Day 550: Vacation Recalibration

Day three of a four-day staycation, and the big sign project has definitely been the theme of the week. Once again, I am in pitched battle with my own neuroses: isn’t this something I should be doing on evenings and weekends? Do I need to take vacation time for this?

Vacation time is a bit mythical in my mind, I think. I always whine at the end of vacations about not having “done enough” or feeling “recharged”. Maybe this is a symptom of me needing to make some non-vacation changes and deep thinking about my job and my life and my stressors, and not look at a few days of dicking around out of the office as some sort of magical panacea.

That might be the theme of this last big day of vacation: work on volunteer stuff this morning, clean house physically with my wife this afternoon, and clean house MENTALLY. Hammock time. Make some notes on what I find rewarding about work, unpack what’s bugging me, and figure out a better strategy for goals and progress that’s satisfying but less emotionally demanding than how I’m approaching it right now.

 

Day 437: Back to Good

Good exercise this morning, pretty good on food yesterday — I think I can say I’m officially Back on Track. It’s going to take a solid week of being attentive to get back the week I lost, though.

I mentioned this the other day: my setbacks set me further back than the length of the setback. I don’t know how to articulate the issue more clearly than that. One day off puts me two days back. One week off puts me three weeks back.

It’s frustrating, but I suppose age is supposed to be.

One tries not to freak oneself out — “you mean I have to be on top of this, rigidly, forever?” is exactly the kind of thing that makes me stress eat. So it’s a one day at a time thing, letting every win bolster your confidence for another day. I imagine that’s why my losses come in streaks too — “one day at a time” works for good days, but tends to clump the bad ones as well. “Yesterday was terrible, how can I come back from that?” kind of thinking.

 

Day 431: Leveling Out the Plane

All right. Still insomnia, but less bad; got up a bit earlier, no exercise but a pretty good mood. Levelling that plane out.

So I’m still feeling blargh, but I’m being reasonable with food. I don’t expect the scales to be kind today. Hard work is, paradoxically, the solution in some ways to feeling overwhelmed with work: plough through, watch the inbox shrink and the outbox grow, and in the back of your head keep thinking about how to manage flow so the inbox doesn’t grow so fast.

Managing up is important in keeping your job not-crazy. I don’t know if I talk much about managing out, though. My role involves managing a lot of people, and a lot of the soft work around what I do relies on a complex system of relationships and mutual favours.

Exercising gratitude is super important in this environment. This is mainly a mental note to myself — I’m overdue on some thank-you notes. But also an important thing to bear in mind when things get heavy… some proactive appreciation for other people can get you out of jams when it hits the fan and you need somebody to help bail the boat. How many metaphors were in that sentence?

 

Day 408: Sprinting is Hard!

I am COMMITTED TO THE SPRINT. That being said, a couple of weird days and I really need to keep this from fraying at the edges. Dipping into the cashew butter I made last night. Distracted exercise this morning.

The sprint is working! Sustaining it, though… but that’s why it’s a sprint. You sprint because it’s hard, not because you can drop out when you get winded.

It’s important to remember that it is working, though. The sprint is going well. “Flow to the door” is going well. It’s all going well! Okay, my back was a bit twingey yesterday, but I’m stretching that sucker out.

I just need to stay on task for 15 more days. That’s just two weeks. No sweat. Easy peasy.

Day 349: Still Feeling Weird

Arrgh! I am still just not feeling it. I can’t explain it better than that. I wish I could.

My best guess is that I’ve always known that my energy levels, motivation, etc. are cyclical. I’m not really bipolar, but I’ m kind of 1.1polar. I definitely drift.

So I guess I’m in a natural ebb right now, and I have been for a couple weeks. I can’t seem to exercise my way out of it, and I really need to be careful as I ride it out. Definitely on the drinking front. I can’t backslide there. But just in general, I feel… flumpy is the word I use around the house. I feel flumpy.

I think right now I just need to batten down the hatches and wait for the upswing to make progress again. Try not to flumpy myself into a disaster.

 

Day 336: I Feel Gross

Ate too much at a birthday party last night, which kept me up all night with acid reflux and an unhappy stomach. My body is rebelling against me! And/or trying to enforce good behaviour kind of emphatically.

So today’s definitely going to be a big reset day, following the last week of not quite getting back on top of things after our long weekend out of town. Last week was a disaster. All you gotta do is get up and get going again, though. So time to do that.

Getting a bit better at bouncing back, so it’s time to bounce back! Short entry today so I can hit the ground running and get a bunch of crap done before I start to feel, well, floompy. Laundry folding, machine assembly, Church, and more! Get on it before my brain turns in on itself.

Day 216: Operation Don’t Get Up Is Really Hard You Guys

Okay, Operation Don’t Get Up is rough. ROUGH. I know I was thinking “this will be rough” yesterday, but I wasn’t really anticipating the roughness.

So the thing about getting woken up early by the cat, and actually getting up, is that it’s an action. You’re kind of mad and resentful, but you’ve done something. You’re reacting to the environment.

Lying in bed while the cat is nudging and nuzzling and meeping and tromping around and pretending to sleep is weird. I feel like a character in those movies where everyone’s dead and you’re hoping the killer just won’t notice you. So the cat continues to tromp and meep and nuzzle and you’re like “I’m giving you nothing, cat”.

But it’s a head game. It’s a rough, crazy head game.

So it’s an experiment without an end point — if the cat is still doing its thang in a week, who has won? In two weeks? A month?

It’s certainly not relaxing. I’m not getting more valuable time in bed by doing this. I’m just hoping it will somehow re-train the cat that there’s no point in bugging me before my alarm goes off, and only Stern Voice and being ignored.

Operation Don’t Get Up will continue indefinitely.

I think I need to try it as a meditation thing — mentioned yesterday. If I’m lying there pretending to be asleep, I might as well use that time to get my thoughts in order. Not, like, “real” meditation, with sitting cross-legged and chakras and stuff. Just mental shelving and re-shelving.

The other big decision was that the cat won’t get any special food in the morning — it used to be a bit of a morning ritual to give the cat a spoonful of soft food, while the machine dispenses hard food. So the other working theory is maybe that’s the trigger. Doing away with any expectation of getting me up = soft food might decouple that get-me-up instinct over time.

Day 164: Food Slippage

Okay! It’s been a week and a bit since the new food determination, and I’m already slipping. Food slippage is happening. Get it together, Me.

It’s a simple plan. Its genius is its simplicity. Plan all my food in the morning, pre-log all my food in the morning, and stick to that plan. What can go wrong?

Lots can go wrong. It’s a combination of weak will and chaos that seeps in around the edges. That, and doing well.

That’s a bit of a paradox, but I’m ahead of my goals, which means I start feeling confident. And then I’m, like, “ehh, I can have one donut, I’m doing great”. And then it’s all bargle bargle bargle and it all goes off the rails.

The plan is brilliant in its simplicity. Stick to the plan. 

Maybe that’s what I need tattooed on my forehead. That, or “food slippage is gonna getcha.”

Avoiding food slippage is a morning check-in problem.

The good(ish) news is that I can draw a direct line from pre-logging food to good and bad days. Even on days that I haven’t stuck to the pre-log 100%, it’s still better days than the no-pre-log days. It’s just a matter of keeping that up and… did I mention the plan? Brilliance? Simplicity? I thought I had.

It’s also working. I can see the effects. This isn’t a crash diet, it isn’t some weird trendy crap, it’s a good, solid, nutritionally sound, intelligent approach. It’s a sound idea. I just need to stick to it.

So this is the rhythm that worked for a while:

  • Write the podcast blog
  • Record the podcast
  • Log food
  • Post the podcast

The interruption is helpful, because it forces me to log before I can post, and since posting is something that has to happen, it makes logging something that has to happen.

I just need to be firmer about the logging. Log it all. If I don’t know what’s going to happen — like tonight, I’m going to a conference dinner but I’m not sure what the entree is going to be — I’m going to invent an entree and try to approximate it in terms of quantity/calorie count when I roll up.

It’s a good plan. I just need to stick to it.

Day 155: Snack Hangover

Yesterday was NOT GOOD. I had a last-day-of-staycation freakout. My wife overindulged at the roller derby and after on Saturday, so she was down for the count. Our plans for the day were cancelled. And I used the last day of staycation to have a kind of “I haven’t relaxed enough” spasm. So today I have a snack hangover after spending a full day watching garbage and eating junk.

In a weird way, this is a good thing. I think it really DID give me some sort of last staycation ya-yas. Get that out of my system and buckle into going back to work. But I’m running late this morning and so this is gonna be a short one. I got the exercise in, I’m about to log the food. Like yesterday, I’m still kinda looking forward to getting back to work.

Snack hangover and the damage done.

“One day at a time” is the AA mantra I’m trying to carry over to my food and food planning. But “if you fall, get right back up” is — probably not actually a mantra of theirs, but something I see a lot in recovery circles. And it’s equally important.

So a snack hangover is not an excuse for snack hair of the dog. It’s a reason to bounce back swinging, not to give up. So I had a bad day yesterday, and yesterday’s over. Today’s today. Reset and start again.

 

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.