My ‘project’ for 2021 is a focus on health and wellbeing, and as part of the plan I will be monitoring progress through monthly reviews, which I’ll share here.

Monitoring should not be confused with evaluation – these monthly updates are not an assessment of whether or not my annual plan is a success or failure. Monitoring is to check the planned actions are being done, that the immediate effects of these actions are still contributing towards the overall goal and that the actions can be achieved with the planned resources. I’m using these monthly monitoring posts to see if there are any mini-corrections I need to make, such as altering the action/goal or committing more or less resources. I can also see if there is a particular area I need to lean into.

When reporting monitoring on projects I like to use a traffic light system. It’s simple to communicate but also simple to assess. Red = ok, yellow = better and green = best. Importantly, ‘best’ is not 100% for the month, but more of a 80/20 rule which is much more achievable and reasonable.

Eeek… look at all that red in October! What happened??!!

Well, a couple of things. Firstly, in September I decided to extend the range of health and wellbeing habits I wanted to monitor. More habits mean more things that can go up and down as I don’t have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Just because one habit falls off the radar doesn’t necessarily mean that my others follow suit.

Secondly, just as our state was coming out of lockdown I moved office location. This meant that I had to re-establish the routine and habits that I had built both when I was at my previous office, and during lockdown. It’s taken almost the whole month to get these in place, but the good news is I’m pretty much there now and just have to put them into practice in November.

Here’s how they have gone this month:

Exercise

My new office has a gym right below it. Although it’s a bit on the small side, the equipment is nice and new and the showers are much newer and cleaner than my previous office gym.

I was trying to get a running session in twice a week by starting work early and leaving early, but it just wasn’t working out. I car pool with my partner and a couple of times had arranged to leave after a 4-5pm workout only to get an urgent call/email at 3.58pm…

Although mornings are not my optimum time for exercise, I’ve been starting early and going to the gym first thing before the day starts and any interruptions can creep in. Building the habit and going every day is much more important than smashing each session.

Diet

Diet has been okay, but could be better. I’ve swapped out a toasted banana bread each morning (a sneaky habit that started a month or so ago when I purchased a loaf from our local market one Saturday) for rolled oats, a blob of honey and hot water. Lunch is generally good with a soup or lentil salad, non-sugar bio-yoghurt and a piece of fruit.

My new work place has a social club snack bar however, and a late afternoon sugar craving has made me into a regular purchaser. They have the bowl right there on the counter and I find it hard to resist a little pick-me-up to go with my rooibus tea. I really hate these kinds of things in the work place as you can’t control this environment and need to rely on will power alone. Mine is very weak! I’ve avoided this kind of temptation before by having a square of very dark 80% chocolate instead, as it’s so rich that you don’t feel like having anything else, so I’ll try this next month.

Anyone else struggle with avoiding workplace treats?

Dinners have also been a bit take-away heavy as our oven was out of action (again) whilst we fitted kitchen cabinets.

Flossing

I generally start the week quite well, then fade off come Thursday. I know this habit is part of setting up a better evening routine, so hopefully now I have something of a morning exercise routine, this can follow.

Alcohol

To celebrate opening up from lockdown we went out for a lovely pizza dinner with friends, sat outdoors at a local restaurant drinking nice wine. It was one of those lovely warm spring evenings and when we got back home I wanted to continue to sit outside drinking more wine. I had just over a bottle in total – cue headache the next morning and Saturday pretty much written off.

I really hate getting a hangover these days. I hate feeling yucky but I also hate that the next day is wasted, and when you only have two of these per week to yourself they are precious!

Next month I’ll be cutting out alcohol completely during the week, and keeping to a max of two drinks on a Friday and Saturday night.

Water

Exercising in the morning gets me a great jump on my water intake, and I usually drink a water bottle full (750 mL) by lunch. I then have the rest of the day to drink a second bottle.

This is orange because it has taken me the month to get into a good practice, but I’m confident this will be green next month. I feel like increasing my water intake has boosted my energy levels and it’s taken effect almost immediately, which is good incentive to continue.

Stretches

I tried a few morning stretches on my bed, but doing them on such a soft surface didn’t feel right. There’s not much floor space in our house at the moment either, so instead I’ll be trying to incorporate stretching into my morning exercise routine.

Sit/stand

I add an ‘AM stand’ and a ‘PM stand’ onto my daily checklists which work well as a reminder for me to stand for half an hour each time. I mostly tick them off as I try and stand for any meetings I have, although I’ve had a fair amount of written work this month when I’ve just forgotten as I’m engrossed in a task to meet a deadline.

Stress

This month has had a lot on. I’ve been acting in my boss’ position for almost the whole month which has added a lot to my workload, and in the background the seemingly never-ending kitchen work continues. I’ve also got the opportunity to apply for a permanent promotion which is weighing on my mind.

I have a week of leave in November though, and having the time off booked is something I’m very much looking forward to. Ideally I would be on leave now as I’m very worn out but I just didn’t get around to booking it far enough in advance and other people in my team put theirs in first.

Something I’ll be trying to do next year is making sure I have leave planned well before I feel like I need it. By the time it comes around it’s usually perfect timing!

How is your October health going? Any achievements? Anything you will be focusing on next month?