Friday, May 31, 2013

May 2013 Review

May went ok.

1. Move better - An unfortunate reality check leading into the yoga seminar next month.

Lifting stalled out. Removal of the deload week, coupled with extra volume, lead to a chronic ache in my elbow. It was severe enough to make me weaker, force a deload week and require a reduction in yoga volume. Pull ups and poor alignment when pressing appear to be the primary culprits. Until now, I'd been able to recover from my transgressions. I've switched in chin ups for the pull ups, lowered weights a little and really focused on form. Provided things heal, I am going to focus on my lifting more following the yoga seminar. I am tired of doing all this work without getting stronger.

Now that I've worked most of the fake food out of my diet, I am trying to introduce basic supplementation. Initially, I've been focused on EFAs and protein. The goal is 1/2 Tbsp. of flax oil and a 15gram protein shake, twice a day. I am also trying to take 600mg of algae derived DHA. Following the yoga seminar, I'm also going to introduce a teaspoon of creatine every day. Altogether, this will give an extra 400-500 calories and supplement the areas where my vegetarian diet is the weakest. Ongoing compliance with supplementation has always been a challenge for me. I may finally be mature enough to figure it out. I need to make sure the shakes do not push out real food.

Yoga saw minor changes. Warm weather hit, and I now sweat puddles. Halfway through class, my mat is too slippery to hold a down dog. I had no choice but to introduce mat sized yoga towels. At $25 each, the price is robbery, but they work fantastically well. I simply do not slip. The improved stability lets me relax further, allowing my entire body to open. The extra laundry is a hassle, but worth it.

The studio brought in a new teacher, who is experienced and has a significantly different perspective. I was able to take a few of his classes and enjoyed them. He's been scheduled at less than ideal times, but I am learning from him when I can. It's fun working with someone new. I was also able to take a class at a studio in Chicago, and another at the local gym. The alternate classes were slower, and really emphasized the lack of focus on alignment in my normal class.

The studio is starting a teacher training program this summer. I looked into it, but am on the fence. While I want to learn more about yoga and would enjoy the course, I lack enough experience and free time to consider teaching. Without that return on investment, the training is a really expensive luxury. The format of the course is my biggest barrier - one 21 hour weekend a month, for 8 months. That's a draining weekend.

Progress was made towards biking to yoga. I got air in my tires, and then found a brake cable was about to snap and my brake pads were worn out. I now have the parts, but have not made time to repair it. I did figure out how to get the bike in my car, so I can take it to the arboretum. I also determined when I bike to yoga, I will have to use a studio mat. Biking with a yoga mat on my back is really uncomfortable.

2. Beat the internet - This improved.

De-activating my Facebook account made it easier to stay offline unless I had something important to do.

I relaxed the time boxing on work. I am ready to re-focus on my career for a while. My home life is well sorted, right now. I need to start thinking about a lofty challenge to obsess over.

3. Make my money work - Early in the month, I finally got to the meat of this goal.

I made a spreadsheet breaking down my asset allocation. I did some research into what was appropriate, figured out was bothering me about my existing strategy and set a course for the next 3 years. There were 2 significant holes that became obvious once I had all the numbers laid out. I have no idea if what I am doing is optimal, but I think it is good enough.

For the most part, I've completely stopped buying fake food and finished what I had. With my diet consisting primarily of real food, I feel better about working in specific supplements targeted to my lifting.

A strong argument could be made for hiring a coach to run my lifting program. If I have not figured progress out by the end of this goal year, I will look into it.

Otherwise, I think this goal has largely run its course.

4. Socialize - I did not fill my calendar on purpose, but a bunch of stuff happened:

- Friends over to make pizza
- Birthday party for nephew
- Semi-annual work party
- Lunches with co-workers
- Lots of yoga
- Yoga studio party
- Vegan cooking class
- Saw parents for Mother’s day
- Sister in-law's wedding
- Saw the Big Bugs exhibit at the arboretum

The summer months tend to be more social.

June is going to be busy and fun, but rough on my goals.

Friday, May 3, 2013

April 2013 Review

April saw a return to moderate progress

1. Move better - Lifting and yoga are back to normal. I switched to the "high" 5/3/1 percentages and am experimenting with skipping the deload week. My schedule will prevent lifting the first week of June, so I am going to squeeze in 2 deload-free cycles before then. I think the extra work will be helpful, maybe even yield some strength gains. Pull ups are slowly improving. Everything else is holding steady.

Yoga centered on improving my foundation. I won't reap the benefits for awhile. I did manage to keep gains from the yoga challenge. I know how my chaturanga is broken, but not how to fix it. I renewed at the yoga studio for a year. I made space in the basement for "floaty" yoga to DVDs. Until I get my chaturanga sorted, I've cut all double classes and am doing no more than 3-4 yogas a week. I've done a few "long, slow" classes and find they suit me well. My body takes more time to fully open into a pose than a typical vinyasa class offers. The yoga studio has started scaling up its teaching staff, which makes more of these classes available to me.

One weekend I had an experience that convinced me, without a doubt, that yoga is having a mental impact. I think all the affirmations are starting to influence me. I am more aware of my critical thoughts and negative judgements. At times, I am a calmer and more accepting person. I had no intent to change through yoga, but it is positive.

I've been walking a few times a week, with the warmer weather. I plan on regularly biking to yoga by the end of May.

2. Beat the internet - Still struggling with this a little.

I'd regressed to checking my email and facebook multiple times a day, so I de-activated my facebook. There's no good reason for the account. Given how much I'm on the computer, it's too easy of a distraction.

Time boxing work went fine. Nothing unexpected came up, and I tracked what I did. My next year of goals will include a career focused one. I am itching to learn new stuff.

3. Make my money work - More small forward steps

- The cat and I have agreed upon a tolerable middle ground for grooming. She's looking better and I'm spending very little time on it. Total success here.

- I have done well removing the fake food from my diet. My grocery expenses are around $8 a day, but eating a high protein vegetarian diet, without soy protein isolate, is pricey. I could invest 1-2 hours a week making lentils, but that's not worth the 10-20 bucks a week it would save me.

- The pool table is finally gone. It's nice to have the space back

- I harvested $400 in rewards points from a credit card bonus program

- I got a great deal on a year of yoga, lowering my monthly cost by $13.

In May, I plan to update my budget spreadsheet to break my portfolio into percentages of stocks and bonds. Chatter online has me wondering if both are over-valued right now, but given that I don't know what else to invest in, it doesn't really matter. I am far from capable enough to execute a profitable jump in and out of the market.

4. Socialize - I saw some people, but I never got around to filling my calendar. I wanted extra time to myself. May will be more active.

Overall a fine month.