Last year I set myself a few goals, and I wanted to go over them to share, but also because I am proud of what I have accomplished and want to make sure I keep on progressing in improving myself. I’ll also be setting goals for this year. Let’s get started!
2017 in review:
Goal 1: Read at least fifty books – Not completed
I got a kindle before coming here. I am a believer in hard copies of books for many reasons, but travel places some restrictions on my ability to carry around books. While the kindle lacks many things I love about books, I cannot deny its convenience. Being able to carry around hundreds of books in my pocket makes the pain of being away from physical books a little more tolerable. I did bring one book with me of course. Old Man and the Sea, one of my favorites. Looking forward to the new year, I am once again setting a goal of fifty books. Hopefully, with all the free time I will have here in New Zealand, I will be able to find more time to dedicate to reading.
Goal 2: Lose twenty-five pounds – Completed, and then some!
I started the year close to 190 pounds. I stand at a modest 5’7″, so 190 was significantly overweight. I had been overweight for a long time, and it was something about myself which made me unhappy. At my max, I was somewhere close to 200. Before the year started I had already made a few changes resulting in a bit of weight loss, but it was not until about May that I became more dedicated about this and seeing results. Looking back, it is funny how I got started. I went on a two-week vacation to Switzerland at the end of April. Switzerland was incredible, but expensive. Everything was expensive though, including food. I was trying to keep my costs down, and an easy way to do this was to not eat so much damn food. One downside of being American is that our country teaches us terrible eating habits. Portion sizes especially are enormous compared to the rest of the world. Previously I ate when I was bored or it was meal time or for any reason at all despite not being hungry. Thankfully, this helped in Switzerland, as I ate only when I was hungry and usually not a lot. I ate a few meals at restaurants, but I more often bought simple foods at grocery stores. The result of eating significantly less, and all the hiking and walking I did, I came back from the two weeks in Switzerland ten pounds lighter. Ten pounds in two weeks. This helped me realize I could make changes that would affect real results and gave me the head start I needed.
I never made time for the gym or exercise previously because I had a long commute to work and already had little free time. I made the decision to exercise at home as a compromise. Without any equipment, it came down to free weight exercises. I chose yoga because I wanted to increase my flexibility along with strength, and I could do it and learn it on my own. Youtube was a wonderful tool to help me learn and, before leaving for New Zealand, I was practicing for at least 30 minutes every day, with most days doing an hour or more, usually some in the morning and some at night.
I knew I also needed to get my eating habits under control since exercise alone was not going to be sufficient to get me to my goal. Having failed previously with trying to eat less, I chose a method that would work better considering I tend to be better with hard rules rather than trying to moderate myself. I have excellent self-control, but only in the sense that I can decide to not do something, rather than doing only a little of something. This is why trying to eat a little less overall in the past never worked for me. In May I switched to an intermittent fasting diet, eating only during an eight hour period of the day, while also making a conscious effort to eat only when I was hungry. I chose noon to eight o’clock and stuck with it until I cam here to New Zealand. I was not strict about the eight o’clock cut-off because sometimes I would not get home until after eight and still needed dinner. It was meant to stop me from snacking so often which I was prone to rather than make myself go hungry based on a deadline. At my most aggressive I was eating 1200 calories a day, less than half of my previous daily intake. It was not difficult once I got started and was effective at both reducing my calories and controlling my eating habits.
All this combined to me hitting a low of 139 pounds in November. I do not have an accurate scale here, but I am somewhere between 145 – 148ish. I have put a bit of weight back on since starting the work exchange for a family here as I have been less careful since I came to New Zealand. When I was camping I did not need to pay as much attention because I was not buying a lot of food and was active nearly every day. Having a whole household of food available to me again combined with the holidays and being a little less active and I have put a little bit of weight back on. The girls here eat a lot of chocolate, and I have always had a terrible sweet-tooth. Still, 45 pounds is something of which I am proud.
Goal 3: Be living outside the U.S – Sorta kinda?
I wanted to try living abroad. I have thought for a long time I want to permanently live abroad, but without trying it first, I could not know. It is one of the reasons I started traveling a more a couple years ago. It comes down to not agreeing with certain ideas and philosophy many Americans have about life. I had not previously made a concerted effort to move abroad though until this year though. I was looking for jobs in Europe for a while, but the positions I heard back from were not able to sponsor me for a work visa. I started looking for options that did not require work. I considered country hopping around Europe every couple months to avoid the ninety-day maximum stay in the EU, but ended up finding the working holiday visa option for New Zealand. Offering the ability to stay for one year and giving me the right to work but not requiring a job ahead of time it was the perfect option. I got my visa in March and decided to arrive in November, the beginning of the summer here. Situated long-term in another country? Check. ‘Living here’ in the sense that I had in mind? Not exactly. This is closer to an extended holiday at the moment. Making traveling a permanent lifestyle would be ideal, but I have no consistent nor reliable source of income currently. So I am forced to admit this goal is technically completed, but not in spirit.
Looking forward – Goals for 2018
Goal 1: 50 books
I mentioned this already, but I want to try for 50 books again. I should be able to this time as I have ample free time now. But, between other things I am trying to do on a daily basis in addition to all the travel activities I want to do here, I might have to make a concerted effort instead of trusting having a free time.
Goal 2: Stay healthy and daily yoga
I prefer to have specific, measurable goals, but it is hard for me to decide how I want to progress further. I still have more fat I could lose, but I also want to put on muscle which I am lacking, so a weight goal does not make sense. My yoga practice has faltered a bit since coming to New Zealand, and it is something I can do anywhere so I have little excuse. I will make some exceptions for days where I am doing a long hike or I do some other type of exercise, but I want to do something daily.
Goal 3: Do not run out of money traveling
I wanted to have a travel goal, but I honestly do not yet know where the road is going to take me. Were I not on a long-term visa, it would be a number of countries visited. I cannot again make the goal ‘Live Somewhere Else.’ I might end up staying in New Zealand if I find a job I want to stay for, but I do not think that is the most likely scenario yet. I also cannot say ‘stay the whole year in New Zealand’, because I might want to head over to South East Asia or Australia or anywhere else in the world. So, lacking any better option, I want to stop traveling when I decide to stop traveling, not because I have to. My original plan was to be home for Thanksgiving next year, so I am tentatively setting the goal as ‘stay abroad until then,’ and will revisit it once I figure out my plan over the next six months or so.
Goal 4: Learn to play guitar
Goal 5: Write daily
I have always loved the idea of being a writer. The problem is that I have always dedicated far more time to reading rather than writing. I read so much and wrote so little that whenever I tried to write anything, I hated it. I was (am) a shit writer. I did not spend the time to improve. I have a library of writings in my head to compare to, and I was lacking. It is not that surprising when I had no practice. Of course I sucked. One of the reasons I started this website was to get myself writing. I thought two or three posts a week seemed tough but doable. I have slacked a bit the last couple weeks because of the holidays, but I want to write. I do not care if I still suck a year from now. At least I will be a shitty writer, rather than a person who does not write. But I will try to improve. Lacking any other ideas for a measurable goal, I am going for a daily word count, a minimum of 250 words a day. That is not a lot, and I am going to try to write more, but I also did not want to set a goal that is intimidating. It needs to be something that I can accomplish every day without fail. Even if my laptop is out of battery, I can try and write on my phone or in a journal.
I am looking forward to this year. I have a lot to do. Let’s get this party started.