Surprise! I’m still alive!
So, that went well.
Despite the fact that several of the last couple of posts published on this blog discuss re-starts and a need for increased consistency in posting, you may have noticed that I’ve failed spectacularly in doing just that. Whilst I did indeed have several very good weeks following on from my last post in regards to improving my diet, exercise, sleep schedule etc… I quickly fell into the same problem that so many people have with the end of the year, when I let December and the Christmas holidays completely derail my progress.
In terms of health and exercise, initially it started small. I was still exercising and eating pretty well, but then I started drinking Starbucks’ Christmas lattes. Then I added the occasional sweet treat mid-afternoon. Before I knew it, the sugar cravings that I’d spent ages kicking over the past few years were back in full force and I would regularly be drinking sugary coffees and eating cakes and biscuits every single day at work. The more of them I ate, the more of them I wanted.
This was December. It was cold, wet and windy in Edinburgh. I wanted comfort food, so I started eating it. But I was still exercising pretty regularly, so it wasn’t that bad, and my sleep schedule was pretty good.
Then came the holidays. They threw my sleep right out, and whilst I still did some exercise I started to get a little off track. Going back to work in January, my sleep was off, I was less active, and the vegetables I’d managed to add to my daily diet were disappearing from sight. The worse I ate and slept, the less I wanted to do exercise, and so the less I did. February compounded this by being fairly social at work, giving me less time in the evenings to do the things I wanted to do.
And so here we are. I have done no regular exercise for about three weeks despite having made some good progress over December and January, and whilst I plan to do some after I’ve written up this post I am back to dreading the thought of it. My diet still isn’t great, and my sleep cycle isn’t completely right. I’ve not done yoga consistently in so long that I’m starting to ache on a regular basis.
And we’re approaching spring, and I want things to change. A rebirth of sorts.
The reasons I decided to write this blog post are two-fold.
In terms of my health and fitness, following on from everything above, one of the reasons I think I fell off track was a lack of accountability. I’m not great at holding myself accountable. One of the ways I was able to make some positive changes in the latter part of last year was having a wellbeing coach through work, who I emailed often and Skyped once per month. We’d set short-term goals, and I’d check in with her regularly on how I was doing. I didn’t want to have to say I was doing nothing, so I actually did what I set out to do.
It’s much harder only being accountable to myself. I know ultimately that’s the most important thing, but I’m trying to break the unhealthy habits of a lifetime. It’s very easy for me to become complacent for months or to let things slip and slide until I’m right back where I started. I want that to change. The most progress I’ve ever made over the last 18 months in terms of working on my health and fitness were back at the start of last year, when I was posting on here regularly. So that’s one reason I wanted to get back into blogging – if I’m writing a blog about my quest for health and happiness, I had better start taking some steps to move forward on that quest!
The second reason has more to do with general feelings of productivity and the passage of time. I’ve been thinking recently about how fast time has been moving and what (or how little) I’ve managed to achieve over various time frames. For example, I’ve just had my second anniversary of being in my current job – a job I took initially in order to just pay the bills and never thought I’d have for any more than 2 years. Now I expect to be there at least another year, but it could be longer if I don’t set anything up in the meantime that I can move on to!
Then there’s how long since I last posted frequently on this blog – it doesn’t feel like very long ago to me, but it’s been nearly a year. I can’t say that I have done much in the past year to show for the ‘time off’. I feel to some extent like I’m wasting too much time.
Yesterday evening, after several hours of wallowing in a hangover with a takeaway and watching youtube videos, I decided to finally fill in some of the first few pages of my passion planner. For those of you who don’t know, a passion planner is a make of diary which prompts you to set annual (and longer-term) goals which you break down into a roadmap, and then makes you check in every month on how you’re doing on your journey to completing those goals. Up until now I had been using it for my day-to-day diary, but hadn’t got round to doing any of the planning for the year or setting any goals. I had ignored the space in each week’s layout that asks for the week’s focus, and hadn’t really been putting it to its fullest use.
Last night I decided – after complaining to a friend earlier in the day that I don’t know what I need/want to do because my end goals are so vague – to do some roadmapping. Even if my end goals are vague, I made sure to add some very specific tasks that I need to do on the way to achieving these more vague end-goals. The most short-term goal was to get back into blogging regularly. Even if you weren’t reading this – and I thank you for being here and sticking through this fairly ramble-y come-back post – regularly blogging can only ever do me good. Having to produce something, consistently, gives me something (or someone) to be accountable to, it cultivates discipline, I have something to show for it, and I should (hopefully) improve a number of different skills that will only ever help me later on. It’s a creative outlet that I greatly need a this point.
As I said earlier, we’re approaching spring. March – and Easter, which is at the end of the month this year – is traditionally a time of renewal and rebirth. The spirit of this has already prompted me to take a good look at how my life is going at the moment and started moving me in the right direction to make some much-needed changes. I hope it continues to move me forward, at least until I’ve been able to cultivate the discipline to just rely on myself.
Renewal, rebirth, consistency, accountability. They’re not bad words to focus on for the next few months. I hope I learn to live up to them.