|The year so far and the year ahead...
||[Jan. 28th, 2007|12:47 pm]
I made some solid decisions a few weeks back, one of which was to start exercising. The problem with the mystery illness is that it's been knocking seven shades of hell out of me, I never know when I'm going to be physically knackered, mentally exhausted, in pain, etc.
But as mentioned here, recently Shaz got genuinely upset about it for the first time, which got me angry and therefore motivated. The doctors hadn't worked out what was happening yet (General Physician visit next week, woohoo!) I was getting worse, and there wasn't anything forthcoming about what to do in the meantime.
Now, I don't like New Year's resolutions. For me, if I make my mind up to start something then that's the best time to start it. Not in a week, not at a particular time of year, but now. What is it with all these arseholes who say they'll make a particular big change their New Year's resolution, when New Year's is months off? Just friggin' start! If it's worth starting, why put it off?
What was fortunate was the time of year when I'd made the decision. Lots of people were putting up links to help with changes to lives. Now given that I want to be the most anally over-organised person on the planet, but lack the discipline, the thing I had to watch was over-doing it. There were so many different things I could do to organise my life and if I wasn't careful, I'd try to do 15 at once, burn out after a week, and stop. I've gotten better at approaching things a little more sensibly these days so I thought about the things I most needed/wanted to deal with.
One was my deteriorating condition. I may not be able to fix any of the concentration problems, but if I could stabilise or even just slow down the physical decline with exercise, then it would be worth it. If nothing else, I was hoping to build up my stamina a little. The other was to try and get back into the swing of things a little, get some good habits happening in relation to everyday life. It was becoming so everything was falling behind, I wasn't doing any of my basic jobs, so I was pretty unhappy with myself in that regard.
Some links posted up by a few of you have made a big difference. The two immediately most important for me were Joe's Goals and Cool Running, with Fly Lady coming a close third.
Cool Running was good. It's a small sensible routine meant to help you go from nothing to eventually doing 5km marathons. Back when I was droving, I used to be able to enter 20km runathons without needing to train - the job kept me that fit. While I didn't expect to get back to that level, even running 5km would be a massive improvement on my fitness in recent years, let alone the last nine months. Most of the weakness and deterioration was in my legs, which meant that getting around was becoming harder and harder, so that was something I wanted to work on.
So, on the 5th of Jan I started on the very first section, and have promptly stayed there. I try to do the jog/walk thing every second day, and walk for 30-60min every other day. In total I've missed 6 days to date, but most were walk days, so I'm pretty pleased. I'm seeing gradual improvement, I'm getting further and further by increments over the same length of time. So that's good. The bad side is, at the moment it still wipes me out for a huge chunk of the day, leaves me physically and mentally drained enough that I spend a large portion of the day recovering. But the overall improvement to my fitness is noticable, and at this point, that's more important than almost any other consideration.
The Fly Lady stuff is also important. I was never great at housework, mainly because I'm too picky - I'll spend ages on something getting it perfect - so the amount I did was limited. In recent years my house-husband ways had declined a bit, and since April last year they'd vanished pretty much completely. It was something I'd been disliking about myself before I got crook, post-sickness it was something I was hating about myself, so I wanted to try to get back to being useful around the home, even if only in small ways.
There are chunks of the Fly Lady advice that don't work for me because of the way I live and deal with things. Leaving notes won't work, I'll fail to see them within a day or two. Keeping a journal style thing won't work, I won't fill it in or look at it. Getting fully dressed in the morning, including shoes, won't work with me because I seldom wear shoes, even when I jog. But the basic cleaning strategy is sound and, like the jogging, broken down into sensible, bite-sized pieces.
The first bit of advice, clean your sink, seems silly. But you know, it actually works. Cleaning that sink everyday means that I have a small, quick easy to achieve job I can do and feel some pride in. The hotspot thing is working okay, cleaning in two minute bites can be surprisingly effective. That said, I'm still conquering hotspots. As with the jogging, I'm taking it all very slowly. If I tried to work to their timeline, there would be too much chance I'd have a couple of bad days in a row at the wrong point, and it'd blow the lot out of the water. I've missed cleaning the sink twice since I started. I've missed about half the hotspots, partially due to forgetfulness and exhaustion from the jogging. So I'll spend a bit more time getting hotspots down before I move to the next stage.
Joe's Goals are the glue that holds all this together and makes it all do-able, at least for me. It's a simple online database with a point system that you attribute to various goals. You can have positive and negative goals, so finding that mix of reward and punishment is a delicate balance - you don't want to go overboard on creating negative goals, because then the whole thing just becomes an exercise in frustration, you don't want to go nuts with the positive goals, because then it's too easy to do well and become complacent.
A few examples of what I've got on Joe's Goals.
Negative goals include: Not working on shop or financial stuff (-4); Not checking shop email (-3); Not spending time with mum (-3); Not replying to emails (-2).
I check all the negatives for the next few days in advance. That way I have a clear visual guide to the things I'm trying to get away from or deal with right in front of me when I start the day, and rather than having to check them when I haven't done them, I get to delete them when I have. Which feels much better and is much easier :)
Positive goals (there are a lot of these because I know on any given day I can only manage a couple) include: Sorting (+5) - a big job and one I seldom have the energy to get to; Watching a videotape (+5) - to decide whether to keep it, convert it, throw it out or look for the DVD (remember, I have over 900 tapes!); being creative (+5) - could be writing, art, Skeletor Hordak if I have to do a lot of work on the panels... given how little I've done since April, any day I'm creative is a real achievement; doing something with/for Sharon (+3); Exercise (+2) - I get a single check for a walk, a double for a jog; Visualisation (+3); Posting a 100 Days (+2); Hotspot, sink, watering (+1) - these are small things I should be doing anyway, hence the low points. Skeletor Hordak posts also only get 1 point - they aren't as important to spend time on as a bunch of other stuff, but they should be quick and easy to do.
On one hand, the exercise is taking out a lot of the things I could be achieving, it really does leave me drained physically and mentally. On the other hand, there is an improvement at least physically, and I'm now getting the buzz from having exercised and starting to feel the drive to do it every day, which is a good thing. Even on days when I'm in agony, I still go for a walk. Certainly far better for me that sitting around. The days I've missed have been days following a great physical strain (i.e. driving back from Parkes in 38 degree heat) where I knew further exerting myself was only going to be counter-productive in the long run. When I've missed a day, I've made sure that the next day I went jogging.
So yes, all up I'm feeling happier.
Oh I'm still crap on the answering email front, I've only done one visualisation since I started this thing, and I've slowed to a crawl on 100 Days, but overall I'm doing well. I'm getting housework done, getting exercise done, I'm actually achieving far more most individual days now than I was over a week previously - that it's still not very much shows how far down I had sunk into poor health, habits and mindset. But I'm slowly improving, getting more done.
I spent a few days figuring out the points and making sure that they made sense given the task in relation to what little I can usually manage. As I said, finding that balance between negatives and positives is important - too much of any one can disrupt the whole process.
That's the other advantage of using Joe's Goals. You can see how you're doing, and there's always that little internal push to add another positive check or remove another negative. Plus when you have a really crap day, you can look back and be reminded that you also have it in you to do a lot better. It's like the people who are on a diet, and then they have a bad day where they go nuts and eat everything - you're going to have days where that happens, the important thing is not to say "Oh well, that's it, I've stuffed it" and give up. The important thing is to remember that you also have good days, that whatever state you're in took more than one day to reach, and it's going to take more than one day to get out of. So the next day you start over, keep going.
The big danger point for me will be my visit to Melbourne. I'll stop and then have to restart a bunch of my good habits once I get back... Though I do plan on keeping to my exercise regime for most days, wherever I am and in whatever form works best.
It's a big year ahead for me. Given I don't know what my health will be like in 12 months (this time last year I had absolutely no reason to expect any drastic change, barring accidents) I've made plans. Big plans, at least for me.
My Nullarbor trip to Swancon is one of them. It's become a big plan because it's likely to be a much more physically demanding trip than any of the previous ones, and depending on how I cope, and my future health, it may be my last crossing in the Belwood. I'll be travelling with Hespa, so I'll get quality time with her, and it means I get to watch yet another beautiful woman drive my car, something I never get tired of. I'm planning on staying in and exploring a couple of places I haven't before... so all up I'm looking forward to it.
I'm also looking forward to better connecting with and getting to know a bunch of people. There are a few people I've met or rediscovered in the last year or two that I've never gotten the chance to know better, and dammit, I want to! So there are a few people other than Hespa I'm hoping to spend a bit more time around. Sick to death of finding the time to spend on people of value.
If my exercising continues okay, and I get beyond the first stage and second stages, I'm looking at learning to swim. Always meant to learn, and if I do, it'll give me another set of exercises I can be doing.
There are other plans, but my other major one is for my birthday. This year I turn the big four-oh. I'm planning on celebrating with my friends, so I'll be having a do here in Canberra. And I'll be travelling to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, so I can see most of the people I would otherwise have missed. And I'm planning on being in Eucla itself for my actual birthday. I don't know yet whether I'll be catching the bus (not sure they run any more), driving or what, but Eucla for my 40th is going to happen. Actually I'd like to spend a week or two there, but doubt we can afford that. As it is I won't be going to Natcon, because there's no way I could afford to do that, get to a wedding in Melbourne in August, and do my birthday thingy.
Now to see what else the universe throws my way. At the moment, I'm up for anything!