I love recording life. Hence this blog, my daily journal entries (on paper), the spiritual journal I keep, my running logs, my recipe log on pinterest, etc. The act of recording helps me process what’s going on, keep track of big picture patterns, make informed decisions for the future and keep good memories forever.
Apparently there’s some intrinsic pleasure just from the act of recording, as I learned in this “All about the numbers” challenge. I found this on a blog called Back to Her Roots.
Make some goals, plan a reward and fill out the chart to track your progress. I started this challenge as soon as I found it in November and finished it on December 30. I set a couple rewards but about 90% of my enjoyment of this project was the act of filling out the chart… I’m like a preschooler you’re trying to get to do his chores. But I have said it before and I will say it again: I will take motivation wherever I can get it.
Here were the goals:
- Log 2000 fitness minutes.
Walk or run 100 miles.I couldn’t run because of the stress fracture so instead I put “study 100 hours” (2 hours a day of school, not a lot, right?)
- D0 a plank-a-day for 50 days.
- Eat 250 servings of fruits and veggies.
Eat 75 meatless meals.Whatevs I love meat. I changed this to “write 75 entries in journal, blog, or spiritual journal. Drink 500 (eight-ounce) glasses of water.Laughably easy. I swapped it for “Post 50 motivational signs on my bathroom wall.” I chose my bathroom wall because it’s open and the perfect spot for a bunch of junky looking pieces of paper. Go 25 days without eating any added sugar.Too hard. I changed this to “25 days of no desserts; and no late-night cereal or Clif bars when I’m not actually hungry”
- Complete 20 random acts of kindness.
Go 50 days without stepping on the scale.Weight wasn’t really the focus of my project, so I picked “Sleep 8 hours a night” instead. But getting 8 hours a night would be nigh impossible for this night owl extraordinaire so I set this for 35 nights.
How did it work out?
- Log 2000 fitness minutes
This was cake, especially when I was doing 3 hour bike rides on the weekends.
- Study 100 hours
This was one hilariously off. I was shocked to discover how little time I actually spent engaging in school assignments. Of course, the last 18 days of the 50 I did this I was on Christmas break, and about a week was also during Thanksgiving break where I didn’t do any schoolwork. I also only counted hours toward this total if I worked without interruption or allowing myself to be distracted. I started a timer on my watch and made myself get to to at least 30, 45 or 60 minutes before stopping the watch and checking Facebook or getting a snack or something. There were a few good homework sessions where I was working with other people but being too chatty for me to count it toward the total. So, for roughly 25 days of school being in session, how much time did I spend actually doing school?
44. That’s less than two a day. No wonder I feel like I don’t have time to do school! While my time management this semester was far from perfect, I didn’t spend a ton of time just sitting around either. Although I wasn’t competing, I was still cross training, going to meetings for track, working at the running store about 15 hours a week and working with the cycling club to establish new relationships with sponsors.
But it makes me wonder, how much improvement would I see in my school performance if I prioritized it more? I did ok this semester but I often felt like I was scrambling to get things done, and I got the lowest GPA I’ve ever gotten for a semester.
- D0 a plank-a-day for 50 days
I basically abandoned doing core work when I went home for break (typical I’m not running anyway what’s the point mopey-ness), except for this exercise. This goal translated into many disgusted late night planks done right before going to sleep. I guess it was a good accomplishment; that’s 50 more minutes of planks I wouldn’t have done otherwise.
- Eat 250 servings of fruits and veggies
This was pretty easy, with an average of just 5 a day. Some days I had less but most I had around seven. I didn’t track this one that earnestly, just estimated most days. It was a good reminder not to abandon these foods during the holidays though.
- Write 75 journal entries, spiritual journals or blogs
I slid right into this one before the deadline. It wasn’t too hard. I never skip journal entries (going strong since 2006 baby!) but it was a good reminder throughout the 50 days for me to write entries in my spiritual journal which I neglect sometimes. I think I wrote like two blog posts at the time, so, not a lot, but better than nothing.
- Post 50 motivational signs in my bathroom
This one was fun! I did not meet this goal, technically. I got lazy after I hit 35 and my wall was getting pretty full. I posted all kinds of stuff – Bible verses, quotes, song lyrics, pictures from Pinterest, a couple race numbers, and a newspaper from the day after Baylor beat No. 1 ranked Kansas State in football – a reminder that anything is possible with belief. What a story! Anyway, this was a fun goal because not only did I get to enjoy the process of making the signs with markers and construction paper (woo! it never gets old), reflecting on their meaning as I painstakingly designed them, I got to see the signs every day after that. I look at them when I’m brushing my teeth or getting ready for bed and they’re always encouraging. I like to think they inspire all who visit that bathroom … haha.
- 25 days of no desserts; and no late-night cereal or Clif bars when I’m not actually hungry
I barely made this one. It didn’t require too much sacrifice though. I barely passed up any desserts. On the other days, usually an opportunity to get dessert just didn’t present itself. If I did this again, I would set it for more days. It did help me curb the senseless late night eating a little bit.
- Complete 20 random acts of kindness
I didn’t aspire to too much here. All of them were either buying my friends lunch when we went out or doing my roommates’ dishes when they hadn’t gotten around to them yet. It was interesting: I used to do the dishes only when I got fed up with a full sink, with an attitude of resentment. This time around, I told myself I could only count it for an “act of kindness” if I did with a good attitude. It made a huge difference. The task was the same: washing dishes, pots and pans. But when I thought positively, like “I love my roommates. They’re really nice and never make me feel bad about stuff. They are fun to talk to. They don’t mind when I make a mess or hog the TV or have people over. I am doing this because it will make their day a little easier and I can practice serving,” it made the work so much more fun! Crazy. Same work, different attitude actually put me in a better mood. Wow!
- Sleep 8 hours a night for 35 nights
I made it 27 nights of 8 hours of sleep. Half the time isn’t so bad, and there were a good deal of nights where I had 7.5 hours, which always feels sufficient. However, this goal was nowhere near successful because I still pulled a bunch of five and six hour nights. This was slightly because I was busy but mostly because I am a procrastinator. This is basically the one healthy habit I have never been able to master. It’s so twisted, like who doesn’t like to sleep!? I just like doing other stuff I guess. Anyway…
Overall this was a fantastic challenge. It really helped me control the controllables and not worry about not being able to run or be at my typical running weight. It made me feel like I was still making progress, and it helped me stay focused over the holidays with their “let loose” cultural mentality. Also, I know that in my life good habits in one area translate to good habits in another. For example, if I don’t get enough sleep I generally suck at everything else. This exercise helped me pursue good habits all around with school, relationships, sleep and exercise.
The only bad thing about it was that some of the goals were too zero-sum. Like, if I had already eaten a sweet that day, I was like, “Ooh, that one’s not gonna happen today, might as well eat two!” or “I’m not going to hit 8 hours of sleep tonight, no rush in getting to bed now!” which is clearly crappy logic.
Oh, and the prizes … I told myself I could get new handlebar tape on my road bike @ 2000 fitness minutes, and these neon dry erase markers I had been eying for my white board @ 100 study hours completed. I couldn’t think of a big enough goal for everything, something I wanted yet hadn’t bought for myself already. At the end of 50 days, I still hadn’t thought of big prize for meeting all the goals. My family spoiled me at Christmas (Camelbak water pack, journals, a food dehydrator, a bike jersey woohoo!) so I was pretty much set. I hadn’t successfully completed the sleep goal (or technically, studying, though there was no more work to do), and I realized the most rewarding part of the whole exercise had been just the act of filling out the chart! Now, to find a new one, or make my own :)
Finally, here are some low-quality (sorry sorry sorry!) pics of some of my motivational signs.