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. 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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