Day 745: Productivity and Habit Apps

I keep tryin’ them, but nothing seems to stick. Right now I’m giving Momentum a shot, and it’s… fine, I guess? It tracks habits!

What works for me? A physical checklist. Paper and pen, baby! I shared this a week or so ago, but I’ve got a full nightly thing printed out, and I even made a pretty box for it:

Incomplete checklists on the near side, finished on the far side: every evening I take a fresh one out, work through it, and put it in the far side, then close the box. It’s a ritual that really works for me.

The ritual of it is what kind of makes it work, at least in part. Sitting down, opening the box, going through the exercise of self-reflection and physically putting checkmarks in boxes (especially that “No Snacking” box. That feels good.).

Not to say I won’t find an app that works for me! My wife is digging HabitBull right now. I’ve gotten good mileage over Don’t Break The Chain!, possibly the simplest one I’ve ever tried, in the past.

The checklist is my jam, though. It just works well for me.

Day 744: There’s Vomit on my Sweater Already

It’s weird, the things that get stuck in your head. Right now, it’s a going-to-sleep conversation from last night that made me laugh out loud, which is just a riff on the Eminem “Lose Yourself” bit “there’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti” (and if poetry is detail, I know the guy’s a creep and all, but damn that couplet packs in a lot of information).

So now it’s permanently in my brain as

there’s vomit on his sweater already
mom’s a Yeti

and that has just been cracking me up all morning. I don’t know how these things get stuck up in there.

All right! A bit of a stall on weight, and body fat (I just ran a calculation to be sure the body fat scale works, too, and isn’t just delivering the same ratio of body weight every day). But yesterday was a huge one for snack resistance, with delicious temptation laid right in my path, and I’m happy to have abstained. Reminiscent of “February Sprint” last year, this whole “stay on the path” thing seems to be a mantra that really works for me.

The key difference is this isn’t a sprint, this is a lifestyle, and there’s a certain amount of allowable nostalgia to that. “Ah, I remember when I used to grab a bunch of sandwiches and enjoy them”, in the sense of “ah, I remember a cold IPA on the deck on a hot summer day”. But in both cases, ending with “…but that’s not what I do now.” I suck at meditation, but I think the early lessons in “let the thought enter your brain, don’t fight it, but then let it slide right back out again” is a useful one.

Day 743: I don’t wanna

Exercise! Exercise may be the hardest demon to slay in the new year. I have friends who work out every morning and seem to dig it, but it’s definitely my ugh moment between getting up and going to work.

I have an extended metaphor for it that I need to record with special effects and music at some point called you are a wizard in which I basically explain that you’re a wizard, and you can cast a spell that makes you healthier and more confident and better looking and your clothes fit better and people think more highly of you. But you have to perform the ritual for 30 minutes every morning, and the ritual is physically demanding.

You’d do that, right? A magic spell that delivers all that stuff, in exchange for a paltry 1/48th of your day every day?

You’d be nuts not to! And that’s exercise, baby.

Despite even having that kicky metaphor rolling around in my head, and my go-to list of motivational phrases, it is still harrrrrrrd some days to kick it into gear.

I’m doing it, though! I have to. I’m on this path to getting where I want to be in 2019, and I’m not deviating. I didn’t eat chips yesterday at game time (had some fresh fruit, though). I’ve successfully been a non-snacking mofo for two straight weeks. I can lock this down, I just have to do the work.

Day 742: Sundays on the path

Late morning! I treated myself to a sleep in, but otherwise things roll along the path — same routine as any other day. My wife is working noon-midnight, so I’m’a host a board game this afternoon, as well as knocking out the groceries, food prep, etc.

Off to the day, basically — the board game today is one of those big complicated ones, so I gotta start setting it up early…

Day 741: Slept Late!

Sticking to the program, though. I got up in the middle of the night — first time in AGES so went back to bed after feeding the cats. And then my wife thought she’d set her alarm but she hadn’t, so oversleep by 45 minutes or so.

Still, sticking to the program: 10 minutes of exercise (baseline), and then on with the day! Yesterday really laid it all out in depth — I don’t know if I have much to build on from there except to say I have an internal goal of beating my 2017 logging record, and an intention to stay on the path for… well, as long as I can, really, but 100 days seems like a reasonable goal for the first big chunk of it.

Day 740: Tough Morning, “The Path”

Long today! But good long. Very detailed.

I did NOT feel like doin’ it up this morning. No particular reason (except maybe 10 days of being good in a row). I just felt like I’d rather first, stay in bed, and second, sit down and have a read rather than do the exercise things.

I stayed on the path, however.

Since I’m a bit of a drama llama, I’ve taken to calling this whole deal “The Path” for the last 36 hours, which amuses my wife no end and makes it sound like I’ve joined a cult. With about 10 seconds of effort I’m sure I could discover that it’s a terrible name and associated with some horrible religious movement or new age fooferaw, but I’m kind of fond of it now, so I’m not going to look.

Here it is; what’s been working for me (despite being logey about it this morning) so far in 2019:

  • Get up and get clothes for day
  • Go downstairs and feed the cats, pack my lunch, and chug about 500 ml of water
  • Back up to exercise; 10 minutes AT LEAST but usually 25-30 of a few (very few for now!) pushups and situps, then rowing or spinning
  • Shower, shave, brush teeth
  • Jerkpod!
  • Other computer stuff: correspondence, site maintenance for the canoe club if needed, music for the next WAFFLES!, etc.
  • Downstairs for coffee, clean the litterboxes, finish getting ready for the day
  • Log food for the whole day
  • Leave for work (M-F)
  • Have a normal day. Eat only what I’ve packed and planned for in the morning.
  • Come home from work, have dinner (as planned in the morning). Have a normal evening. Then the checklist:

Then on with the rest of my evening, or off to bed, as time allows.

It’s… I guess it’s pretty regimented, as these things go. But the key thing is it’s working for me and as long as I don’t deviate, there’s no reason it should stop working. It’s a total time of 90 minutes in the morning (most of which are things I need to do anyway, I’m just strict about the order) and 30-40 minutes in the evening; far fewer things I HAVE to do there, but all things that add value to my life.

So yes. The Path. It’s silly to have a name for it, but I like things like that; I’m dramatic.

Day 739: Ow, My Face

I’ve been clean-shaven since January 4 or so, which is the longest I’ve been clean-shaven since… 1996, or something. I’ve been a facial hair guy for as long as I can recall. I’ve face-shaved periodically after taking my beard off in the past, but never shaved for more than one day.

But I bought some fancy shavin’ cream on stupid post-Boxing-Day special and thought “well, why not shave for a while?” I can tell you why:

  • I only have an old-fashioned razor that takes old-fashioned blades;
  • My face has weird contours, including an abnormally deep valley between my chin and lower lip, but my face is also pretty… squat?… so it’s almost like a mail slot;
  • I seem to nick and bleed in a sharp breeze, let alone when I’m whacking at my face with the sharpest thing mankind has ever invented.

So it’s been going okay, I guess, but right now I look like I’ve been making out with a Cenobite. The good news is I’m now certain that I don’t faint at the sight of my own blood. Or a litre of my own blood. Coming from my face.

There are solutions, of course — get a razor with eighteen blades, for instance — but I don’t want to spend more money on shaving.

And why am I doing it?

It feels vaguely more honest to be trying to get in shape with a naked face. Especially when you have cherub cheeks and a bit of a double chin — I had a beard even at my fittest, but now it feels a bit like I’m using it to hide things.

Will I stick to it? I think I’m going to take a day to let my face heal — I just did some quick searching on how often to change blades — and see. I don’t hate the ritual. I’m not super fond of my face. I don’t like looking like I lost a fight with a lawnmower. I don’t know.

Day 738: Spinning is &^%$ hard

Added a couple of charts to the 2019 Tracker, so hopefully those trend lines will help inspire me in moments of despair.

Spinning! It’s HARD! I knew that already from previous spinning — I even went to a drop-in class once, and my wife was an avid spin studio member for about a year. We bought a high-end-of-the-low-end bike for Christmas 2017.

It’s been a while since I’ve spun, and holy DIVER. I set myself up for 20 minutes of mixed speed and resistance, and those shuttle jump-up-and-down things. At Minute 12, I had to stop because I was legitimately getting a bit worried about a heart attack.

And, I mean, that’s cool — something every day, and that was certainly something. But a good lesson that I can’t just leap back into things I was once good at (or reasonable at) like it ain’t no thang. I’m’a have to add a minute to every session til I’m back up to 20, then 30.

I’m more of a rowing guy anyway…

Day 737: So Much For The Easy Weight

I just went through 2018 looking for my longest streak. 20 uninterrupted days of logging. Only 20! That surprised me, as well as how absolutely terrible the back half of the year was for logging and fitness in general. I chalk it up to some work issues, which were resolved before the end of 2018, and I now have a streak to break: 20 days. Three weeks! One already down. No sweat.

The last few days, I think I’m through the easy weight — whenever I get back on track, there’s kind of a four-or-five pound drop that happens almost immediately. I don’t know if it’s just water weight that I’m carrying due to eating garbage that happens to be salty, or if it’s mind over matter, or if focusing on my health makes me poop more — whatever it is, there’s a quick rush of “easy weight” that always makes me, well, overconfident.

I ran out of easy weight a couple of days ago — I think I’m into the grinding work of this now, which is fine. Everything is fine.

Art by the legendary KC Green, from Gunshow. Buy his stuff!

It does get harder from here, though. I think — again — this is almost a job for Sober Brain, where I need to take the same determination I apply to not drinking and just turn its unblinking eye on following the program every day come hell or high water.

It’s a good program; it works. Even if I didn’t know I was doing it, I spent two years developing it through trial and error (and error, and error).

Day 736: Think Like A 175-lb Man

It’s not yet a week into the new year so I’m not about to throw myself a parade yet, but it’s been a pretty good week.

Weight is down modestly (and safely), I’m now using the body fat scale to track body fat (which I haven’t done in five years of owning this body fat scale — I read some early “ehh, it’s inaccurate things and thought ‘bah’. More recently, I’ve come around to “even if it’s inaccurate it’s probably consistently inaccurate, and I’m in lousy enough shape that those readings will probably be positive over time”).

The news is NOT GOOD! But it will be getting better with time.

My headline today is I set myself an ambitious 30-minute row, sat down, and after the first two minutes was all “you know, I only promised myself at least 10 minutes a day of exercise — I can nope out of this after 10 minutes.”

But then I did the “think like a 175-lb. man” exercise. What would that version of me do? What will that version of me be like? 

That guy’ll do 30 minutes on the rower happily.

So I did.

And after a while it felt pretty good. Exercise without music — part of the whole “flow to the door” thing is I try not to use the phone except for logging my weight until after this is done — is hard. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I think I may need to add an “attention span” component to this project. But I did it, and I’m glad I did.