2009: I Learned Some Things

Every year at this time people always want to rant and rave about how the past year was the best or worst of something. Every decade at this time people do the same thing for the preceding 10 years. I'm not going to do that.

See, 2009 was cool, but to say it was better than any other year is plain disingenuous to my past, you know? I mean, I met my wife in 1999. We got married four years ago. We bought a house before that. What would make this year any better than those things?

The truth of the matter is 2009 was good not because it was the best ever, but because I learned some things. Some of them helpful, some of them not so much - that's always how it goes. So here, in no particular order, some of the things I learned in 2009:

  1. That the reason I couldn't wear The North Face clothes had nothing to do with how they cut things, but more to do with the fact I was fat. It's funny what kinds doors open up when you drop 30 pounds. Apparently I can wear Calvin Klein jeans - who knew?
  2. Losing weight is not a quick thing. I probably knew this already on some level, but none of that diet shit works. You know what does work? Eating healthy, eating balanced, keeping the sugars and alcohol to minimal levels, and busting your ass working out 5-6 days a week. Perhaps some of you were hoping for some magic rules for my dropping that 30 pounds and about how I intend to drop the next 20, but that's it. Sorry.
  3. Actually, I do have some guidelines I follow, but that doesn't mean they will work for anyone else since everyone has a different body chemistry (hey, lesson one - find what works for you!). I eat minimal carbs after lunchtime. I don't eat at all after 9pm (harder than it sounds). I eat organic, whole foods whenever possible (not only are they healthier, but they simply taste better). I fully endorse dairy fats - higher percentage milks and yogurts are good to me, who knew? I drink alcohol only a couple times a week, if that. I eat dessert, I eat out - the key is moderation. I need to sleep more - when I get more than seven hours of sleep a night it shows on the scale (it just only happens on weekends). I like a big breakast, an average size lunch, and a dinner on the smaller side. I lift weights 3-4 times a week and do a 30 or more minutes of cardio 3-4 times a week (note - I should do longer cardio more often, and I know that).

    For me, those things work. It won't necessarily work for anyone else, but trying it out and figuring that out for yourself is part of the "fun." A lot of this is also recognizing where you are coming up short. If you realize what's wrong, it's easier to fix address.
  4. I learned I can read a book and watch a game on TV at the same time, and not miss much at all in either one. See, I told you not all of this was going to be useful.
  5. There are some fantastic food combinations I learned about this year. Olive oil on brownies; malt and salt added to hot chocolate; salt on your brownies, caramels, and chocolate chip cookies; orange or lemon essence (oil, peel) to any kind of fruit dish; pork belly in anything; blue cheese or gouda with sliced apples - I could probably go on forever. The point is I learned to try a lot of things in the past year I would have not been interested in or willing to try in the past. I've become a lot more open to new things in the past.
  6. All sorts of things happen when you lose weight. Apparently one of those things is sweating less - I like that. On the flip side, I have actually find I legitimately get cold faster - which makes sense when you think about it, but crazy to me nonetheless.
  7. I'm pretty good at this writing thing. Okay, I already knew that - or at least figured it, since I've been writing for a national audience for six years now and haven't been fired yet - but it's always nice when another medium seems to work out.
  8. Beer can be for sipping. I think I've slowly realized this over the past several years, but this year it hit home. I really think it all goes back to my first sip of that Deschutes Black Butte Porter XXI (yeah, I like the stuff if you haven't noticed). Up until then I really just regarded beer as, well, beer. It was something that gave you a buzz. After forking over the $12 for that bottle - which surprised myself as much as anyone I guess - I really stopped to sip and enjoy the flavors, to appreciate what comes from a good brewer.

    This is a decided contrast to how I felt about beer 10 years ago when I got out of college. Fill in the blanks for yourself.
  9. There is no reason to attempt to drive in the snow. Yes, this probably can't apply to everyone - lots of people have more important jobs than I do - but with the advent of being able to work from home via the internet there is really no reason for me to leave my house when the weather gets a little dicey (ice and snow).

    Some part of that is my own inexperience with winter driving, but I handle a car pretty well. I have no desire to buy chains or put studs on my car, because there would be zero reason for me to drive anywhere. I can walk to the store if I need something (the weather is rarely ever that bad) and we stay pretty stocked up.

    A lot of my aversion to winter driving is dealing with the other fools behind the wheel. Some people drive too fast, some too slow, but the reality is no matter what someone does they could simply lose traction and slide into my car anyway. Why bother with that hassle, when it just makes everyone angry? I don't need a bad day when I know I can avoid it - that would just make me more annoyed, knowing that if it happened.
  10. I can do it. Eight-mile hike? No problem. 1,000 foot elevation change? I can handle it. Tight deadline? No issues.

    I wouldn't say I've lacked self-confidence in the past, but I think this year I have come to the realization that there are few things I wouldn't be able to deal with. Juggling two jobs while still being a good husband for the past few years now, I have learned how my time needs to be structured and allocate to not only keep everyone happy, but to make sure everything gets done when it needs to get done. And yes, it does drive people crazy sometimes, and I recognize and apologize for that.
Hmmm...I would like to think I've learned more than 10 things in 2009 - and hopefully I have - but those lessons aren't coming to me right now. Perhaps that means they aren't really learned yet? Who knows.

I'll be tipping back a cold Blue Moon Brewing Grand Cru tonight to usher out 2009 in favor of 2010, which I hope will be just as good - but not better or worse - than 2009. Cheers!

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