Saturday, March 21, 2009

Resoluquinox

A couple of years ago, on a BBC Magazine article about New Year's resolutions, one commenter opined that New Year is the absolute worst time to make resolutions. He's right - it's an arbitrary date, it's all dark and cold, and it's time better spent hibernating (or skiing). He asserted that Spring is a much more humane time to try and improve your behaviour. The increasing light and warmth, the budding leaves and flowers, put you into a much more positive and proactive frame of mind.

I couldn't have agreed more, and instantly adopted the new tradition of Spring Equinox Resolutions. Here are this year's.

A) CAREER

i) do everything I can to make sure I get to stay on in my job after my original two year contract expires in November.

My tracking system seemed to do its job at a couple of recent performance reviews, and people keep telling me that they're sure there's the will to keep me. The next step is to get an actual decision maker to say this, and then put it in writing. Clear and effective communication is in rather short supply around here sometimes.

The means to keep me is, however, a different story... the first successful grant to include a fraction of my salary (as project manager) in the budget just came in, but the budget was cut by 20% across the board, so my plan to cover as much of my salary as possible through grants is not quite on track. This salary compensation is a relatively recent innovation, suggested by my primary supervisor, and is included in another couple of pending grants, so we'll see. Success in this department will help convince the powers that be (not my primary supervisor) that the two year experiment was financially successful.

This resolution is somewhat out of my hands, but I'm doing my best to be proactive.

ii) stop procrastinating and develop my freelance writing

Ideally this would entail making some money - not including the royalties for the still-unbloggable group project I completed at the beginning of 2008. Any month now, apparently. But if that's not possible, I'd be happy with just getting something published. Admittedly I haven't actually submitted anything yet (again, any month now), although I have lots of ideas scribbled in a notebook, and a couple of half-written articles. The problem is that I haven't yet discovered the best way to integrate any serious writing into my daily schedule. At the moment I feel too burned out at the end of a work day, and tend to be very easily side-tracked into the instant gratification and feedback of blogging. I've bought a few books on this topic and will procrastinate a bit more by reading them instead of writing anything.

I have had a couple of phone interviews for a volunteer freelance writing position (one article per month) with a local charity who want to improve their coverage of research projects that they help to finance. They're going to send me a couple of their most recent articles, and I'm going to re-write them in a couple of different ways to see what works.

B) HEALTH

i) Exercise more

Very original, eh?!

The exercise log and arse-kicking posts in the right sidebar have really helped, but I need to step it up a notch. After the successful implementation of the slightly-too-small-wedding-dress in 2007, I'm using the slightly-too-small-suit as an incentive this year. I want to rock that outfit, instead of just barely fitting into it, for my Canadian citizenship ceremony. Unfortunately, I have no idea when that will be. The timeline they gave me at the test last month means that I have a decent shot of making the Canada Day (July 1st) event, but honestly, who knows.

The new plan is one weights/circuit session, one swim, and at least one other cardio session per week (all this on top of my 60 hilly kilometers per week bicycle commuting). Sessions will also hopefully be longer than the current ones.

I am also planning to try - gasp! - running. Even though I hate it. Multiple people have told me that a) it's the best way to lose weight, and b) even people who start out hating it end up loving it. Well, liking it. OK, tolerating it. Following advice from Ironman triathlete Mermaid, I've downloaded an interval running application on my iPhone. It has four Easy, two Medium, and two Heavy programmes, which play over the top of your music: "Start running now... start to walk... start to run... you are going too fast". I'm aiming to complete each one twice, and if I still hate running, I'll stop and try something else. I refuse to run in the rain though - cycling in the rain twice a day, and putting on my still-damp clothes for the ride home, is bad enough - so it might be a few weeks before I gain any momentum.

ii) stretch more

I'm a bugger for not stretching. I feel so much better when I stretch. But it's been harder with two cats trying to sit on my head.

iii) improve my diet

It's basically OK, but I need to reinstate the weekly vegetarian evening meal, and do better at making lunches at home rather than buying a sandwich. This week I made a rice, asparagus, cashew nut, red pepper, banana pepper, and pineapple concoction that was quite delicious and lasted three days.

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Those are the biggies... I'm sure I've forgotten a few of the smaller ones, but hey, I'll put "be less forgetful" into next year's resolutions. If I remember.

Happy Equinox!

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ETA: "Play my guitar more" and "don't neglect the garden as much as last year" are on the list too.

26 comments:

  1. It's called RunnerLite - a freebie I think (I actually downloaded it a month ago). If I like it I'll pay for the full version.

    Are you planning to go running in your crocs?

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  2. Ah yes, I've heard of this thing they call "running" :) Good luck with all of your goals! Keep us posted!

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  3. That's a good idea! Resoluquinox - I like it.

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  4. Thanks for giving me an idea to work on resolutions! Good luck with running! (I am heading for the gym and treadmill soon in May sicne it will be too hot for me to be outdoors.)

    (the slightly too small dress for the wedding of a friend in a month's time ... yeah... let's go with 2 cm would be great for my waist... so, let's see if that works out)

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  5. It's a much better idea than New Year resolutions! But is it lame to start the day after the equinox?!

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  6. Chall, too hot to be outside is a foreign concept for me... it's still freezing here!

    Good luck with the dress... it's a good motivation!

    Thanks Dr A!

    Lisbeth, not at all, go for it! The Equinox is just another arbitrary date after all, even though it is at least a natural one, rather than a manmade one.

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  7. Sounds like a great application....might even be worth buying an iphone for (well, except I don't run with headphones...small complication). Let me know how it goes!

    Running in the rain is actually much less painful than cycling - you stay a lot warmer and the relative quiet is actually really peaceful. Or maybe I am just fantasizing advantages so I keep going out there every week even when it is pouring out?

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  8. There is one blog post on running that I love:
    http://doctormama.blogspot.com/2006/05/listen-up-maggots.html

    I have tried running here since I do not know how and where to find a gym. I am a person who used to hate running and I must say I started to like it. Even in the rain. I am still having too many excuses but I plan to resume running more regularly when good weather / spring comes here.

    Good luck!

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  9. I was about to post the same link as DrL - I tried to start running many times but until I listened to this advice it never stuck. And I used to say that you won't see me running unless there is something big chasing me :) One idea is to start when the weather is nice, so by the time the weather is worse you are more comfortable with the running itself. Go slow and you will do great!

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  10. Mermaid, nice to have you back!

    Cycling in the rain is better in my mind because it's my commute, so I have to go anyway, and I'd still get wet on my way to the bus stop if I didn't cycle. Running for no good reason is different (although I'd love to be able to run to work on days when I don't have my bike, but 6 km seems like an insurmountable distance right now).

    DrL (and SG), I'd actually read that before - had one of you maybe linked to it on your blogs? It's good advice, I need to remember to go embarrassingly slowly.

    DrL, being able to exercise anywhere, any time, is a good incentive for me to get into running. At home in the UK over Christmas, I would have had to pay some kind of fee to join a gym or whatever, but could have easily gone for a run.

    SG, I definitely don't plan to do much running in bad weather! Any advice on whether once a week is enough to build up my running stamina / technique / whatever from scratch, or if more often would be better? (Please say that once a week is enough! ;)).


    MrsCH and Phizzle, sorry I missed your comments earlier. Thanks for the support!

    Progress so far? Ate like a pig yesterday (at a friend's house to watch some international rugby - bacon and donuts, nice), but did well to make something healthy and surprisingly tasty from mildly wilted leftovers in the fridge to bring for lunch today (asparagus and tomato sandwich). Going to gym after work (yuck) because I left my bike at work when I went to the pub after work on Friday.

    So... mixed.

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  11. Sorry, but I find if I don't run for a whole week, it is almost like starting over again (ok, not quite as bad, but rough). 2 runs a weeks seems to be the minimum, and 3 would be great. With 2-3 short runs/week being much better than one long one, perhaps you can add a little treadmill before/after your weights/etc.?

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  12. Booooooooooooo ;)

    Treadmills scare me, I know too many people who've fallen off them.

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  13. Unforunately, it seems to be a minimum of 2 runs a week to maintain, and three to improve. Happily, crosstraining (like biking) is beneficial!

    Treadmills scare me too. I use them when traveling to places that I am not comfortable running in, but I am so uncoordinated that I am constantly terrified I will fall off and hurt myself.

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  14. Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

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  15. An ambitious list, Cath! Good luck!!

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  16. As I have said before, I don't run with headphones because a) they are dangerous (even more so now given the recent death in Vancouver) and 2) the races I participate in don't allow them, so I prefer to train without them.

    However: due to a series of circumstances, yesterday's planned run was going to be even more undesirable than usual, so I pulled out my ancient ipod, filled with less-than-respectable music choices, and off I went.

    Oh.My.God. Ipods deliver the audio equivalent of crack for runners.

    First of all, I couldn't hear my creaking knees. Or my ragged breathing. Or my negative self-talk. The absence of all this negative feedback was wonderful! It was a sunny day, and I was running, and life was good! I smiled! I actually giggled when "I Will Survive" started just as I was going up a particularly brutal hill! Coming down my favourite hill, with my Personal Motivation Song playing, I was reminded of all the fabulous training runs I did during Ironman year, and thought how fun it would be if I signed up again so I could run more.

    Wait. What?

    These things should come with a warning label. Obviously they can have serious long-term effects on your mental well being :).

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  17. Dude! No! Stay away from the Ironman application forms!

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  18. For some reason my husband has started talking about Ironman recently. I am still trying to figure out if I should encourage it or discourage it (it does sound interesting, and it would be good for us to have a reason to be more physically active year-round, and we'd do it together if at all, although maybe a more reachable goal would be more sane).

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  19. Hi ScienceGirl, if you want to chat Ironman, I am more than happy to tell you our experience. It was actually a great year, although it didn't seem that way at the time. I was working with Cath then, so she would be able to comment if I was tolerable that year or not....

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  20. Of course you were tolerable! We just didn't see you outside of work, like, at all, for a year. I did enjoy the lunch where you were carbo loading (and I was just stuffing my face with pasta for no reason) though.

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  21. Mermaid - actually, that'd be great! My email is girlyscientist AT gmail.

    Cath - carb loading is the best! It was absolutely awesome to walk into an Italian place and eat everything in sight with no regret. Just in case you need another reason to start running ;)

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  22. I don't think I can quite justify carb loading for the 7 minute runs I've been doing! But it is a good incentive!

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