Why I Blog & Reaching my Goals

I decided to start this blog with Kate last year and after months of prep and page designing we made it live. Originally, I blogged to make Kate laugh but now I blog to keep myself going with my goals (and hopefully still make Kate laugh).

A huge motivator for my consistency with this blog is keeping me honest about my progress of my goals this year. Truth be told, if I wasn’t sharing all of this information on the internet there is no way I would have ever started my morning routine that I do with B. I would still be BFF’s with Dominos and my flirtations with Taco Bell would be beyond mild.

I also happen to find this process of writing, editing and posting really fun, but without my monthly goals as motivation I don’t think I would have been as consistent as I have been. Lately I’ve been thinking more about why I decided to take this route and what I have learned on my goal setting journey. I wanted to share some of my goal setting tips, successes and failures with you.

StockSnap_TBJ9OPDGMK
My to-do lists never look this organized
First thing I want to address is why I took this to the internet. Sure, in January I could have written down my goals like everyone else and told myself I was going to work on my love and creativity but I’ve been down that road before and it’s never ended well. I needed adult supervision, but I was the adult..so my inner Rory came out and I made a list of ways to be accountable. Sharing everything online seemed like the easiest and blogging about it seemed like the ideal way to keep my Facebook friends from hating me. By spending the time each month to write about what I have done and plan to do I’m force to keep myself accountable.

Another key factor is “the rules are there ain’t no rules” (Grease for all those who live under a damn rock). I set guidelines instead. It is so easy to derail if you are counting every mistake as a failure instead of an opportunity to reroute. I always try to remind my perfectionist brain that it is “progress not perfection”.  This is another action that is easier said than done but I think a healthy relationship with meditation is key for this. The guided meditations that I do always remind me to come back to this moment, bring myself back in from where my thoughts trickled off to. Mistakes happen, life happens, sometimes you fall completely off your morning routine for a week or two…it doesn’t mean you can’t get back into it and it doesn’t mean you have failed your goals.

 I also decided to break the process down month by month. I prefer concise instructions in my life so I needed to give them to myself. This has been essential to my success. Instead of throwing the broad goal of creativity at myself with no guidance I break down the process to love and creativity. It is very easy to say I am going to treat everyone around me with loving kindness but without breaking it down how am I going to practice it? My monthly goals allow me to focus all of my attention on forming a healthy habit (which takes 21 days) and to then try to integrate it into the rest of my life.

 The ability to refocus my goals every month has been a HUGE help to getting where I am. At the end of every month I think over everything I’ve accomplished and rework my goals for the next month so that I am continuing down the path I want to be on. When I feel like I’m not making fast enough progress I stop and review everything I’ve done.

For example, I wanted to grow in creativity in movement and be confident about it in May and by the end of the month (and with a lot of help from Kate) I have conquered the headstand…my biggest yoga fear! Now that I know I can do this move without breaking my neck for June I can take the confidence from mastering this pose to the next move I want to add to my yoga tool kit or into my work/personal life off the mat.

This blog has given me an outlet to celebrate my victories each month. In January I did yoga everyday, in March I started running in the mornings, in April I spent more time with myself, making my current habits permanent and evaluating what I wanted out of this process and now in May I have begun truly working on my creativity. I’m beyond excited to see where my life will take me with this .

What’s my professional (Read: Amateur) advice on goal setting? Make your goals achievable and if they seem to hard, just change them don’t quit on them.

Do not try to start in the middle, this will not work and you will burn out or get discouraged.

Make your goals fun (coloring and yoga are fun af). Always reward yourself for getting shit done and getting closer to your goal (that’s my excuse for spending too much money on workout clothes and shoes).

If you need someone to celebrate your victories with you, big or small, I’m here.

Trying the Fitness Diet

My March goal to take action was intended to mostly be political but being a type A- personality I had to one up myself mid month and make it physical.

 

I’m an amateur runner. I’ve done a couple half marathons, 10ks and hikes but I am not the perfect example of a runner. Every weekday after work B (boyfriend) and I go to the gym. B and I run 3 miles at the gym at least twice a week and a mile every other day when we go in to do weight training. While this is great and my body is getting fitter, it is really wreaking havoc on my social life. I want to skip happy hours and other engagements to go the gym and after the gym I barely have time to make dinner and hang out before bed.

StockSnap_EE8A129965
This is not at all what it looks like when I run, but an image of the MOON didn’t seem aesthetically pleasing.

So, after months of careful fitness consideration and many failed attempts before I am COMMITTING to getting up at 6am to run or do yoga every weekday (allowing more time in the evening for weight training and hanging out). I have recruited B as my inhouse accountibilibuddy and Kate as my over the phone motivator. I kept a daily diary accounting the results and difficulties I’ve faced during the first seven workouts below:

 

Day 1:

I started this on a Thursday to allow myself a couple days of getting up and then immediately reward myself with a weekend. This morning wasn’t the worst. Waking up when the sun is still sleeping is hard and running in the cold is semi-uncomfortable but finishing 3 miles before 7am really jump started my day. B had time to make us coffee in the morning, I had time after the run to do my makeup and not feel rushed. Most importantly I had that high that only crazy people who work out in the morning have. I only had one cup of coffee the entire day and I was still pretty energetic.

 

Day 2:

My arms were sore from the gym this morning. My lungs did not want to cooperate and some monster flowers are in bloom so I only made it 2 miles this morning…but I did do it…and I didn’t complain too much when B woke me up. TGIF my friends.

 

Day 3:

I have decided on a MWF running schedule with a TR yoga/rest day/weight training after work. B has agreed because he is always a good sport about these things. So run it is. Sunday night I had horrible, mundane but exhausting, anxiety dreams. I woke up exhausted, confused and mad at B for waking me up (how dare he make me follow through with my commitments). I somehow managed to put on running clothes and run (albeit a little slowly) our 3 mile loop. My only motivator was coffee this morning and boy was it not worth it. I remained weirdly groggy at work all day until around 3pm when I finally got my head in the game. I’m praying for rain on Wednesday so I can get out of my new “diet”.

 

Day 4:  

Thank the Lord it is YOGA DAY. Waking up was still insanely difficult but climbing onto my mat was so much easier than preparing to go outside. I was still a little sleepy throughout the day and had a significantly lesser high from yoga than from running but I think I’m slowly adjusting to this lifestyle.

 

Day 5:

I begged B to let me stay in bed this morning. I prayed for rain…but no…there I was at 6:15am halfway down the street giving B the silent treatment for “making” me get up (I warned him before we started this that he would have to force me from bed every morning and apologized in advance for the dramatic comments I make when the alarm goes off). By mile 2 I had forgiven him. I was thrilled that by the time we finished our 3 mile loop the hardest part of my day was over.

 

Day 6:

Today my plea for 5 more minutes was greeted with a rather rough no…so I got out of bed and dragged myself to the yoga mat. The YWA video we chose involved a lot of half moon/ balancing practice so I had to do a lot of yoga for the brain to keep myself standing and awake at the same time. I may have spent a vinyasa or so in child’s pose…but I did it! B chanted “Day 6, Don’t Quit!” at me after we finished the video and giggled at his own rhyme so I guess getting up was worth it.  

 

Day 7:

I officially have bragging rights after finishing my Friday morning run (and evening leg day) although I tried to hide my head under the covers and pretend that I was part of the bed. This did not fool Detective B who TOOK THE COVERS AWAY (monster, I know) and refused to let me have another 5 minutes. I was too tired to put up much of a resistance and before I knew it I was a mile into my run.

 

I DID IT! A ginormous thanks to B for making me get up. If it takes 28 days to make a habit I am ¼ of the way to this being a permanent part of my life.

 

Action packed March is almost over, crazy, right?

 

How are you doing on your goals?  

Listen Up, Did I Learn Anything?

February FLEW by.

 

En route to my goal of cultivating love and creativity this year I planned to spend the month of February listening and learning from myself and others.

fullsizerender-2
This process was necessary, listening to others on my unplugged rotary phone wasn’t working well for me…

A part of my plan of action was to listen to others with my full attention. So in February I slowed down in conversation. I stopped thinking about what I was going to say next and started to stop and listen. I practiced staying present in conversation even if it meant I didn’t have an immediate comeback.

 

This helped me learn to cultivate love in my relationships. Time flies and pauses when you are present. Being present added emotion that I would not have noticed in conversations. It gives me insight into the speaker that I would not have if I had only been thinking about myself and my reaction to the situation.

 

The second part of my listening was to listen to myself, my physical body in particular. Listening led me to more action than I thought it would. I ran almost 30 miles this last month. While this may seem like I was not respecting rest days or listening to my body I really changed my running habits. Twice a week I try to run at least 3 mile runs. During these runs instead of trying to maintain a steady pace I have found that my body reacts best to pace changes. I increase and decrease my speeds (never dropping below a 10 minute mile pace) for the duration of the run.I also took a couple days, unintentionally,  off of yoga. This was a huuuuuge mistake. My body got sore from my runs much faster with the missing stretches.

By really listening to my body and adjusting to what its telling me I have began truly enjoying running. It feels like less of a chore now. I’ve learned that my body always hates the first mile and kills it on the third so I have learned to listen to it without giving into my first mile woes. I have also started eating a bit later in the afternoon to fuel these after work runs. My unintentional yoga break taught me that I respond best to cardio and stretching, so I need to be sure to work yoga in almost everyday. I also discovered that since my best moods of the day are after working out I need to start my day with a bit of movement and get a jump on the day.
Another month is done and 2017 is flying by! How are you holding up on your resolutions?

Monogamy to Polyamory: PIIT28 Review

Image via the PIIT28 website.

Having bragged about how buff my arms were in my previous health post I thought it was high time to give the product a full review.

I completed PIIT28 the first month back in April and I loved how it made me feel. I was getting compliments on my toned arms and I had officially gotten in the habit of working out hard five to six times a week. The program consists of two weeks of workouts that you repeat twice to complete the 28 day challenge. Each workout is around 28 minutes, hence the name. I will forever scream Cassey’s praises from the roof tops because she is so motivating, positive and strong but, there were a few cons to her at home fitness program.

One con to this program is the PIIT format. Pilates Intense Interval Training is Cassey’s take on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). If you are not familiar with HIIT, it is what you are forced to do in hell. Cassey’s version consists of a seven minute workout where you repeat either a cardio (such as mountain climbers or JUMPING LUNGES) or Pilates (such as planks or ab work) for 45 seconds. 

You then take a 15 second break and move on to the next move, and repeat, until you have completed seven evil different moves. The downside to this system is that you repeat the seven minute workout four times to complete your workout.

sponge

Actual footage of me doing PIIT

It was torture. If you are using the videos on her PIIT website that means that you have to watch the same video four times to complete your workout. Her motivational quotes are amazing the first time through but, by the time I got the third week and was repeating the previous workouts, the quotes and commentary transformed from motivational to infuriating. WHY DID YOU NOT JUST MAKE A 28 MINUTE VIDEO FOR US CASSEY? Why are you still so happy? HOW ARE YOU NOT TIRED? I caught myself yelling at her for saying the same thing over and over again as I struggled…but maybe that’s just a me problem.

Another negative is the workout timer. After buying the complete work out program I still had to spend another $2.00 on a fitness timer on her app so I could track the workouts and stop yelling at her videos. This app was customizable with her workout moves and gave me the confidence to know that I was following the program’s instructions perfectly.  I know that was probably a good idea on the part of her company, and it worked on me. I caved, I bought the app, I joined the cult, I am not ashamed. One pro to buying the timer though is that I now have a customizable fitness timer for future interval workouts.

spongebob-superlifting

Fitspo

The last negative is a problem with all at-home workouts. Some of the moves were way beyond my ability levels as someone who had never intentionally set foot in a gym. I had no idea how to safely do some of the movements that were repeated in multiple workouts. I’m still not certain on jumping lunges. Jumping lunges are a move that should look exactly how they sound.

Unless you are me, then jumping lunges look like falling.

Cassey’s program forced me to spend at least 28 minutes a day on making myself stronger and I appreciate it for that. Her positive mentality has stuck with me as I continue on my fitness journey.

Will I be buying PIIT28 2.0???

Hell no, I’ll stick with the devil I know, thank you very much. While I have since moved on to other fitness methods and programs, I still pick a PIIT28 session to do around least once a week. (Truth be told I took a month off and missed yelling at her as I suffered). But, instead of being my main source of exercise, PIIT28 now supplements my running, other free Blogilates videos and yoga with Adrienne (a woman I will never leave).

Don’t worry – all this fitness hasn’t changed me, I ordered a pizza while writing this to counteract all the fitness I’ve been doing. #balance.

Let me know if you would like to hear more about my adventures in fitness or my love obsession of Yoga with Adrienne!

Fitness is Fun? My Relationship with Fitness

My relationship with fitness has been similar to many of my relationships. On and off, with a lot of drama and unnecessary pints of Ben & Jerry’s. We would flirt, I would run a half marathon or go to the gym for a couple months, but I wasn’t ready to really commit myself to my health, or end my drunken late night hook ups with Dominos and Taco Bell.

I’ve come to the conclusion that most of my fitness relationships failed because I jumped in a little too quickly. I went straight to the engagement without going on a first date. My success this round has come from slowly working my way into fitness.

In January of this year, I began with a 30 days of yoga challenge on the YouTube channel “Yoga with Adriene.” If I can be anyone (besides Katie of course) when I grow up I want to be Adriene. Her yoga videos are calming, silly and human. She renounces the yoga robot lifestyle. Her catch phrase is “find what feels good” and makes me feel like yoga is a choice – not a chore.  

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-4-41-41-pm
The Hangover Yogi Slayer, Adriene

She is a beautiful and gentle soul. Her videos reminded me of the positives of working out like being flexible, feeling that wonderful muscle shake, and getting stronger. But she also keeps it real — girl has a yoga for hangovers video. It reminds me that even if my alcohol calories will always stand between me and the six pack of my dreams — that’s ok. There is a safe yoga space for me on YouTube.

After completing a month of yoga, I decided it was time to get serious about fitness, but needed a program that was still free just in case I decided later I wanted to back out.

In February I began a blogilates fitness calendar from Cassey Ho. Cassey is the peppiest and most motivating fitness instructor, but damn she goes hard. I “completed” the February workout calendar by doing about half of the videos each day. Luckily, Cassie loved me enough to stick with me through to March.

I realized this relationship with fitness was getting serious around mid March. I began questioning my late night relationship with fast food and I began to call my long time lover Dominos less frequently (I’m sorry, I still love you D). I began to crave healthy food like veggies and chicken. I began asking Katie for fitness advice. I actually did all (read most) of the videos for each day on the March calendar. My body may not have changed much externally but I began to sleep a little better. I felt like maybe I was getting a bit stronger.

At the beginning of April, I bought the ring: PIIT28. PIIT28 consists of pilates and hiit workouts six days a week. My love of just three months, blogilates, had convinced me that Cassie’s new workout program could make me get the results I have been pining after. I purchased the workout program, but not the meal plan since I have so many weird dietary issues already. Like I mentioned earlier, Cassie is INTENSE and this program is no exception. This program had me feeling muscles I haven’t felt since I was doing ballet 6 days a week in high school. By Day 21 I began to notice small changes in my physical appearance (ok so I may have just lost my mind when one of my friend complimented my muscular arms) but more importantly after I finish the workouts I feel like a BEAST.

Lest you think I am all sunshine and rainbows, PIIT28 does have its negatives, which I think I understand well now after a few months of working with the program. I will be sure to post about those soon!

What workout programs have you been loving? Do you use free online programs? Do you also yell obscenities at your online workout coach to make you feel better? LMK!

-Em