Day 130: Gingerly Back On That Horse

All right! Break’s over. Back on that horse.  I’m feeling better across the shoulders. I had a weird twinge in my IT band (I think) this morning. Which reminded me of something I’ve forgotten.

When I stop exercising for a while, my body starts spontaneously injuring itself.

I’m not even joking. I’m glad to be back on that horse, because when my back twinged this morning, I remembered. If I stop exercising for a few days to a week, I start pulling more things. I don’t know why.

I’m no physiotherapist. But I guess my body adjusts to a certain level of activity. And if I stop maintaining it, the… minor atrophy?… makes things happen. Bad things.

So: back on that horse, including food logging and evening checklists.

I’m’a record this, and then it’s over to food logging, and the evening checklist, and the whole nine yards. It’s not easy, but I have to say it makes me happy. I don’t know when I became a routine junkie. Maybe it’s something that comes with age. But I genuinely like the idea of having things locked in like that.

So yeah: back on that horse. A gentle row this morning to start stretching everything back in place. A short run tomorrow. Hopefully back to 100% next week. I’m looking forward to it.

I’m looking forward to it!?! This is genuinely surprising.



Day 125: Deslumped!

Rally achieved!

It was a good day yesterday; not perfect foodwise, but it’s good to recover from a little slump and get right back on that horse.

Keeping my spirits up in a week of solid rain is a challenge. This is day… five, I think?… of bad weather, and we’ve gotten a month’s worth of rain in three days, or so the weatherpeople say. I keep checking the basement.

I’m leaving in a few minutes to do the radio show with my wife; as the station we volunteer for is a campus/community station, they’ve got a dire need for more programmers for the summer, when the students are gone.

So I’ve taken on a second show. And, as usual, made it more of a Thing than it needs to be. So I’m currently trying to plan for the show, but also de-escalate my Big Ideas down to something manageable so I don’t make myself, or my wife, crazy.

(It’s about soundtracks; specifically, video game soundtracks. I’m excited.)

Running downstairs to make breakfast in a few so we can get out the door for the show…

Day 124: Minor Slump

A not-great day yesterday, but I’m trying to get back on top of it after a minor slump. Actually, screw that: I am getting back on top of it. No “trying” involved.

Why? I don’t know, to be honest. I think after two solid weeks of being pretty good, I may have just been due. Yesterday was very distracted, very low-energy. I didn’t run through the evening checklist for the first time since I started it two weeks ago.

And that’s okay! With some gentle prodding from my wife, I got back on the exercise horse this morning. I’m going to log food in a minute. I’m seeing results and want to keep seeing them. So I’ve had a 24-hour slump. Big deal.

Minor slump factors include:

  • A lousy running week. It’s been pouring rain, and I’ve learned that running in the rain doesn’t just mean I get wet. It means my shoes get wet. And that means additional days of misery.
  • Pulled my shoulders somehow. Not seriously, but enough that it’s been bad for sleep and generally aggravating.
  • Consistent good behaviour has left me with a “backlog” of bad behaviour juice. I have a weird idea about how all that works. For another time.

The important thing is, my one bad day is just one bad day. A minor slump is a one-day slump. Exercise is done for today, I’m about to log food, and I’m checklisting the crap out of that checklist tonight.

Slumps accrue. The bad energy demotivates me for a second day. Then a third. Then I’m all “blaaargh, nothing matters any more and eventually the universe will collapse” and it’s weeks of misery.

So it’s important to nip this thing in the bud. Minor slump. That’s it. Back on that horse.

Day 120: Minimum Exercise Threshold

I think it’s fair to say that most mornings, I don’t feel like exercise. Look at my weekends. I don’t get out of bed on Saturday or Sunday mornings and think “I can squeeze in a quick 5k.” I get out of bed and make coffee. On mornings that I’m really not feeling it, it’s all about the minimum exercise threshold.

I have gotten to a point where I don’t mind exercise, but I’ve found that with running and now with rowing, in many ways I prefer long bouts to short ones.

Because I’m just kind of a mess when I start.

When I run, I feel like the first two kilometres, I’m a stumbling, wheezing pile of garbage. Fifty metres out the door, I want to quit.

But after a couple of k, I start to feel like I’m myself running. Now, by the end of a 12k, I’m a stumbling wheezing mass of garbage again. That’s to be expected. I have a minimum exercise threshold of about two kilometres for running.

Minimum exercise threshold and rowing

It’s shaping up the same way for rowing, too. Oddly enough, it’s even about the same “distance” — two kilometres. I guess that’s not super weird, given that 2k of running and 2k of rowing both add up to 11-12 minutes.

So on the days I’m especially not feeling it, I try to set myself up by saying “just run that 2k, or row it, and see how you feel.”

Sometimes, I still feel like quitting. There have been a few 3k rowing days and short running days. I can push through that distance and say “no, still not feeling it.” That happens.

Usually, at that point I’m finding the groove and I want to keep going.

On the “still not feeling it” days, I always wonder if I should be pushing harder, or if I’m being smart and listening to my body. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. A topic for another day.

Day 117: Small Decisions

It all comes down to small decisions, right? Which is tough for me in the moment — when I want something, it’s easy to come down on the other side of it. “It’s just a __________”. Snack, skip day for exercise, etc. But I’m making (slow) progress with weight and fitness — losing pounds and feeling better. So it’s easy to look back and see that as the result of a lot of small right moves.

Small decisions are tough because they’re small.

It’s hard, in the moment, to see things in aggregate. So I constantly make ‘exceptions’ for myself — I’ll stay up late tonight, I’ll have this one snack, I’ll lowball exercise just today. From any outside perspective, obviously this snowballs. But it’s hard to see it in that moment.

So getting on the scale this morning and thinking “not bad,” I really tried to flash back to small decisions over the past few days. Going a bit harder with exercise, not snacking, sticking to a meal plan.

Mainly, the small decisions have to do with food. Which, as we’ve established, has been a real weak point for me. But it’s been good to see some progress, and trying to wire small decisions to that progress is my big play right now. Is “small decision, big consequence” a new mantra?


Day Ninety-Eight: Remotivating

I could stand some remotivating right now.

Partly it’s just being a bit “candle at both ends” for the last while; partly I think it’s just some lack of sleep. Caffeine is definitely on the upswing for the past few weeks, which is something to keep an eye on.

So right now I’m walking the line between “get more sleep and maybe I’ll be energized when I get up,” and “just get going and see if it kicks in.” It’s a weird line, because either one could not work, and then I’ll feel bad. So of the two, “stay up and try to kick it into gear” is the one that doesn’t mean lost time. Maybe a few minutes of exercise, even though it’s Sunday?

Remotivating on a Sunday morning

Sunday morning is particularly funny, because it’s supposed to be a sort of relax day anyway. But at the same time, I gots stuff to get done, yo. So at 8 a.m. I’m coming out of a kind of a got-up-early miasma.

Clearly I’ve talked myself into “get going,” so it’s time to sit down, make a list, plot the day.

  • Study for the class I’m taking
  • Tune up the bikes for spring
  • Do some recording to fulfil some obligations
  • Plan the kitchen island I intend to build
  • Plan the couch/day bed my wife and I want to build
  • Set some alerts for sanded plywood
  • Meal planning & grocery shop for the week

…clearly, there’s stuff that needs doing!

Let’s go, Sunday!


Day Eighty-Eight: Running 10k

Do you know the easiest way to get yourself to run 10k?

Run 5k in a straight line away from your house. Then realize you have to get back.

That sounds like a joke, but that was seriously the approach to my first 10k of 2017: I thought i’d be doing six. Then I just decided to keep going at 3k out, to 4. And then at 4k out, I thought what the hell.

10K Run March 30 2017
Straight up, straight back.

Nowhere near a great time for me, but running 10k in under an hour, and that’s a good baseline for the year.

The cyclical nature of it all is bothersome… training for three seasons, then a forced break, then starting slower than I finished in the fall. But there are no indoor tracks I can access where I live. And treadmill running is fine, but I’m more committed to the rower at home than a gym membership.

Day 88: running 10k and oh, also Nazis

So I’m feeling better than yesterday about confrontation, and since it’s day 88 of this project — look it up, Nazi-watchers! — I definitely feel better about the whole situation. I gots better places to focus my compassion than white guys that should know better dropping giant steaming turds of ignorance in public spaces.

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 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 Thirty-Three: Bad Habits Creeping In

They nibble around the edges, don’t they? Bad habits.

When I started this, I honestly kind of expected to break before bending. Past attempts at total sobriety, good diet, etc. have almost always terminated in some sort of bingey freak-out, or a total exercise stoppage.

This time, though, I’m noticing a kind of failure creep.

One more cookie than I need (really I need zero cookies, but you get it). A little less exercise in the morning. Taking the short walk to work.

The number one… friend… of bad habits… is complacency? I don’t know.

I feel like there should be a thing about complacency I can say here, but I don’t know what it is.

So what’s the bad habits buttress? Keeping motivation high is key, and internal accountability is key. External accountability structures are fine, but fallible… if I’m not driving myself, inside, to stay the course, no amount of external accountability will do it for me.

So I think that’s going to be my focus for today, and maybe all of next week — remember how I was talking about trying something different with this? Theme weeks are an idea I like. A week of ideas on internal motivation might be a good thing for me to start looking into now. I like that. Fending off bad habits with internally motivating strategies.

As another aside: I need to take more pictures. I keep meaning to populate these blog entries with photos I take, even just on my iPhone, but I keep forgetting to actually do it. I just need to block an hour in my calendar and get it done. C’mon, self. Get on the stick.