So it’s been two-and-a-half weeks since I finished the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, and I haven’t posted anything since. Ironic, considering the point of the challenge was to nip my perfectionism in the bud and encourage me to post on a more regular basis.
So anyway, I had this brainwave idea to set myself another challenge of sorts to keep up the blogging momentum.
I’m calling it The Clear Mind Project.
As a highly driven and self-motivated entrepreneur, I’m fully aware of how important my health is for the best chance of success in my business. And I’m talking mental, physical and spiritual health.
If I’m not sleeping properly, not eating well, not exercising and not taking time out, everything takes a downward spiral. I feel unmotivated and uninspired. I can’t focus. I feel unhappy. I’m not the best I can be for my clients. I’m a crappy girlfriend, daughter, sister, friend.
In general, I’m pretty good at taking care of my health. But recently, I’ve noticed that my mind has become fuzzier than usual:
- Getting out of bed has been difficult
- I feel sleepy in the afternoon and early evening
- I lose focus easily
- Coffee makes me feel very light headed; almost ‘floaty’ and migrainy.
Overall, I’m not feeling like I’m performing at my best. And I’m not 100% sure what it is. I mean, I feel like I sleep a lot. So why am I feeling tired? I feel like I eat quite well. So why is my concentration lacking? And I drink coffee, but it’s only one a day — surely that wouldn’t have much of an impact?
So I’ve decided to set a few hypotheses and experiment. Over the next few weeks, I’ll make various tweaks to my lifestyle, to see which has the biggest impact on my mental clarity.
The results I’m aiming for are:
- Increased ability to focus and concentrate
- Feel awake and alert throughout the entire day
- No cravings for coffee, sugar or starchy carbohydrates
- Feeling motivated and energised
- Feeling ‘grounded’ and present
- Being more productive
So what tweaks will I be making?
Below I’ve listed out all the areas in which I know I can improve. I’ve based my selections on what I’ve learned from podcasts, books, blogs, health professionals and my own experiences. Each week, I’ll pick a different one (or combination) to follow, and I’ll post how I go on this blog.
Ideally, I’d test each thing one at a time to pinpoint exactly which one has the biggest impact on my mental clarity, but I’m not a scientist or Tim Ferriss, and I have a life to live, so I’ll just have to do my best :P
Ultimately, using the Pareto Principle, I want to identify the 20% of things that cause 80% of the problem. Or, flipped to a positive: I want to identify which tweaks (ie 20% of everything I do) will give me 80% of my results.
- Consistent bed time — 10pm
- Electronic shut down — no TV, phone or laptop after 9pm
- Eliminate light, noise and electronic devices in bedroom
Food – meal sizes and timing
- Test 1: very light breakfast (smoothie), light lunch (salad or soup), main meal at night
- Test 2: intermittent fasting (eating only between hours of 12pm and 8pm)
Food – diet
- Test 1: eliminate sugar and processed foods
- Test 2: eliminate gluten
- Test 3: eliminate animal products
- Eliminate coffee
- Drink only green tea, herbal tea and water
- Drink only filtered water
- Intense exercise (Crossfit, running) only in the morning
- Yoga 3 x per week
- Meditate for 10 minutes every day
- Get up from desk and move every 25 minutes
- Check for any vitamin deficiencies
- Try a mind-enhancing supplement
The Clear Mind Project Test #1: Coffee
Over the last 10 days, I’ve eliminated coffee. It was fairly easy; I mean, I’ve quit drinking coffee many times before! In fact, I’ve posted previously about it here.
But I got back into it as I love the taste, I hate paying for the alternative (a teabag in hot water), and I find myself at cafes regularly to do my work. So I was routinely having one a day. Which I didn’t think was too bad.
However, after a while I realised it wasn’t affecting me in a good way. I wasn’t getting a nice ‘buzz’, in fact it made me feel light headed, like I was almost about to migraine. And coffee actually DOES contribute to my migraines if I drink it on an empty stomach and without milk.
Plus, I’ve learned that coffee disrupts our natural cortisol cycle. When we wake up, our body naturally produces cortisol (the stress hormone) to wake us up and get us moving to start the day. And throughout the day, our cortisol levels move up and down, eventually settling down at night to prepare us for sleepytime.
But when you have a coffee, it temporarily spikes your cortisol, which throws your natural cycle completely out of whack. Which may explain why I was feeling prematurely tired during the day.
So I stopped drinking coffee. And by day 2, I was feeling great. No fuzzy head, plus I wasn’t getting sleepy in the afternoon. Hooray! I’ve still been drinking black tea, green tea and chai, so I haven’t cut out caffeine completely, but those beverages at least don’t make me jittery.
The next step for me will be to eliminate all caffeinated beverages except for green tea. And while I’m at it, I think I’ll also eliminate the other jitter-inducing drug: sugar. I’ll report back next week with how I go!
Thanks for reading, and keep on being awesome :)
PS: Do you have any other suggestions as to what I can do to achieve a clearer, less fuzzy mind? Just leave a comment below!