Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tried to swim; didn't work

My shoulder had been feeling a lot better, so I thought I’d try a little swim to see where I’m at. It was not what you’d call a workout. …Instead you might call it “a fiasco,” or perhaps “a brutally harsh wakeup call.”

I started with a 25 free, but freestyle hurt too much, so then I did a 25 backstroke, but backstroke hurt too much. Then I did a 25 breaststroke and it didn’t hurt, so I made it a 50. Then I did 300 yards of kicking and called it a day. Then I woke up the next morning with my neck and back seizing up all over the place (possibly that was unrelated) and gave up on swimming forever.

Just kidding! Instead I rededicated myself to getting this thing fixed. I know it takes forever but that it can be done. Found some new exercises to try on the YouTube and everything.

Monday, February 1, 2016

GREAT resolutions for February

I’m really glad I made a resolutions “worksheet” to refer to for 2016. It makes it a lot easier to come up with resolution ideas—and of course the intention is that they ultimately will be taking me somewhere, rather than just being a bunch of stuff that sounded good at 9 p.m. on the last day of the month. Anyway, here are my carefully curated resolutions for February:
  • Goal: Memorize Ephesians 4. I was going to start with the first book of John and go on from there, but I decided it might be more fun to cherry-pick a bit. Anyway, memorizing John would take a huge commitment, and I don’t think the circumstances are right.
  • Rule: Meditate for three to five minutes per day. Even though I did not at all enjoy meditation last month, I’m convinced that it will eventually be beneficial to everything else I want to do. This month I’m going to focus on doing it DAILY, and there should be no excuse for not being able to find three minutes.
  • Exercise: Reintroduce myself to the squat. I have already been taking some baby steps into weight lifting, in that every time I go to the gym to walk, I also hop onto a couple of machines and do some easy lifting. This month I want to focus on the squat, perfect my form, and get a lot stronger in it.
  • Affirmation: “I take great care of myself by practicing moderation.” There are all kinds of “events” this month—a Super Bowl party, a trip out of town, and my birthday, for starters—where I’m most definitely not going to be eating in a way that helps me lose fat. But I want to be sensible rather than using it as an excuse to down a quart of ice cream as if it’s the last time I’ll ever see sugar. And when the event is over, I want to go right back to healthy eating the next day. 
  • Task: Install a shelf in my closet. “Install” might be too strong a word. All I need to do is buy a shelf of the right size, paint it white if necessary, and set it on the existing shelf bracket.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

GREAT report card

I decided that I need to post on the last day of each month to evaluate how I did on my GREAT resolutions, just to have some sort of accountability. So these were my plans for January, and this is how I did:
  • Goal: I spent just over 100 minutes in meditation, which is nice, but the goal was 155, so just going by the numbers (65 percent of goal), I give myself a D.
  • Rule: I was supposed to follow AltShift to the letter, and I actually did on 28 out of 31 days. That’s 90 percent, but I feel like the spirit of this rule was all or nothing. Guess I’ll split the difference between A and F and give myself a C.
  • Exercise: I walked a ton, got faster, and got so I didn’t even mind being on the treadmill. A.
  • Affirmation: How to grade an affirmation? Is it based on whether I actually said it to myself or whether I actually did the thing I was affirming? Or maybe whether I made adequate progress toward the thing I was affirming? At any rate, I got an A on all counts this month, so I’ll revisit the grading difficulties another time.
  • Task: Done and then some. A.
January GPA*: 3.0. Student is working below potential. Enjoy having in class.

* GREAT point average, naturally

A few hours of good work

Somehow I caught M.H. in a “clean all the things” mood yesterday, and he helped me finish up the guest room closet project and then some. We got rid of all the sentimental but unwanted objects, rehomed a few things, hung up a picture, AND donated a bunch of stuff I had been trying unsuccessfully to sell. (When you think about it logically, it’s just not worth $5 or $10 or $20 if the selling takes more than an hour of effort.)

After that, we started attacking bookshelves and donated enough books that we were able to empty one shelf completely and turn it into a display for miscellaneous objets d’art:


(Objets d’art, from top left: clock that needs batteries, ceramic vase made by my sister in college, collection of rocks in a ceramic bowl made by my sister in college, picture of my kids with some of their cousins, two cool chess boards, random flower pot, World’s Most Annoying Nerf Gun.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ha ha oops

How long since I said it was pretty easy to keep my health-related resolutions? Six days?

Oh, naive, young, innocent Julie of January 13! Since then I’ve eaten pizza and cookies twice (we had them in the house for a kid party) and binge-watched 15 episodes of The West Wing on Netflix. I’m still walking and meditating every day, but I’m so bored with the meditation part that it HURTS. I guess my inner Rebel is still kicking and screaming about being a person who takes great care of herself.

Anyway, the AltShift advice for falling off the wagon is to immediately climb back on the wagon and pick up where you left off, so I’ve done that. I’ll try to refocus my Rebel energy to taking a stand against the idiotic and unscientific USDA dietary guidelines that indirectly got everyone fat in the first place.

I have no immediate plans to stop watching The West Wing, though. It’s really good.

Friday, January 15, 2016

What did I get myself into?

Decided it was time to tackle that guest room closet—doesn’t look too bad overall, right?


Wrong. It is awful. Hidden in boxes you can’t see are agonizingly sentimental objects that I have no use for. In one sense that’s OK, because I don’t have to get rid of all the stuff, just give it a more appropriate home. But in another sense, if I am going to be touching these items for the first time in nine years—and I may not touch them again for nine years after this—shouldn’t I take this opportunity to give some of it…a more final resting place?

The worst part is, when this is done, I’m really not going to have a lot to show for it. It’s not like the kitchen, where the payoff is increased ease of use multiple times per day. This is going to hurt.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Resolutions and the Rebel

I just finished Gretchen Rubin’s latest book, and I’ve been kind of obsessed with her Four Tendencies. (The briefest possible explanation is that it’s a matrix of how you respond to outer expectations—like deadlines and appointments—and inner expectations—like goals and resolutions.)

You’d think I’d be all over INNER expectations at least, but I was surprised when I took her quiz and it said I was a Rebel—someone who resists both kinds of expectations. The more I think about it, though, the more I think that’s accurate for me. Rebels can meet expectations, but only if they want to—and it’s important to me to keep my clients, for example, so therefore I meet my work deadlines. And I can keep my personal resolutions, too, as long as they still interest me and I still want to—which explains why I change them every month. (And why I MUST remember to stay motivated.)

One of the strategies Rubin suggests for Rebels who want to meet their goals is, instead of thinking about what you want to do, to reframe them in terms what kind of person you are. I’m finding that incredibly helpful. Now that I’m thinking of myself as a person who takes great care of herself (as per my affirmation), I’m finding my health-related goals pretty easy to follow through on. Not only that, but I’m getting up from my desk more often, keeping things more organized, taking my vitamins more faithfully, lifting more weights, and reading more books. None of those were explicit goals, so either it’s the magical power of “January” at work (entirely possible) or I’m on to something here.