Friday, August 31, 2012

Goals for 2012 - 2013

My focus this year is on using resources more effectively. Lately I have felt overwhelmed, and it has impaired my quality of life. I will resolve that by focusing on just four complementary goals.

1. Move well
I will lead an active lifestyle by adopting the listed behaviors, tracking workouts on paper only.

1.1 Lift 4x a week, following 5/3/1
1.2 Yoga 2-3x a week
1.3 Walk most days, weather accommodating
2. Beat the internet
Spending less time online makes life better. I will:

2.1 Time box and track work hours, ensuring a fair work week for the company and myself
2.2 Continue using online tools that save time (banking, shopping, email, etc.)
2.3 Eliminate online escapes (forums, news, comics, flash games, youtube, etc.)

I have a proven inability to moderate, so wide swaths of the internet will either be in or out. This means loss of things I enjoy, but there is not another approach I will stick with. Making this happen will free an embarrassing amount of time, upwards of 20 hours a week.

3. Make money work
When it comes to money, I have the mentality of a chipmunk. Instead of using it as a resource, I just hoard whatever I can get. I will do two things to change that:

3.1 Buy time, paying up to $10/hr
3.2 Learn financial math, using it to model and analyze my investment strategy
4. Leave the basement
While my social life now has some inertia, if I do not make a continued effort, it will rapidly regress to playing video games in the basement. I will make a point to:

4.1 Spend time with people
4.2 Do more than just eat and drink

This set of goals is much more qualitative than last years. Some of the initial changes will be hard, but sustained over the year, they will lead to a much higher quality of life. I am optimistic about the results and excited to get started.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 366 of 365 - August in Review

August concludes my goal year. Chasing goals served me well, but I did a crummy job of setting ones I could reach. I have a tendency to assume I will be more awesome than is possible, then burn myself out trying to do the impossible. At least I am finally mature enough to recognize it and back off without getting upset.

1. Lifting
- 5/3/1 continues to hum along. I did not test my original goals, but I am sure I did not hit them. Cycles of 5/3/1 will continue well beyond this goal year. I will be strong enough for the listed goals, eventually. It is not a priority though.

2. Eat on $4 a day - This was an expensive month. I decided to take a trip to Trader Joes and buy whatever I wanted. It was fun, but having all the packaged food got me kind of sick. It was also expensive. I did really enjoy having tofurkey, bread and seitan. While I figured out a floor diet of $5-6 a day, moving forward I may be a little more flexible with my food budget. I can afford it. I can always fall back on the skills I learned if my finances change.

3. Be social - I saw friends, family and coworkers. We did a lot of stuff, but most of it was centered on food or drink. I did make it to yoga 2-3x a week as planned. No wave runner rental yet though. Moving forward, yoga and doing stuff with people stays. I am still working to find activities that don't revolve around consumption.

4. Maintain my home - Miserable failure this month. I did nothing, not even put the replacement part on the microwave. My wife and I talked about this, and moving forward I've proposed a plan that puts her in charge. I'll pay a greater share for what we do, but she's gonna make it happen. We'll see if that goes any better.

5. Excel as a quality engineer - Once again security audits blew my schedule up. I have too much work now and am employing the "try harder" strategy to get through it. Obviously not much in the way of process improvement is happening. This is not sustainable, but there is a plan in the works to resolve it. Moving forward, I've decided I cannot predict on Day 1 what the company needs from me for an entire year. My role is going to change significantly in the next three months. I will focus on being flexible, staying open minded, and putting a fair work week for both me and the company.

Next year’s goals will be more process focused. I feel like those worked the best this year, and I have some promising ideas for improving my quality of life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 365 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Walked a few miles
Mobility with 12k kettlebell
Foam roller

Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45, 85, 95; 7 x 110lbs
DO Axle Deadlift - 10 x 110, 140, 155lbs

The warm up felt great. Front squats were tough but I got them done.

It seems I cannot count days, my goal year does not end until Friday. I guess the count will go to 367.


Day 365 of 365 - Yoga

I felt particularly good going into yoga this morning and opted to really push it. I focused on making my warrior stances long. I made it through the first round of eagle before caving to my mat on all fours. I also got to do crow in the second half of class.

Interestingly, doing the vinyasa gets much easier as class goes on and my upper body opens. By the end of class, it isn't even hard. I guess I have the required strength, but get all bunched up sitting between yoga classes. My baseline mobility is improving over time, so maybe one day vinyasa will be easy all the time

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 364 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Walked a few miles
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Bench Press - 5 x 45, 90, 100; 12 x 115lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 10/10 x 20k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 7 x 16k's

Just getting my reps in. This was a welcome easy workout after last night's deadlifts.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 363 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Walk in the morning
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Deadlift - 5 x 135, 185, 215; 6 x 245lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x Hollow Bar; 10 x 50, 60, 65lbs

This was hard. I am 2 days behind schedule and paid for it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 362 of 365 - Yoga

Class went well this morning. I focused on placing my foot just behind my hand when coming out of down dog. It resulted in lower stances for my warriors. During side plank, I tried the intensifying modification and was able to get my top leg up a couple of inches. The down side of all this is by half way through the class, I was gassed out.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 360 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
This morning I did yoga

Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 80, 90, 105lbs
Grippers - 5/5 x Trainer; 3 x 8/8 x #1

Overhead press was near limit work today. Now that I am approaching PR strength levels, I need to do yoga on a different day.

My hands felt a little achey and I am short on time, so I skipped renegade rows.

Day 359 of 365 - Yoga

I did yoga this morning after a week off. The rest had little impact on my ability either way. I was a little tight as class started, but gradually opened up. My conditioning continues to be my limiting factor.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 355 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Mobility wth 12k kettlebell
Foam roller

Front Squat - 5 x 50, 65, 85lbs
DO Axle Deadlift - 5 x 85, 110, 130lbs

Did my deload workout.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 354 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Walked a few miles

Bench Press - 5 x 50, 65, 85lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 7/7 x 20k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 5 x 16k's

Quick and easy. I skipped yoga due to lost sleep from a release.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 353 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Grocery shopping

Deadlift - 5 x 110, 140, 165lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x 45, 45, 55lbs

Deload week is a breeze.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 352 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
Did this one right after yoga

Overhead Press - 5 x 45, 65, 75lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 3/3 x 20k
Grippers - 5 x #T; 3 x 4/4 x #1

Deload week. Just getting my reps in as efficiently as possible.

Day 352 of 365 - Yoga

I made it to yoga this morning. That's about all I can say. Lifting hard plus a lack of sleep has caught up with me. Fortunately I have a lazy weekend ahead, with ample opportunity to rest.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 350 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
I did yoga in the morning
Mobility wth 12k kettlebell
Foam roller

Front Squat - 5 x BW, 45 90; 3 x 100, 115lbs
DO Axle Deadlift - 5 x 140, 165, 185lbs

Not too shabby. Deload week begins!

Day 350 of 365 - Yoga

Today's yoga victory - showing up at all. Last night I lifted hard, went out to dinner and then cooked for the week. I was not ready for bed until 11:30 and found sleeping difficult. I got up at 6 and went to class anway. As one might expect, my performance was rather unremarkable. Sometimes showing up is enough.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 349 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
The house was hot
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Bench Press - 5 x 45, 100; 3 x 110; 12 x 115, 125lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 5/5 x 24k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 4 x 24k's

Initially, I misloaded the bar for my hard set of bench. It was so easy, I re-added and realized I was missing 10lbs. Fortunately the second set was not much harder. My shoulders felt really good today.

The fourth rep on my sets of clean and press was not the most beautiful. It will get better with time though.

I have yoga tomorrow morning, squats in the evening, and then it is deload week.

I ordered two new grippers today. They are a step up from the hardest grippers I own. I think my strength is on a slow, long climb up. I will have a shot at them in the next year or two. It is exciting to finally have a program that is working for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 347 of 365 - Yoga

This morning I was hoping to do a full bind in half moon. I may have practiced it in the mirror at home on Saturday. Unfortunately soreness from yesterday's deadlifts left me barely able to do half moon at all. The bind will come soon though. I did back off during the knee to nose sequence this morning and was able to do much more work on my breathing during the last third of class. During side bridge, I briefly managed to lift my top leg.

Progress is coming slowly.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 346 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Deadlift - 5 x 135; 3 x 175; 5 x 210; 3 x 235; 2 x 265lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x Hollow Bar; 5 x 60, 70, 75lbs

I struggled to find intensity for my deadlifts. I got the reps anyway, but they were slow and lazy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day 345 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
Did yoga in the morning
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Overhead Press - 5 x 45; 5 x 85; 3 x 100; 3 x 110lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 3/3 x 28k
Grippers - 5 x IM#T; 3 x 1/1 x BBM

Now that I know my cardio is improving without using the elliptical, I have very little incentive to do it during my warm up. Maybe when I need a mental reset, but that's about it.

Overhead pressing 110 for a triple might be a PR for me. If not, it is very close.

Grippers and renegade rows went fine. 28k was a little heavy on the rows, but I did not feel like doing high reps.

Day 345 of 365 - Yoga

Last night I opted to skip yoga, staying home to have deep dish pizza and whisky instead. It was the right choice.

This morning I went to the 7:15am class. It is less busy and lower key than the evening classes. I tried doing the touch your nose sequence on top of everything else. It was a mistake. I ended up pushing so hard that I had to stop in the middle of tree pose and crouch on my mat, so I wouldn't throw up. I recovered enough to resume class, but never really caught my breath. Panting through yoga classes misses a lot of the benefit, so I am going to scale back on Sunday.

The studio started selling Manduka pro-lite mats. It's nice to have my choice of a Manduka mat re-inforced as sound.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 343 of 365 - Front Squat

Warm Up
Elliptical - 10 minutes at level 12, cool down to <120bpm
Mobility wth 12k kettlebell

Front Squat - 5 x 45; 3 x 85, 100; 6 x 110lbs
Axle Deadlift - 8 x 140, 150; 6 x 175lbs

Since this was a late session, I opted to do the elliptical warm up. I was surprised how easy it has become. One of the books I read claimed yoga does not increase cardio, clearly that is not true for me.

I made a point to add a rep on my front squats compared to using this weight last cycle. I might have had one or two more in me, but I needed to keep the intensity low, to ensure I fall asleep tonight.

Deadlifts were pretty easy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 342 of 365 - Yoga

I made it to the Tuesday evening class. It was young and busy! The entire studio was full, mostly of people in their 20's and early 30's. When I attend morning classes, there are less than 10 people, and I am often the youngest person in the room. Last night there were even people in front of me, facing the curtain.

The instructor mixed our sequence a little more than usual. I was able to keep up, except for the intentional break I take during the knee to nose sequence. I am finding I can breath properly during the warm up and the remainder of class from bridging through savasana. I am going to trying pushing that from both directions, until I can meet in the middle of class and breathe correctly the entire time. When I breathe correctly, I am forced to relax and end up with deeper poses. Doing that the entire class will lead to progress.

I am beginning to think the improvements I will make just by showing up have already happened. Further progress is going to require very intentional changes, like those from my lesson last month.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day 341 of 365 - Bench Press

Warm Up
Get the mail
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Bench Press - 5 x 45; 3 x 90, 105; 12 x 115lbs
One Arm Row - 3 x 10/10 x 24k
KB Clean and Press - 3 x 7 x 20k

This was an easy workout. I got a lot of sleep last night. I am re-learning how to bench now that I have the stands. I have never been this flexible, and I think I have a chance at benching without restriction this year.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Day 340 of 365 - Yoga

Class this morning was a little rough, since I am running on too little sleep. I did try keeping my knees bent on the forward folds, which is recommended in one of the Baptiste DVDs. I really focused on my breathing for the last 20 minutes of class. I found it calming.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 339 of 365 - Deadlift

Warm Up
Shop for groceries
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Deadlift - 5 x 135; 3 x 198, 230, 255lbs
Overhead Squat - 5 x BW, Hollow Bar; 8 x 55, 65; 6 x 75lbs

Deadlifts were supposed to be 5lbs lighter, but I misread the program. I barely got my reps. I did not sleep enough this week and found myself lacking motivation.

While grocery shopping, I bought a dozen different sauces from Trader Joes. I'll use them on rice and beans over the next few months. I also bought fresh apricots, which I have never tried before.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Day 338 of 365 - Overhead Press

Warm Up
Mobility with 12k kettlebell

Overhead Press - 5 x 45; 3 x 85, 95; 4 x 105lbs
Renegade Rows - 3 x 5/5 x 24k
Grippers - 5 x IM#T; 3 x 3/3 x BBSA

I slacked on my warm up, since I did yoga this morning. My pressing was weak due to yoga.

Day 338 of 365 - Yoga

After doing yoga on my own Wednesday, the pace of this morning's class seemed especially fast. I was one step behind the entire time. I suppose that is a benefit of the group environment. Moving faster stops me from over-thinking. I still gassed out by the time we reached balances, but I will be less sore tomorrow.

I am almost done with the yoga books and DVDs I got from the library. The books all verify my instructor is doing a great job. She addresses both the big safety concerns from the Science of Yoga and the subtle movement nuances from the Baptiste books. My trust in her expertise is well founded. If I can be patient and stop trying to force progress, following her will take me very far.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 336 of 365 - Yoga

Sunday's yoga class left me far too sore for a session at the studio. I skipped Tuesday and opted to do something on my own today. I took things slow, focusing on my breathing and vinyasa transitions. I eventually got through the entire sequence we do in class, but it took me an extra 15 minutes. I cheated though, I was watching tv!

Even done slowly on my own, the yoga made a tremendous difference in how I felt.

Day 336 of 365 - July in Review

July was a good month.

1. Lifting - Another cycle of 5/3/1 is done. Now that I have programmed my assistance work, I no longer skip it. The only time I think about the weights outside the gym is when I make sure lifting fits into my day. I am not sure I got stronger this month, but I definitely did not get weaker. Given that yoga has taken a lot of my focus, I am happy with this. I do think yoga will improve my lifting eventually. I just started using squat stands, but I can tell they make lifting more enjoyable. I expect improved progress on bench especially as a result. In August, I ought to test myself against the goals I set for this year. Since everything is going so well though, I am not sure if I will. The goals no longer match how I lift, after all.

2. Eat on $4 a day - My eating is on autopilot, and I am no longer tracking spending. This month I did solidify my process for cooking rice and beans. After trying a handful of recipes, I've gotten it down to - cook the beans, then simmer them with stir fried vegetables while the rice cooks. It turns out the type of bean does not really matter to me, nor does the selection of vegetables. If it goes wrong, I am content with drowning the end result in teriyaki or hot sauce.

I tried a few other new things to reduce my food costs, none of which worked out. I gave hummus a solid attempt, but failed miserably. I tried getting the potatoes that were $0.30/lb at Aldi, only to find they taste like dirt. I got lemons and made lemonade, only to find it is more expensive than store bought. 48oz of lemonade takes around 2.5lbs of lemons and a cup of sugar. The best deal I've seen on lemons is $1/lb, which works out to $7.50/gallon lemonade... I did make my best homemade pizza yet. My only expectation for this goal in August is to keep eating off my food list and continue eating out 1-2x a week.

3. Be social - July was a good month for getting out of the house. Yoga has been a consistent 3x a week. The week I had my lesson, I was at the studio 4 times. I saw my parents most weekends, one Saturday my wife came too. I had lunch with coworkers and friends a few times. There was a weekend where I went to a party, the aquarium and a comedy club. My wife had people over to the house a few times as well.

Next month should also go well. Outside of recurring stuff, I am planning to attend 3 parties. If I can find a good place to rent jet skis, I have a couple people that want to try it. I have never gotten to and am apparently missing out. I would like it if more of my socializing revolved around something other than eating and drinking, but so far only yoga fits that mold.

4. Maintain my home - The microwave broke. I took it apart, found the broken piece, ordered a new one and put in a temp fix. Since it is now working, I have not installed the new part, but I am excited to have fixed something at all. My wife took a load of stuff to goodwill. That's about it. I neglect this goal because I don't enjoy it.

5. Excel as a quality engineer - This month was heavy on security, audits, content management and small projects. Running the manual deployments off an internal server has made them more efficient. I did have the chance to make some more complex SQL queries as part of my testing. I started a push towards improving error handling that seems to have gained support. I got out of a weekly recurring meeting.

I believe the switch to Kanban for our SDLC is starting to pay dividends. I saw the team react quickly and successfully to a significant, urgent project. We started experimenting with a more collaborative UAT process. It's probably better longer term, but it adds work to my schedule. I am wondering if a weekly or bi-weekly demo might be a better way to handle it. August will be an interesting month, as I am on the cusp of having too much work.

August marks the end of my goal year. I'll see what goals I managed to hit, then set new ones for the upcoming year.