Day 500! A genuine milestone, in a hurry

Day 500! Wow!

Normally, this would be a time to reflect on what I’ve learned, look at the future, and so on. But I’ve had an overnight mini-crisis rear its head, and I’m currently just trying to get something done and get out the door to work.

500 days, though! Wow! Go me. I’ve stopped drinking, more or less standardized exercise, lost about 15 pounds and generally feel better — across the board — than I did a year and a half ago.

To the next 500!

Day 250: Milestones, Successful Fast, No Sleep

Whahey! 250! This is a milestone. Remember, folks:

1, 5, 10, 25, 100, 250, 500, 1000. Anything else is kind of a reach.

Successful fasting day yesterday (complete with planned evening snack). My wife hung out while I snacked to curb any impulse I’d have to go bananas after eating a banana.

Feels good! Not hungry at all this morning, and feeling kind of lean.

Another not-good sleep night last night; one of the offshoots of the Many Things happening at work is that there’s a pending conflict. It’s, like, “call me back so we can argue about this” right now. And I’m waiting for the call back.

Which is not great; as mentioned yesterday, I am not a machine built for conflict. I overthink and agonize and lie awake.

So I tried the meditation thing, still no dice; tried the “organize my workflow” thing, not great. Eventually my wife got up to go to the bathroom and noticed I was awake. Her suggestion was “distract yourself” so I tried to remember that military alphabet sequence thing — Alpha Bravo Charlie — until I fell asleep. I get stuck at I. Igloo?

So I’m not thrilled about the sleep thing but I’m girding my loins to leap back into the fray. It’s going to be a super intense weekend, and then back to more or less normal, plus fallout from the weekend.

But it’s definitely chipping at me around the edges. I’m going for the sleeping pill tonight for sure.

Oh! And I banished Netflix from my devices on Day 100. Y’know what? I’m not putting it back on. I’m fine.

Day 210: 18k run

It’s all relative, right? I mean, I got back from an 18k run about 30 minutes ago — the furthest I’ve run in five years, and clocking under 6 min/km average. And I’m already mentally onto “well, my brother-in-law runs marathons, so this is no big.”

Be happy, brain! Just live in the space of this success for a few minutes! Jeez.

So I do feel good. I stink. I mean, not like ‘sweaty’ stink — I’m actually pretty dry, all things considered. But I’ve got some sort of deep stink coming off me right now. Apparently I’m burning protein as fuel.

It all went more or less as expected. Well, 50% expected. I was either going to completely fall apart and have to call a cab, or just kind of get into a “so we’re doing this now” groove out there. Thankfully, it was the latter. After 10k, I was just kinda… running, and after running 9k straight out, had no options but to run 9k straight back.

And I feel… fine. A bit sleepy. Not like crazy leg tired. Which is good; I’ll be out of the shower by 9:45 or so. Have some breakfast. I’ve got a day of yardwork ahead of me, so lots of podcasts and new music to listen to.

 18k is a reason to celebrate!

Maybe I’m not celebrating because I’m just plumb tuckered out. But it’s definitely… something. Feels good to be on top of it. It’s not a pass for the rest of the day, though… just a long run, and about 2000 calories burned under my belt. Them gardens ain’t’a tend to themselves.

Also: my Plex server seems to have crashed; I can access it remotely through PuTTy, so the computer is working but it seems like the server is dead? Weird. Technology’s double-edged sword is edging hard today.





Day 167: A Sigh of Relief, After It’s Over

Mega-conference is OVER. We did it. We made it. Yesterday at 1 p.m. was one of the first times in my life I’ve literally let out a sigh of relief. Like, I made the noise.

gala dinner CANHEIT
Gala dinner at CANHEIT 2017. Photo: Michael Barr

I’ve learned a LOT about information technology in the last 18 months. My main takeaway is the breadth of the field. Everything from thermodynamics (this box is going to get super hot and we need to cool it) to social engineering (get people to stop clicking the bad thing).

And, equally fascinating, I have noticed that almost every key issue in IT today is either a communication problem, or has significant communication outpoints. It’s a genuinely fascinating and underexplored field.

But. Yes. Conference over.

It was a sigh of relief, and not of expectation.

My medium-term goal is going to be not filling that hole with something. It’s been a roller coaster, with a lot of the adrenaline-spiking deadlines and disasters. So it’s going to feel a bit flat to have it out of my life. And that’s… okay? Obviously, my pace was far outstripped the past few weeks, and I can now push more “life” into my work-life balance.

But it’s going to be hard not to want that synergy again.

One definite takeaway was that I like reporting things. Giving and getting feedback on a monthly, then weekly basis was something I got a lot of value out of. Even when it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

So that’s one thing I can work on immediately. Manage up, and down, to get better feedback loops going. If I do well in a feedback-rich environment, I should be looking for ways to increase and enhance that. In a way that adds value to the people I’m asking time from.

There’s a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. I suspect among my fellow steering committee members there’s also going to be some post-partum depression. Two years of work, the last three months super intense. Then four days. Then… it’s over. It’s going to be a new experience for me to manage.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 Seven: (It’s Been) One Week

First and foremost, apologies for making you think of the “One Week” song. The Barenaked Ladies have a lot to answer for, and I say that as a Canadian who came of age when “Gordon” was burning up the charts.

But (it’s been) one week! I’ve had longer runs of sobriety — by factors — but this is definitely the longest span with such… intention? Especially when combined with better habits across the board.

One week in, I’m focusing on the trifecta.

Yesterday, I talked about taking on “the trifecta” of booze, diet and exercise, and how I’m trying to find a synergy there (and focus on other things I need to appreciate more) to make it feel less like the Bataan Death March of deprivation of everything I love.

I’ve had success in not drinking before, but I always used it as a permission to eat badly, or not exercise — at the time, I was trying to frame it as “don’t drink, but treat yourself in other ways” to make it seem like not drinking was kind of a treat in and of itself.

It never worked.

What would wind up happening is I’d stop drinking — which I enjoyed, but ultimately made me feel unhealthy and lousy — and do other stuff that I enjoyed and made me feel unhealthy and lousy.

So while there was a short-term “hey, not drinking isn’t so bad, I think I can get through this chips and ice cream,” softening of the not-drinking blow, I was doing stuff that made me ultimately feel bad.

So the end takeaway was my lizard brain saying “not drinking makes me feel as unhealthy and lousy as drinking, so fuck it.”

Which is stupid, I know, but the lizard brain is stupid. That’s why lizards aren’t allowed to drive.

Are you capable of “soloing” sobriety and not letting other aspects of living well fall off the table? Or are you pairing sobriety with other life habits that help reinforce an overall positive change? Whatever approach works for you is great, but make sure it’s really working for you — and sometimes, trading down on your devils is good enough to start with.