Comfort Zones

I’ve been reading a book by Joel Osteen called Break Out, and before you get judgmental regarding Mr. Osteen just hold on. In a previous post I talked about breaking patterns of behavior by using goal setting and then following up with the achievement of those goals. One of the things that is repeated throughout Break Out is the idea that we seem to settle in and get a bit too comfortable with our lives and we begin settling for less than what we are capable of. There may be other reasons like lack of self confidence, past failures, and our overall self image that holds us back, but what I am focused on is that success can also result in settling for the status quo.

Do Not Change

The graphic above really says it all. I’m doing well in my current position, or things are adequate in my relationships, so why make the effort to change it all up? Because you are stagnating, you are not living up to your potential, you are settling for the comfortable. Think about yourself does any of this ring true for you? Do the words stagnation or plateau describe your career or your relationships? Sometimes success brings with it complacency that can only be disrupted by leaving your comfort zone. I would suggest that most of our comfort zones are self imposed by our own thoughts about our abilities and potential. We reach a level of success, and we may say to ourselves this is adequate, I have found my niche and it would be the safe choice to remain right here. Wrong!

Use the Monday challenge I wrote about in Monday Motivation and Are You Repeating the Same Behavior? to break out of your comfort zone. Remember you have a vast amount of potential and should not be settling for anything less than utilizing it, in your work and in your relationships. Don’t settle for comfortable, adequate, or reaching some arbitrary plateau.

One other word of advice, don’t be surprised when you ask your friends or family if you should take a chance in your business life or personal relationships that they tell you to play it safe. Most people are risk adverse and will gravitate to a conservative approach; It’s best to just smile and thank them for the advice, and then go ahead and do what you wanted to do in the first place.

Life is short, so don’t let other people dictate what you do.

Namaste

Are you repeating the same behavior?

behavior sorry

Last week I wrote about how you could make Monday a new start by setting just one goal that you will accomplish during the week. The idea is that these goals would accumulate and you would certainly be on the road to changing your behavior, and not falling into the trap of repeating the same old stuff. I have found myself as guilty as the next person in falling into patterns of behavior that don’t support my goals.  For instance I ate well for two days in a row and then decided it was alright to eat that hamburger and fries, or I did two workouts from my three day split and failed to do the third on Saturday or Sunday, or instead of pursuing that business opportunity I failed to put out the effort and instead watched endless hours of television.

Yes we all need time to relax, but wasting your time in the evenings and on weekends is another example of falling into a pattern of behavior that leads to absolutely nothing. I’m not saying you should eliminate time with your friends and family because your goals are so overly important, but you should also not give into living everyone’s dream at the expense of your own. This is then about seeking some sort of balance, and yes making some sacrifices along the way.

balance

While I mentioned the word balance I am not a big fan of the term work life balance, the insinuation is that work and life are some kind of different categories of activity and that balancing them is desirable. My view is do what you want to achieve your goals and if that means you need to work more than you relax then do it. Don’t fall prey to patterns of behavior that do not support your goals, but always make sure that the goal you set is what you really want. Sometimes you will need to change your goals or even eliminate some of them as they no longer represent what you really want. There are perfectly good reasons to abandon one goal and pursue another, but don’t let your dreams be replaced by mediocrity and settling for less than you are capable of.

Most of us operate at about 50%-75% of what we are capable of, settling for a comfortable existence when greater things are in your future if you are willing to put in the effort and fully utilize the gifts that each of us possesses.  So make this Monday the day you begin to follow your dreams, set a new goal and just do it. Stole that little gem from Nike, sorry guys.

Namaste

More……..Yoga

ashtanga yoga

More…………………….Yoga!

Fortunately I have been able to stick with my yoga practice in the Ashtanga tradition of six days a week.  I was doing this at night but during the last two weeks have switched to mornings so that I could resume my strength training in the evenings. After somewhat mastering some pretty fundamental asanas I have added the Ashtanga version of the Sun Salutation to the beginning of my practice. The Sun Salutation is done 5 times, and then I move on to standing and balancing poses, then to supine and floor poses. The whole routine/practice looks something like this:

Sun Salutation

Sun Salutation repeat 5 times

  • Standing Pose (Mountain pose with feet together)
  • Standing Pose (hands together above head)
  • Standing forward bend
  • Standing forward preparing for staff pose
  • Chaturanga Dandasana – Plank
  • Upward facing dog (cobra)
  • Downward facing dog
  • Standing forward preparing for staff pose
  • Standing forward bend
  • Standing Pose (hands together above head)
  • Standing Pose (Mountain pose with feet together)

Standing & Balancing Poses

  • Half Moon Pose
  • Chair Pose
  • Triangle Pose
  • Warrior 2 Pose
  • Side Angle Pose
  • Standing Knee to Chest (or knee back)
  • Tree Pose

Supine & Seated Poses

  • Two Legged Platform
  • Knee to Chest Pose
  • Bridge Pose
  • Both Knees to Chest Pose
  • Supine Leg Stretch (leg up with strap)
  • The Sunbird Cat Stretch
  • Child’s Pose
  • Hero Pose (knees bent sitting on legs)
  • Easy Seated Pose
  • Butterfly (feet together)
  • Staff Pose
  • Head to Knee Pose (use strap, hurdlers stretch)
  • Seated Twist

I like to follow up the yoga practice with 5 – 10 minutes of meditation, which helps me prepare the for the day ahead, which is one of the reasons I switched to doing yoga in the morning as yoga and meditation seem to work so well together. I’m a long ways from moving into the Primary Series asanas as I am still mastering the Sun Salutation and other fundamental poses mentioned above, but everyone needs to start somewhere. The results so far have been outstanding as I am gaining flexibility, my back is feeling better, and am starting to become a bit calmer. I would love to hear about your yoga journey and follow your blogging related to this topic.

Namaste

Monday Motivation

Goals this week

Last week I wrote about how exercise and meditation that is focused on gratefulness sets you up for a great Monday morning instead of a difficult transition from weekend to work week. Today I would like to ask a little more, so instead of just starting out with a great attitude we need to view this day as a chance to start anew.  Pick something you want to change about your life, which shouldn’t be too difficult for most of us.  Here is a list of a few goals that apply to many people:

  • This week I am going to stick with my exercise program.  No excuses, no more days missed because someone else set your priorities.
  • This week I’m going to kick a bad habit I have.  This habit might be over eating, smoking, drinking too much, loving your cell phone more than your friends or family, too much time with video games, gossiping about family/friends/co-workers, and the list goes on and on. You know what is holding you back, so pick one.
  • This week I’m going to think about what I eat and make some good choices. You know what I mean; you don’t need to be a nutritionist to know when you are eating garbage.
  • This week I’m going to focus on positive interactions with everyone I encounter. What will it cost you, but practicing a little self-control, maybe a bit of empathy, or being less judgmental.

goals

So we are starting out a new week and we will make one change, from my list above or something else that has been weighing heavily on your mind. I’m not advocating you give it all up and join the monastery, we don’t have to make a radical change, but make a change and do it now. The result is these changes will accumulate, they will make you stronger, and they will build on each other.  Let’s take a look what 4 short weeks could do:

  1. Week 1 – I started running/walking 3 days a week
  2. Week 2 – I stopped drinking anything with sugar in it
  3. Week 3 – I volunteered at the local food pantry
  4. Week 4 – I stopped gossiping about people I work with

These aren’t huge things that take tons of planning, but you are now creating good things in your life.  After a month of just changing 4 things I now have a good exercise habit, rehydrating without the worthless calories, giving back to your community, and taking the high road with your co-workers.  Now that was just the first month.

Your homework should you choose to accept this challenge is to write down 4 goals, one for each week in the month and start working on one every Monday. When you reach the fourth week, write down 4 more. I just started a Google doc I called “Weekly Goals” so I can see how this flows over time. Sometimes we get hung up on making elaborate plans with no due dates or simply unreasonable ones; this method keeps you focused on one goal for the week not some daunting list. The approach is one step at a time and it is based on achievement, and it takes minimal planning. I also would start with those goals you can achieve, don’t set yourself up for failure, as you begin achieving some of your initial goals, you can make them more challenging, but you must first embrace the mindset that you can change and this takes time.

It is important that you choose 1 or 2 goals for the week and they should be those of the highest priority. This means choose a goal or two for the week that will have an impact on your personal development, family,  or career. Here is an example of goals I set for a 4 week period:

  • Week of 4/9
    • Study for the AWS Developer Associate certification
    • Meditate for 15 minutes each day
  • Week of 4/16
    • Study for the AWS Developer Associate certification
    • Create YouTube Channel
  • Week of 4/23
    • Review and take the AWS Developer Associate certification exam
    • Schedule a meeting with an attorney to setup a will and trust
  • Week of 4/30
    • Install new hinges and pulls on kitchen cabinets
    • Start writing a gratitude journal every night

Note that some of these goals you have committed to each week may be an ongoing activity that improves your life over time. For instance in the goals I mention above meditating for 15 minutes and writing in your gratitude journal are an ongoing process.

This methodology asks you to prioritize what is most important to you and requires a commitment on your part. On the flip side failure to follow your plan leaves you no where, and you continue to just exist, living the same life you have now.

Start slow and choose one small but significant goal for each week and over time you begin to feel a sense of achievement that comes with taking care of those important things that will enrich your life.

Namaste

 

 

Grateful on a Monday

grateful for this day

There probably is no more important time to count your blessings if you will than on Monday morning. Many of us struggle with the thought of going back to the rigor of a job after a nice weekend, others have no issue with it. I’m the former most of the time, so I have taken it upon myself to not suffer the transition from weekend to work week as some type of burden or weekly negative event.  Instead of starting the week out with some whiny negative attitude, the whole paradigm needs to shift. Here is my recommendation, start your Monday morning with a bit of exercise, which might be running, yoga, Pilates, walking, or chasing your significant other around the house, whatever gets you heart beating and breathing hard.  The intent here is to burn off some energy and get into a state of relaxation.  The next thing to do is sit down on the floor, close your eyes and meditate on the following:

  • Give thanks to (God, Mohamed, Buddha, or Yourself) for being alive and healthy
  • Think about the positive ways you will interact with everyone today
  • Be thankful for what you have (look around it is all relative)

As you are focusing on these few thoughts take deep breaths inhaling and exhaling through your nose and try to drown out the noise in your head that is wanting you to think about To Do’s.  See what happens when you get off the floor, get ready and drive into work.

Are you calmer?

Do you have a more positive outlook on the day?

Can you smile without faking it?

If you can say Yes to these three questions you have found a way to start out your Monday, and any other day of the week in the best possible state of mind.

What are you grateful for today

Namaste

 

 

Day 4 of the Vegetarian diet

vegetarian-diet-health-benefits

A long long time ago I blogged about my terrible diet that consisted of pizzas, hamburgers, ice cream, and a variety of other foods that had an absence of fruits or vegetables.  I always suffered from the work out like a maniac and eat like a pig syndrome.  So for the last 4 days I have stopped eating all forms of meat.  I have allowed myself some cheese, milk, and yogurt and most of the other things I have eaten has been vegetables and fruits.  It has only been 4 days so the jury is out as to any long term affects of following an lacto (milk) octo (egg) vegetarian diet, but I do have a few observations to share.

vegetarian week

Let me make it clear I don’t despise meat it is just that I loved it so much that I tended to eat very little vegetables and almost zero fruits.  This obsession with animal protean was really limiting the consumption of other good foods and my diet was not really great, although I did a pretty good job limiting the amount of simple carbohydrates I consumed.  As I seem to have a problem with moderation I just decided to eliminate the meat which would force me to consume more fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.  Here is what I found out:

  • I feel lighter
  • I don’t gorge myself anymore and don’t feel so bloated
  • I swear my stomach is shrinking at least a little
  • The additional fiber is doing wonders for my digestive system
  • I feel like I have more energy

Not bad for 4 days.

There are additional reasons that I am pursuing this lacto octo vegetarian diet, but some of those might sound like preaching, so for now I would rather talk about how it makes me feel versus some meat eaters vs. vegetarianism world view.  I would love to hear from others who have tried vegetarian diets.

Namaste

Just What is Progressive Resistance?

strength training deadlift

Anyone who does strength training has heard the term “progressive resistance”, and most of the experienced weight training folks have a pretty good idea of what it means.  In its simplest form it means to add resistance or intensity either to each workout or periodically.  Three examples include:

  1. Adding a repetition to your set – so this week I did 9 reps instead of 8 last week.
  2. Maybe you added a another set – this week I did 3 sets instead of 2 last week.
  3. Adding weight – I added 5 pounds to my curl bar, or 10 pounds to my bench press
This is not me

This is not me

So why do I care about progressive resistance?  The answer is really pretty simple in that muscles will not grow unless they can be stimulated beyond the capacity that they are accustomed to.  Adding repetitions to sets, adding sets, and increasing the weight you move all help to stimulate your muscles and they are forced to adapt.

Now as anyone knows who has been involved with weight training over a long period of time there are ceilings you hit along the way.  For instance you may get to the point where a 50 pound dumbell is too much for you to curl, where you have kind of maxed out on the adding weight approach.  A typical approach by most people involved with strength training is to do 2 or 3 sets with a weight that they can handle for 8 to 12 repetitions per set.  Once they get to 12 repetitions they may decide to start adding weights or optionally keep the weight the same and add another set.

So what about that ceiling that we all seem to hit in terms of how much weight we can safely hoist?  Well you can add more reps and sets, but eventually this to can come to a halt and with this approach your workout gets longer and more exhausting.  So here are a couple other ideas to keep pushing your muscles, making them work harder:

  1. Do each repetition considerably slower – this puts extra strain on the muscles without having to add reps, sets, or weight
  2. Spend less time resting between sets – instead of resting say 90 seconds drop it down to 60 and you will feel the burn

There are yet other ways to ramp up the intensity, but I’ll save those for a future post.  Let me know what you do to increase the intensity of your strength training workouts.

Namaste