Monday, December 31, 2012

December 2012 Review

December was a little rocky. Life goes in cycles. I hit a peak and started to find my way down.

1. Move better - I hit a few milestones, despite the change in weather and an injury. All planned workouts were completed, though I did have to replace walking with using the elliptical as a warm up before my workouts.

My lifting cycle reached peak weights and stalled out. Getting the planned reps for each session has become a huge mental battle, my joints are hurting and I am struggling with recovery. I have tried to eat my way through it, but my body just needs a break. I am going to reset poundages, spend a few months doing high reps and embrace the opportunity to eat less. I did regain the ability to do chins, I will work those in between sets of presses. I am also going to move from front squats to back squats.

Yoga is moving forward in some respects. I learned to do an arm balance that is called out almost every class. I managed to lift into a free-standing headstand at home and expect to get it in class within a month. The high heart rates I am hitting on the elliptical have almost totally stopped me from gassing out during class. I am finally adapting to the heat, which is a mixed reward during the Midwest winter.

My flexibility improvements do seem to have plateaued. I tried extra classes to force my way through, but it did not work. I just started playing around with lowering my block during half moon and extended side angle. The strength required to deadlift heavy tightens me up. I suspect my new plan of backing off on the heavy weights and heavy eating will help a lot.

My injured hand is almost back to 100%. The full body warmup prior to lifting and yoga has made a huge difference. Other than a few very specific movements, my hand is pain free. I was even able to do yoga 3 days in a row without trouble.

I did manage to hurt my jaw. During yoga class we breathe through the nose, but are supposed to contract our throat during the exhale. Somehow that evolved into "clench my jaw as strongly as possible, whenever something is hard". It turns out an hour smashing my teeth together a few times a week translates to severe jaw pain. Once the pain started, I was able to figure out the source, but it has taken time for things to recover. My ability to eat was limited for about two weeks, and I am still avoiding hard foods whenever possible. I have been making a point to relax my jaw during class and lifting.

2. Beat the internet - Not a great month for beating the internet. I dropped video games to make time for my investing book. Unfortunately I ended up also making internet exceptions to compensate. Whoops. I did not spend hours a day screwing around, but I did waste too much time. The only good answer I have is returning to a hard "once a month" schedule on the PC. I've figured out how to check email, facebook and the yoga schedule on my phone. Those are my most common exceptions. Checking them on the phone will reduce the chance of my getting stuck on the internet.

Netflix is proving to be another productivity sink. I am going to put my membership on hold for January and play around with using music as an escape instead. We finally replaced the broken speakers in our living room, and I ordered some speakers for the home gym / office area as well. These should provide a big improvement over listening to headphones or the TV. I also got some over the ear headphones which are proving more comfortable than ear buds.

Time boxing work continues to go well. I had a very positive end of year. I would like to put a little more effort into professional development once I get my investing squared away. I like playing with computers more than managing money. Computers behave.

3. Make my money work - I backed off a little on buying groceries, focusing on eating the foods I have. Time spent cooking was offset by time not spent shopping. With the reset of my lifting poundages in January, I am going to return to the simple inexpensive meals I adopted last year. My diet will be lower in protein, but that's ok for now.

Giving up whisky for reading did not work. I just started playing video games compulsively instead. After a few days of that, I switched out the two vices. It turns out controlling my whisky consumption is much easier, and I like to read while drinking. I am halfway through the investing book now. I expect to finish it in January. I am becoming doubtful that time spent trying to be a technical investor will yield any reward though.

The contractor finally finished our list, including the bathroom renovation. The renovation was expensive, more work than I anticipated. It reinforces my long term strategy to down-size into to a smaller house. I am totally sold on using contractors for handyman services. Only 45 bucks to hang a king size quilt 15 feet up the wall? Yes, please.

I looked into hiring a personal assistant, but I cannot find a way to make the numbers work. The things I can offload just aren't very hard, but the prices I see quoted are remarkably high. Replacing easy chores with an expensive person to manage makes no sense.

I did sell a set of squat stands on Craigslist. There are a few other things in my home gym that need to go, and I am also trying to sell my pool table. Getting a couple extra bucks is nice, but the mental clarity that comes from having less stuff is even better. I am still coming to terms with the fact that buying good stuff does not make me good at something. It’s an easy mental trap to fall into.

4. Socialize - I scaled back on socializing this month. I felt a little burnt out after Thanksgiving, and I wanted to free time for reading my investing book. Other than yoga, I just did consumption based stuff. Holiday parties, meals, etc. It was enough. I'm not sure what January will bring. I did sign up for an arm balancing workshop at the yoga studio. Otherwise nothing is planned. Taking music lessons or maybe trying habitat for humanity is in the back of my mind, but I’ll be surprised if anything comes from it right now.

January starts from a valley, so I expect nice progress.