Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Challenging Yourself on the Daily

I'm behind on my weekly updates but when I started writing them up, I realized most of my focus was on the challenges that we've taken up.  So...I'm pushing the update again (what week is this again?) to describe what has been a fun twist to keep things interesting in the way of workouts.

About the challenges: There are two in the month of June (ab & yoga) that in some shape or form have gone from a mere exercise challenge and turned into all out family adventure too.

The ab challenge is one that we are participating in amongst a group of friends.  It's a 30 day challenge that progressively grows with repetitions. We all keep tabs with each others progress (translation: send that "Reply All" email to say "I'm done!, How about you?") which is great motivation to get you to drop down, do the ab work and Reply All again "ME TOO!!". Can't leave your friends hanging after all, right?!

If you have ever done P90X's AbRipper (and survived and gone back to do it again and AGAIN) this challenge should be fairly simple, but by no means easy.  My husband and I were doing it at first and by day 3, the kids were joining in too.  That can a both be a blessing and a curse because they will NOT. LET. YOU. SLEEP. unless you get the challenge done.  You have to love the kid's motivation and enthusiasm and you can't let them down, either! (So get out of bed!!)

I had no issues whatsoever with this challenge but I knew from the get go that I would no way come near doing 100+ situps on any given day during pregnancy.  I went to day 7 doing the full workout with no issues and I found it relatively easy (don't tell my husband) but I have heard and read mixed schools of thought with regard to working out abdominals during pregnancy.  I feel fairly strong and felt pretty good doing them throughout that week, however, the sit ups in particular create a bit of a tightness in the lower abdominals that I am not comfortable pushing without further research.  Given that I haven't been able to post this in 2 weeks, you would have to imagine that I haven't had much time for research either.  So...rather than take a chance, I decided to throw in the towel.  After day 8's rest I split a couple of the days by only doing half the reps required but in this last week have continued strictly with the plank portion of the challenge only.  I can live with that...and I can relish in the enjoyment of having the kids get on my husband every night to get his ab work done before he snoozes off (it's actually quite fun!) Haha!

If you want to give the challenge a try next month or really, start on any given Saturday and see how far you can go, I have included it here for reference.  As the month progresses, the repetitions get pretty high up there, some friends have been splitting up the workouts into sets. Say, take your 60 situps, 75 crunches and 40 leg raises and turn them into a morning set of 30, 40, 20 and a night set of 30, 35, 20.  Good luck!!

The yoga challenge I have alluded to in the past.  I follow a few yoga enthusisasts/instructors/lovers on Instagram and their posts of their beautiful poses are incredibly inspirational. In the last couple of months or so, my daughter and I would randomly pick out poses and try them, just to see if we could do them.  We were never consistent with it nor did we ever photograph each other doing them. But this month, we decided we would attempt at doing the challenges AND taking pics every day. 

I have never been that big of a yogi as my only experience was with the P90X version "YogaX" that I was introduced to a few years ago when I went through the program.  I have attended a few other yoga classes, most recently the one I did as a perk of my previous employer's.  The thing about yoga is that it is really a constant practice.  It's not necessarily taking a class every day or building up weight or reps or pace like in other exercises, but rather a fusion between body and mind withing yourself.  Sometimes, I look at a pose and immediately think "well, there goes the challenge! I can't do THAT!" But then I take a few minutes and think (just as I would ask my kids), why can't I do that? How do I know I can't if I don't even try?

I have learned in the last few short months that I can go from not even getting close to getting my feet off the ground in a crow position (which seemed SO advanced when I did Yoga X, by the way) to doing it facing forwards, the side and with a twisted root too! It has been a learning experience for me and one that I am passing down to my daughter because she is so eager to get into the poses and she is so darn flexible and nimble that for the most part, she can without skipping a beat.  Until she gets to that one pose...the one she just can't do because she can't turn that way or because her arms aren't strong enough.  That's when I can tell her to SLOW down.  Breathe. Focus. Take your time.  I will watch her go from a hurried school girl to a focused, determined young lady that wants to nail the pose.  All the while, I have my phone in hand, ready to click her picture when she says she's ready.  She'll quickly run over and say "did you get it?" and come over analyze the photo(s).  She will look long and hard and sometimes will say..."hmm, my back needs to be straighter" or "my leg is not doing the right thing on this one" and follow it with: "can I try it again?"...and there you have it, PRACTICE. :)

It has been a pure joy to share it with her and with the IG community too.  I am amazed at the poses I can get into even at this many weeks pregnant.  I hope that I can finish the month strong and will keep working on the challenges daily even after the month is over.

If you want to check out the challenge on Instagram, look for the June hashtag #YogainSpace, you'll see all the posts related to the challenge.  I doubt you will come away without being inspired and motivated to give it a try. If you want to follow the amazing yogi's hosting the challenge, follow them!  They are: @laurasykora , @masumi_g , @gypsetgoddess and @beachyogagirl.

Here are a couple of our pics from earlier this month:

As you can see, the challenges have been way fun and exciting to stick with.  If you're bored with your workouts or your routine, these challenges are great way to sprinkle in some variety particularly when you are waiting patiently for the next pose to be posted every night!!  I highly recommend it, give it a try and have fun!