Archive for September, 2009

Fitness

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

It’s been 8 weeks now, and I’ve dropped a grand total of 18 lbs.

It wasn’t easy, but then again it wasn’t that hard. I had a few key realizations that made everything click.

  1. First, I was worried that for whatever reason, my wife and daughter might never come back from Nepal. (They did come back, but a month later than planned.) I feared some unimaginable disaster. So I started taking the possibility seriously, instead of having it this formless looming dread that was keeping me from sleeping and driving me to suppress it by eating too much.

    What would I really do if my family never came back?

    Hmm. I guess I’d have to start another family.

    How would I do that?

    Hmm. I guess I’d have to lose weight and get fit, so I could feel confident enough about myself to attract another mate.

    Well, why wouldn’t you lose weight and exercise right now?

    Hmm. Good idea!

  2. Second, I realized that my body was in the shape it was because it had adapted over several years to the environment I had subjected it to. Whatever environment you’re in, your body will adapt to it or it will break. All I had to do in order to get in shape was to change my body’s environment. I started doing very light exercises every morning, and keeping track of the various (easy) exercises in a spreadsheet.

    I used the Hacker’s Diet exercise plan to get started. Actually, I had done this diet and exercise plan (sort of) ten years ago, and it worked while I did it. It made me realize the importance of knowing what you’re eating.

  3. Third, it’s easy to keep track of what you eat when you only eat packaged foods. They print the calories right there on the package.
  4. Fourth, you don’t have to exercise so hard that you’re sore the next day, especially if you’re not used to exercising at all. Remember the adaptation thing I mentioned earlier? Well, it turns out that there’s a big difference between not exercising at all, and exercising just a little bit every day. Also, after your body adapts to a light exercise plan, it’s pretty easy to do a couple more of one or two of the exercises. Increasing or maintaining the effort every day adds up over weeks, until they’re amazing compared to where you started. And it isn’t very hard on any particular day.
  5. Fifth, I realized that even if I woke up in a bad mood or feeling like I didn’t have any energy, I could still do the same exercises I had done the day before. In my spreadsheet I kept track of my mood and energy that I felt when I woke up for the day. Except on the very worst days, there’s no correlation between these mood/energy self assessments and the amount of exercise I was able to do. Waking up feeling weak or depressed is no longer a valid excuse!
  6. Sixth, I found it’s much easier to control how much I eat when I consume smaller meals (300-500 calories, vs. my usual 600-1200 calories) if I know what and when I’m going to eat next. Spacing small meals out every 3 hours keeps me from getting too full or too hungry.
  7. Seventh, I realized that exercising in the evening was not going to work consistently for me. It was too dependent on my day, and too easy to skip out on. First thing in the morning exercise really is key.
  8. Eighth, I started taking allergy meds every single night. They helped me sleep, helped me breathe, and elevated my mood significantly.

So all this change got me moving. I started playing pickup roller hockey, and enrolled in Krav Maga, and except for injuries (and perhaps illness, though I haven’t faced one in 8 weeks) I exercise every single morning before work.

And I’m feeling really good!

Albert Camus – The Stranger

Friday, September 4th, 2009

I just finished reading Albert Camus – The Stranger, and I can’t help but identify with the main character. The biggest difference between him and me is that he doesn’t seem to think of much past tomorrow, except that all week he looks forward to being with his girlfriend on Sundays. I put a whole lot more effort trying to peer into the future: planning and scheming, working toward goals. Mersault was a simpleton. An idiot.

And yet if you really dig down and think about things from a relativist viewpoint, who’s to say he’s wrong when he asserts that no life is worth living? We all die and then people forget us. What’s the point? For me it all just comes back to survival. We’re here because that’s what we do, because we’re alive. If it wasn’t what our ancestors did, we wouldn’t be here to worry about it.

I did receive one surprise insight from this book – the justice system is geared to weed out socially maladapted limbic systems. People are so interested in the emotional displays of accused criminals because the limbic system is what we’ve evolved to allow us to function in a community setting. A messed up limbic system makes one unable to function as a cog in the machine, and has to be discarded or repaired or maybe just beat back into shape.