Closing out the 2016 writings

Any and all writings submitted around this time of the year should have something to say about the year as a whole, and I have therefore struggled to start writing anything. I felt like I had something poignant to say at the end of last year, and I put it out there. It was about traveling a lot and being really excited to explore new territory, and it was written with a sense of gratitude that I was finally getting to hop around the country and the world like I’d always wanted to.

I mean, I could write something like that now. I played on the beach in Rio, camped in Maryland, visited Disney World, spent a lot of time in San Francisco, and watched a soccer game in England. Those things are awesome, and they make me recall almost a decade ago around this time when I was planning my first ever trip abroad (I’ve come a long way since then). But the traveling in 2015 was about growth; it was about stretching my comfort zone. The travel in 2016 was about vacation, so it doesn’t make for as good of a story. There’s no character arc.

What’s different about 2016 is the writing itself.

I never announced it. I just had this idea in my head that I would write a recap every month of 2016 and capture what I’d done and what I’d learned. I’d “publish” those recaps, meaning I’d put them on my social media channels where my friends would see them and I’d feel ashamed if I didn’t write one. The reward for me was that I’d have some push to not be a slouch for an entire month - I didn’t expect anyone would actually use them. But some people have told me they were able to apply a few snippets to their lives, which I’m happy to hear.

I’m reviewing those old posts now and it’s interesting to look at patterns. Here are a few:

  • I appear to be more productive as the weather gets colder. Around this time last year and going into the deeper winter, I was hyper-productive. As the spring and summer picked up, I struggled to work because I just wanted to be out and about finding shenanigans. And shenanigans were found.
  • My productivity starts to crack if I don’t establish predictable schedules. I can look at a few months where I know that I let someone else control my schedule on an ad hoc basis, and those months were generally ones that I watched more TV and did less actual work.
  • My fitness slacking that led to my injury in November looks like it had some warning signs around not making the time for workouts that I’ll have to keep an eye out for.
  • I didn’t have a goal most of the time. These posts aren’t a pursuit of a coherent narrative; they’re jumbled.

I don’t have a plan yet for how to respond to these things. What I’m doing now is rebasing.

I got injured in November. It sucked. My first ever lower back injury knocked me right on my tail and I decided I was never, ever going to let that happen again.

And that got me thinking: how much of this do I really enjoy if I’m not at peak physical performance? If I read a whole lot of books but sacrifice my sleep to do it, did I really enjoy the books, or did I just sweat to churn through books? Was going out night after night worth it if I just ended up with an injury due to lack of mobility?

So this month, here are a few steps I’ve taken to address that:

  • Running at least twice a week. I’m striving to slowly ease myself back to be able to comfortably do five miles. I do not take shin splints or lower back pain lightly while I’m doing this.
  • Resistance training at least twice a week. This has come in the form of kettlebell swings, mace swings, and push-ups. Lots of push-ups. This is not done the same day as the running.
  • Mobility training. Apparently everyone I know can do a third world squat with ease, but I can’t. Yet.
  • Yoga, every day, for at least fifteen minutes. I use Gaiam’s Yoga Studio app, which is really quite nice. It has all of these canned classes that you can save and play at all levels of training. I typically do a fifteen minute class before resistance training or running, and a half hour class on my resistance training off days.
  • Sleep. I set my alarm for 7:00AM, turn my screens off at 10PM and put my phone across the room, and try to be out cold by 11PM. I am experimenting with the optimal amount of sleep here, as I’ve still been feeling sleepy with eight hours of sleep.
  • Nutritional supplementation. Cod liver oil (to replace things I don’t get in the winter), magnesium glycinate (as a cortisol attacker), and BCAAs (for muscle recovery) all get daily use.
  • Reduction in caffeine to one cup of black tea in the morning and a green tea in the afternoon. I’m trying to work on my anxiety levels, and caffeine wasn’t helping right now.
  • A slow-carb diet. I’m seeing noticeable changes in the fat around my midsection in just a few weeks.

None of these things have felt like a huge shift in habits. I slowly stacked them on over the course of the month.

The closing is the hardest part of these posts, so I’m keeping this one short. Happy 2016, everybody. Go get ‘em next year.

P.S. here are some books I read: