jakebe: (Self-Improvement)

I thought that 2016 was going to be different. With the launch of the Jackalope Serial Company and a host of opportunities for this little black geek to write stories for anthologies specifically for him, I had prepared for a big focus on storytelling. Now we're entering the middle third of the year, and the JSC is sputtering along, I've still only finished two short stories and I've had to take frequent breaks to manage other things that are going on.

All of the reasons have been well documented here, of course. I've changed positions at my day job, and that required a lot of training and focus; at the same time, the company I work for is undergoing a massive upheaval that means it's next to impossible to get settled, so there isn't a solid foundation for me to dig into. I've worked pretty hard to succeed in those conditions, and I'm getting to a point where I'm doing all right. But lofty goals for extracurricular activities had to be pulled back or scrapped entirely.

I've also had to learn a lot about how I'm interacting with the world and the various communities I inhabit; the climate of our society has become so aggressive and uncompromising and it's easy to be swept along in that current if you let yourself. I didn't like the conclusions or consequences that I was being lead to, and I had to pull back to reorient myself towards the truths I've gleaned from my own experience. That means pulling back, reflecting on my experience, and observing how others act on theirs for insight, connection and understanding. It's been a fruitful process, and I feel much more solid on my beliefs, why I hold them and understanding why people believe and act the way they do.

That's not to say that I have all of the answers -- of course I don't. I don't know any more than you do. But I'm a lot more comfortable with where I stand on my path and I feel more confident about the direction I'm going. I've made choices to stop, reorient and refocus, and what's left is acting on that knowledge to see where it leads me.

The Jackalope Serial Company will fire up again this week with chapter 3 of THE CULT OF MAXIMUS. I've set down an outline for the rest of the story, and it's allowed me to know what's really important character-wise as well as work out the kinks of plotting and purpose. The first two chapters felt...exploratory by comparison, and while that can be fun for exercises it's really not that great in serialized fiction. It's important to establish a sense of momentum, the idea that the story is leading somewhere, that there is acceleration, waystations, the whole bit. The serial has that baked in a bit more now, and I've learned from the bad start.

I'm working on editing "Stable Love" so I can finally clear that off my plate; then there's the People of Color Destroy Horror! story that I'd like to submit by the middle of the month. There is the Clarion Write-A-Thon prize that I still owe to a good friend, and right after that I'll set to work on my People of Color Destroy Fantasy! short story. I'm also working on a collaborative project that I'm quite excited about; I was nearly done with the outline there, but a few revelations about antagonists and character-building have encouraged me to take another look at it. There is a black superheroes anthology that I would love to submit a story for, a contest for transformation and mind-control stories that I think I'd like to submit something for, and online-only stories that I want to publish at least once a quarter.

My ambition to publish short stories hasn't diminished at all this year, even with the bumps along the way. I just have to make sure that my ability to deliver and be organized is up to where it needs to be.

Oh! Ryan and I have also gotten into cooking through this service called Blue Apron. Basically, ingredients for three two-person meals are shipped to us every week and we learn a lot about cooking through making them. They've been surprising and delicious, every week, and I've liked most of them (the only one I didn't really care for was the catfish po' boy). If you find yourself eating out a lot and want to have healthier meals, I'd recommend it. $60/week seems steep but if you compare that to the money you spend on restaurants you might find yourself in a wash.

I've also begun running again, which has done wonders for my energy and mood. This is nominally training for The Overnight Walk, to build strength and endurance in my legs, but the truth is I've just missed being out on the sidewalk. It feels so good to be out there again.

That's where I stand right now. The day job continues to be demanding, and I've taken some time to assess how to deal with that and work on the things that are important to me. Diet and exercise continues to improve, but the weight isn't coming off just yet. All in good time.

If you would like to support my serial erotic fiction project, please head over to my Patreon site and sign up! For as little as $1/month, you can have (almost) weekly episodes delivered to you!

And if you would like to help me support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, please make a donation to The Overnight, a 16-mile dusk-til-dawn walk through San Francisco to raise awareness for suicide prevention and mental health issues. My participant page is here; anything you can give would be very much appreciated.

jakebe: (Self-Improvement)
So good old [livejournal.com profile] ransomdracalis sent a link to an article from The Art of Manliness in response to my last post, and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a bit. The idea of framing the habits you want to create as a "20 Mile March" is quite a good one; it reinforces the emphasis on consistency, long-term thinking, and breaking up this enormous, impossible task into smaller chunks that you can actually measure your progress on every day. What's more, by making it just enough of an effort that you have to push yourself, there's that small rush of satisfaction you get when you manage to pull it off far more frequently.

Right now I have several marches in mind, but I'm trying to simplify even further. Really, they revolve around two things that I've been trying to give more and more priority to for the longest time: fitness, and writing. At the moment I weigh 196 pounds, more than I've ever weighed before. And unlike a lot of my friends I really don't have a good frame for it. Narrow shoulders, small back, thin limbs. Most of my weight is slung onto my belly, which collects fat to the exclusion of almost everywhere else. I'm not SO concerned about my weight as I am about having this huge tank that distorts all of my clothing and pushes all my belts down quite a bit. It's...not the way I want to look.

So, as far as fitness goes, my 20 Mile March is basically shrinking my stomach enough that I feel good about it (or not quite as bad). The best way to measure that is by taking a tape say, twice a month, and aiming to lose...I don't know, a 1/4-inch from my waist a month. I can achieve that goal by maintaining a healthier diet that's lower in fat and calories, and by exercising on a regular basis.

To that end I've signed up for one of Fitocracy's Group Fitness programs. I've chosen "Level Up Your Running," because running is my exercise of choice. There's always weirdness with it, though, where I'm hurting my knee or ankle, my legs feel tight, etc. etc. I'd like to have some sort of structure where I can check in and make sure I'm stretching, eating, drinking enough to actually exercise on a regular basis. The program starts on the 21st, and I'm really looking forward to it. In the meantime, I'll try to continue cutting out candy/sweets, curb my snacking, and at the very least exercise four times this week.

Writing has the same dual-pronged approach. In addition to making sure I write consistently on a project, seeing it through to completion, I need to make sure I'm reading on a regular basis as well. I want to immerse myself in the world of writing -- creativity, I've found, flourishes best in a nurturing environment. Reading the work of other people who've sacrificed and worked to produce something can be really stimulating that way, and I like picking through a story to find out what works, what doesn't, and how it either succeeds or fails. My goal is to write 1000 - 1500 words every day, and read at least 30 minutes every day. I think that between reading and writing, that's about 90 minutes of time a day to devote to it. I have that, somewhere.

That's the plan, starting today. We'll see how I stick to it.

No Quarter

Oct. 7th, 2013 09:49 am
jakebe: (Default)
I've fallen off the stick on several goals, and it's time to get back on. My Rainfurrest 2013 report is up on jakebe.com if you care to look, and I'll be working on my review for the AFI Top 100 Movies here in a little bit. I need to nail down dates for my next few Pathfinder sessions, and figure out what the heck I should be working on next in regards to writing. I *do* have a story commission in the works, and it shouldn't be too hard to bang out. When all else fails, that'll do.

One of the things I'd really like to work on is diet and exercise this month, though. With the holidays coming up, now's the time to try and bake in good eating habits. I love, love, LOVE Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it doesn't necessarily mean I should pig out on holiday chocolates, pies and all that business. Well, no more than a few days at least in November and December at least. :)

Something I've learned about myself is that I have a bit of an addictive personality. If I find something I love, I'll tend to cling to it for a while. Nowhere is that more true than sweets of just about any kind -- candy, pastries, cakes and the like. There's no such thing as having a little nip of something to satisfy a craving. If I have something sweet, I'll want more. There's this line that Leo McGarry has on West Wing, regarding his alcoholism -- "I can't imagine why everyone wouldn't want to feel like this all the time". That's the way I feel with candy. I can't imagine why people aren't just stuffing their faces with sweet things forever and ever, amen.

Yet I've proven time and again that I can quit; I gave up candy entirely for a year, and while it was difficult I did it. I gave up sweets and a whole lot more during the Whole30. But when I'm able to have candy again, when I take that plunge...it almost always ends up spiraling down into too much. I'll create caches around the house, so that I'm never far from my next fix.

I don't think I can have a healthy relationship with candy. I do love it so, but I lose my ability to moderate with it. So I think it's come to the point where I'll just have to cut it out almost entirely. No chocolate or caramel bars, no Skittles or Sugar Babies. Pastries and cookies are a sometimes food that I can handle, but if I start shifting my allegiance from candies to cookies then that policy will need to be revisited.

My family has a history of diabetes and glaucoma; it's high past time I got my sugar intake under control. Learning how to do that without an end in sight might be difficult, but I'm committed to making it stick. To get rid of my belly, if nothing else. ;)
jakebe: (Self-Improvement)
It's hard to believe that I've just finished my third week of Whole30 eating. Day 21 passed on Monday, and today I'm looking at the home stretch -- in just 8 days, I'll have completed one of the more difficult things I've ever done. I'll have been living on meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts and oils for a whole 30 days as part of a dietary reset.
Now that we've settled into the habit of Whole30 eating and beaten the cravings that we have (and we still have those), we're looking at what our lives will be like after this whole experiment has ended. Ryan is worried that we'll go back to the same old unhealthy habits -- stuffing our faces with candy and cookies, eating fast food, getting right back into the things that we've worked hard to stop doing. And I have to admit, it's a legitimate fear. I've often thought that it would be pretty amazing to just go nuts for a week after the Whole30, eating anything and everything I want to, indulging in all the things my brain has been screaming at me to have.
Part of me thinks that I would be so overwhelmed by the fat and sugar and carbs that I've been missing out on this whole time, and that it would be proof that my body had changed. I would cringe away from the foods that are bad for me, and embrace my new healthy-eating lifestyle -- within moderation, of course. But another part of me knows better. The siren's call of tasty but nutritionless food is always going to seduce me, and falling into that temptation would be undermining everything I've built this month. It's best to gain a bit of closure with my worst habits now, and walk away for good while their hold on me has weakened.
But that's a post for another time, closer to the end. For now, I'd like to talk about the friends we have who've made this whole thing a lot more pleasant than it would have been otherwise, and what I've learned through them.
The silver-tongued devil who encouraged me to sign up for the Whole30 in the first place has been the most interested in really stretching out with it. We've been over to his house a few times in the past three weeks, and each time he's made food that was *really* good and totally Whole30-compliant. We've had "shepherd's pie," with wild boar, mushrooms and (I think?) carrots under a 'crust' of mashed yams. There was dry-rubbed pork chops with unsweetened apple sauce, and a really great breakfast scramble with over-medium eggs, shredded yam, zucchini and onion with wilted spinach. Of course, he and his husband are much more used to cooking than Ryan and I are, but it kind of gave me a look at a different way of doing the Whole30. If you know what you're doing and willing to put in the prep time, there's a pretty great set of recipes that you can totally rock the house with.
Ryan and I are still padawans when it comes to cooking; I don't think he's much interested in doing much inside the kitchen, and that's fine. His priorities are on his writing, where they should be. But now that I've gotten a taste for cooking -- and seen what my friends are being motivated to do inside the kitchen -- I'm definitely into the idea of doing it more. I'm really excited by the idea of being able to make a cheeseburger and fries at home that's way healthier and skewed to my tastes then something I could get at a fast-food (or even gourmet) burger joint. Now that I have a basic idea of how cooking meat and combining spices works, I'm a bit more comfortable with experimentation, and I think I can start expanding my horizons a little more all the time. Getting quicker and more comfortable in the kitchen is one of those things that I've been inspired to do -- not only by the necessities of the Whole30 -- but by the folks who're doing it with me.
We had a friend of ours hold the very first test-run of her new business idea in our kitchen, and ate most of her dishes for dinner over the week. The idea is that she sits down with you, talks about your likes, dislikes and dietary restrictions, then comes up with a number of entrees and side dishes to choose from. Once the final menu has been decided (five entrees, five sides), she comes over to your house to cook them and stores them in your fridge and/or freezer so you can have it whenever you'd like. It's a really neat idea for busy working households, and since she's a professional chef you just know you're going to get your money's worth.
We had Salmon A L'Afrique du Nord with cauliflower Confetti "Rice," Cinnamon Beef Stew with Jicama Home Fries, Pineapple Red Curry Duck with Cumin-Roasted Carrots, Macadamia Chicken with Tangerine-Ginger Sauce with Curried Onion and Ginger Soup, and Moroccan Lamb Meatballs with Creamy Spice Market Kale. I think the dishes turned out to be a bit more complicated than any of us realized; she was cooking for 14 hours straight, and I felt terrible about it. It turns out choosing five different meats for entrees makes things more complex than they need to be. Who knew?
At any rate, they were all very good, and a good number of the dishes were big enough that we ended up with leftovers the next day. The duck and the lamb were my favorites, and I usually don't break for those two. In fact, much of my Whole30 experience has been filled with taking second looks at things I decided I hadn't liked a long time ago. I've tried new seafood dishes, egg dishes, vegetables that I just thought looked funny at the store. Being driven into the arms of different foods is a great thing; my palate is expanding, even though it doesn't want to be, and I can appreciate a great deal more than I could before.
As far as the physical effects, my energy is still lower in general and it's hard to get exercise in a lot of the time. But it's a lot easier to wake up in the mornings, and for that I'm grateful. I haven't really experienced the boundless energy and wellspring of joy that's been advertised, but that's fine. I'm generating a different sort of contentment from the things that I've accomplished so far this month.
That's all for now. I'll look forward next week, to see what lessons I'll be taking with me after my Whole30 has ended.
jakebe: (Self-Improvement)
I've been doing all of the usual business for the past few months, to varying degrees of success. I've been trying to eat better, exercise more, read and write more. I can't call myself a healthy eater, or an exercise buff, a writer or an avid reader, but I'm making progress. My goals are getting steadily more difficult and when I fall off the wagon it's easier to pick myself up and get back on.

+ Diet
I found a pretty neat website called Superbetter through Lifehacker, and I have to admit I'm having quite a bit of fun with it so far. It's one of the early projects from Jane McGonigal, who's been preaching a gospel of gamification for the past few years. You know, the idea that you can actually effect positive change by turning a goal into a game. It's an idea I find pretty exciting, because hey -- who doesn't like games?

So besides counting calories (which I'm still doing), I've signed up to Superbetter and it's a place where I pretend to be a super-hero of mental resilience and weight loss. :) I could definitely use some allies, so if you're already on the website or have goals you'd like to hit and are looking for a community to help push you along the way, let me know and we'll hook up. I am...*dramatic pose* The Reading Rabbit.

I took the Full-Plate Diet Power Pack on signing up, and so far I'm digging it quite a bit. The Full-Plate Diet is a relatively simple idea -- basically, you look at eating better as a game of inclusion rather than exclusion. Instead of focusing on all the things you can't have, like sugars and unhealthy fats, you look at including high-fiber whole foods instead. By focusing on finding new foods to love instead of ditching the ones you already do (but aren't serving your waistline well), it makes the whole experience quite a bit more positive.

There are also a few simple tenets that are so...common-sense, it's embarrassing to have to be told this. They are: eat when you're hungry, stop eating when you're not hungry. And: stop to think about what you're choosing to eat. Duh. But it's actually helping me to make better choices and to eat less, so there's that.

This hasn't translated into weight loss yet, but let's see where we are in another month.

+ Exercise
This has been one of those things that are going in fits and starts. I've been trying to focus on running because the Bay to Breakers race is just a few short weeks away, and that hasn't gone too well to say the least.

I've been trying to get into minimal/barefoot running, which means using as little a cushion as possible. This forces you to change your stride to something more...natural, I guess is the right word, because your body knows how to minimize the shock of running a lot better. This presumably reduces the number of injuries you get from running, if you do it right, and since I've had problems with knee pain I figure I'd give it a go.

So I picked up the Nike Free Run+ and a Nike Run sensor for it. So far the shoe isn't quite as minimal as I thought it might be, but it's fine to do this in stages. I'm definitely changing my stride -- my calves and shins are burning like never before after a good run. It's this change and, well, let's be honest, laziness, that makes running a bit more difficult this year. I've only just been able to run for two miles straight without stopping, and went for my longest run yet (4.15 miles) on Saturday. We have a lot of ground to cover if we want to be in fighting shape come mid-May, but Ryan and I are planning to push hard.

In addition to running three times a week, I try to hit the gym thrice a week. Chest and triceps on Sunday, back on Monday, biceps on Thursday or Friday. That leaves Wednesday as our only rest day, which isn't so bad. I like the way that comes off, but the fact remains that we haven't managed a full week yet. I have a good feeling about this one, though.

+ Reading
This is the one area where I'm falling down repeatedly and consistently, I'm ashamed to say. Every time I think about what I'm (not) reading, Stephen King's advice rings like an admonishment in my head. "There are two things a writer must do -- read a lot and write a lot. If you don't have time to do one or the other, you don't have time to be a writer." I'm paraphrasing here, but that's the sentiment and I've taken it to heart.

I think what's getting in the way is the perception that I just don't have time to really sit down and dive into a book. Which is, of course, hogwash. There's always time, I'm just choosing to fill it with something that's not reading. And that's not OK. I always *enjoy* reading once I start, it's just the inertia that gets me. I've spent too much time not-reading and now reading is a habit that's hard to build.

Towards that end I'll be taking my Kindle with me to the work kitchen and reading there while I eat lunch. I could use some time away from my computer (and its distraction of Facebook games) over lunch, and heading off there will allow me to read and pay more attention to what I'm eating. It's a win-win, and I'm sure folks won't mind an hour where I'm out of pocket at least.

Right now I'm reading Mad Ship by Robin Hobb and two apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic short story collections from various folks. What I've found with a lot of anthologies is that writers try to use the opportunity to get cute with their stories, and more often than not that just comes off as annoying. Call me an apocalypse traditionalist, but I'd like to have my PA fiction without any cheeky, self-aware, misanthropic metaphors, thank you.

That being said, there was one story that had a *great* PA world built into it. The story itself was pretty interesting but couldn't quite stick the landing -- the climax just crossed the line of believability. I can't remember the name of it off the top of my head, but I can recommend it. Later. When I remember the title. :)

+ Writing
This actually hasn't been going too badly. I've written a couple of blog entries for my website (http://www.jakebe.com, plug plug) that I wanted to make a bit more polished and professional-looking. I have a bit of a ways to go with that, but we all have to start somewhere. I wanted to talk about writing, stories and how we can learn about or change ourselves through the stories we tell ourselves and the lessons we learn from them. That might change over time, but that's what I'd like to do starting out anyway.

As far as fiction goes, that's stalled just a little bit. I'm writing a short story that'll be shown to a friend, privately, and then after that I'll be moving on to other projects I've been wanting to get off the ground. I'm also running a Pathfinder game and that tends to eat a lot of time for preparation and story development. I've got a really good bunch of players and I don't want to let them down.

So that's pretty much what I've been up to recently. How's everyone else? ;)
jakebe: (Default)
It's been a little while since I've written here, and there are a bunch of reasons for that. The biggest is that I've set up a new WordPress blog where I'll be writing a lot about...well, writing. Telling stories in all kinds of forms is a really fascinating process, and I want to explore it a little more. I'd also like to take a step back to look at the impact stories have on our lives -- we tell stories to each other all the time, and a lot of the time we never even realize it.

What do news stories about celebrities say about us? Why do we pay more attention to a politician's personal scandals than their actual policies? What do the types of stories that suddenly get big in popular culture say about us as a people? I think there's knowledge to be gained by paying attention to these things. I'd also like to talk a bit about my own storytelling process, as well as have a centralized location to hold all of my web presences together. If you're interested in checking out what little I have there so far, feel free to go to http://www.jakebe.com.

As time goes on, I'll probably be cross-posting a lot of the Wordpress blog stuff here, but I'd like to keep this open as a more personal blog of sorts. Stuff that doesn't fit within the scope of the jakebe.com blog will go here -- you know, what's up in my personal life, exercise and such, that sort of thing. It's taken me a little bit of time for things to shake out that way and figure out which parts of the web I'd like to keep and what I'd like to abandon. As much as people use Facebook and what not, I really just can't get behind it. I play Jeopardy! and Bejeweled Blitz through it and that's about it. Google Plus has been abandoned as well, even though there's no particular reason for that either.

Anyway, personally things are going pretty well! Work has been brisk and I've been gaining more and more responsibility there. It's keeping me busy, but it feels really good to be a fairly big piece of a company's process. I like where I am. I've been trying to pick up a multitude of habits -- and admittedly I've been failing with quite a few of them. I'm hoping putting up a modest list of goals this week might provide the kick in the pants necessary to stick to a few of them. I know, I know, I've tried this before and all of a sudden I fall silent and re-appear months later with a re-start. Hopefully, this will be the time that sticks. (I know I've said this before, too.)

+ Meditate every day. I've talked about the benefits of meditation before, and it obviously helps me to keep my brain in order. So why am I not doing it more often? Because there are too many days where I'd rather spend another ten minutes sleeping in or mindlessly checking email or FA. Then I start the day off on the wrong foot, feeling guilty before I even get to work because I haven't used my time productively. This creates a ripple effect that carries through the rest of the day. At this point, it comes down to a choice: do I want to set myself up for success or failure today? It's a bit extreme, but that's what I'll have to do to stick to my meditation regiment.

+ Write every day. This is another thing that I'll need to take a hard line against. If I'm going to consider myself a writer, I need to write every day. Period. And that writing needs to be with the intention of showing to an audience. So, that includes blog entries, a Pathfinder page for the game I'm running, interactive short stories and "real" stories that have the intention of being published online or in print. I'll start with a 500-word minimum this week.

+ Run at least five miles this week. The Bay to Breakers 12K is coming up in a rather short period of time, and if I want to have a hope of keeping up with my blisteringly fast friends I'm going to need to start training NOW. I'd like to get into the habit of running with a 'barefoot' stride, as evidence seems to point to this being better for preventing injuries and the like. Running five miles this week guarantees two or three nights of work, which should work well for starting me on the path of getting in better shape.

+ Set aside at least three hours for reading this week. I used to be a passionate bookworm, but I'm ashamed to say that my reading habits have degraded so far over time they're practically non-existent. I have a stack of books, short stories and comics I keep meaning to get to but blow off for other things. If I'm going to be a writer, I'm going to have to immerse myself more in the work of other writers, and that means reading. Much to the chagrin of my husband, I'm going to say comic books count here as well -- it's not quite Robin Hobb, but it's a form of storytelling that I identify with and there are lessons to be learned there as well.

+ Eat my own food more often. Eating out is hellaciously expensive. Not only that, but most restaurants hate you and want you to be fat. It's true! Take a look at the nutrition information for most of your favorite haunts; that's the only way I can justify a restaurant stuffing 1100 calories into a freaking chicken sandwich.

So there you go -- that's what I hope to get done this week. If I don't make a follow-up post discussion how I did, someone please call me on it! Also, go visit http://www.jakebe.com for blog posts and the like.
jakebe: (Hmph!)
Weight Last Week: 190.7 pounds
Weight This Week: 190.6 pounds
Trending Change: -0.1 pounds
Avg. Calories/Day: 1678

All right, so I'm going to try to get back to being serious about watching my weight, exercising on a regular basis and eating food that's better for me. Hey, it's a new year and that's practically a tradition once you sleep off the blinding hangover. The difficulty with the concept, though, is that you really have to work to identify what you're going after. Losing weight is a pretty simple thing: you just burn more calories than you eat. Getting down to the particulars can be really tough, though. How many calories should I have if I want to maintain my current weight? That is so damned hard to figure out, and I'm still not sure I've got it right. The best thing I can think of to do is count my calories, collect data on weight, and see if I can establish some sort of correlation.

Anyway, that's what I'm posting up there. My weekly weights are measured on Sunday morning, but I really do weigh myself every day and enter it into the Hacker's Diet tracking website. It's a great little thing if I haven't recommended it already. It takes all the data you give it and stretches out a trend for you; the idea is that your weight will fluctuate from day to day, and the best way to establish a trend is to gather as much data as possible and see where it goes. Over time, your trend should start to go down as more and more data points get lower.

You can see that just starting to happen here, though not as much as I'd like. The weight for my trend up to January 1st was 190.7 pounds, and by the 8th it had slipped a tenth. At this rate I'll lose a pound every ten weeks, or five pounds a year. That's nowhere near quickly enough.

Still, the year is young and I only have nine points of data in my little graph! I'm going to stay the course for now just to see if around 1700 Calories per day is enough to get me to lose weight. By the end of the month, I should have a good idea of how my calorie count correlates to my weight, and judging by that and some basic math, I can come up with a hypothesis on a good maintenance count.

The exercise didn't quite get off to the start that I had hoped. I set myself a goal of running at least three times a week but I only managed two. As typically happens, the front of the week was pretty good but I ran out of willpower somewhere in the middle and just couldn't bring myself for that last, success-clinching run closer to the weekend. It didn't help that I'm working with a new stride (barefoot-style, baby!) that's insanely calf-intensive. My legs were very sore pretty much all of last week.

Getting back to exercise on a regular basis might be a difficult proposition this week. The end of it will be spent in a non-stop party setting, so going out for a run regardless of what's going on around me will be pretty difficult to do. The only thing I really should worry about is Saturday, with a planned two or three mile run, but if I get up early enough I should be able to spare an hour or so for it.

So there we are! The first week of the new year sees a really small drop for weight, and things will be hard to manage next week. Still, I'm hopeful I can minimize any damage out there. If you're going to be at the convention this weekend (you know which one) and you see me eating something that's terrible for me...leave me be. I know what I'm doing, and even if it's probably not good it won't make me feel better to be harangued about it! That being said, a gentle nudge to make better choices next time wouldn't hurt.
jakebe: (Work)
It's been a little while since I've talked about diet and exercise. I know most people aren't really keen on hearing the minutiae of the process, and admittedly it can be a bit dry if you're doing what you should. When it comes right down to it, weight control is a numbers game. You keep track of the Calories that are coming in, and you fine-tune it until you're losing weight at the rate you think you should. It's a simple proposition that's astonishingly difficult to pull off.

We don't tend to think of food in such an exacting way. It belongs to our more esoteric understanding, even when we start getting into the pseudo-science of it. Even when we throw around terms like caloric intake, fat-protein-carb ratio, net carb, low carb, no carb, body mass index, and all the rest, those hard numbers exist in some vague realm that seems disconnected from the way we really take and enjoy sustenance. We consider food to be an emotional experience, like art, and it's hard for us to make the leap into concrete data. No one wants to treat art like it's science.

But, alas, that's what we're forced to do in our day and age. We're encouraged to eat all the wrong things in incredibly damaging amounts, and the refuge of hard data is the best means we have of taking back control of our diets. So, number crunching it is. Even though I'm inconsistent with it, and it's a giant pain in the ass when I'm eating out, it's a black and white thing that's impossible to argue with. I know my goal. I know how to get there. And I have the means with which to measure progress. So how's the progress coming along?

Not too bad, actually. Like I said before, I'm pretty inconsistent about monitoring, just because it's pretty hard to get accurate counts when you're eating out a lot. But the weight's been down significantly for the last few months, and I'm only seven pounds away from my first 'permanent' goal. I'm averaging about 182 pounds these days, and I'd like to be a svelte 175. We'll see how my stomach looks once I hit that weight to see if I need to go down any further.

It pains me to say it, but the thing that's helped me most is just consistency. I used to resist it as much as I could, because I hated the idea of being the kind of person who had the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. It's a fairly irrational feeling, come to think of it, and it did me a lot of harm before I knocked it the hell off. Now, I'm pretty cool with having hot or cold cereal and a cup of coffee for breakfast every morning. Every once in a while, I'll get a fruit and yogurt parfait from the local sandwich shop, or a couple slices of wheat toast with butter and honey. The most important thing is to keep the calories down, and with that in mind, you'll quickly come up with a repetoire that gives you the most bang for your buck (i.e., stuff that isn't too calorie-heavy while keeping you reasonably satisfied until lunchtime).

Lunch tends to be a Lean Pocket and pre-packaged salad; that gets the job done until dinner most of the time, but I feel like I could be doing better. It's a bit high in fat between the pastry pouch and salad dressing, and there's not quite enough lean meat. I might be better served with a home-made sandwich with veg or fruit (carrots, celery, grape tomatoes or even grapes) and yogurt, but that requires a bit more prep than I'm willing to take in the mornings. I'll have to run the numbers (I'd like to bring up my protein percentage and lower my fat).

Dinner and snacks are the diciest part of the day for me. If I can stay away from cookies I'm generally fine, but I'm a big stress eater and work has its way with me several times a week. I'm weak, but I often seek the comfort of cookies when I'm feeling all keyed up. Before that, my go-to snack food was candy, but the year-long moratorium on that has taken that release valve away. I'm not complaining, but it feels like I've traded one crutch for another, essentially. I have to get better about that.

Exercise is ideally a combination of weight training and running. Weight training is good for endurance and encouraging muscle growth (or at least maintenance), while I honestly just love to run. Besides clearing my mind, making me feel better and more fit, it also demands that I stretch and drink a lot of water on a regular basis. That can't be a bad thing, right?

Between diet and exercise, my goal for Calories is 1600 per day, or 11200 per week. Just to give myself a little wiggle room, I'll throw in 300 extra Calories per week for the nice, round number of 11500. With the recommended calorie intake of 14000 per week, that puts me at a deficit of 3500 -- which, as you may or may not know, is the equivalent of a pound of fat.

So by that logic, if all goes well, I should be losing about a pound a week! It's really too bad we live in a world where cookies and other baked goods are so delicious. :) Still, I'm trying -- refining my process, and making slow, painful, incremental progress. I'm still making a lot of mistakes, but it feels like I'm earning my discipline still.


Apr. 17th, 2011 11:30 am
jakebe: (Meditation)
Happy tax day everyone!

Like everyone else expecting a refund of some amount, I did my taxes early. I always do -- I really hate the rush of people getting their taxes in at the last possible moment, making the post office (and any place that delivers mail, really) a nightmare on Earth. Maybe it’s a holdover from my Adobe days, where I had to send so many certified letters with return receipt it literally depressed me for a week afterwards.

My heart goes out to all of those who’ve had to brave the crowds this week, no matter what side of the counter you’re on. :)

There’s been a lot going on recently, but when is that ever untrue? I thought I’d give capsule updates on different aspects and kind of deep-dive into the rest later. If at all.

+ Reading
We’ve finally unpacked most of our books from the move, so I’m getting into it again. I found my Kindle (it was in my backpack the entire time!) and bought a couple things for it that I’m working my way through now. One is an ‘amateur’ novella called 2084. It’s one of those ‘alternate futures told from the perspective of interviews and journalist essays’ books, in the vein of World War Z or War Day. Instead of a zombie outbreak or limited nuclear exchange, the great catastrophe that befalls civilization is global warming. The idea is intriguing and in the right hands it could have been astonishingly prophetic -- I believe we aren’t doing enough to combat climate change, and in a couple of decades we’re going to start to see those worst-case scenarios come to pass.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the right hands. The writing comes across fairly unconvincingly, and it’s clear that this guy has a political axe to grind. It’s nowhere near as effective as it could be, and this is coming from the choir. I can’t imagine someone else on the other side ever taking it seriously. It’s too bad, because it’s an opportunity wasted.

I’m also reading Storm Front by Jim Butcher, the first book in the Harry Dresden series. A friend of mine is running a Dresden Universe game set in Buffalo, and I’d like to get a handle on the feel of the setting before I dive into the role-play. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but those chapters have just breezed by; it’s a quick read, and Butcher opens the novel pretty well. I hear there’s a tonal shift in the writing half-way through that makes it less fun to read, and I’m glad I’ve been tipped off to it. If it’s not as bad as I’m expecting, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. If it is, well, I know it’s coming.

I’m also reading (at last!) “Contraindications,” the dragon’s fun set of short stories that he might be finishing up soon. Once I’ve cleared a little more space on my reading plate, I’ll dive back into the massive backlog of comics that’s been steadily growing since the beginning of the year and then get started on Daniel Fahl’s Save the Day. For some reason, furry superheroes are a little difficult to pull off.

+ Writing
The writing hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped, to be honest. Right now I’m working through a poem a day in honor of National Poetry Month. I’ve been managing to average a poem a day, though I’ve fallen behind every so often and have needed to catch up. My writing for blogs and short stories have suffered a bit as a result...not that I ever did that very much anyway.

In addition to the poetry I’m trying to write short essays (around 500 - 1000 words) in an attempt to have a more polished personal writing style. I’ve come to really enjoy the flavor of a lot of writing/personal blogs out there, and there’s no more sincere way to show that than trying to emulate it. Of course, that’s stalled a bit because...who wants to read about someone failing to live the life of a writer? It’s better to get some experience under your belt before you open up that can of worms, am I right?

Long story short, I’m working on a bunch of things right now, and I’m progressing on all of them slowly. I keep hoping for the day when I’m actually able to show this stuff instead of talking about it, and that magical time is inching closer on the horizon.

+ Diet
This is another thing that’s coming along slowly but surely. I’m sure I’ve talked about my stress eating before, and it continues to be my biggest enemy. I get stressed about work or writing or exercise, and that’s then the cravings start to rear their heads. And those cravings are a lot more difficult to deal with than they used to be since I’ve given up candy for the year. On the bright side, it’s forcing me to be more mindful of them and to make conscious decisions about them. It’s a lot more difficult to mindlessly eat a cookie if you know it will cost as much as dinner, calorically. Candy is a lot easier to write off, and depriving myself of that out means there are no easy decisions.

I still slip up quite a bit, but I’ve gotten a lot more anal about counting calories and holding myself accountable. I was doing pretty well there for a while, nearing 182 pounds, which would have been the lowest weight in years. Something happened, though, and I’ve retreated from that. Now I’m waffling between 183 and 185. Now that I’m getting pretty aggressive about eating in more often, hopefully the weight will come down.

+ Exercise
I’ve also gotten serious about training for the Bay to Breakers, which means running three times a week is going to happen, no matter what. If we stick to the dragon’s weightlifting schedule, that means exercise six times a week at least. I’m actually comfortable with that, even if I might complain a bit during some of the harder workouts. Back nights are never fun, and the long runs have gotten progressively more punishing. We just finished a six-mile run yesterday that just about killed me. Thankfully, there’s just a set of three mile runs for next week, giving us a bit of a break before we head into the home stretch. The next two Saturdays after our break week? A seven and eight mile run, leading right into Bay to Breakers weekend. I think I’ll take a full week off after the race before aiming for four mile runs three times a week.

+ Work
I don’t talk much about work, mostly because there’s a dangerous blend between my professional and personal selves happening there, and I don’t want to encourage anything that would blur the lines any further. Still, I think this is the most fulfilled I’ve been at any job ever. I’m learning a lot about how to get along with people, business processes, my own personal project management style, and how to push myself to do better. It’s really great to see myself growing into my role and having that growth be recognized by other people. I feel needed, which is immensely gratifying. That newfound sense of ability carries over to other parts of my life, so overall work is just making me a better, more focused person. I really dig that. :)

So that’s what’s going on with me in a nutshell. One of the things I think people don’t talk about enough here is how these journals really are meant to foster a sense of community and interaction. I think we’ve taken that for granted a bit, and now we’re sorely missing it now that the LJ community is starting to break apart.

That being said...what would you guys like to see in this personal journal? What sorts of topics do you find yourself thinking about most? What do you think would foster discussion and input? What do you find interesting? What can I do, if anything, to keep our little corner of the internet active and engaged?
jakebe: (Disapproval)
It’s been six weeks since I made my first set of New Year’s resolutions, can you believe it? My, how the time does fly.

In case you needed a refresher course, I had decided that instead of making these big, grandiose and vague plans, I would try to set three concrete goals that could be accomplished in six weeks. That way, I would have a built-in ticking clock, and a time period long enough to form a habit and short enough that I could keep it at the forefront of my consciousness for a while. Well, how did I do with that? Not well. Let’s review the resolutions, shall we?

Resolution #1: Write 3500 words a week for six weeks. Failed.
That first week was pretty productive, but ever since then I haven’t managed to capture that same spark. Unfortunately, I hit a pretty bad snag early in the year with Further Confusion and never recovered after that. Part of it was working picking up to the point where I was working through a lot of lunches, but honestly I’ll cop to the fact that I was lazy and unfocused too.

To be absolutely honest with you, writing scares the shit out of me. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I have a fundamental mistrust of my brain. It’s not the most reliable instrument I own, and if left to my own devices it’ll come up with all kinds of crazy stuff. I don’t really trust myself to be able to keep track of all the things you need to in a good short story. If I just...let myself go, who knows what I’ll come up with? More than likely, it will be a fever dream of half-formed images, where people say things in weird cadences that sound good but don’t illuminate much about what they’re thinking. That’s...not useful. It’s frustrating for the audience and just embarrassing for me.

But to be honest, that’s something I’m just going to have to get over. For a long time I’ve been operating under the mantra “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” But I’m too afraid of my own voice to do that. And that’s got to stop. All of the writing tricks in the world aren’t going to do me any good until I man up and start saying the things that are on my mind.

That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start this journal again; to get myself in the habit of “translating” my thoughts into essays that aren’t only legible, but interesting. Words are the only things we have to take our abstractions and give them form, and even if they make poor substitutes at times they’re mighty if you give them a chance.

Anyway, there really is nothing for it than to sit down, man up and write more. I don’t really have anything better to say than that.

Resolution #2: Eat no more than 1750 Calories per day for six weeks. Failed.

I haven’t done too terribly with the food thing, actually. I give myself failing marks because I haven’t been consistent or anal enough to keep track every day, every meal. If I had, chances are I wouldn’t have stayed within my limits on a regular basis.

Again, the convention sunk me and I just never really recovered from there. A good deal of it was lack of discipline, and trying to juggle too many things at once. I’m a stress eater, and with things going on at work and changes at home (the husband and I are moving soon), it’s a little difficult to keep my diet in check.

Obviously, the thing to do here is to find better ways to relieve my stress. It’s not that I’m unhappy with anything that’s going on, or there’s a single thing I’d change about my life, but...there are things making me nervous pretty regularly, and I’m going to need to find a way to deal with that.

Another thing that I can do is make my stress eating work *for* me. I made a pretty awful bet with Ryan (more on that later), so it’s in my best interests to have healthier snacks to reach for when I need something to nervously graze on. To that end, I’ve bought carrots, apples and other things for nibbling. Also, mini-bags of pretzels, baked Doritos and the like.

Resolution #3. Pay attention to my personal appearance more often. Done.

I’m paraphrasing a bit here, and this resolution was a bit more vague than the others, but I feel like I’ve taken good strides towards making sure my appearance comes off better than it did before. There’s still a lot of work to do, though. Which is where I could use your help.

Local folks who see me on a fairly regular basis, could you recommend a thing or two that might help me improve my appearance? I know this is a really dodgy area of criticism for most people, but I’m looking for constructive feedback of any kind. Just drop me a private message through LJ or shoot me an email; I’ll gladly talk it over with you.

Now, I think the second pod is going to be roughly a repeat of the first one. I want to start out with something simple and easily measured, and I will keep trying this until I get it right. So, my three new resolutions for the next six weeks are:

1. Write 3500 words a week for the next six weeks. More than that, I must have material ready for an audience within that time. Blogs, of course, are quite helpful for that, but short stories, poems and the like are what I would really like to focus on.

2. Eat no more than 1600 Calories per day, on average, for six weeks. This should be fairly easy if I stick to my exercise regiment and keep training for Bay to Breakers. My eating habits during the week are fine, but I have got to find a way to keep the wheels from coming off during the weekends or in social groups.

3. Meditate every day. Meditation will help with my focus and stress levels -- those are just two of the most immediate benefits. Besides that, it’s been far too long since I’ve made it a priority in my life, and I’d like for that to change. Looking good will still be a focus, but I can’t think of anything concrete for that resolution. This is much better.

We’ll come back to this on Sunday, March 27th, and we’ll see how I do this time.
jakebe: (Disapproval)
Way back at the beginning of the year, I thought of a new way to handle New Year’s Resolutions that I thought was pretty clever, at the risk of tooting my own horn. I would create smaller, concrete resolutions that would be doable for/in six weeks. That way, I could cultivate behavior just long enough that it would become habit, and I could keep my eye on manageable goals as opposed to grandiose plans I had no idea how to begin. For my first six weeks, I decided that I would: write 3500 words a week, limit my caloric intake to 1750 Calories a day, and make an effort to look my best every day.

Now, I’m at the halfway point of my first resolution ‘pod,’ so it’s time to sit back and take a look at my progress. How am I doing? Well, the short answer is not very well, but not as bad as I thought I was. There’s a lot of room for improvement, sure, but I’m creeping ever closer towards being consistent.

First, let’s take a look at the writing resolution. Am I managing 3500 words a week? After that first week, not even close. In fact, today is the first time in a week and a half I’ve sat down to write with the intent of showing the results to anyone. I’d like to say that Further Confusion 2011 was the culprit, but that was only part of the reason. To be honest, if I really wanted to make writing a priority, I could have found a quiet place to bang out a few hundred words. There were certainly dead spots.

The caloric intake I’m doing better on, but consistency is a problem. The convention was a spike spot, and again I could have done better if I really committed to it. I’m pretty sensitive to making my dietary restriction someone else’s inconvenience, so I didn’t want to pull something like “We can’t eat here, I’m dieting.” I have awesome friends and they would have worked with me, but why put them through something like that if I don’t have to? Besides, the restaurants around the convention hotel are pretty awesome about healthy choice; you kind of have to go out of your way to eat poorly.

As far as looking my best, that’s a bit dodgier to pin down. I think I’ve been doing a fairly decent job of it, but given my failures on the other two points I might be going easy on myself so I can have one victory. :) I have been putting more thought into how I look before I leave the house, and I made a huge change with my hair because I felt upkeeping my braids would be too costly and time-intensive to keep looking spiffy. I liked them, definitely, but with moving expenses and (hopefully) travel expenses coming up soon I just couldn’t justify it any more. I’ve also been reading a bunch of neo-gentleman style blogs and taking tips from those; I’m not in a position to start building my wardrobe yet, but when I get the scratch I think I have a few ideas on how to get started.

All in all, there’s still a lot of work to do. I’m most disappointed with my lack of writing; I was hoping to use the momentum coming out of FC to really get on the horse and that hasn’t happened. So instead I’ve taken a look at projects that I’d like to get done and set up deadlines for them. I’m planning to submit short stories and at least one poem to New Fables, Heat and Fang by June, and there’s also my submission to Megamorphics by the end of February. In order to hit my target dates, I’m going to need to be disciplined and organized -- two traits that have escaped me so far. I’m thinking that a little fire under my tail will get me motivated.

With the caloric intake, I’m thinking that lack of exercise is nailing me on that one. I haven’t been keeping up with my Bay to Breakers training plan, which is doing me no favors. It’s time to stop being lazy and get on that, too. Thankfully, being poor for the next little while will make it a lot easier for me to stick to my plan for eating in. If the money’s just not there to splurge on food, I’ll have to find some way to deal with the temptation.

Looking good, well, that’s just natural baby. :) I’ve been consistent with grooming, and I’ll have to make sure I don’t let my hair and beard get too long between shaving. Twice a week should do it. As far as wardrobe goes, I’m thinking about mixing in some slacks and dress shoes with the usual ensemble of jeans, t-shirts and button downs. This is another good baby step towards the effort of looking good -- matching my belt with my shoes, making sure the pants don’t clash too much with the shirt, and all that. To be honest, I’ve been a little worried about doing too much, too soon. At this point, consistency isn’t my strong suit, and I’d hate to come in with business dress on Monday only to degrade back to blue jeans and pithy-saying t-shirts by Friday.

At any rate, I think I have a handle on why I’ve failed thus far, and I’m taking steps to correct that. What really needs to be done is the steady work of daily decisions. Every moment is a choice that you must make to do the right thing. While I’m making better choices more of the time, too often I just do what’s easiest.
jakebe: (Default)
In case you haven’t noticed, I love the end of the year. The holidays are a great time to remind ourselves what’s really important, and by and large I think we do. Sure, there’s the craziness of materialism and bad vibes put off by overworked shoppers (and workers) in search of the peace that’s meant to be found this time of year, but I think there are always one or two moments where we find ourselves contented and grateful. And I also think that the more we look for them, the more of them there are, lurking between the hunts for parking spaces, the drama with family and friends, the stress of getting everyone on the same page. Maybe it’s just the naivete that comes with joining the holiday scene later than everyone else, but I hope I never lose the warm glow this time of year gives to me.

Now, though, the end of the year is behind us, and it’s time to look forward to the long dark night of January and February. The next two months will see the same old problems creeping up on us, sapping our will to be better people, breaking our focus on New Year’s resolutions. We all make them. We all break them. I’m no stranger to looking back on the hope and potential I had one year ago and cringing. Where did it all go? How did I lose sight of what I set out to do so earnestly last year? Well, to be honest, life just gets in the way. It’s hard to sustain the drive for betterment over the course of an entire year. Hell, it’s hard to do it for a couple of months. So by March, the laundry list of things we needed to do this year is discarded.

I’m not ready to give up on the idea of resolutions just yet. Yeah, we should be able to start bettering ourselves at any time, and January 1st is a pretty arbitrary time to focus on for it, but so what? If we need the crutch to get us started, use the damn crutch.

What I’m trying to do this year is break up my resolutions into shorter, more manageable goals, so I always have something to work towards. By doing that it’s easier to measure progress, I’m forced to come up with an achievable frame for what it is I want to do and the time for reflection is built-in -- I need to figure out whether or not I’ve achieved my goals before I can really think about the next ones. If I haven’t, I can keep on trying until I get it right. If I have, I can use that success to springboard me to the next goal.

I’ve read somewhere that it takes about six weeks to build a habit properly. I’ve always thought it was a month, but it’s nice to have that extra two weeks to make sure something’s firmly taken hold. So, the plan is to create eight ‘pods’ of goals throughout the year, each lasting six weeks. At the end of the pod, I see whether I’ve succeeded or failed and why, and set goals for the next six weeks. Six weeks is also a good chunk of time to devote to a project (or piece of one) so that the deadline isn’t so far I put it off, or so close I can’t manage it. If I devote a little time each day to it, there’s no reason I can’t complete something in that time frame.

For the first pod, I want to focus on the basics: being a better (more consistent) writer, being consistent with my diet, and being consistent about my appearance. I’ve had vague goals for all of these at some point last year, and they’ve all failed, so I figure it’s a good test to see how the new system handles.

Goal 1. Write 3500 words per week for six weeks. This comes out to 21,000 words by the end of Pod 1. I feel like I should clarify this a bit; it includes blog posts (posted here, on Blogger and FA), short stories, character studies and the like. The word count only goes towards things I put up through various sites; that means prep work for short stories don’t count, but character studies I put into FA scraps will. The goal, at least for the short term, is to make writing a consistent habit; once that’s sorted I can work on the more involved work of creating short stories, novels and the like.

Goal 2. Average 1750 Calories a day for six weeks. This should get me a weight loss of 1 - 1.5 pounds per week. It’s about what I’ve been doing, inconsistently, for some time, but focusing on making sure I keep to that will provide me with a nice foundation for tweaking the caloric intake as necessary. Calories burned through exercise (usually running, elliptical training or weight lifting) will be included in the count. Sorry, Laz, I know you think that’s cheating; we’ll see if it hurts me too much at the end of the pod.

Goal 3. Make sure effort goes into looking my best. This is the most nebulous goal, because there aren’t hard numbers there. But it’s simple enough to do; pay attention to my grooming so that I don’t go out looking too scraggly. I have a bad habit of missing a lot of dates with my razor, and far too often I’ll go out with just jeans and any old t-shirt I can find. It’s time to start looking like some thought went into my appearance. I might not look dapper by the end of six weeks, but I’d at least like to look well-kempt.

I’m only going with three goals because I really don’t want to overload myself, and it’s better if I put all of my focus into just a few things. There are other things I’d like to get started on this year, but those will have to wait. My priorities are set.

The end of this first pod will be February 14th. I should have a post up no later than the 17th going over how I did and setting the goals for the next six weeks. I’m already looking forward to posting rousing successes all across the board.
jakebe: (Default)
Back Exercises

Straight-Armed Pushdowns: 30lbsx25, 30x15, 20x20
Assisted Narrow-Grip Pullups: 76lbsx12, 82x12, 88x12, 94x12
Narrow-Grip Pulldowns: 40lbsx15, 50x8, 60x8, 70x6
Barbell Rows: 45lbsx15, 65x8, 85x6, 95x4
One-Armed Pulleys: 10lbsx15, 15x8, 20x6, 25x4
Deadlifts: 55lbsx15, 95x8, 105x6

No running tonight, but back exercises were plenty difficult enough.
jakebe: (Default)
Weight: 192.2 lbs.

I really fell off with the exercise this week. Most of the reasons I could come up with for this are excuses, so I'll just say I got lazy and talked myself out of going. That's the problem with going to the gym, or counting on that for your exercise: there are so many reasons NOT to go that are much more immediately appealing. The payoff for dedication is something that happens by degrees, and not something you're likely to notice until you find yourself going down a notch on your belt one day. It's much more gratifying to sit home, watch something on TV, and eat something that'll make you feel better.

Anyway, so that's what I did. I'd love to find ways to make my lifestyle more active -- you know, like biking down to the neighborhood store to buy groceries, or maybe even to visit friends in Santa Clara -- but that's not always the most feasible thing. Actually, now that I think about it, there's no good reason why it shouldn't be. That's something I'll have to think about. I know Ryan might dig taking the bike to more places, especially if it means being able to drink a little more. :D That'll be something we need to work up to, though.

On the topic of incidentally active lifestyles, I've found a way to sneak in a mile-long walk through downtown San Jose, through creative scheduling of my mass transit commute home. Now, I take an earlier train, write while in transit, walk while listening to tunes and podcasts downtown, and arrive at the bus stop with a few minutes to spare before the 82 comes and takes me home. Once I'm on the bus, I read. It's a really nice trifecta that I've come to be quite fond of. It doesn't get me home any earlier, alas, but it's something!

The thing that sunk me with the diet last week was candy. I always think that I have a good grip on it, like I can just have a pack of it and stop, and be content with that. It's so not true. It is a well-established fact that a rabbit in possession of candy will be in want of more candy. And, between the Star Wars: Echoes RPG and playing KOTOR over the weekend, I went admittedly overboard.

I'm also having trouble cooking in consistently. Most of the time I start the week with a strong will; this is going to be the week I only get Specialty's once for breakfast and once for dinner. That gets sunk by mid-week; a combination of a late night (and the subsequent wanting to sleep in) and running out of supplies derails me, and I end up buying my food for two out of three meals. On the bright side, I stick to oatmeal or yogurt parfaits for breakfast, and soup or salad for lunch. It's expensive, but I eat fairly healthily.

Still, there's got to be a way to enjoy good and healthy food without having to pay through the nose for it. At this point, it might be best to just take it day by day, get a good food carrier (I'm frankly tired of carrying my lunch in a ghetto used supermarket bag) and work my way up to eating in most of the time. Exercise is more important, though, so I'll be focusing on trying to be consistent with that.
jakebe: (Sexy)
It's my idea that rabbits tend towards husky frames. If you look at pictures of most pet bunnies, you'll see they tend to be soft, furry, rounded balls of fluff. Even wild rabbits tend to be small but powerfully built. Hares, on the other hand, are long, skinny, lithe. They're built for speed, and they don't nearly look as cuddly as their rabbity cousins. They're lean and fast.

It's also my idea that rabbits secretly envy the physique of hares. Whereas a hare can eat whatever it wants, rabbits have to mind their calories carefully or else food goes straight to their hips and then they'll be even fatter. It's not fair, but hares are decidedly ectomorphic. We rabbits? Stuck being endomorphs.

It's not that I hate my body. I merely dislike it. There's a pretty decent shape hiding under all of the fat deposits, and I'm determined to excavate it. I want the flat stomach. I want the toned muscle. I'm not ashamed to admit that. Even if it makes me feel kind of shallow and indoctrinated into the whole Californian fitness-crazy mindset.

I've been flirting with the idea of healthy living ever since I came here, but the latest wake-up call came earlier this year. As part of [livejournal.com profile] toob's Year of No Regrets, we took part in the Bay to Breakers race, a 12 k race that takes you on a pretty hilly course through some beautiful parts of San Francisco. We were invited to take part with [livejournal.com profile] malinandrolo, and it was really awesome to test out how far I've come with regards to stamina and such.

All in all, I didn't do too bad: I finished the race in one hour and 41 minutes. On one hand, it's not bad for a first attempt. On the other, that's nearly 14 minutes a mile. That's a bit less than 5 miles an hour, which even for a casual jogger is a little slow. I was doing pretty good for a second there, but on the first hill I sputtered to a slow walk and didn't really recover after that. Ever since then I've been hyper-aware of how winded I get going up stairs, how much strain it is to bend over my stomach to tie my own shoes, that sort of thing. Worst of all, pants and shirts that fit me a year ago are getting...snug, to be kind to myself. Nothing freaks me out more than realizing that the same pants I fit in a year ago are threatening to burst around my girth now.

This is all a part of getting older, I understand. Your metabolism slows down. You can't get away with eating candy for dinner any more. You need proper sleep and actual vitamins and minerals and protein and stuff. You can't trust your body to burn off fat. Instead of craving only sugar, your body's tastes diversify. I, for one, am glad and grateful for this march of progress, but at the same time I'm having a devil of a time learning how to be consistently comfortable with it.

I realized this fact well after my body started displaying evidence of it. So now I'm a bit behind with regards to taking the proper care. I'd wager I have about thirty pounds of excess fat here, and none of the actual dieting discipline to get rid of it. Getting it has proven to be a long, slow climb.

That doesn't mean there hasn't been progress. Candy bars are a much less frequent occurrence than they used to be. I have cravings for actual fruit and vegetables now. And I rarely have cheeseburgers. However, for every minor victory, there's the usual host of problems. I can't consistently exercise to save my life. I'm still far too in love with pastries and cookies (my current love: apple and cheese croissants from Specialty's). And my desire to develop new habits still frequently outpaces my actual ability to develop new habits.

The general concept of weight loss is so, so simple. Spend more Calories than you eat. Voila! The practice of it, however, is astonishingly hard. It's a lot like Zen that way: be right here. OK! Wait...how do I do that?

There's no secret to weight loss and physical fitness, I'm beginning to see. It's just a matter of being dedicated to eating things that are best for your body to use, and use your body the way it's meant to be use. Run, jump, kick, lift. The only thing making it hard is the way we've developed our society to be as sedentary as possible. It's not easy to find 'real' food to eat, and it's not easy to exercise your body for any good length of time every day. Finding a job that requires sitting eight hours, within a five-minute drive of McDonald's? *That's* easy.

If you're not paying attention, it's easy to keep the same habits that got you through your early adulthood long after they've stopped working for you. Keeping up with the way your body shifts over time requires you to stop, pay attention, make a conscious effort to change and stick to that change with dedication. I know this, but I'm still learning how to do it.

So, hopefully, you won't mind the occasional post or two about learning this stuff -- how to eat well and use my body, how the world around you makes that difficult to do, how to find ways to make that easy again. I'll keep the exercise filter for raw stats and trends, just because I need to have my numbers geek side addressed somehow. But theory and practice stuff, I'll try to keep up at least once a week.

November 2016

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