Over the past year or so, I have learned a great deal. I have learned about myself. I have learned about my friends and family. I have learned about babies, parenting, and life.

Prior to last August, my wife and I took the usual birthing/parenting classes generally required of new parents. In that class, I learned quite a bit more than I expected (and certainly some things I could have gone without), but one of the most interesting factoids that I took away is that babies are pretty much indestructible. Sure, they are tiny and soft and all that, but apparently you have to do some serious stuff to injure a baby. They’ll bump their heads, fall over, and get into all kinds of shenanigans, but when it comes down to it, babies just shake it off and keep going.

After our son was born, I quickly discovered one of the big differences between life without a baby and life with a newborn. Where before we would have conversations about where to eat, what movie to see, or how our days were going, now our conversations were about poop, breast feeding, and poop. Yay.

I also learned that postpartum depression isn’t just for moms. I know they tried to drill that into us during the classes, but it’s one thing to know something and quite another to really know it. After going back to work at the end of my paternity leave, I enjoyed a slow downward spiral fueled by sleep deprivation, frustration with the slow pace at which I was acquiring the knowledge I needed to do my job well, and the standard stress and frustration that comes with being a new parent. I have to say that I didn’t enjoy it. I learned that accepting the fact that I was suffering from “depression” was extraordinarily difficult. A large part of me felt that I didn’t have the right to feel the way I did when my life was so much better than many others’.

Over the holiday season, I learned that losing weight and keeping it off is basically impossible if you aren’t exercising much (not to mention suffering from a pretty severe case of “Fuck the world. Just let me sleep for the next year.”). I gained back pretty much all the weight I lost over the previous few months.

At the beginning of 2015, I learned that sometimes a small spark can light a big fire. Something triggered in my brain, and I decided I’d simply had enough. I was tired of feeling like crap every time I looked in the mirror. I was tired of being exhausted all the time. And most of all, I was tired of feeling like my weight was just a big (really big, in my mind) yo-yo. I started walking every day and have met or exceeded my daily step goal (first 10,000 steps, currently 11,000) every day since January 5th.

Since the beginning of the year, I learned that my friends and family want many of the same things for themselves that I want. We all want to get healthier. We all want that blend of mutual support, friendly jibes, and lighthearted competition that keeps life interesting. I learned that it is this type of competition that pushes me further every day. I should have known that gamifying things would be a successful way for me to stay motivated, but I learned that, too. I learned that although exercising regularly and eating better are very difficult, once I have a good streak going (59 days as of today), the risk of breaking said streak becomes almost a big a motivator as anything else.

I have learned a lot over the past year. I have learned happy things and sad things and things that make me question why the hell people do any of a large number of things.

I have learned that learning is hard.