Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Fun with Yoga

Here’s some of the yoga poses I’m working on this month....

In this video, I show some warm-up, preparatory poses before I start getting into the more challenging stuff.

At 1:40 I make an attempt at my Scorpion.  I held it for a few seconds, but that’s all I need, because I’m not solid on the pose. My right shoulder is just finally getting to the place where it can do its part to support me in the right position. It’s been just about three full years, now, since I shredded it.  So, it’s been a long, slow healing process, but its encouraging to be able to support headstands and scorpions again.

Then, at 1:50 I’m practicing my Garland pose. This is a deceptively hard position, but every time I practice it, I get a little bit closer to it.

At 1:55 I start to practice my Crow pose, which is something I have been doing for over a decade and it is no problem for me. But I’m now starting to graduate into the Crane pose, which is like the Crow only both arms are locked straight. Instead of being able to kneel on the back of my arms, my elbow needs to be straight and I have to use the strength of my core to hold me up.  On this particular day, when I tried to straighten my arms, I planted my face in the mat.  I thought it was kind of amusing, so I left it in the video.  Enjoy.  (FYI, it didn’t hurt.)

At 2:20 I’m doing a long, passive stretch for my adductors (the muscles of my inner thigh). I held the stretch for about three minutes, letting gravity work its magic. I also used my hands to encourage the muscles to relax and let go; you can see me tapping on them and massaging them. And then, I’m contracting my abdominal muscles while keeping the thigh muscles relaxed.  It is a mental challenge for me because I have established a neurological connection between my abs and my thighs that doesn’t serve me.  I have a bad habit of simultaneously contracting my thighs and abs, which prevents me from enjoying hip freedom when I’m exerting force from my core.  So the crunch-like things you’re seeing is all about me unlearning that connection.  I’m feeling my legs and teaching them to stay relaxed as I contract my abdominals by themselves.

From 4:00 to the end, I’m meditating. I have started to do the Yoga Kriyas, which are meditation activities.  They keep my mind very busy, which helps promote a nice meditation.  Most of the other techniques I’ve tried leave too much opportunity for my mind to wander. When I practice the Kriyas, I really feel like I’ve gone somewhere.

During today’s session, I also worked on my Monkey pose (aka the splits). I have a sequence of about four or five positions that lead up to the Monkey, as you can see in this video...

At this point, obviously, I’m not into the Monkey yet. But just like all the yoga poses, I’m improving on it every time I practice. I’m now sitting comfortably on the brick and getting my torso more and more erect.  In today’s video I can see that I still need to eliminate some of the arch in my lower back and to contract my rectus abdominus so that my rib cage doesn’t stick out.  But none of that can happen until I gain more flexibility in the hips--especially in the extension. Right now, the tightness of my hip flexors are pulling my pelvis into an anterior tilt, which exaggerates the lower back curve. 

Even though I’m not doing what would be considered a proper Monkey pose, I do get a lot of benefit from this practice.  This is what a lot of people don’t appreciate about yoga. I see many people struggling so much to do the completed pose, that they don’t appreciate the benefits they’re getting from the struggle itself. Notice that I ‘worked’ on the pose for about two and a half minutes and then held the actual pose for about four seconds. It’s more about the work getting there than the end product.

In this video I’ve created a new position by combining two classics. When I sit and position my legs to do the Seated Half-Spinal Twist position, oftentimes my butt isn’t evenly on the floor.  One cheek is sometimes hovering above the floor, being suspended by shortness and tension in my hips. So by sitting in the Seated Twist position, but putting my arms in the shape of the Eagle pose, the pressure of my arms, pushes down on my legs and allows my butt to make firm and even contact with the floor.  So after holding that “Seated Eagle” for a few seconds, I can then go into a Seated Spinal Half Twist, with much better grounded connection. I can also use that same “Seated Eagle” position to prepare my body for a regular, standing Eagle pose.

And this video shows my very first attempt at an Athletic Supine Bow. Some people call the Supine Bow a “wheel” but I know the Wheel pose as something different. My goal in the Athletic Supine Bow is to go into a solid Supine Bow pose (as you can see in the video at 2:10) and then lift one arm off the ground, and use my core to lift that arm up and reach to the sky with it. I can’t do it yet.  You can see at 2:30, I finally do get one arm off the floor, but I’m not strong enough to get that arm up toward the ceiling. You may notice, too, that I can lift the right arm off the floor, but not the left.  This is because of the injury in my right shoulder.  After three years, it’s still lagging behind the left side in strength. After making a few attempts on each side to lift the arm, I then did a few Supine Bow Pushups, hoping to build up that strength.   I will continue to work on this movement and will hopefully be doing it in a few weeks.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 Reboot

OK.  So, I got off track.

This whole past week I was... well I... I sort of blew it.  I guess I was off in another world or something, but I didn’t do my exercises or my shopping trips, my morning routine or my nine cups a day of vegetables. In a word, I failed. But, the important thing is to be resilient and not let this become all about me failing.

I can sit here and blame the snow, the power outage, the injury I had in my hand or anything, but the reality is, in the end, I didn’t do what I set out to do.  Excuses don’t change that, they only maybe help us feel better about it. So instead of excuses, I’m going to reboot and do it right this time.

“You can’t fail if you haven’t given up yet.”

So I'm not going to give up, I’m going to take this opportunity to go over what was and wasn’t working with my program and move forward.

First and foremost, it’s crucial to re-assess my goals. Since I’m always working towards them, my goals will be changing and my priorities shifting. Also, as my circumstances change, my desires might, too.  It’s silly to strive for goals based on old circumstances. Also, revisiting my goals keeps me in touch with my motivation and revitalizes my interest in them.  So they are....

ONE: To follow an exercise program to maintain a physical body that is balanced, symmetrical and proportional.  This is a long-term goal that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. It still motivates me when I think about it, so I’m sticking with this one. I love the workout program I’m using, I just need to remind myself not to push too hard, which is my tendency.

TWO: To eat nine cups of produce a day. I am committed to making a habit of eating in a way that promotes maximum health. I love the feeling of eating lots of vegetables. It was working for me, but I was never sure I was measuring them correctly, and there was a lot of planning involved with eating all the vegetables. I think if I did stick with it, though, it could easily become second nature, just like any eating habit. I’m still a firm believer in the power of natural eating, so I’m keeping this as a goal.

THREE: To spend at least twenty minutes daily in each of the following: movement, breathing reduction and meditation.  I struggled with this one. The breathing reduction work in the morning was incredible; I’m definitely keeping that part. And the meditation was fine, too, although I found myself easily distracted. (I totally get why yoga says to exercise and exhaust the body first, because the meditations that I do after my workouts are usually so easy and deep.)  In any case, I will be keeping the meditation work, but I still need to explore which type of meditation is going to work best for me. And the daily exercise part wasn’t working at all. I was doing a nice simple routine, but the prospect of doing it every day for the rest of my life just wasn’t comforting like the others.  It was daunting, and irritating to my psyche after just the first week. So, I’m going to have to switch that to something else. I think a morning session of Nia Five Stages, without using any timer, but just going through the five stages once, every morning at my own pace, would be delicious daily ritual.  And it is much more on par with the other two things I’m doing in that morning hour, so I feel like that's a good adjustment.

Ok.  So my goals are basically the same as they were at the beginning of the year, with a few minor tweaks.   Now the big thing that contributed to the demise of my program was my negligence around the creating of my habits.


I have been practicing a 21 day rule with my clients for many years.  For the best results, I have found that I have to be there, at their side, for the first 21 days of a new habit we’re creating. Once they’ve repeated it for more than three weeks, they can be unsupervised and the likelihood of them continuing it on their own, long-term is great.

But I didn’t hold myself accountable for that full 21 days. I wasn’t there for myself -- I only made myself accountable for less than 14 days. On Friday of the second week, I “took a break” from keeping diligent account of my new habits, and I never got back on track. They, predictably, all faltered and by the end of week three, were totally gone.

So I’m going to start again, but this time I’ll be sure to keep myself accountable for the full 21 days.

I learned something.  Here’s what really worked about what I was doing:

 I was writing down what I had done each hour of the day. So I couldn’t let an hour go by without ‘doing’ something or I’d have nothing to write. Or, worse yet, I’d have to write "sat and surfed the internet from 9am to 10am." UGH!  So, this Hourly Accounting not only helped prevent me from stagnating and wasting my day, but it helped point out my tendencies. Then I could either use them to my advantage as they were or, being aware of them, I could tweak them in a way that I could then use them to my advantage. I also made notes of what I ate and when I felt hungry, so I ended up working out a schedule for myself that works with my current life and my personal tendencies. This makes it so much easier to stick with, and it keeps me satisfied.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2012 Meditation

I’d gotten out of the habit of meditating. So, on New Years Day, I took the opportunity to reintroduce it into my life in the form of a Daily Morning Ritual, which also includes a twenty minute joint-mobilizing movement sequence and twenty minutes of breathing reduction practice.

The first few times I sat, I was relaxed and it went fine, but I was aware of the time passing and of not being comfortable and I didn’t ever really disappear into the meditation like I remembered doing in the past.

Then, I switched my technique and got out my old mala beads. After completely going through the whole string of beads and mentally repeating my mantra, I focused on circulating my attention through my chakras.

Except for the first day, which was an anomaly (perhaps due to the novelty and excitement of getting started again), I was impatient as I sat. There was even one morning when my body was strongly fighting being still, and I was restless. I actually got up and turned the timer off with about three minutes left. The time after that, I was going to do the same thing, but I noticed that there was only about 13 seconds left, so I just went back to my seat and waited it out.

As the days went by I got more and more patient and went deeper in. In fact, the last few times seemed to go really quickly. Although I still found myself wondering when the timer will go off after some point. But all in all, the twenty minute period is feeling shorter and shorter.

Yesterday (two weeks into this daily practice), I finally sat for twenty minutes and was aroused out of my meditation by hearing the timer go off. Basically I was immersed in my meditations. What I mean is that my mind, being out of practice, did wander now and then, but I was focused on meditating the whole time. And rather than getting lost in the thoughts of my life, I was able to observe that I was getting distracted and get right back into my mantra. 

Today I chose not to use the timer, so I don’t know how long I sat for. (and actually, I laid in a corpse pose rather than sitting). I know the best advice is to meditate the same way every time, but I had to follow a strong impulse to do it differently this morning. I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed a nice meditation and had that feeling afterwards that I had been somewhere far, far away.

Next week, I plan to go back to sitting and after doing that for a bit longer, I hope to enjoy a deeper comfort with my practice.  Then I will begin to re-visit the Yoga Kriyas from my big yoga book. It was while practicing the Kriyas that I have experienced my most  vivid, strange and colorful meditations.  But the Kriyas are so complex and taxing, that I didn’t want to start doing them again until I had a good base of experience behind me. 
I think three weeks should be sufficient. I’ll blog more as I progress.

2012 Exercise

My January workouts are progressing nicely.

Here is a video sampling of the progression I’m cycling through for this month.

It’s a four day cycle of increasing intensity and changing focus.

************DAY  1************************
It’s not a day off, but Day One is for RECOVERY. I usually do lots of simple movements, stretching and relaxing.  I don’t sweat on this day; instead I’m more focused on treating myself nicely and undoing any damage I may have done the days prior.

************DAY 2************************

Day two I call my FLOW day. I may do Nia or Yoga on this day.  It serves to sort of re-amp my body after a day of rest and to prepare myself for the onslaught of the upcoming two days. I will get deep with my stretching today, and may even use a foam roller or a rubber ball to address specific needy parts. I may sweat today, but only a mild sweat.  I don’t usually push myself much on this day, I treat it as flirting with my edge without going over.

************DAY  3************************

Day three is my STRENGTH/STABILITY day. I’m working on muscular strength, alignment and muscle recruitment. This month, in particular, I’m focused on activating what I call my SUPER HUMAN strength.  This is a way of bracing my body to improve my access to power and strength.  It is as much about ‘teaching’ my body to utilize its SUPER HUMAN as it is about developing strength.  I’ve been amazed and delighted by what I’m discovering and about the newly found strength I’m uncovering.  I’m also developing a workshop called SUPER HUMAN STRENGTH SECRETS, where I will teach people how they can instantly access this power and become super human, too.

On this particular day, I also worked a little bit on my POWER BREATHING technique. I completely exhale while contracting all the muscles of my core.  I hold this position, and my breath for as long as I can.  When I feel the urge to breathe again, I relax my contraction and unblock my glottis.  I’m not breathing in, but just relaxing and letting some air drop in passively.  That’s all the air I get before I do it again; exhaling and contracting completely and holding it until I feel I need another breath. 

When I first started doing this, I would panic and have to take a few ‘catch up’ breaths in between reps.  But now I’m to the place where my nervous system can handle it. I feel like this kind of conditioning is indispensable for real life fitness. Quick recovery is the key. 

************DAY  4************************

And then, Day four is my METABOLISM day.  I work myself to and a bit beyond my edge.  Today’s focus is on getting my heart rate and breathing rate up and pushing a little bit to and beyond my edge of comfort. And the real key here is how quickly I can recover from this. I give myself only ten seconds in between sets to recovery. I”m teaching my body that that’s all it gets so it needs to rise to the occasion and recover instantly after a hard bout of work, because the next one is coming up right away. 

During the cool down of my Metabolism workout, I noticed that my shoulder rotator muscles were very tight, so I ended my cool down with some specific movements and stretches to address that.  I included them in the video because I thought they were kind of interesting.  I’ve never seen some of the things I was doing, and they were actually very effective at loosening my rotators.

Thanks for reading and watching. Let me know what you think.

Night Sweats

Back in November, when I first started taking Lamisil, I had a bit of an issue with waking up in the middle of the night in a soaking wet bed, covered in sweat.  It was gross.

I wasn’t sure what caused the sweats, but since they only happened those first two nights, I figured it was either one of two things:

ONE: A reaction to the Lamisil which I eventually became accustomed to and stopped sweating.

TWO: A reaction to a tetanus shot I got at the same time I got my Lamisil Rx.

But now, nearly three months later, I only have a few pills left.  (I’d say I have about a week and a half left of my three-month dose.) And it happened again.  Three nights ago, about 4am, I was awaken by the feeling that the bed was ice cold. It was soaking wet and so was I.  I had to go get a towel to lay back down on the bed and sleep through the night.
This isn't my bed, but this is exactly what it was like

Two nights ago it didn’t happen, but then again last night, or rather this morning, again at 4am, I was drenched in sweat.  This time I went and put on a pair of sweat pants and a hoodie so I could get back into bed and get those last few hours of sleep.

So, I don’t know what to think.  What causes night sweats? I didnt’ get any other tetanus shots or any meds of any kind this week. I don’t have a fever and my diet is good. I don’t feel particularly stressed or worried, and I”m not going through menopause, although I think I’m the age that women are when they do go through the change.  I wonder if men have similar hormonal shifts in their mid to late forties?

I’d give up my search for the answer, happily, if I could just sleep through the night and remain dry.  But in the meantime, any insight into this topic would be greatly appreciated.

I looked it up on WebMD and the stuff I see there is definitely NOT what I want to hear.  They present this list of eight possible reasons for night sweating, and none of them is something I'd want.  I love #2, though. Makes me laugh. So it seems that one possible reason for night sweats is a condition where the body just excessively sweats for no reason.  How's that for a reason? Now I've always been a prodigious sweat producer, but never (until now) made puddles in bed at night. 

More news as it develops....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

“Super Human Rock Nia”

-- a Nia Playshop
February 25th, 2012 --

4:00pm - 6:00pm

at Waves Studio
232 Division Street NW
Olympia, WA

 Register with Julia Annis* to experience the world premiere of my newest Nia routine, ROCKIN'!

This playshop will be instructional as well as practical.
You may be leaving some power on the table.

I'm going to teach some things you can do with your body to become instantly stronger.  Employing these little tricks can turn your human strength into Super Human strength. This isn't developing strength, although it will help with that, but this is accessing instantaneous strength that you haven't been using until now.

In this playshop I will teach you how to do movements you never knew you were strong enough to do. Then, we will put what we learned into action in a Classic Rock Nia Class. The movements of the routine will be classic Nia and will focus on influences from the three Martial Arts; AiKiDo, Tai Chi and Tae Kwon Do. We'll sweat to some good old rock 'n roll songs from artists such as The Beatles, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Steppenwolf.

Join us for this fun and enlightening evening of finding your own intrinsic power. No previous Nia experience is needed, but if you've never done Nia before be prepared to be completely blown away by this experience. (just joking, a little bit). Super Human Rock Nia will be about accessing your strength as you are Right Now. It doesn't matter your current level of fitness. Just jump right in!

Cost: Nia teachers and all Belts $10 (early registration by 2/20/12) $15 (day of event)

General Admission $15 (early registration by 2/20/12) $20 (day of event)

Reception with refreshments following the Playshop.

Space is limited. Reserve your spot soon!

*To register by email:
*To register by phone: 360-229-6702
*To register in person: Julia Annis teaches Nia on Thursday at 5:30pm, Saturday at 11am and Sunday at 4pm at Waves Studio.

2012 Weekends

Weekends can be a challenge.  Because I work with habits and rituals, my systems get tripped up with all the changes that occur on Saturday and Sunday.

But weekends are a part of life, so I had to come up with a way to avoid the common mistake of letting the weekend unravel all of the work I’ve done. I have been working on putting together a good balanced system of habits surrounding my eating, exercising and meditation.

Since I don’t get up early, I slept through that time slot I’d been using for my morning ritual.  And there is a full house here on the weekend, as opposed to during the week when it’s just me and my dog.  So the added distraction of bodies could be enough to warrant my throwing my hands up and giving into falling back into my old ways.

So I came up with a workable solution.

First of all, I do allow myself a ‘cheat day’ or a “day off” from any of my programs, no matter what it is. The purpose for the Cheat Day is to allow life to work its way into my idealized schedule. With the cheat day, I can let myself sleep in, ignore my meditation, skip a day of working out, eat a whole box of cookies, etc. and not worry that I’m disrupting my cycles or my progress.  I ALLOW myself one cheat day each week, if I need it, so I haven’t technically cheated at all.

When I woke up on Saturday, it was after ten and I went straight for the coffee without breathing, moving or meditating. I also didn’t leave River to go to the store on Saturday.  It was basically as if I didn’t have anything new in place for 2012. But because I could label it my “Cheat Day” it made it less traumatic. Instead of feeling like I’ve let myself down, I could just enjoy Saturday, and get back into the swing of it on Sunday.  By the time Sunday came around, I had gotten the loafing out of my system and was back on track.

I did make one adjustment, though, for the weekends.  I didn’t do my morning ritual in the morning on Sunday, either.  But when I worked out at my regular time (2:30 pm) I stuck my breathing and meditating into that session.

So, cheating on Saturday, and back in business on Sunday.  Monday is as strong as ever.

Now, this is Tuesday, and all of my routines are still working for me.  I didn’t lose any ground on the weekend, in fact I gained strength in my routines by adjusting them for the situation.

Without cheating or the ability to change things around, my New Years Resolutions may have been dead in the water by January 8th. But because I can adjust on the fly, I’m still working the program.

And now I know that my chosen lifestyle can survive long term, even through weekends and holidays, thanks to my adjustments.

Yesterday I ended up only getting in seven cups of vegetables because I got distracted and skipped my three o’clock meal -- even though I was hungry.

But this is one of those things that you just get right back on your horse and ride. Today I’ll get my nine cups. Its 2pm right now and I’ve already had 2 cups and have four more in the oven. Then, if I just have three with dinner tonight, I’m at nine.  It’s getting easier than it was when I first started.  The amount of vegetables seemed ridiculous when I started but now it’s starting to feel more normal.

Also yesterday was my High Intensity workout day.  I didn’t record it, so I have no video to post, but it was a good hard workout.  I moved forward, increasing the sophistication of some of the movements, so I can tell I’m getting stronger.

Today I’m on No Intensity, which is basically resting, recovering and dealing with tightness and soreness.  Tomorrow I’ll do my yoga.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Uplifting Nia Experience

I got this email from a Nia student who used to take my class in New York.

He said I could post it on my blog so here it is. 
Nia Class in Action

"Taking Jason Griffin's Nia class has always been a positive experience.  For someone like me who is middle age and not in the best of shape Nia really improved my muscle term and flexibility within a relatively short time.  I've seen sharper mental focus in just a few weeks  and a difference in my energy levels and flexibility.  There are times when it was more challenging and Jason always guided me through it with ease and patience and determination which far exceded my expectations.  Plus it can be be much more fun then aerobics but just an effective.  It truly can improve endurance, strength and flexibility and you will feel so much better overall. Thanks, Jason, for helping me get back into fitness with Nia!"

  Henri, Bronx, NY.

Jason here:  Thanks Henri, for that lovely letter. I agree that there is something about Nia that makes it a fun way to get back into shape and improve all of the physical things that you mention, and much more. Also, many people feel much better emotionally after doing a Nia class, and more mentally clear. If you want to find out what Nia will do for you try a Nia class. You'll feel the difference.

Nia Home Page

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Soreness

I am just now making my coffee, which I get to do as a reward for doing my new morning ritual. Today I woke up very sore from yesterday’s workout.  Or at least, I think it was from yesterday’s workout. It could still be residual from two days ago.  Because usually it takes about 24 hours for delayed onset muscle soreness to show up after exercise, which won’t be until around three o'clock this afternoon.  I might be in for some serious soreness then; we’ll see.

I was a bit demotivated this morning because I was so achy and sleepy, but I still went into the room at my scheduled time for my morning breathing, moving and meditating ritual. 

Afterwards... Now...  I’m so glad I did it! I feel SO much better.  It actually felt better today than it has felt all week.  So this is an interesting paradox: “The less you feel like doing it, the better it will make you feel when you do.”

Also, it feels good to keep the habit going. I know that habits take a while to become ingrained, so I have to struggle through this period of development before it becomes like second nature.  Forcing myself to do it for three weeks should result in it just happening by itself from there on out.

On the exercise front, today is all about rest and recovery.  I may get a massage. I will probably take a long, hot bath. I will definitely drink a lot of water and do a lot of light stretching and mobilization to keep everything running smoothly.

Speaking of which, I went to the bathroom three times before 10am this morning.  (I guess I ate a lot of fiber yesterday.) I'm well-stocked with plenty of vegetables around so I don’t technically need to go to the store, but I will go anyway, just to keep the habit alive.  Maybe I’ll pick up extra toilet paper.

UPDATE - Later that the afternoon:
I’ve been moving and stretching all day and now, it’s almost 5pm and I’m feeling a second wave of soreness all over and a new soreness in my legs.  Which makes sense because Wednesday’s workout was more upper body and yesterday more full-body. but I’ll continue to stretch and move. I’m fine with soreness.  It’s pain I don’t welcome. And I'm pain-free.

For breakfast I had a pear and then two eggs with a cup each of parsnips, mushrooms and spinach. For lunch, I had 2 cups of cucumbers and a handful of almonds. Then a little bit later I walked to the store to get more coffee beans and coconut oil, and while i was there I bought and ate a cookie, just because I like those, and this is the only store I  see them in.

I’m already up to six cups for today, and I haven’t had dinner yet. So today was a breeze. What I love about this approach is that I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself of anything. I can have that cookie and it didn’t go against my goal. It just takes up space in my stomach, which I know I have to save for vegetables. I’ve never thought about it this way before, so it is fascinating to me.

Tonight I’m looking forward to my kale, and I have some sweet potatoes, beets and Brussels sprouts. If I think I’ll still be hungry once I see what that looks like, I’ll decide if I want to add some leftover chicken in there, too.

But it looks like it's going to be plenty of food.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Sweat

Yesterday, I was up to 6 cups of veggies by 4pm, but then a trip to the airport took longer than expected and I got hungry and impatient so I had a burger and fries. My vegetable quota was not met yesterday; I had a couple of bananas for dessert, so by the end of the day, I was two shy of my goal.  I was five over the day before, so I’m wondering if I can carry some of those over to yesterday and call it even? haha. I’m just going to assume it will be fine if I just get back up to nine today. No worries. 
Yesterday was the first day I really let myself sweat. I’d been at this for four days, but I’d been preparing for and building up to it incrementally. Here is a video of the exercises I did yesterday. 

It was a stability and strength day and I was focused a lot on stabilizing my pelvis and my shoulders with my abdomen as I do movements from a variety of angles on an unstable and changing surface.  The intensity was only moderate; just enough to make me sweat and struggle a little bit. 
Today is more intense and the focus is on bursts of intensity.  The movements are more familiar to me, so I’ll be free to give it a little juice to get my breathing and pulse as high as I can without losing control. The goal is to go to extreme high energy output and give myself a very short recovery period and go again. My goal is to push as hard and as fast as I can without losing form, and ideally, without showing any outward signs of struggle. I”m a little bit sore from yesterday’s workout, but I intend to work right through that....

I had a blast sweating and struggling in today’s workout.  I earned my rest tomorrow.
Today I got back on track with my vegetable eating.  I did walk to the store to pick up a couple of bunches of kale.  And I have had an apple, 3 cups of broccoli, 1 cup of red cabbage, 2 cups of beets and 2 cups of kale so far. I’m up to nine cups and haven’t even had dinner yet.

I had some butternut squash and more broccoli with my country style ribs tonight. And then later, for dessert, I had a couple of bananas and some blueberries with peanut butter and honey.
So I went a little overboard on the vegetables today, with the total ending up at thirteen cups.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 Vegetables

I was inspired by this video.

So now, I’m committed to eating nine cups of fresh fruits and vegetables a day.  Its not that hard, but it is a lot of vegetables.  I’m noticing that although I’m not a vegetarian, I feel like eating meat takes up too much room in my stomach.  If I’m going to be able to fit in all the vegetables, its going to push other stuff out of my diet.

Yesterday I started off with a mango.  But it wasn’t ripe. It was so sour, I only had two bites and threw it away.  Sad.  I had an apple instead.

Then, for lunch, I heated up some leftover dinner, which was beef, cauliflower, kale, parsnips, potatoes and rutabagas.  I had about two cups of that heated up on top of four cups of chopped and steamed Swiss chard.

After my afternoon workout, I was hungry again, so I had a cup each of roasted cauliflower, roasted beets, raw cucumber and raw spinach with a handful of almonds and topped with lemon juice and olive oil.

About five hours later, I made dinner, which included a cup each of beets, cauliflower, chicken, sweet potatoes and zucchini simmered in a Thai green curry.

So, adding it all up, I ate about 13 cups of produce yesterday. Wow.  I thought nine cups was going to be hard, but once I put my mind to it, it was easy.  I will say this though...

That’s a lot of vegetables.

At the risk of being crude, I want to say that after all the Swiss chard for lunch I had green poop last night.  And due to all the beets I ate, it was purple this morning.  Fun.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Establishing New Habits

I did it this morning!

My new morning ritual is in place.  I woke up, took River for a walk and then came back and did my breathing exercises, my morning movements and my meditation, all before going upstairs to have my coffee. 

I’m not looking for any earth-shattering results from doing this, but it does give a nice energetic glow to my day.

I’m also all prepared to get my nine cups of fruits and vegetables today.  I’ve got some Swiss chard, cucumber, zucchini, some beets, a mango, cauliflower and a sweet potato.  I’m guessing it's about nine cups, but I haven’t measured it.  I’m also not sure if I’m going to be able to eat it all, or if I’ll eat all of this and then eat even more.

But this is where I’m starting.   I’ll have that mango for breakfast...

And I will also be taking a walk to the store at some point today, where I will buy lots more fresh produce.

A bit later this afternoon, I'll be doing a bit of exercise. It will be a slight increase in the intensity (or lack thereof) from my movement yesterday.  All I did for exercise yesterday, outside of my daily morning movement, was a single set of High Performance Breathing and some joint mobilization exercises using the elastic band. today I'm going to be doing some yoga. 

2012 Check In

I am going to use my blog to “check in” daily and be sure I keep doing my new rituals. I’ll also be sharing my progress as I keep exploring new facets of my fitness edge.

Today I started what will become my morning ritual. I like this resolution to spend an hour breathing, meditating and moving each day. Although, this morning I didn’t start right away and my day went out of control for a while. So it was mid afternoon before I started my “morning ritual” and almost sunset before I finished.  But that’s fine, because I was glad to just do it. Tomorrow morning I can wake up and do it again and since I did it today, it won’t be foreign. I can be so sensitive in the morning when something is foreign.

So, we’ll see how that goes in the morning.

I also did some extra work with elastic bands and high performance breathing, but I’m saving anything intense for after I’ve been at this for a day or so.  So that was it for me, movement and exercise-wise today.

I also did a meditation. I couldn’t remember where I had put my mala beads, but while I was looking for them I found a set of mardi gras beads and I used a paper clip so I could get my meditation going. But afterwards I did find my mala beads, so I can use those tomorrow.

I didn’t do my breathing exercises. I couldn’t find my chart and diary and I got distracted while trying to find them and was out of time before I knew what hit me. I am now prepared though. As I said earlier, I can wake up tomorrow morning and easily do my movement, meditation and breathing exercises all before I go upstairs to make my coffee. 

OK Now I have a confession:
Here it is January 3 and I want to change my New Years Resolutions already.
My eating habits are already pretty great. I don’t know why I even bothered with that resolution about the sugar and the wheat. It’s not really an issue for me. I do eat those things, but I don’t think the amount that I use is problematic.

But I will eat those nine cups of fruits and vegetables every day. I’m excited about doing that. And furthermore, I want to make it a daily habit to walk to the store and buy fresh produce (or some food of some kind). The walking, the shopping, the getting away from my dog, River, for half an hour, these are all good healthy things. But depriving myself of something that I enjoy and don’t abuse? That’s not healthy. So... All in favor of me changing my mind on day three? .... Opposed? ...

OK.  Done.

I’m proud to report that today I did walk to the store, even though it was in the wind and the rain, because I didn’t have any olive oil for dinner. And while I was there I picked up a huge butternut squash, which I can have tomorrow. It felt great to walk and I got some fresh air and fresh food.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Motivation

How Do I Get Started?  How Do I Keep Going?

This time of year, more exercise, diet and fitness programs are started than at any other time of year.  In fact, I often use the momentum of this auspicious occasion to re-invigorate my programs.  Over the course of the year, I tend to slack off bit by bit so that by the time December rolls around, I’m eating cookies daily and exercising with little frequency.  So this seems like a good time to write about how to get and stay motivated.

Some people seem to have no problem convincing themselves that they have the time, the energy and the inclination to exercise and eat healthful food, while others seem to think it would be just as easy to walk straight up the side of a building--in other words, pretty darn impossible.

So what is the difference?

In this article I’m going to explain how I work my mind so that I am motivated to exercise every day and to make healthful choices at each meal.  And if you want to, you can work your mind this same way to motivate yourself.  This technique works for anything you want to be motivated to do.  But you have to do it FULLY.  No half-way doing this technique.  You have to fully commit and make it as meaningful and powerful as you can, and you will be amazed at how you can get yourself to do things that you’d been struggling with before.

I use visualization in my mind. 

Step 1: I create an awesome picture of myself in my head.  In this picture, I am in great shape.  All of my muscles are perfectly formed and my body fat is low enough so that I can see definition all over.  My abs are a beautiful eight-pack, my thighs are thick and sinewy.  Not only that, but I’m laughing and playing shirtless in the sunshine.  I have tons of energy and am in a great mood.  People (in my pictures) are always looking at me and sometimes even cheering because I’m such a fantastic specimen.  I also include pictures of me doing my workout in much the same way.  I feel physically strong and healthy and look amazing and I’m having a great time.

And then I put that picture right in front of me so that its very close.  This is all happening in my mind’s eye. But it would seem like if I reached out my hand, I could touch this picture.  The more clear, the more emotionally charged and the more detailed this picture, the better the technique works.

Step 2:  I create an opposite picture.  In this one, I am not exercising.  I am flabby and lacking in tone.  My energy is lethargic.  The colors of the picture are more drab and grey.  My mood is more dampened.  The people are still watching but they are only partially interested, milling around.  Some are embarrassed for me, some are laughing. My body is achy and stiff and I can barely reach down to tie my own shoes without a great deal of discomfort and strain.

I put that picture, and the accompanying sounds and feelings, directly behind me.  So close behind me that if I were to stop moving forward, it might bump me in the butt. 

So, are you getting a feeling for what its like in my mind?  Once those two pictures are put strongly into place, it is very easy for me to find the motivation to walk into my exercise room and get working.  I literally WANT to move away from the bad picture and towards the good picture. I’m compelled by these scenarios, much like Ebenezer Scrooge is faced with the choice of outcomes based on his current actions.

I have used this technique for many things including going to bed at a decent hour, skipping late night snacks, cleaning the apartment, doing my homework, etc.  the list goes on.

So, now that I have my pictures in place and my motivation is fired up, the next thing to consider is how to get started on this new venture.  I know from experience that starting off at a full gallop is a recipe for disaster.  I need to ease myself back into this lifestyle.

I will be blogging daily about how I’m re-instituting this lifestyle into my own life, and I hope that someone out there reading this will find some inspiration and some helpful guidance to make 2012 the year they get themselves on that track they’ve always been promising themselves to get on, but hadn’t found the mindset that supports the lifestyle.

Now, with this mindset, your lifestyle will be supported, and following along this healthful path will soon be its own reward.  Thanks for following along with me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Resolutions

This year, I’ve decided to blog about my adventures in getting my life back on the health and fitness track.  I have to admit, I’ve been coasting for the last few months of 2011.
So, another New Year and another opportunity to assess how much my life has gotten away from me.  I often use this time of year to make new promises to myself.  And I’m almost always seeking self-improvement through these changes.

I’ve written down some basic Resolutions for the New Year. Notice that the way I word these things are as if they’re already happening.  This is the most powerful way to phrase these affirmations.  Also, I can never affirm to NOT do something.  For example, it won’t work to say “I’m going to stop smoking” as well as it will work to say, “I love to breathe only fresh clean air and I love having healthy lungs.”  To me, the energy of the two statements are significantly different.

I also like to give myself a built in reward whenever possible.

So here’s what I came up with:

1- I love to devote an hour of my morning to doing twenty minutes each of light exercises, breathing and meditation.  It really makes the day feel much better. Doing it is its own reward, but I also allow myself to have a cup of coffee after I do it, as another type of reward.

2 -I love to eat at least nine cups of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
And as a reward for that, I allow myself a single, small treat that night.

3- I love to give consideration to my consumption of sugar and wheat and only use both in very limited amounts, if at all.

I could go on, but I want to keep myself from going nuts or from being overwhelmed by all of this change at once.  So I made a list of things I wanted and then I chose the three that I felt would make the biggest difference and get me closest to what I wanted to be.  Then, if I find that I’m achieving this without too much difficulty, I can always go back and add more in mid-year.

I also got a new dog.  I’ve had him for four months now and being in relationship with him has really helped to open my eyes to some of my personality peccadillos.  So based on what I’m learning through him, I have a bonus thought for this year.  My theme for the year will be PEACE. And by nurturing a positive relationship with my dog, River, I will navigate myself away from anger and impatience into more peace and forgiveness.