Tag Archives: challenge

Another Monthly Challenge Down (or The Prosperous Heart)

A new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the start to a new one! I’ll admit that last month’s challenge was much more challenging than I thought it would be, but I’m glad that I got through it.

I originally wanted to do the plank challenge to help connect myself to my body again. It’s been weird feeling so disconnected and I had high hopes that this would help bring things back to normal. And this challenge didn’t do that at all. Sometimes, it almost made things worse because I was comparing myself to how I could do planks 10 years ago and the lack of core strength that I have now.

But even with this challenge not doing that, I finally do feel more connected to my body again. It had nothing to do with the challenge, but through just getting back to life I feel more like me again. I think I needed this challenge to force me to work on connecting with my body again, it just wasn’t the thing that did it. But having something push me to work on it was good. I might try another one of the fitness challenges in the app, but I’m not as concerned about doing them as I was before. But I’m glad that I tried and that I made it through.

And for this month’s challenge, I’m actually going to do something that I started earlier this week. The membership of the Inside Acting Podcast has done some fun book club type things this year. At the beginning of the year we did the 12 week process of “The Artist’s Way”. I’m glad that I did it with the support of the membership because I’ve never been able to complete the entire 12 week journey before on my own. I didn’t love the entire process, but I learned a lot and I’m seeing changes in my life because of it.

And this past Sunday, we started our next book within the podcast membership. This time, we are doing another book by Julia Cameron, “The Prosperous Heart”.

There are a lot of the same concepts in both books, including the Morning Pages. I didn’t enjoy the Morning Pages before and I’m not going to stress myself out doing them this time. But this book is much more focused on money and financial things.

I’ve been tracking my budget for a while now using YNAB. Using a budgeting app has been really great for me. Even though I’m still struggling a bit financially, I feel much more in control of things and understand how to pay down my credit card debt now without feeling overwhelmed.

Part of this book is to track every single expense you have. This will be pretty simple for me since I’m already doing it, but I’m going more detailed now and that’s what my monthly challenge will be. I’m not only going to track what I do bank transfers for or when I use my credit card. I’m going to track every single penny that is spent.

A lot of times, I’ll get cash at the beginning of the week and plan on using that for random things. But before I know it the cash is gone and I don’t know where I spent it. Or I don’t know where all the quarters I got for laundry went when it seems like I just went to the bank to get a roll. Some people don’t spend as much when they use cash, but for me using cash has become mindless since I don’t track it in YNAB. I need to stop this because I want to track my money better. And using this as my monthly challenge is a great way for me to get into this habit.

More often than not, my monthly challenges become something I do all the time. So if I take this month to work on tracking my money better, I have a feeling that I will be able to continue to do this and hopefully it will only help me in my money management skills. I know that I’ve been doing a lot of great work with money, especially in the past year or so, but I need to do more and this might be the perfect thing for me to do.

1 Year Of Running (or A New Anniversary To Celebrate)

Earlier this month, I was talking to a friend of mine about my running adventures at Orangetheory and in my 5K races. In some ways, it seems like I’ve been doing my running for a long time. In other ways, it seems like I just started last month. And when my friend asked me how long I had been running, I had to think about it. I figured it was close to a year but wasn’t too sure. Fortunately, one of the benefits of this blog is being able to go back and look at when I posted certain things. And by going back to looking at that original running post, I realized my 1 year running anniversary is today!

I still remember that first class when I tried running. Running for 30 seconds seemed like it would be impossible, but I am so stubborn and when I was told to try it I knew I had to go for it. And it shocked me how easy those 30 seconds were for me. I was terrified that it would be painful to run since I was told that it could be with my hip issues. I think maybe I in disbelief about how easy those 30 second running spurts were. And that just got me into making some big plans with my running.

When I started running, things were coming very easily for me. Going from 30 seconds to 45 seconds or to a minute were pretty easy. I was able to get my speed up often without issues. I was on such a high about running and had some great ideas of what I wanted to be able to do. I hadn’t really run since I was a kid, so I had no idea how my body would react to anything and only based my ideas on how easy it was in the beginning.

After a little bit, I definitely hit a wall with my running progress. But I’m very lucky that I have so many running friends and I was able to turn to them for tips and advice. I worked on different stretching, increased my weights at Orangetheory to make me stronger, and planned out some interval training. I started to do my own interval work at Orangetheory instead of just following the coaches. But since all my coaches knew I was working on running, they were all very supportive and didn’t mind that I wasn’t following the standard workout.

Then I started to hit some huge milestones. I was able to run a 1/4 mile. I was able to run on inclines. I took a running class. I was able to run for 5 minutes without stopping. I ran for 10 minutes without stopping. I ran for a mile without stopping! I think running a mile without stopping is still something that shocks me and I’m so proud I hit that milestone.

I also started doing running on my own outside of my workouts. I got a running watch and did my own interval training work. I met up with friends to do running interval training and didn’t let me bug me that they were doing so much more than I could do. I focused on my own training and my own path and didn’t compare myself to others.

Even though I did all this work, I still questioned how my first attempt at a run/walk 5K would go. I had never done run/walk intervals for that long and I wasn’t sure my body would be able to take it. But I think between being stubborn and the adrenaline I get on race days, I was not only able to do it but I beat my big goal I had for how fast I wanted to do a 5K!

Then when I got to my second 5K as a run/walk, I was increasing my intervals and had hills to deal with. I hadn’t done as much running training as I had the first time (due to all my medical stuff) so I tried to not set any goals for myself. I knew the combination of all those differences meant that I might not be able to do better than my last time even though I was running more. That race was more of a struggle than the first one, mainly because of the hills. But I had to be flexible and willing to change my running plan. And by doing that (and probably again because I’m stubborn), I was able to PR at my race!

Now, I’m feeling more and more comfortable with my running. I’ve hit a few walls lately, but I think a lot of that has to do with other health issues. I’m running for pretty decent stretches at Orangetheory and I’m trying to plan what my goals are going to be coming up. I also may be meeting with a running coach soon to discuss a training plan and what may be possible for me in the long run (no pun intended). I’m also toying with the idea of trying to do a 10K for the first time, but that won’t be happening too soon since I need to do some training for that.

To think that I’ve come this far in just one year of running is insane to me! I never thought I’d be able to do most of what I’m doing now. And sometimes I do wish that I had tried running sooner because I’d be farther along now. But I can’t look back and wish I had done things differently. I can only work on moving forward and continuing to improve myself.

So here’s to my first full year of running! I never knew I’d get here, so I can’t even imagine where I’ll be when I’m celebrating my 2nd running anniversary!

It’s A Fitness Challenge (or Being Calm and Plank Time)

Last month, I set my monthly challenge to work on staying calm. That was a pretty easy challenge to do, but I had that be easy on purpose. I wasn’t sure what I was going to be able to accomplish last month and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. Of course, I ended up not needing a simple challenge for the month and I was feeling like I didn’t really get that much done. I’ve really gotten used to pushing myself in my monthly challenges and last month didn’t push me. I didn’t know that my month was going to be the way it was, so I can’t be too upset. But that got me thinking about what would challenge me a lot in May.

As I mentioned yesterday, I realized in last week’s workouts how tough it was for me to hold a plank. I used to be great at doing a basic plank and could hold it for over a minute without any issues, but most of the time in workouts now they are planks with other movements too. It’s been a while since I’ve focused on holding a plank and it’s something that I just assumed I could still do. That’s not the case and I want to get back to having my core be as strong as possible.

There are a ton of 30 day plank challenges out there (even though May is 31 days, I can use a 30 day challenge and just repeat the last day). I’m going to be using an app I already had on my phone, but it seems like the set up is pretty similar to something I found online.

I don’t know if I’ll be doing the rest days, but it’s nice to know they are there in case I need it. I have a feeling that it’s going to seem really easy at the beginning but once it gets to doing them for a minute it’s going to be very tough and challenging for me. And that’s exactly what I want in a monthly challenge!

I think doing another physical monthly challenge will be good for me. Since I discovered I have the liver tumors, I’ve had some very mixed feelings about my body. I feel like my body has betrayed me because getting these tumors is such a rare thing. I’ve been working so hard on improving my body and my body decided to screw it all up. But I also feel so grateful for the strength I have now because I’ve been able to do at least 2 5Ks with the tumors in me (I have no clue how long I’ve had the tumors so maybe all my races have been with them). And by some miracle, my body has been able to shrink the tumors when nobody thought that would be possible.

Because I’ve had those mixed feelings, I need something that should be totally positive for my body and to help me reconnect with myself. It’s weird how disconnected I’ve felt lately and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced disconnection like this before. I had a similar feeling when I rapidly lost weight on the UCLA RFO diet, but this time it was even worse. I didn’t feel like I had any power over my body or what it was doing. I didn’t feel like I had control like you should have. And once I found out the tumors shrunk, that feeling continued because I don’t know what shrunk the tumors and I didn’t feel any different. How am I supposed to be connected to my body when I don’t feel the difference between a 10cm tumor inside of me versus it only being 4cm? I need to get back to feeling like myself again and I think doing a physical challenge will help me.

At the end of this month, I’m supposed to be able to hold a plank for 300 seconds. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to do that, but it will be interesting to see how close I can get to it. But if I can’t do it, that’s not what the priority of this challenge is for me. I need to reconnect to myself, feel strong again, and take control of my body in a healthy way. And hopefully by the end of this month I will be able to say that I accomplished that!

I know some of you have also been doing monthly challenges and I’d love to know what you are doing for May. And if you are doing a plank challenge, hopefully we can support each other.

Friends and Family Workouts (or Getting Pushed To Do Better)

This past week of workouts was awesome! And it’s not just because I had thought for so long that I wouldn’t be able to work out. I really had some great things happen in my workouts and in each workout I had someone with me to cheer me on! I was planning on doing 4 workouts once I knew that I wouldn’t be having surgery, but it ended up being a 3 workout week. But that’s ok because I think I got more out of each workout than a normal workout day!

Monday’s workout was while my parents were still in town. One day I’ll get my mom to take class with me, but this time it was just my dad. He’s done a couple of Orangetheory workouts before so he knew what he was in for. And since he reads this blog (hi Dad!) he knows what some of the workouts consist of so he can try doing things at his gym. Since going to Orangetheory he has started to use inclines on the treadmill and he pushes himself harder in his workouts. But he always says that he works hardest when he’s in a class with me because there is a coach pushing him on (plus, he and I are competitive).

The workout on Monday was endurance, strength, and power and we didn’t switch between blocks. My dad and I started on the treadmill and the first block was endurance based. We had some longer push paces and I was able to run all of them (I really did want to impress my dad with my running). The second block was a mix of strength and power and we had only short all outs but they were all on hills (3, 5, and 7% incline). I usually don’t run at those higher inclines, but again I wanted to impress my dad so I did it! It wasn’t too bad doing the 7% incline for only 45 seconds, but I don’t think I’m ready for longer running at that incline. So with the last block, it was longer hill time so I spent that block walking all my inclines. But even with the walking, I got to about 2 miles on the treadmill in class.

On the floor, each block started with rowing. Rowing is where my dad and I are most competitive. He easily beats me with running and I almost always beat him with weights. But rowing is where we challenge a lot. He still tends to beat me, but I’ve had some great rowing workouts lately and he doesn’t usually get to row at his gym. So I was happy to see what we were going to do. Between each of the floor blocks we had a 300 meter row (I did it in 1:03.3 and my dad did it in 1:03.1), a 90 second timed row (I got 384 meters and my dad got 387 meters), and a 15 stroke pull test (I don’t remember the exact numbers but I beat my dad that time). This was the closest I’ve been to beating my dad on the rower and that was awesome! I’m even more excited to see what I will be able to do by Thanksgiving!

While we were rowing, another friend in class took a photo of me and my dad getting our rowers set up. It is a super cute photo and I loved seeing that the official Instagram account for my Orangetheory location put it up in their Instagram story!

I think my dad was super excited to see us on there (and he doesn’t use social media so for him to be excited about it means it’s that much more awesome). For the rest of the workout that day we had squats, chest presses, lunges, triceps using the straps, plank work, and ab work. I think my dad had a great time working out with me and he said he was a bit sore the next day.

Wednesday’s workout was a power day and my friend Dani was in class with me! It was a switch day, but we did 2 treadmill blocks back to back before switching the first time. The running was mainly very short segments (either push to all out paces or just all out paces) and I ran all of those and then walked my base paces. It was a pretty good speed running day for me but I didn’t hit any new records with my speeds. But to me, I’m still so happy that I can run so I’m always impressed with running days. I did end up walking the last treadmill block, but that’s because of what I did on the floor.

When we moved to the floor, we mainly had squats with shoulder work and then sprint rows in-between the sets. The sprint rows were 100, 150, and 200 meters and Dani and I decided to race. Dani is insanely good at rowing and I knew that she could always beat me, but the idea of racing her would probably help me get my sprint rows done faster. And while Dani did beat me each time, I managed to do some PRs and almost PRs with my rowing! The downside to that was that I was starting to hurt pretty badly after the rowing. My hip was killing me and I was starting to get some stomach cramps. So because of that, I had to take it easy for a lot of the workout (which is why I walked on the treadmill).

My last workout of the week was on Friday and my friend Elizabeth joined me! She’s a new member of Orangetheory and we aren’t always able to be in the same classes. But she might be able to start going to the same time on Fridays as me. And our workout this day was a run/row that had endurance, strength, and power elements to it. I was excited for a run/row and this one seemed pretty awesome for me. The running segments that I got to were .5 miles, .4 miles at 2%, and .3 miles at 3%. I was able to run all of them (not run/walk, just run) and it’s still so amazing to me that I can run for .5 miles without stopping!

For the rowing, I only got to 2 rowing segments which were 100 meters and 200 meters. My 200 meter row was good, but nothing special (I was also pretty tired by that point). But for my 100 meter row I decided to see what I could do. My PR for that distance is 17.7 seconds and I had done 17.8 seconds on Wednesday. I was going as fast and as hard as I could on the rower and I managed to get it down to 17.6 seconds! At the speed I’m going on that row, there isn’t a ton of room for improvement so just taking that .1 seconds off is a huge accomplishment! I didn’t get that far down the run/row plan, but that’s because my running is still on the slower end of things.

On the floor, each block was 3 moves and then we were supposed to hold a plank until time was called. We had a nice mix of things including hop overs, lunges, squats, burpees, chest presses, and bicep work I only made it to the point that I had to hold a plank once and holding the plank was tough. I don’t think I hold plank too often in my workouts and that got me thinking (more on that tomorrow).

I’m so glad that I was able to work out this week and that I’m already back to my normal workout schedule. I had been so worried about how much time I was going to have to take off and I’m glad that I didn’t have to experience that. I’ve made so much progress lately because I was worried about the time off, and I’m thinking that pushing myself all that time was perfect. I’ve proven to myself that I can do more than I thought and I have the intention to keep that momentum going.

A Short Workout Week (or I Would Have Ended On A High Note)

When I thought that this past week of workouts was going to be my last week before surgery, I knew it would be a short workout week. There were only so many days in the week before Thursday and I booked 3 classes in a row so I could at least get 3 classes in. And once my surgery was cancelled, I decided to keep my workout schedule the same since my parents would be in town and I was going to spend time hanging out with them. But if this week had been my last week of workouts before a long break, I would have been pretty happy with myself. It was a great week of workouts and I felt super accomplished!

Monday’s workout was one that I had heard about online the week before. It was called the Everest Challenge and it was 23 minutes on the treadmill all at inclines. We started out at 2% incline and went all the way up to 15%. I’m not that used to being at the much higher inclines as I was before so my goal was to try to wait as long as possible to reduce my speed on the treadmill. I made it until 13% incline at my usual walking speed that I use for my base pace and then I dropped it down a bit for the last 2 inclines. And even though I spent the entire time walking and sometimes walking slower than I’m used to, I still got 1.3 miles done during class.

The floor was mainly upper body work which was good after all those hills on the treadmill! The first block was chest presses, hammer curls, squats with shoulder work, and a 250 meter row which I got done in 50 and 48 seconds. The second block was a lot of work using the weight bench including leg lift ab work. I usually can’t do the leg ab work because of my hips but I decided to test it out and found that I could do them with a decent range of motion. It took me forever to do all my reps for the ab work, but I did it and that’s what matters! I totally felt it in my core and not in my hips which is a huge victory for me.

Tuesday’s workout was a power day that was a very unique switch format. There were 6 total blocks, but it wasn’t just floor, treadmill, or rowing blocks. I started on the treadmill and had all push to all out paces. Since there were no base paces, I was able to run everything. Next, I moved to the floor where it was all work with the Bosu ball. I had lunges, squats, mountain climbers, and sit ups all using the Bosu. Then it was back to the treadmill where we had more push to all out paces but in between each set we had squat bicep curls. Then it was to the rower where we had sprint rows with squat shoulder presses. Back to the treadmill again for more push to all out paces. And finally I was back on the floor for lunges, chest presses, and pop jacks.

It wasn’t an easy workout, especially for a power day which usually are my favorites. Moving around like that was fun and it was a nice switch from the standard blocks that we do most of the time. Even though it was tough, I was having a lot of fun and felt like I was challenging my body more than normal because the blocks were so short. I also had to think more about my workout than I usually do because it wasn’t the routine that I’m used to. All of these things are good things that challenge me that I don’t get to do as often as I probably should.

My last workout of the week was on Wednesday which was an endurance day. Originally, when I thought this was going to be a big deal workout since it was going to be my last one for a while, I tried to get a bunch of friends to sign up for a class with me. But once I heard that surgery was cancelled, some of my friends decided to try another class another time. It’s not a great time for many of my friends to take class and I’d rather have them in a class where they are more relaxed and not stressed about traffic.

The workout had 2 different 6 minute distance challenges on the treadmill. I know that I can totally run for 6 minutes and I was excited to see what I could do during the challenges. It’s not easy to do these challenges sometimes because I overdo it in the beginning and then the second challenge suffers. This time, I took it easy the first time just to get more comfortable with a longer run. But even though I took it easy, it wasn’t easy. And for the second attempt, I bumped my speed up more just because I wanted to be able to beat myself. And I managed to do over .5 miles each time which it pretty great for me!

Between those challenges we also had a regular treadmill block. I did my normal plan of walking all my base paces and running my push and all out paces. I probably could have run the entire time, but I wanted to save my energy for the last distance challenge. And I’m glad I did that because I’m so happy with both of my distances.

On the floor we had 2 blocks that were a nice mix of work. We had alligator and tricep work on the straps, 4 point plank and sit ups for core, and burpees and mountain climbers for all over body work. Plus, we also had a 600 meter row that I did in 2:28. Overall, the floor work was pretty awesome but I unfortunately was hit with some bad nausea while on the floor and I forgot to pack my anti-nausea prescription in my pill container I keep in my purse with the medications that I don’t take all the time (I keep pain pills in that container mainly). I was taking a lot of breaks on the floor to make myself feel better so I didn’t get as many reps in as I could have done. But it was important for me not to push things too much because I didn’t want to make the nausea worse.

Overall, these were 3 incredible classes where I got to push my body a lot and worked really hard. And if these were my last classes before surgery I think I would have felt ok about that. Of course, I’m much happier that I didn’t have surgery and I’m not missing any classes now. I’m back to my regular workout schedule already and can keep working toward more and more goals! I’ve got about 6 months before my next 5K race and I’m already looking at my workouts as training for that!

A Challenge For A Weird Month (or French And Deep Breaths)

Another month brings another monthly challenge! It’s crazy to think that it’s a quarter of the way through this year already. It seems like it’s been flying by so far and that March went by so much faster than I ever expected!

My monthly challenge for March was to work on learning French every day. I was using the app Duolingo which I had tried to use before and just couldn’t get into. But I decided that I was going to go all out for the month with trying to learn French and if I hated it that I wouldn’t force myself to continue doing it. I did 2 lessons each day (each lesson took less than 5 minutes) and I really did make an effort to take it seriously and work hard at it.

It wasn’t easy to learn French just through the app (that might have been my problem the first time), but I was able to get through the entire month and have continued to work on it each day. I do go back and review past lessons often and the way the app is set up they do have words that seem to be the toughest for you in each lesson to work on. Some of the stuff is hard to understand because I don’t know why things are one way versus another or the different way to use various verbs. But I am understanding much more French than ever before and I am looking into other ways to work on learning the language. Overall, I think it’s another very successful monthly challenge.

When it came to planning what my challenge for April would be, I struggled with it for a while. There are several things I would love to use as a monthly challenge, but with surgery and the recovery coming up I knew there would be a good chance I wouldn’t be able to do it each day of the month. I don’t want to set myself up for failure when I know that it might be impossible for me to do something while in the hospital or while I am restricted in what I can do.

I probably thought about this for almost all of March, but I finally thought of what I could do every single day in April that would benefit me even though it is an easy challenge.

This month is going to be a stressful month and I don’t need to do anything that will add more stress in my day-to-day life. Taking deep breaths is something I don’t do that often but when I do focus on it I notice a benefit in my day. Taking time to take some deep breaths allows me to take a moment to just focus on that and not what else is going on around me. It allows me to center myself again and then get back on track with whatever I need to be doing.

There will be a lot of things that will be benefitted by deep breaths. I’ve got my MRI coming up this week and dealing with the IV needle is always tough on me. And the time inside of the MRI machine is very stressful and I know that if I use that hour inside the machine focusing on my breathing that I won’t be thinking about how small the MRI tube is or how loud the noises are. And after my surgery I’m sure I’ll have moments of pretty bad pain and taking deep breaths can give me something else to focus on instead of waiting for painkillers to start working.

I know this is a simple monthly challenge, but I’m taking it as seriously as I have with any of the past challenges. I am taking time each day to work on deep breathing and just a few days into this month I’ve already noticed a difference. And I think knowing that I have a challenge this month that will be able to be accomplished before surgery, after surgery, and while I’m recovering has made me relax a bit because I won’t be worried about trying to get something else new done while dealing with recovery. I am hoping that I will be able to continue with all of my monthly challenges while recovering, but I also know that I have to be lenient and forgiving with myself if I can’t do it. All I can do is to stay calm, take deep breaths, and focus on being the best me possible through this entire crazy month.

The Artist’s Way Recap (or 12 Weeks Later)

I previously blogged about how the podcast I work for was doing a group to support each other through the 12 week process of “The Artist’s Way”. I’ve attempted to complete “The Artist’s Way” a few times in the past but I usually didn’t make it beyond week 2 or 3. But having an accountability group really helped to keep me on track and this past week I completed the full 12 week journey.

I’m pretty proud of myself for making it through the entire thing. I’m pretty stubborn when I set my mind to things, but this was something that for some reason I wasn’t able to complete before. I don’t know what was holding me back, but clearly there was some block happening that was making me quit each time I tried. And the irony on how the journey is about unblocking yourself wasn’t lost on me.

The two main elements of “The Artist’s Way” for me were the morning pages and the artist date. The artist date was a bit odd for me. There are a lot of things I do each day that make me happy. I don’t usually set aside a time each week to do something like that since I try to do things every day. But I did try to do something each week that felt a bit more special than the usual things that I would do. That could be going to the Pantages for our shows, going to a movie screening, or just sitting on the couch and watching something on Netflix that I’ve been wanting to watch. I think it will be easy enough for me to keep up the weekly artist dates because it is not that far removed from what I’ve been working on with my therapist.

The morning pages were something totally different. When I was in high school, I kept diaries. These were done every night at the end of the day and I would recap what happened that day. It was a great way for me to work out my thoughts and to decompress. Now I have this blog (although I do still keep some things private to me). I don’t keep a diary and don’t feel the need to do so.

The morning pages are supposed to be 3 pages of freeform writing each morning. I’m not a huge fan of handwriting because my writing is so sloppy, but it’s encouraged to handwrite the morning pages instead of typing them. And even though these could be stream of consciousness pages, I still wanted to write in full sentences with proper grammar. I did get frustrated when I made a mistake or spelled something wrong and had to cross it out. I like to do things perfectly and I hate seeing mistakes.

I totally struggled with my morning pages. I take a while to wake up in the morning and I didn’t want to write as soon as I was up. I tried to get my pages started within 15 minutes of waking up and I usually could do that. But more days, I was using it as a diary like I had in high school. I would recap what the past day was like and I didn’t have much else to say. Occasionally I would write about a weird dream I had the night before, but most of the time I didn’t know what to write.

There were plenty of pages filled with me writing how I didn’t know what to write or how I wasn’t loving the morning pages. It got me through the 3 pages on those days I couldn’t think of anything to write, but I know that doing that is not the goal of the morning pages. But when I don’t have any other ideas of what to write in the morning, I didn’t want to try to figure it out for a long time. I had things to get done in the morning and couldn’t spend an hour trying to get 3 pages done.

Besides the artist dates and morning pages, there was a chapter to read each week and questions and ideas at the end of each chapter. I dedicated a bit of time each Sunday to read my chapter and to work on the questions. Most of the time, I kept my answers to the questions to myself. Sometimes I would share (or they would inspire me to write something on here), but the journey is a personal one.

Now that I’m done with all 12 weeks, I’ve been reflecting back a bit on what the journey did for me. I don’t necessarily feel more creatively open in my life, but I do feel more open in general. I’ve been more relaxed in what could be a stressful and uncertain time for me. I’m a planner and not being able to plan for things next month could easily bring out some OCD tendencies in me. But I’m happy to see that I’m not experiencing that and that I’m more open to see what will happen.

I’m also in a better morning routine than I was before. I’ve been working hard at getting up at the same time every morning. It’s not easy, especially when I have a tough night or am out late. But I really want to be more consistent in my wake up time every day so it doesn’t feel as tough in the mornings. At the beginning of the 12 weeks, there were plenty of days that I overslept past my alarm. It usually was only oversleeping by 30 minutes to an hour, but that was affecting my morning. But now, I’m usually getting up within 5-10 minutes of my alarm going off and I’m not hitting the snooze button. The latest I have slept in this month was 10 minutes after my goal wake up time. That’s so much better than an hour.

While I did have some victories over my 12 week journey, it wasn’t as life altering as I expected it to be. But when I reached the end, that actually was discussed in the book. Some of the changes in my life might have been during those 12 weeks and other might not happen until a year or so later when I reflect back on things. And I have a feeling that will be exactly how things work for me. When I started my Spark Planner/Ink+Volt Planner, I didn’t notice the results the same way at the beginning as I did when I reflected back at the end of the year. I need time away from the process to see the change that I’ve been able to make.

I’m very proud of myself for completing all 12 weeks. I’m glad I stuck with it and I’m so grateful for the other people from the podcast who did this journey with me. And I now have friends who are about to start the 12 weeks and I’m excited to see what they are able to do. While I don’t plan on necessarily continuing my morning pages and artist dates regularly, it’s good to know that I have those habits to go back to if I need them. And I might try to do this again for the first 12 weeks of 2018 just so I can see how I change over this year.

No matter what I do, I finally can say that I completed the entire “The Artist’s Way” journey and that’s something that I haven’t been able to say before. It’s an accomplishment that I’m so happy with and I know that it will only do amazing things for me.

Dri-Tri Time (or Beating My Own Records)

As I mentioned in my workout recap post this week, my 4th workout of the week was the Dri-Tri at Orangetheory. I’ve done the Dri-Tri once before, and while it was tough I had a great time. I had such a sense of accomplishment when I was done with the event and it felt like I had really been able to push myself more than I ever knew I could. So when I saw that the Dri-Tri was coming up again, I knew I had to sign up.

I was hoping I could get one of my workout friends to join me, but nobody was able to do it too. But that’s ok since we had an amazing group of people doing it and a bunch of the Orangetheory staff was there to cheer us all on.

The first event of the Dri-Tri is the 2,000 meter row. I’ve been doing a lot of rowing lately and my power and speed have been improving quite a bit. But even though I’ve been doing significantly better on the rower, 2,000 meters is a long distance. We rarely do rowing that long (although we did have the 2,017 meter row in January) so I was feeling a bit unsure about my ability to do the rowing. Last year, I really wanted to do my rowing in under 10 minutes and couldn’t do that. So I decided to set my goal to something that seems reasonable and wanted to do it in under 10 minutes.

While I was rowing, I tried to zone out. I didn’t go that hard because I knew that I could do too much in the beginning and burn out. I wanted to keep a relatively steady pace and just hope that I could get through it quickly enough. I was starting to notice other people finishing their row and getting up, so I knew that I must be getting a bit closer to finishing my row. I ended up being the last person off of the rower, but that doesn’t matter since I was only competing against myself and what I was able to do last time. And I ended up not only doing my row under 10 minutes, I did it in under 9 minutes! I did my 2,000 meters in 8:45.2! That was so much better than I ever imagined that I could do.

But there was no time to celebrate my amazing row because it was time to move on to the second part of the Dri-Tri: the floor work. This was a set of 300 body weight moves that we had to do. There were 2 rounds of the floor work (each round had a total of 150 reps) and it consisted of squats, push ups, burpees, hop overs, plank jacks, and step ups (I had to do lunges instead of step ups). I was pretty tired from the row, but I knew that last time the floor work was a struggle and I needed to stay focused.

I was taking breaks for water, to wipe off sweat, or to catch my breath quite a bit. But each time I was taking a break was when I was switching moves and not in the middle of a set of something. While it’s nice to have things broken up into 2 rounds, it was hard to think after the first round that I had to do that all over again. And again, I was the last person to be done with that part but I was ok with it because I knew I had the treadmill still to go.

The treadmill portion of the Dri-Tri is a 5K run. If you are a power walker, you do half of a 5K. I knew I’d be doing run/walk intervals and thought that I would try to go for the full 5K this time instead of doing half like I did the time before. I had my intervals at 2 minutes running/1 minute walking and that was going ok for me. But my hips were starting to really hurt (which usually happens when I do rowing or floor work before the treadmill) and I realized that it would be best for me if I only did half of the 5K. I was a bit sad that I wouldn’t do what I set out to do with doing the entire 5K, but I also realized that this way I would find out exactly how much faster I was this year.

I kept my intervals up for the entire thing. My speeds were pretty stable except for the very end when I took it to a sprint for me so I could get as many seconds off as I could. And I was happy to see that my half 5K was faster than what half my 5K was during my last race by about 20 seconds.

This gives me high hopes that my race coming up next week may be a PR again! But I’m still worried about how I will do with a full 5K as a run/walk again. But I couldn’t focus on that because I completed my Dri-Tri! And when compared to my Dri-Tri last year, I took just over 9 minutes off my total time. That’s a pretty impressive improvement in my mind.

When I was done, there were still a few runners finishing their 5K run. I was more than happy to hang out and cheer everyone on because I know this is a pretty tough challenge to do. This is much more difficult than a regular class since you are not stopping between blocks to pay attention to instructions. Once the clock starts, you are on the go until you complete everything. And even though I was done in under 45 minutes, it didn’t feel easier than an hour-long class.

I’m so lucky that I’ve been able to do the Dri-Tri twice so far. And I know that I will be doing it again in the future. It may be another year before I do another one because of the timing of things, but I’m excited to see what I’ll be able to do whenever I have the next one. Maybe I can take more time off of my row. Or maybe I can do the full 5K! Whatever I can do, I’m just so happy that I’ve been able to prove to myself that I’m so much stronger and powerful than I was last year!

Friends and Milestones (or Another Amazing Workout Week)

I feel like I’ve been killing it in my workouts week after week lately! I think that I really just want to do as much as I can in the next month (only 1 month to go until surgery!) and I know that the stronger I am the easier my recovery will be. I also want to see what limits I can push my body to now so I know what I will have to work toward when I’m recovering. I know that recovery will take time, but I think having strong goals to focus on will help me a lot.

Monday’s workout was a strength day and we switched between blocks. Knowing that it was a strength day and there would be inclines, I decided to walk all my inclines. Most of the time, I was walking at 8-10% incline instead of running at 5-7% incline. But I did run one of the 5% push pace to all out pace segments. And of course, I ran all of the flat road pushes and all outs. Inclines will probably be a struggle for me with running for a while, but I’m testing myself with it bit by bit.

On the floor, it was really an arm focused day. The first block was all tricep work and it was really tough. We did tricep chest presses, tricep push ups, and tricep kick backs with weights. My arms were so tired after that block. I wished they had mixed up the arm work and not had all the tricep stuff in one block, but I also know that it was that way to be tough and getting through it is an accomplishment. On the second block, we had strap work with low rows and pull ups. There were also hop overs on the benches which are always tough for me because of my hips. But I was able to almost do them as hops instead of steps which is a big deal for me. And the last block was a row focused one. I had a 200 meter row and really wanted to break the 40 second barrier, but it was done in 40.7 seconds which is so close but it feels like it’s taunting me.

Wednesday’s workout was a power day without switching between blocks. But it worked out pretty well for me even without getting to switch. On the treadmill, blocks 1 and 3 were the same and blocks 2 and 4 were the same. On blocks 1 and 3, I ran everything except for a 1 minute base pace that was in the middle. I probably could have run it, but I was scared of overdoing things and getting too tired. And on blocks 2 and 4 it was almost all 30 second intervals (with walking recoveries) so I was able to run everything. And I ended with a 30 second all out pace at 7.5 mph. That’s super fast and I don’t think I could do it longer than 30 seconds, but it was nice to know I could do a little sprint that quickly.

On the floor, we had a lot of ab focused work. My body wasn’t feeling 100% that day, but I was doing the best I could. Each block started with a sit up exercise, and sometimes I just had to modify it to just be a regular sit up instead of a fancy one. But I was still doing full sit ups and not crunches. Most of the other work on the floor was body weight stuff that was core focused (so more ab work), but we did have a quick rowing block at the very end. It was 30 second intervals like the treadmill was, so I wasn’t too focused on my distances.

Friday was a super awesome day! It was a special workout for St. Patrick’s Day and I had a friend taking her first class then! Grace works for the podcast that I work for and she wanted to test out Orangetheory to see if that could help her get back into a good workout routine. And the special workout that day was a partner workout, so I think it was pretty ideal for Grace to have as her first class. She and I were partnered up the entire time so I was able to help her out the few times that she wasn’t quite sure what we were doing next (but she got a hang of it super quickly and killed it in her workout!).

The partner workout had 3 blocks, but blocks 1 and 3 were the same. And since it was St. Patrick’s Day, a lot of things had 17 in them. For blocks 1 and 3, the treadmill controlled the switched between the partners. The treadmill ran .17 miles and the rower was rowing for distance. I was able to run every time I was on the treadmill and we did some pretty great distances on the rower. I forgot to take photos of our distance, but I do know that we did more in the last block than we did in the first.

And the 2nd block was the big one that lasted 30 minutes. This time, the floor/rower controlled the switching. You had to row for 170 meters and then do 17 reps of various floor exercises. And while the rower/floor person was going, the treadmill person was running until tagged out. I was running the entire time at the beginning because the switching was happening pretty quickly. I was on the treadmill for maybe 2 minutes. But as the block went on, the switching was taking longer and I had to switch things over to doing run/walk intervals. I felt most comfortable doing 1 minute intervals because that is something I’m so used to doing.

Like I said, Grace was so amazing in class especially since this was her first workout at Orangetheory! She was making me want to work harder to keep up with her and to try to be a good example. And I’ll be getting to do more workouts with Grace in the future because after she took that class she decided that Orangetheory is awesome and she got a membership! I’m excited to have another friend at my workouts with me. I love having people in class with me that are so encouraging and it helps me stay accountable since I don’t want to let my friends down.

Saturday’s workout was an endurance day and it was a 3G class so we were only at each section of the room for about 15 minutes. I was able to start on the treadmill and it was a 14 minute run for distance challenge. The longest I’ve run has been 10.5 minutes, but when I did that the longest I had run before was maybe 4 minutes. So I figured I might as well try to run the entire time. Plus, I had a goal in mind that I wanted to be able to run for a mile without stopping before surgery. I haven’t done that since middle school (20 years ago) and it’s a milestone that I’ve wanted to try.

It wasn’t easy to run that long. I was actually pretty tired much faster than expected. But I think that was because I worked so hard earlier in the week. Maybe if this was the first workout of the week I wouldn’t have struggled, but this was at the end. I kept the speed at 4.5 mph almost the entire time and didn’t focus on anything except not stopping. I got my mile done in under 13 1/2 minutes (not a PR but I don’t care since it’s the first mile with no walking breaks) and after 14 minutes I was pretty darn happy with myself and what I was able to do!

Next I was on the floor but I was taking a lot of breaks because I was pretty tired from the run. There was a couple of little blocks on the floor with the first one being leg and shoulder work. Then we had a very short block (maybe 4 minutes) of different types of squats. And we ended with a short core blast with sit ups, back extensions, and planks. And finally I had the rower which was rowing followed by half squats (which were so tough because my legs were done by that point). It was a tough endurance day, but I was so proud of myself for what I did!

With 1 month left before surgery, I’m really working on maximizing all my workouts. I’ll be doing the Dri-Tri again soon and I’m really excited about that. I’m also going to try to do 4 workouts every week leading up to surgery with the exception of the week I have my 5K race. There is another challenge coming at Orangetheory that I’m debating about doing. It’s during April, so I won’t have the full month to accomplish it. But I’m going to try really hard to do what I can. I want to keep having epic workout weeks each week, and it seems like that will be the trend for the next month!

Lots Of New Records (or Killing It In My Workouts)

This past week of workouts may have been the best week of workouts ever for me! I have no clue how I had such an awesome week or what changed in my life that made it work out so well for me! But whatever the reason, I seemed to break records of mine every single day.

Monday’s workout was an endurance day and we didn’t switch between blocks. It really felt more like we had one long treadmill block and one long floor block. On the treadmill, we started with a 4 minute progressive push which means that every minute we are supposed to get a bit faster. I was able to run all of it and I did increase my speed each minute (but I only did it .2 mph instead of the suggested .5 mph). For the rest of the treadmill block, we did a lot of 2 1/2 minute push paces, which I ran, plus a couple of 1 minute all outs. By the time I was getting off the treadmill, I had done over 2 miles on there! That was something I have done before, but it’s still impressive to me that I can get that much done in class!

The floor block was a pretty crazy block. It was just a single block with a long row in the middle of it. We had to do jumping jacks, running man, squats, push ups, toe touches, pull ups on the straps, and 4 point planks. It was tough but I was very happy to get through it. The jumping jacks were exceptionally hard and we had to do 70 of them. I can’t remember the last time I had to do more than maybe 20 jumping jacks in class. After getting through all that, it was time for a 1,000 meter row. That is a pretty long row and I didn’t have too much in mind as far as a time goal goes. I knew I wanted to do it in under 5 minutes, but I had no other plan in my head. I knew I was tired after doing all the floor work so I didn’t want to set expectations for myself. But somehow, not only did I do it in well under 5 minutes, I did my best 1,000 meter row time ever!

I’ve been working on my rowing technique over the past few weeks, but this improvement wasn’t something I thought I could do at all. After that row, it was time to get back to the floor work again to do the same exercises I did before the row. Everything was a bit tougher the second time around, but I was feeling on top of the world after the 2 miles on the treadmill and the PR row that I wasn’t too focused on being tired.

Wednesday’s workout was a mix of endurance, strength, and power and we didn’t switch between blocks so I knew I could try for another good distance on the treadmill that day. The endurance work was a 3 minute push pace, 90 second push pace, and 1 minute all out that I was able to run (I walked all the base paces). The power work was all 45 second intervals which mainly were push to all out pace (so 90 seconds of work) that I was able to run. And the strength work was all at 4% so I was able to run at that incline instead of taking that as a walking break. The very last thing on the treadmill was a 30 second all out pace on a flat incline and I knew I was super close to the distance I had done on Monday so I decided to push it and do those 30 seconds at 7 mph and was able to get even farther on the treadmill than I had on Monday!

On the floor, we had 2 blocks which both had rows. The first block was lunges, power jacks with a weight in one hand (which is so much harder than holding the weight in both hands), and a 200 meter row. I did the row in 42 seconds both times which is a good time but I was really trying to get it below 40 seconds and just couldn’t do it. The second block was pretty arm focused and we did chest fly, triceps, chest press, and hammer curls. Then it was a 100 meter row which I really wanted to push myself on. I wanted to see if I could get it under 20 seconds and my first attempt was in 19.5 seconds so I was pretty happy. Then our coach was saying how our second attempt is just to take fractions of a second off since it’s such a short sprint row. But I decided to see if I could get at least one second off and managed to take almost 2 seconds off and did it in 17.7 seconds! That’s by far my fastest 100 meter sprint and now I know I probably could have done my 200 meter row in under 40 seconds if I really push myself.

Friday’s workout was an endurance day with a 10 1/2 minute distance challenge. The last time we had that challenge, I proved to myself that I can run for 10 1/2 minutes at a time. So I knew I needed to do that again this time. On the first attempt of that challenge, I did manage to run the entire time. But the big difference this time was that last time I did the entire thing at 4.5 mph and didn’t pay attention to the push or all out paces. I just wanted to run the entire time and not worry about it too much. This time, I did increase my speed during the push and all out paces and then went back down to 4.5 mph during the base paces. I didn’t do my pushes as fast as I normally do, but any increase in speed with I’m doing an endurance run is a huge accomplishment. And because of that speed work, I was able to get much farther this time than I have in the past!

I was so happy about that and was really excited to see if I could beat that distance for the second attempt. Things started off really great and I was going faster than I had the first time. But about 3 minutes in my contact lens was starting to bug me and I couldn’t seem to make that feeling go away. And about 4 minutes into the run my contact lens actually fell out! I freaked out for a second because I need my contacts to see and I have no depth perception without them. I stopped the treadmill quickly so I could stop to see if I could find my contact lens, and my some miracle it had fallen straight down and into my sports bra! I guess I’m lucky that I’m not flat chested because then it might have fallen onto the treadmill belt!

I was able to run to the bathroom to clean my contact lens and pop it back in, but by the time I got back on the treadmill it had reset itself so there was no way to do the challenge again. I was trying to not let myself feel too down about it (it’s not my fault that my contact lens fell out) but I also didn’t want to overdo it to try to make up for things. So I ended up doing the rest of the challenge (I had about 5 minutes left) as a power walk with going pretty high up on the incline.

On the floor, we had 2 blocks both of which had rows in them. The first block was an 800 meter row which I did in 3:25. Then we had squats, hip bridges, and push ups. Then the second block was a 400 meter row (I did it in 1:29) which felt much better than the 200 meter sprints I had done earlier in the week. We also did single leg squats on the straps and I was able to do them as single leg squats and not regular ones! We also had knee tucks and I tried to do them on my toes but ended up having to do them on my knees. The floor work was a bit hit or miss with me that day, but I figured that the awesome run and row made up for it.

And since I’m getting in as many workouts as I can right now, I did a 4th workout this week (I’m hoping to do 4 workouts a week every week leading up to surgery except the week I have my 5K). The classes I’m going to now on Saturdays are almost always 3G workouts so I know there won’t be as much time on the treadmill and some extra time on the rower. But this time, that worked out perfectly for me.

We had 4 blocks on each section of the room (treadmill, rower, floor) and we rotated each block so we were never in one area for too long. The first block was 5 minutes, the second block was 1 minute, the third block was 3 minutes, and the last block was 1 minute. On the treadmill, since I knew that I would never be on the treadmill longer than 5 minutes, I decided to see if I could run for everything. Not just my push or all out paces, but also my base paces. I looked at it like how I did the 10 1/2 minute challenge the day before. The 5 minute block was a bit tough because we were doing all 30 second intervals, but I managed to run everything! For the 1 minute blocks, all we had was a 1 minute all out so that was easy enough to run. And for the 3 minute block, it was 30 second intervals again and I ran everything. This was the first workout where the only walking I did was during the warmup when it wasn’t a distance challenge (like the 10 1/2 minute challenge days). It wasn’t easy, but this was a huge accomplishment and I am so proud of myself for doing it!

On the rower, the long block was rowing sprints plus half squats. The 2 blocks that were 1 minute each were just 1 minute all outs on the rower (I got about 300 meters each time). And the 3 minute block was the same pattern as the treadmill with 30 second intervals. And on the floor, it was a mix of arms and squats for most things. We also had some plank work at the end, but since every block was so short there wasn’t a ton that we did on the floor.

This week of workouts was really incredible for me. I got new PRs on my rowing, did 2 miles on the treadmill for 2 different workouts, did another great 10 1/2 minute distance challenge, and did a workout where I did all running and no walking. This would have been impossible for me just a year ago. I know my running progress can be slow, but to me it seems like I’ve been doing really amazing! I know I’ll have a setback with surgery and I’ll have to build myself back up to all this, but I’m really hoping that all this training is going to make my recovery much easier.