Saturday, March 1, 2014

February 2014 Review

February was productive.

1. Learn the Ashtanga Half-Primary Series - The first weekend of the month, I planned my schedule around yoga classes on Saturday and Sunday. Both were cancelled. A few days later, I added up what I've spent on yoga in the last year. It was absurd. Combined, they provided some motivation to re-center my practice on home yoga.

I've been at the studio only 2-3x a week since then, doing home yoga some other days. Growing my yoga practice relies upon reducing the studio class dependency. I do enjoy the classes for education and entertainment. I also use them as a crutch when I can't find the motivation to work hard on my own. I need to fix that. My unlimited studio membership expires in April. I'll give class packs and reduced studio frequency a serious effort then.

I worked through a few books on pranayama but have struggled to fit it into my practice. I am still trying. One of the pranayama authors provides a compelling framework for approaching yoga as an 8 limbed path. A lot of people pay lip service to it, but he actually provides explicit direction. I am now working through his books an asana. They are excellent. I wish I had started yoga learning from his work..

I'd like to make time for practice with yoga DVDs and using the video camera for feedback in March. I think if I get serious about practice of Chaturanga from the bottom position, I might be able to safely do one by the end of the month.

2. Post a Class IV Powerlifting Total - My strength rapidly rebounded from eating more, and I felt irrationally happy. Unfortunately, after another 3 weeks at 3000 calories per day, I was bumping up against 165. Since my body is feeling good, I've started the focused push towards 148 class. 2000 calories per day will have me there in mid-April. I screwed up my cut late last year, by going longer than 8 weeks and attempting gradual changes in my calories. I am not repeating those mistakes.

I am taking my multi-vitamin, vitamin D, creatine, and flax oil most days. The DHA pills are uncomfortable to swallow and expensive. I cannot take them consistently enough to see a benefit. Once I finish what I have, I'm done with them. I have some leucine to take with my protein shakes, in an effort to preserve muscle mass. Eating less also means cutting out alcohol and a 25% reduction in time related to food. Going hungry is unpleasant, but I enjoy the extra time.

Getups are working well as a pressing alternative. I am still lifting only to music, for the sake of time management. Between 6:30pm internet curfew and the new bed, my sleep is doing well. I setup rings for chinups and pullups. They appear to have reduced my elbow pain. Great reward on a $30 investment. I experimented with doing yoga or lifting immediately after getting up, hoping to take advantage of the metabolic window, but I couldn't make it stick. I prefer having an hour or two of work done by 9am.

I have been looking for a powerlifting meet. My ideal choice would be a raw, drug tested local or state meet in August. So far, all I've found locally is a small organization's World meet in July. The meet is a little far and I am unsure if a novice lifter would be welcomed. It is also expensive - between a singlet, meet fees and travel, I estimate around $200 to participate. It's hard to know if those are legitimate concerns, or just excuses to avoid doing something new. I am going to keep looking. Hopefully as the summer draws closer, more meets appear, or I get better at finding them. I am definitely tempted to just take a total using the power rack at a local gym.

3. Advance my Profession - I finished reading the first three Harvard Business Review magazines from my subscription. So far, they've been well written and entertaining, though I have yet to see a professional benefit. The $90 a year subscription fee seems awfully high.

The month was primarily spent digging out of the testing backlog left by my vacation, but I there were a handful of surprising steps forward:

1. I found an automatic SQL refactoring tool that lead to some improvements in my scripting
2. I did a lot of complicated SQL scripting (for me, anyway)
3. I started the process of handing off user admin work that takes an hour per week from my schedule
4. A test version of the build server has been setup, putting the opportunity for forward progress in my hands
5. For the first time, we are using a developer to help with the testing backlog. This approach has been met with resistance in the past, so I am excited to see it happening. I think it's a valuable aspect of the Kanban SDLC, one that we've been missing out on. I still don't have buy in around a work in progress cap, but this brings us one step closer to supporting it.

I am pleased to see so much progress here, given that I expected none.

4. Connect - Based upon my most objective metric, making time for my wife, I fell a little short of January. Forward progress was limited by a stressful work situation and some new foster cats. This is a little disappointing, especially given the extra time that should have been available. The reduction in studio yoga classes lead to much more time at home. We also spent less time with friends on the weekends, due to the bad weather.

While I did poorly at making time to spend with friends, I did find my elevated mood (thanks to the extra food and yoga) made me generally positive towards others. March will be better. The first two days of the month are already busy, and I expect Spring weather to making leaving the house easier.

Reducing studio yoga helped balance my time across goals. I am happy with progress. I'll take a similar approach next month.