Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I am a triathlete

Two weeks ago I have completed my very first triathlon ! We have been training for it for the last 3 months and I was really looking forward to it and I had a great time.
We signed up for the triathlon a few months ago and when we did, we also signed up for volunteering the day before the race. It makes the entrance fees go down a lot and it is a good way to get in the mood. The pre-race day was actually a very good day: not only did we get to meet all the people organising the race, but it also allowed me to know the race course inside out, as well as all the technicalities of the race. We also spent the afternoon welcoming the contestants and signing them up so I got to meet a lot of my fellow racers. The fact that there were people of all age, all genders and a lot of first timers made me a great deal more relaxed about the race.
We got up the next morning at 5 am and drove to the race course. It might be the crack of dawn, but the freeway is packed with cars heading to North East... The race welcomes this year 800 contestants. When we get to North East, the town is already buzzing with the activity of all the people unloading their bikes and walking / riding towards the race start.
We get to the entrance and through the “body marking”: a bunch of volunteers write with permanent pens on your arms and calves your Bib number, S for sprint distance or O for Olympic, and also your age. It’s quite funny to walk around and see all these people with their age tattoed on their calves and it can give you a good boost during the race when you pass a 19 year old kid... but a bit depressing when you get passed by a 65 year old...
Then you get to the transition area : this is where you leave all your stuff and where you come between each event to get the equipment you need. I find my spot, install my bike, my towel, my shoes and some food and drinks for the first transition. When ready, we warm up and go for a quick swim in the lake to test the water temperature, 81 degrees, quite nice. The swim part in the lake is for most people the more stressing part of the race : the visibility is very low (about 3 to 4 inches, which makes a big difference with training in pools) but also because each group counts about a hundred people going at the same time, which makes it difficult to avoid getting kicked and elbowed. I was myself a bit worried about the swim so it was nice to give it a shot before the race.
A last check in my transition area and then we head to the starting point. It is 7am and we are all here, 800 people in swimsuits and brightly colored swimcaps, waiting for the start of the race. The air is crispy and you can feel the excitment. The contestants are chating around, waiting for the signal. There are still a few anxious people asking last minute questions about the course, and the very anxious ones checking out where the safety canoes are. Last safety birefing : the contestants will have to go down to the dock where they will jump in the water and tread until the start, that way the race officials can spot right away the people that might be at risk. It seems to me that there is quite a few people here signed up for a triathlon when can barely swim... It’s a bit of a funny idea no ? 
Because there are so many contestants, the start will be staggered in waves : The Man is in the first wave, with the males from 25 to 39 year old, and wears a beautiful royal blue swim cap... Then the green caps, white caps, and then the females from 25 to 39 year old (me), wearing bright pink caps. Each wave will leave 4 minutes after the previous one, which means that I will leave 12 minutes after The Man. Having done a few races himself and this being my first one, we agreed that he will wait for me in the transition area after the swim...

7.30, the first wave goes. I stay on the shore watching The Man. I am not quite as anxious as I thought I was gonna be. I am actually pretty calm. I am just waiting for my turn. 10 minutes later, I am in the water, with a hundred other female contestants, ready to conquer my first 750 m in open water. 3, 2, 1, go ! I read a lot of articles before the race and they all advised to stay in the back of the  pack if it is your first triathlon : you only lose a few seconds, but that way you avoid a good deal of elbowing and kicking. So there I am, at the back of the pack. For the last 3 months, I have been training 3 to 4 times a week swimming free style for this race, thinking there will only be pro swimmers and I didn’t want to look like a complete rookie... First surprise : around me, I see people swimming the breast stroke, the back stroke and even some kind of doggy paddle... Some people are even hanging to the safety canoes for dear life, and I wonder how they will get through this... I even pass some people from the 3 previous groups still in the water !
The swim goes pretty well, I pass a reasonnable number of people (and not only the ones that can’t swim) and leave the water after 19 min and 25 secs, my best time ever. Light jogging to the transition area, where I dry off, put on my clothes and shoes and push my bicycle towards the bike course, where The Man is waiting for me.
The course is 25km long. A couple of weeks ago, we came down here to rehearse the bike course and I had a really really hard time... So I had prepared myself mentally and knew the bike would be the physically most painful event. Did the training do the trick ? Was my mental preparation that good ? Or did the adrenaline kill the pain ? In any case the bike event was a lot easier than expected. A few longish hills but really not that bad. I even passed a few people (and got passed a few times as well). In a race like this you can find a few different levels of investments : you will find the people that are using grandpa’s bike (like me), the ones that have the neighbour’s trail bike, those who invested in a entry level race bike and those whose front wheel costs 10 times more that my whole bike. Those ones passed us a lot.
Anyway, the bike went well, and thinking back on it, I think I could even have pushed it a bit more; but when it is your first race, all you think about is to keep some energy for the last part.
After an hour and 14 minutes, we are back at the transition area to put away the bikes and go for the last bit, the run. I don’t know if any of you ever trained seriously on a bike, but for those of you who haven’t, let me tell you that walking after a long time riding is something of a challenge. Let alone running. We wobble in and out of the transition area and start running. Slowly. Very slowly. The legs are shaking, the knees are in pain, the calves are cramping. After a while though, it all seems to relax a bit, apart from my shins that are killing me. I have had shin splints for months and nothing I did seemed to cure them. The only way I can run without hurting is to run the first 7-8 minutes at a very slow pace. Which I usually do, but today I got caught up in the race and was going a lot faster than I should have had. Ouch. Can’t run very long, I have to top and walk a few times during the 5k. Funny how the part that I was the most confident about is the one that atually caused me trouble.
Finally, after 2 hours and 15 minutes, we cross the finish line. I am very happy and my shins are really relieved. The time is not fast, but I finished and I am very glad I did it ! I really enjoyed the training and the race was a great challenge. People were very nice, helping each other and everyone was here to have a good time. I can’t wait for the next race.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mindful Partying

I have to make a confession. I was not always a sporty, healthy kind of girl. In fact, before I met The Man, I was the ultimate Party girl. And for the first 3 years we spent together, we were living on a tiny party island where there was always something to celebrate. Alcohol was flowing, cigarettes were part of my everyday life and if sports was once a big part of The Man’s life, it was now nothing more than a memory... After 3 years of a rather unhealthy life, we decided to get a bit healthier and started to run. For a while. Then life caught on, and we slowly gave up. But we tried again. Then gave up. A few times. Then we were offered another job and finally left the party island for another part of Thailand. We thought it would then be easier to do sports. Parties became exceptional but our jobs were far more demanding and we had a lot more responsibilities. We decided to start exercising again, encouraged by the fact that there was a gym 5 minutes away from work, but in the end we didn’t exercise nearly as much as we had planned. The truth is that life will always be in the way and you will always think you don’t have the time, but it is your responsibility to make time for it. I understood that when I found the website Now I exercise everyday, I am even preparing for a sprint triathlon. But to tell you the truth, the party girl in me is still here, and when we go to a party, I can hardly keep her at large. I still enjoy a few drinks, and even if don’t smoke like I used to (a pack a day), I still enjoy the occasional cigarettes. The problem is that when I start drinking and smoking, I cannot stop. I can down a bottle and 2 packs of cigarettes in one evening. No party, no problem, but I’m not gonna avoid all the parties to stay away from unhealthy behaviors all my life ? We are 4 weeks away from the race, and this weekend happen to be one of The Man’s best friend birthday pool party. A little bash in a huge farm in the middle of Pennsylvania that lasts for 3 days. We got there late of Friday night and enjoyed a few drinks and even a few cigarettes. Usually when I party, my brain switches off, and I just drink and smoke without even realizing it. This time I tried to focus and appreciate every sip of my wine and every drag of my cigarettes. And I ended up smoking and drinking a lot less. The next day we even managed to get up quite early and go for a run. Now the run was extremely tough on me because my friend happens to live in a very hilly region. But I made it. We spent the day by the pool and yet another challenge was waiting for me : mindless munching... Everybody brought a lot of chips and dips and real food was to be serve later during the day. I had a few chips, but nothing out of hands. The huge pitchers of fresh water with lemons and mint that my friend kept bringing on the tables help tremendously... By the evening, I just had a few chips, a real (although not exactly light) dinner and a couple of drinks, and was well hydrated and prepared for another party night. Again, I focused on appreciating drinks and smokes and that kept me away from any excess. We left the party on Sunday a lot fresher than most people, some of them nursing pretty nasty hangovers...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I am a morning runner

Definitely. I tried just about every time of the day, and my morning runs are by far the best ones. That’s it. It’s weird though because I am not a morning person. Really not. I will even go back to bed after my morning run if I have a chance. Yes, because some days I go really early; as soon as the sun is up, I will wake up and go running... to be back after my run, streched, showered and in bed by 7am...

Those early runs are the best though, and the days I get up and run early are also the best days. There is something about running in the crisp morning air. Seeing the world waking up. The smells. The silence. That very special morning light. The quietness. Being pretty much the only one out there, knowing most people are still asleep. It makes me feel special; and alive; and happy. Healthy and happy, is there a better way to start a day ?...

Monday, June 14, 2010

I don’t like flying

First of all it is one of the most polluting form of transportation, and second, it is the most annoying one. Well, especially leaving from Europe. The number of security checks we had to undergo before we could get on the plane is just ridiculous. They checked our passport / plane tickets at least 6 times, made us empty pretty much the entire carry-on baggage (you have to put aside keys, phone, wallet and change, laptop, camera... well there was only my book left in my bag...), not to mention their new thing with liquids...

Illusion of safety. That’s all it is. They can check all they want, if someone wants to blow up the plane, they will find a way. But today, everything seems to revolve around safety : medias show you nothing but terrible images of violence, war, crime, to make sure you are too scared to go see out there by yourself. They surround us with the Fear, to make us accept the unacceptable (more taxes, more wars, less freedom) and make sure all we do is buy more stuff that will make us feel better. More confortable. More alive. I own therefore I am.

Well that’s just a double bonus for all the politics and company owners : the Fear allows them to do pretty much what they want and on top of it, they’re making money off it ! They don’t really care about us, they don’t really care about anything but their own benefit in the short term. They don’t even care about their own kids. Otherwise would they put a lease on the next generation’s future like they do ? Who knows what will happen in the next few decades ? Will the next generation be responsible enough or will they even be able to take care of the nuclear waste we are producing today ? Will they have a chance to ever feel the taste of blue fin tuna before the 15% of what’s left in the water is definitely fished out ? Will they be able to enjoy the incredible experience of swimming with sharks before they go extinct ?

We have to realise today that some resources of this planet are coming to an end, and if we keep going this way, it will all to be gone or too badely polluted pretty soon. And it could all end up in the extinction of the human being and a lot of animal species. Earth will probably survive though, recovering slowly and creating new types of creatures, new ecosystems, new species. Let’s just hope the next “Superior Beings” will be less destructive and more attached to that beautiful home that Mother Earth gave them...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Declutter 101

Apart from training for the triathlon,  I have done a lot of cleaning since we got to France. I cleaned my room (I still have a room at my mum’s house) and got rid of most of my stuff. A lot of clothes, an insane number of shoes, bags, purses, make-up, tons of books and papers and even jewells. My god I owned a lot of crap. I am not quite done yet and I hope to clear out even more stuff, but it already feels great. My closets are nice and almost empty. But now I have piles everywhere in my room. Of stuff to give away. And amazingly enough, it is not that easy to find associations that would take your stuff for free. They are really picky on what they take these days.

Because my piles were not big enough, I decided to go through my mum’s stuff as well. If I do own a lot of crap, my mum could easily fill 2 houses with what she stocks in this one. It is unbelievable. And because she has this much stuff, she usually can’t find what she needs, so she buys it again. When we were cleaning her office, I found half a dozen cutting knives, 4 staplers, 5 scotch tape dispensers, etc. I also found some boxes we packed when she moved out from the last house, 15 years ago. Unopened. It tooks us a whole day, but we did a very good job. We tossed about 10 bags of garbage, 2 boxes of books and random electronics. Now we can see the color of the wood on my mum’s desk. This is was room 1 of 7. We still have a lot of work to do...

I realise when I come back here how lucky I am to live away from this crazy consumming frenzy. We have been back for a week now and even though we don’t watch tv, I can feel the constant message urging you to buy more, to get more stuff, bigger stuff. It is everywhere. It is all the time. It is insane.

Everything here seems to be about getting more : more stuff, more good deals, more knowledge, more travels, even more friends (real or Facebook friends...). The quality doesn’t seem to matter so much as long as you get more stuff (you don’t need) and that they are good value. Which leads us to a society of waste. Today everything is disposable and everything comes in huge amount of packaging. When I get the garbage out at the end of the week, the volume of waste is bigger than the volume of food I bought !  How did we get to this much waste ? All these packages that will end up in landfills or burnt and turned into CO2! Do we really need this ? All these plastic wraps and containers that are made of petrol, the same petrol coming from oil companies that can’t even control a broken digging platform after a month and a half ? The news are talking about 12,000 to 19,000 gallons being released everyday in the Gulf of Mexico. The american are very angry. Most of them want to boycott BP. Why only BP ? Do you really think the other companies are any better ? Boycott petrol altogether ! Say no to plastic bags ! Get a green car ! Install solar panels ! Enough of these technologies we cannot control ! We can make a better world by consuming less and living more. Get outside ! This Saturday, go walking instead of spending the afternoon in a crowded mall or in front of your tv ! You will get much more life from being outside in the nature than from any stuff you will ever buy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cold weather

So in the end we took a whole week off running. Egypt is definitely not a place for sporty people. In a week there, we saw 2 people exercising. That is including us two.

Then a few days ago we arrived in France. Running here is a lot easier, you can find parks and also, the weather is chillier than Thailand. A lot chillier. Actually, it is really cold. We run in pants and sweater. Weird. 

We are also lucky to have a pool right next door to where we stay. It is only 25m long, it is indoor and it is pretty crowded, but we do enjoy it anyway (got a bit too spoiled in Thailand...). Plus, the lifeguards are also trainers and they are immensely useful. Everytime we go, they give me advices, training tips and they really do help me a lot improving my technique. We try to go 2 to 3 times a week.

Also yesterday, we got a couple of bicycles that we borrowed from my friends. This afternoon we are gonna go for a long ride along the Marne river. There are a lot of very cool places to go riding around here. Loads of bike lanes along the river, many parks, woods and forrests. The plan is to check them all out. That will be a lot of riding...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lousy weeks

The last few weeks have been a real challenge for me exercise-wise. We have had people over at our place that we had to take care of, then we have been moving around a lot, in some places where exercising is not the easiest of things, and now my ill-fitting shoes are giving me shin splints. So I have missed my morning exercise 3 times in the last 2 weeks. Which brings it to 4 days with no exercise in eight weeks. Knowing that most days for the last month I have been running in the morning and swimming in the afternoon. And that I can now swim 770m of free style in one go (further than the actual race !), when I could hardly swim freestyle altogether a few weeks ago. I am quite happy with it. 

The last 2 weeks in Thailand have been the hotest I have seen in that country. Running at 8am is already too late because the temperature is already over 30 degrees... Trying to run at night is impossible bacause it starts cooling down around... 2am. I still managed to go running everyday, even in Koh Tao that is so damn hilly... Then we went to Bangkok where running was not so much fun (because there is a lot of traffic around the area where we stay), so after one day of running I went swimming instead. Then we flew to Egypt and arrived yesterday morning in Cairo. We landed at 6am after a sleepless night on the plane, so we took a nap instead of going running, which was great... We were very excited at the idea of running the next day though because here in the morning it is about 20 degrees, it is soo nice ! But in the end we were a bit disappointed because in the area where we stay, there is not a single park or green area. It is all about crazy traffic, black smokes and loud horns... We did manage to run a short 20 minutes along the Nile river but we had to give up because my shins were really sore. I can’t wait to get to France to be able to walk to a running shoes shop and talk to a sellsman who will know what he is talking about. I bought my last pair of sneakers in Bangkok in a big sport store, but I couldn’t get any advice from these guys other than “this one is discount” or “this one is blue”. So I just bought a pair that I thought were fitting. As soon as I started running with them, my soles started to hurt. And now my shins. But anyway, we found a little park not so far from where we stay so we’ll go for a short run, and then we also found a nice hotel with a swimming pool with view on the pyramids... So we’ll go for a quick swim before soaking in some more culture... The Man came up with the crazy idea to run around the pyramids. I don’t think so.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A beautiful swim

Already the 6th week and I have missed only one day. I now wake up and without even thinking about it, I just get up and go for a run. I don’t toss and turn thinking I’d be better in bed, I don’t make excuses, I don’t even question it. I just get up and go. And if I have to get up early, then I just set up my alarm earlier and go anyway. It has became a habit, a reflex. The next few weeks won’t be easy though with all the traveling we’ll be doing, but I really want to stick to it. I now run 18 minutes everyday and should be running 30 minutes within a couple of weeks. I used to run the flat circuit around my house but for the last few days, I have changed my route and now go behind my house, in the hills through the rubber plantations. A lot more challenging but that’s what makes it so rewarding.

Also, for the last 10 days, we have been practicing the swim. At the beginning of the season, we signed up for the gym at one of the Resort in town, which includes access to the swimming pools of the resort. The main one is 70 meters long (the Man measured it...), and now that it is the end of the season, it is pretty much empty. Many time we were actually the only people there. So it is huge (no turning around every 25 meters), it is empty, and it is outside. I can think of some worse conditions to train... Which is great because I am not the best swimmer in the world. The Man can swim forever without ever getting tired, He says for him it is like walking, he could just go on and on and on... Unfortunately, I do not have that gift, and for me, swimming can be a struggle. I manage the breast stroke without too much trouble, but apparently, if you want to swim a race or a triathlon, you should swim the freestyle. So for the last 10 days, I have been practicing that swim that I couldn’t swim a couple of weeks ago. I still have troubles keeping the rythm, I have to focus to coordinate legs and arms, I sometimes forget to breathe, and I am extremely slow. But yesterday I swam 8 laps. The first time I tried, I had to stop after half a lap because I was too out of breath. Encouraging.

When we are on the boat, we go swimming in open water (a good practice because the swim of the actual race will be in open water). It can be tricky because of the waves and currents, but it can also be unbelievably rewarding... Last week, we had the incredible chance to make one of our practice session with the company of a baby manta ray. They are the most beautiful creatures, so graceful... They seem to swim effortlessly and yet they are so fast ! It was just amazing and that training session flew by. We swam with it for about 45 minutes and it was just magic. Now everytime I swim, I remember that particular day and it keeps me going. Amazing day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The price of Convenience - by Leo Babauta

I post here an article I read today on mnmlist, a blog by Leo Babauta, who runs a few websites about simplicity, including my personal favorite Zen Habits (see links). I didn't bother rewrite the article because that is pretty much word for word what I think... 

If there is one direction modern society has been moving in during the last century, it is convenience. That pretty much sums up the last 100 years or so: washers & dryers, cars, airplanes, TVs, microwaves, personal computers and the Internet revolution, fast food, agribusinesses, frozen food, dishwashers, machines and modernizations of any kind.
We’re a society of conveniences, more than anything else. But at what price?
The global warming crisis, for example, has been entirely caused by conveniences, and the solution, many say, must be just as convenient as the problem: electric cars, clean energy, smart homes, organic convenience foods. I’m not entirely convinced — I think we’re going to need to rethink our love of conveniences.
The obesity epidemic has also been caused by conveniences: fast food and microwaveable meals and food that has been processed and artificially flavored so eating takes so little work that we do it in huge amounts. The solution, for many, must also be convenient — they don’t want to cook their own meals or put in hours of exericise. They want fast but healthy meals that are ready instantly, exercise that can be done in a few minutes or that feels easy, pills and surgery that solve our fat problems. My thinking is that exercise is and should be hard work — hard but fun. Cooking healthy meals takes a little time, but it should be enjoyable and mindful cooking and eating.
Cars are wonderfully convenient, except when they aren’t: hefty monthly payments, taking time for maintenance and cleaning and fueling, breaking down in the middle of the highway or not starting or getting a flat tire, getting road rage when stuck in rush hour traffic, circling the block to look for parking, and so on. The cost of that convenience, of course, is our health and our environment — small prices to pay, perhaps.
Convenience always comes with hidden costs, when you look at the whole picture. Sometimes that cost is to the Third World, or to the environment, or to our own future, but hey, that’s Somebody Else’s Problem.
 It’s inconvenient to hang dry clothes, but it’s also pleasant and sustainable. Having a small home garden is not as convenient as relying on agribusiness, and yet it’s worth the price of inconvenience. Walking, biking, and taking mass transit isn’t so convenient, but it’s much more enjoyable and sustainable than relying on cars.
What inconveniences can we incorporate into our daily lives that would be rewarding in many ways? I don’t have the answers, only the question.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hard days

Week 3. So far I didn’t have any truly hard day. Until today. I woke up this morning and I was still feeling sick (at the end of the season, when the tension ends and you start to rest a little, this is usually when most of us divers get sick. I am part of the lot. Every season). Also yesterday I got stung by a big insect on the knee and it is now 3 times its normal size, quite sore and extremely itchy... Anyway. Getting up was not that bad, I felt quite rested, so I just got up, put on my running outfit and went out for a run. I am still at the very beginning of the programme so I only go running for 7 minutes everyday. God these 7 minutes were looooong... My legs felt really heavy, my breathing could not find its rythm, even my arms felt heavy and useless. After what seemed to be an eternity, I looked at my watch to discover that I have been running for... 2:35 minutes ! God some days it is just so hard... In the end, I finished the run and gratrefully sat down on my porch sweating like I have been running a 10K... 

This reminds me of a book that I just finished from the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami (What I talk about when I talk about running). Murakami is a writer but also a runner and when he was preparing this book, he went and met with a few profesionnal runners to interview them. To one of them (Japanese runner, I can’t remember his name), he asked if he ever had any days when he just didn’t feel like getting up and go run. The runner looked at him like it was the most stupid question he has ever heard and answered “of course, it happens to me all the time”. Isn’t that nice to know that even professionnal runners struggle some days ? Well anyway, it does help me. I am not the only one struggling. And there will be some hard days. A few. Otherwise what's the challenge ?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bigger plans

The short 45 minutes squash game the other day really messed me up... The very next day I was on the liveaboard again and my right arm was so painful, I couldn’t swim or even do any sun salute (the plank would just be a torture...). So instead, every morning, I did a 10 min stretching. At least I would still get up in the morning and do some kind of physical activity. Plus, everything I read about trainings advises to take regular rest and to stretch a lot after exercise. So I guess it is all for the best.

I am starting to think about a grand plan for the triathlon in August. I am a little nervous because it will be my first ever race and there are 3 activities to practice... I am already planning on taking swimming lessons when we will be in Paris, I will have to come up with a plan for the bicycle. The 2 things that ease my mind are that the course is pretty much flat the whole way, and that the swim happens in a lake (swimming in the sea is sooooo much more difficult). Plus, we will try to find a 10K before the triathlon so I can experience a race before running a triathlon... All in all it is quite exciting and I can’t wait to go back on land and start running again...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Keeping on track

It has already been 2 weeks, and though it is not a very long time, I am quite proud to say that I am still following the plan. Every morning when I get up, I just go for a quick workout. It hasn’t been easy because of my hectic schedule, but even when I was on the liveaboard, I managed to keep it up. I would get up at 6am instead of 6.30, and would go for a short swim or climb on the sun deck to practice a few sun salute,  before enjoying a gorgeous sunrise. Since back on land, I have been diving pretty much every day to accompany my friend from home who is here for a couple of weeks. Again, I get up in the morning and go for a run. Nothing strenuous, just a 5 minute run for now, but I plan to slowly increase the lenght. We are planning on running a triathlon in August in the US, and also, I would like to maybe run a 10K in July, kind of as a warm up... Which all leaves us about 3 months to train for the 10k, and 4 months for the triathlon. 
When I have a day off, I go for a longer workout : last week, we went  for a one hour walk up the hill behind our house (at 12 o’clock in the middle of the thai hot season, it is worth a good 3 hours walk anywhere else...), and this morning we went for a 45’ minutes squash game ! For the first time since I play, this morning I won, which makes it even more enjoyable !...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 3

Today was the 3rd day of my new habit, and a couple of days were already challenging... Well, getting up at 6.15am just to lace up my shoes felt a bit weird. Getting up was really hard, but not any harder than at 6.30am to be honest (i am NOT an morning person)... The next day was easy, I had a day off, so I got up at 9am, laced up my shoes and even did a little stretching (putting your shoes on and taking them off right away without doing anything feels a bit odd...). This morning was not an easy one either. Yesterday I took a day off to go to my friends’ wedding, and we ended up partying until 3am. So when the phone rang at 9am this morning for a work related emergency, I was not feeling that energetic... I had to jump (crawl) out of bed to go to the office. When I came back, instead of going right back to bed like I really wanted to, I put my shoes on... And the next thing you know it was time to get ready for work... 

So, already challenging, but quite positive and encouraging I find, and I am more and more motivated to make it work...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It starts tomorrow

So I am starting tomorrow. The 6changes website advises to plan ahead your starting day so you can build up anticipation. Indeed I am quite excited to finally start tomorrow. Also, it gave me some time to figure out how the heck I was gonna do this when working on the liveaboard ?... Not so easy to go running around a boat, even if it is a huge 37m boat... So on days I will be on the boat, I will switch my waking / running, with yoga / sun salutations; on the sun deck with the sun setting, I think it can be a pretty cool start for a day...

I guess tomorrow will be my first test run: I have to go diving, so in order to start my new plan, I will have to get up at 6.15am instead of 6.30am... I know it’s only 15 minutes, but at this early hour, every single minute of extra sleep counts right ?...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

6 changes

Alright. I have done my homework. I read a bunch of websites and I particularly like the one from Leo Babauta, The idea is to choose 6 or less changes that you want to make in your life. You will work on only one change at a time, and spend 2 months on each change to transform them into habits. When you have decided what will your first change be, you then make a basic schedule for the following 8 weeks, integrating this change in your daily life. You need to find a trigger, something that you do everyday, that will precede that new habit. For example, brushing your teeth, drinking  a cup of coffee, etc... You need to start very small, but really stick to it everyday. It should be your priority, over anything else. If you stick to it for 8 weeks, then it becomes a reflex, and your brain associate the trigger with the new habit. That is the idea anyway.

So I am gonna start next Monday. My first change is daily exercise. I have been trying for years now and when I decide to exercise, I do very well and stick to it for a while, but there is always a moment where work or lazyness catches up and I drop the ball... So lets try again. My schedule is pretty hectic : some days I go diving, and I work from 7am to 5pm; some days I go home after that around 5pm, but some days I need to do some work at the office and I stay until 8 or 9pm; some days I work at the office from 11am till 9pm; some days I am off; and there is no planning to this, it is all from one day to the next. So finding a trigger was not an easy task because my days are all so different... Well, actually i DO get up (almost) everyday. Great. Here is my trigger. Get up and go exercise. 

The first week, I am really only supposed to get up, lace up my shoes and that’s it. Second week, get up, lace up my shoes and go walk for 5 minutes. Everyweek you make it a little bit longer and harder, and by week 8, you are running 20’ everyday. I can see that it won’t be easy on diving days, when I will have to get up at 6am instead of 6.30am, but at least at that time, it is nice and cool out there... To give myself a longer term goal and a pretty good motivation, the Man and I will sign up for a triathlon that we will run this summer in the US. He has done many marathons and triathlons, but this will be my first. I find it quite exciting ! The distances are quite short, and the course is flat, and he will stay with me the whole race (even though he is sooo much faster than me...). Something to look forward to, I can’t wait !

I know I am supposed to stick to only one habit at a time, but I am doing so good at de-cluttering, that I don’t want to stop. Yesterday, I put away one of my favourite pair of jeans, that I don’t fit in anymore. Not only are they my favourite pair, but they also have a history : they saved my knees in a motorbike accident a few years back in Thailand, and still have a patch on the right knee to prove it... But really, what good are they doing to me in my cabinet if I can’t wear them ? I will give them to someone and maybe one day they will save their knees too...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A good start...

So I haven’t came up with a plan just yet. But I have thought about what I really want, and here are the 3 most important things for me at the moment : I want more time for myself, I want to get healthy and I want to declutter my life. The plan of action will come later, at least i have the goals...

So I pretty much had the perfect day today. First of, I took a day off. I woke up and read my book for a while, and when the Man woke up, we went for a 2 hours walk in the hills behind our house. Then we came back home and I spent a couple of hours getting rid of stuff (we just moved in to a new house, and the moving out was a bit hasty, so there is loads to do there...), cleaning and organising (I feel a bit de-cluterred already...). The house looks and feel so much nicer. Then we went to the beach for a couple of hours before having a thai massage (absolutely marvelous, I would strongly recommend one once a week if I didn’t know how ridiculously expensive these are in the western world...) and finishing the day at a local festival for the opening of a new temple. Loads of time for myself, good exercise, and a good de-cluterring session. Just a perfect day.

But I know all days won’t be like this. I have to work tomorrow, and after my day of diving I will probably have to spend a few hours in the office to catch up with all the paperwork and stuff, so it’ll probably be another 12 hour-day. So much for exercise and time for myself. So I will focus on de-cluttering. From tomorrow, first thing in the morning, I will get rid of one thing.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Finding the Zen path in Thailand

When I left Europe for a long trip through Asia, it was my first time in Orient. I was picturing Asia as a highly spiritual, quiet place with incence burning everywhere, monks in every street and pagodas at every corner... I was slightly wrong... Instead I found excessing noise, traffic jams, entire malls of electronics... and also a Man and a job in the diving industry.

We have been living in Thailand for now 5 years, and that same desire of spirituality and simplicity I was after when I left is still there. We got trapped in a new routine, 9,500km away from home, got ourselves jobs that are even more demanding and stressful than the ones back home, so I decided it is about time to do somerthing bout it. Yes, that’s it, I have been reading and thinking about this for ages, now I have made the decision : I want a simpler life.

I have always made up excuses for not doing so sooner : I don’t have time but as soon as this project is over I will; there is no good gym around here, but as soon as I find a good one close by, I will go; you know these ones already, you have used them... My personnal favourite (I have used it for years...) is, I live in a country where it is too difficult to be eco-friendly and watch what you buy (amazingly enough here, everything is written in thai, which makes it a little more difficult to figure out where your products come from and what’s inside !), but we’ll leave soon, I’ll start then ! Mind you, we have been talking about leaving Thailand for more than 3 years now, and we just signed up for another season... ;-) 

However, I have to say there are some advantages in living out here. We don’t own a TV, we don’t really have access to newspapers or magazines, and we don’t really have time to listen to the radio or read the news on the internet. So we are not all that polluted by the medias that are hiding so many things from us behind the screen of the news and the advertisments. I was watching yesterday the story of stuff (, and Annie Lenoard was mentionning this amazing fact : today people in America see the same number of ads in one year than their parents in their whole life in the 50’s... Isn’t that crazy ??? Of course we are not completely consumerism free, and I have to confess that I just spent 120 USD in a brand new ipod. Well, I have been wanting to buy one for over 6 months, and everytime I am at the shop, I in extremis manage to resist the urge and go home without, convincing myself that I don’t need it. Sure I dont NEED it, but I really wanted a new one : not because my old one was too old or out of date, just because it was just too small to keep all my music in there... Anyway, last time we went to the shop, I resisted again, but as I was leaving the electronics section, I saw that new ipod 5th generation 2,000b cheaper than the regular price... So I bought it. The idea to get a bargain was stronger. To be honnest I do use it a lot, and we can’t really call this an impulse spend since I have been resisting for so long ! Plus my boyfriend is really happy because he got my old one !

Anyway I do enjoy the fact that I am shopping in local shops and at markets (although it can be a tedious process because out of the 10 items on your shopping list, you will probably find 2 in each shop, which makes the shopping sooo much longer) and not at malls where you cannot avoid the adds and where the temptation is everywhere. But, like I said, I miss being able to read labels and ask the shop person where the products come from (I know my thai is ridiculously bad, but even if I was fluent it would not make any diffrence because they wouldn’t know - they are not really concern about all this just yet...). I also miss being able to buy clean household products and cosmetics (not that I use so much make up over here, but you know what I mean...).

Anyway, I have decided to start doing something about this. I don’t axectly know what just yet, but the plan is to figure it out soon. There are a lot of internet material and keys in hand solutions out there, some more attractive than others (I don’t think I am ready for the 100 things challenge just yet, I would rather start smaller and work my way towards less and less stuff..., and I particularly like the 6 changes for 2010 ( However, I do plan to do some more research on all these very usefull blogs, and then hopefully come up with my on plan. This blog is my attempt to figure it all out, and my probably the story of my strugles along the way...