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38 to 40 (+1).

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I didn’t finish out strong (as planned), but I started anew on day 41 and am doing well as I move beyond the original 40-day commitment.

I went to yoga on day 41, and Steve talked about positive v. negative vibrations. Yes, it sounds a little woo woo, but it also makes a lot of sense.  I’ve found that I can make a difference even in my dreams. It’s easy to dwell on the past, and I’m not saying that I don’t think about things that have happened, but it’s just as easy to decide to dwell on something positive, or shift your mind in that way. Having thoughts about the ex? Well, let’s shift to another topic that is just as easily navigated via dreams. It works. It’s helpful to me even if today, I’m not feeling so much like moving on and away from times that I thought were really happy.

In the 41 + days of late, I hit yoga, did a stair climb and then went back to yoga today. Today, Liz talked about the glass being half empty, or half full and focusing on the half-full and trying to fill it up even more with thoughts of family, friends and other positivity. Sounds kind of like the positive v. negative vibrations, eh?

I’m not sure yet what I’ll aim for tomorrow. The plan had been to do yoga, but it might be nice to do cardio instead. Or I could hit the pool for some laps. My legs are still sore from the stair climb, so a bike ride could be good if the weather cooperates. Daylight savings time means more hours of light in the evening here in the Pacific Northwest and that felt helpful already today.

My thoughts this weekend were with Zoom, a woman I met and worked with in Seattle while spearheading a great event called Chicks Play Hard. Zoom worked at Miller Community Center, and she was so supportive of our event. I worked with her for several years, until she left Miller and moved on to Montlake Community Center.

She told me how she’d take regular trips to Canada with senior citizens to get prescription drugs that they could afford. She was a truly giving and kind soul, from all that I saw. Then, something changed. She is now accused of shooting a Parks & Rec supervisor. When I saw her name pop up via Twitter on Friday, I had an omg kind of moment. Her nephew was quoted in the news, and said that something had changed last July when her home was broken into and her dog was killed. I’m so sorry that she didn’t get the help that she needed, and my thoughts go out to the victim, his family, and to Zoom and her family. Yes, I’m switching gears here from the 40 days but my gosh, what happened on Friday is a reminder of how quickly life can change. Here’s to positivity and working through painful things in life in the best way that we all can.

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Days 26 to 37 of 40: Walking in sunshine

Lake Union in Seattle

Today’s walk – two hours, around Lake Union. The sun was shining and my legs are sore. I’ve not been doing well at keeping up with daily thoughts or even slightly less frequent thoughts during the last of these 40 days. And I’m only feeling some slight Catholic guilt about that.

Since I last reported in, I’ve hit yoga and also did a few rounds of aqua aerobics (!). I haven’t hit my bicycle yet, though the time is coming soon. I jotted down some thoughts or a few words about the recent chant from yoga: Shiva shiva shiva shambo. According to a site that I found online, Shiva is pure consciousness and the realization of our nature as infinite or immortal, never born or dying. Thoughts that I take away from yoga, in general, are to try and not let things affect me as much. I’ve got a ways to go in mastering that concept. And while I’d love to not let the thoughts that bring me down get to me as much, the thoughts that send me in a more ecstatic direction also come to mind. How could I not be excited at seeing a celebrity in class, as an example? I get as giddy as a teenager and it feels wonderful and silly for days. The dilemma of being more zen.

The pool at my gym is being repaired and it’s shut down for a few more days. But I was happy to get in a few more aerobics classes there before the repairs began. The last time I hit class, I swam laps for about 10 minutes before class. The Saturday class could be a new favorite, and was more intense than the first class I hit during the holiday weekend. The music was more modern, too, and included Adele and the Lumineers along with some Train. No more sweating in the water to the Oldies.

There’s now only three more days left in this challenge. A real work-out will be challenging in the next few days because of plans after work, but it’s entirely possible that I can finish out strong on the 40th day.

And I’ve got other non-40 day thoughts on my mind after watching Girls tonight and thinking about what I really want to do in life. And feeling more inspired than I was earlier today, after reading several depressing stories in the New York Times.

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Days 15 & 16 of 40: Fog

Dense fog in Seattle from Wikipedia

This is how I felt this a.m. when I woke up: Foggy. After having gum graft surgery on Friday (my second go-around with the procedure), I woke up this morning a bit disoriented and hazy. I had a surprisingly hard time falling asleep last night, and was concerned that any teeth grinding might disrupt the new tissue waiting to bind. And I say “surprisingly hard” because I went to a friend’s b-day gathering and stayed up later than the night before.

My periodontist had said to wear my night guard, but I wasn’t sure if that would be enough to prevent damage. My mind was wandering, too. I took some ibuprofen to get rid of the slight ache in my lower jaw and ended up popping a pain pill that did help put me to sleep. Hence, the fog, I suppose.

I watched a great movie yesterday with a wonderful soundtrack: Liberal Arts. The movie is set in both New York and Kenyon College in Ohio (though un-named in the movie), and it’s got a couple of really great quotes, including: “The purpose of fiction is to combat loneliness” (David Foster Wallace) and “Everything is okay,” from none other than Zac Efron, in a (unexpectedly) funny hippie role. The Kaiser Cartel plays a cool tune in the closing credits, and I now need to dig up my CD of theirs that a friend gave to me a few years ago.

Yesterday, I slept in and went downtown to do a little shopping. My initial plan was to walk downtown (45 minutes, but I decided that it would be better later to do a 30-minute walk instead). I got a bit overheated and was concerned that I was fever-ish during the shopping trip, so I made my purchases at the Gap (new work bag, scarf and throwing out the old, worn ones) and headed home.

I have higher hopes for today and plans to walk with a friend. I’ve lost 4 pounds already due to the “soft food only” diet. These were pounds that I really needed to lose, so this is all good stuff.

The sun is coming out, too, and the fog is burning off. Coffee is kicking in, and the Hoosiers are on TV, up on Ohio State at the moment. I feel like I hit another slight and extended bump in the road in my 40 days with this surgery but also know today is another day, and I’ll get done what I’m able to. Everything is okay.

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Days 12 to 14 of 40: (Keep swimming)

Pool from beyondthecreek.com

Wednesday – the first bump in the road of the 40 days. With happy hour plans after work, I brought gym shoes so that I could walk during the day and also thought if I got home early enough, I could take a quick walk or do some yoga at home. Rachel and I were all set to walk outside and it was pouring rain, which is actually a little unusual for Seattle … at least during the day like that. We ended up walking a bit in the halls and up and down some stairs at work, but I don’t consider it really getting our walk in.

And I didn’t get home early enough to do anything except change clothes and head to happy hour.  That still felt good for the soul and it was nice to catch up with my friend, M, who had gone on a fabulous trip to Nepal and had all kinds of things to share about life. She listened to my “yes, I went back for a third time” tale, hugged me and told me (as many others have) that I deserve so much better. It has finally mostly sunk in, that line of thinking.

Thursday, last night – upgrade my gym membership and swim at 24 Hour Fitness. I had my new TYR nest pro goggles so that I won’t have raccoon eyes, and I was pretty excited about that. I left work a little late-ish and got to the gym around 6:15 or so. The membership upgrade process took awhile, and I’m always skeptical of the “we’ll give you the best deal” because I’ve had bad experiences before with the gym. When I last checked online, the upgrade price was $10, which no longer seemed available. In the end, I didn’t have to pay that much (I did pay a reduced initiation fee) and timing-wise, it really worked out because there was a water aerobics class and I wouldn’t have been able to swim laps.

So, as luck would have it, I pretty much had the lane to myself the entire time for swimming.  30 minutes, mostly laps. The only downside – having to listen to snippets of a conversation between three men – one younger white boy, older asian man and older African American man. From what I could tell, and thank God (honestly) that I couldn’t really hear them, they were talking about sex. Seriously, on the deck of the pool, with older women sitting around them, completely covered up. I heard “back door” and “first time” and “home run” and tried to do my turn as fast as possible when I got to that wall. The younger kid said something that made me think he and other friends of his were sleeping sequentially with the same woman. I have a feeling that he was making a lot of it up.

Back to business. I was pleased with the goggles, and able to stop at the store on the way home. And it was a double workout kind of day; Rachel and I also took a 30 minute walk–in the sunshine, too–so I made up a bit for the day before.

As for today, well, I’ll tally 30 minutes of walking. I had gum grafting surgery this afternoon, so real exercise is actually off the table for the next week. Again, something I hadn’t planned when I embarked on this 40 day journey. But walking counts and maybe towards the end of next week, I can work in some yoga. I don’t want to miss out on celebrity sightings at Samadhi.

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Days 10 & 11 of 40: Pranayama

Man practicing pranayama

One-quarter of the way through, and it’s working (or I’m working; smile). 90 minutes of yoga on Monday night and last night, a 45-minute walk home from work. The latter was not planned, but the cool air on my face, with a little fall of rain at first, felt so nice after being inside nearly all day.

On Monday night, Steve started out class by talking about pranayama. As he explained and as you’ll see on Wikipedia, the word is composed of two Sanskrit words, Pran, meaning life force (particularly, the breath, which we need more than food and water) and yama, to extend or draw out.

We did some kapalabhati, or breath of fire, which is basically short, explosive exhales through the nose. I’ve realized recently that it really gives your abs a workout, too.

Steve talked about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and getting used to suffering as part of finding ever-present peace in whatever happens in life. I’m probably running lots of his thoughts together. But it makes sense for me and the things that I’ve gone through recently in life, and continue to struggle with. And it’s probably true for the things that we all go through in life on a regular basis. Just saying. We sat for 15 minutes at the start of class, and Steve said that if we could do this every day, it’s a great start of a meditation practice. (Highlight of the class: A local music celeb was in class. I felt like a 12-year-old girl for most of the night, and all of next day. Constant. smirk.)  

Tuesday night, I walked to REI after work to get new swim goggles (no more raccoon eyes). The cool-ish air and almost rain felt nice on my skin. The walk to REI was around 10 minutes or so, and I knew the total walk home was 45 minutes. So after REI, I walked it all the way home, and it felt pretty great. I’m slightly obsessed right now with a song from Glee (“This is the New Year”) and I kept hitting repeat while walking it (and me) home.

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Day 9 of 40: (Keep) swimming

Swimming pool from oneyeartofixmylife.comI made it to the pool today. It was a small space, only two lap lanes, but the pool was clean and relatively uncrowded, for the gym on a Sunday morning. 40 minutes of swimming, first with laps and then kicking, and then back to a few laps.

My arms felt sore after yesterday’s yoga workout. I think this Saturday-Sunday combo is a good one. I did learn I’ll have to upgrade my gym access if I want to go to this other location, but I think it will be worth it. Feeling good about continuing on with the 40 days goal and getting back to swimming.

There is a sauna and a steam room with access on the pool deck. A lot of traffic there, with most people not using the pool. One older man kept using the steam room and then would plunge into the pool, doing a deadman’s float kind of thing. His back had some deep round scars on it. And while that’s not really what the pool is there for, when people are swimming laps, he was respectful enough and kept out of our way.

I may need some new goggles or may need to loosen mine up a bit. They left pretty deep grooves under my eyes, visible enough that I didn’t want to stop at the store afterwards. And I can’t have my workout damaging my youthful appearance.

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Day 8 of 40: Turn my world upside down

5 steps to headstand from lulu lemon

90 minutes of yoga, much needed after a busy week and feeling sluggish today.  KT started us off with a form of cleansing. We moved our warmed up hands from below our chin, up our face and over our head, like a veil, she said. We put slight pressure on our eyes (eyes closed), massaged the mandible and loosened up the face.

Inversions – a parallel with life, when things get turned upside down all of a sudden. I’d never thought about a headstand that way before. Lots of core, and some flow. Backbends. Music you could dance to, in a ballet kind of way, which I love. A wonderful class. Much needed – did I already say that?

Tomorrow: Swimming challenge. And, yes, I’ve been talking about that since day 1.

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Days 5 & 6 of 40: Walk on, grin and barre it

Andie Hecker on JuicyCouture.com

First, it was skin care. And now, my social life is cramping my exercise routine. But, wait, perhaps instead… my social life is helping me reframe my exercise routine. I also now realize that on many days, I can easily meet the 30 minutes goal.

Yesterday, I had plans to meet friends after work to watch the IU-Purdue game. Eric, a friend I’ve known since high school, was in town for training with his job (Microsoft).  Celeste, a friend I hadn’t seen for awhile and who is also from Indiana, was meeting us along with Eric’s friends from work.  I had brought clothes to work to change into and climb up some hills as a break during the day, but that didn’t happen.

Luckily, the walk from the bus to the bar (Buckley’s in Belltown) was a good 15 or 20 minutes, at a brisk pace (X two, since I caught the bus home at the end of the night, too).

Today, I had a non-rehearsal rehearsal dinner to attend shortly after work. I took yoga clothes to work but the class in my building is no longer happening. Drat. But I also had a dentist’s appointment downtown in the morning. Walk there and back: Approximately 30 minutes. And instead of yoga at home before dinner, I tried a 15-minute DIY barre workout from Daily Candy and Andie Hecker, celebrity trainer to Miranda Kerr, Ginnifer Goodwin and Natalie Portman. Hecker’s Ballet Bodies site is inspiring photog-wise and perfect for me, the one who is craving dancer’s legs.

So there you have it. I’m still on target for the 40 days. I’m a little worried about tomorrow, since I am leaving work early for a wedding and am not sure I’ll have time for a workout during the day. Plus, I have to haul the party dress to work. Do I want to also bring workout clothes, or can the workout be the dance party after dinner? We are also walking to the courthouse for the wedding – could that perhaps be a 30-minute walk, total? See – social life dilemmas hit me once again. I have a feeling I’ll be ready for the weekend, and some actual gym time. Short-term goal: Finally hit the pool.

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Day 4 of 40: Change o’ plans

Tennis shoes, from charmofcharleston.comThwarted with my swimming plan, but that’s OK.  I had a laser treatment today for my face, and hadn’t planned ahead when starting the 40 days that this would interfere with swimming.  Such is life.  Laser treatments and skin care are important to me and are perhaps part of the reason why my own father doesn’t realize my age. In all fairness, I don’t remember his age either.

Swimming was out, and yoga probably wasn’t a great idea. My left knee was aching a bit when I went to bed last night, and I realized that I probably should have iced it after the yoga, stairs, yoga routine on days one to three of 40.

But walking was in. And I needed to go to the store. I felt really cold on the way home, even though it was in the mid-40s today. Could I drive to the store and walk somewhere, and still get at least 30 minutes of exercise in? Probably not, and gosh, how wimpy of me. As one of our researchers would say, it’s all about the right clothing. It doesn’t matter what the weather is. A long-sleeve shirt and fleece jacket with hat did the trick. And gloves. iPod on Father John Misty to reminisce about the awesome concert the other night.

In the end: 40 minutes or so of walking. Groceries procured, lunch ready for tomorrow. And another look at the latest episode of Girls.

Up next: Most likely another walk. I’m meeting friends after work to watch the IU game.

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Day 3 of 40: Santosha

90 minutes of yoga at Samadhi with Steve. Backbends on blocks, tilted against the wall. First with the hands (easy enough) and second with the blocks. I felt too shaky and then Steve decided it was better to have the blocks on the floor. We were the guinea pigs and it was an experiment.

Strength moves and core work. Triangle, without putting weight into the hand reaching for the knee, calf or the ground. I felt slightly stronger than even just a few days ago, though I couldn’t do the move with two blocks where I hold my entire body weight up.  Only one foot felt like moving.  Another goal to aim for, in addition to the dancer’s legs.

108 chants of Santosha near the end of class. Contentment, or satisfaction. I felt distracted at certain times, thinking about work or “sorry, I can’t make it” or reluctant ends to a friendship when I should have been breathing into it.  I know it’s part of the process.

Day 4:  Plan of the moment is swimming, which gets back to yesterday’s theme. And also moves from class tonight. Face down on the mat, left arm forward, right leg back and up, look over your left shoulder. Keep swimming.