The beginning – Thoughts and Strategies to stay motivated (Diary – Day 2)

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Frustrations – they are hiding behind every corner

Today was really quite frustrating! Luckily, not because of a chocolate or sugar deficit. Though if it had been the me before my challenge, I would have eaten a lot of chocolate to comfort and motivate me throughout the day. The reason for my frustration was work:

I had a long day… I managed to cycle more than 70 km today, 67 of those at work. Now 67 km might not sound like much to some people. And it even could have been a lot of fun to cycle that much… had I been on a bicycle tour somehwere out in nature… but I was not.

Instead I was stuck in city traffic, with a huge pink box on my back… Believe me, just like driving around with a car in town, cycling in city traffic is not so much fun. Instead it plainly translates to a continous stop and go, wasting my precious energy physically.

But that’s not all of it. City traffic also drains my mental energy a great deal as I need to focus on everything around me, all the time (to avoid accidents). Not to mention the frustrations of being ignored by passengers who walk on cycle paths, car drivers passing me without keeping the guidelines of minimum distance and so on. No, it certainly is no walk ride in the park. My body feeling heavy and tired also didn’t help…

Did you miss part 1? Click here: The beginning – Thoughts and Strategies to stay motivated (Day 1)


Alternative treats – rewarding yourself for sticking to your resolution is a must

On a tough day like today, I usually would find the 5minutes it takes to rush into a grocery store to grab a bar or two of bitter chocolate (100-200g!) and slip in a piece every few minutes to keep me motivated and happy. Work definitely has always been my favorite excuse to buy chocolate and to make sure I mention it, I’d usually finish the whole thing.

Instead I wolfed down a shawarma (with falafel, not meat) in the few minutes inbetween my shifts.

That was a sort of treat for me, as I live very economical. Meaning: I don’t like to spend money on fast food, and I include shawarmas to that category, even though with all that salad inside they are healthier than other fast food. Yet for the same €3,50 I could have bought a whole loaf of bread and a piece of butter. The reason why is simple: A loaf of bread lasts for about 1,5days, instead of 10minutes.

And besides, I quite love to eat that (usually with some sort of cheese). I even eat fresh (or toasted) bread with only butter and some salt. To me it tastes amazing, but I know, it’s a bit weird and people often laughed about me because of it. But that doesn’t change the fact that I really like it!

Inbetweeen I had some nuts and two bananas for snacks, that I ate inbetween deliveries. It really was a stressful and tiring day, but I got through the day alright, even without chocolate – yay! πŸ™‚

More strategies

That having been said, I need to invest more time in finding strategies to will help me waste less energy. And find make time to relax and stretch my muscles more often after work.

I might be in a better shape than others with all the exercise I get, but I feel that my body is not as well as it could be. It’s not at its best.

Set goals and set them high

These 60 days without added sugar or chocolate will definitely contribute greatly to the challenge of making 2018 a year devoted to my health.

Some of you might have heard of Brendon Buchard. I’ve stumbled over his videos several times over the last few years and recently subscribed to one of his monthly live trainings. He often gives away free trainings, so I got hooked when he offered a free New Year training session and signed up to see what he would bring on.

In that session he challenged his listeners to assign 2018 as the ‘best physical health year’ we ever had. Since I’m working physically and am planning to return to my work as a guide (doing active trips) over summer, it made sense to me to start investing in my health early in the year…. so reducing added sugar and chocolate is already a huge step in the right direction.

I’m intending to pass the interview to become a guide for a well known company in a few weeks. Meaning I’ll soon be working as a hiking and cycling guide for the whole season. Tough it will be hard work, I look forward to ride my bicycle in nature and outside of town. I do love to ride my bike after all!

Talking about being ambitious – set long term goals!

At the same time I’m trying to get started in publishing a blog (you are reading the result!) and starting a side business as a freelance photographer and writer.

It’s a big dream, to work independantly as a travel writer one day and if cycling with a pink box on my back helps me to achieve it, I’m happy enough going through all these grinds.

So, as you can see, there’s a lot to achieve on my plate for 2018! Yet I know, the big picture goals can not be achieved without diligent work and patience. I’m a very impatient person, despite what most people think of me, which surprisingly often seems to be the opposite.

Setting up short term goals

To keep me motivated and not give up because of impatience, I’ve planned to set up little steps or short term goals along the way.

It doesn’t matter what you are trying to achive, if there are no short term goals set up along along the way, most people and I’m including myself here, would lose interest. Or they give up half-ways because the results don’t come fast enough. So implementing short term goals along the way to measure achievement, seems to be the best strategy I could find so far. (And I read a lot about motivation these last years.)

Short term goals go hand in hand with my favorite motivators: rewards

Now, I’m more of a creative chaotic type of person. Naturally, I therefore was never a big fan of tight schedules and check off lists. Yet while I’ve come a long way around, trying to avoid it, it still seems to be the best method to stay organized.

And I must admit, it can be a bit satisfing to check off all the stuff you managed to do. Sometimes it is a reward itself, to see that you finished that to-do list and can finally put it in the bin. But sometimes, it is just not enough. Bigger struggles or challenges need bigger rewards.

In my case I’ll reward myself with desserts. But wait! Not the normal desserts, I’ll have to yet figure out what exactly is acceptable. My love for sweets almost demands that from me anyways. By no means can I imagine a life without! So that will be an interesting project in itself.

Until I get there, rewards will be: nuts, fruit, cooking my favorite meals and continuing to drink ovaltine after work. I have to add this as a reward, because the powder already contains so much sugar. The catch is, even with 50% of it being sugar… I still had to add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar per mug to make it taste good. Of course, I’ll not add it anymore.

And when the craving gets really bad?

Then I’ll have fruit. Though it’s not recommended to eat too much per day (because of the fruit sugar), when the cravings become really bad, I’ll have an apple, banana or pear. Or whatever other fruit I might buy from now on.

You might also wonder: What about non-edible rewards? They are good too. Though at the moment I care a bit more for food. Yet I also reward myself by donating for a good cause. Read here to learn more: About chocolate and trees

So where to start?

Once again, I invite you to join me. Do you have any habit(s) you want to change? Is there something you have been unhappy with? Something you got addicted to, but have not fully admitted it yet? If so, start here and now by listing the pro and cons.

1. The pro’s are easy right?

Here are some of mine:

  • improved health

  • prevent getting fat, maybe even lose weight (though that is not my wish, but it might be yours)

  • prevent caries, diabetes, heart insuffincies, etc

  • stop the craving and addictio

2. Why write down the cons though?

To figure out what it is, that keeps you from getting started.What makes you hesitate, even though you know it would be good for you?

Once you wrote them down, look at your at the cons. Try to think of ways to solve the problem. It sounds strange, but I learned this lesson from β€žThe magic of thinking bigβ€œ by David J. Schwartz. I only have had the time to read half of the book so far, but it has been an eye opener.

I’m trying to implement some of the strategies the author David Joseph Schwartz writes about into my daily life. In the book he teaches the reader to overcome negative thinking patterns/habits, narrow mindedness or fear. One of his ways to do that is by writing the bad habit on one side and on the other side he gives advice or recommendations on how to improve/break the bad habit.

For example:

  • ‘Fear of people’ β†’ put people into the proper perspective: Remember, the other person is just another human being pretty much like you.’

By analysing why you do what you do, you make the first step to improvement. Since you know yourself the best, ask yourself: What can I do to replace the habit. What would work for me? How would I try to bend the rules? And how could I prevent bending the rukles?

Here are some of my cons and possible strategies to overcome them:

  • Chocolate as snacks at work β†’ have nuts as snacks instead, limit the amount to stop overindulging and afterwards having none available when I need them the most
  • Too much coffee during the day β†’ this pack of coffee is the last I’ll buy for the next month (and you must really mean it!) β†’ watch how that will make you drink less and less, especially when you get closer to the end of the package!
  • Added sugar in hot beverages like coffee, hot chocolate, tea β†’ buy no more sugar (and again, you must really mean it!) after this pack of sugar is empty β†’ I only use whatever honey we have left and only for one tea spoon for my first coffee, after that no more added sugar all day long*
  • The one that hurts the most: no dessert β†’ find healthy dessert alternatives (by all means!) ->Β  Need to experiment & do research

I think you get the idea. So start now. List the pro’s and con’s and make a plan and then stick to it. You might miss a day here and there when special occations come up, like birthdays, but as long as you stick to it in the long-term you will be sucessful! I believe in that.

To sum it up: Mean it, plan it, get support and fix what doesn’t work

That is crucial. If you don’t really mean it, like you are hanging on for your dear life, it won’t work, you can’t cheat yourself! If this is already the problem, maybe you have a partner, child or other person that can help you by being strict. But be prepared: They often find great pleasure in teasing you about it. Despite that they usually they will support you to keep you going.

So don’t be like me, who decided to drop sugar from one moment to the other and made it happen the very same day. (I’m lucky to be a bull-head, so I managed to stick to this resolution.)

Plan ahead, get motivation and support and set yourself up to be successful. And at the end of the week, spend some time contemplating what worked and what didn’t. If something didn’t work. No problem! It’s part of the challenge to find new solutions, so think of new strategies. Trust me, we humans are great at that.

And sorry, there really is no β€žone goes for allβ€œ solution or a short cut here, as we all are unique. So embrace your uniqueness and accept the challenge to do the actual thinking work yourself, you can succeed, I promise you πŸ™‚


*As it has been a month since I can tell you: I only put the sugar aside, and never again touched it. Instead I used honey for that first teaspoon. I even stopped for about a week, as I had run out of coffee. But, because I had a visitor and I thought she might like coffee, I bought a new pack and since picked up the habit. But by now, I really don’t mind drinking my coffee black anymore.

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