Wednesday ZenDay: 100-Day Meditation Challenge

As I was reading this excellent post over at Wildmind Buddhist Meditation, I came across this 100-Day Meditation Challenge. Okay, it officially started at the beginning of the year, but my/our participation is welcome nonetheless at anytime. Today represents Day 3 for me.

I’ve been meditating for years, but struggle with doing it daily. I often feel like a human pinball, flitting from work and family responsibilities to social stuff and workouts. And before I know it, it’s time for bed! (Woops, there goes another day without meditation.) But I feel so much better when I fit it in.

Since my doc still has my workout activities limited to 30 minutes/day, this is the perfect challenge for me to wrap my head around right now. I won’t be going for the miles, but instead I’ll log on several more minutes of deep breathing, quiet solitude, and bits of unexpected wisdom that often emerge from my super conscious mind.

Here’s how to join the challenge. There’s no submit button, no medals or tee shirts, but some solid recovery I’m sure. If you want to join this journey, here’s another post on how to meditate regularly.

Wednesday ZenDay: Breathing Techniques

The December 2012 issue of Triathlete magazine had a Training Tip article that stated, “Constant exhalation is a necessary skill for an efficient freestyle stroke, but many athletes (especially newbies) have a tendency to hold their breath underwater.” Hmmm, I think I’m guilty of that too.

So when my crossfit gym Beach Fitness posted a breathing workshop, I thought it might offer some insight last Saturday. The breathing workshop was taught by Laura Adams, a certified Pilates and yoga instructor. The hour-long class really helped us think about breathing beyond just our normal cardio workouts. I must admit much of it reinforced what I’ve learned in my meditation classes. But I was up for a refresher and a new perspective.

Laura gave us a great overview first of the basics of Diaphragmatic Breathing. (This video is a short and a little dry, but bear with me because it demonstrates the mechanics of what’s going in your body well). She had us practice deep belly breathing by putting one hand on our stomach and another on our chest. So often we actually don’t breathe from our belly, especially when we’re anxious and that’s why we can end up with that tight feeling in our chest when stressed. Hint: if you have a big presentation, race, heated conversation, test, etc., focus breathing from your belly to relax.

Lateral Rib Cage Breathing emphasizes breathing into the costal muscles between the ribs as the lower belly is gently contracted. She had us lay on our mats so we could feel our ribs expand. Here’s another video that demonstrates how to do it.

Pranayama breathing is utilized to alleviate pain and unbalance in the body. I was first introduced to it in my meditation classes. But Laura suggested this technique to use during stretching to help loosen up tight muscles or joints. Here’s another video that show you how to do it.

While much of our breathing happens autonomically without any thought, we can improve our performance, sleep and recovery by applying these techniques.

Making Produce Last

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to not waste food, particularly produce. Spending time back and forth between Todd’s place and mine, I noticed something. He doesn’t waste food. I do. I’ve been the queen of good intentions whenever I go to the store and tend to buy enough fruits and vegetables. I just don’t get to it all before it goes bad.

After doing much soul searching I’ve come to the following conclusions for why this happened:

  1. Perhaps my eyes are actually bigger than my stomach.
  2. Definitely not enough meal planning on my part. I shopped for the same stuff on autopilot.
  3. Believe it or not, I forget to look in the vegetable crisper drawers. For me, out of sight can actually be out of mind.
  4. Items get hidden behind the bigger items and turn into things that look like science experiments.
  5. Ethylene-producing fruits shouldn’t be stored with or near ethylene-sensitive vegetables or they will go bad quickly.

That last one was an ah-ha moment for me. You can read more about the science of why produce can go bad quickly and which fruits and veggies should not be stored together in a great article by Vegetarian Times here.

Once I read that I was reminded that I have a couple of FridgeSmart Tupperware containers (click for a short demo video) tucked away in a cabinet.

These containers have two vents, which can be adjusted in four different open or closed combinations based on what you put inside them. I’m glad I kept the pamphlet that explains the way they should be adjusted for each type of veggie and fruit.

I also picked up a few more Progressive Fruit and Veggie Keepers, which I found on sale at HomeGoods.

I still keep a couple of things in the produce drawers. But everything isn’t jammed on top of each other there.

After three weeks, I can see that the new system is working. For me, being able to see things, lined up and organized in their own containers is helping me stay on track with eating healthier while preserving food longer.