grad school greatest self challenge- how it went


Remember that challenge I was all excited about?

The good news: I finished it!

The bad news: I did not reach ten thou. For either category. Whomp whomp.

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Yet somehow… I have both gotten my nails done and gotten a massage ūüôā Guess I decided to give myself A for effort (and also got some birthday money from my wonderful family!)

Anyway, each of the sheets for the challenge (you’ll recall that I could earn points for doing positive things for both my body and my mind) ended up scrawled on quite a bit. Some things I added (for example, flossing and wearing a nightguard- ah, my devotion to dental care is really helping me in the ongoing path of becoming my mother). Other things I increased how many points they gave me (not eating dessert for a day is HARD for me and I deserved the points!)

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Some things I learned:

Quantitative is easier than qualitative

Eat all meals without distraction? What did I mean? Of course, frantically shoving chocolate chips into my mouth while cramming for a biostatistics final is not the healthiest. But what about leisurely reading a magazine? And how about other people? Sure, talking to other people feels healthy (and takes me back to the wholesome family dinners of my youth, which everyone knows are good for healthy eating habits) but is having a super intense conversation- or perhaps even an argument- maladaptive for healthy eating?

On the other hand,¬†you other put on sunblock or you don’t! You either run a mile or you don’t! (Incidentally, I didn’t. Not once. In three months. Heh.)

Not eating sugar is bloody difficult for me.

I love sugar. I am a total sugar addict. I vacillate between swearing to myself that I won’t give a substance such power over me… to shrugging and saying my grandmother’s excellent mental health was probably due to regularly eating chocolates in bed.

I was very successful in tracking what I ate… but gradually became desensitized to it

So my friend and I started the writing down what we ate thing as a joint effort to cheer each other on in making healthy choices. And then she moved and started a new job and had family stress and yada yada she totally dropped out. So I was writing into a void. Add that to the fact that writing down what you eat over and over gradually makes it feel normal and boring and not worth thinking about and suddenly the mindfulness and perhaps even embarrassment that ought to come with eating an entire pack of Trader Joe’s cinnamon rolls in just a few days… just… doesn’t.

Since the challenge I’ve been off that particular wagon and it’s felt very freeing not to care, and at the moment I think I’d feel a bit neurotic if I were to start up again this minute. On the other hand, I wanted to cheer for myself on those days when I hit those recommended fruit and veg quantities, and that felt productive and helpful. So jury’s still out on that one.

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I was weirdly obsessed with plant care when I wrote these

Then it turned to fall and everything died. Uh.. I don’t know.

I scored huge number of mind points when I was on vacation. More than any other time.

Perhaps due evening activities? Fun story about me: default mode for me for the evenings involves vegging out in front of the computer to a combination of food blogs and Netflix. Which, yknow, hardly abnormal. The trick of it is when I’m stressed (about grad school or life or relationships or nothing at all) that turns into a crazy process where I don’t want to think about anything and go into a wormhole of Spice Girls documentaries staying up in my living room til three in the morning eating ice cream.

Anyway, on vacation I’m more¬†adventurous and more willing to spend money on more evening activities. Things like Savannah ghost tours, or going out for fun evening drinks. Or just strollin’ around. So the trick of it is to make real life feel more like vacation, which is sort of ALWAYS the trick of it, in pretty much every aspect of life, eh?

These are a lot more vague than the body goals.

I’ve never been a particularly mindful person. I’m an introvert and not much of a talker. I like escaping out of my own head into books/movies/blogs. I journaled regularly in college, but haven’t since (and reading my old journals is a wormhole in and of itself, since I was a little cray back in the day). Also, I don’t tend to call up a friend for support when I’m feeling low- just try to distract myself. This is something I’ve improved a little (I’ve taught myself the skill of calling someone and just asking how they’re doing- I find I don’t even need to talk about my shizz to feel the benefit of connecting with another person)

I’d like to come up with more things that could “earn me mind points”, not as a new challenge, but just as a way of cultivating life wellness. I was brainstorming this with some people, and letter writing came up, as did yoga (of which I’m trying to do more), arty things, stretching… Open to suggestions!

I’m terrified of personal finances

None of those goals are really financial. And a central mental stressor for me is finances. Not cause I’m in dire straights, because I’m not. Just cause I’m not making money, and that’s stressful. And I’m feeling that everything I spend is wasteful. But there’s something missing, called a BUDGET, where I can actually see meaningful information and effect meaningful change from following (or not following, from which I can then learn). So, I went to a personal finance seminar last week (score!) and have been tracking my spending on (score!). Will report back on my experience with that.

So, in summary, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this?

Make it easy and desirable to make the healthy choice.

When I wanted to be better about taking my vitamins, you know what worked? Buying gummy vitamins!

When I wanted to drink 8 glasses of water a day, you know what worked? Buying an awesome water bottle!

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