As I sit by the pool at the Wynn, relaxing after one of the most stressful and brutal months of my life, I wanted to reflect back and think about what went wrong, what went right, and what I want to accomplish in 2019.
- I gained weight. I’m almost back to where I was 2 and a half years ago when I started trying to lose weight. This can be mostly ascribed to food choices - I lost the plot a bit on tracking, and I drank more generally. What’s funny during this is I was exercising a ton for most of this - proof that you can’t outrun (or outlift) a bad diet.
- I lost my exercise habit. Not completely, but I have had a lot of trouble the last few months getting up and going in good time. Again, there are a lot of causes here. Stress and lack of sleep are the big ones - I’ve had trouble calming my mind, and work stress has ramped up a lot in the last few months. Now I will say I haven’t completely lost this - I still usually did something on the weekends. But losing the momentum there was quite a detriment.
- I fell out of reading habits. For a while I was reading a parts of a fiction book, non fiction, and some of the paper daily. As stress came in I found myself “giving myself a break” more and more, spending my time mindlessly browsing or playing mobile games.
The theme here is a common one I think - one of things that are good for me in the long term, but don’t always feel the best at the time. I feel better when I eat well, when I exercise, and my mind is sharper when I read. With that in mind, I’ve set some specific goals for 2019 that I’m hopeful will help me get back on the wagon.
Squat 200lbs, Bench 150lbs, Run a 5K Race.
With these I’m getting back to weight lifting and focusing on the two lifts I enjoy the most. These I think are fairly reasonable ones. My PR on the squat is 185, and around 120 for the bench, so I’m not far off. And with the 5k, my goal is simply to keep moving. My overall fitness goals are just to be fitter generally - to be able to move faster and further and lift more. To do this I intend to try and get more sleep in order to get up more comfortably for my morning workouts. I’ve done this before and I will again - it’s mostly a matter of getting to sleep earlier.
Weigh in at 175.
Again, pretty self explanatory. 175 would be a new low for me, and put me within 25 pounds of my goal. The fitness goals will help this along of course, but obviously food and drink are the big issues here. In order to accomplish this I mostly need to focus on my evenings. My breakfasts and lunches are generally pretty good and a bit easier to control - I have specific things I eat for breakfast, and I can bring a prepped lunch that is portioned out. But the after work drinks and snacks tend to get me. One of my strategies for this will be to look at replacements to help me relax. I’ve tried a few things lately that have helped me stay relaxed and mellow and occasionally productive. Focusing on that I think will help me have a more controlled evening and weekend.
It’s very easy for me to fall down the internet rabbit hole. There’s always something new on reddit, or Imgur, or Twitter, and when there isn’t, start at the top again. I plan to return to my past reading goals - 10 minutes of newspaper, 10 minutes of fiction, 10 minutes of non-fiction. This is not too hard to fit in generally - I can often have it done before work. This time to be a bit more focused I’ve been keeping a list of books I want to read - fiction and non-fiction. I’ve also been happy to get reading again, so I think this will be doable, it’s just a matter of focus.
I’m not yet sure what form this will take. Could be more blogging. I’m also thinking of trying my hand at writing again - nothing serious, but I have a story that’s been kinda niggling at the back of my head for years. For a while it was a Dawson’s Creek style YA novel set in wine country (which I still think is a fantastic idea for the record) but truthfully I have no interest in writing that. The stuff that tends to run through my head is epic fight scenes and crazy powers. Then a little while ago I had the now obvious realization - why not try and write a fantasy/sci-fi novel set in wine country? So that’s kind of where I’m at now. The goal here isn’t to get published or anything, just to flex my creative muscles. I’ve also picked up a learn to draw program for the iPad. I’ve never been good at drawing but I have things I’d love to be able to draw (namely, my WoW and D&D characters) so it could be fun. I’ve also been debating knitting too. Just something creative. Maybe even a D&D campaign?
Get out and stay out of debt.
While I don’t have a ton of debt, thankfully, I do have some, and getting out of it is realistic this year. And it does take a mental toll on me. So one of my goals this year is to pay that down and off.
Plan of Action
Goals are useless without a plan of action, and after putting these down I wanted to summarize briefly how I’m planning to achieve these. Many pieces of this serve multiple purposes.
Drink my recommended water per day. I have an app and a bottle now that measures how much water I need per day and increases it based on activity, usually between 2.5-3 litres. This will help with weight loss and fitness in general.
Get more and better sleep. I’m going to continue to try and get to bed at a good time, but as well I’ve also set up appointments for a sleep study and an ENT. My wife has said I tend to both snore and wake myself up, and the sleep trackers I’ve used on my watch tell me I don’t get much quality sleep either. So fixing that is a priority and, again, something that I think will help with fitness, weight loss, and mental health. When I sleep more and better I’m more focused on what I want to accomplish.
Set up YNAB. This has been on my list for a while, and I plan to do it early in the new year in order to manage my money better. I feel like my current systems are okay for this, but I hear good things and think this will be helpful.
I don’t really have specific plans for the creating and reading time, as it’s hard to say much more than “make the time.” I feel like these 3 things though will help me stay focused and act as what Charles Duhigg called “Keystone Habits.” I think they will reverberate out. I’ve found when my sleep and fitness are on point, the rest tends to fall into place. And the water goal is a simple one that helps keep me full, keeps me hydrated and healthy, and keeps wellness front of mind for me.
I’m excited about these goals. There’s nothing overly revolutionary here, but I feel like these keystone habits will be helpful in breaking through the obstacles and getting me back on track.