New Life, Day One

Last week was tired and sluggish and stressful with constant headaches. A steady decline, culminating in a bit of a breakdown on Sunday. But out of the dreariness was born the wonderful thing I am here to tell you about. Sunday night, I made a plan.

Today, I got up at 4am, did a twenty minute warm-up, went running on a dirt road in the dark and freezing cold, then threw some jabs and kicks at the punching bag I installed in the attic above the garage over New Year’s. All spent, I took a shower, then made breakfast. I’m not always hungry enough in the morning to really have breakfast, but after this I certainly was. So I made it all rich and healthy; yogurt with spelt, the remains of a late-stage pear I found in the pantry, and that expensive crude lineseed oil my sister buys for us. This accompanied by a glass of milk and two hard-boiled eggs. By the time I got to the eggs, I felt like a king and – what’s more important – I was thoroughly awake. A short full-body stretching to round it off, and I was ready to work.

And work I did, for five hours (actually five and a half, the first slight deviation from the plan), from 6:30 to 11:30. So when lunchtime came around, not only did I already have the sports and hygiene sections checked off, but my work-meter was at a whopping 62.5%. Compared to falling out of bed at 8 or 9am the months before and having to struggle to be on time for my first appointment at 9:45 every day, today was incredibly satisfying. And did I mention that I was conscious?

A wrap with cucumber, tomatoes, cheese and some other, more unspeakable ingredients that shall only be referred to as “leftovers”, for lunch. Tasty. A total of two and a half pullups on the big crossbeam that runs between our kitchen and living room. Room for improvement. Next, to satisfy not only the need for food and excercise but also that for a mental disconnect from work, the plan lists an activity called “LEARN”. It’s not defined any closer yet but the point is to switch contexts and, idk, do a crossword puzzle if nothing else. Ideally, if I ever find the time to do some online courses in the evenings, I can go over my notes after lunch. Or maybe I’ll get serious about Duolingo again. Today I used the time to switch my phone contract, which at least made me feel smart.

13:00 to 16:00. More work. At this point keeping at it was pretty easy as things were running smoothly and I knew that I’d soon be off without all my resources having been depleted hours ago.

That being said, I could very well have drifted into a little bit of an afternoon low. Which is why, at 4pm sharp, the plan goes straight to the real workout of the day. Mondays are abs, as are Tuesdays and Thursdays. Need to lose my Corona belly. To mix it up and allow my muscles to rest, I’ll switch to back on Wednesdays and legs on Fridays. Saturday is choose-your-workout-day, and Sunday is full body to round it off. This may sound intense, but they’re all really doable routines from some of these train-at-home workout apps and only go for about twenty minutes on average. The workout is followed by reading until dinner’s ready, which the plan doesn’t define any more precisely. It changes based on whose turn it is to cook, but the whole deal, including the obligatory jabbering, is normally done by 7pm.

Then follows a loose program that includes up to two set tasks and basically whatever else I want. Right now I’m neglecting tidying up and practicing the Siu Nim Tau in favor of writing this blog post. And that’s okay. Which is a key part of the plan and how I try to live it. The plan is not smarter than me deciding how to spend my evenings on a day-to-day basis. But it is smarter than morning me with my eyes half open and urging to crawl back into bed. The two most important sections are the first, between 4 and 6am, and the last one ending with me going to bed at 10pm. That’s the hard stuff. But the hard stuff pays for the rest. Once I’ve got it covered, whatever else I choose to do on a particular day, I stand a good chance of doing it consciously and thus actually getting somewhere.

Based on that thought and on the value of routines, large chunks of the plan are the same for each weekday. The morning routine is, the time around lunch is, and the part where I work out and read before dinner is as well, except for the workouts targeting different body regions. On Saturday, the work hours are replaced by (preferably blog-related) writing and drawing, and by D&D preparations or Wild Magic on Sunday. Evening activities range from playing D&D to martial arts classes and administrative work for the blog.

I know it’s nothing new but rather an amalgamation of everything they tell you in those unnecessarily shouty motivation videos I’ve been watching way too many of on YouTube. And their wisdoms are nothing new for me either. It’s not like I haven’t come up with similar plans a thousand times and always eventually found them crushed by the chaos of reality. It’s just that this one feels really good and evolved. After one day, I can at least say that I haven’t felt this awake and productive and happy with myself in a while. That’s something.

Now to bed. It’s 22:44 (!!!) and I need to be up and running (literally) less than six hours from now.

1 thought on “New Life, Day One

  1. Peter says:

    Update: It lasted for three weeks. The first few days were the best, as I was still feeling the change, but the rest of it was pretty solid as well. Though I did have to adapt the plan to involve more sleep, and also tweak all the times upon switching to daylight saving. Then, Easter came, and with it a weekend of decadence. I haven’t had the resolve to get back on track since. Cold, snowy weather and having to travel to attend some special events have provided excellent excuses, but the truth is that right now, I want to be comfortable more than I want to be disciplined and / or successful, at least in the ways that the plan is aimed at. And I guess comfort for me comes in part from non-uniformity. I’m still glad I did it though. Not only because I lost a few pounds or proved to myself that I could do it, but because it came with an interesting change in perspective that resulted, I think, in a better understanding of my usual one. Peter out.

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