Saturday, August 31, 2013

August 2013 Review

August was a productive month, a nice end to the goal year.

1. Move better - Lifting and yoga went well.

My lifts keep slowly moving up on 5/3/1. I really expected to hit a wall this month, but I had PR rep sets on squat, bench and deadlift. I don't understand how this works, but awesome.

I am still figuring out my yoga instruction. The two local teachers with Ashtanga experience have not panned out how I'd hoped. I enjoy their classes, but one has transitioned to a heavily alignment based style. It is good long term, but not causing much change in my Ashtanga. The other keeps teaching when I am working. Thus far, I don't think it's realistic to ask the studio owner to offer an Ashtanga class. I need more interest among the teachers at the studio first. I'll keep inviting them to the led half-primary class.

I did make it back to the led half-primary class. The teacher is fantastic. She has aggressive adjustments down, knows the practice deeply, does her own personal practice, and understands how to break down what her students are doing and clearly communicate fixes. The main down side is the class is at noon on Saturdays, an hour away, eating a 4-5 hour block out of my day.

Home yoga has improved substantially, just through trying to do it. I find my best ritual is getting up early, having tea while I do something introspective, taking a short walk, then doing yoga. It takes awhile.  Mental chatter remains a problem, but turning up the music and keeping my breath on count helps.

Physical progress is steady, but slow. I see the most change when taking classes at the yoga studio, especially when we hit poses that are not part of the Ashtanga sequence. Positions that felt impossible a few months ago, I am easily slipping into. It's pretty cool. I am still working on getting my headstand in the middle of the room. At this point, my only barrier is fear of falling, but it's tough to get past.

My breathing needs some work. One of the mysore yoga teachers told me I need to treat the poses as a container for the breath. The other told me I need to focus on bringing my stomach up and in as I exhale, specifically during prasarita. I've also noticed I have a tendency to lose my "yoga" breathing as I get tired.

Jumping through and back is getting lighter, but won't really improve until I fix the problem uncovered by my led class instructor. I have been cheating like crazy on Navasana, letting my hip flexors check out completely. They are a short, weak link in the center of my body. They are also a critical area of support for many poses. I work around it by finding strength in the back of my body, leading to mis-alignment and physical obstruction. Fixing this is my top yoga focus for September.

Elbows have been feeling pretty good lately. I think dropping grippers and jumping into most Chatarungas has made the difference.

Diet and supplementation is doing ok, not great. I am getting my multi-vitamin, D3, creatine and protein in ok. It's really the Omega 3 fats I am missing. My flax oil ran out, and I think taking the DHA is a waste without that base of a few grams of ALA. I've got more flax oil now. I also experimented with eating a little less, due to my upcoming goals for next year. I had a few mis-fires, where I tried to be too aggressive given my activity levels. I'll get it figured out by the end of next month, I'm sure.

After a year of this goal, I am definitely moving better. I like the goal, and it's going to be refined.

2. Beat the internet - Again, I am screwing around online more than is optimal. It still comes down to having alternatives that push the internet out of my life. Will power sucks. I did avoid the TV series trap that sucks me into Netflix for days on end. I also configured the firewall in my wireless router to block some of my most time consuming websites. Short of renting an office and disconnecting home internet entirely, this may be the magic bullet.

Time boxing work went poorly. I worked way too much, even worse, on things that make me no better at my career long term. Yuck. The current team structure leads to big peaks and valleys in my work queue. I am trying to address it, but the patterns will be tough to change without a new hire.

After a year of this goal, I have an improved approach to the internet and my work. However, I think the strategy could use some substantial revision.

3. Make my money work - The spending pattern I adopted in May remains sustainable. Not much more to this goal.

After a year of this goal, I am happy with my spending.

4. Socialize - Similar to last month, I just fell back on my baseline activity level. Provided I fill holes in my calendar at the start of the month, it's solid. A nice end to the goal year.

After a year of this goal (two years, really), I have a strong network of people I spend time with. However, that's not the same as connecting with them. This goal needs a quality focus.

Overall, August was an excellent end to my goal year, one of the best months. I have my next year planned out and am already working on it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

July 2013 Review

July was a productive month.

1. Move better - Lifting and yoga both went well.

My lifts are creeping up. I credit the creatine. It's hard to say if this will be a single bump in the trendline, or an ongoing change in my rate of progress. While I hope for the latter, I am happy either way.

Yoga has settled into a "regular" schedule, 5 times per week. There are two variations:

Mysore weeks
- Guided Baptiste classes at the studio 1-2x
- Ashtanga home yoga 1-2x
- Two Mysore style Ashtanga classes at a local shala

Guided Primary weeks
- Guided Baptiste classes at the studio 2x
- Ashtanga home yoga 2x
- Guided primary series DVD at home 1x

Replacing studio classes with home yoga saves time, letting me do yoga more frequently. My synchronization of breathe with movement has improved dramatically. I've got a rough working script memorized for the first half of the Ashtanga primary series. Jumping back and through is my biggest focus, but growth is everywhere. I am getting pretty comfortable with a headstand against the wall and considering moving to the center of the room. I managed to attend one led half-primary class in person and learned quite a bit from it. I've identified two teachers at my local studio with Ashtanaga experience. I am attending their classes preferentially and will start asking for an Ashtanga class next month.

One of the biggest challenges to overcome has been starting home yoga. I had a few mis-fires, including:

- Trying to do yoga while monitoring email (worst yoga ever)
- Deferring my start to do chores, until I got so hungry I was too dizzy for yoga
- Attempting to do yoga a few hours after a large taco dinner, ugh
- Literal cold feet, making it difficult to stretch and jump
- Extending the breath count per pose to 8 and adding postures, exhausting myself by the time I finished the standing sequence

I've started to figured out the details now:

- Use a mysore rug instead of a mat towel or bare mat. This accomodates the coolness of the basement while keeping traction as I start to sweat
- Drink tea immediately upon waking. This ensures I'm hydrated and prevents bathroom breaks.
- Walk for 20 minutes prior to starting, so my muscles are warm and pliable
- Plan to do yoga 45 minutes after waking, setting up everything the night before.
- Schedule an hour for the practice, with an alarm set 5 minutes before any hard stops
- Keep an aggressive pace, holding strictly to 5 breathes per pose, ensuring my body stays hot

Home yoga has still requires a lot of decision making, which makes it hard to reach the same level of mental freedom I get from a studio class. Gradually I expect to internalize the series, turning home yoga into a meditative practice. It's going to take time. I have a lot of mental chatter.

I have put a hold on spending any new money on yoga, so I stay focused on working my plan.

Supplementation has kept on track. Creatine migrated from my protein shakes into my tea. Protein shakes are pushed out by real food sometimes, but that's ok. I put vitamin D back in the rotation. My elbows are still bothering me a little, but have improved. I credit removal of grippers from my lifting program, as well fewer high plank to low plank transitions during yoga.

2. Beat the internet - I did a more screwing around online than is optimal, but much better than last month. It comes down to having alternatives that push the internet out of my life. Will power only goes so far. Avoiding any TV shows on Netflix definitely makes a big difference. Movies are more than sufficient for when I lift, and they do not bring the risk of getting my attention stuck on a multi-season series.

Time boxing work was easy. Summer vacations reduced the load on my time considerably.

3. Make my money work - The spending pattern I setup in May remains sustainable. Not much more to this goal.

4. Socialize - Very basic month here. I went to a couple parties, did yoga, and shared meals with friends, family and coworkers. Given that this was a baseline amount of activity, and I saw people every week, I'm happy with progress made against the goal.

July went well overall. August will end my goal year. I expect another low key month.