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The year so far and the year ahead... [Jan. 28th, 2007|12:47 pm]
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[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

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!

[User Picture]From: kaths
2007-01-28 02:04 am (UTC)
Learning to swim sounds great!

Which reminds me, I really need to do more walking and swimming :)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-01-28 06:31 am (UTC)
I look forward to walking more, it's a way to finally start exploring my local area. And I really hope to get to the swimming thing. I love playing about in the water, even though I'm blind as a bat :)
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2007-01-28 09:38 am (UTC)
Ooh, the vision thing would be a problem, wouldn't it! I'm not too short sighted, so I can manage. I do have contacts now, and single use ones so it wouldn't matter if I lost them in the pool, but with the hassle of putting them in (and taking them out!) I'd rather just cope in the pool without them.

They should make prescription goggles :)
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[User Picture]From: ghoath
2007-01-29 12:40 pm (UTC)
ooh that's half the fun isn't it :)
two or more people with vision problems in water is funny stuff, especially on a date.

life isn't much better with contacts wither, cos all the water upsets the fit and it all gets blurry anyway.
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[User Picture]From: arcadiagt5
2007-01-28 04:40 am (UTC)
[surprised] Are we the same age? [/surprised]

Turning to more important things, glad to hear you're doing better and planning on doing more. Good luck with the learning to swim!

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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-01-28 06:32 am (UTC)

You old bastard!

And thanks :)

You old bastard!
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[User Picture]From: arcadiagt5
2007-01-28 06:59 am (UTC)
You old bastard!

True. But I'm still a kid on a go-kart at heart: 72KPH down Mount Ainslie today! :)
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[User Picture]From: mortonhall
2007-01-28 04:56 am (UTC)
The thing about flylady is to take very small steps - it is too easy to get overwhelmed by trying to do everything.

Also - the journal is actually really useful but not in the way you are thinking. Ours is considered the book of all world knowledge in our house. This is where you store the information that you often need quickly but don't necessarily have easy access to. Phone numbers of local takeaway places, emergency numbers, details of medications, blood types, emergency fire plans, favourite recipes - all sorts can be kept there. I don't use it to keep track of what I've achieved housework wise, just as a record keeping folder. It's usually a long term project to set up btw.

The most powerful tool flylady gives you is the knowledge that you don't have to keep going until you finish a job - just 15 mins makes one hell of a difference
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-01-28 06:36 am (UTC)
Yep, I could see right at the outset that it would overwhelm me far too easily to go at their rate. Even were I in good health, it'd just be too quick for the way I need to work through things to get into the habit.

I've only gotten as far (reading about the journal thing) as the first step. But I can see where the other info will work well.

And yes, 15 minutes can make a hell of a change. It's amazing how much you can actually get done in 2, if you approach it from the perspective of checking out what needs to be done, and then doing as much as you can in 2 minutes.
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[User Picture]From: ghoath
2007-01-29 12:47 pm (UTC)
i do something similar, however it's not something i've ever given much thought to.
if i feel the urge/have the energy, i will do something small until I've had enough. and then stand back and admire the difference it makes. and then i think about the cumulitive affect of all the little bits and pieces coming together. i noticed this when i was in assignment mode at uni at one point, and absolutely nothing was getting done around the house, i really noticed the difference, and decided that every little piece helps.

i couldn't do it any other way given that i hate making time for cleaning due to my energy levels / what i can be bothered doing at a particular moment. i see these peoeple that make a cleaning time and then sulk about how they have to clean, it's crazy.
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2007-01-28 09:43 am (UTC)
It's soooo hard to only do cleaning for a set amount of time! Usually if I get the bug, I've learnt to let myself just go with it, and not worry about what I 'should' be doing, just do what I've got the urge to do, which is better than getting nothing done. And so filing some receipts can turn into a general clean out of the filing cabinet which leads to a tidying of the area around the filing cabinet and vacuuming up the cobwebs in the corners of the room, and then all the other rooms etc etc.

It's probably opposite to the most efficient way to get things done, but with my energy levels and physical issues, I just let myself go with the urges so at least I've managed to do something!

I have a place for all my info, and it's a software program called InfoSelect. I dump *everything* in there, including all my work notes, and it's easy to find things.
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[User Picture]From: mortonhall
2007-01-28 10:14 am (UTC)
There's nothing wrong with losing yourself in cleaning if you're in the mood! Flylady's 15 mins is just a great way of dealing with a task that's overwhelming otherwise.

Question for you, though, in the event of a power cut how do you access the information on your computer ;)
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2007-01-28 10:23 am (UTC)
Re power cut, hmm, good point. I have the most important stuff in my diary, and a printout of my most commonly used names and addresses, but otherwise I'd just have to wait for the power to come back on! I've only had one power cut in the last 3 years at this place, and rarely before that luckily. When it happens it's just a good opportunity to catch up on some reading.

Last resort I suppose I could install the program on the laptop, but I'd have to ring my sister to access the info as she's using it at the moment.
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[User Picture]From: ascetic_hedony
2007-01-29 08:12 am (UTC)
Might be a good idea to get a print-out (if program allows). My housemate and I used to keep all our contact details on computer.

When we had multiple electrical problems, we couldn't contact our landlord to organise an electrician.
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2007-01-29 08:32 am (UTC)
If I printed out everything that's in there, it'd run to thousands of pages :)

But I'll have a think about whether there's emergency info in there I'd need. I have all the important phone/addresses printed out so it's just whether there's anything else. There's also emergency numbers on the fridge.
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[User Picture]From: cheshirenoir
2007-01-28 08:33 am (UTC)
Good to hear you are dragging hespa across to a swancon!

Hopefully we can do some more upbeat things for east-west relations!

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From: fred_mouse
2007-01-28 12:51 pm (UTC)
so, when in the year are you going to be in Eucla? (not knowing when your birthday is, not even sure if I should know)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-01-30 11:38 am (UTC)
Hoping to be there on my actual birthday, 22nd Sept.
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[User Picture]From: davidcook
2007-01-30 07:25 pm (UTC)

Random comments ...

(gah, LJ lost my previous attempt at this !)

So, kitchen sink - I agree, keeping it clear of stuff (and mostly clean) seems to help quite a bit in me being able to get started on any cleaning tasks (dishes in particular, but also other stuff).

Exercise - good stuff. I've had a sore right knee since last August or so. It's not giving way or constantly sore, just hurts when I squat or do similar weight-bearing moves. For a while, in between being busy and being lazy and avoiding the knee, I wasn't getting to the gym often enough, and was starting to get unfit. In December and this month, though, I've managed to get to the gym fairly regularly, and I'm definitely fitter again, and it seems to be helping the knee a bit.

Finally, I'm quite jealous of you getting to spend so much time with Hespa on your cross-continent drive ... enjoy! :-)
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