Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 30: Last Evaluation and More about Single-tasking

Today I went for my walk in hail. It was small hail, but it was stingy when it hit my face. My girlfriend joined me for the first half of my walk. When she went inside, I continued walking. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I was less than ten minutes from home when I desperately had to use the bathroom. I sprinted home and did not get my full walk. I am proud of myself for attempting it in that weather though!

Tomorrow starts my month of establishing the single tasking habit. I will continue to report on and off on my positivity and exercise habits as well. My motivations for developing the single-tasking habit is to help me focus and have increased productivity, increase my joy and passion in life, and most importantly decrease my anxiety and fear levels.

There are two obstacles that I am anticipating. The first is that life will get in the way. Little things will come up in the middle of doing something, and instead of completing that task and then moving on, I will feel, on some level, obligated to "pause." I will need to remember to say both no and wait until I am done with this to the members of my family. The second is that I will grow bored of some activities or be distracted or find them difficult so I will want to break to something else. To avoid this, I will have to use a two prong approach. First of all, I will have to make sure that the tasks that I set for myself are not too challenging for me. Then, I will have to persevere refocusing as necessary when I am feeling the urge to distract myself with something else.

I will do my best to hold myself accountable by reporting on my progress here. I will also have the support of my girlfriend Diana who is as eager as I am to see me conquer my multi-tasking anxiety issues.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 29: The End of the Month Nears

As you can probably tell from the infrequency of my posts this month, November has been a month full of challenges! I have plodded on with my exercise, and I have strived to face my challenges with positivity and my exercise with enthusiasm. In spite of this, at this point with only one day left in the month, I must face the fact that I have not developed the habit of exercise. I was not consistent enough. I let too many things get in the way!

So the question I have been pondering in my head is "Do I just keep tackling exercise, or do I add another habit in December?" I have gone back and forth in my thinking. One part of me was saying, "Don't add anything else! You haven't accomplished this. You know it isn't habit yet!"

Then the other side of me says, "You could be stalled on this exercise thing forever. Keep working on it, but move onto something else! Continuing to focus only on exercise will stall progress in your life!"

I look at the pro's and con's of both arguments. I looked inside myself to see how I really felt. I intentionally set out to seek the truth, and most importantly, I remembered to stay focused on the positive in my research.

Here is what I discovered. I have not made exercise a habit, but I have made progress. If I don't exercise, I know it. At the very least, thinking about exercising every day is a habit. Also, I know why exercise is not a habit. First, instead of just exercising because it is important to me and a habit I want, I let various anxieties get in the way. That is not really being positive. I was not expecting the best. It was subtle and hidden behind a lot of positive words and intentions so I could not get to the root of the problem easily, but it is the truth. Second, I put too much on my plate and did not keep exercise in the forefront of my mind as the most important thing to do (along with positivity.)

I also realized that I have another bit of support that has been added to my exercise routine that will help me to keep it up. My girlfriend has decided that she will do at least half of my walk with me most days. She has diabetes and needs that walk to help keep her blood glucose levels under control. So not only will she be supporting me, I will be supporting her!

Because of the things that I discovered, I feel confident that well before December is over, I will have added exercise to those habits that are a part of my life. So I am going to go on and add another habit.

I wanted to add a habit that would not be similar to exercise. I wanted to choose something that I have been thinking about for a long time but just have not gotten to stick. I also wanted to pick something that would help me to exercise too, as opposed to something that might get in the way of exercise.

I got to thinking about what one thing really helped me to lose my focus in life. That one thing was working as a quick service restaurant manager. What was the worse thing about that position? The multi-tasking environment! I saw how much more productive the management team could be with a single-tasking focus, but the owner preferred to see everyone running around erratically. I suppose he thought "busy-ness" equated productivity. In my experience, the opposite is true! Focus equals productivity. Focus equals problems solved. Focus equals a smooth running operation. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to try out all of my ideas in the world of a quick service restaurant (although I'd love to get the chance sometime!)

What I can do is to use the philosophy of single-tasking and focus in my own life! This isn't always easy. I have a multifaceted life! I have five children. I have a girlfriend who works full time in the often erratic and stressful postition of a substitute teacher as well as attending graduate school in a demanding field. I write. I help run two family businesses. I maintain a handful of blogs. It is important to me to find time to read, make nutritious homecooked meals, and stay informed in several areas that are of personal interest to me. I also have a spiritual life that needs regular tending. Bouncing around with no focus does not get things done! Perhaps most importantly, it doesn't increase my joy. Instead it leaves me anxious and flighty.

So during the month of December, I intend to develop the habit of single-tasking. I will write more about how I intend to do this tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 25: Snow = Exercise

Yesterday and today, I snow shoveled instead of walking! It is quite the work out! This snow was heavy and wet and icy! My snow shovel is flimsy and cracked so I could only move so much at once! Snow shovelling is far more work and far less fun than walking! It was necessary though, and the kids didn't have to do it all themselves. Exercise and charity both at the same time is always nice!

In other news, my friend Meghan of Meghan's Mindless Mutterings is having a cool Pillsbury Giveaway just in time for the holidays! Go check it out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day 23: Staying on Track

I got out and walked today in spite of the snow and slippery road. My girlfriend Diana walked with me which was definitely a help!

This evening, I was talking to a group of online friends about aging. There was some talk about good things about aging, and of course, the usual drawbacks.

I think the thing that helps me the most is realizing my own mortality is not limited to old age. That is truly an illusion. We are all mortal. I could die at three or twenty-three or forty-three or one hundred and three. We all need to make the most of everyday.

No one should wait until he or she is thin to live. No one should wait until he or she has all the right habits in place. No one should wait for money or love or kids to be born or grow up, etc. Live now! That is my advice to you all today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 19: Menu Plan Monday on Wednesday

Oops! I didn't post my menu plan this week. I don't know what happened, but here it is!

Monday: Crunchy Ranch Tuna Pasta, sliced tomatoes

Tuesday: Tex Mex Pasta Bake

Wednesday: Tuna Rice Casserole

Thursday: Layered Taco Bake, tossed salad

Friday: sloppy joes, tossed salad, buffalo fries

Saturday: Tator Tot Casserole, tossed salad

Sunday: Chicken and Biscuits, peanut butter brownies

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 18: Blog Absence but Not Exercise Absence

Wow! Three days without blogging in a row! I am not proud of that, but I have had an excuse of sorts. We have been hit with some snow. So rest assured, the exercise has continued! Removing snow is the worst kind of exercise in my opinion though. We are all ready to move! Diana, the kids, and I are all sick of snow already.

Do any of you have any advice about where a good place to move to would be? We would prefer somewhere with milder weather, somewhere where there are teaching jobs (my girlfriend is a teacher), and somewhere were the cost of living is reasonable. I would love any suggestions you might have!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 14: The Importance of Enthusiasm

I have lost some of my enthusiasm for establishing the habit of daily exercise. It is easy for me, when stressed, to flip flop back and forth between agoraphobia and claustrophobia. Claustrophobia is more my natural state. I want out. I want the sky overhead. I want to have room to roam. I want to lose myself in my surroundings.

When I start to flip flop, I often get to the place where I feel that I have no safe place. Right now, that is where I find myself. No matter where I go I do not feel safe, so it is really hard to walk for a whole hour!

What I need to do is to recapture my enthusiasm. So, I am excited. Walking everyday really is wonderful. It makes me feel wonderful in so many different ways! I am going to keep walking everyday at 2:00 without fail. I am going to do my best to be mindful and to enjoy my walks. I am not going to let fear of the unknown keep me from establishing this habit!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 12: Thoughts on Being Sick

It can be very hard to work on establishing a new habit when one is sick. Being positive might seem like a good idea, but there is usually another part of oneself that says, "I have a right to be miserable!" If your new habit is something like exercise, it can be hard to tell the difference between really needing to rest and using being sick for an excuse.

Here is one important thing to remember. In order to truly establish a habit, you can't regularly take days off during the 30 day commitment period. No one is perfect, so yes, you may miss a day, but that means that you absolutely shouldn't miss the next day! Missing two days could lead to you needing to start all over.

It is all fine to say that you should never miss a day you might be thinking, but what if I am really sick! Well, there are things that you can do to keep establishing a habit without compromising your sick body. For example, I am sick now. I am not horribly ill, but I have a cold that includes a headache, a sort throat, and a low grade fever. I need extra rest. I don't want to stop my walking habit though. So I walk slower or walk for less time. I stay closer to home in case I feel I should stop. If I was even sicker, I might modify further. I could see doing some simple stretching exercises or getting up and walking around the house during exercise time if I was very sick. Even meditation could be substituted for walking.

My point is that if illness strikes, keep establishing that habit, but use modification if necessary. Be honest with yourself about what you can and can't do. Talk to your support person. Make sure that you stay on track, and at the end of the month, you will be happy to have a new habit that will stick by you in sickness and in health.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 11: Update and Research News

Today was a good day as far as accomplishing things goes. I took my one hour walk right on schedule. I am still suffering from the physical effects of anxiety so I practiced mindfulness for the entire hour. It is getting much easier for me to be mindful. I use it at night when I am going to sleep now. I would have never thought that I could give up continual active thinking so easily! OK, it hasn't exactly always been easy, but really all it took was a little bit of regular practice.

On the nutrition front, many people take omega 3 supplements or try to eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. I think this is an excellent idea because research shows a strong correlation between omega 3 intake and having a healthy cardiovascular system. A recent research study set out to see if there was any difference in the longer chain omega 3's found in fish and the shorter chain omega 3's found in vegetable sources such as flaxseed. The study found that those receiving omega 3's from fish had a higher reduction in heart disease than those getting the same amount of omega 3's from vegetable sources. It is hypothesized that this is due to the fact the the longer chain omega 3's reduce inflammation more than the shorter chain sources. Inflammation is thought to be a major cause of cardiovascular disease.

Obviously if you are a vegetarian, please keep on using flax sources, but if you eat meat anyways, fish and fish oil supplements are the way to go to have the biggest improvement in your cardiovascular health.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 10: Menu Plan Monday

Wow! I have missed two days posting in a row. That was not my intention. We were away from home from early in the morning until after midnight on Saturday, but I should have gotten in a post yesterday. I did get in a beautiful walk yesterday! My beloved girlfriend knew that I had been down so she took me to Rice Creek a beautiful nature center near my home for my walk. It was wonderful! The trails might not be so accessible there for much longer so I was very happy to get in another trip.

Now for the event you have all been waiting for...

As always, if you head over to the Organizing Junkie's blog you can find a ton more menus to inspire you in your own menu planning.

Monday: crockpot chili with corn chips, sour cream, & shredded cheddar

Tuesday: pinto bean soup, wheat crackers, salad

Wednesday: chili soup, cornbread

Thursday: pizza pasta bake, Italian bread

Friday: breakfast for dinner with eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, country gravy, biscuits, blueberry muffins, juice, & coffee

Saturday: baked butternut squash, baked chicken legs, green beans amandine, gingerbread cookies

Sunday: Asian dinner with sushi, miso soup, & stir fry meat and veggies

Friday, November 7, 2008

Day 7: When the Going Gets Tough...

My stress level has been out of control! It has affected everything that I do. It is like I am lost in my mind, just doing one thing after another to get done with it with no real connection to my environment or the people around me.

I didn't post yesterday. I didn't walk yesterday either. Missing two days in a row is not the way to form a habit!

I started this blog to promote positivity, passion, and play as the foundations of having a joyful, fulfilling life. I believe in this message, and I see too many others floundering with negativity to not want to share the message that there is a better way. I don't know how to make the physical symptoms of stress stop in my body, but I do know that I can keep turning my mind in the right direction.

I am dedicated to pulling my mind in the direction of positivity, passion, and play regardless of the events in my life. I will not react; I will be. That is my message today. I hope you all can join me!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day 5: A Minor Setback

I have a problem with stress. Sometimes when I experience a stressful event, my body overreacts. I get pain in my heart and my stomach. I get nauseated. I don't think. To put it more succinctly I can't think, my mind just shuts down. I feel really weird inside, like all of my various tissues are vibrating rapidly. Usually I just sit really still or lie down until it passes. I shut down. It isn't really a choice. It just happens.

Of course, I don't like it. It isn't exactly like a panic attack. It is very hard to explain. Today is actually the first time that I have tried to. I didn't use to have this problem. It crept up sometime while I was with Joe (my exhusband) like so many other things did. The best way I could describe it is that I am so scared that my body and mind just shut down so that I don't have to deal with it. It is like they are trying to keep me safe.

I think the reason that I analyzed this event so much today is because I wanted to be positive. My whole self was struggling to be positive, and yet, I wasn't being negative, and I could see that. My mind wouldn't let me think anything either positive or negative. It was frustrating to experience, but not bad necessarily.

Anyways, the end result was that I didn't make my walk today. I took two short walks, one about five minutes and one about ten, and that was it. I will take my walk tomorrow. I know the importance of never missing two days of habit forming in a row!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day 4: Quick Update and Progress

First, I am proud to say that today, for the fourth day in a row, I headed outside and walked for around an hour. It brings me great joy, and I see the mental and spiritual benefits from this activity everyday. My body is still adjusting. My biggest problem areas are chafing between my thighs and achy feet. I assume those will work themselves out. Most everything tends to work itself out for me.

I had some thoughts about my life journey today. I definitely see a path. First, I was unaware of who I was. Eventually I got so lost that I just fell out of life. It took a life shaking emergency to wake me up and show me that I was not living the life that I thought I was. Then began the long sometimes hard, sometimes wonderful exploratative journey of self discovery. Along the way I made lots of rules often using them as crutches to get me through difficult patches. Now I am moving into a new state. I am moving beyond rules and crutches. I am learning to be mindful of life, both who I am and who others are, and also how the world is. I chose my actions in the moment, no rules necessary. I no longer want to judge myself. I just am.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Day 3: Menu Plan Monday

Time to share my weekly menu plan. You might want to take a moment to visit the official Menu Plan Monday. The host is having a giveaway this week, and as usual there are 300+ links to menu plans.

Here is mine!

Monday: spaghetti w/meatsauce, salad (We have spaghetti a lot on Mondays!)

Tuesday: crockpot chili, corn chips, sour cream, cheese (We have chili a lot on Tuesdays.)

Wednesday: crockpot chicken stew, homemade bran bread

Thursday: extra simple make ahead lasagna

Friday: crispy chicken strips, corn, salad

Saturday: mini-buffalo chicken sandwiches, crudites w/dip

Sunday: sauteed chicken breasts, green beans, potatoes au gratin, cake

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day 2: Breaking Away from Perfectionism

Today I ate lunch at a reasonable hour, grabbed my timer, set it for one hour, and headed out on my walk. I walked around the lawn for awhile viewing the foliage. I paced up and down the driveway concentrating on staying in the moment experiencing my walk to the fullest. Then I headed out on the road finally allowing my mind to wander where it would painting fantasies in my head.

I walked a lot farther away from home than I have in awhile. I used some techniques from my teenage years to stay out of fearful situations. I crossed the street when cars came. I turned around if there was a person or a dog. I let the situations decide which way I would walk while I thought and thought and thought. I was thoroughly enjoying myself, but I knew in the back of my mind that I had a lot to do at home so when it seemed like it should be time to turn towards home, I looked at my timer. I had set it for an hour, but I hadn't turned it on!

Well, I had no idea really how long I had been walking, so I turned around and quickly headed home. When I got home, I burst into the house and looked at the clock. I wasn't exactly sure when I had left. I have been trying hard to pay less attention to the time so I don't often look at clocks if I can avoid it. My girlfriend said that she thought it had been about 45 minutes.

In the past, I would have went and searched my IM records or other online activities trying to discover just exactly when I left the computer and just exactly how long I had walked, or I might have decided to go back out and walk another hour because I couldn't be sure that I had completed my commitment. I would have at least gone out and walked for fifteen or twenty minutes to make sure that the total was longer than an hour.

Guess what? I did none of that. I went out. I walked a long time. My legs were tired, and my mind was full of joy. That is what mattered! Letting go of perfectionism feels great!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day 1: A New Beginning

Today I started my month of exercising. Of course, I plan to continue my exercising after this month, but this month I will be establishing the habit. I knew that today would be difficult because we are celebrating Samhain today, and we had to get groceries today, and well it just isn't a typical day!

For one thing, I didn't have lunch. We were pretty much out of food so I just munched on some donuts that my mom had sent home with us yesterday. When it was 1:30, I realized that we weren't going to make it out to get groceries for at least another half hour so I asked Diana if she would rather I exercise or wait and do it when we got home. She said go! So I went. The walking itself was easy. I took it easy, and I broke it up by doing different types of walking. I am a bit achy now, but I am sure that long grocery trip after the hour of walking contributed to that.

I am proud of myself for getting out there and moving! While I was out, I felt a bit guilty because I know that there are a lot of other things that I need to do too. I shouldn't though. This is for me. It gives me energy and joy! If I feel better, then I can do more for my family, and I am more fun to be around.