Projects and Goals

Here’s what I know. Over the last six months, I’ve gained and lost a load of weight. I’ve studied for a project management exam and passed it. and done a metric ton of day job work. I’ve tried to learn javascript, stopped and started more times than I care to remember, and regularly cursed myself for constantly stopping and starting again.

I came up with an idea for a project. It’s a good one, it’s currently stalled, but i’ll make it go. It’s worth it.

I have lots of ideas. They mainly die on the vine.

Last year I had so many projects on the go at once, they totally overwhelmed me. I ended up canning almost all of them – in hindsight, I did can all of them – and then started again with fresh new projects. I complain and moan and stare at myself in the mirror and try to convince myself to start, and instead, I come up with lots of ideas that start, struggle a bit for my attention, and then just go away because I convince myself they aren’t any good. 14by17 was a good idea, sadly ruined by my ability to actually lose weight (I started a project to hit 14 stones in weight by 2017, and for the entire duration of the project I gained weight instead).

I mean to write a lot. I have two books on a todo list that I intend to write and probably never will – well, I won’t until I can sustain attention and drive myself through the boring bits. And that, my friends, is the heart of it.

I give up too easily. Way too easily. I’ve read (and listened to) a lot of books in the last six months, and the topics are all generally the same.

  • just start.
  • don’t stop trying.
  • keep going, even when it’s boring.
  • learn to love what you do, don’t just try to do what you love.
  • there are checklists, and deep work, and 5 second rules, and a whole host of tips and tricks and hacks and deep studying processes and ways to meditate and avoid stress and avoid distractions and pomodoro techniques and lists and stuff like that…

But none of the techniques can (and ever will) give me the ability to keep moving when the going gets tough because that particular skill can’t be taught.

Here’s what I know.

I like my day job. Mostly. I’m a good doer, less of a manager.
No matter what I do, I can’t just do the day job. The ideas keep coming in.
I’ve dropped hundreds of ideas because I can’t commit, but some keep coming back. I’ve stopped and started programming more times than I care to admit because there is something inside me that keeps wanting to go back and give it one more try.
I do have drive. I can do hard things. I did a 53 mile bike ride for charity simply because I wanted to – that needed six months of training, but I did it. I beat cancer – yes, staying alive is a hell of a motivator. I can, and do, get up at 5:30 am just so I can drive to work, park the car 2 miles away from the office and then walk the rest of the way. I lost two stones in weight because I needed to (the next stone is tougher, but I’ll get there).

So next on the list, is lots of little projects – dumb stuff, that I’ll throw out here on this blog, GitHub projects, medium posts, other posts here, there and everywhere. I have book reviews to write (mainly bad ones). I have thoughts about stuff that perhaps I’ll just share because they are writing in its purest form – my thoughts, on the page. I have dumb little programming projects that I’ll throw into a repository so you can see what I’m doing (or not).

I can do these things, so I’ll just do them. And maybe, just maybe, they will become a habit, and I’ll ship something bigger. I’ve just got to get into the habit of shipping lots of little things first.

This is not a proclamation of things to come. This is an intent, and i’ll do my best to deliver, simply because it’s the way I lean. I don’t just do one thing, I do lots, so now perhaps is the time to make them live, in whatever form they take, and remind myself that I do actually make a lot of things, and I can make more.

14by17 – 2016 summary

So, a summary.

Nearly 5 months ago I wrote the last post on my weight loss journey, and it was never really all that good. Despite my goal to be 14 stone by 2017, the exercise was not successful – instead, I put on weight every time I weighed myself, and I didn’t manage to follow through on eating healthily.

So, instead, I took a little time off. I went on holiday and wasn’t really the weight I wanted to be.

Then, I listened to the recommendations from family and went to Slimming World instead. And now, I have managed to drop nearly a stone from the weight I was in July – from 16 stone 3 pounds to 15 stone 4, and I’m on track. Weight keeps going down. I eat better, and less, and I move around more – more walking to locations, playing badminton once a week when I really work up a sweat, and more often than not turning down dessert and snacks.

When I do eat, I eat better – mostly – and the best thing Slimming World has taught me is that every time I eat crap, I have a price I have to pay. In Syns, as far as Slimming World is concerned, and in extra exercise for the day to day moving about.

Yes, Christmas is not going to be a particularly healthy one, but I know I have a pathway out of it and a strategy to get lighter and fitter.

Right now I’m back to where I started. I managed to turn around the weight increases over the 14by17 exercise, and I’m now on a downturn in weight gain to actually hit the 14 stone goal. In 2017, I will **definitely** hit that goal.

Here goes – I’ll keep checking in.

14by17 week 17

This week I’ve been making changes. While the chart may not be showing tremendous drops in weight, It does show a fantastic increase in the amount I’m walking about – and by god, my feet and my calves can feel it. What the chart doesn’t show is that I also managed to stop taking nicotine lozenges this week, for the first time in five years.

So, yes, success. And while I may not be making dramatic changes in my diet – dammit – the fact that I’m walking around a hell of a lot more and making these healthy choices when it comes to anything else but my diet should help. It’s very early days, and god knows that I’m the king of wild promises with very little delivery, so time and proof will tell. There’s no hiding it, if I’m not doing the miles, the graph will show it.

14by17 week 27

Once again, I have reason to believe that while the overall trend is up, it is slowing. I haven’t done anything to help that, and I’m still occasionally snacking and not doing as much exercise as I really should be doing. I really should sit down and write the post I’ve been meaning to write about how I make promises to myself and others and then summarily fail to deliver.

Anyway, self-loathing aside, I am all about the super slow changes – but I’m also mindful that in September I have a beach holiday; so I should really do the best I can to get into a semi-decent shape for that.

14by17 week 26

So, six months in, on my 46th birthday, what have I got to say for myself?

Well, let’s just say that the preceding six months have not been kind. Far from losing weight, I’ve put it on, and I’m now – if anything – eight to ten pounds heavier than when I started.

That, in itself, is having an effect on my self-confidence, my wardrobe, and my goals. I really want to be lighter, but it’s never as easy as it may seem.

I distinctly hope that I can turn it around in the last six months. I very much don’t want to be posting that I am even heavier than I am now in another six months, and right now I’ll settle for just getting back down to 15 stones in weight. At least all my skinny clothes will fit me then.

So it’s rapidly turning into 15by17, and not 14by17 as originally envisaged. hmmm. Onwards and upwards, then!

14by17 week 23

Another poor week, and another week of disrupted weight and slow progress. The steps continue apace with the occasional blip, but generally better than before. The continued poor progress on weight loss is definitely due to me eating crap.

I really need to stop eating crap. That bit is a hell of a lot harder than I thought it was; I’m really slipping back when it comes to eating more than my normal three meals a day – and it’s not as if I haven’t been able to control this in the past, just now it requires a bit more grit.

14by17 week 22

The graph over the last week shows an increase in weight directly aligned with the reduction in physical activity, but this is more nefarious; I have discovered that the way I weigh myself has possibly been reporting the wrong values for the last month and now I have to correct that.

The last week shows what I believe to be the right weights, which means it looks like I’m going in the wrong direction.

Do I feel lighter? No, but I feel healthier; the ability to walk further is now locked into my personal fitness. I do feel a little slimmer but that is more than the healthiness, but I do have to be brave and make sure that I’m not slacking off and eating crap – which sadly, is still a factor. I’m still slipping far too often and blaming it on some force over which I don’t have control, which I know is nonsense.

14by17 week 21

Something is definitely happening. While I don’t have the massive drop in weight that I was expecting – OK, sure, I admit that this was a ridiculous expectation – there is a distinct movement in terms of weight and the fact that it’s starting to move up and down in relation to my increased activity.

Sure, the activity has had a few variations recently – I’ve had to admit that the 5000 steps a day rule has had a couple of blips lately, resulting in the massive variation you can see in the chart. Even so, I am planning to keep up the activity as it is making a difference and shaking things up a little, which is the point. I may not be staring down the barrel of 14 stone any time soon, which given that I’m nearly halfway through the year is not a good thing to say, but I hope I’ll be able to at least get back to where I started with a set of better habits.

14by17 week 20

Without getting ahead of myself, I think I can draw a correlation between increased physical activity and weight loss – though it is early days, I do seem to be losing a few pounds, given that I am repeatedly walking more than 5000 steps a day.

The graph shows it all; I have noticed that increased appetite is (understandably) showing up when I’m walking 5-6 miles a day, and that needs a hell of a lot of willpower to stop the desire to eat later in the evenings when all it’s going to do is turn to fat.

For the last month or so, though, I’ve been talking about baby steps and I’m still keen to achieve them – I have managed nine straight days of hitting my target every day, and I just want to avoid breaking the chain.