30* Days of Yoga

*ish

For the month of March, I set a challenge for myself to do yoga every day, aiming for 30 practices total (giving myself a rest day halfway through). I mostly completed my goal, practicing on 27 out of 31 days. So, I took a few days off but if there’s anything I’ve learned from yoga, it’s to be forgiving to myself when I’m not perfect. In order to fit 30-75 minutes of yoga into my daily routine, I eliminated my usual cardio workouts from my week, instead focusing on getting on my mat.

This was the perfect challenge for me at this time; I’ve been wanting to expand my practice and increase strength and flexibility while also maintaining my daily meditation habit. I mostly went to power vinyasa studio classes which run 60-75 minutes long. On the days I practiced from home, I used the Cody App which I like for the variety of classes. As a former roller derby skater and Crossfitter, yoga is a big change of pace for me. In the last few years, I’ve been leaning towards the more slow and deliberate pace of yoga and Pilates, mostly because of the limitations I have in my knee after my injury 7 years ago and subsequent surgery. I can’t do All The Squats anymore, which makes me sad. But with yoga, I’ve found a way to increase my strength that doesn’t also make me constantly fear injury. And spoiler alert–I’ve gotten pretty damn strong and I kinda even love side planks now.

prayer twist, Wonder Woman-style

A few takeaways about the 30-day challenge:

  • I made SO much more dirty laundry. Most of the studio classes I go to are in a 93-degree heated room, and by the end I’m so sweaty my fingers are pruning. Obviously, this results in a ton of drenched leggings, tank tops, and yoga towels.  #laundryeverydamnday
  • I went to the doctor for my annual physical, and I was nearly an inch taller than I was last year! That’s what daily stretching will do for your spine and overall posture.
  • Blocking out time on my calendar helped me prioritize fitting the daily practice into my crazy schedule. Much like with my vision board, seeing it on my list of to-do’s for the day was the key to sticking with it.
  • My body awareness has become more heightened. I notice all the tiny differences in flexibility on my left side vs. my right, my strengths (quads and hammies) and tightness (my lower back has zero desire to bend but I’m slowly making gains but will likely hate camel pose forever).
  • Taking a selfie in a yoga pose using a 10-second iPhone timer is the greatest challenge of all. Everything on Instagram is a lie. It takes a village to get that perfect image you just scrolled past of a social media influencer in perfect Eka Pada Galavasana in front of a waterfall in Belize.

Now that my self-imposed challenge is over, I’m adding cardio back into my routine a few times a week, but I plan to keep yoga as my main form of exercise on most days.

lizard pose with quad stretch

March Goals

A few weeks into January, I spent a Sunday afternoon with a group of friends making vision boards. I’d never made one before, but in the decade or so, I’ve developed a tendency to overbook my life to the point where I lose track of some of the goals I want to attain. Making a vision board has helped me to focus on the handful of goals that are most important to me, helping me to prioritize my precious free time. It also gives me the excellent excuse: “Can’t do it; it’s not on my vision board.”

the bottom one says Cook, I swear

So far, I’m doing good! I’ve traveled to Las Vegas and New Orleans. I’ve meditated every day except 6 total (hungover Vegas flight, every day in New Orleans because sharing a shotgun apartment with 7 people, while super fun, is not v. Zen). I’m changing some of the other goals around a bit as various projects evolve, but you get the idea.

In terms of health and fitness goals,  I have a workout regimen that’s attainable and doesn’t totally dominate my free time. I run on my elliptical machine 2-3 times a week for 45 minutes while blaring pop favorites of yesterday and today. Then twice a week, I go to a power vinyasa class. I’ve never had a body that is naturally skinny, but I put on muscle quickly and I surprise people with my strength (usually during impromptu drunken arm wrestling challenges). With my crazy strong hamstrings and quads, I like to say that I have the lower body of a  male cartoon centaur. In terms of nutrition, I’ve slowly been improving my eating habits over recent years and working a lot more leafy greens and veggies into my regular diet. My biggest downfall is still sugar (gimme all the gimmick flavored Oreos pleez). This past January, I did a sweets-free month (still ate some fruits, opted for plain yogurt and added my own fresh toppings, ate regular bread but no pastries or donuts, no chocolate or candy, etc.) and it had a big impact on how I felt. It was also surprisingly easy for me to accomplish since I knew that there was an end date in sight. Sure enough, come February 1st, it all went out the window, and as of this morning I’ve eaten a slice of leftover cake with my morning coffee for 4 days straight.

So, back to the vision board! Starting tomorrow morning, March 1st, I’m setting two health challenges for myself:

  1. I’ve wanted to up my yoga practice for a while now, so I’m going to shoot for 30 days of yoga, at least 15 minutes to an hour a day. I want to see how it improves my flexibility, strength, and overall outlook.
  2. I’m cutting out sweet treats again, but with the allowance of 1 per week (that’s a single donut, cookie, or slice of cake. Or 1 sleeve. of Oreos because I make my own rules). The goal here is to better set a habit where I’m eliminating most sugar from my diet but keeping it attainable–I can still enjoy a piece of cake at a party or treat myself to a milkshake, just in better moderation.

I am better about adhering to goals once I’ve made them public, so to the handful of people who may end up reading this, thanks for keeping me accountable. High five!

 

I’m Sort of a Robot

All of my actions are currently being monitored. Not like Big Brother or a Lindsay-Lohan-court-mandated-ankle-bracelet type of way, but in methods of my own choosing.

On my wrist, my Fitbit keeps track of how many steps I take per day as well as how many minutes I am ‘active.’ It tells me if I slept soundly or tossed and turned all night, and during which hours. My Lumo Lift, clipped to my bra, watches my posture; it vibrates an alert to remind me to straighten up if I slouch for more than 2 minutes. When I eat something or work out, I enter it into MyFitnessPal to calculate calories in and calories out.

I am flooded with data about myself. I am swan-diving into stats like Scrooge McDuck swimming in his piles of money. My daily movements are compiled, tabulated, and translated into brightly colored pie graphs I view on my iPhone. I can challenge other friends with step monitors to contests where I attempt to out-step them in a predetermined period of time. My Lumo Lift can tell when I’m walking with a strong sense of purpose and confident demeanor, or when I’m curled up on the couch crying over Pit Bulls & Parolees. My phone knows exactly how many times I’ve eaten pizza this week.

I do all of this to “keep myself accountable,” to “get back on track.” I’ve attempted similar plans before. A few years back, I deleted a calorie counter app from my phone when it didn’t know what Jägermeister was. But now, I am older, wiser, healthier. And I can prove it to you on my phone.

Tracking all of this data may sound tiring, and let me tell you–it sure is. I’m constantly on my phone, checking how many steps I squeezed out of that walk with the dog, or seeing if a yoga class will earn me back a fun-size KitKat. Also, I. Have. So. Many. Chargers.  But before this dissuades you from buying a rubber wristband of your own, I have to tell you that it’s also kinda fun, and really interesting. I do find myself more motivated to move around; just last night, I volunteered to buy tacos for dinner because I’d get 4 more blocks of steps in. I find myself standing up straighter, which undoubtedly makes my grandma happy. Sometimes, I even rethink that tupperware of chili mac in the fridge and throw together a spinach salad for dinner instead.

I don’t have a weight goal or anything like that; instead, I’m going for balance. Work hard, play hard. Now I must be off; the weekend’s just a few days away so I’m going to go figure out how much elliptical machine equals a bottle of red wine.

 

Namaste, bitches

When I first came up with the name for this blog, I envisioned it as a place where I’d write about health and fitness for the drunk and lazy. The focus of the blog eventually evolved into something different, but fitness (and occasional drunkenness) remain a regular part of my lifestyle.

During the recent onslaught of back-to-back-to-back holiday parties, I did a terrible job of focusing on health and fitness and fully gave in to be drunk, lazy, and gluttonous. It was such an indulgent binge of ridiculousness that I’m actually looking forward to getting back to some healthy habits now that New Years is over. And you guys, guess what?? Sometime in the past year I got really into yoga.

I used to hate on yoga because I thought it wasn’t enough of a workout. I used to play roller derby and do Crossfit, so in my mind, if I wasn’t burning out my legs by alternating wind sprints with wall sits, or flipping giant tractor tires while grunting and howling like a zoo animal, I wasn’t really getting in shape. Yoga was for girls who spend $100 on stretchy pants and wore them to Starbucks as often as they did to the studio. I am fully willing to admit I was wrong (well, those people do exist, but if they have the strength to pull off a perfect side crow pose, they’ve earned the right to trot out those LuluLemons anywhere they please).

Last March, I found a yoga class that I enjoyed, challenged me, and even left me feeling sore the next day. This blew my Crossfit-brainwashed mind, so I got a monthly membership and kept it up through the fall until we moved away from the studio. Nowadays, I do a yoga/Pilates workout DVD at home that allows me to be lazy in that I don’t need to leave the house to get in a good workout. Also, exercise DVDs are semi-hilarious because you eventually memorize all of the small talk the instructor spouts. I like to imagine backstories for the people in the video; for example, I think that Chalene and Janelle are total Mean Girls to Michelle, who is stuck in the role of showing the modified version of each move. You can tell this because on one of the DVDs, Chalene tells Michelle during an ab exercise that she’s “blessed with a long torso” and Michelle makes a face at the camera, like “I just got Lacey Chaberted.”

I’ve also come to enjoy the meditative quality of yoga, which is especially surprising considering I’m the type of person who can’t look at Facebook for more than 5 minutes without ADD kicking in and making me switch to Instagram or Twitter. My husband once watched me play with my phone over my shoulder and he said it made him dizzy. During a 75-minute yoga class, I can shut off that part of my brain and find an inner calm.

Looking ahead into a bright shiny new year, I definitely plan to continue to make yoga a part of my day as often as possible. Though I still may flip some giant tires; a girl’s gotta live a little.