Day Seventy-Two: Sick and Half-Assing It

Up all night with some sort of headache/sinus thing. I’ve already written in to work saying I’m not coming in. But then I had to write a bunch of follow-up emails because I’m not going in. And I’ve realized I have to go in. Which sucks. I’ve muddled through a bit of walking-DVD exercise. I’m half-assing it.

Half-assing, wholly guilty

The tragedy is I don’t feel better when I half-ass it. I definitely don’t have it in me to give it my all. Some people get all professional wrestler when they’re ill, and push even harder. That’s not me. I’m not that guy. I’m proud of myself for getting out of bed AT ALL.

But I still feel bad. I have a countervailing inner “but couldn’t you have tried harder?” voice in my head. I can’t even enjoy half-assing. It’s a pain.

So I’m feeling too under the weather to get my head in the game. But I’m in the game enough to feel bad to not be giving it my all. It’s a no-win; headaches suck. This is also the second time this winter that I’ve gotten some sort of weird sinus-headache going on, and I’m hoping it’s not a Thing for me now.


On the bright side, “evening check in” went well yesterday; it really did help with my evening grazing, I think.


Day Seventy-One: Evening Reboots, Revisited

A while back, I was thinking about Morning Me and Evening Me. The takeaway was I was thinking about ways to disrupt automatism. Stop Evening Me from just sort of sliding in. Evening reboots are the new thing.

I tried setting a phone alarm for 6 p.m. marked “reset for evening.” It didn’t work. I forgot about it. It’s been busy.

Time to revisit that idea.

Because I think the problem isn’t actually a distinct evening personality. It’s mindfulness. As I get tired and distracted, mindfulness slips. Short-term gratification starts trumping medium-term goals. Since I’m non mindful, I fail.

Evening reboots could really help.

When I sit down for dinner, I should just take 10 seconds (like I do here). I should re-check-in for the evening: what are my plans? An evening reboot doesn’t have to be about work, work, work. If I’m planning to play video games, or read, I should plan that.

I’m talking about three points in the day now. Morning check-in, which is this. Evening check-in, between work and dinner. And before-bed check-out, where I think about how the whole day went.

There’s a bit of scope creep in all of this. I’ve gone from a short morning check-in to about a minute a day of various processes.  A minute still isn’t bad, but I don’t want to get trapped in a lifestyle that’s only about my lifestyle.

I’m going to try this today, though… sitting down for dinner should be my trigger. A quick look at my evening. Figure out in half-hour chunks what I intend to do. Then do it. If I’m mindful about what I’m about to eat, and what I’m going to do, that should cut down on the automatic grazing.

We’ll see what happens! Again, I don’t want my life to become an endless series of check-ins and check-outs. But I need to beat automatic activity. Experiment ho!

Day Seventy: Weekends

I think I’m having a “been really busy” bad food weekend, not a “weekends are bad” weekend, but regardless, it’s definitely been a “don’t log food and graze by instinct” kind of few days.

Actually, it’s both. It’s a “weekends are bad” situation overall, combined with a “being really busy didn’t let me plan for the weekend” overlay.

Weekends are bad

This comes up even in the earliest days of the podcast. I can rock a weekday. I’m great at weekdays. Weekdays are structured.

Weekends, not so much.

Even Saturday mornings are generally okay, because the show anchors everything and I need to get up and get moving to get this done and out the door on time. But after noon on Saturdays? If I don’t have a schedule for my weekend and a plan of attack, all bets are off.

All food bets. Sobriety’s still good. Just being clear on that front.

But Saturday — yesterday — turned into a grazefest, partly because I didn’t have any plan for the day, foodwise. Partly because we were busy and didn’t have a lot of food in the house ready to cook, or eat. And partly because I’m a stress eater and a default eater.

Put it all together, it spells “bad food day.”

So it’s good that I’m writing this now, before 10 a.m. on a Sunday, because I can actually sit down and work out the rest of today. Keep Sunday on track. I’m not having a ‘cheat day’ today, because  the last week has been kind of a mess.

‘But the weekly housecleaning is done, I’m showered and shaved, a bit muzzy because of the time change. Maybe another cup of coffee, then make a food plan of attack for the rest of the day. My wife’s off working a 10-1 shift for the radio station, and we’re going to meet to food shop, so I also need to look at my cooking responsibilities for the week.

Maybe play a bit of video games, too. Gotta have some fun in there.


Day Sixty-Nine: Volunteerism

Coming up on the end of the overcommitment period; there’s some carry-over volunteerism. Maybe more coming if people take me up on the “write a song” offer for the radio station funding drive. It’s fun! But it’s still a commitment, and it’s still stuff.

Working with my wife, who is working at the station, on the funding drive has got me thinking. About volunteerism, and commitment, and work. I feel like I’m getting more done for the funding drive than some of the staff who are theoretically working on it. But I’m a volunteer — I can pick this stuff up and pick it down.

Back when I was running an all-volunteer radio station, I got a lot out of my volunteers. Incredible dedication. Tremendous energy. Great results.

And I wonder, sometimes, if paying people to do a fun job doesn’t make the job un-fun. And the people less effective.

Volunteerism is fun. Work isn’t. By definition.

Last summer, somebody asked me if I liked my job. I thought about it. My answer was, “when I’m not doing it.” It’s true! Whenever I sit back and think about what I do for a living, it’s great. It’s varied, fun, interesting, ever changing. But when I’m actually in the office, it’s hectic, pressuring and sometimes annoying.

I volunteer to do similar sorts of things as my work. That, I enjoy wholeheartedly. Partly because I don’t really answer to anyone, partly because my work is purely appreciated. Partly because I don’t need to do it. I can quit a volunteer gig.

I’m not sure where my head is at with this particular thing. This period of dramatically increased engagement has given me a much closer look at the organization. The staff seem stressed and overwhelmed, doing jobs that I’ve seen volunteers take on in other places with no pay. Sometimes I wonder if paying people for passion work is counter-productive. No conclusions, just woolgathering.




Day Sixty-Eight: Being Supportive

It’s pretty easy to get caught up in my own stuff, especially when I’m trying a few things. I need  to remember that being supportive is as important as supporting myself.

It’s been a rough week for my wife; she’s taking on a role that is proving a bit more challenging than I think she anticipated. Or at least differently challenging. Working in non-profit arenas is always an interesting thing to do. So she’s being stretched and challenged in different ways, which is probably going to be a good experience in the medium term. But it’s a bit shit right now.

So I’m trying to keep up with my own stuff, but box it off a little to make more space for her. As mentioned recently, it’s great to have somebody who supports you on these roads, and that has to be reciprocal.

So I’m trying to figure out something nice to do for her! I think she’s a couple days behind on this podcast, so this will still be a surprise. We’ve got a pretty jacked schedule for the next few days, so it’s going to have to be pretty efficiently slotted in.

Time to think!

Day Sixty-Seven: Home Gym & Big Buys

I’ve never really wanted a full home gym, but I do prefer exercising at home over out of the house. It’s partially because I am acutely uncomfortable exercising around other people. Also because really just getting up and doing it is the best formula for me.

Before the Ontario move, I had a pretty good set-up: weights, a good bench, punching bag and Concept 2 rowing machine. That all went when we moved here to a much smaller place. Now that we’re in a house again, I’m kind of missing it all.

Home gym versus the one big thing

Of all of it, the thing I miss the most is definitely the rower. I miss my Concept2. I’ve tried using the ergs at two gyms in town, but they’re always kind of janky, or there’s a wait.

Rowing was also the only machine-based exercise I’ve ever bona fide enjoyed. I really liked it! Hard, intense, full-body workouts. I’d get on with headphones and get off 30 minutes later feeling blasted. I still enjoy and will keep up with running, but the rower was the one home gym thing that I loved.

The problem, as it often is, is cost. My wife and I have been crunching numbers, though, and if she gives the rower a good shake, it means her pausing her spin classes for a while. So if this replaces a gym membership, and her spin membership, it “pays for itself” in a year. That’s not bad, given that these machines are nigh-indestructible.

That’s kind of a false savings, though. We could also be just like the approximately 7.1 billion people on earth that don’t have a rowing machine and are doing just fine.

So it comes down to goals. Am I failing right now in a way that a rowing machine would change? Would spending the money substantially improve things? Can I commit to something like rowing on a three- or four-times-a-week basis? All the questions to answer before we decide.

Day Sixty-Six: Run Anyway

Up late last night at a volunteer thing I was helping organize. That, and a bad night the night before, meant I made the command decision to get an extra hour of sleep this morning. When I got up, my first thought was “I don’t really have time to get a good run in.” My second thought was “run anyway.”

So I did. Run anyway.

It was only a 4k, and I’m trying to do sixes to work back up to regular 10s three times a week, but I’m glad I did it. It was about 30 minutes pillar to post. That means about 22-23 minutes of running, but also the whole putting shoes on, key around the neck, start Strava on the iPhone, all that deal. Really not bad for a 430-calorie burn and the ability to feel proud of myself.

Run anyway isn’t a bad mantra.

Hearkening all the way back to Inspiration Week, “Run Anyway” could go in the Inspiration Rolodex. I can often talk myself out of doing things I should do. I say I can’t do them fully, or do them “right”. But the criteria for “fully” and “right” is often self-imposed anyway. There’s something to be said for only taking things on if you’re going to do them completely and correctly. But there’s also something to be said for giving things your best shot under the circumstances you’re in.

I’m going to try “run anyway” with more stuff in the future. Mostly with running.

Day Sixty-Five: Chestercize

I don’t think “chestersize” is a word. After attempting the pushup-centric workout on FitStar this morning, by golly I’m gonna try to make it one. I was feeling pretty good on the exercise front, and tried to strike out in a new direction.

I got slapped down hard. By my iPhone.

A bunch of thoughts on that: first, I’m pretty happy with my attitude. It wasn’t “this is impossible and I’m never going to do it again.” It was “this is really freakin’ hard and it’s going to take a long time to get good at it.” I’m trying to visualize a future me who can do typewriter pushups and get to that guy.

Chestersize gets stupider the more I think about it.

Now it just sounds like something to slim your chesterfield. Which is crazy. And apparently “chesterfield” is an Ontario regionalism for “couch” that isn’t used anywhere else, so now everyone is confused.


Anyway. I’m pretty happy with the running; fairly routine 6ks, building back up to two or three 10ks a week once the weather gets consistently good.

It’s a bit frustrating, because I can remember a time in my life when I could do 100 pushups. It existed. And I’m never quite sure what I should be thinking is reasonable to re-attain, and what, at 43, I just need to look at and say “that day will never come again.”

I think I’m okay with giving up on some things, if the alternative is eternal frustration and serious injury.

But with the Internet, it’s too easy to find the fringe cases. Genetic anomalies that get into bodybuilding at 65 and are benching 400 pounds at 70. It’s hard to gauge what I can expect as an average person with a job and a life. I don’t have 90 minutes a day for the gym (or the money for a gym membership). I can’t afford a trainer. I’m just a reg’lar fella. I don’t know what I can expect from chestersize.

So for now, I’m sticking to pushing my boundaries with things like FitStar and trying to take failing as a goal marker rather than a frustration.

Day Sixty-Four: Will You Still Need Me?

Ha ha ha! I screwed up the production of the silence and the outro, and now I’m late for work! Enjoy my idiocy. It’s Day Sixty-Four of the podcast! Which calls to mind Mssrs. Lennon and McCartney’s grim reminder of our relentless march toward death. Will you still need me? Will you still feed me?


I’d be lying if getting older wasn’t a major instigator for this project, though. Not only in the “get my life on track” sense, but this project qua project in a “what am I doing with my life that makes a mark?” sense.

Not that I expect this to ever make a mark, in a “change the world” sense. But it’s nice to think about this being a thing that might go on for quite a while, and over time become a body of work. Maybe not a great body of work, but a body of work.

The thing about the Beatles song is that it isn’t just about aging pleasantly, but about aging pleasantly with a partner. Which I’m fortunate to be doing right now. I’m also one of the lucky people that have parents who are still together, and hale and hearty, after five decades. Good role models there.

My wife has been a big supporter of this, both the sobriety-fitness-diet thing and this whole podcast/blog project, from the get go. It’s a good motivator for me to stay on all of it.

Will you still need me today, let alone in 21 years

We’re settling into a good symbiotic groove where we encourage each other to stay on top of exercise and diet (she’s far better at logging and tracking than I am). We’re not always 100% in agreement on this stuff, but we agree more than we don’t, which is lucky.

It’s weird to think that I’m past the two-thirds mark to 64. I still feel in many ways closer to the first third than the last third. This all seemed impossibly far away when I heard Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the first time. I remember that kid. I liked that kid. Sixty-four seemed ludicrously old to that kid.

Sorry, kid. It’s coming on faster than we think.

Day Sixty-Three: Contacting Evening Me

Evening Me is a tough nut to crack. Without trying to sound completely DSM-IV, it’s like there’s a whole different set of logic and rationales that come into play later in the day. Justifications and rationales for bad eatin’, mostly.

Part of it is definitely that I still view things like food logging as a chore. It’s hard to look at it as a chore, but when I am making bad decisions, it’s worse than a chore. It is the full bore of my guilty conscience hammering down on me. That’s worse!

So Evening Me has a few things going for him:

  • I’m tired, so my willpower is low
  • My default state is “eat!”, so my neutral state is bad
  • I inherently push back against “do this” good behaviours
  • I still frame things that are dumb as “fun” instead of stupid

…you know, it’s actually pretty miraculous that I’m not drinking.

Evening Me thinks I’m taking on too much.

While Morning Me (and Day Me) struggle to focus on all three legs of the good livin’ stool, Evening Me capitulates. Day Me understands why I’m doing what I’m doing. Evening Me wonders what the point is.

And I’m still not sure how to talk to that guy.

(Externalizing this into an entirely different persona probably isn’t a good start, or super healthy).

Maybe it’s time to try something radical and silly. The kind of thing that I would normally mock roundly. Morning Me leaves notes for evening me? Maybe I should clear time after work to listen to my own podcast? Strange objects in the fridge and cupboard to shock me out of automatism?

All of these ideas make me cringe. It’s all so goofy and it all sounds like something written in a book by somebody who cares about “satisfaction” but doesn’t need a day job. Ugh.

But — it’s day Sixty-Three, and I’m firing on several cylinders, so I have the luxury of focusing on the things that aren’t working while being okay with the things that are.