Somewhat inspired by this blog post from Wil Wheaton, I've been making a concerted effort to get my shit together in 2017. I didn't make any formal announcement back in January, I just started doing stuff I needed to do, and did less of stuff that it would be good to do less of. Specifically the areas I am working on are:
- Exercise more
- Eat better
- Drink less
- Read more
- Downsize my possessions
- Write more
- Learn more
We all say we are going to do this stuff every year, and most of us fail, every year. Been there, done that. So why is this year different for me? Well, Michelle's cancer certainly plays a big role here. And facing down the big 50 this year is probably a factor too.
How am I doing after 2 months?
I have worked out just about every day M-F since Jan 2. So a big win here so far. Right around the first of the year I stumbled into a $1.99 Kindle special in an email from Amazon. The book was Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy - Until You're 80 and Beyond, by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge. Henry is a doctor specializing in geriatrics, and Chris is one of his patients. It's actually not a great book, probably worth the $2 I paid and not much more. Dr. Lodge's philosophy is that by working out 5-6 days a week you keep your body in a near constant state of cell regeneration and repair that happens naturally after strenuous exercise. And that is a key factor in what keeps you feeling like your still 50 when you are 70+. The advice in the book is mostly common sense, and the chapters Chris writes (as the example) are kind of irritating and I mostly skimmed or skipped them. But the 4 or 5 chapters by the doctor explaining the science behind feeling good into your 80s were interesting, and apparently motivating too.
For me this mostly reduces to eliminate between meal snacks. We still have pizza or burgers for dinner regularly. However, I haven't had a cookie this year. I've been tracking everything I eat with an app. The act of tracking what I eat seems to be an appetite suppressant. By working out every day and not snacking, I'm running several hundred calories per day below the calorie count to lose a pound a week. So by the time Friday comes around I've got 800-1000 calories to play with, which allows me to go out to eat and have a couple of drinks without worrying about it.
Getting old sucks, but it beats the alternative. If there is beer in the house I'll drink it instead of something good for me. A beer a night is not a drinking problem, but it is an extra 1000 calories a week. And it seems like at my age even 2 beers impacts how I feel the next morning. So I've mostly quit drinking at home. Michelle and I still go out to our favorite pub a couple of times a month, and we'll have a drink with dinner if we are out. But I'm down to a six pack a month from a six pack a week. Drinking makes me want to snack, so I suspect my ability to eliminate 9 Pm snacks is directly related to not having a 9 PM beer.
Last year I completed fewer books than I had in probably any year since I learned how to read. The goal for this year is 24 books, so two a month. I'm tracking on pace. I've found that not having a beer or two while watching TV with Michelle allows me to read before bed every night.
The next time we move I want to fit everything into 2 moving cubes. It took a 22 foot trailer to get us to VA in 1998, so that will be a pretty significant downsizing. We are making great progress. I think I've been to Goodwill every weekend this year, plus we've been selling stuff off, and we've taken several Durango loads of stuff to the dump.
My brain simply works better when I'm writing regularly. It just causes me to look at the world in a little differently, like a writer. Everything becomes a potential story, causing me to think about how the story begins and ends. It's that causing me to think part that is important. I think. Also, if I'm staring at a text editor crafting a blog post, I'm not mindlessly browsing Facebook or Twitter. So win-win all the way there.
The book I mentioned above touches on this too; how staying intellectually and emotionally engaged with the world is correlated with happiness, and a reduction in many aging related issues. So I'm trying to make sure I'm always in the process of learning something new. I just finished up the Acquia Drupal 8 Site Builder 2-day class today, and now I've got an idea for a Drupal 8 site that I want to build. I also want to get back to my ukulele.
60 days into 2017, I've lost 10 pounds, I'm sleeping better, and I just generally feel better. I'm not some kind of personal productivity nut. I find plenty of time to lounge on the couch and watch TV with my wife (we are currently binge watching Gilmore Girls). I watch more Premier League on TV than is probably healthy, and my MLB.TV subscription just renewed, so I'll be adding the Red Sox to the mix soon too.
So two thumbs up on the effort so far. I'll update again in two months.