People without power-satisfaction

Every once in a while I encounter someone who feels like an ambitious prison inmate. They just do what they gotta do, it’s dog eat dog.

I’m not the first to point this out but dogs don’t actually eat other dogs.

Except in like, the apocalypse.

This type of person treats the world like it’s a closed system and a zero-sum game, everything they have is something that someone else doesn’t, and everything someone higher up the chain has is something they feel has been taken from them. This is why they’re desperate to get rich while vehemently hating rich people.

Sometimes this makes people despair but it can mostly give them an excuse for greed, coercion and suspicion to the point of paranoia. They really believe that everyone who got anywhere must be a villain so we all have to be a villain too.

These are the people who imply you’re stupid for trying to be good. But they don’t really believe it, they’re just forcing themselves to put this map over reality because it removes uncertainty, i.e, fear.

There’s a class discussion from high school I still think about where I voiced the opinion that no one should lie and the class and the teacher all took the everybody lies a little, you have to to get by approach. And I couldn’t articulate it at the time (hence why I can’t help reliving it) but if they really believed that they would have lied about it. They would have falsely agreed with me and taken the moral high ground if lying were actually totally okay with them. Instead they were actually being honest about lying because they intrinsically know lying is bad.

And it’s much the same with our zero-sum dog-warriors, they know the world isn’t really tough and out to screw them 90% of the time and they’re not usually out to screw people – otherwise they wouldn’t be having a conversation about how they believe everyone screws everyone and they’d be actively screwing you on something – they just want to justify it all the time to excuse doing it some of the time.

But zero-sum battles don’t change objective reality. In a microcosm let’s say there’s two people and a bottle of water in an elevator. One person picks it up. What’s the objective truth? One person has the bottle of water. Then the other person takes it. What’s the objective truth now? One person has the bottle of water.

If your world is as small as an elevator and your goals as small as a bottle of water you say but they took my bottle of water, it was a fight for survival, better to be the one with the water than without by any means necessary. Which is ignoring the symmetry that they feel the exact same way. You’re both acting like your highest priority is dying second.

And I think this is where good nihilism comes in. Instead of battling over exhaustible resources because they, by definition, will be exhausted and thinking that dying second is better because then you’re sitting in a elevator with a corpse – the nihilist looks for not what prolongs life but what improves it.

A nihilist thinks the outcome is meaningless and I have no power over that but I do have power to change here and now before that outcome. So they feel satisfied and responsible for the power they have and the actions they take. The zero-sum thinker believes I have to change the outcome and for that I need power and power means resources.

The metaphor round of this would be that we’re all warring dogs on elevators with corpses but my whole point is that we’re not. The world is an extremely big system with infinite options in essence and you do have enough power to say I’ll make things better or leave them alone. It’s people who think I have to take what I can get who wind up with nothing, and they wind up with it over and over.

And it’s the people willing to say I’ll take nothing that slowly accumulate the things worth having.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Here’s What I Know So Far: Working Out

Intensity Matters. An intuitive idea people have about a work out routine is something like buying 20 pound dumbbells and doing ten curls everyday. This is known as the every-teenage-boy.

But what I’ve learned is if you can do it there’s no point in doing it. If you can’t do ten 20 pound curls then good, do three sets of 5 with long breaks (1 min, 3 min, 5 min, even 15 minutes according to some strength coaches) but if it’s no problem then doing it isn’t doing you any good.

The advice I found helpful is you don’t want to be able to finish your last set. So if you’re doing three sets of an exercise at ten reps with a one minute break it needs to be with a weight that causes you to crap out around 8 in the final set. If you get through it, higher weight or shorter break starting next time.

So speaking of breaks, something else I know is Breaks Matter. Basically my adage is shorter break muscles get bigger, longer break muscles get smarter.

Muscles get bigger when they get repaired after being broken down (and they get repaired while you sleep if you’ve eaten enough protein so Sleep Matters, Protein Matters) so if that’s your goal then you want them to break down a lot. High weight, short break.

If you do low reps (half your max) with long breaks your muscles get smarter. They get trained not to build up lactic acid and they recruit more surrounding muscles to get the job done.

And until very recently I thought I want to be stronger more than I want to be bigger so strength training was more my focus but then one of the guys at work I talk gym with pointed out that if you don’t make the muscle bigger first you’re going to hit a strength wall a lot sooner.

So don’t be afraid or ashamed to body-build, it has functional value and isn’t just vanity. Unless you’re Luke Oliver, then it is just vanity.

I know that strength training is more about compound movements (involving lots of muscle groups like dead lifts because it teaches them to work together to get something done) and body-build (also known a hypertrophy) is about isolation movements like bicep curls to break down specific muscles one at a time.

What else…?

Back to the idea that Intensity Matters, there is something to be said for fast work outs. I used to hate it when I heard things like get abs in six minutes a day because it’s just salesman talking. Super short works appeal to people who aren’t working out but it really just makes them easiest to skip. If you want to make exercise part of your life you carve out the fucking time. If someone promised you you could parent in six minutes a day would you want that?

I loved spending two hours in the gym until it was pointed out that long workouts are a form of laziness. You’re going through a lot motions and frittering around to feel good about how you’re doing but it’s not very effective.

Intense work outs keep your heart rate up, your blood pumping, they force you to have a plan, and they make you lift heavy rather than the excuse of lifting long.

Uh…

Variety Matters. Don’t do the same exercises all the time, the effectiveness just isn’t there, you’re missing other related muscles and creating imbalances that lead to injuries and chronic problems. When I was designing my morning work outs I had like 50 movements I’d mix and match into two lists on Sunday then alternate them for the week and when I was in the gym I had to hit all the areas (the body weight space, machines, free weights, squat racks, and treadmills) and not do anything two days in a row. Variety isn’t about not getting bored – if you’re getting bored then more weight shorter breaks like I said up top or if we’re talking cardio just go fucking faster – it’s about different stimuli and not leaving muscle groups behind. There’s no perfect work out so you have to explore constantly.

And finally I’ll say Rest Matters but not as much as you think. Rest when you need to not when you want to. In the beginning you’ll be sore because your body is adjusting so go ahead and rest every other day or even two days in a row for a while but then watch out for trying to rest away bad form. Meaning – you do a movement badly, hurt, then rest until you don’t, then do the movement badly again and repeat. Most pain and problems come from bad form and not working out related muscles (like tennis elbow comes from having your forearms not as strong as your biceps). So start with low weight and focus on form, watch form que videos constantly, and learn to work the forgotten or neglected things like external rotation of the shoulder and you’ll find that you don’t need rest.

And that’s pretty much what I know so far about working out.

Posted in fitness

Don’t be protective of your depression

I wanted to put the your in the title in quotation marks (but I just find then so damn ugly) because the depression isn’t yours, it doesn’t belong to you, it’s happening to you.

If you spend enough time on the depressosphere of the internet you’ll see memes pushing back against the idea, and the people supposedly telling you, that depression can be cured by mediation or kale or going to the gym. And I fully get it, I’ve written a dozen posts about how when I was suicidal everyone’s advice just seemed to be saying well stop.

You can’t put up a wall though. Not with you on the depressed side and everyone else on the doesn’t-get-it side. That’s going to hurt everybody.

But furthermore don’t stick up for depression, it’s not your friend. I know you feel like it’s been there for you and with you and always will be but you’re just anthropomorphizing a construct of your emotions. That’s weird. You’re being weird.

Thirdly, don’t assume that depression is a cause, it might be a symptom. Changing your diet might seem like too small a thing to deal with the worthlessness of the universe and how ugly everyone thinks you are but that’s your ego making a big deal out of itself. Because what is depression? A imbalance of neurotransmitters. What effects neurotransmitter? What you eat, how you move, and what you think. I just finished Michael Pollan’s book on psychedelic therapy and it shows that psilocybin can have major effects on people with treatment resistant depression (meaning they tried 2 other therapies with no results and please don’t run out and do a bunch of mushrooms I’m just making the point that change is possible from the brain outward).

I know that lifestyle changes don’t cure depression, nothing does, for me it’s almost the exact same fight everyday but you do have to fight. You get very little momentum and it dissipates very quickly but you can gain ground and get your life back. You just have to try, you have to stop not-trying. Once the black clouds part enough to see a way forward – whether it’s during some therapy or during a 10K – you can keep moving that way even when the clouds roll back.

Please, Please don’t think when the clouds roll back that it means the sun was never there.

Tim Ferris’ TEDTalk about his history of depression really showed me that world isn’t divided into those who struggle and those who flourish or even periods of struggle and periods of flourishing. You can struggle-flourish. You can flurggle.

But be wary of sharing memes and building a sense of group belonging around your depression. It may be comforting and cathartic in the short term but it will cause you to show off and amp up your display and defense of your depression because it gets a reaction from the community, it deepens your connection.

Focus on joining a community – just really passively online, you don’t have to go nuts – of people who are doing the things that might help. Exercise, yoga, clean eating, and yeah some discussions of mental illness just not ones that pat you on the back for having it. Fill your YouTube and Instagram with that and you’ll start noticing the world is a bigger, happier place than you were giving it credit for and you can be a part of it. Don’t push yourself, no pressure, just notice the thoughts when they come.

Posted in Depression & Suicide

Here’s what I know so far: Losing Fat

The first thing I learned about losing weight is that weight doesn’t matter. If you start working out you burn fat and build muscle and your weight won’t really change. You’ll look fantastic but you’ll weigh the same. And this is a out how you look ultimately. Being healthy sucks if there’s no way to show it off and be smug about it.

So the first action I took came from Tim Ferris. Don’t eat anything white or that could be white. Meaning bread, pasta, rice, etc. I thought I was good because I ate whole grain bread fortified with quinoa or flax or any such shit. Nope. Gave up bread and pasta 5 or 6 days a week and started shedding belly fat. Plus having more energy through the day and feeling less sluggish less often.

Next I started strength training. We all think, and I did too, that cardio burns fat, you just run yourself thin. Nope again. To get your body to burn fat takes a shit ton of effort. You gotta get your heart rate near max for 20 minutes just to start burning any serious fat with cardio. And people doing fasted cardio just eat more later throughout the day (as does anyone skipping breakfast – don’t skip breakfast).

But muscle burns fat. Building muscle channels nutrients that might get stored as fat into useful areas. Plus strength training let’s you eat garbage bags of food. If you want to eat yourself thin you basically have to eat one meal a day. Switching to healthy snacks is still fueling your body, and your body burns fuel before it burns fat. A bag of carrot sticks has enough sugar to fuel your body most of the day if you’re not training. Fat cells are your body’s savings account, it doesn’t want to dip into that, it’ll spend what you eat long before it reaches back and opens up the fat cell bank account. But if you burn those carrots for fuel and use the nutrients to repair the over-worked muscle? Go to town, get your carrot stick on, you can have almond butter on your celery girl.

There might be some women reading this thinking they don’t want to work out with weights because they don’t want to get bulky. You won’t. You see all those bizarre, intense ads and huge tubs of protein powder, and tropes like Rocky drinking raw eggs? There’s a billion dollar industry and whole areas of science based on dudes trying to get bulky. It’s not going to happen to you by fucking accident.

And if you just stop eating your body will adjust. It’ll lower your metabolism and your NEAT (non-exercise thermogenesis, yeah I know that term. mic drop), if you just eat less food over all rather than giving up carbs and beginning exercise your body’s maintenance calories will go down and down. It’s known as persistent metabolic adaptation or  The Biggest Loser effect.

So let’s review: Exercise and don’t eat flour everyday.

Booze ruins it all too. Sorry. We all knew it.

In studies one daily drink contributed to better health than zero. So hurray, drinking is good for you and everyone uses the totally fraudulent glass of wine with dinner example to justify drinking. But while one is better than none, two is baseline again, and three is worse. All the purported health benefits of drinking are undone by drinking.

But you know what? This isn’t about being a robot. Train hard and eat well during the week then do as you please. You’re not in competition, you just want to look and feel a little better. You still gotta live some life.

I say that because I’ll still drink on training days even though alcohol reduces muscle protein synthesis (another baller term I throw around) by 30%. That’s like earning a hundred dollars and turning around and spending 30 of it right… back… at the… bar where you work…

Beyond eating and training your whole life dictates if your gaining or losing abdominal fat (I’m focused on the that because abdominal fat is particularly a sign of a health problem and not just aesthetic) so get your sleep. Being tired makes you fat. Being stressed makes you fat. Being fat makes you tired and stressed which makes you more fat. Basically we’re always at the top of point with slopes on either side, you’re either sliding away from health or towards it. Smoking even correlates to a lack of intimate friendships which is the number one factor in longevity. Health has momentum.

Even something as simple as eating a banana at breakfast because you’re going for a run spills over into other benefits like bananas containing tryptophan which is a serotonin precursor and makes you happy (in layman’s terms) and then the run also makes you feel happier, and then the fact that you ate breakfast means you’re going to eat smaller meals throughout the rest of the day so you’ll be leaner and you’ll be even happier. It’s a slippery slope in both directions, don’t let anyone tell you health is an all or nothing uphill battle, that shit’s for crossfitters.

Ultimately the secret to fat loss is change your habits and wait. If you focus on the results it’ll be torture. If you focus on the habits, on the here and now, what you’re going to do and not do today, then time will just breeze by and then you’ll look up and notice you look a little better. Then you’ll really want to keep going and it’ll be a pleasure.

Posted in Pragmatism

How fitness was beaten out of most us

Gym class used to be the best class. I don’t at which grade the school system decides to switch it from literally being fun and games to being torture, I guess it varies from school to school, but they seem determined to turn it into the worst class… but only for some people.

Maybe I just never saw it but I don’t remember any kid being completely given up on in math. Like, oh he doesn’t intuitively know how to do this, fuck’em forever. Math class taught you math and dragged you along kicking and screaming if need be, gym class just made you run without ever teaching you anything about running.

And a running habit can be the difference between death in your 50s and death in your 90s and doing it wrong can destroy your body. You lectured us about drugs and alcohol for those very same reasons but you couldn’t give us one fucking day about landing on your mid-foot and not heel-striking?

In science class if you did badly on an assignment that meant there was something you needed to know and didn’t. In gym the assignment was just play basket ball, if it didn’t turn out well – if you failed it completely – oh well, that’s just how the score shook out.

It turned into the haves and the have-nots of athletic ability rather then the naturals and the need-to-learns of a skill. There was a stupid catch 22 gate keeper effect that if you wanted to learn to get better at football, you had to be good enough to get on the football team.

And man, when I tried out for any team sports it was hell. The teachers are indifferent at best because they only want to coach the naturals because they’re lazy and actually not good at coaching and the other kids are fucking cruel because easy social status is a super power you abuse when you’re 14 and real life isn’t real yet.

So the jocks and nerd false-dichotomy was born in us. We didn’t want to go near anything athletic, and we wanted to disparage those who did, because our egos were trained by the neglect of adults that it wasn’t safe for us.

Fuck you again, school.

Luckily time marches cruelly forward and nostalgia and the fact that no one’s ashamed of being infantilized anymore lead to the creation of adult dodgeball leagues, ultimate frisbee (or anything involving frisbees and obsessively calling them discs), and so forth which allows people to go back and enjoy fitness from before it got shitty.

And for the rest of who had to get into the gym because we were literally dying it was great to find that as adults there are no gate keepers. Fitness is everywhere and everyone wants you to get into it, especially if they want your money.

Your doctor, your romantic partner, your bank, your job, they all want you to be into fitness, the social media feedback loop will optimize your brain to be into fitness if you search for or post about it even once.

So yes, as with everything school let you down. People love to bitch about how school didn’t teach them to handle money or to change a tire but fail to be angry that all they taught us about our bodies was the anatomy of dicks.

Like, thank god I know the term philopian tube. Which with a quick google search I now know is spelled fallopian and isn’t in the dick so really, again, fuck you school.

But that does bring me to the point that everything some surly failure of cog didn’t teach you in school is at the tips of your fingers.

Jeff Cavaliere is the coach all of us needed and didn’t get.

Thomas DeLauer is the nutritionist-as-scientist that school should have in the classroom and in the cafeteria.

Kelly Starrett is the gym coach-as-philosopher that pulls it all together into real life.

Jeff Nippard and Stephanie Buttermore are the cool jock kids who are so cool they’ll talk to everybody.

Part of trauma therapy is going back and rewriting it so it goes how you want, so the story is the story you want, and we can do that. We can reclaim the natural love of movement and athleticism that was taken away from us when we were too young to defend ourselves from a broken system.

Get fit, fight back.

Posted in fitness

Breakfast

I’d like to be doing Intermittent Fasting. Fasting in general is quite good for you and the practice of having an eating window of 8 or fewer hours in a day is typically how it’s done.

The problem is that I’ve very aware of the importance of breakfast. If you eat within half an hour of waking up, especially if it’s a breakfast high in protein and fiber, you will be less hungry throughout the day. That’s the official pronouncement but I’ve found it doesn’t really do the sensation justice. If I delay breakfast for a few hours I’m hungry all day, I feel compelled to eat and to binge eat – when I’m full something in me tells me to keep eating.

I suspect delaying breakfast tricks the body into thinking food must be scarce and therefore to stock up no matter what.

The thing is it does feel really good to get in all of my working out – run, gym, swim – totally fasted and then really dig into some food at lunch. I could probably sprinkle some sugar on a wet cardboard box and under those circumstances it would be delicious.

And at 6 in the morning it really doesn’t feel like my body has processed everything from the night before, an early breakfast just feels like piling on and confusing my system. I even avoid snacking behaviour now too just so my system is handling one project at a time with it’s full attention then giving me an authentic signal that I could use some nutrients again. As a general rule I focus on eating out of real hunger, not boredom.

But I guess I eat more based on my workout schedule than anything. Post work out eating sooner is better for building muscle so that usually makes my decision for me about not just when I eat but what I eat. And another area tearing me up is whether or not one needs carbs post work out if you’re on the Slow Carb Diet.

Another factor is I’m staying in race mode. I rehearsed my race day morning for weeks before my half marathon because I’d be an idiot not to, you don’t declare one day special and totally different and expect to be at your best that day, it’ll just throw you out of whack. You want to be totally in whack on race day so you gotta build greatness into your routine.

I guess it’s just that my morning routine is out of whack, I’m torn between two very good options. But if delaying breakfast causes me to binge at night, and bingeing at night causes me to want to delay breakfast maybe I can just cut down evening eating. Although I do love a nice big, hot dinner after a full days work.

This must mean it’s experiment time, just delay breakfast for two weeks and see how I feel then instant breakfast for two and compare notes.

Posted in fitness

Enforced Monogamy

If you can’t get laid it’s because you’re awful to be around. All the chatter out there about redistribution of sex and enforced monogamy is forgetting that one piece of apparently ancient wisdom.

The stereotype that’s building in my head of a Jordan Peterson fan just keeps getting worse. Anyone who would advocate the societal reintroduction of a type of slavery just to assuage the self-esteem of the potentially violent is insane.

And this is all coming from a place of sympathy and empathy. I did my time as a school-shooter-in-training, a rage-suicide-in-waiting, I did my time being lonely because I only really cared about myself. I thought I was proof that life was unfair but you know what? Life is fair. Everyone’s who’s born dies. Can’t get any fairer. There’s no measuring stick for who deserves a girl friend, if you like someone and you’re not their type – that’s that and you’re in for a world of hurt til you come to terms with that.

The stereotype in my head is now of course saying he’s not awful, he’s smart and funny and people just don’t see that.

Maybe. How does your intelligence show itself? By being bitter?

How does your humour show itself? By being bitter?

Exactly. You have to be someone people want to be around and all you’re giving them is bitterness. You’re telling yourself you just need someone to see the real you and you’ll open up but it’s not other people’s job to see the real you, you don’t get to put the work on them.  It’s on you to show who you really are. It’s on you to show you’re not awful to be around by not being awful to be around.

That girl in your life who’s nice to you that you wish you were sleeping with? She doesn’t. She’s nice to you as a way of placating how awful you are to be around. It’s her coping strategy, not her attraction signal.

Because people do have pretty good real you detectors. We can all spot insincerity, we all have a spidey-sense, and if you’re setting people’s off it’s not that they’re being terribly unfair – you need to lessen your creep factor, bro.

And of course the argument that other dudes who are awful to be around are getting laid is next in this imaginary discussion I can’t stop having…

So yeah, guys you think are douche bags get laid. That should show you how easy it is, the bar is that low. You only have to be not-awful-to-be-around like 20% of the time to build rapport. (Also those guys become drama-vortexes when people realize they’re awful to be around a staggering 80% of the time and you don’t want their life. You want to be happy.)

I actually did something like research for this post because I didn’t want to misrepresent Peterson or seem to be adding the disturbingly hyperbolic pile-ons of people desperate to vilify him (the guy gets written about worse than actual serial killers) and I came across this piece that’s so much better than I could currently write about the state of the unfortunate discussion.

My goal isn’t to participate in that discussion though, I shouldn’t have to, no one should have to, any discussion that revolves around coercing a demographic into less freedom and human flourishing should be met with a big red NOPE sticker because the light side of the force already won that one and we’ll never move forward if we keep doubling back to re-tread bad ideas.

My goal is, always, just to clear the hadron collider that is my mind. Writing to slow down the thoughts and put them in order so I can at least track the explosion and get something (hopefully) useful out of it.

There are people I see that disgust other people, homeless, drunks, addicts, incels, losers in search of pandering messiah and an excuse, and I don’t feel disgust. I feel a kinship. They are my shadow-self, they are what I would be if I hadn’t changed.

I think the urge to over-slander (as opposed to slandering someone just the right amount) Peterson comes from a place of wanting to pull people in the fragile middle ground away from him, I think it comes from a good place. What he says appeals to vulnerable people and we should all want to protect the vulnerable. The strategy unfortunately by most writers on the subject of Peterson is just to try and make him a social no-fly zone by conflating him with the worst people who listen to him.

I think the better strategy is to try and help people. And I hope that’s how I come across even when I sound harsh. My biggest fear in writing this is that I’m not differentiating myself enough from people throwing imaginary enemies under the bus to appeal to people who de facto agree with them. There’s a shirt that says why be sexist, racist, or transphobic when you could just be quiet and the person wearing that shirt knows that none of those bad guys is going to read that shirt and say hey good point I’ll shut up the audience for that shirt is other virtue-signalling back patters and that’s it. That’s not doing any good.

There’s a difference between treating someone as if they’re wrong and treating them as if they’re the enemy.

 

 

Posted in Depression & Suicide, Gender, Pragmatism