Day Eighty-Four: Sleeping In

Sundays are sleeping in days; often for me it’s a “get up, then go back to bed” sleeping in day — I get up with the cat, watch something dumb on Netflix for an hour, and go back to sleeping in.

There’s a school of thought that you should really sleep and get up at the same times every day. Which I kinda do. But the amount I sleep every day is less than the sleep I should get. Partly because of getting up in the night. So the question then becomes, is sleeping in for “sleep debt” better than keeping a steady sleep schedule?

I straight up don’t know; obviously sleeping the “right” amount every night would solve the problem. But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. So I’m not sure if I’m setting myself up for success or failure by letting myself sleep in on Sundays.

So I turn my mind to ‘hidden costs’ — am I robbing myself of anything else by sleeping in on Sundays?

What does sleeping in cost?

Opportunity cost, I guess — but if it’s payback for getting up early on weekday mornings, there’s no lost opportunity. I’m pretty efficient and productive on weekday mornings. So losing “free” Sunday time for effective workday time is a good trade.

What else could I be doing with my early Sunday mornings?

  • Exercise, but recovery really is a thing, so taking mega-walks on Saturdays and having Sundays wholly off is something I’m down with.
  • Goofing off time, but that’s basically a different version of sleeping, and not as restful
  • Projects, but I don’t know if I’d be at my best to tinker with stuff when I’m sleepy on a Sunday morning

On the whole, I think the system works. It seems a bit silly in retrospect to run through all of this to arrive at “the current path is the best one,” but it’s important to head-check these things once in a while.

Day Eighty-Three: Space to Exercise

I’m lucky. In many areas, really, but I was just thinking today that I’m lucky to have a large enough space that there’s space to exercise.

There have been a lot of times in my life when I’ve lived in cramped quarters. Not submarines, but small enough that I couldn’t stretch, let alone get a rowing machine in or jump rope. And in Canada, not having a home space for exercise means months of incurring gym fees or not exercising. Or potentially breaking your butt slipping on ice.

“You can exercise anywhere!” say chipper people making DVDs or websites from their massive exurban homes. It’s really not true. It’s hard as hell to work out in tiny spaces. So while we are definitively house-poor (I looked it up), I kind of don’t mind scrimping in other areas to pay the mortgage, because I really love our house and what it affords us in terms of space.

The podcast is quiet today because we have a visitor in the next room. We have a guest room! That’s great!

But back on topic: we have space to exercise.

Space to exercise is mental space

When your natural tendency is don’t-exercise, your brain is always looking for excuses. “I have to move three chairs and roll up the rug” is an excuse.

I’m also fortunate to have a partner that is also invested in having some space in which to exercise. So it’s not like a dedicated room, but there’s part of the family room that is mentally earmarked as The Space Other Stuff Doesn’t Go In. It doesn’t look like a home gym or anything, but we both know, and that’s enough.

So getting up and going into that space is itself kind of motivating. It’s a good space to have.

I’m lucky.

Day Eighty-Two: Ramping Up

I was at a point by the end of last fall where I was running multiple 10ks a week. Not 10k races, just 10k routes, usually twice a week, sometimes three. Now that the weather’s getting less stupid, I’m ramping up again.

Today was kind of an accidental 8k — it started as six, but the geography of my city is really weird. So I thought I’d turned down a street that ran parallel to another one, but they diverged considerably more than I thought. I wound up running in the wrong direction for seven or eight minutes.

It was good, though — I’d been doing sixes, and never really felt like eight when I set out in the morning. So being trapped in an eight this morning reminded me that eight isn’t much worse than six… and ten isn’t much worse than eight.

Ramping up without overdoing it

My big problem is I tend to get enthusiastic. Then I do too much. Then I hurt myself. I have to stop. I feel bad. And I wind up back where I started. And recovery takes longer now that I’m older.

So the constant mental battle in my head is “are you ramping up too fast? Are you overdoing it?” versus “are you using ‘don’t overdo it’ as an excuse to be lazy?”. This is the actual mental conversation I have pretty much daily.

I don’t know how to reconcile the two sides of that equation. Because sometimes, I’m pretty sure that I am being lazy. Other times, I definitely feel that I’ve strained it and I’m teetering on injury. But it’s super difficult in the moment to know which I’m doing.

One way out is to get a trainer, but that’s not financially in the cards right now. And the whole justification for the rower was it’s saving money over time on gym memberships and other fitness spending.

So it’s a tough one. Ramping up without overdoing. Not overdoing but not making excuses. The ouroboros of my fitness brain.

Day Eighty-One: Slow Starts

Some mornings are obviously better than others. With an extended cold snap and what feels like some sort of slow-burn cold, it’s all slow starts; it’s hard to get up.

Today was the worst in a while — bed until 5:30, then kind of just languishing until 6:00 when my wife got up. Kind of the mental excuse that she wanted instruction on the rower. But we both knew what was up: a slow start.

To her, and my, credit, I did wind up exercising, and trying a circuit training thing she’s been doing for a while. Not exactly a full workout, but something.

Slow starts and coffee

I know it was a slow morning — and that I’m probably a bit sick — because I didn’t want coffee. Usually, I’m keen to get to caffeine. Hey, a rhyme! Today, though, I was just drag-assing and didn’t even want to get to coffee. That’s abnormal.

Anyway — I didn’t want to exercise, at all, but once I forced myself into some activity, I felt better. I guess slow starts are better than no starts. “Better than a kick in the teeth,” as my grandfather would say.

I guess the lesson here is “exercise”, and a call-back to “run anyway” from a little while back. The problem with motivation, is it’s easy to motivate yourself when you’re motivated. Those mornings when you’re stuck in slow starts and just can’t moving is a giant motivation hurdle.

At any rate, I’m up and going now… a little behind schedule, but moving.

Day Eighty: Eight Years of Marriage

Last night was my wedding anniversary! It was a good time. Vegan burgers and fries at a downtown pub that my wife and I used to play trivia at. Oddly enough, a midscale bar here with not a lot of veggie options has the best vegan burgers in town. Go figure. Anyway, eight years of marriage deserves a good huge veggie burger.

It’s been a good eight years; as I was saying to my wife last night, it’s good to have a partner that ‘gets’ you. We both married pretty late in life, as these things go… it’s been eight years, and you can do the math from my birthday post last week.  I think one of the advantages of that was we were both pretty settled into our personalities by the time we met. So while we’re both still growing, there haven’t been any radical redirections.

Eight Years of Marriage; Eight Years of Compromise

Jesus, that sounds shitty. “EIGHT YEARS OF NEVER QUITE GETTING WHAT I GODDAMN WANT.” That’s not what I mean. It’s more that I think one of the helpful things is we both bend. When either of us is rigid on something, it means we’re pretty goddamn serious about it. Generally speaking, we can both flex to accommodate the other. Obviously it’s not always peanut butter and (dairy-free) chocolate, but generally speaking we don’t take life so seriously that everything is win-or-lose.

I think staying pretty fluid in a relationship is important; I’ve known couples where every single thing is a deadly serious game of chess and it seems exhausting.

Lucky to be together, and happy, and healthy

All of this happiness is happening in the sad context of an old friend of mine going into hospice today. He and his wife are my age, and we’ve all known each other since university. Not close friends, but meet-for-dinner-when-I’m-in-town friends. It’s profoundly sad. They’ve been together for a quarter-century, one of those young couples that made it work long-term. So it’s a sad and haunting thing to see this happen to somebody you know.

Kind of a bum note to end this on. The upshot is I’m lucky, and grateful.

Day Seventy-Nine: Update the Weight

“Update the Weight” is the best I could do at like six a.m. Apologies.

Daily weighing is still going all right; my biggest problem is forgetting on weekend mornings, and when I do that I just carry back the next weigh to the day before. It’s not perfect, but it works okay.

It’s been interesting, especially the weekly summaries. I think I’ve hit on a good plan; to recap:

  • Weigh daily and note exercise;
  • Don’t stress about the daily weigh totals;
  • Have a weekly average which is what should be paid attention to.

Update the weight: about a pound a week

And since I started, I’ve been dropping about a pound every week. Or, like, 600 grams? Or something? I don’t really do conversions.

(As a sidebar, is it just a Canadian thing that weight, height and carpentry are feet/inches/pounds and everything else is grams? In the kitchen, I’m all about grams, kilograms, litres — 100% metric. Distance, like running and driving, I’m metric. But I’m five foot ten, weigh about 200 pounds, and am in a ten-foot by nine-foot room. I will measure a twelve-foot board to cut it down to seven and five-eights. It’s weird.)

Two pounds in three weeks, to be accurate, and that’s the kind of input that I can accept and stay sane about. That, and daily food tracking (which I’m still bad at) are the two things that need to happen on the “logging” end. The food tracking is still a challenge for me. It’s just not something I think to do naturally, and it’s tedious and looking foods up is a pain in the ass.

On the whole, though, the daily-weigh thing is working for me. I don’t get stressed (much) about the daily weights any more. Unless there’s a radical shift up for some reason, but that’s quickly settled the next day. I think it also helps with the diet.


Day Seventy-Eight: Spring is Sprung

Spring is sprung! The grass is riz. I wonder when dem boidies is? Dey’s on da wing? Why that’s absoid? Of course, da wings are on da boids!

The first day of spring in Ontario is frequently not that different than the winter; this morning’s run was exactly at the freezing mark. Sidewalks clear, except for one patch of ice that nearly did me in at the end. Fancy dancing saved my butt.

I have never been this excited about running before — the rowing machine should be arriving today, so I’m looking forward to getting back to the rowing/running alternations that marked the fittest period of my life. Which was admittedly about 15 years ago. So I’m not setting myself up for 30 pounds of weight loss and being absolutely back at peak fighting trim in weeks. It’s going to take work, and I may never get back there. But I’m looking forward to trying.

Spring is sprung, and UPS is insane

The only hitch in my day is having to engage in tense negotiations with my wife. I have a new person starting at work today on a placement, so I absolutely have to be there in the morning. But UPS has a delivery window of, get this, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Twelve hours of uninterrupted possibility. We don’t own a car, and the box is 70 pounds, so it’s really, really inconvenient to try to pick it up.

Twelve hours. Seriously. In 2017. Uber can have a car at my door in five minutes and I can track it in real time. UPS can’t narrow down a delivery window to less than 12 hours.

Anyway. Lots of negotiation about her being home this morning, me maybe having to come home this afternoon — it’s a pain. But by tomorrow, I’ll have a rowing machine, and spring is sprung with my absolute favourite form of exercise in the world. Life is good. UPS is dumb. But life is good.



Day Seventy-Seven: Sober Fun

There’s a line in the new season of the Netflix show Love, which also has sobriety as a component of it. “When you get complacent, your addiction starts doing push-ups.” I’ve been having sober fun recently, and while I don’t have an addiction in the killed-the-dog sense, complacency deserves attention. Just because my off switch works fine doesn’t mean I should ignore its maintenance.

We’ve been making plans with some friends to get together on the weekly and watch Riverdale. My wife describes it as a trash fire, surrounded by the protective firebreak of a dumpster fire. It’s glorious. And my wife and our friends enjoy drinking while watching Riverdale, and I’m cool with it.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised, though, that the last few times I’ve gotten together with friends who drink there’s been no white-knuckling. They’re drinking, I’m not. I don’t feel compelled or even particularly tempted to drink. I’m having sober fun, they’re having reasonable consumption fun. It’s all good.

Sober fun for everyone!

Again, I’m fortunate in this regard. Some folks just can’t be around alcohol, and that’s a choice worthy of equal respect. In my case, it’s about building a positive self-reinforcement. I’m happy that I’m not tempted. I’m proud that I’m not tempted. It’s also about being on guard against a loss of novelty. What happens when I’m bored with my virtuousness? Maintaining when it no longer feels virtuous but just bland and normal… that’s a future problem.


Day Seventy-Six: Eat When You’re Hungry

It seems like a simple thing, but it’s hard for me to retain — “eat when hungry” is a problem for all us grazers and stress eaters. I woke up a bit early today, not “insomnia early,” just… my eyes opened at 4:30 instead of 5, and I was up. It’s Saturday, I got no huge plans, I can nap later.

So I got up. The cat went berserk, because of course me being up means she gets fed.

(this isn’t true; we have a food-dispensing machine, which I’ll talk about at some point, but the cat has a brain the size of a hazel nut)

So I wandered downstairs with the cat. As soon as my feet hit the kitchen floor, they turned toward the fridge. And the fridge was open before I thought…

I’m not hungry.

Which is not always a factor with me and eating.

Again: it feels like a baseline human… not even idea, but element. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. Like, yeah. Whatever. Of course.

But the “am I hungry?” micro-check in doesn’t really happen with me. My “eat” trigger is more “is food here?” and “am I bored, distracted, stressed, tired, depressed, anxious, or just kinda not thinking?”

I would have been a great early human. I would have rocked that. Eating what I can, when I can. Calories were scarce in early human times. I  think. If they weren’t, I would have been a plump wheezing meal for a sabertooth tiger, and circle of life and all that.

Point being, I need to improve my “hungry?” circuitry. It should not be a staggering revelation at 4:30 in the morning that I should only eat when I’m hungry. I’m in no danger of developing any kind of faux-not-hungry disorders. I get hungry. I can afford to eat when I’m hungry.


Day Seventy-Five: Walk Away the Pounds

The weather’s been weird — or normal, given how badly we’ve screwed up the climate — lately. At any rate, I was getting back into my running groove when we suddenly dropped back into sub-zero temperatures with a 15 cm snow dump. My small city is… fine?… at sidewalk clearing, but not good enough to run without fear of slipping. So I have returned, once again, to Walk Away the Pounds.

Walk Away the Pounds
It gets weirdly Jesusy near the end, but it ain’t bad.

This is, believe it or not, awkward for me to talk about.

Those who know my wife now know her as a pretty fit person — not a triathlete but, you know, in pretty good shape. When we got married, though, she was just getting back into exercise after a bit of a slump where chaotic work hours had taken a toll over a couple of years.

So when she moved to Canada, her mom gave her an exercise DVD that she’d liked; three “walk away the pounds workouts” in which a bunch of women (and a beleaguered older man named Randy) do a routine where you walk in place, lift your legs, move your arms, etc. In the last bit, you hold three-pound soft weights.

Walk Away the Pounds surprised me

I thought it was goofy as shit.

But that, combined with a Wii and a WiiFit board, and Marisa lost some weight, gained some stamina. Out of sheer curiosity, and solidarity, I decided to give the walk away the pounds thing a try.

I was surprised. The three-mile walk, especially once you get some weights in there, is tough, if you take it seriously and try to execute it with good form and vigour. Especially if you jack up the weights a bit.

So it’s been my winter fallback when I can’t run. FitStar covers the odd days, when I want to do all sorts of muscle work. Walk Away is actually a chunk of my cardio. Over time, I challenge myself by carrying five- or seven-pound weights throughout the whole thing.

It’s no substitute for running, or rowing. Did  I mention that we finally bit the bullet and ordered the Concept2 on my birthday? But it’s something. And it’s more of a something than I initially gave it credit for.