Four Days in July

I broke my streak as soon as my friend came to visit. This was partially my own fault and partly because of weather. I had four days in July where I just didn’t run at all….and two of them were long runs that I sacrificed for fun. See, I find it hard to get up at 6am to run alone in the pouring down rain and lightning. I think that makes me a good balance of push and relax. Although, I couldn’t get motivated to go out and run in the evenings either…..after a long day at the beach or anything else we did.

I intentionally skipped my long run on Saturday morning because we were supposed to do a 15 mile bike ride and climb a light house….but that was a miserable disaster of a day that has left me with major regrets. I could’ve gone for a bike ride or a long run on Sunday when I was alone for a few hours, but couldn’t find the motivation and the rain came in spurts again and again.

I am thankful that my running partner is back and that I’m back in training mode as of Monday. However, I am already finding today to be a motivational disaster….It’s TRACK DAY and I have not yet found a track to run at. There’s always the question of what to do with the kids while I’m doing a track run. And, it’s not a partner run day, so it makes my motivation drop even further.

I don’t have a streak planned for August, but I have gone back to using my planner and keeping up with that may be enough of a streak as school gets back in session. I am looking to the rest of you:

What do you do when your motivation is down and yet you really want to accomplish something?

What are your tips and tricks?

A Week Unhinged

It’s Thursday again and this week has been a little up and down. I missed yesterday’s Workout Wednesday post because I ran out of time to write and load. The video is all done and ready to go, but it will have to wait until next week.

As I’ve been writing about my schedule I notice a few things that I need to work on:

  1. Timing
  2. Fluidity
  3. Fun

Let’s start with Timing. I mentioned recently that I probably should have gotten a calendar with time slots in it because I need to start ordering when I am doing things. Timing also means knowing how much time an activity will take. This blends into Fluidity. When planning my activities I need to figure out what I can do when to make things flow. So, I don’t want to be out and then need to come home before I go back out again. I used to be much better at this when my kids were smaller and had certain nap/feeding times. It was easier to map out what needed to be done when and to pack accordingly. Now, I feel like I run here and there and am constantly shuffling things to the next day.

Fluidity and Timing have had a big impact on Fun. My word of the week is PLAY and that was almost like bad permission to throw the schedule out the window….

On Tuesday I taught a pumpkin workout with medicine balls. Because I had to carry them all over the place and did 62 Sun Salutations, I skipped weight training. (permission to play and not to work out) Yesterday I ran with T and then she and the kids stayed over to play which pushed back the time I went grocery shopping and therefore made me skip posting and….because my arms were dead from Tuesday….I also skipped Sun Salutations. (too much permission to play) Today I am still feeling DOMS from Tuesday, but will be conquering my 64 Sun Salutations as soon as this post goes up. I skipped my swim today to come home to a “sick” kid (just reflux) and now I will not hit 108 SS on Thanksgiving Day.

Fluidity to me also means going with the flow of things. So, a goal has been missed, but that doesn’t mean that I’m dropping it. Part of the Sun Salutation Challenge is part of me forming the habit of a more regular yoga practice. I feel like I need to renew my commitment to yoga now that I’m not currently teaching it.

So, a few things have thrown me for a loop this week and my timing is off, but it’s only one week.

One final thing to announce…..I had applied for that full-time position and found out on Monday that I was no longer in the running. This is a good and a bad thing for me, but I’m not quite ready to talk about it in full this post. It’s probably what set me off track this week.

Tomorrow I have a few more notes on habits in the Fave Reads Friday post…all I can say for now is IRONY!

What do you do with off weeks?

How do you maintain commitment?

A special Thank You to Amanda for the TOLT space to share.

If; Then

Apparently I didn’t push “Publish” on this post yesterday, so here it is today. What I just sat down to write today will get schedule as a post for tomorrow. Back to regular “almost daily” posting on Monday.

In the latest section of Rubin’s Better Than Before book she talks about a strategy for improving good habits called “If; Then”. We use this same language in yoga, but in a much different way. In yoga we say that IF you feel a certain way in a pose; THEN adjust this way. Rubin’s suggestion is more along the lines of a planned strategy to avoid “failing” at your good habits. So, IF I can’t go outside to run today; THEN I will do a HITT workout instead.

Rubin also talks in this section about planned exceptions to the rule that don’t really break the rule. So, on Tuesday I did my first “weight training” day in a long time. And therefore, I chose (in advance) not to do sun salutations that day. Partly because I wasn’t sure how weight training was going to go and partly because I’m trying to stop putting things on my schedule when I fill each line. There’s no need for two things per line! (or so I’m currently telling myself….it’s not going so well) And partly because I’m not trying to streak with sun salutations, but rather slowly build the habit of doing them until I can complete my goal of 108 consecutive sun salutations. This didn’t make me feel guilty about skipping a day of sun salutations and then, yesterday I did them again right after my run.

Planned exceptions are not the same as spur of the moment exceptions. For example….yesterday I didn’t read in Rubin’s book nor post. This made me feel guilty and behind today. Today I have other things to do, like writing a different post on the material I was supposed to read on Wednesday. I really wish those two items were checked off in my calendar or that I had not put them on there anyway. But…..I started to rationalize this to myself using what Rubin calls a Loophole Excuse.

My word of the day for Wednesday was ENJOY! I spent the day trying to enjoy each thing I did…..including grocery shopping with a 4 year old! I tried to enjoy my run and our playdate at the park, bill paying, and eating. Then it was time to have an afternoon playdate and I enjoyed that too……so much so that I left myself without time to read and write. I was embracing my word of the day….that’s what I told myself…..but really I was making a spur of the moment loophole excuse to ditch something else that also gives me joy. Doing this also made me feel guilty the next day and not as “THANKFUL” (the WOD for Thursday) as I should have been.

Today I am thankful that I have another chance to check off my list. It’s not a fail nor a fall….just a stumble. IF I cannot complete my checklist one day; THEN I will try to pick up the slack the next day. IF I cannot “catch up” on my checklist; THEN I will make peace with what was left undone and move forward from there.One thing that was very painful to read was about Obligers and their ability to come up with loopholes….especially when the habit has no accountability to others. Yep, I’m an Obliger through and through! But, that doesn’t give me permission to use it as an excuse. Rubin comes up with 10 different loopholes that people create and a great deal of them are the excuses for why I haven’t yet applied for the full-time job posting that’s up right now……

How do you feel about unfinished work?

What excuses do you make?

How do those excuses make you feel?

Do you have “IF; THEN” strategies?

Thank you to Amanda for a place to share ideas!

Getting Started

It’s Monday! I say that with enthusiasm and vigor and overall happiness today. I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before and it’s making a huge impact on the way that I approach things. This is something she calls the Lightning Bolt effect….when something just happens out of the blue because of something you read/watched/heard/saw or even just because you make a decision that you don’t normally make. It’s kind of like when I watched What the Health?….it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know, but it prompted me to change….right then (more on that progress later.

In the section I read over the weekend Rubin describes strategies for when to begin a new habit….much like New Year’s Resolutions. The time to act is now. How often should you do it? Regularly enough for it to stick. And a third factor (for me especially) is to find someway to be accountable/track/monitor your progress.

Some people have the approach to new habits called the Clean Slate approach. They wait for a significant event/day to get started like the beginning of the month, their birthday, or the start of the new year. I have tried all of those approaches and fall into what she describes as a “tomorrow” effect. It’s easy to say I will start tomorrow and then…..I don’t. I put it off or I make excuses or I give myself free passes to change what I had committed to. For me, the time is now. I did this with buying my new planner (which I cannot wait to use….whole other post). Instead of my usual wavering and procrastinating, I did it when I found one I liked. I didn’t worry about finding a better one; I bought it and now I have it and I don’t regret my decision.

I needed to use the Do It Now approach this weekend also. In my NETA PT workshop at Wingate University I was talking to the students about the goal of doing 108 sun salutations. When I left the workshop that day and started reading Better Than Before I thought to myself:

When can I start doing them?

The answer was NOW. So I got up and I did 10 sun salutations. They were hard to do because I was wearing shoes, in my hotel room, very stiff from standing all day, and had no mat to grip my hands. But I did them. Then I wrote them on my calendar for next Saturday. After further consideration (on Sunday) I decided to take the step to make the habit more regular. What would happen if I wrote sun salutations on every day of my calendar? I ended up choosing almost every day (because there were days where there were no lines left to write anything) and it made me feel satisfied.

The danger to this approach is that it’s what Rubin refers to as a Blast Start. Blast starts are great for some people, but at the end of their self-imposed “streak” they sometimes are giving themselves permission to quit what they’ve decided to do. This leads to a lapse effect. It’s always harder to come back to something the second time around. Why? I don’t know the exact answer, but I think it has something to do with the novelty of the experience being worn off. I feel like this has happened to me a little with running at the moment. I put on my calendar for this next weekend to pick my new race. That always perks me back up!

And that’s the third and most important component for me…..accountability. I’m not great at being accountable to myself. I think that’s the habit I want to change the most. My follow through. So, here’s what I’m doing to be more accountable about things:

  1. Writing it down in the planner
  2. Checking it off and doing each thing NOW instead of looking for “The Best Time” to do it
  3. Tracking all of my exercise in MapMyRun (even Sun Salutations)
  4. Telling you and everyone I can about what I’m going to do (I find it hard to disappoint others even if they’re not invested)
  5. Being ME

The last one means that I’m only committing to do the things that I know will make me happy. My word for today is SMILE and each time I look in my planner and read it, it makes me smile. It’s a reinforcement of how I want to be and who I truly am.

How do you go about starting a new project or habit?

Which strategies are most successful for you?

What is your longest streak on something?

A Bedtime and Other Treats for Myself

Accountability is the fourth thing that Rubin writes about when talking about ways to make habits successful. I already know that accountability is a big thing for me. I run better with T and more often when I have paid for a race. I finish projects if someone else is counting on them. I clean my house when guests are coming over. I need someone to hold me accountable!

In some ways my planner can be an accountability tool for me. As a chronic Under-Buyer it doesn’t surprise me that I have had the same planner for two years. I re-purposed it and reused it as different kind of planner for this year. I’m a finisher and the new format allowed me to use all of the pages remaining in the book. So, today I forced myself to do something different as part of my plan for small steps in a new direction. I bought a new planner for 2018.

This would normally happen at the last minute or after 2018 had already started. Why? Because I like to research everything about an item and then weigh the pros and cons and then consider whether I really need the item and finally…..still put off buying it. However, today I looked at a few things. Decided quickly what I needed. And purchased it without hesitation. I’m super excited that it will be here on Monday!

My new planner from amberlotus.com

And I like the statement on the front. It’s something that I need to keep reminding myself because I sometimes find I’m too worried about the details and not enjoying the moment. So, that brings me to the Foundations and how I’m starting to figure out the habits for me with small steps.

Here’s the plan:

  1. Use my planner….scheduling and accountability will help me track progress better than the less tangible ways I was working through the Happiness Project.
  2. Give myself the gift of sleep by promising to go to bed no later than 1130pm on any night…..including tonight. This will guarantee at least 6 hours of sleep each night (a minimum number for most adults). I’m also going to try to remember to just go to bed when I feel like I’m falling asleep on the living room floor instead of allowing myself to sleep for awhile there and then have to try to re-fall asleep in the bed.
  3. Give myself the power to move. Rubin writes about “Act the way you want to feel” and how she makes herself move because moving makes her feel better. I do give myself permission too often to rest. So, instead I’m going to give myself the power to move. I am scheduling something each day to do to be active. It doesn’t have to be a serious workout, but generally saying I will be “Active” doesn’t always work for me. I need a more concrete plan to stay accountable.
  4. Keep fueling my body. I have mostly given up eating a lot of things that I feel were not fueling the lifestyle I wanted to have. However, I am still a firm believer in mindfulness and listening to your body. I think this also goes to Rubin’s rule of “Act the way you want to feel”. Last night I had a delicious salad for dinner. It was a meatless night for dinner and I had chosen to make salad with lettuces, spinach, pear, almonds, red quinoa, garlic croutons, shredded Cabot Vermont cheddar (a small amount), and Brianna’s Champagne dressing. It was HEAVENLY! I felt so full of energy after I ate it and full and satisfied. I slept well and woke up easily. I went through the first part of my day very alert…..but the muffin I ate for breakfast caught up with me and the Red Robin for lunch slowed me down. I am being more mindful of what is fueling me and what is draining me and I’m choosing the former more and more. Eliminating animal products is not for everyone, but it is for me, for now.

So, that’s my list for now. I’m not tackling unclutter yet. I’m also not done with the book, nor have I defined specific habits of mine that I want to change. But, baby steps….start with the foundation…..start now.

Where would you start?

Join me in naming a foundation to focus on and share it with the group in the comments below.

Meditation Monday #38: Living by the Books

It’s been 11 days since a new post went up on the site. It’s been even longer since I wrote. Why? Because of life. That’s the usual reason. This isn’t my only priority in life and during the summer other things come into play. Additionally, and kind of also as usual for me, I’ve gotten off track with how I handle life. One thing that I know to be true about myself is that I like order and I thrive with a schedule and structure. I’m like a toddler that way…..I need it, but sometimes I try to get around it even though it fails every time.

So, I’m back to living by the books:

  1. My planner that keeps me on track and allows me to check off what I’ve accomplished, but limits my list so that I don’t feel like I’m falling under an ever crashing wave with no room to breathe. It allows me to schedule in and make a priority of play dates and exercise, meditation and meal planning, and limits me to 10 things per day. So, if cleaning the bathroom doesn’t fit onto the list that day; oh well….it can wait.
  2. My reading list at the library and everywhere else. I started reading my emails again and the occasional blog post. I found myself recently with a lot of down time and no books to fill it with. What should I do when I’m caught up on work and the house is fairly clean and the kids are playing by themselves? Well, I can always sneak in a few more push-ups, but I also LOVE to read! I’ve found that I haven’t read a book for myself in ages now and I decided to hit up my Book List for 2017 and saw it to be lacking. So I went to my Saved List at the library and checked out the first one on the list….more about that later.
  3. And finally, Meditations from the Mat. It has been years now that I have intended to finish that book for the third time and it hasn’t gone very smoothly. I was doing other things for meditation, but every time I come back to it there is a renewal of my love for yoga and meditation and a way of living my life that is introspective. This week my yoga teaching for the City of Wilmington ends….no more 530am risings. So, this week, more than ever, I seek that connection to this book….to my meditation practice.

I wish that I had more about meditation for you today, but I woke this morning energized to write and then to read, so I promise more in the future, but for now I ask:

What book(s) keep you on track?