Where am I with my 2018 goals?

I thought I’d take stock of where I am on 2018 goals.  Not sure how often I’ll be doing this but taking regular review is probably a good thing.

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life and positive thinking. 

Weirdly, I have made progress!  Let’s break it down.

Good diet: Since my Dad left, I’ve been doing Weight Watchers – completely online.  I have a few observations which I’m going to share.

Weighing & Measuring:

I guessed at my starting weight, basing it on the last time I weighed myself and the clothes size I now fit into.  I’m never keen on weighing myself because I think psychologically I get hung up on the number and that can demotivate me if the scales don’t show progress.  I can’t remember where I got it from but I remember someone once saying on a talk show or diet programme or something where they suggested your clothes and how you felt about yourself should be your measure.  I really like this approach and it’s working for me.  At some point when I’m ‘happy,’ I’ll weigh myself and see if this actually matches what I think I should be (which is based on medical height/weight ratios for ‘normal’ and a BMI of 20).  Until then, a couple of days ago my clothes started feeling looser – just marginally, a small amount – but looser.  I was able to fit into a pair of trousers which are designed to be close-fit without feeling I had to do the dance of ‘breathe in and wriggle.’

How Weight Watchers is helping:

So I’m not one for diets.  I have tried a couple in the past – mainly low carbs, or cutting out chocolate/crisps and trying to eat healthy, and I did try weight watchers a couple of years back but felt it was too restrictive.  Anyway, with the Mauritius trip looming, I talked myself back into joining because regardless that I think I know what diet will help me lose the weight, I believe I need help in identifying recipes and keeping track of what I am eating.  And – I’m really pleased.

What was eye opening was I accidentally joined a couple of days before my Dad left so for the first few days I simply tracked what I was eating and taking note of how many points I was actually racking up ‘normally.’  It was no surprise I was over the daily allowance of points and then in short order the weekly.  So with the evidence I am effectively eating too much of the wrong things, I actually sat down to plan the first week of meals, checking back in weight watchers online for recipes and to understand the points of the meals and to ensure I was always under.

It’s not difficult to realise that prepping your own food rather than using convenience is less points.  Vegetables and fruit generally are zero point so a large salad with a little dribble of balsamic vinegar and some kind of lean protein (fish, chicken, boiled egg) can make up at least one of the meals leaving lots of points available for the second.  Again, bulking a meal up with vegetables also makes sense.  It’s also probably no surprise that the carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rich and potatoes) carry high points so inevitably you eat less of them – although you don’t have to cut them out completely or eliminate them.

This first week has worked.  I’ve reduced the ‘high points’ foods I’m eating and I’m eating more of ‘low or zero points.’  I’ve got a better understanding now of the value of the foods I’m eating and it means I can make better informed decisions about my food and what I eat.  Plus the fact that I give myself a choice psychologically works better than the sense I’m denying myself something.  Yes, I’m not having a vinaigrette on my salad but I am having potatoes in my stew.

Planning & Preparation: I’m not sure why planning and preparing being the key to success was such a surprise to me since I’m a project manager and the last time I looked, plans and prep are the key to any successful project, but wow does planning and preparation count here.

There’s two parts to that – one is planning the food for the week.  I sat down and worked out a food plan – breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even snacks.  In fact, given I usually have the same breakfast that was easy – cereal and milk.  Determining the snack was easy too; I have a current favourite cereal snack bar and so that was the choice.  Once those points are subtracted I’m left with 60% of my points to divide between lunch and dinner.  So I plan it out with the aim to remain within my daily target or lower, and not to use the weekly target which is there to help handle a meal out or I guess a cheat day.

That’s not to say I’m not flexible; firstly, as I do most of my shop online I do have to live with the sell-by dates on the food and so I had to revise the second week plan a lot yesterday once the shop arrived.  Secondly, I’m being kind to myself so if I don’t fancy the meal I planned when the day arrives, I simply search online for something on the day which works with what I have in the fridge and is within my daily points allowance.

Preparation is also key and not just ensuring I’ve bought the food ahead of time.  While I’ve always known making my own lunch and taking it in is much better than buying something in a café or from a shop, I’ve usually failed a lot of the time to make something and take it in.  Last week, I pushed myself to ensure I did prep the night before so I could have the lunch I planned.

Risks: There are a couple of risks.  Firstly, it is all a little too easy just to eat all my daily points, as in ‘I have 3 points left – fantastic I can have 3 rich tea biscuits with my last cup of tea.’ I’m thinking maybe I need to come up with a ‘points jar’ and for every point I save daily put a pound towards something nice for myself.

Secondly, there is a lot of work involved and I know when I’m very tired (and let’s face it tiredness is not unusual for me since I have CFS) the urge to simply get a take away rather than facing cooking is huge.  Until I go to Mauritius, I know the thought of what my aunts will say about my weight gain since the last time I was there is kind of keeping me determined not to fall into old habits but I probably need to think up mitigations here too.

All in all though, I’m on track with the better diet goal this year than I have been at this stage in previous years so I’m pleased.

Regular exercise: This can be a real stumbling block for me as I have a chronic condition which doesn’t really like exercise and punishes me with a lot of pain and stiffness in the aftermath.  That said, I decided to make my evening walk up to the taxi rank to get home my regular exercise.  Again, I’m not pushing myself to do every day if I’m in a lot of pain.  But I am again forcing myself to really make the choice every day.

I’m not unaware though that the walk is not enough to really make a difference – it’s low intensity and while beneficial on some level is only probably 25% of the exercise I should do.  Equally while weight watchers allows me to count the house-keeping towards ‘fit points’, I really do need to think about what other exercise I can incorporate going forward.

Balanced Work/Life: Yeah, this is my big stumbling block.  New job with a LOT to do.  It’s inevitable I’m struggling to get the balance right once more.  However, I have managed so far to avoid working during the weekends.  I need to focus on this more.

Positive thinking: I’m pulling myself up every time my thoughts drift in a negative direction.  However, I feel so much better mentally than I did before starting my new job last year.  Back then I felt stalked by the black dog of depression; it loomed over me, stood waiting at the door.  Now, I feel it’s a good distance away; not out of sight completely – it hasn’t quite left town, but maybe it’s more than a few streets away.

I think the other thing that helped here last weekend was actually spring cleaning the kitchen.  It began because I wanted to clear out the fridge, freezer and pantry before I embarked on my better diet but once I’d begun it seemed mad not to carry on with the rest of the kitchen.  I’m keen to keep up the momentum, but trying to do anything in a work evening is difficult due to my fatigue, so it looks like my weekends are the best opportunity; tackling the conservatory tomorrow.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

I feel like I am doing OK on this one too.  Friends-wise, I had to cancel a meal out with Kath just before New Year but we have another planned for the end of the month.  I already have a visit from Kate in the diary for February and a lunch date with Carl in March.  I’ve reached out to have a coffee with an old colleague from Guinness but haven’t heard back, and I’m intending to reach out to a few more people over the next week to make arrangements for coffee, lunch or dinner.

Family-wise, while New Year as a wash with both Sheila and I sick, we enjoyed a meal with Dad the night before he headed back to Mauritius and obviously we’re going to see him in February.

The risk here is will my health allow me to follow through on all these arrangements?  That’s the tough question.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

So, right now and probably for the next three months, I’m focusing on getting settled in my new job.  There are a lot of positives; the team is lovely, the work is interesting but very doable, and I feel at home.  My boss is a good man.  There is no anxiety attached beyond the normal desire to make sure I do a good job and don’t do anything to risk passing my probation.  As a way to earn a living, it’s good.

That said, the fatigue is a constant factor which makes it difficult for work to be completely and totally enjoyable.  I’m tired – a left over from the overwork and anxiety of the previous years.  Most of the time I want to stay in bed rather than drag myself to work – any work.  But I can see that I could achieve a work/life balance in the future here so I know I need to stick with this, keep trying to balance everything so I’m not exhausted, and allow myself to recover.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

This is probably the one which I haven’t spent any real time actively doing.  This blog is the first real writing I’ve done this year.  Some of that is the job; some of it was my health over New Year; some of it is that I’m prepping for beginning to finish my Aftershocks series so have yet to put text to document as I wanted to (a) watch at least the season I’m writing about (and today I realised I probably need to watch the subsequent seasons too) and (b) read the series from the beginning again so I can pick up the threads I had laid down.

Also, one of my old articles will be published in an actual book soon so while I haven’t written anything new I’m thrilled with the idea of being published in a book!

Overall, I’m really happy with the year so far (all thirteen days), and I’m hopeful about the rest of the year.  Until next time.

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