Sleep Cues

I’ve written in the past about my hunger cues. In fact, the lack thereof. And even though I’ve written it I still get annoyed about it. I have to deduce that I’m hungry like a detective – am I quickly irritated, do I feel unmotivated yet antsy? And then I have to do the math of how long since I’ve eaten to know that I should eat. I wish I could get a signal while I’m still in a good mood that it would be a good time to eat.

And as I was thinking about that I got thinking about how I do have good sleep cues.

I can stop for a second, take a self scan and go I could sleep, 10 minutes ought to do. And then go lay down and fall asleep. Almost anytime, almost anywhere.

I know so many people who are really tired but they’re not sleepy. They’re physically and neurologically in need of sleep but they don’t have the mental and emotional awareness. So they fall asleep as soon as they sit still for a while like watching Netflix or in the passenger seat.

And because they don’t feel like going to sleep they think they can’t sleep, so they keep their phone in hand and/or laptop open visually blaring one of their comfort shows.

Maybe you’re not actually hungry, you’re tired; maybe you’re not actually bored, you’re tired; maybe you’re not actually existentially depressed, you’re tired. So sleep.

If I skip some sleep I end up doing nothing anyways. I’d stay up late and get up early then just zone out on twitter for all the hours that I might as well have slept in.

But if I sleep in uncontrolled my routine falls apart so there have been days where I’ve gotten up and done my while morning routine and then gone back to bed.

A friend mentioned a while ago that as people age they need less sleep, which I’d never heard before and turns out is a myth. What’s true is that as people age they’re more susceptible to sleep problems and they merely adapt to it. According to Daniel Levitin in Successful Aging that loss of sleep is mistaken for cognitive decline much more and much sooner than a person is actually mentally declining with age.

Everything else about sleep hygiene you already know so go take a nap

Consistency Is The Priority

I know 2020 was a weird year, an easy year to not be consistent – or to excuse one self for not being consistent at least.

Because actually the best part of the year for me – in terms of consistency and fitness – was the lockdown here in Calgary. The store closed, I got the CERB, I worked out twice a day. Which is what I always said I’d do if I could get paid for nothing.

But after that with the re-open it got chaotic. Nothing was ever settled enough I could build a routine around it. I just figured out each day but there was no way a day fit into the larger context of a week or a week into a month and everything felt like limbo.

And my goals for last year – to be Tidy & Prompt – slipped all over the place. I was my best self in a lurching and sputtering way.

So to start the new year off my goal for 2021 is Consistency. Because consistency is the meta skill that makes all the other skills work.

And, as I’ve said before, you gotta standardize before you can optimize. It’s better to have an imperfect daily work out routine that you’re trying to improve than a bunch of notebooks full of weekly routines you should be doing and hate yourself for not.

It does tie-in to my desire last year to be Prompt. Procrastination is my worst habit that will go away if I just stop doing it. Like, you can be a dry drunk and still have a fuck ton of problems but if you can stop stopping yourself from doing thing then you’re fine.

There are other specific things I want to do this year but life is more about what one doesn’t want to do. Because ultimately we all want to do everything. We want to be everywhere. Living is about figuring out what isn’t worth it. You can’t be an astronaut and a world class ballerina.

And all I really know for certain currently is that I don’t want to drift. Even in inconsistent times I can be a consistent person with a little focus, with just gentle self-reminders.

Toxic Philosophy At Work

We had a garbage day at work. One of 3 days in my memory where I thought I’m so angry I should leave not because I’m rage-quitting but because I’m actually being a liability.

Like, I won’t go to work shitfaced because that would make me bad at my job; and I’ve been so angry that I’m equally as bad at my job as I’d be while wasted.

I almost berated 3 customers today and one of them wasn’t even my customer. She was just being so stupid with someone else that I wanted to interrupt and fucking destroy her.

But anyway…. deep breath… We had a chance to talk during a lull and as I explained a philosophical difference between my co-workers and I, I realized a difference between my bosses and I too. Because all I really do is philosophize.

So my peers hate work. They represent a work philosophy that I see as typical middle class teen where to them work is no different than school – you’re forced to go and your goal is to do as little as possible. So their goal isn’t to get something done but instead their goal is find a good enough reason it can’t get done. And then do nothing.

And I felt superior because I like getting useful information and then using it to accomplish something. I thought I only got pissed off when people gave me useless information and expected me to use it.

Customers, as you can expect, are often a well of useless information they expect to use. My co-workers don’t get upset when customers waste their time because they’re looking for an explanation as to why they can’t help so the more useless the better. I’ve seen customers get passive-aggressively infuriated lobbing more and more basic questions at them when they realize that all my co-workers are doing is shutting them down.

Meanwhile customers can get openly furious with me because I reflexively treat people like they’re stupid when they act stupid. When people want my help they get the best of me, when they just want me to do something for them they get the worst.

And now, my bosses hate people too, they’re disgusted with customers – with every customer – to a degree that I can’t imagine having that vile black inky hatred inside me. But I realize that they hate everyone. Preemptively. They don’t ever hope that an interaction goes well so they’re never disappointed, they don’t see anyone as human so they can’t feel like someone is dehumanizing them.

It’s why I’ve seen them use the exact same joke, at the exact same time in the conversation, and laugh the exact same way, with everyone they interact with in a shift.

And I put all this information in the spin cycle of my extremely caffeinated and angry brain and realized that for my philosophizing and superiority it’s just that I don’t do emotional labour.

My co-workers don’t want to do intellectual labour, they will blatantly say they refuse to think for themselves because that’s the bosses job. They will leave things broken and blame the boss for not showing up and telling them to fix it.

Meanwhile I’ll do all the intellectual labour you want, I love organizing and solving problems. But I won’t do the slightest thing to make a stranger I don’t think is a good person feel welcome. I won’t squash my emotions, I won’t lie, for money. And it’s no different than people who won’t work any harder than they have to for a job they don’t consider a career.

I Need To Rebuild My Fitness Rituals

There’s a terrible pattern I’ve gone through a bunch of times where I notice that I’m not working out as much as I’d like and I try to work with that rather than against it.

Like, after the re-open my work days took up 9am to 7pm with immovable schedule stuff. So not a lot of time before work and I found myself planning a lot of work outs and never doing them.

Then I was planning more, better stuff for the coming week. I became one of those people that was satisfied doing nothing because soon, so soon it’s basically now, I’d be more on track than ever.

And I read Body By Science. Curse that book.

When you find you’re work outs dwindling to a few times a week, a book that promises you you only need to work out once a week is just too damn tempting.

But really it’s like every other thing in life – a change in schedule became a change in routine became a change in lifestyle became a different person.

And I’ve written about this in the past – you can never go back. When people say they need to go back to the gym or they need to go to not smoking it never works. You need to go for the first time, as the person you are now rather than the former version you wish you still were.

You can try and get back old rituals but if they were actually strong enough for the current situation they wouldn’t have changed anyway, right?

When it came to work outs I was always planning the big stuff, the work out itself, the time, etc but I forgot to plan the little stuff that truly makes it happen.

When I took up running I did it right by laying out my clothes each night and putting them on first thing each morning – once the running clothes were on (and they were clothes that I only wore for running) the running became inevitable.

I don’t know how I lost that with strength training in this latest round of being a lapsed athlete but I’ve got to figure out some modern equivalent.

And it’s got to be every day. All the times in the past I’ve tried to have a plan anymore intricate than just do it everyday I’ve fallen off. Even in marathon training when I followed a great plan for months I didn’t set the weekly plan like ‘Thursday is speed work day’, my plan every day was open book, do as told.

Thinking back, there was a time that I was doing follow-along work out videos in the morning and that could be a good solution again. Open laptop (which I’m going to do everyday anyway), pick video, follow along. Sometimes you gotta put the training wheels back on I guess.

Really though I think it’s as simple as committing to something kindergarten-level, every morning, before coffee. Because my morning routine is so autopilot I suspect only a major interruption will work. And once I start checking the time, and doing the math backwards from have to leave to have to make lunch to have to get dressed to oh it’s right now and I’m on YouTube, I just emotionally shut down. The feeling of possibility goes away, I feel locked into the trajectory of the entire day. Which isn’t true or helpful – and your self-talk should always be at least one of those things, preferably both.

And if you’re not diligent about it then it won’t be. Most people’s self-talk veers negative when left on auto. Just like habits veer towards using the least amount of energy.

Bad habits have a gravity because they’re easy – even when they’re not fun and you hate them – they’re just going with the flow. And when you, when I, think about the whole day and my whole self and what is my life anyway there’s no point to anything… It feels too hard to go against all that flow.

But the truth is, I don’t have to. I have to start somewhere, with a small stone, and damn the flowing river of habit until it flows somewhere I do want it to be.

What Are The Next Steps In My Career

Things are rolling along at The Running Room, it’s not just putting out fires anymore and there’s time to plan ahead.

So of course I’m thinking about what I like about the job and what I don’t; what I want to learn here going forward and importantly – going forward to where?

Because I hope “managing a Running Room” isn’t my answer to what I’m doing at 40.

As for what I like about the job, it’s of course the teaching. It’s what got me started here in the first place. Fitness is my expertise and running is my specialty within that expertise.

When I imagine my dream job it’s more like working at a gait analysis place. So if I had to get some more education I’m sure it’d be kino or physio.

Which means I’d being going as far back as having to get Math 30. And I have no clue what math I topped out for maths at school but I feel like I sank below the pure math stream in like, the sixth grade.

So, a long term plan is what we’d have there. Good. Long term plans are comforting because there’s a ton of steps before you do any of the hard parts.

But really, since I’ve been dying to get some professional running analysis since before the lock down, the real first step is to go have conversations with people in the industry and ask what helped and what hurt on their path.

And then steal it ALL.

Sleep Is Important, Yet We’re All Such Bad Examples

I found myself dragging through the days since the stay-at-home pandemic lay off hit. I was getting up early everyday with ambition and accomplishing nothing.

So I figured fuck it I might as well sleep later. Like, there’s no point in starting my day of tedious anxiety-drinking before everyone else.

Three days (or maybe 4) of sleeping 12 hours a night and I feel fantastic again. I feel like I want to run, I want to work out, I want to listen to music.

I think part of it is I’m a poor sleeper, like literally not good at it. I wake up a lot throughout the night which means I’m not sleeping very deeply.

Up before the sun and getting shit done is much more the persona I want to have but if it’s not serving me I should drop it.

How we get through this is what we’ll get out of this

I’m having a hard time doing anything. Like literally getting started and doing anything. Even reading my mind wanders and my eyes start drifting over the words but not taking anything in.

I always feel like I should be doing something else, something important and helpful and future-securing.

But as always taking care of the body is taking care of the mind, taking care of the home is taking care of the inhabitants.

Running With A Group & Running Solo

I was always a solo runner and quite proudly. I like my pace, my music, my aimless routes, my schedule.

I now teach running though so pretty obligated to run with a group and I tell you what… it’s fucking great.

I’ll never give up my solo runs but I’m really surprised at how much I love it and the reason why is it makes you feel close to people. Getting an endorphin rush on a beautiful day and talking about running – which is my truest passion right now – and I feel the emotional depth of years of friendship with people I met 6 weeks ago and see twice a week.

It has the additional benefit of getting me to slow down. I like to run hard, nay – I love to run hard. And that puts a lot of stress on the body and I’m always balancing the distance it’s smart to run with the distance I’d like to run. But slowing down to run with my sweet old ladies and my wine mom’s I get in a ton of distance with adding to my fatigue.

And then we get coffee after and it’s lovely.

Also, I occasionally get to hang with the other instructors and exchange tips and ideas and it’s great.

So that’s that. If you run solo give a thought to trying group and vice versa. But really the answer, like so many things in life, is do both.

I Like Being On The Monday To Friday Diet

‘Round here we took our dietary advice from Tim Ferris who’s dietary advice was basically cyclical keto. It’s all boiled down to no carbs during the week.

Weekday eating is so pragmatic and typically joyless anyway that it doesn’t matter. And to be clear – I like things that are pragmatic and joyless… they bring me joy.

When we’re busy the only reason we eat is to make hunger go away because it’s wrecking our ability to be busy. I say go with it. Foods that promise to be pleasurable hasty lunches or breakfast are lies anyways; marketers trying to take the edge off the capitalist dehumanization you’re subjecting yourself to.

And then in the vast minority of your time that is the weekend you’re allowed – dare I say encouraged – to eat leisurely. Which is why we all end up fucking binging.

And again – I like it. It’s a way to eat with no thinking, no wondering, no tracking, no deprivation.

Coming off a weekend of joyfully eating whatever we want I’m looking forward to Monday and starting to get back on track – like I want to feel healthful again – and by Friday I’m looking forward some treats and some variety.

And in between I feel good, I feel on the path. Stringing together a few days – just a couple – of eating right and working out does wonders. At first I think it takes a whole week to feel good but the longer you live this way the quicker the effect happens. I always do the same exercise at the end of every workout and it’s become a ritual time to think. Monday it’s always yep, back on the path and by Thursday I’m thinking that I’ve really made progress, I’m really earning something.

And I’m thinking about it right now because this week I almost messed it up.

I ate a lot of very indulgent foods very late Sunday night and decided that I’d fast for a while rather than get immediately back on my routine. Throwing off my meal times threw off my work out times and by the 16 hour mark the sun was down (thanks Canadian winter) and I felt like skipping my work out. And skipping everything I was supposed to be doing.

But I didn’t because it’s only okay to put something off if I’m going to do something more important, not less. Spending even more time on YouTube is not more important than getting in a work out – especially the first one of the week.

So I did the work out even though I didn’t feel like it and I ate even though I didn’t feel like it and that little sense of being on the path crept in. Next day I jumped out of bed and banged out everything I had to do right away. Gleefully. Fully back on the path clearheaded I’ve strung together the rest of the week feeling great. By mid week I am lean and routine.

It’s going to take 3 or 4 days of work to counteract 2 days of indulgence and I can understand people getting into spirals of discouragement about that but long-term sustainability is what matters. I’ve lived like this for 3 years and I’ve got the most muscle and least fat of my life – even if on Sunday nights and Monday mornings I sometimes feel I went too far and threw it all away that isn’t objectively true.

And sometimes on Wednesdays and Thursdays I think I’m strong enough and happy enough to never need indulgences and I could stay on the routine unwavering forever and I know that isn’t objectively true either.