Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 47 - Perfect is the enemy of Good

Sean had an interesting post to mark the halfway point of KFB, which got me to thinking.

Like Sean, I'm a bit on the fence about my feelings for KFB and my ability to provide any sort of meaningful feedback that isn't grossly colored by other life factors - such as being much more busy than I was earlier in the year. On the other hand, biased feedback is more helpful than no feedback so why not give it a try?

My first observation would be that I'm not as committed to KFB as I was to PCP. I think this is partly because my life is more busy and stressful right now than it was when I did PCP. But I think it is also because I'd just finished PCP and hadn't yet found my (presumed) post-PCP balance. So starting a new program while my
head was stuck between trying to figure out what my "regular" life was going to be like and trying to get into the new program, left me spinning a bit, mentally speaking.

Another problem with starting straight after PCP (again, all mental) was that my head, still in PCP-space, sees elements of PCP (strength exercises) and then makes the foolish leap to making KFB additive, instead of a new program, complete of itself. So while the KFB is manageable, KFB + extra strength training from PCP + training for a marathon is NOOOOT. And so sometimes I don't always finish the KFB (mostly because I've added other things) and feel I'm letting myself down, and get discouraged.
The perfect is the enemy of the good
- Voltaire

In more grounded moments, I realize that it's really DUMB to get discouraged after working out for more than 90 minutes because I didn't complete everything I'd hoped (a bad habit in most areas of my life).

Heather, Heather, Heather - You need more sensible boundaries!!!!

Because time is an issue, both because KFB is in development and because I'm a dingbat (see above), one thing that really helps me is to do the meditation and at least some of the flexibility exercises First. Because if I'm running short on time, those get skipped - and those are part of the attraction/difference of KFB, and because I'm more likely to remember that I still need to do some kicking, but somehow overlook the fact that I need to do a few more stretching exercises. It's a mental thing.

So perhaps, for me, the answer is to strategize my approach: meditation and stretching first, to get my mind in the right place and prevent delinquency; running to limber up second; non-strength KFB to kick some ass; and strength training last, to let time constraints rein in my desire to do too much ...

Hmm. Maybe it's a good thing I spent some time thinking about this.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 46 - Mindful consumption - the mental variety

A few weeks ago I experimented with cutting out the excess sound in my life. For the first few weeks, I was good and thought I could see its effects in the slowing of the spinning in my head and a greater sense of calm.

But then my attention wavered. I slowly began listening to more music, accepting more noise in my life, and before I knew it, I was back into my old habits. I'd like to get back to restricting the inputs into my brain. I'm feeling stressed and frazzled (largely a matter of perspective, but it's hard to change it) and want to slow down and quiet down.

I've had little success in controlling the maelstrom of thoughts whirring through my head (except, perhaps, in 5 or 10 minute intervals :), but I'm sure it will help to reduce, insofar as I can, adding to the distractions in my head. So this week I'm striving to:

  • be mindful of my consumption of noise (music)
  • be mindful of my consumption of media (TV and internet - the internet is going to be hard)
  • be mindful of my consumption of ideas (what I read)
And I'll try (and fail more than I succeed, I warrant) to just do one thing at a time. Just think on one thing at a time.

Fingers crossed!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 45 Tired of HOT

So, we've been hammered with day after day of HOT HOT HOT! It's 95F as I type, and am happy to be in the air-conditioned atmosphere of work. Which has meant that my heart (and lungs and sweat glands) have not been behind my workouts and it's been a struggle to do what I've managed to do.

But I have to say that I'm enjoying the exercise of mindful consumption. Enjoying the experiment, not passing through the experience without tripping up all over the place, that is. Probably because I'm stressed, I'm more readily distracted and unfocused these days, so I catch myself more often than I'd like spinning my wheels or wasting time on activities I'm not really enjoying.

I'm also yearning for a proper vacation - my mental batteries need recharging - so I'll be taking a week and going up to Vermont for a week at the end of July. This will be an excellent opportunity of enforced mindful consumption: not only no TV, but no telephone, no internet (unless I go into town)! Quiet time. THAT's a big part of why I love going up to Vermont.

My mindful consumption this past weekend was mozzarella stuffed meatballs and roasted tomato sauce from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home. The meatballs aren't very KFB, but the sauce totally is, and it's fantastic! I just should have waited until fall to make it, as roasting for hours isn't such a good idea in 90 degree weather ...
But YUM! I'll definitely be returning to this recipe once the weather turns cooler.

Now I just need to be more mindful with sound, TV, and the internet ... and, perhaps, the buzz of my own brain ...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 42 - STILL HOT

Whimper. I'm a cold weather baby and these 90 degree days are killing me. And it's the humidity as much as the heat. Breathing just seems harder!

On the plus side, I am finally finding a rhythm with KFB, roll out of bed, meditate, start some stretching, do some strength-training, aerobic part of the work out, then some balance and more stretching. I've also streamlined my food prep some - with the sacrifice of variety, I can save time by having everything pre-prepared and pre-packaged. Just rolling off of PCP helps, but I think I'm more efficient than I was even then.

Anything to buy myself some more time.

Now there's a question: If I want to run another marathon, should I aim for October or November? October is more comfortable (less likely to be really cold and/or rainy) - but the overlap in training with KFB will be ... difficult.

thinking, thinking.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 40 ... HOT


We've had a run of hotter-than-I-can-remember days, days when I get up in the morning and, even stepping out the door at 5am, suck in a breath at the heavy and humid air.

Not really (for me, at least) welcoming, come out and workout weather.

On the plus side ... pretty good stretching weather :)

It's 92 ... and it's supposed to be hotter AND more humid tomorrow. ...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 39

I'm back from a weekend up in Boston.

I was pretty good with the diet (not perfect), and ok with the workouts. I'm a little frustrated with my mindset, which is more unhappy with not completely nailing the workouts, instead of happy to have managed what I did.

I've started taking Shivani's suggestion, and doing my meditation and a little stretching before the workout - and am really glad I am. For me, with all that's going on in my life and the disproportionate stress that I am feeling over even small things, it really helps to quiet down FIRST, and then I can be more present and more focused in the rest of the workouts. I am also less anxious afterwards.

Thanks Shivani!

I'm getting better at not getting dizzy when doing the back kicks. Despite the dizziness, I think those are my favorite kick by far. They always have been. KaPow! Those use my biggest and strongest muscles.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 35 - KaPOW!

Wow! What a difference being well rested makes!

Yesterday evening I went home and took a nap - and then slept a solid 8 1/2 hours that night and today I feel amazing :)


So I had a great workout this morning. I'm still a bit frustrated with my impatience with the stretching portion of the exercise, but I'm going to try Shivani's advice and do a little stretching pre-workout (so I don't feel the rush of trying to get DONE), and it occurred to me that it might help to slow down by doing the mediation before the stretching.

You know, put my mind in the right place first, instead of last.

We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 34 - Tried ..and Failed

Last night I was up late, having gone to watch my colleagues play a softball game. Our team has been playing for a few years now and, to put it bluntly, we're terrible.

We haven't won a game this year, and we lost again last night. Which was disappointing as we were leading by 5 runs in the top of the last inning. I find it interesting to watch sports psychology work. I'd heard about it years ago, but had thought it was mostly hogwash until college, when I joined the swimming and diving team. It was startling to watch how at state meets either most divers had a great meet, or everyone fell apart. Like performance was catching. And perhaps this is why exercise is more enjoyable when done with a crowd ... misery loving company and a

Our softball team is really good at getting anxious and tense and consequently blowing it at the eleventh hour. And, of course, there are a couple of individuals to whom winning is more important than it should be (especially in light of our talents). But everyone stayed in reasonably good humor and the other team was nice (and had also been win-less, until we gave them the opportunity) so it was a fun evening.

But it meant that I got home late and tired - and that's when I'm most prone to stupid decisions. Like staying up late because I'm too tired to go to bed.

So this morning it took a Herculean effort to get out of bed, and a continual battle with myself to get dressed and start my KFB. And I was headachy.

I got maybe a quarter of the way through (aerobic - check. Strength - check) before the constant desire to just STOP and maybe sleep a little longer told me that maybe I was done for the day. For running, I have what I call the 10-minute rule: if I don't feel like running, I just get out there for 10 minutes and if I still don't want to run, I stop. It's a good way to test if my reluctance to get going is mainly inertia, real fatigue, or real aches. This morning I did nearly half an hour of working out before I finally threw in the towel.

I think it took me longer than usual to quit because I was reluctant to admit that I'd put myself in this position and not because I didn't recognize the signals I'd been receiving. So I'm swapping out Friday's light workout for today's.

Hopefully I'll be powered up again tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 33 - Energy levels still low

Semi-bounce back from my energy low yesterday. My energy levels were/are still low, but I was still able to finish the workout. Going all out and not timing the occasional rests, it took about 75 minutes. whew!

One of the nice satisfying things about pushing myself in my workouts is the feeling of lassitude and slight soreness that at once reminds me of the hard work I've done and brings me present into my body. Normal physical actions remind me with unexpected muscle twinges that I am alive, strong, and taking advantage of it.

This is nice. It is satisfying. I like it.

But being the morning exerciser that I am, it brings with it a morning wrestling match with myself. Especially when I am fatigued and sore, I crave a leisurely start to the day. Right now I'm daydreaming of sleeping until I wake up, and then getting a cup of tea or coffee and just zoning on my balcony, still in my PJs.

The problem (for me) of doing that, is that unless I already have the workout DONE and dusted, any leisurely start is marred by the fear of the lazy side of me "winning" and the workout not getting done. Especially in the summer, when the most comfortable time for a workout is as early as possible.

Sigh. Can you see what a joy it is to live in my head? I have real problems not trying to do IT ALL - and just relaxing. I pretty much have to leave home on a vacation to let things go. Sigh.

Day 32 - Me, sweat, and imagination

So today, the KFB kicked my butt. I completed it (yay!) but my energy level even beginning the workout felt low and now, hours later, is still in the sub-basement. I've worked out until I sweat before (well, duh), but holy sweat Batman! I don't think I've often worked out such that I can see the sweat drops on the ground beneath me, or flying through the air as I'm punching.

Which is sort of "EWW" and sort of "Cool!". It's obviously a huge boost to see tangible evidence that I'm kicking butt (or getting my butt kicked), but it makes me a bit concerned about staying adequately hydrated. And it also makes me (and don't tell me if it's weird) imagine myself as all kinds of master-kick-ass superhero, destroying all manners of air monsters.

Hopefully I'll have more energy tomorrow morning ...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 31 - Me and Discipline

I am finding it more difficult than I expected to totally get down with the KFB. I've had more days of falling off the wagon (both with the workouts and the diet) than I did with PCP.

I expect that it is mainly because I leapt from PCP to KFB with just a month between them, and that was a particularly trying time for me personally. I'm certainly enjoying parts of the KFB workout more than others:

  • I'll confess to skipping out on the skipping rope: I'm not a big fan, it's summer, I love running, I plan to run a marathon this fall, and I just don't have time for KFB and running. So I substitute.
  • Somewhat to my surprise ('cause I never used to enjoy strength training exercises, and this was what I at least in my head whined about the most) I like the pushups, the pull ups (well, trying), ab workouts, etc.
  • I expected to enjoy the stretching, as that was something I'd wished I had the time and dedication to do, but am frustrated to discover that I have a tendency to rush through them, and don't feel that I give them the attention I should. I'm not enjoying them as I think I could if I didn't feel so rushed
  • I expected to like the meditation - and I do - but I expected to be striving for a little more than 5 minutes. Yes, I know I can try more on my own - but see feeling rushed, above
  • I initially really enjoyed the kicks and punches ... and am disappointed that the charm has worn thin. Partly it's because they kick my ass, and who likes that? But I also think it's because I can remember how much more fun they were when not done alone, when done with a partner holding a punching bag. It just doesn't feel the same when done alone. (I'll also confess that today my "target" was a point on a punching bag - not a free swinging object. I know I'm cheating myself of the balance and eye-foot coordination practice, but I just knew it would take forever) I still like them once I get going, but am resistant until I actually get started.
Keep in mind that all this is seen through a stress-filter, and part of my frustration is because of feeling rushed ...

and this is also my fault:

  • Firstly, because I spend more than 6 minutes running - in essence having the dessert before the meal.
  • Secondly because I'm an idiot - on days when we're doing pull ups, I think "well, I'll do some dips too since I'm at the machine", on days when we do planks, I think "well, I'll do 30 seconds, or 45 seconds, or whatever" and so on.
Basically, I'm an idiot.

Today was a pretty good day, though.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 28 - Stretching

So ... perhaps I am in need of more stretching ...

Sound when stretched is music. Movement when stretched is dance. Mind when stretched is meditation. Life when stretched is celebration.
~Shri Shri Ravishankar Jee

Ironically, I didn't get much sleep last night - and I feel slightly better. Or perhaps it's because it's Friday, and a bit of the pressure is off. Or because it's the right phase of the moon, or because I sacrificed the right number of Vestal virgins .. :) just kidding.

Anyway - embrace the positive change and move forward!

Tomorrow I am looking forward to squeezing in a long run, in addition to whatever the KFB work out ends up being, and a trip to the Farmer's Market - which I've only managed to go to once so far this year :(

Fresh fruit and veggies! And fresh eggs!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 27 - Feeling ... off

I feel like crap today.

I don't feel bad, not anything that I can point to definitively and say "That's what's wrong with me!", but ... not right. And my enthusiasm for just about anything has evaporated.

I feel very tired - and I really shouldn't as I had plenty of sleep last night

I feel like I'm a million miles from the rest of the world. It's hard to think, it's hard to focus, it's hard to connect with other people - it feels sort of like it feels when I'm drugged up to the gills to alleviate the symptoms of a cold or allergies, except without the drugs and the residual symptoms.

I hate feeling this way, and I wonder if perhaps I'm fighting off something and just don't know it yet.

I think, tonight, I'm going to bed early.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 26 - High Fructose Corn Syrup

I'm in a better mood today - thanks all for your support - you rock!

A friend forwarded this article to me:

For those who have read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, there is evidence that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has negative effects beyond just another way of calorie loading. Apparently, when compared to sugar solutions, rats gained more weight on HFCS! The inference being "that excess fructose is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles."

Hmmmm. Another reason to avoid many processed foods ... and drinking your calories.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 25 - In a bad mood

So - I feel off the wagon this past weekend.

I have no excuses, no particular reason - I just couldn't muster the energy on Sunday or Monday. For either the workout, or the diet.

I imagine it is mostly me: I need a vacation, I'm still dealing with grief in unexpected pockets, and I have too much on my plate at work. I know a good diet and exercise help me deal with stress and give me the energy to manage ... but ... sometimes it's hard. Especially with days like today, when I really feel hammered AND I did everything right: I got enough sleep, I've eaten well, and I did my workout (and with a great run in a finally cool morning).

Am I the only one that just dreads the kicks? They are seriously kicking my ass, and are really what makes me not look forward to my workouts each morning. When are they going to get easier?

Hmmm. Perhaps I'd better stop whining now.

At least it's a brilliantly beautiful day! And I remember to vote this morning!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 22 - Hot and Bothered

Well, not so much bothered :)

I woke this morning and immediately jumped into my workout. For two reasons:

1) It's been and going to be ungodly hot and humid out (86F right now) and better to work out while it's cooler

2) I went to go plant trees and shrubs and lay down mulch in Camden from 9-12 and wanted to get my workout out of the way.

It was loads of fun, but messy and HOT on top of all that mulch!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 21 - Interesting post about stress ...

On a blog I read occasionally by Steven Barnes Dar Kush, a science-fiction writer/martial artist/TV writer/philosopher, he had a post with interesting thoughts about stress:
One of the most fascinating things about stress is how it seems to be a living thing, plotting and planning to worm its way deeply into your existence. It will dissuade you from performing the precise actions necessary to keep stress from becoming strain: you will do what is imperative (short term emergency) rather than what is important (long term benefit). And trust me, there is absolutely no end to the short-term urgent in life. This is one of the reasons that people can have a fantastic amount of difficulty meditating. Anything and everything seems more important, including cutting your neighbor's cat's toenails. Bizarre. And it is all fear. If you clear away all of the superfluous "stuff" what remains is the responsibility to be in alignment with BOTH your childhood dreams and the ultimate values you will embrace on your deathbed. When both the child you were and the ancient you will become agree upon your daily actions--well, you pretty much have life nailed.
That is exactly what has been going on in my head/life recently, finding it so hard to stop, take a moment, and decide to not be distracted by small details.

Sigh. So, despite having piles of work to get through, I'm taking a holiday on Monday - which makes this a long weekend JUST FOR ME!

I can't express how much I'm looking forward to this.

Day 20 - Whipped

All week it has been hot and muggy, which I hate. I'm a cold weather baby, so when it's hot and humid, I am significantly less enthusiastic about working out. Blech.

And today - I felt whipped.

For pretty much all of the strength, cardio, or agility exercises I had to REALLY push to get through them all, and had a significant drop in form in the last (few) set(s). I think I can really use the lighter day tomorrow. Oh my, yes.

And by whipped, I mean this: I worked out; I took a shower; I prepared my food; and,

I took a nap.

and then I went to work.

But at last: Gazpacho!

(adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook)

  • chopped red onion
  • chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 chopped English cucumber (the long skinny ones - others are fine, these have less water and seeds)
  • chopped tomato
  • 3 mashed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 1 Tbl wine vinegar
  • 6 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 Tbl lemon juice
  • 3 c tomato juice
  • salt to taste
let marinate overnight. Eat as is, or blend.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 19 - The Quiet Experiment

I'm continuing my experiment with limiting my sound input. I did listen to my iPod this weekend on the drive up and back to Boston - it makes the time go by soooo much faster - and I listen on the treadmill, but I've not otherwise been listening to extraneous noise.

I think it's making a difference to my inner tension, but am not sure - and so am prolonging the experiment. I figure I'll know better after a full weekend without the distraction - and I'm willing to do a lot to quiet myself down. I appear to have got myself wound up into a tizzy about things that I know, intellectually, are basically unimportant. But, alas, I can't just tell myself to let it go and fret.

The workouts, the meditation, and (hopefully) the silence are helping a lot. Now what I really need is a vacation ...

TONIGHT will be Gazpacho night - as I discovered last night that I had no garlic and my tomato had grown unappetizing.

update - blast. Forgot the gazpacho needs to marinate. I'll have to wait until tomorrow to eat it.