Resetting Goals

So unfortunately a few of the goals I made earlier this week didn’t stick around. If you didn’t read that post, I wrote about 3 goals; regular exercise, daily meditation, and NOCNOM. To read more about them, go to this post.

Each day this week I meditated for at least 15 minutes or, for most of them, more. Sometimes I would wake up and meditate, others I’d do it after lunch, but I did keep that goal. By having a short required time (you can sit down for 5 minutes at any given moment), I was able to meditate on my own schedule. It was convenient and that’s why it stuck.

Exercise, on the other hand, requires more time. Most of the training I’ve done in the past focuses on cardio, which usually requires a shower afterward. If I want to exercise in the morning, I have to get up earlier rather than just fitting it into my schedule. However, I want to start the goal again with modifications.

Simple exercises like pushups, planks, crunches, and mountain climbers, require very little time. This makes them convenient because, like meditation, I can sprinkle them throughout the day. With the help of the Lift app, for the next 30 days I’m going to do pushups (varying), 1-minute planks, and 1-minute of flutter-kicks each day. As the days progress I’ll do more sets and at different times during the day.

NOCNOM (No Complaining, No Masturbating) is a totally different story. I’m blushing a little bit inside because I may or may not have broken it and it’s not from complaining. While I’ve been mostly successful, I can’t say I’m pure. Even though it’s been 5ish days, I have to admit, I do feel more energetic and I have a greater sex drive… as one would imagine. Nonetheless, it’s a great measure of discipline and I’m going to reattempt it starting tonight.

I mentioned it yesterday but you should really check out the “Lift” app for iPhone and Android. It’s a fantastic way to start building habits and interact with a new community. While I’ve only been on it a week, I’ve had a great experience with it and I encourage you to check it out!

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Super-Boost (Fitness Goals)

After a weekend of sulking, I decided that I needed to make goals for myself. The center of these goals is to improve cognition, mood, and overall fitness. Each of these three goals are tasks that I’ve done in the past and I know to work for me. While they may not work for everyone, I encourage you to make goals and work towards improving yourself. When you’re living life passively, it’s easy to get in a depressive funk. This was a solution to my downward spiral.

1. Regular Exercise

The first goal is the most physical. When I noticed that I was being a Debby Downer to myself, I thought about taking 5-HTP again. Last year it temporarily relieved my depression but left me feeling horrible after a couple months. Immediately I deterred myself and decided to go for a run.

It worked. The depressive funk cleared and I was able to focus on other things. While running I thought about my relationship to exercise. Earlier this year I wrote about being skinny (short story – I was tired of other people commenting on my diet and my body). While I am physically healthy, I had an unhealthy view of myself.

The way other people talked sounded like they wanted me to gain muscle or that my body wasn’t good enough. My way of rebelling was to neglect my body. Internally I wanted to prove to others that I was healthy, even without weight lifting. It was mostly ego, centered on displaying the image “I can be healthy like this”.

While that view hasn’t changed, I’ve decided that I don’t care what other people think anymore. I want to build my body for me. It doesn’t matter if they see me as skinny, muscly, or anywhere in-between. I’ve always been a health junkie, so it’s never been a question of health. I just want to see how I can maximize my body.

Plus, exercise has always helped manage my mood swings. That was the original goal from this weekend; I want to improve my life in as many ways as possible. If I can do that through exercise, then that’s a good place to start.

Haha, oh look at me. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to smile in this sort of picture so I made a serious face.

A few of the ways that cardiovascular exercise improves your mind/body are through growth factors. In the book “Spark“, John J. Ratey discusses BDNF, VEGF, IGF-1, FGF-2, and other ways that your body changes through exercise. The next day after a good run, I feel mentally sharp, clear, and fit. I want to maximize that.

In this first picture I look bigger than in real life. I want to focus on my arms and my chest. People have bothered me over the last few years to start going to the gym. As an act of defiance, I always said I’d just do bodyweight exercises. I never liked gyms or the gym-rat mentality, so I read books on exercise.

Unfortunately I never picked it up. I have a few bodyweight books next to my bed now but I’m going to start a routine for this week and change it over the next month. My goal is to run 2 1/2 miles on Mon, Wed, Fri and to do bodyweight exercises on Tues and Thurs. I’m working next weekend so I don’t have anything planned for those days.

Afterwards I’m going to swap and do running on Tues and Thurs. I’m already great at running, so after a week my body should be used to movement again. At that time I’ll focus on bodyweight exercises Mon, Wed, Fri. Each session will be approx. 30 minutes.

Later on I’ll develop a plan that involves Pilates or yoga to improve flexibility.

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Another aspect I struggle with is diet. I’m a Pescatarian, which means that I’m a vegetarian that eats fish and other seafood. This means my base protein intake is lower than average. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, which are quick to to be burned off. Over the next month I will integrate more fish and proteins into my diet.

In the past I’ve raved about how great cold showers are. They increase circulation, help with breathing, and, of course, they wake you up like nobody’s business. Since I wrote that post in December, I stopped taking cold showers. I don’t know why but it just happened over time. Everyday I will take at least one cold shower.

2. Daily Meditation

Moving onto other goals, mediation is another great activity that boosts happiness. Personally, I feel more alert through the day, my mind is quieter, and I’m better able to concentrate after a good meditation. For the last year, I’ve supplemented sessions as necessary, usually 5-10 minutes in the middle of a rough day.

Now I want to make it a regular thing. For this goal to be reasonable, and to blend with this 365 project, I’m aiming for at least 15 minutes a day of sitting meditation. This will continue on for the next two weeks or until I decide to change it.

Other people I know that meditate have qualities that I want to find in myself. Easy traits to notice are presence, clarity, and peacefulness. When you’re having a conversation, they’re participating in it. They aren’t waiting to respond and their mind isn’t wandering. It’s just another wellness boost.

3. NOCNOM (No Complaining, No Masturbating)

The original name for this goal is NOBNOM (No Booze, No Masturbating), and the goal is to increase average testosterone. Rather than taking supplements to increase testosterone, removing alcohol and masturbation naturally levels it back out. Since I’m underage and already choose to be sober, I’ve adopted the alternate challenge to eliminate complaining.

I know it sounds silly but Tim Ferriss talked about his success with it. He listed increased focus, productivity, and sex drive on his blog. It’s just something to try over the next month. Hopefully I’ll free up some extra time, keep more protein in my body 😉 and become more focused. Who knows?

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The reason I’m focusing on exercise, meditation, and NOCNOM (that acronym won’t get any better) is to improve my life. Each of them are simple things that I can implement into my daily life.

The point is, life is not a movie playing out in front of you. If you choose to sit back, it can seem that way. Life is happening inside of you and you’re the one who’s feeling it. This weekend, I felt helpless. I knew there were things I wanted to accomplish but I felt that I was going into a downward plummet. Even in creating these goals, I feel better. Instead of watching life pass by, make a few goals, accomplish them, and take part in your life.

I’ll keep you all up to date on how everything is going!

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14 miles before 5AM

Another update for today’s post!

Yesterday I completed my goal of running every weekday. I woke up at 4:30AM everyday and ran 2.5 miles with the exception of Monday, where I ran 3.5 instead. The goal was interesting because it required that I get up 15 minutes before my alarm. I thought that this would make me more exhausted throughout the day. Instead I found that I had the same level of energy for the day.

Exercising in the morning also pushed the importance of getting to bed early. I managed to get to sleep about an hour earlier each night. I didn’t feel more rested but I felt more satisfied knowing that I was exercising daily. This isn’t to say that I sprung out of bed with an enthusiastic smile on my face every morning. I found that I got out of my bed on my first alarm. Usually I roll over through 4-5 alarms.

My diet became more regulated early in the week. As Wednesday rolled around I consumed less protein and found myself eating worse than I was before I started running. I can’t remember the last time I ate so badly. I attribute it to my lack of protein consumption but it could have been a variety of other things. As I exercise more often I require a higher caloric intake and as a vegetarian most of my diet is low calories. Eating more carrots didn’t satisfy me, so I found myself reaching for chocolate instead.

Overall it was a good experience. I’m proud of myself for getting up early and completing this goal on the first attempt. It was gratifying to say that I had run a little under 14 miles before 5:00AM this week. All together that isn’t very much distance but it fit into my schedule and I made it work. More than the 0 miles from the week before.

Will I run everyday next week? Probably not, but I will be running more often in the morning. I’ll aim for 3 days a week and see how that feels. It’s going to be insane sleeping in til 5:00AM this week! I never thought I would say that!

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Where do you run to?

Running gives me this rush that is really difficult to explain. Runner’s high makes you feel elated or numb but when I run I get goosebumps. It’s like I feel all of my emotions at once and I channel them through my body. Any frustration, depression, loss, loneliness, happiness, or anything else gets expressed with each step. I feel it so deep that the feeling is almost in my bones. The goosebumps on my arms tell me that the feeling is all-encompassing. Depths to surface, it’s my whole body speaking.

When I am running regularly, my diet also regulates. I eat a lot more food but I expend a lot more energy. I can burn through what’s in my body and replace it. It feels like my body is full of stagnant water but when I run it starts cycling. Making my blood flow makes me conscious of my body and weary of anything that could harm it. I drink things like wheat grass instead of grabbing the soda or juice. Eating healthy clears my mind and improves my mood. Therefore, regular exercise helps me clear my mind and improve my mood.

Using all of that energy is a double-sided coin. If I run in the morning, it wakes me up and boosts my mood for the day. If I run in the evening, it knocks me out for the night. Either way, my mood increases and my quality of sleep doubles. All in all, running makes me conscious of my body and willing to work for it. If that means going to bed early, then I will. If that means walking past the ice cream, then I do.

My goal for this week is to wake up at 4:30AM everyday (Monday-Friday) and run. The distance doesn’t matter because once I get out I’ll run no matter what. I need to find something to physically discipline myself. I know that I can blog daily or do a myriad of other things but exercise has always escaped me. Last year I was exercising 5 days a week (mostly swimming) and it was amazing. I felt on top of the world. I don’t expect running to fix my life problems but I want to work on something. It something I feel like I can do and I’m excited to start. I won’t be excited tomorrow at 4:25AM when my alarms go off, but in the end it will pay off. Running has always done something to my head, I guess we’ll have to see where this first week takes me!

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Are you satisfied?

Happiness is a difficult topic because the more we talk about it, the more unhappy we tend to get. We realize that we could be happier and therefore we lose our ability to be happy. When I started reading self-help books six months ago I was struggling with my happiness. Reading those books made me pay attention to my own happiness and I started realizing how unhappy I was – this, for some reason, made me even more unhappy.

As time has progressed I’ve learned various ways to be happy. This blog is partially a dedication to that sentiment. I’ve done this because sometimes writing about happiness has helped me get through funks. I’m glad to say that I have found a lot of things that worked for me.

One of the new things I want to try is finding meaning in my daily life. The way that I want to do this is through dedicating time towards certain things. You know how people always say I wish I did yoga daily or went to the gym? I have similar things I want to incorporate into my own life and here they are;

1. Start meditating daily
If I meditate in the morning, I’ve found that I’m a lot happier throughout the day. The meditation can’t just be sitting though, it has to be mindful action – like taking a walk or eating breakfast slowly. Even laying in bed with a clear mind helps me through the day.

2. Start dedicating more time towards blogging daily
I’ll be honest, I’ve really been neglecting my blogs lately. There has been plenty of time in my life to write but I push writing until 10 or 11 every night. It’s not cool and it really takes away from the satisfaction of blogging. I find a lot of meaning in my day-to-day life if I take time to write something down. Writing posts in 10 minutes is not a good thing.

3. Finding and ingesting new media daily
When I’m listening to new music or finding a new artist, I seem to have the most daily satisfaction. It’s not that the media makes me happy but I find a lot more meaning in my life if I’m doing something new. Facebook and Tumblr don’t fulfill that craving for newness and I need to start dedicating more time towards this aspect of my life.

4. Exercising at least a couple times a week
I’ve really tried to start exercising daily but I haven’t found a way that’s worked for me. Especially because I don’t have a car, I have no way to get to the gym other than walking. If I orient a couple days a week towards working on my body, I’m sure that I could get back into the swing of things. I think I fear becoming a gym monkey a little bit but that’s a whole different post. Coming back from the gym I have so much satisfaction it can last through the next day, that’s why I’m making it a larger part of my life.

5. Getting to sleep early
Waking up at the butt crack of dawn really sucks. There’s really no other way to put it. Since I have to get up so early, I also need to go to bed early. When everyone around you can survive on 4 hours of sleep it’s difficult to get to bed on time. It’s so easy to just put on a movie or just kill an hour or two of valuable sleep. Having a good night’s rest also puts me in a good mood and leaves a happy undertone all day. Getting under 7 and a half hours leads me to all sorts of unhappiness and I don’t put enough time into my sleep schedule. That’s why I’m dedicating more time towards sleep from now on.

Those are all of the things I can think of for now but I’m sure that there’s more I’ll think of later. As I add these things into my life I’ll keep you update to see how it’s working for me. I want to find more purpose and satisfaction day-to-day.

What are some things that make you happy? Do you do them daily or how do you incorporate them into your life? Where do you find satisfaction in your life? I think creating is the most satisfying thing I do. Let me know yours in the comments below!

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I (don’t) work out!

A couple of weeks ago I was reading Davey Wavey’s fitness blog and I realized something: I have a fear of going to the gym.

It wasn’t always this way… one year ago, I was working out 6 days a week. Swimming in my shorts and running almost daily. Not only did I feel physically great, I felt at my mental peak. I wasn’t a stressful person and I felt healthy.

Fast forward to August 2013 – I stopped going to the gym and simultaneously started an incredibly stressful job. Not only was I no longer relieving my stress, I was getting out of shape. By October and the holidays, I sunk into a depression and my diet collapsed.

Since then, I’ve rebuilt my food habits but I’ve neglected the physical aspect of being healthy. After having my stress spike up again this past week I’ve decided that I need to make a change again. I need to get back into regular exercise.

When I worked out daily last year, everything was much easier. I didn’t have a job or any real commitments. I had ready access to a gym in off hours and I could go at any time. This was the way I fought my gym anxiety. I would just go when nobody my age was there.

Now my current time schedule forces me to go when everyone else is there. Plus everyone is college aged and fit. So if I do meander over to the gym, I feel like I have ten thousand eyes on my laughing at how little weight I can lift.

It’s such a silly thought to think that everyone else is looking at me. It’s selfish, but I feel like I can’t help it.

After realizing that I have gym anxiety, I also feel the need to conquer it. I don’t want to go the gym like everyone else my age. I’m not going to get into drinking C4 or crazy expensive workout supplements. I just want to gain muscle mass more organically.

That’s why I’m committing to going back to the gym. I desperately need to get back into a routine and I want to find that love of fitness again. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress!

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An End to Conflict through Forgiveness

As a world we hold many grudges; we seemingly cannot forget the actions of generations before us. The stigmas that have arisen are excluding and held long passed their due. We label the world as “us” versus “them”. We’re in a constant state of war between us and other countries, us and the neighbors that mow their lawn at five in the morning, us and the elderly woman who cannot find her checkbook at the cash register ahead of us. Are minds grip in frustration because we cannot understand the other person. We do not know what they are going through. This leads us to place blame and we start thinking people are doing things intentionally. The neighbor is doing this because I was noisy the other night. This is his way of payback. It’s silly stupid things like that lead us to frustration and anger. As nations sometimes we do the same things. Placing blame on a few individual from a foreign country as if they represent every soul from their country. All of this is conflict and all of it is unnecessary.

It is incredibly evident that conflict does not move us forward as a world. Every argument we get in, every grudge held, holds us back. We watch the news and when we see someone get murdered we immediately start placing blame. Was this person from our country? What was this person’s skin color? Were they on drugs? We start looking for who to blame and who’s group is responsible for the action. This is an inaccurate way of looking at the world because the individuals do not represent the whole. They are individuals.

While we cannot prevent the collision of different intentions we can prevent conflict that often times comes out of it. We can choose to forgive the individuals, the countries, the groups, the world, and ourselves. When someone makes a mistake or has a different intention than you, don’t place blame. We’re all part of the same human family. Forgive them when they make a mistake and realize that they aren’t always pitted against you. If they are at seeming odds with you, speak with them and bring about understanding. Violence is the ultimate lack of communication, it forbids discussion and understanding. So speak with an open ear and try to learn about them. While not all violence is physical, try to keep calm. Raising your voice or getting into shouting matches does not solve the problem. It furthers conflict between both parties. If one party does not want to discuss, then maybe you’ll have to wait patiently.

Much of the forgiveness that we need to give is to ourselves. We have so much built up conflict inside of ourselves. If we’re on a diet we can be angry at ourselves if we choose to eat something unhealthy. If you had a goal and came up short, you could become upset with yourself. Holding in that conflict doesn’t solve anything. We need to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings and errors. We are only human and sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we forget someone’s birthday or to pick the kids up from school.

While many of these examples seem tiny, many of them can build up in an individual and create great unhappiness. This is not about growing an ego and thinking you are better than everyone else. Rather it is about realizing that you will make mistakes and the best way to progress past them is to forgive.

This is why forgiveness of the self is so important. How can I forgive you when you make a mistake if I cannot forgive myself for things that are just as menial? When your husband or wife forgets to pick up the kids, the anger or frustration is not always directed at them. Sometimes it’s frustration that we also make the same mistake. We are all human and suffer from the same lack of perfection.

This can be amplified to represent the world. We need to forgive our own people when they make mistakes because nobody is perfect. We may think we could do a better job, and perhaps we could, but there is no reason to hold that discontent. If we could do better, then we should go out there and actually do it! Complaining about the problem and blaming someone else does not solve the problem.

That is why I want you to take a moment to think of all your shortcomings in life. Where did you fall short and miss the mark? All the mistakes that you have made in your life. Once you have them in mind, imagine writing them in the sands of a beautiful beach. Imagine the waves rising over them and slowly washing them away. The water leaves behind no mark of the past and that mistake is forgiven. You have accepted it and now you are ready to move on in life. Do this with as many things you can think of. Do you have any anger or frustration with yourself? Did you not accomplish a previously set goal? Wash the emotion in the beautiful sand with water.

Then try again. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and your mistakes then move on from them. If you cheated on your diet, forgive yourself and move forward. There’s no use in breaking everything down now, you can keep moving forward.

After you have done this for yourself, start doing it for the angers and frustrations you have with other people. Do you have resentment towards somebody? What is it that you are frustrated with? Imagine the tides rising and carrying their mistakes away. They are only human and subject to the same human-ness as you. Now move forward from it. If you should take action, then do so. You could go ask your neighbor to mow at a different time, after you have forgiven him. If you do this in the wrong order you could cause conflict. You need to forgive them first so that you don’t hold on to that resentment.

Now breath. This exercise can be done anytime, anywhere, for any reason.

In the comments below tell me about your experiences with forgiveness. Are there people in your life that you need to forgive? Is there unnecessary conflict within you? If you’d like more posts on forgiveness, let me know.

Together we can all create a more peaceful world through the act of forgiveness. Let’s bring peace to our conflict and forgive those who have done wrong and made mistakes. It is time we take a step forward together.

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P.S. Gandhi has some amazing works on forgiveness and non-violence. I suggest checking them out when you have the time!