Friday Friends – The Start

I’m in a new job and a new city. Now I need to make some new friends!

Habit: Introduce myself to a new person every day for 66 days

Start Date: Friday, 04/13/2018

Projected End Date: Monday, 06/18/2018

Action Plan:

  • Attend a community event
  • Attend a professional event
  • Join a local book club
  • Read 2 books about networking
  • Volunteer with a local association
  • Watch 3 videos on networking

Incentive: Host a game night for all my new friends!

Lofty Goal: Attain enlightenment, give generously, and be healthy enough to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Things are finally starting to settle down after our move. We’ve gotten into a new routine, and we’re both happy where we’ve landed. I am ready to explore my surroundings and hope to meet interesting people.

I miss my midwestern friends dearly, and I want to build some equally strong relationships now that I am back in sunny SoCal. Friends help with our mental and physical health, and they improve the quality of our lives. That seems like a lot of pressure right off the bat, but I’m sure to find people I enjoy having a drink with!

Clayton thinks this habit sounds exhausting, and I must admit it is a little daunting. It’s difficult to make new friends as an adult, but introductions are the first step! Since I’m still the new person at work, it should be pretty easy to meet people around the office. It will be harder to meet new people on the weekends, but my action plan should help.

I am somewhere in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. There are some days when I am so mentally drained that the last thing I want to do is interact with other people. Most of these introductions will take place in person, but I am going to give myself a little wiggle room and count online introductions as long as they potentially lead to in-person interactions.

What’s your favorite way to meet new people? Please share your tips in the comments!

 

Workout Wednesday – The End

Yesterday I hit the 66-day mark of this habit. Now to take a look back:

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 8/5 different rowing workouts attempted
  • DONE – 5/5 instructional videos watched
  • DONE – Created a Pinterest inspiration board
  • DONE – Researched the benefits of rowing for improved cardio health
  • DONE – Watched a documentary about rowing
  • DONE – 2/2 books read about rowing
  • Attend an indoor rowing class

Grade: B

Incentive: I plan to book my 3 private rowing lessons on the water with iRow Fitness after I take an indoor rowing class.

Lessons Learned: I hit a lot of obstacles in the last few weeks of this habit. Schedule-wise, we moved again before I started my new job. I was not very focused on my healthy habits during this time, but it was nice to use rowing as a way to deal with all the stress.

Also in the last 2 weeks, my hands have been going numb while rowing and when I am sleeping. I was obviously concerned, but when I looked up my symptoms in relation to rowing I found that I might be holding my erg too tightly and that I might have a lot of lactic-acid built up in my arms and shoulders. The best thing for me will be some rest and a massage!

This is the least pumped I have been about finishing a habit. I feel proud that I pushed through to the end, but I know this isn’t something I can keep up indefinitely. I will try to row at least 3 times a week, but I don’t need to do the same workout every day to meet my fitness goals. Adding some variety back into my workout routines will be a very good thing.

Have you ever had any funky side effects from exercise? Please share your experiences in the comments so I don’t feel like such a weirdo.

Rowing Routines

Rowing can easily become tedious. I have been trying out a number of different rowing exercises to stay focused and find a rhythm that works for me. Below are my favorite exercises so far.

Rowing Sprints

My rowing machine isn’t fancy and does not track meters rowed, it only gives me a count of strokes. So I have to modify any exercises that track by meters rowed.

I liked this workout because it was one final push at the end to do 50, but didn’t make me feel like I was going to die like a row pyramid does. It also doesn’t skimp on the rest which I need as a beginner.

 

30/30 Rowing Workout

The original exercise plan had another round of squats at the end, but I changed that to sit-ups because I felt like it would be a better use of time. My push-ups we laughable, but I really liked this workout. It was nice to stop rowing and do something else during the break.

This will definitely fit into my normal routine. I might even experiment with different exercises during the 2 mint

 

30 Minute Rowing Body Blast

This exercise is great for building my endurance. I want to build up enough strength to row for 2 hours straight, and I think this exercise will really help me get there. It would probably expand well into a pyramid workout when I am ready to go for an hour.

30 Minute Rowing Sprint

30 minutes is a long sprint! This is a great workout and wonderful for building endurance. I found 75 seconds hard very challenging and I had to put in additional time between the 60 & 75.

I’m not a pro so I give myself leeway when I need to modify some exercises. I’m just ecstatic when I finish and know I will improve as I go along.

15 Minute Rowing Workout

This is an easy exercise to follow and I thought the breaks were well placed. By the third interval, I was feeling the burn. As I try to row for longer I will increase the reps on this workout.

The variety these exercises have added to my rowing routine has helped keep me engaged and motivated. I am sure that if I was rowing at the same pace every day this habit would have gotten old real quick.

Now all I need is more variety in my playlist. Please share your favorite workout song in the comments below. I’m always looking for something new!

Workout Wednesday – The Middle

I have been rowing for 39 days. The halfway mark is a great time to reflect on my progress so far.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 8/5 different rowing workouts attempted
  • DONE – 5/5 instructional videos watched
  • DONE – Created a Pinterest inspiration board
  • DONE – Researched the benefits of rowing for improved cardio health
  • DONE – Watched a documentary about rowing
  • 1/2 books read about rowing
  • Attend an indoor rowing class

Grade: C

Lessons LearnedI’ve been trying a lot of different rowing exercises, but every other day I do 10 minutes of interval rowing. This keeps me on track with my habit, but it also allows me recovery time. On days that I am especially sore, I will just do 10 minutes of easy rowing (20-24 strokes per minute). It is important to listen to your body when starting a new exercise regimen. 

 

Even with easy days built in, I have managed to lose 5 pounds since I started this habit. My heart rate is also trending down which is a great sign and a major reason for tackling this habit!

I’ve also found that when I focus on a healthy habit it helps kickstart the other healthy habits I have cultivated. When I get up early to row, it makes me want to eat a healthy breakfast. I’ve also gotten back into the habit of getting my 10,000 steps every day. Why would I bust my butt rowing and then loaf around all day and not get my steps? 

A support system to keep me accountable has also been very helpful. The Captivated by Curiosity Accountability Group on Facebook has helped me stay motivated for rowing and posting about my progress on this blog.

Rowing is challenging and fun. I haven’t dreaded a workout yet, but there have been a few late nights where I was not at all motivated just determined to get my rowing workout done. I want this habit to stick and I cannot wait to get out on the water are the end of my first 66 days!

If you have any suggestions to help me continue to improve my rowing skills please share them in the comments below!

Book Breakdown: Rowing the Atlantic

Title: Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean
Author: Roz Savage
Genre: Non-fiction/ Memoir
Grade: B

Roz Savage has written 2 books about ocean rowing. I decided to read her account of rowing across the Atlantic since I had just watched a documentary about rowing the Pacific.

I really enjoyed Savage’s account of participating in the Atlantic Rowing Race. I didn’t know this event existed, but my timing was fantastic because I got to follow the end of the 2017 race while reading this book.

It is a journey of self-discovery and reflection. The deepening relationship with her mother was especially touching. I also enjoyed the layout of the book and how she tied the emotions she felt while rowing to different people and events that led her to the middle of the Atlantic.

Rowing across an ocean seems agonizing, and like it or not Savage shares gory details about boils and sores that the documentary I watched glossed over. It’s also very dark in some places which made me wonder why anyone would want to do this to themselves. The challenges she faced toward the end of the race were particularly gut-wrenching. The anticipation of being done mixed with the frustration of yet another obstacle must have made the finish all the sweeter.

The Clouds of Anxiety chapter was my least favorite because it goes into the details of her divorce. Who am I to judge another person’s journey? It is an important part of Savage’s life, so I’m glad that she shared the memories in the book. I also liked that she thanked her ex-husband in the Acknowledgements which made it seem like a happier outcome for all involved.

A short, exciting read that I would recommend to anyone looking to delight in a second-hand adventure.

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean like this post to be entered into the drawing!

Rowing Right

There are all kinds of wrong ways to row. Since I’m doing a repetitive exercise every day I need to focus on my form so I don’t injure myself. I also researched the benefits of rowing to ensure I key in on the right metrics.

This instructional video posted by Zain Khan does a wonderful job of breaking down the rowing stroke and explaining some of the common mistakes beginners make along with how to correct them. My favorite parts explain how improper technique could lead to specific injuries, and the impact those movements would have on the water.

Watching a variety of videos on proper technique has helped me to feel more confident in my stroke. Every warmup I do starts with the stroke breakdown and an easy row to make sure I’m doing things in the right order. I’m sure taking a rowing class with an instructor will do wonders for my technique, but I want to build up more endurance before I pay for a class.

Improving my cardio health is the main reason I decided to pick up rowing. According to the Mayo Clinic, aerobic exercises can help you lose weight, strengthen your heart, and even help with your mood. Because rowing is low impact I feel like I have made greater strides than when I tried different running programs.

A rowing machine is also a combination machine. It allows you to build muscle while getting in a great cardio workout. Setting the resistance on your rowing machine at 4-6 is supposed to mimic the drag you would experience on the water.

I was intimidated about rowing every day because previously I worked out about once a week, but I haven’t experienced any major issues. I think pacing myself has helped a lot, and I am still seeing progress gains.

Please let me know if there is something I missed in my research. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

Inspiration & Implementation: Workout Wednesday

Workout inspiration abounds on Pinterest. Below are the top links I have pinned to my Workout Wednesday board that are helping me to build this rowing habit.

1. Rowing Technique

I watched this tutorial video at least 10 times when I first started rowing. It does a wonderful job of breaking down the stroke, which I use as my warm up every day. I really think it is important to focus on technique since it is such a repetitive motion.

2. 14 Rowing Machine Workouts

The great thing about Pinterest is all the infographics! This list of rowing machine workouts pulls together easy to follow workouts. I enjoy the variety it puts into my daily routine, and I have tried a new workout every other day since I started.

3. 5 Big Rowing Machine Benefits

The infographics also provide a lot of information on why rowing is so good for you. I like this article the best because it covers a lot of ground. Rowing is a full body, low impact exercise that is great for cardio. What’s not to love?!

I have also added a number of inspirational quotes and images to my Workout Wednesday board. Staying motivated to workout every day is hard. On the days I find it especially difficult to get on the rowing machine I take time to look up new quotes to get me in the right frame of mind.

I don’t always feel motivated to stick with my habits, so I have taken to saying, “determination over motivation!” I know we’re all trying to stay on track so please share any inspiring words or images in the comments below.

Movie Madness: The Boys of ’36 & Losing Sight of Shore

I’ve heard great things about the book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When I saw that Netflix was streaming a documentary about the same team I thought American Experience: The Boys of ’36 fit perfectly in my action plan.

It’s a somber story that focuses on the unconventional backgrounds of this elite rowing team. I enjoyed the black and white footage of the team and that they interspersed the narration with newer footage to highlight techniques. I had never heard the term “swing” in regards to rowing, but it sounds like an amazing experience and makes me want to join a team!

The director doesn’t go into the background of each of the rowers but mostly focuses on the hardships that befell Rantz, Hume, and Moch. I would have loved more context on the other six rowers. There wasn’t enough gravitas in this film for such an epic story. The soundtrack was uninspired and the ending abrupt.

That’s what I get for trying to take the easy route. It’s still a moving story, so I plan on picking up the book at some point.

Since my first choice was a bust I perused Netflix and found Losing Sight of Shore. It’s amazing! I was immediately invested in these women and got goosebumps when they started their journey rowing under the Golden Gate bridge.

The cinematography and editing really connected me to the team. Their dejection at failure is your dejection and their elation when they hit milestones is your elation.

This movie has inspired me to attempt to row for 2 hours straight. I think on my next free Saturday I am going to row while watching this movie again. If I rowed for the whole movie I would still have another 28 mins to go to match one of their shifts. And I would need to do 1,541 more shifts to get across the Pacific. Even the math is daunting.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone with some free time today! Seriously, go watch it right now, and then share in the comments how much you loved it.

Workout Wednesday – The Start

All I wanted for Christmas was a rowing machine, and Santa-Clayton delivered!

Habit: Row for at least 10 minutes every day for 66 days

Start Date: Sunday, 01/21/2018

Projected End Date: Wednesday, 03/28/2018

Action Plan:

  • Attend an indoor rowing class
  • Create a Pinterest inspiration board
  • Read 2 books about rowing
  • Research the benefits of rowing for improved cardio health
  • Try 5 different rowing workouts
  • Watch a documentary about rowing
  • Watch 5 instructional videos

Incentive: 3 private rowing lessons on the water with iRow Fitness!

Lofty Goal: Being healthy enough to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

The main reason I want to build this habit is to improve my cardio fitness. I actually started prepping for this habit in December because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to row every day right out of the gate. As a beginner, I started with The Mirror workout for 10 minutes every other day. I’ve progressed to 20 minutes, and as I try to build up this habit I will continue to do the mirror every other day while I incrementally add in different rowing workouts. I don’t want to burn out or injure myself so I am starting small, but building consistency.

Rowing is an activity that I have always found challenging and fun. Since I travel so much for work there will be times I am away from my rowing machine. On days I don’t have access to a rowing machine I will count a full body work out as an equivalent exercise toward my daily goal. I’m glad to have a contingency plan up front, and I am so stoked about getting out on the water I know it will keep me on track throughout this challenge.

Please share your favorite no equipment full body workouts in the comments!

Strummin’ Saturday – The End

Thanks to some renewed inspiration I’m finally wrapping up this banjo series. I hit my 66-day goal back in November, but since this action plan deviated from the template I decided to keep going with my posts. On to the stats!

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 3/3 TED Talks watched
  • DONE – Created a Pinterest inspiration board
  • DONE – Posted list of pro-tips for practicing
  • DONE – 15/5 banjo lessons
  • 8/11 weekly Saturday posts

Grade: B

Incentive: I already cashed in my incentive for this habit. I didn’t want to lose momentum by suspending my lessons until I hit the 66-day mark. I did scale back my lessons to biweekly but went well past the initial 5 lessons I purchased.

Lessons Learned: Getting a teacher was the best thing I did in building this habit. Ken has been very encouraging and the pacing of my lessons was great. He deserves every star on his Take Lessons profile.

I travel a lot for work, so I purchased a hard case and started taking my banjo with me on business trips. Traveling with an instrument is difficult, but I found I made a lot more time for practicing when I was on the road. There isn’t much for me to do in the Midwest in winter, so I was glad to have my banjo when I was stuck in a hotel room. These challenges taught me to add some flexibility to my process because not everything I want to accomplish is going to fit easily into my daily routine.

Putting on my own holiday recitals and making my family listen to all the songs I learned this year was also a lot of fun. I’m on my way to pleasing myself with my banjo skills! For your viewing pleasure here is my last progress video:

Stay tuned for my next habit kicking off this week!