Looking back on it, February was hard. It started off ropey, as I was feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I had set myself to do. Work got much busier which interfered with some of my personal goals, and then I got hit by an issue at work which turned out to be much more emotionally draining than it should have been and (probably needlessly, but even so) made a big dent in my self-esteem. Then just as things looked like they were picking up in the last 10 days of the month, I got hit with a killer cold! Which sapped me out in a lot of ways – one entire day lost in bed, a couple of workouts missed, and I couldn’t sing properly for over a week, on top of feeling drained and worn out. On top of that it was a cold and minging February with bits of snow and we were teased with a couple of spring-like days, but it feels at the moment like spring is never going to get here!
The last time I had a cold was just before Christmas which is only two months ago. I don’t think I’ve ever been sick twice in one winter before and, while it’s annoying, I think it’s proof that physically I am pushing myself and living right at the limits of my health – particularly on the balance of sleep and energy, and also I think psychologically with scheduling and stress. I only get sick if my immune system is significantly weakened and I’ve been pondering how much of this was due to the pressure and upsets I found myself lost in during February – and what I can do to keep myself healthier, in body and mind.
That said, it hasn’t been a dead loss for goal progress by any means, so here comes the wrap:
A2) Weigh 140 – I lost another 4 pounds this month, which takes me to 9.2 for the year. I’m not breaking any records here! But at least it’s progress, and if I only continue to lose at this rate I can lose 55lb this year which would get me into the 190s comfortably. Frustratingly, before I got sick I got as far as 11 pounds down and looked as if I had a load more to lose before the end of the month – but then when I was poorly I’ll admit there was a bit of feeding myself better and trying to cheer myself up as well. It just seems unfair because I had been doing really well until I got sick, and I couldn’t really help getting sick, so I’ll have to put this down to giving myself a bit of a break.
The other thing (and a bit of a confession) is that I have quite a variation of weights on a given day which is making things a bit complicated. My scales can be quite temperamental (plus I am an expert at manipulating them! I’m not quite balancing on one toe on one corner of the glass but it’s not far off!) and until recently I’ve gone with the rule that I take the lowest weight shown (and if I can be bothered to spend the time fiddling around to get a lower one then I’ve earned it!) – but now there’s a massive discrepancy (up to 10lb) between the weights on any given day! I definitely would have been taking the lowest available number for my start weight on 1-Jan so while I don’t want to switch to the highest weight quite yet, for March I am going to track all the numbers and hopefully see some downward trend in all of them. After all you’re only really as thin as your highest weight when it comes down to it 😉
A4) Tackle one eating habit per month – my habit was to eat as little as emotionally possible. There were two main strategies for this – (a) trying to avoid eating so much that I got to the really full stage, and (b) marking out eat-free time at work with structured meals and snacks. This is a work in progress and I have been more flexible than I perhaps needed to be at times, but on the whole I think I’ve set some really solid habits here and I’ll continue to improve. During January it was the weekends when I saw my weight go down and during the week at work it would creep up or stay the same, but for the second half of February I’ve seen my weight go down during the work-week which is massively encouraging. It’s so much more encouraging to know that if I stick to the plan, I can at least have hope for a lower weight tomorrow, regardless of what day it is.
B1) Combined practice target of 720-730 hours or more (15h/week on average) – the monthly target is somewhere between 60-61 hours and I managed 63, which puts me at 132 done for the year with 68 left to do in March. Luckily March has 5 weekends in it and that’s when I get the bulk of my practice done, so hopefully I’ll hit the target and beyond! I still want to get as close to 1000 hours this year as I can.
C1) Read at least one book each in Japanese, French and German –
- French: target 66, I’m up to page 74
- German: target 34, I’m up to page 39
- Japanese: target 44, I’m up to page 56
Most of this is due to work I did to get ahead during January but at least I’m still ahead!
C9) Read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Russian: target was 33 pages which I achieved. Things really changed in February as I mostly stopped doing this at work (it’s easier on the train anyway) so while it’s quicker to do, I have to balance it against other language activities that have claims on the time. I’m hoping this will get quicker during March before the targets escalate again.
D1) Pay off our remaining debt – I made payments equivalent to 21% of our starting debt, and we have 61% remaining, on one final card, which feels great! I very nearly hit my most-optimistic snowballing goal by making savings on my weekly budget, and I feel like I’ve done everything I can here. From now on we only have one payment to make each month and no additional minimum payment to account for everything spare goes on the one card until it’s done. Whether or not we’ll be on track for May depends on whether we can continue to be this disciplined and/or whether any extra comes our way.
D2) Save £4620 (not until D1 is completed)
E3) Monthly sewing project – nothing massive, but a friend brought round a dress she wanted adjusting (a Monsoon dress, no less!) and that went pretty smoothly – I was glad to be able to do something to help her and know the right stitches, be able to make suggestions and so on. It was a worthwhile task and kept my hand in so I’m considering this goal accomplished for the month!
E4) Try 12 new recipes – not sure we tried anything new per se, but we’ve eaten really well – good healthy fresh food the whole month. I made the *ultimate* curry last week with spinach, prawns AND cheese and that’s kept me very happy at work for lunches!
F4) Monthly day-trip with B – we didn’t go very far but right back at the beginning of the month we went out for the afternoon to wander around Canary Wharf (I’d never been) and explore that side of Docklands. It was absolutely freezing but also quite fascinating and definitely good to get out of the house together and go somewhere new. His attitude seems to have changed about this – I think he sees it as a holiday substitute – and hopefully we’ll have some good trips planned over the coming months.
My specific monthly goals for February
- Stay on top of all my weekly targets – Despite being sick, I only missed one strength workout (which I can easily make up) and one hour of music (for which I already had extra to cover) and the bulk of my language stuff is also still roughly on target, so I think I’ve achieved this.
- Visa research – this is DONE and I have made a list of the things we need to do to make sure our application is in the best shape come next year. Fortunately it’s much less complicated than the last one we did and I feel like any stress I had around it has dissolved and I can relax until the end of the year. Also identified a few places which might be holiday-friendly in the meantime (on the off-chance that we happen to have the money available!)
- Research and practice some new calligraphy styles – brought forward from January. I did some research and a little practice but without much success – it doesn’t look anything like what I wanted it to! So I think the next step for this is to go back to the tracing method for certain messages and see if I can get some better results that way. I have a feeling this goal will be one that evolves throughout the whole year rather than being just a one- or two-month wonder!
I’m glad February is done, to be honest! Looking back it feels like a bit of a cold and dark black hole that we all just about managed to survive – but March is looking much more positive and I’m hopeful about what I can achieve!