Working Toward Winter Happiness: Week Four

I’ve been taking my friends’ advice about how to enjoy winter for four weeks now, setting goals and tracking my performance against them along with my overall mood. Let’s see how I did this week:

Objectives One and Two – Get outdoors and Dress Warmly:

This week I made it out six of seven days and every day I made it out I was warm enough. This is even as temperatures are dropping. We reached 3°C Friday morning and I was fine. True to autumn form it was in the mid teens in the afternoon making my morning clothes a bit uncomfortably warm in the afternoon. Better to err on the side of warmth, though, for sure.

Score: Objective 1: 6/7 days = 86%, Objective 2: 100%

Objective Three: Running:

I’ve renamed this one to show a bit more commitment to it. It’s no longer “Resume running” – Resume, nothing. It’s happening, folks!

Or rather, it’s mostly happening. Due to some personal challenges this week (nothing terrible but lots of extra irritating tasks) my task list at home is a bit longer. It should be better this week.

The runs I did do were really great. Still good speed but a bit harder, likely in part due to my donating blood last Saturday. Apparently this can impact performance by 10% and that feels about right. But still the runs themselves were lovely.

After my last run of the third week of the training program I decided I need to do that week over again. My plan is to run each week until it feels comfortable then go to the next week. So it’ll be Week Three all over again for my running.

Objective 3: 2/3 days running = 67% 

Objective 4: Cycling:

This was not a good week for cycling. The same challenges that messed up my running affected my cycling. I did ride once, though. On Monday I did a Time Trial race – a short fast ride: 10 kilometres in a little over 20 minutes. At such a short distance you have to really push yourself, and push myself I did. Interestingly, I was actually able to measure my power output this time versus my previous Zwift race and indeed, it was a 10% reduction. As I’ve read, too, your time to exhaustion also drops a bit and that was true. I came out of the gate really strong, fast and confident but by the end my heart rate was near max and I had nothing left in the tank when I crossed the finish line. Still, I was happy to come in 5th out of 7 in my class. In my more recent races I have been coming in last a lot. I even got a personal record for one stretch, doing the 2.6 km stretch almost 20 seconds faster than I ever did it.

Objective 4: 1/2 days cycling = 50%

Objective 5: Get a good sleep:

With the stress of this week’s challenges, sleep wasn’t great. Add to that the fact that my current contract is nearing completion and I’m having to think about what comes next, I had a bit of extra stress. Three nights this week I woke up wide awake at 2AM, 1-2 days I woke up then but struggled through a fitful sleep and didn’t wake up. This leaves 1-2 days of decent sleep.

My average night’s sleep has been 7 hours but a couple days were around 5 hours, and other days were recorded above 7 but I didn’t feel I really slept well during that.

But there’s another variable I left out that’s probably the most relevant. It’s called “Todd drinks at least four mugs of strong coffee every day lately. Sometimes he drinks them late in the afternoon.” The result is that while I might get to sleep at 10, I’m ready to go again at 2. Yesterday I struggled but was able to get by on only three cups. And it made such a difference. I didn’t wake up at all. So I think my coffee limit is going down to three daily, perhaps less. I’m nursing a minor headache now but it’ll be worth it for a good night’s sleep.

Objective 5: 5/7 days with 6.5 hours or more sleep but I’m taking one of those days away because it wasn’t really restful so 4/7 – 57%

Objective 6: Eating Properly

I tracked my eating habits this week and did OK but did slip last night. On the way home from work I took a walk through a Korean neighbourhood in Toronto and bought a Korean hot dog. This one was like a corn dog but battered with flour and in my case also with small crispy chunks of potato (like little french fry cubes). The whole thing is deep fried, rolled in sugar and then topped with sauce – in my case sweet chilli sauce. I paid a financial penalty for this (another time I will explain my new somewhat financially-motivated habit management system but let’s just say that the penalties were almost twice the cost of the hot dog.) Penalty or none, it was totally worth it. Delicious!

Objective 6: 6/7 days eating properly via self assessment – 86%

So what is the score this week?

Objective One: 86% = 14.33 Points
Objective Two: 100% = 16.67 Points
Objective Three: 67% = 11.17 Points
Objective Four: 50% = 8.33 Points
Objective Five: 57% = 9.5 Points
Objective Six: 86% = 14.33 Points

Total: 74.33% – 6% lower than last week

But how’s my mood been? Whether it’s the drop in habit compliance, the shorter days, the additional stress, or the lack of sleep, I’m really feeling a drop in mood and my rating is 71.8% for the week though Wednesday was awful with a low of 5.5/10: the worst rating since I started recording this earlier in the year. On average it’s only a drop of 1.8% from last week but it’s interesting to note that Wednesday’s mood seems to have coloured my impression not only of the week but does give me a bit of a feeling of “Oh here comes winter!” But that just means I need to double down on these habits and aim for a perfect week. So what’s that going to look like?

Today will be a rest day – still dealing with errands and things. After that, though, I’ll start in earnest. Tomorrow I’ll go for an outdoor bike ride as the weather is looking great. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I’ll be running. If I don’t ride on Wednesday I’ll ride on Friday. Indoor or outdoor – doesn’t matter. And I’m really going to manage to get out every day this week. No excuses.

And I’m going to keep up with last week’s tasks as well:

I’ve been waking up early every day between 5 and 6 and not looking at screens until sunrise which these days is 7:30 here. So score for more off screen time and that’s been really enjoyable.

My mornings and post work time have been much more structured as well, making plans for what to do before getting sucked in to a time sink with my computer. We’ll see when the data is summarized tomorrow how it looks compared to the previous week.

So overall, though this week was a disappointing week that didn’t feel good, I still feel enjoying the season is a manageable thing as long as I approach it with intent and commitment, actively working toward happiness instead of living life passively and just waiting for happiness to happen.

3 thoughts on “Working Toward Winter Happiness: Week Four

    1. I did, actually. I just took some data I was already gathering and added it to habit tracking. Not scientific at all and I’m sure my friends who are statistics wizards working in medical research would shoot so many holes through it. For example, what distinguishes a 7.5/10 day from a 6 day? When should you make the assessment and how much does your state at that moment affect your score? If I were really devoted to it I’d probably grab an hourly number every waking hour and then average it. I’m not at that level of commitment yet, though.

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