Friday, January 6, 2012

Health

Ignoring your own life is never justified by your work; it's not noble, it's not at all smart, and it has obvious and avoidable results.

Last year I posted on End of Bullshit, which apparently had no effect on me.

My own bullshit--well that's a long post. Fat, unhealthy, lying to myself about committing to good habits. Yesterday I finally bought the running shoes. If I had cut out the bullshit, I would have gone on the run. I didn't. Or today. Snow, right? Bullshit. Something that fundamental--living well--isn't elusive. You have to actually push it away.

A friend of mine was the CEO of the Vermont Bread Company and had left the year before. We were talking at the end of a conference of socially responsible businesses in Maine 5 years ago; I think I had mentioned my stress, over-working, weight, etc.

She said, exasperated, "we have to stop killing ourselves". The obvious wisdom stuck with me; I collected it among a number of other phrases that I keep but don't often heed.

Every few months I recommit to my health, only to quickly forget about it and stay in the same patterns; there was no integrity to those commitments. I don't know why. At the time I had just met my wife, and I was really happy about making health part of the commitment. And almost 5 years later, I'm in the same shape and my marriage is over, with health and the components around it contributing factors(there's never just one thing of course); and I'll say choices around health, to take ownership of it. So I'm very sad, humbled, and a bit angry with myself, but life moves on and it's time to pay attention.

On Monday the Fitbit arrived, and it's been helpful already. It tracks part of your daily activity--walking--and allows you to add activities on the site, which adds and totals the calories burned. And it helps you track your meals and calories. It's pretty simple.

What's notable though is that it's made me much more conscious of how I spend my day--what I eat, how and whether I move, etc. And it's helped motivate me to exercise more consistently.

Fitbit lets you set goals, and maps out a path for you including daily calorie limit and target number of steps to walk/calories to burn. I set mine for 80 lbs over 10 months, which is surprisingly easy to hit if you simply stay consistent and mindful of what you eat and how often you move.

Most of my life over the past three years has been a life of the mind--designing, coding, reading, writing, thinking. No movement involved. And that hasn't really worked out that well. I've been out of balance. You can ask "why don't you just do it, why do you need help" and I can't answer that. Some people just do it.

But the simple act of tracking the things that contribute to the state of my health and wellness has motivated me to do better.

It's working. My state of mind is generally better. I've lost a bit of weight in the past week (5 lbs, but the early weight is always the easiest). I feel better.

And I can see a better path forward. I don't know how to stop feeling very sad, but in the meantime, this is one thing I'm committing to with integrity. I'm considering making my path public, because a little shame and support can help with motivation too. Two friends --Michael Whalen and Brad Feld--have been doing this and it really helped them.

The sun is shining, so I'm going to wrap up a bit of coding and head to the park for a hike with a friend. But first I'm heading over to the Y. If I make that a daily habit--just getting there--it will be a great, welcome change.

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