The pursuit of healthiness

The start of December’s month long challenge came out of nowhere really. I had fallen off the exercise wagon in a big way this year. The usual excuses. I had a day job. Attended classes in the evenings. And spent most weekends working on group assignments. I know there are people who do more than this in their week and still manage to fit in exercise. But I am not them.

I finished exams in early November. Tried to jump back into an exercise regime. I did 3 classes that week. But then exhaustion took over and that was that. For the entire month of November I did 5 classes. Mostly Pilates and Yoga as I am attempting to get the foundation built.

Then on 30thNovember the 10 000 step challenge came to me in a flash. I needed another goal that was easy to track and easy enough to implement. But with this challenge, so far, came a number of other benefits. For the past two nights my sleep has already improved from a quality perspective. I used to wake up often during the night. But now feel like I am getting a much deeper sleep. My abdomen feels like its relaxing. I naturally carry a lot of tension in my stomach area and I can already feel like I am breathing a lot easier. I have also added Pilates to the mix as well. I am trying to build a good functional base from which to do other exercise. I did a class on Monday and one today.

The amazing thing about Pilates. You are forced to breathe deeply. Something we generally don’t do in the course of our everyday lives. Right now my legs feel fatigued. I can feel every single big muscle in them saying HELLO! But I know that’s not a bad thing. It means the muscles are waking up and are really working.

I really need to focus on getting more coverage during the course of the day. This house circling is taking things to a whole new level of crazy! The pursuit of health is worth it though!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

December Challenge 2015

Having finished November’s Nablopomo Challenge I thought that I should keep the momentum going.

So, for December, the challenge is to do 10000 steps a day for the entire month! Am I up for this? Who knows but it’s already Day 2!

Day 1 was easy enough as I had a particularly active day. But I was about 3000 steps short of the daily target. So what did I do? I did a circuit inside and outside my house. If anyone was watching me, they would have thought I was crazy.  But I was determined to achieve the target on Day 1. It surely couldn’t be a viable start if I didn’t hit 10000 on Day 1.

And Day 2 was even more challenging. I got home and had a 6000 step deficit. No problem! I did my crazy house circling thing until I hit that magic number.

I realised two things. Focusing on hitting the number distracted me from what I was doing. Walking is not my favourite mode of exercise but I know it’s a good base. By focusing on the pedometer it made it feel less arduous.

The second thing I learnt is that you can squeeze in extra steps without noticing. I did funny little double back steps just to increase the “length” of my circuit. Whenever I got out of my car I sort of circled it. Instead of going directly to the door behind me to take stufo out of my car, I took the long way around the car to get to the spot.

Yes. It’s seems crazy but I think a healthy dose of crazy is going to help me finish this month’s challenge.

 

5 things I learnt from Novembers Nablopomo

So, it’s 1 December.  I have just finished the month long Nablopomo Challenge.  Here’s 5 things I learnt from the experience.

  1. Just Start

You cannot achieve anything unless you start. Sometimes it takes a few “starts” but it’s the most important thing to keep doing.  Keep starting.  But don’t forget to also finish something!

  1. If you fail to plan you don’t have to plan to fail, permanently

I had always read about Nanowrimo and the other challenges out there. But I had always talked myself out of it.  No time. Will not keep up the challenge. I need to plan for it. This time around I just signed up. Found the page of prompts. And followed that plan mostly. So don’t let the lack of your own plan stop you from starting. Sometimes you need to take an existing plan and use it. Until such time you build the habit or discipline for yourself.

  1. Don’t do it for others, do it for yourself.

My intention for this challenge was to get into the habit of writing daily. Usually I would start off with grand plans. How many followers can I attract? How will I build traffic? How will I publicise my content on so many platforms etc? What will my content be focused on? All those thoughts had stopped me from starting previously. If I couldn’t get a blog platform with thousands of followers – was it worth doing it? But the thing is, if I couldn’t even bring myself to commit to writing.  Getting followers or blog traffic wouldn’t really matter.  Writing in itself is a personal journey or exercise. If you doing it for followers and site traffic to start with. You are sunk!

Hello out there

Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?

As you can see. There was a flurry of followers in the beginning. And then. There was just me and my writing!

 

  1. Let go and let flow

Sometimes writers block hits you.  Just as in life there are obstacles, setbacks or challenges. Sometimes holding onto the obstacle slows you down or stops you completely.  Sometimes you just have to just redirect with the obstacle, go with its flow or go in the direction it takes you.  Till such time you get your own mojo back and can then get back on your own course.  But the thing is, don’t let it stop you. The first writer’s block I hit was in week 1. I would have never made it to the end if I had stopped then.

  1. Eating the elephant

Sometimes a goal can seem like an overwhelming thing to be achieved. But the only way to achieve it is to get through the incremental steps it takes to get there that is, eating the elephant one bite at a time.  This writing challenge, at the outset, seemed like a huge task. What? Writing every day for a whole month?  I could easily have gotten caught up in my head. Instead of focusing on the while month that was ahead. I just focused on the goal for that day. That one blog post for that day. It seemed less overwhelming and more achievable to meet the day’s goal. And before I knew it, November was done and dusted and a blog post was done every day of the working week!

And the bonus. The achievement of a goal leads to the setting of other goals.  Now, onto my next challenge for December!

The final post for November Nablopomo 2015

The end of November and the Nablopomo Challenge. I have posted for 5 days of the week for the entire 4 weeks of November. A part of me is feeling pretty meh about it right now. Although I know its an accomplishment to have done what I committed to do. But now I am thinking, what’s next? Will I continue this blog thing or will it fade into oblivion? I guess only time will tell. But, let me not get side-tracked and use today’s final prompt to write this post.

What do you like to do to celebrate an accomplishment?

I usually like to go out for a nice celebratory meal with someone or someones who appreciates the achievement. Some nice food. Great company and good wine. But in this instance, as this is a writing related achievement. I shall be celebrating with the purchase of a book.

Many years ago, I got Dr Oliver Sack’s book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat as a gift. I thought it an interesting gift at the time. Mostly because I wondered how the gift giver would even know what to buy me. How do you buy someone a book if you don’t know their tastes?

I was too young to appreciate the opportunity. I say opportunity because when someone buys you something they enjoyed reading, it gives you a chance to learn more about them. And you also get to expand your mind beyond your own comfort zone of reading material. So, at the time I was only marginally interested but never really read it with any amount of gusto.

I guess it goes back to that Buddhist/Zen (not sure who said it best) saying that When the Student is Ready, the Teacher will appear. At the time this student had no sense of appreciation for the profound wisdom to be found in Dr Sacks’ writing. And as if by some message from somewhere. A blog I subscribe to has brought the writings of Dr Sacks’ back into my life. As if sent by special messenger.

So the celebratory gift, instead of a dinner out, will be a Dr Sacks’ book. I am deciding between Gratitude and On The Move.

How do you like celebrating an achievement? Leave me a note in the comments.

The best thing I’ve bought

There are so many things I have purchased which have made a really huge impact on my life.  This year, for example, I bought my first “new” car.  Well, it was a 2014 model but still. It had new car smell and drives like a dream. It was not my first car purchase.  But my first car bought quite close to the time it was manufactured.

If I were to classify something as the best purchase I ever made.  Then, it has to be my first air ticket to go travelling abroad. I know that travel is not everyone’s thing. But it’s my thing.  And it’s one of THE best things I have ever invested in.

It was not only my first time to go abroad.  It was my first time to step foot on an aeroplane. I was 25 and fully aware and appreciative of what it took to get me there.  I had finally decided to go and visit a friend in Holland.  So I was fortunate to have accommodation. Which meant I had to just save for my ticket and spending money. At the time I had worked a full time day job. And I took on a weekend job as well to make some extra cash to get me there. My high school bestie, also a first timer out of the country, decided to join me on the trip.

It was exciting times shopping for airline tickets. Then applying for the Schengen Visa.  Finding the best way to exchange money. All first time experiences that you really cannot put a price tag on.  Departure day finally arrived. We said our goodbyes to our families and got on the plane. Trying hard to look as if we did this all the time.  But I swear there were flashing neon signs on our foreheads.  Although I think it was more that our excitement could not be contained.

The very friendly flight attendant chatted to us. Asking us where we were off to. Of course it didn’t take long for us to blurt out our status as first time travelers.  He left us and we continued our own chattering.  A few minutes later he returns and says, “Follow me”. We complied of course. We all watched Passenger 57. We didn’t want any trouble with an air marshal. Not that there were any but how were we to know being first time travelers and all. Instead we were in for a treat. We got taken to the flight deck to meet the captain and view the flight deck. Of course this was way before this type of activity was banned on flights. There were still smoking sections on planes at that time!

It was an exciting start to a memorable trip. The captain allowed us to sit in the jump seats as the plane landed in Johannesburg for our stopover before heading to Schiphol airport.  It was something else. I wondered how many other people were fortunate to have this type of experience on their very first time on a plane. Magical. The bar for overseas travel had been set very high from that very first time.

For me, travel is not only about the destination you get to.  I love the whole experience. Boarding a plane. Chatting to the staff. I am THAT chatty passenger that you might HATE sitting next to. Although I have improved with age. I have learnt to read my fellow passengers. So, I can sit quietly and read a book or watch mindless TV. But I prefer chatting. I am of the opinion that we should at least be courteous to the person who might have to put our oxygen mask on our faces, heaven forbid.  So my chatting is purely risk management!

There are many articles written about the benefit of travelling. New experiences. Exploring different cultures. Making new friends. Learning about yourself outside of your comfort zones. Expanding your mind and your definition of “The World”.  It is indeed one of the best things you can buy in life. If it’s your thing. But I would challenge you to only decide that it’s not your thing, after you’ve traveled abroad.

Who is the master chef in my family?

Hands down, my Mom is the best cook in our family. And, unfortunately, there is no heir apparent.

Ours is a foodie family. Every occasion or non-occasion is an occasion to enjoy some good grub. Occasions are even created just so that we can gather and decide on a menu of some sorts. My parents were a great combination. Mom was a great cook. And Dad was a gastronome/gourmand of note. This left us kids to fall somewhere between the two. Unfortunately, none of us followed in the footsteps of Mom. Perfecting the making part of the food. Instead, we followed Dad. Perfecting the eating part of food.

Growing up our house was not short of recipe books. With Dad being the biggest shopper for recipe books. Everything from local South African cuisine to a collection of what looked like encyclopaedias from the Cordon Bleu Cooking School. (http://www.cordonbleu.edu/). Mom seldom followed a recipe though. Assessing the basics of the recipe, she always tweaked it here and there. Which made it difficult for anyone else to replicate what she made.

We had many family gatherings and there was never a shortage of food. Every kind of starter, main course, side dish and dessert you could possibly timagine. The result is that us kids grew up with adventurous palates. Some of us more than the others. Me to be precise. Dad would eat and try any cuisine at least once. And I inherited this from him. For all her culinary expertise, Mom is a simple eater. Her favourite meal of the day is breakfast. And her best and quickest meal is toast with marmalade. The brain just boggles.

I have picked up a thing or two. Mom ran a catering company for a while and everyone got roped in to help. I have learnt a few improvisational things in the kitchen. Although cooking is not my thing. I prefer baking. I can make custard from scratch as in from egg yolks and not custard powder. But I especially paid attention to learning to make some of my favourites which includes lasagne with spinach pasta and pastry wrapped lamb chops. These unfortunately have no recipe but instead the technique has been passed on from one generation to the next. Cooking taught through intuition, touch, sight and taste.

Who is the best cook I  your family?

Generalist vs specialist

Day 25 of the November Nablopomo 2015 chalkenge and still going strong. Today’s prompt asks, “Do you think it’s better to be a recognized expert for one thing, or known to be really good at lots of things?”

When I was younger I thought that it would be better to be really good at lots of things. Or know lots of different things. I favoured a generalist approach to learning lots of things. I also needed lots of things to keep my mind stimulated. Perhaps it was superficial thinking ability. Or Goldfish Syndrome. But I guess when you are younger there are so many things that interest you. And your sense of time at that point is that it’s infinite in terms of what you can learn and do and be. And because when you’re young, everything is new and exciting.

As you get older I guess you develop an appreciation of time. You would like to still be interested in everything but of course, there is too little time. You realise that you haven’t learnt all that there possibly is to learn about everything and you have an increasing awareness that there is a finite supply of time.

So, as much as I do have an interest in most things. I have chosen to focus on something which kind of allows me to have a wide interest. The field of branding is fascinating from this perspective. It encompasses everything from behavioural psychology through to having an understanding of the impact of colour. The added spin-off is that brand strategy allows you to then have multiple interests because you need to understand as much about the human condition as possible. So I give expression to my generalist inclination through my chosen area of specialisation! Pretty nifty.

At this point in life I appreciate the level of practice it takes to achieve mastery in any given field. And while I still do like knowing a lot of different things my preference now is to achieve mastery and be an expert in one particular thing.