Friday, May 24, 2019

What I Learned in April

In April, my 30 days of self-improvement involved waking up at 5am and eating no processed junk food for the entire month. By doing this challenge, I was hoping to see positive results in my energy levels, motivation, and productivity. Now that it's mid-May, I'm ready to reflect on what I learned during my April challenge.

I love the process of experimentation and learning about myself.
I'm officially done with the April challenge, but I still haven't figured things out. I'm still tweaking my sleep schedule and I'm still making gradual shifts to my diet to see what works best for me. This is a work in progress, but the journey is incredibly interesting and fun. I love the process of experimentation -- it really fuels me and motivates me to find ways to continually improve. If you've followed my goals videos on petitepearstyle, you'll know that I've tried to make lighthearted improvements over the years like waking up earlier, decluttering, not shopping, etc. On Authenblissity, I'm ready to go deeper. May is going to be a challenge-free month, but I'm committed to working on finding my voice and better expressing myself.

I enjoy consuming sweet stuff.
I used to think I was addicted to junk food. In April, I learned that it's actually very easy to give up processed junk food as long as I don't stock it at home. That being said, I also realized I really really enjoy consuming sweet stuff. It doesn't have to be junk though -- instead, it can be a bit of dried fruit, a bowl of blueberries, a homemade dessert, or a couple ounces of port. I learned that I can make healthier choices to satisfy my sweet tooth. Now I just have to work on portion control, because if I'm being completely honest, I have way more than "a bit" of dried fruit and it's actually more like 5 ounces of port.

I need around 7.5 hours of sleep to feel my best.
Sleep is super important to me and not something I'm willing to sacrifice. One of the things I wanted to figure out during my time off was my ideal number of sleep hours. After a bunch of experimentation and noticing how I felt after getting anywhere from 5 hours to 9 hours of sleep, I think I've figured it out. In order to feel well rested and have enough energy to carry me through the day, I need around 7.5 hours of sleep per night. This realization is key to developing a healthy sleep schedule.

I find it difficult to go to bed between 9pm and 9:30pm consistently.
It was more challenging than I expected to wake up at 5am every day -- not because I don't love mornings, but because it's difficult for me to go to bed early enough that I get my ideal 7.5 hours of sleep. My life pretty much involves staying up late. My husband and close friends stay up late, I like to go to classes or events that happen in the evening, there are television shows I enjoy that air at night, I love watching sports, and I tend to blog and edit YouTube videos at night. Even though I love waking up at 5am, I have to admit to myself that going to bed between 9pm and 9:30pm is not feasible in my current lifestyle.

I identify more as a morning person.
Over the years, I've been able to shift my sleep schedule quite a bit. I used to think of myself as a night owl, but now I identify more as a morning person. When I wake up early, I feel great -- and I generally get more done and make healthier decisions. However, since I'm not willing to commit to going to bed between 9pm and 9:30pm, waking up at 5am is a bit too early for me going forward. I was short on sleep pretty much the entire month of April -- I averaged around 6h40m of sleep versus my ideal 7h30m. Accumulating sleep debt and finding times to nap throughout the day isn't sustainable for me. Even though I felt productive on the days I was up before sunrise, by the end of the month, I found I was pretty tired. For the first half of May, I've been going to bed at around 11pm-12am and I've been wake up at around 7am-8am... on most days. :) I've been able to shift my routine a bit though so I still find time for the majority of the healthy habits I showed in my 5am morning routine video.

I love the flexibility of being able to go to bed when I want and wake up when I want.
While I still enjoy routine, planning, and discipline, I've found that with my newfound freedom, I now have the flexibility to change things up on a daily basis. I love being able to go to bed when I want and wake up when I want. If I want to stay up to edit a video, I can do that without suffering at my 9-5 the next day. If I want to sleep in until 9am, I can do that without having to rush off anywhere. If I want to take a nap in the middle of the day, I can do that too. I view flexibility and freedom as my ultimate reward during my time off, so I'm going to embrace it.

I don't love being on Instagram every day.
In April, I committed to experimenting with a new-to-me form of sharing -- posting daily on Instagram stories. While it was fun and easy (and I especially loved the polling feature), I realized I prefer sharing on YouTube. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I pretty much disappeared on May 1st, right after the April challenge. This was intentional as I needed a break. I found that I tended to get distracted on Instagram, and I'd lose momentum and motivation on the things I wanted to accomplish during the day. I'm still planning to use Instagram going forward, but less often -- perhaps on a weekly basis.

Change is a beautiful thing.
I used to be more dogmatic, and as a result, I was hard on myself and others. Now I'm starting to embrace the inevitable impermanence in my life. The April challenge taught me that change is a beautiful thing. I tried so many things in April -- waking up early when I didn't have anywhere to go, stopping the purchase and consumption of processed junk food, posting on Instagram stories every day, taking a mini trip with hubby (our first since I left work), and taking a memoir writing class. I learned that I am comfortable with the ebbs and flows of my emotions, ideas, opinions, thoughts, and feelings. There are no absolutes. Rules are meant to be broken. Dogma doesn't serve me. It's ok to change my mind, to experiment, to learn, to grow. It's ok to be human.

What did you learn about yourself in April? I would love to hear about what you are working on!

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