Day 444: Sweat Out the Blues / Only Eat Meals

Another “I’m tired” day yesterday — just wiped — but I’ve decided to lean the other way this morning, and gave it 100% on the rowing machine. Posted my best 30-minute row in a few years, and the best 5k row inside that.

And I feel pretty good!

Motivation is a mystery to me. Some mornings I can wake up and just get into it. Some mornings I can’t. Some evenings I can resist snacks easily. Some evenings I can’t. A friend, who keeps up with me on the podcast, asked me “how much do you eat?” The answer is not that much! Just more than I should!

That’s got me thinking.

My food problem is similar to my drinking problem. It’s not that I eat a large pepperoni pizza every day. I don’t crazy binge (often). I just eat a bit more than I should, a bit more often than I should.

I can quit drinking. I can’t quit eating. And it’s not, like, one small category of food that’s problematic. I can quit sugar, but then I eat salt.

The best thing to do, and I know I’ve tried this before, is to stop eating outside meals. I have three meals a day. That’s it. I keep track of what I eat and I certainly don’t starve myself, but I just have three meals every day.

Once more into that breach, I guess. I need to print and update my evening checklist anyway (I no longer take my phone up as an alarm, for one thing) so I’ll add “did I snack?” as a thing. That’ll keep me honest in the evenings and at least shame me into better behaviour over time. One hopes.

Day 350: Christmas party success

The one big Christmas party of the year is over! Under my belt. Without too much under my belt, ha ha. No booze, reasonable snackin’ and lots of socializing.

The socializing is the part I’m most challenged by. I’ve DEFINITELY hit the time of my life where my hearing is not super great in crowded, noisy environments — hard to make out individual conversations when things are hopping around me.

Happy with the not-drinking, also happy with the very-little-snacking. This was an actual mental process where I was asking myself “are you hungry or just snacky” repeatedly in the process. And it worked well!

A few days left at work, then the big holiday.

 

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 300: Logging Itself

After a bit of a week at work, I indulged in more Bad Snacking yesterday than I should have. Definitely not sticking to the plan outlined at the beginning of the day.

So that was not great. But — I did log it. It doesn’t look great on me. It’s not a good look. And logging “peanut butter” is a bit more clinical than “eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon”, which is the brutal truth.

Lucky for me there was very little peanut butter left in the jar.

(also: what is it with peanut butter? It’s like a genetic trigger or something. I love the stuff).

So I’m a bit disappointed by the snacking, but a bit proud of the logging. Note that the pride in the logging does not okay the snacking. They’re two siloed pieces of shame and pride. Logging the snack does not approve the snack.

(Culturally, I feel like at some point it became okay for people to be jerks if they pre-emptively disclaimed their jerkitude. It’s still not okay to be a jerk.)

I’m gonna have to log everything if this is going to work. That’s all there is to it. The urge to not log means I’m ashamed, and when the shame silo is filling up with… disappointment wheat… that means it’s time to take that disappointment wheat and bake it into self-examination bread. And cut off a hearty slice of self-examination bread and slather it with insight butter. And eat that. And log it.

Or something.

 

Day 247: Short Run / Fast Fail

Arrgh. Another failed fasting day yesterday. I caved with excess snacking, and my wife was not in a position to help me with keeping on top of it. So I’m feeling kind of low this morning. Still managed most of the day, though.

The question is whether I’m capable of fasting for a full day. Are these kinds of freak-outs a weak will or my body telling me something pretty important?

So Thursday will be another kick at the can; maybe it’s time for me to re-evaluate whether or not this even works for me, conceptually. If I can’t manage it repeatedly, it may just not be the right fit, and being agonized/miserable isn’t a compensation for whatever the gains might be.

I can’t remember if I’ve brought this up before, but I heard a phrase I liked a lot recently. “Failure is feedback.” That’s a nice thing to hear. And to think about. So I know I’m failing, but what’s the feedback? Again, it’s either “I can’t do this full stop” or “I need to change something about how I’m doing this.”

Still not being great about daily weight and food logging, in part because of the fasting, too. I figure “no need” to log food on fasting days, and then I get off track and stop bothering, and/or get super busy in the mornings and don’t get on top of it. And if I don’t get it done in the morning, it doesn’t get done.

Good things happening in my personal/volunteer life; some rewarding volunteer work being done. Time-consuming, but it feels nice to be doing something that has direct positive impact.

 

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 197: Breakin’

It’s been a great weekend, and a bit of breakin’ from routine for an extended cheat day — not going nuts or anything, but it’s hard to be on top of everything and still host guests, so I’ll take that excuse to slack off a bit.

Today’s a day off work for me — burning off some vacation — so I’m going to be focusing on Side Hustle as a straight 9-5 and seeing how I can do at getting that closer to launch.

I’m excited about the side hustle thing, but also nervous. Longevity and consistency are a challenge for me, sometimes. And I may need to make some tough choices about volunteerism if this starts to go well — it’s going to take some time.

Getting back on it today; as I was saying to my wife this morning, breakin’ a bit is good, and it’s important to have the trend line as well as the rigor. So today the rigor is back — starting with a good day’s focus on the side gig stuff. Well, maybe a little goofing around, too.

Breakin’ (up) is easy to do.

It’s pretty easy to fall into break patterns, and in the past I’ve been focused on “how I make healthy the default, so sticking with good habits doesn’t feel like ‘I need a break’.” I’m beginning to accept that’s a slow road. But I made a few small decisions over the weekend that I’m proud of. And I’m definitely happy with the sobriety stuff (massive water drinking helps a lot).

The sobriety is always the foundation. I don’t know if that makes it an excuse for bad behaviour sometimes, or if the bad behaviour is one of the ways I deal with sobriety. But I’m hitting all the notes for the half-marathon training. I’m eating pretty good all things considered. So I’m not worried about brief breakin’ sprees from time to time.

It’s how I bounce back that’s important.

Day 186: 10-Day Challenge Day One Again

On Day Five of this challenge, I had my first stumble — bad food logging yesterday. I have been knocked down, but I must get up again. And they are never going to keep me down! A lot of people don’t know that song is about binge drinking. So a terrible theme for sobriety. But it’s day one again.

I usually gloss over these things, but let’s unpack this:

  • I got some stressful news. Not life-threatening or anything, but potentially a long-term pain in the arse.
  • I ate stupid
  • I felt ashamed of eating stupid
  • I didn’t log my food because I didn’t want to revisit my shame at eating stupid.

Clearly, the wire that needs to be cut is the one between “stress” and “eating stupid.” That’s an unhealthy wire. But the arbitrariness of accountability is also a big thing. That really can’t stand.

Giving myself a break because I need a break is one thing; just kind of not logging because I’m not proud of what I’ve done is another.

So — call it hubris for saying the 10-day challenge was going well. I’m going to have to reset and start again.

Today is day one again.

I don’t have any answers about rewiring the stress-to-eating part of my brain. I think one of the genesises (geneses?) of the 10-Day Challenge and this whole project is I rewire through DOING, not through stating. I think I need to actually power through a number of stresses without turning to food. Then the circuits will reset. Obviously, I don’t know for sure.

So today is Day One of the 10-Day Challenge again. I think I just need to make runs at this until I get it locked down. Once again:

  • Weigh every morning
  • Exercise every day (light on Saturdays)
  • Log all my planned food in the morning; stick to that plan
  • Execute my evening checklist

That’s what I should be doing for the next 10 days. Straight. No exceptions.

Here I go again! On my own! TAKE IT AWAY WHITESNAKE

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 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.