Un-Resolved

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It is what, January 3? And already I have blown up both this year’s and last year’s New Year’s resolutions.

But before I get to that sad state of affairs, why not engage in some self congratulatory reflection?

As you may recall, my resolution last year was to try the “vegan before six” diet. The thinking was that such an approach would allow me to shift the majority of my diet to a healthy whole foods, fruits and vegetables centered approach, without giving up my foodie ways completely.

Oh and I also wanted to lose some weight and keep it off.

And all in all, the experiment was a success.

I slowly lost about 12 pounds in the first six months, and have kept them off since then.

More importantly I found out this way of eating was a perfect match for my own lifestyle and values, and VB6 was transformed from a resolution or “diet” into a legitimate lifestyle change.

Before 6 o’clock at night, meats, cheeses, breads, chips and crackers, pastries and sweets, gave way to beans and whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Food comas became a thing of the past after breakfasts and lunches, though I could still enjoy my not so occasional post dinner naps.

At this point my plan is to continue to eat this way for the rest of my life.

And one of the things that I found most compelling about the process of VB6 was how very slow the change was. My fat did not melt off. It just kind of slowly shrank imperceptibly over time. It was not so different from the phenomenon of compounding interest. Though compounding’s power is difficult to see on a day-to-day basis, over the course of years and decades its power is truly transformative.

Which brings me to this years resolution. I wanted to tap into the power of “slow change” again.

I wanted to pursue something each and every day to see if I could change myself for the better in a different (i.e. non-dietary) arena.

I first got the idea after reading  this book last year by Haruki Murakami.

haruki-murakami-jpeg

Although I have never enjoyed running, there was something universal and inspiring in Murakami’s description of his own pursuit of distance running. Something about the dogged day to day persistence of his training and how it related to his other persistent rituals as a writer. Putting in the miles was analogous to the importance of sitting down each and every day to write something, whether he felt like it or not, and how these little efforts multiplied over time to become something meaningful like a novel or a marathon.

So I decided to give it a shot. And my goal was this: slow change.

What I wanted to do was run every day for a year. I would start off slow, running only eight minutes every day. But each week I would add one minute to my daily running time, so that by the end of the year I was running one hour every day.

I wanted to run every day because I find it is easier to do something every day, than to choose to do it sporadically.

And I had no idea if such an approach would work.

But it was worth a shot. Which is why I went out and bought a pair of New Balance running shoes last week. And why I planned to run my first eight minutes on January 1.

But it’s three days into the new year I have failed to run a single minute.

The plan was to drive up to Mount Bachelor on December 31 and enjoy a four-day skiing vacation with the family. I would do my running in the morning after waking up and then enjoy the rest of the day skiing and hanging out with my family.

Unfortunately on December 30, my wife came down with a flu like illness, and by new years eve 3/5 of my family, Including yours truly, was down for the count.

So instead of running and skiing, I spent my time in bed spiking fevers, coughing, taking baths, and blowing my nose.

And instead of continuing on with VB6, I found myself eating saltines and drinking Gatorade.

But what are you going to do? Life happens.

And today I found myself well enough to get back to my new hobby of making and carving clear ice rocks for cocktails. (Though certainly not well enough to drink a cocktail.)

IMG_5237

(What I talk about when I talk about ice cubes,)

So who knows, maybe tomorrow will be the first day I’m well enough to run.

Hope springs eternal.

Happy New Year!

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14 Responses to “Un-Resolved”

  1. Robert January 4, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    Sorry to hear about your bout with the flu. On the bright side, such things are sometimes the body’s way of forcing one to take a much-needed break. Another opportunity for reflection, reassessment, and resetting direction. So your timing at the start of the year was impeccable! 😉
    I’m a cyclist, not a runner (torn right meniscus from the last time **I** skied ended my running career, which was virtually non-existent anyway). But even I was wishing I could hit the trail after reading the book, ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall. Highly, highly recommended!

    • Miles Dividend M.D. January 4, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

      Robert,

      I agree. The flu ends up being a form of fad diet/juice cleanse with myalgias. No coffee, alcohol, solid food (aside from saltines,) lots of sleep.

      I’ve heard born to run is great. It’s on my list.

      AZ

  2. mohammad January 4, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    I’ll say bravo for even making a plan. Many don’t even bother to commit to something. The way I see it is you are still on the plan to run an hour by the end of the year. So maybe in a few days when you feel up for it you’ll do your 8 minutes and perhaps you will advance so fast that you can get to that hour still before the end of the year. Best wishes from me!

    • Miles Dividend M.D. January 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      Thanks Mo.

      It will be an interesting experiment if nothing else!

      Best wishes to you as well.

      AZ

  3. Robert K January 4, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    Hi, MD,
    I laud your enthusiasm for running, but I fear that your ambitious plan has set you up for likely failure. I have been running for 27 years, since my third year of med school, recreationally, road and trail, and competitively, all distances up to 26.2.

    Running daily is a sure-fire recipe for both injury and burnout, not to mention time constraints that knock you off course, and it is really not a great way to get in shape, assuming that is your goal. Additionally, from zero to one hour per day, daily, is like me saying I am going to start going to the batting cages this spring and expect to play in the MLB all star game next year (not quite, but you get the point).

    If I were coaching you, I would recommend four days per week of running, with the goal of having three thirty minute runs and one one hour run per week, by the end of the year. Maybe even aim to run a 10k.

    Add to that start by doing two days of the “seven minute workout” (google for NYT article or email me if you cannot find it) on non-running days and progress accordingly. Take one day off every week. You will achieve your fitness goals and feel better.

    Cheers and good luck,

    Robert

    • Miles Dividend M.D. January 4, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

      Thanks Robert,

      I am sure your concerns are right on the mark as my plan is really based on zero research, only the naive thought that I would like to see what it is like to run every day.

      It’s an experiment that I am committed to even if it is doomed to failure. I am confident that I can learn from failure too.

      I already do the 7 minute workout every other day (when not infirmed), alternating with core strengthening exercises, and love it.

      As a runner, I imagine you would love Murakami’s book on running as he is a wonderful author. Highly recommended.

      Alexi

  4. Jordan January 4, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Funny, I too have been thinking about the similarity of exercise and investing. I’ve been working at the opposite goal, to put on weight, for most of my adult life. The same behavioural discipline is certainly required, and much in the way that money makes money, I believe muscle helps build muscle – I haven’t dug into the research if this claim is true, though it’s not such a leap of faith that building stabilizing muscles helps with the overall goal of moving progressively more load. I think the same is true with a goal such as running – the foundation is built in a physical and mental sense, making it easier to run in the long term.

    My own problem is that it’s relatively easy to hit the buy button and hold stocks/ETFs, but it’s harder to eat and work every day. It’s getting easier though. 10lbs last year, hoping for 1lb a month for the next 12.

    I enjoy your blog MD, thanks for sharing. Get better and be good to yourself! You deserve it, you’re one of the good ones.

    J

    • Miles Dividend M.D. January 4, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

      Jordan,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      That is an interesting problem for you to work on. In Anti-fragile Nassim Taleb advocates for low rep high weight dead lifts as the method to add muscle quickly. I’m not sure I buy it, but it is food for thought (muscle weight.)

      Incidentally, the more I think about Taleb, (who I wrote about here) the more he seems to me to be a thinker with exactly one great insight (the relationship between antifragility and randomness) but a lot of extrapolated intuitions that don’t hold water.

      In any case I only wish I had to remind myself to eat, (or maybe I dont I sort of live to eat.) Sadly we can not choose our own metabolisms.

      Thanks again,

      AZ

  5. Alistai January 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Great post again. Running is a positive feedback loop (barring injury of course). The more you run, the easier and more pleasurable it becomes. Finding a good path is key for me. The Murakami book is on my New Years resolution list per your recommendation. I may have to employ a similar strategy for reading – I suppose plus one page a week is realistic.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. January 4, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

      Alistair,

      Maybe books on tape while running?

      AZ

  6. ZMonet January 6, 2015 at 6:10 am #

    I admire your ambition. Check out this article that is on point: http://www.wsj.com/articles/these-streakers-resolve-to-run-every-day-of-the-year-1419986806

    • Robert January 6, 2015 at 6:20 am #

      40 years–that’s impressive! And I thought streaking was something one did in one’s birthday suit.

      • Miles Dividend M.D. January 13, 2015 at 9:54 am #

        Too cold for that sort of thing in my neck of the woods!

    • Miles Dividend M.D. January 13, 2015 at 9:53 am #

      Zmoney

      Great article.

      I made it through my first week!

      AZ

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