Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Challenge #1, July 2011: GET MOVING

I will exercise at least 30 minutes every single day.

How often is often enough to work out, for how many minutes?  Cardio vs. strength?  What’s the best for weight loss?  What if I have an injury?  So many different answers are available out there on what is best for you and whatever your goals or limitations are…I am a fairly healthy 47 year old female with no injuries and no excuses not to work out, which I usually do about 4-5 times a week.  I can run, swim, bike, put it all together and do triathlons, calisthenics (I am actually a big fan of Jillian Michaels strength/cardio DVDs), etc.  But every single day?  I started with this challenge because wanted to see how it felt to keep physically moving for 30 minutes or more every single day.  Even just regular walking counted for me, which I did resort to on a few days.  I wanted to continuously exercise each day and mentally push myself not to flake out on good intentions by the end of the day and skip it – yes I have been known to do that on occasion, have you?  This has been one of the behaviors I struggle with most, so I decided to tackle it first.

The challenge was fine most days – just had to be sure to plan for it at some point in my daily schedule, more often in the AM, which works better for me - that energy and endorphin kick is very real, and helps carry me through the day.  I picked July to do this challenge so the weather would cooperate (I don’t belong to a gym or have any fancy equipment, so it is mostly outdoor for my cardio).  No extenuating circumstances or excuses such as an illness, injury or anything else came up either - yay.  
The month overall was filled with lots of the standard running, biking, swimming and occasionally some indoor weight and other strength workouts. I definitely noticed a general feeling of overall improved health, strength, and fitness - and bonus:  better nights sleeps, consistently.    The last two days of the month I traveled out of the country for a scuba diving trip, and counted: walking around in the airports I traveled through and around the resort grounds to find my room (no easy task on Anthony’s Key Resort in the dark!) on the 30th, and diving (3 dives) on the 31st as my workouts – neither of which was very strenuous but yes indeed, I was moving.

Best and Worst Moments
Since this was my first challenge, I laid pretty low and only told a very few friends and family members about it - I wanted to make sure I had some success under my belt before sharing the idea of this huge 2.5 year project.    He used to be quite an athlete in his own right, but lately has not been as active – he actually got out there and walked and rode his bike more than he had in quite some time.  This made me happy and was one of the best parts of this month. 
My favorite day was the Strawberry Fields Olympic Distance Triathlon on July 17th – I hadn’t raced a triathlon in several months, and really enjoyed getting back out there on a course, feeling strong and encouraged by fellow racers and volunteers cheering us on.  No matter my time or place in any of the races I do, it always feels so good to complete them, and especially sharing the experience with my friends and workout buddies.
My most difficult day was near the end of the month.  I had had a long difficult day of work, a few (small) glasses of wine at dinner, and dammit I just didn’t feel like getting off the comfy couch!  But I did it anyway at about 9:30PM: put on my workout attire and knocked out 30 minutes of calisthenics and weights – not quite so vigorously as if there hadn’t been any wine at dinner, but did it nonetheless. And yes it did help relieve the stress of the day, better than the wine. 

Take Away 
Yes I do have the discipline to work out (more) regularly and consistently, and I am carrying it forward. Our bodies are genuinely designed to move, and we do them a disservice by living a sedentary lifestyle!  I felt better every single time after I work out, and I even feel like my mind is sharper – there are numerous studies that verify this effect.  I calculated a total of over 1440 minutes (averaging over 45 minutes a day) of moving, and am definitely satisfied and understand the value working out even more than before.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Introduction and Welcome

Focused Living, One Month at a Time

I wanted to do something that encompasses ways I would like to improve myself and connect deeper to my varied interests, as well as giving myself some discipline to pay attention every day and do the work, then write about it. I have especially wanted to do more writing lately and this structure makes sense to me.  So here goes – welcome, and I hope you may be inspired.

My goal is to focus on specific ideas, practices, or routines for a limited amount of time – long enough to create somewhat of a habit, but not so long that I can’t see the end of doing it and might be possibly tempted to quit – I should be able to do just about anything within reason for thirty days, right?   There is so much in this wide wonderful world to learn about, and improve my skills and habits, and dedicate my energy to that I simply must try. I am not planning it all out ahead of time as far as which challenge to do which month – I want to keep it more fluid and flexible. I do have a running list of challenges and topics under consideration, and they are very diverse so far.  I don’t have any expectations of what will come out of this challenge by the end of it, and that’s okay. 

I’m keeping track of it all on my i-Cal, with quick thoughts and notes, and here on this blog I’ll be writing more in depth about each challenge, at least monthly. 

Starting July 2011, I am doing 30 different challenges for approximately 30 days (going by the calendar month here, just for ease) for 30 months, so 2.5 years - 2.5 years sounds a lot longer  than 30 months…hmmm.

I am a freelance development professional who helps environmental non-profit organizations fulfill their missions through effective fundraising, outreach, and event planning.  I am passionate about this work and much more including scuba diving, travel, and my boyfriend.  I have done some creative writing, not published (yet) through various classes and workshops and am now looking to do a lot more…Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment, I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences.