Tag Archives: challenge

The Artist’s Way (or Working On My Creativity)

Even though I didn’t set a specific acting related goal for this year, that doesn’t mean that I’m not working on it for the year. It’s tough for me to plan acting related things for this year since there is a lot of uncertainty with how long I’ll need to recover from liver surgery (so I don’t want to plan for any classes until that’s done) and a lot of the things I want to accomplish in acting aren’t up to me (I can’t control when I book a job or not). So finding a good way to work on my acting and creativity is a bit challenging with those restrictions in mind.

So when in the member’s only forum for the podcast I work for someone suggested working through “The Artist’s Way” together as a group, I knew this would be the perfect way to work on acting for the beginning of this year.

“The Artist’s Way” is a 12 week guided program to help artists regain their creativity and to remove roadblocks that may be in the way. This book is something that so many people have done and it’s always highly recommended. I’ve actually tried to complete the 12 weeks a few times in the past, but I’ve never been able to get through the entire thing. This is a common issue with people trying to complete the 12 weeks, so they usually suggest having a way to stay accountable. And one of the suggested ways is to work through the weeks with a group.

The group through the podcast is currently online only, but it’s doing great for keeping me accountable and making sure I do the work. There isn’t a ton of work that you have to do to complete the 12 weeks, but there is stuff to do every day and that commitment isn’t always easy to do. But knowing that people are doing this with me and we are all counting on each other is helping me not want to slack on doing the work. I also think that since I’ve been working on building habits for the past year or so, I’m better now at following through with things than I was in the past. So now seemed like the perfect time to do this.

One of the main parts of the program is doing the morning pages. Morning pages are 3 pages of writing every single morning when you wake up. They are just basically a brain dump of anything that you want to write so they don’t have to make sense. You can write in full sentences or partial sentences, grammar and spelling doesn’t matter, and my penmanship isn’t important. It’s not always easy to remember first thing in the morning to write my 3 pages, but I’ve set a reminder alarm to do it so that is helping. There are a few mornings that I’ve forgotten for maybe 10-15 minutes, but I usually remember before I’m really starting my day.

I struggled with the morning pages before, but this time they have been really great for me. I’ve been using them to vent in the mornings. I’m so grateful that I’m safe and I have a new car, but the situation still makes me mad a bit. Getting those feelings out first thing in the morning helps me to not have to carry them with me all day. I can write in them things that are scaring me or things that I’m concerned about for that day. By putting those feelings out in writing, I don’t feel the need to keep them with me as much as I would before. The feeling I get is similar to what I feel like when I post on here, but I don’t have to worry about making sense or saying things that I might regret later.

There are also weekly questions that I answer each week of the book and they do allow me to reflect quite a bit on what I’ve done so far, what I am planning on doing, and what I should be doing. I’ve been learning a lot about myself in the 2 weeks I’ve been doing this and I’ve never had that experience before in my previous attempts. Maybe I’m in a better mindset to work on this in my life. Maybe my work on my eating disorder recovery is allowing me to work on other aspects of my life in ways I haven’t been able to do before. No matter what the reason is, I’m just happy that I haven’t felt like giving up on this process yet.

Since it feels so different compared to all the other times I tried to do the 12 weeks, I have high hopes that I will be able to get through all the weeks this time. Even if I don’t get anything out of doing this other than saying that I’ve completed it, that will be a victory. I don’t want to bail on things in my life, and being able to complete this will help to prove to myself that if I stick with something that I can make it through.

New Year New Challenges (or Getting Ready For Peak Performance)

My first week of workouts for 2017 got off to a pretty great start! My first workout of the new year was on New Year’s Day and then I was ready for a regular full week of workouts. It was a 3 workout week since I had done 3 workouts over the weekend, but that worked out pretty perfectly for me. Monday and Friday were big challenge classes so it was nice to have those as my week’s bookends. Coming up this week is Peak Performance Week, so I considered these workouts my training to get ready for that.

Monday’s class was supposed to be a recovery day for me. It was my 3rd workout in a row and I knew I was exhausted. I had no expectations to do anything too crazy and was just happy that I was in class and doing something. Then I found out that we were going to have 3 distance challenges on the treadmill that day. We had 3 treadmill blocks and each was split in 2. For the first half of each block, I walked because I was still trying to take things a bit easy.

But for the second half of each block, we had a 3 minute distance challenge. I know I can run for 3 minutes at a time, but it is not easy for me. But when there is a challenge announced, I get very competitive with myself and need to push myself more than I think I can do. So for each of those challenges, I ran the entire time and I was so happy to see that I was able to increase my distance each time.

After doing all 3 of those 3 minute challenges, I was pretty tired but of course on the floor we had another challenge after that. The floor block started with a 2017 meter row (because of the new year) and that is the farthest row I’ve ever done outside of Hell Week. It wasn’t easy, but I’m very proud that I was able to do that row without having to stop for any breaks. I managed to get it done in 9:23, which is pretty good time too!

Wednesday’s workout was a power day. We had 3 treadmill blocks and all of those blocks started with a 90 second push pace which I was able to run for all the blocks. Then the first block was all 1 minute intervals, the second block was 45 second intervals, and the last block was all 30 second intervals. I ran for all the push paces and all outs and that included the back to back push to all out with the 1 minute intervals (so I ran for 2 minutes that time). And I ended my workout with doing the 30 second all out at 7mph.

Once I moved to the floor, the first block was pretty heavy with squats. We had shoulder work and burpees plus I did push ups on the straps. The second block was more core focused with plank work like mountain climbers and plank shoulder taps (I do those instead of palms to elbows because I can’t keep my hips stable enough yet). We also had to do some sprint rows in the second block and I was able to do 300 meters in 1:09 and 250 meters in :52 which are both pretty good times for me.

And the biggest challenge day ended up being on Friday which was an endurance day. I knew we had to do a 10.5 minute distance challenge because some of my friends posted about that on social media. So I was prepared to do that when I arrived at class. I started with 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking but about half way through I had to switch to 1 minute intervals. I was trying to keep my speed up, but I was dealing with being a bit congested that day so I had to try to keep things easy enough at the same time. After I completed it, I was so happy with the distance I got. And then I found out that we were doing another 10.5 minute distance challenge.

Normally when I know that we have multiple challenges in a class, I go a bit easier on the first round so I wouldn’t be too tired for the second one. But I did go all out on the first round and my second challenge suffered a bit. I did 1 minute intervals for the entire time, but I pushed my speed up a bit more for the run and the walk. And at the end I was bumping up my speed more and more hoping that I could get a better distance than the first attempt. I ended at 7mph at the end, but it wasn’t quite enough to beat my original 10.5 minute challenge.

I’m so competitive with myself and it was tough to not beat myself with back to back challenges. I almost always (or have always) beat myself when I do back to back challenges and it was not easy to accept that I couldn’t do it this time. But I also have to be really proud of the distance I went when you combine them. I did 1.618 miles in 21 minutes. That’s amazing!

After the treadmill, we headed to the floor where we had 4 short blocks. 2 of those blocks were leg and plank work. I had lunges in each of those blocks and we also had plank work like mountain climbers and Spiderman planks. But the other 2 blocks were on the rower where we had 3 minute distance challenges. This time, I was prepared to do 2 different rowing challenges so I was able to pace myself better. And I’m very happy with both of my distances, but even more happy that I was able to do better the second time!

With Peak Performance Week this week, I’m still debating which classes I want to go to. I know I’ll be there for the mile challenge, but I’m torn about adding a 4th class (which would also make it 3 classes in a row) to do the 24 minute distance challenge on the treadmill. I’d love to push myself to do it, but I also don’t want to overdo things. But no matter what, I’m so happy I had challenges last week to get me ready to have a full week of challenges this week!

My First 2017 Monthly Challenge (or Working On My Tumors)

It’s a new year and I’ve got a new year of monthly challenges! I did buy the Volt Planner for 2017 and I’m very happy that it’s a similar set up to what the 2016 planner was like. There are still the weekly and monthly goal setting pages as well as the monthly challenges. And I plan on doing a new monthly challenge each month just like I did last year!

I think that having the goals and challenges really did help to keep me accountable and focused on doing things to better myself. It’s one thing to say that I’ll be doing something, but to have a list in a planner where I can see what I set out to do is another. Having it on paper makes me want to make sure I don’t slack because I hate to see unchecked boxes on my goals and challenges pages in the planner. It’s the perfectionist in me that makes me want to get something done if I write it down in a planner.

I’ll admit that January 1st got here much quicker than expected so I didn’t have as much time dedicated to planning out my challenge for the month as I would have liked. There are some big ideas for challenges that I have for this year, but some of them involve planning or setting things in place that I didn’t have time to do for this month. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some of my big ideas later this year, but it will have to wait. But there was one thing that I started doing at the end of the year that I knew I wanted to continue to do this year and dedicate time to working on it.

While I know that I will need to have liver surgery no matter what, there are things that I can do to hope that the surgery and recovery will be easier. And one of those things is to have the tumors shrink. There is no medical way that I can do this (they aren’t cancerous tumors so I don’t need chemo or radiation to shrink them), but I can still work on doing it on my own. I’m a believer in the power of positive thinking and I’ve been trying to think that my tumors are shrinking every day.

My mom did the same thing when she had cancer, and her journey to being cancer free went much easier than most people thought it would be. She imagined her body healing every single night and I believe that doing that helped her so much. So I’m doing the same with my tumors. I had been doing this before the new year, but I still decided to make it my monthly challenge to make sure that I do this every day.

Like most of my challenges, I’m using the reminder app on my phone to alert myself every day to dedicate time to doing this. I’m not using my mediation app for this, but I’m thinking about doing that because there is a silent timed mediation option within the app. But for now, I’m just focusing on how I imagine the tumors getting smaller for a few minutes every single day.

It’s not a huge thing for me to do, but I know that doing it will only benefit me in the long run. And making sure that I do dedicate time every day for this will help me not to slack off and forget. I really do love having all the reminders in my phone going off throughout the day so I don’t zone out and then realize the entire day has gone by without me getting anything done. I feel silly that I hadn’t been taking advantage of those prior to the monthly challenges because they are so easy to set up. But at least now I have them and I am always adding more to my reminder list.

While this challenge is a smaller one, I’m really excited to have another full year of these challenges. From the ones that I set up last year, most of them are still things that I do every single day. I have slacked off on a few (mainly the yoga and mindfulness before eating ones but I’m working on that), but most of them have become habits and my day doesn’t feel complete until I accomplish them. And I know that building a few new good habits every year will add up and be something really great for me for the rest of my life.

Here’s to another year of monthly challenges and hopefully using my mind to get my tumors to shrink before my next MRI and we make my surgery plan!

New Year’s Workouts (or Ending 2016 and Starting 2017 With Orangetheory)

Happy New Year’s! I’ll be recapping my New Year’s Eve fun later this week, but as always for my Monday post I’m sharing my workouts from the past week. This past week I had my last 3 workouts of 2016 (getting me to 177 workouts for the year) and my first workout of 2017. They were all challenging workouts for their own reasons but I think that I ended one year and started the other with some really great work.

Monday’s class was an endurance day. We had 2 blocks on the treadmill back to back and I did my usual work with the push paces. I ran my 1 minute intervals for the 3 minute pushes and I ran the entire time for all pushes that were 2 minutes or under. In our second block, we had several intervals of 1 minute push paces with 30 second base paces. I ran the pushes and walked the bases and it gave me an idea of what this could be like if I did it for my next 5K intervals. I’ve been playing more with the idea of increasing my running time and not decreasing my walking time, but maybe I need to think more about it.

After the treadmill, I had my floor work which was supposed to also be rowing work. But because of how long each block took me, I never made it to the rower. The first block was squats, arm work on the straps, push-ups (I took the modification of using the straps for those because my knees were bugging me) and crunches. The second block was back and arm work mainly with some leg work at the end. I was dealing with some horrible cramps throughout the class, and while they would come and go I know that the pain was slowing me down a bit which didn’t allow me to get to the rower.

Wednesday’s class was a power day and we got to switch between blocks so it was even better! The first treadmill block was a 2 minute push pace that I was able to run and then we had some 1 minute all out intervals with walking in between. The second block was the same pattern so I did the same as I did in the first block. And our last block on the treadmill was all 30 second intervals so we did 30 second push paces, 30 second all outs, and then 30 seconds of walking. I didn’t do the last all out as a run because I was so tired, but I did run all of the rest!

When I moved to the floor, we had some rowing for each of the blocks. The first block was 150 meter rows and the second block was 200 meter rows. All of those were done pretty quickly and I was getting close to some of my best times for those distances. I also had a great moment during the first block when we had lunges with hops using the straps. I can’t do the hops yet, but I was able to do knee lifts with each lunge and I wasn’t having the usual issues with my balance. That was pretty amazing. We also had a lot of core work with 4 point planks and palms to elbows in plank.

I skipped my Friday workout (since I would be going on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) so my next workout was my New Year’s Eve workout. It was a 3G class where we had 2 rounds between all 3 sections. The first round was 8 minutes each. On the treadmill, it was supposed to be a .1 mile run at 10% followed by a 1 minute walk at 10% and then you brought the incline down 1% each time. I was able to do the first run at 10% but then my body wasn’t feeling it so I had to power walk the rest of the time. Since I still wanted to push myself, I just kept the incline at 10% the entire time and didn’t bring it down. The second block on the treadmill was 4 minutes and I stuck with walking again, keeping it at 6-10% incline.

On the floor, the first 8 minute round was split into 2 sections. First we had 4 minutes of push-ups and squats and then we had 4 minutes of lunges and plank jacks. For the 4 minute round on the floor we had pop jacks and rowing using the straps. And on the rower, the 8 minute round was also split into 2 sections. First we had 200 meter sprints with squats as our break and then we had 100 meter sprints with bicep curls as the break. Those movements didn’t really feel like breaks, but it was nice to have something different between sprints. And for the 4 minute round, we had a 4 minute row where I was able to increase my wattage on the rower each minute!

It was not an easy class (3G ones can be some of the toughest ones), but I was glad I went on New Year’s Eve so I was able to end my 2016 on a good fitness note!

And then on Sunday, I started 2017 with a 3G workout. I had some car issues getting home from the party I went to for New Year’s Eve (more on that later) so I only got a few hours sleep that night before going to work out. I think the lack of sleep mixed with some stress got to me because I was struggling on the treadmill. I started out with our 2 minute push pace as a run but I started to get a headache and had to switch to walking. I pretty much did all walking for the first block on the treadmill but during the second block we had some shorter push to all out paces and I was able to run for those. My headache wasn’t bugging me as much by the end of my time on the treadmill, but it definitely made things difficult for me.

On the floor we had 1 block that was 15 minutes long. We had several movements like squats, triceps work, lunges, and planks and each round we did fewer reps than the one before (starting with 14 and ending with 6). I ended up making it through the entire assignment so I ended my time on the floor with a 1 minute plank hold. I did have to take some breaks with my plank, but I was in really good form while I stuck it out.

I ended on the rower where we had longer rows with some work with the medicine ball. It started with a 1,000 meter row and some squats and jumping jacks with the medicine ball. Then it was 500 meters with more medicine ball work and at the end of class I was just about to finish my 250 meter row. The rowing was fine but my headache started to come back while doing the medicine ball work so I was taking things a bit slow.

After that New Year’s Day workout, I was exhausted but so happy that I didn’t let my lack of sleep and car issues stop me from getting to Orangetheory (I had to take an Uber to and from the workout since my mechanic wasn’t open on New Year’s Day to look at my car).

I’m so happy that my workouts for 2017 got off to a nice start. We’ve got Peak Performance Week coming up soon and I’m still deciding what classes I’ll be taking that week since I want to work on beating my old records again! And, coming up later in the month we have the weight loss challenge again and I think I’m going to enter. I won’t look at the numbers on their scale when I weigh in, but I like the challenges and how they hold me accountable. I think that 2017 is going to be a really great year for my fitness even with the potential setbacks I’ll have when I have surgery later this year.

12 Days Of Christmas Workouts (or This Feels A Lot Like Hell Week)

This past week of Orangetheory was the main part of the 12 Days of Workouts that they have going on. Technically last week had the beginning of it and next week will be the end of it, but the bulk of the workouts were during this past week. I managed to do 4 workouts in the week, which I thought would be fine. But I had no idea that these workouts would resemble Hell Week as much as they did!

Monday’s workout was not only super rowing focused, it was a back to back partner challenge class! I love partner classes because there is no way you can slack off in them. Your partner is waiting on you so you can switch, and I never want to let them down. I had no idea that the rest of the week was going to be as tough as it was, so I was pretty happy to go for it on Monday! I would regret that a bit later as I was exhausted at Disneyland later that day, but at the time it was awesome!

The first half of class was a challenge where the person on the rower determined the pace. I got to partner up with my friend Terry (he is one of my Monday workout friends who is pretty competitive). For this challenge, one of us was on the treadmill while the other was on the rower. The rowing segments were 1,000 meters, 750 meters, 500 meters, and 250 meters. When you were done, you switched spots (so we each had to do each of the rowing segments). I know I was slower than Terry, but he didn’t make me feel badly about it. And we actually were able to get through all of the segments before the challenge was done!

For the second half of class, it was a competitive challenge so I ended up with a different partner. I actually ended up in the only 3 partner group so things were a bit easier on us. With everyone else, there was one person on the floor (who determined the pace) and the other person was on the rower. And the challenge was to see how many meters you and your partner could get in the rest of class. With my group, we had one person on the floor, one on the treadmill, and one on the rower. And not everyone was rowing (they used the bike instead) so we didn’t get to track our distance. It was a tough challenge even with the breaks my group got on the treadmill. The floor was squats, push-ups, and ab work and it seemed like we were going at a crazy pace! But I’m proud of the work that I got done that day and that I didn’t let any of my partners down.

Wednesday’s workout was endurance focused and we had a 700 meter row challenge. Normally, I can do 700 meters on the rower in about 3:30 (sometimes 3:15). It’s a longer row challenge and sometimes I push too hard in the beginning and get burnt out before I’m done. This time, I was hoping I could do under 3 minutes and decided to try to focus on pacing myself in the beginning and then increasing my speed and power as the time went on. My focus paid off because I got an awesome row time!

That was below the time I was hoping for! For the rest of the workout, I did my usual stuff. For the 3 minute push paces I did my 1 minute intervals and for all the shorter push paces I ran for the entire time. That’s starting to become more comfortable so I’m happy with that progress. And when we got to the floor, we had a couple of types of squats and arm work.

Friday’s workout was endurance, strength, and power and it was a good one! For the endurance block on the treadmill, I had my usual intervals for the 3 minute pushes and running for the shorter ones. And during the power block, we all 90 second intervals so I could run the entire time. But where I had some great progress was during the strength block. I’ve said I needed to work on my running at inclines and this was a great workout to test it with. We had 2 different hill challenges, the first one where the incline increased and the second where it decreased. For the increasing one, I was able to run at 3% and 5% and then for the higher inclines I was walking at 10% and 12%. We had some flat road recovery between the hill challenges and when we started the declining hill challenge I was actually able to run for 30 seconds at 9% incline! It was really hard, but I made it through. I walked after that and then did the 5% incline at a run again! I’m curious with my next 5K how long I would have to run up the bigger hills. I think it might be more than 30 seconds, but it can’t be that much longer!

After the running on the inclines, I was happy that the floor work was a bit easier that day. We had rowing on each floor block (between 150-600 meters) and mainly ab work to do that day. We didn’t have to use that weights that much and being able to do ab work was a nice rest after the running. It wasn’t easy, but it was easier than having to stand and try to lift weights.

And Saturday’s workout may have been one of my favorite workouts we’ve ever had at Orangetheory! This workout was a power workout and it seemed to be custom-made for me! For the treadmill, with the exception of a 2 minute push in the beginning of the workout, it was completely 1 minute all outs with 1 minute walking recovery in between! This is exactly the intervals I’m used to doing and I took advantage of that.

I started my all outs at 5 mph and was increasing by .2 mph for the first few intervals. Then it was starting to get a bit tough running that fast and being able to recover so I was only increasing it by .1 mph. I was going a lot faster than I’m used to doing especially since when I usually do my super fast speeds it’s the very end of the treadmill time. But when we were down to the last 3 intervals I decided it was now or never to push myself. I had pushed myself the entire week with the workouts and I didn’t want to skip doing that on Saturday. So I did 6 mph for one, 6,5 mph for the second to last interval, and for the last minute on the treadmill I ran at 7 mph. I don’t know if I’ve ever run that fast in my entire life. It was incredibly difficult and I was thinking of slowing the speed down a few times during that minute, but I made it through! And even though this wasn’t the farthest I’ve done on the treadmill in class, it is the farthest I’ve gone in under 30 minutes in class. And technically this distance within this time is faster than what I was doing my last 5K at.

After that running, I wasn’t ready for the floor work that day and it wasn’t an easy one either. There was only 1 long block for the entire time. We had rowing and then we were doing various exercises in between. I’ll admit that I was taking more breaks during the floor work that I probably should have, but it was a tough day and I was having a lot of trouble catching my breath. There were a few times I was starting to feel a bit light-headed (the problem with Saturday workouts is that I usually don’t eat lunch right before going) and I wanted to take it easy on myself. But I still got a good chunk of the floor work done before time was up.

This was a pretty incredible week of workouts for me. I got to work on a lot of my rowing skills including working on my rowing endurance. And I made some amazing progress with my running in my speed and with the inclines. I said that since I wasn’t going to hit my workout goal for 2016 that I was going to focus on making each of my workouts the best one it can be. And I think I really did get that done with these 4 workouts.

December Monthly Challenge (or Wrapping Up For The Year)

It the last month for my monthly challenges for 2016! I’ve had a lot of amazing monthly challenges and they have really changed me for the better! But before I get into my December challenge, I want to do a quick recap of last month.

Last month, I set the challenge to drink more water. More specifically, I wanted to try to drink 80 oz of water a day. I picked that amount because the cup I use to drink water at home is 20 oz. So it was easy to say I wanted to drink 4 cups a day. I managed to accomplish this almost every single day last month. I was able to get the timing down to where I knew when I needed to finish each cup. The only time I really didn’t meet my goal was when I was out-of-town. This was mainly because I wasn’t focused on how much water I drank (plus I didn’t know how big the cups were at the rental house). But overall, I’d consider the challenge a big success!

I had some really big ideas for my December challenge, but after some consideration I decided to scrap that idea. I’ve already ordered a new planner for 2017, so I can do some of the big ideas next year. And there are some really big ideas (like having a month completely binge-free) that I’m very excited about. But for December, I decided that this monthly challenge is a time to do some reflection.

So I’ve decided that my December challenge is to rededicate time to the challenges I set throughout the year. Most of them have been easy for me, but I’ve totally been slacking on a couple. And being at the end of the year is the perfect time to make sure these challenges become habits and I make sure that I start 2017 in the best place possible.

The ones that I’ve been able to keep with pretty much no effort have been properly tracking my food intake (although there are some improvements I’d like to make), doing daily gratitude lists, not ordering delivery food (although I may get delivery Chinese food for my Christmas dinner), weighing myself every day I’m home, working on self-submitting for acting jobs every day, meditating every day (but there is improvement I can focus on), reading 10 pages of a recovery focused book daily, and my water intake.

While those have come easily to me, I know that I’m not doing them 100% all the time and I have taken notes on steps I want to take to make these new habits even stronger and better for me. I think those steps should be pretty easy since they are small tweaks versus starting from scratch. But I think improvement and progress with habits is a good thing so I’m happy to work on making these better.

The ones I’ve been struggling with have been practicing mindful eating, a yoga class online (or at least a yoga pose) every day, and doing a daily task sheet. The mindful eating one has been very tough. I have an alarm to remind me of it, but because my eating schedule isn’t the same day to day, sometimes the alarm is too early or too late. I need to work on a different system, but I’m not totally sure what that is yet. But I’m happy to be working on it this month. Yoga was working really great for me for a while, and then time just got away from me. It’s another thing that I have an alarm to remind me of, but I need to make it more of a priority in my life again. It was a good thing and I know I need to work on bringing it back. And while the daily task sheet was a challenge I didn’t end up liking, I know that having a daily to-do list is good and I’m seeing how that could be most productive for me.

I think spending the month working on the year’s challenges will put me in a place where I’m ready to take on 2017 head first. I know that 2017 has the potential to be a very rewarding yet very challenging year so I want to be in the best head space possible. And getting back to my challenges will be a great way to accomplish that.

My new planner should be arriving in the next week or so, and I’m so excited for it! Buying this planner really was one of the greatest things I’ve done for myself and I’m so excited to make next year’s planner even better!

And because the team at Ink+Volt know how much I have loved my planner this year, they gave me something to share with you all! This is a link to the entire 2016 planner that you can download and use! Even though 2016 is almost over, you can use the December pages to make sure you also end 2016 the best person ever! And if you love it, you can still buy the 2017 planner and hopefully get it delivered before the new year starts!

I’m really excited for this month’s challenge/reflection/rededication and seeing how I am able to solidify my challenges in my life. My next monthly challenge post will be my first challenge for 2017!

My First Run/Walk 5K (or I’m Still In Shock)

This past Saturday I had the Hard Rock Cafe 5K. I’ve done this race several times in the past and I had been really looking forward to it. It’s a really nice out and back flat course and since I have done the race before I’m very familiar with the course and know when I’m getting close to the turn around. For a while, I had been training hard to make this a run/walk race (for the first time ever!). But after getting sick I wasn’t able to train like I was before and I felt like I lost a lot of progress and endurance. I figured that I would do my best, but I wasn’t expecting too much for this race.

I was able to pick up my race stuff on Friday after work, so I prepped all my stuff Friday night before going to bed. I usually wear a hip pack to carry my phone, keys, and anything else I need before/during/after a race. But I knew that wearing that would make running very difficult, so I had to plan differently. Since my workout pants have a little pocket, I could put my phone in there and I strung my keys through my headphone cord and put those in the pocket too. So I was feeling very free for whatever running I was going to be able to do.

Race morning I woke up at 5am and quickly got ready. I ate a little bit of a banana so I’d have something in my stomach, but my nerves were getting the best of me so I couldn’t eat or drink too much. By 5:30am I was in my car and headed to Hollywood and Highland where the race was. Once I parked, I got ready in my car and in the parking lot since it was nicely lit down there and it was a bit warmer than it was outside. And about an hour before the race was supposed to start, I headed up to street level to stretch and do my best to prep before the start.

pre-race

I tried to keep moving around so I didn’t get too stiff and was stretching my legs and hips. I really didn’t want pain to be a reason why my race wouldn’t be good, so I was working hard to make sure my body was ready to go. I did find some friends before we started, and seeing them made me feel a bit more relaxed and ready to see what I could do. And before I knew it, we were ready to go (we started right on time at 7am which was nice).

I had my running watch ready to go with 1 minute intervals set. So I was planning on running for 1 minute and then walking for 1 minute for as long as I could. In my training runs on my own, I usually could do that 5 or 6 times and then I would have to start cutting back on the running time. I would do 45 or 30 seconds of the 1 minute run and then walk the rest. I knew this was likely to happen, so I wasn’t thinking ever that I could do the full running minutes for the entire race. I just wanted to try my best and see what I could do. For this race, I really just wanted to finish in under 50 minutes (which would easily be a PR). My long-term goal was to finish in under 45 minutes, but that wasn’t even a though for this race.

Once I started, I started my watch and my music and started to run. The first minute of running went by quickly and very easily. I tried to stay toward the side of the course so that I wouldn’t bother people by walking. Sometimes I had to go around walkers when I was running, but that wasn’t that big of a deal and just tried to not obstruct any other races.

When my running watch is doing intervals, the default screen is showing how much longer is in that interval and how many intervals I’ve done. I keep it on that screen and while I can get an idea of what time it is, I didn’t want to focus on my time while racing. The first mile marker came up and I was still able to do my full minute of running each interval and I was very happy with that. I passed the water station while walking and took a few sips of water before focusing on the second mile.

The second mile is always the tough one for this race for me. The turnaround is in this mile and I know the course probably too much so I’m pretty focused on how many blocks were left before turning back. I just tried to focus on my music and trying to do the best running I could do. I was still able to do my full minute of running each interval, which is significantly better than I’ve ever done during a training run. When I saw the turnaround sign, I was very happy. Normally, I try to tap the sign and I see it as good luck. But there was a slowish walker in my way and I couldn’t touch the sign this time. I tried not to let that get to me and just thought about how I was halfway done!

The second half was a bit tough. There were times where the running minute was feeling like it was taking forever. I would glance at my watch and see that there were less than 15 seconds to go before I could walk and I kept deciding to finish the running minute. I know that I told myself that I didn’t have to run/walk the entire race, but I am so competitive with myself and wanted to test my limits. Once I saw the 2 mile sign, I finally started to realize that I might actually be able to maintain my intervals for the entire race. There is a bit of a downhill going toward the finish line and that is always really nice to get to. I saw the markers for the 10K race and knew I had .2 miles left to go. I just kept saying to myself that I can totally finish at this pace because it was almost done.

My last walking interval was very close to the finish line. I knew I didn’t want to finish knowing I could have done more running. So I cut my walking minute short and decided I would run for the rest of the race. It ended up being about 90 seconds of running and I finished the race sprinting across the finish line.

I stopped my watch as soon as I crossed the finish line. I had seen the official race clock say that it was almost 46 minutes and I knew that I started after the official start since I was toward the middle of the pack. But when I looked at my watch to see what it said, I was so sure that I had screwed something up because I really could not believe it.

garmin-watch

My watch was saying that my time was 44:47.8. I really thought that I either started it too late or stopped it too soon and figured I would wait to see what the official time sheets said before I got too excited. I knew I finished in under 46 minutes because of the official clock and that was also unbelievable but I knew it was right.

While I was waiting for the official times to be posted, I found some of my friends. My friend Brenda is a part of the Oscars/Halloween party group. She also had some issues with being able to train recently and was not expecting anything too crazy. But she was able to PR for the race and did amazing!

with-friends

I also ran into Heather, who is the executive director of My Friend’s Place. My Friend’s Place is the official charity for the race and they always have a team running it. It was great to get to see her again and I’m hoping I can do some more work with My Friend’s Place in the near future.

with-heather

Finally, the official time sheets were updated so I could check what my time was. And after looking at it, I finally had to believe that I did was well as my watch claimed.

official-time

My official time was 44:48 (which is basically the same thing as 44:47.8) Not only did I PR (by over 9 minutes) I actually beat the long-term goal I had of doing a race in under 45 minutes! I really did not expect to do anything close to this and even a few days later I’m still in a bit of shock. After having several disappointing races when I felt like I did really great, I was expecting this to be similar. But I actually did better than I ever could have imagined!

post-race

I wasn’t able to drive home right away because I was in such disbelief. I made a couple of phone calls to people who I knew wanted to know how my race went. Each time I said my time, I could barely believe what I was saying. But soon enough hopefully I’ll start to believe that I did it. I’ve got to focus now on some new race goals because I did all of them in a race that I was so stressed out about.

Once I got home, I added my new medal to my medal hanger (I’m looking at buying an extension for it since I’m running out of room).

medal-wall

I spent the rest of my day relaxing and trying to nap since I had gotten up so early that morning. I kept looking online at my race time trying to believe it and not think that I’m dreaming or that some mistake happened. I know that I had trained hard for this race, but my training never got such incredible results. I think a lot of it had to do with race day adrenaline and that helped me to run more than I normally can do.

I never expected to have such an amazing race day. I’m glad that I still pushed myself even though I knew that things might not go the way I was hoping they would. Even though I thought I had given up on myself a little bit, I guess deep down I really hadn’t and this was my mind’s way of telling me to keep pushing it. And I’ll get the chance to test that out again in about 6 months when I have the next 5K happening (unless I find another race I want to do before then). But for now, I’m just so happy and grateful that my hard work paid off and I had the greatest race day I even could have wanted.

best-race-ever

Almost Through A Year Of Monthly Challenges (or Picking A Good Challenge For November)

I’m on to my 11th monthly challenge! I’m still so happy that I have my Spark Planner this year (and I already ordered my Volt Planner for next year) and while it’s not always easy to think up of monthly challenges I know they are good for me. But before I talk about my challenge for this month, I want to recap my October challenge.

I had decided that creating daily to-do lists would be a great challenge and I really though that they would help me stay as productive as possible. And at first, they were working well for me so I wouldn’t forget random things that I knew I needed to get done that day. Also, once something it written down I feel obligated to get it done. The first few days were great to remember weird things that aren’t a part of my normal day that needed to be done.

But after that, I discovered that these to-do lists really weren’t changing that much from day-to-day. I’m pretty set in my schedule most days (I’m still working on scheduling my afternoons better, but that’s another issue) so I was just writing the same thing each day. Those lists ended up being something that seemed more like an obligation that I had to do to complete the challenge instead of something that helped me. I don’t love that I didn’t have the best experience with this challenge, but I guess I had to do the challenge to find that out.

I still think that writing out a to-do list on my busy days is a great idea. There are times that I have a bunch of random things I need to get done and I don’t want to forget anything. So those lists can help me remember things that I can easy forget. But to do it every single day isn’t looking like being the best use of my time or focus. Toward the end of the month, I even started to get out of the habit of looking at what I had written so I was starting to forget what I had planned. But I tried and that’s all I can do.

Even though I’m not continuing with the challenge I had done last month, I’m excited about the challenge that I’m doing this month. In the past, I had no issues with drinking enough water. I actually had issues with drinking too much water so I started to track water to make sure I wasn’t drinking too much. But I’ve noticed lately that there can be days where I only drink half of what I know I really need to drink for the day.

So my challenge for November will be to drink at least 80 oz of water every day. I have a tumbler that I drink out of at home that is 24 oz and my workout water bottle is 20 oz. So my plan is to drink 4 full tumblers or water bottles a day. That will get me a bit more than 80 oz a day, but it won’t be too much water either. On the days that I seem to be drinking water endlessly, I do try to keep it under 100 oz of water, but if I go over that by a bit it’s not dangerous. When I used to drink too much, it would be more like 200 oz of water or more in a day.

I used to think that since I had issues with drinking too much water that I’d never have an issue with drinking enough. But I think that thinking made me a bit lazy and got me to where I’m not tracking water or making sure I’m getting enough. And with all the random health issues I have, drinking enough water is important. So I’m glad that I’ll be focusing on it this month so I can get back on track and help to my hydration a non-issue with my health.

I’m looking at how to best track water in my planner. I’m thinking maybe checkmarks or making some stickers at home so I can mark each glass down. I know it will be easy to forget if a glass of water is my 2nd or 3rd for the day, so I want to make this as error free as possible. But no matter what, I know that this is going to be a very positive step for me and my health so that I can focus on more important things regarding my health.

Almost a full year of monthly challenges is done! I feel like I’m going to have to do something huge for my December challenge (originally that was going to be my yoga class a day challenge, but I’ve already accomplished that!). Fortunately, I’ve got an entire month to decide what December will be! Then after that, it will be an entirely new year of monthly challenges to take on!

Getting More Productive (or More Monthly Challenges)

I’ve completed 9 monthly challenges so far this year and I have to say that each one that I set for myself has made such a huge improvement in my life! It’s so crazy to me that I haven’t been doing these before because they aren’t hard for me (which makes me wonder if I’m picking challenges that are too easy) and I’ve pretty much been able to keep up with every single one.

I’m not 100% perfect, but I’m learning to be ok with that. But for the ones that seem to make the biggest difference, I’ve had no issues continuing with them. Reading recovery books has been one of the best ones for me so far and I’ve been learning so much with each book I read. And I think after that challenge is when I felt more inspired to push myself more and more.

Last month, I challenged myself to do 1 yoga pose a day. I really wanted to challenge myself to do 1 iPad yoga class a day, but I had been having so much trouble doing those classes on even a semi-regular basis. I had been making those classes part of my weekly goals for so many weeks, and most of those weeks were not successful.

Even though I set the bar really low for myself and I decided to do the best I could to do one iPad yoga class most days of the month. If nothing else, I’d learn more yoga poses I could do as my pose for the day. With the app that I have, there are a bunch of classes but you can also create your own class. Since I’m new to this, I stuck with the pre-made classes. They ranged from 5 minutes to an hour and I started with a short class.

It quickly became a habit to do one of my classes in the morning. When I couldn’t do one in the morning, I was feeling off and was missing how good I was feeling when I did the class before breakfast (which was most days except Mondays which I didn’t do since I have an early workout).

And wouldn’t you know it? I managed to do one iPad yoga class every single day in September!

yoga-challenge

I plan on continuing this, but I’m not sure if I’m going to stick with just this app. There are so many yoga classes on YouTube and I think I might try exploring those. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while and for some reason when I set it as a challenge it finally kicked in!

And that helped to inspire my challenge for this month. First of all, the Volt Planner (the planner I use that has these challenges in it) is on Kickstarter again for the 2017 planner. They are way beyond their goal, so the new planner will be printed. And while they do try to sell them outside of the Kickstarter, those are limited so I recommend buying one on the Kickstarter if you want to join me in all the challenges next year!

I became a backer of the Kickstarter within the first few hours that it went live. I had no doubts that I needed to get a planner for next year, and I’m so excited to continue doing amazing with my goals. As a backer, I get updates on the campaign from time to time and one of the recent updates had a nice perk in it! It was a daily task sheet with a to-do list along with space to write notes, write where you need to follow-up, and set daily priorities.

I make to-do lists from time to time, but they usually are just on a post-it with a few random things that I don’t want to forget. I don’t plan out my day, especially since things are pretty consistent from day-to-day. But that also makes it where I will have a day and wonder what I actually got done outside of work. Sometimes I finish work and just don’t do anything else. And I need to make sure that I’m not slacking on things outside of work and being as productive as I can.

So I’m setting my monthly goal to be to use the daily task sheet every single day. I printed them out so there are 2 on a sheet and I’m not sure if I’m going to keep them together or just grab one each day. I’m not sure if setting up my tasks the night before of the morning of will be best so I’m going to play around with both options. Whatever I end up doing, I have a feeling that this is going to make October the most productive month for me!

I’m lucky that I got inspired by the Kickstarter for this month’s challenge since I was really drawing a blank on what I want to work on. There are a couple of fitness related challenges that I want to try, but I don’t want to do 2 fitness ones back to back. I think this is going to be a great way to start getting ready to close out 2016 and help me get even more productive than I ever could have imagined!

More Running! (or Gaining Endurance)

This past week of workouts really made me happy. My biggest issue lately has been my endurance. I can do some running, but I question how much I can really do in a row. I still feel like I get tired easily and I know that if it is my plan to run/walk my next 5K race, I have to get stronger and gain more endurance.

I did do another non-Orangetheory run this week and for that run I went for 20 minutes, so I did prove to myself that I have a bit more endurance than before. But that was toward the end of my week so I think that my Orangetheory workout really helped to make that run/walk as great as it was for me.

Monday’s workout was a power day. I think power days are my favorites because they are designed as close to what a regular run/walk feels to me. They tend to be a lot of all out runs with walking in between. And this workout wasn’t that different. We had 10 all out runs in the class. I ran for each of them, and while I wasn’t doing my fastest speed I was still happy that I ran for those 10 minutes. We also had a 2 minute push pace, and even though I know I can run for 2 minutes I didn’t want to push myself too much so I ran for 1 minute and then walked for the other. That felt comfortable but challenging so I think I made the right decision with that.

On the floor on Monday, we had sprint rows for each block. The sprint rows were  100 meters, 150 meters, and 200 meters so they were always under 1 minute on the rower. In between the rows we had mainly upper body work (which was nice after all the running). I was pushing myself again with the 20 pound weights and even used a light weight for the weighted sit-ups instead of doing them without a weight. I didn’t want to feel so tired that I was in pain later that day (since I went to Universal), but I did find a great balance between going hard in the workout and not overdoing it.

Wednesday was an endurance day. Ironically, even though my endurance is what I need to work on, endurance days aren’t my best run/walk days. We have very long push pace segments that I can’t always run in full. I want to push myself, but I don’t want to go so hard that I can’t finish the treadmill workout. I tried to keep things the same as usual. For the long push paces, I ran for a minute and then walked the rest. For the all outs, I ran the entire thing (several times at 6 miles an hour). We had a progressive push which basically means that you bump your speed up every minute, but since it was longer than I knew I could run I did it as a power walker with increasing my incline each minute. And since we didn’t switch between blocks, I got a pretty great distance on the treadmill when we were ready to switch to the floor.

treadmill

It used to be a goal for me to get to 1.75 miles during the treadmill segment when we don’t switch between blocks. Now I’d love to see it if I could make it to 2 miles within those 30 minutes. I know that at my current average mile speed it’s possible, so I’m glad I have that goal to strive for now.

My last workout of the week was on Friday (I need to get some 4 workout weeks in, but I’m struggling to find the weekend time for that). It was another power day but this time we did switch between blocks. It was a smaller class than usual, but that meant that we all worked as one group which is a nice change of pace. Again, we had 10 all outs to do between all 3 treadmill blocks. I ran all of those and I tried to be at 6 miles an hour for each (sometimes I could only do 5.5 miles an hour). A friend of mine who usually isn’t in class with me was there on Friday and he started to yell at me that I should go faster. So for one of the all outs I managed to be at 6.3 miles an hour.

We also had some longer push paces during the treadmill and I stuck with my 1 minute run/1 minute walk for that. When I started to run again, I set a lot of goals for myself about how long I could run at a time. The quarter mile one is the longest I’ve done so far. By now, I really thought I could run for 5 minutes non-stop. And honestly, if I tried and had no other running to do I could very possibly do it. But I’m realizing that being able to run/walk for a long period of time is more important to me right now than running without walking breaks. It’s tough to let go of some goals that I’ve set for myself, but I think I’ll be doing a lot of reevaluation after my next race and seeing what happens then.

The Friday floor work reminded me a lot of Monday. Again we had sprint rows for 2 of the floor blocks. And almost all of the floor work was body weight stuff like lunges, burpees, and ab work. It’s nice to do body weight stuff since I can always do those at home (I don’t own weights at my house yet). And for our 3rd floor block we had a 4.5 minute core blast. This included plank jacks, palms to elbows (which I really hate) and static ab work. My abs were so tired by the end of the core blast and I was happy that I made it through the class without a ton of modifications.

This month is quickly coming to an end and I’m realizing that I’m probably not going to make it to as many workouts as I was hoping to. There are some chances to do 4 workouts weeks this week and next depending on how things go (and doing those may eliminate the runs I’ve been doing on my own). My weekends are getting really busy now and that doesn’t allow for the workouts to be added in like I want. But I know that even if I’m going 3 times a week, that’s so much better than I’ve done any time before Orangetheory so I can’t be too upset with myself.