I tried eating, exercising, sleeping, and spending 'perfectly' for a week - and realized I've been approaching my goals all wrong
Courtesy of Anna Arsenault
I wanted to be the most productive, functional person I can be, all while maintaining my social life and sanity. The author is pictured.
If you've ever had a long list of things you want to accomplish, you might be familiar with the feeling that you don't have enough time or energy to do them all.
I'm very familiar with that feeling - I have more on the list than I can often keep track of: I want to eat healthier, exercise more, cook more often, get less takeout, take fewer cabs, not eat the ice cream in the freezer (or at least not replace the ice cream in the freezer once I've eaten it), check off my whole to-do list, and be the most productive, functional person I can be, all while maintaining my social life and sanity.
And as you might imagine, I'm never quite able to focus on - much less achieve - every goal on that list.
So I decided to test myself. For one week, I would commit to focusing on, and achieving, all of my goals.
The first step in this plan was to explicitly define "perfect."
After going through my general wants and digging into the specifics, my weekly goal list looked like this:
1. Exercise five times, for at least 30 minutes. The American Heart Association recommends at least30 minutes a day, five times a week, to maintain cardiovascular health and strength, so I'd increase my gym sessions from two or three a week to five.I can tell you immediately: Things did not go according to plan.
2. All meals prepared at home, with the exception of one night - meal-prepping all of my lunches, and cooking all of my dinners, allowing myself takeout or a restaurant on Friday or Saturday. Similar to the "if you stopped buying coffee you'd save so much money" adage, I know if I spent less money on lunches, I could put it toward other things I'd like to spend money on (vacations, concerts, savings).
3. Actually stick to my weekly expendable "fun" budget of $75.
4. Wake up at 6:30 a.m. during the week (a number of successful people wake up early to maximize productivity) AND get a full seven hours of sleep, the minimum necessary for adults, according to the CDC. That meant I should be bed by 11:30 p.m.
5. Avoid sweets. I've always admired the people who do Whole 30 or entirely cut sugar out of their lives - but I really enjoy chocolate. So, I thought I'd settle for making better snack choices.
6. No alcohol Monday-Thursday. If I was committing myself to waking up earlier, and exercising more often, I wanted to get a full night's rest, and drinking leads to poorer sleep quality. Plus, I wanted to avoid draining my budget on a bar tab.
7. Accomplish all of my chores and those annoying to-dos that pop up and you put off thinking I'll do it later.
8. No cabs (unless my budget allowed for it).