Discovering the joys of morning exercise and meditation

Discovering the joys of morning exercise and meditationIt was Saturday. I was up at past four in the morning, a usual morning routine, but I was too lazy to get out from bed.  My mind was debating whether to go for my usual morning exercise or just call the day as rest day since I haven’t had any that week. I cuddled my son, pulled the comforter and started to close my eyes. I dozed off.

I woke up again at past five in the morning, still weighing whether to go or not. Considering that it is summer here, I was running out of time. If I exercise, I have to leave soon because the sun was just about to rise and I could still enjoy at least an hour of walking without being baked under the scorching summer heat. Next I envisioned which route to take, if ever I would go. And then, the vision of sitting on the bench in lotus position, hands rested on my knees and eyes closed, startled me. Ahhh, I was not willing to miss my few minutes of meditation for that day.

For almost two weeks now, I discovered the joy of simply sitting with eyes closed in one quiet spot during my morning exercise. This few minutes of tranquility, of just listening the birds chirping or experiencing the gush of wind in my skin, is precious. It’s like I’m receiving an extra dose of energy for the day.

For the last six to eight months, I generally exercised in the treadmill for an average of thirty minutes daily and around an hour on weekends. However for the last four weeks, I have been hitting the parks. With the discovery of the short meditation, I am even more driven to exercise in the park to be with nature. It also propels me to start earlier than usual.

Now my day starts at 4:30am. That’s when I start heading to the park. Then I am back at home at almost six to join my son for breakfast.

Honestly, this morning routine somehow became like an opium for me. I found it addicting to some degree. I posted this last week in my Instragram (@smilemilesy).

‘When laziness strikes you but you look forward to that morning adrenaline and a quiet meditation moment, so you shrug off your laziness and lace your shoes.

Off you go to welcome the sunrise.’

It is true. Lately this has been my motivation. I am imagining my clothes drenched in sweat; a heart that beats faster; the podcast I listen; the beautiful sunrise I see; the tranquility I experience; and most importantly, the moment that I wrap up my morning exercise with a quiet moment on the bench, listening to the sounds around me and calming my mind from juggling so many thoughts.

It feels amazing. And note, it is for free!

Though it has just been three weeks that I began meditating after or during my morning exercise, I already experience a tremendous shift.

Meditation became my moment of prayer. I consider myself as spiritual but not necessarily a religious person. The sight of nature’s panoramic beauty amazes me. I am deeply awed as I think of how great and wonderful our nature is. The sea. The sky. The stars. The sunrise. The different physical features of the people – thin, stout, tall, small, round eyes, straight hair, curly long lashes, etc. The dogs. The cats. It’s  simply amazing. It made me realized how brilliant is our Creator to come up such various masterpieces of work. Indeed I could not fathom his brilliance and generosity to share such marvelous creations.

Meditation keeps my mind calm for the rest of the day. I think this is the considerable impact that I experience so far. I am the kind of person who worries a lot specially about the future. Aside from worrier, I am also a stress sucker. Ouch, but true.

You know, when worry creeps in, your mind becomes clouded. It is like driving on a foggy weather where visibility is very bad. It makes you down and unproductive generally. That’s why I love the Buddhism’s practice called ‘mindfulness’. 

It helps me in my writing. Since high school (when the only available machine for writing was typewriter  and the classic tandem of pen and paper), I have already known that writing is my first and only love. Unfortunately, like the love that human shares with each other or to others, I took it for granted. I betrayed my love for more than two decades as I became engrossed more with other temporal love affairs. As a result of years of betrayals, I also didn’t find peace. I hopped from one job to the others motivated by better compensations.

Luckily my dying love was rekindled recently and I vowed this time to love for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Since I have been sweating out in the morning before sunrise, I noticed a shift. I am not sure if there’s correlation between my morning exercise and writing but it seems there’s influx of energy  in my head and it squeezes out my creativity. Now I love writing more than ever.

It helps me to meditate without dozing off.  Earlier this year I attended a five days course where it was combination of yoga and meditation. It was nice but the course’s orientation was more into meditation. Since it was just a light yoga, I usually ended up dozing off when it was meditation time.

After the completing the course, I tried it at home. It was the same thing – I dozed off – even I showered before meditation.

I have been exercising like for almost ten months already. The difference before and after our trip to Nepal last month is the venue and duration. I used to hit the gym at past five in the morning and exercise in the treadmill for half an hour or even less.  Nowadays I exercise in the morning for more than an hour  then I try to squeeze at least another half an hour in the evening just to de-stress. I have a burning desire to gain stamina and endurance, and considering my current fitness level, it will take me ages to be in the fitness level that I wish to be. Ahhh, like my idol, Bubble Paraiso.

All this hard work and sacrifice is for our Poon Hill trek this August.

Anyway, back to meditation. Last month, I started reading about descriptive writing, you know – writing using your five senses.  One day I thought of sitting in one quiet corner somewhere in the park after almost completing my exercise. I sat in lotus position, hands on my knees and closed my eyes for few minutes. The intention was not to meditate but to use my senses to observe things around me.

When I opened my eyes, it was a eureka moment! I discovered that meditation is best when you are in the park and when it is done right after your exercise. It is maybe because all of this adrenalin rush, I don’t doze off. Ahh, so nice to experience this every day in the morning. Closing my eyes is like entering in my own zone; everything shutdown – you know all the ramblings thoughts about life, future, work, and all the worldly stuff that simply burdens you. This is my zen that I look forward every day.

For this reason too, I noticed that it keeps my mind calm for the rest of the day. I am not sure though if there’s any co-relation between my new morning routine but nowadays I am less irritable and not just so stressed with the daily demanding grind at work and at home.

Less sleep is required. This is one of the best part. If I sweat out in the afternoon after work, I discover that I am up earlier the next day. It is like I don’t need to sleep for at least eight hours to recharge. Six hours is enough. Then I am good already and not feeling sleepy at all.

I think it sounds strange, right?

It allows me to alone. When you are a working mom, juggling different roles in a day, it’s inevitable to have a profound yearning to be in solitude, just a tiny chunk of your day to enjoy like a ‘me-time’ to be reunited with your own self; breathing every second thinking of nothing else but yourself only. This moment of a simple pause from the daily grind of life helps you appreciate simple things such the gift of nature. It makes me thankful too for every moment I breathe.

What about you? Have you tried exercising in the morning? 



10,000 Steps Obsession

Cheese! (1)It is just me. My nature. I am not into tracking things. Tracking every penny that goes out my pocket. Tracking my food intake. Tracking my weight. I tried tracking things but failed miserably many times. 

Oh, I just remember. I have been tracking my monthly period though for the last five months. You see, I always have been irregular period since before. Perhaps in average I get three to four times in a year only. It is the same reason why I missed my first trimester of pregnancy. Sounds dumb but I just realized I was pregnant when my belly was already 16 weeks!

So imagine when I started to have monthly period from mid last year. It was strange and amazing occurrence.

Anyhow, I gave the credit (of my monthly period) to my new lifestyle, exercising regularly.

Anyway back to my tracking matter, my sister recently gave me a gift, a smart watch (Is there really such word? Oh well,  I just search in Ecosia, try this search engine and you are helping mother earth, and yes indeed there’s such word).

Because I have a goal to trek on my birthday and see the Himalayas range, I need to boost my fitness level so I can endure hiking for 4-6 hours every day. That’s the goal. However, since I am just your normal working mom who juggles office work, motherhood and exercise, my time (apart from work) and energy is mainly spent to my son. With my new goal, I needed somehow to manage my time so I can squeeze in daily exercise hoping to develop my stamina and endurance.

And of course, I began with the exercise that I knew best. Walking.

For the first time, I am tracking religiously my daily steps. Later I realize that the best way to track my progress is to track it through the distance I cover.  So lately I added this in my records but in this graph (below) it is not showing. Perhaps next time when I have more data to share.

Steps trackers

So far, I am not losing any weight. Sometimes I find it frustrating but I remind myself that the goal is to develop stamina and endurance. The goal is to improve my fitness level, not really to lose weight. If I shed off few kilos, then that’s a big bonus. 

But for now, I have to stay focus on my goal , #Poonhilltrek!




Interrupted daily routine

I expressed this earlier in my Facebook.

My routine last week was interrupted. Lack of sleep. Unhealthy late snacks. Minimal morning exercise. 

Luckily my company offers a little bit of flexibility in our working hours. I requested to work from 9am to 4pm only instead of the usual 8am to 6pm office hours. In this way, I can still squeeze some time with my son after his school and have at least 30 minutes to do my morning walking exercise. 

I attended last week a course called ‘Happiness Program’ facilitated by Art of Living. Before you judge me (lol!), I am not kind of a lost soul seeking happiness in this chaotic world. I admit, the course title can be misleading. 

My friend and I were after the yoga class actually though the Happiness Program offered breathing exercise, meditation and yoga. Yup, it’s 3-in-1 combo package. 

To our surprise, it was a fantastic course! We were so glad that we had taken the course though my initial expectation about yoga was not met. I had high expectations solely focus on yoga though they taught it in the course, it was not the main thing. It was just a part of it. 

It was a six days training from 7pm to 10pm and on the last day (Friday) it was even longer, from 9.30am to 3pm. 

We were also asked not to eat after 3.30pm. So my friend and I ended up eating unhealthy-carbs-high snacks after the sessions.  

As much as I like the course, I struggled because of the timings. I felt sleepy the next day. I am not used to sleeping late anymore. My exercise routine in the morning was not that productive because of lack sleep. Then this late night snacks kept me feeling bloated and heavy. 

What I noticed, when my routine is interrupted, it takes me time to bounce back specially if I am breaking my eating routine. For instance, my friends and I decide to have dinner somewhere else where the food is not totally 100% plant based. 

I indulge and enjoy the sumptuous dinner. Unfortunately, I tend to skip the morning exercise the following day because of feeling heavy and bloated. As a result, I am not that eager too to eat healthy breakfast instead I opt for coffee and bread. Then for sure, I am not into cleaning eating for the rest of the day. 

Well, somehow now I am back to the groove. Actually just today. 

I am still trying to find my ways in my morning routine. Generally, I am up between 4.30am to 4.45am to prepare for my morning exercise at 5.15am. 

With the Happiness Program, we have some homework to do which includes meditation, breathing exercise and yoga everyday. I need privacy to do this and the only time I can secure my privacy is in the morning when everybody is still asleep. 

This implies waking up earlier than usual. I have been doing the homework for the last three days. I am still running out of time. I guess, the ideal wake-up time is 3.30am so I have enough time before the morning exercise. Let’s see tomorrow.

Whew, such life! 

Anyway, we don’t surrender, right?  This is the lifestyle we chose and we have to stick to it if we want to stay healthy and fit. 

So what about you? How are you progressing with your healthy and fitness journey?


New Month, New Opportunity

welcomelittle one!

New Year’s resolution is not my thing. I tried setting up goals from simple ones to epic-life-changing-revolutionary-ideas but nothing worked out. 

But last October, I did one thing at the beginning of the month.

I decided to do one thing every day. Just one thing. Nothing extraordinary. No epic-life-changing-revolutionary task. Just to do one thing every day. Consistently for 30 days. 

That one thing was to write every morning. No word count. Not constraint to any time duration.

All I needed to do was write. 500 words. 200 words. One hour. 20 minutes. It didn’t matter as long as I would write everyday. 

And guess what? I finished my short ebookPractical Weight Loss Tips for Working Moms‘. Grab it here. It’s free. **smile**

I found that 30 days writing challenge was very productive yet not too harsh to myself. It was not too demanding and aggressive. 

Ah, don’t ask me for November challenge because it slipped in my mind. I didn’t pay attention that November was coming. In short, I didn’t do any 30-days challenge. 

Anyway, just one more day to go and we are in December. 

So I am thinking again of challenging myself this month. I have few ideas in mind but still am not yet decided. 

What about you? It’s a new month. Want to try something new for a change? Or perhaps a new habit to adopt? 

Try it! It can be fun. 

Cheers to good health!