Update on the Super Awesome Month of Yoga

12 days in, and I’ve only missed one. I’m still not sure how successful I’ve been so far, though.

One the one hand, something is always better than nothing. So if nothing else, I’m doing some yoga every day.

On the other hand, I’m not doing a lot yet. I haven’t gone to a yoga class. I haven’t made it through a full ashtanga session on my own.

Mostly, it’s just been doing the sun salutations, and then I started doing a bit more past the warm-ups so that I could make vanity posts on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsdCXIIgKJW/

Well, maybe they’d be vanity posts if I was in better shape. Either way, I’d like to post the primary series before the end of the month, which I think is doable if I’m posting almost every day (or if I start editing the videos so that I’m not logging the pauses or so I can speed things up).

But this week is when classes start, so it’s good and it’s bad. It’s good because that means the on-campus yoga classes are back in full swing, and I’ve got a teacher and a class that should be a good fit. It’s bad because work ramps up, and when I get tired, getting my ass to yoga class isn’t a priority.

We’ll see how it goes.

It’s a mixed bag, but at least I’m doing something.

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Super Awesome Year of Me: Beginning the Yoga Kick

We’re 5 days into the Super Awesome Year of Me and 5 days into the Super Awesome Month of Yoga.

And I’m a slacker.

Technically, I’ve done yoga every day, but I haven’t been able to do anything resembling strenuous yoga. But I have been doing yoga.

Before Thanksgiving, I got pretty sick, and it knocked me on my ass (I dropped 10-15 pounds as a result). I think I made it into the gym once or twice after Turkey Day before breaking for Christmas holidays.

In other words, my body was not ready for anything.

So far, I’ve done one day of a light yoga routine from my first yoga book, I’ve done two days of the first sun salutation series, and I’ve done two days of the first sun salutation series plus three rounds of the second sun salutation series. Not doing the full five and five is partially the fault of my current town’s yoga studio. It never occurred to me before that you could not do the both full rounds if you made it into the second round. But here we are.

And results? My back aches. My knee aches. But I don’t know what to attribute that to.

My back could hurt because of yoga or sitting in the office for the first time in a while or from how I’m sleeping. My knee could hurt because of yoga or from filling my tires up or just because.

But I’m 5 for 5, and I’ll take it. Hopefully tomorrow yields better results. Hopefully I’ll get my ass in an actual yoga class eventually so I can’t slack off so easily.

With that, see you the next time around.

Making Time for the Super Awesome Year

One of the reasons I was hesitant to revisit the Super Awesome Year of the Q was because of the time and energy a daily challenge took. 365 days in a row, I’m trying to avoid taking a day off. That’s a lot.

But I ultimately decided it would do more good than harm.

But again, more good than harm.

The list was put together because they’re all things I should be doing but don’t always accomplish. So I wanted to paint a picture of why it might be difficult to accomplish every goal every day from a simple time perspective.

For the sake of simplicity, I have to include some daily constants that would fluctuate on a real day, but at least give us a baseline:

  • Sleep – 8 hours
  • Work – 8 hours
  • Shower – 10 minutes
  • Commute – 20 minutes
  • Eat – 30 minutes

It’s still time, though. Even the Super Awesome Year of the 5K took a lot of time. I lost one Saturday every month, in addition to all the time lost to runs throughout the week.

From the outset, I lose 17 of my 24 hours in the day. This doesn’t include me needing to pee, so understand how this can go south real fast.

Now for the daily challenges:

  • Yoga – 20 to 90 minutes. This depends on what type of yoga I’m doing. If I got to class, I lose at least an hour, not including time to get to and from class, plus what will often necessitate a second shower for the day. 20 minutes is the baseline “I’m just doing a quick routine for the sake of doing a routine,” while 90 is at an ashtanga class and dying of dehydration (so add in time to prep my Gatorade and extra time to pee from all the rehydration).
  • Ukulele – 30 minutes. And I’m not going to include tuning the thing in this, so mentally add another minute or two.
  • 10,000 steps – It takes roughly 10 minutes to get 1,000 steps. That means 100 minutes to hit this daily goal. This one is the biggest time suck. I have to go out of my way a lot to hit this one.
  • Poems – Let’s say 10 minutes. Some days will go more quickly. Some might take longer. This isn’t one I know how will go because this is a first for me. I don’t do poems very often, much less forcing it every day.
  • 10 flights of stairs – 2 minutes is a very conservative estimate. I don’t think it’ll take that long, but 1 seemed too few.
  • Guitar – 30 minutes. Again, doesn’t include tuning or apologizing to the neighbors for playing Glycerine again.
  • Home-cooked meal – Thought I forgot food prep in the original list, didn’t you? 30 minutes is probably about right. I wouldn’t cook every day, but I still have to account for getting 3 meals ready to eat each day.
  • Draw something – 30 minutes. Some days go more quickly and some take a lot longer, but 30 minutes is what it seemed to take to ideate and execute the last time I did this. And then of course taking pictures for the ‘gram.
  • Spanish – 10 minutes. This is just enough time to run through a couple of Duolingo lessons.
  • Meditate – 10 minutes. And if I’m in a rush, I should probably add more time for this.
  • 1,000 words – When I’m on my game, I do about 80 words a minute (81 according to the typing test I just took; Yes, I’m so committed to this blog I took a typing test in the middle of typing this so that I could give you an accurate number, not one from my 10th grade keyboarding class.). If I did nothing but type, it would take me at least 12 minutes to type 1,000 words. To actually come up with the idea and put it together, we’re realistically looking at 20-30 minutes.
  • Read – 30 minutes. At least the goals with a time attached are easy enough to track.

Total time for the goals on the most conservative estimate: 322 minutes or 6 hours and 22 minutes.

That’s 23 hours and 22 minutes of my 24-hour day that would be consumed by goals and necessities. And I didn’t include potty breaks or getting dressed.

Of course, that’s the goals envisioned as I would want to do them. I can cheat a little. I can do my reading, Spanish, and meditation while I walk (hell, yoga is meditation if I want to count it somewhere else).

That still only buys me 50 minutes. That’s 22 hours and 32 minutes of my day.

So that’s the difficulty with setting goals. Fortunately, I don’t intend on doing all of these every day. Instead, I get to focus on one at a time (and hopefully not completely derail the rest of my life in the process).

But today is January 1, and I’ve done yoga. If nothing else, I got this year started off on the right foot.

THE Workout

This morning, I read an article on the running workout called The Michigan.

Who says I don’t post running-related content anymore?

It got me thinking about the most important/most grueling workouts I’ve done in my life. The immediate criteria was an obscene amount of sweat, but that wasn’t really the right criteria.

A good workout will leave you covered in sweat. But in thinking about THE workouts, I wanted to pull the ones that forced me to leave it all on the table.

I had to draw a boundary for post-high school life. Because I played football in high school (and also did track and powerlifting to get better at football), it would have been easy to include the workouts we did right after the season. They were a glorious pain in the ass.

The started with something called speed weights, which I’ve neither seen or heard of since then. We would rotate about 5 weight stations, and then do 3 or 4 rounds for something like 30 to 60 seconds lifting AS FAST AS YOU CAN. This would then be chased by a bunch of speed/agility/conditioning drills outside that you were to do AS FAST AS YOU CAN.

I get the speed/agility/conditioning part. I still have no clue what the point of speed weights were. You’re obviously not focusing on form at that point. And we’d just finished a season that included lifting on non-game days.

As far as I can tell, the point was psychological.

That’s an example of the hard work required for THE workout, but I don’t want to include it for one reason: I don’t think it was terribly effective for actually improving performance. For something to be THE workout, I need to believe it has real effects beyond psychological torture.

The first workout out I did as an adult that I think of as THE workout was what I was doing in grad school when I moved to Florida.

For a while, I’d been doing a decent job of lifting consistently and running. Usually these things didn’t happen on the same day, but sometimes they did.

Running for me is torture (re: the name of this blog).

There was a 2.5-mile loop around the lake on the University of Florida’s campus. All in all, it’s a nice little loop. You get some climbs but not so many as to be obscene. Aside from parking lots, you’re never really in danger of getting hit by a car. And occasionally you’ll see a gator.

I’ve only run the full loop without walking once, but I’ve hit 2 miles a few more times. Brutal.

But that’s still not THE workout.

No, to be THE workout, there needed to be a little extra.

That’s where the weights came in.

On an ideal day, my weight days then would consist of squats, lunges, leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises, bench, rows, bicep curls, tricep extensions, and shrugs. There were some variations to sub in, but that was generally the workout.

That was a good workout. Add it to a trip around the lake, and we have THE workout.

It actually wasn’t too bad on planning. You don’t want to run in the Florida heat midday. The gym opened at 10 on the weekend. That meant I could start my loop around 9:30, and then I’d be getting to the gym as it opened to do the second part of the workout.

I was drenched with sweat, and pretty much every part of my body was shot by the end (we’re going to ignore the complete absence of core work).

But it’s not the only THE workout. The other is one I’ve shared with y’all before: ashtanga yoga.

It all started in early 2016, as noted in the smart-ass post that gets entirely too many sincere clicks from people hoping for help in writing a thank you letter to their yoga teachers.

I started doing yoga in 2009 as an attempt to mitigate back pain. It worked swimmingly. I still have some issues, but it’s not as ever-present when I do what I know I should do.

And from the beginning, there were workouts that could leave me exhausted and dripping in sweat.

Try holding lunges until the sun goes down and you’ll understand how you can get wore out.

But we needed a little bit of extra. Enter ashtanga.

Ashtanga’s little bit of extra are the vinyasas. Jump back, chaturanga, up dog, down dog, jump forward. 58 of them.

I’ve never done them all, but that’s what you’re shooting for.

I’ve taken child’s pose three times in my yoga life: the first time I was in a heated class and was in terrible shape, the first time I did an ashtanga class, and this week after wiping myself out with a lifting workout, though I’m not in terrible shape, just bad shape.

I wasn’t in great shape for that ashtanga workout, but I didn’t think I would need to do that after more than a year of consistent class attendance. But ashtanga was something else. It was THE workout.

And that’s the goal. Not every day, but at least some days. And then eventually THE workout might get replaced by something even more trying.

What I’m Thankful For

Things have become such a garbage fire that people forgot to do their thankful November posts. You know, the daily post about what they’re thankful for.

I’ve never really been one for that kind of thing, but since it’s no longer a thing, I feel like it’s time to say what I’m thankful for:

I’m thankful for friends and family. Through the good and the bad, I’ve always had people who were there for me. Even when I wasn’t always able to reach out, there were always people willing to be there for me.

I’m thankful for my body. It’s a bit of an a-hole sometimes, but I can still do 90% of what I want to do, and that’s a whole lot better than it could be. I still take the stairs because there will come a day when I can’t.

I’m thankful for music. I listen to music nearly the entire day. I play music. When I have the mental energy, I make my own music. Music is, wait for it, the soundtrack to my life.

I’m thankful for people who still believe the truth is worth pursuing. In an era of politicians blatantly lying, of cable news turning nonstories into obsessions for ratings, you still have some folks out there trying to tell the truth. You can’t put a price on that.

And I’m thankful for chocolate chip muffins. Know how delicious those things are?

Super Awesome Year of Q: The Sequel

How unwanted was this sequel? I said I wasn’t going to do it again. At least I won’t be doing the diet-related ones (mostly).

Two years ago, I did a Super Awesome Year of Me. I set daily goals to go after. And it was exhausting. I thought it was too exhausting. But right now I’m so tired that I’m not doing a lot of things I want to do. So maybe being exhausted by daily goals is the better option.

What are you gonna do?

Image result for ricky hormone monster

I did make one key change: No dietary restrictions. That was scary with how much it affected my weight and how hungry I got. I wasn’t even engaging in calorie restriction. I do have one food-related goal, but it’s not a dietary restriction.

January – Yoga

I felt like the best way to kick of the year was the physical activity that’s most important for my well-being.

A lot of this month will be left on my own, but between the university’s gym and the town’s yoga studio, I’m hoping to get in a fair amount of classes, though we all know how picky I am.

February – 30 Minutes of Ukulele

After saying this would be the year of the banjo, this turned out to be the year of the ukulele. I’m two weeks into being a ukulele player. I’m not doing terribly on practicing, but I’d like the chance to kick things up a bit, as opposed to the 5-10 minutes I’m squeezing in now (I keep it at work, so it’s a mental warmup).

Maybe I should make a list of songs to learn.

Image result for twitter ukulele meme

March – 10K Steps

This one was awesome last time, though obnoxiously time-consuming. The tricky part is it’s brutal in the winter, and it’s a guaranteed extra shower in the summer, so I had to hit fall or spring.

Oklahoma in March is spring. It’s also potentially summer and winter. This could get interesting.

It takes about an hour and a half to hit 10,000 steps at a regular pace. But at least I’ll get in a lot of podcast/audiobook time.

Image result for podcast meme

April – Poems

I’m not sure why the poems belong in April. I think it was just trying to balance out the artistic months.

And what is driving this? Nothing in particular. I just like to write.

May – 10 Flights of Stairs

I hit this one a fair amount, but it’s mostly about keeping myself honest. This is also when my classes stop, so it’s easier for me to become desk-bound. I’m hoping this at least gets me wandering around a bit more.

Image result for kung fu panda stairs meme

June – 30 Minutes of Guitar

Mostly, this is just a chance to reset and make sure that I’m still playing my guitar. The ukulele sits in my office. It has an unfair advantage of being within arm’s reach.

Image result for anyway here's wonderwall

July – Home-cooked Meal

Nothing packaged. Nothing bought in a restaurant or store. Just one meal a day that was cooked completely by me. Leftovers are just fine.

This is such a low bar, but we’ll see how I’ll figure out a way to limbo underneath it.

August – Draw Something

The month that gave us the monkey sitting by a tree looking out on the ocean. What more can you hope for?

IMG_2970
Day 8

Evidently, I’m hoping to draw things out in the world. We’ll see what that ends up looking like.

September – 10 Minutes of Spanish

Hardly a lofty goal, but ever since I hit 30 days in a row on Duolingo, my commitment to the process has dropped off. Mostly, this is just to make sure I’m back on track at some point.

October – Meditate 10 Minutes

Octobers suck. They always suck.

Being on the semester schedule, Octobers are when things tend to come to a head. Everything seems to be happening at once. Grading hits a peak, there’s advising, and there are always a few conference deadlines.

I actively dread Octobers. I need to take some time for me.

Image result for gandhi meditation quotes

November – 1,000 Words

1,000 words a day that happen to coincide with National Novel Writing Month? Coincidence? I think not.

December – Read for 30 Minutes

We’re closing out this year the way we closed out last year. Sometimes you just need a good book.

Image result for daria books

 

The Argument Against Variety

A few months ago, I posted about the importance of variety for a, well, variety of things.

Today, I want to argue against variety. I want to talk about why variety can sometimes be your undoing.

I’m going to talk instead about getting really good at one thing.

The Bruce Lee quote gets thrown out, but it has its value. You can find it in another saying: Jack of all trades and master of none.

By dabbling in everything, you never give yourself a chance to be very good at any of it.

For me, it shows up in a few different places. The easiest place to see it is when I’m competing.

I’ve been playing chess since I was in 2nd grade. I’ve been playing it badly the entire time. BUT when I do have a good game, I can tell you exactly how it happened: My queen was running across the board picking apart the opposition.

With video games, the same thing happens. I learn how to do one thing well, and then I lean into it. I’m generally terrible at defense in video games and instead build up my offensive power as high as I can manage to make up the difference. Sometimes I hit a level that it becomes my undoing, but usually it works.

Playing guitar is the same way. I’ve been at it for almost 18 years now, but I don’t have a wide range of skills or music that I’m playing. It’s generally Americana and punk. Folk punk is my happy medium.

There’s a whole personality profile built around the idea of playing to your strengths. For the record, I’m competition, deliberative, intellection, input, and ideation. The whole idea is that you should approach things in a way that puts you in a position to succeed.

In Good to Great, they refer to the hedgehog allegory: The fox is wily and comes up with new plans to attack the hedgepig every day, but the little guy just curls up in a ball and survives every day because he can do one thing very well.

We often get hung up on what The Best thing is, when really the answer what is the The Best thing for me?

Individual differences and preferences matter. The best workout is the one you will do.

Is walking a great workout? No. Unless you won’t do anything else, and then it’s the best workout in the world.

For me it feels inadequate compared to running. But I haven’t been running in about two months.

Walking starts to look pretty good.

I don’t need to be good at every aspect of health and fitness. I need to find where I can succeed. I’m not big on cooking for myself, but I can at least try to make better decisions when I’m eating out.

But every rule has its exceptions. Most people are going to be better off concentrating on something and then trying to be the best at that.

And then there’s Donald Glover.

He’s a successful comedian, writer, actor, musician, and TV creator.

Stupid Donald Glover. Making the rest of us look bad. But at least he gave us good jams.