Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Minimalist Challenge - Week 2

I recently started the "Mins Game" or Minimalist Challenge, the idea is that you get rid of one thing on day one, two things on day two and so on increasing by 1 item every day until a month has passed...by the end you will get rid of over 400 items!

You can read how week 1 went here, week 2 was actually pretty much a breeze! I started to actually delve into drawers and shelves and the clutter to get rid of was plentiful.

I have been posting pictures on instagram, if you feel the need to see pictures, but this week I got rid of:

  • What seemed like about 50 glasses cases (I get a new one each time I get new glasses and never use them!)
  • Cleaning products I have bought, used once, did not get on with and for some reason have kept.
  • Pet things that we/they don't use/eat/play with
  • CD's and DVD's galore!
I actually had enough CD's and DVD's to take me into week 3, I post dated the days (on day 11 I counted and I had enough to go up to day 18!) and stacked them up ready to go, and had a little break! 

I actually used the time to send all the good disks off to Music Magpie for some money (not a lot but every little helps right!) and to advertise some other things on Freegle.

Freegle or Freecycle is a really great resource for all those things you think nobody would want to buy (hence not worth donating to a charity shop either) but it seems a shame to throw in the bin. You advertise it and people collect it, so it is also great for getting rid of old furniture without having to take it to the tip or pay to have it removed. The aim is to keep as much out of landfill as possible and it's always nice to see things go to use rather than to waste. I got rid of some pet bits and bobs and a bag of shells for arts and crafts.

Onto week 3, I have 4 days of it sorted already so I'm hoping this will be an easy one too! Next on the list is the kitchen, we have too many glasses and random utensils that we don't use, and I want a slow cooker for Christmas so I'm motivated to make room! I'm starting to think I'm maybe going to make it to the end of the month but we are getting to over 20 items a day soon and that is a lot to get rid of although I haven't even started on under the bed or the hall cupboard yet...

Friday, 25 November 2016

The Minimalist Challenge

I recently started the "Mins Game" or Minimalist Challenge, the idea is that you get rid of one thing on day one, two things on day two and so on until a month has passed...by the end you will get rid of over 400 items! I started it with the aim that I would get as far I could but probably wouldn't make it for the full 30 days. I am now thinking I'll make it at least past 20 days, maybe even to the end!

It's helpful to break it down day by day and it makes it seem like so much less work, this week I've gotten rid of 28 items already and I hardly even noticed doing it! 10 minutes a day after work at most so far, this will get more time consuming as it goes on I imagine but if you have too much stuff (who doesn't) I would recommend giving it a go even only for a week or two. If you follow me on Instagram you can see some pictures of all my rubbish (if you really want to) but here's how it's been going...

Week one actually took 2 weeks as after day 5 I had to take a little break due to a nasty cold but other than that it was a breeze to find things!

I started out just picking things up that were out in the flat, clutter from surfaces and floors. I got rid of so much stuff without even opening a drawer or cupboard it's kind of embarrassing! You know those things that just hang around, and never really have a home because you keep meaning to do something with them. Yeah those things, just bin or donate them.

So far I have gotten rid of things like a broken air bed, a load of old prescription glasses and some random gifts and wedding favours that we just don't use. I haven't even started on any of our "problem areas" for clutter yet and I have already put so much stuff in the bin, and Tom took a box full of stuff to the charity shop at the end of the week. This is the easiest week so I am anticipating it will get harder, but I am already seeing a difference in the flat that it just looks a little cleaner and less cluttered! This is my motivation to keep going!

I have also learned a few things already:
  1. I keep packaging for WAY too long and for stuff we don't need it for. Next time I buy something the box goes in the bin right away!
  2. I do not get rid of gifts because I feel bad for not keeping them. I am trying to change this to see it as donating them so other people can have them who will use them! Sometimes I feel like I should keep something because objectively I agree it is a nice/useful/pretty thing and I would buy it for someone else, but it just doesn't fit in with my lifestyle or our flat etc so doesn't get used. I'm trying to treat gifts the same as if I bought them.
  3. Most of the clutter so far is mine, or stuff I have bought for "us" or "the flat" but really it's all stuff I wanted. Tom actually has very little in the way of clutter other than his man drawer and probably in his wardrobe. I should do something with this information like STOP COLLECTING SO MUCH CRAP.
  4. I have also found it has spread into other areas of my life, I am generally getting more stuff sorted like returning things to people, getting films developed, replacing old furniture. I am trying to pare down and reevaluate my bills a little. I will do a separate post on how it works out but so far I've changed pet insurance supplier to save £30 a month!

On to week 2! I'm going to try and get into some of our more cluttered areas like under the bed, our CD's/DVD's and the storage cupboard in the hall...

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Thinking of trying Crossfit?

I have been doing Crossfit about a year now, I get a lot of interest in real life about why I started it and what it is.

It's often seen as an extreme or hard option, or something that only super fit people do. As with a lot of things though it's not as scary as you think!

I always share the free taster sessions on my Facebook page and get comments like 'Oh no I could never do that' or 'I'm not fit enough' or 'that's too hard'.

Here's why you should give it a chance though guys:

'I don't even know what half of it is! Let alone know how to do it!'
This was me after looking up the first WOD (workout of the day) I went to before I left home (It involved squat cleans and I had never touched a barbell), I googled what I didn't know and was a bit apprehensive when I saw the results. Just ask the coach, they won't just say "right today we are doing this" and leave you to get on with it. If you are unsure or struggling or have never heard of what you are meant to be doing then just say. I think at most of my classes for at least 2 months or even more I hadn't done at least one of the things included in the workout before. I think the thing about cross fit is that it takes away the need to plan your own workouts to some extent, you turn up and the work is on the board. If you don't know how to do something or need help then you ask and you learn. If your coaches are the same as at the box (gym) I go to they will know you are new and give you some extra help anyway.
The woman who had never picked up a barbell until a year ago getting a new 1RM in a competition. Photo credit CM Photography
Everything is scaleable
The reasons a lot of my friends give as to why they can't try Crossfit is that they can't do a lot of the things on the session, well neither can I, or a lot of people who have been going longer! Everything is scaled to your ability, so if the workout asks for you to do something you can't do because it is a skill you don't have yet like double unders, or the weight is too heavy, or you have an injury or are just not fit enough yet? Then do any skipping you can, or a lighter weight, or run a shorter distance. Or just talk with the coach about what you can do. I can count on one hand (maybe 2 hands, I honestly can't remember how many) the amount of workouts I have done to Rx (as it is written on the board with no scaling) and I have been going on average 3-4 times a week for a year.

I've heard it can be dangerous
Scaling also ties in with what some people (In my experience people who have not actually ever done a WOD) say about the workouts being dangerous, they could be if you turned up on your second week and tried to do the Rx workout. Be sensible and realistic about your ability and don't try to be a hero. The coaches I have met would never let anyone do this anyway and they will make sure everyone knows what they are going to do in the WOD beforehand and that it is suitable for their abilities. With any form of exercise there is a risk you might get injured or have an accident but in my experience I am not any more likely to hurt myself at Crossfit than I am out running (I regularly trip over running at night!) or at another type of gym. The workouts and the atmosphere do push you to do more, but I have never felt like I couldn't say "actually no, I really can't do that" and I have had times where coaches have helped me to change to lighter wights mid WOD, or said to me to scale to less burpees during a long WOD where it became apparent that I was not going to finish it if I stubbornly kept trying to do the 5 burpees involved every minute.

You will progress.
Nobody will be mean or judge you for not being able to do things right away, and you will look back in a few months and not be able to get over what you can do now. I had literally never picked up a barbell before starting Crossfit. I had been doing some assisted pull ups because of climbing, but was nowhere near being able to do one unassisted. I couldn't do push ups, handstands, double unders (still can't) and many more things I can now do or I can do a scaled version of. However, I am progressing (faster at some things than others) and getting better. I was a bit embarrassed at the start about how many bands I needed for pull ups, or that I had no idea how to clean or snatch (still struggle with that one tbh!). A lot of it is things you have probably never tried before, especially women in some ways. In PE we did netball and hockey, nobody will have taught you to climb a rope or do olympic lifts unless you sought that out. Just turn up, do the best you can do, learn good form and build strength, and you can't go wrong!

This is me, still not doing double unders. Photo credit CM Photography
Everyone looks so fit I feel so out of shape
Someone I persuaded to a taster session said this to me. Yes a lot of people there are in good shape, they are the people who have probably been going for ages. You will also get people who are not in such good shape, or who have just joined too. It's not just for people who are already super fit, you will soon get sucked into worrying more about what your own progress is than whether you have a bit more tummy fat than others. Also if you stick with it you could look like some of them in a couple of years!

The attitude is so different and refreshing
For me the focus being on what you can do rather than how you look is such a relief. I personally am not motivated by a trainer telling me a certain exercise it good for my muffin top, I'm more motivated by an actual challenge. You are more focused on learning all the new things in the first month or so you don't even notice the weight coming off, and once you do you notice you are more concerned about getting better than getting slimmer. The atmosphere is also so different to other gyms, there is a social and friendly vibe which comes from all doing the same WOD. Whether it's the second or millionth time you've been you all do the same, and while some scale and some don't everyone supports each other. I have made friends through Crossfit and there are socials and competitions regularly, it's actually more than just a gym in a lot of ways.
High fives after we finish the workout! Photo credit CM Photography
I always urge anyone to try it out, the taster sessions are always friendly and not scary at all. I really wish I had started sooner!