90 Classes in 90 Days: Words of wisdom from Willie Nelson

You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold em’….

Words of wisdom from WillieNelson.

I’ve made a decision about the 90 day challenge, with a little over a week to go.  I’ve decided to stop the 90 day challenge.

I know.

I’m so close, but things have been crazy this month and I’m a week behind.  I’d have to run doubles for the next 8 days and that’s just too much.  Notice, I didn’t say crazy.  We have already been down that road.  I can handle the crazy.

What I can’t handle is running myself into the ground.

I was telling Cori on Saturday night- why am I doing this to myself?  I don’t need to prove to anyone but myself anything about this 90 days.  It’s enough that I did 30 days.  Then, 60 days.  But 90 is something that even the instructors at my studio were like, really?  I’ve only been going for 5 months so I’m still a beginner.

Could I have planned better?  Sure.

Could I have anticipated what my life would have been like starting at the beginning of July?  Hell no.

Here’s what has been going down in my world for the past three weeks.  Actually more than that.

First of all, Kevin has been sick for over a month and getting progressively worse.  He has ulcerative colitis, which has been in remission for at least 5 years.  Then, in the middle of June, he relapsed.  I may as well have a baby in the house with the lack of sleep we’ve been experiencing.  For the first two weeks of July, he was up almost on the hour, every hour.  If you don’t know what ulcerative colitis is, Google it.  It’s not fun.

So I’m sleep deprived.

Then, I started teaching a 6 week compressed class at the beginning of the month, which I’ve never done before.  This is taking up way more time than I had anticipated.

Finally, in a strange turn of events, Kevin has accepted a new band director position in Chesapeake at a large school.  In a matter of two weeks this month, we cleared out his old office, moved everything into our house, put together a huge portfolio and dealt with the stress of interviewing and prepping for band camp that started today.

Yesterday, as I was laying on my mat in between postures, knowing I had another class to complete in an hour, I made up my mind.

I don’t want to kill myself doing this 90 days.  Mentally, I am exhausted.  My house is a disaster.

Bodily, I feel great.  I am still going strong in my classes but I can tell that I’m hitting the wall in terms of fatigue.  Going to classes 2 times a day would have just made that worse.  And, quite frankly, I was afraid that if I felt like I was burning myself out in the next 10 days, I would hate going to yoga and really lose some good habits that I’ve been building over the past three months.

It kills me to stop this challenge, but I have to.  For my own sanity, I have to.

I have learned a lot about myself and yoga in the process, which I would like to share.

  1. Your mind is a crazy place. Don’t let it take your body into that place.  Shut it off and just keep going.  You might surprise yourself.
  2. Consistency is key.  Don’t take more than 3 days off.  Your body will hate you.  You will sleep terribly.
  3. Planning classes in advance is still important.  Challenge or not, 90 minutes is a big time commitment.
  4. Make sure to hydrate on the days you take off like you went to the studio.  Your body responds to a drop in liquids pretty quickly.  The next day at the studio will not be as fun.
  5. Be curious about the postures in class.  Just because you’ve never been able to do something doesn’t mean that it may not happen, even at 2% that day.  Envision yourself doing the posture, what should be happening in the posture, and try.
  6. Just one more pose.  Just one more pose.  Say this to yourself repeatedly if you feel like sitting down.
  7. Sit down if you can’t psyche yourself up for a posture.  I have learned that sometimes, especially if I am really tired, sitting down gives me a mental break and gives me a chance to listen to the dialogue more closely.
  8. Understand where pain is dangerous.  Uncomfortable is not dangerous.  Nagging pain is a warning for me, especially in my left knee.  I have learned that doubling up day after day is a quick way to get my tendonitis flared up in my knee.  This tells me that my quads are still not strong enough to support a vigorous practice.
  9. Be glad for what I can do!  Sure, I may not be a super star in class but I show up and give it my best.  I don’t make excuses for myself and I’m proud of the neuromuscular progress that I’m making.
  10. Wear things to class that make you happy.  I recently bought two pairs of new shorts and I love them.  They are the side string kind and they are teeny tiny, but they make me happy.  Fun, colorful prints add some whimsy to your practice and sometimes that extra happy is what makes a miserably hot class more bearable.  Everyone has their own “style” in class.  I’m figuring out that mine is becoming a black sports bra and a colorful pair of shorts.  I have to look at myself for 90 minutes at a time.  You bet your ass that my ass is rocking some cute shorts!

shorts

Aren’t they cute!  They are from a brand called Onzie, based out of California.  I like them because the bottom is full coverage.  They really are short, but totally made for a girl with a booty.

So, what next?  My goal is to go to yoga at least 5 days a week.  I am going to try and avoid doubles as much as possible.  If I can get to the point where I am able, I would like to do every day, but I don’t see how I’m going to be able to maintain that in the fall, with football and teaching.  It’s just not realistic.

Don’t worry, I will still be writing updates.  Because after all, life really is never boring in the Hall Hacienda!

90 Classes in 90 Days: #67-70

This month has been nuts!  I’m several days behind in my 90 day challenge so I’ll be running doubles throughout the rest of the month.  Oh well.  That seems to be my thing. Ha!

Been having strange foot cramps at night on the days I take off.  Charlie horses in my toes and the whole deal.  What the heck!  I’m the hydration queen, so the studio thinks it just may be a result of me working more deeply in some postures in class.  I think it’s stemming from my hips (perhaps they are opening up more) because it usually happens when I roll from side to side at night and put pressure on my hips in bed.  God, I need a new mattress, but that’s another story.

Great improvements in triangle pose during the past 10 classes.  I’m still setting up the posture with one foot on my mat for traction- for some reason, my legs are strong enough to keep from slipping around on the carpet.  I may try off the mat tonight and see what happens.  I’m not getting down real low in the posture now, but I’m staying in it the whole time, with my front hip rotated down and keeping my butt tucked.  A lot of people make the mistake of popping their booties out on this posture, which is bad for your hips and doesn’t allow you to get down in the posture fully.  I think it’s not ideal too because you aren’t really working your legs as hard when that happens.  Thankfully, this is one of the postures that the instructors stress proper form on, which is good since it’s easy to make bad habits in yoga.  Especially if you’re like me and your body likes to cheat.

We’ve been juicing a lot at the Hall Hacienda.  Cherries are in season now, so I’m trying to figure out a good mix for the bounty that seem to be popping up at the grocery store lately.

Congrats to my lovely Cori!  She passed her PTA boards this week.  I’m just brimming over with pride for her!!!

 

90 Day Challenge Stats:

  • Classes #66-70
  • Classes to go: 20
  • Days left: 15

90 classes in 90 days: #61-66

Welp, it’s truly official.  I’m on for the 90 days.   My studio announced it in several classes last week so it’s really, REALLY real.

Last week was really weird for me with the holiday being in there.  I actually went to class on the 4th and did a back to back double, but I’ve been feeling really off with my schedule.  It was good to know that I’d be back on track this week.

We had our 30 day challenge party at the studio yesterday.  It was fun to be there and not be in yoga wear.  I actually blow dried my hair, put on makeup, and wore a sundress.  People were all like, whaaaat?  I guess it probably is weird to see someone dressed up when you usually see her sweaty, half naked, and miserable most of the time!  Ha!

I made my world-famous guacamole and that huge bowl was GONE in a matter of minutes.  I couldn’t believe how fast it went!  Time to get more avocados.

This week, I’m pretty much going to be on a fruit/veggie/juice diet.  I ate so, so much food last week.  And things that I’m allergic to.  Not once, but every day several times.  I was miserable yesterday and pretty anxious.  I’m finding now that if I eat something I’m allergic to in small quantities, I get bloated.  When I eat it repeatedly, I actually start to get an emotional reaction and feel very tired.  I’ve heard this is common, but I’d never really paid attention to it before.  I felt miserable, like I was having an anxiety attack all day but at the same time I felt like I was falling asleep standing up.  It was bizarre and I totally learned my lesson after it happened three days IN A ROW.

Getting back to the yoga, I was really good and did 6 classes in 6 days last week.  I took off yesterday so I’m going to be doubling up this week.  It’s gotten to the point where running doubles seems to be the norm for me so I’m having a hard time when people react so strongly when they hear I do three double days in a row.  Maybe I really am crazy.

In other news, I found out last week that today is my beloved Aimee’s last day at the studio.  She is a traveling instructor, so I knew she wouldn’ t be there forever.  But it still sucks.  I took the majority of my classes with her so I’m feeling a little melancholy about her leaving.  Between her and Pong, I made the most progress due to their vigilant corrections during class and help outside of class on my postures.

I haven’t seen either of them for the past few weeks since they’ve been on vacation, so when I took class with Aimee last week, she commented several times how my postures have deepened since she saw me last.  In fact, she said during one of the savasanas on the floor series that she could see my spine was perfectly flat all the way down during wind removing pose.  I guess it’s helpful to have a break like that from an instructor so they can see how you’ve progressed over time.  I wouldn’t have noticed several of the things she pointed out in class on my own.  It makes me sad that she is leaving because I feel like I’m about to break through another physiological barrier soon and she won’t be there to see it. 😦

I am so grateful for the time that I’ve been able to have with her over the past few months.  She is going to travel around Peru for a few months and then settle into Australia to teach there for a year.  It’s definitely a loss for the studio, but I’m excited to get to know Erin, the newest instructor, and learn all I can from her.

90 Day Challenge Stats:

  • Classes #61-65
  • Classes to go: 25
  • Days left: 24

 

How I managed to finish 60 classes in 60 days….and looking ahead to 90

I’ve had some people ask me how I managed to finish 60 classes in 60 days.

Admittedly, it was a stretch.  I devoted a LOT of time to this challenge.  I basically spent 90 hours in the studio over a two month span of time.  That’s craziness.  Researchers differ on habit forming behaviors, but 60 days is often touted as the magic number for forming a new habit.  That’s one of the reasons why I’m continuing on to do 90.  I’m that paranoid that my body will get lazy again.

Anyway, here is how I kept myself on track:

60 days (2)

 

Yes, I took it old school and had a calendar with stickers.  You can see that I whited out a few days here and there.  What I find interesting is how I really gained momentum in the second month.  Remember that my first day at the studio was February 13.  I went into this challenge with basically 2 months and 38 classes under my belt.  I think that is part of the reason why I was able to do this.  A lot of people start a challenge in their second month of practice and they get burned out really quickly.  I chose to ease myself into it and that helped me in the long run.

I like calendarsthatwork.com for making my schedules.  They have a free template section, which I use for all of my tracking purposes (exercise and for classes I’m teaching).  Then, I headed out to the craft store to pick up some stickers and taped it on my wall.  I front load the schedule with the classes that I plan to attend.  After the class, I cover up the class number with the sticker.  If I got behind, I would pencil in a new number and move ahead.  This helped me to keep track of where I was at in the 60 days and also motivated me if I slacked and went to one class and not another.

Besides, who doesn’t love smiley face stickers???

I’ve already created a calendar for July.  My projected end date is the 26th for my 90th class.  Life happens, but I hope I can get there on that day.

Other things that helped me stay sane with everything else going on in my life (end of a semester grading and exams, Kevin’s end of school year mess that finds a way into the house, etc):

  1. Tell as many people as possible that I’m doing this challenge.  This made it real, so I couldn’t bail out.  Blogging about it kept me accountable.
  2. Studio allowing me to start putting up my stickers early.  Just another layer of stickers, but it was fun.
  3. Stopped apologizing for going to class instead of doing something else.  Realized that this was time well spent on me.
  4. Realized that not everyone would understand the rigor of being in a Bikram class, so they wouldn’t understand why I was hyper-planning and crazed with what I put in my mouth, drank, or whatever.  When I stopped trying to justify myself, I was a lot less crazy.
  5. Prepare things for class in advance.  I have outfits laid out three classes in advance, complete with underwear, headband, and towels.  I just pick up the pile, pack it, and go.  I try to have one rolled up mat in my car at all times.
  6. Prepare food items in advance.  I juice at night a lot and bottle up stuff for the next day.  That way, I just grab and go.  I’ve really gotten into eating Kind bars in the afternoon before class.  They are great for me because they are gluten and dairy free.  I also have cold waters and coconut water on a special shelf in the fridge, which stays stocked so I can have those at my fingertips.

Things I wish I would have done differently:

  1. Purchased another pair of yoga shorts.  I have three pairs now but it would be nice to have another since there always seemed to be a pair hanging out to dry when I was running a double class on consecutive days.
  2. Putting lotion on my feet at night.  Although my skin is super soft, my poor feet are just so torn up on my heels and the balls of my feet.
  3. Slacking off early in the month.  I basically pulled two weeks where I did 10 classes a week to make up for it and that was tiring. I need to go into the studio when I don’t feel like it.

Plans for the upcoming month:

  1. Get a new pair of shorts.  I am eyeing a side tie short.  Still no time to sew my own.
  2. Eat cherries.  I love cherries!  They are great this time of year and are super high in anti-inflammatory goodness.
  3. Stick to my schedule as much as possible.  Do split doubles on Monday and Wednesday as much as possible, rather than back to back doubles.
  4. Focus on a posture and try to make it happen to the fullest expression each week.  I’ve been working on floor bow pose but I’m also trying to get my balance improved on the one leg standing postures.
  5. Take salt baths.  Although I didn’t experience the muscle soreness in the last 60 days like I’d anticipated, I do feel pretty worn out and maybe a salt bath would help, even if it’s once a week.
  6. Make a new friend at the studio.  I found immense support from a couple of people at the studio that I befriended early in May.  I need to learn more people’s names and support someone who is trying to do a personal challenge on his or her own.
  7. Ask for more direction after class.  Let the instructors know what I’m struggling with so they can watch for that in class and give me appropriate corrections.
  8. Try to get in the zone faster in class.  Just focus on the dialogue and let the day go.

60 Classes in 60 Days: Lessons Learned

I did it, people!!!  I can’t believe that I finished this thing and didn’t end up back in PT.  It’s too good to be true.  I finished on Saturday morning with a double class.

 

I took off yesterday and I’m taking off today in hopes that my body will get a break before I head back to the studio.  Yep, I’m extending this to 90 in 90!!!

Before we start focusing on this upcoming month, here is what I learned over the past 60 days.  20 things, to be exact.

  1. A 30 day challenge is pretty common at most studios.  60 days is not.  People will think you are crazy.  You will believe them.  It is crazy.
  2. It is imperative to have two yoga mats.  On days where I did doubles in the morning/evening split, I would have one in my car for after work while the morning mat was at home drying out.
  3. The studio is not a place to be modest.  You will be more comfortable in as little clothing as possible.  No one cares if you haven’t shaved your armpits, legs, or your tummy is jiggly.
  4. Go to classes first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.  Drink a coconut water during class for sugars and then eat when you get home.
  5. Your body is going to crave strange things.  I ate 5 peaches in one sitting.  I don’t question it anymore.  I just eat.
  6. You may not feel like eating or drinking anything at all when you are working your body so hard.  Sometimes, you have to force liquids.  Even if I wasn’t hungry, I would eat some avocado to make sure I was getting some fat in my diet.
  7. Don’t be a hero.  Sit your ass down if you don’t feel like doing a posture, especially if it’s a double day.  Even if it’s a single day, sometimes you just need the mental break during class.
  8. Don’t baby yourself.  Make yourself do a posture, even if you don’t feel like doing it and you can’t reason with yourself in the short amount of time in between postures why you should really sit out.  Understand the difference between being hurt, physically or emotionally exhausted, and avoiding a posture because it’s uncomfortable.  When I first started, I was so terrified of hurting myself, I would sit down a lot more.  Then, when I got muscle or tendon soreness, I would sit down because I was worried I was working myself too hard.  Now, I really understand discomfort versus this is an overuse issue.
  9. Take at least one day off a week, if possible.  It is nice to have one day where you can step off the mat, reflect on what happened the week before, and come back clear-headed.
  10. Check your ego at the door.  Each class is different.  Each set of postures is different.  Every minute is different.  You can have a great first set of a posture and then the second set can completely fall apart.  You are a different person every minute of every day in that room and it shows on the mat.
  11. Find peace in the practice.  Although it truly is torture being in that room sometimes, it is also 90 minutes of nothing.  Just you, the mat, the instructor, the dialogue.  If you just follow the words, your mind clears and things are surprisingly peaceful.
  12. You will smell. Your clothes will smell.  Your mat towel will smell.  Vinegar in the wash is the only thing that gets it out.
  13. Your skin will be amazing.  Your feet?  Not so much.
  14. Be ready for the “yoga stigmata”, which are marks on your hands, knees, and tops of feet.  I haven’t gotten it yet, but I can tell it’s coming.  I think people get it more when they use beach/bath towels.  I use a microfiber Yogitoes mat which isn’t as abrasive on the skin.
  15. You will love your studio.  You will hate your studio.  You will fall in and out of love with instructors.
  16. You will have great days, which you should embrace.  You shouldn’t get attached to them though because the bad days are following quickly behind.  Don’t get down in the dumps about them either, because the good days are coming back. (great advice from Aimee)
  17. Avoid wearing lotion on your arms or legs the day of a practice.  It makes for a very slippery, miserable session.
  18. Try to make an effort to keep up with your appearance outside of the studio.  I think I blow dried my hair twice in the last 30 days.  I stopped wearing makeup altogether.  Although neither of these things are necessary, I realized when I did both this morning that I felt like I was pampering myself and it put a little spring in my step.  I literally have been a sweaty, wet mess for the past 60 days.
  19. Invest in a good clarifying shampoo.  Your scalp will be a mess because your hair glands will be all clogged up with sweat. (I know, it’s gross).
  20. Invest in a good deep conditioner.  Your hair will be a mess from the salt in the sweat.

So there you go.  20 thing I learned.  30 more days.  30 more classes.  Let’s see what happens!!!