First Yoga Class - I attended my first real yoga class; it was the one single thing I have done on my own that instantly made me well. Driving home I felt up and about; the session had lifted me undoubtedly; more so than the running, riding or swimming. I'd read about runners high and had felt good when running but not like this. The week after I swam, run and rode better. The stretching had certainly made me feel more comfortable when exercising. I have never been good at stretching, I read years ago (or heard it, or dreamt it…) that the Australian Sport Academy had denounced stretching. I'm not sure this has any basis whatsoever but I'd never bothered with it. But this had helped and a week or so before I had 'you-tubed' how to run quicker and the gut had illustrated a three minute stretching routine to do before you set out; I did this before my next run and whilst I was not quicker my knees were certainly felt better. So within one class I'm a covert for stretching; still not a correctly stretching and my yoga is the only stretching I do but there is benefit I feel for sure.
I still want to learn about what I'm doing so here is a potted history of yoga as I understand it; the practice started about 5,000 years ago in India. Whilst at the moment it is a physical exercise for me the original practitioners experienced spiritual and mediative elements and believed the practice was a path to divine enlightenment. One of the six major school of Hinduism is Yoga. There are six main kinds of Yoga; but I'm not into the differences at this time. Internet searches in the main suggest that Yoga was bought to the west in the 1980's but I remember my Nan being into Yoga before that, so perhaps she was a pioneer. Where she got it from, who knows but I remember her in spandex and thinking she was cool. I'm not wearing spandex for love or money but remembering her being into it makes me want to respect it even more, even though I have to laugh at myself as I half arse my way through these initial classes.
The book I have found referenced the most is the Bhagavad Gita; the Bhagavad Gita is a 700 verse Hindu scripture written in Sanskrit that is part of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. It forms chapters 23 to 40 of the 6th book. It is set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between Pandava (descendants of Pandu) prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Krishna. At the start of the righteous war between Pandavas and Kauravas (the descendants of Kuru), Arjuna is filled with moral dilemma and despair about the violence and death the war will cause. He wonders if he should renounce and seeks Krishna's counsel, whose answers and discourse constitute the Bhagadvad Gita. Krishna counsels Arjuna to "warrior duty to uphold the Dharma" (a Hindu, Buddhist and yogic concept that refers to the idea of a law, or principle, governing the universe. For an individual to live out their Dharma is for them to act in accordance with this law. It is often believed that acting in this way is the path to enlightenment) through "selfless action". The Krishna-Arjuna dialogue embraces a broad range of spiritual topics, discussing ethical dilemmas and philosophical issues that go far beyond the war Arjuna faces. Mahatma Ghandi referred to the Bhagavad Gita as his "spiritual dictionary". Spirituality is linked to the blue zones around the world; the blue zones are where people have lived the longest, healthiest lives. I lack spirituality, that not to say I do not believe in a God; I just don’t like the way he is represent by the religions I have encountered in my life. I'm not even sure this is spirituality but I want to understand it and my first step will be to read the book until I understand it more and see where this leads.
This mindset also has led me to start very slowly to practice some meditation. It was simply the Head space App beginners course. Ten sessions, that are guided to lead you through a meditation session. Really well put together, it may seem odd to say but you do not have to try too hard and by the eighth session I did not know if I was falling asleep or not. I would however by awake again at the end of the guide. I did however not carry on around the Christmas period but more on that in a moment. I will however get into this in the new year.
Silly season; the lead up to Christmas in my line of work is always hectic. I wanted to manage it better this year. Previously it had just been perpetual hangover from early November to knocking off just before Christmas. Culminating for the last few years in a mates lunch. Something I had always enjoyed and was not about to forfeit; my wife always knew it bought the end of year to a close and did not object to me going or appear to resent it in any way. All credit to her. This year up until the day before the mates lunch I had crunched it. Melbourne Cup day was navigated and I cycled in to work the next day. I cruised through the next six weeks of lunches, dinners and functions without incident. That was until leaving drinks for one of the company's directors. Lunch kicked off, beers and wine accompanied; lunch lead to dinner more beer and wine, dinner lead all back to the boss's gaff for what I do not remember. I do remember going to use the toilet, coming out of there and dropping onto the spare bed where I feel asleep. It was a good deep sleep, one I woke up from at 6.30 am. Panic! One of my wife and I rules is that you always get home after a night out. I had failed her two four days out from Christmas. To her credit she was forgiving; she believed I had just fallen asleep and there was no other shenanigans which is all credit to our relationship but I had let her down. I knew I had let her down. That feeling has been very hard to shake. In fact it is going to stay with me for a long time. I owe her and my kids to show more respect than this; in twenty four years of living with my wife I have never done this. It goes back to being able to manage alcohol. I enjoy socialising, I enjoy a drink. I just need to know when I'm at the tipping point and then to turn back. I'm not sure how to do this obviously. I need to slow down in these situations; I had managed that pretty much all year but this incident has ruined all that I am going to have to reflect on that. An addict is an addict I guess and addictions manifest themselves in different ways. I feel that I have an addiction to sugar and very occasionally still binge on that and then there are occasions where alcohol takes over; I am not dependent on alcohol. I go for days and weeks without but it can get hold of me and in these times I forget the important things in life; most notably during this incident my wife and kids. I'm going to have to reconcile this with myself, I have just re-read what I wrote in January. One year on and whilst I have achieved a lot in terms of wellness I have not moved on with managing alcohol and drinking to extremes at all. Something I am not proud about and something I am going to need to deal with going forward. It effects many of my priorities, most importantly as a husband and a father, but also my performance as a being, at work and at play. Research shows that of you binge drink and even have moderate unit consumption for the rest of the time you are likely to die earlier, if that is not a learning I'm not sure what is.
Writing three days later it was good to get back in the pool this morning. It was hard work as a result of hammering the I'd given myself but the solitude that comes with swimming with your hat and ear plugs on and the thinking that that promotes was hard to get positive. I'd let people down; I wanted to finish the swim get home pick my son up and get back to work. Spend the day with my boy; love my wife and daughter and do something positive. I cut the swim to 1000m and did exactly that. The training will get back on track but I've got some karma to settle first and I need to test my mental strength.
At the end of the year I reflect back; I will set myself some new goals. I have decided to give a plant based diet a go. I will engage more with Yoga and Meditation; and explore spirituality more. These are intended to develop me as a person, in all facets of life.
Physically my aim is to swim free style at 2 minutes 30 seconds per 100 meters regardless of the distance. Run quicker than 6 minute kilometers regardless of the distance and cycle at 30 kilometers per hour regardless of the distance.
My KPI’s for December:
Weight: Start: 89 kg’s – End 87.2 kg’s
Run: 11 kM @ 6mins 28 secs
Ride: 60.5 kM @ 26.8 kM/h
Swim: 1.55 kM @ 2mins 59 secs/100M
A summary of my year can be found here courtesy of Strava:
Note: My KPI’s are about what motivates me at a given time. They change and will continue to do so. There are as many or few as I decide but are markers of achievement. When they start to go a way I do not like I hope I can be honest enough to reset them and be accountable in meeting them again. Let’s see!
My diet was:
Monday to Friday
Breakfast – Low Carb Banana Bread
Lunch – Low Carb Seeded Rusks
Dinner – Low Carb Meal
Saturday & Sunday
Breakfast – Low Carb Meal
Lunch – Low Carb Meal
Dinner – Low Carb Meal
Alcohol limited to one or two glasses of red wine with the family meals. No more than three glasses in any two days; Black coffee only; Green or Peppermint Tea. Started to allowing myself an occasional; cup of coffee with real milk (These are called flat whites in Australia).
My Exercise Routine:
My exercise calendar is posted above; again concentrating on the swimming, trying to become more proficient at freestyle, which actually burnt less calories than breaststroke. Did mix it up with some running and cycling. Also began some Yoga sessions.
I continued to monitor my monthly active calorie burn; in this case 41,004, very similar to the previous month but my month end was not active; the festive season affected me too much.