So long 2015, year of changes! Hello 2016!

2015 was a weird year for me personally. It was a year that a lot of things changed, and a year that a lot of things didn’t change. Compared to the last several years where I kind of just rode the same groove, 2015 was pretty notable.

So what didn’t change is: I’m still living in the same place, still on the same lack-of-romantic-relationships setting, and still working at the same place. Commuting still sucks, but still doesn’t suck as much as living closer to where I work, and my schedule is still pretty heavily shifted from “normal” in part as a response to that, and in part because my sleep cycles have just always been wonky.

What did change is … well, kind of my whole lifestyle.

In April or so I took a bit of a staycation when the work pressure and burnout got to me a bit, and decided to start changing how I ate (by banning myself from “depressing” food). That started a tour of a bunch of other restaurants, and just trying to eat things that weren’t Wendy’s, Subway, Papa John’s and Domino’s all the time. I didn’t really eat less, I wasn’t any more active, and I didn’t do anything else about my situation, but I was enjoying food a lot more. It’s one of the great joys in life, and I was absolutely exploiting that.

Well, I guess that “undepressing” doesn’t equate to “healthy”. You can read more about that in the “undepressing food” post … I was just trying not to eat food that made me sad to eat it, and succeeded pretty well. I held roughly the same weight, but I think I was managing to get just as much sugar and salt as before. And that was well over the “way too much” line.

So in early July, after a delicious burger and extra-salty fries, I started experiencing some chest tightness. It didn’t feel too serious, but it was definitely uncomfortable, and it stuck around, so after a week or so of that it crossed the threshold from “hmm, that’s different” to “hmm, that’s alarming”. I remembered I had a BP cuff in a box somewhere, dug it out and checked, and got a blood pressure in the 180/120 range. So … that was a thing. Also right on the edge of the “you are having a hypertensive crisis, get to the ER” levels, so … I got to the ER. Spent an afternoon there, with nurses monitoring my BP and making sure I wasn’t having a heart attack or anything, and then deciding that “nope, no heart attack indicators, no organ failure indicators, you’re fine, but you need to get that in check and you need to follow up with non-ER doctors”. Got a referral to a cardiologist to do a stress test and other followup stuff.

Well, I’m not going to recount the details here, but after a few rounds of testing and checking stuff, we concluded “you’re across the line into diabetic, your liver numbers are a mess, basically you’ve gotta get this whole thing in check, for real”, I got prescribed a blood pressure medication and a “more Mediterranean-style diet”

So I did that: started taking a BP med every day, and overhauled my diet, explicitly focusing on removing sugar and processed carbs where possible, adding fiber and green plants, and replacing red meat with fish and poultry. And generally just not overeating so hard…

And the result is this:

cusp-tacular
3-day smoothed weight measurements for 2015

I’ve been stepping on the scale and recording the number pretty much every day since Jan 1, 2011, and I’d seen that number drift around in the window between 360 and 390. That’s too damned heavy. I’m starting this year at 313 instead, and I’m gunning for 220 — while I don’t have a deadline for it, that’s my current goal weight — because screw being so heavy it gets in the way of me having a life.

I started walking regularly too … first just like part of a mile a day at low-ish speeds (like 22-23 minute miles), but now I’m routinely pounding out 3-4 miles at 16-18 minute paces 4 or so days a week, and honestly it feels pretty great. It helps with the energy balance, it helps with the cardio capacity, and honestly I was listening to audiobooks and podcasts a ton anyway, so pairing those with walking instead of gaming is perfect.

So that’s been the big, dominant sweeping story arc of my 2015 … trying to get my lifestyle in order and generally get better. 2016 will be the year that I fall under 300 for the first time since high school. While 2015 saw me go from “severely obese” to just “obese”, 2016 will be the year I cross out of “obese” and into “overweight”.

 

I guess on the work front, I’ve got a noteworthy change too. With some other staff movement that happened,  I went from “the go-to-guy to help solve complicated problems” to “the technical team lead (go-to-guy to help solve complicated problems)” … basically it means I’ve got the same role I had before, except that it’s formally recognized as my job instead of just being that thing I did, and that mentoring and teaching is explicitly part of my role now. So that’s kind of awesome. Our team has grown, which also means I’ve got more people who are backing me up on some of the day-to-day technical work too, which is helping me manage my burnout levels better.

I also got to spend Thanksgiving in Albuquerque with my mom and stepdad. It’s magical out there. I can see why the stepdad wanted to move out there.  The rugged beauty of the parts of New Mexico that I saw were simply breathtaking.

The breathtaking Sandia Peak looms over Albuquerque. Not pictured: Albuquerque.
Greetings from the museum at Los Alamos, home of replicas of Fat Man and Little Boy. The originals couldn’t make it, for … umm, reasons.
The sheer vertical mesa wall looming over Jemez Springs is one of the most breathtaking scenes I’ve ever encountered. Photos do it no justice.

Other than the working and the big lifestyle changes, anything else I could say pretty much pales in comparison, so I’m going to just leave it there. So long, 2015, the year the ship turned. Hello 2016, the year the ship continues on its new, better course.