Tag: stayingoffthecouch

52 week challenge update (based on the book: 52 small changes 1 year to happier, healthier you by Brett Blumenthal)

So the summer is starting to wind down (I mean July is over in a week), I’ve realized that in terms of doing the 52-week challenge, I’ve become rather static in trying to add in a new challenge every other week or when I feel like I can take on a new one. Since the start of the year I’ve been doing well with probably about five out of the first six challenges. I’m going to stick with these for probably another month or so before trying to add in any more (mainly because I’m still slightly struggling with one or two of them). So how have I been doing in terms of each challenge?

In terms of the sleep challenge—I do have a daily wake up time (though the weekend is about a half hour later than the weekday wake time), and I’m trying to go to bed more or less around 10 PM every night. This should equate to almost 8 hours of sleep Sun-Thurs and a little over 8 hours Fri & Sat nights. Though in truth, during the week it can range from barely 7 hours to almost 8 hours—it all depends on how much tossing & turning I do each night. Now I’m trying various things to help me sleep through the night—I have the room cool (sometimes it feels a little too cool), I use calming lotions, and I’m starting to meditate at night as well (to help quiet my thoughts). I know that stress can play havoc with one’s sleeping schedule (so I’m trying to adopt the mindset of a day at a time and that everything will work out in the end).

I am getting better at making sure that I’m getting enough water during the day. I guess that is one nice thing about the hot Oklahoma summers—they make you thirsty. I know that I usually fill my mug 3 times with water during the day—that is equal to drinking about 60oz of water. I put 8oz of water in my morning shake (along with 8oz of unsweetened almond milk). I then have 20oz of tea in the morning and then usually another 12oz of tea in the evening. Depending on my workout I usually have about 16oz of water during that. So I think currently I’m on track for making sure that I’m drinking about half my weight in liquids.

I’ve decided that weather permitting (not raining or snowing) I’m going to be taking morning walks on the weekend up at Boomer Lake and practicing my photography skills. I had bought a new camera back in May before heading to New Mexico on vacation (I wanted a nice one to take pictures at Carlsbad Caverns—though I’d used my cell phone for most of them). But with the new lens that I got recently, I can get some really nice pictures now of the area birds. Which has me thinking of numerous other posts that I can work on for the photography page of the website. I’m also doing a workout (LIIFT4), plus trying to make sure that I’m moving around a good amount of the time at work (trying to get at least 250 steps an hour).

The fourth challenge in the 52-week challenge is keeping a food journal. Now this is something that I’ve been doing on and off for quite a while (though at times it’s been digital where I’ve logged what I’ve eaten into a website for them to calculate my macros for me). The only thing that I don’t necessarily do all the time is put down how much of each food I’m eating and the calories from that (because that is hard to do when you’re eating out or ordering take out from a restaurant). The author also suggests that you rank you appetite before and after each meal (trying to stay between 1 and 4—never getting down to a 0 or up to a 5). Another suggestion is that you also make note of your physical and emotional state before, during, and after each meal as well to help determine the difference between when you’re really hungry and when you’re just emotionally eating. That’s something that I don’t do, usually because I’m making note of what I’ve eaten after the fact (with the exception usually of lunch time—and that’s when I journal for the first time during the day usually).

So I may make a little chart to keep track of my hunger (before and after meals), and my moods. That way I can jot down a color or a number and then later go and put them into the chart—and then I can reflect back on why I felt that way. I know in the mornings I’m usually tired and wanting to crawl back into bed, but I’m at the kitchen table drinking my morning shake. I could be starving by the time lunch comes around (it all depends on whether or not I was able to grab a morning snack or not).

So out the first six challenges, the one that I’m probably struggling with the most right now is the fifth one: seeing the glass as half full. This is the one of trying to keep an positive attitude. It isn’t like I’m a negative person or have an negative attitude all the time, but right now I’d say that is how I’m reacting to the world. I mean if you’ve looked at the current geopolitical landscape we could be a sneeze away from some big international crisis. That’s another reason why I’ve been slow in my job search, because I’m being pessimistic on whether or not the world is even going to be revolving next year. (So yeah–I need to work on this one).

I’m also getting pretty good at making sure that I take my multivitamin and other supplements (such as my allergy medication, additional calcium, an couple of omega-three-six-nines and then some cranberry supplements for the bladder). I’m keeping track by checking off each day, and then on the weekend filling the pill container back up for the week (easier than trying to remember which pills to take or carrying all those bottles around in the backpack).

So in summary—I’ve acknowledged that I’m struggling with trying to keep a more positive outlook on life. I also need to add in additional trackers with my bullet journal (hunger levels and moods), and just try to remember to drink at least two mugs of water during the day at work and then another two bottles of water once I get home (and during my workout) to ensure that I get my water in. I know that I need to try work on these six (some more than others) before going on to other challenges. Once I don’t stress over these challenges, then it will be on to the next block. One nice thing about these types of challenges—they’re at your pace, and you can go as slow as needed to make sure that they’re going to stick.

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Update on the Sleep Challenge, and starting the “Stay off the couch” challenge

So to update on the sleep challenge—I can more or less go to bed at the same time every night (somewhere between ten and ten thirty at night); the waking up is still a work in progress.

I get up at the same time Monday thru Friday for work (I use an alarm, or else I’d never be to work before say eleven in the morning—and that doesn’t work to well in the science field [unless I was already a full tenured professor]), and have just started to set a time for getting up on the weekends.

Alarm clock, I should almost get an old fashion one instead of using my iPhone

My new goal for the sleep challenge (and it will still take me easily two to three months to complete) is to slowly ease back the wakeup time on the weekend until I’m getting up at the same time everyday. Right now I’m allowing myself basically an hour of sleeping in on the weekends before both the alarm goes off and I get out of bed. My plan is to do the “extra hour” sleep in on the weekends for another two or three weekends, and then ease the time back say ten minutes, do that for two or three weekends, and then ease it back another ten minutes until the alarm is set at the same time for every day.

Like I said, this is going to still take me a few months, because I’m pretty sure that there will be one weekend (or part of a weekend), when I decide to turn the alarm off and I’m not sure if I would wake up at that early time without it or not (though it would be a hypothesis to test).

So the next challenge in the 52-week challenge is the “keep off the couch” challenge. Basically what this challenge is aimed at is to ensure that you aren’t sedentary all the time. I already know that the big challenge for me will be the weekends, when I’m not running around all the time like I am at work.

Different ways of getting active (playing sports, walking the dog, walking on the lunch hour, walking to for the errands, or just having fun)

The author of the book gives numerous suggestions for how to be active throughout the day:

Walking (either walking to (and/or) from work, depending on the distance and weather; walking the dog [did this out in Boston, and it did help me lose the weight]; running errands, parking further away from the store; and basically taking a walk at the beginning or end of the day).

Taking an active lunch (something I need to start doing more of).

Stretching at work

If you watch TV, you could do any of the following:

Change loads of laundry between washer & dryer during the commercials, and stand when folding.


Cardio workouts (stationary bike, elliptical trainer)

Floor exercises

Take the stairs at work


Hire yourself (in other words—don’t hire someone to do your chores for you—do them yourself and get some exercise out if it at the same time).

Find something you enjoy doing

Turn off the electronics and do chores manually when possible (shovel the snow, rake the leaves)

Like I said—I’m fairly active during the workday to where I can easily get between 10 to 12,000 steps (and upwards of 15,000 on the really busy days). My issues creep up on the weekend, when I don’t have numerous things schedule to do, or its rainy outside so I can’t go out and do yard work. When I get to doing stuff on the computer, I can lose track of time and it can almost be two or more hours before I realize—hey I haven’t gotten any steps in lately—maybe I should start moving.

One thing that has helped a little during the workweek is having the fitbit alta that sends out reminders ten minutes before the hour if you haven’t reached a certain step goal yet, and how many steps you would need to take to reach it. I deactivated it for the weekends, mainly because I didn’t like it waking me up if I was still sleeping around nine in the morning. But if I’m serious about trying to get my sleep regulated, I may turn it back on and try to march in circles every hour to get some of the steps in.

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