Fitness: Bikram 30 Day Challenge – Day 30 Update

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I completed my 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge on Saturday, March 14. I started this journey because I wanted to add fitness as a daily habit and thought yoga would be a good place to start. And, that 30 days of Bikram yoga would be challenging as well as attainable. Now, here I am, happy to have accomplished my goal, but even happier to have gone through my journey. It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it.

As I’ve said before, Bikram yoga is a 2.5 – 3 hour daily commitment. I started when I did because I knew that I could make the time for it. Sad to say, but it is not something I can keep up every day now. This is the only negative thing I’ve found with it.

When I started the journey, I was way out of shape. I had not worked out in a really long time and desperately wanted to make it a daily habit. But the thought of it was just too daunting (I hit a major wall after I completed my one and only marathon a few years ago). However, I committed and I made it. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along my journey.

It’s mind over matter – During class and during a particular pose, you will often hear a teacher say “Make up your mind and just do it.” This is so true. When I decided to commit to 30 days, I made up my mind that I was going to do it. I also posted daily on Instagram. During class, if I started to think too long about a pose, I would go back to this mantra of mind over matter and just do it. I think this could apply to life as well.

You will find time for the things that you make a priority – You know that saying, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse?” Well, this is so true. Before Bikram, I would tell myself I had no time for exercise (not even 30 minutes), yet I managed to find 2.5 hours a day every day for 30 days for Bikram. Why? Because I made it a priority. I had to juggle some days, but I always made it to class. I even made it to class when I was feeling so ill that I had to spend almost the entire day in bed, except for when I went to class.

I am a happier person when I exercise – There is scientific evidence that endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body. I have always felt better after every class. On days that I was feeling lazy, this is one of the things I would remember to tell myself to get to class and it usually worked.

Small steps can lead to big things – I started my yoga journey on a mission to accomplish doing it for 30 days straight. Now I am on a mission to do it for 90 days straight. And, it has given me the confidence to start my running again as well as try other forms of exercise. Like they say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Since I’ve completed my 30 days of Bikram, I’ve started to practice at another studio. While I really did love hot yoga, I wanted to learn other forms as well. My new yoga studio has classes ranging from Vinyasa to Ashtanga to Forrest, as well as other forms. So far, I’ve tried Vinyasa and Yin yoga and have enjoyed both. I want to keep a daily practice so I am seeing what works best for me. This journey to health is a lifelong one in which I will continue to challenge myself. It may not always be easy, but I will make sure to always make it worthy.

Do you practice yoga? Do you workout regularly? What keeps you motivated?

Fitness: My 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge – Week 4 Update

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Today marks the 28th day of my 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge. It seems just like yesterday that I started, yet I can see just how far I’ve come in 4 weeks. My body is still adjusting and I still have some poses I cannot do, but it has done the one thing I’d hoped to get out of it — it has motivated me to continue working out. I will write more about my yoga journey once I’ve completed my 30 days, but today I wanted to touch on motivation and habit in relation to my goal.

Studies have shown that it takes anywhere from 20 – 254 days to form a habit, with the average being 66 days depending on the goal (i.e. the easier the goal, the shorter time it took to make it a habit). With my yoga challenge (that sounds like an oxymoron, huh?) coming to a close in 2 days, it’s hard to say if I’ve formed a habit. I can say that I’m motivated to keep going. My ultimate goal is to exercise at least one hour daily.

As I’ve mentioned before, Bikram is a huge daily time commitment (about 2.5 – 3 hours a day). I know that I cannot keep that up because I have too much else going on. Let’s face it, how many of us can devote 3 hours a day to exercise?  I do want to keep a daily yoga practice though, so I’m considering my options. I am thinking of continuing my yoga challenge, but going to a different studio, where they have classes that are 45 minutes or an hour long. This way, in the future, I can try to do a mix of Bikram and other forms of yoga throughout the week. Until then, I want to just be as present as possible and work as hard as possible on my last two classes. Namaste.

P.S. Bikram Challenge week 1 update

P.P.S. Bikram Challenge week 2 update

P.P.P.S. Bikram challenge week 3 update

Monday Musings: Making a Morning Routine

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Two confessions: I am not a morning person and I don’t like routine. However, I have enough awareness to realize the importance of those two things, which is why I want to change my thoughts and practices around them, starting with my morning routine.

I have always been a nocturnal person since I was a little girl. I used to share a bedroom with my sisters and would stay up late reading with my flashlight in hand. It took the entire household plus an army to wake me up the next day.

My current practice goes something like this: First alarm goes off (I have as many as five alarms set at any given time). Press Snooze. Second alarm goes off. Press snooze on that also. Third alarm goes off. Hit snooze again. First alarm snooze goes off. Hit snooze again. And finally, after all the snoozing, I wake up and rush to hit the shower, get dressed, grab my bag and rush out the door to get to the office. On some days, I share dog-walking duties with my husband and other days, I’m lucky enough to work from home. As you can imagine, this “routine” is pretty insane and makes for hectic days.

I want more peace and calm to my mornings and came up with a plan to establish a routine that will provide me with such an environment. First of all, the reason it is so hard for me to get up is because I stay up late. I have a really hard time falling asleep (though Bikram yoga is helping somewhat). I’m going to tackle that as well. Here are some things I plan on making my morning routine:

  • Set one alarm and wake up at 6:00AM without hitting the snooze button
  • Have a glass of room-temperature water with lemon
  • Meditate for 15 minutes
  • Do daily affirmations
  • Go for a walk / run
  • Have a green smoothie
  • Read a page of daily devotionals (I’ve been trying to get through Yoga Vasistha for the last few years now)

How about you? Are you a morning person or a night-owl? Do you have a morning routine or just fly by the seat of your pants? Have any good advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!

10 Healthy Eating Habits to Cultivate

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{My favorite meal combo: sweet and savory. This was delicious, btw. The finishing touches to our lovely meal at Girl and the Goat.}

I started the year with some big goals in mind. As the first quarter of the year comes to a close (I know, right??), I started to look at my metrics. I’m not doing so well in the healthy eating department. I’m not going to beat myself up over it because, as I’ve said before, I’ve learned that I work best when I focus on 2 to 3 big things at one time. I’ve accomplished a lot in other areas, which I am proud and grateful for, but I have to keep in mind that being healthy has to be my top priority. After all, if we don’t have our health, what is the point of everything else?

So, guess what time it is? Yup! It’s list time! I thought I would share my list of “10 Healthy Eating Habits to Cultivate” with you in case you are having a hard time in this area or just because. Oh, BTW, I was reading the darling DorkChops‘s blog and found it refreshing, yet surprising, that her favorite drink was water and favorite food was salad. Ahhh, to have such great habits at such a young age! But, like I’ve said before, it is never too late to begin anything.

Here is my list. Let me know if you already practice any of these things or what motivates you to stay healthy (besides the obvious — LOL).

10 Healthy Eating Habits to Cultivate

1. Meditate on it – Every morning and evening, I will hold a vision of my healthy self and concentrate on it for a few minutes.

2. Meal plan – Every Sunday, I will take a few minutes to plan my meals for the week.

3. Drink 3 liters of water daily – The Mayo Clinic advises women should drink at least 2.2 liters of water daily.

4. Keep a recipe book of rotating favorites – I pin tons of recipes, but I think that an old-fashioned binder will be more helpful for me and will prove useful when meal-planning.

5. Keep a daily schedule of cooking/take-out/eating-out – Right now, my husband does 99.9% of the cooking, but it’s a skill I want to master, so I’ll have to make time in my schedule. And, like everything else, it’s best that I make a schedule for our meals so we have something (in writing) to stick to.

6. Try one new meal recipe every week – Like I said before, I’ve pinned tons of recipes, but I’ve hardly tried any of them. I’m going to make a list of meals to make and attempt a new one every week.

7. Eat all meals before 6PM – This can be quite difficult due to work schedules and such, but I’ve read time and time again the importance of not eating after a certain time to keep the weight down and other health benefits. I will make an earnest attempt at this at least 5 times a week.

8. Make a list of other ways to reward myself – I don’t know when the habit was formed, but somehow, I find that I reward myself with food: *Insert any accomplishment here*? “Let’s go out to eat!” Or, “Treat yourself to ice cream/cake/chocolate/etc.” While I believe that treating yourself in moderation is not bad, I tend to usually have a mindset of ALL or NOTHING, and in the case of food, it’s usually ALL. There are other ways I can reward myself though, like getting a massage, buying a new accessory I’ve had my eye on, going on a new experience, and the like.

9. Practice moderation and portion control – It’s funny, but in the US, it seems the portions get bigger and bigger. When I’ve traveled to other countries, I always make note of portion sizes compared to the US. I mean, you order a dish here and it can feed 4 people! I have to make a conscious effort to know what portions are right for me and stick to them.

10. Incorporate a green smoothie daily – Remember when I talked about my Vitamix? Yeah, the revolution has not begun yet, but it’s about to. I’m going to make an effort to have one green smoothie a day.

So, there you have it. I hope you found this useful and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my progress.