Short blog post this time. I’m doing a six month Positively Unstoppable Challenge with the goals to run a half marathon, and to do the side splits. Part of the challenge is not just to think it, but ink it. The founder of the challenge, DDP, attributes some of his own success to writing down his goals (ink it). Something about the process of writing it down holds you accountable, and makes you more likely to succeed. I’m using this blog to “ink it.”
The half marathon prep is coming along nicely. Two 30 minute runs during the week and a gradually increasing distance run at the weekend. I’m up to 8miles now.
My other goal, to do the side splits, is also progressing in the right direction. As a starting point I tried to do the splits and made a chalk outline of where the edge of my foot was, which you can see below. That serves as a base to measure against. I’ve had to adjust the way I measure because my feet seem to turn outwards the lower I get so for my update I just drew a chalk outline around my foot and measured from the middle of my foot instead of the outside. I was 40cm away from the edge of the mat, I’m now 31cm away from the edge of the mat.
What goals have you set for yourself. Have you inked it, are you measuring it, are you holding yourself accountable?
A book that I’ve been working on for some time has recently been published. This blog post is for the most part, a shameless plug of that book, but I will try to shoehorn this post into the general health and fitness theme of my blog.
The book in question is “The Story of Disneyland Paris”, and rather than dwell too much on what the book is obviously about, you can just click here to find it on Amazon.
I set myself the goal of writing a book, a goal that I imagine is on many a bucket list. In my head I envisioned myself being the next J.K Rowling or George R.R Martin and creating entire fictional universes. The problem is, I don’t read a lot of fiction, and I had no ideas. Then a simple thought, “write the book I’d like to read” – and thats where the history and continuing story of Disneyland Paris came from, it’s the book I’ve always wanted to read, since I first went looking for it in 2010 to help with my M.Sc thesis.
It took a year and half for me to write this book. I worked on it nearly every day. I did miss a few days, maybe Christmas Day, or if I was at a wedding, but for the most part, I worked on this project every single day, for a year and a half. Consistency is key. I didn’t necessarily work for hours everyday, sometimes it was as little as 15mins of either reading, writing, editing or researching, but the point was it was done, progressing word by word, not chapter by chapter.
Writing the book also proved an enjoyable past time, I wouldn’t describe it as work. “Working” on this book reminded me of this quote from James Michener:
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure…..He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both”
I wouldn’t describe myself as a “master in the art of living”. People can usually tell if I’m working or playing, but its an admirable goal and to some extent writing the book fit the quote. “Are you working this evening?” my wife would ask when I opened my laptop in the evenings, “er, yes, no, I’m not sure, sort of.”
I did a small bit of research into publishing at the beginning but I ditched that pretty quickly, as getting published sounded impossible. I wanted to write the book so I’d write it, even if it was just for my own amusement for an audience of one. And during the process, I read a few books from a small independent publisher called Theme Park Press who I thought might be interested in what I’d written. They were interested and they published it, but they were never the goal, just a happy by-product of the process itself.
Now, to take what I’ve learned from the book writing experience and shoehorn it into my health and fitness blog, here are the key learnings:
If you want to lose weight, add muscle, increase flexibility, write a book, whatever, it can only be achieved by consistency, there is no quick fix.
Commitment to your goal. If you get on a streak, like 10-20 days of consistent work, that creates a desire to keep the streak going, until eventually, it becomes habit.
Think about the things you’ve not been able to do and ask yourself if you’ve really tried. For example, I’ve always said I’m not flexible, but have I worked on flexibility every day for a year and half, nope. So theres your answer.
Concentrate on the journey, not the goal
Enjoy the process, the rewards will come by themselves.
Have a pastime
Pastimes are good for mental health. Exercise is my pastime. For a time so was the book. Pastimes that require a high level of concentration (so not TV) have therapeutic effects because they limit anxious self-reflection. Consciously living in the moment reduces stress.
You’ll not see me and my book on any bestsellers list, the book is not likely to appear in any bookstore (just Amazon), its a quick read and if you do read it, it will be clear this is my first rodeo, but its a major tick off my bucket list and has me wondering about what else I might be able to achieve if I give it enough attention. Now, get working on your own bucket list, and enjoy!
My New Year’s resolution, to keep moving. I went for my first run of 2016 today in the Phoenix Park. The phoenix seems an appropriate metaphor, a new you emerging from the ashes of the old.
I quit the gym a few years ago and decided to focus instead on movement, bodyweight exercises, and running. Why? Because I realised that even with all my gym sessions, I still lived a mostly sedentary lifestyle. The main culprits behind my (and everyones) lack of movement include: reduced amount of active human transport (walking, cycling), increased sedentary leisure pursuits at home (television and computer based activities) and increased amounts of seated desk based office work.
The Lancet published a series of papers based on national statistics from around the world which stated that globally, 40% of individuals with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer, failed to achieve the minimum recommendations for health of 150mins/week of moderate-intensity physical activity. In high income countries in Europe and North America, this figure rose to 70%.
My goal is to maintain where I’m at now, and to try and increase the types of complexity of the movements I do. I’m a million miles away from the abilities of the people that inspired my current training, Rene Borg, Jason Kehoe, and Ido Portal, but my advice is to focus more on the process, not the end goals. If you stick to the process, you’ll achieve your goals eventually, but if you set yourself goals within unrealistic timeframes, it can be disheartening if you miss them. Set yourself some 2016 goals, create a process to achieve them, and get to work.