Day 349: Still Feeling Weird

Arrgh! I am still just not feeling it. I can’t explain it better than that. I wish I could.

My best guess is that I’ve always known that my energy levels, motivation, etc. are cyclical. I’m not really bipolar, but I’ m kind of 1.1polar. I definitely drift.

So I guess I’m in a natural ebb right now, and I have been for a couple weeks. I can’t seem to exercise my way out of it, and I really need to be careful as I ride it out. Definitely on the drinking front. I can’t backslide there. But just in general, I feel… flumpy is the word I use around the house. I feel flumpy.

I think right now I just need to batten down the hatches and wait for the upswing to make progress again. Try not to flumpy myself into a disaster.

 

Day 333: Okay, NOW back in the saddle.

Some household issues yesterday kind of threw me off track a bit, so, er, today is the big good back on track day. Kicked ass at a 5k row, got to exercise promptly after getting up, about to log food for the full day and stick to that.

Stress eating is still my jam, though. Yesterday I was talking about internalizing good habits over time. I guess the other side of that is I can also snap out of good habits at any time. This whole “eat to feel comfortable” thing is definitely emerging as the Big Bad of this project.

Once more, then: food logging (for the whole day), stick to that plan, exercise, etc. There’s a certain amount of “paying the piper” here, too. I knew I’d have some ground to make up after a long weekend out of town. Here’s the ground. Time to make it up.

 

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 137: How I’m Remembered

All right. I’ve taken on an extra project at work over the last year. It’s cross-sectional, which means I’m kind of repping our department. It’s also been a lot more work than advertised. And my role is one that involves a lot of output at crunch times, with a lot of input from other players. Dealing with that has driven something home for me in terms of how I’m dealing with others. Thinking about how I’m remembered after the fact.

So the recurring situation has been Stuff Happens, and then it all kind of tumbles down to fast required actions to make sense of it on my end. Which has been making me… testy. I don’t mind self-directed work. Or teamwork. Or taking ownership for my mistakes. But it’s been a LOT of compensating for structural deficiencies and dropped balls for the last week. Which is in turn affecting my actual work.

So I’m striving to always remember when dealing with this stuff that how I deal with the stuff is how I’m remembered.

People might remember what I did. But who I was is how I’m remembered.

It’s nuts, but it’s true. Relationships stick more than facts, most of the time. When I think back to past jobs, I don’t remember a lot of the specifics of the work, but I remember what it was like to work with people. I know who I’d trust and who I’d hire based on those feelings.

Obviously, the work matters. But how I’m remembered as more to do with how I roll with the punches and get stuff done, than the details of the stuff.

This has also been absolutely pants on the sobriety front. Big days for this project have been the closest I’ve gotten since January on the “I want a DRINK” front. Not enough to tip me over, but it’s been interesting to see that the hankering is still there, waiting for stress to trigger it.

Good thing I have stress eating to see me through! Ha ha ha sob.

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: Why Snack? I know.

Why snack? I’ve been trying the “eat when you’re hungry” thing for a while, and still find myself on hand-to-mouth autopilot. It’s aggravating, frankly… going about your day and then finding yourself eating.

It’s an interesting problem, though. What’s going on with my wiring that I just… snack? A couple of weeks ago, I ran up against this. And assuming that I was going to change that problem just by observing that problem may have been naive.

I’ve tinkered with a couple of anti-snack strategies. I think what would work best is actually planning my food day, every day. It’s a road I’ve been down a few times. And it’s the path that consistently works.

Why snack? Because I don’t know what I’m eating.

Like, what I’m eating in the future, not what I’m eating while I’m snacking. That would be weird. But when I have a food schedule, I stick to it. I’m good at that part.

So what’s keeping me from having a good food schedule?

Well, I get busy. My wife gets busy. It’s good-busy, but more often than we’d like, I get back to the house and it’s time to whip up some food. Or I wind up eating at work. Or… stuff happens.

Maybe it’s time to look at my schedule, or switch food-logging from a phone system to a computer one — doing it while I’m sitting here, right after the podcast is recorded.

Recipes are also a problem. Why snack? Because I don’t want to write stuff down. Why snack? Because I’m already snacking, and not logging it, so what the hell.

I’m not being too hard on myself — I think trying to force absolute change super fast isn’t a great idea, especially when I’ve got a lot going on. But it’s worth thinking about a gradual and consistent change.

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.