It’s Been A While

Remember when I said waking up at 6 every morning was not an achievable goal for me?

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but after nearly 3 months of setting my alarm for 6 AM Sunday through Friday, I consistently wake up 10 to 15 minutes before my alarm regardless of when I went to sleep the night before.

This is a major win!

I’ve had other wins in the last three months:

  • I participated in my third ever aerial circus showcase, and did worlds better than the previous two times.
  • I marched in a Pride parade for the first time.
  • I completed my first major project at my new job, and tomorrow afternoon I will get to see the results of that work.

If this is what I was able to accomplish while I wasn’t paying attention, how much more will I be able to accomplish once I’m paying attention again?

I want to know the answer to that question, and so I present to you my newest plan:

7-Day Challenges

I have a very long list of habits I think I want to build, and a very high failure rate at building them. I start with 3 habits, and by the end of the first week I have 21 habits I’m trying to build all at the same time. This, of course, is not sustainable.

I would like to focus on one habit at a time. And I would like to know fairly quickly if a habit just isn’t going to happen. I figure if I can’t do a thing for seven consecutive days, I’m not going to do it long-term.

So: 7-day challenges.

I have a list of habits I would like to build, and I will dedicate seven consecutive days to each of them in turn. If I like a habit I may try to keep doing it for longer, but I’m not going to get frustrated with myself if a potential habit just isn’t meant to be. After day 7, I will move on to something else–no looking back.

That’s the plan, at least.

I’ll make a post at some point with the entire list of habits I would like to build. As for tomorrow, however, and the six days that follow, I will be making my bed each morning.

Mid-Month Check-In

On April 1st, I realized waking up at 6 AM every single morning is not an achievable goal for me.

April 1st was also was the last day of the circus show and I returned home after midnight. I wasn’t out celebrating; I was helping break down all of the sets, resetting the space we had rented, and putting everything into trucks. I decided, on the way home, that it would not be kind to myself to set my alarm for 6 in the morning, and so I set it for 10.

That same day, I started working on flexibility (a subject that deserves its very own post, so I won’t go into too much detail here). On Monday–the first day of my new job and also the first day of more circus classes–I learned I simultaneously have too little energy to work on flexibility after class, and too much energy to climb into bed by 10:30. Because it was a work night, I did set my alarm for 6 the following morning, but it got me thinking that there are going to be at least two days each week where hitting my goal of being in bed by 10:30 is going to be prohibitively difficult for me. So, I changed my goals again:

  • complete one at-home bodyweight workout each week
  • work on flexibility 5 days a week
  • be in bed by midnight each night
  • wake up at 6 am Sunday through Friday

In the past I would have considered myself a failure, and I probably would have given up as soon as that first day.

This month, I noted the sticking points in my original plan and adjusted for reality. As a result, I have stuck with it for nearly two weeks.

Fixing Sleep

It’s almost April, and I have successfully completed my (adjusted) March goal of building a viable workout routine!

This is what it looks like:

  1. start with a 5-10 minute warmup consisting of:
    • 1-2 minutes of light cardio (jumping jacks and/or jogging in place)
    • 5-7 minutes of head-to-toe kinetic stretching
    • 1-2 minutes of static stretching
  2. choose one exercise from three of the following categories, and perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps of each
    • quads
    • glutes & hamstrings
    • push
    • pull
    • core
  3. stretch ALL the things

It’s probably glaringly obvious that I’m no fitness expert, but I’m proud of myself and looking forward to reimagining this routine as I get stronger and more flexible.

Approaching April

I have a lot on my plate in April. I’m starting a new job. I’m continuing my volunteer work. I’m taking circus classes twice a week. My sister may be visiting, and if she does, my parents will probably visit then, too. Taking all of this into consideration, I’m going to aim to supplement my circus classes with once-weekly at-home bodyweight workouts, and put a lot of energy into figuring out sleep.

Fixing Sleep

One of the things that excites me most about my new job is the fact that I will finally have a set schedule.

My previous job was shift work, which meant I could start work anywhere between 8am and noon, and end work anywhere between 5pm and 9pm. I was lucky enough to know my schedule as far as three weeks in advance (a lot of people working in retail don’t have that luxury), but it wasn’t unheard of to be scheduled for 6 or more days in a row and “clopening” shifts (working the earliest possible shift after having worked the latest possible shift) were not an infrequent occurrence.

As you can probably imagine, shift work makes it really difficult to wake up at the same time every morning, or go to bed at the same time each night, and I’m really excited for the opportunity to do both of those things.

The Plan

Taking all of the above into consideration, here is my April plan:

  • one at-home bodyweight workout each week
  • wake up at 6am each morning (weekends included)
  • be in bed by 10:30 each evening

The First Learn

Two weeks in, I’m forced to admit that juggling three major goals is not something I’m capable of at the moment.

The State of My Life Right Now

On March 4th, I was asked to be part of a circus show, which will debut at the end of this month. I have twice-weekly rehearsals leading up to the show, followed by twice-weekly performances through April 1st.

Also on March 4th, a friend and I started working on a video project that involves quite a bit of research and requires me to learn a few new skills. I’m super excited about it, and will elaborate in a future post.

Five days later, I accepted a job offer from a company I’m really excited to work for. Since then, I’ve been navigating the stress of tendering my resignation and managing the very unexpected emotional fallout of leaving a company I’ve been with for the past five years.

I’m currently on day five of a seven-day work week.

Two days ago, I caught a cold.

Resetting Expectations

Of course, I’m not about to let any of the above stop me from moving forward with my plan. I’m just going to start moving forward a little differently.

Instead of focusing on all three major goals at once, I’m going to focus on one at a time:

  • By the end of March, I will have built a viable exercise routine.
  • In April, I will focus on fixing sleep.

So It Begins

We all know the basics: eat, sleep, exercise. If we’re doing these things well, we should see an increase in energy and a decrease in depression and anxiety. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. And when I’m told something enough times by enough people, I start to think it might be true.

So, here is my attempt at science:

As of today, I will start the long and arduous journey of eating right, sleeping well, and exercising often. The plan is to start small, take baby steps, and have my shit together by the time I’m 35.

Here’s the plan for March:

Eat

  • eliminate high-fructose corn syrup
  • keep a food & feelings journal

Sleep

  • build an evening routine
  • keep a dream journal

Exercise

  • build a digital collage/vision board
  • build an exercise routine

Over the course of this month, I’l be looking at each of these things in more detail, so I have a better idea of what I’m getting myself into. I’ll try to be clear about what my end goal is for each category, and my thought process surrounding why a particular baby step is right for me.

Finally, I’ll be setting new goals intermittently, and providing regular progress updates for the goals I’m currently working on.