A month ago, I read the book Habits by Charles Duhigg and was inspired to change my habits for 1 month and observe the changes I see in my life. If you'd like to read more on what started the journey, you may read that post here :)
It's been more or less 1 month, and I wanted to give you an update of the changes I see.
For 30 days, I set up to challenge myself to meditate daily, right after waking up, and exercising after meditating (either once or twice a day, for 15-20 mins) I will do all of this before I start working, eat breakfast or check my phone. I decided that this will be my everyday ME time, to centre myself and put my body and mind on my priority list of things to do. I will not jump out of bed to shower and reply emails immediately (which I do most of the time)
So, the first week of meditation was interesting. I am not entirely unfamiliar with meditation. I used to do it somewhat regularly, usually when i'm under work stress, to calm my anxiety, sometimes to put myself to sleep, but not as an every day activity and in the morning. I used to do it when it was the last resort to calm myself down.
The first day of meditation was difficult. It was hard to keep my mind blank, to focus on the words being said to me, to "let go" and "be free". I kept wanting to check my phone, to reply messages and emails. To be honest I was a little jittery when I didn't get to immediately check my phone when I woke up. I had to keep reminding myself that "No, this is MY time. I can reply messages later and it's not the end of the world. TAKE THIS TIME FOR YOURSELF" - This was basically my mantra every time the guilt crept in. Yes, I realized I felt guilty that I wasn't immediately "working" the minute I woke up. It shouldn't be this way of course - giving myself 5-10 minutes every morning to meditate IS NOT going to wreck havoc at work (really, I don't know why I have this habit of needing to know exactly what's going on in my phone. Like chill Miriam, chill) This was one realization I had during the first week. It's easy for me to give my time for people around me but not for myself. After I entered the second week of meditation, it became easier for me to keep focus. My mind started craving it in the morning. I was getting excited for that 5-10 minutes of "brain peace". In fact, I felt like if I didn't meditate, I would feel like something was missing in my day. I started to feel lighter, and more energetic. I was calmer, I didn't care so much if things didn't go my way at work, even when I had to deal with difficult people/tasks, I wasn't affected. I was very "whatever lah suka hati kau lah". Usually when I am PMS-ing, everything irritates me. I didn't feel that anymore. I was at peace with myself and my life, and I accepted all the less favourable unpleasant things that happened throughout the month. The calmness gave me more energy, so after meditating I was usually pumped to started working out.
My routine was simple. I'd wake up in the morning, drink water, make coffee, make my bed/ clean my room. I'd sit down crossed leg either on my yoga mat or on my bed, and listen to a meditation video. I chose the video below as my daily mediation video. I liked the music, and I liked the content. I did change it up to other meditation videos when I felt like it. After the video ends, I take about 5 mins to chill and think about nothing. Relax. Breathe - this was actually hard! I am so neurotic it's not even funny anymore.
Working out the first week was tough. I was recovering from an injury, and I haven't been working out as often for the last 3 months (I used to do spin class 2-3 times a week) My body was stiff, and my ankles were still sore from the injury. I found a few No jumping HIIT Youtube videos that helped me workout without exerting so much force on my ankles. I LOVE Emi Wong videos. I've done every workout she's posted on her channel.
Because of my injury, I couldn't do any burpees nor lunges as it was too painful to do that, so I replaced those workouts with others things.
My goal for working out is not to lose weight (although, if I did lose a lot, I wouldn't mind it at all lol) I just wanted it to be part of my daily habits, and I wanted to see the difference between working out 2-3 times a week for 45 minutes, compared to working out everyday, for 15-20 mins, alternating between strength and cardio, with 1 rest day. I also wanted to increase my stamina, get as fit as I can, and tone up. There was a quote I was really inspired by : Working out is not a punishment to your body, but a celebration of what your body can do. I wanted to be able to do all the HIIT workouts properly, I wanted to have perfect form while doing it too.... and i wanted to do all the elaborate Yoga stretches like a proper Yogi. Namaste bitches.
I also needed to get fit because of my job as an artist. Sometimes I have to paint large scale murals. It's not easy to do that if you're not fit. Mural painting is very tiring and energy draining and you need to be very active to be able to do 8-9 hours of physical work. If you are not active, you won't be able to finish your paintings on time, and I hate stretching out my projects more than I have to.
I also watched my diet during this whole time. For 5 days a week, i'd eat healthy - but not starve myself. Lots of veggie wraps, salads, vegetable pasta's, lots and lots of poke bowls with brown rice and japanese food . I love vegetables so it isn't such a big diet change, I eat meat occasionally but I don't need to eat it everyday. I don't like chicken. I still ate burgers and french fries...and the occasional pizza. I decided I won't be cutting out snacks or junk food. I want my diet to be sustainable, something I could follow forever, not just for a month. I didn't want to suffer! Or count my calories (I used to be obsessed with calorie counting and i'm never going back there. My friends would hate me because I was so annoying) I would still eat the occasional cookie, but i'd portion control. Usually i'd eat the burger or pizza during the weekend (my cheat meals!) but i'd do 2 sessions of cardio if I do to compensate for that. I listened to my body - I stopped eating when I felt full and I also took breaks from working out if I felt that my body needed a rest day. I wanted to go slow and steady, nothing too crazy and extreme as I have done that many times before, and it wasn't good for my body, and I could never last so long in those types of routine.
After one month of doing all of the above, I've decided this was the best decision ever and I want to continue doing this everyday. I didn't feel like I had to change my lifestyle drastically. I only had to wake up earlier to fit in my meditation and working out. I felt better about myself - happier, chirpier, less hungry, less bitchy, more creative and inspired to work. Of course, there were the occasional days I was stressed and tired from work, but it didn't last long, it didn't linger in my body or my mind. The meditation really helped clear my mind about all these "life noises" I had and made me focus on my end goal. I can be a little impatient sometimes when I want something to happen, so the meditation reminds me that i'm on a journey, and that, one day, little by little, i'd reach my goals. Most importantly, I have to enjoy life, be in the moment, and CHOOSE to be happy, CHOOSE to be stress free, CHOOSE to love. The meditation reminds me everyday that I need to make this decision daily and not passively go where my mind takes me (to the stress zone lol) I also realized i've become more compassionate, loving, and tolerant. I felt good inside, so I had more love to give. So much love!
I've learned that working out right after meditation works the best for me, instead of going to a fitness class 2-3 times a week. Whenever my schedule gets crazy, i'd have to miss out going to class, and then my routine collapses (it also takes longer, I need to drive, park and walk) By working out everyday, at home, in my own room, it helps me stick to my routine, and I wouldn't have any excuse not to work out. It also made me more disciplined because I have to motivate myself to work out, instead of getting an instructor to push me (and pay them lots of $$) It helps that I put my mat, resistant bands, foam roller and work out clothes at a place that's easy to access and right in front of my bed. I definitely plan to go back to my spin class, Hiit2fit Publika, which I LOOOVEE so much and miss, but currently they're closed, so I have to find another place to go for spin (most likely Aloha in Damas, as i'm also supposed to be painting a mural there. More on that later) I also want to go back to my zumbaa and dancing classes since I don't go clubbing anymore and I need a fix (lol i feel so old saying this) My ankle seems like it's recovered! I've been including some physio exercises to strengthen the muscle and it's definitely working. I didn't even have to go for physio, I just followed Youtube videos.
I feel more fit, and i've definitely seen some weight loss (i'm not tracking because I dont wanna obsess over this) I see more shape to my body, and im wayyyyyy much stronger than before. I also see cellulite reduction - not that I care about cellulite but it was nice to see some changes- and LESS JIGGLE! I feel stronger too! I get excited about being able to do more elaborate workouts everyday. It was hard in the beginning, I couldn't even last 45 seconds doing ab cycles, my core was crap - now I can do it, no problem. I bought some resistant bands on Shopee and included it into my routine. I know my body will get used to it soon, so I am thinking of going back to the gym once my body hits a plateau (it's coming soon, I know it) My goal is to be a strong and fit (not skinny)
In terms of work, and motivation for work, I do see the changes in how inspired I am to do well. It can be hard running your own business, especially when you don't have a team, and no one to rant to when things get stressy. In a team, you'd at least have someone to complain about your work but I don't get to do that now. Sometimes I get too in my head because i'm thinking to myself too much - it can drive one crazy.
I have more ideas now, I feel more creative energy. In fact, I have so much creative energy that I don't even have time to do all the things I want to do! This coming week i'll be spending the whole month working on my new collection so it's a good thing that i'm so pumped up and full of energy. I also decided that I would take Sunday off (maximum 1 hour of work) to be with myself, watch movies, draw, dance, sing, and not see anybody. As an introvert, I really need the me time in order to be less groggy. Today is Sunday, and I haven't seen a soul. LOVE.
Overall, I think that this experience has made me more excited to continue down this road and see where it takes me. I'll do an update post in 3 months, and 6 months.
I urge everyone to try this 30 day daily meditations and working out challenge and observe how their own life changes. 5-10 mins of meditation and 15-20 mins of working out is not such a big chunk of your day. You don't even have to leave the house or spend any money. It's so easy to incorporate into your day! I don't even know why it took me this long to plan my day this way, and i'm probably never going back to my old routine.
Hopefully, when I start teaching again next month i'll be able to sustain this routine (teaching is tiring and I have to wake up so early) That would be my next chapter - waking up at 630am. As a night owl, even the thought of waking up that early depresses me - but i'm positive i'll be able to get over it and do it.
Good luck guys! And thanks for reading :)