Day 580: Pre-Record Concert Day

Pre-records are weird. I have a minor obsession when I do these; I think of Paul F Tompkins and his podcast Spontaneanation. He records it sometimes months in advance and for a while at least seemed to take a great deal of delight in telling people he might be dead when they hear it.

I might be!

It also feels like cheating. If this is supposed to be my daily check-in, tuning up on sobriety and good food and better living, why am I pre-recording it? Isn’t that inherently dishonest?

It kind of is.

I guess I am a bit of a cheater.

But the daily part is the _real_ commitment, and if I listen daily, the check-in function works.

I’ve tried road-recording before. It’s possible, and worth setting up for extended jaunts, but for one-day or two-day things, it’s really a pain in the butt.

So I’m committing, like you are, in this moment, to doing a bit better today than yesterday. Not necessarily a lot better. But a bit better.

Or at least trying.

Day 182: 10-Day Challenge — Part Two

Day one went well! I’m opening some other tabs right now to get on top of the first issue on my checklist – finance. It’s been a rough month, financially, mainly due to municipal taxes coming due.

It helps with determination to get the side hustle going, though.

Sticking with the challenge, though: Day Two is aligning well. Daily weigh is done, exercise is done, and I’m about to log food and get the finances in order.

Pre-logging food is the hardest thing of all, I think. It’s hard not to deviate, especially on holidays and weekends when I’m at home. There are just so many snacking opportunities! So I’m trying to pre-log snacks; figure out what kind of snacking urges might strike, and make small windows for them.

Slow and steady exercise is today’s order, according to the half-marathon training. I’m looking up whether or not I can do other exercise on rest days — signs point to yes — and I think maintaining 30-minute medium-effort rows on non-running days is a good idea.

So this is generally a check-in day; things are going well, I’m looking forward to Day Two of this 10-day immersion back into good habits. I’ve also updated the ol’ checklist, if anyone wants to see that:

check-out checklist
Now with money and banjos!


I feel like this whole 10-day thing is part of a cycle of “try this until it sticks.” There’s got to be a balance between the whole ‘quitting smoking’ approach, where you just keep trying if you don’t succeed the first time, and recognizing when something absolutely doesn’t work for you.

No part of this feels like it can’t work for me. I think it’s just a matter of trying again. At least, that’s the phase I’m in right now. Keep getting up and taking another run at it until it gels.


Day 158: Sobriety thoughts

Sobriety’s been going well. It’s been interesting how this project, which I thought would be a lot about sobriety, has changed. Partly because sobreity’s been going so well. I’m going to indulge in some sobriety thoughts.

So it’s been a while since I’ve really thought about it, and what’s changed since I started not drinking in January of this year.

The honest answer is: not much.

It hasn’t affected my relationship with my wife; there’s been a bit of a leisure trade-off in terms of we spend less together time having kind of boozy weekends. But we spend more time doing stuff together, I think, which is cool.

It hasn’t affected my work life; again a trade-off where I’m having fewer after-work pub get-togethers with colleagues, and more lunches. But the quality and quantity is about the same. My sobriety thoughts are pretty much the same as my boozy thoughts when it comes to ideas and creativity, so I’m not missing the post-work, pub-bound ‘inspiration’ I thought might be helping me professionally.

It’s definitely helped our budget. Not astronomically, but it’s definitely been good, while my wife is out of work, to be cutting down on those $60 outings for lunch that turns into lunch and a few pints.

As we established at Day 150, it has absolutely not helped my weight at all. That’s a food problem. Being addressed.

But I guess my key takeaway here is that not drinking isn’t a transformational Eat Pray Love magical bullshit experience. On the other hand, I think the most profound message is that it’s no big deal. That bears repeating.

Sobriety thoughts: not drinking is no big deal.

By which I mean it’s not hurting my work, my lifestyle, or my friendships. It’s a big deal as a personal goal and a personal triumph. But it’s not a life-changer in either the positive or negative sense.

It’s been pretty amazing how much people are either actively supportive, or — and this is weirdly more important in some ways — don’t really care. Because there’s always the fear that support is insincere. Indifference is very trustworthy.

So it’s going really well. I’m glad I’m doing it.

Day 150: Goals, failures at the 150-day mark

150 days in, and time to take stock briefly. Goals, failures. There are some wins, and some not-wins.

  • Sobriety: definite win. I am crushing this. There’s occasional urges, and infrequent social pressure. But nothing too serious. People still ask me when I’m going to start drinking again, which is a fair question, because I’ve been positioning myself as “not drinking for now.” But I don’t feel any real need to drink any more. This would have seemed like an impossibly long road on January 1. One day at a time really does work.
  • Exercise: moderate win. I’m doing pretty well at getting out there; I’ve had a few injuries that I’ve gotten through. But I’m phoning it in more than I’d like; motivation is a factor a lot of time time.
  • Food: not great. Not TERRIBLE, but food is still my go-to vice, above and beyond anything. Food is still something I sneak and don’t tell people about. Food planning takes time and I’m not good about it. That’s kind of the key to the whole disaster — I don’t plan.
  • Sleep: pretty good? I’ve been spotty on the checklist lately.

It’s interesting hitting this milestone in the middle of Staycation Week, because that’s kind of throwing things off a little too.  The new podcast, too, is taking time — more time than I thought it would — and that, as well, is messing things up a little.

On the whole, I feel good. But it might be time to start actually doing some goal-setting… like “target weight” type goal setting. I’ve been resisting it so far. Scientifically, though, I now have proof that just staying sober and regular exercise isn’t enough to help the weight without some regimented goals and food monitoring.

Goals, failures, and food monitoring…

It comes back to food problems a lot, doesn’t it? I guess that’s the goal for the next 150 days. And those days start today. Okay, food, it’s on. Let’s do this thing. Or, y’know, not do this thing, if the thing is eating too much.



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 Forty-Six: Road Accountability

Continuing on from yesterday, more or less: food is going to be a big focus for me. Especially since I have weekend plans out of town. Road accountability is rough.

I am, to be honest, a little nervous about this. I’m bad with food accountability on weekends in the first place. Vacations, even short ones, have traditionally been disasters for this. And I’m already feeling like my stool is wobbly on the food leg.

(I also need to figure out how to do this on the road! Interesting.)

We’re on a pretty strict budget, and already kind of breaking it with this weekend trip. I think micromanaging this time away is going to be a requirement, not an option. Road accountability for the win.

Mapping for Success

There’s no reason we can’t map out the weekend ahead of time. Sit down and plan our meals — out and in — with a budget and an eye on time. Will it diminish enjoyment? Will we feel less spontaneous and less “fun” doing this?


This is where it gets back to having a great partner and collaborating to keep eyes on the prize. I have to ask for help on this one, because obviously I’m not travelling alone. Road accountability for one! Road accountability for all!

Getting back there, synergy is what makes this work, and there are clear dangers in this weekend trip that I can anticipate. And plan for. If action is eloquence (Deeds not Words), I should act and get on top of the problem before it even gets a chance to become a problem.


Day Twenty-Six: Taking Care of Business

Let’s start the day with some Canadian Content, shall we? We’re taking care of business.

About a month into this (26 days — the format for this thing does make it easy to keep track of the passing of time), I’m finally getting around to some Level Two nerdery with site security, locking down a backup scheme, checking the RSS feeds, and all that stuff. Which means I’m a little late getting the podcast up, because I’ve been up to my elbows in the back end of the blog.

I think that amazing trio of performers Bachman, Turner and Overdrive were onto something when they highlighted the importance of taking care of business. This has been a problem for me in the past.

Taking care of business means taking care of old business as well as new business.

I’m a very “new business” person. And restlessness and an appetite for new challenges can be a huge advantage in life. I think I’ve found ways to make it work for me. But tending the garden is not a strength of mine.

So while I’m enjoying this podcast and blog, the ongoing challenge is going to be to find ways to keep it fresh and recommitting myself to it. Keep it from getting YAGO.

And also to remaining committed to old business… existing volunteer commitments. The brutal boring business of life — housecleaning, finances, paperwork. Cooking food. Doing the dishes. And my actual day job, which is a pretty big thing in my life.

I’m glad I took the time this morning to go through the security settings on the site, enable two-factor authentication, all that stuff. It’s not a one and done deal, it’s part of the package if you’re running a website in today’s hackertastic world. I need to not get so caught up in new business that I stop taking care of old business.


Day Four: Structure, Checking Out, Motivation and Accountability

So yesterday, I was planning to keep trying to enforce daily “check-outs” — the big sister to the essential morning check-in. Yesterday evening, I came up with a few ideas to structure my check-out and try to make it easier for me to incorporate it into a daily routine:

Continue reading “Day Four: Structure, Checking Out, Motivation and Accountability”

Day Three: Checking Out: Morning Motivation is Easy, Evening Accountability is Hard

Yesterday was about checking in; today’s about checking out.

Why’s it so hard for me? Like all good habits, I suppose it’s something that you have to build up and then enforce, but while a check-in is easy for me (even when I’m not doing this kind of thing), forcing myself to just sit down for two minutes in the evening and checking out is hella difficult. Which is weird to me. You’d think the morning would be the time when I’d find it most tricky to carve out some time, and the evening wind-down would be easiest for this sort of thing.

But it’s the opposite. I get in a kind of turn-the-lights-off, turn-the-heat-down, brush-teeth-and-bed channel and it’s very hard to divert myself into anything even slightly reflective like checking out. “I’ll do it when I’m lying down!” the stupid inner voice says, but we all know that inner voice is a complete idiot.


But I did it! And by golly I’m going to do it again tonight. Checking out! Part of my daily routine. Well, it will be.

Thoughts on succeeding at checking out:

  • Setting a specific time every night.
  • Tying checking out to a particular regular part of my routine: brushing teeth or getting changed for bed.
  • Having a timer or other way of knowing this is a finite task with a (short) end point.
  • Having a ‘cheat sheet’ of questions I can ask myself and answer while checking out:
    • What was the easiest part of keeping promises to myself today?
    • What was the hardest?
    • Can I foresee anything that will cause problems tomorrow — things like office lunches, after-work meetings, social engagements?
    • Do I have a strategy to manage those potential hazards?
  • Take it easy on myself: it’s not about having a perfect day, but knowing what went well and what went badly.