4 Minute Morning

Everyday Resolutions

The end of each December is a popular time

to turn over a new leaf.

Rather than making New Year’s Resolutions, I resolve to improve my weak links on a daily basis, as the need arises, and believe me the need arises. But New Year’s Day is as good a day as any to get started, however, it is getting started and never stopping that is what’s worth keeping in mind.

Over the years, I have adopted the motto: “If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.” And I practice implementing these words into my everyday actions.

Be it how I communicate with my kids, how I make lifestyle changes to eliminating plastic from my life or how I am constantly making adjustments with my body alignment, which causes me to re-evaluate and reconfigure my daily body maintenance routine. (My week 3 Day 7 progression has evolved greatly in the last three years.)

We must practice accepting that what we are doing may not be right and that through exploration we can continue to make improvements. Unless of course, you desire to live your life like a store display mannequin, frozen in time, not having to think or to adapt or to change; believing that what you are doing is right and that the problems you face must be faults outside your control. Most of us don’t know how to eat properly for optimal health, most of us don’t know how our body works, most of us don’t really know that much about the world we live in and how to take care of it.

When we take pause and consider that in order to survive, all of us must thrive on being right, on having the correct beliefs. In other words, if we don’t believe that what we do is correct would we not be crazy for repeating them over and over again? For even the addict, though often knows what he does isn’t right can find an excuse to justify and comfort his addiction. And so he believes that he is right, even if only for a moment in time. (There are many levels of addiction, from coffee, chocolate, exercise, drugs, pharmaceuticals, supplements, social media etc.)

What makes us do what we do?

Try as you might, to control your life, change is inevitable. As our lives change it is wise to become familiar with change in order to adapt without resistance, which enables a symbiotic synergy with family, community and the environment on a larger scale.

I like change. Similar to a cat, I like to see how I will land, and I have learned that there is no one way to land, (although the ideal is to land on ones feet!) which makes it all that more intriguing. As a result, I find myself constantly fine tuning my behaviours and habits, which puts me in a prime position to say a thing or two about how to initiate change.

Here are some basic suggestions:

Q: I want to change ______, but how do I even get started?

A: Getting started can be as simple as having an idea and making the decision to follow through on that idea. However, within this simple step there are a few sub-steps to climb:

You need discipline to develop skill. But, you need to spend some time developing skill to become disciplined.  You must have the willingness and desire, also known as passion or wanting it badly enough to spend the time developing the skill to become disciplined in the first place. Achieving goals and changing habits is not linear but rather cyclical and overlapping.

How To Cultivate Self-Discipline

So even when a person is committed to making change and making personal improvement, you can see it is not seamless. It is not easy or foolproof. It still requires a lot of work.  To outsiders having self-discipline looks effortless, but for those who practice being consistent there is no compliment in off-hand remarks such as: “oh, well you have self-discipline”, as if it were built-in. As if those who achieve anything remarkable is born with a natural talent.

Anyone can develop self-discipline, but it doesn’t just manifest, it must be cultivated. Anyone can be fit and healthy, but it takes effort, discipline and education. It takes practice to become consistent with self-discipline. Period.

Q: I’ve made many resolutions in the past but have always fallen short. How do I change this behavior?

A: By being consistent. Self-discipline is borne from being consistent. Don’t give up on yourself. There is a lot of self-coaching that goes along with keeping your word to yourself. It’s also helpful to understand that goals change along the way. Just because you initiate change with a certain idea doesn’t mean you will stick to that forever. As you learn more about yourself you will be required to re-evaluate your strategy and fine-tune your approach as you go along. You are a work in progress. The goal itself isn’t the point. The point is to realize your human potential and perpetually raise your own bar.

The goal isn't the goal

Q: I tend to stick to a program when I have someone to answer to, like a personal trainer or when I go to a group class.

A: Learn to become accountable to yourself. Try not even telling anyone what changes you have planned. Learn the necessary skills from someone more skilled than yourself and employ self-discipline to become your own expert.

When I had a studio, many of my clients had more money than discipline. Instead of practicing what I taught them so that we could develop their skills to the next level they would use me as a crutch to put them through their paces. Be a willing student because money cannot buy improved health, fitness or skill.

Q: How do I create lasting change?

A: Setting a new habit requires repetition. Let’s say for example that you want to lose weight and get in better physical condition. I believe it is best achieved by making very small changes so as to not overwhelm oneself, which is the idea behind my 4-minute morning series.

Hopefully, as you go through the progressions, you will learn more about yourself (how your mind works) and your body and discover areas that need further exploration. Note: ALL areas need further exploration 🙂 My 4 minute morning series of progressions is the foundation for developing a consistent practice of self-discipline. It is simple but can you do it? Oftentimes it is the simple things that are the most challenging.

I believe that exercise is meant to establish a balanced musculoskeletal system. When we are in balance, our body works at an optimal level (which is different for everyone).

Important: If you exercise with poor body alignment you will only reinforce an unbalanced musculoskeletal system. Keep in mind that when you practice Yoga, run, walk, swim, cycle or lift heavy weights among many other activities, the point of what you are doing is to build an ideal structure that is trained to move in an optimal way when you engage in life: sitting at your desk, driving a car, sitting on a bus, walking, grocery shopping etc. It is the mundane repetitive activities associated with living that require this steady stream of awareness. 

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

―Archilochus 

~Happy New Year 2014 ~Happy New Year 2014 ~Happy New Year 2014 ~

 

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Practice vs. Duration Part 2

Continued from Part 1…

We have all heard the saying: Practice makes perfect. I have heard myself say it too. A few years ago, Simon, my brother-in-law, who is a life long soccer player and coach, quoted Vince Lombardi:

“Practice does not make perfect.

Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

~Vince Lombardi

Of course it does! So why do so many parents continue to force their children to practice for extended periods of time? Pushing our kids or yourself, through dragged out practice sessions will not automatically an expert make. Regardless of duration, the focus should be on practicing with precision and accuracy for any amount of time. Here is a great article about just this. Click this link to read it in its entirety. The article discusses the benefits of practice outside of sport, music or theatrical pursuits. How practice in everything we do has its place. This may seem obvious but it is often overlooked and definitely rarely practiced. 🙂

“Just remember not to stop as soon as you – or your charges – know how to do it right. The goal in these vital skill areas is not mere proficiency but excellence. The value of your practice, therefore, becomes more intense as you get better at the activity.”

“A critical goal of practice, then, should be ensuring that participants encode success – that they practice getting it right – whatever ‘it’ might be,” the authors stress.

They suggest you want your participants to complete the fastest possible right version of the activity.

Take the example of a youngster learning to hit a baseball in the backyard as her father feeds her slow pitches. It may seem to make more sense to take her to a batting cage where she faces hundreds of 60 mile-per-hour pitches, but that doesn’t allow her to apply the small corrections to her form that is needed to improve. Instead, eliminate complexity until you start to see mastery, and then start building the extras back in.

The law of the vital few – 80 per cent of results come from 20 per cent of our activity – should be applied to practice, they say.

~Harvey Schachter paraphrasing from Practice Perfect by, Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi.

Over the last few years, my husband and I have been experimenting with the duration of our kids’ practice time for their music lessons. It used to be our rule that they HAD to practice piano (or whatever their chosen instrument was to study) for a minimum of thirty minutes each day. But, because we were met with so much resistance (it often took thirty minutes of cajoling or arguing to even get the practice time started) that it became such an unpleasant situation overall. Who wants that kind of energy in his/her life? So we had to rethink the entire process and come up with a solution.

Our solution was to shorten the practice time.

Drum Kit

It seemed too simple and it felt wrong. And part of me was unconfident that any real long term learning would take place because it had been drilled into me that practice meant time and time meant success.

But because I have been experimenting with shorter duration activities for myself, (bed stretches, Tabata’s, 4 minute mornings, short bursts of house cleaning etc.), I speculated that the same theory could apply to the kids lessons and possibly everything!

Now, what you must remember is that we are talking about kids and kids are not very different from adults. Kids in fact, grow up and in most cases mature into adults. So, logically, the training for a mature adult begins at birth (this is often overlooked, too). Most kids, from my experience, do not like being told what to do, and interestingly I have also noticed the same characteristic among adults. Just because they have chosen said extra-curricular activity does not always indicate that they will want to do or practice said activity. Most often kids want to do what they want to do, which now-a-days has more to do with external stimulation via computer screens and less and less to do with self-generated imagination and creativity.

So this is what we did. We sat down with the kids and reviewed how our current approach wasn’t working out very well and that we had come up with an idea that we would like to try.  Our son likes to play video games (and is very skilled for his age), so in an effort to make everyone happy we have allotted him one hour of screen time per day, (dare I say) on school days; on weekends he gets more time; and in the summer months we experiment with allowing the kids to self-regulate (ha!). During the week, he can use that hour however he likes, i.e., all at once or he can break it up. This is what he usually chooses to do:

When our son wakes up in the morning, he goes through his checklist of personal obligations (on his own):

  • Bed stretches (his version)
  • Personal grooming: brush teeth, wash face etc. (remembers to flush toilet, keeps his sink area tidy etc.)
  • Makes his bed
  • Gets dressed
  • Good-morning greetings
  • 10 minutes drum-kit practice (Sept.– June/ Monday to Friday)
  • 15 minutes video games/ screen time
  • Breakfast
  • Packs up school bag
  • (Sometimes another 5 – 15 minutes video games/ screen time)
  • Clean/brush teeth from breakfast food
  • Leave for school

Five days a week he practices his drum-kit for 10 minutes and once per week has a thirty-minute private lesson; and never practices on the weekends! The results have been remarkable. OK, he is a talented kid, and he really gets the concept that if you’re going to bother doing something-then try to do it right the first time. So for those ten minutes he practices with accuracy and precision.

If you are going to bother spending any amount of time doing something, doesn’t it make sense to be as focused as possible?

Yet, in the same breath, he is still a kid and even though we think he has the makings of a great musician, we do not want to break his spirit by forcing him to practice, even though we know he might grow up to appreciate having studied an instrument outside of school. We have learned that what motivates one child does not work for another, so we practice working with their individual personalities – what a concept! 🙂

Puppy

We think of our kids a little bit like dogs. When we were learning to train our puppies, we were taught that the puppy, being a pack animal, had to know that the human was the alpha. But what was equally important to understand was that using force to discipline a puppy will only cause fear, and break the puppy’s spirit. We wanted brave, good-natured and confident dogs not submissive dogs. Our job as dog owners is to learn how to communicate with our pet. We think the same thing can happen to humans. We want our children to grow up into contributing members of society who are confident and can think for themselves. The training for such an adult begins at the beginning. We need to learn how to communicate with our children and teach them how to make decisions, not control them.

How many adults do you know who were forced to practice an instrument that they disliked as a child/teen, excelled at it, but discontinued playing it? I know of many who played at very high levels but lacked the passion; they played mechanically and tell sad stories of the instrument that they had really wanted to play but weren’t allowed. Just as it is true that kids do not always know what is good for them and parents need to make executive decisions, like if you start something then you should finish it (you can quit after you finish the term), and you should do your best, you don’t have to be THE best. We think that giving our kids the opportunity to be consistent with their shorter practice time sets the tone for their individual success. It also maps out the potential for a successful and varied adult life.

2012 Food Log

 

Homemade Baked Turkey Cutlets

As per request from a fellow blood type O, non-secretor I will post a few daily Food Logs as well as some sample meals with photographs over the next while. Because I choose to eat well all the time, I have to be prepared for hunger! As a result, I have to ensure that my refrigerator is stocked with ready to eat wholesome foods. I have to plan ahead and spend a certain amount of time preparing. Convenience foods aren’t in the cards anymore.

Aug. 27, 2012

6:30am Wake-up but not moving until 7am, (summer holidays).

7:00am Bed Stretches

7:10 am Homeopathic Remedies + Iodine, Zinc & Vitamin D supplements. I do a few standing side bend stretches while holding two of the homeopathic remedies under my tongue, since I have to hold each for 15 seconds. I’ve learned that I can accomplish a lot in 15 seconds.

 

From my perspective supplements should be used short term.They supplement what is not working for us naturally.

My goal is to figure out why my levels are low and to use the supplements as a support while I figure out how to get my levels up to MY normal range of healthy functioning. Eating the right way should support our systems properly, which should eliminate the need for supplements (in an ideal world). For example, I was taking twice the amount of Iron Citrate, and Magnesium Glycinate almost two years ago. About six months ago, I was able to lower my daily dose to half that amount.

 

Travel Roller

Then I do my 4 minute morning routine which includes: rolling out with Travel Roller ball & roller, wall stretches, 2 modified Sun Salutation plus the actual 4 minute morning which actually takes me 5 minutes to do Week 3 – DAY 7. (I have modified this for myself since originally uploading it and will endeavour to make an update of it soon.)

This mornings routine was broken up with sorting laundry and doing Dot’s braids, puttering around etc. Adapt to change and carry on.

8:30 am 6oz. glass water

Making all breakfasts simultaneously…

8:50 am My Breakfast:

2 soft boiled eggs

5g (approx. 2 cups) steamed Spinach drizzled with EVOO & fresh lemon juice

6 Walnut halves

4 prunes

Small banana

12oz. glass water (Iron Citrate & Magnesium supplement)

 

Spinach

Steamed Spinach

 

10:00 am 12oz. glass water

Standing side stretches (30 seconds).

11:50 am My Lunch:

Sliced Turkey Breast from deli

(ingredients: skinless turkey breast, water, sodium phosphate)
Note: I’ve since found a butcher that makes sliced turnkey breast without adding any sodium.

Homemade plain Risotto (no cheese) with steamed Kale

Raw Carrots & broccoli

10 oz. glass water

Active Living

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm:

  • Dog walk with Dot to playground. I did Monkey Bars and a Sprint Tabata with dog Ruby.

Sprint Tabata = [20 seconds sprint across field + 10 second rest ] x 8 = 4 minutes

2pm Body Maintenance:

  • Stairs Warm Up
  • 60 minutes Ashtanga Yoga Standing + Seated Series up to Navasana (working on Navasana to Handstand) + Backbends then closing sequence.

3:15 pm Post Yoga SNACK:

Half small homemade baked Turkey breast

Brown Rice & Millet spaghetti noodles with butter & steamed kale

1 raw red pepper

1 avocado, lightly sprinkled with sea salt

4 Walnut halves

1 TBSP. Pumpkin Seeds (because that’s all that was left in the bag)

10 oz. glass water

4:00 pm 12oz. glass water

5:10 pm 12oz. glass water

 

6:00pm My Dinner:

approx. ½ lb. baked Red Spring Salmon, seasoned with dried dill, garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Ginger & Lime Juice

Fresh steamed Kale

Mixed steamed brown & wild rice

Raw Carrots (while doing dishes – like a dessert)

12 oz. Water

Salmon

 

8pm – 9pm Help Dot create her first stop-motion animation film!! It took a lot longer than I thought it would. That hour was spent just collecting footage.

9:00pm 12oz. Water

10:40pm Before bed stretching routine

Lights out 11pm – aiming for 8 hours sleep.