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!

Friday Finances – The End

Well that was a quick jump from the “middle” to the end…

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 66/66 days of tracking our daily spending
  • DONE – 3/3 TED Talks about personal finance watched
  • DONE – Created a Pinterest inspiration board
  • DONE – 2/2 books read on personal finance
  • DONE – Determined best investment tool to save money (Vanguard)
  • DONE – Analyzed online budgeting tools (we plan on using a spending plan)
  • 5/10 weekly posts on Fridays about my progress

Grade: B

Incentive: We have a meeting scheduled with a financial planner next week. Even though The Little Book of Common Sense Investing has convinced me we don’t need a financial planner for investing we still have some tax related questions that I am excited to get answered!

Lessons Learned: I missed a lot of posts, but I was still able to meet the other items on my action plan. You’ve got to focus on the wins. This habit has given us the wonderful opportunity of getting feedback from friends and family about the tools they use to keep their family budget. We’ve had some fantastic conversations about what works and what doesn’t.

Clayton and I are going to keep up with the tracking until we are settled after our move. Once we get into a new routine we’ll set up our new spending plan.

Our sabbatical year will be here before you know it. If you have any inspiring memes/pictures/charts that keep you motivated to make good financial decisions please share them in the comments!

Book Breakdowns: A Twofer

The title of Bogle’s book struck me as I was reviewing The Essential Warren Buffet Reading List. Judging this book by its cover worked out really well!

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing opens with Buffet’s “Gotrocks Family” parable which sets the tone for the entire book. Investing carries inherent risk, but the average investor exacerbates the problem by trying to beat the market. Bogle asserts that index funds let the market work for you.

The facts, figures, and math are easy to follow and lend credibility to the argument rather than bogging it down. I especially like the “Don’t Take My Word For It” sections that show how other top financial minds are interpreting the data and investing.

I’ve always been intimidated by the stock market, and even though I have investments I haven’t felt comfortable with my portfolio decisions. I am not sure if this is my confirmation bias, but I love that this book made me feel comfortable with a set it and forget it strategy.

It’s a fantastic book that will make you feel empowered to start investing. I would highly recommend it to anyone!

Judging this book by it’s cover did not work out so well…

This book reads like a blog, because Brooke is a blogger. Each chapter is a day in the month and has a series of challenges at the end. I read it straight through even though it is intended to be read one day/chapter at a time. Each section isn’t applicable to everyone so you can certainly skip around and focus on the parts that will help you the most.

It is nice to have a lot of helpful advice all in one book with logical categorization. If nothing else I was turned on to Amazon’s Subscribe & Save so that’s a plus. The fact that she gives advice in areas that she admits to not being an expert in (like recommending homeopathy in the name of saving money) made me to give this book a lower grade.

It’s good for anyone just starting their financial journey. However, a lot of the information can be found on her Creative Savings blog.

If you’re still interested after my lukewarm review, the first person to request it in the comments will get my copy of 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses: Less Stress. More Savings.!

Friday Finances – The Middle(ish)

One way to improve your financial outlook is to find a new job that offers a higher salary. That has been my primary focus, and I started my new job this week. Things have finally started to settle down, but I am woefully behind on my weekly posts. The good news is even though I haven’t been posting we have been sticking to the plan, so lets look at the stats.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 3/3 TED Talks about personal finance watched
  • DONE – Created a Pinterest inspiration board
  • 51/66 days of tracking our daily spending
  • 1/2 books read on personal finance
  • 3/10 weekly posts on Fridays about my progress
  • Analyze online budgeting tools
  • Determine best investment tools to save money with

Grade: C

Lessons Learned: Not great, but we have stuck with the daily habit and that is the ultimate goal. It has been enlightening to see where we are spending all of our money. After the first month Clayton thought it was important to add a Travel category to our tracking sheet.

We have yet to analyze our spending, but at the end of the 66 days we will have two months of data to review. From there we will decide between a monthly budget or a spending plan.

Do you have any experience with a spending plan? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

TED Talks on Finances

I find most TED Talks inspiring, and after perusing their catalog I found these gems.

“Student debt is profitable”

How college loans exploit students for profit – Sajay Samuel

Last month I was in a training class and my table mate was encouraging me to go back to school to get an MBA. After watching this video I totally agree that higher education is a consumer product and status symbol.

Student loans from our undergrad degrees have been the largest portion of our debt over the last seven years. If this is our new reality, we need to become better consumers. Clayton and I have tried to help our nieces and nephews make smart choices about higher education so they don’t end up in the same position we have been in. This talk is a little disheartening, but knowing is half the battle!

“You are connected to … this future self. Your decisions today will determine its well being.” 

The battle between your present and future self – Daniel Goldstein

This talk has a fun twist in that Goldstein is trying to use simulations to overcome our present bias by simulating your future self and your future income. It’s not the best talk of the group, but he does a great job of showing how we can better motivate ourselves to save without relying on commitment devices.

“Why did you take my apple?!”

Saving for tomorrow, tomorrow – Shlomo Benartzi

It is encouraging to hear that we are already following a lot of the steps Benartzi laid out in this talk. My mom made sure I knew how important retirement saving was by constantly reminding me that her 401K was going to fund her Cocoon retirement plan. Clayton and I have been increasing our retirement savings every year and will continue to do so until we reach our 14% savings goal.

I would highly recommend any of these videos if you’re looking for a little financial motivation.

If you have a favorite finance video please share it in the comments!

Friday Finances – The Start

3 years ago Clayton and I formulated a 10 year plan. Our ultimate goal is to save enough money to take a year sabbatical and travel the world.

The first phase of our plan was to pay off all of our unsecured debt. It seemed easier to manage our finances when we had clear goals of what debt we wanted to pay off, when. I’d like to validate our current budget to maximize our savings.

Habit: Track spending every day for 66 days

Start Date: Wednesday, 03/01/2017

Projected End Date: Saturday, 05/06/2017

Action Plan:

  • Read 2 books on personal finance
  • Watch 3 TED Talks about personal finance
  • Analyze online budgeting tools
  • Determine best investment tools to save money with
  • Create a Pinterest inspiration board
  • Post weekly on Fridays about my progress

Incentive: Meet with a financial planner. I know it doesn’t sound fun, but it really excites me!

Lofty Goal: Being healthy (financial health is a type of health!)

After we have built this habit we will know where we are spending our money. We have a budget but have never validated that we are adhering to our spending limits. I want to make sure we are saving as much as we can to reach our goal!

What tools do you use to stay on budget? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments!

Planned Preoccupation Check In

Happy New Year!

The new year is always a time for reflection, so let’s have a check in. I started this blog in the summer of 2015 and have cultivated 6 new habits and achieved 2 specific goals.

Writing

I have not been as strict about daily writing as I was with my initial habit. There was a point where the weekly posts were starting to cause me some anxiety so I took a few breaks over the course of the year. I want my energy focused on the habits themselves, not on this blog which should support the habits.

Meditation

Even though I don’t sit and meditate intentionally everyday this habit has helped me to manage my stress more effectively. I often focus on my breathing and clear my mind before I go into a meeting, or respond to a contentious email.

I have also completed 2 Headspace packs since I started this habit, and have the Motivation pack teed up as we dive into 2017!

Smoothies

I’ve got a freezer full of smoothie packs. It’s difficult to start the morning with a frozen drink when it is below freezing outside, but it’s still our quickest breakfast option. I also learned that if I freeze my ingredients on a baking sheet before I put them in the freezer bags they don’t turn into a big hunk of ice and are much easier to blend. So I’ve got that going for me.

8WW Meals

I have not kept up with this habit very well at all. I am often reminded of the Sharma quote, “knowing what to do and not doing it is the same as not knowing what to do.” Here’s to better food choices in 2017!

Spanish

This was the only habit I failed at during the initial 66 days, but it is the one I have kept up with the best since then. My mom started using Duolingo to learn Italian, and it is fun to check in with each other on our progress. I also have so many friends who try to engage my new found Spanish skills that I feel compelled to keep going!

Random Acts of Kindness

A great thing that came from this habit was learning about the generosity of my friends and family. Once I started talking more about philanthropy more people started sharing their good deeds with me. It has been a wonderful learning experience.

The structure this blog provides also helped me to organize our move to Red Wing and to get my Project Management Professional certification. Action planning focused my efforts and I was able to achieve my goals.

The support, suggestions, and encouragement you have provided in the comments have been invaluable! I am excited to continue on this journey of personal development, and know that 2017 will bring great things.

Here is a sneak peak of my next habit…

guessagain

Care to hazard a guess?!