Week 4 Challenge: 30 minutes of silence

wk 4 challenge - 2016_01_25

Two weeks of deprivation and I thought I’d try being mindful in silence instead.

10. Sit Silently

When was the last time you just sat down in complete silence with no distractions? For the average person, this is probably a rare occurrence.

Sitting silently can help you reflect on your life and what’s going on in the world around you. It can also help you relax, destress, and clear your mind.

Daily challenge: Every day or as much as you would like, try to sit down for anywhere from 10-30 minutes with no distractions whatsoever.

src: Daily Challenges to Improve Your Life


During that 30 minutes, I’ll empty my mind of all chatter. And simply sit silent and amongst silence. It’ll be hard since the mind is predisposed to chattering thoughts.

Now that’ll be a challenge.

In the meanwhile, I’ll start beering again. Still no sugar, no coffee.

Image from The Daily Mind


Week 3: It was rough


It was tougher than the 1st week. Just the act of removing coffee from my daily rituals set my mind on the edge and gave me a headache for 2 days running.

After that it went away. And I could function again. During the week, I drank lots of green tea and just water.

They weren’t as satisfying as strong, thick, black coffee. The kind that’s as bitter as regrets.

Yet without it, I feel clearer, more in control, still snappy, but less filled with dread.

Perhaps this is a good thing. I’ll carry on my no-coffee deprivation into the next week. And perhaps it’s time to declutter the mind too.

Body: Don’t Stop Your Exercise Halfway

exercise halfway - 2016_01_20

This morning I did 21.5 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Exercises. It included 4 10-min Tabatas, 1 short jog (about 1 km), 3 sets of pull-ups and dips.

At the end of it, I was tired, hungry, and it felt good. Like I’ve accomplished something.

But If I had listened to my mind earlier, I would have given up halfway.

It’s shocking. I know that I’m not as strong, as fast, or last as long in my 20s. But this… this dropping out halfway because I’m not “feeling it”?

It’s simply unacceptable.

exercise halfway (1) - 2016_01_20

Giving into it now, means that I’m more likely to give in next time. Not acceptable. I gritted my teeth and finished my workout.

I learnt a couple of things along the way.

  1. One Step, One Rep, One Jump at a Time
    Focusing on completing each action distracts from the bigness of the entire workout. Think of it as looking at the start of long journey vs looking at taking a step on the journey. The former is quite intimidating; while the later — well, easily done.
  2. Take a Break, but Get Back On Soon After
    I know that the entire goal of Tabatas is to go at it as hard I can. But I also find that taking slightly longer breaks in-between sets helped me catch my breath and psyche myself up. I might add 10 more seconds to my rest time and then carry back on.
  3. Talk Yourself Hot
    I use this tactic to make me want it (and unwant something else). I throw in challenges to myself: “Burn this bitch. Come on. Do 1 more. Lift lift lift. ONE MORE!” Interestingly this self-talk crowds out the urge to disappear from my workout.
  4. Drop to Complete
    There comes a point when it’s almost impossible to lift, act, or take another step. That’s when I drop weights or change exercises to complete my workout.

    Most folks push through it and I respect that. But it is tough. And unless I’m psyched up (or called out), I think it’s better to complete the workout than to just give up. We can always go harder the next time.

So… that’s it. My four ways to keep on going when the body wants to give up.

How do you keep chugging on?

Week 3 Challenge: No Sugar, No Coffee

wk 3 challenge - 2016_01_18

Ultimately, my weight gain (1 kg in a week) was quite sobering. That’s because I didn’t plan my replacement activities well.

In response, this week’s challenge is all about cutting away the sugars (that means anything processed such as milkshakes, sodas, beers, ice-cream etc). The coffee bit arose because I was drinking up to three cups of Java Joe every day. Some say it’s OK, I think it’s damn controlling.

How Do I Complete This Challenge?

  1. Stay away from sugars! 
    Lots of things have sugar in them (e.g. bread, pad thai). I won’t be able to cut it out entirely, but I can minimise my exposure to them. Don’t put sauces or choose savoury over sugary sweet.
  2. Replacement Activities (in this case, food)
    Eat small meals. Stay away from beers and deserts.
    Drink green tea.
  3. Punishment 
    Leave $100 on the table if I do either.

Week 2: No Beer Round Up

wk 2 roundup - 2016_01_17

No beer. No problem.

Even as I type this post, I don’t really want a beer. But the week of doing without taught me things about myself:

  1. Choose Your Replacement Activity Wisely
    Mine was to eat. Not a bad thing in moderation (or in drips and drabs), but I went for milkshakes, double meals, and handfuls of star sugar biscuits. Too much, too sweet, and too soon. No wonder I gained 1 kg this week!
  2. Beer is my social glue
    Whether it’s to meet new people or catch-up with friends. Quaffing a pint is my way of getting a social life. The rest of the time I’ll be off doing things on my own.
  3. Fridays are fraught with “I deserve that” mentality
    As I worked through Friday, I had a feeling that I deserved a reward for simply making it through the week. Lo and behold, I went off to get some nice dim sum and sushi as lunch and snack treats before dinner (see point 1.). In the past, I would have gone for a pint or 4.

    It’s all because I think “I deserve something nice” at the end of week. Not very promising. (Families.com has a nice read on Getting over the “I Deserve That” Mentality)

  4. I feel oddly lost in the mornings
    I’m a lark — I wake up at 6-ish and get about by 630am. Yet, I’m not getting anything done in the morning. Apart from drinking really dry and sour coffee and staring into space. It’s like I’ve lost an anchor of sorts.

The week’s challenge was always about just removing one thing (i.e. don’t drink beer). But I’m shocked at the ease that I’m primed for a pint (“I Deserve That”) and the effect of my replacement activities  (“Another ice-cream? Maybe a chocolate milkshake? Ooooo…..”).

That’s gotta change. And that’ll be the challenge.