Clarification on the word “Best”

My last post was on the theme of “Best time of day.” What I failed to include was a definition of what I was meaning by the word ‘Best.’

Best could have meant a number of things, from best time to sleep, best time for sex, best time for concentration, best time to nap, best time for meditation, best time to exercise, best time to relieve oneself, best time for relaxing, best time for driving, best time for eating, best time for you name it. I didn’t specify. I was/am trying to figure out my best time for concentration.

There I said it: best time for concentration. When there are prolonged periods of concentration, plus optimum circumstances, we have the chance to reach the state of “flow.” For each person the level of concentration required is different. The key point though is continued effort or ‘trying’ on whatever activity concentration is attached. The optimum circumstances are also elusive and individual for each person. We each have to find our own flow state through continued effort. One day after we achieve flow state, if we repeat the same level of concentration we may not reach the flow state. Much to our own frustration. Flow is not an exact science. It is fluid. It is forever changing. With increased concentration we have a higher chance of finding flow. The length of time we have in the flow state depends on us. More concentration requires more energy and time. A higher chance of flow state but it should never be taken for granted. Once we get cocky and expect to reach flow state, that is when you know that it will be gone. It is a gift,not a given.

What is this flow state? A state where you feel at one with the activity that you are doing. “At one with” means that you are completely consumed by the activity and your complete focus or concentration is on the activity, everything else around you no longer exists in that moment. Time disappears. And to be clear it is a positive state, not something to be dreaded. You might feel wiped out after the flow state is over but it is because of this heightened state of concentration for a certain period of time that causes the exhaustion. Off to find my flow.

Best time for concentration for me: 5-10pm-ish

Today I’m trying from 2pm to see if that’s best for concentration. It really all depends on the weather, the season, your age, your weight, your environment, the amount of sleep had, food eaten, liquid consumed, mood,… Anything can alter concentration. They say if you organise your day around a schedule that is maintained day in day out that your body clock adjusts and improves your sleep hygiene and your mental health. Of course some sort of exercise and eating helps too. We all know what’s best for us but tend to ignore it when it’s inconvenient.

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Best Time of Day

I am observing myself closely and I don’t really know when my best time of day is.

Am I a morning person?

Am I a night owl?

Am I something in between?

For now I am not a morning person and I’m not a night owl. I think my best time is between 5-8pm. But I could be wrong. I will observe myself in the wild and come to some conclusion after a month of closely monitoring myself.

The fact that I am in bed recovering from a broken foot will make the experiment biased for sure. I like to think of myself as a night owl but that just wrecks me the next day. And for now I’m mending bones so I should get rest so the sensible thing is to get an early night.

Try telling that to my body. I want to sleep at 10am after having a full night’s sleep. Sometimes I can’t get to sleep till 3am. I am all over the show. Daylight saving has started already so I would like to get in sync with the sun. But let’s see how I really am rather that what I think I am.

How well do you really know your own body and routines. Are you living your best routine and timing?

I no longer drink so there’s no need to be up till the wee hours, right? Does creativity happen at 2am? Does it really? Or is 5am the. Magic hour? Or 7am? 1pm in the afternoon I am drowsy, or I have been lately. After food a nap seems like the best choice option. I don’t know.

It’s just after 5pm so off I go to draw. I’ve had my daily quota of licorice already today. Should have waited till after my drawing to consume but that didn’t compute today. We’ll tangle that carrot tomorrow.

And does the season change when your best time of day is? And does it depend on what activity you do? There are loads of variables. The weather, your mood, your appetite, your schedule, your life.

When is your best time of day?

Hypoglycemia: Low Blood Sugar

If you don’t drink alcohol it’s not the end of the world. You won’t die. You don’t need it. You only crave it or want it because it’s there. It’s a comfort, it’s a habit. It’s a drug.

If you don’t eat, it can be the end of the world. We need to eat and drink to survive. If we don’t we die.

Above I have stated the obvious. Ten months sober and I feel I have a handle on the not drinking part of life. The benefits of being sober outweigh the hangovers and lost moments of drinking life. The abundance of time that being sober opens up is a daunting thing. I am left with myself, my sober self. I cannot take a holiday from me. I cannot take a break from me. I am stuck with me. Before in my drinking days I would have taken a break from myself by getting drunk. Today I don’t need to escape from the isle of me. Have I got my life figured out? Not by a half. However I am learning to deal with myself as I am today. I am far from perfect. I am human after all.

My body deals with sugar poorly. I have known this for most of my life. To have a banana or something sweet in my bag was not uncommon. I used to know this. I forgot. Stopping alcohol gave my eating habits a wobbly unbalance. I compensated by binging on food. A common enough side effect of quitting alcohol. Ten months into this sober pursuit and I think I can now face my relationship with food.

I have hypoglycemia. That’s a fancy word for low blood sugar. When I have low blood sugar I can feel dizzy, lose vision, sweat profusely, be clumsy, feel weak and shaky, fatigue, light-headed, have trouble talking, pale skin, diarrhoea, pass out.

I cannot eat the way I used to drink. I cannot substitute food for the way I drank. I will damage my body. If I binge on sweet foods my body has to adjust and level out. It expects more sugar later but when that doesn’t happen it panics and carries on like in the symptoms above. It used to be scary. Now I don’t panic. But I can stop this from happening altogether. I can eat smaller portions more often. I can carry something to eat with me. I didn’t do this and I was a mess a few weeks ago. Literally.

Why do we do this to ourselves? We know what is good for us and what is not. We know this. We have read about it. Most of it is commonsense. Humans are supposed to be a smarter species but I beg to differ. We have two options, the right one and the wrong one. We often choose the wrong one, even with all the information and knowledge that the wrong choice is bad. We still go for the wrong one. Is it plain stupidity? I don’t know. We cannot help ourselves until we go so far wrong that we get to the place of make or break. Humans aren’t logical. We like to think we are but we aren’t. We try to complicate our lives by doing the wrong thing over and over but keeping it simple seems too easy? I really don’t know why we do the things that we do. Stubbornness is a big reason. Why do we rebel against ourselves though?Why must we make life harder for ourselves when we know the difference between right and wrong?

Back to the sugar. I need to regulate my sugar intake. I can no longer guzzle an entire bag of licorice without suffering consequences. Because if I’m honest it isn’t just a bag of licorice. It is the desire to eat what is in reach. It is not healthy eating. It is eating for the sake of eating. It is perhaps emotional eating. It is replacement eating for alcohol that I no longer consume.

I do not drink fizzy drink or soda. I haven’t for many years. I don’t drink fruit juice either. I have a sweet tooth. I haven’t baked in a long while because I will tend to eat all of the baking within a short space of time. Why? Because it’s there. I have not taken moderation seriously with my food. I love food. I took food holidays. Visiting balsamic vinegar making factories, eating wild boar, pickled sardines, freshly fried sardines, octopus, fresh mozzarella, tiramisu. I ate my way around places. I would cook in apartments with fresh ingredients from the markets. It was a great focus to travel. I did art holidays too. I followed the footsteps of Matisse. I followed the Byzantine. Reading up before I left. It was a great way to travel.

I am forcing myself to moderate my food intake. If I regulate how much sugar I consume then I won’t become hypoglycemic. Simple. No. Not so simple. I am bucking the habits of a lifetime. I am limiting myself to five pieces of licorice a day. I read the back of the package and a single serving is 40g or five pieces. I used to look at the back for fun and then eat the entire bag. I cannot do that anymore without consequences. Wake up me. Time to get real. I have done three days of self regulation of licorice. That for me is a big step. Because with that comes better eating habits all around. Salads and salmon. Toasted muesli. Kiwifruit. Yoghurt. Almonds instead of chocolate. Whole grain toast. Smaller portions. Eating when hungry, not just for the sake of it, eating better.

This evening I will have five pieces of licorice. No more and no less.

10 months sober

For those of you wondering about my maths ability, yes, I jumped the gun earlier, and said I was 9 months sober when in actuality I was only 8 months sober. Today I am absolutely sure that I am 10 months sober.

A year ago today did I think I would be sober? Absolutely not.

A lot has changed.

Being sober seems to be the easy part. The ‘What Next?’ Step is the hardest. What I mean is facing myself and who I am is the challenge. I have spent all my life moulding myself to fit in, blend in or please that I don’t really know who I am. Don’t get me wrong I am not always entirely agreeable. I can be downright stubborn a lot of the time.

Am I being my true self or am I being an image I liked on Pinterest? Is it really me or is it an image of what I think I should be like? Today I have no idea. Today I cannot be bothered to do anything. I think I am afraid that I am nothing more than a couch potato.

My vegetable garden looks an overgrown mess. It is not tended well. Did I plant the garden because I like gardening? Do I want to grow my own vegetables? Because I saw it on YouTube and thought it looked fun, it’s on trend? Why did I bother?

Why did I start my vegetable garden?
I started it because I wanted to have more vegetables on my plate.
I want to eat healthier.
I wanted to have control over what food I ate, as in how it’s grown, spray free, etc,…
I like the idea of going outside to pick something fresh for the table.
The price of salad ingredients is ridiculous and so I wanted to grow my own for a fraction of the price. I wanted to save money.
Having a lawn doing nothing seems like a waste to me and so I wanted to create a garden that produces food for the table, an edible garden of what I like to eat.
The mulch from the hedge clippings goes into the garden and makes great soil. It all stays in the garden. Full circle.
I used the Hulgelkultur method so I could use rotten logs and branches and mulch and tidy up the place.
I measured the distance between the beds so I could easily fit a wheelbarrow between them. It was planned.

Marvellous answers to the question “Why” but do I really like gardening? Is it me? Or am I and will I always be a supermarket shopper? Today I find it hard to answer that. No doesn’t seem right. Yes doesn’t seem right either. I really don’t know. The fact that I have a broken leg and I can’t get about may have something to do with that. The garden doesn’t excite me today. Nothing does. Placing this in the too hard basket and will bring up the question to myself on another day.

An Involuntary “Yes”

Last night I was asked if I’d like a sweet snack. I immediately yelled back, “yes, please.” I was in another room.

It took me a split second to realise that I wasn’t eating snacks at night. I was trying to NOT eat sugary delights. I changed my reply to a firm ‘no.’

Habit is what it is, involuntary automated actions or thoughts that inhabit our lives. The bad ones are hard to shake. They reply for us when we are undecided. I have gone five days without sugary snacks. I have lost weight. This is a good start. Today the weight plateaued but I know why. It was the tempura yesterday. Oily fried foods. Noted.

I have gone from absolute concentration to grumpy to head-achy back to grumpy and ho hum. When I wake up on Monday i will have made it to an entire week. Again I am determined to make it one week. Alcohol and sugar have been a huge part of my life for so long it is such a change to not reach for a glass of something or munch on something.

The involuntary yes to alcohol is no longer there. It is long gone. I am not a year sober yet but feel I have a handle on it. Or at least I do today. I haven’t been tempted. Sugar is still a firm habit that I am ripping off. The black adder tea was a Godsend last night. Licorice without the sugar.

Why is it that a bad habit is so hard to shake and a good habit so difficult to adopt? Both take effort. And we tend to take the easier option when offered choice. I know. And then when we are offered too much choice we freeze and make no decision at all.

I am choosing to be healthy.

Day 1 No snacking – Success

Yesterday I had my first day of no evening snacking. I didn’t have any snacks. I was aiming to go for something healthy but I ended up having nothing, I didn’t miss it. I was engrossed in writing and drawing and the time flew by. Snacking didn’t enter my mind.

Yesterday was a victory.

After many months of being sober I still haven’t got the emotional or boredom or habitual grazing snack habit under control. Twenty one days to create a habit. Let’s see how we go. Dwight from Faded Jeans Living and Functioningguzzler are both on a mission to eat healthier and loose weight. What I read is inspiring.

I don’t believe in dieting, never have. I believe in healthy eating and good eating habits. I’m not into fads. I want this to be long lasting.

I hopped on the scales today and my weight has gone down a little. Progress. I have been making records with my weight since becoming sober. New records of “this is the heaviest I’ve ever been” kind of records. Today I see a turn for the better.

I’m going to write down what weight I want to reach. Here, I will put it out into the universe.

My goal is 75kg. (165.35lbs or 11.8 stone)

Instead of rewarding myself with chocolate and other sweet treats I need to look again and again at my Sober Treats and use the ideas and reward myself better.

Today I had toasted muesli, kiwifruit and yoghurt for brunch. The mornings, the afternoons are easy with regards snacking. I don’t have a problem with that time, the witching hours are after 7pm.

Help me get there. Push me, encourage me. Hold me accountable. Let’s get to where we want to be, healthier. I am joining Dwight of Faded Jeans Living and Functioningguzzler.

5am

I got watching a YouTuber and how they are now getting up every morning at 5am. I thought YES. I can try this too. Insomnia is with me and if I can shake her off smartly I can start a new habit.

I set my alarm for 5am. I got to bed at 1am. My reminder to go to bed did go off at 9:30pm. I ignored it. I lay in bed willing sleep to come. I tried relaxing all parts of my body one by one. Nothing seemed to help. My phone was charging in the hall. So one good thing was no electronic device in the bedroom. Sleep didn’t really come to me. I tried for an hour. I decided to get up. Yes. Really. I decided that I was going to kickstart my new habit. I got up as if it were morning.

I had a bath and read a book, Between the World and Me. Couldn’t put it down. Such a good book. Put my book away. Washed my hair and got ready for my new day. I had breakfast and ate mindfully. I then went and sat down at my desk and wrote my three pages, my morning pages.

It still wasn’t 5am yet. It was dark outside and I had completed three tasks already. I felt almost at a loss of what to do next. I am never up this early. One thing the woman from YouTube said was to ask yourself why you are wanting to get up early. And not to hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off. Get up immediately.

I was already up.

Managed to snooze for 2 hours during the day but found it hard staying up all day. Day one of the 5am starts wasn’t that successful. Yes I was up. Yes I started my day earlier but it was all such a shock to my system.

Day 2 of trying my 5am starts. Had a cat visit to the vet that day so it was stressful. Vaccinations. Played hide under the bed for 10 minutes. One didn’t want to get into the cage. One didn’t want to get out. Went to bed by 10pm. I was exhausted. All good. Changed my clock to a 6am wake up. Woke up at 3am. Turned my alarm off. Slept for another 8 hours. Attempt 2 at 5am starts was a disaster. Effort 0/10. Sleep 10/10 A win against insomnia.

Haven’t given up. Will try again tonight to get an earlier night.

Do I have my head around this idea properly yet? I wonder if I really do.

Why am I trying to get up early? I want to be more active. I want to start the day better. I want to enjoy the peace and quiet of the morning. I want to eat breakfast leisurely. I want to write during the quiet time. I want to be awake to enjoy the sun rise.

On a hot summer’s day

All I could think about yesterday evening was how a glass of wine would be nice. I watched a film and they were drinking on that too. Cocktails and glasses of wine. I went on YouTube and the videos I watched people were drinking wine there too. I couldn’t get away from it.

It infuriated me. I ate instead of drinking wine. I didn’t need to eat. I wasn’t hungry. It was comfort eating. It was a habit. A bad one. The one good thing in all, I didn’t have any alcohol. I am still sober. Day 28.

Going strong with a wobbly day yesterday. I haven’t felt that I was missing anything. Okay the first week I felt and convinced myself I was giving up fun and joy. By week two I realised I was thinking stupid thoughts and I was gaining freedom and control of my life. Yesterday I slipped up with thoughts of what I am missing, instead of all the positive gains I have so far.

My skin looks better.
I feel proud of my self control.
I am SAVING money.
I sleep more soundly.

Insomnia is still with me. I cannot get to sleep before 2am. I am leaning into it. I am not getting upset with it. With my lifestyle I can manage. I don’t have a 9-5 job and so don’t have to get up early. But I am having brunch at 3pm and so my eating habits and sleeping habits are on European time. I’m living in the wrong time zone. Probably I need to set my alarm clock and get up early one day, regardless of the desire to stay in bed and sleep some more. Bite the bullet.

12:59 am

Getting earlier to bed I hope this time. The evenings feel longer when sober and yet I still manage to waste time. I am not productive at all. Patience. For this week my goals are to not drink. to be easy on myself because I am not sleeping early enough. Yesterday it was 4:30am when I was dozing off. How do I know that? I heard the morning bird calls and that’s the time that they start.

Is procrastination a side effect of becoming sober? I didn’t read that on the label. It appears that I have a large dose of it. But really in all honesty I have had it for several years. I stupidly thought that after giving up alcohol I would feel like jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn and have heaps of energy and just full of ideas and just run with it. This has not happened. I don’t feel like jumping out of bed in the morning because I am still awake from the night before almost at the crack of dawn. Sluggish is more the correct word. Apathetic is another one that springs to mind.

Firstly, being kind to oneself is key. I am doing myself a favour by stopping drinking alcohol. I am loving myself. Another way to love myself is to give myself a break and not rush this expecting instant results. There is no instant gratification on giving up drinking. It is not a race. It is a slow walk taken one step at a time. Doing one nice thing to myself each day would make this easier. Perhaps a nice soak in the bath with bath salts, a candle and a book. Put on a record and listen all the way through side A. That’s for starters.

The first thing that comes to mind with the bath is a glass of wine. The first thing that comes to mind listening to a jazz record is a bottle of wine. These associations are so ingrained to made it a habit. Instead of a glass of wine in the bath I could prepare a tall glass of sparkling water with ice and a slice of lemon or lime. I could make a latte instead, sit back and listen to jazz. This is a chance to be inventive. This is just the beginning. I am not missing out on something. I am gaining better health and better habits. Begin the begin.