2016 Year in Review

2016 was a year of extremes for me. It didn't start off great with the passing of my Aunt Lu, who was one of my favorite people. However, it also included my brother's wedding which was the nicest wedding I've ever attended. Like most years it had good and bad parts.

I very much believe that you can't change things you don't measure. So I tend to track a lot of what I do throughout the year. Let's see how well I did this year.

Calendar - I had intended to track four things on it, biking, working out, eating healthy and driving. I can tell you now, that was a ridiculous idea. Tracking healthy eating was dropped first because it was just too much of a pain to do. And working out was dropped soon after that. Tracking bike and driving were the only two I did because they took about one second each. Calendar tracking works best when it's a simple yes/no answer and that you don't have to think too long about this answer. Healthy eating was dropped because I had to think about each meal and if I ate ok at each. Working out was dropped because I would consider whether or not my bike ride was an actual workout. That was just too much thinking for me. The bike and car were easy. Did I bike or did I drive? Yes or no and mark the calendar. So that's all I ended up tracking. I've also learned that I should really only track a single thing. I'll take that into account next year.

Bike and Car - Looking at my Cyclemeter stats, I found that I biked 1,720 miles last year. That's good, but quite a bit less than I did in 2015 (2,252 miles). Here's the breakdown, month-by-month:

Bike Drive
January 18 days 14 days
February 6 days 22 days
March 17 days 18 days
April (thank you 30 Days of Biking) 30 days 14 days
May 25 days 16 days
June 23 days 14 days
July 14 days 14 days
August 22 days 14 days
September 17 days 18 days
October 12 days 20 days
November 7 days 25 days
December 4 days 25 days

I did ok during the summer months, but was a giant wuss when the weather got a little unpleasant. I really have no excuse for that. Clearly, I haven't taken "Frostbike" to heart and celebrated winter. I need to dig out my winter riding clothes and try to make up for that in January.

I just checked the odometer on my car and it reads 44,416 miles. At the end of last year, my odometer was 33,788 miles, so I drove 10,628 miles for the year. I'm actually quite pleased with that. That seems reasonable to me. If I biked a bit more to work, I think I could get that down under 10,000 miles for the year.

Overall, I'm happy with my biking and driving amounts. I don't think I do too much unnecessary driving (though I am being lazy about going to work in the cold) and I do usually grab my bike for short trips to the grocery store or library. I think that tracking this information over the past couple of years has changed my behavior and I don't think I need to monitor it so much now. I'll still use Cyclemeter on my phone to track my longer rides so I get an overall mileage count for the year, but I'm not going to worry about short trips or how many days I drive. Now that I have a target for my car mileage, I should be ok.

Health - I went to the doctor last January because my knee was really sore. My doc sent me to therapy for about eight weeks. That was great and it helped a lot. My knee is much better though not great yet. After I quit going to therapy, I got very lazy about doing all the stretching exercises. I need to come up with a way to make myself accountable without having a therapist to see. It would also definitely help my knee if I lost some weight. I have been weighing myself every morning as soon as I get up since 2011. I know many people say you shouldn't do this, but I think it's a good idea, as long as you don't judge yourself on the number. My weight does fluctuate a lot and while some of it depends on what I've eaten, it can also move based on how late I ate dinner the previous night. Looking at my weight from January 1st until today, I see I've lost 4 lbs over the year. That's going in the right direction, but it should be better. Below is a graph of my weight over the year. Earlier this month, I actually hit my low of the year. Interestingly, I quit eating sugar around the end of October and kept it up until Thanksgiving. I think that's reflected in the downward slope of the line during that time. Anyway, I'm happy with the overall result, but I know I can do much better.

Build Up Savings - Here's my one great success over the year. I use a program called Banktivity for my checking account and they have a summary page that compares your current savings rate with your previous year. This was great and very motivational. Here's how it looks today.

I'm quite pleased with that. I'm also pleased because I don't think that I was a freeloader in any way. I think I was generous with my family members and made all my usual donations to charity. I just didn't do much frivolous spending. My largest category of expense this year was cash, which is probably something I should be tracking better. But the second one was my property taxes, which sounds about right to me.

In December 2014, I opened an account with Betterment to try to save $10,000 as an emergency fund. I'm happy to note that as of Tuesday when my transfer goes in, I'll have reached my goal. Yay! I'm much more prepared now if I need another emergency roof. đŸ˜‰

Travel - I think I did pretty well this year. I went to Nashville with friends for the Tour de Nash in May. I went to Vancouver and Washington state for my brother's wedding in July. Took a quick trip to Pittsburgh for Pedal PGH in August. I visited some cousins in LA with my Mom and brother in November. And took a quick trip to Toronto to visit a friend in December. Aside from LA and Toronto, I biked around all those places, so I also met my goal of exploring by bike. (Though I didn't get to Montréal which bums me out a little.)

Failures
House - I didn't do much work on the house, except finish up the trim in my kitchen. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that my intention was to have a room upstairs done. Not only did I not do anything up there, I actually moved my bedroom up there, using it as is.
Welding - Nothing. Priced some welders, but didn't do anything.
Map game - Didn't even think about it.
Volunteering - I went to Working Bikes for a couple of months, but then stopped. It was fun, but I didn't like that I always drove there. I gave them a donation yesterday because I do think they're a great organization.
Book - I've thought about this a lot and even sort of started doing an outline. But it's so little that I don't think it should count.
Get out of the house more - I'm pretty much still a homebody.

That's it. I'm writing this early in the morning on the 31st, so I could possibly still go for a bike ride today or drive my car. A good friend just got out of the hospital, so I may go and see him. If that's the case, I'll have to update this post a little. But for the most part, I think this is a pretty good summary of my year. I'm happy to say that I can still say "Life is good". Here's to 2017 being even better!