It’s easy to rationalize any kind of behavior, even shitty behavior, particularly when you’re not answering to someone and you’re not really* hurting yourself or anyone else:
Sleep in late on the weekends? Gotta catch up on all that sleep I missed during the week.
Stay late at the bar? Yea, but I’m meeting people. Friends and socializing are good.
Stay up until 1:00 am on a weeknight watching sports? This is why I wanted to be single again. I couldn’t do this in a relationship.
Eat that frozen pizza instead of something healthy? It’s cheap, easy and I’ll just eat less tomorrow & go to the gym.
Have that third or fourth drink? It was a long day and it’s not like I’m driving anywhere.
Frivolous spending on stuff you don’t need? I’ve got a good job and zero debt. I’ll buy whatever the hell I want.
really kinda hurting yourself
In my last relationship I was a relatively solid representation of an adult. I was light years from ideal, but I’d get to sleep a little earlier than normal, skipped the junk food, tried to limit myself to a beer and a glass of wine a night and exercised when I could (albeit not enough).
Breaking up brought back what I missed about being single (never ending amounts of sports! late nights on Twitter! walking down to the bar for craft beer and pool! weekends free to hang out playing cards! bourbon? sure! absolutely zero obligations, ever!) but it also brought back self-destructive behavior, too. Within weeks I was tired in the mornings and lethargic in the evenings. Professionally my life was never better, but personally I was a mess, heading to the bars and texting old hookups out of loneliness. I have a history of depression and I could feel it setting in.
The things you learn in maturity aren’t simple things such as acquiring information and skills. You learn not to engage in self-destructive behavior. You leant not to burn up energy in anxiety. You discover how to manage your tensions, if you have any, which you do. You learn that self-pity and resentment are among the most toxic of drugs. You find that the world loves talent, but pays off on character.
You come to understand that most people are neither for you nor against you, they are thinking about themselves. You learn that no matter how hard you try to please, some people in this world are not going to love you, a lesson that is at first troubling and then really quite relaxing.
That’s a quote from John Gardner. My dad had it framed in his office and now its framed in mine. I walk past it a dozen times every day. And I know that I’m not living up to a lot of what makes someone mature.
I’ve had enough it. I don’t want to suffer from a lack of sleep or a shitty diet. I don’t want to rely on a pot of coffee to get me through the day. I’d rather go to sleep each night with a clear head and feel like I’ve accomplished something. Next spring I’d like to put on those clothes I boxed away this fall and feel them fitting loosely on me. Fuck, I want all new shit in my closet next May.
Fuck this depression.
I want to be my best version, the one I imagine I can be but never put in the effort to achieve. It’s going to happen and I’m gonna chronicle it here, even if it won’t be all that special. After all, everyone knows the secret to better health: diet and exercise. But if sharing my progress publicly is what it takes to make fundamental shifts in my behaviors, I’m fine with that. Hell I look forward to it.
Here are the goals I’m setting:
1 – Develop better sleep habits. This is the big one, and where all my success probably hinges. Staying up to late leads to bad decisions and a lack of energy the next day. If I can get to sleep before midnight, and actually get good, restful sleep, it means I’ll have enough energy to work out in the morning, power through the day and work out again in the evening after work.
2 – Become a (better) morning person. You know who I’ve always been jealous of? My dad. The man has woken up long before the sun rises for as long as I could remember. 5:00 am was normal. He’d wake-up, clean the kitchen from the night before, make coffee and watch the news, have a quick workout, sit in the sauna for 30 minutes reading before anyone else was out of bed. That’s the guy I want to be and emulate.
Personally, I don’t have any problem once I’m physically out of bed, it’s getting to that point. If I’m up late at night or I’m not getting good sleep, the alarm gets reset and the snooze is getting hit until I absolutely have to get up. So doing better the night before is important.
3 – Ditch the coffee and soda. I’m going cold-turkey & started this morning. I slept like shit last night it’s made today a bit brutal, but I’m substituting coffee with green tea from now on. Again, I need to sleep at night and I don’t want to rely on my prescription of Trazodone to do it.
4 – Eat better, because duh. I love to cook and I have all the time in the world. There is absolutely no reason I should have to settle for shitty, unhealthy meals.
I picked up a vegan cookbook recently, it’s time to put it to good use. Seriously, you guys, the chili. It’s actually good.
5 – Workout. Every day. No exceptions. And preferably twice, before and after work. My wind sucks right now and the distances are going to be embarrassing for a few weeks, but no matter what I’ll still go hard for at least 30 minutes at a time. If I can put in a full hour of strenuous running and biking a day I’ll be happy.
Ideally I’ll do that until I feel like my fitness level is where I want it, though I don’t know what that means yet. Once I’m trimmed up, it’ll be time to rebuild my body with weights.
I’m 6’2″, 219 lbs. I know that a normal, healthy me is probably around 200 lbs. 195 is probably the immediate goal. The thing is, I’m one of those tall, skinny-framed motherfuckers. I think once I hit 195 lbs I’m gonna wanna continue to shed weight until I can reasonably pack on some lean muscle.
Here’s a post workout shot from tonight for, you know, thinspiration or some shit. I’ll take another at 195 lbs.
6 – Find something better to do at night than hang out on the couch. I love sports, I love dicking around online and I love binging on Netflix shows on lazy weekends. I just want to do all that in moderation. Part of the reason I’m even doing this is because how often I’d find myself coming home from work, changing into sweats and watching five hours of sports from the couch.
I love the Bucks, Brewers and Badgers at night. But I’ve got to find a way to be more productive too. Writing, reading, bringing work home on occasion, learning new things, trying new recipes, taking classes…something. Anything but the couch, or the bar. I don’t even like going to bars anymore.
7 – Go easy on the booze. I come from a family of high functioning alcoholics and drinking is just something that we do, every night. For generations the nightly routine has been come home, have a few martinis or whiskey cokes or vodka tonics or glasses of wine or old fashioneds (just no beer) with dinner and TV. We drink more often than anyone you probably know, but the next morning no one gets hangovers anymore and the process repeats itself that night.
I used to be a lot worse. My drinking in college was out of control and it followed me to my first real post-college job. “Dude,” my then boss said on my last day of work (I took a new position in another city), “you gotta do something about your drinking.” That was seven years ago, and I have. It’s almost a rite of passage in my family. The drinking still goes on as we get older, but instead passing out to get to sleep, it’s a few cocktails over the course of night. I can read a book or write a blog entry or watch sports and nurse a glass of wine for an hour. Making bad decisions doesn’t happen anymore.
But part of all this means going to sleep at a decent hour, and with a clear head. I can’t say I won’t have a drink or two every night. I’m sure I will. But it’ll be better than what’s been going on in the past.
Look, the name of the site is Reasonably Sober.
8 – Look better. I’d be lying if I said this was all about how I felt in the morning or at the end of the day. I’m gonna take measurements and record everything. I’m looking forward to buying a whole lot of new shit in the spring.
But beyond that, I want brighter eyes. I haven’t averaged more than five hours of sleep for more than a decade. It’s probably closer to four. I simply want to look like someone rested and healthy.
9 – Write every night, publish every morning. This process isn’t for you and your entertainment. I’m not going to bother making it funny or anything more than bare-bones. I’m not even going to spam my Twitter after every update. I can’t fathom that anyone will pop in on a daily basis to see if I’m still working this out. If they do, that’s great. I’m going to track my weight, size, what I eat and drink and how much I exercise. I’ll write an entry at the end of the day, weigh-in the next morning and hit publish. That’s essentially it.
I’m doing this to motivate me into getting my shit together. I want to look back six months or a year from now and realize that waking early, being productive before work, working out and eating better aren’t tasks to complete, but are simply part of who I am as a person. I want these things to become habits. If you’re working out some of your own shit, or maybe want to stave off the winter rut, let me know and we can change together.
Let’s go and get this done.