Planned Preoccupation PSA

A new job, a new city, a new diet, meeting new people… I have to do lists, alarms, peer-accountability and tracking apps for days. I’m exhausted from living up to my own expectations. So I’ve decided to take a no-tracking-weekend. I’m taking off my Fitbit, silencing my phone, and enjoying myself.

This is going to cause me to break my Friday Friends and Metabolism Monday streaks, but these habits and my blog are supposed to help me reach my goals, not stress me out so much that my hard work becomes counterproductive.

Hopefully, on Monday I will be reenergized and can evaluate my goals with a fresh perspective. Until then, I will delight in my adventures first hand!

Career Cliques

One of the easiest ways for me to meet new people has been at my new job. I’ve only been there a month, and there are plenty of new faces around.

There are RTE and Agile Communities of Practice (CoP) at my office. The RTE community is still fairly small, so I have gotten a lot of face time with the other RTEs at the company. The Agile CoP has a much wider audience, and by attending their bi-weekly sessions I have met most of the other agile practitioners near me.

My office also has a Women with Drive group. I went to their session about Negotiation, and there was a fantastic networking game at the end. They also have a book club element to the group which is exciting. I liked it so much I signed up to volunteer with them.

I’m also a member of my local Project Management Institute (PMI) chapter and have attended a few of their breakfast meetings. They don’t have high attendance at breakfast, but that allows me ample opportunity to interact with the speakers and network. The agile manager at my office and I will also be attending an agile professionals meetup in a couple of weeks. I’m excited to bring someone else along with me on my networking adventures.

Joining these groups have allowed me to meet a lot of new people. There is also great content shared in these meetings. There are so many intangible benefits to getting out of your comfort zone so I’m excited to keep my momentum going and to find new groups in my city.

What is your favorite way to improve your professional network? Please share your experiences in the comments!

Metabolism Monday – The Start

This is not a normal 66-day habit, but I will be following a prescribed program.

Habit: Follow the Fast Metabolism Diet for the required 28 days.

Start Date: Friday, 04/30/2018

Projected End Date: Sunday, 05/27/2018

Action Plan:

Incentive: Buy an elliptical machine!

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

My coworker, Dave, did a presentation at our last internal conference about his weight loss results with
The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight. He’s lost 47 pounds since January and other members of his extended family have had similar results.

Pomroy’s book does a great job of laying out the program and explaining the data behind each element. The program is 4 weeks long and the weeks are broken into phases. Phase 1, two days, is mostly grains and fruit and pairs with cardio workouts. Phase 2, two days, is similar to a paleo diet and pairs with strength workouts. Phase 3, three days, is a balanced diet incorporating healthy fats and pairs with relaxing workouts like yoga.

This book hits on so many of the healthy habits I have been trying to build. It ties my meditation, green smoothie, 8WW meals, and rowing habits together and I am hoping to see tangible results.

The program is practical and straightforward and we’ve finished Day 1! We enjoyed most of the food and felt sated throughout the day. We also completed our first cardio workout by swimming after work. We’re off to a great start and are determined to finish out the full 28 days!

Have you completed the Fast Metabolism Diet, or know someone who has? Please share your experiences in the comments!

TED Talks on Social Ties

My action plan focused on networking, but that wasn’t exactly the inspiration I was looking for. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted so I browsed TED’s Friendship and Relationships categories to find these talks.

“…villagers lives constantly intersect.”

This is one of the best talks I’ve seen in a while. It’s funny, Pinker is well spoken, and she has a plethora of data to back up her assertions. She starts with her study of longevity in Sardinia. These anecdotes from the village bring the data alive.

One study shows that the most powerful predictors of long lifespans are close relationships and social integration (how many people you interact with throughout the day). She also sites resources that show in person interaction engages more of your brain and different chemical reactions than online interactions produce. One conclusion is that in general women live longer than men because they prioritize these face to face relationships. As few as 3 stable relationships would be enough to see benefits in your health.

“Come back to me.”

Menon’s talk is engaging and full of practical tips for expanding your social horizons. It won’t happen by accident. You need to go out of your way to allow yourself to bump into new people. We also have natural filters so her next tip is to interact with people you initially find boring or annoying. There are also times when it’s easy to reach out to your network, but we should be brave and also reach out when times are hard. Her assertion that people are partners, not resources is especially poignant.

“…genuine emotional connections…”

Strangers are not always dangerous, and we don’t need to be afraid of interacting with people we don’t know. Stark maintains we should try to see people as individuals and get others to see us that way as well. Fleeting intimacy with strangers can have profound impacts and help to positively disrupt our everyday lives. She provides a number of examples of how to approach strangers without completely breaking social norms, and challenges us to try these out in our own lives. 

These talks have given me confidence in continuing this habit. It’s hard to introduce myself to new people, but these talks lay out all of the benefits I could realize if I step out of my comfort zone.

Have these videos inspired you to talk to new people? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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.