Fitness

The Best Laid Plans…

What a week it’s been! I started it full of confidence and optimism, ready to smash out another 6 workouts. But of course, plans don’t always work out.  A comment on my last post by Matters of Living should have prepared me for this, they were pondering how much can you actually plan and how much will you be able to follow through on.  A week later, I think the best thing to do is to incorporate flexibility into your plans to expect the unexpected. Because on Monday, I injured my elbow.

Dr Google thinks it might be elbow bursitis but I need to see a physio (I think this is a result of compensating for another injury in my shoulder). It happened just as I started my planned workout; first, my elbow was aching so I stretched it, then I heard a very unpleasant noise (grind/squelch), followed by pain.

I probably should be resting completely now, but I’ve managed to find a way to persevere.  Arm strapped up in a sling, doing one-armed HIIT workouts. I look ridiculous. But I’m hoping the physio gives me the go ahead to keep doing it this way because with uni stress piling up this is definitely not the time to stop exercising.  In the meantime, no more weights/pump classes for me.

 

Date Planned Exercise Actual Exercise
Wed 17/05/2017 Fire 45 EZ Fire 45 EZ
Thu 18/05/2017 HIIT 15 HIIT 15
Fri 19/05/2017 REST REST
Sat 20/05/2017 Pump Pump
Sun 21/05/2017 Fire 45 EZ Fire 45 EZ
Mon 22/05/2017 Fire 55 😦
Tue 23/05/2017 Pump Fire 30
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Exercise and Theory of Planned Behaviour

Approximately 2-3 weeks ago, I made a decision to try and increase the amount of exercise I was doing and to keep track of it.  This isn’t new for me, I’ve done it before (and in fact, I’ve even blogged about it on here), and I’ll probably do it again.  But this time round, I decided to do it because I was heading into the busiest time of the semester. I know from personal history that when the assignments, group presentations, and thesis components all start to pile up health and fitness takes a back seat.

The good thing about studying psychology though is that I know about the theory of planned behaviour (TPB).  TPB is all about increasing the likelihood of you achieving a goal if you take control of your decisions, plan your actions, identify risks/excuses, get support from others/tell other people about what you’re doing.  I’m also fully aware of the psychological benefits of exercise – improved memory and cognitive functioning.  Two things I REALLY need to get through masters!

So I’ll try to check in weekly (most likely on Wednesdays) with a brief update of how the week has gone. At the moment, I’m doing a combo of Beachbody’s Turbo Fire at home, with the occasional weights session (Les Mills Body Pump) at the gym.

Turbo Fire sessions are either called Fire or HIIT.  Fire workouts tend to be longer, and have a few ‘fire drills’ i.e. 1 min bursts of high-intensity workouts included, whereas HIIT ones are shorter, and are literally high intensity the entire time.  Body Pump is a full body cardio/weights workout that goes for 1 hour.

So my first check in.  The previous week went exactly as planned.  I’m not entirely following the Turbo Fire schedule 100%, I’m rearranging the workouts to suit my weekly schedule, so this made it much more achievable.  So for example:

  • On Thursday and Fridays when I have to go to uni, I reduce the time required to workout.
  • On Mondays when I work, I also do a shorter workout.
  • Pump classes are on Tues, Sat or Sun so I just plan that around my other activities. I try to do 2 per week.
  • I leave the longest workouts for days when I’m at home e.g. Wed and Sat.

Even though I started increasing my exercise around mid-April, this was the first week I managed to do 6 days of exercise so I’m feeling very happy with myself.

Day/Date Planned Exercise Actual Exercise
Wed 10/05/2017 Fire 55 Fire 55
Thu 11/05/2017 HIIT 15 HIIT 15
Fri 12/05/2017 REST REST
Sat 13/05/2017 Fire 45 Fire 45
Sun 14/05/2017 Pump Pump
Mon 15/05/2017 HIIT 25 HIIT 25
Tue 16/05/2017 Pump Pump

 

Managing stress with exercise

Week 6 of 12 – Halfway through the second semester of psych honours.

Since rejoining the gym, I feel like my stress levels have been pretty low/consistent this semester.  I’m still having moments where it feels like things are falling apart, but I haven’t been too unhappy.  This week in particular is tough, my mother’s in hospital, and although we aren’t very close it’s still quite upsetting.  I also have a big work event coming up, I’m facilitating a strategy day for 40 people, and as an introvert, I’m always a little anxious in the lead up to these things.  On top of that, I have precisely 4 weeks to finish the thesis. And… I really should be thinking about applying for Masters.

But it’s true what they say, endorphins are addictive, and as long as I get my daily dose, it feels like everything is manageable.

My mum is going to be okay.  A last minute trip to India led to her getting malaria, which didn’t get picked up for weeks, but she’s getting the right medication and care now and is going to be okay.

The strategy day will be fine.  I know these people, I know my stuff, it’ll be fine.

The thesis is on track.  Yes I’m struggling a bit with the data analysis, but my supervisor seems happy with my progress, so it’s all good.

Masters.  Hmm.  That’s definitely a source of stress.  So the way psychology works in Australia is that after 4 years, you have to do another two years in one of the following ways in order to be a registered psychologist:

  1. 2 years full-time Masters (with thesis)
    1. Extremely competitive entry
    2. Only a few streams are available in Vic: clinical, organisational, educational, forensic, that might be it?
  2. 1 year full-time Master of Professional Psychology (no thesis) plus 1 year of supervised work
  3. 2 years of supervised work
  4. PhD and/or Masters and PhD combined

I’ve definitely ruled out option 4 – yes I enjoy research, but no I don’t want to end up in research.  I like the practical, applied side of psychology.  The bit where I get to work directly with people and make an immediate difference to their lives.

Option 3 is also out of the question, as the registration requirements are so strict that it’s almost impossible to do this.  Anyway, I like learning too much, I don’t want to start working directly with people without more training.

Right now, I’m trying to decide between option 1 and 2.

Option 1

Pros: Great work experience in large organisations, may be able to pursue a career in org psych at my current workplace, long term prospects to work in defence (which has always been an interest of mine), this stream allows you to specialise i.e. get additional training and supervision in the stream you choose, so in my case that would be org psych

Cons: They only take 16 students per year in Victoria.  2 more years.  My god.  And another thesis. 😦

Option 2

Pros: Practical experience counselling people, this would mean I finally get to do some one on one work, only one more year of studying, no thesis!

Cons: At the end of this route, you can’t specialise in a specific psych stream.  If I ever want to specialise in my life, I would have to go and do a 2 year masters.

So…I have no idea what I’ll be doing next year.  Applications close in approx. 1 month, so in the meantime, I need to apply for Masters of Org Psych, and Masters of Professional Psych and see what happens.

Did I mention I hate uncertainty? I think that’s why I’m so grateful for the gym.  Even when work and uni are stressful and unpredictable, I can do my workouts like clockwork.  Same classes, same time each week, and I’m in control.

Fitness Goals & Mental Imagery Reflection

My week of exercising, sticking to my meal plan and using mental imagery to motivate myself is now over.  I mentioned before that I did this as an activity for one of my uni classes, so here is the reflection I wrote afterwards.


For successful goal setting, Grant and Leigh (2011) suggest pursuing goals that align with your values as this increases likelihood of success.  One of my key values is self-improvement; I believe in continuously finding opportunities to improve, and working towards self-actualisation.  This is why I started to exercise two years ago – to improve emotional and physical wellbeing.  Holmes and Mathews (2010) contend that mental imagery (MI) is particularly effective at activating brain regions associated with emotion, so I was really excited to try it.

What it was like to practice imagining – how easy was it to control your images? How clear/vivid were your images? Did it get any easier/better with practice? What obstacles did you become more aware of? What new options did you discover?

My goal is to increase muscle definition, and reduce another 2-3 kg in the next 3 months.  However, I’m currently experiencing a plateau, which I’m hoping can be aided with MI.

Since returning from overseas in June, I’ve only been going about 3-4 times per week, and I can’t seem to find the motivation to resume 5-6 workouts weekly. I also haven’t been planning my meals carefully, so I haven’t felt in control.

I envisioned how I would like to look and feel by January.  I used MI techniques from this week’s audio file, visualisation from the Real Simple website (Rodriguez, n.d.), and tips from an article (Roffey, 2013) from my gym (which coincidently referenced Lydia). I created a list of daily exercise and food goals, and from this, a clear plan (see attachment in last post).

I started MI in the mornings, but realised quickly I was often rushed and distracted, so I changed to later at night and easily incorporated it into my evening routine.  My images were vivid and clear, but an obstacle was if I was falling asleep other images would also intrude e.g. a day at work, getting into honours, etc.  It wasn’t bad necessarily, because the theme remained the same – full of optimism and hope, however it detracted from my fitness objectives.  By practicing earlier at night, I was able to stay better focused on my goals.  I found a great guide designed for swimmers, that I used before going to bed (EAC Gators, n.d.).

How this practice affected your hope and optimism (and ultimately PWB)? Or for that matter, self–‐ confidence (aka self–‐efficacy)? You might like to discuss this relative to your score on the Optimism Test (online at http://www.authentichappiness.org)

The test indicated that when it comes to bad events, both in terms of permanence and pervasiveness, I’m optimistic.  I attribute bad things based on the situation.  With good events, I do the same – I believe they can be situational and isolated instances, overall, this gave a slightly hopeless result.  If optimism and pessimism were a spectrum, I believe I’m in the middle, a realist.  I believe successes are due to hard work – nothing to do with me being smart or dumb, but that I applied myself well in that given situation.

How successful were you following through on your (daily) goal? What was that like?

With my weekly plan, plus visualisation, I felt more optimistic about achieving success.  I didn’t achieve 100%, but I was pleased with the outcome.  6 out of 7 days, I achieved my food plan, and I did 5 out of 6 planned workouts.  I slipped when there were logistical issues (i.e. getting timing wrong), but I’ve made another plan for next week, and included more flexibility.

What else did you learn from the process?

It’s tempting to use one failure as an excuse to give up entirely, but I have to cut myself some slack and use these opportunities to reassess the plan, and find ways to reduce the risk of failure.

References

EAC Gators. (n.d). Mental Imagery.  Retrieved from http://www.eacgators.com/imagery.pdf

Grant, A. M. & Leigh, A. (2011). 8 Steps To Happiness: An Everyday Handbook. Melbourne, VIC: Victory Books.

Holmes, E. A. & Mathews, A. (2010). Mental imagery in emotion and emotional disorders. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(1), 349-362. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2010.01.001

Rodriguez, T. (n.d.). 3 Easy Visualization Techniques. Real Simple. Retrieved from http://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/emotional-health/visualization-techniques

Roffey, C. (2013). Train your brain with mental imagery. Fernwood Fitness. Retrieved from http://www.fernwoodfitness.com.au/weight-loss—exercise/well-being/train-your-brain-with-mental-imagery/

Mental Imagery and Goal Setting

Ah, another week, another random task I have to do for my Happiness & Positive Psychology class.  I’m really enjoying it – I have this natural instinct to always want to try something new and this class is meeting that need.

This week the focus is on hope, optimism and mental imagery.

I’ll do a proper reflection later on, but basically I’ve set myself daily food and exercise goals for the week and I’m going to be using mental imagery to imagine success (both short term and long term).

The goal for the week is as follows.  It’s not super healthy, but if I can stick to it, then I’ll be happy.  My goal is baby steps – if I can keep doing something like this for more than a few weeks, then I might start thinking of proper fitness meal prep.

Wish me luck. 🙂

Exercise and Food Plan