Thursday, April 15, 2010

BREATHING ROOM: Success on Days 3 & 4

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I got distracted spending 5 hours setting up my shiny, new laptop. I am irrationally excited about the laptop. And, as Michael pointed out, irrationally anxious/stressed about getting it all set up the way I want it. Why the big rush? I have no looming project deadline and I can certainly meet my internet/word processing needs without making it have exactly the same software as my old computer. (Though installing Rosetta Stone will have to happen before this weekend, so I can get back on the Danish train.)

As soon as he pointed out that my lack of apparent excitement for my new laptop was making him cranky, I adjusted. (go, Michael!) Partly because I didn't want him to be cranky--and it hadn't occurred to me that my mood would affect him. But once I paused to think about how it was a significant investment of our money, meant to relieve the stress of my old (failing) laptop, I realized how my stress was misplaced and unnecessary. So I stopped and went to bed...leaving the laptop setup UNFINISHED.


See? I do have the capacity to learn and change...with a little help from my friends.

In other news, the exercise focus has been going well. I've been every day this week, waking at 6 and getting back by 7:15 for a leisurely and healthy oatmeal and fruit breakfast before actually getting to work ON TIME.

I wanted to try this for a week to note the effects on my energy levels and carve out time in my day to allow for more regular exercise. I have mixed feelings about the results as the week draws to a close. On the down side: I'm only getting about 6 hours of sleep a night, which is not enough. And even though I feel fine by the time I'm done exercising, a few hours later I start to crash. Unfortunately, I haven't noticed any increase in energy. And, as the week went on, it got harder and harder to make myself get out of bed because I felt more and more tired. (Maybe if I went to sleep earlier, I could change that.) More importantly, I miss my gym time with my friend, Melissa. The time we spend chatting is the shiny part of my gym experience, and I haven't gotten to see her at all this week, so it feels like a double-loss.

On the up-side: I'm getting a healthier, fiber-rich breakfast, which supposedly makes me less prone to snacking later on (jury's still out on that one). I get to read, which is one thing that really turns my brain "off"--in a good way. (And while I find my Dr. Oz book interesting and useful, I find that when I bring a fiction book or magazine, it actually makes me look forward to that time--almost as much as looking forward to my Melissa time.) I do seem to fall asleep faster at night and to sleep more deeply...not sure if it's really related. I'm getting to work on time. Since I don't have to fit the gym into my evening routine, I have more "free" time to do other things and I'm more likely to hit my target 4x per week. I like the routine, oddly--going the same time each day. And, even though I am TIRED when I get up, I am no MORE (or less) tired during my 4:00 afternoon slump. So, even if I need a nap, at least I'm not sacrificing exercise to indulge in the nap.

But here's my FAVORITE thing about the new schedule: leaving the gym. Not because the workout is over, but because I feel alive and awake and alone (in a good way.) The world (outside the gym) is still quiet and peaceful and expansive. I've come to realize that the idea of expansive anything makes my heart and mind pretty happy. I come back into the dark and quiet dorm, to my dark and quiet house. There is breathing room there.

I am starting to realize that all of my to-do lists and commitments and reminders to myself have taken on a tangible weight. They crowd my breathing room. And just as I dislike being in a crowded restaurant or movie theater on a Saturday night, I feel the same about being in my cluttered house or to-do list ridden mind. Mid-week date nights are more relaxing--there is more room for chatting, for leisure, for love. Clean, uncluttered homes are aesthetically pleasing and invite relaxation and relief. Being awake and alive and unhurried for an hour before my day starts has the same effect.

I think this would be made greater by the addition of morning meditation, but that hasn't happened yet. I just haven't taken the time to find a meditation exercise I really like. But I will soon! Really!

The other thing that hasn't happened is hitting 10k steps per day, even when I went to the gym TWICE in one day. This leads me to believe that the goal is not a universal one. Maybe mine should be different based on weight/age/height/stride length? I don't know, but I've only hit it once in 14 days so far--on the day I was running all over campus for my event. It's hard to know if the goal is wrong or if my life (aside from my half hour of exercise) is really far too sedentary. If that's the case, I presume it will be less so once I have I might be okay with just meeting the exercise goal for now.

So I'm thinking that I might need some kind of middle ground with the exercise routine...maybe I should go in the morning on the days I'm on duty and go with Melissa on other days? And maybe still wake up early (but not AS early) on the non-exercise mornings to allow for that breathing room with breakfast? The pros of the morning routine definitely outweigh the cons, but I also suspect it's not really sustainable, as I'm getting more and more tired and less able to propel out of bed in the morning...

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