Category Archives: Physical exercise

Miranda’s tenth month: music

I’m happy to say that I didn’t eat any candy or cookies for 22 days in a row. And during all of these days, I did some kind of physical exercise, although on a few days it was only a walk. I have tried zumba and pilates and tai chi, and for once, I’m almost addicted to working out. It does make me cope better with the workload, and I don’t crave sugar anymore. And despite my stress, I’ve been able to read two books, meet some friends and go to two concerts. Because I prioritized what I felt was most important to me, I had the energy to do things in time anyway.

So, because of last month’s success, I’ve decided to go against my plans and choose a focus area that may not help me finish my essay faster. However, it will hopefully keep my mood up and give me some nice breaks from the long hours of studying. This month, I will focus on music.

Last week, I took part in the filming of a documentary, and they wanted a shot of me playing the guitar. First, it hit me that I hadn’t taken my guitar out of its case since my last guitar lesson in December. Secondly, I couldn’t come up with a single song to play. This made me feel really awkward, because here I am, dreaming of making albums that will change people’s lives, and I haven’t even touched my guitar for months. I figured that if I managed to squeeze in up to an hour of exercise every day, I should have time to play some guitar as well.

My first goal is to learn a quite difficult song containing lots of fast picking, which is something I really need to practice. Right now, it seems completely impossible. But if I slow it down and just gradually play it a little faster each day during the month (or at least each day I’m home, because I’m going to London tomorrow), I could make it.

My second goal is to find a new band I like every week. Sounds simple enough, but I’ve had a really difficult time finding bands with more than one or two good songs lately. I cancelled my Spotify subscription last week to save some money, and I still haven’t regretted it. I think Spotify made me lose my patience with music, because there’s too much – it’s so easy to jump to the next song. And some music needs to be listened to a few times before the greatness of it sinks in. Now I’m mostly using 8tracks, a free service where you can only skip songs a limited number of times.

I think these two goals will be enough, considering that this is the month I will (hopefully) finish my essay. It’s kind of hard for me to grasp, but soon my education will be finished. In one month and a few days, I will be free.

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Filed under Goals, Health, Miranda, Music, Physical exercise, Priorities, Stress

Miranda’s ninth month: Priorities

Inspired by Titania’s thoughts on time and priorities, I have decided to turn this month into an experiment. Since my life gets more and more stressful, I think it is time to start prioritizing the right things. Since I came home from Italy, I have been exercising twice a week, and I notice such a tremendous change in my energy and motivation that it would be stupid not to take time to exercise. It simply gives me so much time in return.

One thing that doesn’t give me energy, however, is sugar. This easter weekend has been crazy, with two family dinners and lots of desserts and candy. I don’t need to lose weight, but stomachaches and tiredness is something I could definitely do without. I’m curious to see how it would affect my body and mind to stay away from sweet things for a whole month. I don’t think I have managed more than a week before, but I think that this perspective will help me. Instead of viewing it as a ban, I will prioritize eating healthy because it makes me feel much better and gives me much more energy.

Finally, because of my stress I almost feel guilty when I spend half an hour reading  before I go to bed.  I haven’t touched my guitar for months, and sometimes I would like to draw or take some photos or bake bread or meet a friend, but I usually end up studying instead. This is not okay! I have to squeeze in some free time and fun activities to be able to cope with the stressful days, and I think that if I can make my days more effective by gaining more energy, I will find time for this as well.

So, my goals for April are:

1. Do some kind of physical exercise every day.

2. Eat no candy or cookies.

3. Take time to do something I really enjoy every day.

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Filed under Body, Challenge, Diet, Food, Goals, Health, Miranda, Physical exercise, Priorities, Productivity, Stress, Wellbeing

Mindfulness in Val Gardena

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I was tired. It was early in the morning, and my fingers were already numb with the cold. It was even snowing inside the cable car. I glared at the other people in their ugly ski clothing, who had pushed me on their way into our car, the first one, to reach the top before anyone else. It was the third day of our ski trip in Italy, and I was irritated. By everything.

It hit me then, how wrong this was. It was supposed to be my mindful month. I was supposed to enjoy each moment. And there I was, sulking away, for no substantial reason. So, I made a simple decision. I was not going to let my stress and bad mood ruin the rest of the trip. From now on, I would enjoy it. I turned my mind away from the other people, and watched the small, perfectly formed snowflakes that fell onto my jacket. I watched them melt. And slowly, I calmed down.

By the time we reached the top, my irritation was gone. When I saw the view, I didn’t mind the other people anymore. Their pushing was justified. How could you not want to struggle a bit for this? To get the first ride down these perfectly soft, newly pisted ski slopes. That morning, I had the best skiing of my life.

When I chose to savour things instead of letting them get on my nerves, there was suddenly so much to enjoy. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sun for a while, instead of getting irritated by the fact that I had to wait so long for my grandmother at the end of each slope. I sat back and enjoyed the beautiful British accent of the guys in the same chair lift, instead of grumbling about the cold wind in my face. I enjoyed four days of skiing with a newfound friend from the same coach journey, who suddenly started to talk to me, probably because I looked more friendly and open when I wasn’t angry. And when everyone else started to complain that the food wasn’t as good as it used to be, I kept quiet and enjoyed tasting new things.

I also noticed than when I was skiing more mindfully, I was less scared. When I was fourteen, I collided with another skier, and ever since, I have been a bit afraid. However, when I started to pay more attention to what I was doing, to the sound of the snow beneath my skis and the structure of the slope and the shapes that was formed by me and the other skiers, I had so much more control over the situation. I had time to choose my path and avoid risks, and for once, I could ski fast and without fear – even in the black slopes.

Sometimes bad things happen, things that provoke feelings that you cannot, and should not, control. But in everyday life situations, you always have a choice. You can choose where to put your energy, what to focus on and what to ignore.

In that cable car in the Alps of Italy, I chose to be happy. And suddenly I was.

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Filed under Attention, Fear, Feelings, Letting go, Mind, Mindfulness, Miranda, Physical exercise, Traveling, Uncategorized

Miranda’s seventh month: Wellbeing

My simple month turned quite chaotic. I managed to clear out three rooms before I suddenly ran out of spare moments. All my time seemed to be wasted either working or worrying about working. I have tried to do one thing at a time, and I think I have started to prioritise better but I want to keep striving towards a simpler life. In the middle of everything I went to an osteopath and she said I had severe vitamin deficiencies and that my digestion isn’t working properly. So, now I’m taking four kinds of supplements, while trying to stress less and get my mind and body on track again. I decided to squeeze in a wellbeing month to have yet another reason to stay focused on what makes me feel better. These are my goals:

– Exercise regularly

– Eat mindfully

– Get enough sleep

– Meditate

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Filed under Body, Goals, Health, Meditation, Miranda, Physical exercise, Wellbeing

Titania’s sixth month: Body revisited

My last month was devoted to music, and – as usual – I didn’t manage to do all the things on my list, but I’m very satisfied anyway. I felt that my December was full of music: Christmas songs on my Spotify list, Music Aid on the radio, guitar playing (finally!) to prepare for the New Year’s Eve party, where I played and sang with my two younger daughters. Unfortunately, Miranda had such throat problems for her great grandmother’s funeral that she couldn’t sing the songs that we had planned to sing in parts, but we sorted it out anyway. She played the piano, while her father (my ex husband), his brother and I sang one of the songs, and the other song all the funeral guests sang together.

Now it’s a 2013, and time for my sixth focus month. I’m not very fond of New Year Resolutions, but instead I usually make a wish list (very much like the type children make for Christmas) for every new year: things that I hope to do more (or less)  of. I had other plans, but since my body focus earlier in the project didn’t turn out quite as I had expected, I will give it another go. After studying a university course last autumn, I now know more about change processes and – particularly – have been much more inspired to make a real, well-planned effort this time.

Just as Miranda’s January focus is simplicity, I will make my focus simple: more healthy food (e.g. fruit, vegetables), less unhealthy food (e.g. chocolate, ice-cream, cookies) and more physical exercise (body combat, yoga, running, power walks). As opposed to my last try in September, however, I will go back to my good old tradition of making notes of what I do, since that seems to be the only way for me to actually manage. And this time my most important goal is to make my change into a healthier lifestyle sustainable! Not only do I want to put on those nice black jeans in June, but (unless they are completely worn out) I want to be able to put them on next June as well!

Titania

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A more-than-halfways report

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A photo taken at yesterday’s evening walk, BEFORE it grew really dark.

Almost two thirds of my body month have passed. Some things have worked out well, others less well. As for physical exercise I have tried, but not succeeded entirely. First of all, it’s quite difficult to find time in the midst of a heavy workload and a lot of family activities. I know it’s all about priorities, but an extremely strong focus on my latest writing project the last few weeks has – unfortunately – made me sometimes forget about my exercise plans. Furthermore, since we live in the countryside and autumn is coming, taking a walk once all three kids are in bed, is simply not doable – as it was in summertime, when I often took a walk after nine in the evening and it was still not dark outside. Finally, my thigh started protesting last week, so I couldn’t work out in the same way as I usually can in my body combat class on Friday. After some stretching advice from my husband – who has had the same problem before – my body seems to be on my side again, and tomorrow I’ll introduce Miranda to a body combat class. I wonder what she’ll think about it.

Food-wise, things are going quite OK, although I haven’t been as strict to myself as perhaps I should if I want to get into that pair of black jeans before Christmas… I have, however, thought more about my daily intake, eaten less than before and more healthily too – and that’s something I feel happy about. I’m certainly on the right track. Getting into bed is still a problem, however. I simply love my book writing so much that I don’t want to sleep at all. And of course I  feel that I’m very fortunate to have a job that I enjoy so much. So far, staying up late hasn’t been a big problem either; I haven’t been that tired in day-time. And the other day, when I was particularly engulfed in my writing and put out the light FAR too late, I did what I had promised myself to do – I gave myself a reiki session, slept well and woke up without problems in the morning.

Meditation is still a daily routine, which I practice even those days when I get to bed late. Speaking of meditation, last week, Miranda and I had a really nice experience when visiting a local sculptor, whose private garden – which is full of flowers, trees, bushes, birds, butterflies, works of art and places to sit down and rest or meditate – is also open to the public by appointment. There is even a meditation tipi, where you can light a candle and stay for as long as you like. I meditated in the tent, and I also had a very nice moment sitting on an old tree stump watching a beautiful piece of art – a number of small round mirrors flickering in the wind casting glitter all around them when reflecting the sun. I felt very strongly that they symbolized how I feel about my working life right now, after I left the safety of my permanent position for a much less secure but oh so much more enjoyable situation as self-employed: happily dancing, lighthearted, free in spirit. Let it be, let it be…

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Filed under Body, Diet, Food, Physical exercise, Titania

Jeans in, scales out

I’ve been on the Weightwatchers’ diet twice before in my life – with very good results. The problem is that I tend to slip back – slowly but steadily – into bad eating habits: too much food, too much sugar and so on. Perhaps the problem is that I put such a lot of effort into all the counting and weighing when I’m on the diet, and once I don’t need to count and weigh any longer, I just relax and lose control again.

What if I skip all the counting and weighing and just focus on that pair of black jeans that I would really really love to wear again. Try to eat less and do more physical exercise, and make it a lifestyle that I can go on keeping once I’ve reached my goal. If the goal is not a figure any longer, just that pair of jeans… Will it work?

PS. Biggest food challenge ever? A freezer full of leftovers from the party on Saturday: home-made ice-cream and cookies. If I can stay away from them at least Monday to Friday, I will be very proud of myself…

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Filed under Body, Challenge, Diet, Food, Physical exercise, Titania, Yoga