365 days of change

Friday, September 08, 2006

An introduction of sorts

On September 1st I had my last night out drinking. I had quit smoking about 6 weeks previous, but on this night I was all about the binging. The next morning I woke up with a bit black spot where the previous evening had been, a sore throat, and about $100 less in my bank account. I wondered why the hell I had thought it was such a great idea to spend the previous evening acting like an asshole and pouring my body full of chemicals. Obviously, nothing was so great about it.

Over the past few years I realized my life had become a sequence that repeated itself. Work, come home, eat dinner, have a few drinks, sit in front of the computer all night, sleep, wake up with a headache, go to work, rinse and repeat. On the weekend it was binge drinking with friends at a pub, or going to a house party. Somehow, our lives started to revolve almost completely around alcohol. It wasn't like we didn't recognize it either, we often talked about how we needed to curb our drinking habit (usually over a bottle of wine) and quit smoking, but even when we did quit drinking during the week, the social activities on the weekends all centred around alcohol. We would binge to make up for all the hard work we did of not drinking over the weekdays.

Finally we quit smoking on July 24th of 2006, and with it, we lessoned our alcohol consumption. Eventually however, the bottle crept back into our lives to the point where could actually drink 3 bottles of wine between the two of us in one night. I didn't think that much about it until labour day weekend when we decided to buy a pack of cigarettes. We ended up at a bar, I behaved like an asshole, we drank too much, smoked too much and I woke up the Saturday morning asking myself why the hell we even bothered. Drinking definitely brought me no joy, and I had long passed the time when I had enjoyed smoking, so what the hell was I doing spending so much money -- money I had earmarked for life goals -- on things that not only didn't make me happy, but that had made me wake up absolutely miserable and in pain (both psychologically and physically)?

Enough was enough. This was my 30th year on this planet and if I was going to make a big change, this should be the time to do it. My lifestyle in the past couple of years had left me overweight, a lot more lethargic and unhealthy, and much, much poorer. Two years previously, my husband (then-boyfriend) and I had decided that we were going to pay off our debt, and save enough money to buy ourselves a place in the country. According to that plan (had we stuck to it) we should have already achieved that goal by now. Today, we haven't even moved close to our goals, instead spending our money on lifestyle-related expenses. Also, at that time I was fairly active; I was swimming daily, walking to-and-from to work, and I did yoga once or twice a week. These days I am 40 lbs heavier than I was then, and I rarely exercise.

Luckily for me I got the kick in the ass I needed, and I have decided that enough is enough. For the next 365 days I am challenging myself to change my life for the better. In fact, Nick will actually be joining me for 4 months of this journey as he will be quitting drinking and quitting smoking until New Years so that he can spend more time and money on hobbies he loves. After that, we will see what happens. Either way, during the next year, this blog will be the public face of that change, where I will log all the ups and downs.

Here are the basic things I want to change about my life.

1. Drinking and smoking: obviously, the two catalysts that have lead me to start this journey. Even though many members of my family smoke, I really don't anticipate this being a problem. I am used to not smoking by this juncture, and if I stay sober it certainly isn't a problem. Drinking will be more of a problem, but only because the lives of those around me are focused on alcohol a lot of the time. Holidays in particular will be difficult, but I am fairly sure it won't be as hard as I think it is.

2. Stop eating crap: we spend a lot of money on organic food, but that means nothing if we are stopping in for fast food. Honestly, we don't eat out a lot, and we usually never eat fast food but I have eaten it twice in the past two weeks, so I want to nip that in the bud. The plan is to make eating out a special occasion rather than a habit, and instead brown bag our lunches and make food from scratch. I also want to concentrate on making more vegetarian meals and on proper portion control. Considering that obesity is huge problem, I have decided to pay more attention to what goes into my body.

3. Exercise: obviously no health changes are complete without some form of exercise being needed. I used to love to swim and do yoga, and I love going for bike rides during the summer and ice skating during the winter. The goal is to get to the point where I have a reasonable amount of exercise in my life (not to become a endorphin freak), and to walk and bike places as much as possible without using public transportation. I may even get really ambitious and take the yoga teacher training course that begins in the winter (on the weekends), but there is a really small chance of that.

4. Spend more time on the things I love: less time on the internet and more time writing, playing music, reading and learning to draw. My first default to boredom is alcohol, my second is playing on the internet. I am spending a disproportionate amount of time on activities that are easy but that bring me no joy, but I spend almost no time on the activities I really enjoy and that I find satisfying. That isn't to say I am giving up completely with online activities -- I did start this new blog after all -- I just think I personally spend too much time refreshing certain sites and too much time getting angry over eejits in public forums. I have long since realized that I was wasting too much time and energy on those conversations that don't really matter.

5. Spend more time with the people I love: most of my interaction with people has been via online channels. I can contact a plethora of people I love via a blog entry, so I have become very, very complacent in even writing a basic email to friends. Having said that, it is rare these days that I actually have one-on-one dates with friends. Most of the time a whole bunch of us get together, have drinks either at someone's home or at a bar. It is rare that one person or a small group of people get together to just have a cup of tea and chat. For those friends who are far away, I am going to make more of an effort to send email/snail mail.

6. Get our finances back on track: saving money is a lot like losing weight (as I blatantly steal from Amy Dacycyn) - you already know to lose weight you need to eat less than you expend just like saving money is about not spending as much as you make. Still, the little I WANNAs in life are what cut us off on the path to our goals. Getting our financing back on track is about ignoring those I WANNAs and about making the decision to spend our money on the myriad of things that bring us little joy, but that keep us from attaining the things that will bring us a lot of joy. For example, eating dinner out once a week at $60 a pop is $3120 a year. Incidentally, that is close to the amount it costs to take Nick, kiddle and myself on an all-inclusive cruise for a week. I think I would rather take the cruise and eat at home, thanks.

7. Get organized: a lack of organization leads to spending more time and money. For example, If I don't plan what we are going to eat for dinner before I am staring down the fridge at 6pm, chances are we will decide to eat out. Had I been more organized and taken out something to defrost the night before, it would have been a no-brainer. The same applies to other things such as getting the laundry folded and put away (saving time rooting through baskets), making sure the filing is up to date (easier to find tax-related stuff), and ensuring things are in their proper places (not buying more tape even through you know three rolls are kicking around somewhere).

8. Learn one new thing this year: I am not speaking of learning pieces of information, but more along the lines of learning to play piano, or learning how to paint.

Although there may be more changes to be made, for now these are the ones I am going to concentrate on. Hopefully this blog will be a year of ups-and-downs as I try to document 365 days of changes.

Wish me luck!


At 2:14 PM, Blogger Sabrina said...

Best or luck Tara! If anyone can do it, I know you can.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Sabrina said...

It's Saby, btw

At 3:26 PM, Blogger T.S said...

Thanks Saby! xoxoxoxo!


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