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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Day 2: 4 new habits in 28 days - Setting targets

The premise of my 28 day challenge is that without sustaining a new habit for 28 days it's far too easy to fall back onto the old habit. Too easy to decide it's not working, and give up (unless that's just me?).

In the series of blog posts I'm sharing what I'm doing to improve the chances of succeeding, and also exploring how I manage the challenges and frustrations that come up during the process. 

First an update on progress made on day 2:
  1. I will consistently eat gluten free everyday - achieved - having been inconsistently GF for 4 years I've got over the initial disbelief that's it's even possible, and withdrawal symptoms, and just know when I'm travelling with work in a few weeks time this will be more of a challenge. 
  2. I will do my hip mobilisation daily -  achieved - although only just before going to bed because I hadn't done them! I'll explore this more fully later in the week - a great example that 'what gets measured gets done'. 
  3. I will keep sufficiently hydrated - achieved - more of that below
  4. I will do one thing differently every day - achieved - I bought a men's fitness magazine rather than a female one. More about this habit in a future blog.
Embedding the above habits are the first steps in achieving my vision for flexible and pain free arthritic knees. Habits that if achieved will make achieving the goal more likely.

Nothing like not walking the talk! Rather than spend lots of time getting the wording of the habits just right I just wrote what came to mind down and got on with it.

After day 1 it became clear that the new habits needed rewording. That is were the objectives SMART ie Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound?

I realised the hydration habit wasn't exactly measurable - unless of course I'm very good at noticing my hydration and knowing what 'suficiently hydrated' looks and feels like. Which I'm not!

Whilst hydration is the goal, because it helps keep the knees lubricated, I need to specify what I will be doing to achieve this. 

I will drink at least 2 litres of water every day.

That then enables me to measure my consumption of water during the day, and to understand whether I've reached the target or not.

This then opens up a quandary about what the target should be. 

In some explanations of SMART it suggests S should be Stretching. In which case I should set a target of 2.5 or 3 litres. However, since the reason for identifying these habits is for me to ensure consistency of action, I'm going to start with achievable goals that if sustained can be increased at a future point. 

For me it's definitely about putting in place actions that will become habits not something that would be a daily challenge. The end goal of pain free and flexible knees feels like a challenge. Breaking it down into manageable habits, that I can embed into life, that I know will support me on moving towards my goal is the priority. 

How could you amend your objectives or goals to make them SMARTer, and make it more likely you'll take the necessary actions to achieving them?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring Change - Inside and Out

Blogs of the journey of 28 days to embed 4 new habits have so far included - the inspiration and the vision and goal.

Hypertext links in the text above link to previous blogs written on the subject either here on The Purchasing Coach site or over on my Landscaping Your Life site where I use nature as a metaphor and teacher for our lives. 

Anyone with Arthritis may also want to review my Pinterest board with over 150 links on how you might be able to improve living with arthritis.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Day 1: 4 new habits in 28 days - Goal Setting

And we're off.

Update: Day 1 of 28 days to embed 4 new habits - in my case habits that support my arthritic knees. Although this process of adopting new habits, by committing to do them for 28 days, can be applied to any habit in work, life or play! 

So do please join me as you also adopt a new habit or two, allowing us to silence the old habits' whisperings, and face the challenges together.

Progress made on day 1 was:
  1. I will eat gluten free every day (not just when i feel like it) - achieved - although easier than when I first went GF four years ago - I just need to be consistent 
  2. I will do my hip mobilisation daily -  achieved but again easily because we did it as part of personal training 
  3. I will keep sufficiently hydrated - easy to say achieved as I failed to set a target - oops
  4. I will do one thing differently every day - achieved - I cleaned my teeth using my left hand! More on why I've chosen this as new habit in a future blog.

Sh%T - too many things to think about - how will I measure progress, what's my end goal, why am I doing this, how will I share my progress and .... what about doing some work and not blogging ..... oh and what were the 4 new habits I said I wanted to commit to. Just starting to realise why it's best to keep it to one new habit not four!

First thing I need to do is understand why I'm wanting to make the commitment in the first place. What's the reason - the 'why' behind making the effort.

For me the why is about improved flexibility, stamina and less pain in my knees. Although as I type I realise that's not enough of a why - what will having that flexibility and stamina do for me in life - what will it allow me to do that I can't do at the moment. In other words what's my vision. To get a better understanding of this I realise a well formed outcome will help, and commit to do this over the weekend.

I also realise I need to understand where I am in relation to my goal currently. That way any progress made over the 28 days can provide the added motivation to stick with the new habits. My personal trainer and I chatted about these, and by Monday will have the 'current situation' logged.

I then need to double check that these new habits will support me achieving this goal. I suspect there are other new habits, and if I can get these cracked first it will make everything else a lot easier to do.

Other activities undertaken to support my knees:

Having found it easy to beat myself up in the past for not making progress, I realise there are other activities that I'm already doing on a daily basis to support my goal of flexible and pain free knees. In order to stop the beatings I'm going to remind myself daily of what these additional activities are:. 
  • Marjoram essential oil in my bath
  • Beetroot in my risotto 
  • Ginger with lemon in hot water first thing 
  • Flat and cushioned footwear - for work, rest and play
What would help you to pat yourself on the back daily?

I'd love to hear how you got on, and the challenges you're facing as we adopt new habits in our lives.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring Change - Inside and Out

Hypertext links in the text above link to previous blogs written on the subject either here on The Purchasing Coach site or over on my Landscaping Your Life site where I use nature as a metaphor and teacher for our lives. 

Anyone with osteoarthritis may also want to review my Pinterest board with over 150 links on how you might be able to improve living with arthritis. In addition to keeping hydrated and eating gluten free these also include use of beetroot, ginger and marjoram.


Friday, 23 September 2016

Not wanting to do the hard work

Are you prepared to do the hard work needed to achieve what you want in life?

I realise sometimes (or even often) the answer for me is "no" - so what can I/we do to move that to a "yes" - to increase the chances of having the life we want?

For me it started five years ago with the following words from a surgeon "you need new knees, but are too young to have them. Keep taking the painkillers, and come back when it gets too much for you."

Thus started my exploration of what to do for my arthritic knees - an exploration of how to reduce the pain in other ways than doing what the specialist suggested. Also an exploration to keep my knees away from the operating table.

The first thing I did was set up an Arthritis Pinterest board and put links to all ideas I came across for reducing knee pain via body, mind, heart and soul. In other words, looking at it from all angles, and yes even angels :-).

Finding all the options was the easy bit - even if not one of them was suggested by the surgeon, nor doctor. 

From that time on there there's been many many ups and downs as I've searched for alternatives. In that search I've found many things that work for either increasing range of movement, flexibility, stamina, or reducing pain. These have included: 
  • Keeping my joints moving - whether with friends, alone, in exercise classes or with the help of a personal trainer (as per picture above)
  • Doing hip mobilisation exercises - which ensure my glutes and hips are strong, flexible and switched on
  • Yoga - isolating weak or overly tense muscles, and releasing and then strengthening them
  • Regular sports massage to increase range of movement and release tight muscles 
  • Improved sleep - earlier to bed and black out curtains helping significantly to do this
I've tried many supplements and have found that they each work for awhile, and then have seen their efficacy reduce. Perhaps placebo might explain this better than efficacy of the supplements, although due to the sustained improvement I would recommend trying:
Other successes, or perhaps that should be other things I know work, have included:
  • Avoiding gluten - even if I would dearly love this not to be the case, and have repeatedly tried to test the hypothesis in the vain hope I'm wrong 
  • Avoiding rhubarb - who knew? 
  • Avoiding the nightshade family - potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and so on 
  • Adding more ginger to juices 
  • Eating or drinking beetroot
  • Keeping hydrated 
The problem has been, that whilst some of these activities are definitely on the "should do" list, or if I think about hip mobilisation even on the "must do" list, I still manage not to do them. It's as if, despite the benefit, I'm not prepared to put in the sustained effort required to keep doing them. This results in a few weeks of progress, freer movement and minimal pain followed by weeks and months of restricted movement and pain! One step forward, two, three or even four steps back :-(.

I find myself wondering if I should simply buy into the surgeons belief that new knees are the only answer, and accept I'm simply on the declining and steady route to the operating table.

Currently there is a part of me that still whispers "No" to the surgeon's belief, but these days it's getting quieter and sounding further way. 

Whilst I can still hear the "No" therefore I will continue to search for a solution that will get me back on track. After all that's what I help others do in my coaching - to get back on track - even if not often physically. 

The process I follow in coaching sessions is:
  • Where do you want to get to - desired outcome
  • Where are you now - current situation
  • How do you get from one to the other
  • What's stopping you - the hurdles and resistors 
  • Taking action 
  • Reviewing progress 
  • Amending action 
What's stopping us taking the necessary action normally falls into a number of areas:
As I've watched the BBC's 'the doctor who gave up drugs' this week I realised the missing jigsaw piece for me was not being prepared to put in sustained hard work.

I now realise I was looking for a quick fix. I'd forgotten the adage that it takes 28 days for something to become a habit. My understanding is that until that time, we'll find it easier to fall back to the old habit than continue with the new one. I'd also forgotten that whilst still in its thrall the old habit may even lie to us, and try and persuade us of the folly of our actions - focusing on our lack of progress, and highlighting the inconsistencies. Basically doing anything that will undermine our belief in the validity of the new habit we're aiming for. 

So yes I do need to remind myself of what life could be like without the current restricted movement in my knees, and to tap into my values to provide the motivation. More importantly, however, I need to make a commitment to change a few habits, and to do that effectively I also need to tell others about that commitment (I think this blog works for that - especially if you'll occasionally check in to see how I'm getting on). 

Which means for the next 28 days I commit to changing a few persistently bad habits, and starting a few new ones, namely:
  • I will eat gluten free every day (ie not go of the rails when I see a piece of white bread or chocolate cake)
  • I will do my hip mobilisation once daily
  • I will keep sufficiently hydrated 
  • I will do one thing differently every day (to keep the 'do new things' muscle working - and perhaps more importantly to keep the 'do the same things' muscle out of its comfort zone) 
No excuses, no doubts about their efficacy - just 28 days, and then observing the results, and adapting my plan from there. 

The coach in me says I should start with just one of the above not all four, but currently I feel confident that I can sustain all four for the next 28 days - especially as 3 of them are already activities I do - even if inconsistently applied. 

Will you join me? What one habit would you like to replace, and what daily action can you take to make that a reality?

Alison x

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring change - inside and out 

Hypertext links in the text above link to previous blogs written on the subject either here on The Purchasing Coach site or over on my Landscaping Your Life site where I use nature as a metaphor and teacher for our lives.