My health and wellbeing design – IMPLEMENT and MAINTAIN

To help me implement and maintain the slow and steady changes I have been making to my lifestyle through using the designs, I decided to keep a record of progress each month.

May 2014– Began thinking about doing this design. Looked at Vision, helps and limits. Not exercising other than walking school run and gardening. Eating veggie diet.

June – Began Eat Smile Live health and nutrition programme. Began slowly accruing new knowledge and making a few changes to my diet.

July– Began 30 day exercise challenges, sit ups, squats, planks- enjoyed but found hard. Enjoying ESM programme. Eating lots of greens and finding it easier to eat health and raw foods as the weather improves.IMG_4016

Aug– Began the Coach to 5KM challenge. Enjoyed this but hurt my knee. Rested for 3 weeks then began running again on hols in Cornwall- loved it! Ran 30 mins without stopping. Began cutting out dairy products to help my health and for my son’s skin.

Sept – Began a weekly kettlebell class. Drinking lots of green smoothies and fresh juices. I did my first 5KM Parkrun. Eating 80% vegan now. ESM autumn cleanse began late sept.

Oct– Running 3X per week. Set myself the 6 week exercise programme. Started using the weekly meal planner design. Gearing up towards the Wolf run 10KM race

Running woman

Nov– Took part in the Wolf run race and loved it, immediately signed up for another in April. Finding it slightly harder to eat well in the colder months. Not loosing any more weight. Stuck around 11 stone.

Dec – Dark mornings and evenings, finding it harder to fit in runs. Managed to reach 100th mile since I began running in august. Tried a few times in the dark and didn’t like it. Loads going on, so didn’t make any kettlebell classes this month. Ate and drank too much over xmas but had fun!

Jan 2015– Aims for the month, no booze all month and Vegan January.  I enjoyed the Vegan challenge, didn’t find too hard at all so keen to continue. Running challenge for myself 365 miles throughout the year, so aiming for between 7-10 miles per week. Spa day for my birthday, a bit of a healthy treat and some ‘people care’ for myself and my mum and sister.

Feb – Aims for the month, try three new recipes each week. I brought a few new cook books for vegan meals and we are loving them so far. Drew up plans for the larger blackboard design and began using this. Managing to hit targets of running at least 7 miles each week. Evenings and mornings getting slightly lighter now, so exercise is easier to fit in. Life is feeling very busy, so glad to have my planners and targets to keep up the momentum. Began 6 week programme leading up to The Reaper Run next month. Scheduled in and went on a date night with my husband!

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I currently feel very motivated to continue with all aspect of this design. I am enjoying the exercise, my meal planning is easier, I am loving finding out more about health and the me-time/quality family time is wonderful. Long may it all continue!

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My health and wellbeing design – DESIGN

IMG_8635Reminder of the aims I initially set myself for this design,

1. To learn about nutrition and health foods for myself and my family

2. To exercise and improve my fitness levels

3. To lose the excess baby weight

4. To take time out for myself without feeling guilty

During the design process, these aims have been revised and tweaked as follows.

1. To plan balanced and health-giving foods for myself and my family. 

2. To fit exercise and me-time into my life regularly

3. To continue expanding my knowledge of health and to set myself regular challenges. 

Ideas for designs I could use to fulfil these aims.

1. To plan balanced and health-giving foods for myself and my family. 

First I looked at a few ideas from other sources for meal planning. IMG_5488IMG_5487

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Then I tried out a number of my own ideas and analysed them using PNI.IMG_5486Post-it notes on a piece of card.

Positive – I used this for about 6 weeks. it worked really well because you can keep the post-it notes week after week and re-use them.

Negative – The post-it notes fall off and get muddled up. I needed to make more space for the ‘ideas’ section or create a place to store meal ideas not being used that week. I also found it unnecessary to plan breakfasts.

Interesting – It is easy to juggle the meals around and it is a flexible way of planning.

IMG_5485 Incorporating it into my existing weekly planner blackboard.

Positive – This works well as it is easy to see at a glance just what else is happening that day and so how much time I will have for preparations.

Negative – The board is too crowded with too much information going on, so it’s not easy to fit all required info in. A larger board would be needed

Interesting – I tried allocating each day of the week a theme for example monday-soup, Tuesday, potatoes, Wednesday, rice etc. This really helped with planning and thinking up ideas. It was great to have a space for a shopping list next to the board, so as I planned I could update my shopping list accordingly and make sure we had the correct ingredients.

2. To fit exercise and me-time into my life regularlyIMG_5570I used McHargs exclusion method to look at my daily and weekly routines and see when I had time to exercise. I found out that most of my available time was early mornings or evenings once the children were in bed. Weekends were also more flexible as my husband is around to help with the children. These times are marked with a ‘P’ for ‘Possible’ on the above planner.

IMG_5571I then created an overlay looking at possible activities that could work well at the available times of day.

IMG_5572I then created a third overlay looking at possible boundaries or challenges to taking on activity at these times. This helped me to be more realistic about what I could fit in as well as planning ways to overcome barriers I may come up against.

IMG_5574Finally I used this planner to set myself a realistic weekly plan incorporating up to 10 miles of running per week in three slots, plus a kettlebell class, a yoga session and quality time with my children and husband.

3. To continue expanding my knowledge of health and to set myself regular challenges. 

IMG_5559I used a yearly planner to keep track of key dates for when related activity happened or I planned to happen. I will keep on updating this throughout 2015.

IMG_5590I created a new monthly planner at the beginning of 2015, looking at one Permaculture principle each month and planning related activity. Also on this planner I set myself one challenge each month; for example January’s challenge was to be Vegan and alcohol free all month. February’s challenge is to try out three new recipes each week. Next month, March, I will be trying out new forms of exercise. I will continue adding to this planner as the years rolls around. Not all challenges will relate to my health and wellbeing design, they will be tailored to fit with whatever diploma design is foremost in my mind at that time.

FINAL DECISIONS ON DESIGNS.

I decided that this diploma project needed a number of designs, all based around a calendar. I have considered ways of joining up some of these designs to create an easy flow of ideas and sensible, time efficient planning. I needed to find a way to plan meals that fitted around our schedules. I needed to carefully plan to allow for quick and easy cook meals on busy days or plan in advance by batch cooking meals and filing the fridge or freezer. So it was important that the meal planner linked with my weekly family diary.

I decided to expand the blackboard in our kitchen where I map out plans for each week. This is updated every Sunday evening to ensure we are organised for the week ahead.  I added a ‘Dinner’ column to this wall planner and added a task of weekly meal planning to my sunday chores list. I now check what ingredients are required for the planned meals and update the shopping list on the blackboard accordingly. This list is then photographed on my i-phone and taken to the shops with me.

The blackboard also allows me to see which days I am most able to fit in exercise sessions. The activity I did detailed above that showed me the best times to exercise was very useful, exercise is now scheduled in early mornings or evenings or quiet parts of the weekend. I added an ‘Exercise’ column to the blackboard and write in 3 runs, one class and 1 quiet/date/one to one time each week. I aim to stick to these commitments.

So the blackboard design photographed below helps me to achieve aims 1 and 2

To plan balanced and health-giving foods for myself and my family

To fit exercise and me-time into my life regularly

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Aim number 3. To continue expanding my knowledge of health and to set myself regular challenges Is more of an ongoing design. I am using the wheel of the year design photographed above and will keep on adding challenges to this as time goes on.

 

My health and wellbeing design ANALYSE

In order to analyse my possible options for creating this design, I firstly took a step back and considered my energy needs and yields. In other words an input output analysis, all about being healthy and happy. I looked at how these inputs and outputs linked up together too and discovered lots of complex links.

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This confirmed for me that the four areas I had chosen for the design to address where the right ones and they dovetailed nicely together with lots of areas of overlap. I then did a detailed brainstorm, looking at lots of possible options I could explore to achieve my four aims. As a quick reminder, the areas this design hopes to address are;

1. To learn about nutrition and healthy foods for myself and my family

2. To exercise and improve my fitness levels

3. To lose the excess baby weight

4. To take time out for myself without feeling guilty

IMG_5560The whole brainstorm ( close-ups below for ease of reading)

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From the ideas explored in the brainstorms, I chose my favourite 6 or 7 for each area and put them into the table pictured below. I looked at each possible idea and considered how it worked with the Permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair shares.

I then did a PNI (positive, negative, interesting) for each possible idea and this eliminated quite a few options as they did not fit with the ethics.

I ended up with a much reduced list of ways I could approach each of my aims. I then looked at each one of these against the Permaculture Principles too and ticked which ones they linked with. (The table below shows all this process)

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So this is what I ended up with;

1. To learn about nutrition and healthy foods for myself and my family

Use online research, online courses, book research and talk to people. Try wholefoods and vegan diets.

2. To exercise and improve my fitness levels

Gardening, outdoor exercise, running, cycling and walking

3. To lose the excess baby weight

Lose this as a separate aim as it links in with the two aims detailed above and practice acceptance of my body rather than focussing on what I weigh. Aim to be fit rather than thin!

4. To take time out for myself without feeling guilty

To allow myself time out alone and recognise the benefits this has on myself and the whole family. To schedule in date nights with my OH and one-on-one time with each of my children. Set up a local guild group to take time out to meet with others and focus on my diploma (This will become a separate design I think)

So in summary, my analysis has shown that my design needs to focus on using the nutrition information I have been gaining in a way that makes family mealtime easier to plan. My design needs to schedule time into my life for exercising and set myself targets and challenges. My design also needs to schedule in down-time for myself to be alone or with the family.

 

My health and wellbeing design – LEARN

A really important part of this design for me is to educate myself about health and wellbeing. So I have added ‘L’ for Learn to the design process acronym  SADIMET Making it now SLADIMET. I wanted to find information and inspiration from a variety of sources to draw on to develop my design. I love learning new things and wanted this design to give me the inspiration to continue expanding my knowledge.

One of the first thinking tools that I found useful was The circle of life. This divides your life into twelve important areas. They are; spirituality, creativity, finances, career, education, health, physical activity, home cooking, joy, social life, home environment and relationships. You grade how successful you feel your life is in each area by plotting a point on the circle. The centre of the circle is’ terrible’ and the edge of the circle is ‘wonderful’. The resultant image gives you a visual indication of areas that may require your attention or work.

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So from this activity I noted that four main areas that required my attention were home cooking, physical activity, spirituality and career/finances. I did some initial work on trying to link all four areas into this design, but eventually decided that career/finances, was too separate from the other three and really required a design all of its own. I am working on creating a poly-income for myself, so will definitely be coming back to address this area of my life in due course.

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I used the twelve ‘circle of life’ headings to begin a brainstorm for my Zone 00 design. I looked at each area again, just in case I had missed anything and to spark off new ideas. This was a very useful exercise and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to make positive changes in their life and not really knowing where to begin.

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A lot of my learning came through the 6 month course that I undertook ‘Eat, smile, live’. It was carried out via regular videos and link sent to me. There was also a lively Facebook forum created where all the students on the course could share ideas and ask questions of the tutor and each other. I learnt loads about wholefoods and healthy lifestyle attitudes. I have lots of new ingredients in my pantry now and new recipes under my belt. I have met a network of people on a similar path and made new online and real-life friends. I have cooked healthy lunches for friends and helped other people learn more about improving their lives through making healthy choices. I can see how this knowledge links very naturally with my work around food growing. So I feel this will help me with future career options too.

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I brought a few new books to help me find out more about wholefoods, veganism and healthy eating and to inspire me to try new recipes. I used Graham Burnet’s new book “Vegan permaculture’ and found it very inspiring and helpful. Following are photos of some of my other favourite books.

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As well as writing this blog, I love to read other people’s blogs too and probably spend far too much doing exactly that. Here are some of the most useful blogs that I bookmarked and have returned to time and time again.

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I joined the local Vegan challenge for January 2015. I attended a few of their meetings and social events. I ate a fully Vegan diet during January and am still 90% vegan now, but I have begun having honey in my tea again. I love bees and feel that as long as they are being kept in an ethical manner, then bee-keepers are helping rather than harming the planet. So sweet tea is back in my life thank goodness!

 

My health and wellbeing design SURVEY

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BACKGROUND TO THE DESIGN

I have been working on a diploma design since early summer 2014 about my health and well-being. I wanted to do a design at this stage of the diploma that was about me and improving my life. I have learnt that in order to head out and make positive change in world, you first need to have your own life well-managed and running smoothly. I have also learnt that my children are only as happy as their least happy parent, so to help my household be happy, smooth and successful, any change needs to begin with myself and work outwards.

To help me begin the design process I looked at zoning in terms of my life. I used the principles involved in zoning that are normally applied to gardening. The areas you interact with most are located directly outside your backdoor, such as herb pots. Moving out in stages to places visited less regularly located further away from your house. IMG_5500

This is how I classified Zones in relation to my life; Zone 00 myself, Zone 0 my family, Zone 1 my house, Zone 2 my garden, Zone 3 my friends, Zone 4 my community and Zone 5 the wider world.

I then looked at the frequency of use for each of these zones. I also noted down all of my ideas for diploma design projects into the correct zone. Finally I wrote in the circle in pen designs I have already undertaken and in pencil ideas for designs. I wanted to ensure an even spread across all the zones to provide a balanced approach in my diploma journey.

The design I am currently working on, My health and wellbeing design,  falls into Zone 00- MYSELF. It seems important to address the centre of the circle at this stage in my diploma studies, to give me more energy to commit to other designs that I have planned for the future that will take me away from the home and out into the wider world.

I find writing up a vital part of the design process, not only does it count towards my Diploma, it also allows me to re-think over all my actions and decisions and makes the design much clearer in my mind and therefore more likely to be implemented effectively.

For this design I have been using the design process SADIMET but I have added a ‘L’ for ‘learning’, so the process acronym becomes SLADIMET. I will be writing a post on each stage of this design process over the coming weeks. Today I will be looking at SURVEY.

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When using the design web for my last design, I found Vision, Helps and Limits to be useful places to begin. I feel all three of these tools fall within the SURVEY stage, so I have used them in this design too.

VISION – To design some tools that help me to achieve my aims of losing weight, improving my fitness levels, improving my food choices and providing me with some time to devote to myself.

HELPS- I am interested in this area, I enjoy cooking and love cook books and healthy eating blogs. I have a goal in mind of my friend’s wedding in June 2015, so that gives me a year to work on and implement this design, a good timescale I think. My husband is a health-nut. He cycles everyday and is running 8 marathons during 2014. He will encourage and help me with my exercising. He is supportive with the children. My brother and sister and both pretty healthy too, so I have plenty of people to discuss ideas with. My oldest friend is a nutritionist and currently on maternity leave, so she should have some time to advise me. The Eat Smile Live course I have signed up for should be very helpful and the FB forums another support network I can use.

LIMITS- I have a limited amount of free time each week to spend away from home exercising. I do not have much money to spend on this design, so for example joining a gym is not possible. I want any food related changes to be suitable for the whole family, I am not willing to cook multiple meals each day. The kids can be fussy eaters and may be unwilling to try unfamiliar foods. I am breast-feeding so can’t take a big cut in my calorie level. I love food and am not interested in a ‘diet’ that is about restriction or meal replacement. It has to be truly healthy to work for me. I must have goals to aim for to help with will-power. Any options taken have to fit with the Permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair shares.

SURVEY – I began the design in May 2014. I focus me and assist the design process I signed up to take part in ‘Eat, Smile, Live’ nutrition and lifestyle coaching 6 month plan. I completed a thorough health history, looking at my baseline weight, measurements, food diary and exercise levels,  health concerns and desired outcomes.

To briefly summarise the health history, I was 15 months post-natal with my third child.  11 stone eight pounds, breast-feeding and woken up 2-3 times each night, feeling tired, not exercising and feeling unfit. My diet was vegetarian, around 60% home cooked with 1 meal out and 1-2 take aways per week. I struggled to find time for cooking in the evenings. I drank 3-4 black coffees per weeks and lots of cups of decaf tea with sugar each day. I craved chocolate and salty curries. I drank alcohol 3 to 4 times per week, usually red wine or real ale. I enjoyed swimming and yoga but couldn’t fit these into my life. I wanted to make changes.

I set myself four goals to address;

1. To learn about nutrition and healthy foods for myself and my family

2. To exercise and improve my fitness levels

3. To lose the excess baby weight

4. To take time out for myself without feeling guilty

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Twelve Principles for twelve months – February – Edge effect

Throughout 2015 I will be looking at Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Principles. I have allocated one principle per month at random. I will aim to find a relevant image, some quotations around the subject, some possible applications and a challenge for myself that relates to the principle and the Permaculture activity I am involved in at that time. February – Edge effect

imageThis image shows how materials collect where one material meets another and an edge is created. Here fallen leaves accumulate along a kerb. This principle could be applied in a garden, for example to capture materials alongside the edges of a raised bed and add beneficial nutrients to the soil.

QUOTATIONS

“Edges are places of varied ecology as they share resources between two distinct ecosystems and are known as a net and sieve for energy. We can increase the yield of the system by manipulating where two ecosystems meet, and designing in their unique species. Here the patterns of nature merge to utilize their inspiration with our creativity.” Bill Mollison. ‘Introduction to Permaculture’

“Edges themselves are often very diverse. Many of the species from both ecosystems live there together with some that live only on the edge, giving more species diversity than the interior of either ecosystem.”                                                                                    Patrick Whitefield. ‘The Earth Care Manual’

When we are in the edge between illness and health, and on the road to recovery, we can use our wellness to create more wellness… There is a familiar pattern of trying to step out of the edge too quickly and thinking we are well again, doing too much and then relapsing. This edge period needs to contain a balance of relaxation and activity. There are advantages of staying in the edge, it is a good place to take time to reassess and create new patterns, and to make sure that wellness can really take root in our lives.           Looby Macnamara For Permaculture magazine 

APPLICATIONS To create a successful garden pond, it is important to consider the edges. A pond with straight vertical sides will be uninviting to wildlife. Whereas a pond with gently curving undulating edges and a variety of depths will create niches suitable for a multitude of life forms to inhabit.

Keyhole and mandala gardens are much used in Permaculture. Garden beds in these shapes provide easy access and produce many different spaces suited to different plants. Curved edges are more pleasing to the eye than straight edges and they follow nature more closely too. something we always try to do in permaculture. Personally I have found it challenging to fit curved beds into my garden as it is narrow and long, but I certainly like the theory behind the idea.

CHALLENGE I am going to use the edges of my day to be as productive as possible. I plan to use early mornings and the few hours between the kids going to sleep and my own bedtime for exercise and diploma work. These quiet moments are currently under used parts of my day and they have the benefit of providing time for me to be alone. My brain is most active early in the morning, so it’s a great time to write to-do lists and make plans. I also find that I have good ideas whilst running, particularly at dusk as my mind is concentrated on the task at hand and the general brain-chatter is silenced. However I must remember to write down my ideas as soon as I arrive home before the daily chaos rushes in again.

Another challenge for this month is to push myself to the edge of my comfort zone. When you stretch yourself, important things can happen. When you run a little faster or further than you are really comfortable with, something amazing happens, you get fitter! Likewise when you take on an uncomfortable challenge, such as attending a scary meeting or daring to speak up against an opinionated friend, you find new strength and confidence in your own abilities.

Another thing I want to do is try to overlap some of the projects that I am working on to create new edges. Lots of my activity has areas in common, such as the outdoor playgroup and Forest schools training. Both are involved in helping children engage with nature. So rather than keeping these parts of my life apart, I hope to ‘Integrate rather than segregate’ and join up my thinking. I hope this will make my life easier and create new abundant edges, sparking off new ideas and creative ways of working.

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Imbolc

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One of my aims for this year is to learn more about the special days of the year following the pagan calendar. I have always been interested in the changing of the seasons and the solstices, but I want to learn more. I plan to post on each special day this year with a reflection on what is happening in my garden and what I am up to. This is an extension of last years project, looking at changes in my garden each month.

Today is February 2nd – Imbolc. Today marks the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The days are visibly lengthening now and if you look very carefully, signs of spring are starting to appear. Bulbs are pushing their shoots up towards the light and tiny buds are beginning to unfurl. It is often the coldest part of the year, we had a scattering of snow a few days ago on my birthday. I am running in the mornings with the sunrise which is always beautiful and there is time now for the kids to have a brief play in the garden after school. I have lit a candle tonight and plan to enjoy this quiet part of the year planning my activity during the warmer months ahead.

IMG_5507The view down my garden today.

Noticing the buds on the clematis opening a little more each day.

Feeling cosy sat by the log burner

Wishing for more nights of unbroken sleep

Eating vegan ‘cream of tomato’ soup with chickpeas croutons

Wondering whether to stay home or go to the farmer’s market tomorrow

Wearing always two pairs of socks

Watching River Cottage Australia and loving the beautiful coastal small holding

Listening to a woodpecker in the woods near my house

Drinking red wine again after a dry January

Planning our trip to Norfolk in a couple of weeks time.

IMG_5544Bay leaves growing well on my patio

IMG_5543 The branches of the ornamental plum-tree are looking fuzzy. This is always the first tree to have blossom in my garden. When it starts to look like this I love to cut a few branches and put them in a vase inside where the heat of the house makes the flowers open.

IMG_5541 Buds on the plum-tree and the setting sun behind

IMG_5537 Clematis and a beautiful lichen covered support

IMG_5532 The sun dropping behind a house

IMG_5513 Honeysuckle

IMG_5508 Day lilies

IMG_5552Tonight’s dinner is a new recipe kfrom the ‘Oh she glows’ cookbook. I chose this for today to fit in with Imbolc as it is the colour and shape of the sun!