Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: February 2023

Places where I am, places where I am not

Sure, we have two days left in February, but I’m sure it’ll be a minute before I get back here, so let’s recap.

I can show you some lunch… tender, juicy and taaaasty (sing it with me)

Goal #1 – be 184.2 by March 1st. CHECK! My trendweight as of today is 184.1

This is what a proper month should look like. At this point, I’ve now officially shed the lbs I put on in 2021 and 2022. My trendweight is 8 lbs down from the highest it reached in October, and from the tippy top to the lowest lowest low recorded on the scale in that time, I’ve lost 14 lbs. They’re tight, but the jeans I was wearing in 2019 button again. The pants I bought in 2022 are downright roomy. All of this is very encouraging, and to say I feel better is an understatement. My body is starting to feel like MINE again, instead of this foreign meatbag it became during the pandemic.

This may be how I feel about step ups but they’re working.

I’m not really doing anything outside of just following the routine I’ve established since October. I eat primarily snap kitchen and factor meals, which makes things easy. I keep snacking to a minimum. When I do go out to eat, I stick to things that aren’t completely awful calorie-wise or consciously make them into two meals. If I decide to have some drinks, I cut my food intake (or make sure it’s on a high activity day when I can accommodate both).

My goal intake in My Fitness Pal set to 1200 calories + exercise calories. This last week, I was 717 under that, just by virtue of two longer workout days, eating about 1500-1700 calories per day. I’ll probably eat… pardon my pun… into this deficit a bit today, tbh, and probably finish about 500 calories under for the week. Last week, I finished 169 calories over, which was close enough, by doing largely the same thing (with one 2000+ calorie day because of two social events on the same day, one with amazing homebrewed beer #worthit).

So, I can now revise this goal to – Be 180.2 lbs by April 1st. I’m very much looking forward to my first weigh in at 170-something. I should get there regularly by the end of this next month unless I screw things up!

#2 Strength over Stamina

Here is a place I am both here and not here.

I’m still continuing to lift 3 days a week and increase my weights/reps. This week I’ve had to squeeeeeze it in due to life stuffs, and lift two days in a row (Monday, Saturday, Sunday) which I don’t prefer but we’re getting it done.

The last two weeks, I haven’t been running quite as much. Life got busy and I got stressed out about some stuff, and my sleep sucked and the runs I did do were tough and slower. I lost a tiny bit of fitness per my garmin (the equivalent of 3 seconds on my 5k time). Not great, but I think I can get back on track this next week.

I will lift today, I promise! (and walk, but those don’t count here)

Holding to a schedule is sort of laughable at the moment. I do need to get there, but I think it will take locking my race schedule in and feeling some impending pressure. And maybe that will get me to the pool once a week. Or a month. At least sometime!

I did do an FTP test, and it was pretty abysmal. In 2019, it was 192 Watts. I set it for 150, figuring that was something I could meet and surpass. I ended the test at 139W. I think part of the problem was a misconfiguration thing, and also, I just can’t remember how to work hard on the bike. Cycling is for the days I can’t bring myself to run right now, and I use it as recovery while watching Bloodbowl games. I suppose I need to change that if I want to change that number.

Need to wrap my head around it being time for this stuff again

In the next month, I need to start changing over from winter base training to pre-season for triathlon. This means:

  • Try to figure out how to swim once a week
  • Do some sort of speedwork on the bike
  • Weekly bricks
  • Keep up with strength (normally I’d start tapering this but this year I’m not)
  • FTP test again before the end of March
  • Pick my races and sign up for the ones I know I’m doing

I’m doing *okay* with recovery – I fit in at least 2 things each day, sometimes all 4. I need to make sure I don’t completely ditch stretching and rolling, but I think I can probably back off and do those every other day instead of daily now.

#3 Ignoring my surroundings

Not as much progress here as I’d like, but not nothing. We took a lot of stuff to goodwill and the office, but I still have things in the home office to deal with (not as many but still stuff). I haven’t had a weekend without a bunch of other stuff to do yet this month, and one full week of this short month was eaten up by losing power. All excuses, sure. But that’s how it’s been. I hate doing this stuff with a passion, so… yeah. Difficult to make time for it when I’m already busy. Let’s try again next month.

March goals:

  • Actually do the rest of the office stuff
  • Clean out the office closet
  • Clean out the guest room closet

#4 Relaxing Hobbies

I’ve been pretty consistent with meditation (skipping 1-2 days a week), so I’m cool with it. We also just got a massage chair (happy birthday to us!) so I’m going to see if I can move some mediation there for full zen factor. February has been a very Bloodbowl-y month. I made it to the final game in KIBBL, then lost (we #2!!!), then Bloodbowl 3 launched, and I drafted a new team I haven’t played much (Amazons) in our Bloodbowl 2 league, so this is where a lot of my hobby time has gone. And it probably will through March. However, Bloodbowl is not a relaxing hobby so I need a little more creation in my life to counterbalance the destruction. 🙂

Poor Goudafellas, destined for greatness, stomped to death by murder Orcs.

March Goals:

  • Continue meditation 5x+ a week
  • Finish the fish pictures from May 2022’s cruise and decide whether I start the next cruise or Paris. Maybe alternate between the two.
  • Get some paint on a canvas before the end of the month
  • Finish friends’ D&D minis I promised to paint
  • Play guitar 3x week
  • Write a post on Hamburg (I have really slacked on EU travel blogging and I’d like to do it for posterity)

It’s a lot, I’ll be happy if I get some of this done.

#5 Write a book

Well… yeah. Goose egg here. This is not the thing I can knock out between other things or while socializing or watching TV. I need some dedicated time to do this where the house is quiet and I’m not locking myself in my office while Joel’s waiting for me to be social or do stuff, and I don’t have that right now. Sucks that I got such a strong start, and I was really enjoying it, and now I’m kinda stuck. I feel it becoming something that I used to do, not that I am doing now. I can see why authors go escape somewhere alone for a month so they can write their books. I don’t want to do that. So, what instead?

I need to schedule time to work on it. My goal is to make myself four two-hour appointments in March, and the time is for my book, and my book alone (shut down everrrrrything else, no discord chat, no work, no web surfing except for research, no social media, etc).

Sometimes the sky apologizes nicely for leaving us without power for a week, and I have to accept

So, my to do list for March besides continuing to do the normal stuff (in the order of importance):

  • Figure out race schedule and commit
  • Add a few swims and bike speedwork this month
  • Retest FTP at the end of the month
  • Four two-hour appointments with my book (either editing or taking notes on sessions)
  • Dealing with the office closet and the handful of boxes that are left
  • Guest room closet cleanout
  • Relaxing hobbies
    • Finish the D&D minis
    • Get paint on a canvas
    • Play guitar 3x week
    • Photo editing
    • Hamburg Blog

Does it feel like a lot? Yep. But let’s give it a go. First priority is just to keep going with the strength and weight loss and should that be the only thing I can do this month, I can’t be too mad. Becoming more of an athlete gets easier when I’m smaller and stronger, I can wing it early season if needed. The house is in better shape than it’s been for a while, I just need to keep the momentum going. This is the year of momentum, after all!

Allure of the Seas

We went on our normal family vacation and had a really nice time. The end.

Just kidding, you know I can’t resist using my words. But because this is a vacation that I’ve taken many many many times with the fam, I’ll just hit the highlight reel and bloopers. The first immediate “whomp-whomp” moment was when we hit the Buc-ee’s for a gas and potty stop and I reached for my purse to exchange my sunglasses for my glasses… and no purse. I left it on the floor when I set it down for a last pee right before we left.

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Thankfully the only important thing in there was my glasses, but I’m 100% blind without vision correction (anything more than 4 inches from my face is a blur) so I spent the entire embarkation process being too cool for everyone with my shades. I was extremely lucky to have a ton of extra contacts still packed from our EU trip (where I used exactly none of them), so I was set. It was just a bit strange as I wear my glasses about 99% of the time these days, I ended up taking a bunch of selfies just because I looked different, and it felt worthy of posterity.

We hit the gym every day we weren’t diving. Sunday (embarkation day) we found JUST enough time between unpacking and dinner to run a 5k on the treadmill. Monday, I ran again (woo speedwork!) and did a chest and shoulders workout. Tuesday, the boat was rockier, so we did legs and the elliptical. Saturday, we lifted back and biceps, and spent more time on the elliptical. I stretched and rolled as much as I could, at least a few times. It’s been a long time since I’ve been away from my massage boots for a week, and I missed them terribly, but I survived.

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We were talked into a spa package and didn’t regret it. We used the thermal suite daily, with two different wet and one dry sauna, and a really nice rainfall shower. We had a one-hour soak in a private therapeutic bubble bath hot tub, and we did a couples’ mud and scrub treatment. That was fun – the salt scrub was nice and exfoliating and then we covered each other in this menthol mud which was OMG SO COLD and then sat in these weird sauna thrones with waterspouts. The spa was a nice quiet place in a very loud and crowded ship; we enjoyed our little Zen haven. My skin has never felt so dang soft, it was nice to be fancy.

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The Allure of the Seas is one of the bigger ships out there. At 6k passengers and 2k crew, it’s just a lot of humanity in a lot of spaces. We watched an ice show – which was really great! – but we skipped a lot of the shows this time because it was just so… people-y. When we’re not eating food or being sporty, typically we’re playing cards anyway, so we spent a lot of the vacation in the card room or the back of the buffet. Not bragging or anything, but I did happen to win more games than the rest of the fam.

Cruises are definitely about food! They revamped the menu this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed the dining room dinners. There was an Indian dish available every night, and while I didn’t choose it every night, I would have been happy if that was the only option. There some really interesting new appetizers like a really great crab cake, poblano chorizo soup, a Mediterranean mezze plate. Most days it was REALLY tough to choose just one entre and I enjoyed everything I had – from beef tenderloin to shrimp to lasagna. The endings were just as sweet – I had two of the best brownies of my life, really excellent tiramisu, and these white chocolate macadamia nut cookies were all around the ship and I had to exercise extreme restraint to only consume two!

Buffet fare was pretty decent as well. I am typically not a fan of breakfast food, so I was very excited to find a brunch buffet that had salads, mac and cheese, and hamburgers alongside the normal eggs and bacon. For lunch, there was a daily selection of crusty bread and deli meats, cheeses, and sandwich toppings. I could have eaten this daily as well. They had a great salad bar, more Indian food, and lots of other yummy stuff to sample. It was nice to enjoy three big meals a day after dieting for the previous three months. I didn’t worry about the calories content what I was eating, but I endeavored to not eat to the point of feeling gross. It worked most of the time. 🙂

Rounding out the account of the gluttonous things we shoved in our cakeholes, we tried the taco bar out of morbid curiosity and, surprise, it was actually GREAT! We skipped the hot dog bar and the donut shop this time, and we gave the deli a go for lunch one day. The sandwiches there weren’t anything to write home about but their salads were awesome! In a strange turn of events, we were actually reasonable adults and only consumed a few bottles of wine the entire trip, spending a little bit of time in the wine bar when it was quiet but mostly consuming them on our balcony.

Our three ports of call this vacation were Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.

On Roatan, we took the normal bus ride to go diving with the ship. We had a very large group, which portended a subpar dive day. Then we ended up on a boat with a large newbie group that had their own separate dive instructor, and just 6 of us who were veterans with 100+ dives. I still somehow got kicked in the face a lot, but we had an excellent spotter in our divemaster who found TWO(!!!!) seahorses. He won the day.

I’ve never done a diving trip at Costa Maya before. All the snorkel trips we’ve been on have been mehhh (though after we went in the water by ourselves after one of them, I had a much better time). I wanted to give the depths a go. Unfortunately, the night previous, I almost ripped my toenail clean off by accidentally kicking a poorly placed dive bag in the room. I was very nervous that dipping that toe into saltwater would be a painful endeavor, but when we waded into the water and up onto a teeny boat it didn’t bug me. Whew! Not like I wasn’t going anyway, and I’m no stranger to diving through pain, but it’s always nicer when things DON’T hurt, yeah?

It was… okay. I chased down a turtle and we saw lobsters and crab and lots of shy eels, but I wouldn’t call it a “must dive” in the future. I might consider skipping it for nachos and beer on the beach (which we did after).

We returned to Dive Paradise/Hotel Cozumel at our last stop, said hello to our favorite dive operator Angel (in 2018, who offered us a guest room if we wanted to stay longer), and went on our safety-stop-depth dives from the shore. Conditions were gnarly above water – there was a foot of seaweed floating on the tide pool where we entered for the dive. I looked like a sea monster when I emerged from the water. Other guests that were at the bar took pictures of my ridiculousness. It took forever to get it all untangled from my hair.

However, below water we found many wonders, most memorably what we called the Eel Garden. It was so grey and rainy out, the eels thought it was dusk and they were out playing. I’ve never seen so many active eel buddies during the morning, it was super cool. Because the rain had progressed towards a torrential downpour by noon, we decided to stick with two dives and not push our luck with the third. Normally we end Cozumel’s dive trip with a margarita at Senor Frog’s, but the weather drove us back to the ship quickly and we celebrated at the wine bar instead.

Disembarkation and travel home was pleasantly without note. I certainly didn’t appreciate our welcome back weather, and two days later losing power for a week, but it was a nice time on a big floating city in the Carribean with the fam.

The amazing disappearing human

It’s been a wild month. Let’s catch up, shall we?

After I checked in here, I had two weeks of work that escalated a bit, though I successfully kept up with all my goals.

Then, we cruised with the family the last week of January. ‘Twas really nice to see the ocean, and fishies, and spend time with the ‘rents. I intend to write a vacation post, but this is not that missive.

The day we disembarked, the weather quickly cooled from the 70s to the 30s overnight, and a day after that, the ice storm hit.

We lost power for 7 days and 7 hours. This sounds much worse than it was, as I continued to explain to kind people offering assistance or accommodations throughout that week. Our gas fireplace kept us warm. Our gas water heater kept us in warm showers and our pipes stayed unfrozen. Our gas stove let us cook non-perishables. We had a propane generator to charge our devices for a few hours a day and keep the chest freezer cold enough for the food not to spoil. Except the first day when the roads were too icy, we were able to work from the office, which kept power and internet like a champ!

For a while, pioneer life was kind of novel. The first day, we took a (very cold, made me feel aliiiiiiiive) walkabout. We stopped at a bar to eat junk food and took some artsy fartsy pictures and watched trees laid heavy by a coat of ice bend and occasionally crack and break before our very eyes. Once the weather warmed back up, we spent most of the weekend days outside playing bikes and stomping around the neighborhood. Evenings were spent in the quiet dark, reading. It felt not unlike camping. I didn’t hate it, really, I didn’t.

On Day 7, I woke up over it though. It was a long time to be without power unintentionally, without a clear sense of when we’d get it back, and my attitude kinda broke a little. Luckily, that’s the day we got it back. We are incredibly lucky to have survived Arbor-geddon 2023 with just a small dent in the pool after a quarter of a giant tree crashed into it repeatedly and no other property damage, so I will cease any complaints here and now.

What this meant was a longer break to routine than expected, long enough to really untrain some habits. So, we all know what that means, right? It’s time to adjust the goals, reset, and continue on.

Goal #1 – Be 183.5 at the end of January.

This didn’t happen, but I knew it was a long shot with vacation. What actually took place?

I still lost weight, but only 0.7 lbs (187.4 -> 186.7).

So far in February, I’m at 186.2, so 0.5 lbs additional weight has transported to the ether, though I have been measuring sporadically. I have 16 days until the end of the month, so I’m going to reset this to a more realistic 2 lb loss instead of trying to make up for borrowed time, so here we go:

Goal #1, revised – Be 184.2 by the end of February. This feels achievable if I get back to my habits, like, today. So, I shall resume the counting of calories, weighing of my meatbag, getting all the normal foods back in the house (mostly there!), eating at a deficit (1500 calories avg or less) and STAHHHHPING with all the snacks. Like, yesterday, actually.

Goal #2 – Strength over stamina

While I’m not losing a ton of weight, my clothes are definitely fitting better, I’m winking at myself in the mirror instead of sighing, and I can tell my body composition is changing for the better. In spite of all the crazy disruptions, I have completed three weights sessions (legs/core, back/bicep, chest/shoulders) over all other priorities. I’ve been consistent about this for the last four months and I’m reaping the benefits. I keep picking up 25-35 lb weights expecting them to be heavy and they’re not really anymore. It’s very cool.

Running has sort of stalled out, but it also hasn’t, and I know that makes absolutely no sense, so let me try to explain. I have settled in at somewhere in the 10-minute miles for a happy-feeling 5k, and that’s what I’ve been running three times a week, with few exceptions. I have run 15 times since January 1st. Exactly two of 5k these runs have been speedwork, and twice I ran a fast-ish mile off the bike (9:41 and 9:12g – we’re working on it). The numbers aren’t showing much improvement yet, but the feeling when I run is night and day. Three months ago, I hobbled through my first mile since the race. Two months ago, I was back up at the 5k distance and it felt long, difficult, and I wasn’t sure how I’d run this distance capably instead of it being the top of my fitness. Now I look forward to these days – runs feel enjoyable, and my body feels strong, capable, and solid during them. I am now holding myself back from eeking out more miles on the days I would have time to do so. This inspires confidence that there’s untapped potential when I really start to train.

Right now, I’m aiming for 5 cardio sessions per week. Besides my three runs, cycling and the elliptical round out the schedule, once per week each. Notably absent is swimming, but it’s always difficult to motivate myself in the winter to go freeze in the pool and I’ll get there eventually. Since I’m aiming at all short course races this year, I’m less worried about that sport – it’s just a few minutes of the race total, and any deficit, I can easily make up in transition or with better bike/run fitness.

Here’s next week’s (this should be doable, I’ve accounted for my work schedule and the weather)

Monday: 8am elliptical/weights (office day)
Tuesday: AM run (warmup .5 miles, .25 miles fast, .25 miles recovery), lunch bike (home)
Wednesday: lunch weights (home)
Thursday: off (fulllll office day)
Friday: AM run/weights (office day + offsite)
Saturday: 1h bike, 1 mile fast
Sunday: off

For the rest of the month, I will:

  • Plan my workouts and follow a schedule (5xweek cardio, 3xweek weights)
    • Start including weekly bricks in the plan
    • One run per week is speedwork, which will be planned vs “uhhh, I’ll randomly run faster for a bit”
  • Complete an FTP test by the end of the month
  • Resume aiming for 100% recovery completion each day (stretch, roll, boots, ice)

Goal #3 Stop Ignoring My Surroundings

This fell off after we got back to work. It’s okay though, I’m very pleased to have all our rooms reasonably organized and usable. My current annoyance is with the bedroom which is the most cluttered and least zen place in the house (and, surprise, it’s the next big thing on the list!). Since this month has been pretty traumatic already, I’m softballing this one:

February house goals:

  • Rid the office of the boxes that are accumulating again (most go to work!)
  • Store the rest of the music accoutrements still sitting in the corner of the room
  • Actually take the stuff in the cars to Goodwill

Next month, we’ll start tackling the work we need to do to clean out the master suite (so we can get someone in to do the dang bathroom someday). This is not a February thing though.

Goal #4 – Relaxing Hobbies

I’m going to give myself a pass on much of this because of the 2.5 weeks of disruption and there’s no need to stress about relaxing hobbies, seems counterproductive, no?

I’m getting back to things though now that we’re through vacation and Arbor-geddon. I’m editing photos, and if there’s a goal here, finish the PREVIOUS cruise this month. I composed and played a song for our D&D campaign and I now have an acoustic at work to tinker with for breaks/annoy the office with. I haven’t painted much on canvas, but I have helped with minis and have two more to finish. The one place I will hold myself accountable is meditation. I have been inconsistent with it since I went on vacation, and I really do wake up a much better human after 10 minutes of cycling my breath. This will resume daily.

Goal #5 – Write Something (and not just here)

Ah, the optimistic goal setting I did as someone who had copious amounts of free time to write without the perspective of how challenging it is to make time for it during busy weeks. I have not completely ignored my novel. However, I didn’t make nearly the progress I expected.

In January I:

  • Read a book on beginnings, middles, and endings (a great read which made me completely rewrite my beginning!)
  • Read a book on dialogue (which will be useful during future editing passes)
  • Quick first pass edit on about 4 chapters
  • Read my draft on the kindle on vacation (and shared with Joel)
  • Got through most of the first session of video to take notes on the campaign for the next section

I forgot how much video I’ll need to sift through – it’s hundreds of hours total. I don’t want to completely disconnect from the thing I’m writing just to watch videos, so I’ll split my time.

February writing goals:

  • Take notes on at least the next 10 hours (3-4) more sessions
  • Continue to edit what’s there, aiming for 4 more chapters

Long term things I probably need to do are main character profiles, some sort of thought towards whether the promise I make at the beginning pays off in the end, and some other serious writer things, but I’m having fun right now just winging it and really feel like the story will come together organically. Let’s see how much I regret this in retrospect.

So, in summary, by the end of the month I will:

  • Resume my to daily to do list (meditate, train, track food, ice, roll, boots, stretch, hobby time daily, writing time weekly)
  • Make a training schedule each weekend for the next week to include 1x week bricks and speedwork
  • Complete an FTP test
  • Donate the stuff to Goodwill
  • Spend about 1h in the office making the boxes go away
  • Watch and take notes on footage for my book

It’s a shame this is a little daunting right now, but I have a feeling it will back to habit by the time I check in here next. 🙂

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