The Phil Wells Dot Com

I Got A Big Mouth

Tag: Booze

Perseverance

Today I woke up 30 minutes early and did 38 pushups.  I had a bigass scoop of whey protein powder in 8 oz of milk.  And now I’m eating egg whites and grapes for breakfast.  With coffee, of course.

Setting myself on these nice lifestyle paths has never been the issue for me.  The real issue is sticking with it.  For some reason I have a stubborn resistance to setting bite-sized goals for myself.  I’m sort of an all-or-nothing personality type, with a side order of letting stuff slide.  And so here I am pledging to get back in shape without a clear plan or any tangible milestones set up.

So here are a few promises:

  1. I won’t turn this blog into a list of what I ate every day.  I hate reading those blogs, so I’m not going to produce another one.  I’m eating healthy, and you’re just going to have to remember that.
  2. I’ll write goals for weight loss, sobriety, and exercise on actual pieces of paper (index cards, actually) and put them in the same order rail where I keep my work to-do cards.  I’ve harnessed the power of my addictions to improve myself before so I might as well put my productivity jones to good use.
  3. I’ll be a comfortable size 32 by July 4.  Right now I’m somewhere between 33 and 34.
  4. I’ll stay out of bars.  This one is so tough it makes me shudder.  I just shuddered just now.  If you’d like to help me with this goal, please invite me into your home for cocktails.
  5. Apropos of nothing, I’m going to decrease my public output of written content.  Less tweets, less forum posts, no more Facebook notes, and less frequent more substantial blog posts.  I’ve sort of been throwing all my thoughts into the cyberether without any real filter and I have to learn to rein that in.  I don’t think I’ve hurt my personal brand too badly thus far, but it’s important to present myself in a way I can be proud of.  Starting a family and a new company and all that.

Right, I’ve written a list and Day 1 is so far, so good.  But I’ve been here before.  This is where it gets interesting.

Half a Fast

I’ve taken it upon myself to use Lent as an opportunity to stop drinking for a while.  I call this Fake Lent because I’m not really doing it to please the man upstairs; I’m doing it to save money and drop the 10 pounds I’ve gained since the end of my last dry spell.  It’s been working, too.  So far I’ve dropped about 5 pounds.  Of course, not drinking has been a key factor in this little victory, but another important step has been my decision to stop eating after 6 PM every day.

True, this has only been accomplished on weekdays.  I’m in the office until 6 on these days anyway, and that provides a clear, tangible deadline for me.  Once I leave work, I stop eating.  Done and done.  On weekends it gets a little less distinct and it’s hard for my food-brain to parse.  Still, in the words of the immortal Whitney Houston, it works for me.

I’ve realized that I stay up every night until midnight, and I don’t wake up until 7 or 7:30 on weekdays, so I’m effectively fasting for half my life.  Add to that the fact that when I do eat I try to keep it healthy (sugar is the enemy), and it’s no wonder I’m seeing results. 

Also, I’m doing this again:  http://hundredpushups.com/.

Snowflaking v Debt

I’m still at it with this tedious, relentless, regenerative debt.  I’m paying it off in pretty good time, and I still have a realistic goal of being free of high-interest (read: non-mortgage; more on that later) debt by the time I’m 30.

One of the weapons in my arsenal in the war against debt is this method known as snowflaking.  I’m hardly the first guy on the Internet to talk about this.  The idea is pretty simple: if you’ve got a little money sitting around (or can earn a little bit extra) and nothing that you really need to buy at the moment, use that tiny amount to attack your debt.  Do this often, like several times a week.  Little bits really do add up.

For this to work, online banking is your friend.  If you have a bank account without an online component, or you have online banking but rarely if ever use it, remedy this situation quickly.  I’ve got my accounts set up to send regular big payments to my credit providers, Verizon, and the old student loan (which is near death).  I’ve become so used to these payments that I don’t even notice the damage they do to my assets.  In the case of bills, it saves me some stress.  In the case of finite debt, it’s going to be like a pay raise once the balance is even and I can stop the payments.

Make your regular payments bigger than the minimum recommended by your credit card provider.  Those boys just want to keep you in debt with that petty nonsense.

With the scheduled payments all set up, snowflaking is just a matter of logging in to the account and sending a check.  Let’s try a for-instance.

Today I had brunch with some improv buddies.  Since I gave up drinking for Fake Lent I had zero beers at brunch instead of what would easily have been a two-beer affair.  That’s, what?  Ten dollars?  Okay then.

Ctrl-T, and a new tab is open in FireFox.

I’ve logged into my bank account.

I’ve opened the “Bill Pay” tab.  Time elapsed so far: 45 seconds.

Boom!  I’ve scheduled $10 to be sent to Visa.  All in all it took maybe a minute and a half (my computer is  basically run on steam and cogs at this point).

Wednesdays are usually my big drinking days so I send maybe $20 on a Wednesday night.  If I bring  lunch to work, I send the savings.  If I forego Starbucks and drink terrible, nasty office coffee, I send $2.  Really, I will send $2.

(Don’t worry, Curran, it’s a paperless transfer).

Aside from the benefit of, you know, paying my bills, I get a little dose of victory every time I pay it down just a little.  It keeps me sharp and looking for ways to be the total cheapass that I have become.  One day it will all be worth it, and until then it’s worth it a little bit each and every day anyway.

Fall Down Drunk

You could say I drank my way out of college. Booze and pot became more important to me than my grades. The thing about getting good grades in college is that it takes so much work and discipline. I mean, like, a lot of work and discipline. Smoking a bowl and playing Beirut all night, on the contrary, feels like barely any work at all. For me, the choice was easy.

I fell down some stairs one time. We’d been playing Beirut and flip-cup and asshole all night when we decided to go upstairs and take some hits from the grav. After some time I left my chair because I “just needed to walk around”. I followed somebody upstairs, I guess to watch some tv or play video games, and as soon as I got to the top of the stairs, I closed my eyes and lost consciousness for a few seconds.

When I woke up, I was at the bottom of the stairs, face-up. I must rolled backward instead of falling stiff like a felled tree, because there was a cut on my forehead. I was helped up and placed on a couch where I slept it off. My back hurt the next day, but I was fine. I’d been lucky. Some people would take an event like that as a sign that they should maybe lay off the drink for a while, not to mention the ganja. But I kept on going. I partied that night as if nothing had happened. I’m just a hopeless drunk.

In times of inebriation I’ve fallen down stairs, fallen into ranch dressing, fallen out of cars, fallen on the bus, and fallen out of bed.

Honestly, I can’t wait to get back to it.

No matter what embarrassing, costly things happen to me when I’m under the influence, I’ll always want to be back under the influence. It’s a powerful beast. If I wasn’t using it as motivation to pay off my debt I’d feel terrible about my weakness.

Debt Sematary 2k9

I don’t know if you realize it, but I’m not drinking booze right now. For real, I’m sober. Dry. And, yeah, it’s not a lot of fun.

See, I’m paying off my debt. By 2k9 I’ll have paid off my credit card (little bit of debt there) and my student loan (bigger chunk of debt). I’m in the middle of a high-stakes battle against all the government and corporate fuckers that think they own me, and I’m going to win. I’m so committed to winning that I’ve promised not to drink any alcohol until the debts are paid in full.

I’ve done something similar to this before. Last year I renounced the sauce to pay off another credit card bill, and it worked. Not only do I save nearly $60 a week by not drinking, but my insatiable thirst for booze drives me to save maniacally. As they say, I’ve harnessed the beast that is my alcoholism and I’m using its ineffable power for good instead of evil.

So far I’ve learned that saving money isn’t really very hard, but it is really very boring. I used to pack a lunch occasionally to change things up or when spending $8 on a salad 5 days a week seemed just too ridiculous. Now I’m packing a lunch every day. People who pack lunches will espouse the virtues of delighting in your own healthy culinary prowess. Those people are full of shit. I’m packing rice and beans, or pasta with garlic butter, or bland-ass tuna sandwiches every day. It’s not that I can’t cook; I just haven’t got the time. If you love me and you see me on the street, buy me an exotic meal.