Friday, November 21, 2014
"Whether you like it or not, going along with the flow is smarter now than fighting it." ~ Horoscope.
I don't like it!!! My body is telling me to take it easy and I want to get back on my feet and GO... This week was like a physical roller coaster, I was getting up fine and then crashing mid-day. My stomach has been uneasy up to the point I had to see the doc yesterday and got "ordered to go back home and rest".
Earlier this week, we had a few inches of snow... and my cardio (run) turned into a shoveling session... 70 min of intense workout! Not much distance coverage (except for the 6000 steps!) but what a core effort! As I was pushing, I was thinking of using my legs and my body weight and when I was lifting I was thinking "Coreganize" ...
Yeah : Coreganize!
This is what my yoga instructor keep repeating to us so we would focus on using our core muscles to support the posture. So before lifting the heavy snow and twisting, I was intentionally engaging my core to protect my back. (hummm had to do it alone as Jeff was away on temporary duty... that is probably why he thinks we don't need a snow blower! Or he just want me to be strong! )
I ended up being late for work (but my Commandant did not mind as I often - like always - do extra time). On my way to work, the sunrise was bright and I was signing in the car! It was a nice morning. (I have to admit, this is not much compare to some spark posts I saw earlier this week - sending positive energy to Buffalo...)
My yoga training is going well. To recover, I am doing many of the recovery poses that I learned in the Restorative Yoga Seminar held in September. Some I knew before... and even practiced it with my mom before the marathon!
In fact, the only thing that my body was able to sustain this week was my yoga practice. In addition to the restorative, I did 75 min of Astanga/Power Flow yoga almost daily. My mobility is getting better. Let me explain.
After completing the marathon last May, I was stiff and sore but I did not think much of it. I took almost a month without a regular running training schedule and when it was time to get back to it to be ready for the Army Run in Sept, I just did not have time... My half marathon was very difficult, I had to take a few walking pauses (not like me!!!) and I kept pushing but my left legs were screaming stop! In short, I am paying for it since then. Looking at the pictures from that half-marathon, and now learning about muscles balance for yoga, I know what went wrong and I am working on fixing it. Let me show you:
First - body type... As you can see, there is no perfect body type to run but I know that my extra 10 pounds did not help me... (from my look at the picture taken at the 13 km marker, I was not doing too bad. I was warm and I was managing my energy.) Some would say you don't have anything to loose - but have you tried carrying a 10 pounds bag and running with it... well, I was starting to feel it then.
(I dropped 4lbs since then, 6 more to go - tracking and not cheating! I CAN do this)
It started raining shortly after that... and then pouring!
This is at 18k. I was mentally doing a countdown. One thing to notice: my right leg (behind) is weaker than my left and my right knee rotate toward the inside line as I push, meaning that my left leg, especially my quads and my gluts have to compensate... a lot! Also, I never realized how much of our core is involved in running... I can see it now... oblique work is required! Thank you for the shoveling workout coming up this winter!
2km from the end, I had to cover up because I was getting cold (and tired).
You can see the way my right leg is out of alignment here (I am running toward the finish line!!!)
The last few strides... My extension is good and my left leg is giving me a good push... (and now you know why my left IT, Gluts and Quads are still on recovery mode...)
I was very happy to finish this race. Disappointed that I did not make the qualifying time for the Canadian Forces championship (this is my worse time in 9 years) but I did the race.
As a training race for Boston, I will run a 10k end of January as a qualifying race for the championship - totally doable - I need to do it under 50 min... (and I will have a pacer - ready Konrad?)
Now recovery means taking it very slow. Next week if my stomach is better, I will run 3 times. My yoga is helping me strengthening my weak points and lengthening what is too tight.
Yoga observation of the week: look at your feet and spread your toes!
Again, my right - even trying twice - can't open as much... results of a stress fracture that occurred at the Limestone Half-marathon 2010... Alignment starts there! Feet support you and their arches have an impact on your leg and back muscles. (hummm... I need a pedicure )
Lastly, following Kat's advice (well after reading ARUNNINGKAT's SparkPage Blog), I thought that dressing up so you feel good about yourself was a great idea. So, I decided to invest a little bit on new workout clothes (to feel good and not wear the same old stuff over and over). I also purchased a little piece of equipment - a ball (you roll or apply it on your stress point so you "break up" the scar tissues and you increase circulation... it is a great way to give yourself a deep tissue massage). I am learning how to use a variety of prompts (including balls and rollers) in my yoga and it is making a real difference.
Finally, Jeff bought me a box of Rogers Chocolate dark chocolate truffles during his short stay in Victoria (BC, Canada). I was very happy for 3 reasons; 1) because I know how much it cost for that box (happy that I am married to a generous guy!)... 2) that he went out of his way during his busy schedule to get me this (happy that he shows that he thinks about me when he is away from home), and 3) because I know we will share it (happy that I am with him). I did not open the box ... I guess I can say that I am also happy that I can resist temptations now and that my intense cravings are gone (Happy that I am not coping with stress with a binge, in fact I can't remember the last time I binge!) The gift alone brought me great joy- not the eating part - just the gift!!!
This week assignment is to read "The Simplicity Project" from Jenn Pike and to compile a food journal for one week - too easy! and a book review.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
"Strengthening your body, mind and spirit increases your chances for success." ~ Horoscope.
Here is a short recap of my November progress (before I share with you my book review- my yoga teacher training assignment for the week...) :
- Food. Was doing great for the most part. Had a little craving for chocolate (and succumbed on small individual piece last week... accounted for and tracked) and also had to attend a few military functions (with formal dinners) so not much control over my meals there... even with really restricting my food intake for breakfast and lunch on these days, I was over calorie range.
First snow = warm it up with soup!
- Weight. Did not go did not go ! I need to commit to get to my goal in 3 weeks.
- Exercise. Doing good here! Really GOOD! Nov 3-9: 30.4km and Nov 10-16: 37.4km
Ran twice last week and completed 8km run yesterday (non stop! - my longest run since the half-marathon last September. Recovery is slow but I am feeling much stronger and my mobility, balance and strength are improving everyday. I am also doing cycling once a week and yoga 4-5x/week.
- Sleep. Getting more than 3-4 hours now that the officer course that I was in charge is finally over!
In conclusion, my horoscope was timely! I am going to work on strengthening the Mind (by studying my yoga books!), my Spirit (by practicing mindfulness and keeping a positive journal) and my body (with healthy food, exercise and proper rest!).
Have a great week... Hope to find the time to blog more often than once a week...
If you were interested in my comments/reflection on my mandatory reading for yoga, keep reading... (I am posting it even if it is long ... as a selfish act, knowing that some of my sparkfriends contribute to my education by sharing their thoughts and providing their own insight on the topic! )
After reading Bhagavad Gita for the first time, I find it very difficult to write a review in 400 words and be able to speak to all the aspects this spiritual guide has to offer. "The Song of the Blessed Ones" (p.14) is a dialogue between ArJuna and Krishna; written as a psalm, it suggests many answers to the big question - How should we live our life? Whether you believe in religion or not, its verses address universal questions and each chapter would be worth a 400 words (or more!) reflection. I am grateful that I received a paper copy of this book- because as I was turning the pages, I also took some personal notes and I will be coming back to it often.
Bhagavad Gita talks about Yoga and the practice of Yoga; in essence yoga is describe as more than a sequence or a series of poses, it is a practice, a discipline and meditation. As an Army officer, November calls for traditions, paying respect and honoring the sacrifice that our veterans endured for our freedom. "Know what your duty is and do it without hesitation" (p.51). That alone is a command that is not always as easy as it seems. When facing an ethical dilemma, knowing what to do requires courage; when facing adversity, standing by your ethos and doing what you truly believe to be just (…) "without concern for results, perform the necessary action(…)" (p.65) is more than loyalty, it is integrity.
Arjuna's weakness (our weakness) comes from attachment and fear of the unknown. In the second chapter, the Blessed Lord says to "Prepare yourself for the battle" (p.53). Can we truly prepare for the battle? At the Remembrance Day Parade, I walked with the wounded and the survivor and we honored those who died in the battle. I don’t think that these soldiers were prepared for the battle. I never thought of my military service in terms of sacrifices, probably because it is very fade compared to our veterans, nevertheless I do my duty as a service to the people, doing my best to contribute to my community. This quote inspired me: "kill the difficult to-conquer enemy called desire" (p.70), without expectation and attachment, that is truly the battle for authenticity (p.16). I remember being criticized for my career choices (Why do you do this? This is not a job for a women… etc). True, as military I have to be away from my family (more often that I would like), that is my only sacrifice but I deeply believe that they get more in return. (and yeah, they sometime get a kiss good night via distance!)
One of the lessons of yoga is to LET GO; “without concern for results, perform the necessary action.”(p.65) “With no attachment to results, (…) engages in the Yoga of action”(p.63). Do what needs to be done as your service, your contribution. “To be truly free, perform all actions as worship”.(p.62)
At home, most of the time I do what need to be done without expectations… (sattva – p.158 & 178) I use to think that my family should be grateful for what I do for them; they should appreciate and return the favor. After reading the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I started shifting my mindset. Interesting that she wrote about pursuing your passion and forgetting about results (p.230). She also describes how she shifted from “doing the chores for the team” to “doing this for myself” and she entitled this section Don’t expect praise or appreciation. (pp. 44-46). I realized that by taking care of my home and my family (by the action alone) come a sense of accomplishment. Bhagavad Gita takes it further than the Self and suggests to do it as an offering: “Whatever you do, Arjuna, do it as an offering to me (…)” (p.118) Whatever your faith, I think that the act of offering (to God or to your love ones) brings happiness; don’t you feel happy to give a gift!?! I see their happiness, I feel happy! What Gretchen wrote for November – Keep a contented heart / Find an area of refuge – “Do good, feel good; feel good, do good” (p.275) … This is yoga!!! “Yoga is skill in action (…) The wise man lets go of all results, whether good or bad, and is focused on the action alone”. (p.55) What if chores were a refuge, a place to find inner peace – focus on what you do and forget about anxious or rumination of angry thoughts.
Funny that this fall my mom and my 2 daughters took pictures of me in the kitchen and shared it on our group phone “Happy-picture-project”.
The most difficult battle for liberation is attained by mastering the mind: “Constantly mastering his mind, the man of yoga grows peaceful” (p.91). Last year was emotionally challenging for me. Running (because I practice mindful running – no music, just be present in the moment) and my yoga practice were my therapy! When anxiety and negative feelings (caused by difficult relationships in the workplace) were taking over my peace of mind, having compassion felt at times beyond my capabilities. Yoga is hard but by control of your body, your speech (“speaking the truth with kindness, honesty” p.178) and control of the mind, it purifies the heart! The paths leading to freedom and peace of heart are later explained - the Yoga of Action (karma), the Yoga of Wisdom (jnana), the Yoga of Renunciation and the Yoga of Meditation.
Do what you have to do as an offering, “(…) whatever you say or eat or pray or enjoy or suffer”. Perhaps I could sing (chant) in the morning – as suggested in the Happiness Project - April: Lighten Up/Sing in the Morning (p. 94-97)! “Therefore, the word Om is always chanted, (…), to begin an act of worship”(p.180).
To sum it up, practicing yoga or doing my duty (what I have to do) as an offering with love and mindfulness is the path I choose to find peace. And, through the practice of meditation and yoga, “you will find wisdom within yourself” (p.79), knowing that peace is already present inside us (p.30).
Om Tat Sat.
(2 minute meditation in Egypt, January 2011)
Sunday, November 09, 2014
"There's a world of difference in the various shadings of gray, and now it may be the most subtle nuances that have the greatest impact." ~ Horoscope of the day!
After reading this post I thought it would be a nice idea to share with you the changing colors of my favorite tree. I see this landscape everyday on my way to work. I love how this tree stand strong and glorious in the middle of the field. Recently, I started taking pictures of it to capture cycle of the seasons.
First picture (top left) was taken first week of October. Middle picture is a small tree in our backward. Top right was mid October and bottom was at the beginning of November (last week).
As you can see, the leaves are gone... well, not quite! Saturday AM I raked the front yard after going to an early yoga class. I am glad I attended the yoga class first, as it helped me to move with more fluidity. In turned I was able to bend and lift up the heavy bags full of - it was a great core and shoulder workout (bonus - 60 minutes of fresh air and vit D!).
Speaking of YOGA... I am making progress with my yoga teacher training. (I still have a long way to gol I am expected to graduate in May 2015.) As a weekly assignment, I have to keep a journal : NICE ! On a regular basic, we have specific topic to discuss. One that inspired me and is linked to the picture above is my first entry. Topic: tree!
During the Yoga Retreat that I attended in September, just after the Army marathon, I made this Cheery Tree Collage.
The task we were given was to describe our tree using 10 sentences - writing it with our non-dominant hand! Have you tried writing with your non-dominant hand ?!? It is so much slower - you have to take the time and be mindful. It was a great exercise. I usually don't like doing art - but I enjoyed doing a collage. Why a cherry tree? Just to keep alive the sweet memories of our summer escape to Michigan!
This weekend, I have been concentrating on reading "Bhagavad Gita" (it means the song of the blessed ones) and taking notes. I have to say that this is not an easy read at first and many passages are very meaningful. I intend to share some of my thoughts with you once I am done. Would really like to get some of your feedback too...Sharing perspectives helps me to appreciate the meanings and interpretations.
Like this one - " "Set aside any negativity that could stand in your way today; be courageous, for your willingness to be vulnerable demonstrates your capacity to grow." ~Horoscope.( comments are welcomed!)" From last week post.. I learned from it that I am often building or entertaining the negativity throughout my recollection of my day. Let it go!!! I think my courageous act last week was to stop a binge, allow some room for the negative emotions (stress and anxiety) without letting it taking control over me. Instead, my capacity to grow came to play when I put into practice what I was instructed by my therapist -mindfulness -notice the feeling, observe the feeling and detach from it. It is a feeling and it is not YOU. Thanks Sparkfriends for your comments on that one - it brought me some helpful insights.
Goal progress report
1) Tracking in track and feeling good about it. Dropped 4 pounds over the last month. 6 more to go before our trip to Mexico (December 6th)....
Speaking of food, I was feeling the Mexican flavor this weekend! I prepared some Salsa Verde - made with the last batch of green tomatillos from our garden, peppers and fresh herbs.
I also cooked a leg of lamb. This was so easy and good!!! I tossed a bag of coleslaw with one big white onion chopped in the bottom of skillet; laid the lamb on top of it and inserted garlic in it. I put a few fresh leaves of mint and pour half a bottle of cider (that we brought back from St-Julius Winery, Michigan)
and I put it in the oven at 300F for 3 hours. I added the potatoes and cooked it for another 45-60 min.
Tonight, we had chicken burritos with homemade salsa!
You can check the recipe on Spark - yeah, I tracked it - recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
2) Exercise and distance tracking. I did only one run this week (5k outside at the trail on base). I went to the gym for a walk on the track with Jeff and we made stops for strength exercises. I was at the yoga studio 4 times (minimum one hours session each time). I also cycle for 30 min. This is not a bad week. My mobility is improving a lot! Stretching and resting is making a difference. Jeff and I went for walks too. I reached 10 000 steps/day almost every day.
I have my gym bag ready for tomorrow and planning on keeping it moving. Not pushing but active!
3) Water - Great!
4) Stress - under control! Actually, compared to last year, same time, same context - I am doing so much better. I am more positive and I every DAY!
5) Sleeping - not tracking with fitbit my sleep - it is too depressing ... I know I am not getting what I need. To compensate - I do take mental break mid-day and I practice 15 min of restorative yoga at my desk - well under my desk because I lay on the floor literally! Not difficult- you just have to let go and breathe... (sorry no selfie to illustrate!)
26 Days to Cancun Mexico
38 Days to Pittsburg
45 Days to X-Mas
52 Days to 2015!
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
I started my day way too early again ... but on my way to work today I was listening to the radio and I paid attention to the weather forecast. That is when I made the decision of going for a run outside and to do it before the rain (announced for lunch time) so that would not become an excuse.
as I was running, my daughter Emma sent us a text "I dare you to make it a mug it up day" with this picture ...
My response was :
1. A couple of weeks ago the leaves were bright and falling on me, now it is like a carpet that crisps with each stride. 2. Hummingbird bench stretch - thinking of my mom (I started giving my mom a collection of hummingbirds a few years ago; since she just left - I took this picture just for her). 3. Not my prettiest face but who is pretty after a run anyway = fun runfie for my Emma!
Quick reality check !?! What !?! Did you look at my time on my garmin forerunner?
I did a 5k run this morning... well I cheated because I had to make two stops (and I stopped my watch!) ... 23 minutes and 50 sec. This is painful! The reality - I am not quite ready to go back to full spin and register for a race in November - Sorry Konrad, I will have to pass Chocolate Race - you really tempted me. Actually I have been doing a lot of research to see if I can fit something in my schedule.
Reality check... I think I need to set realistic goals. TAKE my TIME to get back and finish strong at Boston. I think I can bring it up to a 5k race by end of November, beginning of December and then starting building the endurance with the Hal Higdon Training plan for marathon as of December … which means incorporating a 5k, a 10k and a half-marathon races into the new year, before Patriot Day!
Over the last moth, I have been spending many hours in the classroom, assisting my course director with teaching. It is very demanding (because I still have to perform my other duties as Deputy Commandant) but also very rewarding. I like the classroom setting - I guess that is why I sign up to become a yoga instructor. On that note, I received a long email from my yoga teacher tonight. To make it short (because her email was very long)- I have been given 4 assignments to complete in a very short notice and many other classes to attend that were just not announced on the original training plan and as a result I did not planned it on my schedule. (this is a real challenge because my schedule is already max out. Would I have known, I would not have waited to start and complete this last minute… especially the readings. I could have done some of it in my sleepless nights!). Now what - the next few days are going to be very shorts. (the good side is that my blog will count as one of my journal entry! Please Sparkfriends - I am sincerely in touch with you all, reading your daily posts and blogs - I just don't have the time to send individual notes… )
Interestingly, my horoscope on the Spark search page quote: "You're at the start of something new, so let the energy flow naturally instead of demanding that the tides should follow your schedule."
It will be all good. I can do this!!!
I was very tempted to binge tonight. The thoughts of all what I have to accomplish over the next few days was just overwhelming. It made me feel sick to my stomach… Binging is instantly comforting, then it makes me feel bad, but it is a real sick to my stomach - not an emotional sick to my stomach… It is almost like binging is a way to justify that I feel bad... because it makes me feel really bad. So why do it!?! I did not.
Instead, I took a picture and decided to write down a plan to break it down in chunks and achieve the goal in time. "
"...demanding that the tides should follow my schedule" is not an option and I feel that I am dealing with a big wave (not a slow tide!) … if I fight it, the wave will take me down anyway - I am better off to let it flow and I will make it to shore!
Note: three of the books in the picture above are actually not mandatory reading - they are precious gifts and I am sure that it will inspire me! I have one week to read " Bhagavad Gita - A New translation" and write a review/impressions. You are more than welcome to share with me if you are inclined to this kind of book, a core text interpretation of the Hindu tradition (by Stephen Mitchell).
I will be in class learning anatomy and practicing yoga on Wednesday and Thursday evening I will lead a Sun Salutation… Looking forward to it.
Time to get some studying done now.
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