Thursday, April 3, 2014

March 2014 Review

March was focused on yoga and career.

1. Learn the Ashtanga Half-Primary Series - The first week of the month, computers distracted me from yoga. Fortunately, this lead to an overall trend of more home yoga, including several sessions of video work. I caught up on my yoga books and am really benefiting from leading my own practice.

Chaturanga - I worked in the "right" position off blocks stacked at various heights. I discovered during high plank, I crunch my ribs towards my hips. Lengthening out and settling down gives my shoulder blades space to wrap around my torso as I descend. My serratus anterior are too weak to support this through a dynamic range of motion, but I am working off blocks a few times a week to build the needed strength.

Forward folds - I finally made the physical connection between tilt of my pelvis and depth in forward bends. The hips have to roll. The only way I can get that range of motion is to bend my knees until my ribs contact my thighs, then straighten my legs while maintaining contact. I am sinking deeper into my folds, with less strain on my back.

Virasana - Early in the month, I tried sitting on blocks in Virasana, for 5-15 minute sessions. This did help my hips to open, but also correlated with pain in my left foot. That may have been from the pose, or from old shoes I needed to replace. Either way, I've backed off until the foot feels better. Success in back bending will rely on owning full supta virasana, but after my shoulder problems, I am cautious about any pain.

Breathing - At some point, I lost the slow steady breath that transforms stretching into yoga. I recognized this from the video work and am counting breath length to re-establish it. Panic sets in during some poses (holding Chaturanga...) but it is easy during others. My practice is definitely more calming when I keep my breath.

April will see an even stronger focus on home yoga. After two years, I am not going to find a deeper practice at "all level" studio classes. My time needs to center on my unique limitations and strengths. The biggest barrier will be my tendency to procrastinate getting on the mat each day. I wish this was simple laziness, but no, it's ego. My expectations for the physical practice are unreasonably high, so I put off starting, to avoid failing. Addressing that will be my primary focus in April.

2. Post a Class IV Powerlifting Total - All month, I ate between 2000 and 2300 calories each day. My weight dropped by about 1lb a week, and I am walking around at 157. What was interesting, is I managed to keep my strength. I credit this to:

1. Eating high fiber carbs 2 meals per day
2. Lifting heavier, with low reps
3. Lifting an hour or two after eating
4. Warming up on the elliptical
5. Continuing on the creatine
6. Paying careful attention to my protein intake, including shakes immediately before and after bed

I really did not expect my strength to hang around like this, or my weight to drop so slowly. Provided my strength remains, I'll follow the plan through another 5/3/1 cycle. I did take my multi-vitamin and vitamin D most days. The high fiber carbs prevent hunger. Lifting right after eating leads to high energy workouts. I feel much, much better than the last time I was dropping weight.

I made a significant improvement to my protein shakes, replacing the all-in-one powder with pure whey protein isolate. I am still working out the kinks in flavor and prep time, but the drink tastes far better. It has no artificial sweetener, no tacky lumps of whey concentrate and an extra 10 grams of protein per serving. Price is similar.

Still no progress on a lifting meet.

3. Advance my Profession - This month I finally had my review. It went well. We agreed on bonus goals that align with my personal goals. Other progress:

1. Upgraded 2 Windows XP boxes to Puppy Linux and another to Vista (already owned a license). It's been years since I played around with Linux. I think it's unreasonably cool that an entire modern OS is running off a USB stick, entirely in RAM. I am giving Libre Office a try, since I don't want to pay for another MS Office license. I also helped migrate my Mom from XP to Windows 7. While the open source stuff is satisfactory for my needs, I would hate to support another user on it. The Microsoft products are far more usable and reliable.

2. I setup encrypted cloud back up of my files, as well as my Mom's. Again, it's amazing how far technology has come.

3. I got the user admin work entirely off my schedule, training several people on our Operations team on it, so I'm not even the backup.

4. Using a developer to help with the testing backlog went very well. We hit a release date that would have otherwise been impossible, and the developer did an excellent job with the work.

5. My team transitioned to using TFS as our version control repository. Momentum towards a real merging and branching strategy is strong, with an initial implementation expected sometime in April.

6. I covered the breadth of Microsoft's application life cycle management tools and methodology. I'll take a deep dive over the next few months, to support my team's adoption of TFS.

7. I crashed through what's been a persistent productivity barrier over the past few months. In my zeal to work "ideally", I'd inadvertently destroyed a significant support system for my most tedious work. Go me. At least I've recognized and resolved the issue.

8. I started using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Manager to ease working on multiple servers at once. Setup took some effort, since my laptop user is not my domain user, but with that figured out, the software is saving me time.

March was an excellent career month.

4. Connect - I paid no specific attention to this goal in March. I was busy all month and saw quite a few people, but my activity did not align with the intent of the goal. Not a total failure here, but close. April has to provide some improvement.

April will see me down shift on the first 3 goals, simply developing my home yoga practice, doing the bare minimum to keep my lifting going, and meeting expectations with my career. I'll invest the energy I free in re-connecting with people. My months shouldn't be so lopsided.