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So late last year I decided to start taking medication for my ADD.  I was seeing that my attention problems were causing some difficulties in my life and decided enough was enough.  Since ADD is treated with stimulants (non stimulants are available but they’re more costly) I decided to stop drinking coffee and tea with caffeine in it.

For a couple of weeks it was a bit of a struggle but I got used to it.  Besides, the medication helped me stay awake for a while.  Eventually I got used to the meds and they weren’t keeping me as awake.  Ever since I started doing yoga I’ve found a couple moves really get the blood flowing and the heart beating and increase my energy.  I start out my routine in a bridge pose before turning over and doing a cobra pose.  This combination invigorates me to the point where I feel like I’m going to pass out at times.  But after doing my morning yoga I feel as if I have energy to make it through the day.

As I stated previously, I’m about four weeks in to my yoga journey and I’ve been working a few minutes a day trying to improve my poses.  I want to learn my poses correctly and try not to worry about the health benefits of them, although that will happen naturally.  One pose I’ve been working on is called Crow Pose or Bakasana as it is called in Sanskrit.  It isn’t perfect and it takes a lot of effort but it is happening.

Crow Pose (Bakasana)

Crow Pose (Bakasana)

This pose take a lot of strength in your wrists and forearms as well as your core to accomplish.  It feels like a full body workout when I’m doing it and I can only hold it for about 5 seconds.  When I’m not working on this pose I’ve been doing some strength training trying to develop strength in my wrists.  It seems to be working as I’m able to get out of this pose without falling down now.

I wanted to learn a very advanced pose even though I’m a beginner.  I’m a bit impatient like that.  I looked through a lot of the poses and decided this one would be hard but not out of the question.  It didn’t require me standing on my head, just balance and strength.  I guess I didn’t realize how hard it would be but I found a video entitled “Hard Poses Made Easy” and decided to go for it.

This video was enough and as you can see I’ve accomplished a crow pose.  My butt is a little high and I can only hold it for so long but with time I plan on getting better and better.  Yoga really has been a great journey so far.

I’ve been practicing yoga for about four weeks now.  I’m not real good at it yet, nor am I that flexible but I’ve been able to accomplish a few things that my friend/yoga instructor has given me some praise for and it’s a great feeling.  After watching a video that showed me how to do an advanced pose called “Dancer Pose”.  It is a great pose for balance and I can really feel it in my thighs.

Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)

Tim doing dancer pose (Natarajasana)

As you can see, my 5 year old also loves doing yoga with me.  In fact, she has a kid’s yoga video that I put on for her that she loves doing.  I have a long way to go with this pose but it only takes a couple of minutes per day to work on.  In fact, looking at this picture I can already tell I am able to bend my leg up and lean forward a little more than I had last week when I had this picture taken.

Below is a video that will show you how to do this pose in 7 steps.  It is really quite easy to get in to the pose as a beginner and you can work on perfecting it as time goes on.

History of Yoga Infographic

History of Yoga Infographic

Ok, so it hasn’t been quite three months since I last posted but it’s getting close.  I’ve missed writing and I’ve missed a lot of my old WordPress friends.  I’ve been doing well though.  Regular readers from when I was a regular writer will recall that I had a strained rotator cuff once upon a time.  I’ve completely healed, I have no pain whatsoever.  I did not, however, go back to push ups, sit ups or squats.  I got in to running for a little while and then somehow pulled a back muscle.  Not enough stretching, I suppose?  This was a pivotal moment for me.

When my back was hurting I started to think about my direction in fitness.  I still 100% believe in my minimalist workout.  But I started to think.  Maybe I push myself too hard or just have the genetics but I seem to be a little accident prone.  A woman I work with is always talking about yoga and how much she loves it.  She told me she broke her neck years ago and had 3 slipped discs.  She told me yoga took all the pain away.  Not knowing much about yoga I asked her if she could give me some good poses for my back which was bothering me.  She gave me three poses which I researched right away.  They were bridge pose, cobra pose and camel pose.  These poses are awesome for elongating the spine, opening the chest and stretching everything out.

So I kept going.  YouTube has endless yoga videos.  I simply search for yoga, beginner and the area I want to work on that day whether it’s upper or lower back, abs, legs, arms…  Then I build a playlist and pull up the YouTube app on my blue ray player and workout in my living room.  My 5 year old has enjoyed doing yoga with me so much that we built her a playlist of just kids yoga.  She loves the kids  yoga because it’s like acting out a story with yoga moves.  She’ll giggle and do her poses for the entire 15 minutes and then sit down, put her hands together and say “namaste”.

In the few weeks I’ve been doing yoga I can already see my posture getting better, my body is getting more flexible and the poses are getting easier.  I’m really loving the yoga.  I plan to write more about yoga in the future, maybe I’ll post some pics of me doing yoga poses and maybe some instruction on how to do poses, although I’m not an instructor and am learning to do these poses myself.

I’d love to hear from anyone who is doing yoga.  Leave me a message in the comments.

There has been a lot of talk about mental health in the media lately.  Mostly because of people with extreme circumstances.  I really don’t want to get in to the politics of it all but I believe there should be more that is done for people with mental health problems.  Helping to break down the taboos is, as far as I can tell, the best way for me to help the situation.  Among my friends and family I speak very openly about my mental health status and sometimes I’m criticized for it.  For the most part, however, the reception has been warm.

What’s Going On In My Head?

So what is my mental health status?  I have been diagnosed with ADD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was in 5th grade and Anxiety only a few years ago in 2005.  I was treated for ADD as school age kid but quit taking Ritalin when I graduated from high school in 1994.  For most of my adult life I have had no problems.  I studied film in college and most of the teaching was very hands on.  As a visual learner this was the best way for me to learn.  What wasn’t hands on, I worked very hard at.  I got through college with very good grades and began a career.  It wasn’t long before I married my wife and was a husband and step-dad.

It is quite common for guys (and probably girls) like me to have a lot of success without treatment until we settle in to life and then have problems.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of success finding good treatment (until recently) so I gave up for a while.

The Problems I Had

So why do I need treatment?  An ADD brain craves stimulation.  There are certain instances where I thrive but this need for stimulation can cause problems.  I can be very impulsive and unpleasant to be around when I get stressed and feel the need to “vent”.  The anxiety side of me created a different set of problems.  I would become very defensive in public situations, especially when confronting conflict.  Many times I just stayed home when I didn’t think I could handle the task.  I often feared what would happen if, for example, my bank card didn’t work, I needed more documentation or showed up at the wrong time.  Honestly, I felt as if I was withdrawing from life.  I hardly ever get out of the house unless I’m with my wife and kids or I’m going to work.  My mental health was definitely affecting my life.

And Then I Got Treatment

I finally found an excellent doctor who is helping me.  She considers all of my reservations about taking certain medications and has prescribed just what I needed to improve my quality of life.  Some would say I’m dependent on drugs to be able to handle life.  I’d say with a wife, three kids and a great career that I’ve handled life very well.

What’s This Guy On?

I also want to share with you what I’m taking.  Not because I simply want to talk about what I take but because it demonstrates that you can get an effective treatment without having troubles like side effects or becoming addicted to drugs.

The first medication I am on is Xanax.  I’m sure there are mixed feelings about Xanax but I take a very low dosage.  When I have problems with my anxiety or am going to be in a situation where my anxiety typically hinders me, I take a half of a .25 milligram pill.  It doesn’t cause me to zone out or anything like that, it simply takes away my fears and helps me to feel normal.

The second medication I take is called Adderall.   Adderall is a stimulant used for treating ADD.  I was talking to a friend a couple of days ago who said she decided she doesn’t believe in ADD.  She was surprised that I am on medication for my ADD and asked if it makes me feel like a zombie.  With so much misinformation out there about ADD and the medications used for treating it people have just decided that they will ignore the problem in order to just remain normal.  Let me tell you, I am completely the same with Adderall as I am without it except for the fact that I can focus on tasks better and don’t feel so impulsive and stressed out.  I’m still a very creative person, and I’m still good at multitasking.  I’m also enjoying life more.

Full disclosure, Adderall is the third medication I tried.  The first didn’t work enough, the second made me feel like I was in fast forward.  I communicated with my doctor and she worked with me until we got it right.

How This Helps Others

Sharing my story with friends has helped others as well.  I’ve had people come to me and ask me questions about my condition.  A condition, by the way, that doesn’t define who I am, just something I deal with.  Sharing my story may open me up to occasional (slight) criticism but it has opened up a dialog with people to share their struggles with me and we have been able to learn from each other.  In this context it has enhanced my perspective on life.  It has also done the same for those I’ve encountered.

Mental health is a taboo subject.  It shouldn’t be.  You should share your mental health struggles with those around you and seek treatment.  You will also find that your courage will encourage those around you to seek treatment.  You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re improved your quality of life and the life of others.

I’ve been doing some research in to running technique.  I’ve decided I want to work smarter in 2013 instead of working harder.  In fact, I’m making it my New Year’s Resolution.  I plan on finding the best ways to make the most of my workout time.  Today I went out for a run and decided to try out a new running technique I saw in some YouTube videos.  In fact, let me pass this video along to you.

In this video you see one runner, two weeks apart.  On the left she is striking down on her heel and on the right you see her striking with her foot coming down flat.  You will also notice that when she lands her foot flat she brings the opposing foot up much higher than she did in the video on the left.  With a slight forward lean and good posture she uses gravity to push her forward.  The technique on the right is more efficient because she limits the time her foot is on the ground.  Also, from what I understand, when you strike with your heel you slow yourself down slightly before you pull yourself forward.  The more efficient way is to land with your foot flat, without stretching it out in front of you so that you push yourself forward instead of pulling.  This also cuts down on risk of injury.

So how did this work out for me?  I improved my distance by about 25% over Tuesday’s run.  In fact, my legs felt as if they could go a lot further but my lungs are not yet acclimated to running this far.  I have no doubt I can improve my performance a lot quicker than I have in the past.  My biggest barrier is waiting for my lungs to build up their capacity.

When I was running before I would use an app to give me cues as to when I should run and when I should walk.  I’ve decided to map all my runs ahead of time and shoot for distance instead.  My favorite website for mapping my runs is RunningMap.com.  I like it mostly because it isn’t overloaded with menus and the need to sign in first.  I keep an eye on the approximate time it takes me to run certain distances and then put the information in to Wolfram|Alpha to calculate my speed.  I seem to be running my first leg at about 6.5 mph.  This is quite an improvement for me.  Less effort (leg wise) is translating in to faster speeds aka traveling further in the same amount of time.  It’s all about efficiency.

I will say, however, this technique doesn’t make running so easy that I don’t have to worry about drinking enough water or eating properly.  Proper hydration and nutrition will always be essential.

Admittedly, I’ve never been a strong runner but thankfully, with proper technique, I can become strong.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions and how are you working to accomplish them?

The holidays were great.  I took a trip to Michigan and visited friends and family and overindulged on great food but unfortunately, the holidays are over and I have extra weight as a result.  I decided to wait until January 1st to get my act together and that’s what I did yesterday.  I got up and got my act together.

I started the day off with a breakfast of eggs and several glasses of water.  After about an hour I got out and went running.  I had some problems with my running app and my headphones kept popping out of my phone but I didn’t let it stop me.  The weather was too nice, there was too much to lose by quitting and I just didn’t want to stop.  I ended up running a but further than I had anticipated but today I feel pretty good.  My muscles are tired but not sore.  This is encouraging because it tells me I drank enough water and helps me feel good about myself.  That good feeling translates in to my enthusiasm to get out there tomorrow for more running.

While I was running yesterday I was thinking about something.  I’ve heard from people in the past that they decided to start running and just went out and ran a couple miles.  This kind of story has always baffled me because running just isn’t easy for me.  So I went to YouTube for a little research.  I search for “efficient running stride” and found endless videos showing how I can fix my running stride.  This should allow me to run further with less effort.

When I first started running in 2008 I read somewhere that you should strike with your heel first.  According to many videos I watched yesterday this is incorrect.  Not only that but some people suggested that this type of stride could eventually lead to injury.  The correct way, the way the best runners run, is to strike down with a flat foot and limit the amount of time your foot is touching the ground.  This is something I’ll have to work on.  In the end I hope to be a stronger runner.

My lungs weren’t so happy with my running.  This is probably due to the fact that I haven’t been aerobically active in a little while.  When you work out you take in more oxygen.  Your lungs contain Aveoli which are responsible for exchanging gasses with your lungs and blood.  When you do aerobic exercises you form more aveoli.  Also, your lungs are able expand more, your diaphragm loosens and it becomes easier to breathe.  This will only come with time.

So all in all I feel like this has been a fantastic start to 2013! How is your year starting out?

Well this is it ladies and gentlemen.  Tonight is the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.  I have a lot of goals for 2013 but for now I’m thinking back at what I’ve accomplished in 2012.

2012 started out fun.  We had some good friends over a year ago tonight, they stayed with us that night and we all went out for some go-kart fun on the 1st.  I also started a blog on Jan 1st, 2012 where I would celebrate a different food holiday every day.  The secret I didn’t tell people is that I was dieting 6 days a week but would cook and eat my food holiday foods on Saturday as part of a cheat day.  This lasted until April when I totally burned out on the grind of putting together a blog like this.

February was a very up and down month for me.  My family and I moved to another part of town where we are much happier.  My parents came to visit to help us move but we lost my grandma the same weekend.  It is something that still hurts even now.  I went off my diet and began gaining weight again.  This weight gain lasted until June.

In late May I had been reading a couple of books and had seen some research that suggested that you could exercise a few times per day in short duration and still benefit as if you’d gone to the gym for an hour.  I decided I was going to try this and write a blog about it.  It took me a few days to flesh out my program but ultimately, as many of you know, I settled on push ups, sit ups and squats.  At first it was all three each day but I would get tired and need to take days off to rest.  This is when I started doing one of each per day and my program really took off.

In June I started dieting and experimenting with food and weight loss/gain.  I ended up losing 29 lbs before feeling the need to stabilize for a while.  I felt at that point I was losing too quickly and needed a break.  Yes, I know, this is a great problem to have!  The fact is, I have been working on writing a book about my experiences and the research I had done had given me so much knowledge that I really feel my mental state couldn’t keep up with my physical state.  In other words, I got the program down but my mind was stuck with a comfort level that was at a higher weight.  Does that make any sense at all?  It did to me.

Physically, my biggest setback hit in late September.  I was having trouble doing push ups and determined that I must have strained my rotator cuff.   I kept up with some exercises for a while but round about November I decided I should take the rest of the year off to rest my body.  I was doing my push ups wrong.  I had my elbows out when they should be closer to my body when doing a push up.

With the holidays coming I acclimated myself back to eating bread and some cheese and I thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner and all the Christmas festivities I attended.

So how does 2012 end for me?  My wife and kids are still in Michigan and I’m in Florida working tonight.  I’ll put the TV on and watch the ball drop… I dislike that ball… and text and call my friends to say happy new year.  Tomorrow I’m getting back to the grind and will be running, doing push ups, sit ups and squats.  I’ve already gotten myself back on my diet and am feeling optimistic about it.

I will work harder on my book and hope to have it completed soon.  Don’t worry, I can’t always proof read my blog posts due to my family and work schedule but the book will be proof read, and read by a few people before I put it out there for people to read.

I also plan to write more on the blog like I did for a the first few months.  I want to give you some advise for reaching your goals based on my research.

Here’s to a great new year!

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