OK people, I feel it is time to invest bursts of energy in new places in TLYW. As you know, we have recently concentrated on (1) dating, because it is fun and I need adult company, and (2) Chinese because I feel like I don’t have a choice, having boarded what seems to be an unstoppable train of language study.
Well, finally it seems like things on both those fronts are starting to fall into place. (1) Marcel. Oh please oh please oh please let this last for a few months at least. It is enjoyable. It is convenient. It is meeting my needs, modest as they are. Because we only see each other once a week and because I have stopped going out all the time, I now have a magnificent SIX evenings each week to do what I like with. Consequently: (2) I am on top of Chinese. I am up to speed. Nothing can reverse the fact that I haven’t always made it my top priority during the last year, however I am right on top of the homework that’s required in my new class. It seems like in addition to attending school, I need to do two extended sessions of homework each week and I can manage that if I’m disciplined with my time, now that I actually have some time to be disciplined with.
Oh yeah, and my house is clean. Couldn’t say that back in 2010 when I started this blog.
This is all very good and I really notice that all the components of TLYW have a knock-on effect on each other. Bad habits breed more bad habits and good habits breed more good ones. Example: when the house is tidy, like for instance because I have maniacally cleaned up because of Marcel coming over, it is then about ten times easier to make yourself sit down and do homework because the table is already clear and you know where all your books and flash cards are. When everything is a mess, doing homework is much harder and less pleasant than just mentally switching off and spending the whole evening playing World of Warcraft because Blizzard doesn’t mind if your desk is full of clutter and they will keep Azeroth tidy for you.
OK, so now I’m on top of some things that matter, I can turn my attention to a cluster of TLYW habits that have been neglected but which all connect to and facilitate each other.
- Food. I am not eating much at all but I am not losing weight, in fact I might have put a couple of pounds back on. Why? It is because I am not planning what I eat. I eat as little as possible but because I don’t plan ahead, when I feel hungry I will just eat whatever I can find in the kitchen. The results are never the sort of thing you would eat if you were seriously trying to lose weight. Yesterday I ate: 2 packs of ramen noodles, probably 3 pieces of toast (1 with cheese, 2 with jam), some chocolate, some ice cream and several cups of coffee with a lot of milk in it. I have also found that if I go to the supermarket and buy random vegetables, I don’t use them. I leave them in the fridge and eat toast again. The resulting action I am going to take is Meal Planning. Needs to happen asap. I need to plan out a whole week’s worth of calorie-controlled, healthy menus, then shop for them, and then eat on a schedule.
- Finance. So, a knock-on effect of meal planning, apart from better health, is that it has a beneficial effect on your finances and helps you to think about what you are spending. I have been so lazy and irresponsible about household finances but it doesn’t have to be a horrible experience, being thrifty. Meal planning will help a lot with that, as it has in the past. Failing to plan your meals can be a very expensive way to eat, with a lot of wastage and over-priced impulse purchases.
- Smoking. I need to quit smoking again, because I am a twit. I can’t remember why I started smoking again, probably not long after I stopped running. It is becoming clear to me that I have an addictive personality. I run or else I smoke. Apparently one of these two things is destined to be a feature of my life. Running is something I can do if I am willing to spend time really thinking about it and smoking is something I can do without thinking about it at all. Anyway, I now know from previous experience that unhooking myself from tobacco is not difficult, it is just mildly unpleasant. Today is Tuesday and since I threw away my few remaining Marlboros this morning, I should be over any niggling withdrawal symptoms by the end of Friday. No big deal. I’m only even telling you about it so as to hold myself accountable. Doing this will have two or three knock-on effects in addition to instantly relieving my persistent cough, as follows.
- Exercise. I really miss running! OK, I don’t miss sweating and having hurting legs and the endurance aspect of it where you push yourself for one more minute, then another minute. But I do miss the sense of achievement and the nice muscles I was building up. So here”s the plan. I quit smoking again as of today, the 29th of January. I am going to do as much brisk walking as possible throughout February to give my lungs a chance to clear out and then on 1 March I’m going to get back in Todd Lange’s 5k-101 programme that served me so well in 2011.
- Finance again. I’m sure one of the reasons I was avoiding doing a budget was because I was too embarrassed to look at what I actually do with my money.
- Teeth. I shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed when I visit my dentist. Having better oral health is easy when you cut out tobacco and refined sugar.
Huh, it occurs to me that I could have expressed most of that in a simple chart. Here it is.
I know this works because it describes what I actually did in 2011, it worked really well and I enjoyed it a lot, it only started falling apart when I met Klaus and stopped going out running all the time. The fact is, I had set up a regime for myself that was very Spartan and gruelling with set amounts of time committed throughout the week. Eg, I had to go to bed early on Saturday nights because I had a commitment to go running with my friend every Sunday morning. This proved to be a sustainable regime right up until I found I had things that I wanted to do with my Saturday nights one hell of a lot more than going to bed at ten o’clock.
This is starting to amount to a breakthrough realisation for me. I missed tons of Chinese school when I used to go on Saturday mornings. Why? Because what I felt I should do (get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday feeling bright and chipper) and what I wanted to do (go out on Friday night, get wasted, possibly stay out all night) were profoundly incompatible with each other. I am doing much better at Chinese school now I have admitted this to myself and stopped being in the Saturday morning class.
So I think I need to treat exercise and running in the same way. The regime I had before was brilliant at making me into a runner but was totally incompatible with my having a social life. So. This time around we will go for something more realistic.
I am never again signing up for anything that means I have to get out of bed early and be in peak physical and mental condition on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Of course I can run on the weekends but I’m not going to promise myself or anyone else that it’s going to happen at a certain time first thing in the morning every single Sunday because it’s not realistic and it leads to all-or-nothing situations where I’m either there religiously or else not doing it at all. Realistic, achievable goals!
Wow, that was a long post, wasn’t it.
I am listening to Fit to Fat to Fit on audio book for inspiration. I’ll post a review if it’s any good.
There will be Meal Planning posts soon. Brace yourselves for recipes!