Down the Docks

February 2, 2008

Resolution Review – One Month

Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 10:14 pm

So far so good. The crush at the gym has lasted longer than I thought, so I guess I had underestimated the staying power of some of the new faces. Taken in the original order:

  • My weight is down again. The calorie counting, gym trips and swimming are gradually working. The only problems have been when eating out, or snacking after drinking.
  • The blogging is ongoing, as you can see here or at my Oracle blog. I’ve remembered now something I had previously forgotten: writing a well-researched, clear article is difficult and time-consuming.
  • Getting up early is now pretty much habit. I sometimes have to remind myself to do something other with the time than read Bloglines!
  • I’ve cut back on the booze. It’s particularly important when you’re also trying to count calories. Only two exceptions to the six-unit rule so far, despite being tempted a few times.
  • The Spanish is going fairly well, but would be going better if I actually made an effort outside of the class.
  • Budgeting needs more attention.

If it wasn’t for one epic fail of a weekend, I’d have done almost perfectly on the first four points. Good weekend though! So the only two that need serious work are the last two. Let’s see how I do in February.


January 23, 2008

Budgeting and Money

Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 2:03 am

The last of the resolutions. To cut a long story short, I want to keep lifestyle inflation from undoing the good work I’ve done in my career and finances over the last couple of years. I’m not a student anymore and I don’t intend to live like one, but the rate at which money slips through my fingers sometimes is too high.

As a warm-up I tried a spending fast (spend no cash, in my case for a week). The point is that the spending prohibition makes you conscious of where you would normally spend. I’m sure I can save money, eat better and eat healthier by making my own lunch sometimes. What will make more diference for me though, is the big ticket items. I need to resist new computers and gadgets I don’t need, new clothes I won’t wear, and books I won’t ever read, and can barely even store. I really need to work on the books!

January 20, 2008


Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 12:50 am

The penultimate of my resolutions was to keep learning Spanish. It’s the fourth most commonly-spoken language on the planet, with around 500 million native and non-native speakers.

I’ve never had the discipline to learn a language by self-study, so I have a few rarely opened Spanish books on the shelves. Podcasts have been a bit of a boon (although I’m now suffering from the fact that iTunes doesn’t run under XP x64), as I’ll happily listen to them again and again while travelling. The big problem for me though is that the ability to listen and understand a language doesn’t translate into the ability to speak it. Looking at my one-year-old nephew responding with comprehension when spoken to, but unable to speak, I guess this is a common function of the way he learn languages.

Late last year I signed up for a course at 44 Portland Place, and I got quite a lot out of it. Being taught in a small group seems to allow me to learn faster, probably because it’s not so passive. Of course, the big benefit is that I get to practice speaking throughout each lesson.

44 Portland Place is very cheap compared to other language classes, so I’ve no objection to signing up for their classes as long as there’s an appropriate one. The real challenge for me, and the point of the resolution, is to make sure that I put more into it than just turning up to every class. Homework, including some writing and some rote learning, is invaluable. On top of that, I need to take time to read Spanish (plenty of which is now available online – no more going to the library or buying foreign newspapers) and speak it when the opportunity arises.

January 19, 2008

Half-On the Wagon

Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 1:40 am

I said this year I would try to avoid drinking more than six units of alcohol in a day. I’ve been teetotal for months at a time before, and it’s never been a problem. Alcohol is like Pringles or chocolate raisins – the real challenge isn’t refusing the first one, it’s refusing the third or fourth one.

Half of the reason I want to drink less is to lower and keep track of the calories I consume. The other half of the reason is that I want to avoid that day after feeling: even after the hangover’s gone, I still feel washed-out, and I can’t summon the willpower to do anything more than lounge around. But who doesn’t like a good glass of red, or a decent beer? Truth be told, I like most kinds of alcohol, I enjoy the taste and the relaxing effect of the first couple of drinks. It’s even good for the heart.

So I don’t want to cut it out completely, but I don’t want to drink so much that I spend half of the next day with a headache, or wondering if I should leave the flat. The time I’m least able to resist a drink is after I’ve already had two. I’m not sure exactly how I’ll solve this problem, but I’ll probably start by interspersing non-alcoholic drinks in between the booze. Of all the things I resolved to do this year, I think this one will probably be hardest to stick with.

January 16, 2008

Early to Rise

Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 12:16 am

Continuing the trek through my resolutions, the third was “Get up at 6.30 am during the week.” To those that know me this must seem well out of character. In fact, it’s already becoming an easy-to-keep habit.

I never liked the fact that I would get up, get ready for work, go to work, and not have any time of my own until the evening. This way, I get an hour or so in the morning before work. It’s quiet, and since there’s definite time limit, I don’t spend it staring into space. I’ve been using it to read, blog, tidy, correspond, play piano and organise. I typically get much more done in that hour than I would in an hour in the evening. In fact, I’m even thinking of getting up at six!

January 14, 2008

Write More

Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 1:20 pm

The second resolution I made for this year was, “Blog or otherwise write for one hour a week, no matter the subject.”

My earlier experiences with more ambitious blog posts were frustrating, as I find my breadth-first thinking patterns do not easily translate into good writing. But I read a lot of material, both online and in dead tree form, and plenty of people write well, if not amazingly. My guess is that practice is important, as is allowing myself to make mistakes. So I’ll be writing often, and hoping to learn how by doing.

January 9, 2008

Weight Control

Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 12:11 am

My first resolution for this year was, “Get to a weight of, at most, 11 stone or 10% body fat, whichever is the sooner.”

A few months ago my weight was heading towards 14 stone (89kg). That was where I snapped and decided to get back into shape, even if I can’t run. I’d been at the gym several times a week, but I was still eating badly, so that was where I started. I calculated my basal metabolic rate as about 1800 kcal / day, and cut my diet back to that. Simultaneously, I increased the amount of aerobic exercise I was doing (mostly swimming), after which I started losing about 2lb / week.

I’ve lost about a stone and a half right now, and feel much better for it. I’m not sure what the right end point is for this diet, but if I can get to either of 11 stone weight or 10% body fat I’ll be happy. If I stay on track that should be in about three months’ time.

January 7, 2008


Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 12:03 am

I made a handful of New Year’s resolutions last week. Apparently publicly committing yourself to them is helpful, because it’s then embarrassing to abandon them. So here they are:

  • Get to a weight of, at most, 11 stone or 10% body fat, whichever is the sooner.
  • Blog or otherwise write for one hour a week, no matter the subject.
  • Get up at 6.30 am during the week.
  • No more than six units of alcohol in an evening.
  • Continue learning Spanish.
  • Stick to a budget.

What’s not on the list, that might have been, is playing piano and going to the gym. These are just habits now; I enjoy doing them and they don’t take any extra effort to keep doing. As for the things that are on the list, I’ll explain why over the next few days, as part of fulfilling the second resolution!

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