I swore around the start of my first Ironman (Mont Tremblant in 2013) that I'd never do another. Yet there I was, the moment registration opened last August, calendar blocked so nobody would interrupt me as I registered for Ironman Muskoka 2015.
Remember those awful, crabby moments? They were those times as a kid when you'd act like some crazy person, and one of your parents would say, "whoa...looks like someone's overtired." Well, my inner critic had been noticing that I'd been out of sorts for a while, and I realized it was probably time to be my own mommy, so my latest weekly challenge was to aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. For a full-on workaholic who's addicted to her iPhone, it wasn't an easy challenge. I wasn't perfect, but I did make it a priority.
I actually got my 8 hours for 5 out of 7 days, which is fully a passing mark. The weekend was easy, for obvious reasons. Wednesday night wasn't quite 8 hours, because I had a 5 AM alarm for a morning workout, but it was close (and I was mostly rested...and wicked strong in the morning). On the only other night I didn't get 8 hours of sleep, it wasn't for lack of trying. I actually set my alarm for 8 hours after my head hit the pillow (following a gala for a nonprofit I support, Women Together), but my body was rested and getting into the routine of a 6(ish) AM wake-up call, so it woke itself up early.
It's been a long time since my body decided to get up without an alarm (weekends excepted), ladies and gentlemen, so I'd say this week was a huge success. I even managed to continue my daily sun salutations from week 1 on most days.
It wasn't all positive, though. I appreciated that I was honouring my body when I was tired in the evening, and going straight to bed instead of reading that last email or checking out Twitter while prone. On the other hand, I think I'd gotten so used to feeling tired all the time that I didn't notice, and I sure was starting to notice my energy dips at various times throughout the day.
Just as sleep didn't solve all my problems, the real value of this week's exercise wasn't the sleep itself, but rather the commitment to enough. I knew when I needed to get to bed, and I knew that keeping that commitment meant calling time on work, cleaning, laying the laminate flooring downstairs, Twitter, Facebook, email, and whatever TV show we were watching just to prolong the inevitable end to our downtime. And that felt good.
How did I stay on track? Being conscious and mindful of my goal helped. So did telling my husband my plan so that he could support me (and enjoy a bit of extra rest). I also used my phone to help. Do Not Disturb was my hero last year when I was training for Ironman, because I was often getting text messages after my bed time, but didn't want to change my notification settings forever. I've kept it scheduled for sleepy time since. I also used a free app, To Bed, to give me a gentle reminder that I should start getting ready for bed (the $.99 Go to Bed option figures out when to send you to bed based on your morning calendar, and may be worth trying). To see how good my sleep was, I use Sleep Cycle, and when I just can't calm my brain, I use Pzizz to help.
This whole project is all about building, so I'm going to keep on keepin' on with my sleeping and salutations as I add on another challenge for week 3: slurping...8 glasses of water, that is. At a minimum. Realistically, I need more than that, but I'm going to start with a goal just to remind myself that I need it. And do I EVER! I've been waking up parched and needing my lip balm over the last week. It's probably the changing season, so it's good to start the habit now.
Sadly, Heathers-era Christian Slater can't be with us for this update. Partly because he's basically the antithesis of everything I was aiming for with my yoga challenge, and partly because Heathers came out 25 years ago and we haven't fully sorted out time travel.
In other news, I'm proud to say I made it through the week and stuck to my guns. I did my eight sun salutations each and every day, and ended the my week with an awesome yoga class last night. I hadn't considered the class schedule when I started last week, but it was the perfect way to punctuate my week of yoga.
My crowning achievement (...arguably)? On Monday night, after an evening of laying laminate flooring (well...re-laying flooring that we rescued from a mid-winter flood), I got into bed, started my bedtime tweeting, and thought, "crap! I forgot to do my sun salutations!" So, with a grumble in my voice and NO pep in my step, I took my exhausted body to the hall for my round of eight. And it was amazing. With each movement, my body loosened up and I moved from "oil can" to "ah" in just a couple of rounds. Tuesday night was similar, but I think I actually fell asleep first before taking to the hall.
When I got to yoga last night, I found that everything seemed to be flowing beautifully. My body knew what was up, and it just felt natural. As a bonus, I now have my husband considering getting up in the mornings with me to do a bit of yoga before we take on the day, so the habit is already starting to spread. I hope to continue on as I take on the next challenge.
And what IS next my next "eight"? Well, given that I slept right through my bike workout alarm yesterday morning and STILL passed out on the couch as soon as I got home from work, I'm going to call eight hours of sleep. I had grand ideas about things that would better my home or my productivity, but I think the best lesson I got out of the last week was that taking care of myself first is really the most important thing. So, I'll be setting a bedtime alarm and sticking to it so I'm ready to face whatever the day brings me, starting with my morning yoga date with the Mr.
I'm a recovering perfectionist. I'm an I'll-start-that-new-(insert admirable habit)-on-Monday kind of gal. When I miss the window, I plan on next Monday, and then next Monday, and the next one, and so on. Of course, I can be dedicated. I do focus and work hard. But I'm also all or nothing in an I've-skipped-some-workouts-so-may-as-well-binge-watch-Newsroom and I-had-too-many-chips-at-lunch-so-may-as-well-do-wings-for-dinner sorta way.
In my work life, I see all sorts of tips about how to work well with others, how to communicate effectively, how to manage my time (and help others manage theirs), and so on. Most of those tips are phrased as "don'ts"...