Monday, December 31, 2012

December 2012 Review

December was a little rocky. Life goes in cycles. I hit a peak and started to find my way down.

1. Move better - I hit a few milestones, despite the change in weather and an injury. All planned workouts were completed, though I did have to replace walking with using the elliptical as a warm up before my workouts.

My lifting cycle reached peak weights and stalled out. Getting the planned reps for each session has become a huge mental battle, my joints are hurting and I am struggling with recovery. I have tried to eat my way through it, but my body just needs a break. I am going to reset poundages, spend a few months doing high reps and embrace the opportunity to eat less. I did regain the ability to do chins, I will work those in between sets of presses. I am also going to move from front squats to back squats.

Yoga is moving forward in some respects. I learned to do an arm balance that is called out almost every class. I managed to lift into a free-standing headstand at home and expect to get it in class within a month. The high heart rates I am hitting on the elliptical have almost totally stopped me from gassing out during class. I am finally adapting to the heat, which is a mixed reward during the Midwest winter.

My flexibility improvements do seem to have plateaued. I tried extra classes to force my way through, but it did not work. I just started playing around with lowering my block during half moon and extended side angle. The strength required to deadlift heavy tightens me up. I suspect my new plan of backing off on the heavy weights and heavy eating will help a lot.

My injured hand is almost back to 100%. The full body warmup prior to lifting and yoga has made a huge difference. Other than a few very specific movements, my hand is pain free. I was even able to do yoga 3 days in a row without trouble.

I did manage to hurt my jaw. During yoga class we breathe through the nose, but are supposed to contract our throat during the exhale. Somehow that evolved into "clench my jaw as strongly as possible, whenever something is hard". It turns out an hour smashing my teeth together a few times a week translates to severe jaw pain. Once the pain started, I was able to figure out the source, but it has taken time for things to recover. My ability to eat was limited for about two weeks, and I am still avoiding hard foods whenever possible. I have been making a point to relax my jaw during class and lifting.

2. Beat the internet - Not a great month for beating the internet. I dropped video games to make time for my investing book. Unfortunately I ended up also making internet exceptions to compensate. Whoops. I did not spend hours a day screwing around, but I did waste too much time. The only good answer I have is returning to a hard "once a month" schedule on the PC. I've figured out how to check email, facebook and the yoga schedule on my phone. Those are my most common exceptions. Checking them on the phone will reduce the chance of my getting stuck on the internet.

Netflix is proving to be another productivity sink. I am going to put my membership on hold for January and play around with using music as an escape instead. We finally replaced the broken speakers in our living room, and I ordered some speakers for the home gym / office area as well. These should provide a big improvement over listening to headphones or the TV. I also got some over the ear headphones which are proving more comfortable than ear buds.

Time boxing work continues to go well. I had a very positive end of year. I would like to put a little more effort into professional development once I get my investing squared away. I like playing with computers more than managing money. Computers behave.

3. Make my money work - I backed off a little on buying groceries, focusing on eating the foods I have. Time spent cooking was offset by time not spent shopping. With the reset of my lifting poundages in January, I am going to return to the simple inexpensive meals I adopted last year. My diet will be lower in protein, but that's ok for now.

Giving up whisky for reading did not work. I just started playing video games compulsively instead. After a few days of that, I switched out the two vices. It turns out controlling my whisky consumption is much easier, and I like to read while drinking. I am halfway through the investing book now. I expect to finish it in January. I am becoming doubtful that time spent trying to be a technical investor will yield any reward though.

The contractor finally finished our list, including the bathroom renovation. The renovation was expensive, more work than I anticipated. It reinforces my long term strategy to down-size into to a smaller house. I am totally sold on using contractors for handyman services. Only 45 bucks to hang a king size quilt 15 feet up the wall? Yes, please.

I looked into hiring a personal assistant, but I cannot find a way to make the numbers work. The things I can offload just aren't very hard, but the prices I see quoted are remarkably high. Replacing easy chores with an expensive person to manage makes no sense.

I did sell a set of squat stands on Craigslist. There are a few other things in my home gym that need to go, and I am also trying to sell my pool table. Getting a couple extra bucks is nice, but the mental clarity that comes from having less stuff is even better. I am still coming to terms with the fact that buying good stuff does not make me good at something. It’s an easy mental trap to fall into.

4. Socialize - I scaled back on socializing this month. I felt a little burnt out after Thanksgiving, and I wanted to free time for reading my investing book. Other than yoga, I just did consumption based stuff. Holiday parties, meals, etc. It was enough. I'm not sure what January will bring. I did sign up for an arm balancing workshop at the yoga studio. Otherwise nothing is planned. Taking music lessons or maybe trying habitat for humanity is in the back of my mind, but I’ll be surprised if anything comes from it right now.

January starts from a valley, so I expect nice progress.

Friday, November 30, 2012

November 2012 Review

November goals continue to move forward, despite the holidays.

1. Move better - I did all planned activity and continued eating for yoga.

Yoga went great, largely due to my lesson at the end of October. I did wheel in every class. Breathing with my movement during the vinyasa has fallen in place. Intentionally, strongly exhaling is letting me deeper into several postures, as well as allowing me to find rest in a number of other poses. I managed to get a full bind in half moon during one class. I practiced mindful breathing a few times and tried a few alternate, lower intensity yoga classes. If progress continues like this during December, I will be very happy.

Lifting has resumed slow, forward progress. I attribute this to changes in my diet. I have managed to compensate for the smaller, yoga friendly meals by leaning heavily on pre-made, high protein foods. It's a pain, but I am eating immediately before and after bed, as well as every 2-3 hours in between. Chasing target trendlines on the 5/3/1 main lifts may also be helping.

The skin tear on my big toe healed. I learned to put more weight on the ball of my foot during certain yoga poses. Gluing the rip shut with new skin also helped. I am using the new skin early now, whenever I see a small tear forming. Between lifting and yoga, I've had to learn far more about skin care than I ever wanted.

My injured thumb is not back at 100%, but it is improving. I replaced the accessory lifts that were stressing it highly (overhead squats, renegade rows, kettlebell clean and press) with more basic lifts (kettlebell squats, one arm rows, bottoms up press). I started including some light gripper, pinch and finger extension work in every lifting session. I also started repping out an easy gripper prior to yoga class, warming the muscles in my hands and wrist before I load them. With all these changes together, I am no longer limited on what poses I can do during yoga. I think the hand will be fully healed by the end of December. Once recovered, I am not sure how many of these changes I will have to keep long term.

2. Beat the internet - This will be an ongoing battle. I am certainly no longer wasting hours a day on message boards and news sites. Still, I find myself making "just one exception" a little too often. I know the web is a burden on my time, but operating without it leads to a higher level of uncertainty, which I am still getting comfortable with. I did purchase a Garmin, which eliminates one of the biggest reasons for internet exceptions.

With my foot healed, I've been able to resume walking. Between walking, yoga, seeing people, lifting, video games and other life demands, I am busy morning to night. I'm not even really sure how I was making the time for so much internet in the past. If I do manage to fit any charity work in, it will have to be done as a social activity.

Time boxing work is going well. My most important tasks always gets done, and the stuff I leave unfinished has yet to become a problem. I never get the satisfaction of completing "everything", but that's a false achievement anyway. There's always more work.

3. Make my money work - I continue buying time through pre-made foods. The contractor did not come back this month. I made my yearly Roth IRA contribution and adjusted my mortgage payment to a more aggressive schedule.

I have made no progress on the Investment Science book. I think once I gain momentum it will be easy going, but making that initial push is tough. A few times a week, I have a little whisky. I am going to give that up until I am through the book, repurposing the time. If I am not done by end of December, my video game time will be next.

4. Socialize - I did a bunch of yoga, including a community yoga class. Community yoga might not be for me on a regular basis, but it was something new with new people. I tried a yoga class at my Mom's health club as well. I went to a party where people played games, another where people cooked together. At the cooking party, I made something new. Otherwise, all my activity was consumption based. I had people over for a party, shared several meals a week with people, and went to multiple Thanksgivings, including hosting one.

December should be another good month.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Yoga Lesson - Q4 2012

I took a private yoga lesson on 10/26/12. These were my take aways:

1. Knowing the fundamentals of yoga is not the same as applying them. I need to drop my thoughts, move with my breath and let the yoga work. I am past the point where progress comes from analysis or force of will. Discussing barriers with my instructor was very helpful, because she has the experience to point me back at the basics. As she says - "let the pose do you".

2. I came in with a complicated, comprehensive model of breathing, pulled from my yoga anatomy book. While my interest in theory was humored, real progress came from troubleshooting two poses:

2.1 Quarter moon - My breathing pattern was - lift my arms and take a deep breath, then bend over while trying to take another deep breath. It turns out I have to breathe out before I can breathe in again...

This is a recurring problem in my poses. As I start moving, I'll take a deep breath in, but only let a shallow breath out. It makes getting more air very difficult. Then I get dizzy because I am holding my breath. The instructor tells us to breathe out, but I seem to have a listening problem.

2.2 Dancers - My breathing pattern was - take a deep breath in, lean forward, pause, take another deep breath in, lean forward some more, hold my breath till we get released...

Again, I have been holding my breath. At least with this pose I kind of knew I was doing it for stability. My instructor had me watch how she breathes through the pose. It was much different. She exhales upon grabbing her foot, moves into the pose with a single deep inhale, and then uses an exhale to settle her body at the full expression of the pose. The settling was visually obvious, and I could even hear her joints cracking as her body released. It was a strong demonstration, and left an impression of what moving with my breath can eventually become.

Playing around with these ideas in a subsequent class, I found I struggle most with breathing in poses where inhaling is easy, but exhaling is hard. Typically these have a point where the torso is stretched out, like in hero's or even a seated forward fold. Forcing the air out by contracting my diaphragm seems like it may help, but I need to play with it more. Focusing on exhales definitely made my core sore.

I was given the homework to breathe mindfully for 5 minutes every day. So far, I have an F.

3. We went through the two problems I've encountered during my vinyasa:

3.1 Pain in my right thumb - We played around with down dog a little, but could not find a better position than gripping the mat with all my fingers. It seems likely I am over loading my hands, but I have not found range of motion to make my hands "light" yet. Even after 6 months, I am still letting my shoulders move towards my ears instead of taking them down my back. Gah.

3.2 Skin tears on my big toe - I was hoping we could find a movement problem that leads to these, but it seems occasional tears just come from moving barefoot in a warm, humid environment. My solution of using new skin when the tear is bad is ok.

We also covered some basic questions relating to the asanas.

4. Half moon - It seems the trouble I've had stacking my hips comes from transitioning into the pose incorrectly. I need to actually launch forward into the pose from warrior 2, like the instructor says. Instead, I've been standing up, going halfway into warrior 3, and then trying to rotate my body open. I am not strong enough to enter a full half moon that way. My instructor did it, so it's not impossible, but I'll do better if I focus on transitioning from warrior 2.

5. Triangle - I need to use the block. It's not a crutch. I need to use the block. It's not a crutch. I've been told this before.

6. Face side wall, fold forward - Folding forward allows the legs to open wider than they can while standing. I should let this happen and use it to move into a fuller expression of the pose. I'll have to move my feet back in to stand up, but that's ok.

7. Wheel - My alignment is fine. The only reason I cannot do the full pose in class is because I am tired. This is one of the rare movements where I can just try harder. The class following my lesson, I got up into the pose. I think it will come more easily if I focus on the opening of my hips and torso, instead of on the press up.

8. Half pigeon - My foot tingling during the pose is not all that unusual. As long as my foot is flexed, I should not worry about it. Temporarily rolling over on my hip to reposition my front leg is ok.

9. "Touch your elbow" arm balance - This is hard, I'm not ready for it yet and I don't need to worry about it. I figured maybe I could use upper body strength to force it, but guess not.

10. Tree - While this pose may end with my eyes focused up, I should not start there. The process of stabilizing my body with my gaze straight ahead, then looking up as I lean back, is important. Treating a pose as a process instead of an end goal is probably one of those important, basic concepts I will take a long time to synthesize.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 2012 Review

October goals went well. The initial momentum created by changing what I do has subsided, but progress continues.

1. Move better - I did all planned yoga and lifting. I did most of the planned walking, but injury forced me to miss a week.

Eating like someone who does yoga led to an immediate improvement in my class, especially during twists. I attribute this to having less volume in my system. I also started eating small, high protein meals every 3 hours. I think it will help offset the impact of eating less on lifting. It does mean eating more expensive food, but the food also takes less time to prepare.

Other improvements in yoga are relatively minor. Given that I am 6 months in, it's not surprising. There were very few classes where I gassed out, though I still struggle with breathing correctly. I look forward to seeing the impact of my yoga lesson on next month's progress.

Lifting on 5/3/1 went ok. I finished another cycle, but had to drop back for my deadlift and press weights. These were approaching a limit, and with the change in my food, stalled hard. Progress continues on front squats and bench press. I updated my cycle worksheet, to include the target reps for heavy sets, based on what will raise my overall trend line for the lift. Having that target seems much more effective that trying to "get as many reps as possible", as outlined in the base program. Given that lifting is secondary to yoga right now, I am happy with this progress.

I have been dealing with two injuries. Something is wrong with my hand, between my thumb and pointer finger. I've had to drop renegade rows and limit kettlebell clean and presses, since those impact it the most. I can still do axle deadlifts and grippers though. Side plank on my right side is out during yoga, and I have to really focusing on gripping the mat with my hands during the yoga vinyasa. I feel like the hand is improving slowly, but will take months to return to 100%. I am pretty sure relaxing my hands during the yoga vinyasa is at fault, and I have been avoiding yoga multiple days in a row to help let it heal. I've also been doing some extra work with dexterity balls and finger extensions. If I don't have marked improvement by the end of next month, I'll see a doctor or take some time off yoga.

The other injury is a skin tear in my big toe. It is minor, so I tried ignoring it for a few weeks. The problem is it would re-open every time I went for a walk or did yoga. I thought lotion might help, but with the skin already ripped, that just made it re-open more easily. I tried using new skin on it for a week and skipping walks. That let it heal, but as soon as I returned to walking, it re-opened. Currently, I'm just gluing it shut with new skin before yoga.

Longer term, eating like someone who does yoga is making me lighter. I think over the next several months, that will reduce the stress on my thumb and toe.

2. Beat the internet - This goal did not go as well during October, but was still much improved relative to my baseline.

I found after using the internet for half a day at the end of September, I really wanted to check "one more thing" during the month. I did manage to stay off news sites and message boards, nobody cares about my email anymore, but I had more other relapses than I'd prefer.

I think the problem was a reduction in available substitute behaviors. I could not walk as much, I was not eating pizza with ice cream every night, and work was back to normal. I ended up drinking more and watching netflix, which are not good substitutes.

I am working on building my walking back up and increasing work pressure a little bit to compensate here. Magazines did help, but it turns out Wired is pretty marginal. Video games were a good distraction, cooking helped out a few times (chili / pumpkin muffins / brownies), and I got through a couple books from the library. I got my Amazon wish list setup for interlibrary loan, but need to follow through on getting more books. I am going to subscribe to an ad free music service. Given the low quality of Wired, I feel a little discouraged about magazine subscriptions. I might try some back issues of Harvard Business Review or MIT Sloan from the library.

Part of me wonders if getting involved in a charity wouldn't solve the internet problem, but I hesitate to introduce an ongoing time commitment based on a single month.

Time boxing work went great. There were no crazy weeks, and other than my planned monthly release, I did not have to work outside of normal hours. It was a little frustrating to see how little work gets done without the crazy weeks. It looks like November is on track to ramp up in the early part of the month, though I expect things to drop off with Thanksgiving.

3. Make my money work - I primarily bought time through pre-made foods. Other than chopping up produce, cooking only makes sense as a source of entertainment. The hourly wage is poor.

The contractor did come by twice, and he fixed many things in the house. He gets about $50/hr, but compared to how long I would need for the same work, I am buying my time back at under $20/hr. Also, he is actually doing the work, which I have proven I will not do. Given that these jobs are required for the house to maintain its value, I consider it a huge win.

I started into the Investment Science book, but progress is slow. The contractor won't be back until December, and another mental burden finished up in October, so I expect much more progress on the investment side of things over November.

I looked into a mortgage refinance, but could only find a rate that was .5% lower than my current loan. Given the amount I owe and term length remaining, I need at least a 1% drop to justify the time cost.

4. Socialize - I did my yoga. I went to a yoga party. I had a yoga lesson. I went to a friend's house to play games. I went to the arboretum with my wife, twice. I also went to the arboretum with my wife and a friend, including a visit to the friend's house to make pizza. This was actually a pretty good month for non-consumption based socialization. I also shared meals with coworkers, friends, and family fairly often.

November might be a little slower. We've got a party scheduled, but it looks like attendance may be light. I suppose we will see family for Thanksgiving. I will make a point to fill my calendar, but I expect other people to be busy with the holidays.

Overall, these goals are going well. I have a lot of space for improvement and remain motivated to work on them.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Yoga Basics Workshop

I attended a 2 hour yoga basics seminar on 9/22/2012. These were my take aways:

1. Down dog - when I lift my leg, I need to make sure my hips are actually stacked vertically. I tend to only bend my leg, instead of fully stacking the hips.

2. Crescent Lunge to Warrior 3 transition - The focus point for my eyes should move from the wall to the floor, instead of starting at the floor. This allows for more complete extension in Warrior 3.

3. Down Dog to Warrior 1 transition - my front foot should land with my pinky toe next to my thumb. Even knowing this, I can only come so close before my body gets in the way.

4. Utkatasana - It is worth separating the feet a little to get my legs to parallel. The movement actually loads my muscles when I do this and becomes much harder.

5. Half Pigeon - It is better to focus on getting my front leg parallel to the front of my mat, than to focus on bending over further. I should also be able to support my weight when upright, using that time to look over my shoulder and ensure my back leg is straight.

6. Crescent Lunge with Twist - I tried this using a block. It was really hard. I am no where close to doing it during class, but it was interesting to try.

7. Chatarunga - Doing this movement while cold is really hard on my shoulders and wrists. It made me appreciate the benefit of warmth generated during the normal class flow.

Given that we covered 16 poses over two hours, I expected to have more take aways. Either I have learned a lot over the past 6 months, or I did a poor job paying attention. Either way, I did have fun, and it was a worthwhile investment of my time.

September 2012 Review

Overall my new set of goals has proven to be well aligned, with efforts complementing one another.

1. Move better - I did all planned exercise, with some unplanned extras, enabled by time not spent on the internet.

I setup a spreadsheet for my 5/3/1 program, loading the main work set for each workout over the last 10 months. I used this to plot trendlines of both my projected max and work weight, allowing for more immediate feedback on progress and more realistic goal setting.

Since I was walking as a replacement for the internet, I ended up doing it almost every day. Unexpectedly, these long slow walks improved my cardio, causing a dramatic leap in my ability to keep up during yoga class.

Since I completely stopped gassing out during yoga, I have been able to go more deeply into a number of movements. In one class, I even managed to do wheel. I was able to do yoga 3 days in a row one week, with limited soreness. I attended a 2 hour yoga basics seminar, and got through the meat of the book Yoga Anatomy. I have yet to see if there will be long term benefits from those.

All the energy spent on yoga and walking impeded my lifting progress. Next month, I need to make a deliberate choice between the two. Yoga is favored by a light diet and heavy activity. Lifting is favored by a heavy diet and light activity. I am leaning towards yoga, since my interest is there right now.

2. Beat the internet - This goal was my primary focus in September. At first I succeeded in time boxing and tracking my work hours, but then a high visibility project with a tight timeline got the better of me. I am scaling back to normal hours now though. In any case, tracking my work made me more effective, which was valuable in a crazy month.

Cutting my internet use did lead to withdrawal symptoms, which I primarily dealt with by walking and eating in circles. They balanced one another out, but I actually managed to get sick of frozen pizza and ice cream.

I also decided to use the internet for personal reasons only once a month, except streaming audio and Netflix. This has been hard. The biggest key is accepting I have to give up some good to eliminate the enormous time waste. I had to dispute a credit card charge over the phone - blech. Cutting email met some resistance, but people got over it. I do have a monthly internet chore list that will take hours to complete. Hopefully that shortens with time.

I am working on replacements for the time I spent online. I've setup a couple magazine subscriptions (whisky advocate, wired, mit's technology review), so I get current information on my interests. I verified the library will call me when a book comes. Video games have served me well. I do need to get better at setting up social activities.

3. Make my money work - I managed to buy a little time, mostly by suggesting the use of cabs when my wife and I have scheduling conflicts with the car. I bought more prepared foods to reduce cooking time, but ended spending longer shopping for and eating food, with no net time gain. I had fun though

More notable progress centered on taking care of the investment in the house. My wife followed through on setting up repairs with a contractor. His rates are reasonable and work is scheduled. I suppose this also counts as buying time, but I am paying a heck of a lot more than $10/hr. Also, since I was not doing anything around this before, the limited time I am spending feels like an extra burden on my schedule.

I did nothing around investment analysis. The workout spreadsheet satisfied my need to play with numbers in Excel.

4. Socialize - The only social activities I did that were not consumption centered on exercise. I made it to yoga class 2-3x a week and attended a yoga seminar. My wife and I walked more with the nice weather. Counting that as social is not really in the spirit of the goal though. We did setup a trip to the arboretum in October, but that's just the two of us again.

I passed on the chance to attend Riot Fest in downtown Chicago. I do not like loud noises or crowds, and that trumped my desire to socialize.

Consumption based socializing went well. I shared meals with a lot of people - friends, family, coworkers. I went to a party. My wife and I setup a party for November. Still, I'd like to see us do better than just eating and drinking for entertainment.

I did find that without time spent on the internet, I am more open to engaging in small talk. I actually made conversation during a haircut, instead of comfortably sitting in silence. Maybe it was a fluke, but if not, it would be very positive improvement.

Overall, without the internet, I am getting a lot more out of life. It is important I turn this change into a permanent behavior.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Goals for 2012 - 2013

My focus this year is on using resources more effectively. Lately I have felt overwhelmed, and it has impaired my quality of life. I will resolve that by focusing on just four complementary goals.

1. Move well
I will lead an active lifestyle by adopting the listed behaviors, tracking workouts on paper only.

1.1 Lift 4x a week, following 5/3/1
1.2 Yoga 2-3x a week
1.3 Walk most days, weather accommodating
2. Beat the internet
Spending less time online makes life better. I will:

2.1 Time box and track work hours, ensuring a fair work week for the company and myself
2.2 Continue using online tools that save time (banking, shopping, email, etc.)
2.3 Eliminate online escapes (forums, news, comics, flash games, youtube, etc.)

I have a proven inability to moderate, so wide swaths of the internet will either be in or out. This means loss of things I enjoy, but there is not another approach I will stick with. Making this happen will free an embarrassing amount of time, upwards of 20 hours a week.

3. Make money work
When it comes to money, I have the mentality of a chipmunk. Instead of using it as a resource, I just hoard whatever I can get. I will do two things to change that:

3.1 Buy time, paying up to $10/hr
3.2 Learn financial math, using it to model and analyze my investment strategy
4. Leave the basement
While my social life now has some inertia, if I do not make a continued effort, it will rapidly regress to playing video games in the basement. I will make a point to:

4.1 Spend time with people
4.2 Do more than just eat and drink

This set of goals is much more qualitative than last years. Some of the initial changes will be hard, but sustained over the year, they will lead to a much higher quality of life. I am optimistic about the results and excited to get started.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 366 of 365 - August in Review

August concludes my goal year. Chasing goals served me well, but I did a crummy job of setting ones I could reach. I have a tendency to assume I will be more awesome than is possible, then burn myself out trying to do the impossible. At least I am finally mature enough to recognize it and back off without getting upset.

1. Lifting
- 5/3/1 continues to hum along. I did not test my original goals, but I am sure I did not hit them. Cycles of 5/3/1 will continue well beyond this goal year. I will be strong enough for the listed goals, eventually. It is not a priority though.

2. Eat on $4 a day - This was an expensive month. I decided to take a trip to Trader Joes and buy whatever I wanted. It was fun, but having all the packaged food got me kind of sick. It was also expensive. I did really enjoy having tofurkey, bread and seitan. While I figured out a floor diet of $5-6 a day, moving forward I may be a little more flexible with my food budget. I can afford it. I can always fall back on the skills I learned if my finances change.

3. Be social - I saw friends, family and coworkers. We did a lot of stuff, but most of it was centered on food or drink. I did make it to yoga 2-3x a week as planned. No wave runner rental yet though. Moving forward, yoga and doing stuff with people stays. I am still working to find activities that don't revolve around consumption.

4. Maintain my home - Miserable failure this month. I did nothing, not even put the replacement part on the microwave. My wife and I talked about this, and moving forward I've proposed a plan that puts her in charge. I'll pay a greater share for what we do, but she's gonna make it happen. We'll see if that goes any better.

5. Excel as a quality engineer - Once again security audits blew my schedule up. I have too much work now and am employing the "try harder" strategy to get through it. Obviously not much in the way of process improvement is happening. This is not sustainable, but there is a plan in the works to resolve it. Moving forward, I've decided I cannot predict on Day 1 what the company needs from me for an entire year. My role is going to change significantly in the next three months. I will focus on being flexible, staying open minded, and putting a fair work week for both me and the company.

Next year’s goals will be more process focused. I feel like those worked the best this year, and I have some promising ideas for improving my quality of life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 365 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Walked a few miles
Mobility with 12k kettlebell
Foam roller

Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45, 85, 95; 7 x 110lbs
DO Axle Deadlift - 10 x 110, 140, 155lbs

The warm up felt great. Front squats were tough but I got them done.

It seems I cannot count days, my goal year does not end until Friday. I guess the count will go to 367.


Day 365 of 365 - Yoga

I felt particularly good going into yoga this morning and opted to really push it. I focused on making my warrior stances long. I made it through the first round of eagle before caving to my mat on all fours. I also got to do crow in the second half of class.

Interestingly, doing the vinyasa gets much easier as class goes on and my upper body opens. By the end of class, it isn't even hard. I guess I have the required strength, but get all bunched up sitting between yoga classes. My baseline mobility is improving over time, so maybe one day vinyasa will be easy all the time

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 364 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Walked a few miles
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Bench Press - 5 x 45, 90, 100; 12 x 115lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 10/10 x 20k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 7 x 16k's

Just getting my reps in. This was a welcome easy workout after last night's deadlifts.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 363 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Walk in the morning
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Deadlift - 5 x 135, 185, 215; 6 x 245lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x Hollow Bar; 10 x 50, 60, 65lbs

This was hard. I am 2 days behind schedule and paid for it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 362 of 365 - Yoga

Class went well this morning. I focused on placing my foot just behind my hand when coming out of down dog. It resulted in lower stances for my warriors. During side plank, I tried the intensifying modification and was able to get my top leg up a couple of inches. The down side of all this is by half way through the class, I was gassed out.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 360 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
This morning I did yoga

Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 80, 90, 105lbs
Grippers - 5/5 x Trainer; 3 x 8/8 x #1

Overhead press was near limit work today. Now that I am approaching PR strength levels, I need to do yoga on a different day.

My hands felt a little achey and I am short on time, so I skipped renegade rows.

Day 359 of 365 - Yoga

I did yoga this morning after a week off. The rest had little impact on my ability either way. I was a little tight as class started, but gradually opened up. My conditioning continues to be my limiting factor.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 355 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Mobility wth 12k kettlebell
Foam roller

Front Squat - 5 x 50, 65, 85lbs
DO Axle Deadlift - 5 x 85, 110, 130lbs

Did my deload workout.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 354 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Walked a few miles

Bench Press - 5 x 50, 65, 85lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 7/7 x 20k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 5 x 16k's

Quick and easy. I skipped yoga due to lost sleep from a release.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 353 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Grocery shopping

Deadlift - 5 x 110, 140, 165lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x 45, 45, 55lbs

Deload week is a breeze.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 352 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
Did this one right after yoga

Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 65, 75lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 3/3 x 20k
Grippers - 5 x #T; 3 x 4/4 x #1

Deload week. Just getting my reps in as efficiently as possible.

Day 352 of 365 - Yoga

I made it to yoga this morning. That's about all I can say. Lifting hard plus a lack of sleep has caught up with me. Fortunately I have a lazy weekend ahead, with ample opportunity to rest.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 350 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
I did yoga in the morning
Mobility wth 12k kettlebell
Foam roller

Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45 90; 3 x 100, 115lbs
DO Axle Deadlift - 5 x 140, 165, 185lbs

Not too shabby. Deload week begins!

Day 350 of 365 - Yoga

Today's yoga victory - showing up at all. Last night I lifted hard, went out to dinner and then cooked for the week. I was not ready for bed until 11:30 and found sleeping difficult. I got up at 6 and went to class anway. As one might expect, my performance was rather unremarkable. Sometimes showing up is enough.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 349 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
The house was hot
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Bench Press - 5 x 45, 100; 3 x 110; 12 x 115, 125lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 5/5 x 24k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 4 x 24k's

Initially, I misloaded the bar for my hard set of bench. It was so easy, I re-added and realized I was missing 10lbs. Fortunately the second set was not much harder. My shoulders felt really good today.

The fourth rep on my sets of clean and press was not the most beautiful. It will get better with time though.

I have yoga tomorrow morning, squats in the evening, and then it is deload week.

I ordered two new grippers today. They are a step up from the hardest grippers I own. I think my strength is on a slow, long climb up. I will have a shot at them in the next year or two. It is exciting to finally have a program that is working for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 347 of 365 - Yoga

This morning I was hoping to do a full bind in half moon. I may have practiced it in the mirror at home on Saturday. Unfortunately soreness from yesterday's deadlifts left me barely able to do half moon at all. The bind will come soon though. I did back off during the knee to nose sequence this morning and was able to do much more work on my breathing during the last third of class. During side bridge, I briefly managed to lift my top leg.

Progress is coming slowly.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 346 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Deadlift - 5 x 135; 3 x 175; 5 x 210; 3 x 235; 2 x 265lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x Hollow Bar; 5 x 60, 70, 75lbs

I struggled to find intensity for my deadlifts. I got the reps anyway, but they were slow and lazy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day 345 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
Did yoga in the morning
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Overhead Press - 5 x 45; 5 x 85; 3 x 100; 3 x 110lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 3/3 x 28k
Grippers - 5 x IM#T; 3 x 1/1 x BBM

Now that I know my cardio is improving without using the elliptical, I have very little incentive to do it during my warm up. Maybe when I need a mental reset, but that's about it.

Overhead pressing 110 for a triple might be a PR for me. If not, it is very close.

Grippers and renegade rows went fine. 28k was a little heavy on the rows, but I did not feel like doing high reps.

Day 345 of 365 - Yoga

Last night I opted to skip yoga, staying home to have deep dish pizza and whisky instead. It was the right choice.

This morning I went to the 7:15am class. It is less busy and lower key than the evening classes. I tried doing the touch your nose sequence on top of everything else. It was a mistake. I ended up pushing so hard that I had to stop in the middle of tree pose and crouch on my mat, so I wouldn't throw up. I recovered enough to resume class, but never really caught my breath. Panting through yoga classes misses a lot of the benefit, so I am going to scale back on Sunday.

The studio started selling Manduka pro-lite mats. It's nice to have my choice of a Manduka mat re-inforced as sound.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 343 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Elliptical - 10 minutes at level 12, cool down to <120bpm
Mobility wth 12k kettlebell

Front Squat - 5 x 45; 3 x 85, 100; 6 x 110lbs
Axle Deadlift - 8 x 140, 150; 6 x 175lbs

Since this was a late session, I opted to do the elliptical warm up. I was surprised how easy it has become. One of the books I read claimed yoga does not increase cardio, clearly that is not true for me.

I made a point to add a rep on my front squats compared to using this weight last cycle. I might have had one or two more in me, but I needed to keep the intensity low, to ensure I fall asleep tonight.

Deadlifts were pretty easy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 342 of 365 - Yoga

I made it to the Tuesday evening class. It was young and busy! The entire studio was full, mostly of people in their 20's and early 30's. When I attend morning classes, there are less than 10 people, and I am often the youngest person in the room. Last night there were even people in front of me, facing the curtain.

The instructor mixed our sequence a little more than usual. I was able to keep up, except for the intentional break I take during the knee to nose sequence. I am finding I can breath properly during the warm up and the remainder of class from bridging through savasana. I am going to trying pushing that from both directions, until I can meet in the middle of class and breathe correctly the entire time. When I breathe correctly, I am forced to relax and end up with deeper poses. Doing that the entire class will lead to progress.

I am beginning to think the improvements I will make just by showing up have already happened. Further progress is going to require very intentional changes, like those from my lesson last month.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day 341 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Get the mail
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Bench Press - 5 x 45; 3 x 90, 105; 12 x 115lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 10/10 x 24k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 7 x 20k

This was an easy workout. I got a lot of sleep last night. I am re-learning how to bench now that I have the stands. I have never been this flexible, and I think I have a chance at benching without restriction this year.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Day 340 of 365 - Yoga

Class this morning was a little rough, since I am running on too little sleep. I did try keeping my knees bent on the forward folds, which is recommended in one of the Baptiste DVDs. I really focused on my breathing for the last 20 minutes of class. I found it calming.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 339 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Shop for groceries
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Deadlift - 5 x 135; 3 x 198, 230, 255lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x BW, Hollow Bar; 8 x 55, 65; 6 x 75lbs

Deadlifts were supposed to be 5lbs lighter, but I misread the program. I barely got my reps. I did not sleep enough this week and found myself lacking motivation.

While grocery shopping, I bought a dozen different sauces from Trader Joes. I'll use them on rice and beans over the next few months. I also bought fresh apricots, which I have never tried before.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Day 338 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Overhead Press - 5 x 45; 3 x 85, 95; 4 x 105lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 5/5 x 24k
Grippers - 5 x IM#T; 3 x 3/3 x BBSA

I slacked on my warm up, since I did yoga this morning. My pressing was weak due to yoga.

Day 338 of 365 - Yoga

After doing yoga on my own Wednesday, the pace of this morning's class seemed especially fast. I was one step behind the entire time. I suppose that is a benefit of the group environment. Moving faster stops me from over-thinking. I still gassed out by the time we reached balances, but I will be less sore tomorrow.

I am almost done with the yoga books and DVDs I got from the library. The books all verify my instructor is doing a great job. She addresses both the big safety concerns from the Science of Yoga and the subtle movement nuances from the Baptiste books. My trust in her expertise is well founded. If I can be patient and stop trying to force progress, following her will take me very far.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 336 of 365 - Yoga

Sunday's yoga class left me far too sore for a session at the studio. I skipped Tuesday and opted to do something on my own today. I took things slow, focusing on my breathing and vinyasa transitions. I eventually got through the entire sequence we do in class, but it took me an extra 15 minutes. I cheated though, I was watching tv!

Even done slowly on my own, the yoga made a tremendous difference in how I felt.

Day 336 of 365 - July in Review

July was a good month.

1. Lifting - Another cycle of 5/3/1 is done. Now that I have programmed my assistance work, I no longer skip it. The only time I think about the weights outside the gym is when I make sure lifting fits into my day. I am not sure I got stronger this month, but I definitely did not get weaker. Given that yoga has taken a lot of my focus, I am happy with this. I do think yoga will improve my lifting eventually. I just started using squat stands, but I can tell they make lifting more enjoyable. I expect improved progress on bench especially as a result. In August, I ought to test myself against the goals I set for this year. Since everything is going so well though, I am not sure if I will. The goals no longer match how I lift, after all.

2. Eat on $4 a day - My eating is on autopilot, and I am no longer tracking spending. This month I did solidify my process for cooking rice and beans. After trying a handful of recipes, I've gotten it down to - cook the beans, then simmer them with stir fried vegetables while the rice cooks. It turns out the type of bean does not really matter to me, nor does the selection of vegetables. If it goes wrong, I am content with drowning the end result in teriyaki or hot sauce.

I tried a few other new things to reduce my food costs, none of which worked out. I gave hummus a solid attempt, but failed miserably. I tried getting the potatoes that were $0.30/lb at Aldi, only to find they taste like dirt. I got lemons and made lemonade, only to find it is more expensive than store bought. 48oz of lemonade takes around 2.5lbs of lemons and a cup of sugar. The best deal I've seen on lemons is $1/lb, which works out to $7.50/gallon lemonade... I did make my best homemade pizza yet. My only expectation for this goal in August is to keep eating off my food list and continue eating out 1-2x a week.

3. Be social - July was a good month for getting out of the house. Yoga has been a consistent 3x a week. The week I had my lesson, I was at the studio 4 times. I saw my parents most weekends, one Saturday my wife came too. I had lunch with coworkers and friends a few times. There was a weekend where I went to a party, the aquarium and a comedy club. My wife had people over to the house a few times as well.

Next month should also go well. Outside of recurring stuff, I am planning to attend 3 parties. If I can find a good place to rent jet skis, I have a couple people that want to try it. I have never gotten to and am apparently missing out. I would like it if more of my socializing revolved around something other than eating and drinking, but so far only yoga fits that mold.

4. Maintain my home - The microwave broke. I took it apart, found the broken piece, ordered a new one and put in a temp fix. Since it is now working, I have not installed the new part, but I am excited to have fixed something at all. My wife took a load of stuff to goodwill. That's about it. I neglect this goal because I don't enjoy it.

5. Excel as a quality engineer - This month was heavy on security, audits, content management and small projects. Running the manual deployments off an internal server has made them more efficient. I did have the chance to make some more complex SQL queries as part of my testing. I started a push towards improving error handling that seems to have gained support. I got out of a weekly recurring meeting.

I believe the switch to Kanban for our SDLC is starting to pay dividends. I saw the team react quickly and successfully to a significant, urgent project. We started experimenting with a more collaborative UAT process. It's probably better longer term, but it adds work to my schedule. I am wondering if a weekly or bi-weekly demo might be a better way to handle it. August will be an interesting month, as I am on the cusp of having too much work.

August marks the end of my goal year. I'll see what goals I managed to hit, then set new ones for the upcoming year.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 334 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Walk outside
Mobility wth 12k kettlebell

Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45, 80, 90, 105lbs
Axle Deadlift - 5 x 115, 140, 150lbs

Yesterday's yoga class left a strong impression. I struggled to do the bare minimum today. It hurts to move.

I did enjoy taking the squat weight off a rack, instead of cleaning it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 333 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Yoga in the morning and it is hot outside

Bench Press - 5 x 45, 85, 100; 12 x 110lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 10/10 x 20k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 8 x 16k

It was a real treat to lift off the squat stands for bench, instead of cleaning the bar and sitting back with it. I am enjoying the new toy. My shoulder was a clicking a little on bench, but I got through it with no pain.

The additional stress from yoga this morning made things a little harder. I cannot lift on Wednesday, so I decided today was the time to double up my workouts. Tuesday would be the other option, but squatting and doing yoga on the same day is miserable.

Day 333 of 365 - Yoga

Yoga went well today. The improved vinyasa transitions were significantly easier than on Friday. My breathing was better. I still gassed out, but not as quickly. I got a deep stretch on extended side angle, which contributed to getting extra deep on half pigeon. I was a wreck the end of class. I just sat on my mat dazed for a good 5-10 minutes.

I have been looking at Baron Baptiste's books. This morning I recognized that the second half of the "warm up" portion of our class is actually his Sun A and Sub B series strung together. Knowing that will make sequencing on my own a little easier.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 332 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Move squat stands to the basement
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Deadlift - 5 x 45, 135, 180, 210; 6 x 235lbs
Overhead Squat - 10 x Hollow Bar, 45, 55, 65lbs

I was tired, but I made my reps.

Friday I bought some top of the line squat stands off of craigslist. I picked up three sets for a little more than what one set costs new. The seller was motivated, so with a little patience, I think I can recoup my cost selling just two of the sets.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 331 of 365 - Yoga

Class this morning was rough. I learned a lot yesterday, and I tried to incorporate it all. By halfway through, I was gassed out. I actually sat out the pyramid sequence in child's pose. It was that or get sick on my mat. With all the changes, it almost feels like I am starting all over again.

I will be sore tomorrow.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 330 of 365 - Overhead Press

Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 75, 85; 6 x 100lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 7/7 x 20k
Grippers - 5 x IM#T; 3 x 7/7 x IM#1

It was a long, hot day. I opted to skip my warm up. Had I done the session first thing in the morning, I probably would have got 7 or 8 reps on the heavy set of presses. As it was, I am happy to have done 6.

Day 330 of 365 - Yoga

My yoga lesson was this morning. I still have a lot of work to do on the fundamentals. The teacher says she could spend an hour on a single pose. I believe it. My takeaways:



1. The 10 minute segments I identified were largely correct, but I missed a higher level pattern. The class ascends to a climax with twists just before the 30 minute mark, and then descends back down starting at the 30 minute mark, with balances. I should think about it like:


a. Warm Up

b. Flow

c. Lunges, All 4's, Twists



e. Balances, Face the wall,

f. Prone, Supine, Abs, Lying twist

g. Hip Opener, Inversion and Shavasana

2. The length of time poses are held is to facilitate this trip up and down. Gradually shorter holds (all the way down to one pose per breath) are used to climb the intensity curve. Longer holds are used build the early climb and the descent.


3. Twisting at the peak of the physical intensity is very intentional.


4. The crescent lunge twist comes first in the sequence, before the utkatasana twist


5. Supta baddha konasana after bridges is primarily a chance for the class to rest and get instruction. If I am physically ready to keep going, I can skip it.


6. The same is true for the prone laying just after the "face the wall" sequence. That one releases tight muscles in my neck that give my shoulder problems though, so I'll keep it in.


7. If backing off on intensity a little will let me align my breathing with my movement, I should do it. Otherwise, I am missing the calming part of the moving meditation.



1. Owning a pose is not about imitating what other people look like, but learning to feel the pose. It is really hard for me to "feel" a pose on my own, without someone adjusting me into that feeling a few times. We did this on a couple poses, and I am going to take a class tomorrow in an effort to memorize those feelings before they fade. This is not intuitive to me, at all. It is probably the most important lesson from the morning.


2. Down dog

2.1 Focus on spreading my fingers and widening my hand position to the edge of my mat.

2.2 Moving my feet closer to my hands so they will go flat on the floor is not the goal. Having the heels off the floor provides space to move deeper into the movement.

2.3 More importantly, I have the habit of supporting my weight with my upper traps. This prevents me from relaxing into a stretch for my lats and upper/mid back. With coaching, I was able to feel the opening in my upper body. I need to remember that and move into it. I think it will help with the upper cross syndrome I am prone to from sitting all day. The teacher says my posture is less forward than it was when I started, so it is quite possible I did not have the range of motion to down dog like this at the start.


3. Vinyasa Transition - Low Plank to Up Dog


3.1 If I am going to separate pointing my feet and the press up, I should move the feet first. This puts me part way into up dog with little effort.


3.2 I am still shrugging my shoulders towards my ears as I descend from high plank. This puts my shoulder in an impingement prone position when I am ready to press up from low plank. Learning to tuck my arms into my sides during chatarunga will help this, but I lack strength in that position. I may need to do some work from my knees to build it.


3.3 Letting my weight drop all the way to the floor before going into up dog (my current approach) adds a lot of extra work. I can conserve energy by learning this transition better.


4. Vinyasa Transition - Up Dog to Down Dog


4.1. Don't pop from up dog to down dog. It misses the physical point of the transition


4.2. The reason people are able to "roll" over their toes is because a proper transition uses the core to transfer weight to their upper body. Relatively little weight is on the legs.


4.3 Almost all of my weight has been on my legs during this transition. I need to stop doing that. The cracked nails on my big toes are the sign of a movement problem, not just something I need to tough out.


5. Vinyasa Transition – Floating


5.1 It is reasonable for me to try floating forward, even though I cannot land between my hands yet


5.2 Fixing my hand spacing on down dog will help with creating space to land in


5.3 Learning to engage my core for down dog will help to control the landing


5.4 Otherwise it just needs to come with time. Until I have the hang of floating forward, I should not worry about floating backwards. That is more likely to lead to injury.


6. Opening on Twists


6.1 Hooking the elbow does not just mean "get enough of your elbow on your knee that you have leverage". It means getting the arm pressed against the side of the knee.


6.2 Until I can fully hook my elbow, there is no reason to focus on opening my arms. I'll probably end up cheating the twist if I open without a proper hook.


6.3 Doing a proper twist without being fully warmed up can be sickening

7. Half Moon - the point of the pose is feel opening of the body, so I should go for the bind, even if my unbound form is not perfect.


8. Extended Side Angle


8.1 The knee should be positioned plumb over the ankle. When I am ready for a wider pose, I need to move my back foot, not lunge forward


8.2 My arm is on my leg to press on the inside of my thigh and open my hips, not to support the weight of my upper body so I can rest. Whoops. The pose feels much different doing this. It is a huge hip opener.


8.3 Once I learn this new feeling, then I can put my hand to the floor, but I should still be using my arm to push my hips open. A block can help here.



Learning physical skills is really hard for me. I am glad I lucked into finding a good instructor and have enough sense to take advantage of the opportunity. There is still a lot to learn (I only asked 2/3's of my questions), but I believe it is worth the effort. The postural problems sitting all day introduces are gradually reducing. Yoga is likely to become a lifelong habit for me.


I suspect if I can get the breathing down for a moving meditation, I will experience more of a mental health benefit. At the very least, I enjoy learning something new and having a reason to get out of the house. Practice calming myself while at my physical limits seems worthwhile. It is going to take a long time before I understand the full mental impact.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 329 of 365 - Yoga

Yoga this morning. I was able to open my arms on the twist during crescent lunge. The teacher skipped our "rest" poses during the middle of class, but I managed to keep up anyway. We attempted revolved half moon, did power chair, hero and did a single legged squatting hip opener. Those are all infrequent movements, not usually done in class. That's what giving up the rest gets, I guess.

The teacher was doing yoga with us, and I think that was a significant factor in class getting switched up. At one point, she was doing a headstand and fell, but landed in wheel. I have a long way to go...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 328 of 365 - Front Squat

Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45, 65, 75lbs
Axle Deadlift - 5 x 85, 105, 125lbs

Last workout of deload week. Back to the hard stuff on Thursday. Yoga tomorrow morning.

Making hummus was a total failure. It turns out what I imagined making it involves, and what it actually involves are very different. The big misses were:

1. The macro nutrient ratios of my preferred hummus make it something that does not fit well into the higher protein diet I try to eat. I opted to combine the ingredients in a way that was higher protein and lower fat. Fat makes hummus creamy.

2. Most hummus recipes call for use of a food processor or blender to make it smooth. I hate loud noises, so I opted to use a fork. Some of them suggest peeling the skins of the beans. No way I am spending my time popping bean skins.

My goal was to figure out a hummus recipe that would become a staple part of my diet. Instead I have a tub of stiff, chunky lemon flavored bean mash. It is gross. There are more rewarding things to focus my time and energy on, so I give up on making hummus.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 327 of 365 - Bench Press

Bench Press - 5 x 45, 65, 75lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 4/4 x 20k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 4 x 24k

Twenty minutes and done. Deload week rules.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 326 of 365 - Yoga

The morning yoga class went well. I expect to keep up with class the entire time now. It is hard, but that's kind of the point. I might have made some small improvements, but I do not remember any of them specifically. I am looking forward to Thursday's lesson.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 325 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up

Deadlift - 5 x 45, 135, 135, 160lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x BW, Hollow Bar, 45, 45, 45lbs

Just getting my deload week work in. Nothing strenuous.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 324 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
Nah, it's deload week.

Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 65, 65lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 4/4 x 16k
Grippers - 5/5 x Trainer; 3 x 4/4 x #1

Quick and easy. Even so, it was nice to use the weights after so much yoga.
I am going to try making hummus this weekend. I have dry chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemons, and garlic. I just need to cook the chick peas, juice some lemons and figure out the ratios for mixing everything together.

Day 324 of 365 - Yoga

I dragged myself out of bed for the 7:15 class. Including me, there were only 3 students, so the teacher did yoga with us. I was pleased. I appreciate the chance to see how she does what she says and experience the influence her participation has on the sequencing.

The pace of class was a little lower key today, and I welcomed it. I was able to keep up the entire time. I tried opening my arms on the twists, but otherwise did nothing new. My ankles were clearly tired from doing yoga on my own earlier this week.

Having tried the yoga on my own, I had much better perspective to pick up on the patterns in the class. There were a few things I just missed when I made up my 10 minute segments. I'll clean those up for next time I do yoga on my own. I also found it far easier to anticipate where the teacher was going.

I think I realized a key element of why the class sequences are always so seamless. Each move has a small set of moves you can enter or exit it with. Once those are memorized, it's just a matter of picking the moves for the day and linking them together. I suspect an experienced teacher thinks a few moves ahead, and that is what creates the sense of fluidity.

I already have a list of the moves. I am going track how they link. Then I can use the links to diagram how the moves relate and use that to plan my sequencing. In the process, I'll memorize the relationships and be able to use them for improvisation. I doubt sequencing is presented to yoga instructors like this (reducing the physical practice to traversal of a flowchart doesn't seem in the spirit of yoga), but I think it will work fantastically well for me. It should also improve my ability to predict what the teacher is going to call out in class, making it easier to keep up.

I better search for a baptiste yoga flow chart before I start. I know what I'm doing this weekend

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 322 of 365 - Yoga

I did another hour yoga session on my own. Yoga 3 days in a row is a little much, but I wanted to play around more. It helps that the intensity is a little lower without someone pushing me along. I gave the transition between low plank and up dog a few more tries, but I still cannot do it correctly. I think it is unlikely upper body strength is holding me back (most of the women in my class do it easily), so I need to figure out what the form problem is. Hopefully I can work it out with my teacher during the Thursday lesson.

Otherwise, I was just happy I found the motivation to do this again. My schedule will allow me to return to normal classes pretty soon. If I get to bed early enough on Thursday, I'll attend the Friday 7:15am class.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 321 of 365 - Yoga

I did yoga on my own, for an entire hour. I planned what I would do ahead of time, basing it on the structure I inferred from classes at the studio. From what I can tell, the teacher breaks classes into 6 segments, each about 10 minutes long:

1. Warm Up
2. Flow
3. Lunges, All 4's, Twists
4. Face the wall, Balances
5. Prone, Supine, Abs
6. Hip Opener, Inversion and Cool down

While I had a high level structure, I did find my sequencing was far from seamless. I might know what happens, but I do not know how to string it all together and create a fluid series of movements. I also found that without someone pushing the pace, I hold each pose significantly longer, resulting in fewer total moves.

Overall though, I managed to break a good sweat and loosen up. The big upside of leading my own practice was controlling how long I spent in a given pose. I could linger on something that felt especially worthwhile, or even spend more time on one side if it was considerably tighter than the other.

I am far from doing yoga by myself on a regular basis, but it will get rotated in a few times a month. Now that I have a framework to build upon, I expect my ability to sequence will rapidly improve. I was having trouble memorizing the entire class, but chunking it into 10 minute segments will make remembering what happens much easier.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 320 of 365 - Yoga

I went to yoga tonight, figuring it would either make my back much better or much worse. As luck would have it, yoga relieved all but the faintest hint of the cramping. Maybe I should have gone on Sunday morning after all.

We had a sub teacher, and I found myself sweating a little less. That contributed to me getting a partial wheel at the end of the class. My hands and feet were the only things touching the mat, but my arms were not locked out, and I had to balance on my head at first to get into position.

I cannot go to yoga until Friday at the earliest, so I am going to try yoga on my own tomorrow or Wednesday. Heck, maybe I'll do it both days.

Day 320 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Elliptical - 10 minutes at level 12, cool down to < 120bpm
Foam Roller, stretching and mobility with 12k kettlebell

Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45, 90; 3 x 100; 5 x 110lbs
DO Axle Deadlift - 5 x 140, 160, 180lbs

I slept on the couch last night due to the muscle cramps in my mid-back. They were a little better this morning, so I decided to ignore them and lift anyway. I may have had a few more reps in my heavy set of squats, but opted not to push things.

This was my last workout before deload week. Time to take things easy.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 319 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Elliptical - 10 minutes at level 12, cool down to < 125bpm
Foam Roller, stretching and mobility with 12k kettlebell

Bench Press - 5 x 45, 95; 3 x 105; 12 x 120lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 5/5 x 28k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 3/3 x 24k

Muscle cramps in my mid-back made it really hard to sleep last night. I finally got enough hours in, but missed yoga. I was not sure doing yoga with the muscle cramps was a good idea anyway. They hurt the worst when I breathe deeply, which is kind of what yoga is about.

Lifting did not make the cramps any worse, and it gave me something distracting to do, so I opted to get my reps in. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 318 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Walk around all morning
Foam roller briefly

Deadlift - 5 x 132, 200; 3 x 225, 255lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x BW, hollow bar, 55, 65, 75lbs

I was short on time on my mid-back was cramped up. I opted to get this one in, but keep it as short as possible. The muscle cramps did not seem to impact my strength. I am not sure what is going on with them.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 317 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
Elliptical - 10 minutes at level 12, cool down to < 120bpm
Foam Roller, stretching and mobility with 12k kettlebell
Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 85; 3 x 95; 4 x 105lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 4/4 x 24k
Grippers - 5/5 x Trainer; 3 x 1/1 x BBM

Got my reps.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 316 of 365 - Yoga

Tonight's class went well. Everything is so much easier now that the instructor is using the air conditioning. I tried to work in a fluid transition between low plank and up dog, but I realize I have no idea how. I need to get list of questions together for my lesson on the 26th.

I plan on trying to do yoga without a class next Tuesday night. It will be interesting. I am trying really hard to memorize the class sequences now

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 315 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Elliptical - 10 minutes at level 12, cool down to < 125bpm
Foam Roller, stretching and mobility with 12k kettlebell

Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45lbs; 3 x 80, 95; 6 x 105lbs
Axle Deadlift - 8 x 125, 150lbs; 6 x 170lbs

Watched a movie and got my reps in. That's about it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 314 of 365 - Yoga

I went to class even though I was tired. The person next to me was awesome at yoga. It made staying focused a little harder.

Day 314 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Walk outside for 20 minutes
Foam roller and mobility with 12k kettlebell

Bench Press - 3 x 45, 90, 100lbs; 12 x 115lbs
One Arm Rows - 3 x 10/10 x 24k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 6 x 20k's

Bench was a little hard. The accessory work was harder. I am wore out.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 312 of 365 - Deadlift

Deadlift - 5 x 132; 3 x 185, 215, 240lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x BW, hollow bar; 8 x 50, 60lbs; 6 x 70lbs

Following morning yoga with afternoon deadlifts did not go very well. I was warmed up for sure, but yoga takes a lot out of me. It was all I could do to get my reps.

Day 312 of 365 - Yoga

Class went well today, probably one of my best classes yet. The small increments of progress continue. I signed up for a private lesson at the end of the month. I am going to try to learn the vinyasa transitions and improve my balances.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 310 of 365 - Overhead Press

Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 3 x 80, 90; 6 x 100lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 6/6 x 20k
Grippers - 5/5 x Trainer; 3 x 4/4 x BBSA

Given the heat and yoga this morning, I opted to skip a warm up. Yoga impacted my pressing for sure.


Day 310 of 365 - Yoga

Since I did not want to attend yoga two days in a row, I went to this morning's 7:15am class, instead of last night's 6:30pm class. I am pretty sore from lifting on Wednesday evening. It made yoga class a lot harder. I think the benefits are still there though. I tried one of the wider towels I picked up last weekend. It worked well for keeping my hands from slipping.

Assuming I stay in good spirits despite the heat, I'll lift this evening. Doing yoga and weights on the same day is a little rough. I am looking forward to resuming my normal schedule tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 308 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45, 75, 90; 10 x 100lbs
Axle Deadlift - 10 x 105, 125, 150lbs

Took it easy on my warmup, given this morning's yoga. I fit a nap in today, so I was fairly fresh going into this one. My hard set went well.

I spent a good part of the day reading on pressure cooking. The stew and brown rice I made on monday turned out decent enough, but I think I can do better after my reading. The biggest barrier to improvement is that I only bulk cook once a week.

Day 308 of 365 - Yoga

I attended the 7:15 class this morning, since I skipped last night's class to eat out... The owner of the studio was finally back and the class went really well. She has started running the air to keep the studio around 80 degrees. Between that and my new shirt, I went the entire hour without overheating. I was sucking wind, no doubt, but I participated the entire time.

My only real goal for yoga is "be able to participate". It is great to finally see it happening. I do think the instructor slowed the class down a little based on who was there, but I am just fine with that. I had fun.

I plan to lift this evening, so my schedule stays on track.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 306 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Foam roller, stretching and mobility with 12k kettlebell

Bench Press - 5 x 80, 95; 12 x 105lbs
One Arm Rows - 3 x 10/10 x 20k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 8 x 16k's

The elliptical remains unappealing. I was tired and had a headache for this one.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 305 of 365 - Yoga

Today was my first class in a sleeveless shirt. I finally bought some last week. It helped with the heat, a lot. I was able to participate the entire class without stopping, even though it was a very flow intensive class. I bought 9 of them, so my classes will be cooler from now on.

This morning I used the Kohl's cash my purchase generated to get three 16" x 18" towels for the front of my mat, so I don't slip. The rags the studio provides work ok, but force my hands in more narrow than I'd like for down dog. I think these will be a nice addition to the experience.

My shorts still have a lot of room for improvement, but I am taking things one step at a time. After dropping $60 on yoga stuff the past month, it's time to just focus on actually doing yoga. Class actually went well. The instructor had us transition from dancers into bound half moon. I did alright, until I let go of the bind and fell over. Whoops

The normal instructor is back on Tuesday, after two weeks of subs. I am interested to see if all the switching things has improved how I handle her sequencing.