Challenge Everything 2017

I’m spending 2017 engaging in a challenge a month, designed to move me outside my comfort zone or create new, healthy habits. Here you’ll find a list of the challenges by month, a more detailed description of the current month and my track record. This page will be updated at least once a week, but I’m shooting on updating daily. Of course, if anyone has ideas of things you’d like me to do, let me know. Or if you want to join me with either my challenges or ones of your own choosing, I’d love to have company!

Here’s my list of challenges by month:

January: Eat vegetables every day
February: Do 10 minutes of yoga every day
March: Spend 30 minutes coding every day
April: Take a photo every day
May: No TV except while working out
June: Take a photo every day/30 coding minutes
July: Spend 30 minutes a day using/learning about Lightroom/Photoshop
August: Pick one thing to donate every day
September: Run a mile every day (walking doesn’t count)
October: Do 10 push-ups, 20 squats and a 30 second plank every day
November: Write a blog post every day
December: Meditate for at least 10 minutes every day

May [1 of 30]

So, a month without TV. Of course, there are exceptions/rules to this game — the TV is allowed to be on when I’m getting up in the morning and for an hour while I’m falling asleep. My rationale? Neither of those times would I be doing anything other than laying in bed, so it’s not taking away from being productive elsewhere. And plus, I’ve gotten used to the white noise of the TV while falling asleep. Another rule: if I’m working out, I’m allowed to watch, either TV or whatever I might want to play on a device of some sort (on the treadmill). But other than that? No TV.

I think this is one of those things that I always thought would be a good thing in theory, but reality might be a little more challenging. We shall see!

April [30 of 30]

April 24: I switched things up a bit to take advantage of Susannah Conway’s April Love 2017 Photo-A-Day exercise. Each day she assigns a “theme” and I go out and take pictures on that theme. So far, I’ve managed to hit every day, usually even following through with a post on Instagram (@baron.laura #AprilLove2017) and/or in the private Facebook group (there were one or two photos I didn’t want to be shown so publicly.

May 1: This went exceptionally well. So well, in fact, that I’ve found and started another photo challenge (posting on instagram #cy365)

March [8 hours, 30 minutes of a total 15 hours, 30 minutes]

A new month! And something that is not athletic or in other ways challenging to my limited fitness and flexibility!

This is the month of coding. Can I hear a big ol’ YAHOOOOOOOOO from everyone? I know you’re just as excited as I am. Right?

I am going to teach myself the ins, outs and everything else needed to put up a WordPress site. What you’re looking at right now is WordPress, but WP done the easy way — a service provides the backend materials, a theme provides the look and feel and not that you’ve noticed, but this website isn’t going to be curing cancer with its complexity. This is something I’ve been wanting to learn and it’ll be a good skill to put in my skill quiver (doesn’t everyone have one of those?) as something that I can do as a side hustle out of my house during my early retirement.

The rules of this engagement:  while the plan is for 30 minutes a day, I’ll allow myself to “bank” time to cover days when I know it’ll be difficult to get this done. Basically, I want a total of almost 16 hours of practice put into this. I’m going to start with training on (because I’ve got a free account) and go from there. If anyone out there has any suggestions for other resources, please, make yourself and your idea known!

March 2: After talking to a WordPress and web development expert, I opted to go back to the Free Code Camp course and work my way through that. I had started awhile ago and abandoned — partly due to bad time management, partly because they overhauled the program while I was in the middle of it — but I’ll push through much more this month.

March 4: Really enjoying this! I actually look forward to sitting down and doing it. I’ve blown through the first three sections on HTML, CSS and intro to jQuery and now have my first project — a simple web page. Woot!

March 5: Here’s a link to my first project.

March 8: Working on my second project, which is challenging me a bit. Seems like just plopping things on a web page where you want them to be shouldn’t be so difficult… never fear, though: I shall overcome! (you were worried, I can tell… you don’t have to hide it from me)

March 12: Still working on the second project. A good mixture of frustration and breakthrough. And still a little ahead of schedule for hitting my 15:30 hours for the month.

So, I’m noticing a theme here … start out great (or, at least, okay) and then peter out. A week of the flu knocked me on my butt and once I was in the recovery stage, I was still too tired and cranky to do anything that even came close to being productive. I do intend to get back to this, though.

February [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]

Yoga for at least 10 minutes every day. Yup, that’s what I said. Yoga. For this incredibly unbendy person, this is going to be a challenge! I’m really, really hoping to fall in love with it at by the end of the month and wonder how I ever lived without it, like sushi (really, the resistance to eating raw fish meant I missed SO many years of eating sushi). Started today with a beginner gentle flow yoga and it was … okay. I’m not a convert. My head will never be able to make a local call to my knees (it’s all long distance, baby). And my 80 pound dog thinks that yoga is an interactive contact sport. It’s all good.

February 3: I had signed up for a yoga class at the local community college and last night was the first class. And it was … not terrible! Because of the nature of the class (i.e. not at a gym, not at a yoga place), it was filled with people who were of my tribe — The Unbendables. To be fair, some of the students were more yoga-experienced than others of us, but it felt very much like a beginner’s class where no one came in looking like a pro which made me feel much less anxious about the entire experience. We were introduced to some classic poses, and none of them were altogether impossible (though a few poses came close) and made me think that this was something that I just might be able to do.

End of the month:  Okay – this one was a huge #FAIL. I skipped class after the first one and only occasionally did a full video. I did incorporate a few of the moves into my nightly stretching (which I’ve been doing for awhile now). So, there’s that. Perhaps I’ll give this another try at some point, but it certainly didn’t stick this time around because I didn’t show enough of a commitment to making it happen.

January   [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]

Eat vegetables every day … yes, I’m starting easy on myself. I like vegetables, so that’s not the issue. More, it’s that it’s an extra step in any meal that I have and one that I’m often too lazy to take. And not that I want to admit it, but my dinners, often as not, consist of me standing in front of the refrigerator eating cold hotdogs and cheese — not exactly a meal that screams, “steam some vegetables to go with that!!”.

The vegetables do not have to be “standalone” vegetables — they can be part of a dish. For example, today I’m having a vegetable-laden chicken soup.  It can be as little as a handful of carrots, too — it doesn’t need to be an overwhelming amount. The idea is just to make me incorporate vegetables into my diet every day, at any level.

Day 3:  I’m having vegetables in odd ways. Like, yesterday, I cooked up a bag of grilled cauliflower and half of it with some pretzels and cheese for dinner. But – I’m having them! So far, so good.

Day 7: Still perfect on the streak. At least once I had my vegetables while I was waiting for my dinner to come out of the oven. Also trying to make a habit of bringing vegetables for lunch (I’ll prep the night before and portion out), so I don’t have to tax my brain into remembering at dinner. I can’t say I feel any healthier yet. Maybe next week. 😉

Two weeks in: Still doing it! And enjoying it, if I must admit. I lot of days I’ve added a side of veggies to lunch and it’s been appreciated (especially if there, theoretically, happened to be a breakfast of donuts beforehand).

January 22:  Totally upping the game and now I have to eat TWO servings of vegetables a day. Ideally, both lunch and dinner, but doubling up at one meal will work, too.

January 29:  Only about 50/50 on the two servings of vegetables. Who knew that it would take so much planning?? (still got the one vegetable a day, though, so I’m good).  And now I’m starting to look ahead to February and the upcoming yoga every day challenge — I think that one will be substantially more, well, challenging, but I’m hoping for it to have a big effect.

End of the month: Done! Didn’t miss a day. And I will keep this habit up, see how long I can keep the streak going. I like how much more mindful I am about getting in good-for-me foods.