are unable to use food for energy, resulting in starvation. In order to counteract that, people with Type 1 Diabetes take insulin injections.

I hate these videos, but if you want a little illustration, here you go:

So in dealing with the fact that I have Type 1 Diabetes, I have begun to get involved in some of the Juveneille Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) events, and one of them is Beat the Bridge, an 8K race to raise money for JDRF.

So here it is, my new goal for self improvement: I’m going to run the 8K Beat the Bridge race to beat Diabetes.

Don’t worry, yogi’s, I will still blog about yoga too, but I am comfortable doing yoga. Yoga is part of my life, it is part of who I am, and this blog is supposed to be about stretching my boundaries, and expanding my capabilities, and that is what I’m going to start doing. Right now.

-C

There is a moment in every yoga class where I am convinced that I am not going to make it.

It usually comes right before we hit the floor. At the end of the standing series my muscles are shaking, there is sweat dripping into my eyes, my feet slip on the mat, my lungs threaten to burst, and, if I’m doing it right, I don’t even know my own name. This is the crux of the class, and I always know if I get through that few minutes, that it will all be downhill from there. If I can handle those few minutes of pain and suffering and exhaustion, I can handle anything.

Life, like yoga, come’s in series. There is a crux of each episode, and if you can get through it chances are you will have a moment to breathe. You will finish the standing series, hit the floor, and take your two-minute savasana. The problem is, life isn’t a set. You don’t know what pose is coming next, you don’t know when you will finally get to lie down. You have to just plug along, and be satisfied knowing that eventually you will make it through the crux of the situation.

I feel like I’ve hit the crux of my current situation, struggled through it, and I’m starting to wind down. I might not be in savasana yet, but I’m getting close. I am happier than I have been in a long time, although that happiness is tinged with a distinct pain sensation. Remember not to assign value to sensation, simply feel it, and allow it to wash over you. Winston Churchill said, “when you’re going through Hell, keep going.” Has anyone read Dante’s Divine Comedy? Dante kept going, he travelled through the depths of hell, into purgatory, through that, and do you know what he found? True love. So anytime you think you can’t make it, relax. You’re savasana is on its way.

-C

I am going back to yoga. If peace is the baseline of the spirit, the measuring stick that we can use to assess where we are emotionally, then both pain and happiness are impermanent.

Things, people, places, all can inject us with emotion. Being around someone makes you happy, being away from someone makes you sad, being in a certain location makes you sad, buying shoes makes you happy. Me happy anyway. These items are band aids. These items aren’t good for the spirit if peace is the goal.

The person who said this to me said that he strives to live by this mantra, and that the material items he does invest himself in, are vessels through which he can reach permanence. Of course I immediately am trying to define for myself what permanence is, and all I can come up with is that it could be a personal sense of peace.

I’m going back to yoga, because it gives me peace. It allows me to reach out to something greater than myself. I have talked before about the energy of a class, the seemingly ironic sense of intense introspection coupled with the distinct feeling of being a part of a greater, moving, entity. The class moving together, sweating together, experiencing sensation together, yet each person having a deeply personal experience at the same time.

I need this feeling that I am not alone. I need this feeling that I am part of something bigger, and I need something that brings me peace in the midst of uncertainty. I have forced myself back into a place of deep thinking, and it has brought with it sadness, but also a sense of hope that is flickering but bright.

-C