1. Move better - Lifting and yoga are back to normal. I switched to the "high" 5/3/1 percentages and am experimenting with skipping the deload week. My schedule will prevent lifting the first week of June, so I am going to squeeze in 2 deload-free cycles before then. I think the extra work will be helpful, maybe even yield some strength gains. Pull ups are slowly improving. Everything else is holding steady.
Yoga centered on improving my foundation. I won't reap the benefits for awhile. I did manage to keep gains from the yoga challenge. I know how my chaturanga is broken, but not how to fix it. I renewed at the yoga studio for a year. I made space in the basement for "floaty" yoga to DVDs. Until I get my chaturanga sorted, I've cut all double classes and am doing no more than 3-4 yogas a week. I've done a few "long, slow" classes and find they suit me well. My body takes more time to fully open into a pose than a typical vinyasa class offers. The yoga studio has started scaling up its teaching staff, which makes more of these classes available to me.
One weekend I had an experience that convinced me, without a doubt, that yoga is having a mental impact. I think all the affirmations are starting to influence me. I am more aware of my critical thoughts and negative judgements. At times, I am a calmer and more accepting person. I had no intent to change through yoga, but it is positive.
I've been walking a few times a week, with the warmer weather. I plan on regularly biking to yoga by the end of May.
2. Beat the internet - Still struggling with this a little.
I'd regressed to checking my email and facebook multiple times a day, so I de-activated my facebook. There's no good reason for the account. Given how much I'm on the computer, it's too easy of a distraction.
Time boxing work went fine. Nothing unexpected came up, and I tracked what I did. My next year of goals will include a career focused one. I am itching to learn new stuff.
3. Make my money work - More small forward steps
- The cat and I have agreed upon a tolerable middle ground for grooming. She's looking better and I'm spending very little time on it. Total success here.
- I have done well removing the fake food from my diet. My grocery expenses are around $8 a day, but eating a high protein vegetarian diet, without soy protein isolate, is pricey. I could invest 1-2 hours a week making lentils, but that's not worth the 10-20 bucks a week it would save me.
- The pool table is finally gone. It's nice to have the space back
- I harvested $400 in rewards points from a credit card bonus program
- I got a great deal on a year of yoga, lowering my monthly cost by $13.
In May, I plan to update my budget spreadsheet to break my portfolio into percentages of stocks and bonds. Chatter online has me wondering if both are over-valued right now, but given that I don't know what else to invest in, it doesn't really matter. I am far from capable enough to execute a profitable jump in and out of the market.
4. Socialize - I saw some people, but I never got around to filling my calendar. I wanted extra time to myself. May will be more active.
Progress during March was limited. Mostly I recovered from doing so much yoga in February.
1. Move better - The yoga challenge wrecked me. I entered into this month exhausted, weak and sleep deprived. It wasn't until towards the end of the month that I started to bounce back. Lifting went ok. I worked on re-adjusting to normal lifting volumes. My strength is still down a bit. I opted to repeat last month's cycle and will add weight again in April. I started working on replacing my chin ups with pull ups.
Yoga had a few small breakthroughs.
- I realized after a year, I am still doing up dog incorrectly. I've learned to correct in once I'm in the pose, but I really need to figure out why I my transition from low plank leaves me in the wrong position.
- Low plank is also wrong, I'm just not sure how to fix it.
- Given the poor performance in such fundamental movements, I've decided to drop double yogas for now.
- I changed how I do bridge, by grabbing my ankles, and it's opening my back bends up significantly. Sometimes when I go into wheel, I'm looking at my mat instead of the person behind me.
- I keep working on landing my front foot between my hands, instead of behind them, when I come into lunges from down dog. My hips are opening as a result.
- I tried to follow along with Kino's intro level DVD. The last third of the last is just too hard for me. I cannot jump back or through from seated yet, and the class relies upon it. I am trying hard to resolve this.
- I tried a long, slow yoga class. It was even harder than the flow class.
April will be focused on keeping my yoga volume up, while preventing lifting from regressing at all. If I get stronger, that's just a plus.
2. Beat the internet - March saw some regression.
I ended up spending a little more time reading a forum that I would like. I was avoiding things I didn't want to do (taxes, for one). The internet is still pretty lame, but an easy escape.
Time boxing work went poorly during the first half of the month. One of our new hires did not work out, and that generated a lot of extra demands on my time. Once the release got out though, I was able to get back in control and resume time tracking properly.
3. Make my money work - A few small steps forward here
- My cat needs to be groomed twice a year, costing $75 each time. The cat hates it. I got a pair of clippers and started learning how to do it myself. Highly entertaining, easier on the cat and eventually will end up saving me money. The cat looks dumb right now, but I'm ok with that.
- I started working on eliminating the fake food from my diet. I rely heavily on pre-made protein drinks, cliff bars, GUs, fake meat, seitan, and soy jerky. It's all heavily processed, not that good for me and expensive. I have stopped buying these crutches and am working on switching them out for real food.
Otherwise not much happening here. April will be more of the same.
4. Socialize - I managed to fill my calendar. Lunch with friends and coworkers, a couple parties, some yoga and some time with family. April is looking rather light so far, I need to do something about that.
Doing so much yoga in February was a mistake. I paid for it this month, but think I am well positioned for progress in April.
February was a great month for yoga. Everything else suffered.
1. Move better - I completed 28 yoga classes in 28 days. Yoga improved dramatically, lifting regressed slightly. I need rest. I am tired of so much activity and eating to support it.
I obtained the DVDs / videos from the yoga instructor leading my June workshop and am working through them. I am in way over my head. I will be "worse" at yoga than just about everyone at the seminar. That means I get to learn the most, I suppose.
Next month I'll drop down to 3 yoga studio visits a week, with a double on Saturdays. I'll resume lifting normally. I may try to introduce short home yoga sessions, to start on the Ashtanga yoga primary series for the seminar. I'll return to eating normally as well.
2. Beat the internet - This was much improved over January. Quite simply, I didn't have time to play on the internet.
Time boxing work went fine, but I failed to track my time again. With the extra yoga and new hires, I was too busy to worry about managing time perfectly. I probably did some extra work, but that's ok. I was too tired to do anything else anyway.
Next month I may need to re-focus on time tracking, as I'll have a lot more free time available.
3. Make my money work - Grocery spending remained relatively low. I updated my budget for 2013. I am tiring of my nutritional crutches, which tend to be expensive, so that could lead to some savings next month. With so little free time, I had few discretionary expenses.
I finished the investing book. I'm not sure I see the value in pursuing a more complex investment strategy. The learning involved to gain an advantage would take years. It makes more financial sense to spend that energy on my career. My career is more fun than complicated math, too.
I'm not sure if / when I'll re-introduce video games, now that I've finished the investing book. Scotch might see a minor re-introduction, but given the yoga seminar is only 3 months away, it would have to be very limited.
4. Socialize - Yoga was my primary social outlet this month. I did share a few meals with people, but that was about it.
Next month, I'm hosting a party. I'll also start reaching out to people and try to re-fill my calendar.
February was fun, but I'm excited to return to a more balanced life in March.
February I participated in a 28 day yoga challenge. The goal was 28 classes at the studio in 28 days. Despite being unable to visit the studio 8 days out of the month, I managed to log 28 classes.
Poses progressed rapidly at the start of the month. As work accumulated, physical growth stalled out. I had 10 days of doubles, so it's not shocking. As the month drew to a close, it also became clear my body relies upon physical re-balancing from lifting that yoga does not provide. Overall though, a number of poses that were my limit starting the month became comfortable by the end.
Most importantly, the month changed my relationship with yoga. I ran head first into my physical limits. This left me with no choice but to drop the expectation that every yoga class will be my "best" class ever. My overall yoga experience has grown as a result.
Amusingly, it's one of the lessons every instructor mentions every class. I've been doing yoga for almost a year now, but the entire idea is in direct opposition to my personality. The only way I was going to learn was by beating myself into the ground and experiencing the merits first hand.
There were a number of smaller milestones.
Logistical - I adapted to the heat and am comfortable with the room at 88-90 degrees.
- Doubles have become a permanent part of my practice. Probably once a week on Saturday.
- I got over my resistance to doing yoga with a range of teachers. This meant learning some new flows and poses.
- I managed to keep my weight up, but had to eat close to a dozen pints of ice cream to do so.
- I learned doubles two days in a row is a bad fit for me. The inroad into my recovery ability is simply too deep. The 4th class is also completely un-productive.
- Lifting provides important balance to all the chatarungas and lunges in yoga. My body missed the high rep accessory work, especially rows and deadlifts.
Movement - I learned to jump back from crow to low plank
- I managed to get my head to the floor during prasarita, though I have yet to lift up into headstand.
- Birds and tree became much more stable poses
- I got comfortable with doing extended side angle with my hand on the floor
- I got comfortable with doing twists hand to block during crescent lunge and chair pose
- My forward folds definitely got deeper, though not quite enough to plant my hands on the floor for a floaty jump back into low plank. I'd guess it's a month or two away.
- My back bends opened towards the beginning of the month, but as time went on, strain in my hamstrings removed the flexibility improvements.
- I did a few 90 second planks and started to learn how to pull my weight into my legs
Injury Prevention - Pain in my left elbow forced me to re-evaluate form in chatarunga. Instead of coming forward and down, I was pushing like a bench press. Fixing that was key to landing my jump back from crow. I am still prone to doing it incorrectly as I tire.
- Low lunge and half pigeon strained my left knee. I have not figured out the solution, other than modifying to different poses.
- I found myself with jaw pain a few times, after clenching during direct ab work. Old habits die hard.
- Heavy use of moisturizer, a file and new skin let me avoid any serious skin tears in my feet, despite all the extra volume
January was a great month for some goals, average for others.
1. Move better - Lifting went as planned, yoga exceeded all expectations.
Resetting my weights for 5/3/1 was smart. I found the reduced weights were still a struggle at times. Pain in my right hand and left elbow is gradually diminishing. The rest was overdue. Chins are going well, up to 3 sets of 2 reps during upper body workouts. Progress will be limited next month, since I will only do my main lift and one set of each accessory lift during each workout.
Yoga saw fantastic progress, especially inversions. I practiced headstands every night, in anticipation of the arm balancing workshop. I learned to lift into a tripod headstand freestanding and a normal headstand freestanding (without kicking up). To my total shock, during the arm balancing seminar, I managed to balance a normal handstand off the wall. I also learned the mechanics of a few other arm balances, but lack the strength to hold them.
There were a few other minor successes. I managed a full bind in extended side angle, then to stand up into birds of paradise. I got some new shorts that are less slippery and am now able to do high tree during class. During crescent lunge, when we take the twist, I can now open my arms to a block.
A big factor in my progress was signing up for a June yoga seminar in downtown Chicago. It consists of 15 hours of yoga over 3 days, led by one of the top Ashtanga yoga practitioners in the world. After I reserved the hotel, I looked at pictures from last year's workshop. I am in way over my head. Most of the people attending are yoga teachers, far beyond my skill level. I have to really prioritize yoga until June, to ensure I am not totally out of place at the seminar.
To help build my stamina for the weekend, I signed up for a February challenge at the yoga studio - 28 classes in 28 days. Making it more interesting, there are 8 days where I cannot attend classes. This means on at least 8 other days, I will have to take 2 classes, sometimes back to back. I gave this a trial last weekend, it is actually really fun. My wife is bought in on the time commitment, and I will scale my lifting down to accommodate the extra work. Hopefully I break through the flexibility plateau I've been struggling with. I suspect part of the problem I run into during forward folds is my thighs pressing into my abdomen. I might not be able to do anything about the physical obstruction.
The other big limiting factor I see for the yoga seminar is my back bends. During wheel, I get pain in my lower back, which proves I am not doing it correctly. The yoga anatomy book says I am relying too heavily on my glutes and lats to get up. I need to open my chest further by using my deeper back muscles and release my hips by using my quads and hamstrings more intensively. Unfortunately I don't move like that. My instructor helped me lift into a proper wheel, and it felt much better. One of my big focuses for the month will be sorting the movement pattern out. I think it starts simply, with changing how I do my up dogs. I need to get in the habit of lifting my spine up, out of my hips, while depressing my shoulders down. I will also play around with a block between my legs during wheel.
No serious injuries to note for January. My elbow and hand are still a little tender, but nothing limiting. My jaw is back to normal. I am still getting the occasional skin tear on my toes, but a little New Skin lets me work right through it. I am sure I will come up with something inventive to hurt in February.
2. Beat the internet - I did terrible here. After a few early successes on Craigslist, I started checking it compulsively. $400 of purchases and a few sales later, I may have it out of my system. At the very least, I learned to have the results of boolean searches delivered via RSS, which should make future use much less time consuming. I did sell a few bulky items, including my pool table. Less stuff will lead to a net improvement in my quality of life. I am still disappointed in how much time I wasted online.
On the bright side I managed to stay off of news, message board and comic sites. I have excellent stereos setup everywhere I work / play. I put my Netflix on hold and am not missing it.
Time boxing work went ok, but I got out of the habit of tracking what I do. That leads to an ongoing low level of discomfort, since if I have free time, maybe I could do a little more work. Working from home makes it especially hard to escape that feeling. I know I got all my important tasks done and managed to try some new stuff, but I still feel uncertain without the record logged. I need to resume time tracking. It does not take much effort and improves my home life significantly. It is a primary focus for February.
We did have two new hires in January and may have another in February. My role will change significantly as a result of these hires, so I need to be especially careful about keeping balance in life. I did setup an improved work station in my house, so maybe that will provide efficiency gains to help offset the transition overhead as our team re-normalizes.
3. Make my money work - Grocery spending remained relatively low. I enjoyed oatmeal for breakfast most days. Even after splurging on Ceylon cinnamon and including a breakfast patty on the side, this is a big cost saver. Eating less (now that I am not lifting so heavy) offered additional savings.
Craigslist has been a double edged sword. I spent far less than retail to make major upgrades to my home office. I replaced my folding table with a desk, my headphones with a stereo, my slippers with a plush rug, and the bare light bulb with indirect light. On the other hand, I am out $400. Obviously I think this was a worthwhile investment, but I still no longer have that $400.
Learning to use Craigslist definitely qualifies as skill development for making my money work. At the most basic level, I spent 25% of retail. Realistically, paying retail, I would have cheaped out and ended up buying throw-away furniture. With Craigslist, I get to use nice things, and if I am careful about my buy/sell prices, can recover the money invested when I tire of a purchase. It changes furnishing a room from buying stuff to a re-allocation of assets.
The biggest plus has been practice at meeting new people and negotiating with them. In general, I have a hard time in unscripted social situations, especially if there is underlying conflict (ie a negotiation). With Craigslist, if I fail to deal, I pay the price.
People list their items expecting to negotiate, and they will try to negotiate on anything up for sale. I definitely made a few mistakes this month. I got excited about "big" cash in hand and sold my pool table to a very motivated buyer at his first offer, instead of holding out for a few hundred extra. When I bought my rug, I overpaid by at least $20, because I chickened out when faced with the prospect of negotiating in person with 2 obviously wealthy people. In my head, I needed the rug "today" and was scared of losing it. I let myself get too invested to negotiate properly.
On the other side, with some patience I got 40% off my stereo and 50% off my desk. By calling around, finding someone close to home and scheduling purchases in the same town on the same evening, I was able to get furniture moved for far less than any initial quotes. After declining two low offers for my squat stands, I found the right buyer at full price.
Clearly extending these lessons beyond Craigslist is where the major pay off lies.
Otherwise, I made it further into my investing book. I am still off video games and have actually been whisky free as well (due to the yoga seminar prep). I doubt technical investing is the right choice for me. I may not even go through the trouble of calculating the Beta or expected return of my portfolio. However, learning about financial engineering certainly helps to understand corporate behavior. Seeing as my salary pays way more than my investments, that's a great reward.
In February, I expect to read more of the investing book and continue eating cheaply. With so much time committed to yoga, little else will happen.
4. Socialize - Unless I count people on Craigslist, my social life has suffered. Despite leaving my calendar empty in December, holiday obligations made for a hectic month. I tried the same strategy for January and found empty weekends. I still did yoga and saw family/friends, but almost everything non-yoga revolved around food. February will be dominated by time at the yoga studio. I am not planning on anything else, but my wife is setting up a party for March.
January was rewarding. On to a(nother) month of yoga.
December was a little rocky. Life goes in cycles. I hit a peak and started to find my way down.
1. Move better - I hit a few milestones, despite the change in weather and an injury. All planned workouts were completed, though I did have to replace walking with using the elliptical as a warm up before my workouts.
My lifting cycle reached peak weights and stalled out. Getting the planned reps for each session has become a huge mental battle, my joints are hurting and I am struggling with recovery. I have tried to eat my way through it, but my body just needs a break. I am going to reset poundages, spend a few months doing high reps and embrace the opportunity to eat less. I did regain the ability to do chins, I will work those in between sets of presses. I am also going to move from front squats to back squats.
Yoga is moving forward in some respects. I learned to do an arm balance that is called out almost every class. I managed to lift into a free-standing headstand at home and expect to get it in class within a month. The high heart rates I am hitting on the elliptical have almost totally stopped me from gassing out during class. I am finally adapting to the heat, which is a mixed reward during the Midwest winter.
My flexibility improvements do seem to have plateaued. I tried extra classes to force my way through, but it did not work. I just started playing around with lowering my block during half moon and extended side angle. The strength required to deadlift heavy tightens me up. I suspect my new plan of backing off on the heavy weights and heavy eating will help a lot.
My injured hand is almost back to 100%. The full body warmup prior to lifting and yoga has made a huge difference. Other than a few very specific movements, my hand is pain free. I was even able to do yoga 3 days in a row without trouble.
I did manage to hurt my jaw. During yoga class we breathe through the nose, but are supposed to contract our throat during the exhale. Somehow that evolved into "clench my jaw as strongly as possible, whenever something is hard". It turns out an hour smashing my teeth together a few times a week translates to severe jaw pain. Once the pain started, I was able to figure out the source, but it has taken time for things to recover. My ability to eat was limited for about two weeks, and I am still avoiding hard foods whenever possible. I have been making a point to relax my jaw during class and lifting.
2. Beat the internet - Not a great month for beating the internet. I dropped video games to make time for my investing book. Unfortunately I ended up also making internet exceptions to compensate. Whoops. I did not spend hours a day screwing around, but I did waste too much time. The only good answer I have is returning to a hard "once a month" schedule on the PC. I've figured out how to check email, facebook and the yoga schedule on my phone. Those are my most common exceptions. Checking them on the phone will reduce the chance of my getting stuck on the internet.
Netflix is proving to be another productivity sink. I am going to put my membership on hold for January and play around with using music as an escape instead. We finally replaced the broken speakers in our living room, and I ordered some speakers for the home gym / office area as well. These should provide a big improvement over listening to headphones or the TV. I also got some over the ear headphones which are proving more comfortable than ear buds.
Time boxing work continues to go well. I had a very positive end of year. I would like to put a little more effort into professional development once I get my investing squared away. I like playing with computers more than managing money. Computers behave.
3. Make my money work - I backed off a little on buying groceries, focusing on eating the foods I have. Time spent cooking was offset by time not spent shopping. With the reset of my lifting poundages in January, I am going to return to the simple inexpensive meals I adopted last year. My diet will be lower in protein, but that's ok for now.
Giving up whisky for reading did not work. I just started playing video games compulsively instead. After a few days of that, I switched out the two vices. It turns out controlling my whisky consumption is much easier, and I like to read while drinking. I am halfway through the investing book now. I expect to finish it in January. I am becoming doubtful that time spent trying to be a technical investor will yield any reward though.
The contractor finally finished our list, including the bathroom renovation. The renovation was expensive, more work than I anticipated. It reinforces my long term strategy to down-size into to a smaller house. I am totally sold on using contractors for handyman services. Only 45 bucks to hang a king size quilt 15 feet up the wall? Yes, please.
I looked into hiring a personal assistant, but I cannot find a way to make the numbers work. The things I can offload just aren't very hard, but the prices I see quoted are remarkably high. Replacing easy chores with an expensive person to manage makes no sense.
I did sell a set of squat stands on Craigslist. There are a few other things in my home gym that need to go, and I am also trying to sell my pool table. Getting a couple extra bucks is nice, but the mental clarity that comes from having less stuff is even better. I am still coming to terms with the fact that buying good stuff does not make me good at something. It’s an easy mental trap to fall into.
4. Socialize - I scaled back on socializing this month. I felt a little burnt out after Thanksgiving, and I wanted to free time for reading my investing book. Other than yoga, I just did consumption based stuff. Holiday parties, meals, etc. It was enough. I'm not sure what January will bring. I did sign up for an arm balancing workshop at the yoga studio. Otherwise nothing is planned. Taking music lessons or maybe trying habitat for humanity is in the back of my mind, but I’ll be surprised if anything comes from it right now.
January starts from a valley, so I expect nice progress.
November goals continue to move forward, despite the holidays.
1. Move better - I did all planned activity and continued eating for yoga.
Yoga went great, largely due to my lesson at the end of October. I did wheel in every class. Breathing with my movement during the vinyasa has fallen in place. Intentionally, strongly exhaling is letting me deeper into several postures, as well as allowing me to find rest in a number of other poses. I managed to get a full bind in half moon during one class. I practiced mindful breathing a few times and tried a few alternate, lower intensity yoga classes. If progress continues like this during December, I will be very happy.
Lifting has resumed slow, forward progress. I attribute this to changes in my diet. I have managed to compensate for the smaller, yoga friendly meals by leaning heavily on pre-made, high protein foods. It's a pain, but I am eating immediately before and after bed, as well as every 2-3 hours in between. Chasing target trendlines on the 5/3/1 main lifts may also be helping.
The skin tear on my big toe healed. I learned to put more weight on the ball of my foot during certain yoga poses. Gluing the rip shut with new skin also helped. I am using the new skin early now, whenever I see a small tear forming. Between lifting and yoga, I've had to learn far more about skin care than I ever wanted.
My injured thumb is not back at 100%, but it is improving. I replaced the accessory lifts that were stressing it highly (overhead squats, renegade rows, kettlebell clean and press) with more basic lifts (kettlebell squats, one arm rows, bottoms up press). I started including some light gripper, pinch and finger extension work in every lifting session. I also started repping out an easy gripper prior to yoga class, warming the muscles in my hands and wrist before I load them. With all these changes together, I am no longer limited on what poses I can do during yoga. I think the hand will be fully healed by the end of December. Once recovered, I am not sure how many of these changes I will have to keep long term.
2. Beat the internet - This will be an ongoing battle. I am certainly no longer wasting hours a day on message boards and news sites. Still, I find myself making "just one exception" a little too often. I know the web is a burden on my time, but operating without it leads to a higher level of uncertainty, which I am still getting comfortable with. I did purchase a Garmin, which eliminates one of the biggest reasons for internet exceptions.
With my foot healed, I've been able to resume walking. Between walking, yoga, seeing people, lifting, video games and other life demands, I am busy morning to night. I'm not even really sure how I was making the time for so much internet in the past. If I do manage to fit any charity work in, it will have to be done as a social activity.
Time boxing work is going well. My most important tasks always gets done, and the stuff I leave unfinished has yet to become a problem. I never get the satisfaction of completing "everything", but that's a false achievement anyway. There's always more work.
3. Make my money work - I continue buying time through pre-made foods. The contractor did not come back this month. I made my yearly Roth IRA contribution and adjusted my mortgage payment to a more aggressive schedule.
I have made no progress on the Investment Science book. I think once I gain momentum it will be easy going, but making that initial push is tough. A few times a week, I have a little whisky. I am going to give that up until I am through the book, repurposing the time. If I am not done by end of December, my video game time will be next.
4. Socialize - I did a bunch of yoga, including a community yoga class. Community yoga might not be for me on a regular basis, but it was something new with new people. I tried a yoga class at my Mom's health club as well. I went to a party where people played games, another where people cooked together. At the cooking party, I made something new. Otherwise, all my activity was consumption based. I had people over for a party, shared several meals a week with people, and went to multiple Thanksgivings, including hosting one.
I took a private yoga lesson on 10/26/12. These were my take aways:
Overall 1. Knowing the fundamentals of yoga is not the same as applying them. I need to drop my thoughts, move with my breath and let the yoga work. I am past the point where progress comes from analysis or force of will. Discussing barriers with my instructor was very helpful, because she has the experience to point me back at the basics. As she says - "let the pose do you".
Breathing 2. I came in with a complicated, comprehensive model of breathing, pulled from my yoga anatomy book. While my interest in theory was humored, real progress came from troubleshooting two poses:
2.1 Quarter moon - My breathing pattern was - lift my arms and take a deep breath, then bend over while trying to take another deep breath. It turns out I have to breathe out before I can breathe in again...
This is a recurring problem in my poses. As I start moving, I'll take a deep breath in, but only let a shallow breath out. It makes getting more air very difficult. Then I get dizzy because I am holding my breath. The instructor tells us to breathe out, but I seem to have a listening problem.
2.2 Dancers - My breathing pattern was - take a deep breath in, lean forward, pause, take another deep breath in, lean forward some more, hold my breath till we get released...
Again, I have been holding my breath. At least with this pose I kind of knew I was doing it for stability. My instructor had me watch how she breathes through the pose. It was much different. She exhales upon grabbing her foot, moves into the pose with a single deep inhale, and then uses an exhale to settle her body at the full expression of the pose. The settling was visually obvious, and I could even hear her joints cracking as her body released. It was a strong demonstration, and left an impression of what moving with my breath can eventually become.
Playing around with these ideas in a subsequent class, I found I struggle most with breathing in poses where inhaling is easy, but exhaling is hard. Typically these have a point where the torso is stretched out, like in hero's or even a seated forward fold. Forcing the air out by contracting my diaphragm seems like it may help, but I need to play with it more. Focusing on exhales definitely made my core sore.
I was given the homework to breathe mindfully for 5 minutes every day. So far, I have an F.
Vinyasa 3. We went through the two problems I've encountered during my vinyasa:
3.1 Pain in my right thumb - We played around with down dog a little, but could not find a better position than gripping the mat with all my fingers. It seems likely I am over loading my hands, but I have not found range of motion to make my hands "light" yet. Even after 6 months, I am still letting my shoulders move towards my ears instead of taking them down my back. Gah.
3.2 Skin tears on my big toe - I was hoping we could find a movement problem that leads to these, but it seems occasional tears just come from moving barefoot in a warm, humid environment. My solution of using new skin when the tear is bad is ok.
Movements We also covered some basic questions relating to the asanas.
4. Half moon - It seems the trouble I've had stacking my hips comes from transitioning into the pose incorrectly. I need to actually launch forward into the pose from warrior 2, like the instructor says. Instead, I've been standing up, going halfway into warrior 3, and then trying to rotate my body open. I am not strong enough to enter a full half moon that way. My instructor did it, so it's not impossible, but I'll do better if I focus on transitioning from warrior 2.
5. Triangle - I need to use the block. It's not a crutch. I need to use the block. It's not a crutch. I've been told this before.
6. Face side wall, fold forward - Folding forward allows the legs to open wider than they can while standing. I should let this happen and use it to move into a fuller expression of the pose. I'll have to move my feet back in to stand up, but that's ok.
7. Wheel - My alignment is fine. The only reason I cannot do the full pose in class is because I am tired. This is one of the rare movements where I can just try harder. The class following my lesson, I got up into the pose. I think it will come more easily if I focus on the opening of my hips and torso, instead of on the press up.
8. Half pigeon - My foot tingling during the pose is not all that unusual. As long as my foot is flexed, I should not worry about it. Temporarily rolling over on my hip to reposition my front leg is ok.
9. "Touch your elbow" arm balance - This is hard, I'm not ready for it yet and I don't need to worry about it. I figured maybe I could use upper body strength to force it, but guess not.
10. Tree - While this pose may end with my eyes focused up, I should not start there. The process of stabilizing my body with my gaze straight ahead, then looking up as I lean back, is important. Treating a pose as a process instead of an end goal is probably one of those important, basic concepts I will take a long time to synthesize.
October goals went well. The initial momentum created by changing what I do has subsided, but progress continues.
1. Move better - I did all planned yoga and lifting. I did most of the planned walking, but injury forced me to miss a week.
Eating like someone who does yoga led to an immediate improvement in my class, especially during twists. I attribute this to having less volume in my system. I also started eating small, high protein meals every 3 hours. I think it will help offset the impact of eating less on lifting. It does mean eating more expensive food, but the food also takes less time to prepare.
Other improvements in yoga are relatively minor. Given that I am 6 months in, it's not surprising. There were very few classes where I gassed out, though I still struggle with breathing correctly. I look forward to seeing the impact of my yoga lesson on next month's progress.
Lifting on 5/3/1 went ok. I finished another cycle, but had to drop back for my deadlift and press weights. These were approaching a limit, and with the change in my food, stalled hard. Progress continues on front squats and bench press. I updated my cycle worksheet, to include the target reps for heavy sets, based on what will raise my overall trend line for the lift. Having that target seems much more effective that trying to "get as many reps as possible", as outlined in the base program. Given that lifting is secondary to yoga right now, I am happy with this progress.
I have been dealing with two injuries. Something is wrong with my hand, between my thumb and pointer finger. I've had to drop renegade rows and limit kettlebell clean and presses, since those impact it the most. I can still do axle deadlifts and grippers though. Side plank on my right side is out during yoga, and I have to really focusing on gripping the mat with my hands during the yoga vinyasa. I feel like the hand is improving slowly, but will take months to return to 100%. I am pretty sure relaxing my hands during the yoga vinyasa is at fault, and I have been avoiding yoga multiple days in a row to help let it heal. I've also been doing some extra work with dexterity balls and finger extensions. If I don't have marked improvement by the end of next month, I'll see a doctor or take some time off yoga.
The other injury is a skin tear in my big toe. It is minor, so I tried ignoring it for a few weeks. The problem is it would re-open every time I went for a walk or did yoga. I thought lotion might help, but with the skin already ripped, that just made it re-open more easily. I tried using new skin on it for a week and skipping walks. That let it heal, but as soon as I returned to walking, it re-opened. Currently, I'm just gluing it shut with new skin before yoga.
Longer term, eating like someone who does yoga is making me lighter. I think over the next several months, that will reduce the stress on my thumb and toe.
2. Beat the internet - This goal did not go as well during October, but was still much improved relative to my baseline.
I found after using the internet for half a day at the end of September, I really wanted to check "one more thing" during the month. I did manage to stay off news sites and message boards, nobody cares about my email anymore, but I had more other relapses than I'd prefer.
I think the problem was a reduction in available substitute behaviors. I could not walk as much, I was not eating pizza with ice cream every night, and work was back to normal. I ended up drinking more and watching netflix, which are not good substitutes.
I am working on building my walking back up and increasing work pressure a little bit to compensate here. Magazines did help, but it turns out Wired is pretty marginal. Video games were a good distraction, cooking helped out a few times (chili / pumpkin muffins / brownies), and I got through a couple books from the library. I got my Amazon wish list setup for interlibrary loan, but need to follow through on getting more books. I am going to subscribe to an ad free music service. Given the low quality of Wired, I feel a little discouraged about magazine subscriptions. I might try some back issues of Harvard Business Review or MIT Sloan from the library.
Part of me wonders if getting involved in a charity wouldn't solve the internet problem, but I hesitate to introduce an ongoing time commitment based on a single month.
Time boxing work went great. There were no crazy weeks, and other than my planned monthly release, I did not have to work outside of normal hours. It was a little frustrating to see how little work gets done without the crazy weeks. It looks like November is on track to ramp up in the early part of the month, though I expect things to drop off with Thanksgiving.
3. Make my money work - I primarily bought time through pre-made foods. Other than chopping up produce, cooking only makes sense as a source of entertainment. The hourly wage is poor.
The contractor did come by twice, and he fixed many things in the house. He gets about $50/hr, but compared to how long I would need for the same work, I am buying my time back at under $20/hr. Also, he is actually doing the work, which I have proven I will not do. Given that these jobs are required for the house to maintain its value, I consider it a huge win.
I started into the Investment Science book, but progress is slow. The contractor won't be back until December, and another mental burden finished up in October, so I expect much more progress on the investment side of things over November.
I looked into a mortgage refinance, but could only find a rate that was .5% lower than my current loan. Given the amount I owe and term length remaining, I need at least a 1% drop to justify the time cost.
4. Socialize - I did my yoga. I went to a yoga party. I had a yoga lesson. I went to a friend's house to play games. I went to the arboretum with my wife, twice. I also went to the arboretum with my wife and a friend, including a visit to the friend's house to make pizza. This was actually a pretty good month for non-consumption based socialization. I also shared meals with coworkers, friends, and family fairly often.
November might be a little slower. We've got a party scheduled, but it looks like attendance may be light. I suppose we will see family for Thanksgiving. I will make a point to fill my calendar, but I expect other people to be busy with the holidays.
Overall, these goals are going well. I have a lot of space for improvement and remain motivated to work on them.
I attended a 2 hour yoga basics seminar on 9/22/2012. These were my take aways:
1. Down dog - when I lift my leg, I need to make sure my hips are actually stacked vertically. I tend to only bend my leg, instead of fully stacking the hips.
2. Crescent Lunge to Warrior 3 transition - The focus point for my eyes should move from the wall to the floor, instead of starting at the floor. This allows for more complete extension in Warrior 3.
3. Down Dog to Warrior 1 transition - my front foot should land with my pinky toe next to my thumb. Even knowing this, I can only come so close before my body gets in the way.
4. Utkatasana - It is worth separating the feet a little to get my legs to parallel. The movement actually loads my muscles when I do this and becomes much harder.
5. Half Pigeon - It is better to focus on getting my front leg parallel to the front of my mat, than to focus on bending over further. I should also be able to support my weight when upright, using that time to look over my shoulder and ensure my back leg is straight.
6. Crescent Lunge with Twist - I tried this using a block. It was really hard. I am no where close to doing it during class, but it was interesting to try.
7. Chatarunga - Doing this movement while cold is really hard on my shoulders and wrists. It made me appreciate the benefit of warmth generated during the normal class flow.
Given that we covered 16 poses over two hours, I expected to have more take aways. Either I have learned a lot over the past 6 months, or I did a poor job paying attention. Either way, I did have fun, and it was a worthwhile investment of my time.