40 Days To Personal Revolution: Week 1

Date: February 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 37

I don’t know how to not make these posts super long without breaking them into seven parts. I’m sorry. I love you so much. Documenting the challenge is fun for me so I can get all my thoughts out and then can look back on the posts at the end. (Narcissism.) But if there’s anything you’re particularly interested in, let me know. Or don’t. It’s all good.

When I signed up for this challenge, 40 days sounded like a very long time to do anything. But we’ve already graduated to Week 2! Here’s a recap of what worked during Week 1, what didn’t work, where I really need to make improvements (the crap I eat, the meditation, the endless to-do listing), and what I learned.

I give myself an A- for filling out my log. Because I screwed up the days. We started on Tuesday, not Monday.

I give myself an A- for filling out my log. Because I screwed up the days. We started on Tuesday, not Monday.

Oh and I clearly lied when I said I’d be writing these posts every Monday. Let’s go with every Tuesday instead. Cool? (I know, you don’t care.) Cool.

The theme for the first week of the 40 Days to Personal Revolution challenge was Presence.

File under "things that never happen on the 6 train." I had the whole train car to myself! So I blasted Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York" and ran up and down the car. Really. Wish you were here.

File under “things that never happen on the 6 train.” I had the whole train car to myself! So I blasted Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York” and ran up and down the car. Really. Wish you were here.

So right away I’m thinking, “Great, cool, awesome, I am never ever fully present in my life, so this is a good way to start. I will kick ass at this! I will be so present. I will never be distracted! I will drishti the shit up in this place!”

And then the other night I was eating dinner on the couch while FaceTiming with my mom, while sending emails on my computer, with the TV on in the background.

Soooooo present! Nailed it.

J/K. Failed it.

And then last night, I was doing my assigned reading, and I got through three pages before I realized I had no idea what I’d just read. So I went back to re-read those pages, and then my mom sent me a video of Abby making gurgly noises, so I stopped to watch that, and while I had my phone in my hand I figured I may as well check my email.

She wants to be sponsored by Nike.

She wants to be sponsored by Nike.

Crushed it!

But since this experience isn’t pass/fail, this served as a really solid wake-up call for me. The only place I find myself fully present is when I’m in the yoga studio. I’ve gotten a lot better at looking at my time on the mat as my time when nothing else is supposed to get done. I know that during those 60, 75, or 90 minutes, I’m not checking emails, I’m not getting back to people, and I’m not dusting my apartment because honestly how is it so dusty every single day when I swear I dust endlessly? Is it because I live in an east-facing apartment and the sun is always shining in and it highlights the dust on the dark furniture? Please explain.

But beyond the yoga studio, I’m not very present at all. I basically throw the “be here now” notion out the window, and I’m constantly multi-tasking or go-go-going. I’m guessing you can relate, yeah?

Multi-tasking Exhibit B: I was at a cafe the other day and saw THE FAT JEWISH FROM THE INTERNET. I was really excited and was like, "Hi, are you the Fat Jewish from the internet?" And then prayed to savasana that it was, because if not I can see how that might be offensive. But it was, and he was nice, and I thanked him for his work and the joy he brings to my Instagram feed.

Multi-tasking Exhibit B: I was at a cafe the other day and saw THE FAT JEWISH FROM THE INTERNET. I was really excited and was like, “Hi, are you the Fat Jewish from the internet?” And then prayed to savasana that it was, because if not I can see how that might be offensive. But it was, and he was nice, and I thanked him for his work and the joy he brings to my Instagram feed. Oh yeah and he was on his phone the entire time he was eating. I OBSERVED. Slash stalked.

I almost always have my phone in my hand. And I’m at a computer for about 80% of the day. I check my phone first thing in the morning and right up until I fall asleep at night. If I wake up during the night to go to the bathroom or if I can’t sleep, I’m scrolling through Instagram. It’s so unnecessary, but it feels like that’s the world we live in. People expect you to be readily available at all times, and you can pretty much always get in touch with someone. Remember when Out of Office replies could say “I won’t have access to email while I’m away” and people actually believed you? LOL THAT’S A LIE. You always have your email.

HERE I AM.

HERE I AM.

Anyway. The theme of the week was Presence and it was a great way to kick off the 40 days. I know what I need to focus on in a major way going forward.

For organizational sake, I’ll break these recaps down by “Commitment.”

Daily Yoga Practice

For the first week, we were instructed to practice yoga six days a week for a minimum of 20 minutes per day. I did all of my classes at the studio, which was great, if not completely exhausting. Wednesday was my “off day,” and I took four 60-minute classes, one 75-minute class, and one 90-minute class. Of my six classes, four of them were with Bethany. AKA the toughest teacher at The Den (in my opinion). So one week into the challenge, how do I not have six pack abs and ripped arms yet? What am I doing wrong?

Current body type.

Current body type: “winter mode.”

The yoga part is my favorite part of the challenge. I loved all my classes, and the only one I really struggled with was Bethany’s 90-minute on Sunday because it came after I did a semi-long run that morning. Poor planning on my part.

I’m definitely getting stronger and ballsier in the studio. I’m working on my handstand, which is scary, and one time I kicked up too hard and flipped forward and somersaulted out of it. I didn’t snap my neck, though, so that’s exciting.

Brian, when I ask you to take my picture during handstand practice, I mean CAN YOU PLEASE GET OFF THE COUCH TO DO IT? This isn't helpful.

Brian, when I ask you to take my picture during handstand practice, I mean CAN YOU PLEASE GET OFF THE COUCH TO DO IT? This isn’t helpful.

I start training for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon next week, so I need to figure out how to combine this challenge with running. I can’t just do both full-out because I will probably die. Death by yoga and running. Death by excitement. Death by over-eagerness. I should probably take fewer Bethany classes because I think the goal is to get stronger throughout the challenge, not to consistently linger on the brink of death and have permanently shaky chaturanga arms.

When it's "feels like -17 degrees" and you don't own proper running layers...you find the onesie your mom gave to Brian for Christmas and you get it sweaty.

When it’s “feels like -17 degrees” and you don’t own proper running layers…you find the onesie your mom gave to Brian for Christmas and you get it sweaty.

Daily Meditation

I actually did all of my meditations during the first week! We were instructed to do five minutes every morning and five minutes before bed at night. And while I did them all, I didn’t really do them as instructed.

See now if I had done my assigned reading beforehand, I wouldn't have done every single nighttime meditation sitting on my bed. Oops.

See now if I had done my assigned reading beforehand, I wouldn’t have done every single nighttime meditation sitting on my bed. Oops.

I have a hard time quieting my mind during meditation. As a writer, I’m naturally inclined to use any and all quiet time to write — even if only in my head — stories, blog posts, even emails and sometimes Tweets. I try to focus on “darkness” or “the backs of my eyelids,” but the next thing I know I have “Blurred Lines” in my head and I’m swaying to it.

I also didn’t do a great job of meditating at the “correct” times. I always did my nighttime meditation right before bed — even last Thursday after going out for drinks with friends and then having a sleepover with Lucy and making her meditate with me — but my “morning” meditations has happened as late as 6:30 PM. Or just “whenever I get around to it.” I need to just set my alarm a little earlier so I don’t have to worry about making time for it.

...because if I can wake up before the sun for November Project, surely I can carve out five minutes of my morning to meditate.

…because if I can wake up before the sun for November Project, surely I can carve out five minutes of my morning to meditate.

I’m not great at “letting thoughts enter and leave my mind,” and feel more like I’m just sitting in stillness and silence for five minutes, but I think that will come with more practice. (Right?) One night I used one of Baron Baptiste’s meditation podcasts, which I liked. But usually it’s just me sitting there, fighting the urge to talk and sing.

Also, I admittedly put “Meditate” on my daily to-do list. I’m pretty sure that’s absolutely not the point of all this. I think it’s the opposite of the point of all this. Be more mindful, more intuitive, and less “checkbox-y.”

This is Lucy. We meditated together! (Do I wear this outfit a lot? It seems like I do...)

This is Lucy. We meditated together! (Do I wear this outfit a lot? It seems like I do…)

Balancing Diet

Hehe. Actually, I didn’t do terribly this week! I make my own granola bars now, because I’m a fancy chef, and I have those for breakfast every morning. Lunch is usually a toasted sprouted grain English Muffin with Tzatziki sauce and cucumbers and then a fruit or vegetable on the side (baby carrots, more cucumbers, beans, cantaloupe). Dinner and snacking are my rough spots, because I want junk and chocolate all the time. We’re supposed to get better at dismissing our cravings, so I basically have to just not have the stuff I actually want in the apartment.

I tried to take a picture of me with my plate of food. It didn't come out very well.

I tried to take a picture of myself with my plate of food. It didn’t come out very well.

The Girl Scout Cookies have been polished off, so that’s a step in the right direction. (Though is it wrong that in order to “not have them around anymore,” I ate an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one day? How does math work?) Plus, Whole Foods just opened on the same street on which I live, which is very exciting. They have a taco bar.

At last week’s meeting we talked about not letting food “be something that happens to us.” See Exhibit A, when I was eating my mushroom tacos in front of the TV/phone/computer and didn’t even realize what I was eating. And I had cooked that meal myself! What a shame.

Journaling

We have these “Excavation Questions” to answer, and I really enjoyed laying in bed last night and actually answering them in a journal rather than just typing them here on the internet. I answered some of them simply, in one or two matter-of-fact sentences, and I spent some real time on others.

BEING INTROSPECTIVE. With my braid.

BEING INTROSPECTIVE. With my braid.

One of the major questions of the week was, “What are you letting go of?” (Never end a sentence on a preposition, but fine.) Here’s what I am committed to letting go of throughout the 40 days and, hopefully, beyond:

  • My fear of kicking up into handstand. Bye.
  • Gossiping. Talking shit. I don’t do these things intentionally, but next thing you know me and my BFFs are droning on about some chick’s “unhealthy relationship with whatever.” Why bother?
  • Negative thoughts. About myself. About my body. About my self-worth. About others.
  • Complaining. It is, as Bethany says, “an epic waste of time.” Agreed. Onward.
  • Toxic relationships. If you don’t lift me up, empower me, or make me feel lucky to have you in my life, I’m not at all interested. Ain’t nobody got time for you, or your blog, or your social media, or your real life. Hate reading, dear friends, is a form of a toxic relationship. Don’t let it happen to you.
  • Using Crohn’s as an excuse or a crutch. So I was sick for two years. OK. I know that. You know that. My god, the universe knows that. But I’m not sick now. And I need to stop prefacing things with, “Well I was sick for two years.” Fine, I’m a bit out of running shape right now and struggle to hit what used to be my easy paces. Cool story! Instead of explaining why I’m not running fast, how about I just start running fast?
Hmmmm, now why does this sound familiar? I DIDN'T WRITE THIS, BARON BAPTISTE DID.

Hmmmm, now why does this sound familiar? I DIDN’T WRITE THIS, BARON BAPTISTE DID.

Weekly Reading

We were all given copies of Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution book, and I wish I’d done the assigned reading at the start of the week rather than at the absolute last minute. Typical procrastinator. (I hate this about myself, and I can acknowledge it but refuse to change my ways. I “work well at the last minute, under extreme stress and pressure.”)

OH JUST DOING MY WEEKLY READING.

OH JUST DOING MY WEEKLY READING.

The reading was really interesting, and right after I finished the reading I had my best meditation session of the entire week. Go figure.

I will say, though, I kind of struggled with the reading at first. I haven’t immersed myself in a real textbook situation since college. I was so distracted, couldn’t focus, and felt overwhelmed. Eventually I settled into a groove and enjoyed it, but yikes. I hated feeling so out of touch with the process of learning.

Instead of going out for Valentine's Day, Brian and I babysat this little cutie (BFF Michael's daughter, Blair). I read Llama Llama books to her like 12 times that night, so basically...I'm good and educated.

Instead of going out for Valentine’s Day, Brian and I babysat this little cutie (BFF Michael’s daughter, Blair). I read Llama Llama books to her like 12 times that night, so basically…I’m good and educated. (Also in this picture she was brushing my hair with a tiny comb. I didn’t just have my back turned to her. I’m a great babysitter.)

Empowerment

Do I feel empowered? Not yet. I felt super empowered when I first signed up, and I was really jazzed after our kickoff meeting. But then the week got busy. I had meetings and deadlines and lots of priorities, none of which included “be present.” So the weekly theme got pushed to the wayside, and that frustrated me.

Is "presence" about checking your phone mid-run? Probs not.

Is “presence” about checking your phone mid-run? Probs not.

But I think that’s what the first week was about. Figuring out how the 40 days fits into my lifestyle, learning to prioritize it, and powerfully moving forward.

I also should not have downloaded that 2048 game onto my phone because not only am I completely addicted, but I’m also terrible at it. So it’s equally fun and frustrating. Presence. Totally.

And now we continue to Week 2: Vitality!

37 Responses to "40 Days To Personal Revolution: Week 1"

This is really interesting to read about. Encouraging, and inspirational! Keep it up – I’m looking forward to hearing about your journey. PS, still waiting to hear about the job situation though!! 🙂

Love these posts so far! Super interesting. I can relate with how you feel about the half marathon training and yoga – I’m currently training for a half and also decided to train with a personal trainer at the same time. Let’s just say it hasn’t been going the best it could…but A for effort right? (Is that the phrase? Blonde moment). And I could totally let go of 80% of the things you listed too. I wonder if somewhere in Dallas is doing something like this…

Hahaha yes, A for effort. Totally.

I have the same question about dust. Where does it come from?!?

AND HOW DOES IT MULTIPLY SO QUICKLY?

We love the HONESTY and HUMILITY of this post. Keep going Ali . . . #40DaysAtTheDen – 40 Days to PERSONAL REVOLUTION. #ROAR

I also loved this post! Keep ’em coming, as long as you please. Also, that photo of you in the onesie and the neon hat is the best thing.

Ok so first off, this is a really inspiring and motivating post. I like the recaps as broken down segments. I have been really focusing on living in the present moment. I still have plenty of work but like I always say, everything positive is worth working for!

I will be cheering for the Brooklyn Half and hope to see you on the course and cheer loud with my “Team Challenge” Cow-Bells!

Yes!!! I’m so excited you’ll be cheering! Be sure to let me know exactly where on the course you’ll be because I demand a high-five. Yay, can’t wait to see you!

this post was great! actually it’s come at the right time for me and i just bought the book! can’t wait to follow along on your journey

I know the Crohns excuse feeling! I also had a very bad flare up a few years back, haven’t steadily worked in a long time, and it’s hard to tell if it’s because I’m “learning more about my body” or if it’s just because I got used to so much rest. I will say that it was a learning experience, though… A horrifying experience.

Also, I LOVE 2048. It is so addicting! I’ve gotten 1024 and that’s as close as I’ve ever gotten. Maybe someday I’ll hit it…

Cheryl Acevedo says: February 24, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Another great post! But really 2048 is the devil!!

IT IS THE DEVIL. I was on the subway yesterday next to a guy playing it and I peeked and his high score was like 900,000. My high score is 5000. So…there’s that.

I totally want your hat and I need to be more present too

Oooo Ali! I just love love love wearing Brian’s pjs to run in! If your needing help being present check out my blog! Thanks for all your inspiration! Hopefully one day we can run together!

Great post! I wish they had this in Toronto…For the diet aspect, I am also a very active, driven person and had major junk/chocolate cravings. I actually had to see a dietician for a bit (for another health matter) but it really helped me understand my body’s needs since I am pretty active and busy, and I found that really cut down on my cravings–which, it turned out, was my body just saying it needed more sustained energy than I was providing (since I didn’t seem to eat enough protein or good fats, etc etc). It may be something to consider, although I know Crohn’s may complicate that…Plus, it really helped having a professional cut through all the diet/nutrition BS that is constantly thrown our way in the media.

That’s a great idea, and there’s a really wonderful nutritionist who works with my GI doctor. I’ve talked with her a few times about alternatives to eating “lots of leafy green vegetables,” because unfortunately my body says no way to those. Thank you for the advice!

Firstly I have such hat envy. I have an amazing grey bobble hat but it’s too hot to wear it here, which makes me sad. But I’m grateful for the heat.

Secondly, studying does gets easier. I’ve just started 3 college courses, the first time I’ve studied for 20 years. The first few weeks were exhausting and I felt like my brains was fried but I’m 5 weeks in now and I finally feel like I’m getting back in it. So by the end of this challenge, you should be good.

Awesome post! Reading it made me want to be more present (and not check my email and instagram and do a little bit of work in the middle of reading your post as I sometimes do). Go girl!

I have been thinking about doing this and I think seeing your post might be the sign I needed. Thank you!. xoxox

GO ALI!! Love reading your posts and updates on life! So inspirational!
OK–I’m sure you’ve answered this in a prev post, BUT, where did you buy your “I’m just here for the SAVASANA” sweatshirt?? I must have one. MUST. Thanks much! xx

GO ALI!! Love reading your posts and updates on life! So inspirational! I may have to do this challenge, as well!!!

OK–I’m sure you’ve answered this in a prev post, BUT, where did you buy your “I’m just here for the SAVASANA” sweatshirt?? I must have one. MUST. Thanks much! xx

It’s Spiritual Gangster! Here ya go: http://spiritualgangster.com/ (It’s also super cozy and I wear it nonstop.)

Great post and I’m enjoying reading about this process. Write away, I read every word. No really…every single one.

Laughed out loud at the headstand picture and the comment to Brian. Had to explain that to my coworkers. Awkward.

Looking forward to next weeks wrap up already!

So glad you’re enjoying the posts! I’ll try to make the next one funnier for your coworkers’ enjoyment 😉

1. Love these posts.
2. I am bummed San Francisco has no Bastise studios for me to try.
3. You are so right that hate reading is a toxic relationship. I do it, and I don’t even realize it. So thanks for the reality check.
4. Don’t worry, you are not on the above list mentioned in point 3.

HAHAHA I like #4 best. (And thank you. Phew!)

2048 is addictive and fun. Just remember, never move up.

I’m glad I’m not the only one that puts “Meditate” on a to-do list. I just can’t keep all the things in my head.

My yoga sessions are also probably about the only times I feel truly present. Joining the club of eating, surfing the Net, checking emails etc at the same time.

I liked this post so much I read it yesterday (on my phone, on the couch while “watching” House of Cards), and then I came back to read it again today (while eating lunch and another article simultaneously; two work monitors = more reading).

So clearly I have some work to do with mindfulness/mental health blah blah, and I’m looking forward to more of your recaps!

I do the same thing with junk food. Exercise moderation and eat 1-2 cookies a day or polish off this box I should have never purchase to begin with in a day to “get rid of it”?

I too am guilty of “using my Crohn’s as a crutch”. I was really sick for larger parts of 2011 and 2012 and while I still have residual effects from what I went through and I’m still working to get back to my pre-Remicade 2010 healthy status, I’m also not nearly as sick as I was when I was hospitalized during those years. (I’m getting ready to run my third half marathon this year!) I understand where you are coming from. It’s hard to accept what our bodies have been through and the changes it has caused. You are not alone!