In the corporate world we are always working to improve efficiency and discussing how to make things work better in all aspects of business. In sales it is all about maximizing sales and reducing steps, in manufacturing it is all about maximizing quality but find ways to cut costs and make the manufacturing facilities more effective and efficient. How corporations come to these decisions vary but in my company we use the Kaizen philosophy. Kaizen, in Japanese, means “improvement” it takes a task and breaks it down into smaller steps to see where there could be changes made for improvements and efficiencies. Every time I hear a that a task force is working on a Kaizen I know that a team of people will be working on improving something that may or may not directly effect me but I like that the system is taken seriously and since we all have room for improvement it only helps me in my daily work life.
Why do I talk about Kaizen in a MCTD blog? I wonder if it is possible to have a Kaizen of one? Every Kaizen I have participated in has a group of people coming at the problem in different ways and seeing solutions differently. In a Kaizen of one the system can be the same but instead of a task force how about just making “you” the subject but break it down in the small steps? This morning on my way to Bikram one of the podcasts I listen too regularly was making this very comment. He was basically saying that if we treat our health like a Kaizen project we can look at the aspects of health for us and break it down into small steps to see where changes can be made and improvements can be put into place. Maybe we even reach out for help in areas where we might be blinded by the areas of improvement and ask for help. The idea is not to find like minded people but opened minded people that can help you see areas of improvement for yourself and point out areas. This does not sound real comfortable to me because honestly I don’t like being topic of conversation for anyone, positive or negative. I’m more of a stay off the radar type of person and live a very private life, outside of this blog.
I do however think that the idea of thinking about my health and the aspects of it and then breaking those aspects down into small steps and making improvements sound like a very beneficial exercise. Acknowledging the areas for change and then making the changes are what will make the Kaizen of one work. Just acknowledging but not making the necessary changes doesn’t do anything. Nether does making a bunch of changes without knowing what the goals are after making the changes. To wrap up this concept, I’m going to start recognizing where I could use some change and breaking down the steps to get there. For instance, I know I need better sleep. This is a perfect place to start to recognize the steps I need to implement to reach my end goal of sleeping 8 solid hours every night to ensure my body gets enough time to heal and perform to maximum each day.
I have what my yoga instructor refers to as crazy brain or monkey mind. My mind is moving a million different directions with no slowdown in sight. This was apparent at our yoga session last night when I was having trouble balancing and concentrating. Usually my mountain pose is steady and I can feel my bandas lock as well as my feet firmly planted on my mat. However, this evening I was all over the place. I need the yoga sessions after a long day at work to clear my mind but at the same time I’m not really able to find that clarity even in yoga. I’m guessing that as I find my balance in life I can also find my balance on my mat.
At one point my husband looked over and made mention to me that I was not concentrating and he could see it. He should have been concentrating on his own practice but that is a conversation for a different time. I have already said that I pay attention to his practice and clearly he is paying attention to my practice as well. Perhaps it would do us each some good to just concentrate on ourselves for 75 minutes. What a novel idea!
I’m going back to the sleep subject for a quick minute since I just spoke about yesterday I don’t need to harp on the subject but last night I didn’t sleep nearly as well and I could feel it when I got up. I did wake before my alarm but my body wasn’t fully rested. I realized I was not going to be able to get back to sleep so I headed to the gym. I ended up struggling through my workout this morning. It was a series of 5 different circuits and by the 5th circuit I should be tired but I was really tired. I walked at a slow pace after my workout to just get the blood flowing and bring my heart rate down. As the day has gone on I’m feeling better but I certainly don’t have the same pep as I wrote about yesterday. It all comes down to what I eat, how I sleep, what intensity I put my body through, and how I mentally compartmentalize my physical mind. When everything is in line I feel great but it certainly doesn’t take much to lose that great feeling. I just have to keep everything in line. That is easier said than done most days.
The idea of sleep is popping up everywhere now. Maybe not just now but I’m certainly noticing it everywhere now. In magazines, on talk shows, on radio shows, especially on my podcasts they talk about how important sleep is and that really we need about 8-10 hours of restful sleep every night. Some people would say that they only need about 5-6 and that may be the case but the true indicator is how do you feel when you wake up? Do you feel rested? Did you need your alarm to go off to get you up? How does your body feel? Is your brain ready for the day?
With MCTD there is a certainly level of fatigue that I have lived with for many years and just accepted as being part of my life and my normal base line. Today my thoughts on this subject are changing because my fatigue level is low and when I sleep well at night my fatigue level is almost non-existent. I was always under the impression that if I went to bed the same time every night and woke up the same time very day that my body would adjust and that was the best way to get my most sleep. I don’t believe in that philosophy anymore and instead I believe now that I sleep as much as I need. On a typical work day I still need to set my alarm and may or may not wake up before it goes off. I analyze how I feel when I wake up and after taking inventory decide what kind of workout I’m going to do. I have an idea each day of what is on my agenda but willing to make adjustments if I need. Sometimes if I wake up and my body is overly fatigued I try and get a little more sleep.
On the weekends I have decided to turn off my alarm and just naturally wake up. Sometimes it is the same time as the week days and sometimes I sleep in much later but either way I’m just letting my body do what it needs. Not using an alarm on the weekends is very liberating and wished I heard about it sooner but like I said previously I was under the impression that come Monday I would be out of whack and it was better to stick to a schedule. I keep learning things all the time and adopting new philosophies.
What constitutes good sleep? For me real sleep means that I although I might wake up once in the middle of the night I’m able to go right back to sleep and when I wake up I feel like I got a restful night’s sleep with at least 8 hours. I’ll take 7 if my body feels ok the next day but 8 is really the best for me. More than 8 and I tend to feel even more tired during the day but apparently this isn’t such a bad thing it could mean that my body is just trying to catch up. Little naps when convenient can also be helpful but let’s face it sometimes naps are just a luxury we don’t have.
Our bodies do their healing when we are sleeping and I always knew this especially when I would be in a flare, go to bed, and wake up feeling completely back to base line the next morning. My body was forced to sleep and heal itself during my flare-up. Luckily I haven’t had a flare in quite a while but I know my body is healing itself in lots of ways during the night. The stress reduces when we sleep well, our cortisol levels naturally drop when we have good sleep, our minds work better when we have good sleep and mostly we can tell in our everyday performance that our sleep was good. An example is that last night I had a great night’s sleep and when I woke up it was before my alarm but I felt well rested. I chose this morning to do my sprints since I was feeling well and had a wonderful Bikram practice. This all plays a part when we sleep well.
Many people ask the question how do we make sure we get good sleep and that is a question that can take a whole blog to explain but what it boils down to is sleeping in a black-out room (which I’m not there yet) good nutrition, moderate exercise, moderate meditation, even some help with a natural sleep aid. I personally would not opt for a medication but I don’t mind taking a natural supplement if I feel like my sleep might not be good. It just comes down to choice and what you need for your body. Everyone needs quality sleep how we get there has many levels.
I broke down and joined the cross fit training program again for 3 months. I was doing pretty good on my own but with every podcast I listen to about what the cross fit trainees are doing I realized that on my own I’m probably not pushing myself quite as hard. That was apparent this morning when I finished with my 30 minute session in the group with the trainer I was exhausted and gasping for breath. We work very hard but it is only a short amount of time. Today we did a series of 9 exercises; each exercise was for 45 seconds and did 3 rounds.
In the trainers much needed firm manner she pushes us to our extremes. I had a couple of exercises where I thought I could catch my breath but she let me know that I was phoning it in and needed to get moving. I like that, I need that, and I think I’ll get stronger because of that. I’m a fairly good motivator on my own and consistency has always been a strong suit for me but even I need to be pushed sometimes and I like being pushed. Now that I have committed to the next 3 months I’m hoping that my workout journal shows some real progress.
I do believe that my strength increases a little bit every week but I would like to see some real changes in my body composition and I think this trainer can help me get there. She has pushed me to the point of being able to do 20 push-ups where I couldn’t do 2 real ones that long ago. Now I’m doing 20 and she had me do them on a medicine ball today for 3 rounds. That shows me I’m gaining strength and when I can log my progress and keep an eye on what I’m doing that will show me my improvements as well. I’m looking forward to working this trainer consistently for 3 months and gaining the benefits from her knowledge and experience.
When living in Maine, what do you do on a beautiful fall day in September? Go to a fair, but of course. That is exactly what we did today. The morning started out wet and foggy but we were not going to turn back, instead we started out extremely early for our nearly 2 hour drive. We were on our way to the Common Ground Fair which is an organic farmers community fair. I have never been before but so I excited to go.
When we arrived the gates were just opening so we found a nice place to park and headed for the gate. The walk to the fair ground was like a nice Sunday morning hike in the woods. Along the way there were signs about low impact forestry, types of wood, how to detect dry wood, green wood, and other types. There were composting signs along this trail as well that 90% of everything at the fair was able to be put in compost. We walked along this trail in the woods waiting for the fair to appear. Once it did it was not your typical fair. We bought our tickets and immediately were ushered into the farmers market. I was like a little kid seeing all the stands, wondering what we should buy, discussing should we get it now or on our way out. The cattle farmers were there and the poultry farmers were there. We even saw organic, grass fed pork and couldn’t wait to taste the deliciousness of this fresh farmed meat.
After we got our program we decided we wanted to see the demonstrations and would consider our buying needs later. The first demonstration we attended was the goat milking. I might be from Nebraska but I have never seen any animal milked and yes I found this fascinating. The farmer was talking gently to the goat and she didn’t seem to mind that all these different hands were on her taking the milk that her body produces. She didn’t seem anxious but rather relieved. After spending some time there we were off to see the horse show. We had arrived for the working horses. These mammoth animals were beautiful and intimidating but were also very calm. Some were talking to each other and since neither my husband nor I speak horse we made up the stories we believed they were telling. The handlers ranged in ages of young teens to older much more experienced season men and women. The differences between the handlers was just as interesting as the differences in all the horses. We learned about Belgian work horses and Perchons work horses. We actually spent a lot of time with the horses. I think we enjoyed their energy.
Soon after the horse show we went over to the Border Collie demonstration and these experienced dogs were something to watch. The way they obeyed commands and herded the sheep and goats and yes even ducks. They like to work and it showed in the way they were entertaining the crowd as well as pleasing the farmer at the same time. We watched them with great glee. Moving on after the Borders we entered the beer brewing demonstration. This fair literally has something for everyone and as you walk from demonstration to demonstration you are on scenery overload with all the potential things you can buy and questions you can ask as you enter tents of your choice. We went into mushroom tents, and herbal tents and beer brewing tents. If this sounds like a hippy fair you would be absolutely correct but it was just what we were looking for.
So after already spending hours walking and looking and watching what do two Paleo wannabe dieters eat at the fair? We certainly weren’t interested in fried dough or anything that came in a wrap but since this is an organic fair we had wonderful pick of organic meats and chose skewers. We got a plate of skewers, found a little bench to share and eat our lunch. My husband looked at me and made reference to sharing a plate of food with our hands was certainly very primal. He could not have been more right. No need to sanitize it was time to eat and enjoy and that is exactly what we did.
Many more hours later we finally decide our feet have had enough and back to the farmers market we head to do our final shopping and climb back into the car for our 2 hour trip home feeling very satisfied, a little more educated, extremely exhausted, and ready to talk about all we did and saw for the day. If there was ever a fair for us to attend this was it and we are already planning our trip for next year and how we’ll lay out the day a little better and try to condense our walking to ensure we see what we want but not walk in circles looking for things. Every state has their fall fairs and it really is fun to head out for the day and just enjoy what the fairs have to offer.
I was listening to one of my podcast recently and they mentioned using the CATA method. At first I wasn’t sure if this was a type of workout, diet, or new fad but it turns out it is actually a way to measure how something is working or not. CATA stands for the following and once I heard about it, it made sense to me.
C- Commit to whatever program you start.
A – Assess = what kind of result am I getting, is this easy to maintain
T – Tweak
A – Assess Again = Did I really stay true to the commitment? Is this working? Is the program good? Is my follow through good? What one variable can I commit to change to get a new result?
Without realizing it I have been using the CATA method in my Paleo journey. I have been researching so much and learning so many new things. Not everyone agrees so I’m forming my own ideas but as I “tweak” and make changes I need to “assess” and sometimes tweak again. I am totally committed to my new way of eating, sleeping, and exercising. Now I make tweaks along the way and assess if they work or not. For me, I actually feel better when I don’t eat dairy and can notice a difference in the way I sleep at night.
I also notice that when I stick to eating mostly fats and moderate protein with easier to digest vegetables I don’t have any issues with acid reflux. I always thought it was because of my medications and that I had ruined the lining of the stomach by taking all my medications but the more research I do, I don’t think I necessarily believe that. I have dropped down to taking my acid reflux medication about 2 -3 times a week instead of every day. I’m seeing some real changes in my body, and level of fatigue. I have much more energy now but it could also be that I’m not burning all that energy with hours of exercise and hours at the gym so I’m able to save some energy and disperse it throughout the day. All in all I feel good and look forward to creating a new base line for my overall health.
Last night during our yoga session we concentrated on Triangle. This is considered a gateway posture. Our instructor asked us to think about the gateways that were being opened for us at that moment. Obviously she wasn’t looking for us to answer her but to answer ourselves. Triangle in Bikram and Triangle in vinyasa are very different. In Bikram we have a bent leading knee not trailing over the toes but parallel to the ground with a straight back leg, our leading elbow is on the inside of our knee gently pushing the knee back but keeping the knee in line with the big toe. Shoulders in one line extended in opposite directions. Your gaze is up towards your extended fingers.
Vinyasa Triangle is a straight leading leg, knee in line with the big toe. Hips open and facing wall, hand either on the shin or outer side of the foot. Back leg is straight and strong and shoulders in one line extended in opposite directions. The heart center is leading upward not downward. Your gaze is up or down depending on your neck and how it feels. This is a hard posture to feel comfortable in whether the Bikram style or the vinyasa style. The theory is that once you find your comfortable spot you could stay here for hours. I have yet to find that comfort and for me I’m usually thinking about when I can get out of the posture and move on.
Last night she had us in this posture for what seemed like an eternity but really was rather only minutes. She came around and gently adjusted us to open our heart center, or to adjust our hips and to straighten our extended arm upward. That arm has to be straight and strong. She did allow for breaks when we needed them and everyone needed a break from time to time. When you are in this posture and you are thinking about all steps it takes to get into the posture and stay in the posture it is difficult to really dig deep and figure out what gates you are opening.
Breaking down postures becomes part of the practice. The practice can be and should be different all the time. The next time I’m in Triangle it may be that I get a little more comfortable and can look for those openings. At one time Triangle was one of my favorite postures but I got out of the practice of doing it so I’m starting over again. Also, I’m little bit distracted thinking about my husband and if he is ok and if anything is hurting him in the posture. My practice should be my own but that is easier said than done when your loved one is on the mat next to you. By the end of this session going into the next session I won’t worry about him because I’ll know he found his groove but until part of my thoughts will be on my practice and the other part will be on his practice.
To give you an example when we are headed into a posture that I know is difficult I will go into the modified version first to show him what he can do then once I know he understands what I’m doing then I will go into my version which might not be full expression but closer to full expression than the modified version. Many times people just need to know that there are steps they can take before full expression so they don’t overdo it. Considering he has been using a heating pad since our first session I know he over did it so I’m helping to not overdo it in future classes. As we get more classes under us I will have confidence that he knows what he is doing and let him do his thing. At that time I can get serious about my practice also. Maybe that is my gateway to myself and my own practice that I need to explore while in Triangle for an eternity.