Friday Five – Tips to stick to your resolutions

We’re a week into 2018, and if you made New Year’s Resolutions you will either be celebrating one week down, 51 more to go, or you will be disappointed that you’ve let them slide already. Either way, I thought it was a good time to share the tips that motivate me to stick to habits.

New habits are hard, they don’t always stick, I’m not perfect, and that’s why this reminder is as much for me as guidance for anyone else. These aren’t new or revolutionary, they’re just the key five things that will help you continue (or restart) the journey to getting your goals.

  1. Make it easy. If your goal is to do 20 minutes of indoor cycling a day, you don’t want to have to un-flat-pack your exercise bike every time you want to go for a stationary ride. Equally, you can’t leave the thing in the middle of the floor so that you trip over it in the middle of the night in search of a glass of water. There’s a happy balance, but it’s key that you keep your activities as set up as possible so that there are no (or few) barriers to just getting on with it each and every day.
  2. Do it regularly. It might not be a daily goal you have, although that’s the usual format. It’s important to have a regular schedule of whatever goal it is, though, so that you know when and where you have to do it. Of course plans change and you have to adapt, but it’s a good start to know that when you get home from work you do X, or every Sunday morning you’re going to achieve Y.
  3. Do it even if you don’t want to. This one really is the most important, despite the fact I’ve sandwiched it in the middle of the others. If you don’t feel like doing it, try and make yourself. If you REALLY don’t feel like doing it, then you have to make yourself. But the trick is to promise yourself you only have to do it for five or ten minutes. The important thing is to do it, so those five or ten minutes count. And you might find that once you’ve started, you just get on and do what you’d normally do anyway.
  4. Be accountable. This one annoys me because so many other guides, particularly with fitness goals, say ‘get a friend to do it with you!’ and that is just not practical for everyone. Firstly, your goal might be private or secret or a surprise, and secondly, you might not have a friend you want to share with. That’s cool, but you can still be accountable in other ways. Sharing on social media or blogging is one way, getting an app to track your habit (like Streaks) also works. At a very basic level, grab a scrap bit of paper and tick each day off as you do it.
  5. Reward yourself. You have to be careful with this one, because I think it’s important to want to do the goals or set up the habit for the right reason, not because you promised yourself an Xbox at the end. But there’s no harm in saying if I achieve this, I will treat myself to this. I think it’s better if the things aren’t related so one doesn’t derail the other (ie. if I lose this much weight, I’ll eat an entire sponge cake to myself) and smaller, more regular rewards can be better than waiting endlessly for one big one.

These are the tips that I’m trying to remember and stick to as I take on some new challenges. This time of year can be annoying for endless talk of improving yourself, but it can be a good time to reset, refresh and start something. Starting is the key to everything but these five tips will hopefully help with sticking with it.

Friday Five – Things to love about Mrs. Maisel

So, I was in between TV shows, eagerly awaiting the arrival of series two of The Crown. I had a few days to spare and Mr C suggested, based on a random tweet he’d seen, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, available on Amazon Prime. I’d sort of forgotten I even had access to Amazon Prime content, but looked this one up. It only took maybe half an episode before I was hooked. What an incredible show, and here are five reasons why:

  1. Fantastic female characters. Flawed but brilliant, inspirational but human, this show is stacked with great, relatable female characters. Midge naturally captivates every scene she is in, but I have so much love for Susie and even the parents – who don’t quite have the open-minds you’d hope for but are very representative of their time.
  2. The sets and costumes. Really, truly gorgeous imagery is presented in every single episode. Midge’s outfits are beautiful from the dress she wears for an important occasion, to the more down to earth leisure wear. It’s also interesting to see the changes happening in fashion, from bulky dresses to slim-line and more revealing.
  3. The comedy scene. I don’t know much about being a stand up comedian, but I loved living the life through a newbie’s eyes. From Midge writing everything incessantly in her notebook, to worrying she can only perform drunk, to learning how to hone her craft, it’s really an insightful piece into the effort and self-doubt that goes into performing on stage.
  4. The smaller insights. Alongside the more obvious stories and episode arcs, I loved the sneaky little looks at life in the 50s. The scene where Midge and her friend take an exercise class was a wonder to behold. The posters on the wall of the department store staff room were also fascinating. It’s the smaller details that add up to a really rich whole.
  5. Great scripts. It’s exactly what you’d expect from some fast talking Jewish families in New York, and it’s brilliant.

Friday Five – Christmas jumpers to win the competition

It’s that time of year, when offices start going a bit crazy with decorations, Christmas lunches, office parties and goodness knows what else. A trend I have noticed is the Christmas jumper competition, and whilst your snowmen and santas are all well and good, I’ve found a couple of Christmas jumpers that might be slightly more fun to wear.

  1. There are loads of good Star Wars ones out there. “I find your lack of cheer disturbing,” is a good one, but I’ve picked the Yoda one, because you know, Yoda knows best.
  2. This one is kinda subtle in the sense that you have to have seen Stranger Things and know what it’s all about to get it. It’d be a good way to find your fellow Stranger Things fans at a party where you don’t know anyone.
  3. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey. There’s not much else to add.
  4. The design of Christmas jumpers to have a lot of lines of various patterns lends itself very well to platform gaming, so you have to go to the master: Mario.
  5. And of course, where would we be if we didn’t have a Back to the Future jumper?

Friday Five – Reasons why I love Crashed Ice

crashed-ice-2013-30793-280pxThis year, Crashed Ice was at its biggest and best, the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship featuring five different locations and some of the top skaters from across the globe. There were team competitions, and more women participating than ever, and it even pushed the boundaries in terms of indoor tracks and corkscrew delights.

We’ve been watching the winter sport since 2010, after discovering that Red Bull TV showed each round live for free. Each year it has been getting better and better, until this point where I am really sad it’s over and already anticipating 2014!

Here are my top five reasons that Crashed Ice is awesome:

1) It’s unpredictable. The best thing about Crashed Ice is that each race is a free-for-all. There are some skaters who are better than others, of course, and some who dominate a lot of the competition. But all it takes is one slip, one mis-timed jump, one tangle with another competitor, and the entire race can be turned on its head. Despite only being about a minute long, each descent down the track can see the lead change hands several times, can see tumbles and recoveries, and a lot of the events feature photo finishes. At other times, there can be one or two skaters out front, looking over their shoulder and taking it easy to the finish. You never quite know what is going to happen, and that makes it always very exciting.

2) It’s nice. All the competitors seem to be having a good time. Occasionally, there are disappointed faces at the end, and a few stomp off in a huff if things haven’t gone their way, but overall, all the skaters are nice to each other and happy when each other does well. Crashed Ice is one of those individual sports, where you only have yourself to blame if things don’t go to plan. Occasionally a skater is taken out by another, but it’s almost always an accident. There have only been one or two occasions over the past four years I can recall any stewards getting involved.

3) It’s developing. The sport has been going for many years, still relatively new, but older than the title battle we currently watch. Since the World Championship has begun, it’s started gradually getting bigger, pushing the boundaries, trying out new things. This year alone, we saw an indoor track (granted, no one really liked it, and it was the weakest of the events), a corkscrew style turn, plus a bonus event where some skaters could try doing the course backwards in an attempt to win a place in the finals at the next location. It’s great to see a sport changing and developing, trying to see what works and ditching things when they don’t. It makes me feel like I am part of the adventure.

4) It’s short. Each race is maybe a minute long, and the action can be fast and furious. Each event is maybe two hours long, which isn’t short, but it depends on your level of engagement. If you just want to tune in for the round of 32, then you’re talking maybe an hour or so of investment for great reward. Equally, the season is short too. Purely based across the winter months, Crashed Ice was at its longest this year with five events. They were stretched out across several months, with an oddly placed gap after the first round. No matter, it’s a far shorter time hog than other season-long events (football and F1 to name two).

5) It’s accessible. I know that Crashed Ice is blacked out in the US sometimes, because it is playing on TV and that sucks. But, those network negotiations aside, the sport is really very accessible to anyone who wants to watch. Red Bull TV stream the action live on their various players – on the web, via mobile devices, even on the apps they have on some smart TV screens. Free, easy to watch, incredible sporting action. What more could I ask for?

Friday Five – Mr C’s top five films from 2012

Mr C’s back for his second roundup of the 2012 year. Last week it was all about music, this week it’s all about the visual arts. To recap the rules, initially we wanted this to be a “top five 2012 films seen in 2012” but the problem is we run about six months behind thanks to windowing and all that nonsense. Instead, the rules are relaxed a little to include the 2011 films that we didn’t catch in time last year, plus the 2012 films we have managed to see so far.

Enough from me, let’s see which five Mr C has gone with in what has been another painful pruning exercise:

  1. Moneyball. “Without doubt my favourite sports movie in the history of all movie-making, and all sports movies that I’ve ever seen ever. Plus, I need a Pete in my life – someone following me around with an Excel spreadsheet telling me which decisions to make and why.” [Film Watch link]
  2. Avengers Assemble. “What a cast! What a film! What a riot! I can’t say enough good things about this film, the only thing it didn’t have was a Pete.” [Film Watch link]
  3. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. “The first time I’ve ever got vertigo sitting on my couch. A dizzying rollercoaster of action. Light years ahead of the rest of the franchise.” [Film Watch link]
  4. 21 Jump Street. “Surprise of the year. Didn’t think it would be as good as it was from watching the trailer, hadn’t heard anyone raving about it. Low expectations going in but loved it from beginning to end.” [Film Watch link]
  5. Ted. “A walking, talking chainsmoking bear. What more do you want? Totally ruined Hootie and the Blowfish’s entire back catalogue for me in one brief scene. Patrick Stewart = best.narrator.ever.” [Film Watch link]

Honourable mentions: Contagion – “like Moneyball, not your typical Hollywood movie but another masterpiece.” The Hunger Games – “didn’t know anything about this going in, enjoyed it muchly, still no intention of reading the books.” The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists – “possibly the only film I’ve ever seen back-to-back four times.”

Friday Five – Mr C’s top five songs from 2012

New Year usually means quite a lot of reviews of the previous twelve months, and things are no different round these parts. At the end of each year, Mr C gets a chance to have his say on both music and films, and today it’s time to recap his top five songs from 2012.

We’ve previously listed his songs from 2010 and from 2011, but this time it’s all about the music and melodies that were unleashed upon the unsuspecting public last year. What gems did Mr C manage to find?

  1. Try – P!nk. “A latecomer to the year’s music. I was sold entirely on this by her live iTunes performance, as iTunes live in London dominated my entire musical influences for the year. Easily my favourite song she’s ever recorded and a fantastic video to accompany it.”
  2. She’s So Mean – Matchbox Twenty. “What a comeback album. As much as I like Rob Thomas’ solo work, I missed them as a band. The opening single off their new album is an instant classic. Much like P!nk, love the video and their iTunes Festival performance too.”
  3. I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz. “When I first heard this, I couldn’t believe he was releasing this as a single. It didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities as a single but it got inside my head and turned out to be a brilliant choice. A truly fantastic recording.”
  4. Hall of Fame – The Script. “Thanks to Danny’s appearance on the UK’s edition of The Voice, Great Britain finally woke up to The Script. Having heard these mostly on American radio until this album was released, it’s great to hear them on national stations. Additionally, the first decent thing’s been involved in for ages.”
  5. Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye. “It was overplayed upon its release. Interestingly, I know nothing about the band from a live perspective, it’s solely from endless rotation on TV and radio that the song stuck in my head. It has echoes of 80s influences which make it stand out from the crowd this year.”

Honourable mentions include Katy Perry, who for the second year in a row released a bunch of songs Mr C really liked but were not good enough to make the final cut. Also, “Scissor Sisters released a cracking tune (Only the Horses) which was accompanied by what can only be described as the worst album released this year, which tainted the original song.”

I must say, I was shocked to see that Taylor Swift was missing from this list, because that song gets played a lot round this house… it’s, like, exhausting. However, we did get a sneak peek at the shortlist Mr C was working from, and whaddayaknow…


Friday Five – Web discoveries from my dad

My dad often sends me links and things that he discovers on his travels around the internet, and sometimes I think I need to share that with others – but never quite get round to writing a post about it. Instead, here’s a compilation of five recent links and bits that I found quite interesting.

  1. A List of Books. I’m working through my own select list of reading material, but I like the idea of this list – compiling together several other top book lists into one giant compendium. It’s also quite fun to look down and see just how many of these I’ve read thanks to my reading adventures!
  2. Britain. I’m not sure where this has come from, but it’s apparently the information that was given to GI’s coming over to Britain during World War II – giving them a quick start guide about how odd us Brits are. I particularly like this bit: “If Britons sit in trains or buses without striking up conversation with you, it doesn’t mean they are being haughty and unfriendly.  Probably they are paying more attention to you than you think.  But they don’t speak to you because they don’t want to appear intrusive or rude.”
  3. Best Animal Pictures of 2012. There will no doubt be a heap of “best of” compilations emerging soon, a couple even on this site. But I love the first picture in this group, where an errant sloth tries to get in on the photo action. Cute.
  4. Paint Sample Calendar. This isn’t the exact info my dad sent over, but it’s the same idea. And a genius one! A dry wipe calendar made out of the free paint swatches from your local DIY store. I’m very tempted to try this.
  5. Smart toaster. This one was sent a while back, a toaster that tells you the weather. Of course, weather forecasts aren’t always top notch, so why not just eat them?

It’s always fun when other people curate the internet for you – that’s why I follow blogs like Kottke. Finding cool things without too much effort!