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

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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!

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.

 

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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Twelve Principles for twelve months. January. ‘Energy cycling’

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.

January ‘Energy cycling’

IMG_5344The image shows a leaf that has recently fallen from an oak tree and come to settle on the snowy ground in my local woods. It will be broken down by the actions of time, life-forms and the weather. As it decomposes it brings life to the forest floor and add fertility to allow more trees to grow, bloom, then drop their leaves in turn and continue the cycle. 

QUOTATIONS

“Our work as Permaculture designers is to prevent energy leaving before the basic needs of the whole system are satisfied, so that growth, reproduction and maintenance continue in our living components”                                                                              Bill Mollison

“Energy Cycling: Permaculture systems intend to stop the flow of energies off-site and instead turn them into cycles. The interaction between plants and animals produces energy, which is caught, stored, used and re-cycled. Incoming energy –sun, water, wind, manures– are used at its highest possible use, then its next highest, and so on. “Source to sink”: moving water across the landscape in a series of interlinking ponds to prevent erosive runoff. Cascading nutrients: turning the waste of one product into a multitude of other products using various life kingdoms i.e. plants, animals, bacteria, and fungus. Kitchen wastes to compost, animal manure to biogas, grey water to the garden.”                                                              Bill Mollison ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ 

“Design to make the best use of any energy or resources moving through a site. Link as many elements together as you can to create self-sustaining cyclic systems.”                                                                     Aranya ‘Permaculture design a step-by-step guide’

APPLICATIONS

I use this principle in my garden. I use prunings, weedings, animal bedding and food scraps to add to my compost bin or compost in place to return fertility to the soil. My local council supply ‘green’ bins for garden scraps but I declined to take one. I see my neighbours filling up these bins every week at the same time as buying compost from the garden centre. By keeping the fertility in my garden I hope to avoid having to buy in too much additional fertility from outside the system.

CHALLENGE

I wondered if I could apply this principle to a Zone 00 design (zone 00 means the self) I am working on a design currently about health, nutrition and exercise. Personal energy or lack of it has been a big issue for me over the last eight years of baby-raising and broken sleep. I felt very much like I needed to retain my energy whenever possible, so resisted exercising for a long time as I felt I did not have spare energy to burn. However, my attitude has now changed as I have began building exercise into my life and noticing that it actually inputs energy into my life.

I have done a quick input/output analysis and looked at where I could make links between energy needs and yields and ensure energy is being cycled around the system. I noticed how interlinked five elements were, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, taking exercise, achieving my tasks and finding time for myself. If one of these elements fails for any reason, then the whole system is thrown into disarray. So how can I ensure these energy needs are satisfied, energy continues to cycle and the system remains resilient? That is my challenge for this month.

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