life

#MondayMotivation - A Healthier Mike: June 2019 Check-In

There’s something in the air
I sense it
Like the wind, change direction
I can hear the storm is rumbling
Sounds like a freight train coming
— The National Parks "I Can Feel It"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 309,712

Average daily steps: 10,324

Highest daily steps: 15,096 (June 22)

Lowest daily steps: 5,347 (June 15)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 72.35

Total miles hiked: 0 (holy shit, not cool)

Sleep stats: 1 day at 7+ hours, 7 at 6-7 hours, and the rest below 6

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 19 minutes


Visiting fantastic places was a highlight of June.
Tahquamenon Falls

The Good

  • Had a great spurt of activity when in Michigan with gorgeous daily walks and kayak paddles

  • Total activity was 16.2% greater than June 2018

  • I closed my Apple Watch rings 21/30 days

  • I kayaked often for two weeks

  • I increased total activity

  • I’ve been increasing my speed to increase heart rate

  • I have new Texas State Park & NPS quests to help keep me motivated

  • I signed up for a year of membership at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge for kayaks and hikes - access was $5/entry and it would add up and it’s just the nicest place to kayak within the metro.


The Not-So-Good

  • I was straight up lazy when it came to hiking - as I’m trying to keep it fresh and non-repetitive and that’s requiring a bit more work with distance from home

  • I did not sleep well in June - road trips did not help

  • Absolute flop for hiking

  • As a household, we dined out too often

  • I stopped trying for any real results at the first sign of failure


One of the many sunsets over Grand Lake in Presque Isle, Michigan

One of the many sunsets over Grand Lake in Presque Isle, Michigan

Mental Health

  • Work was mentally draining the last three weeks of June

  • Had a lot of time in the car and a lot of time with my thoughts - finding a lot of clarity

  • I’ve stepped back from phone use quite a bit and I’ve noticed a difference

  • I don’t believe there was a single day I didn’t want to get out of bed.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • I needed an end goal. Big goals are great, but this month proved they don’t matter. I’m working on smaller, more attainable goals with steps towards the big goal. Common sense, right?

  • I signed up for support. I overeat. I can’t hold myself accountable. I literally lied or omitted things on MyFitnessPal because I was embarrassed. No more.

  • July is going to be my month. I hope.


Goals for July

More kayaking, please!

More kayaking, please!

  • Read/Listen to at least 3 books
    (A constant goal is 8, I’m always coming up short… so I’m making it more realistic)

  • Working on drinking less booze, and more water. Balancing out the booze is key - it got a little much throughout June. Everything in moderation.

  • Take a weekend off of social media (I’ve been taking an hour a day of no phone, which is cool, but I will take a whole weekend - hopefully in the mountains)

  • Add more jogging and more trails (I will continue to strive to do a 5k run, still working on a single mile)

  • Working on increasing my daily average for activity It feels good, both mentally and physically.

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind.
    (My state park quest should help)

  • Continued daily mindful breaks and reading The Awakening (also, maybe yoga or some reflective hikes)

  • There’s no reason I can’t hit 100 miles for July. (Daily walks and jogs + hikes = c’mon man)

  • I signed up for support related to diet and exercise to help keep me on track. I’m now on a plan to shift my life to healthier eating and increased ACTUAL activity. It is not an expensive ordeal, but more than I’d like to spend so that’s motivation alone.

  • I am going 50%+ vegetarian. For the planet, for my body, I’m reducing overall meat intake. I’m not going vegan or cutting all meats out, just less overall. It’s been quite easy so far, and cheaper.

And more treats with friends please.

And more treats with friends please.

#MondayMotivation - A Healthier Mike: May 2019 Check-In

Hey
I wanted everything I never had
Like the love that comes with light
I wore envy and I hated that
But I survived
I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don’t change
And nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope, just lies
And you’re taught to cry into your pillow
But I survived
— SIA "Alive"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 343,004

Average daily steps: 11,065

Highest daily steps: 27,649 (May 11)

Lowest daily steps: 4,366 (May 18)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 70.14

Total miles hiked: ~13.5

Sleep stats: 2 days of 7+ hours, 3 days of 6-7 hours, 26 days under 6 hours

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 18 minutes


Hiking in the Tonto National Forest - Superstition Wilderness area w/ Scott Jones.

The Good

  • Stayed active all but four days

  • Total activity was higher than May 2018

  • I closed my Apple Watch rings 27/31 days

  • I kayaked for the first time and fell instantly in love with the activity

  • I hiked in a different state (Arizona)

  • I’ve been adding in more running to my daily exercises

  • I bought a kayak so I’ll be doing more of that on weekend mornings before it gets gross outside

  • I signed up for the Little Backyard Adventure trail run in Olympia, WA on August 10. I can’t wait to see how it goes - my only goal is to avoid being dead fucking last.


The Not-So-Good

  • I got a bad sinus infection that took me down for 3-4 days. I tried, but it just sucked. Eventually, I pushed through the snot and got back out there.

  • I did not sleep for shit in May

  • While I may have a few extra miles on April, it was still a flop for hiking

  • It’s getting hot and the dog is even slower, so I will just have to increase everything by adding a second exercise to the day

  • I ate fast food WAY too often

  • I bored eat WAY too much


Full moon pontoon cruise!

Full moon pontoon cruise!

Mental Health

  • I probably had 91% good days in May

  • Overcame big obstacles in the “I can’t do that” mindset - and I fucking did the thing.

  • I’ve stepped back from phone use quite a bit and I’ve noticed a difference

  • I don’t believe there was a single day I didn’t want to get out of bed - probably because I didn’t sleep much anyway.

  • I’ve stopped the daily tracking of everything except my fitness and it’s helped greatly. My desire for statistics and order had been causing me anxiety. I have developed a better way for me to handle daily and weekly goals.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • When I stay busy, I don’t bored eat. Duh, right? Well, I guess I don’t stay busy enough so I plan to start attending local environmental meetings, exercising more, and kayaking as often as possible.

  • The majority of why I’m lazy AF is that I don’t want to drive through this metro area to do things. Once on the road, I’m fine, but it’s the getting through that internal battle that takes the most energy.

  • Summer is just the worst in Texas. Here’s to hoping my new State Park and NPS Quests keep pushing me to see new things and beat the heat.

  • I’m going to exercise more in June. No doubt about it.

  • I want to continue to get better, stronger, more experienced. It has always been my goal, and I know I’m better than I was a year ago or even more than that. I may not have lost the fat, but my legs are stronger than before and my endurance and will to keep trying are higher too.


Goals for June

Photo Credit: Adam Nutting

Photo Credit: Adam Nutting

  • Read/Listen to at least 2 books
    (A constant goal is 8, I’m always coming up short… so I’m making it more realistic. I think I had 1.5 in May?)

  • Working on eating better food, drinking less booze, and more water. (I really just need to eat less, and stop the eating out)

  • Take a weekend off of social media (I’ve been taking an hour a day of no phone, which is cool)

  • Add more jogging and more trails (like, actually hitting a trail on my way home from work or something)

  • Working on a 5+ mile daily average for activity (May was under 3, which is less than April which is annoying)

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind.
    (My state park quest and two weeks in Michigan should help)

  • Continued daily mindful breaks and reading The Awakening (also, maybe yoga?)

  • Read and write daily. (Focus on working shit out)

  • Dog walks daily, and a second walk just for me that includes jogging. (No more blaming the dog and his slow ass pace for my lack of running)

  • There’s no reason I can’t hit 100+ miles for June. (Daily walks and jogs + hikes = c’mon man)

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#MondayMotivation - A Healthier Mike: April 2019 Check-In

Northern lights in our skies
Plants that grow and open your mind
Things that swim with a neon glow
How we all got here, nobody knows
These are real things
These are real things
Oh, what a world, don’t wanna leave
All kinds of magic all around us, it’s hard to believe
— Kacey Musgraves "Oh, What A World"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 363,053

Average daily steps: 12,102

Highest daily steps: 22,851 (April 19)

Lowest daily steps: 7,302 (April 20)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 91.22

Total miles hiked: 10.75

Sleep stats: 6 days over 7hrs, 5 days between 6-7hrs, the rest closer to 4hrs

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 9 minutes


Trash Cleanup w/ my friend Jen from Illinois Park Project/Jennythetrailhead.com

The Good

  • Increased total mileage for walks/hikes/jogs from March

  • Daily step average is much higher

  • I exercised EVERY day this month

  • I closed the Apple Watch rings EVERY day this month

  • Hiking mileage is low, but overall mileage is up so I’m okay with this.

  • I managed to exceed April 2018 totals too


The Not-So-Good

  • I didn’t track food for most of the month

  • I likely gained weight

  • I did not sleep well or choose to sleep well at all

  • I haven’t hiked as much as I wanted to

  • I did not commit to jogging or running as much as I wanted to in April

  • Eating out is out of control - budget and body are not happy with my choices


In my happy place on a trail, by a waterfall, in the sunshine.

In my happy place on a trail, by a waterfall, in the sunshine.

Mental Health

  • Improved mental health overall - more happy days than not

  • Still quite insecure about everything

  • I want to take more time to relieve stress

  • I want to sleep more, which will help everything

  • The hikes I did this month, though not many, really helped me love life even more and restored my faith that there are wonderful people and places out there

  • I did not write as much as I could have, but it wasn’t because I avoided it or didn’t need it - I just got caught up in living life.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • Pizza just needs to be off limits because I have ZERO self control (this hasn’t changed since February)

  • When I’m feeling drained, I still went for a walk at the very least and it really helped.

  • I need to give up the convenience of eating out and make it convenient to eat at home.

  • I’m going to exercise even more in May.

  • I plan to eat frugally and more healthy in May.

  • Daily mindfulness is great for really centering my stress. The time I set aside for my book really helps me realize it could be worse and it could be better but it doesn’t matter. I need to be here, let shit go, focus on current shit, and be present in life.


April Wins & Goals for May

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip
  • Read/Listen to at least 8 books
    (Got 2 listened to, so still going to aim for this again in May)

  • Working on eating better food, drinking less booze, and more water.

  • Take a weekend off of social media
    (didn’t quite get this done, so I’ll aim for this in May)

  • Going to start running more often

  • I increased my days over 10,000 steps from 61% to 83% of the month and thus want to reach that 100% mark in May.

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind out in west Texas
    (Still working on this, need to hike more in May)

  • I want to incorporate longer daily walks and lunch walks.

  • I need to take a mindful break daily with my “Daily Awakening”

  • Read and write daily - more than April

  • Daily walks at least 7 days a week - even if it’s just a mile

  • Hit 100+ miles for hiking, walking, and jogging

  • Jog outside at least twice (obviously the more the better, but the treadmill is fine too)

  • Sign up for the LBA and train for it

  • Eat at home over 50% of the time

  • Start before work walks, jogs, or workouts.

#MondayMotivation - A Healthier Mike: March 2019 Check-In

It’s not enough just to live a life
Simple measures to survive
It’s like living should be easy right?
But there’s always something
Heavy on heart
Heavy on my mind
Falling on me all the time
There’s always something
— Said the Whale "Moonlight"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 340,702

Average daily steps: 10,990

Highest daily steps: 22,180 (March 23)

Lowest daily steps: 3,563 (March 18)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 80.83

Total miles hiked: 17.48

Days with over 7 hours of sleep: 9 days over 7, 7 days between 6-7

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 46 minutes


Standing up top the Lost Mine Trail
@ Big Bend National Park

The Good

  • Number of miles of hiking, walking, or running is way up from February

  • Daily step average is up from February

  • My commitment to daily activity is more of a second nature than before

  • Days of activity and days with closed Apple Watch rings are up from February

  • Hiking mileage is up from February as is my desire and willingness to hike

  • My average length of sleep per night is up a few minutes and my days over 7 hours is much higher than before


The Not-So-Good

  • I didn’t track food for most of the month

  • I likely gained weight

  • I ate my feelings and stress daily

  • I haven’t hiked as much as I should have

  • I had to stop couch 2 5k after week one because work had consumed me

  • My eating is out of control and I drank more often than I would have liked


IMG_3531.JPG

Mental Health

  • It’s been a long month filled with stress from a project at work. It’s over and so my stress should move back down to normal levels in regards to work.

  • I’ve been insecure about everything.

  • I found a book called “The Book of Awakening” and it’s sort of a daily dose of meditation and mindfulness that I’ve really enjoyed.

  • I’ve left the disappointment behind in regards to calories and food - I’ll get there, and I’ll keep trying so there is no need to get so upset over it.

  • Exercise is helping me clear my mind, find some calm, and take deep breaths.

  • I plan to read more actual books in April. I listened to a few in March, but want to actually read a few in April.

  • I’m journaling daily now, which is a big help also. It really helps to get shit out on a page.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • Pizza just needs to be off limits because I have ZERO self control (this hasn’t changed since February)

  • When I’m feeling drained, I don’t want to be good. I shall try harder.

  • I need to give up the convenience of eating out and make it convenient to eat at home.

  • I’m going to exercise even more in April.

  • I plan to eat frugally and more healthy in April.

  • Daily mindfulness is great for really centering my stress. The time I set aside for my book really helps me realize it could be worse and it could be better but it doesn’t matter. I need to be here, let shit go, focus on current shit, and be present in life.


March Wins & Goals for April

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip
  • Read/Listen to at least 8 books

  • I’m going to continue to try to drink less alcohol - to make it more of a special occasion instead.

  • Take a weekend off of social media

  • Going to restart Couch 2 5K on April 1

  • I increased my days over 10,000 steps from 57% to 61% of the month and thus want to reach that 75% mark in April.

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind out in west Texas

  • I want to incorporate longer daily walks and lunch walks.

  • I need to take a mindful break daily.

  • Read and write daily

  • Daily walks at least 6 times per week, regardless of Couch 2 5K workouts or hikes

A Healthier Mike - February 2019 Check-In

Don’t stop
When it all drops
Saying maybe something good is coming
Maybe something good is coming my way
— Dear Rouge "Little By Little"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 292,001

Average daily steps: 10,429

Highest daily steps: 19,013 (February 3)

Lowest daily steps: 4,050 (February 9)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 56.76

Total miles hiked: 14.82

Days with over 7 hours of sleep: 2, with 6 days at 6-7 hours

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 35 minutes


IMG_3348.JPG

The Good

  • Number of days with activity is up from January!

  • Daily step average is up from January.

  • My willingness to get out and do some activity is up from January

  • I closed the rings on my Apple Watch more days than January, with better days and higher goals.

  • More active days than January!

  • My jeans are too big now, which is both nice and really annoying

  • The dog is forcing me to walk on days I don’t want to because he basically expects his miles now


The Not-So-Good

  • My average sleep is down 11 minutes per night and that’s kind of depressing.

  • I broke even on weight, which isn’t bad or good, just a bummer. I know I did not try as hard as I could have to eat better, but I certainly walked more. Here’s to pushing it a bit further in March.

  • I have been so depressed this month and thus have been eating to comfort myself and that’s not always the most productive way to handle it. Exercise has helped and I plan to increase the frequency and difficulty.

  • I didn’t really take any “super” long hikes, and I’d like to do something a little more intense. Plans for March.

  • I lost a snowshoe in February, not really health related, but it needed to be said.


IMG_20190228_145208_2.jpg

Mental Health

  • It’s been kind of a shitty month.

  • I’ve been insecure about work because I’m learning how to do things, despite having wonderful coworkers who really do take the time to help and guide.

  • I’ve been grumpy because of the rain keeping me indoors.

  • I’ve been upset that I can’t stay on track with a moderate amount of calories.

  • Exercise is helping me clear my mind, find some calm, and take deep breaths.

  • I plan to read more in March, that should help too.

  • I’m journaling daily now, which is a big help also. It really helps to get shit out on a page.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • Pizza just needs to be off limits because I have ZERO self control

  • When I’m feeling drained, I don’t want to grocery shop or make dinner or clean up the kitchen afterwards. I need to work out a system for these days so I don’t fall so far off the wagon of trying to be healthy.

  • I honestly don’t recall the last time I went out of my way to order a pop.

  • Kombucha is still my favorite drink.

  • My body isn’t REALLY craving anything bad - I never desire candy or cookies. I want cheese and bread. All is good in moderation, but…ya know.

  • I think I’m truly lactose intolerant. I’m on a mission to avoid all dairy with the exception of hard/aged cheeses, Greek yogurt, butter, sour cream, and the occasional splash of heavy whipping cream. The real bummer is giving up ice cream, but it is for the best. (I know non-dairy ice cream exists, but what’s the point?)


February Wins & Goals for March

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip
  • Read/Listen to at least 8 books

  • I’m going to continue to try to drink less alcohol - to make it more of a special occasion instead.

  • Take a weekend off of social media

  • Going to restart Couch 2 5K on March 3

  • I increased my days over 10,000 steps from 41% to 57% of the month and thus want to reach that 75% mark in March.

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind out in west Texas

  • Found new routes in February and want to incorporate them more often in March.

  • Work on getting the household and friends on board with my life goals, so it’s easier to interact and live day to day together

  • Read and write daily

  • Daily walks at least 6 times per week, regardless of Couch 2 5K workouts or hikes

#MondayMotivation - Going Forward

I’ve been on a quest to improve my overall health.  I’m eating less crap, moving more, and exploring my thoughts more thoroughly.  It’s been a great move, as I am feeling better and more motivated than ever in all aspects of life.  I’m using my newfound motivation to strengthen my financial health now too. I have been terrible about money management and have tried and failed with budgets and living within my means.  I’ve overextended myself and that stresses me out, which leads to overeating and laziness. So, since I’m trying to be more active and trying to be better, I’m going to work on managing my money in better ways.  I’m going to start with a simple budget and move on to more complicated things like actual long-term saving, home ownership, and investing. Financial health will mean I’m going to have to get creative with my travel and really prioritize places and people for the year.

Disclaimer: 1) I prefer car travel any day of the week. Flying can be the worst if you’re not frequent enough to have all the perks, so let me just say that my Outback is my number one. I’m not here to shit on flying, because most of the time it is fine, but… the scenic route and stuff. 2) I love camping more than hotels, but again, when flying to a destination camping is sometimes out of the question with time and planning. 3) I already utilize my Texas State Parks pass monthly, but I want to explore those trails I’ve not hiked and parks that have been on my list for a while. I’m also going to use the hell out of my Annual Pass and visit those NPS sites in Texas this year that I’ve been casually learning about too.

What are some things you’re changing on the fly this year? What is motivating those changes?

#MondayMotivation - Authentic Outdoors

I’m motivated by people who love the outdoors and love to spread the joy and knowledge associated with the outdoors. People who share their stories in a real way and don’t just sugar coat everything are my favorite people. Life isn’t like an edited photo, it’s a little grainy and sometimes the colors are out of balance.

A week ago I met with my people on a Skype call for a mastermind group centralized around being real, outdoorsy people who want their social media presence to reflect real life. I’m so lucky to be a part of a group of like-minded folks who love the outdoors in their own ways but love themselves enough to realize that maybe we haven’t always told the whole story or even the real story because we’ve been conditioned to present life in a polished, tidy way. Prime example is the previous sentence - this is how I speak in real life and run-ons are my life. I could clean it up but I don’t care to as it doesn’t REALLY change make it any better overall.

Thanks to the people who run the blogs/websites listed below for motivating me and speaking so freely over Skype on a random Sunday in January. You have improved my life and I look forward to becoming regular chatters about all topics outdoors. I’m no digital media expert, nor would I consider myself an influential person, but I do appreciate anyone who reads/enjoys my content. I make it for me, in some narcissistic weird way, but hope it’s received and can offer some form of inspiration or entertainment for YOU.

Christina: http://www.christinaskis.com/

Jen: https://jennythetrailhead.com/

Kristi: https://indoorsycamper.com/

Sara Beth: https://innercompassblog.com/

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead and I hope you find motivation out there, if not from this. Hike your own hike and live your reality.

A Healthier Mike - January 2019 Check-In


Quick Stats

Total steps: 299,801

Average daily steps: 9,671

Highest daily steps: 23,594 (January 19)

Lowest daily steps: 4,187 (January 2)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 57.67

Total miles hiked: 25.53

Days with over 7 hours of sleep: 5, with 8 days above 6 hours

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 44 minutes


The Good

  • I lost 11.6 lbs this month - it’s not about the numbers, but it sure is encouraging since I’m doing this more as a lifestyle change than a diet or quick change

  • I tracked my food every day since setting out to do so, and it’s now second nature. Tracking my food keeps me in check when it comes to portions and balance.

  • I no longer grab candy or M&Ms at work. I’ve replaced my morning snack of Peanut M&Ms with an apple or a yogurt. I’m not eliminating candy completely, but I sure didn’t earn them by sitting around the office all day.

  • Overall, I’m not nearly as hungry as I thought I’d be by reigning in portion sizes.

  • I’ve been cooking more at home and almost always avoiding dining out. This is good for our budgets and even better for my health.

  • As a lifestyle change/adjustment it’s much easier to take this all in and adapt. Knowing I can have a beer or knowing I can eat poorly and not throw off a whole system makes it easier to stay on track and get back on track.

  • Increased daily exercise and hiked consistently throughout the month. There were some days I didn’t want to go for my evening walk or wake up and hike, but I did. I have to remember the benefits are worth the time.

  • My daily breakfast is oatmeal with a sliced banana and some sliced almonds for crunch. This breakfast is supreme and works to keep me full all morning.

  • When possible, I’m taking lunch or afternoon walks around my office building with plans to expand after the busy season to the nearby park.

  • I had 13 days over 10,000 steps and 19 days with closed rings on my Apple Watch


The Not-So-Good

  • I’ve had a few days that I’ll call binge-sessions. I went way over my daily caloric intake goals. These days were mostly caused by eating out, celebrations, or alcohol.

  • Some days, I can be lazy (depressed) and I’ve noticed those are also the days I eat too much. Those days are directly related to not sleeping enough, insecurities in my life, and general anxiety about everything.

  • I give in to peer pressure too easily and that leads to exceeding my goals. I didn’t need that Taco Bell after the four beers; I could have had 2 beers and no food and been FINE.

  • When I don’t plan ahead, I eat too much or am stuck making poor choices. Planning ahead is my best advantage in this whole shift.

  • I still have trouble saying no things I want, even when I don’t have room or deserve them that day. I don’t mean humanly deserve them, I mean in the realm of a balanced nutrition kind of way. If I’m already overeating, say goodbye to any chance at keeping it in check. I need to work on saying no and reserving the things I love for more of a reward scenario.


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Mental Health

  • Most days were good, but I’ve had several “cloudy days” that are usually the same days where I overeat thus directly relating my mental and physical health. Also, those days where I eat too much are also the days when I avoid any exercise.

  • I’m working very hard to avoid my 2018 scenario of falling victim to my “cloudy days” where I stayed in bed/indoors instead of getting out and getting exercise.

  • When I exercise, it’s almost an instant relief for my brain. I “talk” things out with myself, contemplate alternatives, or just completely turn off my completely.

  • I was on one of my evening walks and just kind of thinking to myself on how this walk really turned my day around and for that I am grateful. Evening walks are saving the day one mile at a time.

  • I listened to “Reasons to Stay Alive” on my flights back from Alaska early in January and it was beautiful and quick and just the inspiration I wanted. I’m reading through the book now, just to reabsorb it and would highly recommend it to anyone struggling with their thoughts.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • Beets really make your life colorful - poop, pee, hands, kitchen… but they’re so good.

  • A bottle of prosecco can fit into daily caloric goals, though is completely unnecessary.

  • Loving a vinegar dressing on a salad - shredded carrots, chopped greens, feta, ham, tomato

  • Kombucha may be my new favorite thing. It’s a great fizzy, fermented alternative to pop (soda, coke, whatever). It’s a low calorie game changer.

  • Sometimes, I can close my Apple Watch rings without doing too much out of the ordinary and that’s misleading and not great so I have to be conscious of what I need to make time for during the day/evening.

  • My coworker recommended reducing my caffeine intake and I think he’s onto something. I’m going to reduce my coffee intake to one large cup per day instead of a half of a pot.

  • This is a slow and steady thing. Little by little. Life is good, this is easy and it allows for growth along the way.

  • When you first begin something like this, with yet another fresh start, you don’t know exactly how much progress you’ve made but it always feels good to see activity increase throughout the month.

  • I don’t want to cut anything out of my life. I did the low carb thing for a while, it didn’t work that well once I hit a point where I was bored or thought I could “maintain” my weight. I want to eat whatever I want, but in moderation. This is my first real attempt at doing this, in my entire life, with the exception of doing Weight Watchers for a few months and giving up on it. I’m finding it easier and easier to balance the food I want and the food that is good for me, but I’m still struggling with saying no when my mind takes over.


Goals for February

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip

  • Sleep more - work on getting to bed before 10 pm which can be a challenge but is totally worth it when I wake up refreshed and ready for the next day

  • Drink less alcohol, though I didn’t drink too much. I found myself making the worst food decisions when I was drinking, so reducing or eliminating that situation is better for everything. Also, my sleep quality is poor post alcohol consumption so this plays into the first goal.

  • I will be at the cabin for a few days off the grid, so I’ll do my best but I will not be worried about it overall. We may drink a little more, but we don’t overeat plus there will be snowshoeing and the whole trekking a mile across the lake things to get to and from the cabin. I’m looking forward to the exercise but also the mental break from society.

  • More exercise - including restarting couch 2 5K from the beginning because I felt really good while doing that or maybe just using NIke Run Club on my phone/watch. Either way, more activity or longer dog walks at the very minimum.

  • I’d like to increase my days over 10,000 steps from about 41% to over 50%

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind out in west Texas

  • Longer neighborhood walks - will achieve this by incorporating another loop or park loop adjacent to the area I already walk.

  • Weekly meal prepping so I can have things prepped and ready to cut down on overall time consumed.

  • Read or listen to at least two books and finish the re-read through of “Reasons to Stay Alive”

#MondayMotivation - What's the big idea?

I was in the middle of a hike on Saturday when I started to feel the burn. This hike wasn’t particularly strenuous or anything, but there were some minor hills and it was a total of 10 miles. I was on mile 7 or 8 and I was thinking I need to get more hikes this long and intense in my life. I also thought I needed to include more strenuous hikes weekly and cardio into daily life. I thought I needed more healthy choices in my life and I thought I needed more random drives to random locations. In the peak of my hike, with light dancing off canyon walls around me, I had all the great ideas.

Today, while I made smart food choices and bought plenty of produce for the week, I didn’t do much in terms of cardio or exercise in any way. All of the big ideas I had during my hike usually don’t translate to reality, but I am going to do a few things inspired by them. I’m going to restart the Couch 2 5K program and continue on my quest to reduce my calories and increase my nutritious items. I’m going to visit more locations that require leaving in the middle of the night and I’m going to see more sunrises.

Motivation comes in many forms, sometimes it lasts and sometimes it fades. I’m hoping to run with the momentum (pun intended) from my hike on Saturday and at least half-ass try to be better at things. I want my hiking pants to fit better and I want that hoodie to be a little loose. I want to to have boundless energy and I want my body to hurt less after 10 measly miles. I want to run that trail from Saturday and hike even further every weekend. Big ideas that translate to a bunch of small steps that hopefully lead to big results.

Do you ever have big ideas during a hike or adventure that you have to find ways to translate into real life ideas? Feel free to leave a comment!

#MondayMotivation - Learn Something New

This Monday, I encourage you to go learn about something you know little about. Knowledge can be powerful and is certainly helpful. If you’re into public lands, go learn about the Native People who were there first and their ongoing struggles to access the places of their heritage. If you’re into politics, go learn something about the opposing view to see where you can meet them if a compromise is necessary. Go learn the facts about energy, money, culture, whatever! I feel now, more than ever, we need to keep ourselves educated and fresh for the path forward. We don’t all have to agree, but we should want to understand. From understanding can come respect and love. We’re not all the same, but we are tied together because we live together. Here’s to learning more, understanding further, and working together to make life for one another better overall.

I don’t claim to be an expert on any topic I suggested, nor have I learned enough myself about everything I’m curious about in the world. I’m reading, listening, and asking questions to gain understanding. It is time consuming and you have to want to do the work to gain knowledge. Do a little at a time, take it piece by piece. Get yourself educated on a topic and see how you feel - empowered? helpful? Who knows. Good luck!

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#MondayMotivation - Take a Leap

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Always use your best judgment when taking a leap - both physical or metaphorical - because you can’t change your mind halfway through without consequences. I’m not the most private person, but there are certain aspects of my life I do not openly throw around because of past experiences, assumptions, or whatever. I work hard to maintain a professional style wherever I work, but as you start to bond with coworkers “life stuff” just becomes part of the standard conversation. This weekend I let my guard down a little and let them all in on part of my life I don’t volunteer to just everyone. I work with some good people, close to my age, who live in a modern world so I felt it wouldn’t be a total disaster. So far, so good. Maybe I’m the one who made a big deal out of something as simple as who I love, but when you have had to live in true fear you’re always a little cautious.

I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, good grief I’m still learning. I’m just saying, if you feel safe enough or well enough, taking leaps can lead to some good things on occasion. If you can, take a leap and see where it takes you.

#MondayMotivation - Try something new

Being an adult was not explained to me, and I’m sure it wasn’t explained to you. Choosing a job, or career path, was something that was sensationalized and it’s not nearly as glamorous as I thought it would be as a kid. There is a certain joy in finding something you love, though, and I think I’m getting closer to it as I make my way through life. Here’s to the changes, having the luxury to change, and having the support to change. I’ve never really left a decent job because I wanted to try something new, but when the opportunity presented itself I though I’d try. It may work out, it may not. I have good feelings about it all, really, but I’m no fortune teller. There’s always give and take when it comes to life, and I’ll be sacrificing some aspects for others, but I think it’ll be alright. I want to learn more and do more, so as I age I’m continuously employable. I didn’t always have the ability, skills, or luxury to change jobs to gain more experience. I’m grateful for the privilege. Not everything works out and not every bit of hard work is rewarded, but it’s the positive experiences that keep us all going forward. Happy Monday!

Who cares what might have been?

I try not to dwell on what might have been had I done something differently in my life. BUT, there is one decision I wonder about and it takes over my brain from time to time. If I had taken the city planning/code enforcement job with the City of Westworth Village (on the west side of Fort Worth) instead of the control room operator job at Quicksilver Resources, where would I be? Quicksilver paid better, a ton better, and it was an obvious choice from a financial standpoint. I was just starting to come out of my dark hole of financial depression - I had been paying my bills in full, and on time, for the first time in MONTHS. I was starting to know what it felt like to be an adult, despite having to borrow my aunt’s car to go to the job interview because mine didn’t have air conditioning. I felt Quicksilver was the responsible choice, and I don’t think I was wrong about that, in the end.

I accepted a job, in the oil & gas industry, and essentially felt I had backed myself into a corner career wise. There are a lot of energy jobs in Texas and nationwide, but I wasn’t learning skills that would make me valuable to many companies. I sat in a control room, a data center with 12 screens, and monitored natural gas production for three years. I finally found a way out and ended up in the environmental department to learn new skills. I started to learn about environmental remediation, permitting, and plenty of other marketable skills but was laid off within about 15 months because the company had failed and filed bankruptcy. I ended up back in a control center, for another failing company, as a contract employee on a non-permanent basis. I jumped at my current role, another environmental job, but have been there for two years and haven’t had many opportunities to learn new things or see any room for advancement. I don’t hate the work, but I don’t love it either. It’s pretty normal, from the sounds of it to feel that way about work. Who knows?

I wonder what I could be doing if I had accepted the planning job, for less money. Would I be happier, more fulfilled? Would I have a solid foundation for a career in city planning? Would I be struggling with my bills the same way I am now, or worse?

Things that wouldn’t have gone away: my habits. I have bad habits when it comes to spending and saving. I don’t think any amount of money, short of six figures, would solve that problem. I feel if I had taken the road through city planning, I’d be below my current and previous pay grades, which were higher, but maybe I’d feel more challenged and have more room for growth? I don’t know, like I said, I try not to waste too much time on the whole concept.

I do know one thing going forward, I’m not going to solely follow the money - unless it’s a LOT of money. I’d like to learn new skills, get into a career that offers room to grow and challenges me along the way. I’d love to work with a city, county, or state government. Only time will tell what happens with my current job, but I know if I don’t make the positive changes it’s going to continue to just be okay enough to stay.

Instead of going over the scenarios and wondering how my life could have been different, I will focus on the HERE AND NOW. I will try to find ways to improve my current life, career path, and mindset. Instead of wasting brain power on the “what if” thoughts, I’m going to harness it into “if this, than that.” I’m not always successful at getting out of my own head, especially when I’m having a bad day, but I have worked hard to be mindful about this topic and I plan to work hard to carve the path I want instead of what I “backed myself into” or “what the industry says I should do.”

#MondayMotivation - Personal, but maybe relatable?

This is from my road trip to Texas, in 2011 when everything changed for me.

This is from my road trip to Texas, in 2011 when everything changed for me.

**This topic is personal, revealing, and leaves me a little vulnerable. I beat myself up a lot about money, debt, and piss poor life planning but I'm excited and motivated about it all now.**

My first vehicle purchase, at an interest rate I'm not comfortable discussing. After moving and getting a new job, this was the next big credit builder for me. I loved this little car, and in hindsight, I love it even more now.

Having an end goal, a payoff date, or just a solid plan to get to the end of a financial path is exciting. I've spent years paying on my student loans and I finally have an end date in sight. It's not near, and it's still not the most ideal, but it's a finite date in which they will be paid off and in my past. By the time I'm 50, in 16 years, I'll be free of student loans. By the time I'm 40, I'll be free of personal and auto debts. The thought of these end dates really motivates me and excites me in terms of the new possibilities. In the next ten years, I may be able to buy a house, move to another state, or buy a small camper. Who knows?

I'm making a point to focus on the positive aspect of this, but don't be silly and think I'm immune to the negative thoughts. I still have hard days when I think it'll never go away, when I think I'll never be done. Some days feel like I'm in a hole and I just wish someone would bury me - that's dark, but it's real. I'm choosing to focus on the fact that, thanks to refinancing, I have an end date for my student debt. Thanks to refinancing, I have an end date to my personal debt. Thanks to improving my credit, I have a very low interest rate on a car that hopefully lasts me until my student loans are paid off. The hardest part in all of this is knowing I did this to myself. I made all of the choices to buy the crap or go to school. Some things in life are unavoidable, but that is not that majority of my problems. Coming to terms with habits and setting goals really helps me stay out of the negative mindset regarding finances.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015: I was laid off from a job at a company I thought I'd be at for a while. I didn't love the job anymore, but I certainly didn't hate it enough to just leave without other options. Sigh. This was a whirlwind of a time. I had to cash in my 401K from the past 5 years and still barely made it through the 3-4 months without an income. This experience forever changed me. I didn't have an "emergency" fund nor did I have other sources of income, and I still don't have either of those yet but it's a goal.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015: I was laid off from a job at a company I thought I'd be at for a while. I didn't love the job anymore, but I certainly didn't hate it enough to just leave without other options. Sigh. This was a whirlwind of a time. I had to cash in my 401K from the past 5 years and still barely made it through the 3-4 months without an income. This experience forever changed me. I didn't have an "emergency" fund nor did I have other sources of income, and I still don't have either of those yet but it's a goal.

I honestly don't care if I ever own a home, and who knows if I'll ever be able to do so, but I have days when I really want one. I know the value and I know the benefits, but it's not something I must do to feel fulfilled in life. I will aim for that goal, and at the very least, have some money saved for some purpose or another. Speaking of saving, I'm working on a few things related to that which also motivate me. I'm saving for a kayak and a bike in 2019. This is also the first time, in a long time, I have money in my savings account. Again, it isn't much, but it's a start and it's automatic so I don't even have to think about it or pretend not to spend it.

I still have months when I eat out too much, weeks I use too much gas, and days I buy stupid shit online just because. There will always be a desire for travel and adventure, and that doesn't come without cost. There's the whole deal with most of my family living 1300 miles away that also requires funding as well as friends getting married across the country. There will always be a bill or surprise expense I'm not excited about but I'm getting better about managing my financial anxiety. Learning to be content with the things I have and taking small steps to spend more consciously really helps. I read a book by Cait Flanders called "The Year of Less" and it it helped spark some introspection about what we need and what we have and how they relate. I'd highly recommend it for anyone looking for a little inspiration into finance, consumerism, or simplifying their life. This is not a sponsored post, at all, I just loved the book and her general message as a human in this world.

I had interviews, in 2015/2016, but had no luck until someone I knew knew someone else who had a temp/contract job for me. It was a step back, way less money, but I jumped at the chance. I was also eating my feeling hardcore at the end of 2015/beginning of 2016.

I had interviews, in 2015/2016, but had no luck until someone I knew knew someone else who had a temp/contract job for me. It was a step back, way less money, but I jumped at the chance. I was also eating my feeling hardcore at the end of 2015/beginning of 2016.

I'm hoping you can find motivation from my words. I'm not here to brag or ask for pity, I'm just here to share my story and hope that other people feel more comfortable in their situations because it is a real story. I have been following a lot of podcasts and blogs about finance, but most of them just made me even more depressed about my situation. Know that there are people out there who feel completely screwed and that life is an endless pit of hell, but there is hope if you just start crawling out. It's taken me over seven years to get my credit score up and it's only been in the past couple of months that I've felt like I can pop out of the water for air long enough to stay alive. For someone who struggles with finances, and has struggled for the past 15 years, it's been a process and I'm still learning. Be positive, be realistic, and be ready to make changes. May you find motivation this Monday. There is no set path that is suitable for everyone. You and I may have different timelines in life, and that is quite alright. It took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact that my 30 wasn't the same as someone else's 30. It's the best realization because it is true freedom.

Contact me if you'd like to continue this chat and or swap stories and stuff.

Time Can Stand Still

I moved away so quickly in 2011, I don't think it hit until 2015. Seriously, I was away and working and trying to build a life and all of the sudden I just missed Michigan so much. It's now an overwhelming feeling I deal with on a daily basis. Being there for a few days recently was really nice, but really had me emotional on my four hour drive back to the Detroit Airport.

I'm not in a place, financially or career wise, to relocate, but something is really making feel that I will be or that I need to get back. Maybe it's the recent death of my grandfather, maybe it's my aging grandmother, maybe it's the rest of the family, or maybe it's the scenery? I don't know. I do know that I miss it more and more as I get older and even more as I visit so infrequently.

During my most recent trip, my grandmother and I took a little walk as we did many times for years before. In those moments, the brief 15 minutes, time stood still. I felt like a kid again, I felt as though I had never left the state, and I felt at peace. Reality came back, and I realized I was leaving the next day and had to say goodbye to her and everyone else.

I don't know when I'll get to go back in a more permanent capacity, but I do know I'm looking forward to another visit around Thanksgiving, even if it's only a day or two. I can't wait to drive up there and see everyone again. The trips and interactions don't always go as planned, but they usually contain more positive than negative energy.

I made the most of my three full days there including checking out our local apple orchard for hard cider and donuts, spending time with the family, and enjoying the little moments surrounded by nature.

#MondayMotivation - Looking Forward (to it)

I've talked before about how having something to look forward to really helps motivate me to push through and this week is no different.  As I sit here, I have less than 5 days until I board a plane and meet my BFF in Salt Lake City for a weekend of adventure.  Last year, when I was going to book a trip alone, I invited her and since we had such a good time we decided to make it an annual thing.  I have been looking forward to this trip for weeks, if not months, and now that it's finally here I'm so excited and in such an extra good mood as a result.

In a little less than three weeks I'll be boarding a plane to Michigan for an extended Labor Day weekend.  I get to hike, see my family, and hopefully take a quick dip in the lake.  All of these things to look forward to are privileges and I'm aware of how lucky I am to have them.  I don't always have the time or money to adventure so here are the main things I look forward to that keep me going:

  • A day off from work
  • That moment you get home from work and walk through the door unloading your crap, taking your shoes off, and then changing into comfy clothes
  • Dinner (especially if my other half makes it)
  • A funny TV show or anything on Food Network as a mindless escape
  • A walk to the mailbox with the dog
  • Maybe, maybe, exercising... this may be a stretch, or maybe I'm glad when it's over?
  • A hike at a local trail
  • A scheduled friend phone call
  • Rocking out to my jams in the car
  • Listening to NPR in the morning
  • Smelling the coffee brewing as I am getting out of bed
  • Meatloaf the cat bugging me for food in the morning
  • Reading through articles about nature and outdoorsy stuff

Find the little things that keep you going.  Find happiness in the simple things.  Find happiness in complex things... just find something that makes you happy and add it to your day as something to look forward to.  Recently, I started a free online course to improve my skills and now I look forward to learning again.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

Life isn't always fun, fair, or balanced but if we try we can find things to look forward to and enjoy along the way.

#WayBackWednesday - An August Weekend

At the cottage with my grandparents was one of my favorite places to be.  We always went on boat rides in the evenings, during cocktail hour before dinner, and spent the days prior soaking up the sun or swimming after yard work.  I miss being so close to the cottage, I miss Phil, I miss their old dog Abbey.  Things have changed so much, but I will never forget the good times that are frozen in time with these photos from August of 2009.  Forever my favorite place, with some of my favorite people.

The back of our family's cottage - my grandparents lived out here from late spring til fall.

View of the cottage from the front, out on the water.

Coreopsis - my grandmother's favorite

Clematis crawling all over the garage

My "step" grandfather (he was part of my life 1991 til his death this year) and my grandmother, on our evening cocktail pontoon cruise

Abbey the dog, in some of her best years.  This dog was just the best - lovable, fun, friendly, and always up for a boat ride.

Crescent Island - out in front of our cottage.

Nothing caps off a day on the lake quite like a sunset over the bay.

#MondayMotivation - Slacker Edition

Self-inflicted bullshit is the easiest to create and hardest to destroy.

I've been slacking.  I've been kind of out of control with certain aspects in my life and it's taking a toll on me.  Yesterday, I started to clean and organize the apartment and that brought some clarity to my brain.  It's time to take control and stop living in a free fall.  I need routines and structures and it will take a little while to build them up, but I'm working towards it as an overall goal.

Back to my hiking routines, cleaning routines, morning routines, and cooking routines.  I've been avoiding cooking, leaving laundry all over, not cleaning up after the cooking I do, and generally being a slob-lazy-bum.  It's easy for me to blame this on whatever, but really it's only I who can snap the hell out of it a get into a better head space.  I'm working to find the positives, find the organization, and crawl back up to a normal existence.

It's been a weird few months with the death of my grandfather, the onset of hot weather, the general boredom of local trails, too much alcohol, too much fast food, and the general dislike I've been feeling towards my body.  I'm certainly past due to get my shit together and get to hiking regularly, living within my means, smiling more often, eating food for fuel, and sleeping well again.

#MondayMotivation - Just keep going!

Personal goals are a way for me to focus my direction in life and fun way for me to keep track of activities, health stats, and personal achievements.  I used to set unattainable goals that weren't smart or helpful.  Now, I set goals in a much more logical sense that are both attainable and challenging while remaining flexible.

Current Goals:

  • Prepare to backpack this fall - drop some weight, increase cardio, etc.
  • Plan for an affordable trip w/ my BFF - sometime at the end of summer or fall that fits in to our busy schedules and doesn't cost a fortune
  • Hike 400 miles this year - which would almost double what I did in 2017 (hike your own hike, people)
  • Get back to the Olympic Peninsula this fall/winter, if an affordable option can be found for a long weekend
  • Lose 34 lbs by my 34th birthday, which is just over 6 months (a work in progress)
  • Fit into the puffy vest I bought that's a little too tight, by winter
  • Drink enough water to feel hydrated, daily
  • Stop using online shopping and eating as therapy for stressful days

Not everything goes as planned, but as long as I have the goals I have a path to get back to if I stray too far one way or another.  One day I may eat too much or not drink enough water, but I can correct that action and try again.  It may rain and prevent a hike or outdoor exercise, but I have other days or an indoor gym to use as a backup.  Travel may never be affordable enough in the time constraints of life, but we can always find something less exciting to work for our trip if necessary to hang out for a weekend.  I can always keep going and so can you.

My words of wisdom:  work towards your goals, set them accordingly, and don't beat yourself up if you have to change the plan to get to them.  Setting smaller goals, or levels of achievement towards a final goal, can really help break it down and make it seem less daunting overall.  Be realistic, yet push yourself to a new level.  (I'll be taking my own advice here, by the way)

If you've read this, I hope you have a great week ahead, thanks for stopping by! - Mike

#MondayMotivation - Driving helps me organize my thoughts

I'm looking back at the past 18 months or so and I can hardly believe that I accomplished something as simple and motivated as hiking every week for a year.  I finally got out to hike yesterday after being sick to my stomach the previous Sunday and it was as Invigorating as I had hoped it would be.  I went somewhere new, saw new landscapes, and felt the sun beat down on me once again.  I hiked five miles, not the furthest by far, but far enough to find joy again.  I drove three hours to hike and wander for just about the same, but it was worth every minute.  Driving used to be my thing - set some music, open the moonroof, hit the road, process everything in the world, and return in a better place.  The recent drive to the wildlife refuge in Oklahoma brought me close to that old feeling of driving therapy and made the hike even better.  My brain was relaxed, my mind was flowing, and my body was ready for the day.  I look forward to more long drives to hiking destinations to give me a moment with the open road, my thoughts, and nothing else.

I had some thoughts while driving home, this is a snippet of me just getting the words out so I can reflect.  I'm truly grateful to have the ability to live this life and I look forward to building on the experiences of the past year and a half.  I hope you all can find some inspiration out there and keep pushing forward.