Muscley March half way point


I just did my heavy workout, while still sore from Wednesday’s plié squats with a 45 (units?) dumbbell, followed by a lateral squat shuffle with two 15 (units?) dumbbells perched on my shoulders. I’m definitely good at isolating muscles, at least that’s what some of them are saying.

I realize that in one month, I won’t see the changes I’m aiming for but I am seeing the weights go up. So much so that I was miffed on Wednesday when a fellow gym user had the 20 (units?) dumbbells.

Today, instead of the lovely solitary experience I had last Friday, there was another person using the gym along with me. I felt self conscious but I shouldn’t have. He was being very respectful and I was able to use the weight machine for the entire time, as I had planned to do. I focused on all my standing exercises, and switched a couple so I could do them standing (standing chest fly), since he was using the bench. It was only when I wanted to do the lat pulldowns and seated rows that I actually had to interact with him and *gasp* ask if he was done with the bench because I needed to be seated for it. And he was done with the bench. So I rolled it over, clicked in the 7 plates (of 16… again, units?) on each hand and leaned back, pulling the bar to my chest.

I’m feeling those muscles now as I sit in the wing chair typing this on my phone, listening to the wind hum through the building cladding like a kazoo, and considering that I need to get up and pour my kettle into my big Friday mug for my next cup of tea.

I incorporated a few upper back strengtheners today, including my first exercise where I emulated pulling a bow. Only it was the one handed handle and it was attached to weights (first 4, then 5, then 6 plates). Strengthening for the archery I never do but enjoy both as a concept and an activity. :)

It’s mainly my upper body – arms, back, core, chest – that I’m interested in developing. As my massage therapist observed last weekend while we were trying to figure out the strange “sticking” happened in my right quadriceps – I have very muscular legs. I’m still going to work on them, but I already have good density there. She was also impressed by my doing squats with added weight while balancing on the Bosu ball. Thanks to physiotherapy for that one.

So Muscley March is going strong. I plan my week on Sunday, do my meal prep and try to make something that will provide good, protein-packed lunch leftovers. I definitely feel what folks talk about in terms of needing my sleep too. I’m trying to do yoga on my off days, to keep up the stretching I have been making gains in, but I’m being a bit less disciplined about it. I didn’t get any yoga done yesterday, for example. But I might do some tomorrow.

I’m also already starting to plan my Artistic April. I’m thinking of also doing a reading month, and a meditation month. But I will try to keep doing my muscle building through the year. :) And I’m pondering if I will try NaNoWriMo again this year. It’s naturally a month focused on writing every day…

So here’s the last song from my workout mix that was playing as I did my core twists. Enjoy!


And into March!

Wow, so that went by quickly. Of course, I had a ton of stuff going on, and it *is* the shortest month of the year.

But, a really interesting and eye opening result of 28(+) days without social media? I logged back onto it this weekend and I didn’t want to stay long. Even though I was scanning things to see what had happened in my absence, I wasn’t super compelled by what was on there. And I kind of wanted to actively avoid the stuff that bothered me. I consider that a win in this experiment. Two months down, two wins – more yoga in my life and less social media. I’m not going to reinstall FB on my phone for the time being, and see how it goes.

And Muscley March is starting slowly. It required a bit more planning than the previous two because I have to build my program myself. I haven’t gotten into the gym yet but I’m making decisions that will contribute to my fitness. So March 1st was all about taking the stairs, since I was still at my meeting away from home. (I’ll blog about that later.) I also was trying to eat better – I would like March to involve healthy eating as well.

In order to track some progress, I will take some measurements before I start in at the gym this week. I don’t have access to a scale but I did go and see my family doctor the second last week of February so I have that weight to go from. :P

I’m really hesitant to get back into my fitness app to track my food this month. I might just do meal planning to make sure what I make aligns with my plans for this month and then just see how it goes, without tracking every last morsel. I think that would be the less stressful/triggering way to go about it.

Let’s see what kind of gains I can make this month. :)

Halfway point

Hey, wow, it’s February 16th. Huh, that was both quick and slow.

Surprisingly, the “not being on social media” feels like more of a challenge than actually being disciplined and getting on my yoga mat every day. I’ve been pretty successful at keeping that up too. I’ve only missed two days this month so far.

It’s funny, though. I think I’ve been on Fazebuuk since 2007, maybe? I’d have to go on my profile to check and that is verboten this month. But it definitely feels like one of my tools. I realized I didn’t have someone’s up to date email address in my actual email but that I could probably get it from their FB profile, which I couldn’t go check. So, oh well. It wasn’t crucial. Then there are the birthdays I’m missing. No big deal, I guess. My sister referenced something my brother in law was doing this month that I had no idea about, so that was interesting. Then there were the moments when I wanted to check Twitter, or I thought I could look something up on Instagram… Like wow, nope.

What’s more concerning/revealing is what happens when I have a beat of downtime. A spare moment while cooking? Not able to be on FB! So what happens? I awkwardly handle my phone and then put it down, a little bit shocked at the mindless urge. The same upon getting home, or brushing my teeth before bed. And then I think, “Why do I need to do that??” I don’t. It’s why I chose this as this month’s theme. I might have to continue for 2 or 3 months to really break the habit. Breaking a habit is much harder than starting one.

So I’m definitely seeing the benefit of not being on my phone so much. I have time to sketch, read, chat with my husband. Real life things, go figure. I was sketching tonight during the downbeats in my cooking, so I was walking back and forth (not hard, they’re in the same room) between the stove and my desk.

I’m still trying to decide what March will be. There are a lot of experiments and habits that would fun or beneficial – how about Reading March, where I have to read X number of pages in a book every day? I was also talking about Muscley March, which would be a more realistic “hulk up” experiment, geared more towards building my lean muscle mass. I’m already toying with the idea of Artistic April, where I’ll need to do some artistic work every day, whether sketching, painting, sculpting or writing. I’m still deciding if practicing the piano would count in that one.

So this thematic year seems to be rolling along nicely. I’m also discussing doing a “Clean Eating” month. Not that we eat terribly, but to really go full on in stopping eating sugars etc. Maybe even cutting out alcohol. I was suggesting doing that during a really good local produce month, ie the summer. :/ Maybe August?

Anywho, that’s my mid-month update. I’ll be travelling soon so I’ll hopefully have a chance to blog about it – domestic travel but to a lovely city I enjoy so it should be nice.


Success! On to February…

Yay! Celebrating my successful completion of the 30 days of yoga with a feel good dinner of salad with a side of salmon salad (with dill pickles in it) and a kombucha.

I was able to maintain my discipline pretty well throughout the month. There really wasn’t any day that I wanted to skip it, though there were some days when it got going that I wanted to stop. But I didn’t and now I have 30 days of daily yoga (and a couple of days of doing yoga twice) in my new year. It feels good. I’m going to try to keep it up.

So, next month’s theme is Social Media Blackout February. According to Wikipedia:

Social media are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. The variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available introduces challenges of definition; however, there are some common features:

1 Social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications.

2 User-generated content, such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions, is the lifeblood of social media.

3 Users create service-specific profiles for the website or app that are designed and maintained by the social media organization.

4 Social media facilitate the development of online social networks by connecting a user’s profile with those of other individuals or groups.”

“Some of the most popular social media websites are Baidu Tieba, Facebook (and its associated Facebook Messenger), Gab, Google+, MySpace, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Viber, VK, WeChat, Weibo, WhatsApp, Wikia, Snapchat and YouTube.”

So, that means no Facebook, which is one of my major time sinks. Also no Twitter, which I’m not on that often any more (mainly because I got exhausted from all the snarky political posts). YouTube will be interesting, because if I want to keep doing daily Yoga with Adriene, I’ll have to use YouTube. Also, my husband and I watch educational things on YouTube like PBS Space Time and the Crash Course series.

One could argue that it depends on the intention behind it. I often find that I turn to my social media feeds automatically as some sort of mild entertainment when I’m eating or sitting on the couch with my husband while he watches videos related to his interests on YouTube. I’m also using it to see what my friends and family are up to, to give birthday wishes (because who doesn’t like seeing their notification numbers blow up on their birthday?), and to follow my science and deep thoughts feeds (and the memes feeds). It’s become… habitual, which is what made it a prime target for my theme-of-the-month goal. I estimate that I could reclaim a good 2 hours of prime brain time per day. What will I do with all that extra time? Probably complain less about having no time. ;)

But what do I really want out of it? To break a habit. To not dilute my attention day to day. To reclaim that time for something more meaningful and productive for myself, whether that’s more sketching, reading, writing, painting or spending more time connecting with my loved ones.

As an introvert, using social media for social ends does save me a lot of energy, but it also takes energy and it keeps a constant stream of “stuff” going into my brain. I’d like this to kind of be a detox for my brain, energy, and spirit.

So I’ll be putting a note up on Facebook tonight and deleting it off of my phone (by far the main place I do any of my social mediaing anymore).


Also in my last post, I mentioned making decisions about going back to full time. I kind of sat with the idea that I’d be going back full time for a few days, and then I switched my mindset to the idea that I’d be sticking with 80%. I was relieved by the idea that I’d be keeping my day to myself. So I said to my boss that I wanted to stick with it and she was supportive. I like that day too much. Let’s see what I can do with it. :)


Another small adjustment

I’ve been back to work for about six months now, and it has mostly been going alright. I still am experiencing the prickling, but it hasn’t reached the levels I was feeling before. My desk is ergonomically set up, and if I drift back into bad habits, like hunching forward to read on my screen or type, it definitely spikes the feeling. But now I can sit back comfortably and getting my spine aligned properly seems to make the prickling calm down.

My therapist’s suggestion to leave my desk every noon hour has been really important for managing it too. Luckily, with the nice weather, I have been able to go for walks. I’m hoping to increase that to going for a 30 minute jog on some days. I’ve also been getting off the bus one stop early and walking about 20 minutes home as often as I can. Some nights it isn’t realistic just because of timing (or weather) but I’ve been enjoying the wind down time, especially this spring. The route I take is lined with lilacs, apple trees and honeysuckle bushes. If anything can encourage you to breathe deeply, it’s those delicious scents. The walks also help my prickling calm down at the end of the day.

I am trying to follow my neurologist’s advice to focus on my mental and physical health right now. I’m counting my walking as physical activity (as I was finding my gym workouts were making me dizzy and nauseated, and feeling on the brink of fainting), and I’m focusing on eating proper, healthy food – good veggies, quality (pescatarian-approved) protein, fruits, water, good grains. I’m not specifically dropping any food group, but I am prioritizing plate space for colourful veggies rather than rice, potatoes or bread.

And I’m trying to approach my prickling feeling in a yogic way, almost as if I was meditating. Instead of focusing so much on the feeling, I’m trying to just notice it, take steps to calm it (as mentioned above), and then move on. I don’t want to drag it along with me anymore. I want to step past it, acknowledged, but giving it no power. This is, of course, a work in progress, because some days I just can’t do that. I’m not that much in control.

The final aspect, of which today is the first day, is that I’ve cut my work time down to 80%. Now I will work full days Monday through Thursday, and I will have Friday through Sunday off. My pay is impacted, of course, and my pension and all of that stuff, but with my previous two Leaves with Income Averaging, I’m used to my pay being lower by 20%. It’s just that I’m spreading the time off over the whole year instead of concentrating it into two months. My manager and I will keep up an open dialogue, because if it turns out that I’m trying to do 110% of the things in 80% of the time, that is counter-productive and I’ll go back to full time and try a different tactic.

So, what am I doing on my first non-work Friday?

I got up and did my morning yoga practice, ate my normal breakfast gruel (1 tbsp each of chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, and raisins, 1/3 cup of oatmeal, and a shake of pumpkin pie spice, soaked overnight in 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and topped with a sliced banana and 1/3 cup of wild blueberries). I lay down for a bit on the couch, scrolling through Fazebøk, to let my breakfast settle, and then I went on a 6km (slow) run – my first outdoor run since last September. It wasn’t pretty and my fitness app isn’t even recognizing my speed as a “run” (according to it, I did a “brisk walk”… :P). I’ve got my novel open behind this browser window, because I’ve had a couple of ideas for it, and this is kind of the entire reason I’m taking this time. I feel like most nights, after fighting the prickling and trying to actually do good work, I don’t have the energy to stand at my easel for a few hours or sit at my computer for a few (more!) hours to work on my stuff. So, if I’m not doing my personal hobbies, how can I be de-stressing?

A couple of wise friends (plus my husband) reminded me yesterday not to overprogram myself, and to allow whatever takes up my time to take it. And not to stress out if I don’t actually add a page or touch a paintbrush. It will happen. I will try to keep that in mind.

So that’s my little status update, course change, micromovement – call it what you may. I’m looking forward to seeing how this changes my health and well-being. :)

Here’s the song I was listening to when I started this post. :) Hopefully I’ll be posting again more regularly (but I’m not going to make that a goal!)


One week down

First week back at work is done! I’m still in catch up mode, having come back to my job being… re-allocated, which was a surprise. I have far fewer files than I did when I left. I’m not sure what that means overall, but time will tell. Immediate benefits I can see include being less stressed, being able to sleep better, eat better and potentially not be sick all the time. Not a bad thing.

I was able to do yoga twice this week. Once as an evening practice on my first day, to help with the assimilation of the new information and to cool me down before bed (I did have insomnia the night before my first day back so I was pretty exhausted). And then I did get up and do a morning practice, which was nice but happened between 6:09 and 6:30 am. I even meditated! And didn’t fall asleep!

The best part of my first week was the number of my colleagues who so happily welcomed me back. I felt very loved from all the welcomes and smiles, hugs and laughter. And stunned looks sometimes because they couldn’t believe nine weeks had gone by already. At one point, someone said, “No, it’s only been like four weeks – you shouldn’t be here!” I would have happily taken another five weeks but alas, that wasn’t the deal I made with the boss. ;)

One point I overlooked as I was engaging in this arrangement was that since I’m working 80% this year I also receive 80% recompense – including vacation time. Which makes sense, but it didn’t really hit home until I saw the numbers in my file. So that’s impacting some plans I have, because about 40% of my vacation time will be dedicated to my next yoga module, leaving not a whole ton of days for other things like trips with my boyfriend and seeing both families at holidays and such. So that’s resulted in me having to change some plans I’d agreed to back in February, before I knew how all this was going to work.

This weekend is a big step because as of tomorrow, I will officially be without a landline for the first time in my life. My Internet and everything will go bye-bye and I’ll be getting hooked up to Teksavvy on Monday. Tech-free weekend! Maybe some painting and writing will be in order. :)

(Also, I’ll have to go in search of Internet if I’m going to blog this weekend – we’ll see!)