Goals Update – Week 11 – Lesson: Even a small success is a great motivator.

It has been a month since my last post. No excuses, I just didn’t feel like writing so I didn’t. Not writing however is not the same as not doing and there has certainly been plenty of that going on so I figured it was about time to give my long over-due Goals Update post (so much for at least once a week huh!).

Wow it has been so long I am actually having to refer back to my original post just to help me remember what they all are…
so I am just going to re-list them and include an update (in brackets) after each one:

I give myself one year to…

1. Post a new message on this blog at least once a week – more if I can find the time and have something worthwhile to post. (Pfft so much for this one, though I will try again starting… now)

2. Lose 26kg – I have it there to lose and I can honestly say I won’t miss it! (I have lost 6.4kg! I finally got a new set of scales – fancy ones even – and will be able to keep track much easier now. It is amazing how buoying it is to see positive results. I am more motivated now that I have had some success than I was in the beginning)

3. Improve my fitness – I am nowhere near ready for a zombie apocalypse and I have two babies to look after, I will need stamina. (Ok so I haven’t been working out anywhere near as much as I had intended but I am still doing way more than before (read – before nothing, now something) and that has to count for something)

4. Make it through an entire Pilates workout on the advanced level – I have never made it past the intermediate level and having not done it for so long I am back to beginner, I am sure touching my own toes should not be such a struggle. (Yeah about that… I haven’t actually dug my dvds out of storage yet… but I have been stretching so my flexibility is slowly improving. I still intend to achieve this goal so I guess I had better get on to it)

5. Kick my sugar habit – seriously I rely far too heavily on sugar to get me through the day! I am not going to give it up totally but I would like to get rid of the refined sugar at least. (I never thought I would ever manage to drink my coffee or tea without sugar but there you go, now I prefer it that way. It has also been over a month since my last glass of juice or soda – actually that is not completely true about the soda. I had a glass of diet Pepsi but didn’t enjoy it so I didn’t finish it, so to me that doesn’t count, it doesn’t does it? I have had a couple of cocoas in the evening but it is only once or twice a week, compared to the once or twice a day it was before I am pretty proud of this!)

6. Try one new recipe every week – even if it is just a new version of an old favourite. (This I have been doing, though I am totally crap at taking photos of them. I forget every time! Do you even want to know what I am making if I can’t show you a picture? Seriously, do you? Let me know if you do as I will happily post the recipes. I have made everything from yeast-less pizza dough to tortillas from scratch, sticky lemon chicken, brownies, empanadas, souvlaki and the list goes on...)

7. Complete a craft project every month – I really wanted to make this one a week but realistically most days I am lucky if I can fit 10 mins into the routine. (So this one is a little harder to report on. I have, in true ME form, started many new projects and, as yet, finished none – other than the ones I have already posted about. There are two reasons for this, firstly, I keep finding I don’t have everything I need to complete something and as I don’t want to spend much on any one project I have been putting them on hold until I can find what I need either free or super cheap. This has meant a few things are on a temporary pause. Secondly I am happiest when starting something new so rather than wait til I have everything I need I usually opt to go ahead and start. I am currently working on:
* my lanterns,
* finishing my home management folder,
* putting together a favourite recipes folder,
* a wall mounted herb garden for my kitchen,
* propagating seeds for my summer garden
* a papier-mâché rocket name-plate for Danger’s bedroom door
* a papier-mâché rocket for Danger to play with so he will stop hassling me to play with the name-plate
so just a few things on the go. Actually I don’t think the home management folder will ever be truly ‘complete’ as I think I will still be finding things to put in it years from now but that is ok, the perfectionist in me is not quite ready to share it yet. The Papier-mâché project is utilising things I have around the house, it is just taking quite a long time for it to dry between layers in this cold weather. I will hopefully have that done very soon as Danger is super excited by it and I would like him to have it before he loses interest. I have also found all of the missing pieces to finish my lanterns now hidden among the blankets in a little person’s bed and have done a few so here is a sneak preview before the actual post that I will hopefully be able to show next week..
.)
DSC01875

8. Find and join (or start) a play group for my children – this I will make time for! There are a lot of children in the army housing but the only family my kids played with moved away so it is time to find new playmates. (I have collected a bunch of CDs of kid’s sing-a-long music I just need to convert them now so I can play them through my iPod and speakers, and get started collecting musical instruments for them to play with. I haven’t taken it any further than this as A-man and I are discussing our options re: moving house, and may end up moving just a bit further away from camp than I will want to travel. I will still likely start one if there are no adequate ones close to where we move but I just don’t know what is going to happen yet)

9. Find a housework system that works for me and stick to it – I am much better at housekeeping since moving to a bigger house but I still have a long way to go to keep the house “company ready” all of the time. (Hmm, where do I start? Well it goes like this… approximately 1 hour before Action Man gets home from work I rush around like a demon-possessed maniac who’s super critical OCD mother-in-law is coming to visit and do all of my housework chores for the day. When hubby walks in the house is clean, calm and dinner is on the way. Eat dinner, get the kids off to bed, collapse on the couch and finally go to bed in my lovely looking house. Following day, rise with the children and proceed to watch in dismay as both they, and A-man when he is home, go about systematically undoing all of yesterday’s efforts, returning it to it’s pre-frenzy chaotic state. Repeat daily) (For the record my Mother-in-law was neither super critical or a neat freak, nor did she suffer from OCD, in fact she would likely have been far more critical if my house, and children for that matter, were always clean and tidy. Unfortunately she passed before Danger or Sunshine were even a twinkle in her beloved son’s eye but she absolutely adored Alpha-D and would spend her whole week planning what crafty endeavors they could get up to in their weekly sleepovers)

10. Graduate – this needs some explaining. I completed a Bachelor of Business degree in Marketing and a Diploma in Advertising many years ago. Somehow I managed to do my entire final semester without my student loan paying for the papers I was sitting and as a consequence I was not allowed to graduate until I had paid for it (and fair enough too). It took me a year to pay it off (no longer being eligible to put it on my loan as I wasn’t a student anymore) and by the time I had done it I forgot all about applying to actually graduate. Now many years later (and not even sure if I can anymore) I thought it would be quite nice to see the certificates on my office wall. (I have done nothing about this, nothing at all)

11. Sell all my excess stuff – I have so much stuff cluttering my life and house it is time to get rid of it. I will donate some but in order to achieve the following two goals I will need to make some money… (Close to nothing on this one too and this is something I need to fix, again starting…now)

12. Clear my credit card – my balance is not high (under a thousand isn’t too bad is it?) but with no income of my own it is a bit of a challenge to get rid of it. I want to do this without eating into our family savings or impacting on our budget at all. All of the items purchased on it were for the family (mostly nappies and baby gear) but I still want to do this myself. (Yep, nothing, still at $206)

13. Save for a holiday – destination to be determined by how much I manage to sell/save over and above clearing the credit card, luckily I have LOTS to sell. I have had only one overseas holiday as an adult and that was only three days and far too busy to be relaxing. It is time for a tropical island get-away I think, well in a year anyway. (just $796 to go before I can start saving for this, gulp)

14. Find a free online or correspondence course to do – I don’t want to work in advertising or marketing when my children go to school so I want to earn some new qualifications even if they are just certificates. At the moment I am thinking event management but who knows… I may find something else that inspires me more. (Do I even need to mention the nothing here? Did you really expect this would be under way? No, me either)

15. Don’t collect the ones. (Actually I am feeling pretty good right now!)

Although not strictly related to the goals above I have started a new, larger scaled project. I guess it is more of a new goal to add to the list so I guess I will state it that way…

16. Become fearlessly frugal.

Ok so this is not my term, I totally stole it, or rather I am borrowing it on a semi-permanent basis. How it works is this: I challenge myself (and my family by default) to reduce spending across all aspects of household expenditure. From groceries to utilities, entertainment and all other variable costs incurred in the course of living, I intend to maintain (at the very least and improve where I can) our lifestyle while spending less. The Spending Less – Living More idea is not new of course, just new to me. I will be starting with a grocery budget overhaul and moving on from there and will document my successes, failures and insights under a new category named, of course, Fearlessly Frugal. I welcome any and all input into this area and encourage anyone reading to comment with their tips and tricks, I will happily share them.

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Goals Update – Weeks 3 and 4 – Lesson: Sweetness is a matter of opinion

For the first time since starting these weekly updates I am not hesitant to write one. Maybe it is because I ran out of time to do last weeks one and so have had a fortnight off, so to speak, or the fact that although I was supposed to weigh myself this week I can’t, my scales are broken. Well not broken so much as they are showing an error message that I can’t get rid of and don’t know how to fix. Admittedly I could probably find instructions on how to correct it if I looked online but, well, I haven’t, so there you go, I have no idea if I have lost any weight but I don’t really care right now.

I have however been working hard on my 30 day challenge and I figure that has to being doing something good. I can feel a difference in the conditioning of my muscles, in that my recovery time is already getting shorter (I can walk the next day now where I could barely stand the day after I started) and I am doing each group of exercises in one go now, not having to split them up like I did at first. My neighbour who I haven’t seen in a few weeks also commented that I looked like I had lost weight and that my face looked thinner so I am going to take that as a win! Ok so she didn’t have much to go on as I was dressed in my baggiest pyjamas at the time but I think the face comment is still valid… I’m sticking with that.

After a comment on one of my posts I have purchased some Agave nectar to use as a sugar substitute. It is lower G.I. apparently and can help prevent blood sugar spikes. I am very keen to give this a go as I still struggle with the whole giving up sugar thing but am tired of the sugar rush/sugar hangover cycle I am in. I am trying and I am consuming less, but it is hard – way WAY harder than I found giving up smoking all those years ago. By comparison giving up cigarettes was a piece of cake and the rewards of improved health and more money in my pocket, sweet. There’s my problem right there, sugar is easy and rewarding and I even use it to describe how I feel about totally unrelated things. It is so hard to change that mindset of sugar being yummy and good to sugar being unnecessary and toxic in the quantities I sometimes eat. Baby steps.

I think I have done about as much “research” that I can on housekeeping systems, I doubt there is anyone alive who knows the content of FlyLady‘s website better than me right now, probably not even Marla (the actual FlyLady) herself as she is not the only one who writes for the site. Trouble is reading about cleaning my house doesn’t actually clean my house (darn it). I have almost finished compiling my home management binder and have filled it with free printables from this fabulous site run by Ginny at Organizing Homelife. I have most of them filled out with the relevant information for our family too so there really are no more excuses for doing no more than the bare minimum to keep the house livable. I had a great conversation a while back with a friend (the other significant participant in the wedding from a few weeks back) and he made the comment that making ‘to do’ lists to help fight procrastination is in itself a form of procrastination. This is absolutely true and I am absolutely guilty. I have now made all my ‘to do’ lists, however, so I no longer have the delaying tactic of sitting down to write the day’s plan, it is done. Hubby – who will be, from now on, referred to as Action Man or A-man for short – is heading off for a month long deployment this week so I won’t even have him as a distraction for a while. He is very distracting. It seems it is time to get my clean on.

Of course having a clean and tidy house will allow me to spend more time doing some crafty creative things and as I have so many projects that I am ready to start and a fair few that need finishing too the incentive is well and truly there. I have been asked by a friend to give her some feedback on the work she is doing towards her masters too so I am really looking forward to using my brain for something other than figuring out where that smell is coming from or how many carrots I will need for the weeks meals. I am also looking forward to reclaiming the office for it’s intended purpose instead of the laundry/wardrobe extension it has become.

I have managed to pay off a further $46 of my credit card debt! Yay! Total paid $206. It would have been more but I needed supplies for my latest project and I also paid myself for the workouts I have done recently – Total saved $28.

I have now found out who I need to speak to about getting a notice put in our Partner’s Post (the newsletter we are supposed to get from the army once a month that actually comes about once every 3 months and usually informs of supposed upcoming social events that have actually been and gone) so I can see if there are any other local mothers interested in joining a music and movement playgroup for their preschoolers. I have also done a lot of research on this and have a ton of ideas for the kids if there is enough interest.

I will leave you with some observations I have made recently, most of them are common sense and I already knew all of them yet have been inclined to ignore them. Maybe if I admit to some of these I will get them done/stop doing them:
1. if I write something down, especially here where anyone can see it, I am more likely to do it,
2. having a workout buddy really helps, even if they are in another country, you still feel less alone,
3. having a workout buddy in the same room is even better and makes you work harder,
4. almond butter is a great healthy snack when spread on apples, not when spread on chocolate,
5. it doesn’t matter that I choose to have my fish with spinach if I eat the left over chips from my son’s plate, the calories do not magically fall out in transit from his plate to my mouth,
6. the person who wrote the label for the agave nectar I bought has a really vivid imagination – 25% sweeter than sugar? Not in my cup of coffee it ain’t!

That is all for now but with A-man away soon I will have a catch up session and add the recipes for the new things I have tried over the last couple of weeks and add the photos of my binder and Mum’s mother’s day card.

Goals Update – Week 2 – Lesson: Learn to be your own Cheerleader

What is it about writing these updates that I dread so much? I have employed almost every procrastination ploy I know, short of actually doing any real work around the house, to avoid writing this – hence it being a day late. I probably should actually be working on the housework but then I guess I am using this as a procrastination tactic for that too.

I intend to make a few posts over the next couple of days, however it is this one that I am reluctant about. Maybe it is my need to succeed, not in general terms but is everything I do. If one aspect of my goal achievement is not up to scratch I have difficulty accepting my successes in other areas. I read a quote the other day that went like this… Sometimes people expose what is wrong with you because they can’t handle what is right about you… It was in a post on Facebook by a popular New Zealand personality and she was talking about not collecting the 1’s. That despite the fact that 299 love you it is the 1 that doesn’t that has the power to bring you down. Why is it that the love/admiration/respect of the 299 is not enough to stop the 1 from hurting? I think I need to add a new goal into my list:

15. Don’t collect the 1’s

I am my worst detractor too, I know it. I am not happy unless everything I do is exact. I also know that my reticence about this post stems from only one of my goals not going to plan. Somehow being slim or achieving a steady rate of weight loss has become the benchmark by which I measure all of my success. The crazy thing is I have only just completed week 2 of my set time frame and have already achieved more than in any other 2 week (or probably even 4 week) period of the past year.

After a week of birthday cake and being too busy to fit in much (read: any) exercise I am almost positive I have put on weight. Note here that I said “almost positive I have” not “have”. In an effort to not collect the 1’s I have resolutely avoided stepping on the scales. I don’t want to know what I weigh this week, I don’t want to let it bring me down, in fact I am not going to step on the scales again until the end of week 4! Instead I am going to focus on what I am doing well in other areas, work at fitting more physical activity into my day and consciously making healthy food choices.

Although I said I didn’t manage any exercise I did mow our lawns. I have never actually timed myself but I think it takes somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours to do them. I split the job over 2 days and both times resulted in an elevated heart rate and a substantial glow (who am I kidding? I was sweating!) so I think that counts as a workout – I paid myself as though it was anyway. Current savings toward my new wardrobe – $11.00

I also listed a whole bunch of my stuff online but some of the auctions haven’t closed yet and the others haven’t had payment made so I can’t count them either. That means no change in my current debt status unfortunately. I will be listing more tonight though so hopefully the next 2 weeks (by the time payment is actually in my account) will show some significant improvement. It has been a very creative week though and along with the card I showed last week for my lovely Miss R I also made a similar card for my sister to go with her present (which I will make a post for this afternoon now that she has it) and made significant progress on my home management folders. They are at a stage now where I can show photos so I will post them as soon as I work out how to include a link to the sites I got my inspiration and printable inserts from – credit where credit is due I believe and as these were not my own creations I think that is only fair. I also have made a Mother’s Day card for my Mum but again I can’t show you this until she has it later this week.

There have also been a few new creations in the kitchen, some of them my own inventions too so I will post the recipes for those in the next couple of days. I will also include the recipe and photos for the birthday cake I made for Miss R’s first birthday celebration we held in the weekend. Most exciting though I have plans in the works to start a playgroup/music and movement group for my littlies and the other preschool kiddies in the Army housing area. Fingers crossed there are enough other Mums out there interested in joining as I really want this to work. My Mum started one for my sister when she was a baby and we were living in a small country town with nothing already set up. It was very cool and the kids loved it.

I think that is all to report this week in terms of goal progress. Reading back over what I have written above it doesn’t seem like much, but baby steps will get me there still and in my new determination to believe the 299 I am proud of what I have achieved!

cheer_ese

Goals Update – Week 1 – Lesson: Don’t get discouraged, small achievements still count.

To be honest I am not all that enthused about writing this update. I should be, I have started making progress on several of my goals but I guess the ones I wanted to see the most advancement on haven’t really met my expectations.

I only lost 200g this week. I must say here that I am not at all surprised and I have no excuses, I really didn’t try very hard and made no effort at all to make any changes to my diet. I am not really sure what I was expecting, that maybe having declared that I am going to lose weight my body would be oh so cooperative and secretly ditch the kilos by stashing them subtly behind a shrub or down the storm drain as I walk around the neighbourhood. It didn’t, as I know it can’t, yet I somehow still feel let down just a little. I did however get in three workouts over the week which is about a 300% improvement on the week before so it is not all doom and gloom, though I have yet to bust out my Pilates DVDs. Frankly I think I should just be grateful I didn’t put on weight, last I checked twice baked smashed potatoes and chocolate brownies are not diet food. I am paying myself $1 for every 15 mins of workout I manage to fit in. I need the incentive and I think a shopping spree for a new wardrobe will not only be most welcome at the end of the year but also, most likely, necessary, as I won’t have many clothes left that fit if I make my goal.

I have had more luck with my debt clearing efforts however and have sold quite a few items online. After auction success fees and keeping aside some to pay myself for workouts completed I have managed to pay $160 off my credit card. Not bad for week one I reckon! I intend to list at least as many , if not more, items this week. I would like to double that figure next week… wish me luck.

I have had to put aside my Home Management Folder project. I have searched a long time for exactly the right gift for my sister for her birthday and having had no luck at all I have started to make it myself. I would love to post a photo of it so far but as she reads my blog it might be a bit of a spoiler for her. Considering her birthday was back in March and it is now nearly May I think she deserves to see her gift in all its finished glory and not the deconstructed, half-finished thing it is now. I am seeing her this coming weekend so am attempting to fit what would normally be a months worth of crafting into a week, though with Hubby away for most of the week I have nights to fill. I am confident it will be done. I will share photos when it is firmly in my sister’s possession. I can however show you the card I made for my baby girl who turns one tomorrow!
Cupcake Card

I will post pics of her cake after I make it for the little family party we are having this weekend.

My new recipe for the week was kind of a backwards adventure this time in that, for the first time, I followed the recipe for the above mentioned brownies. I have made these several times but as I am what I call an “experimental baker” I have never (ever) followed the recipe as it is in the book! I have always changed ingredients, added extras and/or cooked it differently. It was nice, not nearly as exciting as my usual concoctions, but nice even so. After making my sweet girl’s cake this week I will however (sigh) be hanging up my bakers hat (metaphorically – I don’t actually own or wear one) in favour of lean cooking from now, for the foreseeable future at least. In the next couple of days I will create a recipes page on here if you are interested in trying any of my culinary adventures yourself.

Oh and “whats for dinner?” – no longer an issue! I made a 6 week (yes a whole 42 days worth with no two dinners the same) of meal plans. For the next 6 weeks I will try to follow the menu I have written and see if it makes a difference to my dinner time stress levels. Fingers crossed…

Sock, Sock, wherefore art thou missing Sock?

I went sock-less today. Search as I might I simply couldn’t find a matching pair. They go into the washing machine in pairs, I hang them on the line in pairs, yet there is never a pair in the drawer. This is not a new phenomena but a regular occurrence in our house, well for me anyway. My husband always has his socks in pairs, lots of pairs, but it is not hard to make pairs when every sock you own is army issue green. I would be willing to put money on him having a sneaky stray single sock hiding in the back of his drawer, it can’t be just me, surely?

My home most definitely reflects my state of mind. When I am feeling low or having trouble concentrating my house is a mirror of the inner chaos. I can’t find anything, it seems everything we own is dirty, used, empty, in the washing machine or in a pile on the couch/chair/bed/floor. Then there are those very (very) rare times when I am focused, organised and feeling good and the house shows that too. The laundry is clean, dry, folded and put away, the dishes washed, dinner cooking and plenty of teaspoons in the drawer (we make a lot of tea in this house). My husband would probably try to tell you that this never happens but I maintain that it does (if infrequently) and I am sticking to that (actually clinging desperately, in the hope that I am not a lost cause).

I mentioned in my first post here that I wanted to find a system that works for me so I have done some (a lot of) research. I have found a whole bunch of websites dedicated to helping S.H.E.’s (sidetracked home executives) like me by helping them out of their C.H.A.O.S. (can’t have anyone over syndrome) and teaching them to F.L.Y. (finally love yourself) – see I am even learning a whole new language with this, it must be good! A while back I found FLYLady and thought she was good but didn’t really do anything about it. I have decided that her system is the one I will attempt to follow as she makes sense to me and doesn’t assume that my house is in any way close to where I want it. She assures me I am not behind, I don’t need to catch up and recommends just starting where I am – Hooray! So many of these dedicated sites give great long to do lists that would be impossible for anyone but a childless stay-at-home spinster who is perfectly organised and does nothing but clean, but I can’t reach that window to clean it, there is a pile of laundry in the way!

FLYLady recommends creating a Control Journal for your home, as do most of the similar sites and I have decided (there is that word again!) to do this, to create a home management folder to help me keep on top of the cleaning chores, household expenditure, bills, birthdays, shopping lists, contact lists, appointments, knowing exactly what that is in the back of the freezer etc that keep overwhelming me. This will be my craft project for the month of April as well. Multitasking, I am so clever! I will post pics when it is done.