Procrastinating? Ask a question.

I find that when I’m procrastinating, I often have a question.

For example, this week I delayed submitting an expense report because I wasn’t sure what expenses were covered. The problem is that I didn’t realize that. I just procrastinated submitting an expense report and figured it was because they were no fun to do. When I finally sat down to submit the expense report, I realized I had a question. I sent it and got back a quick answer and suddenly I had no problem submitting the expense report. I no longer felt like procrastinating.

I also procrastinated responding to a business offer because I had questions as opposed to opinions. Again, it took me a few days to realize that. I thought I was just procrastinating writing up my response until I realized that I had a couple of key questions before I was willing to give my opinion.

So next time you are procrastinating, stop and think if you really have a question you need answered first.

I survived 30 days without sweets

A month ago I set a goal for myself: no sweets nor alcohol for 30 days. In this post I'm primarily going to discuss the sweets part. I'll address the alcohol part in another post.

IStock_000011166708XSmallHow did I do? I did excellent sticking to my goal. (That doesn't mean I felt excellent just that I stuck to my goal well.) I did quit the alcohol part on day 25 for Superbowl weekend. But I didn't have any sweets, not even a bite of birthday cake, for the entire 30 days.

Best side effect? The whole family is eating better. I have been buying a bunch of fruit to take care of sweet cravings and the whole family has been loving it. We've discovered that our 3 year old will eat all of his dinner, including spinach salad and broccoli, just to get an apple or some grapes!

Did you feel different? Not really. I was really hoping that I'd feel different, i.e. better, if I ate less sweets. Other than craving sweets every day, for the most part I felt the same. With one exception – on day 3 I felt miserable. My whole body ached. I have no idea if that was from giving up sweets or alcohol or if I had a one day flu. Thank goodness it was over in a day.

Did you ever get over craving sweets? Not really, I had one day where I did not crave sweets – day 12. It lasted only a day. And the last week was better – I didn't crave sweets, I just really wanted some. It makes me think I'm still addicted and perhaps I should continue with the no sweets for a while longer.

How did you cope with the cravings? I ate a ton of fruit for the first 5 days. After that I just ignored them. (Or complained about them on identica, twitter and Facebook. 🙂 I also drank a lot of carbonated water.

Were you hungry? I was very hungry the first 5 days and then again on days 21 and 22. Unusually hungry. Other than that, I think I was less hungry than normal.

I was surprised to discover that it is possible to not be hungry between meals. I always thought people were really hungry between meals but just holding out for the next meal time. It was a new thing for me to be able to go from breakfast to lunch and from lunch to dinner without snacking. I don't think I've done that in several years.

Did your energy levels change? My initial response would be no. But I think my running suffered a bit. And at bedtime I was more than ready for bed. Nothing I can prove though.

Did you lose a lot of weight? I lost 4 pounds. As I wasn't doing it to lose weight, I ate whenever I was hungry. The problem (or advantage) is that most of the snacks I enjoy are sweet, so often nothing appealed to me. I think I ate a lot more at meal times but snacked less.

Did you exercise? I did my normal exercise which is running 1-3 miles a day.

What qualifies as a sweet? Candy bars, cookies, anything with chocolate in it, cookies, flavored yoghurt, chocolate chips, pudding, … I interchanged saying I gave up sweets and saying I gave up chocolate. To me a sweet isn't worth eating if it doesn't have chocolate in it. Except maybe marzipan. And even marzipan is better with chocolate.

Did you give up bread, rice or pasta? No, I did not give up bread, rice or pasta. I did not have any of the yummy cinnamon bread we had though. I thought the added sugar on top turned it into a sweet. And I didn't make any banana bread during this time as I consider it a sweet too.

How many sweets do you normally eat? I estimate about 600 calories a day. But I never really counted.

How come you don't talk about the alcohol? I didn't crave wine or beer. I craved sweets. I only really missed alcohol when I was having food I thought would be better with a drink, like beer with pizza or red wine with pasta. And even that went away after a while. The second time I had a pub hamburger without a beer, I decided maybe it was ok that way. I do have some insights about the alcohol though that I'll share in another post.

What's next? I think I'm going to continue to try to eat less sweets. Maybe not no sweets, just less sweets. I don't know what that looks like yet. And I will start drinking wine again with my pasta.

What was the hardest moment? I'm not sure if it was not eating sweets while sitting at home by myself or if it was the cooler full of ice cream bars that they wheeled into a conference room and left right next to me … on day 30. I couldn't think of any way to take an ice cream bar to keep in my room until day 31!

What have been your experiences giving up sweets?

30 day trial: no alcohol, no sweets

IStock_000008800699XSmall For the next 30 days I am abstaining from alcohol and sweets.

Why am I telling you this?

I'm telling all of you about it because I realized that I didn't really
think I'd do it. But if I tell the world, I know I'll do it. (Or at
least I'll try much harder. 🙂

What am I really giving up?

By sweets I mean things like cookies, candy bars and chocolate chips.

I think the alcohol part is self explanatory but I mean beer and wine. (I don't really drink anything else although that Amarula stuff that Frank picked up before Christmas is pretty yummy …)

I know you should only give up one thing at a time, but for a multitude of reasons (including a lack of patience), I'm not doing that.

Will you have to listen to this for the next 30 days?

No, I won't be blogging about this again during the month unless something unexpected happens. (Like I have an amazing amount of energy or need 3 hours less of sleep a night or start losing 2 pounds a week. Not that I expect any of that.) I probably will be twittering about it so you might see updates on identica, twitter and Facebook.

Why 30 days?

I want to see how I feel without alcohol and sweets. 30 days is enough time to figure out if I feel different. It's also enough time to establish new habits but a short enough time it doesn't seem too daunting. A 30 day trial allows for success where as "giving up sweets forever" probably doesn't. (And I am not giving up sweets forever. No way!)

So I encourage you to do your own 30 day trials. They don't have to be about food. 30 day trials are a good way to start any new habit or break any old habit.

How I learned not to procrastinate

Carmen I’m not much of a procrastinator. And I owe that to Carmen. (Montse, be sure your mom hears this!)

When I was 12, every day after school we went to Carmen’s house. We all sat around the table and, after eating a snack, we sat there and worked on homework until we were done. Carmen either helped us with our homework, or if we didn’t need help, she sat with us and knitted or ironed. (And before my sister and I learned Spanish, she’d spend time teaching us new words and reading books.) That habit of sitting down and just doing it has stuck with me. When you have a lot to do, you sit down and do it.

Some background.

We moved to Spain when I was 12. Although I was born in Spain we moved away when I was 2, so at age 12 when we returned, I spoke no Spanish. My parents put us in a Spanish speaking school. Then they got jobs teaching English in the evenings and arranged for us to stay with Carmen and her family after school. The first day I ended up in the wrong classroom. The first month, I got a zero on a homework assignment I didn’t even know I had. And I couldn’t even tell the teacher I didn’t know there had been a homework assignment. (For someone used to getting all A’s, that was traumatic!)

After school Carmen patiently spent hours working with us in the evenings. First helping us to do our homework, pantomiming all sorts of words and looking them up in the dictionary when that failed. Then when we were done with our homework, she’d bring out kids’ books and have us read them.

Over the months, we got better and faster at our homework and had more time to play. And eventually my parents got jobs teaching during the day. But for years afterwards, I still stopped at Carmen’s house after school just to sit at the table and chat. I still do, whenever I get to Barcelona!

I didn’t realize until recently that she had taught me how not to procrastinate. Don’t get me wrong, I still procrastinate, especially when I’m not sure how to do something, but it’s nothing like what it would be without the habit of sitting down and doing it. And it was a fun, friendly environment. One that I returned to even when I didn’t have homework. We all sat together at the table, Carmen, her two kids and my sister and I. We ate, worked and talked together.

Now I just have to make sure I pass that on to my kids. I guess I’d better start sitting at the table when my son is doing his homework!

How did you learn how not to procrastinate?

And here’s how I deal with the times I do procrastinate.

Babies Gagged in Russia

Having just spent three days in the hospital with my own 5 month old son, this article hit a nerve, Russian Shock at Gagged Babies.  The babies were gagged with plaster and tape because their crying was disturbing the nurses.  A woman who happened to be in the hospital with her own children heard the babies and took a video with her cell phone.

All of the gagged children were orphans.  It definitely made me understand why people want to adopt!  Everytime Caleb cried in the hospital I talked to him or held him.  The thought of those babies being gagged instead of comforted just made my heart hurt.

A lesson in loving and postive teaching

Frank says I’m too hard on our six year old sometimes.   I don’t think my expectations are too high or too hard but I do think I could use a more positive approach sometimes.  "Don’t do that!" and "that’s not very good manners" are certainly not teaching how to behave but rather how not to behave.  I got a great lesson directly from our six year old last night.

We were playing Uno and I was holding the baby.  The baby of course was trying to get the cards into his mouth.  I said, "you’d better not slobber on the cards or your big brother will be upset with you."  To which our six year old immediately jumped in with a very concerned look on his face, "No, no, no …. I wouldn’t be!"  Now those Uno cards are his prized possesion and yet he wouldn’t be mad at his little brother for slobbering on them!

Now you might say the six year old wasn’t really teaching his baby brother anything.  But he was saying it was ok to mess up and he was showing a great teaching style.  If our six year old stepped on one of my books and bent the cover I’m sure I would sound upset!  So I can learn from him …