2012 goals, so far

Every few months seems like a good time to check in on goals, so this is that! I like Facebook notes because they keep me accountable and I like feedback. So here goes, a list of goals and how they’re coming:


1) Weight maintenance. This has been successful so far. I’m now at 98.6 pounds lost (a number that recently got bigger not because I suddenly lost a lot more, but I realized I had lost some weight even before starting Lose It). I’m continuing to write all of my food into my Lose It app and while sometimes it takes me a little longer to getting around to doing it (such as an hour after I eat), I’m still very consistent. I’m usually over calories (sometimes by a lot), but somehow I don’t seem to be gaining weight, which suggests that my metabolism has gotten higher or maybe I’m overestimating calories. Either way, I seem to be okay on that. I’m very close to having lost 100 pounds, and I can’t help but want to get to that number. Seems silly to get to 98.6 and stop there (especially because I’m such a fan of Monk) ;D So I do believe that I’m going to try to reach 100, but probably without actually switching my Lose It plan to losing weight. I’m going to probably stay on the maintenance plan, but just try to eat slightly less and move slightly more. I’m in no hurry. 🙂

2) Reading Russian. I’m reading 2 pages of my translated copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban every night, and I’m pretty good about staying on top of that. I’ve found that if I skip a day and have to make up the pages the next day, it’s too overwhelming because 2 pages is the perfect amount of “foreign” reading to do in one sitting (it takes me about 10-15 minutes). My goals with this are to get faster at reading of course, and also to be able to glance at a word and instantly see what it says. I’ve noticed that I do that with English; I just look at the whole word and recognize it, but for most Russian words I have to actually read the letters individually. So that’s one marker (albeit one that’s difficult to quantify) that I’m looking for to tell me I’ll have made progress. I’m on page 220 now, at 2 pages/day I can finish it by the end of the year. I’m not sure if that’s enough reading to make major progress by the end of the year, but it should certainly make a dent.

3) Knees. For those of you who don’t know, I have problems with my knees (likely the result of years of carrying around too much weight) that make it so that sometimes for a period of several days or several weeks, I wear a knee brace (you usually can’t see it though because it’s thin and under my jeans) and have to completely avoid stairs. My mom gave me a list of physical therapy exercises for my knees, and I’ve been trying to do them every night, but the problem is I hate them. I’m not sure if I should push myself with these exercises or find some better ones, but I do know that it’s important to do these exercises that are supposed to help my knees. I’ll need to come back to this one.

4) Cleaning my room. This one became one of my goals just about a week ago. My room was a MESS like you wouldn’t believe (but I took some “before” pictures for proof). I was pretty okay with it because I’ve never cared too much about neatness, but I’m going to be moving back to San Diego in a year and two months, and I don’t want to have the huge stressor of having to figure out what to do with all of my stuff right when I’m about to graduate. I know a year and two months seems like a long time but there is SO MUCH STUFF. Well anyway, last week I decided to apply the same principle as I did to weight loss of just making small changes, so I started cleaning 20 minutes per day and it got better very quickly. Then I got pretty into it and spent a few hours on it, and it is so much better already! Lots of floor space, and several bags of things to throw out and donate. I’m going to try to keep going, with the idea in mind of getting rid of all of the stuff I don’t need. I have to fight the tendencies I have to hoard stuff, but I think this is one I’m making good progress on.

5) Not procrastinating/having more of a balance in my life. These two go hand in hand, and I think I’ve gotten much better about this. The reason I consider them closely tied is that in the past when I’ve procrastinated, I’ve suddenly found myself with periods of intense work and that means not enough time to focus on healthy eating, exercise, sleep, and interpersonal relationships. I used to be able to stay up as late as necessary to work at the last minute, but now I’m pretty much useless after 9pm, so I know that it would be impossible for me to write a good essay or get any good studying the night before a big due date. So I’ve gotten pretty good at getting things done well before their due dates. This way, every day I’m able to get enough sleep, do a little exercise, make healthy food, skype with Matt, and work on non-academic goals (the ones listed in this note). I think sometimes I seem a little intense with how focused I am on to do lists and getting things done ahead of time, but really it’s largely because I want to have a good non-academic life as well and I’ve found that that’s the best way.

6) Keeping track of money. I’ve tried before to keep track of money and it never worked before because I hated going into those Excel spreadsheets every day, but I found an iPod Touch app that actually works really well for me (sounds just like my whole keeping track of calories thing which never worked till I got an app for that!). It’s called Home Budget and cost $5 (they also have a free version called Home Budget Lite if anyone’s interested) but I can tell I’ve already saved a bunch of money because knowing I have to write all of my receipts in at the end of the day makes me spend way less money. I think at first it was kind of a novelty having a cool new app to play with, so it was kind of fun writing my receipts in, and now it’s just become a habit, so that’s awesome. I feel very good about this goal.

7) Flossing. I’ve managed to floss every night this semester (something I rarely did before), although I neglected this over Spring Break. A couple times I flossed and then had a midnight snack and figured it still counted, so with that and the slacking over break, there’s still room for improvement, but overall not too bad.

8) Reading class notes. A few years ago, my dad said one of the best pieces of advice he could give me for school is to read class notes regularly, but I never wanted to. Last year, I decided to seriously try, so I started trying to read class notes every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday (days chosen just based on convenience for me). And it’s actually worked pretty well. Sometimes I read them just to get through them, and I’m too tired to take much in, so I could be better about that. I guess that’s a future goal: to actually spend the time to think about my notes and work with them, but for now I’m just trying to continue to read through them regularly, and three times a week is working for me.

9) Working towards getting into UCSD for grad school. Well this is a big one. It’s hard to tell whether I’m successful in this goal, since I won’t actually know until this time next year (I’m graduating HSU Spring 2013 so I would be applying to start Fall 2013). But I’m trying to do all of the things that are necessary to make this more likely. I’m studying for the GRE every Saturday morning, and plan to take it twice. I applied for an internship at UCSD for this summer, which would be excellent for my CV (academic resume) and possibly help with making connections that would make it more likely I’ll get in, and I’ll know probably within a month or so if I got in. I’m working hard in my classes and have a good GPA. And I’m also working on many different research projects. So, I think I’m doing the important things. But it depends not only on my effort but also the number of qualified applicants, so we’ll see how it all works out.

What’s been working for me

I’ve had a combination of tactics for these various goals and I’ve had to throw some out and modify some, but this is what I’ve been doing (I’m including this in case it can help anyone else).

1) iPod Touch applications: I use Lose It (free) for keeping track of food and exercise, Home Budget ($5, and theres’ a free version) for keeping track of money spent, and Wunderlist (free) for to do lists. These all have corresponding websites for anyone who doesn’t have an iPod touch/iPhone.

2) Checklists and charts. I have a daily checklist hanging over my bed where I have to check off whether I read my Russian Harry Potter, flossed, entered my receipts, and did my knee exercises. For anything I missed, I highlight the box in blue so it stands out. I have a chart where I keep track of the hours I sleep, so I have a visual representation and can see if I start to get bad about going to sleep on time. I also have three-times-a-week checklist for reading my class notes, since I do that on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Finally, I have weekly checklists, where I have a list of all of my classes and my extracurriculars (research projects, studying for GRE, etc), and every Saturday night I check off whether I dedicated some time that week to each of those things, and highlight in blue anything I missed. This one is cool because I know there are definitely weeks when I worked on a project or read for a class just because I didn’t want to have to miss that checkmark.

3) My phone. For habits that I want to form or that I’m in the process of solidifying (e.g. entering receipts, doing the weekly checklist, etc), I have notifications in my phone calendar that remind me. For example, every evening, my phone reminds me to enter my receipts, and then I do it and move that calendar event to the next day.

Overall, I feel like I’ve made really good progress. There are some things I still need to improve on (mentioned throughout), but I’m not going to stress about them too much. I think the minor tweaks will come with time. However, I’ve been slacking pretty badly on the knee exercises and that’s very important, so if anyone has ideas about how to make them more fun (I already listen to podcasts while I do them) or ways to motivate myself to do them or if you know better knee exercises (physical therapist or doctor approved), I’d love to hear any of that. Also, feel free to mention goals you’ve been working on or goals you’d like to start focusing on and your plan for how to do it! I love to know what my friends are working on. 🙂


regarding reaching my goal, and plans for the future


Today is January 6th, which means it’s been exactly one year since the day that I decided to start losing weight. Not the first time I’ve decided to try to lose weight, but the first time I’ve successfully followed through. On November 16th, 10 months and 10 days later, I reached my weight loss goal of losing 75 pounds. That was right around the end of the semester, so I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write a note since reaching my goal, but I figured now is a good time.

I think I’ve been handling maintenance pretty well. Because I’m on winter break right now, I’ve only had sporadic opportunities to weigh myself but each time I do, it seems that my weight is staying the same. I do seem to have a harder time staying within my caloric budget than I did throughout the weight loss segment of the year, which is ironic because I’m allocated more calories now than I was before (so as to not continue losing weight), but it also makes sense because it’s harder to stay motivated because there isn’t that glory of weight loss to keep you going. Sometimes I stress that I’ve been going over my calorie budget too often, but then I remind myself that all year as I was losing weight, there were plenty of times when I would go over calories and it didn’t negatively impact me. Either way, now that I know  it’s possible to lose weight without discomfort or hunger, I’m not scared by the idea of regaining weight because I know that I can lose it again. Either way, as soon as I’m back at school in a couple weeks and will have my scale again, it shouldn’t be a problem because I’ll have instant feedback so as soon as I see myself gaining weight, I’ll be able to respond and make sure I’m making good decisions.

Often, I stop and reflect on this whole thing and sometimes I can’t believe it. On the one hand, I can’t believe I used to weigh as much as I did. I feel so different now, and as a person who has spent a year constantly making sure to be aware of the healthiness of whatever I’m eating, it’s hard to imagine myself not caring. It’s hard to look at old pictures of myself, because that just doesn’t feel like it’s me, but maybe it’s not too bad to have a reminder of why it’s so important that I maintain this lifestyle.

More than that, the thing I have even more trouble believing is how much my life has changed this year. I always believed I was a capable person, but the one thing I knew I would never get control of was my weight. A healthy weight was unattainable. And now, I’ve had that assumption challenged, and it’s incredible. There’s so much that goes along with losing weight. First, I know that my risk for pretty much all of the diseases is now substantially lower, especially ones that are related specifically to lifestyle (e.g. heart disease). Second, I have so much more energy because it’s so much easier to move around. Third, I feel like I have a great deal more excitement for life in general and I’m much more confident about my ability to achieve my goals in life, because now that I’ve done this, all of it seems so much more attainable. Fourth, losing weight has given me a great deal of confidence, which I used this summer to venture into the world of dating and led me to an incredibly fulfilling relationship with the sweetest man I’ve ever met. Finally, I feel like this has helped me build a community for myself, as so many people have shown so much support, and others have joined me in a healthy lifestyle, including some who have started using the same program I’m using (Lose It).

It’s a new year now, and it’s making me think about what I want to accomplish next. I’ve never been much into new year’s resolutions, but because my weight loss was accomplished in just under a year (Jan 6-Nov 16, 2011), it’s made me think that perhaps a year is a nice chunk of time in which to make important changes and achieve goals. And as cliché as it is, perhaps a new year is the perfect time to consider how you want to change your life.

So, here’s what I’ve decided to focus on this year:

One) Maintain my weight, and perhaps lose a small amount more. I’ve continued logging all of my food and exercise into Lose It, and plan to keep at it, perhaps for the rest of my life. It’s become such an integral part of my daily life that I can’t imagine not doing it, and it’s comforting knowing that if I continue keeping track of all of my calories for the rest of my life, I’ll always know whether I’m staying on track. I’m probably also going to lose about five more pounds, to make the bridesmaid dress I bought for my cousin’s wedding this summer fit a bit more comfortably.

Two) I want to finish my copy of Harry Potter translated into Russian. I’ve been moving through it slowly for about a year now, but I want to make it a regular part of my schedule so that I finish it. It’s helping me learn to read faster and teaching me new words, and I feel like finishing it will be very helpful in helping me advance in my fluency in Russian. As soon as I get back to my house up in Arcata, I can look at the book and see how many pages are left so I can decide how much I need to read every week.

Three) Maintain a constant balance between academics and personal fulfillment. This is less quantifiable, but the main thing I’m going for here is that I don’t want to have periods of too much stress, because then for that time I can’t focus on myself (both in terms of health and personal relationships). So, I’m aiming to not procrastinate so that every day I’m studying and doing homework, so that it doesn’t build up right before tests. I’ve gotten pretty good at this over the last several years, but I feel like I can do even better. This winter break, I’ve been reading ahead for the second semester of my organic chemistry class, so that I can take care of some of the inevitable stress now, and I think it’s a good start.

Four) Keep track of my expenses. I’ve found a cool app called Lemon where you take pictures of all of your receipts and it reads them and keeps track of them, so I’ve been using that and I plan to continue.

Five) Floss nightly. I’m very prone to cavities and I’ve never been good about flossing, so I’m working on a nightly habit of it. I’ve made a checklist so that I can keep track of when I do it, and so far I have every night.

These are the main goals I’ve thought of, and I might think of some others later, but it makes sense to have a few main ones to focus on. Feel free to comment with any thoughts or to tell me what goals you plan to take care of this year. I’d love to hear it.

As always, a before and after picture. And a bonus one!


time to better myself

Making a list is always a good way for me to figure out what I need to get done, or what I want to work on, so here I go.  Here are things I plan to dedicate effort to changing.

1. Study to remember course material, not just to do well on tests. Too often I cram right before a test, and then don’t remember most of what I learned later.  Unacceptable, especially in classes that pertain to what I want to do with my life.

2. Eat healthier. Plan meals ahead of time, and prepare all meals in advance to bring to school.  This is especially difficult because most days I’m on campus from 8am to 8pm, so that’s several meals I need to bring with me.  But it’ll be worth it in terms of health and saving money.

3. Continue putting effort into improving my Russian. This means making sure I dedicate time each day to continuing to read my translated Harry Potter book, and write letters to my grandparents to get practice writing.

4. Study ASL to fluency. We only have two ASL classes at HSU so after next semester I’ll have to rely pretty much entirely on Saturday night signing at Mosgo’s.  Ever since I started learning it this semester, I’m pretty much obsessed with trying to learn as much as I can.

5. Refrain from badmouthing people. This takes restrain, and is something I need to work on.

6. Exercise. Totally necessary.  I’ve been clipping exercise ideas out of old issues of Self Magazine that I got from my neighbor, and I think some of them are really good.  Also, next semester I’ll have Power Step and a schedule that hopefully allows me to use the gym often.

Six goals is a reasonable amount.  I’m sure I’ll add more as more ideas come.