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 357: Relaxing and Guilt

It’s (a) Sunday and (b) Christmas Eve’s Day. If there’s one day a year that literally demands hanging out in one’s sweatpants and doing nothing of import, this is pretty much it.

And yet — one of the joys being me — I will be feeling acute guilt at some point today. Either for relaxing when I could be doing something. Or doing something when I should be relaxing. Or not relaxing by doing the right thing.

I’m a mess, folks.

So my goal for today is to eat well (which wasn’t done yesterday — not a ton of terrible food, but a lot of it), and just… chill the eff out, you know? Try not to worry too much about what I’m doing and just relax and enjoy the day. Calm the chatter.

 

 

 

Day 232: Solidarity and the Day/Night problem

Yesterday went really well until my wife returned from the beer festival, feeling great. She had stopped by the store because the beer festival had put her in a snackin’ mood.

This, of course, put ME in a snackin’ mood.

It was a very bad night for snacking. Despite my best intentions. I just don’t have a great reservoir of willpower when I’m tired and stressed and snacks are present.

And frankly, I’m getting a bit mentally weird about my wife drinking. This isn’t on her, it’s on me. But there’s kind of a “well, you’re off having a good time drinking, so I’m a’gonna X. For values of snacking, or playing games, or just generally goofing off. Resentfully goofing off. This isn’t amazingly mature.

The good news is my wife is actually getting a bit booze-fatigued after covering a lot of ground this summer for her podcast, and reveling in the sudden thrill of getting comped a lot as a podcast host.

So she’s on a break for the rest of the month, which means I’ll be supporting her on staying on the wagon. Or off the wagon. I can never remember how that goes. Anyway, I’ll be reminding her that she’s on a break periodically until September 1.

But yesterday was the classic evening me problem of a great day giving way to a terrible night. Got tired, willpower drooped, was given an excuse, and fared poorly. I got a bit contact drunk when my wife got home, and used her snacking as an excuse for my own.

So I’m a bit ashamed this morning, but again, it’s good to see that she’s also about to embark on a 10-day stint of super clean living. With both of us operating in tandem, we should have an excellent end of August.

 

Day 231: Half-Hearted

Work stress! So some sleep stuff last night. A weird thing where there’s a situation that isn’t my fault but the fallout is mine to have fun with. And everyone knows it’s not my fault. And everyone knows I’m doing as good a job as possible dealing with the fallout. So I’m — blameless? And professionally, actually kind of look good and on the ball for doing pretty much the best job that can be done in the situation.

So kind of a meh run this morning: to my credit, I powered through the full 10k, and will be building back up to another 18, then another half-mara in mid-September ideally. Part of the meh run is due to feeling blah, another is that I’m still technically in recovery from the half-mara (and heat exhaustion) a week ago.

Podcasts and powering through this morning. Sometimes you just gotta get it done.

It’s also going to be a work from home day, a bit… a conference call related to the abovementioned this morning, and some stuff around hiring.

This will be a good day to just keep things on track. As discussed yesterday, I’ve cut myself loose from attending a beerfest this afternoon, so I’ll be focusing on some other long-neglected projects. But I need to knuckle down and do food logging and pour myself a massive jug o’ water right now, just to make sure a blah start doesn’t translate into a whole bad day.

 

Day 203: Minor Distractions

Doing the video game music show has been an interesting education. But I think I’ll be ready to let it go at the end of the summer. I’ve learned a bunch of stuff and met great people. At the end of the day, though, it’s not a core interest for me. I don’t make music, and I don’t have time to play a lot of games. In fact, games are qualifying more and more as minor distractions.

There’s an old saw that one in ten Americans read books, and one in ten Canadians write them. I don’t think that’s true, but I definitely sympathize with the “don’t just consume, create” mentality.

I keep getting caught up in minor distractions, though. It’s hard to separate what’s “necessary leisure” with what’s “wasting time”. If I kill 30 minutes playing an iPhone game, is that depressurization I need? Or just a pointless distraction?

One of the things about games is it, well, gamifies all this stuff. If I were playing the game of my life, there’d be gauges. I’d be able to Tamagotchi myself. When my stress gauge is at eighty percent, give myself two units of game. When my productivity gauge is at twenty percent, allocate eight work units.

But we obviously don’t work like that. It’s not easy to Tamagotchi your life when you yourself are the virtual pet.

Minor distractions and major needs often conflict.

I enjoy minor distractions while I’m being distracted, but finishing a day without feeling like I’ve moved something forward distresses me. So there’s a constant tension between “relax and live your life” and “you are going to die someday.” It makes minor relaxation hard.

A more disciplined person might be able to allocate things better. 1.2 hours of allocated fun from 8:12 to 9:26 a.m. this morning. But that’s just not how I’m wired. Should it be? Is this something I should be striving for?

Day 160: Hello Again, Busy Brain

Despite my best efforts to keep stress under wraps, busy brain again jumped all over my sleep last night. Well, that and a massively long dream about being befriended by a semi-homeless man who makes and sells cornhusk dolls, and whose dream is to have those cornhusk dolls used by human resource managers to create object lessons about sharing in the workplace.

So spent last night either awake. Or feeling vaguely threatened by a man who kept trying to get me to buy cornhusk dolls. And very large diagrams of how to deploy them in a management context. Oh, and binders.

As a result, I’m a bit… dazed this morning, which is not great. Hopefully a strong cup of coffee and the radio show with my wife will straighten that out.

Now that I’ve got busy brain again, it’s time to either take another run at directly managing stress, or find distraction tactics.

It’s a jam-packed day ahead of me today, but I’m going to divert some leisure time. Reading up and looking into what to do with a brain that wakes you up.

Sleep is super important, you guys. I didn’t really figure that out for a while. But now I’m completely on Team Sleep Is Fundamental. So it’s important to figure out my busy brain again, and try to get at least seven hours a night.

This is the objective today. Busy brain tactics.

Day 156: Back to Work Busy Brain

Back in the office yesterday after a week off — I keep meaning to take and post pictures of that day bed we made — and it’s fine. Stuff’s piled up, but not obscenely. A few new issues to tackle.

But sleep last night — oh boy. I’ve been doing really well with sleep recently, but yesterday was a 2 a.m. wake-up. Then a cavalcade of “let’s think of ALL THE THINGS” until some time after 3. Not bad things, necessarily. Not all stressful. But a lot of stuff rolling around in there to organize.

Getting Back to Sleep from Busy Brain is a Nightmare.

It’s almost impossible for me to get back to sleep once busy brain is active. Because the act of telling your brain it’s time for sleep is just giving it one more thing to think about. It is your brain’s most cunning trap.

“I have to get back to sleep or I’ll be a wreck tomorrow.”

“Yes, you’ll be a wreck. Then how will you handle meeting A, objective B, deadline C, milestone D, issue E…”

“We’re agreed, then: we need to get back to sleep.”

“Absolutely! Sleep is important, because without sleep we’ll be in no shape to manage meeting A. Hey, let’s start breaking down that meeting now, okay? What need to happen there, again? Who are the players? What will the issues that we need to manage going into it be?”

Busy Brain is recursive. That’s its secret weapon.

Stupid brain.

Up now, awake, exercised, and slightly caffeinated and I think I’m feeling good about it all again. But I need a better back-to-sleep mantra. My wife does a thing where she thinks of a short word and then starts with the first letter and thinks of all the words she can that begin with that letter. Then moves on to the next letter. Apparently that works for her. It doesn’t for me.

Music helps sometimes, but other times it’s just another distraction. I don’t know. If Busy Brain is returning, I’ll have to figure out new ways to contend.

Stupid brain.

Day 149: Awkward Favours

I spent Sunday helping a friend move a shed. As I said at the end of the day, “as long as nobody wound up injured, it’s fun.” And it was. We disassembled a shed and moved the components to his back yard. Shed re-assembly is going to be a summer project for him. But now I’m in the realm of awkward favours.

Because the deal was we spend a couple of hours moving the shed. We move it in a trailer he’s borrowed from his folks. Then we do a lumber run for stuff I need for projects for this week.

The shed move took eight hours, not a couple. It was a complicated shed. And now I’m in awkward favours territory. Because it’s kind of a pain to get this trailer. And the whole “get lumber” thing was phrased as “why don’t we move the shed, and then make another run up to the lumber place,” not, like, a contract. And the day did involve a trip to a hardware store where I picked up a few things as well as the stuff needed for the shed move. Just not the stuff I need.

So I don’t know if I should press for the favour now. Awkward, right?

Awkward favours are awkward because I make them awkward.

I know this. This isn’t a mystery. I’m the problem here. Just nutting up and asking for the favour would be way easier than agonizing over it. But that’s me. Being awkward.

At the end of the day, there’s an inconvenience factor of taking the bus, plus $25 to rent a van. It’s not a big deal. I’m just making it a big deal because that’s HOW I ROLL.

So the conclusions here are: 1. nut up and ask for the favour; and 2. not make it a big deal either way. Let’s go, Team Awkward.

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 Ninety-Nine: Ebbs and Flows

It’s a bit rough to start day ninety-nine as a continuation of ninety-eight and what my wife and I describe as “floompy.” In a life with ebbs and flows, I’m definitely feeling ebbed at this point.

It was a weekend of pretty low spirits and eating too much; not drinking, but I definitely had that “what’s the point of this?” call toward booze yesterday. Which may be a reaction to nearing a goal… the self-destructive impulse to toss it when I’ve almost made it. 100 days is nothing to sneeze at. It’s almost a cliche.

So I’m trying to find a good reboot as I start the week — lots going on at work, and lots potentially to be jazzed about. I think I made the wrong call yesterday in staying up. My main urge right now is to try to get a couple more hours sleep, which isn’t on the menu. Ebbs and flows… when you’re stuck in an ebb, how do you get out of it?

Ebbs and flows and shaking yourself up

So thing one for today is going to be trying to reset some easy intention. I’ve eaten too much over the weekend, so a fast day will both shock my system a bit and help me burn through some of the excess. Other than coffee and water, I’m going to do today foodless. That usually gets my head into a different space.

The other thing is an aggressive to-do list and day plan once I get into work. When I’m feeling like this, giving myself agency is a bad move. I need to dive into micro-tasks and plot them out. By lunchtime, I should be both hungry and feel like I’ve accomplished something. That will translate, hopefully, into hungry-energy and some sort of purpose. Ebbs and flows require me to aggressively kick myself out of the ebb and back into the flow. We’ll see if it works.