Smoothie Sunday – The End

SmoothieTargetReachedAnother target reached! Lets start with the stats

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 66 consecutive days of drinking a fruit and vegetable smoothie.
  • DONE – Smoothies have been consistently prepared a week in advance.
  • DONE – 66 photos with smoothie recipes shared on Instagram.
  • DONE – 2 books read on food science.
  • DONE – 3 new restaurants with vegetarian options visited.
  • DONE – 11 weekly posts shared.
  • My weight has not changed since adding smoothies to my diet.
  • Aborted – 2 cooking classes taken that will help us get more vegetables in our meals.
    • Found 2 new vegan YouTube chefs to follow.

Grade: B

Incentive: Since a B is still passing, Clayton and I will be going on an excursion while in Mexico!

SmoothieCover

Lessons Learned:

The most important thing I learned through this exercise is that I hate vegetables, but I have come to enjoy my green smoothies. I cannot say if there has been an objective improvement to my health, but subjectively I can rationalize that getting more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis is better than not getting them. I will keep up with this habit and look forward to sampling new fruits and vegetables in my recipes.

6 Month Goals:

  • Read 1 new book on food science
  • Try 1 new vegetarian restaurant

Please enjoy the holiday season, and look for new habits from me next year!

Tidy Travels – The End

Clayton and I moved into our new house and have diligently worked to get unpacked before vacation.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 6 weekly posts shared
  • DONE – Completed discarding and packing by Thursday, 12/10/2015
  • DONE – Posted about storing techniques
  • DONE – Kept a photo journal

Grade: A

Incentive: I’ve already found a new cleaning service in Red Wing and hopefully we can get them started in January!

Lessons Learned:

One idea I tried to keep in mind while unpacking and storing was that everything should have a place. I left nothing unpacked, and it feels good to be surrounded by the things that spark joy.

Below are pictures that highlight the techniques suggested by Marie Kondo.

BathroomAfter
Bathroom storage – I used storage bins, shoe boxes, and have kept all the same items stored together.
BookshelfAfter
Bookshelves storage – they include the two accordion folders that now house the only paper in our place!
ClosetAfter
Closet storage – Our new closet is laid out differently, but we got almost everything stored there. I still have another chest of drawers in the bedroom, but it wouldn’t fit through the closet opening.

There was no part of this process that was simple. I think the fact that we were moving made it easier to keep moving forward. My favorite part was rediscovering things that do spark joy that have been stuck in boxes!

6 Month Goals:

My only goal is to ensure I ask myself if something sparks joy before purchasing it.

Please share your KonMari success stories in the comments!

Holiday Habits

Clayton and I spent the week of Thanksgiving in Texas, and we had a great time! I tried to plan in advance how to accommodate this habit while away from home for 3 days, but the best laid plans of mice and men…

Texas Smoothie Plan

Tuesday – green smoothie from Jamba Juice.

Wednesday – lunch and green smoothie at Vegeria.

Thursday – buy ingredients to make a smoothie at family’s house.

Texas Smoothie Reality

Tuesday – Success!

Wednesday – Naked Juice green smoothie.

Thursday – forced down a Boathouse green smoothie after our second Thanksgiving dinner.

Vacations with family always seem to get away from me. There are so many people to see, and I always underestimate the time it will take to do anything. Also people don’t just go along with my plans like I anticipate they will. At 5 pm on Wednesday, when I realized that we would not be able to accomplish my smoothie plans, I took advantage of a Walgreen’s pit stop to stock up on backup smoothie options.

Naked juice and Boathouse were not ideal solutions, but it was unrealistic of me to expect to be able to take over my aunt’s kitchen on Thanksgiving to make a green smoothie. A good lesson that I have learned in building these habits is to be flexible. I need to make this habit work in my normal life, and that means adjusting to hectic schedules while still making this habit a priority.

I’m glad to be back on track, and drinking our home-made smoothies. Do you have any holiday smoothie recipes? Please share them in the comments!

Smoothie Sunday – The Middle

I’m half way through the initial 66 days of building this smoothie habit. Let’s take a look at the numbers!

Action Plan Progress:

  • 36 of 66 consecutive days of drinking a fruit and vegetable smoothie.
  • Smoothies have been consistently prepared on the weekend.
  • 36 of 66 photos with smoothie recipes shared on Instagram.
  • 1 of 2 books read on food science.
  • 0 of 2 cooking classes taken that will help us get more vegetables in our meals.
  • 1 of 3 new restaurants with vegetarian options visited.
  • My weight has not changed since adding smoothies to my diet.
  • 6 of 11 weekly posts shared.

Grade: B

SmoothieMiddle
2 cups chard, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/2 pear, and 1 cup water.

Lessons Learned:

Overall I feel like I am making good progress on this habit. I was disappointed to see that there has been no change in my weight, but eating more fruits and vegetables is better than not. Not everything is dependent on a scale, and that was not the primary objective in developing this habit. I need to get on the ball with the cooking classes, but everything this time of year is related to Thanksgiving. Ah, I’m sure something will turn up!

Mixing up the ingredients by usings fruits and vegetables that I wouldn’t normally eat has kept up my enthusiasm. This project would be tedious if we ate the same thing over and over. My favorite new fruit in smoothies is honeydew and vegetable is chard.

I’m happy that we have made it to the half way point, but this is where things will get more difficult. With Thanksgiving this week I am worried that we might fall off the wagon with all the travel. Please share any helpful tips and tricks you have about eating well while traveling in the comments!

Meditation Monday – The End

MeditationCover

I am happy to report that I haven’t lost any momentum after completing the initial 66 days of cultivating this habit. Now it’s time to pause and reflect on my progress so far.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 72 consecutive days of meditating for at least 10 minutes a day.
    • 1,194.3 meditation minutes logged (~20 hours).
    • Average 17 minutes a day.
  • DONE – 66 daily photos taken of my meditation locations.
  • DONE – 2 books on meditation read.
  • DONE – 7 people connected with on meditation.
  • DONE – 3 classes on meditation attended.
  • DONE – 5 different meditation techniques attempted.
  • DONE – 10 weekly blog posts on developing my meditation habit written.

Grade: A+

Incentive: I decided against a meditation retreat, and choose to splurge on a spa retreat instead. I will meditate during my massage, manicure, and pedicure. Now that’s an incentive!

Lessons Learned:

“We are the cosmos made conscious and life is the means by which the universe understands itself.” – Dr. Brian Cox

This quote popped into my head today as I was trying to wrap up my meditation experience so far. It’s given me the opportunity to understand myself better, and by extension everything around me.

I continue to see improvements in my ability to focus and in dealing with stress. Morning meditation is especially beneficial in handling whatever comes my way throughout the day. A lot of the guided meditations I listen to also have suggestions for ways to incorporate your practice into your day, so it’s good to start early.

One surprise benefit to my meditation practice was that it made me better at quarters! I seriously wish that I would have practiced meditation when I was playing competitive sports, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a mental edge.

6 Month Goals:

  • Complete 2 Headspace theme packs
  • Read 1 new book on meditation
  • Attend a Tai Chi class

This has been a worthwhile endeavor and an excellent starting point for building future habits. I’m excited to find ways to stay on track and have already started a health theme pack with Headspace that will take me through another 30 days of meditation. Stay tuned for more on the meditation journey in the future!

Writing Wednesday – The End

BlogTargetReached

Yesterday was day 66! I am excited to review my progress, so let’s start with the stats!

Action Plan Recap:

  • DONE – 66 consecutive days of working on my blog for at least 1 hour.
  • DONE – 2 books on writing read.
  • DONE – 2 people interviewed about blogging.
  • DONE – completed the Journalism Skills for Engaged Citizens Coursera course.
  • DONE – 10 weekly blog posts on developing my blogging habit completed.

Grade: A

Blogging Stats:

  • 22 posts
  • 16 followers
  • 126 visitors
  • 249 views
  • 72 likes
  • 12 comments

Incentive: This afternoon I upgraded from a Free to a Premium account!

Lessons Learned:

I am proud of myself for sticking with this habit for 66 consecutive days. There were definitely some days it was hard to put in the time. One day I didn’t start working on the blog until 11 pm. My action plan helped me the most over the last few months, especially on the days where my motivation was lacking. It was good to have a reference list of ideas that all kept pushing closer to achieving my goal.

Making this blog public and sharing my goals with friends and family has also helped me to reach this milestone. Having people around me ask about my progress, and sharing excited conversations about the blog kept me inspired.

I am not going to track daily progress anymore, but I would like to implement some maintenance goals to stay on track with my newly formed habit.

6 Month Goals:

  • Improve my blogging stats
  • Blog about 4 new habits
  • Read 1 new book on writing

I am excited to carry this momentum forward in maintaining this habit and creating new ones! Do you have any new habits you’d like to build? Please share your goals in the comments.

Meditation Monday – The Middle

Top picture from my photo journal.
Top picture from my photo journal.

I halfway done building my meditation habit so let’s take a look at the stats!

Action Plan Progress:

  • 37 of 66 consecutive days of meditating for at least 10 minutes a day.
    • 546.97 meditation minutes logged (~9 hours).
    • Average 15 minutes a day.
  • 37 of 66 daily photos taken of my meditation locations.
  • 1 of 2 books on meditation read.
  • DONE – Connected with 7 of 2 people on meditation.
  • DONE – 3 of 2 classes on meditation attended.
  • DONE – Experimented with 5 different meditation techniques.
  •  5 of 10 weekly blog posts on developing my meditation habit written.

Grade: A+

Lessons Learned:

For the first month of building this habit the photo challenge aspect of my action plan was getting in the way of my practice. I had time to meditate, but finding a space that was visually interesting to meditate in made it harder to achieve my primary goal. I realized this was a problem once I signed up for Headspace.

Headspace has a Foundation Series with 3 levels that are 10 sessions each. They recommend making your practice part of a routine and doing it in the same place at the same time everyday. I didn’t want to abandon my photo journal so I have recently started meditating twice a day. I do my Headspace guided mediation right after I wake up and then I meditate again later in the day in a peaceful space. This way I am working my habit into an existing routine, and increasing my meditative time by practicing more throughout the day.

My meditation practice has improved my ability to focus and the way I deal with stress. When I first started meditating I had a lot of negative-self talk at that beginning of my sits, but that has quieted as I continue to practice. I am very happy with the progress I have made so far, and sincerely hope I can turn this into a lifelong habit.

Follow my Instagram meditation photo journal while it lasts @ppreoccupation!

Writing Wednesday – The Middle

I have successfully completed 32/66 days of my blogging habit. The half way point seems like a great time to pause and reflect on my progress so far.

Action Plan Progress:

  • 32 of 66 consecutive days of working on my blog for at least 1 hour.
  • 1 of 2 books on writing read.
  • 1 of 2 people interviewed about blogging.
  • 3 of 8 modules completed in the Journalism Skills for Engaged Citizens Coursera course.
  • 5 of 10 weekly blog posts on developing my blogging habit completed.

Grade: A

Blogging Stats:

  • 11 posts
  • 8 followers
  • 47 visitors
  • 128 views
  • 26 likes
  • 5 comments

Based on my action plan progress, I am making great strides in building my blogging habit. Even though the blogging stats are not part of my primary goals, they are interesting to review. As I continue blogging after my 66 day challenge is completed I will probably set new goals around these stats.

Lessons Learned:

The hardest part of this habit is staying ahead of my posting schedule. I really want to have my posts done a day or two in advance, but there are only so many hours in the day. Writing 300 words a day has helped to get my shitty first drafts out of the way, but I’m still not completing them any earlier. I haven’t missed a deadline yet, but I need to try to get ahead of the game.

Another problem is that my posts feel incomplete because habit building is a work in progress. When I investigate different aspects of a habit it feels like there is more I could do and experience before I’m ready to write about the topic. I just have to keep reminding myself that I am doing this to improve myself, not to become an expert.

I am really enjoying the challenge of cultivating this blogging habit. It has kept me motivated to keep up both of my daily habits, and by branching out of my comfort zone I have felt really good about how I am spending my free time.

Check out my Twitter account @ppreoccupation to continue following my blogging progress.