January Challenge Complete
January is over, which means the challenge is complete!
Over the holidays I was inspired by the coming new year and made up a few rules to impose on myself for a month. Why? To see what I could accomplish in a month, instead of a longer term, unrealistic resolution. It was a test of willpower and a forced break in habits. The challenge was to eat out only once a week, be vegetarian except the occasional fish, drink no alcohol, consume less sugar, stay away from coffee and drink tea instead, and stop all recreational internet surfing.
How did it go? Overall, quite well. The first week was the hardest – I’d developed a habit of going out to eat nearly all the time, and having a drink or two a few times a week. Changing that habit was tough at first. Humans develop grooves, like records, and you can go outside those grooves for a couple days, but you naturally fall back into your old way, and it was hard not to. By the second week I was more used to it, and by the third and forth it became normal.
For example – I’ve been drinking tea this past month instead of coffee. My morning routine now is to go fix myself a cup of tea, and when I arrived at work this morning, I just automatically made tea without thinking about it. Then I realized “hey! I can drink coffee! I’ll get a latte later!” but I never made it to the coffee shop. No guarantees for tomorrow.
- Eating out once a week: B, I stuck to this for breakfast and dinner, but I made a few exceptions to go out to lunch with co-workers, and forgot to bring it a couple other times. On the eating at home front, each week we sat down and developed a meal plan, and bought all of our groceries in one shot. Gotta give my girlfriend a lot of the credit for this. It worked amazingly well, the food was never boring, and we made some amazing dishes. My cooking repertoire has expanded quite a bit, and cooking is no longer a rare event, its the default.
- No meat except fish once a week: A, I ate no beef, pork or poultry in January. We made some very tasty meals, mostly vegetarian, and a few with fish.
- no alcohol: A – This was challenging, but doable. This despite my work having a scotch tasting party. I’m used to drinking casually a couple times a week. Glad to not have this restriction anymore, but I do feel a bit less obligated to buy a drink when I go out now.
- no excess sugar: B – I don’t drink soda, but I do love desserts. I mostly stayed away, but I did have a cupcake.
- no coffee: A – Stayed off the sauce. Had a headache the first few days but then got back to normal. This was part of what made week #1 hard. But this has been great, I need less caffeine now, and I drink more tea than coffee.
- no recreational internet: B – I stayed off Facebook except to check my messages a couple times, snuck a few glances at Twitter, and mostly stayed away from the various news and tech sites I tend to frequent. Not being able to read internet news, I started to read more “offline” materials again, like books. Crazy talk. Towards the second half of the month I started checking sites I go to again, but with less frequency. It’s hard not to when you work on a computer all day.
Overall I’ve started a few good habits – especially the meal planning bit. Cutting back on things you normally do makes space for new kinds of experiences to happen.