Today is my 39th birthday and I finally got to fire up an early present, a Breville Ikon Expresso Machine. Anne and Burl fixed us dinner and we had a little cake and presents. After opening a killer household use impact driver, Tammy, Anne and Burl surprised me with the Ikon. It’s been sitting in the kitchen, politely waiting until the birthday morning when I would have time to prep and experiment.
After some initial troubleshooting involving priming the machine’s pump, we were ready. I used our existing coffee and was not disappointed. Our grinder has an espresso setting, producing the correct “grains of sugar” texture that you need. It was as simple as loading the filter, fitting it tightly to the machine and pressing a button. The Ikon produced some great looking espresso with a decent crema (the reddish-brown foam on the top) which maintained a very good flavor. We added some hazelnut syrup and steamed milk (with amateur foam) and had cappuccinos while reading the morning paper.
I have to say a special thanks to my wife [Tammy](http://tammykirks.com) for recognizing the perfect gift and to [Anne](http://keckeley.wordpress.com) and Burl for chipping in to make it affordable. Tammy and I saw the machine in the fall last year but even at 75% off, I didn’t think I could justify the expense. After we started our [Dave Ramsey financial planning journey](http://www.houseofwarwick.com/2009/01/27/financial-planning-class/), that made a purchase of a luxury something that we didn’t schedule or budget. Tammy was able to pull it off without letting me see where the money came from or how.
I bought Flight Control, an air traffic control game for iPhone, when it came about a month or so ago. Since then it’s become quite addicting, making good use of graphics, sounds and iPhone’s touch screen interface. It was a steal at 99 cents when it came out and still a good bargain at $2.99. Here’s a screenshot of my latest score of 128 consecutive planes safely landed:
I’m coming up on three weeks and I’m holding steady with my new habits. I’ve had to slow down on somethings because there’s just not enough time in the day. Here’s my typical schedule:
5:00AM – out of bed, get dressed for a work out, try to wake up
5:30AM – start a 45 minute workout followed by 30 minutes of cardio
7:00AM – arrive back at home, rush a shower and shave, find a suit to wear
7:20AM – hit the road to work
8:00AM – arrive at work
5:15PM – hit the road to home
6:00PM – arrive at home, help to fix dinner
This is where is starts to break down. Dinner’s usually ready at 6:30 and we’re done eating a bit after 7:00. That gives me 2 hours to study or spend time with Tammy or even prep things for next day. By 9:30PM I need to be in bed to start this all over again.
Whew! Studying has become something I try to squeeze in at lunch and that doesn’t work each day. Working in Branson means that I don’t get to help with any of the errands of life like changing the oil in my car, picking up dry cleaning or going to the bank. All of those things are in Springfield.
So far, it’s all been worth it. I’ve kicked my sugar cravings and the emotional roller coaster that goes with it. That’s something, right?
Right now, I’m on a streak. I feel like there’s a sign above my head that says “11 days without being lazy” I’ve managed to keep my appointments at the gym and dress more professionally. I’ve also learned a couple of things I that surprised me:
1. I don’t crave sweets any more. Sure, I wouldn’t mind a chocolate chip cookie or even junk food like a Twinkie, but the reasons for eating it are gone. Off like a light switch. Outta here. I’ve stopped eating out of the candy bowl at work and stopped drinking diet soda. Just like that, my moods leveled and so did my sugar cravings.
2. Wearing a suit all day makes people treat me differently. For example, I stopped last Thursday at the Wal-Mart in Ozark for groceries since it was on the way home. Most people stared politely, wondering why a guy in a suit shops at Wal-Mart. At work, things have changed a little, mostly with personal interactions. When I say things now, the reactions are a bit different.
3. My sleep cycle changed in about a week, so now I’m waking up right about 5AM. Also, with the change in caffeine and sugar intake, I have a better workout and recover faster. I’m taking vitamins when I get to work and I think that’s helping my food cravings too.
I’m trying to focus on the momentum. Mainly I keep telling myself that since I’ve gone this far, there’s no reason to quit. Honestly, it is exhausting, but I can’t think of anyone more worth the effort. 🙂
I had a minor setback today and I learned a valuable lesson. I missed my workout this morning but I still kept the suit streak. I started wearing suits to work on Monday for a variety of reasons, all of them my choosing. The best reason is it conveys professionalism plus, it’s hard to feel down about yourself in a suit.
I missed the workout because I hadn’t planned well. I didn’t get clothes ready or set out my shoes. I was tired and knew that I didn’t plan, so that made me sleep in. The lack of discipline was a disappointing, but not so bad I want to quit. I don’t think there’s very much that would keep me held back at this point.
My sister-in-law and her husband are in Boston, so I was trolling through old blog posts and came across [this mention of Jason Buchanan](https://stevekirks.com/2004/04/18.html) serving as a gracious host. Jason allowed me to stay with he and his wife (pre Joseph) for nearly a week. It’s one of the most memorable and pleasant times of my life. Thanks Jason!
Before I got started with the “new Steve” project, I took some time to set some goals:
* New Cisco CCNA certification by the end of May
* New stress relief mechanism to replace eating
* Add more professionalism to all parts of my job
Day 1 of “new Steve” went well. I skipped soda and made good choices at lunch and by the end of the day it paid off. I left work feeling less stressed and much more alert. Coffee was a substitute for some of the day, but I skipped much of the sugar. I think that really helped cut my mood swings. I hit the gym at 5:30AM that morning so my muscles are feeling it today. It’s a good reminder that my muscles are growing and that means progress.
I also took some time to get my work area set up to make a little more sense, pulling some shelves off the cube walls. The lighting was pretty bad with plenty of harsh fluorescent white light and little contrast. I climbed up on a chair and fixed that by twisting the bulbs so they went out, plunging the area in to welcomed darkness. The last step was to mount a whiteboard on one wall and clean all of the surfaces. Now it looks like something I want to use instead of a dumping ground for projects.
Its May 1st and Im taking some steps to create a new me. Today I give up soda, a drink thats lost its charm with me awhile ago. Ive also taken steps to control my food and blood sugar, to avoid the cliché of the overweight IT guy. Finally, Im committed to taking a new certification test by the end of the month. What better way to give myself a Happy Birthday gift?