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.


Day Seventy-Four: Birthday Insomnia

I started my forty-fourth year awake. A classic case of “busy brain,” no crises but just a lot of pains in the ass rolling around in my noggin. Mostly work-related, some volunteer-related. So I’ve been up off and on; from 11:30-12:30, then from 2:45-6:00, and got up at 6:50. I figure I’m running on about four hours of sleep. Yay birthday.

Exercise today was just stretching, partly tiredness, mostly time management — I still need to do this, have breakfast, shower, and be out the door.

Happy birthday, I guess

This is not the best way to have a birthday and start a year, but there are far far worse. Hung over, fatter than I am, and so on. I might be tired, but at least I can look at myself and say I’m making positive moves this year, which is nice.

I also got a really nice card from my wife, waiting for me on my keyboard, which is awesome. Also kinda passive aggressive “you only love your computer”  if I look at it a certain way, but I’m sure she didn’t mean it like that. I think she just knows I do this in the morning and wanted to surprise me.





Day Seventy-Three: Results! The plan is working.

I don’t want to get a swelled head, here, but I believe I’m actually improving. I’m getting results.

Today I tried something I hadn’t done in a while — my push-up circuit, which is 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 10 leg lifts and 30 seconds of planking, in a row, rest for 45 seconds, repeat the circuit five times.

It’s been a month or so since I’ve done it; lots of FitStar and other things in the interim.

It was… not bad! Not easy by any means, but I wasn’t a weeping mess by the end of it, which is a nice change from previous attempts.

Results mean more results

I’m not setting out to be a triathlete or win the WORLD’S FITTEST MAN competition here. So it’s pleasing to see that things that were hard, are now less hard. But this is where I also have to be careful not to get too enthusiastic. Because that leads to overcommitment, which leads to injury. And then time recovering, and losing ground, and etcetera.

After a couple of days of being sick and low-energy, though, I needed a shot in the arm to encourage me. This was it. Zipping through the circuits this morning was my first “THINGS ARE HAPPENING ” moment in a while. It’s quite galvanizing.

So without pushing myself too hard, I’m motivated to at least maintain. Maybe kick things up HALF a notch. Running is back out this week — blizzard yesterday, and our sidewalks aren’t safe after it snows. But I’m definitely motivated to keep going with FitStar.

I feel good! Sinusy and headachey, but good. Motivated. It’s nice.




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!