Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 304 of 365 - June in Review

June went well. Admittedly I am not positioned to meet all the goals I set for the year ending in August, but I am happy with my general direction. At this point I am focused on habitualizing my exercise and diet, so they form a foundation of mental and physical health. I’ll build my other goals on that in 2012-2013.

1. Lifting - Coming off of last month's peak, lifting went ok, not great. I did not reduce the weights far enough on my squats or bench to accommodate renewed forward progress. I have adjusted for this cycle and expect July to go well. Calculating out my accessory lifts has worked perfectly. I am performing all of my scheduled sets, just as planned. I never feel wiped out and incapable of doing the accessory work, which was a problem before.

I returned to lifting 4x a week (opposed to last month's 3x a week experiment). 4 days a week just suits me better mentally and physically. Even with yoga 2-3 days a week, I still need the weights. I think I have my lifting plan on almost full, sustainable auto-pilot at this point.

2. Eat on $4 a Day - For June, I tried $30 a week at the store and $15 a week eating out. It was not enough. I would squeeze on one side, then over spend on the other. When I managed to hit both, my diet was short on real food and I supplemented with empty calories. It seems $35/$20 is the right spending level for me. I finally found a vinegar and oil dressing I like at Aldi. It is lower cost, healthier and easier to get than the Ranch I was eating.

I did learn to use my pressure cooker this month. It has earned a permanent spot in my cooking. I see the path to feeding myself on $4 a day, but mentally, I am not prepared to follow an almost vegan diet, based primarily on rice and beans. I had a general feeling of discontent this month, and I think sustaining $4 a day would leave me really unhappy.

The dollar target for this goal has run its course. I can eat well on $6 per day from the grocery store. That gets me a healthy, varied diet. I eat out 2x per week, at an average cost of $10 per meal. That basically replaces a day of groceries, leaving me at the $35/$20 budget. So in the end, I am eating on $8 a day, including dining out. 200% of goal, but I am satisfied...

Chasing $4 a day did produce the behavior changes I sought. I do not believe there is a lower cost source for the diet I eat. I consume almost no boxed foods. Just about everything is either dairy, fresh produce, or a dried grain. I can base my entire diet on food from Aldi - which is the smallest, least expensive, closest grocery store. I supplement with a few fun treats from other stores, but I am not driving all over for the best deals. I get enough calories, protein and fiber to support my lifestyle.

The next step is to put my eating on auto-pilot, similar to my lifting. I have a good understanding of the pattern I want my diet to follow - low cost and nutritious. I have put a daily menu checklist on my erase board and will just eat from it, marking off the meals each day. This will minimize the mental energy of feeding myself, while defaulting my behavior to the healthiest diet I know.

3. Be social - Yoga is on full auto-pilot now, 2-3 days a week, depending on my work schedule. I survived the worst heat wave of the summer and see the pattern is sustainable. It forms a great baseline for my mental health. Outside of that, I saw my parents most weekends, went to 2 parties, a wedding, lunch with friends, a couple lunches with coworkers and even saw some friends on a random work night. My social schedule is full and varied. I have plans for July. My wife is fully bought in to socializing and arranges many of the things we do. This goal is a total success.

4. Maintain my home - Little progress was made here. Almost entirely due to my wife, we got a picture framed and hung. I did follow through on getting last month's "stuff I don't need" out of the garage. Otherwise, I did nothing. I have resigned myself to paying for the little stuff, but have yet to find the motivation to hire someone.

5. Excel as a quality engineer - Most of my work in June was focused on security audits and documentation. I was bored and unhappy. I like design, testing and improving our SDLC. Answering audit surveys and revising documentation is mentally painful.

I did get permission to run my deployment process off of an internal server, opposed to my local machine, which will improve efficiency with manual deployments. The team is still bought in to a build server, but the timeline looks more like 6 months than 6 weeks. We are going to move the security scanner to a hosted machine (opposed to my local PC), which should make that part of my job easier and more productive. Minor, incremental improvements are still progress.

I also got my PMP renewed through 2016. Between the conference last fall, my follow up self directed study and the credits for working, meeting the requirements was pretty easy. I debate with myself whether keeping the cert current is a good investment in my career, or if I am just being a sucker for their marketing. So far investment barely wins. I may feel differently by 2016, especially if PMI fails to stay relevant against the challenge of lean / agile.

All together not a bad month, but I am tired of security audits. Unfortunately, July looks like it will offer more of the same. I do think we are making some process changes that will reduce the time I spend on security and documentation long term.