Wednesday, 5 December 2018

On challenges, simplifications and shake-ups...

It occurred to me when we returned from our Hebrides trip in October that I only had a relatively short amount of time remaining to really attack my 2018 challenges. I remember back at the start of the year I used the word "Accountability" - and that has now looped back on itself as I decided to use the next 40 days (from when I started thinking about needing to focus back on completing my challenges through to the end of November) to be fully accountable - first to myself but also to anyone else out there who might be reading. So the "Accountability40 Challenge" was born - a challenge within a challenge, if you will...

My aim for this was partly to get back to routines - running, keeping on top of organisational things at home, and the day-to-day stuff that makes life easier. Partly to kick-start my exercise plans again at a time of year when sometimes it can be tough to motivate yourself to lace up and get out. I also wanted to focus on "Wellness" generally, physical AND mental health, and give our meal plans a bit of a shake-up with new ideas, maybe some new recipes and some different ingredients. Finally I wanted to take some time to see where I have achieved this year already in terms of my start of year challenges, and where I might still want to have one last push to thoroughly tick a box.

I decided that I wanted to lose a few lbs in weight to get back to my "ideal" weight ahead of the Christmas season and all the extra food and drink that sometimes entails. Exercising an average of 5 days per week would help with this as would getting back to running more regularly - with airshows and the summer's high temperatures my routine on this one had definitely slipped a bit. Similarly looking for some fresh new ideas for meals should also help to keep our food interesting and avoid the feeling of having slipped into a rut with what we're eating week on week. I'm sticking with the plan that has worked so well for me of tracking and logging the food I eat 4 days a week, then relaxing over weekends. The organisational stuff ties in with the overall wellness picture as there is no question that for me, feeling as though clutter has built up, or that there are things that we "should have done" that we're putting off plays hell with my mental health. As I've mentioned previously on here, the darker/shorter days can also be a trigger for me mentally so this is a good time of year to be proactively tackling ways of dealing with anything that might have a negative effect.

I love a challenge as you know, so decided to post daily on Instagram to keep up the accountability. I managed to miss one day entirely at some stage, and only realised a few days from the end that I was running behind, and did have to combine two days into a single post over a busy weekend, but generally I did keep up with this daily posting. I intended to do some blog posts, but that didn't happen, and I posted regularly on a private forum that I'm part of with updates on how I was doing - and got masses of support in return, too!

The running regularly started well with me increasing my longer run distance up to 7 miles and a total of nearly 15 miles covered in the first 8 days of the November but my run on the 8th had to be cut short as my hip was extremely painful and I wasn't able to run again for over 2 weeks which knocked my plans a bit. Managed 9 runs in the 40 day period in the end which in real terms, allowing for the 2 week hiatus in the middle, was actually somewhere close to where I was aiming. I also managed to get two runs with the RunTalkRun group in there too which was good - it's not always easy for me to make their runs not being London based but I love it when I can join and one aspect of the challenge was wanting to fit in more social running too! Lesson also learned about not trying to run on multiple consecutive days - my joints simply don't like it! Other exercise across the month consisted of a swim, masses of walking and lots and lots of strength and stability work - something which I want to keep up the focus on going forwards - as well as a couple of Metafit classes. By the end of the month I had also clocked up over 365km for the year thus "winning" a mini challenge that a friend had set us on Twitter to see which of us would be the first to reach that particular milestone in the year.

On the food front I looked for ways of mixing up some of the meals we have regularly with differing ingredients and flavourings, using more fresh herbs for example. Remembered how much I love brown rice rather than white, and finally managed to successfully poach an egg! Bought some wholewheat pasta but haven't used it yet, generally managed to step back from snacks "for the sake of snacks" and make healthier choices when out and about. At the time of writing my weight had headed back to pretty much where I want it to be which was the aim - if I can trim off an additional few pounds ahead of christmas I'll be happy enough.

One BIG challenge I overcame during this period involved attending the local climbing wall for a trial session - pretty much everyone when I said how much this worried me assumed that it was because the height scared me - in fact nothing could be further from the truth, those who know me well are aware that height has never phased me in the least! In fact as someone who is severely claustrophobic it was the fear of getting stuck that made this one truly terrifying - I've always been hesitant about climbing steeper hills as much as anything else because I'm afraid that I will find myself in a position I can't get out of - and this was one reason for wanting to challenge this. I was shaking like a leaf when I arrived but once the session got underway and I saw others climbing I relaxed a lot and eventually managed two climbs to the top on suitably easy routes. SO pleased to have done this and more than a little proud of myself as this was definitely a big thing for me!

I'm going to be taking a lot forwards from this challenge - and a lot of this ties in with stuff in my wider 2018 challenges too. Organisation and using my bullet-ish journal to keep on top of things - this is a winner all the way for me - each and every time I return to using the journal life gets easier. I'm making it less structured though with a straightforward list for each week, using the standard bullet journal arrow system to "forward" things on to do in a future week. More than two arrows on an item lead to a questioning of why I don't "JFDI" or "Does it actually need doing?".  Similarly is SLEEP - I need more of it than I often get, and when I get more of it, life is easier again. This is another area where forming a habit really helps. Strength & stability exercises - I need to remember that I NEED to do this stuff to carry on running - the stronger I am, the less prone to injury I will be, and with my temperamental joints, that's a key thing. (See also "Stretching" on this one!)   And in fact on the subject of the strength/stability/stretching stuff this is somewhere else I can form a habit which would be beneficial.

I've now started thinking about 2019 - and also back to all the stuff I've achieved and the targets I've hit this year. I'll try and do another post as the end of the year approaches specifically on my 2018 challenges - I'm really looking forward to going over those!

Robyn