Tag Archives: challenge

Meal Planning and Learning French (or Monthly Challenge Time)

The start of a new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the beginning of another! Of course, I’ve kept doing almost all of my monthly challenges beyond the end of that month so it’s really not the end to anything this time. First, a quick recap on my February challenge.

My challenge for February was to work on weekly meal planning. This is something I’ve tried to do multiple times and I was hoping that this time things would finally stick for me. Meal planning is something I know I should do for both my health and budget, but it has never been easy for me. I’ve tried different methods of planning and nothing felt right for me. So this past month, I decided to give myself the month to test out different things and to see what I could come up with.

I started with trying a couple of meal planning apps. I was only trying the free ones because I didn’t want to pay something that I wasn’t sure I would like. I know that some people love the apps, but for me they just didn’t work. I couldn’t see things the way I wanted to and it felt like more work than it was worth. I really wanted an app to work because it seems to be what so many people like and have success with, but I can’t force myself to work with something that doesn’t work for me.

After that, I did various versions of writing down a list for the week. I’m still testing out a couple of options, but I’m finding that having this list system is going ok for me. I can work on the week’s list on Saturday or Sunday (whatever day I can go get groceries), see everything that I have for the week, and make a grocery list based on that. I’m not buying things that I don’t need, so I’m saving money. And I’m finding that if I can cook one night at home, that covers me for 3 meals and I can eat something home cooked most days.

I’m not 100% perfect with following my plan, but I’m doing much better than I expected. If nothing else, this has helped me get into a schedule with my food and I’m not having problems with not having something in the house for lunch or dinner. There is still room for improvement with this, but I would say this challenge is a success!

Moving on to March now. It was a struggle for me to think up a challenge for this month. I ended up doing some searching online for inspiration on what could be a good month-long challenge. There were so many good ideas, but many of them are similar to things I already do so it wouldn’t be enough of a challenge for me. But I kept gravitating toward some of the educational challenges so I decided to look more into those. And I finally found something that seems good to me.

For the month of March, I’m going to work on learning a new language every day. More specifically, I’m going to work on learning French every day. I’ve wanting to learn French before and I’ve tried it a few times (sound familiar?) but it’s never been a habit that I can stick with. But I know that doing something educational every day will be good for me and learning another language will be a tough challenge for me.

I’m planning on using the Duolingo app to do this, which is something I tried before. But now, I have reminders set up for me to work on this every day and I’m connecting it to my social media so I can have friends checking in on me. I’ve liked the app before, I just wasn’t consistent with it. But that was before I got really into my monthly challenges, so I’m hoping that the motivation will be with me this time and I can stick with it.

I don’t expect to be great at French within a month. I know that it will take so much longer than that to be able to learn another language. But in 30 days I can learn some basics and get into the habit of working on this. Maybe by the end of this year I can feel comfortable with how much I know. I don’t have any reason I need to know French right now, but I’ve got some motivation to learn it in the long run.

12 years ago, my mom and I went to France and Italy together. We had a great trip and have said that we wanted to go again. And if we go back, we’ve said that we’d like to go to Disneyland Paris. I know you don’t need to speak French to enjoy Disneyland Paris, but I think knowing it would be helpful and would make that trip even better. My mom and I don’t have any travel plans any time soon, but we know that we want to go back one day. And when that happens, hopefully I will be able to speak a little French and understand it as well.

I’m excited to see how a brainy challenge will go for me because many of the ones I’ve done before aren’t as much about learning new things. But I know I should be doing more things to keep learning every day, and this is a great way to add that to my daily habits!

Building Up Endurance (or Shocking Myself)

This week of workouts started out pretty normally, but it ended with an accomplishment that shocked me so much that I’m still not totally believing it. But I know that the accomplishment was all because of the hard work that I’ve been doing over the past few months.

My Monday workout was an endurance day where we didn’t switch between blocks. There were 3 blocks on the treadmill and each block started with a 3 minute push pace. I know I can run for 3 minutes, but since I didn’t want to overdo things I did my 1 minute intervals for all of them. I’m not sure why I’m so scared to run for 3 minutes at a time when I have done it before, but I’m sure it has to do with the lack of confidence I have in myself while running. I’ve been running since the end of May last year, but I still don’t feel like a runner. I’m hoping that I can build confidence running soon, but I know I also have to be patient with myself. With the rest of those 3 treadmill blocks, I did 1 minute intervals for the 2 minute push paces and I ran all of the all out paces.

On the floor for that workout, I did some squats with arm rows using 15 pounds (which is pretty heavy for me). I also did some plank work on my toes which is still a newish thing for me. My right knee has been bugging me so being on my toes is a necessity. But it’s not easy to do plank work on your toes after doing them on my knees for so long. I also used 20 pounds weights for my standing tricep work (again, heavy weights for me). And we had 300 meter sprint rows to end the workout. I did those in 1:07 and 1:04 which isn’t too bad for me considering this was at the end of the workout.

Wednesday’s workout was a power day and we didn’t switch between blocks. It was technically a run/row, but it wasn’t a run/row in a traditional sense. We had 5 different blocks that were guided by the coach and we transitioned between the treadmill and the rower for each one (3 run blocks and 2 row blocks). All of the run segments were short and I ran for all the push and all out paces. I was still walking during my base, but now looking back at it I might have been able to run the entire time. And for the rower, we had 100, 150, and 200 meter sprints with jump squats between each sprint.

On the floor, we didn’t really focus on one specific area and did more of an all over workout. We had arms, legs, squats, abs, and the ab roller. I tried to do heavier weights for most of the work but I wasn’t able to lift the heavier ones like I had the day before. And we ended the floor work with a 3 minute row (while the cardio side was in their last treadmill block). Also, on Wednesday’s workout I had a friend in class with me for her first class! It’s been a while since I had a friend with me who had never been to Orangetheory before, and I was trying to help her out with following the pattern of class. It wasn’t the easiest first class to go to, but she did amazing!

Friday’s workout was an endurance day. And this was the workout that shocked the hell out of me! We didn’t switch between blocks because it was a distance challenge day. It was a 10.5 minute challenge which we had done about a month ago. The month before, I pretty much did 1 minute intervals and I think I did amazing with my distance. But instead of focusing on distance like I normally do (and try to beat my previous distance), I decided to see how long I could run for.

Since I started running back in May last year, I’ve been trying to build up my running endurance. But I’ve been struggling with it lately and I’ve been scared that I hit a wall in my progress. I haven’t really run for more than 3.5 minutes before (basically when I run for .25 miles), so this was a perfect chance to test things. Going into the challenge, I thought maybe I could run for 5 minutes and then take a little walking break before running again. But I also am stubborn as can be and I thought that maybe I could run for the entire thing.

Despite this being 3 times longer than the longest time I’ve ever run, I wasn’t going to hold back in this attempt. I knew that I’d have a second 10.5 minute distance challenge after this one, but I focused on the first one when I was the most prepared and least tired. And there were plenty of times during those 10.5 minutes that I thought that maybe I should stop and go back to my intervals. But all of that talk was mental and not physical. I was surprised that my body wasn’t hurting more, but I was also keeping my speed pretty slow at 4.5mph. And in the end, I ran for 10.5 minutes without taking a walking break, jumping the rails, or stopping in any way.

Even typing that I ran for that entire time, I still can’t believe that I did it. I thought that I was so stuck at running for 3 minutes or under, but all that talk was in my head and I really was able to overcome that and prove to myself that I could do it. This wasn’t my furthest distance and it is tough to be ok with that since I am competitive with myself. But focusing on endurance is different from speed and it’s time for me to do endurance.

In the second attempt, I tried to run for the entire 10.5 minutes again but I was pretty tired. I had to take a couple of breaks where I jumped the rails to catch my breath or pop my hip. And because I’m stubborn and competitive for the last 30 seconds of the second attempt I increased the speed a lot just so I could beat my original distance.

After doing those runs, I was pretty tired but also so energized by the fact that I did something that I didn’t believe I could do. I was on cloud nine during the floor and didn’t focus too much and didn’t get as many rounds done as I would have liked. We focused a lot on arms so I was using slightly lighter weights. In the second floor block, we had a 500 meter row (which I did in 2:12 and I’m very happy about that) and ab work. But to me, the highlight of that workout was the running.

Now that I know I have much more endurance than I knew, I’m thinking hard about how I want to do my cardio in the workouts now. I know I probably can’t run for the entire cardio time (which can be up to 30 minutes), but maybe I can start with running for my base pace and then going down to walking when I need to. During the next mile challenge, I don’t want to go for a PR anymore but instead want to see if I can run a mile without walking. I haven’t done that since I was a kid.

I didn’t consider myself a runner when I started this past week of workouts, but I have to say that by the end of the week I think I finally am starting to think of myself as a runner and someone who can just be a runner (instead of a run/walker) one day. I don’t know if I will ever run an entire 5K race, but then again a week ago I didn’t think I could run for .5 miles and I did that on Friday. This past week has given me a lot to think about and reevaluate and I am hopeful that my progress will continue, just not in the way I imagined it would.

Time For Some Planning (or Trying A Challenge Again This Month)

It’s a new month and time for a new challenge in my Ink+Volt Planner! First, I want to reflect a bit on my January challenge. I set my challenge to be to work on tumor visualization every day. I set an alarm to remember to do this each morning and most of the time I would be able to do this before the alarm went off. Many mornings, I put my tumor visualization in my morning pages for “The Artist’s Way”. And if I didn’t write about it in the morning, I spent some time sitting quietly and thinking about my tumors getting smaller.

I won’t know if this worked until I have my next MRI in March, but I’m going to keep doing this until my surgery and then after surgery I will be doing liver visualization to work on getting my liver to regenerate quickly. I know that in the past, the power of positive thinking has worked really well for me so I’m looking forward to seeing how well it will work for me this time.

I’ll admit that my January challenge wasn’t too challenging for me. It was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t have to work too hard to do it. So since I did something easier last month, I’m doing something that has challenged me multiple times this month. My February challenge is to work on meal planning again.

I’ve attempted meal planning more times than I can count. I’ve tried doing it with bulk cooking, delivery diet meals, meal replacements, and just trying to cook more at home. They have all had moments of success, but none of them have really lasted that long. So this time, I’m attempting another method to see if this time it will be one that sticks. I believe that eventually, a method will be the one that I connect with and I can’t find that out until I try different ones.

I’m doing a pretty basic meal plan set up. I don’t have a specific diet or plan I’m trying to follow. I’m just trying to plan my meals so I don’t have to think too hard about what I’m going to eat that day and to be better and only getting what I need at the grocery store. I found a pretty basic meal plan printable and I started using that this week.

Originally, I typed in what I was planning to eat but because things keep changing I’ve been crossing things out a lot. I’m thinking about printing a blank template, getting it laminated, and using a dry erase pen or post-its to plan so it is easier to switch things around. There is also a grocery list printable that matches this, but I’m used to writing grocery lists on envelopes (if I’m using coupons) or on scratch paper so I don’t feel the need to use a fancy grocery list.

My ultimate goal would be where I could plan things out on Sunday and do my grocery shopping for the week and be done with it. If I don’t have to go to the grocery store to find something for dinner, maybe I won’t be tempted by all the things I shouldn’t be eating. If I plan things out, I can know exactly how many of each thing I need and then I can make better grocery lists. This could potentially save me money too, but that’s not the focus right now.

My main goal with meal planning is to be successful with following the plan for at least 2 meals a day. Breakfast should be pretty easy, but I do struggle with lunch and dinner a bit. But by having a plan, I can look forward to what I will be eating that day and hopefully it will take my mind off of thinking about what I should go to the store and buy after I’m done with work. I’m also hoping that it will help me with eating a better lunch on days that I’m working out. Sometimes, I don’t make the best food choices on workout days and my workouts do suffer because of that.

I’m not expecting a miracle. I know that there will be a lot of challenges with this and that there is potential that I will not be as successful as I like to be with my monthly challenges. But I have to try because I know that I need to make a change in my life to get into recovery and to lose weight. And if nothing else, this will force me to be more aware and a more conscious participant in my food choices and help to limit the lack of mindfulness that I do struggle with.

This won’t be an easy challenge for me to do, but it’s an important one for me. I’m going to do my best to plan and to figure out the best way for me to do the planning, and hopefully in a month I’ll be able to share with you all that this worked really well for me!

Ending My Challenge Early (or I Guess I Made A Mistake)

I just posted about how I was doing the new weight loss challenge at Orangetheory. And as of yesterday, I’m not doing the challenge any more. It’s due to a mistake that I made. I thought I had done everything that I needed to do for the challenge. I signed up and filled out the forms, paid the entry fee, and weighed in at the kick off party. I assumed that the weigh in at the party was enough since it did measure our weight and fat percentage, but I missed the instructions that I still need to do an official weigh in when Nutrishop was at Orangetheory or to go to Nutrishop myself.

I guess I wasn’t paying attention because I never did the second weigh in. I thought I was good to go and spent the past week and a half working hard in my workouts and trying to work on my food as much as I could. And then I got a text from the manager at Orangetheory asking if I weighed in with Nurtrishop because they weren’t able to locate the body scan I did with them. I could have gone to do it on my own, but by the time I would have had time to go it would already be 2 weeks into the challenge. And since it’s a 6 week challenge, I don’t feel like I want to pay to compete for only 4 weeks. Even though it isn’t about the money to enter (it’s only $25) or winning a prize, it just doesn’t feel right to do it anymore.

It’s weird to give up on a challenge that I started. That’s not who I am. But in this case, I would feel shorted if I did it. If I was close to placing in the top 3, I would be mad because I would think that if I had the full 6 weeks that I could have done it. I know how frustrated I would be with not doing the full challenge, and I think for me it will be easier to give up part way through instead of only doing 2/3rds of the challenge.

Giving up on the weight loss challenge isn’t really going to change much for me. I’m still on my own journey to lose weight and I am just as motivated not doing the challenge as I am doing the challenge since I have the goal of losing weight by my surgery date. That is the biggest motivation that I can have. I know that I need to do this to make my recovery from surgery easier. And the easier my recovery is, the quicker I can get back to life (and my workouts) after surgery. So that is a huge motivator for me. I just like doing fun challenges and since this one had some good prizes I was excited to see if I’d win.

Of course, I’m still going to do the required number of workouts that the weight loss challenge had (it was only 3 per week which is my normal). I’m going to track things the same way I did before (I might even still use the tracking chart on the window of the studio if they let me), and I will continue to support my friends who are in the challenge right now. Nothing is really changing outside of me not tracking my weight and fat loss through the studio and that I can’t win any prizes.

It’s a new feeling to give up on this challenge since I don’t usually let myself do that, but at the same time I almost feel a sense of relief. I can focus on my personal goals and weight loss patterns instead of trying to do what it takes to try to win. And yes, I know that I said that I wasn’t going to try to work hard to win this time, but that wasn’t happening. I wanted to see if I could win again and while I wasn’t doing anything crazy to do it, it was becoming a focus. Now, that competitiveness with others is gone and I can just be competitive with myself.

When the challenge ends, I’m going to weigh myself in at home and see if I hit my personal goal for the challenge. It won’t be easy (I’ve had a couple of not-so-great food days lately), but it will be a nice sense of accomplishment if I can do it without the challenge being my focus.

Getting Back To Normal Workouts (or Balancing Hard Work And Taking It Easy)

After Peak Performance Week, I was pretty tired from all the hard work. I knew I’d still be doing my 3 workouts for the week, but I didn’t feel like I needed to push myself as hard as I had the week before. Having a recovery day (or a recovery week) is a totally normal thing to do. But I usually am so competitive with myself that I don’t want to do that. But this week, I knew that I needed to. So I tried to find a good balance between working really hard and taking the recovery I needed.

Monday was a power day that didn’t switch between blocks. But even though we didn’t switch between blocks it almost flew like we did because the first 3 blocks were only 4 minutes each. For those short blocks, I was able to run all the pushes that were 2 minutes or under and all of the all out paces. We had a 3 minute push pace followed by a 1 minute all out. I did run for 2 minutes and then took a quick 1 minute walk break before running my all out. The last block on the treadmill was 7 minutes which was a mix of push and all out paces. I tried to follow the paces perfectly (only walking during walking or base paces). And by doing that, I ended up doing 3 minutes of running at the end which felt pretty good for me!

The floor work that day was a similar pattern with 3 short blocks and 1 long one. Each of the short blocks was 2 different things we had to do and I was able to get through 2 rounds most of the time. And for the longer block, we mainly did squats followed by rowing. I didn’t take it too easy while on the floor since the blocks were so short. I was using 20 pound weights for my squats and 25 pounds for the deadlifts we had to do. Even in my recovery weeks, I’m finding that sometimes I can use heavier weights (especially doing lower body work), so I’m glad I still did that.

Wednesday was an endurance day, but fortunately we did switch between blocks. For the treadmill blocks, on the first one I ran for 2 minutes, walked for 1, and ran for 2 again. I was really happy to see that I felt fine doing that but then after that first block my body decided that it was done. I was feeling pretty light-headed (I didn’t have the best food day before my workout) and was dealing with a bit of pain all over. So for all the other blocks, I ended up walking even during the all out paces. I ended up keeping my speeds and inclines lower than I normally do on a walking day because of all the issues I was having. But I was trying to keep focusing on remembering that this was now a recovery day and that was ok.

On the floor, I used some medium to heavy weights when we had our squat work. In the last floor block, we also had a 400 meter row which I did get done in under 2 minutes. But the light-headedness and pain were affecting me on the floor too and I was taking quite a few breaks. I thought that the toughness of the workout was just because of my personal issues, but after class everyone else seemed to agree that for some reason it was an exceptionally hard class. That did make me feel a bit better about all the struggles I was having in class.

Friday’s class was a power day without switching. I was still dealing with a bit of pain (all the rain we’ve been getting in LA makes my hips hurt so much), but fortunately my workout didn’t suffer too much from the pain. All of the blocks we had were 5 minutes or under and that was helpful. We had a lot of all out paces (I think it might have been 8 or 9 of them, but I lost count). We had 1 minute pushes to all outs, 90 second pushes to all outs, and 2 minute pushes to all outs. And I managed to run all of it. I did walk during the base paces and walking recoveries, but it felt really good to run as much as I did. I still want to push my running more, and I feel like this workout was a good way to do it.

The floor was similar with the short blocks. We had a lot of squat work, a lot of ab work with the ab roller, and I even attempted doing knee tucks on the ab roller on my toes instead of my knees for the first time (that only lasted for 2 knee tucks, but it was the first time I ever did that!). But one of the floor blocks was all rowing for 5 minutes. We had base, push, and all out paces on the rower; but basically it was rowing constantly for 5 minutes. I know I could have done better than I did, but I think I didn’t do too shabby.

For this being a bit of a recovery week and a bit of a challenge week, I think I found a great mix. I listened to my body when I needed to and adjusted when necessary instead of trying to overcome the issues. Hopefully this will be a pattern that I’ll be able to continue doing for a long time!

Weight Loss Challenge Time (or Not Worrying About Winning)

This week, a new weight loss challenge started at Orangetheory. I’ve done the challenge a couple of times before and it’s always been a pretty fun time for me. I’ve done well with it in the past and have even placed in the challenge. This time, the winner gets a cash prize and second and third place get free membership months. And even though I could totally use the cash, I’m not doing anything too extreme to try to win.

I am working on losing weight because of my upcoming surgery and hopefully whatever weight I lose from working on that will help me place. But to do anything that cannot be managed after the 6 weeks of the challenge ends isn’t something I’m interested in. I have about 3 months until my surgery and whatever weight loss plan I use for the next 6 weeks should be what I can do for the 3 months.

But having the weight loss challenge is extra motivation for me. I’m competitive and would love to place in any spot for the top 3. I like having a requirement to how many workouts I need to do (it’s only 3 per week so it’s what I’m used to) and having other people in the challenge holding me accountable for my actions. Plus, it’s a fun way to be involved at Orangetheory and that’s something that I love.

There was a kick off party for the challenge this past weekend. It felt so weird to go to the studio in my normal clothes (a lot of people who work there have never seen me with my hair down since I wear it in a top knot for my workouts) and it was nice to see my workout friends when we weren’t busy on the treadmills. They had the scale to do the weigh in so I got that done pretty quickly. But they also had some vendors there that could help us in the challenge. One of them was Tender Greens, which is discounting food for challenge participants for the next 6 weeks (sadly, the location by my house isn’t doing the discount).

They also had a food delivery service with samples there, massage therapists doing chair massages (that was pretty awesome), and SaunaBar which is giving us all discounts on services for the next 6 weeks. I’m thinking I should check out SaunaBar because it seems cool and something that could be nice along with the hard work that I’ll be doing. Plus, it seems like it would be a nice treat to do as a reward that doesn’t involve food or other things that could be bad for me.

I spent a while at the kickoff party (I was procrastinating on getting work done at my house), but it was really nice to get to hang out with people who I don’t often get to see outside of workouts. It was a fun change of pace for me and I’m glad that I went to the party instead of just doing my weigh in after a workout like I normally do. And getting to see my workout coaches outside of workouts is fun too. I do get to socialize with them a bit during class, but it’s pretty limited. So getting to have the time to talk and just have fun was good.

While I’m not planning on doing anything extreme over the next 6 weeks, I do hope that I am able to lose weight at a regular pace and that it helps to get me down to the weight that I am hoping to be at by my surgery. I don’t have a specific diet plan that I’m following (restricting myself seems to lead to more issues down the line), but I’m trying to just live a regular healthy lifestyle and hopefully that will help bring the weight down. I know that there is still a chance that I will have binge episodes, but hopefully the balance between those and the healthy eating will still result in some weight loss.

And who knows? Maybe in 6 weeks whatever I have been able to do will be enough to win! This challenge is based on fat percentage loss and not weight, so even if the scale doesn’t go down I still could do well in the challenge. I almost would prefer it to be based on weight so I could have an idea of how I’m doing (my scale doesn’t do fat percentage), but it might be better for me not to worry about my progress in the challenge but only in my progress toward my personal goals.

Either way, I’m hoping the next 6 weeks go well for me and when the challenge is done that I can be excited with what happens!

Going Big During Peak Performance Week (or A Week Of PRs)

This past week was Peak Performance Week at Orangetheory and it went really well for me! Peak Performance Week is something that I do look forward to each time it happens. It’s a great way to prove to myself that I’m making progress and since I’m so competitive with myself I can get some of that energy out. My original plan was to only do 3 workouts, but I decided to go for it and do 4 workouts during the week (which meant doing 3 workouts in a row) because I really wanted to see what I could do.

Monday’s challenge was the 500 meter row challenge. I don’t have as crazy of goals with the rower as I do with the treadmill, but I still set goals for myself and want to do better than I’ve ever done. So with 500 meters, I set a goal of being able to do it in under 2 minutes. I started on the treadmill but we only warmed up while the first group was on the rowers. When they were done, it was our turn to row (this way, we weren’t too tired before doing the row). Even though 500 meters isn’t really a sprint for me, I knew that I could just go really hard and hopefully it would only be about 2 minutes of effort. So I did just that, and when I got to 500 meters, I was pretty excited to see my time!

1:55.9! Totally under my goal time and that’s all that I could have asked for! After doing the challenge, we had the rest of the workout. On the treadmill, I ended up walking for it all because I went so hard on the rower. For the longer push paces, I did my inclines between 6-8% and the shorter push paces at 10-12%. But walking was fine with me since I was tired and I knew I’d have more running during the week. And when I was on the floor, I stuck with slightly lighter weights for my lunges. We also had some strap work and ab work plus some short rows (which I took easy).

Tuesday’s workout was the one I wasn’t sure I’d be doing, but when the challenge for that workout was announced I knew I had to go. It was the 24 minute run for distance. I hadn’t done that one since I started running, so I wanted to see what I could do. I had a goal in mind to go .5 miles further this time than I did the last time but I mainly just wanted to do my intervals as long as I could. I was doing 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. I mainly ran at 5 mph and walked at 3.5 mph and was doing pretty good with that speed with my intervals. At the end, I did a few rounds of 1 minute of running/1 minute of walking and tried to bump my speed up. I really wanted to make it to the distance goal I had (which would have been 1.896 miles), and I was close but just missed it.

Even though I didn’t make that distance goal, I’m so happy that I went as far as I did and that I did so well with my intervals. I hadn’t done the 2 minutes of running intervals for that length of time before so it was really great to realize that I could do it!

After the 24 minute distance run, I had 2 blocks on the floor. Each of those block started with a 300 meter row and we did some arms and squats after that. And then after those blocks, we had a 3 minute core blast on the floor that ended with a one minute plank hold and I was able to hold it for about 45 seconds. That’s not my best plank hold, but considering all the other work that I did that day I’m very happy with it.

Wednesday’s workout was a floor rep challenge day. Since it was my 3rd workout in a row, I knew it would need to be a bit of a recovery day. I tried to run at the beginning of the workout and realized that my legs were pretty dead so it ended up being a walk day for me. We did switch between blocks and there were 4 blocks on the treadmill and 4 blocks on the floor. The treadmill was nothing spectacular for me since I was so tired, plus I knew I would be working really hard on the floor.

For the floor rep challenge, we got to do it twice and add up the reps from both attempts. We had 4 minutes and did 1 move each minute. We were doing squats, push ups, pull ups on the straps, and sit ups). I tried so hard to go each minute without stopping, but it wasn’t easy. I think for me, the easiest ones were the push ups and sit ups but none of them were too horrible for me. On my first attempt, I did 124 reps between all the moves and on the second attempt I did 110 reps. I think that that’s not too shabby considering how hard those 4 minutes were without a break. I would have loved to have done more reps the second try, but that wasn’t in the cards for me.

And Friday was the day I was stressing out about all week: the mile challenge. I think that I judge myself by the mile challenge more than I do with any other treadmill challenge. And since I recently had a major PR with my mile, I was worried that I couldn’t beat that. I know that I don’t need to PR every time I do the mile challenge, but that’s what I want to do. I knew that I went really hard with that last PR and I spent time this past week trying to figure out what I would need to do in order to PR again.

This time, I tried to stick with 2 minutes running/1 minute walking intervals. I had it figured out that I would only need to do that 4 times to get my mile done so it helped with getting my head in the right space. I started with doing as long as I could at 6 mph for my running time. I averaged going that for just over a minute and then I ran at 5.8 mph to finish out the 2 minutes. I did my walking at 3.8 mph, which is faster than I would have liked, but I knew I needed to keep my speed up. That plan worked fine for the first 3 rounds and then my stomach started to cramp up. I went back to 1 minute intervals and increased my speed even more. When I knew I had .1 miles left on my mile, I sprinted and kept increasing my speed. I knew it was going to be close to 11:48 (my previous PR) and I just wanted to get at least 1 second off of my time. And it made me feel so amazing that I did that.

It wasn’t a pretty mile for me. It was so difficult and I’ve realized that I need to figure out a new game plan for the next time I do a mile challenge since I can’t just keep increasing my speed. Hopefully I’ll have some time to figure it out before the next challenge, but for now I’m just happy that I got another PR.

We had a pretty low-key floor block while the other half of class did their mile challenge and then we all joined together to do a partner workout for the rest of class. One of us was on the floor and the other was on the rower. The rower person set the pace and had to do a 900, 600, or 300 meter row. While the partner was on the rower, the person on the floor had lunges, mountain climbers, ab work, and roll outs. We would repeat the floor work until our partner tagged us out.

I was pretty happy that we didn’t have to go back onto the treadmill. My right hip was really sore after my mile. It wasn’t my normal type of pain which is sharp and feels like an electric shock. This was more of a dull annoying pain and I didn’t want to push myself too much. I did take it easy on the floor since I wasn’t controlling the pace, but when I was on the rower I did my best to go as quickly as I could so I could tag out my partner. We each ended up doing 2 rounds on the rower so at least we were pretty equal with our work.

This Peak Performance Week was totally a win for me. While I didn’t meet every goal that I set for myself, I had a PR with everything. And those goals I set were pretty ambitious and I didn’t know if I could do every single one I set for myself. So to do 3 out of 4 isn’t too bad. Plus, I did 4 workouts in a week and 3 workouts in a row so that makes the week even more difficult! All of those things combined helped to make this week more amazing than I could have imagined!

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!