It’s that time of year when we all reflect upon the previous year and start to focus on what we want to change about ourselves. I like to make goals for the coming year that aren’t just “lose weight” but are related to finding a balance between health and enjoyment of life (hence the name of the blog). I prefer to call them “goals” and not “resolutions” because I don’t think I can instantaneously switch my behavior as a resolution requires. Change takes time and self-forgiveness, so I prefer to call them goals. And, here are my (our) five goals for 2020:
Goal #1: Publish 1-2 Blog Posts per month
Maybe you’ve noticed, it’s been four months since I’ve logged into this site and published anything. Long enough that I had to jump through all the security clearances to get back in! I had a lot on my plate (we all do) and something had to give, so it was writing. I set a rather lofty goal when I started this blog at the beginning of 2019 of writing 2-3 blogs per week. This coming year, I’m making the goal of 1-2 blogs per month. A blog post takes me a long time to write (3 hours plus), so I want to find that balance of continuing my creative writing practice, but having the time to do all the other things. The blog posts also take me a long time to write because writing is a vulnerable thing for me to do – I’m convinced that I sound all wrong – boring, stupid, arrogant, incorrect, etc., so I’m constantly re-thinking what I’ve written or am going to write and frequently come back after publishing a post to change it a bit. I think this type of emotional exposure is good for my personal growth, so I’m going to keep going, but I need to pace myself so as not to get overwhelmed and quit altogether (again).
Goal #2: Get to bed by 10pm 3 times per week
This seems like the simplest goal, but I’ve had the goal of getting to bed by 9:30pm for the last three years and failed for all three years. So, I’m going to compromise the goal a bit so it might be achievable.
Sleep is so important to our health and this is the piece of my personal health plan that is in the worst shape. I get less than 6 hours of sleep most nights and would really like to improve that. Fortunately, I sleep just fine. My problem is that I don’t physically climb into bed early enough and I don’t stay in bed long enough in the mornings. My schedule drives me to be up late and up early. The part I have control over is staying up too late. I plan to get to bed earlier by making some of the things in our evening routine more efficient:
- Cut internet time down to nearly nothing in the evenings. If you start perusing your phone for a second, it quickly becomes 15 or 20 minutes. Limiting the screen time could be a real time saver and probably good for our mental health as well.
- Have lunches that require less nightly prep. Salads take a good 15 minutes or so to make in the evenings whereas soups that were prepped on the weekend take 5 seconds to put in our lunch bags. Small modifications like this could shave 10-15 minutes off this task.
- Microwaveable dinners on our late yoga nights. We generally do a good job of this already, but the meal prepping will continue to be a big part of expediting the evening routine.
Goal #3: 15% Body Fat
Speaking of meal prepping…Last year, we embarked on a keto journey and we’ve learned a lot about our bodies and how they interact with food. We started the year following a fairly strict keto diet of less than 20g of carbohydrates per day. Weight fell off and we felt great about ourselves. I noticed additional benefits like improved skin and less inflammation. As the year progressed, we relaxed our diet a bit and I learned about how many grams of carbohydrates I can tolerate in a day and stay in ketosis, which was surprisingly high at around 50-60 grams. This opened up a lot of flexibility in my diet and allowed us to function in society easily. As our bodies adapted to ketosis, we are able to have cheat meals and recover faster.
Towards the end of this year, our body fat has been increasing while our weight has stayed the same. Neither one of us are happy about that, so, I’ve done what anyone with a degree in science would do, and started researching the causes and how to stop this trend. What is likely happening is that we are burning muscle rather than fat to power our muscles, most likely do to consuming too little protein; therefore, we’re modifying our meal planning to include a lot more protein. This should feed our muscles what they need while still allowing us to stay in ketosis. Stay tuned on why and how we’re doing this as well as our results.
I will continue with my workout schedule as is where I’m teaching Jazzercise four nights a week and trying to catch three yoga classes a week, so I’m doing okay on the workout front. I’d like to do more, but I tend to get overuse injuries if I push myself much more than this, so I’ll see what happens with the food macro modification and change my plans from there. The additional protein may allow me to add more workouts to my life, but my earlier bedtime might not…
15% body fat is definitely a stretch goal. I got down to 16.1% body fat in June of last year, so I think I can achieve that again. Before the holidays, I was around 20.4% body fat (on my Fitbit Aria scale) and I haven’t stepped on the scale since before Christmas, so I’ll find out where I’m starting at when I get brave enough to step on!
Goal #4: No Material Purchases this year
So, this is an interesting one for us. We’re going to try to not purchase anything material this year (*some exceptions). By material, I mean non-consumable stuff like new clothes, random gadgets, etc. Consumables like shampoo and wine we can continue to purchase as well as things that actually wear out like holey socks and workout sneakers. Outside of that, we want to try not purchase things. Our purpose in this goal is to try deflect the bombardment of advertising telling us what our life should be like and, therefore, have more energy to focus on what actually makes us happy. Second benefit is obviously financial savings.
We already have a couple of exceptions to this new goal so far: a new couch for the trailer (our current one looks like it from National Lampoon’s RV), a birthday present for each other (it is my 40th this year after all), and Christmas presents and replacing anything useful that outright breaks (like we had to replace our ceiling fan in the bedroom because the motor died). We’re negotiating with ourselves on whether or not to complete the remaining home improvement projects that were on the list and a couple other items.
I’m very interested to see how difficult this will be. I’ve already starting hiding ads on social media and unsubscribing to emails from my favorite retailers in an effort to curb to onslaught of advertisements. The tough part might be if I achieve 15% body fat, I might need some clothes that fit. That would be a great problem to have!
Goal #5: Live on One Income
Goal #4 will help us achieve this goal. We want to live completely on one person’s income and saving as much as possible for financial freedom and retirement. We’ll start by redirecting my paychecks to our savings account, then investing that money. This is the goal that we’re most excited about this year and probably one of the easiest to achieve if we want to!
All the above are in the hopes of better balancing our lives. Less material dependence, more financial freedom, better health, and more creativity.
Seeking health/life balance. Thanks for reading!