Tag Archives: newyearsresolution

Voice of Defeat

“If you’re going to make a mistake, then make it LOUDLY because then we can correct it and move on.”

That’s what my Dad used to say at choir practice, and it’s what I would come to teach my students in their first lessons with me at school in order to pull them out of their shells and keep them talking. I think it worked too. “Are mistakes good or bad?” I would say as they looked at me dumbfounded, likely scared that whatever they said in reply would be the wrong answer. Eventually they pandered to my little game and a couple of the more confident ones would say “bad,” to which I would reply “nope.”

“Mistakes are GOOD!” I would say, and then I would explain why very simply in English, and the JTE in Japanese, before attempting to build a relationship of trust, and an environment where people would not be afraid to at least try without fear of humiliation from their teacher – something that all the teachers at my old school would practice with alarming regularity, presumably to make them feel better about their own crushing failures in life.

I too have failed, and it wouldn’t be right for me to pretend otherwise but rather, to write it on the Internet for all to see lest I forget my father’s words of wisdom. My mistake lay in the goals I’d set myself for this month. They were, I now admit, a little far-fetched. I was a little high on life at the time and thought that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. But 31 days is a long time. A very long time. No milk, sugar, alcohol, TV, computer games, films, relaxation, or basically, ANYTHING FUN. FOR 31 DAYS?! What the bloody hell was I thinking?! I was obviously MENTAL. However all is not lost. I haven’t just been sitting on my arse playing Mass Effect 2, stuffing my face with Burger King and binging all over London Town… Real changes have been made:

  1. I am eating much more healthily. Granted, I’ve had a couple of Dominos pizzas and a McDonalds but the rest of the time I have stuck to the diet. I have scrambled eggs for breakfast every day, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and beef jerkys for snacks, chicken salads for lunch and meat/fish and vegetables for dinner. I aim to keep this up for the foreseeable future, and I’ll occasionally throw in some junk food for fun.
  2. I am fitter and stronger. More like 3-times-a-week fitter rather than the 5 I promised but it’s a good start. I am running regularly for the first time since school and lifting more weight than I ever have before. I will continue at least 3 times a week (preferably every other day) for the foreseeable future. This is not a short-term thing – I am actually enjoying it.
  3. I’ve cut down on the booze. Only two nights of drinking in 15 days can’t be bad.
  4. I now know 384 kanji. Doesn’t sound a lot, yet consider this one on the right. It means “admonish” and takes 19 strokes to write. Imagine learning that and then doing the same for 383 equally complex kanji varying from “run” to “Decameron” (don’t ask). I’m not trying to impress… Only to try to help you understand the pain I am going through even without a whole 2 hours of study a day.

Oh yeah… That 2 hours thing? There is absolutely no way in hell that I could ever fit in two hours of study every single day. It is impossible. There are simply not enough hours in the day. I know I know, that’s the kind of thing our Dads say but seriously, when we would just go “yeah yeah” and assume they were making up excuses for not putting up that shelf or de-scaling the shower head, they would be running around like a blue-arsed fly, permanently worried that all the things on their to-do lists wouldn’t get done. I could do 2 hours a day if I had a butler but I don’t – partly because I can’t really afford one but mainly because I could never convince one to come and work in Wood Green – so I am forced to forgo the excessive amounts of study in favour of not dying of starvation or wearing the same dirty clothes every day.

My **revised** goals for January then, are very simple: Keep up the diet and the exercise, don’t go overboard on the booze and learn 1000 kanji by the end of the month. Should be doable.

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January Gymathon

If you’re reaaaaally clever, you may have guessed what this month is about from the title, but this ain’t no simple “Pumpin’ Da Iron Seven Times a Week Then Collapse” challenge. January is all about bettering myself. Shedding the fat and looking like Arnie, yes, but we’re also talking about the gym of the mind. Here are the rules:

  • Detox – No alcohol. Too easy? We’ll go one better. Shizuoka Green Tea and water are the only liquids I’ll be drinking this month. No exceptions… Bring it.
  • Eating – No carbs before a gym session. Only complex carbs after. We’re talking brown rice, wholewheat pasta and bread, sweet potatoes, pulses; that sort of thing. What does this mean? It means scrambled eggs and cheese for breakfast every day, protein shakes (made with water) and nuts/seeds for morning and afternoon snacks, chicken salads for lunch and cottage cheese and fruit before bed. “Proper” dinner using whole foods only. No sugar at all, and no milk.
  • Education – 2 hours a day of personal education. What does this mean? Reading up on history, philosophy, sociology, economics, Japanese and anything else that takes my fancy. You get the point.
  • Sleep – 8 and a half hours of sleep every night. No more, no less. Yes this includes weekends, so no lie-ins. I’m not going to have a lot of spare time this month so I’m not going to waste it sleeping.
  • Gym – Every weekday. Yes you heard that right. Weight lifting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and High Intensity Interval Training on Tuesday and Thursday. What’s that? It’s where you sprint for 30 seconds, jog for a couple of minutes, sprint for another 30 seconds, wash, rewind, repeat for about 30 mins.

This is pretty brutal, so I’m going to allow myself some leeway when it comes to my social life. If I go somewhere for the weekend then I can obviously relax some of the rules around eating and education a little bit. Likewise, if there is a one-off event on a certain day during the week that I desperately want to go to I will allow myself to skip the gym and the education. I still want a life, I just want to make more of the spare time I have rather than waste it in front of the TV/laptop. The drinking rule is non-negotiable however.

After all that, any spare time is mine to do with what I will. Games, TV, tiddlywinks, writing blogs, skydiving.

If anyone else thinks they’re hard enough and wants to get involved, let me know. It’d be good to compare progress. For the rest of you, I will of course keep you updated, and if anyone in Japan fancies sending me some green tea supplies they’d be gratefully received!

Challenge Bobbika!

This time last year I was lying on a couch, dying from flu, freezing my arse off and scared to go out in case I broke my neck slipping up on the solid ice sheets lining all the pavements in London. I think back then my excitement for the coming year was dampened by the fact that anything would be better than what I was experiencing at that point:

Get up and walk 10 metres without worrying that the muscles in your legs are going to give way at any moment? 2011 IS AMAZING!

Eat your lunch without puking? 2011 IS AMAZING!

Stop crying for a millisecond? 2011 IS AMAZING!

With short-term goals such as this, you might say that I missed the big picture. While I was concentrating on keeping my food down and wondering how the hell I was going to manage a 12 hour plane journey to Japan in Cattle Class, everyone else was thinking about the year ahead, and all the excitement, joy, sadness, opportunity, love and conflict it would bring. That is what the first of January is for. You think they gave us a bank holiday to go down to Oxford Street and spend the whole day taking off 7 layers of clothing to try on a t-shirt, find it doesn’t fit, put all the layers back on again and walk into another shop, seemingly in competition with the last to see how high they can get their thermometer to go? To spend the whole day standing in queues watching everyone’s miserable faces as they attempt to convince themselves that the £10 they saved was worth it, getting angrier and angrier at the world and cursing every other person there? The banks are on holiday, but your account takes the biggest hammering it’s had since the last time you went abroad and took out €3,000 because you weren’t sure what the exchange rate was and anyway… It’s not real money, is it?

Personally I can’t think of anything worse than getting sucked into the sales, so I’m staying at home, wiping the slate clean and laying out my game plan.

And I’m excited.

“Does that mean you’re going to Singapore?”
“Nope.”
“Eh? I was sure you’d snap that up straight away.”
“I was tempted for a while, but for all the great things I’m sure it would have brought, you have to follow your gut feeling.”
“Scared?”
“Me? Never. It’s just too soon. I got back from Japan in August and spent a great deal of physical and mental effort getting a job and a place to live, settling down and seeing friends and family I haven’t seen for 8 months or more. Every time I see someone else I haven’t had a chance to catch up with, I put another root down into English soil; and I feel better about my decision.”
“Deep.”
“Yeah.”
“So what now? Isn’t this year just going to be 9-5 London living, watching TV, going to the gym, picking up your groceries and paying your taxes like a good little boy?”
“In part, yes, but I’m setting out some serious plans for this year, and I’m actually really excited about them. In fact, January is already in the bag.”
“Go on then.”
“Ok.”

My New Year’s Resolution is to set myself a challenge for every month. This could mental, physical, work-related, personal, serious, fun; whatever. I will try to make them interesting and I’ll note them down on Ramblin’ Man for your amusement along with the usual shits ‘n’ giggles you’ve become accustomed to.

So let’s get on with it!