As someone with ADHD, I am always looking for ways to improve my ability to focus. My medication, my planning, and environmental cues all help but it can still take a lot of energy to keep myself on task, so when I came across some music that made it easier to stick to my work plan, I was delighted.
I’m not sure how I happened upon Greenred Productions ADHD Relief Deep Focus Music (embedded below) but I can only assume that it was something the algorithm churned up after I watched a How to ADHD video at some point.
Maybe there is a scientific reason why this music works for me or maybe it is a coincidence but, either way, playing this video helps me to focus. And the fact that it is almost 12 hours of music means that I won’t lose track of time while selecting music or creating a playlist.
I don’t always have music on when I am working but it has been great to have this on hand when I need a little extra help to focus.
A couple of weeks ago, I was returning to the video over and over throughout the week but, for some reason, I wasn’t resetting it, I was just letting it play from wherever I had paused it the session before.
So, even though it is a 12 hour video, I eventually reached the end and THAT’S when I found the best meditation/relaxation/body-calming music (embedded below) that I have ever encountered.
It turns out that I find cello music incredibly calming. In fact, when I listen to this music, I feel the same kind of sensory-soothing calm that I feel when I put on a weighted shoulder wrap or lie in my hammock. Something in the music just really grounds me and puts me at ease.
I have been playing it while I meditate, draw, colour, or read and I swear I can feel myself sinking deeper into those relaxing activities as a result.
Do you find specific types of music help you to focus or to relax?
Does music contribute to your peace of mind?
Did YOU know that cello was so relaxing? Am I the last person on earth to discover this?
Tell me all about it in the comments. Pretty please!
PS – I really wanted to call this post ‘Cello, it is you I’m looking for’ but then the first embedded video wouldn’t make any sense and besides, I wasn’t sure if the Lionel Richie reference was too much of a reach for the joke to work. 😉
I saw a tweet a while ago about how one of the disappointing parts of adulthood is the fact that no one asks you about your favourite dinosaur.
And that is sad (mine’s triceratops, by the way) but you know what else is sad about adulthood?
Hardly any grown ups add a fraction to their ages.
We all just go for the whole number. That’s kind of dull, don’t you think?
I mean, what’s more fun?
Christine is 49
Christine is 49 and A HALF!
I think the answer is clear.
49 and A HALF has way more pizazz.
Now, as you probably know, Sam and Tracy started this blog because they wanted to talk about the Fittest by 50 challenge that they were both working on. They took a long term approach to it (2 years), had a solid plan, and tracked their progress.
I’m a bit late and a bit too me-ish for that sort of long-term, methodical approach (even six months is a bit too far into the ‘not-now’ for my ADHD self, frankly) but it’s not too late for me to become fitter by 50. And that’s what I plan to do.
Just to be clear, I’m not really viewing my 50th birthday as a deadline. I’m not planning to get fitter and then give up once my birthday rolls around. And I am not labouring under the assumption that it is now or never.
I’m just taking advantage of a milestone birthday to give me some focus, to help me direct a little more time and energy into my fitness plans.
I’m not entirely sure what those plans are yet but I have some thoughts:
Six months is too long for me to think of all at once so I have to break it down into 6 week sections and just think about one of those at a time.
My first six weeks will be focused on my preparations for my belt test, so that’s a good start.
My second six weeks will be during the summer, so that gives me lots of different movement options.
My word of the year for 2022 is spaciousness and last year’s was consistency. I think both of those concepts can be useful for my plans – I want more room for fitness, I don’t want to feel like I am adding yet another thing to my to-do list. And I know that going for the consistency is the only way that I will make progress. After all, if there was a way to make erratic exercise session pay off, I would be the fittest person on earth right now.
I need to keep the bar low to encourage consistency and I need to keep my intensity high to maximize my interest in the project. I don’t know how to balance those things yet.
And, finally, I need to figure out what ‘Fitter by 50’ actually means for me: What criteria will I use? What will I measure? What aspects of fitness feel tangible for me? What do I care enough about, fitness-wise to stick with for the next 6 months?
Anyway, stay tuned while I fine tune my plans and make my way from 49 and ½ to 50.
I’ve been preparing in a low key way for ages but being only 6-7 weeks out puts my test into a time frame that my brain will accept as ‘real.’
And that means that I can prioritize project Earn My 4th Degree Belt and focus more effectively on the things I need to do to prepare for my test.
Here’s what I am working on:
Obviously, improving my fitness level is an ongoing project but with a little over six weeks before my test, I have a very clear short term goal to work toward.
Six weeks is a bit of magic time frame. It’s a short enough time that my brain will buy into pushing myself a little harder – after all, six weeks isn’t forever. And it’s a long enough time that I can actually make some small improvements in my fitness level.
I’m in good enough shape to pass my test now if I had to but after six weeks of TKD-focused exercise, it will be just a little easier. And since I want to improve anyway, my impending test gives me a bargaining chip to use if my brain starts chiming in with objections.
Part of my testing involves being able to complete written and verbal exams about different aspects of TKD, ranging from the technical specifications of movements to historical details of the sport.
I always find this tricky even though, in other contexts, I am perfectly ok with written or verbal tests. I think that having to connect the physical movements of TKD with the surrounding theory trips me up a little.
I have done ok with my theory in the past so it has never been a major crisis but it has made me nervous.
I think this time will be different though because the improvements in my medication, combined with some changes in my day-to-day obligations, has increased my capacity to structure my thinking around TKD.
And, having this capacity six weeks out means that I can also structure my study plan more effectively.
Improving my meds and changing my day-to-day obligations also means that the process of learning my new patterns has been more straightforward this time. I seem to be able to grasp the flow of things more easily and I am holding on to details with far less work than I have had to invest in the past.
This may not all be attributable to the changes mentioned above, it may also be related to the fact that I have been training for a long time and some key elements may finally be firmly in place. (Being a martial artist is a commitment to continual learning so I imagine that I will experience this same sort of feeling again, just on different level, as I progress.)
So, I had three new patterns to learn for this test. I am very confident in one, pretty confident in another, and building my confidence in the third. Six weeks is more than enough time to bring all three up to the same level of confidence.
This is where I really want to do some extra work.
Even though board breaking is the most impressive-looking part of a belt test, it is really a tiny aspect of the process. And because there are a variety of elements involved, no one fails a test if they can’t break one of their boards.
It still bugs me when I can’t do it.
I struggled with my spinning hook kick break for years but I finally managed it on my last test. And I am not too worried about having to repeat the process with that kick and others for this test.
This time my personal marker of my skill will be to finally break a board with a punch.
I have used a variety of other hand techniques to break boards but I have never managed to break a board by punching.
There are a variety of reasons this could be happening. I know that one of them is that I don’t use enough speed but I may also be pulling my punch a little (I don’t think I am afraid of hurting my hand but perhaps I am, subconsciously.) And I may not be coordinating my movements effectively.
Luckily, I have lots of help to work on this and six weeks is enough time to figure out what’s going wrong and how to fix it.
Focus and Perseverance
Test preparation is not the only thing on my agenda for the next few weeks but I have lots of time and (mental) space to dedicate to the project.
I’m not sure how often I will check in about it because it’s hard for me to figure out which milestones will make sense to other people but you can be sure that I am going to be mentioning some details as I go along.
And I will definitely be asking for good wishes on my post right before my test.
And, yes, there is truly a month or a week or at least a day for everything. Maybe that fact makes you a bit meh about all of these sorts of declarations (and that’s fair!) but I kind of like the idea of finding something to celebrate on any given day.
Maybe I am not going all in for National Garlic Day today, I haven’t planned any celebrations for Coin Week this week, and I don’t even think I have the required millinery to celebrate Straw Hat Month but I *am* strongly pro-fun so I vote yes on anything that brings a little levity to your day-to-day.
ANYWAY, back to the celebration at hand.
Apparently Active Dog Month was started by Natasha at Om Shanti Pups but I didn’t delve too far into the history of this auspicious month, so I can’t be sure of its origins. However, I do know that she has some good posts on keeping your dog active so check those out for some ideas.
There’s a fair amount of dog talk here on the Fit is a Feminist Issue blog (a while ago, Sam compiled some of them into a post here) so I thought it would be fun to get a few of our bloggers to chime in about dogs and exercise.
I no longer own a dog. I like being able to travel and not worry about boarding. When I had a dog, I always resented having to take him out for long walks when I was trying to get ready for work, or it was time for bed. But I love dogs, and enjoy a moment of interaction as many as possible while out walking, even if it is just a quick whispered “who’s a good pup?” as we walk in opposite directions.
I do not have a dog, but I walk/hike semi-regularly with two friends’ dogs, Ellie and Ricky. I notice a heightened, vicarious enthusiasm for walking while with a dog. With a dog, the walk seems more interesting, perhaps because humans and dogs find different things interesting while walking. There is a sense of companionship and satisfaction when walking with a dog that even some non-dog owners notice. Is there a difference between dog walking and walking while with a dog? Dog owners probably know.
Cheddar is around the blog a lot. The blog turns 10 this summer and Cheddar is 7 so there’s a lot of overlap! These days Cheddar is the reason I’m out walking at all. While waiting for total knee replacement, both knees, I’m not a fan of walking even though it’s good for me. It hurts. But Cheddar gets me out there three or four times a week. He’s lucky that I’m not the only person who walks him. I’m lucky he’s excellent at adjusting his pace to the person walking him. He’s also a most excellent yoga dog, though unlike Adriene’s Benji he’s not good at staying off the mat so he gets his own.
Walking Lucy has become my partner and my touch point time before work, on our lunch break ,and after dinner during the week. Our youngest kid is 20 and regularly takes Lucy out solo but also subs in for one of us if cooking, work or other exercise needs my time.
Since the walks have to happen I’m out way more consistently and for longer than I’ve ever been before.
Back to Christine:
Whether we are walking our dogs or they are walking us, at least everyone has the chance to get some movement into their days.
I am intrigued by Elan’s comment about companionship and about the difference between walking a dog and walking with a dog. When my kids were small, I used to love going for a walk and pushing the stroller – more often than not I would be yammering away to them and they would be asleep! And as much as I enjoy walking on my own, I had missed the feeling of pushing the stroller.
I thought that I was missing the extra effort that the stroller required, that my brain needed the extra work to calmly stay on task instead of filling up with other ideas about what I should be doing. (ADHD brains have a knack for that kind of thing.)
I don’t think that I really considered it before now but I think that walking Khalee gives me a lot of the same feeling that walking with the stroller did. There’s a larger purpose to my walk and I have company (which, as many people with ADHD will attest, makes almost any task more doable.)
So, now that I think about it, I definitely know the difference between walking a dog and walking with a dog, and I am doing the latter.
I’m not walking Khalee, we are walking together. I do most of the talking and she does most of the sniffing – everyone working to their strengths, you know?
And maybe her blog posts are all about hoping that I am getting enough exercise this month.
In an effort to spend less time sitting in a chair, I have been experimenting with standing, sitting on the floor, and lying down while I work, read, or watch TV and as I was going through all of those different positions while writing the other day, I reminded myself of this improv game:
I think I was less awkward than that but I can never be sure. 😉
Once upon a time, I had a standing desk. This was before my ADHD was diagnosed and I did find it quite useful because I could fidget a fair bit while doing my work. However, once I really dug into what I was working on, I would end up standing in the same position for long periods of time and my body was not a fan of that.
In fact, I would actually end up with most of my weight on my right leg, my right hip jutted out a bit, with my left foot only lightly touching the floor to give me balance. I’m pretty damn sure that standing habit contributed to my overall challenges with my right hip.
I kept a standing desk for years but at some point, I realized that having to stand up to work had become one more obstacle between me and my tasks. It was mostly subconscious. It wasn’t like I was thinking ‘UGH! I have to stand up? Blech.’ But, over time, it was becoming harder to get started and once I dug into that feeling a bit I realized that standing up was part of the problem.
So, I went back to a sitting desk but whenever I thought of it I would stand up to do voice dictation or I would prop my keyboard on something so I could type while standing. This, combined with a timer app that helps me focus for short periods and then take a break to move around a little, has helped me get important things done without sitting still for too long.
And I often bring my yoga mat down to the living room when my husband and I are watching a show so I can do stretches or just sit on the floor while we watch.
In January, once they went on sale, I bought a reading mat and bolster cushion so I could be even more comfortable lying or sitting on our laminate floor while I read, watch TV, chat with my family or even attend webinars where I don’t have to be on camera.
So, I was already open to the idea of spending more time at floor level when I came across a video (below) a few weeks back from someone who always works from the floor. I have occasionally done some journaling or drawing while sitting on my mat but I hadn’t tried doing any extended work from the floor. If it did cross my mind, I probably dismissed it because I didn’t want to spend any extra time hunched over during the day.
Before you watch this, I want to be clear that I am not necessarily endorsing the claims they make about the benefits of floor sitting and that I really wish they had said ‘dawn of humanity’ instead of ‘dawn of man.’
Once I saw the video though, I clued into the fact that I had more options besides hunching over or lying on my stomach to write in my notebook like a movie teenager – I could raise my work surface to create a more comfortable working position.*
So, now I have a whole variety of ways to get comfortable while I work or relax and I feel better for it. Switching positions during the day gets me moving but even when I am staying still I don’t end up holding the same posture for an extended period of time.
My body likes that and so does my brain.
Do you alternate positions during your work or relaxation time? Which ones work best for you?
Since all of our bodies work differently, I know that my options may not work for you but I would be interested to know what does.
Do you schedule a time to shift? Do you choose positions based on task? Or do you just move when you get uncomfortable?
I can’t rely on noticing that I am uncomfortable, sometimes ADHD hyperfocus gets the best of me, so I make a plan for what tasks I am going to do where, and I use a timer.
*Meanwhile, if I had consciously decided to work on the floor, I would have had a full brainstorm of ideas about how to make it more comfortable. I hadn’t chosen to focus on it so my brain had just dismissed it without further consideration. Brains are such pests sometimes!
I had a very careful plan for my Monday, some writing, a few administrative tasks, outlining, and organizing details for an event next week. But instead of doing all that perfectly reasonable and very doable stuff, I fell into a trap composed of inertia and ADHD hyperfocus and spent most of the day organizing notes and info from a few of my files.
Those are useful things to have done and they will be helpful for me in the long run but I wish that I had broken that task down in a half hour sessions throughout the week.
Instead, I spent most of my day sitting down, poring over papers, making all kinds of small decisions about what to keep, what to scan, and what to recycle.
It was only when I started to get annoyed with myself for not wanting to deal with the last two papers in a folder that I realized that I was tired and that I had spent too much time doing this one thing. (For the record, I did stop for lunch and for several cups of tea, I wasn’t that far gone.)
At this point you may be thinking, “Yeah Christine, that sounds frustrating but what does it have to do with fitness?”
That’s where the audience participation part is going to come in, hang on a sec.
You see, when I pulled myself away from the papers, after finishing those last two, I realized that I needed to do something. I needed to move in some way but damned if I could figure out what it was.
Did I want to stretch?
Do some yoga?
Go for a walk?
Practice my patterns?
Do something a bit more intense?
I wanted to do all and none of that.
I actually wanted a magic wand to give me my day back and take this meh feeling away but I guess my fairy godmother is on holiday today because she didn’t answer. Everyone needs their rest, right?
But, I’m curious, what do YOU do when you find yourself feeling all meh and grumpy?
Do you need gentle movement to ease your brain and body back into gear?
Or do you go for something more vigorous so you can get a jump start?
PS – For the record: I was a bit cranky about losing my day to sorting papers but, ultimately, my effort will be useful. I wasn’t hard on myself about it. ADHD is tricky and being mean to myself about my symptoms and tendencies won’t make it any easier. You may not have ADHD but I hope you can be kind to yourself about the detours your brain takes too. We’re all just doing our best out here, right?
I can do 5 minute practices of a pattern that I already know or I can practice one specific technique for 5 minutes but my brain refuses to believe that 5 minutes of learning a new pattern will add up to me being able to do it.
I have it a good try for the first 10 days of my plan, though.
I would practice a few moves one day and really feel like I was getting it. But, by the next afternoon, it was like I had wiped my mind clear of the previous movements entirely. It was taking me almost the whole five minutes to remind myself of what I had been doing the day before and it was so awkward and frustrating that I was getting really discouraged.
I know, of course, that learning takes time and that I have to be patient with myself and with the process.
BUT, on the other hand, I know what I am like and I know what my brain is like. And, I know that that specific kind of frustration can lead to me unconsciously putting something aside for later – and not a specific time later but that murky ambiguous time that I refer to as the ‘the not-now.’*
Change in Plans
In order to protect my pattern practice from falling into the not-now, I had to course-correct.
I changed my daily practices to focus on patterns I already knew, cycling through them one at a time.
As for learning Yoo-Sin, here’s what happened:
Luckily, we went back to having classes in person so I had the chance to work with Ms. Reid and Mr. Dyer a couple of times. That really helped. It’s great to have two very different people to work with – they both help me to understand different parts of the movements and understand how to bring the pieces together.
And, at home, I dedicated longer periods of time to learning my new pattern so I had time to get into more of the movements in each practice.
I started by writing out the 68 movements in my own words so I could reference them more easily. I’m sure official instructions will never include phrases like “X punch down, X knives up, then sneaky punch” but I make it work.
Then I broke the movements into sections that made sense to me – separating sections when I had to change directions or when a set of similar movements were completed and another set was starting.
I worked on the first section until the movements had a bit of flow to them and then moved to the next section, adding a little bit at a time. This is what I was hoping to do with my 5 minute practices but 5 minutes wasn’t long enough to make things stick.
I could feel that I was starting to grasp my pattern** but I couldn’t always bring my knowledge with me to class. It always takes a while before my home practice shows up at class with me but at least my brain was more willing to focus on the details of the in-class practice because the movements were at least vaguely familiar. That let me retain more information about the details of the pattern because I had a mental ‘container’ to put them in.
Let’s Call It A Success
I’m going to call my February plan a success even though I had to change it part way through. (Hmm, does it count as changing it if part of the plan was that I could change it if I wanted? Ha! )
Trying to work for 5 minutes a day wasn’t a direct path to learning my pattern but it did set me on the right path. Realizing that 5 minutes a day wasn’t going to work led me to find something that would and now I am doing pretty well with my pattern overall.
I’m pretty confident with the first 50 of the 68 movements and I am feeling ok about the last 18. And I’d be feeling more confident about that last 18 if I could magically face the right direction for each movement instead of having to remind myself each time.
When I started this plan for practice I wasn’t sure if I *could* learn my pattern in a month but apparently, the answer is yes – as long as I was working with my inclinations instead of against them.
I think I just coached myself into a corner with that last bit, hey? 😉
*Long before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I would tell people that, for me, time only came in two forms ‘now’ and ‘not-now’ and if I put something into the not-now it might never resurface. It took me years to find out that dividing time like that is common among people with ADHD. I don’t know how many people use the definite article though – ‘the not-now’ has a certain gravitas to it that works for me.
** I have a very specific feeling when I know a pattern is starting to come together. It’s not exactly visual but it is the mental equivalent of watching film develop or watching something move toward you through fog – I can ‘see’ it there, recognize its shape, even if I can’t quite identify/describe it yet.
As yet another alarm went off on my phone this morning, I started thinking about our support systems and how you might make good use of them as you build your practices.
Note: every time you see the words should or shouldn’t in this post, please imagine me rolling my eyes and sighing it out as if I am fed up with the very concept of it. Because I am.
(There is no escape from my stories.)
Because I have ADHD, I use a lot of external cues to help me do the things that I want to do. I have umpteen timers, reminders, and alarms. I make good use of the timer on the stove when I am in the kitchen. I try to shape my environment by putting things in the place where I will need them – like putting my meds on the kitchen table before I go to bed so I will see them first thing in the morning. I have routines and checklists. I ask other people for reminders and I have accountability partners for all kinds of tasks. *
Before I was medicated (and especially before I was diagnosed), I tried to get away without using most of those things. I felt that, as an adult, I shouldn’t need so many reminders to get through the day – especially since, in many contexts, I have a good memory. I tried to fake my way along – this is called masking, by the way – and I did ok sometimes, maybe even most of the time, but with A LOT of additional stress and worry.
It was MUCH harder for me to manage the details of my life and to follow through on my plans without those things. Once I was diagnosed, I gave myself ‘permission’ to use any supports that worked for me and life got a bit easier. Once I was medicated, I could make even better use of those supports, and every increase in my medication makes them more and more useful to me.
Accepting that it was ok to have that support system in my days made a huge difference in my life. I could use more of my mental energy to actually do the things I wanted to do instead of using that energy to try and remember to do them.
And the really annoying thing is that I could have been saving that energy all along by just letting myself do things the way that I needed to do them. I could have had those supports in place all along and felt much better every day.
Instead, I fell victim to our cultural message that if things are difficult it is because we aren’t working hard enough. From that perspective, my reminders and notes and systems would be a sign of being inept or being weak, or being stupid.
What a load of crap, hey?
Now that I am aware of that whole set of messaging, I am so annoyed. I am annoyed with the message and I am annoyed that I was stuck in that mindset for so long.
Find/create/use your support systems
Maybe ADHD isn’t an issue for you but I’ll bet that you have other things that get in your way as you try to build your new practice.
You don’t need a reason or an excuse to seek support. I know it can be hard to seek support or help but don’t let the idea that you shouldn’t need it be part of the challenge of asking.
If you need a reminder, a pep talk, or some sort of tool in order to remember/start/do/complete your practice, then please seek those things out and use them.
Please don’t should yourself out of making your own life a little easier.
Try to think in terms of solutions instead of whether you should need support.
Use the timer on your phone, your watch, your stove, or your computer.
Stick notes all over the place. I often write notes in dry-erase marker on my bathroom mirror and I frequently attach sticky notes to my kettle. I have also been known to put a sticky note on my phone, which I find hilarious – a literal note to self on my phone!
If you need a pep talk, ask your friends for one or look up pep talks on YouTube, TikTok, or on a podcast app.
If you need an accountability partner, check for online groups who are doing a similar practice to yours. Or ask on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram or via text for someone to check in with you after a certain amount of time.
If your arms are strong enough to lift some weights but gripping them hurts your hands, could you wear gloves? Could you put the weight in a bag that is easier for you to lift?
If you don’t want to get on your yoga mat because it is hard to get back up off the floor, what can you use to help yourself up?
In fact, yoga can be an excellent example of how to casually allow yourself to use the supports you need. In yoga, you are supposed to meet yourself where you are today. If you can’t reach the floor with your fingertips, you put a block down and touch that instead. If you are struggling with a pose, you either adjust it to meet your needs or you use a strap, a bolster, a blanket, or a block to support your efforts.
I know that it is hard to ask for support, even if we are just asking ourselves to use something that makes our lives easier.
This whole cultural thing we have around independence and how we should be able to operate with out support is a racket but it is a pervasive one. It keeps us all stuck and prevents us from getting the help to manage all kinds of situations.**
Today, I’m inviting you to seek and use supports for your practice, whether those supports are post-it notes or a friend to walk with you. Let yourself make your own life easier whenever possible.
And here is your gold star for today’s efforts, whatever they entail.
Your efforts matter. You matter. And it is ok for you to ask for help, to use supports, and do the things you need to do in the way that you need to do them.
Sending you ease.
*Because of how the huge variety of ADHD traits work in each individual brain, all ADHDers will have some traits in common with others and also have their own unique spin on the condition. Most of the time, my reminders, timers, and environmental shaping works for me but for other people with ADHD, these things may not work at all. Please DO NOT use me as an example of why someone else should be able to use these things effectively.
**For this post, I am generally talking about some pretty straightforward things, small supports that we can use to expand toward our new habits. But, I want to acknowledge that this same thinking trap extends in all directions and has all kinds of deep implications for vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society. Vulnerable and disadvantaged people are discouraged from asking for the things they need. If they do ask, they are criticized, judged, and put through all kinds of extra work and invasive questions to try and get it. And many of us with privileges and advantages are encouraged to think of this as ‘the way things are’ because we are used to the ambient sense that no one should ask for support and that becoming an independent person who can do everything on their own is the ultimate goal. Obviously, this post about supports for the practice you are building isn’t going to create social change but I didn’t want to pretend that the need for support in our society stops at a pep talk or putting a chair next to your yoga mat.
I have picked a word for the year – spaciousness – but I hadn’t really settled on a fitness goal until this weekend when I found a new category of information in my Fitbit.
In my average week, I’m moving a fair bit. I take the dog for a walk or two each day, I usually have two TKD classes in a week, I do a bit of yoga and some stretches and a bit of strength training.
Lately though, I have come to realize that I am not really moving the metaphorical needle on my fitness level. I’m maintaining what I have but my efforts are not particularly focused and I’m not feeling any sort of expansion in my capacity.
Part of this is due to my issues with my toes/heel/calf/knee, of course, and luckily that situation is improving steadily. And, up until now, I have been juggling about three things more than I had capacity for at any given time – I could manage to hold most things in the air most of the time but that was it.*
However, some combination of ADHD and personality also factors into this. I never really know when and how to push myself, it’s tricky for me to judge my capacity and energy levels at any given time, and I am never sure if and what I should measure.
I’ve been keeping an eye on my resting heart rate over time but since I don’t wear my Fitbit when I sleep, apparently that’s not a very accurate measurement.
And I check off the box for daily movement but my effort levels vary from day to day. I’m not criticizing myself for that but it does mean that I am maintaining rather than expanding my capacity.
However, this weekend, I accidentally nudged a different part of my Fitbit screen and discovered that I can get more information about my cardio fitness above and beyond just my heart rate.
This puts my numbers in context. I LOVE context!
Fair to average isn’t bad but I’m sure with a little more focused effort, I could get to good and maybe even beyond.
So, in a move that is probably startlingly obvious to anyone who doesn’t live in a ADHD time/pattern soup, I looked up how long it takes to improve cardio fitness and what kinds of exercises will help me see a little progress ASAP. (I know that you can’t rush results but I also know what my brain needs.)
So, now I know that I need to make some of my workouts HIIT workouts and, in about two months, I should see myself inching toward that next blue bar.
In the meantime, I going to try not to check this screen every day hoping for a magical shift. I’ll post about it once a month though, just to keep myself on track.
PS – I undoubtedly knew some or all of this before. And I may have put some pieces together before. If you had asked me, I probably could have told you that improving cardio fitness is a good idea and that things like HIIT would help. However, when I want to take things on for myself, I always need to have proper context in order to hold on to or apply the information I have. For some reason this chart gave me the right container for the information and let me make a plan. The new level of ADHD meds I started in early December are probably helping this whole process, too.
*Yes, I know that is not an idea situation to be in but I knew it would be relatively short-lived and the effort to juggle was far less than the effort to adjust all my other routines so I just got help where and when I could, took breaks whenever possible, and just juggled the heck out things the rest of the time. And, finally, as of mid-December, a few things finished up and I was back within my capacity and mostly in charge of my schedule. YAY!