Keeping within the lines

Have you heard about the current craze for adult colouring books?

They’re not, as more than one person has suggested to me, colouring books with ‘adult themes’. I think that’s an even more niche market that’s yet to be tapped. Maybe I should trademark the name Fifty Shades of Colouring?!?

The idea is to get stressed-out adults doing colouring in, and in so, improve their mindfulness (i.e. stop them stressing out about everything) at least for a short while.

And lest you think the idea sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person, this is a real thing.  Check our the online book charts. Adult colouring books have been occupying several of the top-10 best seller spots for months.

So what’s it like?

Well I decided to order a couple of books which arrived earlier this week. I then realised, because I’m not 10 years old any more, that I don’t have a ready stash of colour pens and pencils. So I had to go out and buy a set of pencils as well.

I was slightly nervous about having to explain myself to my good lady wife. Would she think I was bonkers, or having some kinds of break-down, if I suddenly announced that I was going to do some colouring in?  Well as it happens, she had already heard about the craze for adult colouring in, and was just as keen to give it a go.

It was a good job that I had ordered two books, as for the next 30-40 minutes (while dinner was cooking) we both sat at the kitchen table colouring in. And you know what, it was quite calming and therapeutic.

I found that I was quite a stickler for making sure I didn’t draw outside the lines – and to ensure that, I had to concentrate harder, and take thinks a bit more slowly – and as such, it just increased the mindfulness on this task.

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Why you should probably quit your job, right now!

Most people delay the decision to quit their job for far too long. They put up with a stressful or unhappy position, and sometimes put their physical and mental health at risk, in the hope that things will improve.

Most of the time, that never happens.

The colleagues that piss you off, the boss that bullies you, or the customers that treat you like shit. You can put up with them all for so long, thinking that if you “just hang in there” things will get better. However, most of the time people don’t change. If a co-worker is a jerk today, then he will most likely stay a jerk for ever. And no amount of wishful thinking on your part will make them behave better.

Many organisations tolerate bad behaviour in their staff, as long as the staff member remains fairly productive. A weak management team will often try to ignore a problem, rather than tackle it head on. It’s much easier to ignore incidents of bad behaviour, and hope they will sort themselves out.

But people don’t change. A person that is not tackled about their bad behaviour will take it as a mandate to carry on. And before you know it, it’s the accepted culture within a team.

I worked for one place where a team leader was a bully. He used to belittle and humiliate team members in front of the rest of the team. Many of them complained to the owner of the business, but because the bully was one of the best performing employees, the owner refused to do anything about it. And over time people learned not to bother complaining, as nothing would be done. Morale hit rock bottom, absenteeism was at an all-time high, and productivity dipped – all of which fuelled more bulling.

It was only when about half the team members quit and left the company that anyone took notice. And by then the damage was done.

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Sometimes the only option available to staff is to vote with their feet, and quit a company.

It might seem like a drastic measure to quit, particularly if you’re not sure of getting rehired elsewhere. And sometimes the decision comes down to the balance of job security against being happy.

Indeed, the chances are there are a good portion of people reading this article, right now, that are miserable at work. And my advice to you, is to quit your job – today!

The feeling of finally being free from the toxic environment will be amazing.

Sure, the prospect of being unemployed can be scary, but maybe not as scary as you think. Indeed, I quit a job about 8 years ago, and moved to a new country with no work, no home and no friends – and within weeks I had found a great job, a lovely new home, and some great friends. I took a leap of faith to leave behind a situation where I wasn’t happy, and I found the experience liberating – even life-changing.

Five stone target

I don’t really talk about my size/weight all that much, as I try not to think that it defines me as a person. However, euphemistically speaking, you would call me a ‘larger’ gentleman.

The "before" shot!
The “before” shot!

I’ve been overweight all my adult life, and obese for most of it. I’m not brave enough to publish online what I currently weight, but I do want to make a public commitment to do something about it!

In just over six months’ time, I’m due to get married to a rather special person. And quite apart from wanting to look good in our wedding photos, I’d also quite like to stick around and spend a long life with her. With that in mind, I started what I’m calling my “wedding diet” at the beginning of January, with the target to lose at least 5 stone before the big day.

I know what I have to do to achieve this goal. I need to cut out all the snacks and sweets that I eat between meals, and stick to just three healthy meals a day. I’m using the MyFitnessPal website and iPhone app to help track what I eat. It works by recording everything you consume throughout the day, and it keeps a tally of all the calories and nutrients you’re getting – so you can see how you’re doing against your goal. It’s a bit of a commitment to keep it up to date, but I much prefer this method over other means of dieting.

Weight loss, to me, is a numbers game. It’s about the number of calories going into the body being smaller than the number of calories expended by the body. They say that to lose 2 pounds per week, you need a calorie deficit of 1,000 per day. I’m hoping to do better than 2 pounds a week, so I need to really watch what goes in, and also increase my activity level to raise what gets used up, so that I will hopefully get the results I’m looking for.

My daily commute to work by bike helps somewhat in raising my activity level. I do 12km a day, which equates to about 50 minutes of activity. I’m also hoping to raise that activity level over time, primarily with cycling and walking. I’m told it would be quite harmful to my joints to try running at my current weight, but I’m keeping it in mind for when I’m further down the road.

Anyway, I mentioned that I started my diet at the beginning of January, and I’m pleased to report that as of this morning I’m already 13 pounds down on my starting weight. That’s almost a stone gone already! I just need to keep going and keep my eye on the goal, and hopefully the other four stones will follow.

Self Inflicted Injury

I’ve been hobbling around for the last few days, with pain in both knees and my lower back.  I occasionally get the odd twinge in these areas, but nothing like the pain I’ve got now! It’s so bad that I’m almost rattling from the number of pain killers I’m taking. But I’m not asking for sympathy, as I freely acknowledge they’re self inflicted injuries.

It all stems from attending a friend’s wedding at the weekend.  The couple in question met through swing dancing, and still regularly dance together.  Indeed, their ‘first dance’ was quite something to behold; a far cry from the usual shuffle around the dance floor. They had prepared an amazing routine, with spins, and lifts!

Anyway, as they had gone to the bother of hiring a swing band for the evening, the couple were keen for everyone to try a bit of swinging!  They enlisted a friend to teach a few basic steps to the novice wedding guests, and then let us loose on the dance floor.  And with a good quantity of wine already consumed over dinner, out inhibitions were lowered.

My dance partner for the evening was my girlfriend, and together we launched into the dance with a little too much gusto!  Insomuch that I obviously over-did things, and pulled one or more muscles in my lower back.  And the girlfriend didn’t escape injury either – not after I fell on her while attempting a dodgy dance move at the end of the night!

The moral of the story is, of course, to avoid dancing.  And to avoid alcohol.  And perhaps even avoid weddings!