101 Tokens: February (14/101)

Tokens Used: 6

Tokens remaining: 87

Money Spent: £38

Yay/Nay Percentage: 50%

Last year I met a lovely Australian bloke who was trying to reduce the amount he drank while increasing the amount he did. I read each monthly installment of his venture. Inspired, this January I equipped myself with a Poundland’s finest calendar and am attempting to do the same. Drink less, live more.

Explaining exactly what 101 Tokens is has proved to be the most protruding barrier in this whole challenge. I try and shorten it, explain that one token represents a drinking session and not a single alcoholic beverage. This is frequently met with confusion — why would I not just do dry January? Isn’t this just cheating? By far though, the subject of my age has cropped up the most.

I’m 21 years old and in my final year of University. Surely I should be making the most of it by filling myself full of cheap, blue coloured alcopops on a Tuesday?

Honestly, it’s not about the fact that I drink too much (I do). But that I am the queen of fads. I rarely stick to the goals I set myself, always becoming too distracted with something else. In these final few scenes of my coming-of-age-film, I need consistency and focus.

Plus, there are benefits to not casually drinking all the time. In February I really started to appreciate the rewards…like having the disposable cash to be able to buy this dope classic Germany shirt!

Making amends with exercise

My aforementioned commitment issues have cursed my relationship with health and fitness for as long as I can remember. This reform started before the ‘new year, new me’, I’ve shed about 13kg since the latter part of 2016 but in February the token mentality which embraces longevity really came to fruition.

It’s actually amazing what is possible when you allow yourself to be at full capacity i.e. not hungover. One Thursday night, I passed up on the £1.50 snake bites for a gym session and managed to lift 28kg above my head, from the ground — and then 31kg! Since then, I’ve continually pushed myself further out of that cliché, yes the ‘comfort zone’.

“I hate running” is something you would have probably heard me say in the past 21 years, but the truth was I never tried it. Just simply couldn’t fathom how anyone could enjoy it. Well, with a little push from a friend who has cycled across America (?!) I have fallen in love. Running outdoors, around people in the daylight, has actually supplied me with confidence that has been missing for a while. So much so I’ve also picked up playing handball again, something I’ve been dwelling on since last October.

Though, since getting back into the sport I have become a perpetual bruise and fractured my finger… swings and roundabouts.

“What is handball?”

The exercise element of this experience comes out on top. I’m happy to say that our relationship is stable, like properly. I’m indebted to Benny’s brain child for a totally new outlook that I reckon will have me shredded by the end of 2k17.

Knowing when to say yes

However, there are habits that I am struggling to break. I’ve never been one to waste, back when pay-as-you go was the norm, I crammed as many characters into my texts to be sure I was getting the most of my 10p. And this is exactly how I treat token days — getting as many drinks down the hatch as possible, to ensure optimum usage. But with only 50% yays this month, I’m clearly not doing this right.

This picture of Kelly Rowland texting via excel doesn’t feel relevant but i just think it’s hilarious

From the frugal 38 quid I splashed this month, just one night saw a whole 20 go on the booze while I also threw away a tenner, my bank card and dignity as I slid down the club stairs with zero grace/100% impact. And the next day I was insufferable. Bitching and moaning like it was an olympic sport, even though I knew I was going walking the next day. I am truly sorry to my friends, my girlfriend and my hip for the pain I caused that weekend.

In Feb I also learned that there is no need to neck three pints over the course of 90 minutes. Especially when it’s just for a scrappy Newcastle win over Villa on a Monday night. Wasted token.

Striking the balance with football and booze is a tricky one though. The two make such a beautiful couple and I love them both dearly.

I almost got it right as I trekked down to the capital to say farewell to a legend of women’s football. Kelly Smith shaped the women’s game, a ferocious forward who could humiliate the best of keepers from 40 yards out. She certainly had an impact on my life. At the testimonial, I got to meet her and have my copy of her book signed which I’m still excited about.

Afterwards, I indulged in a couple pints of ale with friends to celebrate, chatting about the beautiful game — seemingly I had mastered the token game for this particular game. But then I went and had a further three by myself as I waited for my coach, desperate to not waste a token. The night ended up with me having to sit next to the toilet as a beery hangover crept in on the road overnight.

Big wins!

The biggest yay token of February came with a milestone and a lesson. Since August ’16 I’ve been writing about the women’s game for free, out of passion and admiration for those involved in such an underfunded and under appreciated sport. BUT this month I got my first pay day!

I got to interview one manager and two captains, pulled stats together and wrote little profiles for a preview magazine about the English league. The challenge and deadline had me pumped before I even found out I was getting money for the work.

The token I used on this day was unexpected and was not a binge. Maybe this is why I enjoyed it the most.

After crushing another gym session, still fuelled with the buzz from getting £ for my words, I came back to a flat decorated with football banners with prosecco laid out on the table. I enjoyed a modest total of two glasses.

My magnum opus

Overall, I feel good. Like, I will actually stick to this; that my short-term orientation is not incorrigible. I’m hitting my targets for the year of getting into shape, trying new things and pushing closer to that career in writing.

Where do we go from now? The coming months should be a breeze as the arduous task of my dissertation looms over my social life and halts the writing lark. But when summer hits, demanding I quench its thirst with cheap pints galore in the beer garden, we’ll see how sturdy my new mentality is.

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