Day 302: Candy is Dandy

Halloween is a deadly trap! I mean that in the nicest way. But Halloween chocolate in the house is a TERRIBLE idea, especially when both you and your spouse have a sweet tooth. I — once again — logged everything, but that’s starting to feel a bit thin as excuses go.

Monday’s a new day and a new week, though, and it’s a lot easier to resist temptation when you’ve got a lot on the go. So I’m busy but that’s good, because busy keeps me from snackin’.

Tomorrow’s Halloween! We’ll be giving away the candy. But I’ll have to get creative with the leftovers. I can’t be trusted with tiny bite-sized candy in the house. It doesn’t work for me.

It’s a bad idea to have snackin’ candy in the house. The usual dialogue is that I can manage to have a couple and then exercise self-control. But is it worth it? Is liking chocolate worth the time bomb?

Nope. So after halloween, candy’s gotta go.

Day 233: Fasting

So I’ve been only been doing… okay… with food control, and I’ve recently been considering trying something different to switch things up.

Fasting diets were super trendy back around 2012 or so; I’ve poked around the idea, a year or so ago. I kind of like the aesthetics of it. Restrictions are interesting to me. I even tried it a year or so ago, with middling results.

I even followed up with a number of posters on MetaFilter who had chimed in as adherents to a fasting diet, five years after they’d posted. None had stuck to it long-term. Nobody had anything especially negative to say about it.

This seems to bear out the research, which shows that it’s hard to stick to. 

But I am, motiviationally, in a bit of a slump foodwise. It’s easy to sway me into breaking good habits. I’m a bit bored with it all. Fasting is a shake-up.

So I think I might set up a controlled failure experiment with the 5:2 thing. Fast on Mondays and Thursdays (Tuesday-Thursday this week), for… let’s call it a month. Long enough to have an impact, but not a lifelong commitment, and hopefully something that will kind of shock me out of complacency.

I think the idea might be to say “hey, this isn’t fun! Just controlling what I eat but eating normally is much better.” And re-excite myself about regular eating again.

That’s the idea, anyway.

My wife is getting into a 10-day booze-free healthy regime to round out the month, so it seems like The Spirit of New Things is alive in the house right now. I know it’s not a silver bullet (what is?), but it feels like a way to shake myself out of a complacency and get thinking about food differently for a while.

Day 106: Sobriety Mechanisms for Eating

All right, so I haven’t made much time to look into stress eating tactics. Instead, I’ve gone a bit back in time to see if I need to revisit anything I was thinking about earlier in this process. And to see if I can adapt any sobriety mechanisms for the eating thing.

“Morning me and evening me” seems like something I picked up, then put down. The idea at the time was to have a post-work, pre-home check-in… basically, a second daily check-in. That was going to recalibrate my “evening me” to remind that guy of what morning me started out wanting.

This is something I’ve completely failed to do.

Sobriety mechanisms for other problems

The sobriety mechanism for me has been largely a very simple “well, that’s enough of that.” Being in the fortunate category of people that can go cold turkey with no physical effects. So I don’t know why I can’t “snap quit” snacking. I guess it’s partly because food is much more available to me than booze. If I worked in an airline booze bottle factory or an ad agency circa 1963, I might be in trouble. The sobriety mechanisms have been pretty easy because my regular life is not that “boozy”.

But I’m pretty much in a food environment a lot of the time. Not enough to get sick of it, like chocolate factory employees who can’t touch the stuff. But lots of events, social occasions, and both my wife and I love to cook.

So laddering “just don’t” sobriety mechanisms into food seems like it’s easy at first flush. But it’s surprisingly hard.

Before I get off onto another tangent, I think I need to take another look at the “morning me/evening me” situation. If I can get my evening self aligned with my day self, it’s just a matter of making it through two half days instead of one full day. Not much different than running 5k to run 10k, if that makes sense.

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 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.