I’m starting this blog as a way of documenting my journey, as blogs often begin. This year, 2017, I graduated, and became somewhat of a “real adult.” Now that I have the time and the money of an “adult,” I can really dedicate myself to a year of growth, self-care, self-development, and to some extent, healing from the stress and strife of being a student.
Rewind a bit, to late December 2016: I decided 2017 was going to be my year and started thinking about the things I wanted to change and improve, the wishful thinking I’d had as a student, the hobbies I wanted to pursue, and just generally the person I wanted to become. While a large part of these goals and wishes were cerebral things, the realization of those goals is easier with a healthy body and spirit, so I decided to incorporate some physical and health goals, as well. To maximize my chances of success, and also keep myself from going bat-shit crazy trying to maintain a whole bunch of new habits all at once, I decided to dedicate myself to month-long challenges. 30 day sprints of improvement.
My life as a “real adult” didn’t technically start until I legitimately finished my thesis, which I was still working on in January. So I picked a physical goal, something that would be easy to fit into time with my family: walking 10,000 steps a day. So far, this is the only challenge that I’ve let leak over into more than 30 days; in fact, I specifically wanted to set it up to be 10,000 steps for 100 days, because that’s 1,000,000 steps, and I think that there’s something beautiful about that. Rain or shine, cold or frigid, during the whole month of January I made my step goal. There was one day that the temperature was -24°F and I worried about my health and sanity (plus, my mom didn’t let me go outside), and I did jumping jacks and ran around the garage to get my steps.
This goal gave me the opportunity to connect with my family—sometimes they’d join me on my walks. I appreciated the time of reflection, as well, and the quiet moments I had alone, in the beautiful mountains of northern Utah. I listened to podcasts, listened to music, and listened to the snow fall over the course of those January days.
Towards the end of January, I finished my thesis and I officially started my job. We had four days of orientation bootcamp in Maine, and I got my steps through all those days! Today is day 66, and this goal is still going strong.
I knew January would be a tough month to try any dietary changes, but I still wanted to lay the foundation down strong for my healthy body, healthy mind, healthy spirit—in that order! I waffled a little bit on whether or not I was ready to embark on a Whole30, but some of the Whole30 resources said something about how there’s never a good time to start a Whole30, so I took the plunge.
The actual meal planning and prepping part of this challenge went fairly well. It took some energy, but most of the time I was able to plan and prep on Sunday or Monday, and have enough food for the week. The difficult part was the mood stuff—the first week or two was really brutal. I was cranky, irritable, annoying, and completely not myself. Once I hit the midway mark, though, it was like sailing on butter. Is that a metaphor? I’m making it a metaphor. My resting heart rate dropped from an average of 63 in January to an average of 56 in February, hovering between 53 and 54 for the last few days of the month. I planned on doing a very strict reintroduction, following the plan, but then I decided I didn’t want to continue eating dairy, grains, or legumes, and I didn’t want to introduce them explicitly into my diet. I slipped into a Whole30ish with some exceptions: take-out Chinese food with my partner, trying beans in my Chipotle salad, and today, a few carrot cake flavored Hershey’s kisses. For the most part, though, eating like garbage made me feel like garbage, so I’ll continue with a Whole30-like template, just being less strict about the added sugar. Bacon and deli meats can’t possibly be that bad.
The first of March caught me a little by surprised. I had been so focused on my Whole30 and what came next that I didn’t really think about what I was planning for my next 30 days. After a quick brainstorming session with some coworkers, I settled on not snoozing as my challenge. A few days into March, though my mood plummeted after laying in bed for a mere fifteen minutes. It wasn’t good enough—even though a week prior I had been snoozing or browsing the web in bed for over half an hour. I realized I was beating myself up about it, and decided that March’s challenge would be unofficial, focused on self-care through a variety of activities. I started journaling, writing things that I was grateful for, and pampering myself with positive self-talk, mindfulness, and a couple of extra long, scalding hot showers. Today, I’m feeling back to my old self, and more committed to this year of self-care than I was even just a week ago.
That leads me right into this blog. I decided to take the journaling a step further, and a bit more robust: a blog. I’ve been wanting to write about knitting, and today I realized that creating a wiki or some kind of online resource would be really good for me. I want to also document the knowledge of other hobbies and skills I want to develop, like programming, biking and other fitness things, or even crochet if I decide to pick that up. I think this blog can be a great way for me to see all the things that I’m good at, all the things there are to appreciate in my life, and all the ways that I’ve grown and can continue to grow. So here we are.
I think the most important aspect of this is maintaining a forgiving, healthy attitude about this. I know that I can get obsessive about streaks and numbers and measurable progress, so March is dedicated to nebulous, gentle growth. A breath of fresh air before jumping into another challenge in April.
Future Months and Goal Ideas
So far, the monthly challenges have been quite physical in nature—walking and eating right. I’ve set some yearly goals, and I think the next monthly challenge should tie into those. I’ll list them here for reference, in no particular order other than the way I have them written in my goal journal:
- make an iPhone app
- read at least 12 books
- knit a sweater
- run a half marathon
- 10,000 steps for the 1st 100 days
- grow an emergency fund of 3 months spending
Monthly challenges that pertain to these:
- Saving challenge/shopping ban
- Half marathon training
- Completing the iTunes U courses on Swift
- Daily 30 min of reading
Other monthly challenges that I’ve considered:
- Duolingo every day
- Decluttering challenge
I’ll keep brainstorming, but those should keep me busy for oh, the next six months.
Final thoughts about this blog
Over the course of this month, I’d like to keep up some inertia on adding tools and methods for achieving my goals, documentation about my various projects, knitting, decluttering, apartment decorating, organization, art, photography, whatever direction my fickle heart pulls me. I’m excited, and I hope that excitement sticks around. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it does.