Demerits and Gold Stars | December 2023

gold stars

photo credit: @markusspiske via Unsplash

It’s time for some recent demerits and gold stars. It’s been a few months since I checked in with myself. (As always, credit for this great post idea goes to my friend Elisabeth). 


  • Not following through with my decluttering projects. Sigh. I always “plan” to start tackling things on the weekend and then the weekend disappears with a “poof” and I haven’t decluttered anything. I know it’s all about getting started. I guess this will be something I’ll tackle in the new year (again).
  • Not being further along in preparing  for the holidays. I know, after November comes December and the holidays technically CAN’T sneak up on you, but they did. I blame “mental denial”. My brain still can’t compute that we’re already in December.

  • Spending too much money on take-out. Look, I know that it’s totally in my control to fix this. And you should know that I cook six out of 7 nights per week. So it’s not even that we eat out that often (once a week usually), but eating out has gotten so freaking expensive. I’d be happy to skip a week here and there, but Jon likes eating out at least once a week (and I almost can’t argue with the fact that cooking is just as expensive as eating out.) 

  • Not drinking enough water. I’ve been really good for a long while but I noticed that I have been slacking a bit with my water consumption lately. Usually I aim for at least 6 glasses (12 oz) of water every day, but the last few weeks it’s been more like 4-5 glasses. I blame it on the cooler weather. And while I have been adding some more mugs of tea to my day, I need to make sure I am substituting at least 1:1, if I am not drinking enough water. Do you have trouble drinking water during the cooler months?

  • Not keeping up my 3x/week running schedule. Ugh, this often happens to me during the darker/colder months. I opt to stay inside more and don’t get out to run as much as I’d like. 

Gold Stars

  • Picking up my knitting again. It’s one of my favorite ways to wind down during the longer evenings and I’ve been quite good making it a more regular habit again in recent weeks. I know it’s a calming activity for me (when the fake TV fireplace is on in the background) and Jon says he gets second-hand calm through it. Win-win! I think my winter project will be a sweater. Eek! (I haven’t really knit any clothing before. Wish me luck.)

  • Handing off a project task at work. Remember when I shared about the inconsistencies I had discovered in data files that I was working on for a colleague, and how I couldn’t just let that go? Well, I was able to eliminate all unnecessary error sources on my end (there’s still a problem with one of the original files, but I couldn’t fix that because other people have been working with this file already and there would have been even more “ripple effects” if I had messed with that file) and was able to hand of my results and analysis to my colleague. Phew.

  • Getting our holiday cards ordered (they arrived today!) At least I got that done in time. KINDA. Now I can tackle the rest of my work-in-progress holiday to-do list.

  • Keeping up with Power Zone cycling and strength training. On the flip side of my demerit of not keeping up with running as much, I’ve been pretty happy with my power zone and strength training. I’m keeping up with my power zone challenges and I’ve been doing a larger variety of strength classes and bootcamps. I guess this is what you call the “off-season” for running, where you concentrate on other things more.  (Just quick, someone tell my brain that this is okay!). 
  • Getting my annual check-up and last dentist appointment for this year out of the way. My PCP was very happy with me being on top of my shots (got Covid booster and flu shots in October), my maintenance check-ups (all done for this year!), and my most recent bloodwork. She commented that I am taking great care of my health. Well, if that isn’t something we’d all like to hear when another year comes to and end than I don’t know what is.

How have things been going for you? Share a recent demerit and gold star with me!

  1. I’m laughing because yes I could be keeping up with my plan to deep clean the house section by section but for some reason I am not. It will all still be there for me next year!

    I know what you mean about takeout. It’s fun to get out and try new places or go back to our favorites, but there are times when the meal isn’t great and the experience isn’t in line with the number on the bill. Sigh.

  2. What a wonderful way to check in with yourself. I keep lots of lists handy and get a great sense of satisfaction when I cross something off, the problem is, I add more to the list than I cross off. Oops, don’t think it’s supposed to work like that. I’m finding it much harder to get out and train for my long walk in March because of the weather. It’s always dark, and right now very wet. Not the greatest incentive to get out and walk. Gold star – my tree was up and decorated before the middle of December for once. Demerit – not walking for two weeks.

  3. This is a really cool way to keep yourself accountable, but also be proud of those little things you are rocking at!
    And gosh, does anyone drink enough water?! I know I don’t.

  4. San, my friend, I have had “declutter totes under the beds” on my quarterly goals list ALL YEAR and it’s still not done. I suspect it will still be on my goal list next December. Sometimes there are chores that no one wants to do. Ever.

    Demerit: Ordering my holiday cards late, so the delivery date is December 15, which is not a lot of time for me to address them and get them sent out in time for the holiday. Also, I have purchased exactly zero presents. Huge demerits for failure to plan adequately for the holiday.

    Gold star: Making a to-do list for the rest of the month that includes fun stuff, as well as chores. I will make memories and not just trudge through December!

    1. I think it will show how incredibly lame I am that every ounce of my being wants to FLY TO ENGIE’S HOUSE AND DECLUTTER HER UNDER-BED TOTES. I want to do that chore, Engie. Pick me, pick me!

  5. I’ll tell your brain it is OK to tilt towards your indoor training when the weather gets cold. I’m trying to get back into drinking enough too since my holiday. I feel like better hydration was one of the things that made a difference in my headaches and fatigue so I don’t want to lose this.
    Gold star: I ran four times last week (even running on Saturday in the pouring rain). It’s so hard building back up so I’m just concentrating on getting four runs in at this stage.

  6. Fantastic on all those gold stars! Although I would say not running outside when it’s cold and dark IS a gold star, because I worry about any of my friends running in the dark for safety reasons.
    I cleaned my oven yesterday! I feel like that is a gold star accomplishment (although it’s a new oven, so it’s not like it was hard!)

    1. Okay, perhaps this is my demerit. In 6+ years of living in my house I have not cleaned my oven a single time. It’s not that it doesn’t need it. I just do no clean ovens. So I’ll fly to Engie’s and declutter her totes if Nicole will fly to me and clean my oven.

  7. Hi!
    1.exercise, always exercise. Or, the lack of.
    2. lack of patience with the kids :(
    3. not being as social as I think I should be. But then again, “should”
    Gold stars
    Being organized
    Sending my Secret SANta person their gift!
    Coming back home before pick up- gives some “breathing” space
    Actually spending some money on myself – an issue for an under-buyer like me.

  8. Good luck on the sweater! I need to look for a new project – maybe a sweater, too? I love the idea of 2nd hand calm.
    I would give myself a gold star for managing the trip to the post office (sending out the secret santa package and christmas cards). Demerits: not volunteering at the Christmas market, but it was so hard to fit in.

  9. Good luck with the sweater! I just made one myself, a rarity for me, but I chose a cardigan to minimize the chances that it wouldn’t fit well. Clothing is so tricky that way! Shawls are a safer bet for me.

  10. Gold star: finishing NaBloPoMo, staying on top of Christmas things this year, stepping back from my project management role
    Demerits: not enough exercise, too much “junky” food, not getting enough sleep (to be fair, not always my fault!)

  11. Well, I would say taking great care of your health is more important that decluttering or spending a little extra money on takeout! And you can call winter your “off season.” You’re obviously keeping in shape and that’s all that really matters.

  12. Take out is so expensive, isn’t it? We don’t get it all that often but it is a nice treat.

    My demerit is staying up a bit past my bedtime for several nights. It can really catch up with me quickly. My gold star is getting through all my work travel! I will have done 14 trips this year which is a lot for me. I’m in Chicago today and fly back this evening and it feels good to know I have a nice long break until late January.

  13. It’s fun to see your lists! I agree with Nicole that NOT running outside in the dark is worth a gold star. Safety first! By the way, I use Feedly to get new blog notices, and it asked me, “Is this article about mining?” That made me laugh!

  14. Takeout is SO expensive. Even with high grocery prices, it’s still so much cheaper to eat in. But I love it! It’s my biggest struggle.

    Demerit: Waiting until the LAST DAY to send my Secret SANta gift. Oops!
    Gold star: Being on top of things with the holidays. I only have 1-2 more gifts to purchase. Yay!

  15. Major stars for getting your checkups and exercising regularly. Honestly I don’t think it matters if you are running or doing something else, and agree with those saying ‘safety first!’.

    My gold stars are getting my cards in the mail, and getting my medical appointments taken care of. I am not close to finished shopping for Christmas gifts, but I’m not worried about it this year. I’m not sure why I am so non-stressed about it, but I’m glad.

  16. This is so relatable. I’m gonna copy a few of yours. I’ve been not drinking as much water. I agree – when it is freezing out, I don’t drink as much. I’m not running as much because of the weather, but I’m gonna give myself a gold star for not making myself crazy about working out. My sleep hasn’t been the best and today I didn’t fit a workout in. That’s so rare, but I have to let something go. I’m also gonna give myself a gold star for orchestrating a gathering with cousins on my side of the family to make Christmas cookies. This was maybe the last thing I wanted to do today, but I wanted the girls to get to know the cousins before Christmas. Oh, crap – I get a demerit for missing Reg’s EEG appointment that he was supposed to have this morning. Sunday -yep, the office does them on Sundays. We missed it. Too much going on and I’m upset because they will still charge us for it.

  17. Hi, I’m Steph. I came over from Nicole’s blog.
    We started a decluttering project this fall and it has stalled out. I’d say Christmas preparations here are not up to gold star level, but we’re getting things done, little by little. I got to everything on my weekend to-do list except swimming laps… so, almost but not quite gold star?

  18. I did the most massive cleaning/decluttering project of my life last fall, and this year when it was time to decorate for Christmas I didn’t have to clean up a bunch first and it was amazing – but you really have to be ready, which I just was not for a long time. I also wasn’t working that much, and doing it while working full time seems well nigh impossible to me, so I give you zero demerits for that.
    I drink water all the time, mostly I think because I don’t do coffee and I like tea but am too lazy to make it often.
    Takeout has become CRAZY expensive, but yeah, normal groceries also cost more.
    I guess gold star because I’m working more than I thought I would be able to manage the last few months, and I haven’t rage quit or lost my joy for the job even when it causes me a lot of pain. Working on stuff to address the pain – slowly, which is a demerit.

  19. I definitely drink less during the colder month. Even though I can drink lots of tea but water is tough.
    How great you picked up the knitting. I am looking forward seeing what sweater you are making.

  20. I agree with those who said you are killing it with the workouts, and not doing as many runs gives you opportunities to try new things and/or work on other aspects of your fitness.
    Plus, remember, you coordinated NaBloPoMo, you were our main cheerleader, AND you kicked off the Secret SANta swap. I think you didn’t give yourself ENOUGH gold stars! So I’m officially removing a demerit and adding 3 gold stars. ;) Go well, my friend. <3

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