Posts tagged challenge
Life is all about the journey. This has been my mantra for a long time. It is something I believe. Something I strive to remember daily. Something that prompts me to focus on things and enjoy them to the full. I wear it on my blog. I wear it on my wrist. It’s on my iPad case. If I had a tattoo it I would wear it on my skin (it’s ok mum, I’m not going to do that!).
I’ve written about it a few times on here before, naturally. And I really hope that it comes across to people who know me in real life too. It’s the whole point of my things to do list. And it’s the reason I get up every morning. Because life is made up of every day, every moment, every step.
Recently a couple of people I know have embarked on massive adventures. They are very different kinds of adventures, but for both they have taken over their every moment and will with no doubt whatsoever change their lives forever. Both have commented that they think about pretty much nothing else. And both have inspired me.
One has become a mummy. You remember Michelle from Operation Threadbare? I was partly responsible for her year long challenge to stop buying clothes and shoes. A self-confessed fashion lover and shopaholic she didn’t find it easy at all. But one thing made it a whole lot harder than anticipated… during Operation Threadbare Michelle became pregnant with her first child (and no, we didn’t even let her buy maternity clothes!). She gave birth to a baby girl nearly two weeks ago now, and her adventure as a mother is well underway. She has evolved her Operation Threadbare blog into “It’s All Normal” and I can recommend her posts – if you want an insight into what kind of adventure becoming a mum is, you should read what she has to say.
The other is about to embark on a round the world trip of a lifetime. Tara has handed in her notice at work and booked round the world air tickets to take her to some amazing places. She’s going to start in Africa and is planning to visit China and South East Asia later this year and early next year. She’s been and had some injections already, and has been researching endlessly. As part of her trip she is going to do some volunteer work – her first project will be as an Education and Community Development intern in Zambia. Fabulous. Oh and she’s also going to run in every country she visits and take a travel photo a day while she’s away – you can follow what she’s up to on Rise and Shine, Paps.
There is no other way to describe what my friends are doing than adventure. I guess I’ve got a bit of the green eyed monster about me when I look at them and when I read their blogs. I am so pleased for them both, and I want some of what they’re having. It’s not the specific adventure I crave; I’m not ready for motherhood and I am in no position to give up my house and car and job and jet off around the world, but I see in them real motivation and real spirit. They are both facing their chosen adventure with elegance and grace, and most importantly they are going for it with everything they’ve got. That is the key I think; they have chosen their path and are following it with their head and their heart. I love that about them.
In my day job I have the absolute pleasure of being allowed to help encourage and advise young people on what they might want to do in the next step of their lives. When I’m given the opportunity I always tell them to choose their next step based on something they love. We always do better when we put everything into what we’re doing, and we only put everything into what we’re doing when we are doing something we love. My problem, and I’m well aware of my downfall, is that I want to do everything. And in fact I know I can’t. I can’t put everything I have into everything I want to do, that is simply impossible. So I have to start choosing my adventures more carefully. I can (and will) continue to have lots and lots of experiences (that things to do list is not going anywhere!), but I must spend time and effort on fewer things in order to get more out of them. There are never enough hours – choosing what to spend mine on has to be done wisely.
So Michelle and Tara, I hope you don’t mind me using you as the subject of this blog post. Thank you for inspiring me with your attitude to adventure. Keep writing those blogs and enjoy every moment of the path in life you are taking. Here’s to adventure!
You put on a coat you’ve not worn for a while. Slip your hand in the pocket. Unexpectedly find a folded up £20 note. Oooo yay!
Let’s face it, there is very little chance that I would ever find a forgotten £20 anywhere. A couple of quid maybe, but not £20. I might, however, gain £20 by saving money on my household bills, or by shopping around for something. For the purposes of this post and blogger challenge I found £20. Ok when I say found I mean given. This is a challenge I have been set by MoneySupermarket.com.
MoneySupermarket are celebrating life’s “little wins” by showing how finding something like £20 can make you feel great. All I had to do was spend it on something that would make me happy. Something that would make me smile. Wow. Now that’s a challenge. £20 can actually go quite a long way. There are so many things I need. So many people who deserve £20. So many people I could treat. So many bigger things I could put it towards. Decisions decisions.
I could so easily have spent this £20 hundreds of times over. That’s the problem when you start looking – lots and lots (and lots) of things catch your attention. I’d already decided not to spend it on a meal out, or on something that I needed, and I decided against giving it to charity for a number of reasons (the main one being that when I went shopping for this challenge I was stopped/interrupted/shouted at by several chuggers on Lincoln High Street – ugh!).
I decided I would spend it on something for me. Something frivolous. A thing. Or maybe more than one thing. I wondered about a tshirt. Or some sandals. Or a scarf. Or some boots. What about a really nice pen? Or a new wallet? Each of these things I snapped came in at £20 or less. And I could have taken LOADS more photos!
But what was in my little Fat Face bag I pictured at the top of this post?
I chose some cute little earrings (£8), a pack of two socks (£8) and some Butter Tablet from Thornton (£1.99). You’ll notice I have £2 (and a penny) left – I’ll stick that in the offering at Church on Sunday.
I’ve been looking for some stud earrings for a while and just haven’t found anything I liked. I have other bits of Fat Face jewellery and really like it and I spotted these star and ball earrings when I was browsing. They are perfect for wearing every day. The socks were an extravagance - £8 on two pairs of socks with no technical specification is loads, but hey, this was a treat. They are thick and I love the colours and I can’t wait to wear them (yes I am sad, I love socks!). And finally the butter tablet – one of my absolute favourite sweet treats, so naughty, so good. When LincsGeek saw it he said “ooooooooooooooo butter tablet” – smiles all round!
And yes, I am very well aware that there are loads more sensible things I could have done with my £20. But I chose to be materialistic. I can honestly say handing over my money in Fat Face and Thorntons and bringing home a little bag of goodies just for me made me smile from ear to ear. It was guilt free spending. I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe I need to stop and think about that. Or maybe I shouldn’t.
MoneySupermarket.com are right; finding or saving money does make us feel good, especially when we can do whatever we want with it. Having something extra, over and above what we normally have, can really make us smile. It made me smile anyway.
Our Blog Ambassador challenge this week has been move more, sit less. We were encouraged to stand up more, walk around more and generally exercise more.
At the beginning of the week I ordered 30 Day Shred, a workout DVD by Jillian Michaels that I have been told over and over again really gets results. The premise is that you exercise for 20 minutes every morning for 30 days, and thanks to the combination of strength, cardio and abs circuit-type exercise, you notice a difference to your body very quickly. I can give 20 minutes each day, it’s practically nothing. It arrived on Saturday so I started it Sunday morning – so this morning was day three. And oh my goodness. Those of you who said I’d hurt? Yea, that. Those of you who said I’d sweat? Yea, that. Those of you who said day three would be really difficult because your body is already hurting? Yea, that. I’m on level one at the moment – I can do the vast majority of the exercises without too much difficulty – the cardio is much easier than the strength stuff. But I can’t do a single proper press up. Nope, not one. I’ll keep trying!
Apart from the DVD I’ve been using the exercise bike and doing my best to move around more. I have a desk job and sit at a computer for the vast majority of the day. As there probably no chance I will ever be provided with either a treadmill desk or a standing desk I am trying to get up off my chair as much as possible – there are things I can do stood up and I can make sure I make the most of my lunch breaks. I would use my Weight Watchers pedometer to track my daily steps but unfortunately I broke it less than a week into being a blog ambassador – it flung off my jeans and straight into the toilet bowl. Oops! I’ve tracked my steps before thanks to the GCC Walk the World scheme, and I know that wearing a pedometer does encourage me to move around more as I end up competing with myself trying to beat my average step count every day. I actually received a pedometer from Tesco in the post today, so from tomorrow I’ll wear that (even though it’s not all fancy and won’t work out any activity points) and see what happens!
I have to say I don’t much like the activities points on the Pro Points tracker. What I mean is I do like them – they mean extra food each week – but I don’t like how they are worked out. They take no account of how hard you work. Cycling on the exercise bike at full speed for 30 minutes is worth the same as cycling at a really leisurely pace barely raising your heart beat. It doesn’t exactly encourage you to work hard. Also, I earn the same points cycling for 30 minutes as I do for walking 30 minutes and doing aerobics for 30 minutes – but these exercises are not comparable on calories burnt. I guess I feel a bit hard done by when two Pro Points are added when I’ve got up early and worked really (really) hard before work. This doesn’t mean I’m not working hard, though…
Oh, and for the record, I have continued to eat breakfast. I find that exercising, then eating, then showering works for me and is a routine I am trying to get into during February. Apart from having that DVD which is motivation in itself I’ve also been challenged by a friend to exercise for 20-30 minutes every day for the whole of the month, to give me a bit of a kick and hopefully see some quick results. I would hope the DVD will cover that but if I get to the point where I can’t face Jillian Michael’s one morning I will still do something.
Food wise I’ve had another okay week, using up my daily points every day with mostly healthy food (the thai curry pictured above was a particular success!) and most of my weekly points too. I had pizza on Friday night which was particularly yummy and have continued to munch on the sweets and chocolates we have at home. I like that the counting system means I can still eat the things I want to. I’m eating loads of fruit and vegetables – even more than before (I’ve never been afraid of vegetables!), and I’m drinking lots more water. I am getting used to counting Pro Points now, I understand them more – I know what foods are free and what will cost me lots (although some things still surprise me!) and I like the way I can use those weekly points to treat myself to a nice hot chocolate or some fudge.
The proof is always in the numbers I guess and this week I lost another pound. I’ll take that – I don’t mind little losses, as long as I keep losing slowly but surely.
I made it clear in my last post about my Weight Watchers journey that I would not be counting while on holiday. For LincsGeek and I food on holiday is a very important part of the experience – we enjoy our food, enjoy eating out, enjoy finding a restaurant we love and going back to taste something else from the menu… and I enjoy just picking what I fancy from a menu rather than thinking about how many calories or how much fat I’m consuming. And anyway, you can’t spend valuable time away worrying about what you should or shouldn’t be eating.
Of course now I am back and ready to start again. I stepped on the scales this morning to assess the damage and was incredibly surprised. I lost weight. Just the one pound but if you could see the pile of hot chocolate glasses… and sweet wrappers… I know that skiing is good exercise, and you probably burn more calories when it’s -20 outside, but it has still come as a happy surprise.
Now I’m home again I’d better make sure I take positive steps to continue the trend downwards – I need to get meal planning again and desperately need to do a proper shop as we’ve not got a lot in.
Because I missed a week I have two challenges to concentrate on over the next seven days. The first is all about breakfast. Yes, yes, I know it’s the most important meal of the day, but unless I’m doing something that requires being fuelled up before I go (like skiing, a long walk etc), then nine times out of ten I don’t bother. I go through phases – I’ll eat breakfast properly for a few days before giving up and just waiting til my stomach starts moaning at 10am (or before). I’ve had boxes of cereal under my desk at work before now to try and get me into a routine of having breakfast as soon as I get in (I start at 8am so it’s early enough), but again I never get into a proper routine. So this week I will eat breakfast every single day, and try and vary it to keep me interested. It is most likely going to be cereal – weetabix, alpen, country crisp, that sort of thing. This morning I had some Sultana Bran. I give me til Friday.
I’ll introduce the other challenge later in the week.
What tips do you have for getting back on a decent diet after you’ve been off it for a week? What do you eat for breakfast?
There is much excitement in my office at the moment. We have each pulled out a name from a hat (an actual Santa hat) so we know who we are to be Secret Santa for. The big exchange of £5 gifts will take place next Wednesday when each of us gets to see whether our colleagues know us at all. Eek!
But I have an added excitement this year, as I have been invited to take part in a blogging Secret Santa thanks to MoneySupermarket.com. All those taking part have been paired up with another blogger and is challenged to buy a Secret Santa present for them. Such fun!
The challenge is to find a gift for our partner blogger for less than £25 (we have each been given this money in order to take part) – while that is more than your average Secret Santa gift it gives us good opportunity to buy something lovely. MoneySupermarket.com want to highlight that buying gifts this Christmas needn’t mean you need to raid your savings or max out the credit card.
Normally when we do Secret Santa some thought goes into the gift based on your knowledge of that person. It was much more difficult this time – I have been partnered with Fay of Food Fables. I’ve never met Fay and actually hadn’t come across her blog until I received my email from MoneySupermarket.com, so I made some tea and sat down to read through lots of her posts to find out what might make a suitable gift.
I discovered fairly quickly that she can’t have too much cows milk and isn’t a fan of nuts. She loves spices and pies (what girl doesn’t?!). She takes part in foodie pen pals once a month (which sounds really interesting, I must look into that more), drinks coffee, bakes cakes, enjoys meat, loves Thai and Italian food, enjoys sushi, loves cakes, and truly loves jelly sweets (but not Haribo!). I also learnt that she’s hoping for a pasta maker for Christmas (I hope the extra hint helps!).
Oh, and I stopped on her Rolo Cupcakes post way too long so had to link to it specifically… they look simply amazing and I will be making them when I get some time!
Obviously I’m not going to give away what I have bought for Fay but I will say that based on what she’s put on her blog, I think she’ll like it. I hope she will anyway! It should arrive in the next week or so and you should see a post on her blog about it between now and Christmas… I really hope I’ve got this right!
Oh and of course as part of the deal I get a Secret Santa present too. I’ll let you know what that is when it arrives. I wonder what it will be?!
For more details about the Secret Santa Challenge visit the special area on the MoneySupermarket.com website, oh and if you’ve got a few minutes to spare there is a (very addictive) game on the Christmas area of their site. If you feel like chatting about the Secret Santa Challenge on twitter please use the hashtag #MSMSecretSanta so I and the other bloggers taking part can see what you think.