2016 in Review

It is almost halfway through February, and I am only now getting around to writing about last year, and what I want to do in the upcoming year. I did the same thing last year, so maybe this is becoming a tradition. I am getting this done a few days ahead of last year, so at least I am making progress. Baby steps, right?

Here is what I said I was going to accomplish it 2016: drop my weight to 175 pounds, refactor the Maggie Gallery–a photo gallery project for my daughter Maggie, learn game development, read 24 books, write more, and submit a short story for publication. I had mixed results. For some of the goals I just failed, others were accomplished but they changed over the course of the year, and others were no longer a priority.

A year isn't a lot of time, but I learned that goals and priorities can evolve quickly. Reviewing my goals now, it looks like I did not accomplish much, but I felt I had a productive year. I learned a LOT. I spent a lot of quality time with my family. I improved my physical fitness, and my overall health. I started walking normally again, and running and biking a lot in the gym, after rehabbing my knee. I may have missed on several of my goals, but it was more about shifting priorities, than lack of effort.

I weighed 202 pounds at the start of 2016. By mid-February, I dropped down to 188, but that was mostly wasting away because I could barely move around with my leg immobile after my patella fracture, and subsequent surgery, and I didn't have much of an appetite, courtesy of my pain medication. Predictably—but not to me at the time—my weight shot back up after I my regular diet resumed. I ended up back around 205 before I got my weight gain under control.

I had physical therapy for half the year before my insurance company cut me off. My surgeon, general physician, and physical therapist thought it was important that I continue my physical therapy—and made that clear to the insurance company—but the insurance company set a hard cap, and they sure as hell weren't going to exceed it for any reason. My insurance company made my medical decisions for me. That makes sense, right?

After physical therapy, I started working out again as planned. I got a lot stronger over the course of the year. My cardio endurance improved as well, but it was slow going with the lingering pain in my knee and the general weakness in my leg.

I continued to eat fairly well, and managed to get my weight back down around 187 pounds, with some fluctuating up and down around there. At one point, I was even working out twice a day—getting up an hour and half early to hit the gym before work and continued to go after work—several days of the week. I was averaging around 10 visits to the gym a week during that stretch. Still, I hit a series of plateaus that kept my ultimate goal of 175 pounds out of reach.

My software engineering goals did not go as planned.

First, I wanted to refactor the Maggie Gallery, and I started some work on it, but I never ended up finishing it. I realized that Google Photos already did everything I was hoping to do with the gallery, and was doing a better job of it. In the end, I had to ask myself if building this was really more worthy of my daughter, and the answer was no. The point was to have photos of her easily available, and Google Photos was more than up the task.

Next, I wanted to learn about game development, and work on some small projects. This was a casualty of shifting priorities. It is still something I want to sink some time into, but if I had any free time to spend on software projects, I needed to use it to keep up to date on the technologies I use in my career. JavaScript is a fucking monster, and there is constantly new things to learn.

I still managed to learn all year long, grow as a developer, and got to work on some interesting stuff like custom fantasy football tools, so I am calling it a win, even if I missed on my software engineering goals.

I set out to read 24 specific books. I started the year reading only print books that I already had on my shelves. A few months in I decided that consuming more books was worthwhile regardless of the form they came in, so I added audiobooks during my commute. Then replaced any idle time I used to spend looking at Reddit on my phone with reading ebooks on my phone. By the end of the year I was a reading machine. At any given time I had a print book I was reading at home, I had a ebook I was reading anytime I had an extra few minutes, I had an audiobook to listen to during my carpool, and another audiobook that I listened when driving alone and at the gym.

By the end of the year I had finished 25 books, and I was at least part way through at least five more. Had I added the audiobooks and ebooks earlier, that number would have been higher. I didn't cross off all of the specific books on the list started with, but that is because I ended up getting a lot of my books from the library, and I was limited by their availability. This was one goal I can confidently say I accomplished.

Writing was a different story. The last time I published anything on this site was in June, and I didn't write more than a page or two of fiction all year. Time spent on learning new technologies for my career and time spent with my family didn't leave a lot of time leftover for writing. If I am honest with myself though, there were plenty of nights I sat watching television when I could have been writing instead. This is something I hope to improve on this year.

Tyler Walters

Written by Tyler Walters

Tyler Walters is a software engineer in Phoenix, Arizona. He is married to a beautiful woman and has three incredible daughters. He is interested in game development, writing, beer, and hot wings.