Tag Archives: The March Charge

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)

19 for 2019: more sleep, less booze

Quite some time ago, I don’t remember when, I heard about Chris Bailey’s Productivity Project, in which Chris set out to conduct a year-long series of productivity experiments on himself to find out how different strategies and tips affected his work. He wrote a blog about his experiences and followed that up with a book in 2016, which I’m currently reading.

20190302 Productivity Project edit

Who wouldn’t want to become more awesome?!

I’m a big fan of experiments like this and even tried it out myself in 2016, inspired by Kylie Dunn’s Year of TED project, though I wasn’t quite as successful as Kylie in sticking with it for a year and it all rather fizzled out in the end.

I’ve decided to try my own experiment in March that combines the idea of Kylie’s 30-day experiments; one of Chris’ experiments, my 19 for 2019 thing 13 (an alcohol-free month); my ongoing wellbeing work that will give me the energy to be able to do all the things on my list (thing 6), in particular getting more sleep; and an increased level of exercise.

I wrote in Wednesday’s post about my goal for March being to move my hours of sleep from six (probably less) closer to seven a night and how one of the main things that will help me do this is to quit drinking for the month.

The second thing I’m going to do is try and move my bedtime from after 11pm to somewhere closer to 10pm.

A key reason I want to get more sleep is to improve my energy levels throughout the day and to become more aware of when I naturally have more and less energy. I’ve been reading about ultradian rhythms, the gist of which is that our bodies have natural cycles of energy and rest (or high energy and low energy) that last about 90-120 minutes. The theory is that we have a period of about 90 minutes of high energy, which is followed by a period of low energy of about 20 minutes (similar to sleep cycles of 90 minutes of non-REM sleep and 20 minutes of REM sleep)  and that this continues throughout the day.

This is where Chris Bailey’s experiment comes in. In chapter 4 of The Productivity Project he writes about how, if you know the times when you have the most energy, you can schedule your day to work on the things that are most important to you at those times and take breaks and work on things that require less energy and focus at times when your energy levels are lower.

To get familiar with his natural cycle, Chris kept a log every hour of every day for three weeks of what he had been working on and how much energy he had during that hour. To make it as accurate as this kind of thing can be, Chris cut out all alcohol and coffee, ate as little sugar as possible and tried to wake up and fall asleep naturally, without setting an alarm.

I won’t be following Chris’ experiment to the letter. I’m already good with the no sugar thing, so I don’t have to worry about making any changes there, and am committed to the no alcohol month. But there is no way I am giving up my first coffee of the day, at least not at the start. (My second, I have plans for, but that can wait.) And I can’t sleep in on weekdays mornings and do all the things I want to do (and need to do) and still get to work on time. I know, I’ve done it a couple of times accidentally. So I have to set an alarm. But this is an experiment, not a regiment, so I’m just trying it out. The first week of March will be my adjustment period—Chris recommends cutting out the three stimulants (sugar alcohol and caffeine) a week before you start tracking.

The main thing I’ll be focusing on in the first week will be to have a shutdown for the evening routine that will make sure I’m in bed by 10.45. If I move this back by 15 minutes a week, I should achieve the goal of a 10pm bedtime before the end of the month.

Sounds easy, right?!

The final piece of the puzzle is increased exercise. I am taking part in the Cancer Council’s March Charge, and have committed to walking 300 km in March to raise funds for this very worthy cause, which is the equivalent of about 15,000 steps a day. My daily goal up to now has been 12,000 steps, which I’ve been meeting on most days but not every day. So I’ll have some extra work to do there.

Of course, I just made it all the more difficult for myself by falling down my front stairs on Tuesday and hurting my back, which has made walking (and moving in general) an uncomfortable exercise. Fortunately, it seems like nothing is seriously damaged. My doctor said that I’m still walking around is a good sign and I haven’t broken anything (since confirmed by the x-ray). I keep thinking how much worse it could have been if I’d tumbled rather than slid!