Jenn's December Challenges – Accountability Thread

This topic contains 24 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Jennifer Mattern January 3, 2017 at 9:20 pm.

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  • #34213

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    Not long ago on the blog, I shared my monthly challenge plans for December — a business challenge and a personal challenge. And I said I would start an accountability thread here on the forum. So… let’s do this, shall we?

    I’ll start by briefly explaining the two challenges. Then I’ll post updates throughout the month. This is mostly about making sure I post something publicly so I’ll feel guilty if I screw up in some way. Accountability threads have worked well for me elsewhere with work to-do lists, and I highly recommend public accountability of some kind for whatever goals you’ve set (and at the very least, have an accountability buddy).

    Business Challenge

    The business challenge is to build a new blog for launch on January 1st. This blog will be the basis of a 3-month challenge I’ll document on this blog.

    I already have a blog launch plan and basic content strategy mapped out for this. There won’t be daily updates, but probably every few days or weekly updates because it doesn’t require daily work.

    Personal Challenge

    The personal challenge was to work out every single day according to a new weekly schedule.

    I started this schedule about a week ago to try to get myself in the right frame of mind for December. It’s largely about testing a theory about the sudden weight drops vs stalled periods I’ve seen in the last year (after fixing serious hormonal issues that came about when I was sick and caused quite a lot of weight gain suddenly a few years ago). I’m happy to say, so far so good.

    The big thing I’m focused on is toning and strength training (not to build muscle so much as that toning and endurance). When I would increase cardio significantly, my weight would actually get “stuck” or go up again. So I’m scaling that back to shorter 20-30 minute workouts, but making them much more intense. And there will be walking on top of that — that doesn’t count as a cardio session for me; it’s more about fresh air and relaxing.

    I do yoga every single day (just slightly more than before this challenge). I normally aim for about 30 minutes. But on otherwise busy days I might settle for 15. And I try to do a longer 60-minute or more session at least once per week.

    Here’s the basic plan I’ll follow each week this month:

    Monday – Cardio, yoga, leg sets, back / chest sets
    Tuesday – Yoga, arm sets, ab sets
    Wednesday – Cardio, yoga, leg sets, ab sets, back / chest sets
    Thursday – Cardio, yoga, arm sets, back / chest sets
    Friday – Yoga, leg sets, ab sets
    Saturday – Yoga, leg sets, arm sets, back / chest sets
    Sunday – Cardio, yoga, arm sets, ab sets

    That’s the basic plan, with workouts lasting anywhere from 30-120 minutes per day. Tuesdays are my lightest so I don’t burn myself out too early in the week. Fridays are my longer yoga days because it’s my day off and I have the extra time.

    On top of that, I plan to walk at least 3 days per week, probably more (depending on the weather; snow up here in the hills isn’t conducive to safe walking). And I have mini challenges to help me focus even more on certain ares of my body. For example, I kept tweaking my left knee this year, so I’m working on building strength there. I’m starting that slowly with just 100 squats during the week (split to 20 per day over 5 days). My legs in general have always been my strong suit though (thank you soccer, track, and hiking). So I’m putting more attention on my arms, which are weak as hell in comparison. I’ve never been good at push-ups. So I’m starting there, with modified ones to begin (on a bit of an incline, not from my knees). I’m doing 50 per day for 6 days during the week, for a total of 300. I did that OK this week, but I’m going to stick to it for one more before I up that to a goal of 500.

    And that’s that. I’m already eating quite well. Meals are mostly veggies, eggs, and meat. And I rarely snack (when I do it’s nuts, cheese, plain greek yogurt with honey, veggies with hummus — nothing really “bad” unless I want sugar, in which case I bake something myself so I know exactly what’s in it — and it’s a discouragement because I don’t often have time). So I really don’t see how I can improve on that end much more. My basic approach hasn’t been about low calories, but rather taking a “high nutrient” approach because of the vitamin deficiencies that also came with my illness — now that they’re resolved, I do everything I can to keep it that way, and I feel amazing as a result.

    So if this plan doesn’t work to help me get rid of the rest of the weight, honestly, I’m not sure what I’ll try next. Check back in January to see what the next challenge is I guess!

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    #34214

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    12/1 Update

    And here’s the first day’s update, which I’ll adjust as the day goes on:

    Business Challenge

    I got the site installed and protected so I can work on the dev without the site being public (not using an offline dev environment for brand new site).

    I got the theme and plugins installed.

    The theme is partially customized (I imported some customizations I did for another site, as they’ll be a similar color scheme and setup).

    I worked out the site’s full to-do list and put that in Todoist so I don’t forget the little things during the pre-launch process.

    Personal Challenge

    Done:

    Yoga
    Back / chest sets
    50 pushups (don’t count as part of the arm sets)
    squats
    arm sets
    cardio

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    #34221

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    12/2 Update

    OK. Easy day today.

    I’m off until Monday technically, so I don’t have to work on the business challenge until then (still might to keep me busy, but nothing in particular planned).

    As for the personal challenge, also an easy day. No cardio, but today’s my long yoga day. I usually do that session in the evening. The total today is:

    My push-up and squat sets
    Leg sets
    Ab sets
    Yoga

    Easy peasy. I’ll probably do the sets before lunch, then yoga most likely right before reading and sleep.

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    #34227

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    12/3 Update

    Much of the same from yesterday.

    I’m still off work until Monday, so no progress on the business challenge today.

    As for the personal one, I had an extra day scheduled to be off from the cardio sessions which surprised me. I thought I’d scheduled 5 days per week for those, but apparently I started with 4. Going to stick with the plan through the first 7 days of the month. Then I’ll add a 5th day to the mix when I re-evaluate the weekly challenges and increase reps in all the other sets.

    So anyway, today was a pretty light one:

    yoga
    leg sets
    arm sets
    back / chest sets
    push-ups (separate challenge from the normal arm sets)

    A nice morning yoga session to kick off the day, then I knocked out the rest while I watched soccer. Another easy one. I’ll most likely switch from kickboxing, which is the cardio I’ve been focusing on first, to the bike tomorrow so I can knock out all workouts while I watch soccer again. Yay for multi-tasking.

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    #34229

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    12/4 Update

    A good morning so far. I knocked out all workouts other than yoga this morning while watching a soccer match (woke up just a few minutes before match time, so yoga will be this afternoon, or possibly before bed instead).

    Cardio
    Yoga
    Push-up sets
    Squats sets
    Arm sets
    Ab sets

    Technically I’m off today for the weekend, so I shouldn’t do anything on the business challenge, but I expect I’ll knock a couple of quick things off the to-do list (getting basic page structures set up, setting up a blog category structure, and quick things like that).

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    #34232

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    12/5 Update

    Got a bit of a late start today, so things are slow going. But still plenty of time…

    The plan for the business challenge today is to take care of the blog category structure, site navigation structure (setting up pages; not writing copy yet), making an affiliate program list for the new site, setting up a MailChimp account for email subscriptions for the new blog, and setting the new site up with Google Analytics and in the Google Search Console. I don’t expect that to take more than an hour; two tops.

    As for the personal challenge today, here’s where things stand:

    Push-up sets
    Squat sets
    Chest & back sets
    Leg sets
    Cardio
    YogaTechnically I’m doing this after midnight b/c I stayed up working late. But I’m working in a yoga session before I hit the hay (was planning it as a pre-sleep session anyway), so I’m counting it. There will still be another yoga session when I wake up for tomorrow (which I suppose is now technically today).

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    #34258

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    12/6 Update

    I’m off to a very late start today, but that’s fine. I’ll still push through things. Thankfully Tuesdays are my lightest days for the personal challenge, so that’ll make it easier.

    For the business challenge, I plan to choose and outline my first 5 blog post ideas, set up the contact page, and set up at least one other page (probably either the About page or Subscribe page).

    For the personal challenge, here’s today’s list:

    yoga
    Arm sets
    Ab sets
    Squat sets

    Tomorrow will be one week into the challenges. I have to admit, even though the site development is slow going (it’ll feel that way until I get the copy up over this week), I feel great thanks to the personal challenge. Down a few pounds which is nice of course, but it’s more about that feeling of pushing myself. I used to do more extensive training working towards specific goals, but I haven’t taken that approach in years. I forgot how motivating that could be, just having the extra structure.

    Tomorrow I’ll also make adjustments to the personal challenge plan. I haven’t worked out the specific schedule yet, but here are the expected changes:

    – Add a starting plank challenge
    – Add a starting stair challenge
    – Add a starting dip challenge to work my triceps much harder
    – Increase the reps and days on the squat challenge (mild increase as the weakest challenge is oddly the one I’ve felt the most)
    – Increase the reps on the push-up challenge by 50%
    – Add lower back exercises to my ab set routine (I’ve focused on my upper back with the chest workout, but neglected this)
    – All strength sets will have another set added to them
    – I’ll likely start walking more regularly — for no other reason than I finally found my missing fitness tracker and want to see the pretty little numbers go up in my app. 🙂

    I’m going to keep the cardio as it is for now (was planning to add an extra day, but I’d rather see how the new strength sets go before I add this too). The shorter, but more intense, sessions seem to be doing the trick as I feel great. I’ve mostly been focused on kickboxing. And my rule is pretty simple. If I don’t push myself so hard that I can barely throw a punch by the end of those 20-30 minutes, I failed and owe myself an extra day. The kickboxing is great for dealing with frustration and stress. It’s great for the arms, legs, and core. And it just so happens to be a hell of a lot of fun. So, yeah, sticking with that for now.

    I’m not too worried about adding to the routine from the physical perspective. My body’s always been remarkably accommodating, no matter what I choose to put it through. I’m more worried about it from a timing perspective. So if it gets tough to devote the time I’ll need for this, I may either have to cut something else out of my schedule or look for ways to optimize the routine (like working multiple muscle groups at the same time). We’ll see how it goes. But I do like improving productivity and saving time. So I may look for ways to do this anyway.

    That’s the plan as of now, about a week in this month (technically two on the plan). I’ll work out the details and post the adjusted schedule either tomorrow or early Thursday. In the meantime, better get some work done so I can get on today’s site dev!

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    #34266

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    12/7 Update

    For the business challenge Wednesday, I plan to work on the exact blog post list for the new site (have to adjust some things from the content strategy to fit the new blog category structure). Then I’ll review an old report / e-book I have which I plan to update and adapt as a guide for the new site, and I’ll come up with a plan for what I want to keep, what needs to be expanded or revised, and what needs to be scrapped. I’ll also choose new fonts for the site (it’s using the fonts from another site design I did because I imported most settings to speed up the dev work).

    For the personal challenge, Wednesday will be my last day on the original plan before things get harder. It will involve

    Cardio
    Yoga
    Push-ups set
    Leg sets
    Ab sets
    Chest & back sets

    I’ve come up w/ the new plan which will begin on Thursday. This adds the things I mentioned yesterday, and will also feature increased sets for all toning and strength-building work. Moving forward, the schedule will look like this until I decide it needs to be intensified again:

    Mondays – Yoga, Cardio, Stairs, Push-ups, Dips, Plank challenge, Squats, Leg sets, Chest / Upper Back sets
    Tuesdays – Yoga, Plank Challenge, Squats, Arm sets, Ab & Lower Back sets
    Wednesdays – Yoga, Cardio, Stairs, Push-ups, Dips, Plank Challenge, Leg sets, Ab & Lower Back sets, Chest & Upper Back sets
    Thursdays – Yoga, Cardio, Stairs, Push-ups, Plank Challenge, Squats, Arm sets, Chest & Upper Back sets
    Fridays – Yoga, Push-ups, Dips, Plank Challenge, Squats, Leg sets, Ab & Lower Back sets
    Saturdays – Yoga, Stairs, Push-ups, Squats, Leg sets, Arm sets, Chest & Upper Back sets
    Sundays – Yoga, Cardio, Stairs, Push-ups, Dips, Plank Challenge, Squats, Arm sets, Ab & Lower Back sets

    Push-ups will be in sets of 75 rather than 50 now. Squats will be in sets of 25 rather than 20, and one day was added. Stairs will be 20 flights per day to start. Dips will be 20 reps per day to start. Here is the plank challenge I’ll try. It’s a fairly beginner one. I’m half-expecting this to be tough for me because I don’t spend a lot of time on my abs (not until very recently at least). But I’ve done much better than expected with my normal ab routine, so it’s possible all the yoga experience has prepped me well for this. Guess I’ll find out. If I get through this one, I’ll try a tougher one after these 30 days.

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    #34286

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    12/8 Update

    One full week down, and feeling pretty good. So today I start the increased workout regimen. But first…

    For the business challenge today I simply plan to start writing the initial copy for the new website. I believe all the pages are set up now other than the subscribe page, so I’ll do that too. Ideally I’d like to get all the base copy done, at least in rough form. But I’ll be happy with 2-3 pages.

    For the personal challenge, here’s today’s plan:

    Yoga
    Cardio (kickboxing)
    Stairs (20 flights)
    Push-ups (75)
    Plank Challenge (Day 1)
    Squats (25)
    Arm sets (4 sets of 10 reps for each exercise)
    Chest & Upper Back sets (4 sets of 10 reps for each exercise)

    The stairs are the only thing that concerns me, and I may wish I’d eased into the stair-running a bit slower. If I can’t do 20 sets up & down all in one run, I may split it up and aim for that by the week’s end. Then again I’ve surprised myself so far. So I might be fine.

    Update: The stairs were indeed the roughest thing I’ve done so far. (Because of high first floor ceilings & limited space for the stairs in my house, my staircase is steeper and longer than a typical one in a home. I’d forgotten about that. But it might explain why my quads were feeling it so much.) Yet again, everything else is OK, but my quads are the one thing feeling any kind of pain. All I can assume for now is that they’re not being taken care of as well as they should be in my daily yoga routine. Might be time to mix that up more. Everything being worked there is handling anything I throw at it exceptionally well, and no pain no matter how intense things get.

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    #34302

    Jennifer Mattern
    Keymaster

    12/9 Update

    Getting a bit of an early start on my Friday (not sleeping tonight because I stupidly screwed up my sleep schedule this week again, and I’ll be out most of the day later, so I want to knock some things out before I go).

    Technically no need to work on the business challenge today because I’m on my weekend until Monday now. But I’ll probably work on it anyway. Yesterday I took care of copy for the Contact page (weak, I know) and the homepage (which I totally reformatted). I also go a key ad chosen and set up for the homepage. The only material left for that would be for blog posts to automatically get pulled in when they’re published, and an e-book promo which will be put in place of the second ad currently taking that position).

    If I have time when I get home this afternoon, I may continue with the copywriting. I should also note I changed my mind about adding a Subscribe page. I’ll incorporate opt-ins in plenty of places. I added a Resources page and a Hire Me page as a key revenue stream will be related services. Having a Subscribe page in the menu screwed up the balance of the navigation, and there’s no point linking to it elsewhere, because I’m better off just inserting the opt-in forms themselves.

    As for the personal challenge, here’s today’s plan:

    Yoga
    Push-ups (75)
    Dips (20)
    Plank Challenge (Day 2)
    Squats (25)
    Leg sets
    Ab & Lower Back sets

    Update: My goodness, today was rough. It wasn’t a tough day challenge-wise, but it was time-wise. I’d only taken a two-hour nap the previous night, so I was exhausted. Then I was out half the day. Came home, and after about an hour I fell asleep for a couple of hours. Woke up briefly, then napped a few more. Got the rest squeezed in yet, but I’m so glad I got an early start on today. Of course now I’ll probably be up all night because I slept too much. So we’ll see how that plays out for this weekend. This week I kept skipping meals (meaning losing veggies & energy nd vitamins) because of my wonky sleep schedule. So goal #1 is to get that back on track for Monday.

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

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