Thursday, February 28, 2013

Add Bundler to Gem

If you have a gem that you're working on, and it isn't using bundler for dependency management, it's easy to add.  I wanted to run the rspec specs without pain; so, I created a Gemfile like this:

source ""

This will just use your gemspec's dependencies.  Run bundle and you're ready to go.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Healthy Eating Week 3

The great thing about the way this Sea Change thing is setup is that it's noncommittal.  Every week, you try something.  If it works, keep it.  If it doesn't, move on.  I gave Eating Breakfast Mindfully a shot, but it's not for me.  I mostly felt like I was wasting time and not enjoying my little bit of morning time with Angela.

This week I'm going to start eating sweet potatoes.  This should be an easy one.  I don't particularly like the taste, but I have a feeling it's because of unfamiliarity.  I'd like to replace my regular potato/starch cravings with sweet potato because it's paleo.

I've been solid on avocado and green tea.  I'll probably do that for the rest of my life.

I've been much better at selecting and completing my MIPTs.  I'm forcing myself to do them first before my work tasks.  I'm also picking easier/smaller ones to get quick wins.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Healthy Eating Week 2

This month's goal in the Zenhabits Sea Change Program saga is to form Healthy Eating habits.  The first week, I started eating avocado everyday.  I have continued doing this with great success.  This last week, I started drinking Green Tea.  This has also been very successful.

To make these changes, I didn't make myself stop doing anything that I normally do.  I only added.  In the case of avocado, this is easily accomplished by adding it to my regular lunch meat salad (I put a LOT of meat in my salad).  For Green Tea, I experimented with different times.  So far, a (mid-)morning cup works very well while I read or write something.  It gives me time to enjoy the heat and flavor as I sip it.

Ultimately, I would like to replace my other sources of caffeine (mainly Diet Mt Dew) with tea, and then reduce my overall caffeine consumption from there.  That is not the goal here.  My goal was only to get comfortable with drinking tea.  Which I have done.

Next week is a new habit.  Although I am supposed to be doing all of these new habits mindfully.  I am not very consistent on that and don't treat it as a priority.  To improve this, this week's habit will be to mindfully eat breakfast with Angela.  

Mindfulness is a consistent theme on Zenhabits.  It's also very related to my own tenant of Single Tasking.  Single Tasking for eating is a precondition for Eating Mindfully.  The first step is to not do other stuff: Facebook, TV, book, thinking about all the crap you have to do…  That's Single Tasking.  The second step is actively thinking about the eating by paying attention to the flavor, texture, temperature…  That's Mindfully Eating, and that's the goal for the next week.

Mindfulness is actually pretty difficult for the majority of people (including me).  It takes effort to bring your mind back to the present activity.  That's why I'm limiting it to breakfast.  I considered limiting it to 5 minutes at breakfast.  However, I don't want to watch some clock (thus taking my mind off of the task), and it shouldn't take much longer than 5 minutes to eat anyway.

I'm having Angela do this with me.  This could be a double-edged sword.  Having Angela work with me often helps me stick with something, but if she falls off it may bring me down too.

I'm continuing to set and track my Most Important Procrastination Task from January's Sea Change focus: Procrastination.  It hasn't gotten much better.  I need to force myself to do my MIPT first thing (like this post).  If I push it off until the night, I'll never do it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quantified Self 2013

I've decided that 2013 is my Quantified Self year.  If you don't know what Quantified Self is or can't get an idea from the name, I'll tell you what I think it is.  The QS movement is about collecting empirical data about yourself and ideally using that data to guide changes in your life.  A simple example of this is weighing yourself.  You can use that information to guide you towards eating more/less or any number of lifestyle adjustments.  This is not new, but many of the current metrics have only recently been easily captured.  I'll give a number of examples of other things that you can track when I describe my personal QS strategy.

Once I was hired at WellnessFX, I knew it was time to get serious about QS.  WellnessFX offers personal blood diagnostics which is commonly used by serious QSers.  I was already regularly tracking normal stuff like weight and body fat percentage.  I was intermittently tracking workouts, diets, sleep, caffeine… but never rigorous about it.

At some point, I came up with a pretty exhaustive list of possible things that you could track.  There were well over 100 different metrics.  I knew I'd have to prioritize which were most important, but even then, it's still overwhelming to start tracking 20 different things all at once.  Around the same time, I signed up for the Zenhabit's Sea Change program which you may have read about in my other posts.  You pick one habit change per month and try to accumulate them over the year.  12 habit changes in 1 year is way better than your 2-3 new years resolutions :)  I decided to apply the same thing to my QS metrics.  I would add 1-3 metrics per month.  By the end of the year, I would have some serious momentum and data.

I was technically starting this in February; so, I stashed everything that I was already tracking into my January metrics.  Here's what I had for January:
  • [Continuous/Passive] activity/sleep (Fitbit)
  • [Continuous/Passive] computer usage (RescueTime)
  • [Daily] weight/body fat % (bioelectric impedance scale)
  • [Daily] clothes I wear (just take a picture and auto-upload to google plus)
  • [Intermittent] Personal Records (PRs - workouts, lifts, etc in evernote)
  • [Intermittent] cough/sneeze (some iPhone app)
The Fitbit stuff is great (unless you lose it!), because you record all this data with little or no interaction.  Passive tracking is the ideal way to do QS whenever possible.  The only reason I manually record my weight/body fat % is because I already had a scale; otherwise I'd buy one of the cool wifi ones that sync your stuff automatically.  

I started tracking what I was wearing, because I was getting worried that I was wearing the same outfits during the week.  I don't wear that many different clothes.  I think this will also provide some interesting insight into how I look and colors that I prefer.  Correlating that info with others may show me info I never thought of.

I need to start tracking my PRs for workouts and lifts so that I can better gauge what I need for crossfit workouts and so I can see where I have deficiencies.

I seem to have had a persistent cough for a couple months (that I remember).  I started tracking when I cough or sneeze so that I know when it stops or if it never does.

This month (February), I'm adding a couple more:
  • Food/drink in my Fitbit
  • Supplements in WellnessFX iphone app
Tracking your food can be pretty cumbersome; so, I kept this month easier to get used to it.  I like tracking my food in Fitbit, because I get a real time calories in/calories out based on my real time activity tracking.  

I could use anything to track my three supplements (vitamin c, vitamin b, multivitamin), but I picked the WellnessFX app to test it out.  Additionally, my WellnessFX practitioner is the one recommended I take those supplements; so, this will make it easier for me to share my info with him on my next consult.

Going forward, I'll be adding 1-3 metrics per month based on how difficult I think it will be to adopt the tracking habit/routine.  Here is a subset of the metrics I plan to add:
  • All workouts
  • Alertness
  • Mood
  • Sex
  • Hearing
  • Vision
  • Memory
  • Illness
  • Caffeine
  • Water
  • Sun exposure
  • Work/relax/lazy/intimate time
  • Temperature
  • Reading (time/content)
  • Social interaction (on/offline)
  • Skin
  • Mobility

Friday, February 8, 2013

Healthy Eating Week 1

My task for the previous week was to make a small, mindful healthy eating change.  I chose to eat avocado once a day.  This worked out really well.  I ate avocado 6 of 7 days.  This was made easier because I started eating multiple meals again, and the lunch salad was begging for some avocado.  I was a little lax on being mindful while eating it, but I'm really starting to get used to the flavor and texture.  It should be easy to keep this food in my diet forever.

On the procrastination front, I have been just as 50% successful as I was before.  I'm starting to note what works and what doesn't, but that doesn't necessarily fix the problem.  Baby steps.

I recently had a WellnessFX consult (I'll try to write about it at some point) where one of the suggestions was to swap out my daily 20oz Diet Mt. Dew with 3-4 cups of Green Tea.  Other than substituting my caffeine intake, I'd be substituting whatever poison they put in diet sodas with the hippy health benefits of Green Tea.  For the purposes of small changes during this Sea Change month of Healthy Eating, I'm only committing to drinking one cup of Green Tea every day.  I'm not going to cut out the DMD.  I just want to get used to the process, taste, texture, etc.  We'll see where it gets me.  I will continue to eat avocado every day as well.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Procrastination Week 4

This was pretty much a failure for the procrastination stuff.  I think I only did 2-3 MIPTs.  Of course, I didn't do any of the stuff over my trip (26-31).

I learned a bit about how I procrastinate and some of the causes.  Most of the stuff that gets in my way is related to worrying that others will think I suck.  Instead of doing something and risk being ridiculed, I put it off.  

One of the common procrastination mechanisms I use is planning/tracking.  I use my mini-OCD in task management to trick myself into reprioritizing the thing I don't want to do lower and lower.  Or I will overindulge in note taking or number tracking instead of just doing the thing I should be doing.

Although I certainly don't think that I've solved my procrastination issues, I am more aware of my actions.  I plan to continue to set a MIPT and track the good and bad associated with completing it.

Healthy Eating

February's focus is on healthy eating. The plan is to pick some aspect of healthy eating to work on each week, and focus on it each day.  The main approach is replacing a bad food/habit with a healthy alternative, like replacing chips with carrots and peanut butter.  In the first week, they suggest picking the easiest change possible to get used the process.

My healthy eating issues don't occur daily.  They occur weekly.  I usually eat perfectly (from my perspective) during the week, but I eat poorly on the weekend.  However, instead of focusing on the larger problems, I'm just going to try to expand my food choices.  

This week, I will eat avocado every day.  This isn't going to replace anything, and I already like avocado.  That's what makes it easy.  Other food additions will include mostly vegetables, perhaps cooked in different ways.

Another aspect of the plan is mindfully eating the alternate/new food.  I will pay particular attention to this.  In general, I want to be more mindful, and this will be an excellent 5-10 minutes per day to get going.