Day 130: Gingerly Back On That Horse

All right! Break’s over. Back on that horse.  I’m feeling better across the shoulders. I had a weird twinge in my IT band (I think) this morning. Which reminded me of something I’ve forgotten.

When I stop exercising for a while, my body starts spontaneously injuring itself.

I’m not even joking. I’m glad to be back on that horse, because when my back twinged this morning, I remembered. If I stop exercising for a few days to a week, I start pulling more things. I don’t know why.

I’m no physiotherapist. But I guess my body adjusts to a certain level of activity. And if I stop maintaining it, the… minor atrophy?… makes things happen. Bad things.

So: back on that horse, including food logging and evening checklists.

I’m’a record this, and then it’s over to food logging, and the evening checklist, and the whole nine yards. It’s not easy, but I have to say it makes me happy. I don’t know when I became a routine junkie. Maybe it’s something that comes with age. But I genuinely like the idea of having things locked in like that.

So yeah: back on that horse. A gentle row this morning to start stretching everything back in place. A short run tomorrow. Hopefully back to 100% next week. I’m looking forward to it.

I’m looking forward to it!?! This is genuinely surprising.



Day 129: Recovery Break

I have to admit that I may have needed this recovery break.

Second day of true recovery; my shoulders are back up to about 70%, but I don’t want to mess with them. I miss exercise, which is a bit surprising. I thought I’d relish the time off. And I do like sleeping in. But I definitely feel restless and ill at ease. So I’m actually kind of looking forward to getting back on it.

Who’d have thunk it?

A pretty good food day yesterday; the full stop has been a full stop, with no logging and no checklist. Part of me feels like this is a bit silly, but again, the break is a break. I’m breaking.

I wish I had some core piece of wisdom coming out of this about it not happening again. But it seems to have been spontaneous. “Don’t get stressed” is a good one. The stresses that I think led to this, though, were external.

The recovery break is ending, I’ll be  getting back on that horse tomorrow.

But I need to rein that horse in.

Tomorrow I’m going to do a light session on the rower: slow and easy, more to get the muscles stretched out than for pure exercise reasons. Again, I’m surprised at how much I miss it.

I’ll be dreading the scale tomorrow, but what can you do? I need the information. I won’t like the information, but I need it. This has definitely been a setback, but the key is going to be not letting the setback define my next few weeks.

There’s a fine balance between “don’t get discouraged and keep trying” and “fight back too hard and re-injure.” So I need to bear this moderate and steady pace of improvement in mind, and re-adopt that, even if I’m a bit behind in where I’d like to be. Going nuts won’t help me in the long run.

Day 128: Injury Two — Full Stop

This is a bad one. I wound up coming home from work yesterday morning, and spent the afternoon flat on my back, zonked out on painkillers. This morning, I’m feeling about 50% better, but still a lot of passive pain, and turning my head is a chore. So no exercise today. No weighing myself, either — I’m not going to get in my own head while I’m on a full stop.

So I’m taking a couple days off everything but the blog and podcast, it looks like. Maybe I’m due a break anyway. Yesterday’s determination to not over-eat ran headlong into my feeling bad and being a stress eater.

You’ll never guess which won.

Actually, you probably will.

It was the stress eating.

The stress eating won.

It won hard.

Full stop has to stop sometime.

So I’m on a break; stretching today and for the next couple days until this is over. But today I am getting back on food logging and not eating like a damn fool. Plus I made natto last weekend, and I’m looking forward to having that for lunch.

So I’m going to get grips on the non-exercise portions of this today; I think it’s okay to allow myself a Big Day Off when I’m in pain and feeling low, but ultimately just getting completely slack is going to make me feel worse in the long run, even if it helps when I’m hurting.


Day 127: Injury

Ouch. Injury. Yeah, that did it.

I’m not sure what happened. Yesterday was a kind of disaster — nothing requiring the hospital, but my wife took a nasty tumble and bashed her face on the sidewalk, so it was a late night of nursing. Other complications, too; houseguests and the like.

So I’m not sure if I did something to my shoulders, or if lousy sleep based on all of the above did it, or if just plain stress twanged my muscles, but it feels like my shoulders are torn up. Again. This is easily my #1 lifetime injury.  Goddamn shoulders.

So what happens now? I’m not sure. This is my first legit injury since I started. It was a short run — it sounds weird, but running is excruciating, because the bouncing exacerbates the shoulder pain. So I’m going to have to be super careful with food, because the exercise burn is gone. I guess it’s just “take it super easy” with lots of stretching until the shoulders improve. Maybe slow rowing tomorrow to stretch/work it out. Gah.


Day 126: Houseguests!

Oof. It’s a family thing. And I’m happy to have family over, but it’s really starting to do a number on the routine. Houseguests are great, but four visits in five weeks is… it’s a lot.

I have a relative relocating to the area, which is fantastic, and we’re in the final sprint — a visit again this week for a home inspection. And some document-signing. But it’s also turning into a bit of a thing.

One thing I’ve found through this process is that routine is king. This is why the checklist is working so well for me. Routine is a great thing when you’re trying to change things up.

I’m still not doing great on food, but exercise, sobriety and even sleep are going pretty well. It’s all very dependent on routine, though. My wife is in the same boat: she likes a consistent plan day after day. It’s helpful for both of us.

Houseguests are good for morale, but bad for flow.

I feel good having houseguests. It’s nice to do something nice for people. Company is fine. Helping family is kind of a moral imperative.

But my wife and I are definitely having the Big Strategy talk this morning: so far, we’ve been the Very Good Hosts, but this visit (and the next, for the official Signing of the Things) is going to involve a bit of a come-to-Jesus where we need to start re-prioritizing. Which is fair, I think. It’s really a matter of everyone being happy, but now we’re past “social visit” and into “why spend money on a motel when we have a guest room” territory. Which shifts the hospitality parameters.

Again: happy to do this, especially for family. But it’s been throwing me off, so it’s time to be proactive about not letting houseguests mess with the work I’m doing.


Day 125: Deslumped!

Rally achieved!

It was a good day yesterday; not perfect foodwise, but it’s good to recover from a little slump and get right back on that horse.

Keeping my spirits up in a week of solid rain is a challenge. This is day… five, I think?… of bad weather, and we’ve gotten a month’s worth of rain in three days, or so the weatherpeople say. I keep checking the basement.

I’m leaving in a few minutes to do the radio show with my wife; as the station we volunteer for is a campus/community station, they’ve got a dire need for more programmers for the summer, when the students are gone.

So I’ve taken on a second show. And, as usual, made it more of a Thing than it needs to be. So I’m currently trying to plan for the show, but also de-escalate my Big Ideas down to something manageable so I don’t make myself, or my wife, crazy.

(It’s about soundtracks; specifically, video game soundtracks. I’m excited.)

Running downstairs to make breakfast in a few so we can get out the door for the show…

Day 124: Minor Slump

A not-great day yesterday, but I’m trying to get back on top of it after a minor slump. Actually, screw that: I am getting back on top of it. No “trying” involved.

Why? I don’t know, to be honest. I think after two solid weeks of being pretty good, I may have just been due. Yesterday was very distracted, very low-energy. I didn’t run through the evening checklist for the first time since I started it two weeks ago.

And that’s okay! With some gentle prodding from my wife, I got back on the exercise horse this morning. I’m going to log food in a minute. I’m seeing results and want to keep seeing them. So I’ve had a 24-hour slump. Big deal.

Minor slump factors include:

  • A lousy running week. It’s been pouring rain, and I’ve learned that running in the rain doesn’t just mean I get wet. It means my shoes get wet. And that means additional days of misery.
  • Pulled my shoulders somehow. Not seriously, but enough that it’s been bad for sleep and generally aggravating.
  • Consistent good behaviour has left me with a “backlog” of bad behaviour juice. I have a weird idea about how all that works. For another time.

The important thing is, my one bad day is just one bad day. A minor slump is a one-day slump. Exercise is done for today, I’m about to log food, and I’m checklisting the crap out of that checklist tonight.

Slumps accrue. The bad energy demotivates me for a second day. Then a third. Then I’m all “blaaargh, nothing matters any more and eventually the universe will collapse” and it’s weeks of misery.

So it’s important to nip this thing in the bud. Minor slump. That’s it. Back on that horse.

Day 123: Booze Dreams

So last night: booze dreams! I guess, over four months in, I’m still exorcising stuff. I dreamt I got drunk as a skunk. Also, I was staying in a mansion belonging to my father-in-law and there was a party and somebody lost a horse. But that’s dreams for you.

The interesting thing is that it wasn’t a “good time” booze dream. It was pretty gross, actually. I was sick-drunk, not throwing up but close, and the haze of the dream-booze was combining with the haze of the dream-dream and it was all super unpleasant. 

Booze dreams: purging some psychic poison?

Maybe it means nothing, but I’m choosing to believe it means something. I’ve gotten out of toxic situations before, and it took months before I felt like I was actually extricated. And there were dreams there, too. And while I’ve never had a dramatic issue with booze, this has still been a big step.

So I think I’m actually processing some of the lingering stresses around all this.

Which is good! As much as the dreams are unpleasant.


Day 122: Can’t alcohol be a physical problem?

Continuing on from yesterday. I discussed this with my wife this morning. She was less sure that alcohol abstention was seen as a moral issue, but I’m pretty sure it is.

If I say to somebody “I can’t eat nuts,” that’s a pretty value-neutral statement. Nobody makes assumptions about the lifestyle of somebody who can’t eat nuts.

If I say to somebody “I can’t drink alcohol,” that’s a tremendously loaded statement. Hell, if somebody says to me, “I can’t drink alcohol,” I start making assumptions, and I don’t drink alcohol. 

I don’t often rail about “society”. This is pretty much a space for me to focus on my own shit, and getting into what’s wrong with the world is out of scope. Getting irate about what’s wrong with the world has been an excuse for me not to focus on what I could be doing better in the past.


We really do need to move to a space where alcohol can be recognized as a physical problem. And yes, it’s complicated, and there’s lots of compelling “it’s physical! It’s psychological!” back and forth on the issue. But the sheer simple fact of being able to say “hey, you! Your body wasn’t made for alcohol. It messes you up. Don’t have it.” in the same way that we can say “Hey, you! Your body wasn’t made for dairy. It makes you farty and sick. Don’t have it.” would make things so much easier for people who live doing the “can I drink? Can I drink a little?” dance.

Complicating matters: alcohol intolerance is real; alcohol allergies are rare but real. But “alcohol makes you crazy” is still in the physical/psychological swamp.

It’s really a framing thing. “Gosh, I shouldn’t drink” is a weak statement. “I can’t drink because my brain chemistry isn’t the same as yours” is a stronger statement.

I straight up don’t know enough about this. Time to hit the books, I guess…

Day 121: Some People Can’t

Some people can’t do some things. That’s kind of obvious, right?

So why isn’t it with drinking?

I made dinner for some friends last Saturday; it was a welcome challenge in the kitchen, as one of them had a condition that severely restricted what they could eat and was on an autoimmune diet.

Which, combined with veganism, creates a hilarious intersection of can’t-eat foods. But it was fun! Being creative within constraints is really interesting.  I wound up making zucchini noodles with a lemongrass-coconut milk sauce, and a kind of shredded sweet potato — I digress.

The point is that my guest couldn’t eat some things, like legumes. So no beans. That was fine. It wasn’t an issue, I didn’t think less of them as a person, I just knew they couldn’t eat beans and that was that.

Some people can’t drink.

So why is “I can’t drink” such a hard pill for me to swallow, and for others to accept? It’s not that weird. Some people can’t eat mushrooms. Some people can’t drink milk. There’s not that much distance between “if I eat a tree nut I will swell up and die” and “if I drink alcohol it will have a deleterious effect on my brain.”

I think alcohol, and alcoholism, have built themselves mythic niches in our culture. But it’s flat out weird that if somebody says “I can’t drink,” other people take that as a value statement. Or judge them on that.

Some people can’t do some things, and a subset of that is some people can’t drink. How does that become weirder, or less acceptable, than “some people can’t eat cheese”?

It’s a weird world.