Challenge 19

It's not often you see people discussing New Year's Resolutions in February, but, I am going to. There's good reason as well. Everyone does New Year's Resolutions in January, and inevitably I join in and then give up, usually, well before February!


I've had the same resolutions for a few years now, and I don't usually manage most of them (apart from the 52 book challenge). However, this year, this year I knew it wouldn't happen. For a start, I was working away from home, and I was ill. I had flu (proper flu, not a headcold) swiftly followed by a chest infection and an ear infection, as Januarys go, this one was saved only by Milton Keynes' vast array of restaurants and food stalls (shout outs especially to Yo! Sushi and Churros Mexicanos - where I spent most of my time, and also money).

I did start my 52 book challenge whilst I was in Milton Keynes, that is going well. And I also gave up chocolate for the whole of February. It's to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (Shameless link to my Just Giving Page). Just to put this into context, I have never, ever given up chocolate before. I can honestly say I don't think I've every even managed a week without chocolate in my entire adult life. Now I'm usually pretty good at giving things up, I quit smoking by giving up for lent, 12 years ago this month. But chocolate has always been beyond me before.

So, for the other challenges then?

Well, there's the health and fitness challenges: I tried to start earlier in the month, but fasting for hospital appointments has thrown me off, and I've another fasting appointment coming up, so my plan is to do what I can for now, and then, proper attempt starts on Tuesday 19th.
  1. Practice "Good Sleep Habits" and aim for 7.5 hours sleep per night.
  2. Eat at least one portion of fruit and veg with every meal (yes, including breakfast) and aim for a minimum of 8 portions a day (5:3 veg:fruit) with a view of getting it up to 10 portions a day!
  3. Drink more water. Guidelines are for 2.7l a day for women (3.7l for men) but I don't drink very much at all, so I'm aiming for 2l a day to start with.
  4. Stretch every morning. Nice and easy, do a 3-5 minute set of stretches to help wake me up.
  5. 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week. I'm going to try for 22 minutes every day.
  6. 3 x strength and flexibility sessions every week - I'm trying for a combination of yoga, tai chi and body weight circuit training.
  7. Relaxation time - a minimum of 5 minutes a day - it doesn't have to be meditation, but that's what I'm going for.

The "Improve my Mind" challenges: Mainly brushing up my linguistic skills. I've started from basics in duolingo, although I've learned some of these languages before, and as I so often do, I ignored the advice to start with just one, and have gone for; French and Spanish (both of which I have a GCSE in), German (which I studied at school), Norwegian (which I've been learning for a few years now), Welsh (I used to live there and whilst I wasn't fluent, I could manage a few polite phrases) and Mandarin Chinese. And, although not on duolingo, BSL. I'm also doing 5 minutes a day of one of those "brain training" apps, to see if there's any improvement. Only the free version, but still.

Oh, and does reading fall under that? As well as my at least one book a week target, I am this year having stretch targets of;
  1. Read War and Peace between February and November
  2. This book bucket list from Wordery, some of which I've already read, so I don't need to re-read them, but I'd like to get most of them read this year (maybe not Anna Karenina in the same year as War and Peace, but we'll see).
  3. 1 book each in French, Spanish, and Norwegian - children's books are fine, and I can't promise not to just read Harry Potter in each, but it's a plan.
  4. 12 Non-fiction books. I do devour novels, and I know that I read non-fiction much slower, but I enjoy it, and this year, I aim to read at least one non-fiction book per month.
  5. My Poem a day challenge - I sort of stopped doing it last year, and I do miss it. I don't really want to start the book again, but I will go back over the poems I read last year, and see if I can't do a few blog posts about some of my favourites!
  6. Move ahead with my big series reads - I have a little notebook listing all the series' that I read and where I'm up to. Sad to say, I haven't progressed on some of them last year at all, so this year, I shall read at least one book in each series!
  7. and the unpleasant one - the big book clear out. I do have some books that I know I'll never read again, I just need to actually be brave and sort them out from the ones I know I can't get rid of, and then, find new homes for them. 
And my crafty challenges: I like being crafty, but I don't have just one craft that I love above all others, I like being able to do a bit of everything, so this year, I'm going to try and do a little of each every week, with a few biggies.
  1. Take part in a Sew-Along - I've already Signed up to Rebecca Page's Trench Coat Sew Along for February, I've downloaded the pattern and bought my fabric. That's the easy bit done!
  2. I'm also determined to make a weekend capsule wardrobe this year. Ideally before the Crime Writer's Festival in Harrogate in July.
  3. Crochet more. I'd like to make a wearable tunic, but also more scarves and hats, because I quite enjoy it.
  4. Knit. I can knit, I'm just not very good at it and always give up, but I have found the most perfect (for me) pattern for a jumper, so, this year, I am going to get my knitting back up to scratch and I will make myself a jumper.
  5. Cross Stitch - I love it and very rarely make time and have a pile of UFOs (Unfinished Objects) which I fully intend to finish at least one of this year, and make significant progress on the other. Ideally, I'd like to finish at least the first page of the pattern of the big one!
  6. Photography. I used to be much better at photography than I currently am, so I'd like to practice more, and I've got two projects I want to finish. Local landmarks, and my virtual tour of the zoo! Just for our own personal use, but I want a few photographs of each animal so I can set a slideshow running on the tv screen whilst listening to music!
  7. Writing - I've got out of the habit of writing every day, so I need to get back into it. Blogging, Poetry, novels and even my sleep diary, I need to build the writing every day habit back up. 
And finally, the other things I enjoy doing!
  1. Make time for family film nights. Very often life gets in the way, but we still try to spend time together as a family. We love the discussions we have after watching a film too.
  2. Cooking and baking - not just the delicious stuff, but healthy meals too. I won't pay for a meal prepping service that I know full well I can do myself, if only I actually do it. So this year, I will do! 
  3. Astronomy. I particularly like meteor showers, so we're going to make time, to kick back and look at the stars together this year.
  4. Walk 1000 miles. I have done this one before, and I will do it again. I enjoy walking, and I want to get back to walking regularly. I'd like to document some local walks, and visit some more distant walks.
  5. Cycling. I was starting to get quite good, but I'm very much a fair weather cyclist. We'd like to do the Monsal trail again, and the Wirral Way (which I usually walk), and I'd like to cycle to sewing club again too.
  6. My "Where I Live" Blog Post - I've been working on this one for a few years now, and it's no nearer being posted than it was then, although I have posted a few bits about it. I will be posting it as a series rather than as a single post!
  7. Podcasts - I am really getting into podcasts at the moment. They're great to listen to whilst driving when you know you don't have time for a good bit of an audiobook, and they're just so varied. My challenge is to make a list of the ones I want to catch up on, and make a start actually catching up on them!

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