Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Week 5, Day 2

For the body:
Yesterday called for 1 set of 12 repetitions using a 2.5 pound weight of the following strength exercises: chest press with dumbells, low back extension, abdominal curls, bicep curls, tricep press, arm lateral raises and side leg lifts.

For the mind:
(OK, mind candy.) I'm deep into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - disk 11 of 17 of the CD version. For more serious moments I've started reading Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson.

For the spirit:
Twenty minutes of mindfulness meditation (without the cat) on my cushion upstairs.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Week 5, Day 1

Harborfest brought about some dislocation in my exercise plan. Because I chose to attend the Blood, Sweat & Tears concert on Thursday and the fireworks on Friday, I missed doing a strength and a flexibility program. I believe I walked enough (to get to an excellent site for watching the fireworks) to count as 30 minutes of aerobic activity. (Photo credit: Kim Westcott, Cornerstone Media Solutions)

Last night I began week five of the program and did my 30 minutes of walking on the treadmill (while watching another House episode on my iPod). I also did the required flexibility exercises. Then it was time to go upstairs and sit on my meditation cushion with my cat, Zak, for 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Week 4, Day 4

My husband discovered a bat in the house at 1:30 am last night. Needless to say, the house was in an uproar for awhile and I found it difficult to get back to sleep. Luckily, today was a rest day.

For the body:
I walked back and forth to the main office today - about 30 minutes.

For the mind:
I listened to a Classic Tales Podcast of a Thomas Hardy short story, "Barbara of the House of Grebe." I can't remember ever reading any Hardy. I hadn't realized what I missed. It was a tale of impulsity and youth; surface beauty versus depth of character and how life and love play out between one woman and two men. Needless to say, it does not have a happy ending.

For the spirit:
I did 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation last night. I have a feeling I'll fall asleep before I get in tonight's meditation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Week 4, Day 3

For the body:
I got in another 30 minutes walking 2 mph on the treadmill while watching another episode of House in my iPod.

For the mind:
I finished the book Beyond AI. What I learned is how much I don't know about artificial intelligence and where we stand now on our ability to create it. I took a course in college, Philiosophy of the Mind, that addressed the earliest hints of this subject in the early 1970's. I had no idea what had transpired during the intervening years effecting the co-evolution of the study of the human brain and/or mind and computerized artificial intelligence. It actually made me quite hopeful about humankind's continued existence when the expected breakthroughs come leading to para human AI or even hyper human AI.

For the spirit
I did complete 25 minutes of mindfulness of body sensations last night and plan to meditate again tonight.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Week 4, Day 2

For the body:
I did today's strength exercises (mostly 12 repetitions using a 2.5 pound weight).

For the mind:
I tried to keep up with the political news coming out of Washington, DC, and New York State by checking my favorite blogs: Daily Kos and The Albany Project.

For the spirit:
I plan to get in 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation before I fall asleep tonight.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Week 4, Day 1

OK, I'm starting week four of my exercise regimen. Just a few more days should make it a habit, right? Right....

For the body:
Thirty minutes on the treadmill while watching an old episode of House (Wack-a-mole). Ten minutes of flexibility exercising.

For the mind:
I listened to another tale read by B.J.Harrison at The Classic Tales Podcast: The Spotted Band by Authur Conan Doyle. (A Sherlock Holmes mystery). Mr. Harrison did a wonderful job with his British accents, making each character distinctly him or herself. I also entertained myself with Show #73 of The Babylon Podcast in which I got to indulge my inner deep geek on the Season 3 show, "Convictions". Great job, Tim, Tim, Jeffrey, Mike and Edmund! I read several more chapters of Beyond AI.

For the spirit"
I listened to a dharma talk from The Interdependence Project by Ethan Nictern on Anger. I also sat for 25 minutes while listening to a guided meditation on Mindfulness of Sensation by Sharon Slazberg (from her book, Mindfulness Meditation: A Step by Step Course in How to Meditate with Joseph Goldstein.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Week 3, Day 7

For the body:
Today was an official day of rest from my formal exercise program. However, I think I burned calories by vacuuming the house and dusting, doing dishes and 4 loads of wash. I also took our basset, Zeke, out for a walk to smell the wildlife.

For the mind:
I got bogged down in some nearly incomprehensivle chapters in Beyond AI involving evidence grids, bayesian networks and seguing into designing for a brain. I forged my way through and found myself in somewhat more understandable territory describing the different stages of AI: hypohuman, diahuman, parahuman, allohuman, epihuman and hyperhuman. Several more chapters to go.

On the lighter side, I listened to another Escape Pod podcast, entitled "Conversations with and about my Electric Toothbrush" by Derek Zumsteg. Zany, spectulative science fiction at its best, deliniating the plight of a poor electric toothbrush with higher aspirations for itself and its human owner. The iTunes store emailed me about another new podcast, the Classic Tales Podcast. I grabbed all 8 episodes and listened to "The cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe. We had a very old bound set of Poe when I was growing up and I have hazy memories of the tale. The narrator, B.J. Harrison, does a fantastic job of bringing it to life.

For the spirit:
I've been listening to various dharma talks from The InterDependence Project and sat for 20 minutes of breath meditation. I also reminded my husband to move the old television off my meditation cushion and put it anyplace else.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Week 3, Day 6

For the body:
I played catch-up today and finally got in my 10 minutes (12 reps) of strength exercises.

For the mind:
I discovered a new audiobook from one of my favorite cop/mystery writers, The Tin Roof Blowdown: A Dave Robicheaux Novel by James Lee Burke. I grabbed it from Audible.com primarily because he is according New Orleans (and other hurricane devastated areas) the respect it deserves by portraying it in all its horrifying detail. (Something yet to be addressed by our Federal government).

For the spirit:
I sat for 20 minutes of breath meditation with the cat.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Week 3, Day 5

For the mind:
I indulged myself by listening to two short science fiction stories at Escape Pod. One was a five minute flash story entitled, "The God of the Goblins" by Eric Marin. The other was a 20 minute story called "Implications" by James C. Bassett. I find that I still love being read to, as my parents used to do many years ago.

For the body:
I walked about 30 minutes today, going from the jail to Wayne Behavioral Health Network and back to pick up my paycheck, etc. Because it had been raining and the skies looked like they might let loose another downpour at any time, my co-worker, Diane, drove at the rate of 2 mph by my side in case I suddenly needed a rescue from the rain. What are true friends for, anyway?

For the sprit:
I found another website on mindfulness meditation, The Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. There I found a 12 minute guided meditation on the breath, body and sound awareness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Week 3, Days 3 and 4

The allergy headache returned with a vengence yesterday and I allowed myself to slack off on the exercise program. Monday had called for 10 minutes of strength training, while thirty minutes of aerobics was scheduled for yesterday. I did manage to walk thirty minutes today while at work. I plan on making up Monday's 10 minutes of strength training tonight.

For the mind:
I've been keeping up with the Republican filibuster in the Senate and doing what I can to support the start of a withdrawal from the civil war in Iraq.

For the body:
30 minutes of walking.

For the spirit:
Listening to dharma talks on mindfulness of the breath and mindfulness of feelings.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Week 3, Day 2

For the body, mind and spirit:
Today's allergy headache just got worse and worse. The best thing I can do for all the parts of me is to take some antihistamines and go to bed early.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Week 3, Day 1

For the mind:
I perused the Sunday Democrat & Chronicle, dipped into a couple of books and watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica, Season 1. The mind needs entertainment as well as enlightenment.

For the body:
I walked on the treadmill for 30 mnutes. It's surprising how fast the time goes when I'm watching Grease and listening to the musical soundtrack. I tried to take Zeke for a walk, but it's most decidedly not an aerobic one. We have to stop every few feet and snuff where the rabbits, chipmunks, grey squirels and woodchuck have been. I also did my 7 minutes of flexibility exercise. I managed to find my pedometer and clipped it on first thing in the morning. Looking at it as of this moment I have walked 7,221 stepsn today, (including the treadmill).

For the spirit:
I downloaded the 20 minute meditation timer from Insight Meditation Center and sat for 20 minutes between my cat, Zak, and my dog, Zeke.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Week 2, Day 7

It's been a quiet, pleasant day: seeing friends, visiting the Fulton Public Library, buying fresh fruits and vegetables (and a decadent raspberry jam-filled, chocolate drizzled, sugar cookie) all from Sunshine Produce.

For the mind:
I am continuing to read Beyond AI, and now have a book waiting for me at the Lyons Public Libary, as well.

For the body:
A second day of rest. I need to dig out the pedometer that the Solutions for Wellness site sent me, because I know that I actually did have some activity today. I just don't know how many steps I took.

For the spirit:
I plugged into my iPod and listened to the "Breath Meditation" guided meditation from Insight Meditation: a step by step course in how to meditate by Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Week 2, Day 6

For the body:
Today and tomorrow are "rest" days according to the exercise program, so I'm treating my body well by going to sleep at a reasonable hour.

For the mind:
Actually, it's for body, mind and spirit, a serendipitous pick-up at the Lyons Public Libary, Fit to Live by Pamela Peeke, MH, MPH, FACP. Part 1: Are you mentally fit to live? Part 2: Are you nutritionally fit to live? Part 3: Are you physically fit to live?, Part 4: Are you financially fit to live? and Part 5: Are you environmentally fit to live? I began leafing through it tonight while in the gazebo with Zeke.

For the spirit:
Several attempts were made to meditate, both interrupted. Once by my husband when he came out to the gazebo to be with me and once when I tried again later while lying down with the cat (we both fell asleep!)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Week 2, Day 5

For the body:
  • 30 minutes of aerobics on the treadmill (2 mph)
  • 10 minutes of strength exercises
  • 10 minutes of flexibility exercises

For the mind:
  • I learned that today was Julius Caesar's birthday (a factoid, I know)
  • I plan on grabbing Beyond AI for a few more chapters before falling asleep.

For the spirit:
  • 20 mintues of mindfulness meditation

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Week 2, Day 4

For the mind:
I found some time to read Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac today and found the following entry:
It's the birthday of the literary critic and teacher Harold Bloom..., born in New York City (1930) to Jewish immigrants. His first language was Yiddish, and he started reading poetry in English before he'd ever heard English spoken. He didn't do well in high school but took the statewide Regents exams, got the highest score in the state, and that won him a scholarship to Cornell.

He went on to study literature at Yale in the 1950s at a time when there was a dress code. The students wore jackets and ties. Harold Bloom wore an old Russian leather coat and a pair of fisherman's trousers. He became famous at Yale for his great love of poetry. He memorized everything that he read. He could recite enormous, long poems.

As a professor at Yale and as a critic, Bloom has moved further and further away from the mainstream of literary criticism in this country. Most other critics look at literature as a product of history, politics, and society. Whereas Harold Bloom is one of the last who believes that great literature is a product of pure genius, and who believes that we should read not to learn about history or politics but to learn about the human soul.

In the last few years, he's begun writing books for general readers, believing that scholars have forgotten how to read for pleasure, and many of his recent books have become best-sellers, including Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human and How to Read and Why and Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds.

Now, I took a mandatory course in college entitled "Literary Criticism" that was the most deadly dull, excruciating exercise in futility that I can remember from my entire four years. To read that Professor Bloom had a completely different view of literary criticism, "...to learn about the human soul..." sparked enough interest in me to go online to the Pioneer Libary System and request his book, How to Read and Why. More to follow...

For the body:
Today is a rest day as the Solutions for Wellness exercise program slowly builds up over the next twelve weeks. Moderation in all things, I tell myself. And, indeed, my muscles were a bit sore from the strength training.

For the spirit:
After I post this, I'm going to set my meditation timer widget for twenty minutes and sit on my futon between Zeke, the basset, and Zak, the cat, and attempt to follow my breath. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Week 2, Day 3

For the body:
Even with the humidity sky high, I managed to walk from my office in the jail to our main complex and back this afternoon, hurrying a bit because of thunder. Later that night I walked 15 minutes on the treadmll in the much cooler exercise area in my basement.

For the mind:
I listened to the episoide #69 podcast of This American Life entitled Dreamhouse and will delve back into further chapters of Beyond AI.

For the spirit:
I got about a third of the way through Gil Fronsdal's second introductory lecture on mindfulness meditation as well as sitting for 20 minutes. I should get extra points for that because my husband's newest toy, an HD LCD TV was installed on our television stand and the older, heavier TV was placed on my meditation cushion so as to not mar the hardwood floor. I went out to our gazebo with our basset, Zeke, instead. It was difficult staying focused when he just had to keep our property safe from marauding chipmunks by barking. I had my iPod with me to keep track of the time. I used the stopwatch function, which somehow seemed just wrong. Meditation shouldn't be measured down to hundreths of a second.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Week 2, Day 2

(Side note: for some reason Blogger is giving me fits tonight. Safari can't access it at all and Firefox isn't allowing me to edit with ease.)

For the body:
I thought I needed to do 30 minutes of aerobics today, so, after cleaning up the basement exercise area to make it more conducive to actually exercising there, I jumped on the treadmill for 15 minutes. Again, figuring an hour's worth of heavy duty cleaning should count for something aerobic.

Later tonight I actually looked at the Solutions for Wellness exercise guide and discovered today wasn't 30 minutes of aerobics, but 10 minutes of strength exercises! So, after the PBS newshour I scooted back down cellar to my husband's old weight bench, grabbed my trusty 2.5 pound weights and got to work.

For the spirit:
I managed to escape both the dog and the cat and make it upstairs unseen to sit on my meditation cushion for 20 minutes.

For the mind:
This is always the easiest part for me. I can always find something to do to expand my mental capabilities. Today it was listening to Beethoven's First Symphony and I'll probably finish off the day by picking up J. Storrs Hall's book, Beyond AI: Creating the Conscience of the Machine.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Week 2, Day 1

Today's exercise plan called for 30 minutes of aerobics and 10 minutes of flexibility exercises. I spent about two hours cleaning the house (vacuuming, scrubbing the floor, dusting, carting things down cellar, etc.) in an effort to get the house ready for company if my mother-in-law's family decided to spend some time at our house after celebrating her birthday at the Pleasant Beach Hotel in Fair Haven, New York. I'm going to say that doing that was at least the equivalent of walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I did the 10 minutes of stretching and managed to find the time to get in 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation today.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Days 6 and 7

Well, I wasn't very sore from the previous day's exertions and there are no aerobic, strength or flexibility exercises scheduled for Friday or Saturday, which is a good thing because of a suddenly packed social calendar. I met up with a friend after work on Friday for pizza and palaver. Saturday found my husband and me at an afternoon wedding and reception. I tried to eat reasonably, but I know my calorie intake was much more than 1500/day.

I did meditate both last night and tonight. I thought I had set my meditation widget for 20 minutes yesterday. When bell sounded so soon I discovered I had set it for only 10 minutes. Tonight was the full 20 Gil suggested in his introductory lecture. My mind, of course, went to such things as what will I blog about tonight and how I needed to catch up and two day's worth of blogging because of yesterday's late night. The job is to watch the mind and watch it I did.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Day 5

I somehow managed to work a full day, go grocery shopping, do two loads of laundry, throw a pizza together for supper and walk 30 minutes on the treadmill, as well as lifting free weights and doing some flexibility exercises. We'll see what type of shape I'm in tomorrow - if I'm even able to get out of bed.

I listened to Gil Fronsdal's first talk on introduction to mindfulness meditation last night. (You can stream it from the site listed in my previous post.) I've commited to 20 minutes of meditation on a daily basis this week. Once I post this entry, that's what I'll be doing. I just can't seem to meditate in the morning as I am not a morning person. Evening meditation is fine, too. So here goes.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Day 4

July 4th is a national holiday and, after checking my Solutions for Wellness exercise plan, I learned it was an exercise holiday for me as well. I'll be more than making up for it tomorrow, it seems, when the plan calls for 30 minutes of aerobics, 7 minutes of flexibility exercise and 10 minutes of strength training. If I don't get in some walking tomorrow at work, I'll jump on the treadmill at home after grocery shopping.

The flexibility exercises consist of:
  • overhead arm stretch
  • crossover shoulder stretch
  • full spinal stretch
  • seated spinal twist and hip extension
  • knee to chest stretch
  • back and thigh stretch
  • straight let, bent knee hamstring stretch
All of these are repeated three times and held for at least 10 seconds, working up to a full 30 seconds.

The strength component is currently comprised of seven exercises, performed with light weights, 1 set of 10 to 12 repetitions:
  • Chest press with dumbbells (for the chest)
  • lower back extension (for the back)
  • ab curls (for the abdomen)
  • bicep curls (for the arms)
  • triceps press (for the arms)
  • lateral raises (for the shoulders)
  • side leg lifts (for the legs).
That's enough projection about tomorrow. I'm stopping now for some more mindfulness meditation with the cat.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Day 3

Today may be the "proof of the pudding" (or the taco dip) as far as my exercise program goes. After work I need to stop and buy items for a dish to pass, pick up my prescriptions, fill my gas tank, rush home and construct the 7 layer taco dip tor tonight's early 4th of July celebration with friends on the bay. We're staying for the fireworks, so I won't be home until late. I certainly hope nothing's listed as required exercise today. I guess I'll see and report back.

Much later...

Well, I managed to squeeze in 30 minutes of walking 2 mph on the treadmill and still get ready for the fireworks party later. Before I become too self-congratulatory, I completely forgot about meditating. Truth to tell, the tacos and dip I consumed while waiting for the fireworks probably wiped out the fat calories I lost walking on the treadmill. With luck, it balanced out.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Day 2

Today's exercise plan did not call for an aerobic, flexibility or strength routine. (One starts out slowly apparently - by exercising three times a week.) I elected to try a yoga series of Half Sun Salutations repeated 5 times just to keep myself on track.

I also began entering my food intake in an online food/activity web site known as FitDay.com.

Now on to mindfulness meditation...

I'm back. With a question. Why does 10 minutes go by so slowly while meditating and speed by after hitting the snooze button in the morning? My non-scientific answer? Time has more energy first thing in the morning and, due to entropy, slows down the later the hour.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Starting an Exercise Program (again)

I glowered at the digital bathroom scales this morning as I saw them register 158 pounds after I stepped on them right after taking a shower. (Now some of that could conceivably be water weight absorbed through my skin, but I don't think that accounts for all of the weight gain.) Over the past few months I had gotten down to 151 pounds through watching my diet and taking medicine for my hypothryoidism. Uh uh! Maybe my body's equilibrium has shifted back.

Several months earlier I had managed to start an aerobic routine using the treadmill (while watching the Newshour on PBS) until it broke and suddenly started going 13.4 mph!!!! It took Mark awhile to discover what was wrong, then order the part, then find time to install it. More than enough time for me to get out of the habit of exerise.

So, I dug out the Solutions for Wellness diet and exercise notebook I had ordered for free through Eli Lilly and reread the exercise handouts. Sunday's plan called for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise followed by a brief series of flexibility exercises. I elected to ramble all over our property with our basset hound, Zeke, while listening to a science fiction podcast. (I know the dog was tired out by sniffing out countless rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels) Then I did the 10 minutes of flexibility exercises called for.

Lilly also sent me a pedometer as a reward for completing several surveys. I'm not sure it's actually working correctly. It's has too many bells and whistles (compass, stop watch, step counter, distance counter, etc.) for something made of purple plastic.

People who know me know I'm always reading and trying to learn new things. Exercising my mind is never ever a problem. But exercising my body? Maybe I should also include spiritual exercise here as well. After all, I'm a tripartite human being, composed of mind, body and spirit.

So, I'm going to set my meditation widget for 10 minutes and see what happens. Beginners Mind all over again.


Ok, I'm back. The cat did much better with mindful purring than I did meditating. It seemed like the 10 minutes was taking forever and my over active mind could not be still. I finally got up to see how close I was to the end and saw I still had 2 more minutes to go. The cat settled back down on my lap easily and I got lost in my mind and then the bell rang.

More tomorrow.