17 Dec 2014. IT’S ALL PART OF THE PROCESS

Standard

This week I have been thinking a lot about how I use my time. Being such a part-time worker (for about 8 months now I’ve been virtually unemployed), I have quite a lot of it and I like to think I have been using it well. I realised however, that I have come to think of exercise as my work, and it feels as though it fills up all of my time. In reality however, the amount of time I spend exercising including my yoga practice- is only about 1 to 2 hours a day. So…where does the rest of the time go?

It dawned on me that I spend so much time DWELLING on the run I must go for later, or the class I will eventually have to get on my bike and cycle to, that I’m losing the entirety of my day to what is really a very small portion of it.

I decided it was time to heed my Mothers advice on living mindfully and start actively bringing myself back to NOW, throughout the course of each day.

I am a very results driven person: I am active and I am arty but when I do these things, I am often focussed on the final outcome of the activity and constantly striving to become more efficient: always wanting to get better results with less and less effort. It’s a recipe for disaster: I like the idea of doing things, get enjoyment from the planning of schemes and strategies, and from the dreams of how happy I’ll be when I reach each goal, but rarely from the actual implementation. Of course, this leads to demotivation and the putting-off of activity: I am already perceiving any benefit as a future event that it wont hurt just to put off for another day while I slob about and gorge myself on ice cream. I realised that if I can learn to appreciate the PROCESS of doing things then I will open myself up to really ENJOY my hobbies and interests. The enjoyment of process can turn every activity into an immediate, no waiting, benefit if I choose, rather than a necessary chore or something that must be ticked off a list of things I must do each day in order to define myself as an interesting, healthy, happy human being.

My game-plan has been one of the simplest I have ever tried to implement:

Whatever I am doing, I focus on it. If my mind wanders to what I need to do next or later or tomorrow, I just put it aside and really concentrate on the physical and mental sensations of the task in hand- be it eating breakfast, writing my journal, sending emails, anything at all- when it is completed or I have had enough, I can move on to the next thing.

And guess what, by putting future tasks aside and taking things one at a time, I don’t just forget to do them later (as my brain likes to tell me I will). By rejecting continual multi-tasking I have not become less productive. Quite the contrary in fact: I have been fitting far more into my days- social time as well as work, exercise as well as slobbing about in front of the TV.

One week in and it has already had a profound effect on my mindset, productivity and self-worth. By engaging with my PRESENT, I am beginning to find pleasure in my activities and feeling the potential of every minute of my day rather than becoming anxious about how I will ever get to a stage where EVERYTHING has been done and I can truly relax (an impossible goal in itself, yet one we continually torments ourselves with).

I have been getting more from my workouts too. By feeling the sensations the freedom I feel when I run, the strength and power I can generate when I put my mind (and body) to it- I have begun to genuinely enjoy the effort and have finally come to terms with the idea that none of this is necessarily about an end result, it’s about enjoying the ride.

Advertisements

28 Nov 2014. DAMAGE CONTROL

Standard

I have been absent, not only from the online world, but from the exercise world in general. Despite the last cycle starting Strong (see what I did there?) it went downhill quickly after the arrival of my delightful boyfriend Tyler, who is Canadian and therefore needed showing around the length and breadth of England. We succeeded…and I failed in exercising…

I must confess however, that 6 weeks is too long to be on the road for (especially for a reluctant traveler like Tyler) and though we did have quite a lot of travel time, we did spend a few weeks at my home, a period in which I had hoped to get back into routine and limit the potential damage of a full 6 week hiatus from exercise.

It turns out that a loitering boyfriend is a seriously demotivating influence- apparently I find it incredibly difficult to work out to corny YouTube videos when there are witnesses present. My yoga practice has also suffered as I found myself- mid downward facing dog- wondering ‘Oh dear, I hope he’s not getting too bored.’ It would seem I have something of an overbearing mothering/suffocating instinct, God help my children should I have any…

But there IS a silver-lining to all this failure: in large part thanks to my new job at the Leisure Centre (I get off-peak free access) not just my desperation to get out on my own for an hour or two (!), I have discovered a love of group exercise classes. My competitive streak- against the other participants as well as my own past performances- means I work my butt off every time AND I also work-out for longer than I would at home where my attention is constantly distracted.  Furthermore, the set time schedules mean I cant procrastinate and keep putting off my workouts until 9pm. Result.

Let the new dawn of my public work-outs begin…next week- I am currently nursing snuffles so bad I fear they would send me home from a class with looks of disgust and fears of contagion.

In the meantime I shall yoga my way back to good health in time for BodyPump on Monday

24 Sep 2014. PULLING IT TOGETHER

Standard

Weght: 126lbs (9 stone)

I am slowly and painfully inching my way back onto the wagon. My successes of late, which I am DESPERATELY trying to focus on, are that I have learned to love yoga. I would happily do it for all my workouts, any time of day EVEN first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, battling my way through strength training and gruelling runs and the feeling of achievement when it’s over is still the only truly effective way I have found to silence the demons in my brain and distract me from my snack-attacks.

My knees are still tweaky so I’m allowing myself off running for now, but my PAINFUL transition back into my strength training is beginning to make me suspect just one thing: I’m BORED.

I still LOVE Jillian Michaels, from the bottom of my heart, but- as with Yoga with Adriene– I know the workouts inside-out, back-to-front. I find myself thinking ahead to the circuits I hate most and filling up with pre-emptive dread, despite enjoying the actual present experience. Its time to mix it up.

I’m a LITTLE slow to the party, but today I tried out LiveStrong’s STRONGER plan. I’m not gonna lie- I miss Jillian, but I did enjoy the work-out, which is encouraging a tad corny but I think I can cope, and it seems to challenge me enough to be worthwhile. I intend to commit to the 8 weeks and make it the basis of my new ‘cycle’. On top of that, I will be nurturing my new yoga-love with daily sessions between 20 minutes and 1hr- time and feeling dependent. In a week or so, when my knees stop creaking, I am going to sub in some runs for the cardio work-outs. In the meanwhile, I’ll finish off my final week of ‘cycle 2’ with trials of the other STRONGER workouts.

I’m feeling re-motivated just plotting it…let’s get cracking…

CHANGE OF SCENE, CHANGE OF PLAN

Standard

Yesterday I left my home in Whistler BC. After more than 2 years of happy living it was heart-wrenching not least because my boyfriend stays behind but also because it is the place I love to call home.

I have been thinking a lot about what the change-from the glorious mountains back to the English suburbs- will do for my motivation. On the one hand, I think to myself, I’ll have nothing better to do with my time than exercise, but then I realise- in Whistler there really is NOTHING BETTER than to go out training.

Whistler is a playground. Whether you want mile upon mile of paved pedestrian ways through the valley, or the steep and winding singletrack through the forests. Whether your passion is to run or cycle, skate or hike, and winter skiing goes without saying. In the summer there are lakes for wild swimming aplenty. It’s never really a question of whether I can be bothered to go out and train today, but ‘where should I adventure today?’

And then there’s the people. Where there is a playground, there will be people who flock to play in it. And play hard. Tomorrow is Ironman no less and the number of runners I’ve seen out and about this week in their jerseys has been just another source of inspiration to go faster. But even on a quiet old regular week (as if…) the people who live and play in whistler are a community of superhumans; people for whom a bracing morning yoga session on the paddleboard before jogging home to get ready for work, and wrapping up the day with a few hours of biking, is standard course. As much as awareness of these people makes me feel all the more guilty on my lazy days, I still feel inspired by their presence. Being surrounded by hyperfit and never-aging outdoor life-lovers certainly does a thing or two to keep me motivated.

So what now? Back to suburban living in sunny old England. It means a shakeup of my training schedule that’s for sure- without the challenge of difficult technical trail runs at my daily disposal, I’m going to have to incorporate far more of the speedwork that I love to hate. It’s going to be much harder to find unpaved places for my poor cranky knees to run on so there might have to be more ‘indoor cardio’. There are no bike trails on my doorstep so I’m going to have to get used to the road.

It’s certainly going to be quite the change. Fortunately, so much of my love of exercise is in the feeling it gives me inside, and not just the environment I live in, so I think I can make it. And I’m not going to lie: I’ve enjoyed every minute of restrategizing my training plan! The thought of returning to Whistler next year and being able to play even harder for being in the best shape of my life certainly doesn’t do any harm either.