This is a big question and requires some serious thought.
As it is 3 am, and I have been up for an hour, I can tell you what has changed from last month to this month is that I am not sleeping well again. In July, I slept well most nights, with exception for any nights with bad nightmares. I attribute that to my daily yoga in July. Yes, it physically wears me out and mentally relaxes me, and if I could do it every day for the rest of my life, I would. But, there are some downfalls to that. It takes a commitment of over 3 hours a day to go to yoga. 30 minute drive there, 30 minutes pre-warm up in the hot room, 90 minute class, 30 minute drive home, plus a shower and what not. And while daily yoga improves my meditation and mind, it does not improve my physical practice as much as only going 4 days a week.
Plus, you need balance in your life. And going to yoga every day makes yoga really the only thing I do.
On the physical side of what was accomplished this month, I had hoped to see more definition in my abdominals. Yes, I can feel my lower abs are tighter, but I guess I had hoped I would see more of a six pack instead of a faint outline of one, which I have always had. I am dreading taking tomorrow’s ab picture, because I don’t see a lot of change. I wasn’t expecting to lose inches or a ton of weight. That was not my goal. My goal was to firm up.
Now, I didn’t give it my all. Yes, I did the exercises. Though this last week I did not do the videos as much as I should have… I know that of I had really wanted to get more definition it would require a ton of cardio and no sugar. Since I can’t run, I personally don’t feel there is any cardio that would have exceeded the calorie-burning power my running has. It would take extreme effort and with my bum foot, there is little I could do right now. Maybe biking, but I still need to buy a bike.
To really burn calories, you need to push yourself way beyond your normal activity level. For example, and I never use my heart rate monitor that came with my Garmin to track this and have it calculate calories burned – so I don’t have exact numbers, many claim to burn over 900 calories during Bikram Yoga. I would estimate I burn maybe a little over half that. Why? Because under normal circumstances my activity level is very high. So, if your activity level is low, and you and I were to do the same activity, same output, etc. – you would likely burn more calories during that activity then I would. (Please keep in mind I am not a doctor, physical trainer, etc. – this is just from my experiences)
But, to balance that with a positive, I am amazed at how many crunches I can do. I can do the large numbers in one shot – even on a stability ball, which is how I added some challenge to my crunches this past week. The stability ball allows for a greater range of motion. I can do the sit ups, which I hadn’t done in years. What an amazing, overlooked exercise since the creation of the crunch! I plan to keep these in mind going further. The only problem I have is doing sit ups aggravates the bottom of my spinal cord, right above my bum. So the most I was able to do in one shot is 35. Adding a small pillow in that area has helped.
The leg raises hurt my lower back. This has always been an issue for me. Core strength isn’t just your abs, it’s your lower back as well. Which is why I was also focusing on the spine strengthening series during yoga. I guess I have more work to do there. 😉
[as a side note, I have date night with K tonight and we are headed to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate her birthday – so it’s a really bad idea to take my 30 day ab picture tomorrow morning. I may delay it to Sunday… Give the Shepherd’s Pie and Cheesecake a chance to, well, you know. 😉 ]
I have a lot of leg strength, so squats are just fun for me. Plus, they are really a whole body exercise. I should consider using a medicine ball to add some challenge to my squat routines, to take it up a notch.
On the spiritual side of this month, and specifically this month’s challenges, I didn’t do that well. I failed horrifically at sending positive “what I like about you” notes and on complimenting someone in person. I don’t know why. I guess it just seemed forced, and I am really good about making sure to compliment someone when they do something good or to tell people what I like about them anyways, at the appropriate time. These challenge items just may have been bad choices of items to add.
I really enjoyed discovering new bloggers. I didn’t exactly make the connections and establish new conversations like I wanted, but I found some really interesting people and sites that I will continue to follow. Besides, who needs new conversations when I already have the best 3 followers ever on this journey anyways? You guys really encourage me and make me feel accountable towards my goals! Yes, they are for me and I should be doing them for me, but encouragement certainly goes a long way! Thank you!
I also didn’t really look over this blogging challenge list too well. I wanted more thought provoking topics so I could write specifically about me, my thoughts, and get really deep. I want to get inside myself and discover something new about me. That didn’t happen. And I didn’t really look at the list before hand because my plan and goal is to focus on the specific topic that day and write. I don’t want to think about it for days and then write. I want spontaneity and have to answer the questions each day as they are.
As for cleaning the blinds, well, I still have today and tomorrow!
Overall, I didn’t see all the miraculous changes I expected to see. There were good days, there were bad days. I feel less settled today then I did a month ago. I expected to get “better”, but I feel I have stepped back again. No particular reason, I just don’t feel as calm and relaxed as I did at the end of July. But, in fairness to me, this has been a month of bad anniversary dates, and try as hard as I do to forget them, they are like etched in stone in my brain. Thoughts will pop into my head without warning or prompting.
What I did learn from this month is what to adjust for next month.
My blog challenge has a better source – not just a quick list I pulled off the internet. I am adding a second blog challenge. My photo challenge list will allow me to focus on creativity in taking pictures.
Fitness is heavy next month because the following month is surgery month and fitness will likely be limited. This makes me a little bit nervous that I may have overcommitted myself to too many fitness goals. But if broken up properly throughout the day and intermingled in between conference calls (or hell, during), in between assignments I am working on, etc., I believe I got this.
I want to focus in September on being in the moment, and not looking forward or behind. At the end of September, I want to feel satisfied and accomplished, not disappointed in myself like I feel today. So, to achieve this, there will be less pressure put on myself to complete the daily challenges. I believe less pressure will actually help me enjoy completing the tasks and relish in the victory of completing them, instead of seeing them as a chore – as I often did this month.
I didn’t design my original challenge to be a chore list, but rather as something to give me direction in getting back to me. I like the lists, I enjoy the challenges, but often this month it felt like punishment. I felt uninspired a lot (the blog, music and photo challenges really didn’t require a lot of thought).
I don’t want it to feel like punishment. I want to enjoy the challenges.
Stop back by Sunday morning. The new challenge list will be up!