Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mindy Kaling and Weekly Workout Summary

So Mindy Kaling
I hesitate to even share my Mindy Kaling thoughts, but I keep ruminating on them, so I'll share. Slash just try to work through them here. I just finished Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and have been following The Mindy Project since the start. I like both of them. I just don't love them the way I expected to and am bothered by this for some reason.

I really want to like Mindy Kaling, in general. A kinda chubby woman of color in comedy! So important! Etc. Plus I probably assumed all the backlash she received was rooted in men generally fearing confident women and feeling uncomfortable with her shtick. And that backlash made her an underdog in my mind, which duh, more reason to root for!

But then I started watching The Mindy Project. And I was kind of like, hm, she's a little bit awful, but kind of awful in that likable way. Kind of. Other times just regular awful. Her quick one-liners are brilliant--biting, fast, and often unreacted to, just the way I like them. But the overarching theme of "Mindy as a romcom character" isn't subtle or ironic or satirical or something enough for me, and I find the almost-SATC shtick tiring at some points. I was willing to give the show some time to figure itself out though.

Then I read Mindy's memoir/story collection (in literally like 4 hours, tops, of reading--how the hell did something so short/with such little actual content get printed). And again, parts of it were funny, and there were lots of times where her commentary on simple life things really resonated with me. But I was left with this overall bad taste in my mouth about 20% into the book that kept up through the end. I finally realized what was bothering me mid-. The note I jotted down to myself: "problem with MK is that she knows all her flaws and clearly thinks they're adorable*, and then mentions them under the guise of self-deprecation. I don't like people who think they are above self-improvement!" And that's it, I think, what was bothering me with the book and with the show too. Mindy is supremely satisfied with herself, to the point of pretty much thinking she's perfect--which would be annoying on its own. But to intersperse all that confidence with false self-deprecation and an overwhelming dose of unrecognized privilege...just ugh. I can't stand people in real life who think they have nothing to improve on--or who kind of get they have flaws, but think they are endearing or what makes them "them" or something. I'm all about accepting flaws, but there are some things that can and should be improved. Self-improvement and self-examination is for everybody, not just for the un-awesome.

*Dan, my main (only?) reader, is likely rolling his eyes right now, knowing that I'm sometimes guilty of the same thing--I can definitely think my flaws are endearing. But I do try overall for self-improvement!

Weekly workout summary: November 12, 2012 - November 18, 2012
I'll add this in here because I really do want to keep up with them! And also because I had a good workout week which makes me proud. So let's see:

Monday: 3.5 miles @ 11:32 average pace. Pretty standard easy Monday run.

Tuesday: 75 minute vinyasa yoga class. Written about here!

Wednesday: off

Thursday: Another attempt at speed work - 4.3 miles. What the description said: "Speedwork Dist: 4 Mi, inc Warm; 3x800 in 4:59 w/400 jogs; Cool." What I did--1 mile warm up. Ran .5 mi in 5:04 (I stupidly didn't look at the time here to figure out whether to hurry or not), jogged for .25 mi, ran .5 mi in 4:49, jogged for .25 mi, ran .5 mi in 4:53, and then jogged as a cool down for about 1.3 miles (the way home). Those 800s were hard! But it felt really good to exert myself like that--I'm definitely enjoying the wiped feeling that speed work brings.

Friday: off. I would have liked to do a light cardio + strength session here, but I just couldn't muster the energy to do it Friday after work.

Saturday: 6.2 miles @ 11:35 average pace. Another beautiful fall Saturday for a run. Had a bit of an incident where I thought someone might be following me, but everything was fine, obviously. Too much Law & Order. I should buy some mace.

Sunday: 60 minute yoga class. This was a freebie "community class" with teacher trainees. So I can't really complain. I'll leave it as my normal Tuesday classes are definitely better!

Weekly mileage: 14 miles. 

I'm currently at my mom's house for Thanksgiving and have been enjoying a "cut back" week for mileage, aka a well-timed intentional laziness week to save my body and sanity. But I made it out for a 5.2 mi run today!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What is it about yoga

Something about yoga just makes me feel so...awesome. I was trying to think through the reasons why on my way home tonight, so I'll take a stab at breaking down what parts of yoga practice I'm enjoying lately:

Feeling like a person that does yoga. Somewhere along the line, I've created an idea of nearly every type of athlete in my head. These imaginary people are probably a mix of people I've known combined with whatever persona the media has crafted for the given sport. For various reasons, runners and yogis have always been my most coveted among the athlete personas (and oh hey, what a coincidence, look at what I do for exercise!). I don't know quite what it is about yogis--perhaps it is the relaxed attitude, or maybe it is the 'I eat whole foods and only do yoga but am strong and thin and never have to watch my calories' shtick they've got going. Or their perky butts. I don't know. But what I know is I want to be them, so when I go to yoga class, I get a little bit of fake-it-til-ya-make-it feeling going on, like I get to adopt the yogi persona for the night and feel cooler and more at ease than I actually am.

Wearing all my pretty yoga gear. Okay "all my" is probably a stretch because I have one pair of crops that I like to wear to yoga. But I do have a few tanks that I like to rotate, and in general, I think that my standard yoga outfit of cropped leggings + Lululemon CRB is quite flattering! Plus I have this great slouchy grey sweater from Urban Outfitters yearsss ago, back when I thought skinny jeans + slouchy cardigans were a great look for my body type (hint: they aren't). So now the sweater is mostly relegated to an around-the-house sweater because it is cozy and has giant pockets for toting tissues around. But then I realized it was the perfect sweater to wear over my slim-fitting yoga clothes before and after class. The first time I wore it--bam. I felt instantly chic and like I could reasonably run errands after class even though I was wearing leggings as pants (butt-covering FTW). Plus it was great to get more use out of an old piece of clothing.

Not feeling totally gross if I don't jump in the shower right away. Let's be clear--I never actually feel totally compelled to take a shower post workout. I do, mostly because I know I need to and out of consideration for Dan. But I'm normally pretty happy to linger in my own sweat for a little bit after a workout (am I completely gross? Don't answer that) and wait until after dinner/clean up etc. to shower, or at least until Dan starts giving me verbal nudges about not being a dirty person. But yoga is the perfect exercise for a lazy person like me--I get sweaty, but not that gross red-faced, salt chunks coming off my skin sweaty that running makes me. I can often justify skipping a hair wash too and just using dry shampoo, which, serious bonus!

Pretending like I have friends. Okay so I do have friends, just not any that live near me. Plus, I've never really been one to hang out with friends mid-week--during the week, I'm all about function over fun. Just trying to get my shit done so that I have actual time on the weekend to devote to my social life. That being said, there is something nice and novel about interacting with people other than Dan or my coworkers during the week. Getting to yoga a few minutes early and chatting and then participating in a class with others makes me feel part of something and social while still checking something off the list!

Getting my strength training done. I don't mind strength training, honestly. Sometimes I get super into it at the gym, and I definitely like the powerful-strong-awesome feeling it gives me. But I'm all about it for like...once a week, max. I get bored and distracted and just want to get in and get out at the gym. So yoga ends up being the perfect second strength session per week. I still get that great muscle burn the next day, but it keeps me interested and helps work different parts I'm not normally great about hitting (oh hello random tiny ankle muscles and inner/outer thighs). Also, yoga is just the perfect complement to running, much more so than regular strength training. I feel sore but still flexible after yoga, which sometimes doesn't happen with normal strength training. It's enough to get a workout, but not so much that I don't want to run the next day.

Feeling so effing bendy and relaxed. Seriously, this one just tops them all. I leave yoga most of the time feeling like a beautiful, bendy pile of mush. None of my other exercise sessions leave me feeling so relaxed and serene, but simultaneously strong and flexible. It's a great change of pace from high intensity running!

Today's workout
Yoga, obviously! A 75 minute vinyasa class. A really great class--I'm liking the Tuesday night instructor. She's in school currently for some sort of meditative arts degree (??), so she likes to use some of her techniques during a slightly extended shavasana (she lets the class go a little long--doesn't cut our practice time!). I end up feeling even more relaxed than normal after she guides us through some deep breathing/visualization/body tensing and relaxing.

Also I held dancer for a while and didn't fall over. Growth!

Today's eats
Okay not today's because Dan and I shared a frozen pizza tonight for dinner, and though delicious, it was not deemed picture worthy. Last night's was the very picture of health and god was it so boring and bland, even the parts I put cheese on. All I really wanted was eggs and potato hash, which I should have just made, but I wanted to use up the kabocha squash and make some quinoa for the week (and the tofu needed to be used up from last week). So now I have leftovers of the blandest dinner ever, so, yay?

Even random bits of cheese could not save this meal.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The habit of fitness

Maintaining my fitness habit

Man, I started this post a week ago and am only now getting back to it. Let's see.

One of my favorite things to go on about to Dan is how "it's easier to maintain a habit than it is to start one." As much as he probably gets tired of it, I say it all the time because I find it to be accurate and broadly applicable. Inertia, depending on the circumstance, can be my best friend or foe. If I have a positive habit started, it is easy for me to continue it. But if I'm stuck in a rut, it is impossible to break it (or rather, easier to continue the habit of being stuck in a rut).

It was only this  last weekend, in my post-10k laziness, that I realized this applied to fitness too. I had started to realize it on Saturday, after a week of not doing anything post-10k due to Hurricane Sandy/having a cold/being lazy. Oh shit, I thought, if it goes until tomorrow it'll have been a week since my 10k, since my last physical activity. And it wasn't until I read Leo Babauta's Zen Habits post that I realized why that freaked me out so much. I had actually formed a fitness habit, and I was terrified to lose it.

[Side note: I used to like Leo a lot more but have grown a little tired of him in the past year (but still read him, apparently), particularly how he keeps monetizing fairly simple ideas with these online courses. But I found this article pretty compelling!]

I realized that maintaining my "fitness habit" has become the key to actually sticking with my healthy habits this time, as opposed to letting them drop after a month of working out. Getting used to coming home after work and going right back out again to run, making quick dinners to refuel me after working out, going to bed at a reasonable hour on Friday so I can run Saturday's all part of my routine now. There's no question whether I'll do it--I just go on autopilot. The minute I give myself room to question is the minute I sit back on the couch.

So this past week, and ongoing through the holiday season, I'm focusing on maintaining my fitness habit. Even when things get crazy and even while I'm traveling--I just want to stick with it so that January 1 isn't an impetus to finally start losing weight, but instead is just another day to keep doing what I do.

Chore chart update
Ha! Hahahaha. I clearly was kidding myself when I thought that November would be the right time to start my chore habit. Between various travel to see our families and (the big one) trying to get my grad school apps done, this was not the best month to start that. The priorities this month are: grad school and fitness (with the always present priority of family + Dan!). For what it's worth, I still think the chore chart is a great idea and will be feasible to try once life calms down a bit. I'm still using it to check things off on the fridge, but I'm on more of a two week cycle (and still lumping the chores into longer sessions) than the weekly do-something-everyday cycle.

Weekly workout summary - November 5, 2012 - November 11, 2012
I haven't done one of these in a while since I hadn't been doing very much! But with my renewed commitment to sticking with it, I figured I'll post what I did this past week. In hopes of gaining some speed, I've started following a free plan from Runner's World Smart Coach to guide my Wednesday speed sessions. I'm not following the whole plan to the T, but it provides a good guide for what to do with "speed work" for an unsure newbie like me.

Monday: 2.5 miles on the treadmill + strength. I threw some speed intervals in there for good measure--mostly just to finish faster. I forgot how effing boring the treadmill is!

Tuesday: 75 minute vinyasa class. This felt soooo good. I hadn't been to yoga in a while, and it felt fantastic to finally get my sweaty stretch on again. I have a class pack with several left that expires around Christmas, so yoga will be a frequent fixture here over the next few weeks!

Wednesday: Rest!

Thursday: First attempt at one of the Smart Coach workouts was only partly successful. It was mile repeats, but I totally failed to check the actual speed I needed to go for the miles before my run. So stupid. So I kind of guessed that it was around 10:40, which was incorrect (10:31 was the goal).

Anyway, the workout was listed as such: "Speedwork Dist: 4 Mi, inc Warm; 2x1600 in 10:31 w/800 jogs; Cool." Let me break that down for you. Total distance = 4 miles, which includes the warm up and cool down. The mildly confusing thing about the Smart Coach workouts is that they don't tell you how much to warm up or cool down for, so you just do the math yourself. This one worked out to be: warm up for .5 miles, run 1 mile in 10:31 (10 minutes and 31 seconds), then jog for .5 miles, then run another mile in 10:31, then jog for .5 miles, then cool down for .5 miles.

I preprogrammed the workout into my RunKeeper app on my phone so that I would hear cues when the intervals were done. Another benefit was that it timed the splits for me. So my interval miles were 10:43 and 10:04. Oh well--I got it half correct anyway! This workout was definitely tough, even though the average pace was only 11 min/mile for the whole thing--I've kept that before on my shorter runs, no problem. Keeping that consistent and fast-for-me pace for the full mile was challenging.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 6.2 miles at 11:52 min/mile average pace. I learned an important lesson from this run: if you feel comfortable, temperature wise, when you go outside, you'll probably feel too warm in about ten minutes. But I made it.
Beautiful day to be on the trail
I don't have any intent to run a longer race until next spring (though I'm toying with the idea of a 5k in January), but I want to keep my weekly long runs in the mix so that I don't have to rebuild my mileage. And because Smart Coach told me to.

Sunday: 35 minutes on the elliptical + strength at the apartment gym. I pretty much had the gym all to myself, so that was an unexpected treat. I actually did lower body strength exercises (squats, hamstring curls, booty stuff, etc.) for the first time in a few weeks, which felt awesome. I have that fun sore but still able to walk feeling today, which I love.

Weekly mileage: 12.8 miles.

Pretty good week of exercise for me! It actually looks a lot like what my ideal exercise week would look like--minus using the treadmill, plus maybe another yoga session. That's what I'm aiming for this week!

Final programming note:
If you happened to stop over here from Shelby's blog re: a slightly inflammatory comment I left over there...hi! I'm not an immature asshole; I promise! I just look like one sometimes when I get riled up post-election. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November goals

So about that HP
My Happiness Project goal for November had been to "live like an adult", which included resolutions such as wearing a small amount of makeup to work so as to look not like a hobo, get a better/consistent skin care routine down, deal with my mail when I walk in the house (as opposed to letting it pile for days)...etc. But if there is anything that my first month's experience taught me, it was that introducing many resolutions in a month was a little overwhelming. That, coupled with the fact that November is crunch time for my grad school apps (and I am not in as good of shape for them as I had planned!), I've decided to just focus on two, non-themed items for the month:
  1. Get my mother effin' grad school apps in at all costs.
  2. Use a weekly cleaning schedule to tackle one task a day.
One of my original resolutions for the "live like an adult" month was related to cleaning--I wanted to stop waiting until right before we had company over to go on a cleaning rampage and instead do it consistently. I feel SO much better about the apartment when it is decluttered and neat, and I always end up stressing myself out pre-company to get everything done. Plus, it is gross that I was only doing our bathrooms once a month. Yes, please, publicly shame me. I am narsty. 

Dan usually helps with some of the cleaning tasks--wiping down counters, vacuuming, changing the sheets, etc. But given his current status with a broken arm and the fact that I am doing this chore challenge for my peace of mind, I'm not expecting him to help with this. I really think that if I can stick to a schedule, it is feasible to clean our medium sized apartment (1 bedroom + office) in approximately 20 minutes a day. If I can demonstrate to myself that it is, then I probably have a better shot of sticking with it!

So! There are a gazillion of these online, but here's the one I came up with for our place:

[Click to enlarge. There are minor errors on there that are driving me batty, but you get the idea. Let me know if I missed something!]

I think this pretty much encompasses the basics of any smallish apartment. I included tasks that are easy to do daily and make a big impact (seriously, do you have a Swiffer vacuum? It is a cordless vac that works fantastically to get crumbs and stuff up. So easy to use and keeps the kitchen floors spotless). I tried to group like tasks so that I would use the same set of cleaning supplies each day (which is why it makes more sense to de-hair the bathroom floors/baseboards on dusting day, not bathroom day). It doesn't include all of those Martha Stewart-type tasks like cleaning your fridge shelves, cleaning windows, cleaning out vents, etc. That's just not happening on any sort of regular basis for me. Also, I like doing laundry on Friday nights if my schedule allows for it (something so nice about getting it out of the way for the weekend, and it can easily be done while relaxing!). That can easily be moved to Saturday or Sunday if I have something to do on Fridays since it is a relatively low maintenance activity. 

I'll tape the schedule to the fridge, to be started next Monday. The blank cells next to the items are intended to be checked off as I go. Again, I require public shaming to get this done. I hate having to clean the apartment, but I also hate feeling like a slob and feeling like I'm not following through with something. So I'll take a picture at the end of each week and post it for you all as incentive to stick with it. 

Action plan for the grad school apps is just basically Get Shit Done ASAP. One of my favorite mottos in stressed out times (almost always self-induced due to procrastination) is: "it will all get done because it has to get done." I have my master list of pretty much everything I need to do for them, and every time I look at it I feel all stressball-avoidant and panicky. But I need to really use my weekends to push through to get them done!

My nose/tissue box is getting a serious workout with this cold. Other than that, nothing. Potentially will do some push ups/core work before I shower. Really hoping for the cold to dissipate by Saturday so I can run!

I feel gross right now..Dan and I ordered pizza for dinner. Mistake! And we used a deal so we each got our own pizza--a lot of leftovers. Not really a mistake, but a decision made out of laziness/sickness/not having frozen pizza on hand for pinch. Ah, well.

Healthy lunch at least:
Mixed greens with goat cheese, reheated kabocha squash, and edamame.
Piece of toast with hummus.
And now for more OJ!