Sunday, February 03, 2013
I started an experiment in December, to have a daily meditation session. Usually in the evening, sometimes both in the morning and in the evening.
I see this is an often overlooked part of healthy living: recovery. After overhauling my nutrition and exercise habits, it was a straightforward decision to start experimenting with recovery, by which I mean sleeping, resting, meditation, having massage, relaxation and similar activities.
After successfully passing the 30-days, I liked it a lot, and decided to continue for 90 days, and see.
Funny, before, it looked so much effort - another 15 min to squeeze into my day.
Now, I notice it is less and less effort to do it, and it's slowly becoming part of my usual daily activity. I'm starting to doubt I could do without.
In my previous post, I shared some "inbetween" learning. Now here are some post 30-day trial learning:
1. It was good that I set a shorter time (15 min) vs the optimal time for meditation (I would have gone for 30 min as optimal). This lowered my resistance to "I do it anyway" level, and helped me on those days when I was tired, or busy.
2. I re-live these feelings in many of my 30-day trials.
- The first couple of days are easy and full of excitement.
-Then it becomes difficult, and seems to be a lot of effort to keep on going.
- Then after 10-15 days, it starts to get into more comfortable.
- After around 30 days, I arrive to a "neutral zone". If I want, I can keep on doing it, or abandon it, if the outcome is not so interesting.
3. I see more and more the positive things even in otherwise "not so nice" events. I feel grounded.
4. Now, an occasional miss of meditation for a day has little effect on my overall motivation to do it. In fact, I'm looking forward to it much more then not.
5. My girlfriend became interested, and started to join me after some time.
Now, we often do it together.
It's in a way both "me" time and "us" time.
I never planned for this before, and this a real surprise benefit.
Here's a shot of our our Sunday hike:
I received so good tips on my previous post, thank you a lot!
I would be happy again for any tips, ideas, experiences on meditation (even if it's a repetition - then probably it's even more interesting).
- How you do it?
- How often, and for how long?
- What benefits did you notice?
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
For long, I wanted to make daily meditation part of my life.
Finally, I started a 30 day trial on 18th Dec. It looked like an easy enough - difficult enough challenge to keep my focus on healthy life during the holidays.
I calibrated it for 15 minutes, which is less then my ideal goal, but my focus now is to establish the habit of doing meditation. When I am regularly doing it, and find the time for it in my daily schedule, I can scale it up to be longer.
So far, I am on track every day, and very happy for the results.
Some benefits that I already see:
1. If I do it in the MORNING, my day has an energized and in focused atmosphere. Somehow I work more on the things that matter. Strangely, my hunger is less, and I have more wish to go out for exercise.
2. When I do it in the EVENING, it is a great way to close down the day, and wind down all the happiness and stress from that day. My sleep is much better afterwards.
3. Having a healthy lifestyle goal in FOCUS makes other challenges that show up much easier to deal with. Somehow, if I pay attention to this one, automatically I have more "energy" to do the other things right, too.
It feels great just to do meditation every day.
If it works well this way for the whole 30 days, I will experiment with doing it both in the morning and in the evening, making a frame for my day.
I wanted to this for years, and was wondering why it happens now, and not before. Some funny facts I found:
1. There is a nice warm carpet now in the room, which invites for sitting, kneeling, laying down on it.
2. I found my watch which can make only one "bip" when the countdown timer finishes. So I have a gently transit out.
3. Winter and especially "dark" December fosters looking inside.
4. As in maintenance mode, my nutrition in general is on track, and my exercise is on track. So I can start to improve the third big area, rest/recreation.
5. I went to a 4 day silent retreat in Dec 2012, which boosted my motivation to start this trial. I expected it would boost it, so it was a good decision having done it!
This is a look-out tower nearby. It was near freezing conditions, and the heavy fog blocked all visibility. It was a really funny to walk in this "white air mud". Everything was so silent and calm.
Are you doing meditation?
How you do it? (Time, place, format?)
Or are you doing any other type of recreation/stop in the morning or the evening?
Any tips are welcome!
Happy new year!
A friend of mine recommended this podcast on meditation.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
One feature of maintenance mode is regular drinking.
I didn't consider it to be so important, but it has a tremendous effect on how much I eat, and my hunger in general. So here are my experiences from the past 2 years on drinking. A longer read, but hopefully with many tips for you for inspiration.
I remember when I started to drink regularly about 8 cups (2L) of water a day, it was so strange.
First, it felt it to be a lot, I was feeling like forcing water inside me. I could not imagine how someone can drink 8 cups of water in a comfortable way.
Then, the other issue was how to remember drinking? And in fact, this was an even bigger challenge. There were days when around 5pm it took me by surprise - OMG I didn't drink at all during the whole day!
I started by counting, first on the exercise tracker, and keep track in my mind. It worked, but was way too much effort. There are so many things to remember during the day, and I cannot focus on just to remember drinking on every single day of my life.
So I spend some time to change my environment in a way that drinking happens automatically. After a few weeks of experimenting and tweaking, I have a setup I am happy with. In fact, I don't even think about it. It just happens, and I often drink more the 8 cups, depending how much exercise I do.
I observed a lot of improvement after starting to drink regularly. Paradoxically, I considered it a simple thing, I didn't even consider it contributing to weight loss, but had such a big impact on me.
1. Hunger is partly related to the pressure in the stomach. If there are more things in, there is less hunger. The best way to fill it up is with water - no calories.
2. After reading an article on this topic, I started to experiment by judging if I'm really hungry or thirsty. It explained that thirstiness usually goes away after 1.5-2 hours, and is replaced by hunger. It turned out that most of the time I was lacking water, when I felt hunger.
3. Somehow my metabolism get into a new path, maybe faster, maybe more intensive, I can't really tell this, but by drinking regularly, the whole digesting-calorie burning system felt more in place.
4. My weight stabilized from day-to-day. As I started to drink similarly every day, the ups and downs in my weight from one day to another disappeared, as I had a constant high hydration level. I was also playing a bit with this, and the maximum I reached was 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) from one day to another, just by drinking and not drinking.
5. My weight in general went a bit up, due to the water present in my body, as my hydration level was back.
6. Coke, coffee, beer, soda, fruit juices, and many other drinks somehow just started to disappear from my diet, and I started to enjoy drinking water. I drink now wine, and bear, and fruit juices in a way much lower quantity (not that I was a drinker before), and value the taste more. Before, I needed to drink a lot, to feel better.
7. Lot of un-explainable headache disappeared. This I only noticed later on, and the main difference I could identify was drinking regularly.
8. My skin looked better...
Equipment - they are all filled, of course! :-)
HOW I DID IT
Let me share you some experiences that worked for me to make drinking regularly part of my life:
1. Instead of counting 8 cups during the day, I developed habits for drinking. These are "anchor rituals" that happen anyway during my day, and I linked drinking to them.
a) when I get up, and automatically measure my weight, right after it I drink 2 glasses of water
b) at the start of the big meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner, I drink a glass of water. If the morning 2 glasses are close to breakfast then I don't drink an extra glass. I know, I also read those articles that say digestion is way much better when food is not diluted with liquids, but I accept to have a less then optimal digestion in exchange of better hydration.
c) before doing exercise, and getting out of the door, I drink 1 glass of water
d) after exercise, I drink a glass of water
2. I made water "easily accessible" around me. I almost bump into water to drink.
a) there is a glass always in my kitchen close to the tap (we have drinkable water), ready to take it for a drink. I always keep it there.
b) I have 2-3 0.5L water bottles filled in the morning hanging around that I can grab, and have it at hand
c) in the office, I place a glass and a water bottle on my desk. If I go on meetings, I just bring it with me
3. I made a contract with myself to detect false hunger. When I feel like snacking, first I drink a glass of water. Then I still have my snack, but I drink first a glass of water. This results in much lower snacking.
4. After snacking, I drink a glass of water, to clean my mouth and prevent the "sweet" taste making lingering on my receptors to crave for more sweet.
5. When I go out with friends and order drinks, I made a similar contract like with snacks. I order some water with every single drink I order. So I always order a bottle of water PLUS a beer, a some water AND a glass of wine, a glass of water AND a Tequila.
6. When having breakfast, I go for tea, instead of milk, chocolate drink, fruit juice and similar. Or if I do, I still go for tea, and milk.
7. When leaving home or the office, I carry a foldable water bottle in my bag. I used to have just a plastic bottle, but for fanciness and motivation, I bought this Vapour 0.5L bottle, that I can roll up when empty. Looks really cool. So when I leave home, I always fill up my water bottles and have water on me. So the water bottle is a fixed companion of any bag I carry with me.
8. At the airport, after passing the security gate, I fill up my water bottles. So when on the plane, I have water on me.
9. On the plane, when drinks are served, I always ask for 2 glasses of water. When they come again, I ask again for 2 glasses of water. If I want to drink something else, too, I still ask for the 2 glasses of water. I usually tell them that I am very thirsty, and hope it's not a problem, and it never was, so don't feel guilty for asking more water on the airplane.
10. For fruit juices, I made the deal - I love fruits, but instead of liquid form, I take them in a chewable form. And I drink water.
11, When on conferences, workshops, business meetings, etc. I ask for permission to take a bottle of water with me. So when I need, I can drink. It was never a problem, nor in Mexico, nor in Singapore, nor in Russia. Apparently people drink water all over the World.
12. I have some cash with me for the case I want, I can buy a bottle of water. I made the deal not to judge if it is over expensive, I just buy it, and drink it. I save money elsewhere (for example spending less on snacks).
13. When going by train or by car, I take more water with me then I think I would need. There's always someone around who also want to drink, and sometimes I cannot refill, or just there is no opportunity to get water. If it's too heavy, I can always pour it out.
I have a shelf full of different sized and shaped water bottles. So when I go on a trip, I have a choice for size, material, and so on. I have more then I would need, but I rather have more, then not having one when needed.
14. Even with this systems, there are days once in a while, when I'm reaching for the 3rd snack and I discover that I am on this conference and they have no water for the coffee breaks. So I am always taking in new ideas, tips, experimenting with them to improve continuously.
As you can see, if I add up all these occasions, it is much more then 8 glasses of water a day. And that's the whole point of it. I don't have to think about counting it, and paying attention to drink enough. It's just around me, and my life is now organized in a way that drinking happens without thinking. So my mind is free to focus on more valuable things than counting glasses of water.
From my run today - winter colours in Austria.
Do you drink enough?
How do you organize it for yourself? I'm always happy for tips.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
One of my daily work activity in the past years have been project management. It's about creating a plan about something to reach, and then follow that plan until it is reached. Often the plan needs update, and the goal changes, but at the core, I see it as this planning-doing the plan.
However, it seemed difficult to use some of those "work skills" in my personal life. Because it's personal, so it's free, finally I don't have to focus, finally I want to do something that is not "work".
I have many friends, who implement a lot of planning and structure in their work life. Dealing with budgets, sticking to deadlines, figuring out ways on how to overcome obstacles. But to use these same skills in personal life - I don't know many friends who do.
For myself, it took some time until I discovered that I can use the same approach for myself in my healthy lifestyle that I use at work. To benefit from all the knowledge I acquired at work for my personal life. Set a goal, create a plan, and just go with the plan until I reach the goal to be healthy. In fact, the change started to happen when I first spent time, about a month planning how I will be healthy, instead of starting it right away. It was rather accidental, not intentional. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I used something I already have, but in a new way, reinventing the path.
Last week I was in Leuven, Belgium. One of my healthy habits is 10 min exercise, no matter what. My colleague was not able to run, so we made a loooong walk together to move some calories.
Now, in maintenance mode, I intentionally channel many of my R&D project manager "work skills" to be healthy, like:
- look up research articles on healthy living
- understand food labels in depth
- write constructive feedback/complaint to food manufacturers (either to give praise or request change)
- coach others for being healthy to keep my energy around healthy living and motivation
- use tracking and data analysis to understand what's happening
- explore new healthy technology/gadgets/ideas to give motivation (as an R&D engineer, I explore a lot of new technology and ideas)
- use Gestalt OD approach for my own process
- and so on
These are all things that are easy to use for me, because they are already in my skill-set. A discovery for me is that it doesn't feel "work" at all, it's fun.
I was wondering, what do you use from your "work skills" in your personal healthy lifestyle?
Small update 21 Nov 23:02 Paris Time
Thank you for all the comments! You make me really happy! :-) :-)
I will be travelling this weekend for an MMFC event in Germany, I can come back to you to reply only on Monday and onwards.
Saturday, November 03, 2012
There's an interesting phenomenon that I observed during my healthy lifestyle journey. I name it perceived difficulty. Maybe you also noticed it.
I am here in this conference on Gestalt Organisational Development, and one concept we use in our work is dealing with resistance in organisations. I also work with resistance in my own transformation on becoming healthy. And one feature that I noticed that gets developed during living a healthy lifestyle is the ability to distinguish between difficulty that is really big, and difficulty that is in fact OK.
What is this? Let me explain.
It's raining. Do I want to go out to run? I picture myself being out there, running in the wind and cold, and sounds like a task for a Navy Seal.
I am in the conference room. We have coffee break in a few minutes. I imagine all the cakes and sweets waiting for me. There might be fruits, but how will I be able to resist, and make a healthy choice? Sounds like a willpower-blackbelt task.
Shall I take the stairs, or the elevator? I imagine being tired and sweaty on the stairs, arriving with heavy breathing, and no way I would do that.
And I could go on with this for long.
However, I noticed, that after practice, although it feels so difficult before, actually, when I'm in the course of action, it's not that difficult. Of course, it needs some effort, but somehow it's much less then I imagined before. There is resistance in the system about the difficulty, but way much less then I thought there will be. So, I focus on taking the first step, and see what happens.
Did you ever run in the rain? I did, and although from inside, it looked as it would be a terrible experience. However It was not that cold, it was not that wet, and although it needed some effort, in fact it was fun.
Did you go for fruits at the buffet table? It turned out, that the grapes, apples, and all the other fruits are very tasty at this conference (for sure they come from some Southern country), and when I tasted the cakes in the very last minute of the coffee break, they were nice, but rather felt just the usual sweet stuff.
How was it taking the stairs? Actually, I enjoyed the exercise, and I met some colleagues on the way up, and said a a smiley hello.
Two days ago, in the underground of Stockholm, I met this set up: stairs, and escalator. As you can see, most people take the escalator. I had luggage on me, two bags, and a handbag. I was not in a rush, but I had to be on time. After some hesitation, I took the stairs. I imagined it will be tough with the luggage, and "that's not the easy way".
I knew from my previous experience that this difficulty that I feel big actually is not correct. The stairs are not high, I am fit, my luggage is not that heavy, and there are other people also taking the stairs, so it should be OK. So, I just focused on the first step, which was about choice. Let's start, and see what happens.
But when I was on the stairs, it turned out it's not that difficult at all, and in the end I was up sooner vs. the people on the escalator.
To my personal experience, getting over resistance, through acknowledging a difficulty to be low, although perceived high, needs training, or coaching.
Either I learn trough training myself that what I sense as the amount of difficulty is not correct, and it is lower, and it is OK to go for it, and when it is not OK to, because it is really a big difficulty. Or, I have someone with me, whom I trust, and guides on the way to distinguish between what is in reality little effort, and what is big effort.
I'm learning the POSE method of running, and for this, I follow the advice of my coach, how much is a good distance to run. Last time we had interval training, and I was running 4 K/min. I never run that fast ever in my life. And in fact, it was not difficult at all. However, I thought it would be that difficult, and therefore I never experimented with it. Following his advice on how, and when to do it, I got into it. And now I know, it is something I can do, and even if it seems to be a difficult task, I know this is just my perceived difficulty to it, in fact I can do it. This way, I overcome my own resistance thanks to the experiential learning I had before with his help.
So the other experience I have that trough training, the resistance that was big before, becomes tolerable, or even disappears.
When I started to develop the habit to run, I had to organize techniques to trick myself into running. I did ZERO exercise those times in my life. I started with 10 min per day, and it was quite an effort to make it happen. After 1.5 years of running, I enjoy going out to run, and look forward to it. Gradually trough training myself, I can lower the resistance. However, from the outside, when just starting, this could look like as a hero willpower act. Running for an hour looked like a great hero achievement when I just started. Today, it's fun, and I don't consider it as 'big'.
Now, I use this technique consciously, both for myself, and supporting others. I identify where is my resistance in doing something healthy. Then I check that difficulty, and alter the system, either myself or the environment, to make that difficulty as low that it happens by itself, or that I have experience about the real difficulty vs. my perceived difficulty. This is a good strategy to overcome my resistance.
So, which way do you take? Stairs or escalator?
Update (03 Nov 2012): I changed from "perceived resistance" to "resistance, and real vs. perceived difficulty".
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