January: The Year of Focus Update

We know that the best way for humans to change their behavior patterns is through tracking mechanisms. If you want to lose weight, you have to count (somewhere) what you are eating. If you want to get stronger in the gym, you have to count what you are doing.

Without that tracking mechanism, we lose accountability.

So each month, I’ll update the blog with an summary analysis of what I have tried to do in the Year of Focus, in which I have laid out 4 broad goals.

Phase I: Know More

This year’s goal was to spend more time reading than I have in the past. This means (at least) daily newspaper reading, and monthly magazine and book reading. I’ve done okay with my reading.

I’ve finished three books

  1. It’s Even Worse than it Looks
  2. Untangling the Web
  3. The Age of American Unreason 

At my friend’s behest, I’ve nearly finished a fourth, Stalisland, which is a beautiful historical biography (of sorts) about East Berliners after the Wall fell.

I ordered the New York Times, The Atlantic, and MIT’s Technology Review on my Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve used that to read each day, and I’ve clipped several pieces into text files for use later.

All in all, I feel much better about the writing life in January.

Phase II: Pay More Attention to my Health

The polar vortex made running this month extremely difficult. Nearly half our days were spent inside avoiding sub-freezing temperatures and wind. However, we have a small workout facility in our town home complex, and I decided to swap out the elliptical for running (in large measure because I can read while I use the elliptical).


  • 4 times
  • 2 hrs, 15 minutes
  • avg time 35 minutes
  • 10.94 miles

Stationary bike

  • 1 time
  • 30 minutes
  • 10.9 miles


  • 19 classes
    • 8 WOD classes
    • 5 Olympic lifting classes
    • 6 Snatch training classes
  • 22 hours, 30 minutes
  • ave time 1 hr, 10 minutes


I stayed well under my caloric goal for the month (without sacrificing my workout food), and more importantly I cut my sugar consumption to 50% of the daily recommended levels.

We’ve nearly cut out sweet sugar, and replaces that with fruits and the occasional gluten-free cookies. Regardless of the source, we’ve made sure to keep our daily sugar intake below the 45 gram threshold.

The exercise and nutrition helped me lose 11 pounds in January, and put me within 9 pounds of my year-end goal of 180.

More importantly for my health, my belly pooch that’s been with me for years (even as I ran ultra marathons) is going away. Switching out sugar for proteins and even fat (in bacon, for instance) has started altering my body.

Phase III: Write More

With Dungeons & Dreamers coming out, I’ve spent a good deal of time working on our blog, writing outreach materials, our Goodreads giveaway contest, and interacting with readers in various forums. That’s cut into my writing time.

However, I’ve already started arranging my work for So Far Appalachia into Evernote, which has been helpful. I can see where the story is going, and when I sit down to write, I’ll actually have much of this ready to go.

I’ve also organized my Google Alerts, which I use to help run my various blogs. The specific alerts I’ve set up have helped me focus the book blogs, and my reading has helped me focus this one.

Phase IV + V: Work + Life

These remain mine, but know that I have made good progress on both work and life. These details will be here soon enough.

What’s Your Focus

A month into the new year, I’d love to hear how you are living with purpose, what your goals are, and how you are working towards living the life you want. Sharing stories is the best way to motivate (or get motivation from others).

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