too kind?

Croatia-i-don't-live-here-anymore-mycreative

I have a couple thoughts rolling around in my head this week and I thought I would share. It is about to get honest around here.

On the internet you came across the idea of being kind to yourself and I have mentioned it myself here, more precisely on loving yourself. I think the hardest person in the world to have a good and healthy relationship with is potentially yourself. And after some life pondering this week I think I have been too kind to myself. More precisely, I have been using ‘being kind’ to myself as an excuse for inactivity and as a cover for fear and doubt.

Despite working on my habits to eat better and exercise I am obviously not doing a good job because after months of losing a pound gaining a pound I have managed to put weight on (maybe an almost daily gelato isn’t a good idea). I can tell you taking a ‘before’ selfie can be a mind blowing wake up call. Plus despite having an ’employment break’ there are few things I can say that I have achieved in this time; until yesterday I hadn’t worked on my dissertation for about three months, I have done very little in terms of my photography or building a career in it and I have put the bare minimum into learning Italian.

Fear and doubt have lead me into a ‘state of stuck’. I might talk about this more on another day when I have figured it out more.

Kindness comes in not beating myself up about my actions (or lack thereof) in the past (though that is a hard task in itself). Kindness comes in making a change. It is definitely time for a bit of tough love. I feel like I have been so ‘gentle’ with myself I have let myself get away with the proverbial murder. I am like the lazy teenager who wastes their summer holiday playing computer games, eating junk food and sleeping until noon (metaphor here, my computer games are pinterest and twitter). In reality that teenager would have benefitted from some stricter rules, a holiday job and a bit of routine. I don’t have a strict parent looming over me to make sure I get the most out of my life, so I have to do that myself. Another hard task.

My first thought was that I needed a plan, but really sometimes it is just time to do!

This morning I have had an egg and veggie breakfast, once that is settled I will work out, then I will go for a walk with my camera, buy an Italian magazine so I can start doing something in addition to my regular duolingo practise, and perhaps get a few more hundred words down for my dissertation. I’ll make a meal plan for the rest of the week and go to the shop without buying myself a treat (note to self: going to the shop is a very manageable chore and I do not need to treat myself for buying my family healthy and nourishing food).

That is all for now, but what do you think? Have you been too kind to yourself? How do you work on your get up and go!

health and habits | an update

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Perfection is boring. It is all progress.

I am using this as a sort of ‘it’s alright, you are doing okay’ motivation. I am definitely doing better in some areas than others but I feel like I am at least moving forward. That is a good thing.

I thought I’d ‘voice out loud’ what I am learning through my ‘habit building‘:

>>> In both March and April I have given myself five habits to work towards. So far, I only seem capable of doing 2 of these at a higher level. Some things seems to come up as more important. I don’t think this is a bad thing per se. I am still interested in working on all these areas but some are of greater concern to me at the moment. So, what is coming up top: working towards healthy.

>>> In March two of the habits I wanted to work on were getting up earlier and working out. I generally find that by getting up earlier I get more done but working out in the morning gives me that extra boost. However, just getting up earlier didn’t lead to me working out first thing (or at all). The day starts slipping by and then I say to myself “oh too late now”. In April I changed this around to working out before 7.30am for 3 points and before 9am for 1 point (I give myself an hour extra on the weekends). This way I am killing two birds with one stone and feel that I am more motivated to actually work out.

>>> Exercise doesn’t come naturally to me (does it to anyone?), but I feel like a happier person when I exercise regularly. Through April I have tried extra things to motivate myself to exercise. One week I decided I was going to work out everyday and share the youtube videos that I did with my twitter followers to hold myself accountable. Because of this I even worked out on my birthday! Something that never would have happened. In the end I only managed six days (after having walked 20km on my birthday I felt I needed a rest the next day) but six days is more than I had done for ages. From this week I have drawn up a four week exercise calendar mixing a few of my favourite instructors and some of their challenges.

>>> I am drinking more water! In March I got a point for every glass of water I drank but now only get a point for every half a litre. That pushes me to get another glass of water in. I would say that my average water intake has gone from 1 litre a day in March to 1.5 litres a day in April. Sparkling water has been amazing in achieving this. I used to hate the stuff but think I am becoming more Italian because I love it. Why do you need soda when you have sparkling water (not that I actually like soda).

>>> Although being healthy is coming up top I have been totally unsuccessful with ‘all healthy snack days’. I managed six in March and don’t even think I have got that far in April so far (being ‘on holiday’ in London being the hardest part). That said we have stopped buying biscuits and devouring the whole packet in one sitting. I am reducing carb intake (I haven’t had a pizza since returning to Trieste a week ago – that is impressive!). One idea is that the only ‘sweet’ we are allowed is gelato. Honestly, I just don’t think I can give it up. I could potentially eat it everyday but might try to push it down to a few days a week.

>>> On the advice of Cassey from Blogilates, I have (very recently) started keeping a food journal and noting how I feel when eating (physically and emotionally). I used to count calories with a food journal but am not noting calorie intake this time. Just being aware of what you are eating and how it makes you feel is an interesting exercise in itself and I think I might learn some interesting things.

>>> In April I also decided to give up TV as a way to be more productive. Although I haven’t been perfect I have stopped binge watching series and only watched a few episodes of my favourite shows. Cutting out TV in your life has a way of making time for more important and interesting things. I just need to stop filling it with mindless internet time now!

>>> I also added working on my dissertation this month. Sadly that and practising Italian have not made much progress. That said there are nine days left of this month and there is always room for improvement.

I know some other people are out there working on being kind to their bodies. I’ve found Anna’s thoughts on obsession vs dedication in working out very motivating, especially since I am definitely someone who leans towards lazy) and Rosie’s health and fitness update series.

Also I am sharing some simple recipes on Instagram, they are amongst the hashtag mycreativeeats.

I’m feeling motivated so would love to hear some of your tips and advice and recipes etc of how you keep healthy and happy and inspired to carry on ‘doing good’.

(quote from a Jillian Michaels work out)

building better habits

building better habits like I love myself

I’ve been thinking of how I behave day to day and how I can go about building better habits so that I eat, move and act like I love myself.

It is very easy for me to be lazy and procrastinate and not get the things done that I want (or need) to get done. Being currently job free for the most part (I don’t think four hours a week of looking after and teaching kids English counts) means that my days have become progressively more amorphous. I am not a very disciplined person and the lack of structure that I have always hated seems to have been, in hindsight, at least a little bit useful. So instead of using all my free time wisely I have not touched my dissertation, put on weight (!!!), and spent a many hour on pinterest. I go through good patches but generally I am pretty terrible. But I am not going to be mean to myself because that is likely to lead to only more ‘bad’ behaviour. Instead I am going to make a plan.

The last week Tim and I started using a new app called Chorma. It is a household chore app which you share with other people in your household. You create a list of chores that need to be done, allocate points and away you go. We have decided that whoever gets the most points every two weeks gets to pay for date night. I’ve found the accountability to someone else of seeing what I get up to everyday, the slight competitive-ness, the reminders and the reward mean that I don’t leave sweeping the floors until tomorrow. (It is pretty good you should check it out if you share chores with others. I imagine this would have saved a lot of heartache over the years living with friends.)

So how do I bring these factors into creating better habits? Well until the developers of Chorma come up with a habit app I have made a little chart inspired by Creature Comforts. I have written the four main habits that I want to work on and allocated points for levels of achievement (so for example working out for under  30 minutes gets me 2 points and for more than 30 minutes gets me 3 points, etc). I am sticking it up in the kitchen so I see it everyday.

I’m keeping it simple and I am hoping this will work. I think I will post an update here on how I am doing regularly so I am accountable.

building better habits

Now I am just thinking of the ‘reward’ system. It is quite a tough one as I normally reward myself with food (oh oh). I also only make a little bit extra each week so can’t go buy myself a spa weekend every month. That said, let’s be honest if I really want a magazine I am going to buy it (just love my Kinfolk and Cereal too much). That said I have been surprisingly good with money lately by sticking to a modest budget every week for household spending and not really buying things for myself that I normally wouldn’t have hesitated to buy. I thought this month I might add up my points (I am hoping if I am good I should get between 300 and 400 points), knock off the last digit and spend that amount at the antiques market or maybe an antiques shop if I can find something in the budget. Some research suggests that it doesn’t matter what the reward is as long as you ‘get something’. Let’s hope that is true for me!

building better habits - reward

I’ve made a printable to share with you, with one for March and some blank ones with options for both four or five blocks for habits. Let me know if you find it useful or if you have suggestions for changes.

How do you reward yourself when you achieve something? 

p.s. I’ve linked to some useful articles/posts on creating habits before if you are interested.