October Challenges

This month I set myself a few challenges. I set out to have a month off booze, a veggie month, do 100 sit-ups a day, and meditate every morning. On the last day October, I am happy to say that I achieved every one of my goals. And I have learnt something new from each challenge

I found that reading literature on problems around alcohol removed the temptation to pick up a drink. I also impressed myself by reading five books in total (the embarrassing drunken stories about people ruining their lives was oddly comforting – at least I’ve never been that bad). Of all 31 days, there was only one evening where I craved a glass of red to go alongside a curry. And that was purely out of habit. Of all the struggles I read, a book that described alcohol as ethanol, a drug and a poison hit me. That pointed out if it truly made us happy, we would become even happier with every drink. Why’s it become so normalised to have a glass of bubbly with any celebration? Or if you’re the sober one in a group of drinkers, you’re the odd one out and often make the others uncomfortable for not drinking too. It’s bizarre when you think about it. We should praise those who stop after one or two drinks rather than shame them or try to bully them into giving into temptation. It’s a lot harder to say no to more once it’s in your system, and that sort of refrain is so much better for your body, mind, wallet, and the environment.

100 sit-ups a day was a fundraising idea from Shelter, the charity that campaigns to end homelessness and bad housing. I joined the group on Facebook and enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts of tactics, struggles and encouragement. It was lovely seeing people come together online to build each other up. I didn’t see a single post or comment that tried to tear others down. Feeling myself get stronger has also been a positive result and a great motivator to do more. If you want to learn more about the fundraiser or help me raise the last few pounds, please take a look here.

Meditating every day has been wonderful. I give myself 5-10 minutes in the morning to sit and breathe and watch thoughts come and go (as is encouraged when practicing mindfulness). How often do we just ‘be’, with no distractions? Whenever I have a waiting period it usually gets filled with some small task or a quick scroll. Taking the time (even just a few minutes) to be fully present often brings up thoughts or ideas I’d forgotten about. This then allows me to find time for them in my day. I’m in a good, if not slightly exhausted, place at the moment. I’ve put in hard work over the past few months and I’m slowly seeing results. Whilst meditating, I’ve felt a small low-level buzz during the practice.

But what struck me most was what I learnt from being on a vegetarian diet. It had never occurred to me how awkward/difficult you feel when letting people know your dietary requirements. A few people I spent time with were disappointed, sad we couldn’t enjoy a meal with meat or fish and put off going out for food until my diet had gone ‘back to normal’. It takes strength to hold your ground. The pressure to not be awkward or fussy whilst sharing a meal with friends surprised me at first. Eating a vegetarian diet is so much better for the planet. It’s one of the best things you can do to stop climate change.

My body and mind feel lighter this month, which I assume was a combination of the four goals I set myself. I’ve enjoyed adding in daily challenges and look forward to trying out some more. 😊

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