One Year Of Discipline: January Review

30 Days of Discipline

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I have gotten a little behind on the journal entries, and I have not always detailed them well. But rather than playing “catch up”, I’ll skip the few missing entries and provide a complete overview over January – what went well, what I want to change and how I will change.

This weekend is first of all, a review and look back at one month of discipline. 11 more to go. Woo hoo!

First of all, I started this year with Victor Pride’s 30 Days of Discipline. My plan is to not only follow the habits in that program for 30 days – as I already did last year -, but for all of 2015.

30 Days of Discipline” basically contains 10 habits, so that you can then focus completely on your goals (which would be habit #11 in that book).

Let’s go over my goals and how I fared with them in January 2014.

First of all, there is no theoretical limit on how many goals you can establish, but there is a practical limit, of course. I like to center my goals around four areas:

1. Career: (a) my job as a research scientist; (b) this blog

2. Health: (a) workout; (b) nutrition; (c) juicing; (d) sleep.

3. Social Life: (a) friends and family; (b) dating.

4. Habits: Goal setting, daily routines etc. – the core of “30 Days of Discipline“.

#4 is basically influencing #1 – #3.

So how did January 2015 go?

#1 – Career

(a) Lab work

In the second half of january, my boss came back from a conference where he learnt that we have competition on our main project.

What is our project about?

I am interested in the question how blood vessels grow inside the brain. Understanding how blood vessels develop is vital when you want to understand how they function. With that knowledge, you can then develop treatments against malfunctions of blood vessels in disease conditions such as stroke, aneurysms and brain tumors. As a research model, we use the zebrafish. These animals are easy to cultivate and transparent, so you can easily study their development with a microscope. Most importantly, they have a complete circulatory system after only three days.

Back to the conference our group leader attended – several other groups are working on the same specific topic that we are engaged in. So now we have to focus and get results out quickly.

Thankfully, I am more motivated than stressed, which makes these weeks an extra joy to do research.

(b) This blog

I will change the format slightly. Sometime during the first week, I have started to always include a write-up with a topic of more general interest. For example, I have written about how to set goals, how I start my week on a sunday rather than monday, how to overcome writer’s block – the trouble is, I can not sustain it as long as I have additional work in the lab.

What happened was that soon, I was not satisfied with what I wrote. The posts became longer and deeper. Often I finished writing the article post midnight, which was NOT healthy for my sleeping pattern. In addition, I did not give myself adequate time to carefully edit the article.

At the same time, I neglected the core of the posts: my journal and personal development. What happened can be summarized like that: In my attempt to combine journal entry and blog article, I ended up with only having half of each

Therefore, I will introduce the following changes.

(a) I will keep my daily journal posts, but I will write a shorter blurb and focus more on my impressions and thoughts about the daily disciplines and what I want to improve. Thus, the journal will reflect more of my personal journey.
(b) I will still include pictures, but I will choose some from my own stash of photos, instead of scouring the internet for hours on end.
(c) I will keep the daily YouTube videos.
(d) I will only post 2 or 3 articles of a more general interest per week. That gives me time to do research, arrange graphics and thoroughly edit the article before publishing. I can already write the drafts on the weekend and then edit them during the week.
(e) The topics I wrote about were all over the place. I want to make that more homogenous. So I will focus on one – two topics each month to write about. An initial idea would be (#1) happiness and what it means for me; (#2) book reviews and biographies. (#3) articles about science. Politics, interesting research, careers.
Those plans will allow me to grow my blog, while at the same time continue working my job as a biologist.

#2 – Health

These are my pictures from the beginning and the end of January (not much of a change, but still) – frontal view:

One Year Of Discipline

One Year Of Discipline


Lateral view:

One Year Of Discipline

One Year Of Discipline

(a) Workout

At the beginning of january, I was visiting the gym in addition to the daily calisthenics that are part of “30 Days of Discipline”. That was great, but it took too much time – 3 h. So I dropped the Gym for now.

The daily calisthenics in the morning, however, work fine. I can now do 12o complete push-ups (nose touching the ground). Of course, I still do numerous breaks in between.

My goal for february is to be able to do 40 – 30 – 20 – 10 – 5 (4x) repetitions for push-ups. Right now, I can do 25 push-ups, then 5 – 10 reps, with several breaks, until I reach 120.

Sit-ups and squats work out fine, I can crank out 120 each in good form. If at all, I want to be able to go down 50% more when I squat and would like to be able to do sit-ups with my legs tugged about 50% closer together. That sounds nerdy. What I have observed is that sit-ups get easier the more I stretch out my legs. I think that’s the power of leverage. So instead, I will tug my legs closer to my body and try 120 sit-ups then.

(b) Nutrition

I went from an average of 23.7% during the first week to 22.2% during the fourth week. That’s “ok”, but I can do better. How? By leaving myself more time to eat more regularly and by not splurging too much on sweets on my cheat day. Lately, I often did not leave myself enough time to have more than a coffee for breakfast. My whole eating routine was pretty messed up. Sometimes I would get a salad in the afternoon, sometimes I would only eat mozzarella with tomatoes in the evening. My guess is that if I don’t eat enough, I lose not only fat, but also a lot of muscle tissue. I will eat more proteins and have more regular meals.

(c) Juicing

After Mike Cernovich brought out the “FitJuice trilogy” – check also Juicing for Power. I made the decision to try out one recipe from that book per day.

That was a fantastic decision so far. My skin has definitely become smoother and looks less pale, probably thanks to all the carrots in those juices. The daily juice really is a tradition I don’t want to miss anymore.

(d) Sleep

I had a woeful lack of sleep. That might have also contributed to the inefficient body fat loss (see 2b above) and quite frankly, it ha shade me less efficient on many levels. I do need 6 hours of sleep. Since I want to be up between 5 and 7 am, I need to sleep between 11 pm and 1 am. The earlier, the better. I will make sure that I have 6 hours. That means: if I go to bed at midnight, I will not get up before 6 am.

It thought I could ditch sleep and get more done over the day, and on first glance, it seems to work. I have trained myself to doze away on seminars at work and STILL ask relevant questions. so I can function. But for whom do I “function”, if not for myself? I need my sleep, and my body relentlessly catches up on sleep. If I prop myself awake with coffee, my mind will just work more slowly. Saving sleep is not worth it. The need for sleep is a biological “hard” boundary. I can’t change it, so I better accept it.

#3 – Social Life

(a) Friends and family

I have done a much better job staying in contact with my family, compared to the months before. I can easily forget calling them – they live in Germany, and I am in the US. But on the long run, having my family around is great. It definitely helps me emotionally to stay in contact with them.

(b) Colleagues

The relationship with my boss was not always the best lately, but by eliminating internet surfing in lieu of socializing and then focusing the rest of my time on work, I am becoming more productive, and things are starting to look better.

(c) Dating

I am focusing so much on work these days that I am not taking any time to pursue dating right now. Once the time is right, I will continue.

#4 – Habits

Here is the list from 30 Days of Discipline – and how I fared:

1. Eat three meals or less: I mostly ate one – two meals per day – but that was mostly due to me having only coffee for breakfast.

I want to prepare meals for the next two to three weeks and then take them with me to work. Just as I did last year, that has somehow fallen by the way side.

2. Get up between 5 and 7 am: I ended up not having enough sleep and getting up at 7 am. I want to scale back the time when I go to bed to 10:30 pm, so I can wake up at 5 am, after 6 – 6.5 hours of sleep.

3. Cold showers: I always took them. Even when I was not at home. Even when it was cold outside. It was not always easy, but I am happy that I clung to that tradition.

4. No Porn and Masturbation: Hard at times (no pun intended), but stuck to it and am happy for it.

5. 100 push-ups/squats/sit-ups minimum: 120 each, every day.

6. Dress to impress, dress for success: I am simply not going out of the house not dressed my best. Even when I am going to the laundromat, I am trying to have my best clothes on.

7. Make a to-do list: Every evening, I am preparing the list for the next day. It helps to have a preformed structure, so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Many of my routines are repeating each and every day, for example: the 30 Day of Discipline Habits.

8. Stand tall and proud: I have gotten so used to that, that I now put my shoulders back automatically when I walk somewhere. i am still a bit slumped over when I read in the subway, but I find it difficult to sit straight up when you are squeezed in like cattle with 10.000 other passengers.

9. No excuses/explanations/BS: Haven’t used excuses in a long while.

10. Keep those ideas written down: Every day, I note down thoughts or speak them onto my digital recorder.

11. My purpose: I am working in my blog and in the lab on a daily base. I almost don’t have time for anything else.

To check the description of the “One Year of Discipline” challenge, click here.

To see yesterday’s post, click here.

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