Improving my Daily Habits

Improving My Daily Habits

One awesome thing that has happened since quitting: I don’t have to spend any “decision energy” on work. Now, improving my daily habits is way easier. I’ve made changes to other things much quicker – so far: diet and exercise. Even in the van with a very minimal kitchen, I’m eating as well as I ever have. I’ve also started exercising almost every day.

Diet Improvements

I hadn’t been eating that great over the past two years. My job required a lot of travel, and it was much more difficult to eat well while traveling. Also, I let my diet go a bit over the last year while I was building the van, getting my house prepped for and selling it, spending time with a girlfriend, and getting ready to quit my job.

After quitting my job and that “last first day” (hitting the road for good) – it only took about a week to change my diet.

When I moved into the van in late March, I was eating food that I could prepare without cooking: mostly sandwiches and salads. I started cooking gradually. Now, I’m eating almost the same as I would with a full kitchen:

  • Most meals are a sort of stir-fry, always including chicken*, bell peppers, rice, and 2-3 other types of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, etc.). Then I add some type of sauce – these days it’s mostly green chili sauce. Using different sauces makes the meal seem very different. I also use some types of indian and asian sauces.
  • Smaller meals are typically an apple, orange or banana, and either a can of sardines or a whey protein shake.
  • When out on a long hike or bike ride (2-3 hours or more) I bring along peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – using some wonderful jelly and jam that my brother’s girlfriend makes.

The only other thing I eat is a bit of dark chocolate. mmmmm. And some tea occasionally. About 65% of the food I eat by volume is now vegetables and fruit. Then about 25% meat, and 10% bread or rice.

* Chicken — when I had a kitchen, most of my meat (including for sandwiches) came from buying and roasting whole fresh chickens. I don’t want to carry and clean a solar oven, so roasting meat is out of the question now. I’ve started buying the rotisserie chickens at grocery stores. I know these aren’t the greatest chickens, but they’ll work well enough for now.

Exercise Improvements

I’ve been exercising nearly every day. I’m doing a lot of hiking, some bike rides, and some strength-training calisthenics. I’m hiking about 5-10 hours per week, running 1, bike riding 1-2, and doing the strength training once or twice.

For the strength training, I’m currently doing:

  • One-leg squats, while holding onto something static to give more resistance
  • Sort of one-arm pushups (I put the other arm out further and keep that arm straight. If there is a way to do it with my feet up higher, I do)
  • Pull ups (pronated grip, fairly wide. I switched to these from supinated grip which I I’ve used for years because it is easier on my tendons)

I do 4-5 sets of each. Sometimes the pull-ups are a challenge – it can be tough finding a tree with a good branch. In cities it’s easy – find a pull-up bar in a park, or use playground equipment. I imaging after some time I’ll need to add more resistance for all three of these. I can wear a backpack with stuff inside.

Improving my Daily Habits

There are some things I want to add to this regimen:

  • Replace overhead press – I’ll probably start trying handstand pushups
  • Grip/hand strength. I have an Ivanko Super gripper. Need to start using it. Plus other things I can do without needing equipment.
  • Stomach/core strength
  • Foot raises – for the muscles on the front of my lower leg.
  • L-Flys
  • Neck strength (I haven’t done them much, but I’m not a fan of bridges. I can figure something else out – I could use the weighted backpack)

[Note in December 2016: I’ve started all of these except the OHP replacement]

I’ve gotten to be what I consider too fat over the last few years. When I use a caliper on a certain spot of my stomach (about 2” above the top/front of my pelvis) I’m at 18mm. I expect to get down below 10mm. In very ballpark conversions, that will be less than 10% body fat. I’m quite good at gaining and losing weight, but not having a scale makes it significantly harder. In lieu of that, I’m using the fat caliper, and body dimension measures.  I feel like I may be losing weight a little too quickly, but it’s hard to tell without a scale. I should check the caliper and measurements again soon.

[December note: I went from 18mm caliper to 12mm in just one month! Then, I stayed there the rest of the year. I’ll go lower, but I’ll probably wait until warmer weather in spring]

I’ve ridden my bike exactly one time on Forest Service roads. It did not go well. One issue was washboarding on the road – when I went down some too fast, I got a flat tire and my saddleback attachment broke (it has a plastic part that was already cracked). The other problem is riding my road bike tires on gravel/dirt/sand that is too soft and too deep. I’m going to take a look at how wide of tires I can fit in my current bike, but I expect to be buying a different type of bike soon. I’m looking at cyclocross bikes right now, which will allow tires of at least 35mm, and in some cases up to 45mm. I want a bike that I will also be happy riding on roads.  I think a flat-bar bike will be harder to store than one with road/curved handlebars.


I’ve started reading Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. It’s about the Lewis and Clarke expedition. It’s incredibly interesting for me. There are some very specific details  – starting with how the trip originated and the relationship between Meriwether Lewis and Thomas Jefferson. I’ve been learning about Jefferson over the last year or so from listening to the “Thomas Jefferson Hour” podcast. If you like podcasts, you should check it out.

There are some interesting similarities between their expedition and Vandwelling. The beginning of the book has a lot of details about Lewis’ preparations – from building boats to use as their main means of transportation (at least for much of the trip), deciding what provisions to bring, and studying various subjects before leaving.

I’m writing this Bozeman. Today I went on a bike ride – on a road that someone here recommended. It’s funny, I’d spoken to her last night about the Lewis and Clarke book, and she knew a LOT about them and their trip. What she didn’t tell me is that on the bike route she had already recommended, there is a sign noting that Clark and the other men camped right there on their return trip. Awesome!


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