Tag Archives: #19for2019

19 for 2019: week 23 update

Week of 3 June: Sunday 9 June 2019

My work has been incredibly busy the last month. I have been putting in long hours, not taking proper breaks and not taking very good care of myself. I haven’t been walking, I haven’t been drinking enough water, I haven’t been creating and I haven’t been going to bed on time. Some other stuff has been going on too that’s been emotionally draining. I’ve been feeling terrible.

As you might imagine, I’ve made very little progress on my 19 for 2019 things since my last update, which was about four weeks ago. I haven’t had the energy to do anything and when I have, I haven’t had the energy to write about it.

It’s a long weekend now, the immediate work deluge is over and I am exhausted. Saturday I spent doing very little. I didn’t even get out of my PJs, let alone go for a walk. I couldn’t even remember the last time I got up in the morning and went for a walk.

What I know is that not walking is not good for me. I could possibly excuse myself if I were getting extra sleep instead of walking but I’m not. I’m waking up at my walking hour and lying in bed trying to justify why I can’t get out of bed. I’m worrying about things that are worrying me and I’m overprocessing everything. It is not restful. I am doing myself no favours.

I realised this when my friend posted on Instagram a few days ago that walking for him is non-negotiable. He does it, rain, hail or shine because walking is his only exercise. It’s my only exercise too and I’m not doing it; therefore, I am not exercising. At all.

Exercise, so they say, is good for you and it is especially good for you when you are feeling as horrible as I am right now. So laying around in bed feeling sorry for myself has to stop when I can get up and go for for a walk in the sub-antarctic temperatures and have a real reason to feel sorry for myself because it’s so fucking cold. I can overthink all I like when I’m out walking and it won’t matter because I’ll be moving. I don’t care about steps, kilometres, any of that. I don’t care if I’m on Instagram or Facebook the whole time (sorry, Bored and Brilliant challenge). I care that I get out of bed and I walk.

This morning (Sunday), I let my alarm go off and I lay in bed thinking about getting up. I thought about every reason I had to get up and every excuse I had not to. I lay there for an hour with the excuses winning. I did not want to get out of bed. I finally told myself that I might as well get up and get it over with because I was going to do it anyway. I had committed to doing it last night. I was going to do it. I thought about what my friend had written and I told myself that I am no longer sick, I have no excuse.

It was painful, but I did it I got up, got dressed and went outside. I walked. I actually went for a walk. I know it doesn’t sound like a big achievement but it was so hard. I had only walked three or four mornings in the last month and it’s no longer a habit.

20190609 Week 23 2

Sunday sunrise

Now that I’ve done it once, I have to get back into making it something I just do, not something that I have to force myself to do. I suspect it will be a long, slow road back, but I have to do it. I have no excuse. If I don’t walk, I won’t move at all and that’s not a good thing for my physical health or my mental health.

None of that is in any way relevant to any of my 19 for 2019 things but I needed to write all that down, to acknowledge what’s been going on. Our lives ebb and flow through busy times and relaxed times, hard times and easier times. There are times we can work hard, play hard and then there are times we need to rest. And when the times we need to rest roll around we need to respond to that need and rest, because if we don’t, the wheels fall off the wagon and we start to lose our anchors and we end up in the place I’ve been for the last couple of weeks.

I don’t know if I’m fully okay now but I know that today I’ve done the one thing, out of all the things I could have done, that is going to be of most benefit to me right now. And tomorrow I will get up and do it again.

One day at a time.

And I did catch up on some of my things this week.

I watched a video for the photo course and completed an assignment (thing 1). I did some work on my photo project (thing 16) and then decided I needed to learn some more Lightroom skills before I actually do this work, so I’m focusing on that (thing 19). I think the rest of the photo course videos are Lightroom techniques, so I will be making progress in two things as I work through them. I stuck three collages in my photo journal (thing 11) and I did some planning for how to finish some of the outstanding tasks in my wellbeing program (thing 6). Yeah, I know, planning is not really progress, but I feel better having a plan.

20190609 Week 23 1

An assignment

Status for week 23

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 8 (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 5 (1, 6, 11, 16, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  2: (2, 18)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

 

19 for 2019: week 19 update

Week of 4 May

I don’t have a lot to update this week. I went to work, had a training course and went to a wedding (yay!).

I had a nice day walking around Launceston on Friday (more than 33,000 steps for the record) before I was struck down with a cold that has put me out of action since then (not yay!).

I took some nice photos though. 20190510 Launceston 00620190510 Launceston 013You can find more of the photos on my photoblog.

I watched the first half of the next assignment for the photo course (thing 1) and did a bit of work on one of the assignments in Lightroom (thing 19) but I haven’t finished it.

That’s about it!

Status for week 19

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 8 (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (1, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  5: (2, 6, 11, 16, 18)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

19 for 2019: week 17 update

Week of 22 April

One of the things that’s on my 19 for 2019 list is to finish a photo project I’d been working on for a while (thing 16). It’s going to be fun, but it’s also intimidating, and I’ve been avoiding it.

I had a much easier photo project I wanted to do that I didn’t put on the list, which was to make a book of my 2018 black & white project.

This seemed too easy to put on the list because all it involved doing was uploading 365 photos into a template and then printing it. Easy, right?

Not so, my friends. I decided to use a format that had a cover page for each month with one photo and then a 3×3 grid layout for the rest of the month’s photos.

I’m sure you can see the problem. 3×3 equals nine photos per page, so three pages equals 27 photos. But there are 30 or 31 days in each month. February, it turns out, is the perfect month for this type of layout because there are 27 photos plus the cover photo (total photos: 28 days—thank goodness 2018 wasn’t a leap year) but for all the other months I needed four pages, which (4×9) equals 36 slots, for 29 or 30 photos.

So what I had to do was combine a couple of squares on each page to make some photos wider and some photos longer so that each month would fit neatly over four pages. I also wanted them to be in order because I’m picky like that, so it was a lot of work to figure out which ones to stretch (this didn’t work for a lot of the photos as they were square already and not suitable for cropping) and to keep the photos in the right date order.

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 6.55.02 pm edit

The joys of making a photobook

Yeah, let’s keep it real simple.

I started this project months ago and imagined I would come back at times when I had a few minutes with nothing to do and upload a month at a time and get it done over a few weeks. But, as with the photojournal (thing 11), it didn’t happen like that and the half-finished book sat there, threatening to be one of those dreaded projects I start but never complete.

I knew it was never going to get done like this and it was going to hover in my mind as something I had to finish, so I sat down for an afternoon and uploaded and sorted six months worth of photos and finished the damn book. Then (after a comprehensive review of whether the photos were lined up on every page, which may or may not have involved a ruler), I sent it to the company for printing on Monday.

Having never made a photobook before, I have no idea how this will turn out but whatever, I can tick another thing off my bonus list!

Completely irrelevant to 19 for 2019, and now I wish I’d put it on the list instead of the other photo project that I still haven’t made any more progress on. Maybe if I stopped writing about it and went and did it I might get something done.

Ahem.

I did a lot of work on the photography course (thing 1). I edited and uploaded some photos I’d taken previously for Assignments 14 and 17.

20190418 Aurora Australis 12 edit

Aurora Australis | 18 April 2019 | 5.21 pm

20190416 Twilight waterfront from Hunter St 08 edit

Hobart Waterfront Twilight | 16 April 2019 | 5.57 pm

20190416 Twilight waterfront from Franklin Wharf 03 edit

Hobart Waterfront Twilight | 16 April 2019 | 6.05 pm

20190317 Supreme Court 3 edit edit

Supreme Court of Tasmania

I practised with my new flash for Assignment 12 but wasn’t happy with any of the photos and my subject was very reluctant to cooperate any further. This one will have to wait.

I also spent a day at Mt Field National Park and have a lot of photos to sort through!

20190422-070 Lake Seal from the Tarn Shelf edit edit edit

Lake Seal | Mount Field National Park | 22 April 2019

I also started to re-examine my folio (thing 2) and, according to RescueTime, I spent 11 hours and 21 minutes in Lightroom over the week, so I must have learned something (thing 19). (I learned how to adjust the time on my photos, which is handy when you forget to change your camera time after daylight saving.) I spent a lot of Tuesday sorting out the catalogue again. I’m almost happy with it now. I attempted to merge some bracketed exposures but that really did not work out well.

I now have 50 things on my draft list for the Bucket List book (thing 18) and actually made a start on one of the projects I’m going to put in the book. Does that count as progress? I think it does.

Status for week 17

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 8 (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 5 (1, 2, 6, 18, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  2 (11, 16)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

19 for 2019: week 15 and 16 update

Week of 8 April

Most of what I did this week was around my photography. On Sunday, I spent several hours in town taking photos, some of which aligned (I hope) with some of the assignments for the course I’m doing (thing 1). I need to sort them and decide if any of them met the brief. (This one did.)

20190414 Waterfront from Mac 1 645 am 06 edit

Hobart Waterfront | Sunday 14 April 23019 | 6.45 am

I’m not sure that’s how you’re supposed to do these assignments. You’re supposed to go out with the instructions in mind and photograph those. I guess loosely, I did, because I had the theme in mind but not the exact instructions. (In the example above, the instruction was to pay attention to the foreground.)

I put some more photos in my portfolio collection in Lightroom (thing 2) but I really need to sort through it and keep on top of editing the ones I want to showcase.

For my health program, this week we were looking at proteins and I learned about sources of essential amino acids and combinations of plant-based proteins that can provide them all. I found some interesting looking recipes using beans and added them into my meal plan (thing 6).

I added a couple of things I want to put in my Bucket List journal (thing 18) but still haven’t written anything in the actual book.

Status for week 15

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 8 (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 4 (1, 2, 6, 18)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  3 (11, 16, 19)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

Week of 15 April

Another photography week. Now that daylight saving has ended, it gets dark sooner and dusk happens earlier, so I took the chance to go walking after work a couple of days this week to take some photos in the later afternoon and dusk light for the photo course (thing 1). Like last week, I haven’t sorted the photos but I’ve done them!

20190418 Aurora Australis 11 edit edit.jpg

Aurora Australis | Thursday 18 April 2019 | 5.21 pm

I stuck four collages into my 2018 photo journal (thing 11). I’m more than halfway there now. I spent a day sorting out my Lightroom catalogue and working out what collections I need (thing 19). It’s learning by doing.

I learned a lot about healthy fats (thing 6) and I think this is part of my diet I’m actually doing okay on at the moment so I don’t really need to make any adjustments. Maybe eat more almonds. I’m sure I can handle that.

Status for week 16

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 8 (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 4 (1, 6, 11, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  3 (2, 16, 18)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

19 for 2019: week 14 update

Week of 1 April

After my massive week of achievements in week 13, I wasn’t anywhere near as productive in week 14 with my 19 for 2019 list. In fact, I can count the things I progressed on one hand. One finger, even.

Status for week 14

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 8 (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 1 (6)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  6 (1, 2, 11, 16, 18, 19)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

Not to worry, I have the whole year to finish the 11 unfinished things and I can’t expect to do everything at once.

Besides, I’ve been busy with the Bored and Brilliant challenge. Well, I’m not sure if that’s actually an excuse. After all, the point of that challenge is to get me off my phone to give me more time to come up with creative ideas and get things done. I’ve not been on my phone as much as I had been before I started the challenge, but I’m not sure I’ve done anything super productive with the time.

It did make me think maybe I could add some bonus things to my 19 for 2019 list for significant things I do over the year. That would give me a nice picture at the end of the year of some of the big things I did.

So what did I do instead of my list?

Well, I wrote three blog posts about Bored and Brilliant, I went for a whole day without taking any photos and I deleted Instagram (and Tweetbot) off my phone.

20190403 No more social combo

Now you see it . . . now you don’t

I visited the Plants of Tasmania Nursery with my sister.

20190406 Plants of Tasmania Nursery edit

Plants of Tasmania Nursery at Ridgeway

I went to a local living festival in our area.

20190407 Lunch from Honey Child 2

Smoky Creole goodness from Honey Child’s Creole Corner

I went to a union stop-work meeting

20190403 Stop Work

Public sector unions stop-work meeting at City Hall

and I got my poor old teddy bear repaired.

20190402 Pandy back from the Dolls Hospital

He got his leg stitched up and some extra stuffing but I left his nose because that’s his ageing personality

Plenty of things to do!

19 for 2019: week 13 update

Week of 25 March

On Sunday I completed the month without alcohol challenge (thing 13). I went for a whole month without a drink. Yay me!

I’ve written a lot about doing this over the month and I’m not going to go over it all again other than to say I feel a whole lot more energetic, I get tired earlier and go to bed earlier, which was my goal for the month. I also lost somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 kilos, depending on which day I weighed myself.

I was listening to the Happier podcast over the weekend, where Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft were discussing, conveniently, giving up something for 30 days.  Liz mentioned that she had given up alcohol for 30 days. She said that she felt she was drinking a lot of wine mindlessly so she decided to eliminate it, and that if she decided to bring it back in, she would be more mindful and less habitual about it. She considered it a good way to break the habit and see how she felt without it.

Something Gretchen observed was that people give up something for a period (like 30 days) as a way to get into a new habit of not having that thing and that the 30-day “without” period helps them to rethink their patterns associated with the old habit. But she also found that sometimes people give up something and think they have created a habit whereas, in reality, they have just achieved a goal, that is, the month. And that if they want to keep going it’s harder, because having reached the goal they have to start again, which she suggests can be harder than the initial abstinence. To avert this, Gretchen says you need to think of the month as a milestone in a bigger change that you’re making, not as an end goal.

In the chapter on rewards in her book Better than Before, Gretchen discusses this topic and she observes that “the real test of a 30-day blast is what happens on day 31”. She recommends that if you do this type of thing with a view to kickstarting a new habit, you should decide in advance what you’re going to do to keep the habit going after you’ve reached the milestone.

Last time I gave up alcohol I hadn’t thought about this at all and day 31 was Friday and there may have been a very large can of a product I very much enjoy consuming waiting for me . . . and it ended at 30 days.

This time, day 31 was actually day 32 and it was Monday and I’d already decided that I’m going to reinstate the habit I’d been trying to bring in for many months of not drinking on a school night. Like Liz, I want to be more mindful about drinking and make a deliberate choice about when I am going to do it, and how much I will drink, not just sit down at night and fall into that deadly trap of drinking and Youtube.

I have some more to write on this over coming days but right now I know the first danger time will be the day I decide to have my first drink.

This week’s numbers:

Day 25 (Monday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,2447 | Bedtime: 9.55

Day 26 (Tuesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,292 | Bedtime: 9.55

Day 27 (Wednesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,474 | Bedtime: 9.30

Day 28 (Thursday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 22,208 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 29 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 18,485 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 30 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,707 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 31 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 20,645 | Bedtime: 10.00

With that step count, I finished the Cancer Council’s March Charge fundraiser with a grand total of 373 km for the month (73 km over my target distance) and I raised $420.62. And I achieved my goal of going to bed before 10.30 every night. Now there’s one I really have to keep an eye on maintaining!

I didn’t make a lot of progress on other things, but here’s what I did in week 13.

Thing 6: Wellbeing: I made a cabbage salad to have for lunch (actually that was last week). It was really good. Will do again. I added quinoa to it this week.

Thing 12: 33 Beers: Complete. I finished Book 10 and added in the beers I have tried in book 11 for a total of 345 beers. The idea is if I’m out somewhere and want to know if I’ve tried a beer before I can look it up on my fancy Google spreadsheet and find out.

Thing 19: Lightroom: Still using it.

Status for week 13

  • Things completed this week: 2 (12, 13)
  • Things completed: 8 (3, 5, 7, 8. 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (6, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (1, 2, 11, 16, 18)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

Water, water everywhere

This is the last week of my 30 days no-alcohol challenge. Yes, I have almost survived a month of no cider Sunday, no beer and pizza on Friday, no wine with cooking dinner on Saturday . . . and it hasn’t been hard at all. Yay! I feel great and I’m certain that this has contributed to me having more energy most days no than I did on most days at the start of the month.

Whether this is because not drinking has led to me being more tired (or actually noticing that I’m tired) earlier in the evening so I’ve gone to bed earlier and got more sleep, or whether it’s the absence of this drug in my system, I can’t say. It’s probably both.

I’ve mentioned Chis Bailey’s book The Productivity Project in previous posts, which is where the energy tracking experiment that I’ve been doing in conjunction with the no alcohol/no coffee/more sleep challenge came from.

In Chapter 23 (which I need to point out is in the section of the book called “Taking Productivity to the Next Level”—yep, that’s me, next level productivity!!), Chris talks about how he only drank water for a month. His intention had just been to see what happened when he removed caffeine and alcohol for his diet but he then found he had increased energy from drinking huge amounts of water—like four litres a day! He suggests three litres for women and proposes if you drink this much water “you will be surprised at how much energy you have especially if you’re already dehydrated”.

Now, I know there are lovers and haters of the two-litres of water a day regimen and that there are many different views on whether you need that amount, more, less, much more, much less, only drink when you’re thirsty, if you only drink when you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated and you should have been drinking more . . .

I don’t know.

Advice on how much water you need is confusing and inconsistent and I honestly don’t know who is right. I suspect it’s different for everyone and it’s probably different every day depending on what you’re doing that day. However, I don’t think that experimenting with drinking three litres of water a day for a week will be enough to damage myself significantly so I’m prepared to give it a go this week, the final week of my no-alcohol challenge, and see what happens.

This means I have to give up my coffee substitute for a week, which is a brewed cacao product called Crio Brü. This has no sugar, no caffeine but contains a substance called theobromine, which apparently has similar but milder stimulant effects as caffeine, without the addiction or the crash factor that caffeine has. It has potential health benefits as well which may or may not be real. If they are, bonus for me. If they aren’t, I haven’t found anything that says the stuff is bad for you like caffeine probably is, so I’m happy to keep drinking it instead of coffee, for now at least. It means I still can indulge in the habit of a morning hot drink but without the caffeine side effects.

Green tea would do it too, but yuck.

However, in the interests of the experiment, I will have a break from it for a week. I’ll miss a morning hot drink but I think I can cope.

So that’s the plan for this week. I don’t think, having stopped drinking coffee and alcohol, and already not consuming soft drinks, that missing a cup or two of cacao and a couple of herbal teas in favour of more water will make that much of a difference to my energy levels but I’m happy to try it out.

Update: Day 1

Monday: I noticed no difference in my energy after 3+ litres of water. I had a slight energy slump in the afternoon but this could have been caused by going into work early, not going out at lunchtime and not having eaten enough during the day. (You reckon?)

19 for 2019: week 12 update

Week of 18 March 2019

I’m really happy looking at my 19 for 2019 list stuck on my wall near my desk. I have six of the 19 things I wanted to do this year ticked off and it’s only March.

I finished my reading goal of 12 books for 2019, including six fiction books (thing 5), in week 11 and I think that might have been a pretty low bar. However, I’m not going to change it. I’ve made reading a habit that I do every morning and I’ve been sticking to it pretty much every day.

I’ve also started reading a few pages in bed before I turn out the light, which is something I always said I hated to do, read in bed. But I think that might have changed because my usual habit has been to be on the computer right up until I’m ready for bed and then crash straight into bed after I turned it off. This month I’ve been turning the computer off an hour before the time I’ve set as my bedtime so I’ve had some time before I feel ready to go to sleep to read. As well as that, on some days I’ve been finding pockets of time where I’ve sat down with one of the (four) books I have on the go and read a few pages then too.

So yes, I am reading more, and I’m keeping my reading list updated here if you’re interested.

I’ve now completed 24 of my 30-days alcohol-free challenge (thing 13) and it’s going well. As part of this, I’ve been tracking my energy every hour for the last three weeks. I’m still not sure whether I can draw any conclusions about what my “biological prime times” might be (you can read about that here), since I think the first week and a half at least are unreliable due to the fact I was in the process of getting used to being alcohol (and coffee) free. But looking back over the day to day averages, I can say for sure my energy levels as a whole have increased over the month. I don’t even need the spreadsheet to tell me that. I’ve felt more energetic than I did before, more motivated and more able to get things done. (This is not going to stop me tinkering with the spreadsheet and making some graphs and analysing it to death once the month is over . . . )

This week’s numbers:

Day 18 (Monday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,315 | Bedtime: 10.15

Day 19 (Tuesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,874 | Bedtime: 10.15

Day 20 (Wednesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 18,720 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 21 (Thursday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 23,001 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 22 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,163 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 23 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,055 | Bedtime: 9.55

Day 24 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,268 | Bedtime: 9.55.

As for the other things, here’s how I went in week 12.

Photo course (thing 1): I submitted some photos that I took last week for assignment 16.20190317 Wrest Point Casino 2-Edit

Walk from Taroona to Moonah (thing 3): I did this last Sunday but I’ve now written a blog post about it if you want to check out the full story and some photos.

Wellbeing work (thing 6): I have done a lot of reading and note-taking and planning of ways to bring more vegetables into my diet. The next step is to actually follow through. Always my stumbling point!

Photojournal (thing 11): I printed the last four collages on Monday and have stuck 26 into the book to complete the first book. 26 to go and I’m done!

33 Beers book (thing 12): I entered book 9 into the spreadsheet. One more to go (and the one currently in progress).

Bucket List book (thing 18): I’ve added a couple more things to the draft list. I know I’m probably missing the point with this book. I should just write the things in there and get on with doing them rather than making a list and then working out what to put in and what to leave out. It’s just a book, after all. And if I end up getting them all done I can always get another book . . . I don’t need to limit myself to 100 things.

Lightroom (thing 19): I’ve been editing some photos on the desktop version instead of on my phone.

Status for week 12

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 6 (3, 5, 7, 8. 9, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  2, 16,
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

19 for 2019: week 11 update

Week of 11 March 2019

Week 11 has been interesting. I’m halfway through my 30 days of no alcohol (thing 13), which I wrote about on Thursday and onto day ten without coffee.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m also tracking my energy levels over the course of the day, which have so far been rather erratic so I’m not sure what conclusions to draw from that other than my body is probably still settling down after its rude removal of caffeine. The big thing that I’ve noticed is that most nights I’m tired and feeling ready for bed by 9.00, which I put down to my tiredness not being masked by the fake energy that drinking alcohol gives me in the evenings. So, getting to bed by my goal time of 10.45 hasn’t been a big challenge at all.

Here’s how my week has gone.

Day 11 (Monday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,401 | Bedtime: 10.15 pm

Day 12 (Tuesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,879 | Bedtime: 10.15 pm

Day 13 (Wednesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,610 | Bedtime: 10.10 pm

Day 14 (Thursday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 20,566 | Bedtime: 10.00 pm

Day 15 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,046 | Bedtime: 10.10 pm

Day 16 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,527 | Bedtime: 10.45 pm

Day 17 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 34,443, | Bedtime: 10.10 pm

According to my trusty Fancy March Habit Tracker™, this week I succeeded in turning my computer off an hour before my allocated bedtime of 10.45 five out of seven nights. The goal of turning it off and disconnecting an hour before my actual bedtime, which has somehow become closer to 10.15 most nights, is nowhere near happening and I don’t know if that’s realistic at the moment.

Turning off your screens anywhere from an hour to two hours before you go to bed is a big favourite of the sleep gurus. For example, the US National Sleep Foundation says that using devices (including computers, TV and phones) before bed can mess with your body’s internal clock, reduces the amount of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin released into your body and makes it more difficult to get to sleep. The main reason is the blue light emitted by the devices. It claims “using these devices before turning in delays the onset of REM sleep, reduces the total amount of REM sleep, and compromises alertness the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep”.

I don’t think I’ve read anything ever that says using devices right up to bedtime helps you sleep better, and most articles on sleep suggest turning off devices as part of an evening routine to help you get ready for sleep.

Even though I’ve tried developing an evening routine in the past I’ve never really made it work, and my evening routine is basically turn the computer off, clean my teeth and crash into bed. Given that most of the stuff I want to do is on my computer, I don’t know what else I might incorporate into an evening routine after I’ve shut the computer down and turned my phone off. Reading comes to mind but that’s about it. Anyway, I’m going to use this week to play around with bringing my bedtime back to 10.30 and my device off time to 9.30 and seeing if that makes a difference to my sleep quality. Since I haven’t gone to bed later than 10.15 this week I don’t see 10.30 as being a problem, but the 9.30 shut down might be!

It’s one to work on in the coming weeks.

Here’s how I’m tracking with the rest of 19 for 2019:

Photo course (thing 1): I completed the day 19 lesson and assignment.20190310 Assignment Day 19 05Walk from Taroona to Moonah (thing 3): I did this on Sunday! I walked over 34,000 steps, or 22 km, and I took heaps of photos.20190317 Moonah sign 1 editReading (thing 5): I finished book 13, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick, which is my sixth fiction book, so I have now finished this thing!20190314 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? editWellness (thing 6): I watched a video and I have a couple of ideas on what to do this week.

Photojournal (thing 11): I have now made all the collages for 2018 and they are ready for printing. All I have to do is stick them in the book.

33 Beers books (thing 12): I entered books 7 and 8 into the spreadsheet. I have two more to go.

Bucket List book (thing 18): I didn’t write anything in the book but I made a new note in Evernote with the heading Bucket List and I put one thing into it. The idea is when I get to 100 I will go through the list and pick 50 that I am really committed to doing and put them in the book to start with. I think I’m paranoid about putting something in the book that I’m not actually ever realistically going to do, and then failing to complete everything in the book. It’s the same thing as the fear of making the first mark in a brand new notebook, I guess! I think I have to take the perspective that this is a bit of fun, not a lifelong commitment to ticking off 100 things, and just start writing.

Lightroom (thing 19): I made some workarounds to avoid an issue that is constantly frustrating me. I edited some photos for a blog post.

Status for week 11

  • Things completed this week: 2 (3, 5)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  2 (2, 16)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)
  • Things completed: 6 (3, 5, 7, 8. 9, 15)

30 days alcohol free: day 10

I wrote this post on Sunday, day 10 of the 30-day no alcohol challenge, and felt like it hadn’t been difficult at all. I’d been feeling really good about it. I guess that’s a good thing. I’d hate to be finding out that I’m addicted to alcohol and was unable to give it up!

(Confession: Later that day, around 5pm, when I was cooking dinner, I did start to feel like I was missing out. I had started a tradition on Sundays where I’d sit with a cider and write up my week in my photojournal. It was the first time I really felt like having a drink, but I didn’t cave in and I ate cheese instead. Lemon Mineral Water Sunday doesn’t quite cut it when I’m used to Cider Sunday!)

I was talking to a workmate, who I discovered is also having a break from alcohol, about this challenge. One of the things I’ve observed, other than feeling a lot less physically heavy, is that I am getting more tired at night, around 9 pm, and feel like I’m ready to go to bed at 10pm. When I’d had a few drinks in the evening, I rarely felt like this and was regularly able to stay up until past 11pm. My workmate said the same thing and we concluded that alcohol masks the tired symptoms so that you feel more aware and alert, but your body really is tired and is ready for sleep a lot earlier than you think it is.

So going to bed earlier, which is not one of my 19 for 2019 things, but is something I need to do so that I get more sleep and have more energy, has been something I haven’t had to try very hard to do now that I’m not dealing with the “I’m not tired” feeling that comes from having a few drinks in the evening.

In Chapter 23 of The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey writes about his 30-day experiment to drink only water. He cut out all coffee, alcohol and sugary drinks from his diet, much like I’m doing (as of Sunday). Like me, Chris already didn’t drink soft drink, but unlike me, he says he didn’t drink a lot of coffee or alcohol before he started.

I already touched on coffee on Saturday (sob!) and noted Chris’ comment that by consuming caffeine you are “borrowing” energy from later in the day. Along the same line, he suggests that drinking alcohol is “borrowing” energy from the next day. He says that it may “provide you with a bit more energy and creativity as you drink it, but it will also almost always provide you with a net loss in energy and productivity and make it much more difficult to accomplish what you intend to—especially after you come down off the buzz the drug gives you. [ . . . ] In the morning you have to pay interest on the energy loans. This leaves you with a net loss in energy.”

His conclusion after the 30-day experiment of no coffee or alcohol was that by the end of the month he began to have a huge amount of energy and that the amount of energy he had was much more stable; it didn’t fluctuate anywhere near as much as it had when he’d had a few drinks every week.

Chris suggests that most people (me!) won’t want to completely cut alcohol out of their diet but that if you understand the effects of drinking on your energy levels, you can make the decision on what to drink intentionally knowing the consequences.

This is a different way, to me, of looking at alcohol consumption than the normal messages of how bad it is for our health and the health risks associated with drinking, which are not insignificant.

I often read about how alcohol can overload our livers, contribute to weight gain, increase our risk of some cancers, and I completely disregard the current recommendations for “acceptable” drinking of two standard drinks a day, with two alcohol-free days a week. I don’t doubt any of this information but, despite overwhelming evidence about the risks of drinking, I have never been able to use that as motivation to reduce my consumption. It always seems as though those consequences happen to other people, or they take years to manifest and I have plenty of time to change my habits and, until then, I can go on doing as I please.

I know that this is not true. There are, no doubt, heaps of studies into why trying to encourage people to change unhealthy habits by telling them what the risks of their behaviour are often doesn’t work. Do gruesome photos on cigarette packs work? Smokers know the risks, yet they continue to smoke. Likewise, people who drink know the health consequences of doing so. I know them yet I continue to regularly drink at unsafe levels. (I know there’s a lot more factors involved and it’s a lot more complicated than this for many people. But this is a blog post, not a scientific paper and I’m writing about my experiences, not about the complexities associated with overcoming addiction and other related issues!)

What Chris’ experiment showed him, and what I’m hoping mine will show me, is the immediate consequences of drinking. Not the long-term possibilities that might affect future me. I’m hoping for results similar to Chris’ results so that when this experiment is over I will be more likely to make conscious, intentional decisions around if, when and how much I drink, knowing what the impact of those decisions on achieving my goals will be.

Today is day 14. All is good.