Happy Birthday to Me, 2016 Edition

It’s March 27th, which means it’s a bunch of famous people’s birthday. Well, at least a few famous people. I checked for famous birthdays today, and I didn’t get much. Mariah Carey, Quentin Tarantino, Manuel Neuer. Okay, that’s not bad. That’s also it. The rest of the list is populated with people I don’t know or, even stranger, ‘YouTube stars.’ That’s right, there are so few celebrities born on this day that Youtube celebrities make up a sizable percentage.

Maybe someday I will join those illustrious ranks, for today, March 27th, is my birthday! Happy birthday, me!

Woot!

Somehow, I turned 31 today. I don’t know how. There must be some type of mistake. I don’t feel 31. I don’t feel 25. I don’t even feel like an adult. I mean, adults are supposed to be these serious people with serious things to do, jobs and careers and responsibilities. Adults are supposed to do adult things. I’ve never felt like an adult. Honestly, I feel and think virtually the same as I did when I was 16, but that’s a topic for a different day.

I celebrated the same way I celebrated since I was 16, by doing nothing. It’s funny, isn’t it? When you are young, birthdays are awesome, like a second Christmas. You get presents, you get cake, you get to tell all the other kids that you are a year older and thus, obviously superior. Going from 9 to 10, I remember, was a huge thing. Double digits.

Later, though, birthdays start losing that appeal. You look forward to it less. At some point, for some people, it’s almost a negative date. It’s a reminder that you are getting older, maybe even old. Life is passing you by. You don’t even tell people it’s your birthday anymore, in the hopes that by not acknowledging it you somehow blunt time’s power.

Anyway, my birthday is not the time to philosophize about the flowing of time and maturity. Let’s save that for later as well. Suffice to say, I didn’t do much for my birthday. I had a cupcake, which was nice, and I ate some lasagna, which is my go-to birthday food, and that’s about it. I also ate some chocolate, because it’s Easter Sunday and hey, why not? I should eat as much chocolate as I can, because I won’t get a chance to tomorrow. Let me explain.

As always, my birthday is a chance for renewal. I don’t do much celebrating, but I do a lot of thinking. I ask myself, where was I a year ago compared to today, and am I happy with that? Am I satisfied? Can I do more, be more? Where do I need to improve? Where should I focus my energies? These are the questions I ask. If that seems unusual, well, I am a philosopher, so perhaps I’m simply unusual.

It’s truly amazing how often I sit in this exact position.

Last year, for instance, I tried living under a very strict schedule. I did this from Jan 1st 2015 until March 27, and then I looked at what I had done and made some changes. For instance, though I made progress with some things, I didn’t do anything with my writing. My blog lay barren. I vowed to write for 20min every day, but I left the caveat that I could spend that time editing, planning or ‘researching’ as well as writing. Two months later my blog remained barren, so I knew I had to change things up.

The results speak for themselves. Earlier this week, I passed 300 days since I started my blogging challenge. I have written over 400,000 words, and I did that by asking those questions I said two paragraphs up. I kept adding tweaks to my habits and routine until, eureka, I hit something that worked. It worked with my writing, and I do it with just about everything.

I have three main areas of interest in my life right now. We’ve already discussed writing, and I’m not changing that. I love chess, and I’ve improved my online rating nearly 300 points in a single calendar year. That’s damn impressive, especially for an adult. I don’t think I can expect much more than that, so I don’t need to change anything here. Things are rolling well.

And that leaves the final area, health and fitness. In many ways, I’m doing excellent here as well … but not as excellent as I would like. With the exception of injuries, I’ve missed maybe three workouts over the last year. I’m stretching several times a week, following various protocols to the letter. I’m doing everything right, but progress has been slow. Heck, I’ve been stretching for over a year now, and I’m still not able to do the splits. Considering where I started, that’s not great, not great at all.

Of course, there is a potential reason for that, a very obvious reason. My diet is, how shall we say, lacking at times. I will have three perfect meals … and then eat two bags of chips because I’m still hungry. Or I’ll eat only one meal a day because I don’t feel like eating or don’t feel like cooking or don’t feel like taking the time to pack a lunch so I’ll just go without.

This image makes it seem so easy.

I’ve never had a great relationship with food and nutrition. I’ll admit, I was a picky eater as a kid, and in a way I still am. Really, though, the big problem is convenience. If I had my own private chef, I’d eat healthy 100% of the time, no problem. If I have to make my own food, though? If I need to apply effort? That makes it hard.

Some people live to eat, I eat to live. I have gone without eating before, just because I didn’t feel like it. Putting in the time necessary to create a good meal makes my eyes glaze. I’d rather do just about anything else. Well, that’s about to change. This year, I’m turning 31, and I will be cooking and eating healthy from here on out.

As always, I’ve tried this out before committing to it. I’ve spent the last few weeks planning and researching. How much food do I need? How often will I need to go for groceries? Can I do mass prep work on one day, making the rest of my week easier? I’ve been playing with these and related questions, and I think I’ve found all the answers. I’ll find out in the coming days, I guess.

I’m not too worried. I’ve done this before, and I only stopped because the Christmas holiday season threw a wrench into my life. Once I set myself to something, I do that something. If I’m being honest, I’m actually really excited. If I commit to eating healthy long term, what changes will I see? How much will my physical fitness and flexibility improve? What other effects will it have? I want to jump ahead in a time machine and take a look at future me, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Until then, I’ll be adding a section to my ‘Monthly Updates’ detailing my nutritional accomplishments. Think of it like a monthly food log. If I eat anything bad, I won’t be afraid to admit it. I’m accountable. I mean, I blog everyday, so it would be hard to fake it. Sooner or later I would let it slip, so best to tell the truth.

So that’s it. It officially starts tomorrow, the 28th. Right now, beside me, is my favourite flavour of chips, Doritos Bold BBQ. This will be the last bag of chips I eat. That’s how committed I am. I mean, that’s the plan. I’ll make some allowances for social occasions. If I get invited to a pizza and movie party, I’ll have a slice or two, but beyond that, locked on.

We’ll always have our memories, dear friend.

Happy birthday, me. One year from now, let’s see how healthy you are.

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