Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thoughts on the challenges of my challenge

Now that I'm done with my challenge, I can reflect back on the experience. I've put together thoughts on a few of the difficulties I experienced during my challenge and have categorized them as mental, physical or logistical challenges.

Challenge: mental: Getting to class EVERY DAMN DAY
I read a post on the blog On Common Ground which jokingly suggested to quit your job before starting a 30 day challenge! I'm unemployed at the moment so having plenty of time on my hands definitely helped me get through the challenge. But obviously I would never recommend that people do that. However for me, even though I have time on my hands and experience following a training schedule, going to class EVERY DAMN DAY was still a bit hard to get used to. Last year I trained for a half marathon which meant I ran or worked out with my trainer Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after work + early (7am-ish) on Saturday mornings. Sundays I ran on my own. The training schedule was intense, but I had Mondays and Fridays off and that was always something I could look forward to. So for me, getting past the mental block of getting to class every day was definitely a challenge.

Challenge: mental: Loving my practice
Yes, I practiced for 30 days in a row, but my practice is not pretty. I have a couple of postures that are respectable, but overall, I am not a Bikram posture superstar. I get hot and tired in class and I sit out postures. Sometimes I get angry when I get hot and tired. Some of my postures still suck! To keep on going with the challenge, I had to accept that for me, it wasn't about having pretty postures. It was about getting myself through class.

Challenge: logistical: Lots of sweaty clothes/towels
Bikram classes create laundry galore. I'm lucky in that I have a washer/dryer "in unit" (sorry - I've been looking at lots of rental listings lately because I'm moving soon) so I didn't have to go to a laundry room or laundromat to do laundry but even so, it was kind of a pain in the ass to have so much sweaty stuff around all the time. I know that some studios have reasonably priced towel rentals, but that's not done at my studio so I just got used to doing laundry all the time. And I had to switch laundry detergents. And I started filling my washer with hot water when I was washing my Bikram stuff and then switching the washer to warm water for the rest of the wash. But yeah, I worked it out.

Challenge: logistical/mental: Food/weight
I'll be honest, I had some crazy food cravings during my 30 day challenge. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted which is not what I normally do. Did I lose weight during my 30 days? No, I did not. Did I eat an insane amount of food and not gain weight? Yes, I did. I tried to eat healthy but for me, I think 90 minutes in the yoga room every day just made my body freak out. I find that if I practice 4-5 times a week, I can eat "normally" but the every day practice just did not work with my body as far as having any restraint re: food. I wouldn't recommend a 30 day challenge as a way to lose weight, but that's just my personal opinion.

Challenge: mental: Explaining what you're doing to friends/family
For me, this is one place where this blog and the online Bikram community provided so much support. My friends and family are great but they didn't really "get" my 30 day challenge. So to be accountable here and on Twitter was so helpful for me. To keep records and see progress really helped me keep going and suceed.


I feel like there must be lots of things I've missed in this post, but I just want to get it up there now that I'm almost one month out from finishing my challenge. EDIT: Just realized I didn't touch on the physical challenges. To be honest, I had some aches and pains, but the physical stuff wasn't as tough as the mental stuff for me!


BC said...

I am with you on the logistical piece. I have a trunk full of smelly clothing/towels/mats. I am grateful my work and home are close to the studio - this helps if I forget something at home. I did start a system with two plastic tubs in my car trunk - one filled w/ clean towels (large and small) other one for dirty. And, I wash the dirty tub as needed. This has been soo helpful as it is one less thing to pack from home in the morning. I also have some empty water bottles if I flaked on water (I don't buy at studio because it's room temp!)
I have a granola bar or two for the occasional after class food meltdown! Nuts are good too.
Good Luck to you!

thedancingj said...

You know what I LOVE about this? The fact that when you sit down to write about the challenges of your experience, it goes "mental, mental, mental, mental, mental... and I have to wash a lot of towels." Yes! I don't think that was an "error", I think that was a genuine observation, and a really accurate one!

It seems like sooo many people talk themselves out of starting challenges with thoughts like "oh I'm not that good at yoga," "I could never do that," "I'm not in good enough shape"... but when all is said and done, it often IS all mental, and any BODY can do it. And YOUR body DID do it. Congrats. :)

~ J

Mei said...

I'm halfway through, and you just hit the nail on its head.

And congratulations once again!

jiggaroo said...

CONGRATS!!! by the way, i'm glad you pointed out that you didn't lose weight even doing bikram yoga straight for 30 days - i had the same experience where people think it's a quick way to lose weight but i wrote an extensive post about it once about why i don't think it's the greatest weight loss method. you should be so proud of yourself that you did this!!! :)