My health and wellbeing design – Evaluate and Tweak

I began this design 18 months ago in May 2014. Since then I have learnt so much and made a lot of progress along the path to wellness, acceptance and happiness. To evaluate the design, I must first look back at what my initial aims were. This was my initial vision and reasons for taking on this design project;

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.

During the design process, these aims were refined and finally set 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.

 

So did I manage to fulfil my aims and visions? What designs did I create? Did I use them and were they successful? 

The main designs I created were as follows;

  1. A weekly food planner. I tried various methods of food planning and this is the one I finally settled on that is working for me now. The heading of soup, rice, pasta etc remain the same every week and I fill in the details of what I’d like to cook in each category. This method of working from pattern to detail has really helped me not to feel overwhelmed at the task of deciding what to cook. I often choose one cookery book each week and add a number of new recipes from it to my weekly planner. This keeps me learning new recipes and keeps our food interesting and varied. This works really well, but only if I find the time to update it on a sunday evening. I probably use this planner about half of the time but I do hope to build up to using it more often as it really helps with shopping, food planning and simplifying my decision-making in the evenings. IMG_0111
  2. A weekly activity/food/exercise planner. This is drawn up on a huge blackboard I have painted onto my kitchen wall. I update it every sunday evening to plan the week ahead. I don’t always use the ‘dinner’ column, some weeks it works better for me to have flexibility about which meals I cook on which days, allowing me to react to unexpected events like kids coming over after school for dinner. IMG_0112
  3. A wheel of the year challenge planner. Each month is given a Permaculture principle as a theme and a challenge to participate in. This worked well until June, then I have floundered a little with this one. I found my available time to work on permaculture diploma projects has shrunk significantly over this year due to other work commitments. So the task of finding out about and writing a blog post each month on a principle rather fell to the bottom of my to-do list. I have tried to get back on track and hope to complete the challenge for the year albeit in a rather shortened version than I had envisaged. IMG_0113
  4. A calendar to keep track of exercise challenges and events coming up and participated in. I have updated this regularly with the main exercise activities that I have done. It is gratifying to see these all listed in one place and see how busy I have been!
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So did these designs help me to fulfil my aims? PNI evaluation.

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

POSITIVE – my knowledge of health is far improved from where it was 18 months ago. I eat a mainly vegan, wholefoods diet now and feel that this suits my lifestyle and body type. I have more energy and feel fit and strong, I have not lost weight but feel my body is more muscular now. I enjoy cooking and have made some really positive changes around how we buy food and manage our food budget. I have thrown away my scales and am on my way to loving and accepting my body as it is now rather than pining for what it used to be before I was a mother.

NEGATIVE – I don’t always use the planning tools that I have created due to time constraints, laziness or just forgetting about them! I feel more organised and the week runs more smoothly when the tools are used. So I will be making a concerted effort to use them more in the future. My children, particularly the younger two don’t always eat what I make them. They can be fussy and so self-limit their diets, which can be rather frustrating for us all. I will keep on offering them tiny bites of these health-giving foods in the hope that they will come around eventually.

INTERESTING – This aspect of this design led me onto another design (Leicester food group) about how I buy and plan my foods. See this design write-up for more details.

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

POSITIVE – I found a cheap gym to join and use it on a weekly basis. I attend a boot camp class, yoga, use the gym and swim each week. I found a local dance class and take part in a tap and a ballet class each week which is fantastic fun. I have taken part in lots of running challenges, muddy runs and 10km cross country runs. I try to fit running into my life and really enjoy the clear head space and quiet time that this gives me. We take a lot of walks as a family and are encouraging the kids to pursue their sporty interests of running, bike-riding, swimming and climbing. I have been on a few date-nights with my husband, but not enough!

NEGATIVE – My exercise opportunities are at the bottom of the priority list. If Joe has to work late, then I can’t attend. So Ideally I’d like to find another childcare option as a fall-back option for next year so that my needs don’t always come last. The same goes for ‘me-time’ This has also slipped down my list. I have been super busy this year studying and building up my business. I love these activities, but they take every available moment that I had. So time away from the children is generally spend in front of the computer working hard and time for exercise and relaxation is squeezed.

INTERESTING – I have noticed that if I prioritise exercise and time out for myself, it makes me a better parent and partner as I am happier and calmer. I need to remind myself of that and grab that 30 minute run or long bath to unwind rather than tidying up the playroom. I think every parent has this internal debate about want versus needs and where to draw the line.

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

POSITIVE – I have taken part in 3 thirty day challenges and a 6 month health coaching course. I have learnt a lot and made positive changes around my health. I want to keep learning more and making improvements. I am enjoying the journey. I enjoy having regular small challenges to work towards and this gives me momentum.

NEGATIVE – The negative here really just echo the ones mentioned in the above areas, resistance from family members and lack of time.

INTERESTING – I have met some interesting people along the way and its fascinating how they are fitting into my social circle. My health coach now attends my outdoor playgroup along which her young daughter and some people I met online at FB food forums have now become good friends.

TWEAKS

  1. Strive to use the tools (that I created as part of this design) every week
  2. Set myself more challenges for 2016 to keep up the momentum
  3. Come up with an alternative fall-back childcare option
  4. Work in more free-time to my weekly schedule and spend this on me-time. quality time with my husband or one to one with my children.
  5. Keep on making improvements on what I cook and how we purchase food
  6. Make improvements to the children’s packed lunches and aim to eliminate these few processed foods that we do still buy

South Leicester Food Group. Diploma design write up 2

Our second order from Suma was delivered last week. I took delivery at my house this time and hosted a lovely get together last Wednesday. We ate good food, enjoyed good company and wonderful weather. The system was easier to manage this time around but still needs some work.

This post brings me up to date on developments with this design and looks at the E for Evaluations and D for Design and I for Implementation of OBREDIMET.

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After the first delivery we discussed the key functions that we wanted the group to fulfil.

1. For the ordering of items to be straightforward, manageable and time efficient.

2. Delivery to be easy to receive and to be able to to divide up people’s orders with ease.

3. For the group to meet up regularly to discuss and place orders and share meals.

4. To expand the remit of the group to include recipe sharing and group cooking days.

5. To share useful tools, such as meal planners around the group.

I looked at each key function in turn and considered multiple ways or systems of achieving that function. I then reflected on that possible system using the PNI tool. See the two photographs below.

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As a group we decided that we would trial various elements of the systems detailed above and reflect on how we get on. I have begun a table to evaluate each design and will continue this for each design we trial until we come up with something that works well for everyone. The evaluation looks at how well or badly each design worked in term of the 5 key function, a PNI and against Earth care/ People care/ Fair shares (the 3 ethics of Permaculture)

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As well as dividing up the order, we had a lovely ‘bring and share’ dinne with all the kids included as it was half term. We have 12 kids between us, 10 of which were present. IMG_6666IMG_6668IMG_6667

The children played together happily, dressing up, putting on a play, jumping on the trampoline and running around in the sunshine. That was very helpful in allowing us adults to divide up the food order and do our reflections. IMG_6671

 

I will post about this design again in late summer or autumn when we have had time to try out a few more designs and reflect on them. I will aim to complete the OBREDIMET design system and look at the M for Maintainance, E for Evaluation and T for Tweaks. I will also do a personal reflection on this design.

South Leicester food group. Diploma design write up 1

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BACKGROUND TO THE DESIGN

I have been wanting to do a design around how I plan, buy, prepare and share foods with my family and friends. This carries on from the my health and wellbeing design that I have been working on for the past year. I have learnt so much from the previous design and met some great people along the way. I have been speaking with some of these people about setting up a food group concerned with making bulk food orders and coming together regularly to share meals, recipes and ideas around healthy eating.

I have set up a group with six other women, all parents of young children like myself. The diets eaten by this group of women are quite diverse, encompassing vegans, veggies, meat eaters, wholefoodists, grow-you-own gardeners and keen cooks. What we all have in common is a great love of fresh healthy wholefoods and an interest in feeding our families the best possible diets from an ethical source and at a price that we can afford.

So this design aims to look at how to create a sustainable design for our group to order food in a co-operative manner and to meet up regularly to plan this and share meals. Most of my designs to date have been long, drawn out processes in the planning and writing up stages. I wanted this design to be different so have set myself a limit of ten hours writing up and ten hours meeting with the group to plan. I used the design process OBREDIMET as I am comfortable with it already and plan on using design tools that I am familiar with to use my time efficiently.

OBSERVATIONS

Via our Facebook group and over informal discussions at meet ups we discussed our current shopping habits, the changes we wanted to make and why we had wanted to be involved in this group. I pulled this info together in the brainstorms shown below.

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BOUNDARIES 

The group was formed with the intention of ordering from Suma http://sumawholesale.com We decided to jump straight in and place our first order deliberately without applying a design to how we ordered. People were in a hurry to order and I thought it would be interesting to be able to see the difference in ease of ordering with and without a consciously applied design process. The first order was placed in early April and we met up again late April to reflect on how we had found the process so far and plan for the future. I used the fact-finding tool ‘Gives, gains, grins and groans’ ( which I had used before in a Muddy Boots design after originally adapting it from a tool suggested by Looby Macnamara in her fab book, People and Permaculture) to find out lots of info in a quick and easy manner about how people had found the process of ordering. This info was then reformatted as boundaries and resources.

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EVALUATION 

I then carried out a brief evaluation of what we/I had done so far and made a plan for what to do next.

A brief evaulation of how the first order had gone was also carried out with the group and is reflected upon in boundaries and resources. To summarise, the food is great, but the ordering took hours and dividing up individual orders on delivery day was a nightmare.

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DESIGN

We decided that the design should have five key functions; the details of how to make each goal SMART is still a work in progress at this point.

1. For the ordering of food from Suma to be straightforward to manage and for responsibility to be shared out amongst group members.

2. For the delivery be easy to receive and manageable to divide up on delivery day.

3. For us to meet up regularly (once a month?) to place orders/ collect items/ discuss ideas and have socials with shared meals. (I wonder about also introducing the idea of guilding with this group of wonderful women?)

4. To expand the potential of the group to include shared group cooking days, apple juicing, jam making etc

5. To share useful resources around the group (such as meal planners, recipes, book recommendations etc)

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The next thing I will do is look at functions and elements and PNI possible ways of achieving the key functions.