Life with Micro-Adventures

On at least two of my weekly runs I tune into the Art of Adventure podcast led by fellow blogger Mary Loudermilk’s husband, Derek. They’re living it up as true adventurers in Ubud for the time being – which is fascinating in and of itself – but he interviews life adventurers every week! The episode always ends with this question: What does adventure mean to you?

Two answers have stuck with me:

Adventure is a roller coaster of {emotions} and transformation.
Ericka Dhawan

Adventure is indulging your sense of wonder.
Shane Snow

Last month’s Outside Magazine featured various Happiness Hypotheses, as part of a “Happy + Healthy 2015” spread. Christopher Keyes wrote one that straight up defines how we’re trying to live life here during our relatively short stint in California: “Microadventures amp up your mood.”

Chance of success? Slam Dunk.

Asilomar Beach Sunset Surfer

Two weekends ago we decided to take an overnight trip to San Luis Obispo (SLO), because why not? We had nothing stopping us (see: obligations, schoolwork, wedding work) and we keep saying “We should go to SLO”. So, we went. This was planned in a manner of minutes on Thursday evening, and by Saturday afternoon there we were driving along the most beautiful highway in the nation (imo) with the sun out, windows down and Taylor Swift blasting. We stopped at Big Sur Bakery for a treat, because that’s what you do, and we pulled over to stare at (uh, quite disgusting) elephant seals yelling at each other but barely bothering to move.

Bixby Bridge Highway 1_DOTR

Sunday morning we decided to run around SLO and then hike, because according to our “Central Coast Day Hikes” book, there were quite a few options and we have a long list to start checking off!  And apparently we also had “hike above the fog and literally be on top of the clouds” to check off, too.

SLO hiking_DOTR

SLO hiking plank_DOTR

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Micro-adventures*: impromptu outings to take advantage of where you live and why you live. Seeking things that bring you joy. Wondering about your surroundings, and indulging that curiosity with experience. Not wasting any more time because there just isn’t enough of it; you do what you prioritize. Excursions that bring transformation.

*as defined by yours truly.

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These micro-adventures should be anything but overwhelming. They can be a quick weekend road trip, or an impulse flight purchase, OR they can simply be running on a new-to-you trail, trying a new restaurant, or choosing to spend Tuesday night watching the sunset on the beach because life won’t always present you with this opportunity on any night of your choosing.

Asilomar Sunset Surf

The sunset we decided to catch after our usual run through the Farmer’s Market.

No matter what your micr0adventure list looks like, it should bring you joy and transformation. It should change the way you look at something.

It should just feel like the best thing to do in that moment.

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What are some of your favorite ways to get in “micro” adventures? I’m taking tips to add to our growing list.

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YTT: Behind the Maya (Veil)

Throughout the course of our 200-hour yoga teacher training(YTT), we have to observe class at least 3 times. One thing you rarely, if ever, consider as a student is the structure behind 60-90 minutes of a yoga flow. And with good reason! There’s some magic in the not knowing, just listening, doing and digging around your brain.  And trying to keep your hips closed or feet balanced. That may be all you ever think about – that ish isn’t easy!

I remember my first few yoga flows in Denver, when all the things began to click, leaving class in a mysterious state of bliss. Like, man, if only people knew that sanity is so accessible and a high is so easily reached without having to do much besides roll out and step onto the mat! I remember walking out of studios way above cloud 9, craving and seeking that mental massage more and more. Running is great, sure – but yoga? Puts you on a different level.

How?

I’m learning (as you may have guessed). And part of that involves stepping behind the veil/illusion (or maya, in sanskrit). Erasing a little bit of the “magic”. Setting up props for the Scene, and watching the Director work. (In our YTT Director’s Chair: Coral Brown.)

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Did you know:

– Most classes build you up to a Peak Pose. You may not always recognize what this pose is, but the asanas (poses) leading up to it all have a specific purpose (e.g. open your hips, warm-up your back, engage your core, loosen your hamstrings, etc.)

– (Prana*) Vinyasa Flow classes will always start with sun (or moon) salutations, called “Namaskars”. Depending on the teacher, you may do a few different variations of classic sequences. This warms you right up!

– Every pose has a counter-pose. It’s all about balance, yo.

– There is always purpose behind the sequencing. It may seem as though you just aimlessly move from one sequence to the next, but know that the teacher’s mind is always taking you down a specific, planned out, path.

*This is the type of teacher training I’m completing – Prana Vinyasa Flow.

Sitting back, behind mayas, and watching a full hour of yoga without doing anything but observing is a completely different experience. I noticed so much more than I would have if I were on the mat. My mind wasn’t focused on meditation, but rather on learning and piecing together. I was a little jelly of everyone getting their asana-on. I was awake and alert while they blissed out in savasana. Not the same! But the totally-worth-it reward will be leading a full class through a similar journey sooner than later. Paying more attention to what’s behind-the-veil shifts your experience on the mat, but it also means I soon get to create my own story, bhav and flow, and see what happens.

For now, I’m still reading the script. (5o hours in)

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35 Hours: 200 YTT Resumes

Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) continues! See posts checking in at hours 5 & 29 from our initial training weekend in January.

The weekend of yoga starts off with 5 hours on Thursday evening, in the middle of which is a 90-minute class. Coral can throw a LOT into that time frame, and this one included peaking with crow pose. Breaking down that “peak pose” – what you need to work on to get in and out of it – will decide the vinyasas (sequences) of the class. Crow is a balancing pose, so a lot of people assume it takes arm strength. Actually it takes a strong core, open hips and a forward (not down/back/left/right) gaze.

“Look where you want to go!”

Think ahead.

Look forward.

Trust your {mind+body} abilities.

Be okay with falling/failing, and getting right back into it.

Build strength, open up, put a strong base in place; have faith that you’ll fly.

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The room was straight up pumped – we had energy, we’re ready to get this ball rolling again, we love to feel the lightness of flight. She regaled us with some Bob Marley during savasana and we responded with a sing-a-long. And that’s an awesome way to end a kick-ass class.

So begins my favorite kind of weekend…

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Building (Run) Fatigue: the good way to feel exhausted

you fail

One way I reduce decision fatigue is by working with my Coach (cannot begin to put a $ to how much I value not having to think about my training plans). But what does she do in return? Fatigue the crap out of me.

I read this quote yesterday just before I strapped on the Heart-rate monitor for the second run of the day. I  immediately thought about all the times we build a BIG thick cushion for ourselves to land on, before we even know from how high we’ll start to fall. All the times I’ve had a goal for a race, only to so very quickly come up with “Plan B”. The times I’ve been in the middle of a run and thought this is too hard, I’m done – when the marathoner in me, a few layers down, actually thinks do you REMEMBER mile 26?! You are. not. done.  All the times I’ve excitedly thought of a big lofty (to-me) goal, only to almost immediately protected myself from thinking it’s possible, because what if it isn’t. {Lands on cushion.}

But what if it is?

As a Coach, I’ve learned to recognize what Katie’s doing to me when she’s doing it. I don’t always know ALL the reasons or the science or her magic logic, but a glance of the schedule du jour is always telling. Right now? Fatigue. She’s laying it on thick! She’s saying to me, Keep running even though you’re tired. And I’m saying to my legs, you’ll survive.

Sometimes my mind jumps ahead to the WHY – the goal race, the next couple of months of building this fatigue for good reason. Sometimes those thoughts dump adrenaline into my muscles and act like jet-POWER! Other times, they add cushioning for the fall, layering up failure protection. I.e. They doubt. This quote brings it back to reality.

I failed during those 26.2 miles at Marine Corps, and guess what? Life went on. I didn’t fail the two times I ran those exact same 26.2 miles before, and life went on. The difference was in an attitude. It can be just as  fatiguing to build that soft mental landing to protect yourself as it is to build your mind and muscles to risk failure, discover your true potential, and believe you’ll succeed.

Which fatigue are you building?

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Avoiding Decision Fatigue: Why I eat eggs for breakfast everyday

There’s something to be said for food habits. I once survived on the following: oatmeal for breakfast, turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread for lunch (with lettuce, cucumbers & salsa) – possibly a chocolate pudding or just chocolate, yogurt somewhere for a snack, carrots/chips+salsa while cooking, some version of “grilled” chicken + veggies/pasta for dinner. Maybe an Oreo or small bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats for dessert. Every day.

I’m not kidding at all. And this was during and probably for a while shortly after my college days (studying Nutrition Sciences). Take that as you will…

Usually no mind was paid to the fact that I very often ate the same thing, or some very slight variation of it (depending on dining hall, apartment grocery stash, or internship funds availability), for every meal, every day. If I was questioned, my only justification was “it’s what I like…”. I thought that was true. If I look back on it now, I think two things: 1) it kept my grocery shopping and bills simple & consistent (you know, no-income days!) and 2) it kept decision-making to a minimum. (Brain space was free to learn and have college / no-FT-job-days fun!)

Let’s talk about the latter – Decision Fatigue.

Research suggests we pull from a pool of will-power and decision-making power every day, which like most pools, can be drained. Depleted. Donezo. In a similar thread, the hypotheses suggest our brain fatigues, just like any other muscle. We can make up to X tough decisions per day, feeling strong and in control, until we aren’t. By the time the choice between Y & Z comes up, we’re at a loss. The easy, well-paved path, is taken – with a side of light remorse and defeat for dessert.

There may be more to stress eating, to the gravitational pull of comfort foods, and to giving into cravings in a brief moment of weakness. Maybe not always, but maybe sometimes those moments happen because the hours leading up to them have exhausted you in some way or another. You’ve had to pull from that will-power bucket too many times in one day; your decision-making muscle has been lifting 20-lb weights all day when it’s so used to the 10 pounders.

Remember Steve Jobs in his outfit of choice? Black turtleneck and jeans. Recognize Mark Zuckerberg by his signature hoodie + t-shirt look?

From Business Insider’s article on the latter:

He said even small decisions like choosing what to wear or what to eat for breakfast could be tiring and consume energy, and he didn’t want to waste any time on that.

I may not have nailed this down until more recently, but it’s so clear now. Decision Fatigue: the struggle is real. It’s been years since I had the same exact thing for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks every day. (It’s also been a long time since chocolate pudding or Oreos saw the inside of my grocery cart.) But even recently,  for a long time, I had oatmeal + peanut butter every single morning. Last year I switched to a more protein-based breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with kale and chopped veggies (peppers, onions, tomatoes / whatever we have leftover), 1/2 avocado and a banana.  And Sriracha.

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It feels good to have breakfast habits. I like having the same thing most days. Now I know why: because it feels good to start your day without having to make decisions! I like what I like. I get variety during the rest of the day, and my brain is ready and happy to make those choices.

Other ways to avoid decision fatigue:

– Minimize your wardrobe. Throw out half of that stuff you haven’t worn in months, or years, anyway.

– Develop a few healthy food habits/staples and you’ll make grocery shopping easier, minimizing impulse buys. See also: meal planning!

– Have an exercise routine or work with a coach. Take the guesswork out of the day and you’ll be more likely to not only go workout, but also to stick to it. (This is easily one of the best choices I’ve made in the past year.)

– Recognize the days where it may set in, and make things easier on yourself by making a few choices ahead of time (pack lunches & snacks on stressful work days; have a go-to outfit for presentations or VIP meetings; set up a training plan for a “crazy week”).

Perhaps more importantly, get to know yourself. Recognize those times where you “give in” and take a few steps back. Do a mental rewind through your day – what made your brain tired? What was different about today vs. yesterday? What choices have you had to make that depleted your buckets? Every time you do this, your buckets get deeper. Your brain can take on more ‘weight’. You’ll make better decisions.
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Additional Reading:

Slate.com – Drowning in Jam: How to conquer decision fatigue

NYT WellBeing Blog  – Do you suffer from decision fatigue?

BusinessInsider.com – Here’s the Real Reason Mark Zuckerberg Wears the Same T-shirt Every Day

The Strength Model of Self-Control – Baumeister, Vohs & Tice (FSU & Univ of Minnesota)

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