Monday, June 4

100 Day Challenge: Day 13- Refocusing

     I've missed several days of writing, same as last weekend. I haven't been doing very well with my challenge the last few days. I woke up on Friday, my day off, with an unusual number of unidentified bug bites on my leg and had to quell the itching and swelling with benadryl, ensuring my status as a zombie for the rest of the day and parts of the rest of the weekend. Then work this weekend was especially rough and soul-draining and I'm still feeling a little bit like crawling in a hole and avoiding humanity for a month. The whole thing has not been conducive to good eating habits or getting exercise in.

     Anyway, I've used my day to refocus, run some errands and get back to eating healthy. It's time for work now and I'm so happy that I'm off tomorrow and have gotten myself back on the right path to have a good day tomorrow!

Thursday, May 31

100 Day Challenge: Days 7-8: Running and Rubbing

What a creepy post title.

Some good and some bad the past two days. Tuesday was a pretty great day, as far as getting stuff done and taking good care of myself. I started a Couch to 5k (c25k) program, which I’m pretty excited about. John doesn’t understand the recent obsession with 5ks, and I kind of have to agree with him. 5k does seem to be a fitness buzzword lately. Still, I did one of these programs a couple years ago with my friend Lolo and it was helpful because I really can’t motivate myself to run and I’m very likely to give up. When we did it before, though, it was on the treadmill, and for me that didn’t really transfer to increased endurance for outside running, and I haven’t tried much for quite a while. I recently got a smartphone and I found a c25k app that allows me to listen to my own music and still gives audio cues of when to run and walk. When I did it Tuesday, the app was a bit buggy and I missed a cue but I still felt good about what I did. The program is three days per week and I did my second day today without any bugs. I’m hoping I stick with it and make progress; I’ve always wanted to run outside.
Yesterday I wasn’t feeling great and I didn’t quite stick to my 11 o’clock rule. I decided to rest from any extra exercise and it was the first day since I started this challenge that I didn’t get my minimum of 12,000 steps in. (I got 11,000 though, so I wasn’t too bummed.) Still, I would have been fine with all of that until I gave in and got fast food for dinner. I have a problem resisting junk food when I don’t feel well, even though that’s probably the worst time to be eating junk food. I was annoyed not only because I put this crap in my body but also because there was no reason to waste that money. I was rewarded with insomnia and a stomachache. I was awake from 5:30-7:30 this morning and then went back to bed ‘til almost 10. Ugh. Not the best start to my day. Back on the wagon.

I’ve been doing okay with working a bit in my sketchbook every day, though I need to do more and start looking into sales/exhibition opportunities. My new obsession is these rub-on letters that I got at this old art store in Cincinnati. I have a feeling they’ve been sitting there for 30 years and I’m not sure they’re even made anymore, but I’ve really liked using them in my sketchbook.

           That's it for now!

Tuesday, May 29

100 Day Challenge: Day 6- Waxing Poetic

                Yesterday was day 6 of my challenge, and also Memorial Day. My boyfriend and I both had off, a rare occurrence for us. I got up and worked on my 11am chores before we decided to go on a long walk. We’ve already had some intense days of heat here and yesterday was no exception. I tried to set out early but we ended up leaving around 10. We walked about 40 minutes along back roads into town and took a rest at the local coffee shop. I stuck with iced green tea and John got a toasted coconut latte that sounded sugary but good until he ordered it hot. Then we walked home, of course, for a total of about 70-80 minutes of walking. Pretty good in the heat!
                Once we got home, I worked for a bit in my sketchbook and John worked on some encaustic painting. Encaustic is a type of art that uses hot wax and pigment as a medium. I’m sure you can buy wax that’s already colored but John is very picky about doing things the hard way, so he’d made his own encaustic medium using beeswax, damar crystals, and dry pigments. That whole process happened the other day while I was at work and involved a new griddle, skillet, muffin tins, and a pink leopard print hairdryer. Anyway, I was intrigued by the whole process and ended up spending an hour or so making a little painting. It was kind of hard to work with, but interesting. I had to take these blocks of colored wax, press them to the griddle to melt a bit to work with, and then paint quickly as the wax dried pretty fast. You can also heat areas with the hair dryer to fuse layers of wax together and cause the pigments to move around in a surprising, uncontrolled way. It was fun and I’d like to try it again, though we picked a terrible time to get into this since you have to have a hot griddle right next to you the whole time.

                Later we had hot dogs and corn on the cob and watermelon, and that was fun, but I liked the non-traditional part of our day, too.

Monday, May 28

100 Day Challenge:Days 2-5- The All-or-Something Rule

I’m already falling behind and typing a 4-days-at-once post! I need to focus my time on the weekend, when I’m at work for much longer hours and my boyfriend is home.

Today, let’s talk about the all-or-something rule. I (and I suspect many other people) tend to decide to do something to the extreme! No more unhealthy food! Exercise 10 times a week! Draw for 6 hours a day! Never spend money again! When that idea inevitably falls apart immediately, there’s always that idea of ‘eh, fuck it.’ And ‘eh, fuck it’ is a dangerous thing. I only exercised 5 of my proposed 9 times this week? Eh, fuck it, I won’t exercise. I ate one unhealthy meal after 4 days of healthy eating? Eh, fuck it, bring on the junk. The all-or-nothing idea is the worst because it means when you slip, you give up. And everyone slips. I’ve been trying to keep this in mind. I want to be getting a lot done and making good decisions but when I realize I’ve done something I’m unhappy with, I try to just start over. If I can’t do it all, I do something.

On Thursday, I was off from work and I made sure to eat carefully, I got plenty of fruits and vegetables, and I went on a long walk. I wanted to get some art in but by the time I was done with other things, it was late afternoon and my boyfriend came home. We rarely see each other and with his demanding school schedule, we don’t get to spend much time together even when he is home. But Thursday is the end of his summer class week, I was off, and it was one of the few nights we both get a home-cooked meal at a normal time. We enjoyed dinner and then watched a few movies. I wish I could have gotten some art in, but I’m not going to feel bad that I had a nice night, especially after doing a good job with my other goals during the day.

Friday was a bit of a rough day. We got up and had to go into the city to buy some art supplies, an errand that eats up several hours. On the way back, we decided to stop for lunch at Quaker Steak & Lube, a restaurant that I’ve seen featured on food shows for its famous wings. I knew going in that it was probably a bad idea, but I’ve wanted to try it for a while. The d├ęcor was a bit of a sensory overload and my boyfriend found the car lingo in the names of the items confusing. (“What the hell are stick shifters?”) They offered a wing and side dish meal, and all the sides were ridiculous. Fried pickles, nachos, mozzarella sticks (aka stick shifters!), cheese fries, soft pretzels. Even though there’s a part of me that wants to eat ALL THE SHITTY FOOD, I’ve matured to the point where I care about getting nutrition and know I feel better when I eat better. We each had one of these meals anyway, and everything kinda sucked and totally wasn’t worth the calories or the money. Even worse, I wanted to take my lumps and make note of the nutrition, but they totally don’t have the info on their website, so I had to estimate. However, I decided not to say ‘eh, fuck it.’ I had a moment later in the night when I was going to eat whatever for dinner since I already overdid it and I thought about it and decided I should keep it light to offset the earlier overindulgence. After we got back, I had to go to work. I got home around 1am, but I took a couple minutes to make a drawing so I could feel like I made something.

Saturday is always a long work day for me. Not too much to report. I kept track of my eating and I got activity in by walking around all day at work. I always hear that people should be aiming for 10,000 steps a day and on a Saturday when I work, I can easily get 15-17000 steps in. I still want to be doing more actual exercise, but wearing the pedometer has been an interesting experiment for me.

Yesterday was Sunday and I did a favor for a coworker and ended up going in 3 hours earlier than planned. Obviously, that killed my morning plans! I did make it to the gym after work, though, which was big. I haven’t been there in a few weeks and I’m trying to get back in the habit because strength training has made a big difference in my body over the last couple years. My goal on this is 3-4 times a week!

Alright, I’m writing this on Memorial Day, day 6 of my challenge, and things are going pretty well. More info tomorrow, it’s time to get away from the computer!

Thursday, May 24

The 100 Day Challenge: Day 1- The 11 O'Clock Rule

   One day down, 99 to go.

   Yesterday went well. I did a few chores I’d been putting off and then took a long walk and worked in my sketchbook for about an hour. It wasn’t anything too life-changing, but at the same time, it’s much better than what I’ve been doing.

Sketchbook piece finished yesterday. Rub-on letters are the BEST. Drawn from a photo in a Greek life newspaper.
   One thing I’ve decided to do is something I’ve had in my head for a while but haven’t been good about implementing: The 11 O’clock Rule. I’m naturally a bit messy, but I find that I can’t concentrate on doing anything until my space is clear and organized. If I put off my cleaning and chores, it’s a great excuse to lie around and not do anything productive. So, the 11 O’clock Rule is as follows: all basic chores must be done by 11 am. This is includes general straightening-up, morning dishes, making the bed. I found this to be a very helpful strategy yesterday. I had a pile of dishes from the night before and had also done laundry the other day, which I’d dumped into a pile on the bed once it was clean and then pushed off onto the floor before going to sleep. (There are very few things I hate more than folding laundry, and I will put it off forever.) Trying to get everything done by a certain time got me moving more quickly than usual and got everything out of the way. My mom always says that a task will expand to fit the time you have, and this is important for me to remember, because it’s true. It’s bad enough to waste my whole day before work, and even worse on a day off. I’m not working today and I’m glad that I have everything done and can now focus on things that are actually important. It’s also kind of a good cop-out. Maybe you want to wash all the floors, scrub the bathroom, and clean out the refrigerator, but if it’s not going to happen by 11, something can be pushed off ‘til tomorrow.  Obviously, there are little things that need to be done the rest of the day, and my goal is to keep up with those things so I have less to do the next day and can focus on a bigger weekly chore. Even though I have years of procrastination under my belt, I have to admit that pretty much everything is easier when you don’t put it off. I’m doing my best not to leave any dishes in the sink overnight, leave my dirty clothes on the floor when I take them off at night, or leave stuff out of place when I could easily put it back where it goes.

   Today’s focus will be on making more art since I have the day off and also making note of some info for the start of this challenge: starting weight, starting credit card debt and money in savings. 

   Anyway, it’s noon, time for real life.

Tuesday, May 22

The 100 Day Challenge- Day 0

I haven’t updated this blog in over a year.

Tomorrow I’m going to start a personal challenge- 100 days to a better life. I told my boyfriend about this and he kind of laughed, and later he asked me exactly what this was and where I got the idea. I don’t really know. I’ve been in a rut for a few years, and when I moved from the Philly area to the Cincinnati area less than a year ago to be with my boyfriend while he attends graduate school, I figured I would be able to focus on all the things I want to do. I would finally get healthy, make some art, figure out what I’m doing with a career, save some money. I’m in a state where I know very few people and my glamorous job waiting tables means I have time during the day that I could be using to paint or draw. Instead, I usually find myself catching up on TV, putting off exercise, taking naps that are way too long, or going into a trance-like state while looking at humor websites. 

Speaking of wasting time, a few weeks ago I found myself playing around with my favorite new distraction, my iPhone, and looking up how many days old I am. I found out I was less than 100 days from being 10,000 days old, and I guess that’s why that number stuck in my head. (Today, May 22nd, 2012, I am 9930 days old.) I like the idea of 100 days because it seems like so many and so few days at the same time. I wondered what I could accomplish if I really focused on making my life better for this length of time. 

Time to find out.

I have some ideas of what I want to change and some ideas of how to go about it, but I think part of this experiment will be figuring out what I need to change. 

Here are some things that I know I want to change:

  •   My eating: I’ve done better with eating fresh produce since I’ve been living here, but I’ve been supplementing the healthy stuff with plenty of junk. As I inch closer to my 30’s, I start noticing that I feel worse when I eat food that can be politely described as “total shit”.
  •  Exercise: I go to the gym, sometimes. And I like the gym when I go! But I need to be more committed. I’ve also recently been using a pedometer, which is helpful in seeing the difference between days working (on my feet all day) and days off (where I’m much more likely to be lying around). I would like to be aiming for 12-15,000 steps/day. I have also always been interested in running but I’ve done very little to make it a reality.
  •  Spending habits: My income is variable and makes me nervous. We had a slow start earning money when we moved here and of course there are plenty of expenses incurred in moving. I’ve curbed the credit card spending and stopped pulling from savings during the past few months but I could probably be more thrifty and start actually going in the right direction, paying off debt and building savings.
  •   Art/Career: I got my degree in fine arts, printmaking specifically, and though I know that art is almost impossible to make into a career, some of my fellow students have done a little better than I have. There’s nothing like a facebook stalking session to depress me, especially upon seeing anyone with work being displayed or realizing that people are finishing up grad school and I haven’t taken any steps toward going, even though I want to. I think this is one of my more difficult challenges. First of all, I’m not making much art, but secondly, I have no idea how to promote myself or how to go about getting into or paying for grad school. And thirdly, I don’t really know how to seek out sales opportunities. There’s at least somewhat of an art community in this town but I feel like I never know about craft shows or other events until it’s too late to get involved.
  •    TIME MANAGEMENT: I think this bleeds into almost all my other problems. I am a professional time waster, to say the least. Give me free time, and I’ll squander it. I remember a few times in college when I would spend hours working on school stuff, go to work, then come home and work on school stuff for several more hours. It was hard, but what I always remember is the distinct feeling of getting into bed exhausted and thinking “I was productive today.” I never slept better.

100 days, starting tomorrow.