Archive for May, 2013

What to do when failure rears its ugly head

28 May 2013


So much for the month of May is the month of swimming.

How often have I been swimming this month? Never. Nada. Zip. Denmarque, null points.

Well, there’s a couple of ways I could go about it. The first and most obvious one is to beat myself up about it: feel terribly guilty / ashamed / upset I didn’t get close to going swimming this month. It’s not a frame of mind that I find productive; there’s really nothing I can do about my not swimming this month.

Or I can try and redouble my efforts: I can make crazy promises to myself that in the month of June, I will do double the amount of swimming that I was going to do in May. There, that’ll fix it — or will it?

No. I’ll be setting myself up for even more failure. And as I’m already in a somewhat discouraged state of mind, adding harsh if not impossible demands is not going to help either.

Sometimes, life just gets in the way. In this case, it’s been a tricky month for my depression. I don’t want to get out of the house, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I sure as fvck don’t want to try a whole new uncomfortable experience like a swimming lesson.

So I’m starting with the basics. I’ve booked myself in for one (count them: one) free trial swimming lesson, at a pool close to home that is convenient to get to (it’s on the same train line — no waiting for buses for this little black duck). And I’m making no further commitments than that. If I feel like swimming again, I will; I can always pay for another lesson. The lesson is in June (May got crazy busy), but I’m letting that one go.

The key I’ve decided is to be gentle with myself. It’s not like I’m training to swim the English Channel in a few weeks; a little bit of delay will be okay. And I’ll get to swimming next month.

I refuse to beat myself up anymore.


For those about to swim, we salute you!

21 May 2013

My month of focus for May is swimming. The reason that swimming is my focus this month is that I noticed I have the really bad habit of saying “I’m going swimming”, listing it in my diary, and not following through. So I’ve booked myself into a swimming lesson (I can swim, but I tend to flail around a bit more than I should), which gives me free access to the pool between lessons. Bonus.

In the meantime I’m on the hundred pushups program. I’m repeating week 5 — I missed out on graduating to week 6 by one measly push up. On the up side, the regimen has now got a whole lot harder — I moved from column 1 of week 5 to column 3, which is a whole lot of scary. I did nearly 200 pushups yesterday, and as a result my pectorals are pumped. Engorged. Sadly, my white t-shirt is in the wash, otherwise this would be the perfect day to wear it. 🙂

And every Thursday I do yoga. Yes, I’d like to do more yoga more often: I plan to make it my focus for the month of July (June has been dedicated to vegetables: the month of June, that is, not Mama June from Honey Boo Boo Child. I don’t think that woman would know a vegetable if one came up and bit her in the @rse…).

But I digress. I have scheduled greater physical activity into my life: and importantly, I’m doing it with a minimum of expense, equipment, and bother. Yes, running is an option, but not for me — I get severe asthma after a few steps, and I’m just not built for running. I am built for swimming — my late father was a state champion swimmer,  so there’s no point in fighting genetics. May as well go along with what I’ve got.

The main point to make is this: you can be fit without a lot of expense, equipment, and stuff. How many people have the latest ab-blaster pro or whatever they bought on an infomercial at 2am sitting in a basement or garage? You don’t need an ab-blaster pro: you need to do crunches. It’s not hard.

I used to think that I needed a gym membership and regular attendance (and lots of equipment) to be fit. How wrong I was. Now I don’t go near a gym: I do pushups, yoga, started swimming; and when I go home by public transport, I take the train. Guess what? The railway station is at the bottom of a very, very steep hill; my home is at the top of aforementioned steep hill. I walk up the hill nearly every day — brilliant workout!

To sum up: find a few exercises that work for you and incorporate them into a program. It could involve a Swiss ball, running, walking, jogging, swimming, pushups, yoga… find out what works for you. And let me know your thoughts!

5 Quick Wins

7 May 2013

Hi everyone,

Today is a little how-to, as we get a little into the nitty gritty of how to be a minimalist. I’ve talked about the benefits of being free from clutter and I’ve shared some of my experiences on this joyous journey: now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get cracking! Here they are: 5 quick wins!

  1. Surfaces. Get them clean! Get them clear! No, you don’t have to pack everything exactly right away in the right spot all at once: take it gradually. Be easy on yourself. Allow (at first!) a messy cupboard or two (or however many your current mess takes up!). Then whittle it down to one cupboard, one box, etc. In the meantime, have your dining table, benchtops, any surface you can think of, clean and clear. It’s a simple fix (shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes) and you’ll feel so much better for it.
  2. Budget. Here’s some simple maths: $ incomings > $ outgoings. If your outgoings are bigger than your incomings, you need to pare back and/or get a way of making more money. I now have a rule: all money must be budgeted before it can be handled. I use an easy way here: I budget in multiples of $10. For starters, my arithmetic is very ordinary, so it makes sense for me to round up or down (mostly up) for my expenses. Secondly, ATM machines in Australia only issue cash in multiples of $10, so I can easily allocate what money is going where at the ATM. (Money dedicated for a particular purpose is folded in half in my wallet, and must never be touched for anything else.)
  3. Wardrobe audit. Time to love yourself a little here. Anything frayed, tatty, stained, ripped, or generally at the end of a long and happy life has to go. Clothes in unflattering colours should go too (battleship grey? What the hell was I thinking? I’m not a battleship!). Get a few basic pieces (a “capsule wardrobe”) in basic neutrals and build from there. Don’t have a wardrobe full of clashing, unflattering, daggy clothes.
  4. Month of focus. This is a brand new idea and I’m starting to warm to it. You declare every calendar month a new focus. Thus, the month of May is going to be the month I (finally!) focus on swimming. I’ll keep you posted. June is looking like vegetable month.
  5. Meditate. Make the effort to “turn off” for about 15 minutes or so (is there something magic about 15 minutes?) and relax. There are all sorts of techniques that I like to use; one of my favourites is a little singing bowl. I have a massive quartz one (14″ no less), but I use my much smaller portable metal one much more. Focusing on my breathing, imagining a point of light — all these are good too!

So there you have it: five quick wins on the minimalist path. Enjoy!