Adjusted Reality

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

Page 2 of 209

O March G

March. OMG. What a month.

Birthday me. Man, I feel like this was at least two months ago…

It takes me by surprise every time. January and February have not historically been my favorite months, but I’ve come to appreciate them lately for their relative calmness to the rest of the year. Usually there are fewer things going on, more time at home to relax and be productive, and they have great running weather to boot.

Then, there’s March that brings with it all the crazy. We celebrated half a dozen birthdays, entertained people who came to town, went to many social events and work events. I love all of these things individually. I am a social creature. However, all of this packed into one month is a lot and isn’t conducive to a focus on health and weight loss.

This was a great birthday meal! But maybe too many like this…

Compounding this – I was out on a lovely morning run and had a twinge in my hip. It wasn’t terrible, so I kept running (I kinda had to, I was running to the gym for a weights session) and after the workout, it was sore, and then later I was limping around. I figured it was a random ache that would go away… until it didn’t. I saw the chiropractor a week later and she said it’s nothing serious and gave me some rehab but it’s still taking FOREVER to get better. I spent much of the month watching the really nice running weather slip away running only SIX miles total in March and frankly, pouted about it. At least I’m now back to 1 mile at a time every 2-3 days (I’d say it’s pain free but still feel a little muscle soreness and tension at the end of each run). I’ll keep doing that until it feels like nothing.

More food and less running? This is what happens…

As you can see, I didn’t meet goal #1 – weigh 180.2 lbs. I am exactly at the same trendweight as I was when I wrote the last blog (184.2), so I’ll just keep this as the goal for April.

Looking at my April social calendar, it seems to be slightly less challenging than March, but much more than the winter was. I’ve got about 2 social/food related events per week on average. I just need to make sure I go into each one with a strategy. I’m okay maintaining through March, but I need to get back on track this month. No bullsh*t. I’m back to living calories in vs calories out. If I want to eat more I need to move my arse more even if that means an after-dinner workout.

The whiner in me wants to make excuses about how much more difficult this is without much running in my life, but I have biking, swimming, lifting, walking, yes, even the elliptical. It is not as if I was completely idle in March…

…but in the early month, runs became walks and it took me a while to shift my thinking from pity party to making gains in other places.

However, there’s not all sad news on the workout front.

I continue to get a gold star for 3x week strength training – I’m at the six month mark (minus ONE day for surgery in October). It’s working. The squat witch tells me to grab weights that I doubt (15 lbs for 3×10 lat raises, really?) and then get through the exercises no problem. Not only are my numbers going up at the gym, but I’m also noticing functional fitness too. The 40lb bags of salt that go in the pool that I could barely lift in 2021? Yeah, carrying those jerks with one arm now. It’s useful to be strong!

When I realized running wasn’t going to be back to normal for a while, I turned to my old friend, the bike trainer. I did not one, but TWO MORE FTP tests in March. The first on in February, remember, I got an abysmal reading (139 watts), and I realized that I probably screwed up the test but also found it was a great excuse to do a hard workout. I tried again a few weeks later and yet again, it screwed up – starting me at WAYYYYY too high of a reading – which meant the test part was the easiest part. That test was also invalid, though 156 watts was a pretty decent improvement. Finally, the next weekend, I got it right (mostly – my power blanked out for a minute). I aimed for 170 watts and ended up with 167. That feels legit, though I think I still have some HTFU gains not related to fitness (aka, remembering the pain cave and what it is). My best test ever is 190, and it’s nice to think I’m starting to approach the same zip code.

Proof I didn’t just make up the number!

I also started swimming – just 10 mins/500m, but it’s nice to be back in the water. While I really want to go swim in the nicer pools at Lifetime, it’s just so easy to walk half a mile to LA Fitness and swim there. I’ll be much more motivated to get to Lifetime when it’s time to go play in the lake and the waterslides are open.

So, for goal #2 wrap up for March:

  • Swim once a week – uhhh, I have a strategy now, it’s just enacting it every week
  • Bike speedwork/FTP tests – check, if I ride indoors, I’m doing intervals or FTP tests
  • Weekly bricks – not check, but this isn’t my fault (the whole injury thing)
  • Keep up with strength – hell yes
  • Pick my races and sign up – I have picked them (CapTex, Pflugerville, Kerrville) but want to make sure I can run and they don’t conflict with travel

For the next month, I will:

  • Swim once a week
  • At least one FTP test in April, at least 1-2 bike sessions per week with some speed/intervals
  • Run one mile every other day until it’s pain free. Then run 1.5 miles every other day. Then 2, etc (until we get back to 5k).
  • Sign up for races. If I don’t sign up, I won’t go, and there’s only a very small chance of travel.
  • Ride a few times outdoors, once a week if possible
  • At least 2 bricks/Practice tri (either indoors or outdoors)

All in all, in terms of health and fitness goals, this is not the worst place from which I’ve reset, not by far. I took a pause to enjoy me some March, without any significant effects, and now it’s time to get back to progress in April.

Moving onto personal goals, spoilers, there’s some good news incoming!

Now with 100% less stuff in the right corner!

For #3 – paying attention to my surroundings, I can happily report the office is completely done, and everything fits where it should. Could we possibly clean more out of the closets? Sure. But we actually have extra space to store things now, so I’m super content with this.

We didn’t get to the guest room closet, but that can go to another month, organizing where I spend my workdays is more important.

For April, our “around the house goals” are:

  • Get the pool ready for the summer.
  • Speaking of organizing where work days are spent, Joel helped me with my room, I’d like to help him with his. So we will organize and clean out the game room storage (and maybe come up with a label system)
  • If there’s time, we’ll start on the bathroom/vanity area. I think my strategy here will be spending 5 minutes doing it as many days as I can, not with the intent to finish but doing a little each day.
I am ready for some of this, just need to make it blue, not green…

For #4 – Relaxing Hobbies – I was about 50/50 here

  • Continue meditation 5x+ a week – I’d say more like 4 days on average. Not bad, but I can do better. 🙂
  • Finish the fish pictures and start Paris – Check! I have edited an image of la Tour Eiffel and have about 500000000 more to go.
  • Get some paint on a canvas before the end of the month – Nope, attention has been elsewhere
  • Finish friends’ D&D minis I promised to paint – Also nope (sadface)
  • Play guitar 3x week – I have played a handful of times but definitely not that often
  • Write a post on Hamburg – Check! I even started Koln!

The level of social activity this month meant I prioritized that vs hobbies. S’okay. We’ll allow it.

In April, I’d like to:

  • Continue my meditation goal of 5xweek, and also go camping for 4 days and truly defrag my brain (no work Friday through Monday)
  • I will finish the minis by next Friday when we play. There’s no excuse for this taking so long.
  • Every WFH day take a guitar break. There’s also no excuse why I can’t take 10 mins and this also helps focus my brain
  • Finish the post on Koln
  • Get through the first 2 full days of Paris photos
Paris, je t’aime…

And finally, #5 – Write Stuff – I took that big goose egg with the novel in February and turned it right around around. I wrote 15k words that I am reasonably happy with at a first draft stage. Not surprisingly, I stole some of this time from time I would normally spend writing here, but I think it was a worthy sacrifice. I’m becoming a little more adept at writing even when it’s not super quiet as long as I’ve gotten started and am flowing already.

My goal for April is to continue. I’m not going to put a super detailed goal here, but next step is to watch the next session or two, take notes, and then write. I’ve found that the closer I can put these two things together, the more I remember, so I may watch partial sessions or at the very least, just one, and then work on writing instead of trying to binge watch.

This is producing a very interesting method of novelization – I have no plan on where this one ends. I know probably in ~30k words (twice what I wrote this month) I’m going to need to wrap things up. I’ll be interested to see if the sessions help me get there or whether I need to make some stuff up or at least shift events around so I can have a climax and a resolution of some sorts of “Volume I”.

So, all in all, while I spent a lot of March frustrated with lack of progress towards my goals, it’s not as bad as it seemed. Progress happened, just not as much as I’d like (story of my life). Surprising to no one but me, I can’t do all the things I want to do, but I can do MANY of them. 🙂

In April, I will try to be this happy!

So, let’s summarize. In April I will…

  • Resume strict attention to 1200 calories + activity calories daily as my top limit.
  • Swim once a week, do vigorous cardio (not walking) five times a week at 30mins per day minimum, work running back into my life as I can, push myself on the bike with an FTP test or an interval workout once a week
  • Prepare for the next race by riding outside, doing a few bricks, and signing up 😛
  • Help Joel get the pool back in shape
  • Help Joel organize the shelves in his office/game room/dining room
  • Start chipping away at the bathroom/vanity 5 minutes at a time
  • Koln blog post and Paris photos
  • Finish the minis. This week.
  • Destress by meditation, WFH guitar breaks, and going camping
  • Make forward progress in the book

Sounds like a great month to me! Let’s go!

Hamburg: Views That Didn’t Suck

It’s been six months since I got back from Europe, and quite a while since I posted this, but I figure it’s worth recapping for posterity.

Friday morning walked like baby ducks in a row following the one person who knew the way from the hotel to the office. We had a full day of work and meetings, but the CEO wanted to welcome us to his home, so he went to the market to get meat to grill and threw us a party. His EA forcibly removed me from my temporary office at 5pm, yelling that I’d be late for my own party. Who am I to argue with that? Their big conference room has a patio with a grill on it, and we all mingled and ate good food and drank beer. It was super nice!

The view didn’t suck

We had planned to meet up with a group at a place on the waterfront, and then go hit up the Reaperbahn after. Instead, we found two of our coworkers getting a happy hour drink on our walk home, so we joined them, and everyone else joined them, and that’s where we stayed all night.

Drinking in Germany is interesting. Everyone just grabs drinks from a bar and hangs out on the street. You purchase both the glass and the alcohol, so you may do whatever you want with it. Most folks stack them up on the street. Some people are thrifty and collect them to get the glass deposits and drink for free. Some people, usually later in the evening, just throw them in the street and wait for the sweeper to collect them. We watched everyone do a combination of the three and had an excellent evening making friends.

We slept in a little bit after a late night, but after some cappucino, we headed down to the waterfront. Our first item on the agenda was lunch. I had some excellent spinach dumplings and Joel had some bacon and cheese spaetzle. The “small portions” of EU? Yeah, definitely not in Germany. We were full after half our plates.

Our afternoon plans included perusing the Maritime Museum. Apparently, there’s quite a bit to say and show about the Port of Hamburg. In modern times, they lead a lot of the innovations in revolutionizing the shipping industry. And… back in the day, Hamburg was a center for pirates. There were nine large floors of the museum, and one was entirely dedicated to pirate weapons. We spent four hours gawking at everything until our feet hurt too badly and moved on.

Next, we meandered around the harbor and got some gelato. I got to visit an amazing building on the bucket list (The Elbphilharmonie) and pick out where my apartment would be in one of the buildings downtown. Of all things, we found a very fancy Asian restaurant for dinner, and had some great General Tso’s chicken with these delicate wisps of saffron on top of it.

This picture is prettier than the chicken, but both were amazing!

After dinner, we walked through the city a bit and then met some other coworkers at the Minatur Wunderland just as the sun was setting.

We entered the building and holy cow, it was a spectacle and a half. There were rooms and rooms of miniature replicas of cities and scenes with moving pieces and day/night cycles. We also did this VR experience with the whole group and it was super fun and got the adrenaline going when we were “walking” high above the scenery.

After we couldn’t walk one more step we got a quick currywurst snack on the way out, and then we ended up walking many MORE steps to get lost on the way to the u-bahn. We got a chance to check out the Hamburg Harbor lights from afar, though, so it worked out. We crashed hard when we got back to the hotel.

Sunday, we woke pretty early and wandered out into the morning sun to rent a bike. We had intended on renting a road bike to participate in a race, but they were all sold out. Instead, we tried to rent a city bike for transportation, and couldn’t figure that out either. Failing all means of two wheeled transport, we just walked over to check out the cyclists for a while and found some cool fountains and parks on the way back.

I then required a pretzel for breakfast so we split one with butter and chives. Germany, I miss your twenty million amazing bakeries.

We grabbed our travel companions and headed down to the harbor again to see the sights. We wanted some fresh seafood for lunch. We stopped at a lovely little place and thought we were getting a fish hamburger, but instead we got Fish Hamburg, which was three different types of fish in this delightful dill mustard sauce. Once again, I couldn’t finish the whole plate.

Then, we embarked on a harbor cruise. It was a gorgeous sunny day and perfect for sightseeing, as well as checking out my favorite building (the Elbphilharmonie, which I referred to many times as the Elphaba building) from another angle. They do sunset cruises as well, and that is definitely on the bucket list next time.

Then, we had a laundry party with our coworkers. Most everyone else was smart enough to just bring one small bag. We brought a large bag each and a small bag. Next time, no way I’m lugging that much around again. Laundry parties for the win.

Our plan was to check out a cool cathedral and then grab dinner. We spent about an hour taking in the sights of it, and our group took some time to facetime/facebook call families there.

I was warned that everything shuts down early on Sundays, but what I didn’t realize was everything shuts down early and Yelp also lies about the time. We tried multiple, multiple locations of things we wanted to eat and nada. Eventually, we just started looking for a restaurant period, no matter what type of food. Still nada. The one place we found open was only serving drinks. I was considering a dinner of bar garnishes at this point.

My companions kindly put up with me taking fifteen minutes to grab some Hamburg Nights pictures around the water since it was mostly on the way before we caught the U-Bahn back to the hotel. Thankfully the Turkish place across the street was still open at 11pm, and we gorged ourselves on another giant plate of awesomeness. I would seriously be okay eating there once a day for a week. I might gain 5 lbs, but I wouldn’t mind the process.

Monday was once again full of meetings and work, though we were taken out for the best burger I had all trip by a coworker who frequented the place multiple times per week. It was kind of a divey bar, but the food was totally on point.

After work, we found an excellent Indian restaurant down the street from the hotel and shared a nice, relaxed last dinner in Hamburg with our full travel crew. Indian food isn’t super pretty, but the walk sure was.

The view from the hotel didn’t suck either.

After we all retired to our hotel, Joel and I found ourselves in that weird space where we were exhausted but also weren’t ready to sleep. So, we grabbed a bottle of wine at the corner store and sat at the U-bahn right outside of the hotel and watched the trains come and go sipping some vino to unwind a bit. Unlike the US, this is something that doesn’t get you arrested in Germany, no one batted an eye.

Tuesday morning, we woke early, finished packing and caught our train with no stress. We enjoyed a very productive and pretty four-hour ride from Hamburg to Koln, and that’s where we’ll pick up next time!

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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