I can’t believe that it’s already nearing the end of 2017.
It’s been such a crazy year. So much has happened, and I haven’t even begun to take the time to consider how I’m going to let the events from this year affect my life.
I’ve read more this year than I think I have any single year previously. I have probably read more than 20 books this year. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering that I’ve very rarely completed one book a month previously, I’ve not only increased the amount of time I’m dedicating to reading, but also an increase in speed. I hope the comprehension is also improving as well.
I love the Kindle. Don’t get me wrong. I adore books. There’s something to be said about flipping through the pages of an old book. Smelling that dank book smell as you turn pages that may not have been touched in more than a decade. Feeling the texture of the paper between your fingers as you hold the pages open and cherish each printed letter. There are few things in life better than that, but living in Japan, getting access to the books that I want to read is not always as simple as I’d like for it to be, at least not always at a reasonable price. Plus there are so many free classics available for the Kindle, it makes it so much easier to read the things that I should have been read long ago.
Since my last post, I’ve been able to read a couple that I’ve wanted to for a while. The big one was The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I can’t really say that I liked it. I appreciated it for the piece of history that it captured, but was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read. I felt emotionally numb at about half way through. By the end of the book, I just felt dead… and then that ending… I can’t really think of much good to say about it. It was well written though.
A good short read was the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson. It was very to the point and basically just listed out all of his accomplishments (which there were many).
I’ve also made it a good deal of the way through the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, which, while being a pretty dense read, is giving me a lot of insight into areas of my own life. For example, he had an amazing system for improving his own writing style. I believe that it is something that I’m going to emulate, as writing is beginning to play a more prominent role in my life. Let me know if it’s something that interests you as I can point you to a few resources that explain his system pretty well.
Anyway, aside from the reading, I’ve pretty much just been trying to turn every aspect of my life around. I’m exercising daily, eating at least two and a half full meals a day. I’m trying to eat between 2,500-3,000 calories a day so that I can put on some weight. I started tracking everything about a month ago when I realized that I had made it down to 128.5 pounds. Yeah, that’s roughly the same size I was in high school. I was not, at any time, attempting to lose weight, but with all the stuff going on, I just didn’t eat as much as was necessary to maintain a healthy level, and everyone knows how stress affects people differently. In the last month, I’ve put on 5 pounds, and I’m not going to stop until I’ve hit at least 140. It’s an arbitrary number, but it would put me safely in the middle of the healthy weight levels for my height.
If you have an Android phone and you’re curious about the tools I’m using to keep forward progress, here’s a list:
- Google Fit – Brings everything together to summarize all my activities. Good for a basic overview of fitness.
- Lose It! – Calorie Counter – While it’s targeted at people trying to lose weight, it’s still a decent way to track calories and meals in general. It includes a pretty good database of foods that you can use by just scanning the barcode. It’s not perfect, but it does a good job.
- Water Drink Reminder – This is for tracking my liquids. I noticed that in the summer, I was getting a little dehydrated, so I decided to use this as a brief reminder to drink more water. Now I’m averaging around 3 liters of liquids a day.
- Pebble – Despite being out of business, my Pebble is still going strong. I use it as a step and sleep counter. It’s not perfect, but it’s consistent.
- 30 Day Fitness Challenge – Workout at Home – If you’re not used to exercising, then I recommend something to ease you into it. I have a personal trainer who designed a very thorough workout plan for me, but it was a little intense to get started, so I’ve been using this for just about a month. It’s designed around exercises that you can do at home with no equipment (although I would recommend a yoga mat to keep you off that cold floor in the morning).
- Calm – Meditate, Sleep, Relax – I think this has been the single most helpful app I’ve downloaded. I’ve been meditating for about three months now, between 5-20 minutes everyday. I do it right after waking up, and it really helps to get my mind in a clear state. It lightens the load before packing the daily tasks on.
But it doesn’t matter how good the tools you have are if you don’t use them. I’ve really been disciplining myself lately and holding myself accountable. I plan out my goals for the day in the morning or the night before and prioritize them. I make sure that I get most of the things knocked off my list everyday. I keep track of that with a pretty amazing to do list app called Todoist: To-do lists for task management & errands and also use Coach.me – Instant Coaching for some of the reminders.
(By the way, sorry to my iOS friends, you’re just gonna have to search the app store yourself because I’m not in the Apple ecosystem at all)
I would go more into depth on some of the things that I’m tracking and how I’m doing it, but this post has already begun to reach short story length, so I think I’ll leave it at that, and continue on in a separate post, or if you’re really interested, I can make a special page for this kind of stuff.
Anyway, until next time.