Tag Archives: planning

My August Challenge (or Being Selfish To Be Happy)

Another month is here! I can’t believe July is over and it’s already my birthday month! And as always, a new month brings the recap of my last month’s challenge and announcing what my challenge will be this month.

Last month, I wanted to work on practicing more mindful breathing. More specifically, I set a reminder to work on breathing and staying calm at 2 of the times that I commonly feel like I want to binge eat. This was a challenge idea I got from therapy and I was curious to see how it would go for me. Doing things like this have been tough for me in the past because I get super focused and forget to do it. Or I get distracted by something else and forget. But having a reminder on my phone does help since I have to dismiss it to make it go away.

While I didn’t always do the 10 slow breaths that I planned on doing, this still was a successful challenge to me. If I was feeling like I wanted to binge, this alarm stopped me and made me think. It didn’t always stop it, but at least I was not in the trance that I’m used to being in when having an episode. I was more aware and even if I didn’t always make the right choice I knew it was my choice. Because this gave me so much more awareness, I will be doing this beyond just last month’s challenge. I think that the benefits will continue each month that I do it and it is a helpful thing for me to have.

But doing challenges beyond the month that they are for brings me to this month’s challenge. I really struggled to figure out what I wanted to do. I’ve added so much to my days between my happiness checklist and all the monthly challenges that I’ve continued to do. I’ve continued almost all the monthly challenges beyond the month that I did them for and that’s a lot of stuff for me to remember to do.

So this month’s challenge isn’t necessarily something I will be doing every day but instead something that I want to have as a focus for the month in general. I want to focus on figuring out what makes me happy and what I want to continue to do. I have to do so much out of obligation or responsibility and I want to make sure all the stuff I add to my life are for fun and not because I feel like I have to because I’ve been doing that for a while.

On my happiness checklist, most things are things that I want to keep on there. They do make me happy and when I haven’t done something for a while I’m reminded to do so. But the ones I’m thinking about taking off are the ones that I do every day and I don’t have to focus on doing. This mainly is about reading and eating disorder recovery research every day. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t read at least a little bit. I read every single night before bed and I read a lot in my down time too. And I do recovery research every day because I read 10 pages of a recovery book every day. While these things make me happy, I think maybe I should add 2 other things to my list that I don’t do every day so I can challenge myself to keep focusing on my happiness.

And with my monthly challenges, most of the time I want to continue doing them when the month is over. But I’ve been noticing that some things are either stressing me out or I’m not doing them. I need to start removing those reminders from my phone so they don’t remind me that I’m not doing something. It can make me mad when I get a reminder to do something that I know I won’t do. But my idea of wanting to try to be perfect has prevented me from just deleting those reminders. I’m going to go through them this month and figure out what I want to keep, what I want to delete, and what I might want to add.

And when I’m figuring out what I want to edit and add, I have to work on being very honest with myself and not worrying about not being perfect or caring what other people think. That’s not easy for me, but that’s why this is a good challenge for me. It’s my birthday month and I want to make this an amazing month! And I think focusing on exactly what makes me happy is the perfect way to make the month the best it can be!

A Challenge For A Weird Month (or French And Deep Breaths)

Another month brings another monthly challenge! It’s crazy to think that it’s a quarter of the way through this year already. It seems like it’s been flying by so far and that March went by so much faster than I ever expected!

My monthly challenge for March was to work on learning French every day. I was using the app Duolingo which I had tried to use before and just couldn’t get into. But I decided that I was going to go all out for the month with trying to learn French and if I hated it that I wouldn’t force myself to continue doing it. I did 2 lessons each day (each lesson took less than 5 minutes) and I really did make an effort to take it seriously and work hard at it.

It wasn’t easy to learn French just through the app (that might have been my problem the first time), but I was able to get through the entire month and have continued to work on it each day. I do go back and review past lessons often and the way the app is set up they do have words that seem to be the toughest for you in each lesson to work on. Some of the stuff is hard to understand because I don’t know why things are one way versus another or the different way to use various verbs. But I am understanding much more French than ever before and I am looking into other ways to work on learning the language. Overall, I think it’s another very successful monthly challenge.

When it came to planning what my challenge for April would be, I struggled with it for a while. There are several things I would love to use as a monthly challenge, but with surgery and the recovery coming up I knew there would be a good chance I wouldn’t be able to do it each day of the month. I don’t want to set myself up for failure when I know that it might be impossible for me to do something while in the hospital or while I am restricted in what I can do.

I probably thought about this for almost all of March, but I finally thought of what I could do every single day in April that would benefit me even though it is an easy challenge.

This month is going to be a stressful month and I don’t need to do anything that will add more stress in my day-to-day life. Taking deep breaths is something I don’t do that often but when I do focus on it I notice a benefit in my day. Taking time to take some deep breaths allows me to take a moment to just focus on that and not what else is going on around me. It allows me to center myself again and then get back on track with whatever I need to be doing.

There will be a lot of things that will be benefitted by deep breaths. I’ve got my MRI coming up this week and dealing with the IV needle is always tough on me. And the time inside of the MRI machine is very stressful and I know that if I use that hour inside the machine focusing on my breathing that I won’t be thinking about how small the MRI tube is or how loud the noises are. And after my surgery I’m sure I’ll have moments of pretty bad pain and taking deep breaths can give me something else to focus on instead of waiting for painkillers to start working.

I know this is a simple monthly challenge, but I’m taking it as seriously as I have with any of the past challenges. I am taking time each day to work on deep breathing and just a few days into this month I’ve already noticed a difference. And I think knowing that I have a challenge this month that will be able to be accomplished before surgery, after surgery, and while I’m recovering has made me relax a bit because I won’t be worried about trying to get something else new done while dealing with recovery. I am hoping that I will be able to continue with all of my monthly challenges while recovering, but I also know that I have to be lenient and forgiving with myself if I can’t do it. All I can do is to stay calm, take deep breaths, and focus on being the best me possible through this entire crazy month.

Adding Gadgets To My House (or Tools To Help Me Out)

While I’m trying to cut back on my spending and bringing more things into my house, sometimes you need to break that rule to make things better. It’s a hard balance to figure out because I’m sure I can justify spending for stuff I really don’t need. So I’m trying to be very picky and making sure that it’s something that I really need and not just something that I want. But there were two gadgets that fit into that rule that I ended up buying this week.

The first thing I got was a lamination machine for my house. Usually when I need to laminate stuff, I go to Staples and pay to get it done. I normally only need one thing or one page so it never seemed worth it to me to have my own lamination machine. But my mom has had one for a while and loved it, so when I was thinking about getting stuff laminated this week I looked into buying one for myself.

I did manage to find one that was heavily discounted on Amazon that would arrive that day at my house (thanks Amazon Prime)! And it was perfect because I have been working on my meal planning and wanted to create a nice reusable meal planning guide.

The machine I got is really easy to use and it came with a bunch of the laminating pages so I don’t need to buy any for a little bit. And I have been able to use the meal planning page I created each day (although I’m still trying to figure out how I can write on this without ruining it). And it’s small enough that it fits into a shelf on my desk so it is out of the way when I am not going to be using it.

The other new gadget I got this week also has to do a bit with my challenge to work on meal planning. I’ve thought for a long time that my kitchen was perfectly set up for me to cook, but I’m aware that I set it up based on what most people need and not what I need. I’m a pretty decent cook and my knife skills are ok, but when I have to cut up a bunch of stuff I’m not so great at it. So I have been looking casually at ideas to make chopping stuff easier and decided I needed to invest in a new cooking gadget. So I went out and got the Vidalia Chop Wizard.

I got it yesterday and used it last night to cook dinner. I made meatloaf muffins and this was perfect for chopping the onions and mushrooms I use it in. It was so much easier than chopping things by hand and everything was uniform so I didn’t bit into a huge piece of onion while eating dinner. I know that this can be used for a ton of stuff and I have a feeling that I will be discovering ways to use it on a regular basis.

And besides the new stuff I bought this week, I’ve been rediscovering stuff in my kitchen to help me with my food goals. I’ve been using my slow cooker (and I found my slow cooker liners so I don’t have to do much cleanup) to make easy meals and I’ve found recipes that don’t require browning food or getting another pan dirty to make the meal (my slow cooker pet peeve). And I’ve been using my food processor regularly the last few weeks and have started to think that maybe I need to buy another food processor bowl and blade so it will be easier to use it multiple times a day.

I know that I can do a lot of the work I’ve been using these gadgets for by hand, but why should I? This is making cooking easier and seems like I could be more likely to keep things up in the long run. The only downside is that I do need to go through my kitchen now and figure out what I really want to keep and what I can give to others because my kitchen is super tiny and lacking storage space. I don’t know where to put everything just yet (there are things all over my house that could live in the kitchen if there was space), but that will be something else I need to work on with organizing my house.

But for now, I’m just so glad that I was ok spending a bit of money to try to make things better for me with figuring other things out in my life.

Time For Some Planning (or Trying A Challenge Again This Month)

It’s a new month and time for a new challenge in my Ink+Volt Planner! First, I want to reflect a bit on my January challenge. I set my challenge to be to work on tumor visualization every day. I set an alarm to remember to do this each morning and most of the time I would be able to do this before the alarm went off. Many mornings, I put my tumor visualization in my morning pages for “The Artist’s Way”. And if I didn’t write about it in the morning, I spent some time sitting quietly and thinking about my tumors getting smaller.

I won’t know if this worked until I have my next MRI in March, but I’m going to keep doing this until my surgery and then after surgery I will be doing liver visualization to work on getting my liver to regenerate quickly. I know that in the past, the power of positive thinking has worked really well for me so I’m looking forward to seeing how well it will work for me this time.

I’ll admit that my January challenge wasn’t too challenging for me. It was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t have to work too hard to do it. So since I did something easier last month, I’m doing something that has challenged me multiple times this month. My February challenge is to work on meal planning again.

I’ve attempted meal planning more times than I can count. I’ve tried doing it with bulk cooking, delivery diet meals, meal replacements, and just trying to cook more at home. They have all had moments of success, but none of them have really lasted that long. So this time, I’m attempting another method to see if this time it will be one that sticks. I believe that eventually, a method will be the one that I connect with and I can’t find that out until I try different ones.

I’m doing a pretty basic meal plan set up. I don’t have a specific diet or plan I’m trying to follow. I’m just trying to plan my meals so I don’t have to think too hard about what I’m going to eat that day and to be better and only getting what I need at the grocery store. I found a pretty basic meal plan printable and I started using that this week.

Originally, I typed in what I was planning to eat but because things keep changing I’ve been crossing things out a lot. I’m thinking about printing a blank template, getting it laminated, and using a dry erase pen or post-its to plan so it is easier to switch things around. There is also a grocery list printable that matches this, but I’m used to writing grocery lists on envelopes (if I’m using coupons) or on scratch paper so I don’t feel the need to use a fancy grocery list.

My ultimate goal would be where I could plan things out on Sunday and do my grocery shopping for the week and be done with it. If I don’t have to go to the grocery store to find something for dinner, maybe I won’t be tempted by all the things I shouldn’t be eating. If I plan things out, I can know exactly how many of each thing I need and then I can make better grocery lists. This could potentially save me money too, but that’s not the focus right now.

My main goal with meal planning is to be successful with following the plan for at least 2 meals a day. Breakfast should be pretty easy, but I do struggle with lunch and dinner a bit. But by having a plan, I can look forward to what I will be eating that day and hopefully it will take my mind off of thinking about what I should go to the store and buy after I’m done with work. I’m also hoping that it will help me with eating a better lunch on days that I’m working out. Sometimes, I don’t make the best food choices on workout days and my workouts do suffer because of that.

I’m not expecting a miracle. I know that there will be a lot of challenges with this and that there is potential that I will not be as successful as I like to be with my monthly challenges. But I have to try because I know that I need to make a change in my life to get into recovery and to lose weight. And if nothing else, this will force me to be more aware and a more conscious participant in my food choices and help to limit the lack of mindfulness that I do struggle with.

This won’t be an easy challenge for me to do, but it’s an important one for me. I’m going to do my best to plan and to figure out the best way for me to do the planning, and hopefully in a month I’ll be able to share with you all that this worked really well for me!

My First 2017 Monthly Challenge (or Working On My Tumors)

It’s a new year and I’ve got a new year of monthly challenges! I did buy the Volt Planner for 2017 and I’m very happy that it’s a similar set up to what the 2016 planner was like. There are still the weekly and monthly goal setting pages as well as the monthly challenges. And I plan on doing a new monthly challenge each month just like I did last year!

I think that having the goals and challenges really did help to keep me accountable and focused on doing things to better myself. It’s one thing to say that I’ll be doing something, but to have a list in a planner where I can see what I set out to do is another. Having it on paper makes me want to make sure I don’t slack because I hate to see unchecked boxes on my goals and challenges pages in the planner. It’s the perfectionist in me that makes me want to get something done if I write it down in a planner.

I’ll admit that January 1st got here much quicker than expected so I didn’t have as much time dedicated to planning out my challenge for the month as I would have liked. There are some big ideas for challenges that I have for this year, but some of them involve planning or setting things in place that I didn’t have time to do for this month. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some of my big ideas later this year, but it will have to wait. But there was one thing that I started doing at the end of the year that I knew I wanted to continue to do this year and dedicate time to working on it.

While I know that I will need to have liver surgery no matter what, there are things that I can do to hope that the surgery and recovery will be easier. And one of those things is to have the tumors shrink. There is no medical way that I can do this (they aren’t cancerous tumors so I don’t need chemo or radiation to shrink them), but I can still work on doing it on my own. I’m a believer in the power of positive thinking and I’ve been trying to think that my tumors are shrinking every day.

My mom did the same thing when she had cancer, and her journey to being cancer free went much easier than most people thought it would be. She imagined her body healing every single night and I believe that doing that helped her so much. So I’m doing the same with my tumors. I had been doing this before the new year, but I still decided to make it my monthly challenge to make sure that I do this every day.

Like most of my challenges, I’m using the reminder app on my phone to alert myself every day to dedicate time to doing this. I’m not using my mediation app for this, but I’m thinking about doing that because there is a silent timed mediation option within the app. But for now, I’m just focusing on how I imagine the tumors getting smaller for a few minutes every single day.

It’s not a huge thing for me to do, but I know that doing it will only benefit me in the long run. And making sure that I do dedicate time every day for this will help me not to slack off and forget. I really do love having all the reminders in my phone going off throughout the day so I don’t zone out and then realize the entire day has gone by without me getting anything done. I feel silly that I hadn’t been taking advantage of those prior to the monthly challenges because they are so easy to set up. But at least now I have them and I am always adding more to my reminder list.

While this challenge is a smaller one, I’m really excited to have another full year of these challenges. From the ones that I set up last year, most of them are still things that I do every single day. I have slacked off on a few (mainly the yoga and mindfulness before eating ones but I’m working on that), but most of them have become habits and my day doesn’t feel complete until I accomplish them. And I know that building a few new good habits every year will add up and be something really great for me for the rest of my life.

Here’s to another year of monthly challenges and hopefully using my mind to get my tumors to shrink before my next MRI and we make my surgery plan!

December Monthly Challenge (or Wrapping Up For The Year)

It the last month for my monthly challenges for 2016! I’ve had a lot of amazing monthly challenges and they have really changed me for the better! But before I get into my December challenge, I want to do a quick recap of last month.

Last month, I set the challenge to drink more water. More specifically, I wanted to try to drink 80 oz of water a day. I picked that amount because the cup I use to drink water at home is 20 oz. So it was easy to say I wanted to drink 4 cups a day. I managed to accomplish this almost every single day last month. I was able to get the timing down to where I knew when I needed to finish each cup. The only time I really didn’t meet my goal was when I was out-of-town. This was mainly because I wasn’t focused on how much water I drank (plus I didn’t know how big the cups were at the rental house). But overall, I’d consider the challenge a big success!

I had some really big ideas for my December challenge, but after some consideration I decided to scrap that idea. I’ve already ordered a new planner for 2017, so I can do some of the big ideas next year. And there are some really big ideas (like having a month completely binge-free) that I’m very excited about. But for December, I decided that this monthly challenge is a time to do some reflection.

So I’ve decided that my December challenge is to rededicate time to the challenges I set throughout the year. Most of them have been easy for me, but I’ve totally been slacking on a couple. And being at the end of the year is the perfect time to make sure these challenges become habits and I make sure that I start 2017 in the best place possible.

The ones that I’ve been able to keep with pretty much no effort have been properly tracking my food intake (although there are some improvements I’d like to make), doing daily gratitude lists, not ordering delivery food (although I may get delivery Chinese food for my Christmas dinner), weighing myself every day I’m home, working on self-submitting for acting jobs every day, meditating every day (but there is improvement I can focus on), reading 10 pages of a recovery focused book daily, and my water intake.

While those have come easily to me, I know that I’m not doing them 100% all the time and I have taken notes on steps I want to take to make these new habits even stronger and better for me. I think those steps should be pretty easy since they are small tweaks versus starting from scratch. But I think improvement and progress with habits is a good thing so I’m happy to work on making these better.

The ones I’ve been struggling with have been practicing mindful eating, a yoga class online (or at least a yoga pose) every day, and doing a daily task sheet. The mindful eating one has been very tough. I have an alarm to remind me of it, but because my eating schedule isn’t the same day to day, sometimes the alarm is too early or too late. I need to work on a different system, but I’m not totally sure what that is yet. But I’m happy to be working on it this month. Yoga was working really great for me for a while, and then time just got away from me. It’s another thing that I have an alarm to remind me of, but I need to make it more of a priority in my life again. It was a good thing and I know I need to work on bringing it back. And while the daily task sheet was a challenge I didn’t end up liking, I know that having a daily to-do list is good and I’m seeing how that could be most productive for me.

I think spending the month working on the year’s challenges will put me in a place where I’m ready to take on 2017 head first. I know that 2017 has the potential to be a very rewarding yet very challenging year so I want to be in the best head space possible. And getting back to my challenges will be a great way to accomplish that.

My new planner should be arriving in the next week or so, and I’m so excited for it! Buying this planner really was one of the greatest things I’ve done for myself and I’m so excited to make next year’s planner even better!

And because the team at Ink+Volt know how much I have loved my planner this year, they gave me something to share with you all! This is a link to the entire 2016 planner that you can download and use! Even though 2016 is almost over, you can use the December pages to make sure you also end 2016 the best person ever! And if you love it, you can still buy the 2017 planner and hopefully get it delivered before the new year starts!

I’m really excited for this month’s challenge/reflection/rededication and seeing how I am able to solidify my challenges in my life. My next monthly challenge post will be my first challenge for 2017!

Almost Through A Year Of Monthly Challenges (or Picking A Good Challenge For November)

I’m on to my 11th monthly challenge! I’m still so happy that I have my Spark Planner this year (and I already ordered my Volt Planner for next year) and while it’s not always easy to think up of monthly challenges I know they are good for me. But before I talk about my challenge for this month, I want to recap my October challenge.

I had decided that creating daily to-do lists would be a great challenge and I really though that they would help me stay as productive as possible. And at first, they were working well for me so I wouldn’t forget random things that I knew I needed to get done that day. Also, once something it written down I feel obligated to get it done. The first few days were great to remember weird things that aren’t a part of my normal day that needed to be done.

But after that, I discovered that these to-do lists really weren’t changing that much from day-to-day. I’m pretty set in my schedule most days (I’m still working on scheduling my afternoons better, but that’s another issue) so I was just writing the same thing each day. Those lists ended up being something that seemed more like an obligation that I had to do to complete the challenge instead of something that helped me. I don’t love that I didn’t have the best experience with this challenge, but I guess I had to do the challenge to find that out.

I still think that writing out a to-do list on my busy days is a great idea. There are times that I have a bunch of random things I need to get done and I don’t want to forget anything. So those lists can help me remember things that I can easy forget. But to do it every single day isn’t looking like being the best use of my time or focus. Toward the end of the month, I even started to get out of the habit of looking at what I had written so I was starting to forget what I had planned. But I tried and that’s all I can do.

Even though I’m not continuing with the challenge I had done last month, I’m excited about the challenge that I’m doing this month. In the past, I had no issues with drinking enough water. I actually had issues with drinking too much water so I started to track water to make sure I wasn’t drinking too much. But I’ve noticed lately that there can be days where I only drink half of what I know I really need to drink for the day.

So my challenge for November will be to drink at least 80 oz of water every day. I have a tumbler that I drink out of at home that is 24 oz and my workout water bottle is 20 oz. So my plan is to drink 4 full tumblers or water bottles a day. That will get me a bit more than 80 oz a day, but it won’t be too much water either. On the days that I seem to be drinking water endlessly, I do try to keep it under 100 oz of water, but if I go over that by a bit it’s not dangerous. When I used to drink too much, it would be more like 200 oz of water or more in a day.

I used to think that since I had issues with drinking too much water that I’d never have an issue with drinking enough. But I think that thinking made me a bit lazy and got me to where I’m not tracking water or making sure I’m getting enough. And with all the random health issues I have, drinking enough water is important. So I’m glad that I’ll be focusing on it this month so I can get back on track and help to my hydration a non-issue with my health.

I’m looking at how to best track water in my planner. I’m thinking maybe checkmarks or making some stickers at home so I can mark each glass down. I know it will be easy to forget if a glass of water is my 2nd or 3rd for the day, so I want to make this as error free as possible. But no matter what, I know that this is going to be a very positive step for me and my health so that I can focus on more important things regarding my health.

Almost a full year of monthly challenges is done! I feel like I’m going to have to do something huge for my December challenge (originally that was going to be my yoga class a day challenge, but I’ve already accomplished that!). Fortunately, I’ve got an entire month to decide what December will be! Then after that, it will be an entirely new year of monthly challenges to take on!

Getting More Productive (or More Monthly Challenges)

I’ve completed 9 monthly challenges so far this year and I have to say that each one that I set for myself has made such a huge improvement in my life! It’s so crazy to me that I haven’t been doing these before because they aren’t hard for me (which makes me wonder if I’m picking challenges that are too easy) and I’ve pretty much been able to keep up with every single one.

I’m not 100% perfect, but I’m learning to be ok with that. But for the ones that seem to make the biggest difference, I’ve had no issues continuing with them. Reading recovery books has been one of the best ones for me so far and I’ve been learning so much with each book I read. And I think after that challenge is when I felt more inspired to push myself more and more.

Last month, I challenged myself to do 1 yoga pose a day. I really wanted to challenge myself to do 1 iPad yoga class a day, but I had been having so much trouble doing those classes on even a semi-regular basis. I had been making those classes part of my weekly goals for so many weeks, and most of those weeks were not successful.

Even though I set the bar really low for myself and I decided to do the best I could to do one iPad yoga class most days of the month. If nothing else, I’d learn more yoga poses I could do as my pose for the day. With the app that I have, there are a bunch of classes but you can also create your own class. Since I’m new to this, I stuck with the pre-made classes. They ranged from 5 minutes to an hour and I started with a short class.

It quickly became a habit to do one of my classes in the morning. When I couldn’t do one in the morning, I was feeling off and was missing how good I was feeling when I did the class before breakfast (which was most days except Mondays which I didn’t do since I have an early workout).

And wouldn’t you know it? I managed to do one iPad yoga class every single day in September!

yoga-challenge

I plan on continuing this, but I’m not sure if I’m going to stick with just this app. There are so many yoga classes on YouTube and I think I might try exploring those. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while and for some reason when I set it as a challenge it finally kicked in!

And that helped to inspire my challenge for this month. First of all, the Volt Planner (the planner I use that has these challenges in it) is on Kickstarter again for the 2017 planner. They are way beyond their goal, so the new planner will be printed. And while they do try to sell them outside of the Kickstarter, those are limited so I recommend buying one on the Kickstarter if you want to join me in all the challenges next year!

I became a backer of the Kickstarter within the first few hours that it went live. I had no doubts that I needed to get a planner for next year, and I’m so excited to continue doing amazing with my goals. As a backer, I get updates on the campaign from time to time and one of the recent updates had a nice perk in it! It was a daily task sheet with a to-do list along with space to write notes, write where you need to follow-up, and set daily priorities.

I make to-do lists from time to time, but they usually are just on a post-it with a few random things that I don’t want to forget. I don’t plan out my day, especially since things are pretty consistent from day-to-day. But that also makes it where I will have a day and wonder what I actually got done outside of work. Sometimes I finish work and just don’t do anything else. And I need to make sure that I’m not slacking on things outside of work and being as productive as I can.

So I’m setting my monthly goal to be to use the daily task sheet every single day. I printed them out so there are 2 on a sheet and I’m not sure if I’m going to keep them together or just grab one each day. I’m not sure if setting up my tasks the night before of the morning of will be best so I’m going to play around with both options. Whatever I end up doing, I have a feeling that this is going to make October the most productive month for me!

I’m lucky that I got inspired by the Kickstarter for this month’s challenge since I was really drawing a blank on what I want to work on. There are a couple of fitness related challenges that I want to try, but I don’t want to do 2 fitness ones back to back. I think this is going to be a great way to start getting ready to close out 2016 and help me get even more productive than I ever could have imagined!

Not Perfect This Month (or Challenged With The Monthly Challenge)

My August monthly challenge in my Spark Planner was to practice mindful eating. This is something I’ve read about in the recovery books I’ve been reading and it sounded like the perfect challenge for me to try. I know that when I’m not eating correctly, I am eating mindlessly. So mindful eating seemed like the ideal thing to work on.

I’ll admit that this challenge was not 100% successful like all the past ones were. I knew this was going to happen eventually but it doesn’t make it easier on me. I like to be perfect and I know that it can’t always happen. Ironically, the recovery book I was reading for most of August did discuss perfectionism and the relationship between that and eating disorders so that did help me a bit. I know that being perfect is part of the reason why recovery is tough for me to achieve and that’s why I’m glad I struggled with this challenge.

I set an alarm to go off every day around 6pm to remind me to practice mindfulness before dinner. I don’t always eat at 6pm, but I usually don’t eat before then so it seemed like a good time to have the alarm go off. I could always ask it to go off again later to remind me to be mindful when it was closer to when I would be eating. The thing was, sometimes I’d remember and sometimes I’d forget even with the alarm. And sometimes I’d remember once I started eating and then the perfectionist in me said it was too late and I couldn’t practice mindfulness mid-meal.

I was getting better toward the end of the month, but it still wasn’t what I was hoping for. I really thought I could jump in headfirst like I have with all my other challenges and it would come easily to me as a new habit. I’m not sure why this one was difficult, but it was and it’s something I have to accept. I know that when things get hard for me I sometimes will just give up and think it’s not for me, but I’m not doing this now. I’m going to continue to try to practice mindfulness and hopefully one day it will be just as easy as remembering to track food, weigh in, read my recovery books, and all the other challenges I’ve done.

Since the August challenge ended up being tough for me, I’ve decided to pick another tough one for me for September. I’ve been trying to get into yoga more often lately. I know it’s good for me and my hips and it will also help me with my meditation and mindfulness eating. I’ve tried to set weekly goals to do yoga once a week, but it’s too easy to keep putting it off until the week is over and I missed the goal. So I’m setting a yoga challenge for September.

As much as I’d like to say that I want to do one online yoga class (I have an app on my iPad that I like), I know that it is not something that is likely to be done and the perfectionist in me will give up if I forget too often. So I’m setting the challenge to be a small one that I can hopefully build up over time.

This time, for my monthly challenge, I’d like to do at least 1 yoga pose a day. This is totally doable for me and even if it is bedtime and I’ve forgotten to do it I still will be able to do so. One pose a day isn’t a lot, but I think that it may help me to build my way up to having a more regular yoga practice and I’m guessing that on several of the days I will do a short class from the app instead of just one pose.

As the year is winding down, I have just a few more monthly challenges to go for 2016. I have ever intention of getting a Spark Planner for next year so I know the challenges are going to continue. And since I’ve had my first “failure” at a perfect monthly challenge, I think now I will be more open to doing challenges that may seem impossible because I won’t be as scared of failure as I was before.

Reflection on April’s Challenge (and Looking At May’s)

I’ve been keeping up with the monthly challenges with my Spark Planner. Even though I do weekly and monthly goals in the planner, the monthly challenges are nice because they are something I want to do every day and for each of them (100% accurate food tracking, daily gratitude lists, and no ordering delivery food), I’ve been able to maintain those habits since then. I’m sure that eventually I will not be doing everything 100% perfect, but it’s nice to know that I’ve added some great daily habits into my life that I’m keeping up.

For April’s challenge, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I eventually settled on doing daily weigh-ins. I have such a love/hate relationship with my scale and tracking weight can be so emotional for me because it’s a black and white status. If I gained 6 pounds because I ate something really salty, it upset me and any weight tracking things I used made it look so horrible.

So once I knew that I would have this as my challenge, I looked for a new way to track my weight. Weighing in every day is great, but if I don’t keep records then there is no point of doing it. After searching in the app store, I came across Happy Scale. You still track your weight similar to any other app, but in the tracking it shows trends versus just the current number. So if you are overall down 10 pounds but you happen to gain a pound, it will still have a line headed down. It also shows you what you will weigh by a certain time based on the trend that you are currently on. This app really helped me to focus on the overall view and not just pinpointing this particular moment.

As far as my monthly challenge goes, I wasn’t 100% this time. I didn’t bring my scale with me to Santa Barbara, so on Sunday and Monday that week I didn’t weigh in. But every single day beyond those I weighed in (I set an alarm to remind myself but I didn’t really need it). I’m fine that it wasn’t 100%, and now I’m trying to figure out how I want to continue in the future. I don’t know if I love the idea of daily weigh-ins, but I don’t know if weekly ones are good enough if I’m tracking a trend. I’m going to play with the frequency of the weigh-ins and I feel really confident that I will find a happy medium.

For my May challenge, I decided to change things up a bit. Most of my challenges have been related to my health or eating disorder recovery. I love that I’m making great strides in that, but I also want to improve other aspects of my life. And one thing that I feel has been falling behind is my acting career. I’ve had some great things so far this year with the short film I helped a friend with and the new short film that I’ll be starring in (don’t forget to donate to our Kickstarter!).

But I know there is so much more that I can do. And I can’t think that my agents will do 100% of the work for me. I need to be proactive and work on finding great parts to audition for as well. So for May, I’ve set my challenge to search the various self-submission acting sites every single day. I can’t guarantee that every day I will submit myself for something because there isn’t always something that matches me. But every day I will check to make sure. I used to be really great at doing this, but lately I’ve been slacking.

I’ve set an alarm to go off every single day to remind me to look on the self-submission sites. It does come in handy to have the alarm because it’s so easy to forget. But this way my phone (and computer) will keep reminding me until I click that the task is complete. So far, it’s been pretty easy to remember to self-submit but I know there will be days that I completely forget until the alarm goes off. But that’s exactly why I have the alarm and there’s no shame in needing to be reminded to do something.

Hopefully out of doing self-submissions checks every day, I’ll get some more auditions this month. Getting auditions isn’t something I can control, so I’m not focusing on the results (just the action). But having results would be awesome and I know that every opportunity I have to audition is another day that I get to live my dream and be closer to my dream career.