Archive for the ‘Review’ Category



So. A restart yet again, this time with a strategic withdrawal.

I suppose that this may begin to sound repetative but … there is a reason that this blog is called “Failure = Success”. Failure is an inevitable part of success, and as the japanese proverb says,

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

In other words, keep trying until you succeed. I think that it is particularly apt in my case because I don’t know that I’ve ever set reasonable goals in my life. I may set a reasonable goal, such as finishing a marathon, which is achievable with the life that I’ve been lucky enough to be given. But I am never satisfied with setting just one reasonable goal – I get expansive and add another and another and another – until it is clear to anyone with two brain cells that I can’t do them all. Which, in general, doesn’t bother me – I like to think it keeps me challenged for my reach to exceed my grasp.

Aside: my officemate has returned from his awesome vacation to Japan and brought me back a Daruma doll – with my bad habit in mind… The doll has no eyes and one is supposed to fill in a single circular eye while thinking of a wish/goal, and fill in the other when the wish/goal is realized. I told him he should have better brought me 100 dolls 🙂

I don’t think this is really my problem with my resolutions. I began this project knowing this, allowing for a rotation of resolutions as the year went by, and January went well. But at the end of January, I was hammered by my Dad falling and being hospitalized, and February and much of March were a wash with associated stress and time and attention away from my home in New Jersey. Then I was (and am) out of balance between fun, rest, work, worry, and obligation.

So I am starting again. This time my focus is simple: keep to my diet, and regain my balance. So for April, my only restrictive discipline is to stay on my diet. Everything else is for the greater good of my mental well being:

  1. getting enough sleep (initially by allowing enough time to sleep 9 hours, prepared to sleep less)
  2. Accepting no unnecessary obligations. (learning to say “no” to things that aren’t really important to me)
  3. Doing no unnecessary errands. Run out of something – wait until later
  4. Doing no unnecessary chores. All those things that I’d like to do, but don’t really have to (filing paperwork, spring cleaning, blog writing) – not doing them
  5. Spending my weekday (and hopefully weekend) nights mostly relaxing (reading, watching TV, speaking with friends) and not creating pressure cooker lists of things to work on at home.
  6. Leave work at 5 unless necessary to stay later

I’ve practiced the last couple of days and I have to say – while it’s lovely to relax, it’s alot harder than I thought it would be.


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Month 3 – Restart

And again with a restart. This is beginning to feel pathetic – although I can’t castigate myself too much about it; I came home from my weekend at home exhausted and promptly came down sick. It’s my first cold since summer of 2006 – but boy, I should have known it was coming. The one reason I think I don’t get sick very often is that I tend to baby myself about getting enough sleep – which I have manifestly not been doing since Dad fell at the end of January. I left work early on Monday and returned to work on Thursday, and probably should have waited another day. In fact, I’m feeling a little worse today than I expected to – and so am doubly reminded that I want to get back on track.

So. Starting again. My goals for March are:

  1. exercise daily: with Dad home, after having fallen again and this time needing stitches – and both Mom and Dad confused about the last time I was home, I really need to be better able to manage my stress.
  2. get adequate sleep: ditto above re; managing stress. Not to mention really not wanting to get sick again.
  3. stay on a diet: re-visit January’s diet, but this time keep it up through the end of April.
  4. Learn better time management: I would love to know where the time goes – and how I can budget in a little more quiet time on my own to relax. (scolding voice to myself: Heather, quiet time does not include time spent doing chores)
  5. photo/blog more regularly: keeping this one really loose – in fact, I’ll be really surprised if I manage anything at all on this one.

My goal is to keep it simple, keep it honest. I’ll be making more frequent trips to Boston, my stress is unlikely to get lighter anytime in the immediate future, so I’m going to try to manage my expectations. Which I suck at.

If I’m not sick on Monday – I’ll report on my progress.

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Week 7


Not a good week for my resolutions – and I’ve had a streak delinquency with keeping my updates posted.

I don’t think that I’ve lost any ground, which relieves me, and I’m trying hard not to beat myself too much about it. I’ve had to work late on a semi-stressful series of projects a lot this month, and had to drive up to Boston last weekend to visit Dad. I thought I’d start fresh in week 7, but then was derailed by stress, fatigue, and needing to work late. I’m hosting a party (resolved: host more social events!) this weekend, which I am well aware will also throw my discipline out of whack.

I’m trying to keep in mind that this is mostly me in panic-mode thinking. Sure, I’d be happier if I’d managed to sail through with few hitches in my discipline. It’s a pleasure to have the satisfaction of keeping to a plan. But the overall goal of these resolutions isn’t to be rigidly disciplined and cleave steadfast to my plans; the goal is to change my living habits to get more from life.

So I haven’t been keeping as well to my diet as I would like – I have been better about not eating when not hungry, and eating better and more healthfully than before.

So I haven’t been exercising as diligently as I would like – I’m paying the price in loss of energy and ebullience and am strongly motivated to get back in the game.

And perhaps I just loaded too many things on my plate, or too many things when life also managed to dump a mess of stuff as well, I can adjust. I can scale back (although this smacks of giving up, something I have issues with. Something I need to overcome). I can learn and move forward.

This weekend I’ll spend Sunday on myself – and I aim to think very carefully about what my resolution focus will be for March.

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Week 5

Week 5

Was a bit of a bust on pretty much all fronts: three days gone because of my birthday and trip up to Boston, and then getting slammed with stress over Dad’s health, the death of my cat, and two days without my car as I had the front and rear brakes and rear wheels replaced.

But it is not all bad news: for a busted week, I didn’t go too badly bust, I’m not beating myself up too badly over it, and I’m more eager than I expected to be to dive into the rest of February.

Here’s to next week!

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January Wrap Up

Well, I’m pretty pleased with both my diligence in holding to my resolutions, and with the idea of mixing it up each month. My goals for January were:

Draw up my list of resolutions

  • Done. Although I do tend to keep thinking of things to add to it?

Start my resolutions

  • Done.

Keep myself accountable via this blog
•    Done. But, damn, I do need to find a more interesting way of doing so. That will be a goal for February.

Focus primarily on:
Losing weight

  • Stayed on my calorie restrictive diet – with one cheat day in the middle and a cheat weekend at the end. I lost about 9 pounds (Yay!) and rediscovered what empty calories are. One should never drink one’s calories. Or rarely. Mmmm… latte ….. But now that I’ve made good progress towards my weight goal and developed a little of a habit of paying attention to what I eat, I’m going to up my calories allowance a bit and move my focus more towards training. I believe I mentioned that I don’t trust myself to balance caloric intake with energy expenditure well? To be honest, I don’t have a goal weight in mind. I would like to be a the level of fitness and weight.

Going to the gym/working out daily

  • I think that I went to the gym 28 of the 31 days, and did exercises at home on one of the days that I didn’t go to the gym. The other two non-exercise days were yesterday and today, for my trip up to Boston for my birthday and I’m really not bothered by that. But I’m ready for a plan and to approach each day knowing what I’m going to be working on.

Focus secondarily on:
Finishing my Christmas cards

  • Done.

Relaxing more

  • I don’t think I did terribly well on this front: I saw two movies, went to a Brunch, and visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but don’t think that I did any other appreciable relaxation. But it was a secondary goal. I will keep this for February.

Draw up my goals for February

And here we are.
My primary goals for February are:

  • Spend 20 minutes a day writing
  • Identify how much sleep I need and try to get enough
  • Keep on (new) diet
  • Exercise with a plan:
  1. Monday – light day. Push-ups, 15 minutes of intervals. Push hard
  2. Tuesday – Run 3 miles at pace
  3. Wednesday – light day. Push-ups, 15 minutes of hills. Push myself
  4. Thursday – Run 3 miles at pace
  5. Friday – light day. Push-ups
  6. Saturday – choose either pace run or strength training
  7. Sunday – long run. 5 miles.

Secondary goals for February are:

  • Finish album
  • Light candles and read a little daily
  • Watch 3 movies
  • Schedule a game night.
  • Try 2 new things (yoga?)
  • Start list of 40 things to do before I am 40.

Trying to keep it simple. Not having much luck.

As an aside, I’ve been keeping track of my spending. Not a rigorous track – but paying with cash and keeping receipts where I could. I spent about 80% less than I normally do on food and fun – and about ¾ of it was on food. I’ve also been more careful than usual about not wasting food; it sort of went hand in hand with keeping a careful eye on what I was eating. I think I’ll try to keep this level of tracking up for February.

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Week 4

One of the small things that occupies my mind when I go to the gym is noticing the population everytime I go. For example, I usually go to the gym at 5 in the morning, at which time the population is (I estimate) about 60/40 women to men and about 80/20 of under 50 to over 50. On occasion, I’ve gone to the gym at 9 in the evening, at which time the population is about 90/10 men to women and about 90/10 under 50 to over 50.

This morning, the weather was nasty. It had snowed about 2-3 inches during the night and had started to rain no more than half a hour before I left. Ickky. The gym was about 20 percent of it’s usual population – I was the only woman, and the population skewed about 95/5 of over 50 to under 50.  Which surprised me a bit – most of the really regular gym nuts (under 50) weren’t there. In fact, only one was.



Perhaps it’s because I’ve put myself on a diet … who am I kidding … this would look appealing anyway:

The Bacon Explosion article from the NYTimes.

Bacon. Sausage. Smoking.


too bad I don’t have access to a smoker … http://www.bbqaddicts.com


Today I found interesting in the things-not-going-as-expected way – I woke a number of times last night from bizarre dreams with a raging thirst, and so did not wake as rested as I wish I did. Then, when I weighed myself, it looks like I’ve broken a bit out of my plateau (fingers crossed that it’s real). At the gym, I expected to be tired and to have a light workout, but instead got inspired and enthusiastic and did more than I expected – and more than I’d intended, bad Heather. At work a vendor provided lunch and I had a small portion – which kept me solidly full for about 6 hours, also unexpected.

I’d expected a sluggish day full of cravings and instead got a power-day! I like unexpected bonuses, all the more so because they are so transient…


Four-week Evaluation:

Overall, I’m quite happy with how January has been going with regard to my resolutions. There are a few things I wished I’d planned for – like actually given myself a training plan to keep me from overdoing it, and having a proper plan for writing blog entries that aren’t so boring – but I’ve kept with it, seen some progress, and thinking I am making improvement to how I live my life. I’ve lit an enjoyed candles more times this month than all of last year! So I’m looking forward to next month, and the rest of the year!

More on that – on Sunday!

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Third week review

Well, it’s been 3 weeks and time to check in.

My January goals are:
•    Draw up my list of resolutions
•    Start my resolutions
•    Keep myself accountable via this blog
•    Focus primarily on:
o       Losing weight
o       Going to the gym/working out daily
•    Focus secondarily on:
o     Finishing my Christmas cards
o       Relaxing more
o    Draw up my goals for February

I’ve been diligent about keeping myself accountable via this blog, however, I find the way that I’m doing it incredibly boring and it is therefore probably not something that I’ll be interested in maintaining for all of 2009.

I’ve also been diligent about sticking to my diet – although I’ve been tracking my weight loss and this past week has been disheartening.  So I went back to look at my records the last time I tried this, and was semi-reassured to see a similar pattern. Although if past patterns are to be repeated, I’m in for another disheartening week – or perhaps longer as I plan to cheat next weekend when I go up to Boston for my birthday.  Sigh.  It’s more interesting when there is progress.

I’ve also been very good about going to the gym or working out daily. I think that about once a week I don’t go to the gym and instead just did push-ups at home. I know that my main goal was to get into the habit of doing something daily, but I have not been working out to a planned training schedule and I’m finding that frustrating.  It has also probably made it harder than it needs to be to hold myself back and not push myself harder than I probably should while restricting my caloric intake as much as I have this month.

I’ve also been pretty good about relaxing more, taking the time to do things, to watch movies, to read. However, it’s frustrating still to realize how often I put this off or fill my time with other activities. In some future month, I should focus on learning to say “no” to unnecessary obligations.

I have some ideas for February, although nothing is fleshed out fully yet. I will say that I think the idea of changing focus every month is an excellent one – I’m beginning to get bored, and I think this will help me to stay focused and interested. I think that I’ll loosen up and change up my diet, put myself on an actual training schedule, focus on getting enough sleep, and maybe try to focus on writing more often.  I’ll need to evaluate my time and priorities first.

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