Day 100: 100 days!

So this is what 100 days feels like. A good time to take stock of what’s gone on so far, and take a beat to think about what’s working well, and what’s not working well.

100 days of sobriety:

Working well This was what I thought would be hardest, and 100 days in, turns out to be easiest. Maybe because it was the thing I was mentally girding myself for.

Key lessons:

  • Don’t drink. That’s a probable truism. But that simple decision, made daily in an affirmation, was pretty damn useful.
  • Don’t freak yourself out. Overthinking it, burning your brain out on never again? isn’t helpful. “One day at a time” really is a powerful tool.
  • Tell people. Don’t get preachy about it, don’t declare things. If you need to be socially diplomatic, “I’m trying a thing where I don’t drink for a while” is a good out that doesn’t unnerve people and makes them feel okay about their choices.

Future:

Keep on keepin’ on.

100 days of exercise:

I’m doing something every day, sometimes just stretching, sometimes not working as hard as I could. I think there’s a factor here, a fourth pillar, that I need to get into starting on day 101.

Key lessons:

  • The metaphor of running 10k by running 5k in one direction is a good one. Set myself up for exercise in ways that are hard to get out of. Make appointments with friends to run.
  • Try to figure out my fine line between “take it easy and don’t hurt yourself,” and “go hard and work for it.” I don’t know how to navigate that yet.
  • As much as I hate it, I need to have stretching and strength as part of the routines, not just running/rowing.

Future:

Give myself a few more ease-into-rowing sessions, then set myself up with RowPro or a rowing app so I  have rowing appointments that will be hard to break.

100 days of eating sensibly:

Ugh. This is the boondoggle. The beast. I thought this  one would be easiest, and it’s hardest — maybe the most insidious of the areas. I’m still not great about diet, snacking, etc.

Key lessons:

  • I can’t keep snacks in the house. Period. It sounds childish, but having my wife hide the jellybeans and mete them out every evening was the best move I’ve made, foodwise, in 100 days.
  • I clearly have undeniable stress eating issues.
  • Keeping bad food out of the house is key, and avoiding food when out of the house is also key.

Future:

Food logging is going to be key. I have to tackle why I’m not doing it head-on, and aggressively attack any thing that’s preventing it from happening. This will be a major endeavour — it’s going to involve meal planning, more time in the morning, and a solid partnership with my wife.

100 days of sleeping poorly:

I don’t think of this as taking on more, I think I’ve been trying to build a stool when I should have been building a table. The fourth leg is sleep. I’ve always thought of sleep as a value-add: it’s great to have, but I can do without. I’m starting to realize I’ve been wrong, wrong, wrong about sleep. Sleep’s a foundation.

Key points:

  • I need to be less churlish about sleep aids, especially ones that are supposed to prevent middle-of-the-night wakefulness. Not get hooked on ’em or anything, but be open to them as a tool.
  • My bedtime wrap-up needs to be something I take more seriously, rather than just being on devices up to the minute I hit the hay. Less electronics, more books and writing.

Future:

Better sleep.

100 days in summary:

The above is kind of necessarily self-critical, but I feel good. Right now, but also in general. I feel better than I have in a while. An older version of me would be despondent at not having reached all my goals by now; current me is learning, slowly, to look at the trend lines. The trend lines are good.

I’ve got a table instead of a stool now, and some solid objectives in every area.

Bonus challenge:

No Netflix except for stuff I watch with my wife until the next milestone. I’m burning too much time on shit TV.

250 days is the next milestone.

Let’s do this thing.

Day Ninety-Two: Food Tracking

It’s weird, being a relatively smart person. I know what I should do. I know what the benefits are. I know it’s not difficult. And yet… I don’t do it. Food tracking is my elusive bugbear in this whole thing.

It’s… like I said, weird. My wife is great about it. She tracks regularly and methodically. I just… don’t. I’m on the sobriety, I’m good with exercise, I’m not even eating particularly stupidly. I’m just not tracking.

I’ll chalk at least part of it up to being easily distracted. Even now, from the time I started writing this, I had a tab open on my browser to look up “Bugbear”, which led me to the Dungeons and Dragons ‘bugbear’. Which almost had me clicking more tabs and falling deeper down that rabbit hole. Which would have ended with me rushing out the door. So I’m trying to stay on point now, finish this, record the podcast, and then log the goddamn food for today. 

It’s the second time in less than a week that this has been my focus. So obviously it’s on my mind.

Food tracking forces better habits ‘effortlessly’

Because this is what I know.

Food tracking changes my diet without me ‘changing my diet.’ When I do it, honestly and consistently, I don’t have to think about eating right. I eat right. It’s totally self-reinforcing.

When I don’t do it, I snack, go off the rails, etc. In fact, snacking is what drives me from doing it. I can’t face the guilt.

So clearly, tracking is the way to go. It takes very little time, it’s not hard, and it’s very helpful.

I’m a smart guy.

Why do I get stuck on this?

 

Day Ninety: Why Snack? I know.

Why snack? I’ve been trying the “eat when you’re hungry” thing for a while, and still find myself on hand-to-mouth autopilot. It’s aggravating, frankly… going about your day and then finding yourself eating.

It’s an interesting problem, though. What’s going on with my wiring that I just… snack? A couple of weeks ago, I ran up against this. And assuming that I was going to change that problem just by observing that problem may have been naive.

I’ve tinkered with a couple of anti-snack strategies. I think what would work best is actually planning my food day, every day. It’s a road I’ve been down a few times. And it’s the path that consistently works.

Why snack? Because I don’t know what I’m eating.

Like, what I’m eating in the future, not what I’m eating while I’m snacking. That would be weird. But when I have a food schedule, I stick to it. I’m good at that part.

So what’s keeping me from having a good food schedule?

Well, I get busy. My wife gets busy. It’s good-busy, but more often than we’d like, I get back to the house and it’s time to whip up some food. Or I wind up eating at work. Or… stuff happens.

Maybe it’s time to look at my schedule, or switch food-logging from a phone system to a computer one — doing it while I’m sitting here, right after the podcast is recorded.

Recipes are also a problem. Why snack? Because I don’t want to write stuff down. Why snack? Because I’m already snacking, and not logging it, so what the hell.

I’m not being too hard on myself — I think trying to force absolute change super fast isn’t a great idea, especially when I’ve got a lot going on. But it’s worth thinking about a gradual and consistent change.

Day Fifty-Six: Weight Loss Rates

It’s a pretty garbagey Internet, when you look at it. Content marketing has a lot to answer for; literal hordes of people generating whatever (especially on reasonably popular questions like weight loss rates) at about one cent a word to populate blogs to drive advertising.

So I’ll take the Centers for Disease Control as the most authoritative source on weight loss rates: losing 1-2 pounds a week steadily is the most successful way to control weight loss. And the general advice that this is a lifestyle thing, not a temporary “diet” thing, is good too.

Weight loss rates index to lifestyle changes

“Lifestyle change” is hard, though. So I’m looking at daily weighing as a kind of motivator for that. Hopefully — if all goes as planned — the “forget about it number” will just be a kind of second check-in in the morning.

I had a great time at a LAN party yesterday — more on that tomorrow — but man, there was a lot of bad food and some not-great food decisions. I slipped into the old habit of justifying bad food with not drinking. Again, lifestyle change is hard.

So the aim now is 1-2 pounds a week, stably, for the medium term.

And that’s about it for weighing — time to return to random topics for a bit.

Time for the weigh-in!

Day Fifty-Three: Weighing Myself

I haven’t been weighing myself. “Weighing yourself is bullshit!” I proudly proclaimed to my wife, at the start of the year. “It’s just a number! I choose to measure myself on how I look, and how I feel!”

Folks, it’s the end of February. It’s time to start weighing myself.

Now don’t get me wrong — I still think it’s a bullshit metric. But it’s a metric, and frankly, I don’t think I look or feel much fitter than I did at the start of January. Maybe, hopefully, there are some big changes going on inside me, what with the not drinking and not eating as much junk.

Weighing myself versus “feeling different”

Part of it is weight gives me a number that I can look back to. I feel the way I feel, all the time. There’s no way to feel other than how you’re feeling in the moment. It’s hard to remember feelings the same way you can look at a number.

So maybe I feel a whole lot better now than I did in January. But short of keeping diaries — which is a good idea, and I’m all for it, but it’s not something I’m doing — I don’t have an easily referenced record of feelings.

Therefore, I’m reluctantly reversing my position on weighing myself. But I want to weigh myself right, if you know what I mean.

Over the next few days, I’m going to look into the science of weighing oneself. How often? What time of day? Clothed or unclothed? If I’m going to badger myself into doing it, I might as well badger myself into doing it right.

I still think it’s kind of bullshit. It’s possible to lose all kind of weight and be super unhealthy. I mean, heroin is a thing, am I right? But I’m feeling like having some sort of external tracking motivator would be good for me, and that’s the most convenient option on the table.

201.2 pounds, incidentally.

Day Forty-Five: Repetition (it’s food, stupid)

Here’s what I’m worried about: monotony. Not in terms of this blog and podcast; I’ve got tricks I can try. But in this endeavour. I feel like, a month and a half in, I’m already starting to get into the semi-improvement cycle where I keep falling into the same trap. And whining about it. Which gets boring.

One of the things I seem to forget is that change isn’t hard. It’s tiring. I’ve been kind of exhausted for the last few days, partly due to a cold, but party due to feeling like I’m in a rut.

And the damning thing about a rut is that it saps your energy to climb out of it.

So I’m trying to keep myself on track; keep three solid legs on the stool. But I’m feeling drained, and when you’re feeling drained, you tend to fall back on the bad habits. So keeping on is tough.

Repetition is a bad food loop.

Repetition, for me, is bad food based. It’s about losing the force of will to keep food on track. And once that goes, I start feeling bloated and logey, and then exercise goes because I phone it in when I’m bloated and logey.

So as I write this (I knew doing this would be good for something; I’m basically conducting talk therapy with myself!), I realize that I need to focus on food for the next few days. I’ve been happy with the strong stool leg, but I need to shift attention to the weak one.

Again, it’s been a lifetime to date of taking runs at this with varying success. I should be smart enough to recognize my failure modes and deal with them. And I’m seeing a failure mode right now.

It’s food, stupid

I mean, not “food to the exclusion of exercise and sobriety,” but I really do need to think hard and push my mental energy toward it.  I am the master of my fate. Food can’t beat me, for Pete’s sake. It’s just food.

 

Day Thirty: I hate drinking water (I must drink more water)

Water blows.

I’m sorry. I know there are people out there who are like “there’s nothing I enjoy more than the cool, clear taste of all natural water!” I don’t believe them. We have spent like a billion of years of evolution to invent things that are not water to drink, and if water was so g_d great, we wouldn’t have done that.

Water is boring and I don’t like drinking it.

But I must. Hydration is a pretty big deal, you guys. And I am really bad at it. Of all the ‘healthy’ things I know I’m supposed to do, drinking water is where I fall down the most.

  • It is boring. It bores my mouth. My mouth actively says “I am bored.”
  • It is virtuous in the worst way of “eat your vegetables” virtuousness.
  • It makes me pee a lot, which is really annoying at work, because it’s hard to get into a groove when I’m bouncing up to go to the bathroom all the time.
  • Blargh. Just… blargh. Blargh blargh blargh.

But there’s really no substitute.

I don’t want to load up on sugars, either artificial or fruit. I don’t want weird artificial sweeteners and chemicals in me, and I’m trying not to spend money unnecessarily.

So it’s water. It’s free*, it really is legitimately perfect from a health standpoint, and it’s… well, again, necessary.

I try to keep a 2-litre pitcher filled on my desk at work; I fill it to the 2-litre mark in the morning, and try to be finished with it at 5 p.m. That’s… okay, math… that’s two litres divided by eight hours, and that’s all the math I’m doing.

That’s not really much on an hourly basis.

I just wish it didn’t suck so much. You suck, water.

But I’m going to drink you anyway.

*I mean, my taxes help pay for the infrastructure and staff that keep my drinking water potable, so it’s not technically “free”. Also, don’t buy bottled water unless you really, really need to. If we just put all the money we blow on bottled water into supporting our municipalities, we wouldn’t ever need to buy bottled water. It’s true.