Screen free week

I recently completed a screen free week.  Here were my rules:

  • Monday to Friday (coincidently Friday was a public holiday)
  • aim for less than 30 minutes of use of my phone per day, measured by the app Moment
  • no computer screens
  • no TV screens

How I made sure it might work, were doing things like

  • creating a paper calendar for the few weeks beyond the screen free week
  • turning off ALL notifications except conventional text messages and phone calls
  • turned sound BACK ON. Usually it’s on silent with vibrate, but now I knew if I got a call, it would be important
  • warn near and dear – people I chat to regularly, that they could call me
  • hand wrote a list of 30 questions I’d seen online, as a journaling exercise.  Hardly used them.

Did I pass?

YES I DID!  Here’s the image of the app I was using, and how I did.

I should outline a few things I did allow and weren’t captured by that picture

  • I listened to podcasts in the later days, using another phone which doesn’t use the app.  But I just listened
  • I looked up on recipe on my laptop in the whole five days, and that would have added to that time
  • I helped the parish office with a certain task, and so jumped on their PC for a short stint to update a spreadsheet

Honestly, it went well.  It resulted in my reading two novels, the Economist magazine cover to cover in one sitting, and a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle!  Plus lots of socialising that was long and uninterrupted.  There were a few junctures that challenged me: I opened a bank account specifically for the flowers I do for the church. When I had the account details, I wanted to email the people who needed it straight away! Instead, I waited a day til I knew I’d be in the parish office, and then asked the administrator to send it out to who needed it.

The state library

Another time, I was to meet someone at Coogee.  Usually, I’d plug this into the GPS.  Instead, as I was told to take my time, I drove to Bondi and then just kept heading along the coast, hoping that after Bronte, somewhere, was Coogee.  It was!  And now I feel I know more, geographically, about the beaches of Sydney!  I did use the GPS to leave much later in the night, and the dark, but only as far as a main road, and then off it went.  I also used GPS to get from one suburb to another – I’m not used to the cross country nature.  The route there was madness, the route home was super sensible and simple.  Face palm!

I really loved my close friend rang me and checked in.  It was super touching.  My parents, oppsy, weren’t warned and had some time sensitive things to sort for them (having just relocated).  In the end, it wasn’t a problem, the item was found with them, but much back and forth!  My brother lives with me, so I was confident that he was an avenue for them if there was a true need to contact me. Instead, I checked in once or twice a day with their communications, replied, and called it done.

Ideally, I hoped the digital silence would leave space for an epiphany about my work and career.  I can’t say it appeared, but on the Saturday following this screen free week, I had two fortune tellings and debriefed with friends, and perhaps that’s helped plant some seeds…

How do you do with screen time?  Do you have limits on yourself? Do you use an app like Moment to track the time you do spend?

February Challenge: Water Guzzle

Sorry all – weekends spent withering in heat, I failed to get this post out on Saturday 1 February.  And to be honest, didn’t do well in the first two days of my self imposed challenge.

Every month, I’ve set myself a health challenge (see more here).  For February?  I want to drink at least 2L water every day, and getting up around 3L (12 glasses!) since I heard it does wonders for bags under eyes and cellulite.  I look forward to all the incidental exercise to the bathroom on the other side of the work building too!

Oh here’s how we used to roll in Cohab Central:

Line up!
Line up!

But I’m pleased to report (without photographic evidence), that we’ve fully transitioned to stainless steel bottles.  I have one, the BF has two (one for work, one for home).  We also have two glass bottles in the fridge.

So who’d like to join me in trying to drink more of that tasteless clear fluid?  For readers in the southern regions, water drinking will probably come easier, now in the summer.  In the north, I’ll let you (and me) count herbal teas to the water intake.  Who’s joining me?

January Challenge summary: Take the stairs

In January, I set myself the healthy challenge of always taking the stairs, particularly up and down to my 3rd floor apartment.  Mid month, I checked in with an update on how I was going (here).  Today is the last day of the month, so I thought I’d do a quick summary, before introducing my new healthy challenge tomorrow, for the month of February.

Stairs of pain and gain!
Stairs of pain and gain!

All up, I went down them 75 times, and up them 70 times!  I took the lift when it was grocery day, one morning with a precarious load (brownies, an open bowl in my lunch bag AND it was my birthday :p) and up and down with the laden picnic basket.  The most time up and down the stairs were two Mondays, where I went up and down 4 times.  Oh and I went up 4 times on the birthday, the last time because of this:

Working off the birthday treat... yes mine was the larger one!
Working off the birthday treat… yes mine was the larger one!

For those who like numbers, I counted the stairs (once, so I could be out), and there are 62 stairs, which means by the end of today, I will have climbed 8990 stairs in a month!

Do I have buns of steel?  I wouldn’t say so, but they are certainly getting easier.  It’s a habit now, even as my early morning walks have worn off, I think this month’s habit can endure much longer.  It’s quicker, but it’s also healthier.

How did you go with taking the stairs, those who regularly encounter them? Moonwaves?

Pondering heartache

Let me first start by saying, this is a philosophical post.  Nothing bad has happened with the BF and I don’t plan for any heartache.  This is in response to blog post I recently read on A Summer of New.  (This blogger happens to be someone I went to school with, and I could probably write a great number of posts on those times.  She was that one person I wanted to be just like – be that smart, produce those amazing posters and assignments, and nightly sentences (to help with our spelling and vocab development).  She got more 100% and Amazing foil stickers than I could fathom.  For the later years of primary school, this was who I looked up to.)

Sure a perfect depiction source:glory-company.com
Sure a perfect depiction
source:glory-company.com

Anyhow, she mention in the linked post about the ups and downs of life.  The times of being happy, and then of recovery, often related to the end of a relationship.  It brought me to thinking both about relationships, but also their ends.

I always feel my ends of romantic relationships should be silent.  Certainly, the anguish and sadness shouldn’t be outwardly visible for more than a week or two.  Maybe, with family, you can wallow in you hurt for a little longer, but your friends much prefer you were you’re not sad faced, or quiet and dull.  You’re to be chirpy and happy.

I distinctly remember a friend experiencing a break up about the same I did, and her saying ‘you have no right to still be sad, how long were you together, a few months?  Me & him were together for 5 years!’, as if hurt is proportional to the duration of the relationship.  As if I could only be sad for a snippet of time, whilst she continued to heal for years.

source: www.deviantart.com
source: www.deviantart.com

The truth is, it takes time to heal from the rejection.  From the confusion.  Even when you are the one that ends a relationship, it takes time to be sure you’ve done the right thing.  To believe that another relationship is possible, another relationship equally deep that shares all the positives of the past relationship, all the good qualities.  Sometimes, it does truly feel like you’ll be alone forever, and perhaps the ex isn’t *that* bad?

I reflect on the years of my dating life, and I too can see expanses of years where I retreated into my shell in the romantic sphere.  Where I still socialised, but was not truly ready to challenge myself with a new relationship.

But socially, in the greater world, I feel heartache is silent.  It’s made to be silent.  I feel, when it’s the end of a marriage, it’s a little more open.  A little more supported.  But the end of other relationships are like a shadow, hardly even noticed.

Would you agree?

January Challenge: Take the stairs

Before I launch into my plan for January’s challenge, I thought I might share my final figures for my December challenge, which was +1 walking (walking one minute longer every day, starting at about 15 minutes).

PS thanks to all those who commented on the two posts I scheduled whilst I was away – I’ve replied to every comment now (as always).  I do appreciate all those who read, and take the time to comment.

December Challenge wrap up

I was pleased to have people join me in this challenge, such as Amanda at the giraffe life in cold Canada and Fiona from Declutterer who didn’t post about the challenge just summarised her experience here and did let me know in the comments that she’d lost a dress size.  high five to her (and what the heck, God’s of exercise, where’s my dress size drop thank you very much?)

My walking location :)
My walking location 🙂

Here’s how I went:  I walked a total of 101.88km (62.2 miles), for a total time of 15.25 hours.  Sadly, whilst I was in Perth visiting the BF’s family, I did only two walks, one long walk alone from the hotel to the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere in Busselton (1hr 11 minutes and a distance of 7.8km – both are records), and a shorter walk around the neighbourhood with the BF which I didn’t track and include in that total.  I projected my total number of hours and kilometers after the first week or so, and hoped to walk 103.5 km over 19 hours.  It seems holidayitis attacked me.  I should really have gotten up and walked, seeing as I woke at 5am more often than not.  I’m not sure if it was the 3hr time difference or me getting used to early waking, but I didn’t know how I might fill the hours after the walk until ‘normal’ people awaken whilst away.  Excuses, I know :p

The beach and the start of Busselton Jetty
The beach and the start of Busselton Jetty

On the up side, I loved walking in the early morning.  I loved the crisp air, and the city before it’s truly bustling.  I love being alone to think and wake up.  Some days, gosh darn did I curse that alarm!  But over time, I came to realise I much preferred to walk in the morning than delay it to later in the day.  I will certainly aim to keep this routine up to some extent even if not every day, or increasingly further distances.  I should probably look to intersperse some jogging in there too, to work up to this half marathon running goal.

Busselton jetty
Jetty building over the shallow beach waters

******

January’s Challenge starts

In January, I aim to take the stairs.  I live on the third floor, so every day I plan to walk up and down the three flights of stairs (although I did skip it this morning after a red eye flight home and a 11kg suitcase).  I will also take the stairs over the escalators where both options are presented to me.  I will use my discretion re: lift vs stairs and the height of the climb.  At work, I will continue to always take the stairs.  I may allow myself the loophole of the lift for when I’m carrying the grocery or a plate of food, but I will keep those to a minimum.

My aim is to add this incidental exercise into everyday, and by blogging about it, keep myself accountable.  Simple enough really!

Anyone else willing to pledge a month of opting for the stairs over the lift or the escalator?  Think of those buns of steel you might end up with (no promises though!).

2014 Goals

This is a ‘live’ post where I update my goals, changes, and plans.  I hope you enjoy the links I add!

Last year, I set goals in a number of different categories of life, and tracked them almost every month with another post.  I think I’ll continue with this idea in the coming year too, but naturally, the goal posts will adjust to suit the things I learnt!

Hold onto your hats everyone, there’s a lot in this post.  I find monthly tracking helps me to achieve things, so that’s why there’s so much laid out here, ambitious as it may seems.

Fun – 12 in 2 list

I’ll start with the ‘nice’ stuff – which I’ve posted about previously, as my 12 in 2 goals – 12 things I want to do in 2 years, and most of them are ‘bucket list’ style items.

For 2014, I’ll do the following (some of which I did earmark to do in 2013, but it didn’t happen):

  1. Silent retreat – some time after the half marathon in July (cause you can’t run at these 10 day retreats)
  2. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb I got a voucher as a birthday gift in January 2014!!!
  3. Go jet skiing (done over the Christmas holidays)
  4. Learn to surf
  5. Dinner at Aria: planned for early February
  6. Read the new testament bible Done in September
  7. Run a half marathon could do it at the Gold Coast in July (it’s a super flat course), already booked the flights
  8. Plan and prepay my funeral – cough cough, not so fun
  9. Zorbing (a weekend away at the Gold Coast)  The place went out of business…

Health – monthly challenges

Why the water challenge and the coffee challenge are in different months! source: http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMy1kNjdmZWUyN2QxYzMxNjAw
Why the water challenge and the coffee challenge are in different months!
source: http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMy1kNjdmZWUyN2QxYzMxNjAw

As I mentioned in late November, I will look at creating ‘get healthy’ monthly challenges of better healthier habits.  I started earlier than the new year cause I felt the need to lose some weight, and the Christmas season is as good a time to start as any.

Each month I’ll dedicate one post to introducing the challenge (and encouraging others to join in), a post or two on my progress and a post to wrap up the challenge and the success or failure.  Here’s my rough plan, subject to change:

Jan: Stair challenge start, progress, end
Feb: Drink 3L water per day: start
Mar: Squats and abandoned 🙁
Apr: Push up challenge – increase the number everyday
May: Morning stretching/yoga
Jun: Planking challenge
Jul: Mental health: daily act of kindness
Aug: Mental health: daily gratitude journal
Sept: 1 internet free day per week
Oct: Ocsober
Nov: Coffee free challenge
Dec: +1 walking

I’ve been slowly trying to start Jan & Feb’s goals in December, but each month I will commit to doing it every day!

Financial goals

I prefer my fingernails bare, but this is amazing, and just like Aussie money source: http://www.morenailpolish.com/2013/01/aussie-nails-show-me-money.html
I prefer my fingernails bare, but this is amazing, and just like Aussie money
source: http://www.morenailpolish.com/2013/01/aussie-nails-show-me-money.html

This is one category I always kick a** at!  So, for 2014, I will:

1. Save $20,000 in my mortgage offset account (in addition to the starting balance) as of mid Sepetmber, met this, and aimed higher (hopefully anotehr $15k by year end)

2. Save $200 a week in for holidays yep, it’s all automated

3. Save $10 $20 a week for my ‘one day’ dream of a first class holiday to Paris and NYC (First class flights and accommodation).  I plan to spend 20 years saving slowly for this one. $20 per week, cause why not!

4. Save $100 a week for ‘charity’ which I will also withdraw from when I do support fundraising etc. automated too my friend!

This is in addition to savings plans that already tick over weekly for bills and health insurance, and a weekly contribution to the church.

Social

Plan a dinner party or similar once a quarter. Started with a pizza night for polo girl in Jan 🙂 Easy and fun. Excess cheese? Informal wine and cheese Sunday arvo. 2 down, 3 to go! 3 down, 1 to go – another polo dinner of Nachoes.  Tempted to do something for Halloween..n

Inspiration for the zen I'll try to create source: www.sheknows.com
Inspiration for the zen I’ll try to create
source: www.sheknows.com

Email my brother at least weekly whilst he’s in South America (until Sept 2014)

Career

Ekk, seeing I didn’t submit my 16 x 700 words long episode reports in 2013, this goal will role over.

I will also start to think more (again) about the next step in my career. Whilst I wasn’t thinking about it, someone was, and I’ve been acting in a promotion of a role for a few months.  And I’ll apply for the position when it’s advertised

Keeping it Creative

I’ve realised that I like to create things, like my gingerbread house, or the candy cane wreath.  I really enjoy mending clothes, or sewing.  I even made a map of the world with stamps!  So I’m going to try and do more of these sorts of things.  One crafty thing per month.  Pinterest and blogs will guide me, I hope.

I’ve covered my router with a hard cover book; made earphone holders out of old plastic cards; cross stitched a baby’s blanket…

+1 Walking Challenge Update

Well it’s been less than week since I officially ‘started’ the +1 Walking Challenge on the blog, but in reality, I’ve been at it almost a week.  I thought I’d take the time to check in with my progress, to stay accountable, and have you rally and cheer me on!

Date Distance

(km)

Time

(mins)

Real cumulative time totals Planned daily target time Planned  time totals
04/12/2013 2.5 23.5 3.88 22 2.92
03/12/2013 3.75 29 3.49 21 2.55
02/12/2013 2.24 19 3.01 20 2.20
01/12/2013 5.03 38 2.69 19 1.87
30/11/2013 2.76 34 2.06 18 1.55
29/11/2013 3.57 30 1.49 17 1.25
28/11/2013 1.65 16.5 0.99 16 0.97
27/11/2013 2.42 16 0.72 15 0.70
26/11/2013 2.09 14 0.45 14 0.45
25/11/2013 1.87 13 0.22 13 0.22

Firstly, this has been harder than I thought it would be!  On Thursday morning, I got up to the sound of rain, got dressed, and promptly ploped back in bed.  I told myself I would do it that afternoon (ie now, when I’m drafting this).  But then I got home, and the finale of Season 1 of Homeland was more luring.  And the chocolate bits reserved for making brownies, they were also pretty darn attractive.

Somewhere I'd like to run (I was there for work) - Kirribilli
Somewhere I’d like to run (I was there for work) – Kirribilli

Then, I rested on the fact that my cumulative total time is way ahead of my planned time for this date (even with a start back a week ago).  It helps that I had two longer walk/runs on the weekend.

As I’ve touched on elsewhere, I’m still training for water polo and playing each once a week.  So, overall, I’ve really ‘upped’ my exercise.  Not surprisingly, I’m hungrier now too! I think I need to plan to have some filling HEALTHY snacks. (I have thankfully finished the cooking chocolate and feel sick, so that’ll teach me!)

I’ll continue this walking – with Christmas and other temptations, there’s every *need* to continue exercising!

How have others fared in their challenges?  Are you keeping up with an extra minute every day, on average?  Are you feeling hungrier too?  Anyone feel skinnier yet? (No!)

December Challenge: +1 walking

Firstly readers, let’s pretend it’s December 1 (for some readers, it might still be).  Today starts the +1 walking challenge.  Here’s how it works

1. Start by waking up a few minutes earlier than usual (I went for 5 minutes earlier than usual), and do a short walk (I figured I could fit in 15 minutes and not be late for work).

2. Tomorrow, walk up one minute earlier than yesterday.

3. Repeat, for 31 days.

 

See how I run: web interface for runkeeper.com
See how I run: web interface for runkeeper.com

Seems simple right?  And it is.  All you have to do is walk one minute longer each day.  If you start with 15 minutes on the first day, by the end of the challenge you’ll have walked 7.5 hours!! Not only that, you’ll feel healthier, which isn’t a bad thing.

For those in the southern hemisphere, December is a great month to work on waking up earlier because we’ve not yet hit the equinox on Dec 22 – which means every morning until then, there’s more minutes of sunshine for you to enjoy.  So it won’t get progressively darker each morning you wake up. (Sorry to those in the northern hemisphere!)

I actually read a great study that showed that when comparing two groups, those that exercised daily, even when they took a few days off, still burnt more calories on a high calorie diet than the control group. What this is saying, is that starting healthy, regular exercise habits will help you even when you take a break to eat Thanksgiving turkey (more on mine tomorrow) or Christmas ham.  Sounds just ideal, right?

Who’d like to join me?  I’m looking to have some partners in crime to help encourage and support the good, the bad, and the ugly of my attempts to do more exercise.  I’ll even offer some loopholes:

– you can walk any old time on your days off.  Look at that, I haven’t done away with sleep ins 🙂

– you can bank some time from those days off, for mornings (or evenings) where the 1 minute extension just seems like the straw that will break the camel’s back.

Basically, be nice to yourself! Try to get more and more minutes in each day, but don’t worry if life gets in the way.  Tomorrow is a new day.

I’ll be using this blog to check in weekly with my progress, and share my stats from Runkeeper.  I did actually start this Monday week ago, and so far I’ve not missed a day.,

So who’s in?  Who’d like to cheer me along?