Be healthy – 30 day challenge

Early this year I wrote about doing 30 day challenges and promptly forgot all about it. You can insert all the usual excuses here.

My main excuse: I spent some time travelling and have been enjoying life. In recent weeks, I have returned to ‘reality’ and have a more stable routine. I’ve actually started working more normal hours (9 to something) and this has brought with it some new challenges.

A little background. At some point during my travels I lost around 8kgs of weight from 68 to 60, and in the last three weeks I put on around 3 to 4kgs, mainly due to little exercise, poor diet and lots of drinking. About a week ago I revisited my old blog posts and decided it was time to do a thirty day challenge and get back to writing more frequently. And so, my challenge for this month: ‘Be healthy’.

What does that mean?
– Eat well (cut out junk e.g bad carbs, chocolates etc.)
– Exercise at least 3 times a week
– Drink lots of water & green tea (avoid fizzy drinks, sweetened tea and too many juice drinks.)
– Stop drinking alcohol (this is hard given the culture and people I am surrounded by, where drinking is very much ingrained as the default social activity of choice)

How am I doing?
I had meant to write this post sooner but didn’t get round to it. On the bright side, I have some stats for the last 7 days:

– I have been to three separate social drinking occasions / nights out and stayed mainly on tap water.

– I have been eating ‘healthy’ meals where possible, although I have cheated and snuck in the odd chocolate / doughnut.

– I have exercised 3 times for at least an hour.

Why?
A few people have asked me why I am doing this challenge, so here’s my reasoning:

– I want to see if I can do it (a lesson in self discipline and willpower)

– I want to save money for other things e.g. Flying lessons and investments (more to come in a future challenge)

– I have a personal goal to reach a certain level of fitness.

– It’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to drive home after a night out than take a cab.

– I wanted to see whether alcohol makes me enjoy a night out more or less. So far I’d say I’m happy sober and can make my own good mood without the need for drinks. Waking up without a hangover or feeling rough is great too and gives me more time to enjoy the weekend.

If you’re thinking of doing a 30 day challenge – do it! Leave a comment and let me know how you’re doing too 🙂

Try something new for 30 days.

They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit (30 days if you want to be sure).

Days in groups of 30 seem to pass me by all the time, and my life seems to change very little between any two days that are a month apart. There’s nothing I can do to stop time passing by, but I can change what I do (and achieve) in that time.

There are lots of things I’ve thought I’d like to do or try at some point but they never seem to happen, or I try for a day and then forget when reality and other obligations present themselves.

So, with inspiration from Matt Cutt’s TED Talk and blog, I’ve decided to take on the 30 day challenge. I only decided less than an hour ago, and already I’ve formulated a list of some things I’d like to try. Initially I thought I’d do one at a time, but some would make sense together.

Here’s the list in no particular order:

– write one blog post a day
– limit television viewing to 1 hour a day
– practise coding for 2 hours a day
– workout at least 30 mins a day
– wake up at 8am (whilst getting 8 hours sleep)
– take one picture a day
– no junk food e.g. chocolate, biscuits, sweets, crisps, donuts and anything with “bad carbs”.
– drink 2 litres of water
– no talking on Wednesdays unless in response to a direct question (an idea from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari)
– meditate for at least 10 minutes
– write a to-do list with 3 major goals for tomorrow, each evening.

That’s the list for now. I will add to it over time and cross off items as completed.

I think this will be a really good exercise in developing will power and self discipline.

I’m hoping to use this blog for some accountability, please feel free to ask me how its going and if you’re feeling adventurous, suggest new things for me to try or tell me about your own 30 day challenge experiences.

Small trading win

8.50am Opened up my trading account this morning, and saw the criteria had been met for one of my rules. Entered the market long and coulg have taken a +7 pips profit, but “let my profits run, as advised in the “zen in the markets book”. The market was moving very slowly at the 5300 mark and I wish I had taken my profit, but you live and learn. Moved my stop to +1 and got stopped out on the market reversal. Small win, but overly happy that I am clearly learning and improving.

Trading Psychology – dealing with your ego, in search of Zen

2.20pm

I was thinking about writing again that today was another uneventful day in the markets. Or if not that, at least a difficult one. But it wasn’t. The market is doing it’s thing, moving up and down, since the open. That’s all it ever promised to do I guess. So what’s my issue? I’m sitting here waiting for the “perfect conditions” – yes I know there’s no such thing. Okay, so I’m looking for a clear signal to enter the market and, like yesterday, I haven’t traded yet.

That little voice in my head is saying “It’s okay, you’re learning, watching the market, when you make a move it’ll be right”. Fair enough, I may be learning by watching the market, but I’m getting a bit concerned about my lack of trigger pulling. Now, I know jumping into the market at random is gambling and a surefire way to lose, but I’m at the point now, where I see my signals (albeit not perfect), and still can’t muster up the courage to put in a trade.

Why?

I think I have a bruised ego – seriously, hear me out. I started thumbing through Zen in the Markets – Confessions of a Samurai Trader this morning. The book starts of talking about how there’s no place for your ego in trading and it’s your ego that’s responsible for you taking profits too early, and letting losses run (which is the opposite of what you want to do). It’s also responsible for feeling the pain from your losses and pleasure from wins. From what I’ve understood the aim is to detach yourself from the past activity of the market, see what it is telling you and follow it’s signals, all the while, remaining detached from the outcome (profits/losses). Makes sense, right?

The aim for today is to get over fear of losing, spot the entry signals and make a calculated entry based on risk/reward. Now that I’m accountable, I’ll update this entry with results.

4pm (ish)

So, I bit the bullet. Made a loss. Totally rushed into the market (since I said I would trade and have to be somewhere in the next 20 mins). Lesson learnt: don’t trade because you want to, or because you’re in a hurry. Only when the market signals you to, and you have no control over the market, so if it’s not showing you what you want to see, walk away and come back later. And I’m going to do just that.

Till tomorrow!

Patience when trading

Entry points - Spread betting on the FTSE 100 28/11/2011
Highlighting the entry points for FTSE 100 28/11/2011

12pm– I’m sitting here, watching the market (FTSE 100, today) and missed two great opportunities to trade early in the day. Since then, the market has pretty much stalled out and nothing there are no clear entry indicators, based on the rules I’m following.

I’m really appreciating the amount the patience required to develop my spread betting abilities and the amount of discipline I’m exercising to stop myself jumping in the market because I’m getting bored.

Hopefully the market will pick up when the US opens around 2pm.

2.30pm

Had a quick check in on the FTSE and was looking to place a sell order (short) at 5300 but as soon as the US market opened, the price shot straight through 5300 and ended up at the 5320 mark. I had to step away for an hour, and didn’t miss much action.

4pm

I returned to find the market heading back down to the 5300 mark for the second time and was very tempted to go long (buy order). At the time I thought it was a gut feeling, but in hindsight it did match one of my trading strategies. I could have taken a pretty clean 10 pips and been done for the day.

Lessons for the day

1. Patience is clearly a virtue, even though it may be very tempting to get into the market, you have to be careful and make sure you’re not making up reasons to get in the market.

2.The early bird catches the worm. I missed two good setups in the morning, and had I not arranged to have furniture delivered first thing I may have got in on the action today.

On the plus side, I’ve spent the day (on and off) watching the market, learning how it moves and identifying clear entry indicators, without losing any money!

Hopefully tomorrow will be a different story.