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Archive for the ‘100 Days of Fitness’ Category

Emotional state today: Up

Today is the final day of these 100 Days of Fitness. What began as a question (“Can I really do this?”) was answered in the affirmative by simple day-by-day persistence and commitment. To celebrate, I’d like to summarize in today’s post what I’ve learned and achieved.

Diet & Exercise

My intention when I began was to create a new, healthier relationship to food and exercise. I believe I have indeed achieved this. Most of the time I don’t miss the foods that I’ve cut out of my diet, and when I do miss them there’s a clear emotional need behind the craving. I only remember 4 “cheats,” all of which I’ve documented here: naan and a lassi at an Indian restaurant, homemade chocolate and bread that was a gift, a single beer (also a gift), and the 1 pretzel nugget and 3 jelly beans I had the other day.

I can feel that there’s been a shift in my eating habits, and I’ve decided that I want to continue eating this way at home. When I go out to a restaurant or friend’s house, I will have the option of loosening my guidelines, but I want that to be a conscious process. I believe this is a healthy next step for me.

Regarding exercise, I focused primarily on Vic Magary’s 31-Day Fat Loss Cure “Beginner Home” workout. I did not advance to the later workouts like I thought I would. I’m okay with that because even after 100 days, there’s still room for growth for me with this first workout routine. My intention is to stick with it until I complete the maximum sets/reps for each exercise. Then I will move on to the “Beginner Gym” routine.

Here’s a quick tally of various stats:

  • Weight lost: 6.6 lbs.
  • Burpees, max: In one workout, 92; consecutive, 50
  • Body squats, max: 125
  • Body lunges, max: 90
  • Squat jumps, max: 200
  • Pushups, max: 197
  • Workouts completed: 5 out of 7 (all but Workouts A and C)

I also learned that my capacity for intensity is a lot higher than I thought it was. The lesson I take from this is that I am capable of giving (and getting) more than I think I can, as long as I’m willing to do what’s uncomfortable.

Emotions

Underlying my intention to create a new relationship with food and exercise was a desire to confront some of the painful thoughts and feelings that lead me to make unhealthy choices. This was probably the biggest victory for me. I feel so much more capable of identifying what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it, as well as how to shift that feeling to something “better.” By “better” I mean more aligned with my values and goals.

Just today I had two experiences that I noticed were sending me into a downward spiral of mood. One involved an interaction with a stranger that I was giving too much meaning to. I recognized this, asked my sister for some help to support me, and together we turned my mood around 180 degrees in probably 15 minutes or so. The second instance involved an interaction with someone very important to me. I noticed what was happened and chose to look at the situation differently and to play a different role, and all of the “problems” vanished as a result.

I’m also seeing just how closely productivity and mood are related to me. I define productivity as “the feeling you get from making progress on the things that are most important to you.” When I spend my time on things that are not important to me, I don’t feel good about life. I feel like I’m avoiding life, just like how I’ve avoided life by resorting to comfort foods. All of this stuff is connected, and I’m seeing those connections so clearly now.

Emotional State

Since I started tracking my emotional state, I’ve had 15 “up” days, 7 “down” or “very down” days, and 17 “not down” days. This blows my mind. 82% of the days were “not down” or “up.” This is a great life! And a stark contrast to the sad story I’ve been telling myself about my life. I think the key was realizing that the old story was based on the assumption that if a day wasn’t “up” it must have been “down.” This isn’t true. With that old story, I would have experienced 61% of my days as being “bad” days, versus 82% as being “good” days. That’s a huge difference. This tracking of my emotional state is an important tool that I plan to keep using.

In fact, the three most valuable tools I’ve discovered that will further my growth here are tracking my emotional states, using my “positivity playlists” on my iPod, and sitting meditation.

Sitting Meditation

Another one of the most important lessons from these 100 days is that sitting meditation is my clear priority in life. It’s the single most important thing I can do for my personal growth. And I’m starting to believe that by extension, it’s also the single most important thing I can do for the benefit of others.

I will keep sitting first thing in the morning. I’d like to create a habit of a solid 7 AM start time, but I’ve been struggling with getting to bed early enough for that to happen consistently. That’s my edge, and I’ll continue to focus on it.

A quick tally of my sits: I added sitting meditation to these 100 days on Day 65. In those final 35 days, I sat in meditation 35 times. There were days I did not sit, and there were a few days I sat twice.

Conclusion

I am so grateful for all of the people (including me!) and opportunities that have conspired to make this 100-day experiment possible. I’ve done this many times, and this has been the most valuable one yet.

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Emotional state today: Not down

I felt drowsy during my sit this morning because I stayed up late last night. I must remember that the quality of my sit is affected by how much sleep I get. My practice of meditation does not live in a vacuum. This is a holistic perspective of my life.

I did not workout today. I had an opportunity early this evening to do some pushups when I got home from my meetings, but I got distracted from that thought, and so half forgot and half blew it off.

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Emotional state today: Up

Triumvirate complete: Sat for meditation, wrote, worked out. Stark contrast to yesterday. I felt good about things today.

Today was Workout E, seven sets each of 10 lunges and 10 burpees. I completed the full workout in 21 minutes, the same amount of time as last time. But this time it felt easier. I probably could have pushed myself to a higher level of intensity, but I was being very attentive to my knee so that there would be no pain.

I had a very intense conversation (argument?) with a friend today. What was great about this is that I usually avoid conflicts like this at all costs. And when I can’t avoid them, they make me extremely uncomfortable, to the point where I get flustered and can’t think straight. But today I was able to maintain an intensity of style without the intensity of emotion. I felt relatively detached. I still cared very much about my argument and felt it (and the relationship with my friend) was worth the intensity and energy, but I didn’t feel that my sense of self was being threatened. This is maybe the first time I’ve ever experience conflict like this.

I can’t help but think that this experience is the result of the shifts I’ve made in these 100 days.

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Emotional state today: Down, ending not down

No meditation, no workout, skipped yoga class, no writing. Lots of anxiety, verging on panic. The feeling of “the day is getting away from me” kept getting stronger and stronger, and I almost stayed paralyzed and did nothing all day.

At about 3, I went for a walk with my iPod and cleared my head. I got back and was productive for an hour or two, and my mood went up.

My mood is definitely affected by my feeling of productivity, which is really a subjective assessment of how focused I am on things that are important and meaningful to me. And I’ve noticed that I seem to experience a mood/productivity momentum for the day. If things get going on a productive path, they seem to continue to get better from there. If things get stalled early, they get harder and harder to jumpstart as the day continues. Or so it seems. Today was an example of just how quickly I can turn things around.

The whole idea of a “day” is a story anyway. There’s no such thing as a “productive day” or an “unproductive day.” There’s just the question: How productive am I being right now?

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Emotional state today: Not down

I noticed during my sit this morning that much of my suffering is the result of imagining conflicts with people over things that may never even happen. I can get lost in these negative fantasies for 5, 10, 15 minutes. And at the end of it, it feels almost as if I’d actually had the argument or fight. It’s total insanity. At least now, though, I seem to be able to smile at this mental process after I’ve caught myself doing it. And I have a strategy (using my iPod) to preempt these negative fantasies during certain “risk” activities (like washing the dishes, brushing my teeth, etc.).

I wrote today!

I also fit in a short pushup workout, 4 sets totaling 100 pushups. (I also sat for a second time tonight at my meditation group.) Triumvirate complete!

But I deviated from the diet slightly. I ate a pretzel nugget and 3 jelly beans at my nieces’ neighborhood Easter egg hunt. I think I slipped into “check out” mode. I’m so close to the end of these 100 Days of Fitness that I’m starting to project myself beyond them. The temptations are getting stronger.

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Emotional state today: Not down

I listened to Alan Watts on my iPod tonight while brushing/flossing/etc. and it helped a lot. I still caught my mind drifting to negative thinking, but it was brief and only happened once.

Instead of doing Workout E today (my left knee is still sore from yesterday) I did 4 sets of pushups and 4 sets of body rows. That’s going to be my strategy from now on, to work my upper body on days I experience soreness in my knee.

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Emotional state today: Not down

I had an amazingly productive and relatively peaceful day. I can’t remember the last time I accomplished this much. And I fit in an accidental 3-hour nap! (Yes, I laid down for what I expected to be about 30 minutes and woke up 3 hours later.

Today marks the beginning of the last 7 days of these 100 Days of Fitness. My goal is to stick to the “31-Day Fat Loss Cure” program very strictly, both diet and exercise. I did Workout D, which is 12 30-second sets of squat jumps separated by 30 seconds of rest, and I achieved my best performance yet. I did 200 squat jumps, a 12% increase from last time and a 4.7% increase from my previous best.

I also sat for meditation first thing this morning, and I wrote (!), completing my personal triumvirate for the day.

I used my iPod (listening to Alan Watts) while I walked to the post office and library, and while I made soup. The only time today that I went really negative was when I was brushing my teeth tonight. I’ll make a point to use the iPod when I brush my teeth tomorrow.

The final victory I want to report is that I’m on track to get to bed by 10:30 tonight, which is the earliest I’ve gone to bed in a while.

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