Private Tutoring *or* I Made Out With a Monk Last Night

22 11 2010

Current Habit: Meditation/Yoga Day 4

Deryn: Well technically, a former monk, but we’ll get to that in a minute.  We have officially started practicing yoga and/or meditating every day. I’ve really enjoyed the reaction my body has to yoga in the past (sleeping well, feeling blood flow throughout my body, the loosening of my muscles) and was looking forward to practicing both yoga and meditation more often. In other news, I have recently started dating someone that I’m actually really excited about.  As Sophie so aptly put it, “Yay! You’re not dead inside!” When Zen* asked what I was up to the first night of this habit, I told him that I was trying to meditate for 30 minutes – the longest amount of time I’ve ever attempted to meditate. He texted back, “Did I tell you I used to be a monk?” My first thought: Oh god. I recommended a monk read The Tao of Pooh! My second thought: Score! Private tutor! We began the first of many conversations about his 3 weeks as a monk (it’s a coming-of-age, cultural thing).

Last night, Zen and I meditated together and the only word to describe it was amazing. I have never experienced calm like I did while following his directions on breathing and releasing my thoughts. Previously, I thought that meditation had come naturally for me. It hasn’t been too much of a struggle to breathe slowly and stop thinking, but now I know that I hadn’t been meditating correctly. I learned last night that meditation isn’t about turning your brain off – it’s allowing your brain the quiet it needs to listen to your body. The way I understand it is that your brain only has so much bandwidth, kind of like an internet connection. When there are so many thoughts and sensations happening at once, your brain doesn’t have the space it needs to focus on what’s happening internally.  As a white girl from Texas, I never would have thought that I’d be spending time on a date meditating with a former monk! 

The combination of learning to meditate while slowly but surely coming alive inside again feels amazing. Today I woke up refreshed after very little sleep, relaxed during a very stressful week, and ready to take on what I know will be a very long day.  I think meditation has been the first habit that feels like the results are almost instant.  I know there is still a lot to learn, but it’s really exciting to be seeing and feeling the results!

*No, his name is not really Zen.

Groundwork *or* 5 Tips for Making Exercise a Habit

15 11 2010

Current Habit: Meditation/Yoga Day 1

Sophie: Well, we finally finished our three weeks of working out, and we survived!  I can tell a few differences in my body – my abs are tighter, calf muscles are a little more defined, and my endurance has definitely improved.  On the other hand, the fat is all still there.  I know, realistically, that I can’t expect to lose much weight in 3 weeks, I guess I just didn’t realize how much work I had ahead of me.  But that’s ok!  Because I am NOT on a diet, I am making healthy, permanent lifestyle changes (Deryn, this phrase is not to be turned into a new drinking game).

Despite knowing that my the 3 weeks are up, and I don’t HAVE to exercise every day, I still have the desire to do it.  I’ve come up with a few tips for this habit to stick:

1. Figure out the routine that works for you. I’m not going to expect much more than 30 minutes a day out of myself if this is going to be a permanent habit.  Because of this, I want to use those 30 minutes as wisely as possible.  There are a TON of workouts out there: I tried lifting weights and hurt myself (unfortunately in the groin, which made for a mildly entertaining “post-rough-sex”-type walk for a few days)…I don’t want to bulk up, so I decided not to try this again. I experimented with exercise videos from Verizon OnDemand/ExerciseTV – I like these, but my attention span is apparently 10 minutes, and 3 10 minute videos do not a good workout make. I did 20 minutes of various crunches one time, but my abs weren’t at all sore the next day – not effective.  I tried a kickboxing class – very effective, and everyone there was very.very.very friendly…personally, I don’t want to have to pretend to be social when I’m sweating from every pore and just trying not to vomit.  I also attempted to pass off 30 minutes of a ‘brisk walk’ with Rufus as a workout, but I couldn’t fool myself into thinking that was legitimate.  Ultimately, it came down to running.  There’s a TV in front of the treadmill, it works every muscle in my body, and I can easily measure exactly how many calories burned.  Done.

2. Nix the unrealistic expectations – It’s basic math: One pound = 3,500 calories; One pound/week loss = burning 500 calories a day.  This can be done by a combination of cutting calories in and burning calories by exercising.  I only eat between 1,500 – 2,000 calories a day, so the cut isn’t gonna be there unless you take my alcohol away….boo.  As a good rough estimate for myself – according to my treadmill – Every 1 mile I walk/jog = 100 calories, and I can do 2 -2.5 miles in 30 minutes.   So now that we have the math down, it’s ridiculous for me, personally, to think that I could lose any more than a pound a week unless I cut out the wine and run like 10 miles a day, which I will not.  So, if I’m dedicated, I might hit my goal weight in like 4-5 months.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Anyways, there’s no miracle cure.  If you find one, it’s probably just a laxative in disguise (been there, done that;  It took years to put the pounds on, it’s going to take time to take them off.

(My first attempt at drawing stick figures)

3.  Prepare answers to your excuses – if you don’t want to go straight to the gym after work because you’re always hungry by 5, then bring an extra snack.  If your feet hurt, get better shoes or inserts.  If you find your workout boring, bring a book.  If you don’t like working out the way you usually do, find another activity.  If you don’t have time, figure out how you can make time.  If you’re tired, realize that you’re gonna be tired whether you workout or not, so get over it.  Don’t let the excuses take over, because all you’re doing is getting in the way of your own wants and needs.

4. Tell people about what you’re doing – Yes, this it’s nuts coming from super-private-Sophie, but if I hadn’t had Deryn and Boyfriend’s support on this, it would have been a lot harder.  Boyfriend has to understand that his demands for my time need to be adjusted.  I may be OK with disappointing myself, but I certainly don’t want to fail when people are watching.  Maybe it’s superficial, but it drives me, so oh well.

5. Figure out your motivation – Mine is two fold, and (again) partly superficial –

A. I’m poor, and I have nothing to wear.  I have a closet full of clothes that don’t fit me anymore because I put on 10 lbs, but I can’t afford to buy any new clothes.  I started thinking about getting a part-time job, and then my logical side kicked in: Seriously?  A part time job is what, like 10 hours a week?  It would take half that amount of time per week to lose the weight necessary to fit into all these badass clothes I have hanging around.  Am I that lazy?  I’d like to think not….plus I’d be cuter. It’s purely logical.

B. My Grandmother and Mother both failed to stay active throughout their lives, and lost their marbles around the age of 60.  Grandma’s completely nuts at 83, but my mother is still a fairly normal woman.  I feel like she can still turn this process around (and has a long list of excuses why she doesn’t) but at 63, she struggles to remember words and finish her sentences in a normal conversation.  I can tell that her mind is going due to lack of upkeep, and I don’t want to end up like that.  I want to be one of those 90 year-olds that can still debate the crap out of you, and exercise is what makes the difference.  (I could go off on another Brain Rules sales pitch here – as the book expands on this subject, but I’ll spare you🙂 )

One random tip we picked up along the way: people who smell peppermint every two hours eat an average of 2,700 calories less per week.  We haven’t tried it yet, but it’s worth checking out (since we have already been experimenting with Aromatherapy).  Merry Christmas.

So there you have it, Sophie’s Guide to Starting an Exercise Program.  You’re welcome.  On to meditation…

Readers: What has worked for you that you think could be added to this list?

Revival *or* And for you, Tin Man, a heart!

9 11 2010

Current Habit: Exercising, Day 15

Deryn: This weekend I slept at least 36 hours between Friday night and Monday morning, and I haven’t shown much life in the last week.  Even after a dye job went a bit awry, my reaction was a mere “Eh.  I’ll figure it out later.”  (I did.  I no longer have girl-who-listens-to-too-much-Seattle-rock-in-1994 hair).  To sum it up, I was apathetic.  As has been mentioned before, my tendency is to be dead inside, and that’s something this blog is helping (and hoping) to change.

Tonight, I mentioned to Sophie that I was tired of all the upkeep necessary in life.  I have a job so I have a place to live, I work out because I want to stay alive and healthy, I bathe regularly for basic hygiene and employment purposes.  And don’t even get me started on having to eat and drink water…It’s a vicious cycle.  Sophie being Sophie – always wanting to fix the problems of others if they are dumb enough to whine about them to her – smacked me in the face with a tough question: What do you want out of life?

Think about it for a second in your life.  What do you want out of your life?

No answer came to mind for me.  The only thing I could think of was coming home and watching TV.  Acknowledging that is a pathetic way to live, I started giving it some serious thought.

What do I want out of my life?  It’s a choice, after all.  For me, the answer is a resounding “Travel!”

Then all the reasons that travel isn’t possible for me came spilling out.  I don’t have the time or the money.  I have a work culture that doesn’t allow for vacation.  It’s probably human nature to talk ourselves out of our dreams.  Shooting an idea down is easier than it is to come up with solutions.  As my dad used to say, “If you come to me with a problem and no solution, then you’re just whining.  I don’t tolerate whining.”

As the conversation continued, Sophie brought up the fact that I really enjoyed making our Halloween costumes (shown in these two pictures).  For the past few weeks I’ve been especially preoccupied with sewing Halloween costumes for Sophie and myself.  She was right.  I love sewing.  It is a positive and productive outlet for my obsessive compulsive personality, plus at the end you get something pretty!  I have a bunch of patterns and material all ready to be sewn in to some adorable outfits just sitting in my closet that I’ve been collecting for the last few years.  Sophie suggested I start sewing again and actually make some of those things.  It was brilliant!  Within about 5 minutes, I went from being apathetic to getting really excited about all the new projects in store!  We went through my sewing drawer and found that I have a skirt, a pair of pants, two shirts and three pillows just waiting to be sewn.  I have all the material, patterns and time, only needing to purchase a few zippers and some thread.  All my excuses have been effectively tossed out the window.  Now I can’t wait to come home tomorrow night and start my new projects.  That’s probably a much better thing to do than hurrying home to get in my pajamas and watch Parenthood.  That’s what a DVR is for!

More than anything, I think I’m learning that it’s going to take more than just creating some new habits to get away from my old apathetic ways.  I can make myself happy and not let the excuses prevail.  Self-reflection is an important part of the journey for me.  To really change who I am is also going to involve regularly taking stock of my emotional state and coming up with new habits so the old ones don’t resurface.  To start with, do I have an emotional state?  Maybe I’m starting from the remedial class on how to feel like other humans feel, but with regular self-reflection I may just graduate and become a full fledged human, heart and all!

Grief *or* Pushing Through When Life Gets Hard

4 11 2010

Current Habit: Exercising, Day 11

Sophie: I have found that there is an excuse for everything.  The most common reason that our good-intentions aren’t enough is that life got in the way somehow.  “I got sick”, “I was really busy at work”, “I’m just too tired” blah blah blah.  I even, for the first time in my life, established a pretty solid workout routine last summer: Do whatever I want to workout, but my minimum was to run/walk 2 miles every other day.  And it worked!  For 6 weeks….except that week my best friend came in town to visit….AND that week I got sick…which ended it altogether, because I didn’t really “get better” for another 2 weeks (you know, the residual sick).

The point is, there is always something, and the excuses are only going to hurt me.  This is what I had to repeat when, on Day 1 of exercising, I found out that Boyfriend’s grandmother was dying (we really only had about one week’s notice that she was even sick – stage 4 breast cancer).  I’ve been with Boyfriend for 4 1/2 years…his family is pretty much my family, and I love his grandmother very much.  It hit me really hard.  On top of that, this meant we would be dropping everything to make the 4 hour drive to her hospice the next day, and spent who-knows-how-many days out of town.  Of course, at this time, I’m overcome with grief.  I’m also jumping into my game plan – “I’ll work out before we leave tomorrow, bring workout clothes and weights with me for Wednesday’s workout, and we’ll probably be back by Thursday.”  Admittedly, if it weren’t for the blog, that thought would have been “So much for working out, I’ll start it next week.”  But that’s the point – making room for it, because life is ALWAYS happening, you just have to plan ahead to enable follow-through with this stuff.

So I worked out Tuesday morning, we drove to the hospice, and we spent Tuesday evening and Wednesday with her.  She passed away at 3:00 Wednesday afternoon.  We drove back to Dallas shortly after.  Correction – I drove.  I held it together through driving 4 hours, dropping Boyfriend off at home, going to my parent’s house to pick up Rufus, driving BACK to Boyfriend’s place, and suffering through a 30 minute workout that seemed like torture, before I finally got to sit down and grieve at 9:30 on Wednesday night.  I haven’t experienced the death of a loved one as an adult, so it was exceptionally hard on me.  It’s been over a week and I’m still depressed…and (of course) now I’m sick too.  I could just make that another excuse, or I can be reminded why we are doing this: To live the best life possible, and be the person I want to be.  Losing a loved one only reinforces that.  At the end of the day, I would rather have a list of accomplishments than one of excuses.  So I’d like to end this post with a toast to Grandma:

To the woman who:

  • Graduated from clown school at age 63
  • Took her grandson to Cancun at 64 (We have a wonderful picture of her at Senor Frogs)
  • Went skydiving at 69
  • Went to the Glenn Beck rally in D.C. at 73, just 2 months before passing away
  • Never cared what anyone else thought about her
  • Went dancing every week until she went into the hospital
  • Was surrounded by a ton of loved ones until the very last day

You lived an inspirational life, and I am lucky to have known you.


Frustration *or* Did My Boss Really Just Yell at Me for Peeing?

26 10 2010

Current Habit: Exercising, Day 1

Deryn: Today is the first day of a brand new habit: Working out for 30 minutes every day.  It could not have come at a better time.

The past few days at work have been particularly frustrating.  So frustrating, in fact, that the 2 days of being away from work still weren’t enough for me to become un-frustrated.  That’s especially amazing considering I can cure just about any bad mood by playing no more than three Bon Jovi songs.  Livin’ on a Prayer, Baby!  Then this afternoon I was reprimanded for going to the restroom.  No, really.  That’s what happened.

One of my responsibilities is to answer the phone.  That, in itself, is frustrating enough, considering I don’t do anything with customers except answer the phone and forward the call to the person they actually need to talk to.  There are only 2 people that anyone ever calls to speak with, and I am not one of them.  Why don’t they answer the phone?  I just don’t know.  So when it was 2:45, I’d already been working for 7 hours,  and I had still not gotten a chance to eat my lunch (which is almost always done at my desk because heaven forbid I take an actual lunch break), I figured it was a prudent time to use the restroom.  I just really had to pee, man!  It’s not that the day was particularly hectic, I was just trying to focus on finishing a project.  When I got back to my desk – literally one minute later – my boss was in a tizzy.  “What if the phone had rung? … Why didn’t you bring the phone with you to the restroom?”  No, my boss apparently could not have answered the phone.  No, we don’t have voice mail.  And no, our customers are apparently too stupid to call back a little later if nobody answers.

After that whole extravaganza had calmed down, it occurred to me that tonight is the first day of a whole new work out routine!  What a great day to get rid of some stress!  Rather than using beer to make me feel better, I’ll take some endogenous opioid peptides, otherwise known as endorphins.

I’m really excited about this one for a few reasons:

1) When I have been in shape in the past, I never really appreciated it.  I was so focused on looking like someone else that I didn’t fully appreciate what it looked like to just be a good-looking version of myself.

2) I’d like to be able to do things when I’m older.  Being out of shape or unhealthy just doesn’t seem like a fun way to go about life.

3) Gotta love the endorphins!

The real test for me is going to be how I feel once I get home.  I’ve never worked out every day for 21 days in a row.  Usually I’ll get on a work out kick and do well for about a week or two, but then the determination fades.  Once my pans are starting to fit a little tightly again, the work out routine comes back in to play.  21 days is a great because it seems possible without being daunting.  Luckily, I’ll probably have the same job for the next three weeks and that’s proven to be a consistent source of stress and anger.  At least I won’t run out of motivation.

How’s that for optimism?

Exhaustion *or* 5 Things That Really Get on My Nerves When I’m Short on Sleep

23 10 2010

Current Habit:  Waking Up Early, Day 18

Sophie: So I have learned that I really enjoy waking up earlier – the morning is a whole new time of day that I never knew existed.  It’s peaceful, quiet, relaxing, and dark, and my days are finally not starting off with the immediate rush of being late.   I have also learned that it’s hard to go to bed early enough to get 9 hours of sleep when waking up at 6 A.M.  I’ve ALSO learned that when I don’t get 9 hours of sleep, I get a little cranky, and some things just really get on my nerves…Here are the top 5:

1.    Wal-Mart – I angrily swore off Wal-Mart 3 times in the first week of my waking up early.  Why 3 times, you say?  Because I was so tired, that I repeatedly forgot I had sworn it off until I went back and was unnerved all over again.  Seriously, and I swear by this mantra – Wal-Mart never fails to disappoint.  Whether one cart wheel is pulling severely to the right, some woman’s 5 screaming kids are running around unattended, they’ve discontinued my organic whole grain waffles to make room for the 18th variety of Eggo, some mysterious sticky substance has found its way onto my hands, or 15 employees are standing around doing nothing while I wait in line for 30 minutes, it’s ALWAYS a miserable experience.  Target, I’m all yours.

2.    Poor Timing of Stop Lights – There are companies out there that you can pay to take care of this for you, Dallas.  I should never hit all 10 stop lights on my way to work. Ever. You fail.

3.   Kids in My Apartment Complex – Dear Parents: Yes, I know my apartment is uber-awesome with its view of the pool and enormous grass area just outside the patio.  This does not mean you should come hang out there with your screaming kids every single day.  How about I come sit outside your window and sound a Vuvuzela at 7 A.M. on Saturday?  Because that’s how annoying I find your kids.  You’re lucky I’m already awake, or your kid would be learning some new words.  And just because they’re outside does not make it ok for them to scream.  If they were being bludgeoned to death, I wouldn’t know, because it sounds exactly the same as your Saturday morning Frisbee game.  ITS.NOT.OK.  If you don’t go away, I will “forget” to pick up my dog poop for the next few days.  Good luck with that.

4.    Boyfriend’s short attention span – And I’m not exaggerating, he can barely let me finish my sentence before he’s spurting out his next, completely unrelated thought without even attempting to engage in the conversation that I was having.  I officially have no more patience for this and have begun calling him out on it.  This is probably good for our communication, but in the meantime I’m just annoyed.

5.    Stupid People – I know, they’re everywhere, they’re taking over, and we really just need to come to terms with this inevitability.  But there’s still a part of me that wishes my favorite TV shows weren’t repeatedly canceled because they’re too “high brow” for the majority, and Jennifer Aniston’s dates weren’t considered front-page news.  But alas, it appeals to the masses, and the masses are stupid.

End Rant.

Results *or* Did you know there are two 6 o’clocks every day?

13 10 2010

Current Habit: Waking Up Early, Day 10

Deryn: Waking up early has been much easier for me than reading every day.   The first two days, admittedly, I had a few violent thoughts towards Sophie at about 6:08 am when I was awake on the couch rather than happily snuggled and asleep in my bed.  By day three it wasn’t as bad, and now I’m pretty well used to it.   I even find myself waking up a few minutes before my alarm actually goes off.   I’ve had a bad cold this week and even had to stay home from work two days.  I was still up and out of bed by 6 am.  I forced myself to stay awake until 10 am before taking a nap.  I was so proud when Sophie came home and I told her all about my feat of staying awake.  That was when she reminded me that we agreed naps are allowed 3 hours after waking, meaning 10 am on weekends or 9 am on weekdays.  Math has never been my strength.

The main thing I’ve found from waking up a little earlier is that I’m actually more productive at work.  I don’t have to spend my first hour pretending to work because I’m not awake enough to actually read my emails.  I don’t cringe every time the phone rings in the morning because I’m too tired to deal with people.  Coworkers have even remarked that I seem much more peppy than I used to.

I never knew I was a morning person!

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