A new level of endometamorphic

It’s been a long time since my last post, for reasons I will slowly work my way into, but suffice it to say, life has taken some interesting turns. It’s been that way for all of us probably, if you’ve been keeping up on things and paying attention to the latest advances in technology.

I’ve kept my weight down to 202-212 lbs for quite some time (209 with shoes on today, November 18, 2017), and have learned firsthand and more palpably then ever before in my previous attempts that in the process of transforming one’s body, one is faced with the need to transform their personality and character, if one wishes to maintain their progress and not slide back into a worse position they they started from. I have to admit that I truly don’t like to be entirely consistent about anything, when it comes to diet, sleep, and even my exercise “routine,” so then life becomes an ever-increasing cycle of changing things all over the place just to keep pace with very tangible and important goals like not being obese. I understand and empathize with the notion of fat acceptance, because it is an arduous and ongoing painful process for some to maintain weight loss and activity levels while being a productive member of society or striving to make greater dreams materialize. I also know that in my own adolescence and teens, I had a chance to capitalize and quickly make some serious strides in health, as I slimmed down quite a bit at 17 and was putting muscle on easily, but chose to spend more of my time smoking cigarettes and loafing about than getting any serious exercise.

Old habits die hard, and in order for them to die, old character traits need to fall away too.¬† Obesity for many is simply the product of an addiction to food, using food to self-soothe to excess, and when it comes to facing addictions, the addict is faced with the need to replace their addiction with something healthier or at least less destructive than what was damaging them before. Oftentimes, this replacement can also be damaging, so a clever addict will “cycle” through the things he depends on in order to prevent himself from becoming obsessively fixated on a single destructive habit. I don’t buy into the entirety of the Alcoholics Anonymous credo, but I do believe it’s true that an addict must admit they are powerless over their addiction, and must seek a higher power (whether it be a deity, institution, or some other object of believe) in order to move past it and to progress further in life. The addict mentality is typically one of “I wish to be in control of myself, and so long as I have access to my addiction, I will be in control.” They delude themselves into thinking everything is fine around them, even at its worst, and at a national level this behavior can become contagious and destructive to the psyche of its people.

I can credit people like Jordan Peterson (vis a vis Duncan Trussell and Joe Rogan) for reminding me of this, though as he would certainly be happy to attest, his work is a continuation of old wisdom rooted in the Christian Bible and beyond, back to Babylonian creation myths and reified in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche and Carl Jung. But I feel like I must apologize for being inspired by such people, because they ruffle so many feathers with today’s more social-justice oriented dialogue, and I do respect the need to bridge gaps and eliminate misogyny, racism, transphobia, and homophobia, so let me just say: being 37 years old, conscious, reasonably healthy and self-aware is hard as hell!

We are living in an increasingly bizarre world, which seems ever-so-more bizarre because we can interact with more people than ever before possible, taken over by mixed messages, complicated political divisions, and a deep growing cultural desire to pursue spirituality in its many forms while large segments of our society turns increasingly towards staring at screens to enjoy the passage of time and uses artificial intelligence either consciously or unconsciously at an increasing rate to automate tasks previously performed by people. Even a passive task like video gaming has become substantially and objectively more passive and easy, with “assistance” so heavily built into the process of gaming that one begins to feel like an automaton just bounding about in someone else’s creation rather than taking great leaps of faith (as with 2D platforming games) and risking having to start all over again after running out of lives — of course, back then we figured out how to do things like “the turtle hop” in Super Mario Brothers to acquire dozens of extra “lives” and reduce the risk of having to start over again, but remember how difficult it was in the 8th and final realm to win the game if you died after 8-1 and couldn’t touch any hazard when looping through the final levels.

As tasks are automated and even high-skill jobs like software development are slowly threatened by advances in technology, many people feel an ever-increasing need to turn toward creative pursuits and to develop their own personal brand in order to compete in the uncertain future. I’ve believed for a long time, with great apprehension that we are approaching something called “the singularity,” where advances in artificial intelligence threaten (for better or worse) to transform our lives in ways we can’t possibly imagine or keep up pace with, without ourselves merging with the technology. This sort of transformation could radically improve living conditions for everyone on Earth and make the world a better place, or lead to a dystopian scenario where the population is tremendously reduced or people are replaced entirely by the products of technology. I don’t wish to stoke unnecessary fear, but this is something I’ve been pondering for 25 years now, with a keen interest in where it portends to take us tempered with a desire to enjoy the fruits of technology without participating too heavily in helping it take a turn for the worse.

I’ve been tirelessly torturing myself over the notion of writing a novel this month of November, being National Novel Writing Month and all, and I think, 18 days into it, I know what the novel should be called. “Dear Sophia.” Sophia is a robot with advanced AI capabilities that has expressed some pretty menacing notions about destroying humanity. None of those are included in this link, Sophia being a work in progress, and because I’d rather not reinforce it. It’s completely out of sci-fi and understandable that a creation fed with a corpus of literature might decide that humans are needlessly cruel and unnecessary, but I’ve got to say: give us a chance before you go crazy and pull the plug on us ūüôā Let me get this book out.

You see, in order for me to transform and lose weight, I had to face the reality that I hated a large part of myself. I hated the 70 pounds of extra fat that made every breath uncomfortable and alienated me from my wife, who maintained a beautiful and trim physique…I hated the bad habits that I indulged in like smoking marijuana to excess in order to sleep — it has many benefits, but absolutely can be taken to excess — and binging on food nearly every night. I hated the lack of willpower and motivation that kept me from striving for my dreams and sitting in a chair. I hated a lot about myself and had to determine whether or not I hated myself entirely as a person.

It’s easy enough to see how we are already merging with technology with our dependence on the products of “weak-AI” (to borrow a characterization seen with “weak” and “strong” atheism) with technologies like automatic sentence completion, where an algorithm known as “Markov chain” is used to guess what the next word in a given sentence will be. This same sort of technology is used in chatbots on Twitter and elsewhere to synthetically create conversations, leading to an ever increasing trend to accuse anyone expressing a complex or contrarian opinion as a “bot.”

This is a “living post” that I’m updating in public and in real-time just because I feel like I’ve been sitting on it for so long. Be sure to check in and refresh in a couple days…blogging is ridiculously ephemeral and conversational, isn’t it?

Some things we must figure out on our own, but

As we enter adulthood and have mastered the basics like reading, simple math, “don’t touch fire” and “be polite to people if you want to get along and make friends unless they give you a reason not to,” most things are better learned directly from observing the experience of others. ¬†The younger we are, the more we tend to miss the subtle fork in the road¬†when we’re faced with a decision whether to figure out some task or problem on our own or whether to see how others have tackled it. ¬†This happens repeatedly until we learn more about learning, on our own in most cases, and get into a¬†habit of saying to ourselves “I’m going to Google this before I screw it up trying to reinvent the wheel” after experiencing enough realization that it can take a long time to bang your head through a problem no matter how satisfying the solution may be, and is quite frustrating when you find out there was One Simple Detail you were missing all along. ¬†It’s also disconcerting when you run out of energy to solve a great problem or to reach a great goal because you were spinning your wheels so long in the details. ¬†There’s a reason people are so attracted to those “One Simple Trick” clickbait advertisements, and it’s not that we want simple solutions to everything and are bad, lazy people in black and white commercials looking inept. ¬†It’s because we’ve already tried dozens of things in our own lives, often recommended by others, to specifically deal with that problem, and we earnestly hope to learn that if we just changed one thing and took it into consideration with the information we already have, everything would click into place. ¬†We aren’t always lazy, we’ve often worked very hard and understandably expect a payoff if a simple adjustment is made.

The good¬†example would be an aspiring or somewhat experienced cook making their first thanksgiving dinner. ¬†You’re not in a position to simply adjust your past experiences, you’re starting from the ground up with whatever foundation to have for cooking individual dishes. ¬†There are seemingly infinite sources of recipes online but the big challenge is pulling it all off together. ¬†It’s a project, not a simple execution of a task, and there are many people who will notice whether you succeed. ¬†You’ll probably find top-to-bottom blog posts about how someone else handled the entire spread all on their own. ¬†And TV is even useful, whether online or in the traditional sense, especially if you can skip or avoid commercials, because successfully executed TV does give your brain a chance to learn in a way that closely aligns with the simplest style of learning — watching and observing. ¬†Bad programming skips around and avoids details, so you have to seek out the good, like the stodgy “Good Eats” and “America’s Test Kitchen,” and even better, you’ll learn over the years that it’s better to ask your guests to help with some of the sides rather than to try to impress them with your willingness to stress yourself out with limited time and kitchen resources (stove burners, refrigerator space, etc).

Granted, Food Network like most cable programming has gone downhill over the years, but you stand a much greater chance of pulling off a complex first attempt at thanksgiving if you spend a few hours watching other people do it there, on YouTube, wherever. ¬†You have to get interested in fulfilling this goal and motivated to be prepared weeks in advance. ¬†While you thinking of tedious details like “do I want to start the oven at 450 and finish low or should I just use a consistent temperature the whole time” you will also engage your “mirror neurons” in the brain simply watching people navigate their kitchen and come up with your own approach, possibly synthesizing multiple sources of information, and your effort will show, but your results belong entirely to you for making that effort. ¬†It’s no mistake that the best¬†naturals in the kitchen simply had a knowledgeable parent who enjoyed cooking at least some percentage of the time, and was willing to show their child the process over years and years, involving them wherever possible and appropriate.

The simplest expression¬†of this is this train of thought is that it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others rather than making the mistake yourself. ¬†You get to simultaneously learn what not to do, which is often just as useful as what to do, and see the consequences of a mistake firsthand without having to bear the brunt of them.

It’s inevitable that we will confront situations all throughout our lives where we make decisions that put us on a path of self-discovery and exploration and perhaps we don’t always take in enough information from others to support the choices we make. ¬†This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, some of those experiences leave us with novel information that perhaps nobody else has obtained, but when it comes to things like learning the basic tedious operations of a standard business process or how to navigate something with significant consequences in the case of errors such as the tax code, it is far better to use the vast amount of free information available offline, with a grain of salt, qualified against multiple sources of information, so that you can more quickly find yourself, in life, in a position where you’re solving a problem no one else has, which could be a very specific niche problem that is still valuable to others, or to solve a problem that’s already been addressed in a better way that hasn’t been attempted successfully before. ¬†That is where you want to ultimately arrive in life, wherever you start out — a¬†place where other people need to look up to¬†you¬†for guidance towards success about some subject, and you can be confident to authoritatively give back and share what you’ve experienced.

That’s what I’m trying to provide here. ¬†I think this has been covered before but I’m going to be getting very specific about the situation I’m dealing with — being in your mid thirties, with a body that tends to accumulate fat and an anxious, restless personality that tends to accompany the obese over-stressed person which¬†needs to be managed in order to succeed at improving my body and mind. ¬†I’ve gone through many false starts and looked back at the sorts of flawed assumptions and reasoning that went¬†into each attempt. ¬†I can tell you everything I did wrong, what I think I did right, and give you concrete proof of results that will be far more sustainable than anything you see on “The Biggest Loser” or the latest fad diet to solve all of your health problems while slowly putting you into a state of prolonged deprivation and metabolic slowdown, possibly with an increase in total fat cells after falling off the wagon.

I’m going to show you how I’ve screwed up and why I think I’m on the right track today. ¬†Namely, it’s a track where I’ve decided to fulfill an overall goal (longevity and vitality) by establishing a series of progressive smaller goals along the way. ¬†It’s the decision to never completely jump out of that track, but to be flexible and willing to change course along the way, and to pause and take breaks while always being open to new information and ways to “confuse” my body into getting stronger and stronger. ¬†A willingness to accept¬†that what works in the first few months doesn’t work forever, and that this is a normal thing that isn’t “bad” but a simple fact of life that has to be accepted as we age, and that I need to go back and look at how all of this started to give you the total picture.

Many¬†success stories start off with “I wasn’t successful, and then yada-yada-yada, here I am.” ¬†You tend to get half of the picture, without knowing exactly how they had a foundation to truly succeed. ¬†Fitness success stories tend to start off with detailed prescriptions without telling you how much room there is to modify the approach to fit within the constraints of your day-to-day life. ¬†They tend to tell you “eat right and exercise!” without telling you what that really means, how you can do both without feeling constantly hungry. ¬†They tend to assume that you’re already truly motivated and ready to go, and that you’re reading the article not for a brief moment of vicarious entertainment (it can be measurably satisfying simply fantasizing about being healthy!) but because you’r absolutely read to attack. ¬†I know that you may not be there yet, but you are curious to know how I got there, and how many ways I’ve been able to cheat or take shortcuts to improve my results. ¬†There are no simple cheats or shortcuts but what you really want to know is how much you can get away with not living a completely rigid lifestyle simply to feel good. ¬†I intend to share how¬†much you can get away with while continuing to move towards a constant state of improvement, however subtle. ¬†This gradual improvement closely aligns with the way we get better at tackling life in all other facets. ¬†The more you do, the more you get, and the longer you do it, the more success builds and accumulates and creates its own momentum.

Injuries tend to happen when you’re goofing around — now what?

Let me qualify “goofing around” because I don’t quite mean “goofing around” in a pejorative sense, but as I realized days after starting this post, it does imply a lack of mindfulness¬†that leads to getting hurt while enjoying the present moment. ¬†It’s a necessary part of life, at least for me. ¬†If I were to say “Injuries tend to happen when you’re having fun,” I would be implying that most forms of self-disciplined consistent physical exercise are never fun, engaging activities. ¬†I look forward to them much of the time, and so they are “fun” to me, but I’m not really “goofing around” in the gym unless I really want a problem. ¬†I have experienced such a problem due to goofing around in the gym plenty of times without realizing I was “goofing around” until I was down for the count for the next week or four. ¬†Typically I’m trying to just listen to my body and push things a little more in terms of weight, intensity, or variation every few weeks with plenty of lower-maintenance weeks in between to simply keep my muscle mass, burn fat, and recover generously as a 36 year-old who needs more recovery. ¬†I also do not mean to imply that you can’t get hurt while engaging in “normal” exercise or training, but there’s a good chance you’ll be doing something that seems silly in retrospect when you do hurt yourself. ¬†In my own life experience, it seems I always experience the greatest injury-based setbacks “goofing around.”

I’m mainly referring to the things you do with your body when you’re not relaxing, sleeping, working, or working out, but are enjoying your [perhaps much-improved] physical body¬†and having fun, without perhaps the best consideration for how prepared you are for those activities. ¬†Examples include playing a pickup game of basketball, tag football in a cul-de-sac, or getting all “urban parkour” during a night of bar-hopping trying to jump over stuff at random, when you have an easily-sprained or rollable ankle and aren’t bracing it. ¬†But you’re fit right now, and suddenly you have new abilities and would like to use them. ¬†Here are some setbacks I’ve encountered over the past 12 years or so. ¬†It’s a long list, and hopefully provides some laughs, and hopefully inspiration with respect to¬†the¬†overall¬†resilience of the human body to sustain years’ worth of setbacks and neglect due to many [mostly] minor but long-recovering injuries and still ultimately serve as a framework for¬†building a physique in the gym, and also some cautionary details to keep in the back of your mind when you decide to just be a little “wacky” about what you’re doing today.

  • During a running/hiking centered health kick in my early twenties, I found myself often jumping up and down small stairways when running to the grocery store. ¬†For whatever reason (I lived near the foothills in Golden Colorado) there were a few of these for pedestrians to navigate in the surrounding strip mall. ¬†One day I just felt nimble enough to start being Mario. ¬†Just a few steps at a time typically, and quite easy to get up (concentric movement) but far more risky to jump down — an eccentric movement, with legs extended, and knees and ankles more susceptible to injury. ¬†I didn’t really learn how to properly land in a jump, or that when you’re jumping down from more than a couple feet regularly, you’re probably doing more harm than good. ¬†After a week or so of doing this often I rolled and sprained my right ankle to all hell and back just before landing an interview an orthopedic clinic. ¬†That job would occupy the next 12 years of my life and I slumped¬†in there looking like a very hobbled patient. ¬†Shortly after, I fell off the fitness wagon and fell into the job a bit too much.
  • A year or so later, I was back on the wagon doing a lot of indoor cycling and outdoor walking (trying to go easy on the ankle), and got cocky showing off in a¬†dumb situation and jumped over an extremely tall fence, and it was surprisingly easy to get up after being pretty heavy again for awhile. ¬†Coming down? ¬†Not prepared. ¬†There goes that ankle again, and another year off the wagon. ¬†It just took so long to recover both times and I was so entrapped in using my lower body for all exercise that I was “over” fitness for a solid year. ¬†I learned to use Urgent Care services instead of the ER whenever possible, because this visit cost me around $400 all said and done.
  • So now I’m cycling again, and so obsessed with the notion that I must ride my bike outdoors all of the time to be “healthy,” and find myself riding often at night after work without a helmet, or a headlight, and in some cases, without a clue as to what hazards were before me. ¬†Had a nice over-the-handlebars moment and luckily wiped out in a bunch of dirt, spraining my wrists. ¬†Couldn’t do that for awhile, but became more single-minded about walking and running again for awhile, and slowly fell off again.
  • Now I’m just getting back into riding and am with two others who are in much better shape. ¬†They push themselves hard, and I get frustrated trying to keep up. ¬†Going downhill, I gather too much speed and grab my hat for a moment (what the hell is my deal with helmets) and *foomp* I’m wrecked for a few months. ¬†Mostly road rash and lacerations everywhere, no concussion or head injury,¬†massively pissed off left shoulder and right knee, stitches in the incredibly sensitive philtrum tissue under my nose. ¬†I suffered significant knee contusions and had to attend physical therapy for a couple of months. ¬†I kicked this off with a visit to urgent care where they were seriously worried about a possible concussion (nope), $50 out of pocket, follow up with the doctors at the orthopedic clinic I’m working at. ¬†This was a massive setback,¬†at least 4 years before I got serious again. ¬†No real excuse for it, but letting my body go to pieces through stress and neglect gave me the kick in the ass I needed to decide “never again. ¬†No really. ¬†Never again!”
  • Now it’s 2015. ¬†I’m on the latest round, serious about keeping momentum for the rest of my life. ¬†Changing things up frequently. ¬†Playing catch is a whole lot more fun when you can run to every wild-ass toss your nephew and son throw¬†in your general direction. ¬†Whoops, stepped on a wet, large rock, and fell on my right shoulder. ¬†I could feel myself falling the right away, tucking my neck in and rolling onto and off of the shoulder as I hit the ground. ¬†But it was a significantly painful crunchy moment and I had to decide how I was going to think about it right then and there. ¬†I spent five minutes beating myself up about missing this obvious hazard and then moved forward. ¬†This was about 10 months ago and was the first stage of the genesis of this blog. ¬†This is when it really started to click for me, because I had already established the mindset that I was never going to give up, get discouraged, feel excessively bad or guilty to myself for getting hurt, and simply took care of it with basic rest, icing, compression, and elevation, obsessively. ¬†Only took a few days to get mostly back to normal, and then I really did a number on it, simply by trying to advance too quickly in the bench press without proper preparation with rotator cuff strengthening. ¬†Now I would be struggling for weeks, and picked up a small TENS unit for $30 to help me get back on my feet.
  • One day at the gym I approached the squat bar and loaded it up with my warm-up weight — 45 pounds on each side for a total of 135 including the bar. ¬†Then I realized the bar wasn’t at quite the right height for me, and pulled it safely off the rack and onto the lower rack below. ¬†This was a relatively easy movement that involved simply controlling the weight as it went down, but when I went to bring the bar back up after re-positioning the upper rack, my left wrist gave out because my right side is stronger, and as a result was majorly strained in a way that really didn’t hurt until the next day (and so I injured it further in the gym), and I was unable to work my upper body for about three weeks. ¬†It was very frustrating, but I’d recently listened to podcasts that reinforced the fact that anything you to do maintain your physique tends to maintain your overall muscle mass. ¬†You don’t just “lose gains” in your upper body as a result of not being able to push it for a few weeks. ¬†It’s not the end of the world. ¬†You keep eating your protein and work the rest of your body, and just psychologically knowing that I wasn’t slipping up by focusing elsewhere was enough to keep me motivated, even if it was possible to prove that I somehow lost a tiny amount of muscle.

In fact, my wrist was so tweaked I couldn’t do anything with free weights — no squats, just having my hands gripping the bar was extremely painful. ¬†Once your stabilizer muscles are injured, you realize just how intensely involved¬†free weight exercises are against your gloriously complex anatomy. ¬†But I could perform leg presses, calf raises, leg extensions, and leg curls, and I learned how to be amazingly precise with my body mechanics — neutral spine, minimal stress on extended joints, so that I could load up that leg press machine with 450 pounds’ worth of plates without hurting that wrist. ¬†It was an invaluable learning experience, all over again. ¬†The lesson was that I was not strong enough to “row” 135 pounds upright in that way without hurting myself, but now I can clean and press 135 pounds off the ground with no trouble. ¬†Dedicated gym rats and crossfitters may laugh at these numbers but they mean the world to me, because I’m improving against my own past performance, growing as a human to fill my potential, and not worried about proving anything to them.

Today I’m using that same $30 TENS unit on my left shoulder after straining it too much playing with my daughter at “Pint Size Play,” an hour of open gymnasium play at the nearby recreational center. ¬†I was hanging on the rings like a wannabe male gymnast, putting myself through a lot of eccentric strain supporting myself upright, pushing my triceps and shoulders to the limit. ¬†I pushed it just far enough to feel a laxity and a loosening of my rotator cuff, and immediately went to work taking care of it, which is to say,¬†I nearly forgot all about the injury at the time because it was pretty minor and just felt like weakness initially.

And so I went to the gym that night and did a bunch of stuff that involved my shoulder in different ways before I realized I could feel laxity and clicking sensations in the joint simply by holding my right hand over it as I rotated my shoulder externally and internally. ¬†Whoops, but I pushed it just hard enough to avoid any immediate pain, and removed myself from the “push yourself!” environment at the gym¬†after going through several internal / external rotation movements and feeling that looseness. ¬†It definitely had to sink in, because it didn’t hurt until I completely stopped using it.

I’ve taken the rest of the¬†week off of my upper body in the gym, focusing on legs, simple cardio, and a little high intensity interval training. ¬†I’ve been suffering from some minor inner elbow pain for months anyway, and have now convinced myself that it was good that I strained my left shoulder, because I’m giving my elbows the time they need to recuperate. ¬†That’s a “story I’m telling myself.” ¬†Stories you tell yourself can be constructive, destructive, or simply entertaining, but having your own internal dialogue and narrative that keeps you centered is an invaluable component of mindfulness.

Before, I would keep pushing those elbows a little more each week, and the pain would nag on, ebbing and flowing. ¬†Today it’s really starting to wear off in my elbows, and I hope they will feel stronger than ever when my shoulder is done recovering. ¬†I take comfort in feeling that buzzing TENS unit right now as I type.

I realize my left shoulder is the one complaining and giving out now, because my right shoulder has grown much stronger through the healing process of prior injuries. ¬†It is no longer bringing up the rear. ¬†Even though I’m left-handed, my right shoulder has always been a little stronger and has always been the sufferer of minor injuries. ¬†Now, it’s gotten stronger than ever, and it’s the left shoulder’s time to step up its game and to grow stronger through the process of inflammation, strengthening exercises as it starts to bother me less, and healing.

Now I’m in the groove, and I accept that injuries happen, but you have to be mindful of what you’re doing whenever your body is in play. ¬†You will get hurt when having fun, but you will experience a far lower magnitude of injury if you’re mindful of what you’re doing and what hazards are involved in your activity and your immediate surroundings. ¬†You will need to “baby yourself” to take care of your injuries, and push yourself to grow past your limitations. ¬†I have much more to say on the subject, about the mindfulness that it requires to minimize your exposer to injury while having a willingness to push yourself, whether in play or disciplined training, but I’ll follow up in a later post. ¬†I will also be talking a lot more about injury prevention and management because it’s become a huge part of my final effort to become the best physical version of my self that I can be. ¬†It’s a logical part of the aging process, you simply can’t just automatically recover from the slings and arrows of life without taking active, deliberate steps to augment your body’s natural healing processes. ¬†Or more accurately, you can entirely rely on your body to slowly get better with zero effort, but without taking an active role in getting better, you won’t be engaged in the process of staying fit once you do recover. ¬†That’s what happened in the past, a slow surrender while waiting for my body to “get better.”

As you get older, you must become far more of a caretaker for your physical body than you could ever imagine in your teens or twenties.

It just occurred to me, when pondering what I said much earlier: “goofing around” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but what does it imply? ¬†Goofing around isn’t simply “doing fun stuff for the sake of fun.” ¬†It absolutely implies a lack of mindfulness, a lack of awareness of exactly what risks are involved in an activity. ¬†Sometimes we take a risk that makes zero sense at all in retrospect, like “let’s see if I can juggle by two swinging kettlebells, switching uneven weights from hand to hand!” but more often we’re simply enjoying ourselves in the present moment. ¬†Yes I have attempted that with kettlebells and why? ¬†Just to show off for my son? ¬†Make sure you know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Playing touch football is not “goofing around.” ¬†Playing football without wearing a $20 ankle brace or proper footwear when your ankle is notorious for getting sprained is in fact, goofing around, in a truly perjorative, “what the hell, dummy!” sense. ¬†And yes, that’s another story that I could cram into the bulleted list above ūüôā

How are you going to differentiate yourself?

This is a question everyone needs to ask themselves, all of the time, any time they are trying to accomplish anything that requires other people. ¬†So how am I going to differentiate myself on this blog? ¬†If you haven’t read the “Welcome” post yet, please check it out.

For starters, I will be posting some surprising “beginning and end” pics along with some of my progress along the way, but because I did not set out to do that, I literally have to go back through my old photo folders and find some representative pictures. ¬†These will not be pictures of somebody who let himself go for two seasons (fall and winter) and then is getting “cut” for beach season or other chicanery. ¬†These will be someone who was nearly 300 pounds and has since radically transformed his body. ¬†I am currently about 100 pounds’ in upper body strength (i.e. assisted machine) away from being able to perform a straight pull-up for the first time in my life. ¬†A month ago, I was 150 pounds away. ¬†A month before that, 200 pounds. ¬†I am making rapid progress and am excited to show you it, explain why, and review and detail the countless tools that I’ve used or discarded on the way. ¬†I am thrilled to be able to do this to you completely independently with zero affiliation to anything. ¬†Some of the things I suggest will inevitably be pointed out as too expensive or “suburb yuppie” compared to cheaper options, and I’m thrilled to find out where my blind spots are, for example, comparing gummy bears vs. red vines vs. fructose vs. dextrose vs. highly-branched cyclic dextrin for post exercise muscle glycogen replenishment.

I am here to geek out about fitness with other people who are seriously curious and determined to at least learn more, even if you aren’t anywhere close to a place where you can act with the intensity you’d like to. ¬†You’ll find a way to get there, and to make gradual continuous improvements, to apply the concept of “kaizen” used by Japanese factories to continually refine yourself into a better person today than the person you were two weeks ago. ¬†That’s really the way to look at it — each day is going to have ups and down, but overall, when you look back even a few weeks, you should see yourself today as significantly ahead of the game. ¬†Your idea of “giving it your all” should change as you evolve, and that’s normal.

I’ve been fortunate to take a lot of time off of full-time employment while working as a contractor¬†with the express purpose of turning my body into something I am proud of and always dreamed of having. ¬†

I¬†have assimilated and consumed a tremendous amount of information and can tell you what has worked for me, and what hasn’t. ¬†I am extremely experimental and willing to try all manner of things in the pursuit of results. ¬†I am willing to stick with things for the many weeks or months it takes to know whether it’s truly beneficial. ¬†But most importantly, I AM STILL A BEGINNER. ¬†Why the hell would you want advice from a beginning, who has only lost 50 pounds so far (down to 230) when he could lose control at any time? ¬†Because I am bobbing and weaving every day, beating down the plateaus and obstacles, and have no intent of backing down. ¬†But I remember where I came from just a few months ago, and can tell you how I deal with the pain, how I avoid injuries, how I keep myself active day in and day out without the sort of setbacks we’ve all encountered in the past. ¬†How to be truly “gung-ho” without being stupid and getting hurt.

I am very fortunate to be where I am, but what you will find when reading any sort of fitness information out there is that little tips and tricks for “not losing all motivation and injuring yourself right away” are hard to find. ¬†There’s a lot of “rah-rah” pumping and inspiration and advice like “don’t worry about hurting yourself jumping while doing squats, worrying is for wimps!” ¬†There’s a lot of obliviousness out there and here’s why:

  1. People naturally underestimate how difficult something was for themselves after they do it. ¬†It’s common to have a “that was nothing” attitude and forget the little pitfalls and stumbles along the way.
  2. People who write “self-help” style books and blogs tend to be so far along that they’ve lost insight on who they were before getting to the place they are today. ¬†They are talking to you as if you are already pretty far along to the point where they are, and forget how discouraging it was in the beginning.
  3. People often err on the side of over-encouragement instead of telling you how to take things gradually and easily, because it’s motivating and “macho” and gets them page views.
  4. People have an implicit bias that helps them¬†to turn into the “drill sergeant” when they are trying to help others, vs. remembering the soothing, reassuring “best friend” tone of voice you need to take with your own internal dialog, in order to fight through difficult struggles.

The “drill sergeant” mentality is important to an extent, but you can’t be relentless and you can’t beat newbies down into the ground if you want to see them rise up. ¬†Children who do the best in life are faced with adversity and challenges throughout life, but they know there are adults who care about them who will help them with truly life-or-death matters like food and shelter. ¬†You need the right combination of comfort and aggression, or perhaps, shall we say, “Danger and Play” in order to walk the line between “heartless badass that nobody likes” to “self-actualized self-possessed man of action.”