Health

Philosophy of Moderation – Part 3: Sleep

So this year I made “goals” instead of “resolutions” because for some reason it’s gotten to the point that resolutions are synonymous with failure.  (I’m watching the population of my gym closely, it has already declined some since the year turned.)  Among my goals for this year was to make sleep a priority.  Not just any sleep, decent sleep, like several sleep cycles (which adds up to 7.5 hours with another 15 min added to wind down and actually fall asleep.)  Previously I had shot for six a night and often missed the mark, which really added up by the end of the week in terms of my energy level, mood and ability to stay awake in what are sometimes relatively boring meetings (which is an unfortunate necessity.)

Now I know some of you hard-core folk are out there doing what you do, pounding Monster energy drinks and sleeping three hours a night with the mantra of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!!”

Well, if you’re doing that solely on principle, then fuck off.  You’re wrong.

I guess you won't sleep when you're... undead?

I guess you won’t sleep when you’re… undead?

I’m not going to go into the endless amount of science that says a good amount of sleep benefits you in nearly every way possible.  Nine out of ten doctors don’t do it for me either.  Doctors of what? For all we know they all have their PhD’s in English Composition (god knows we all know I don’t.. but I digress…)  What I WILL tell you is that I’ve been there, done that.  I’ve never taken hard drugs, but I’ve skimmed the surface by taking enough ephedrine and caffeine to keep me awake for three days straight until my body was literally trying to shut itself down while I was standing up at work.  I continue to use obscene amounts of coffee to make up for the hours lost hooking up on a work night, or simply playing an MMO until my eyes threatened to bleed and the sun was rising.  But just because we’re badass and can do that, doesn’t mean we should do that.  It comes down to quality of life and when it comes to living, if you believe quantity is more important than quality, I think you’re doing it wrong.

Now let’s back up a little and clarify something.  I know life happens.  I know sometimes you have to do what you have to do by working several jobs, overnight, military or caring for a newborn that doesn’t give a rat’s ass that you have to go to work tomorrow.  All those are situational life happenings that are important and can’t be helped.  I would never condemn somebody that is sacrificing for the sake of promoting themselves or those close them.  That’s life, shit happens, we do our best.  I get that.  I’m talking about those (like me) who intentionally and through lack of discipline put themselves in a position to lose what is essentially as important to your health and longevity as breathing, eating or drinking water.  Just like those things, if you don’t sleep for a certain amount of time, you’ll actually die.  

Handy infographic.

Handy infographic.

When you get less sleep over time, you are damaging yourself.   Most importantly, you are actually damaging your brain. It literally kills brain cells.  The good news is your brain can heal itself to some degree, the bad news is with prolonged regular damage, there’s gonna be some lasting effects.  That’s assuming you don’t kill yourself (like I almost did) by falling asleep on the road or doing something else equally stupid.  And the icing on the cake (all of this was recently confirmed): premature aging (especially skin), stupidity (literally), decreased sex drive and (that’s right) weight gain.   Add that to the overall dramatically increased chance of death (especially through cardiovascular issues) and all of a sudden those couple extra hours of MMO don’t seem so life-changing.  I love food, video games, women, sex, alcohol and what have you, and there’s nothing with losing a couple hours form time to time to partake in all these awesome things life has to offer.  Life is about experience, so live it!  But for the love of god when it’s just another night in your everyday life, needlessly throwing away your body’s ability to fix itself from all the awesome damaging experiences is just plain stupid.  Don’t be stupid, too many humans already are.

sleeping_baby_kitten

Every other animal in the world understands. Also.. baby kitten.

So then what did this goal do for me thus far?  Well, the other day I was in a six hour meeting at work to go over systems and processes and otherwise boring shit that’s essential but not boobs and explosions.  You know what?  I had a pretty good time.  Since I was well rested, I was not only not fighting dozing (which honestly sucks because you know you’re missing everything..), but I was witty enough to banter about what we were talking about and make it more fun.  Yep, sleeping made work more fun.  On top of that, my morning coffee works much better, because instead of compensating, it’s just boosting.  When it wore off, I didn’t crash, I was good.  Here’s the kicker though and it’s something I hadn’t thought about: dreams.  See before I would occasionally have a dream or two, but most times I just assumed I forgot them when I woke up.  Now I think that I just wasn’t having them.  My brain just wasn’t making it to whatever process that caused them.  Now granted I’ve been having more “Walking Dead” style dreams than anything else (hurry back!!) But even that isn’t really unpleasant because my brain has dug up all kinds of random crap I haven’t even thought about in years and it’s pretty entertaining.  I dream literally every night.  Other than reoccurring nightmares, I think most people would choose to dream rather than not… ever.   Beyond all that, I’m generally more level-headed and patient despite going through a fairly strange and isolated time in my life, so I would say this particular goal has especially good timing.  Oh, and getting enough sleep regularly also has the benefit of making it much  easier to get through days you don’t happen to get enough sleep because you’re busy being a rock star.

Having a rockstar night every night has killed or damaged many a rock star.  So, like all things, be a rockstar (or MMO badass) in moderation and get some sleep!!

Advertisements

Work / Life (Im)Balance

I’ve struggled with the concept of a good work/life balance for many years now.  I’ve always been a very firm believer in the line between personal life and what we do for work.  As the saying goes, we “work to live”, not “live to work.”  But then there’s the other philosophy that says if you love what you do, then it won’t feel like work.  To this day I struggle with where the right balance is, and what sort of lifestyle is worth the work you put in.  Can you really love what you do so much that it doesn’t feel like work?  (Especially when you’re as inherantly lazy as I am?)

As an Executive Assistant (what I do when I’m not writing long-winded blogs) my hours can be fairly erratic.  When I was serving my last Chairman I was salary (the norm for this sort of position) which made the extended hours a bit upsetting at times.  Now, I’m hourly (no overtime pay but still a step up…) and my current CEO demands (as nicely as possible) I put extra time in.  This last week especially I’ve had a lot on my plate and found myself taking it home.  Great for my paycheck, but not so great for having any downtime.  Downtime and decompression time are very important to me to the point I often take extended lunches to remove my brain and start on my blogs.  But when you find yourself struggling to get enough sleep and having little “you” time, at what point do you decide if it’s worth it or not?  There’s no real standard, and I’m NOT complaining about where I am in life, but I do seek the balance for the sake of myself and my employer as I believe many people do.

Executive Assistant Life

Executive Assistant Life

So what’s the solution?  It’s said that you have to work hard and put in your time in order to improve your lifestyle and make money. But is the money worth it if you don’t have time to enjoy it?  I know that I’m not willing to give up my lifestyle at this point, and I want to build on it, so the most logical conclusion is to keep my nose to the grindstone, kick ass, work the long hours and reap the rewards….eventually.  But I’ve always believed it’s a mistake to put your happiness into a far off goal or dream.  It must be a balancing act that involves working toward your eventual dream (I’m not even sure I have one…) while taking the time and providing yourself with the experiences that make your life worth living now.  Regardless of how much you work, you have to be happy!  Sometimes that means pulling yourself away from the grindstone and investing time in you or those you love.  If only it were as easy for us to be as happy at work as many company founders want us to be!  But you can’t blame them for not understanding why you aren’t.   

I’ve spent years working for company founders now.  One thing many of them don’t understand, and that you may not realize is that it is psychologically extremely difficult (if not impossible) for you to have the same level of connection / ownership to the company that they do.  You may care deeply about your company, you may even “love your job”, but the person who brought that idea into the world built it out of their experiences, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and even some of their imbalances that you will never have.  It is an extension of them, and therefore when they are investing time in the company, they feel fulfilled in a way you essentially can’t because they are actually investing time in themselves.  It’s not impossible to try and mimic this mindset, but when you go home and open that laptop at night, neglecting personal time to catch up on your e-mails, it simply won’t feel the same to you, because for them, even if they would rather be doing something else, catching up on those e-mails IS personal time.

So, assuming you don’t want to give up your lifestyle and become a wanderer, your options boil down to four or five situations:

If you can't stay rich on that, you made some bad choices.

If you can’t stay rich on that, you made some bad choices.

1.  You win the powerball or get rich quick somehow.  Come find me so I can help you think of awesome ways to both manage and make the most of the money while using it to perpetuate your own happiness and that of others.  Thank you and your welcome!

2. Start your own business.  This is the only way to experience the “founder” level of ownership and satisfaction in your work. However, the founders that I speak of and who are employing you have already “made it” to some extent, and thus are in the phase where they can actually enjoy it on some level because they (obviously) have employees and income.  I never said they didn’t earn it (in most cases anyway) by working harder, smarter or both.  In the beginning and even well into the green (profit,) owning your own business can come with huge levels of stress that can make that personal connection to your company very difficult to handle.  There is a reason many of the very successful founders and CEOs you hear of are often quirky, odd, eccentric or sometimes straight-up batshit insane.  They have to be in order to be obsessed enough with themselves and their company to push it to astronomical levels.

3. Do something easy that you “love”.  When we’re teens and young adults we often joke about doing what we perceive as super fun to get paid for.  Acting, starting a band or writing a best selling book (or god forbid.. being a reality show “star”.) Obviously, some people really do achieve this, but it’s not easy at all and often requires a lot of sacrifice.  For instance: a lot of late teens/early twenties (especially but not exclusively guys) joke about doing porn because who doesn’t want to get paid to have sex!?  But naturally the industry often doesn’t live up to the fantasy image in some people’s head.  Beyond that, many quickly find that once they are forced to do whatever hobby/activity they really enjoy casually under “professional” guidelines/circumstances (another example: Video Game Tester,) it loses it’s fun pretty fast.  A few weeks later it’s no longer a dream career, it’s just another job that’s making you not want to have sex or play video games on your own time any more.  That said, some types people are cut out for those respective industries and it doesn’t ruin it for them (usually because they can drastically differentiate the two in their head,) But either way,  work is still very much work and for those average people it will put a damper on their outside life too.  So, while “doing what you love” is a great idea, it’s harder than it sounds, takes a lot more work than one would think and is usually tough to find/break into.  Even after you get there, it is impossible to know if it will be as fulfilling as you hope. That said, for some people it IS worth it, IF you can really make it.

Literal.

Literal.

4. Set a goal to become something difficult that you “love”.  This falls a little in line with starting your own business in that it really can pay off the way you hope it will, but you will have to go through hell and high water to get there (and I mean years of it.)  As an example I have several friends who grew up wanting to be veterinarians.  I’m happy to report I personally watched some of these people become the 1% of 1% of 1% or something like that.  They achieved their “dream” to some extent.  I say it like that because some didn’t end up doing what they envisioned themselves doing, some fell massively into debt and the others that really made it did so by sacrificing years of their time working and studying (long AFTER the hell that is Vet School) at really odd hours under immense amounts of stress and pressure to finally, finally emerge somewhere close to where they wanted to be.  The reward is that yeah, they are most often better off financially and more fulfilled than your average Walgreen’s clerk.  But it’s still work, and sometimes they get up in the morning (12:01 AM) and don’t want to do it,  but they still have to.  I should also point out that some of these people end up owning their own business.  So, essentially a different path to option 2.  That said though, if you can make the investment early on, this is arguably the best, most consistent outcome beyond the powerball option.

5. The rest of us.  Circumstances happened, and we’re not where we wanted to be or thought we would be by now.  Hell, some of us didn’t even know where we wanted to be and still don’t know where we’re going.  But we’re still adults, and we haven’t given up and become vagrants just yet, so work happens and bills gotta get paid.  This brings me back to the importance of enjoying your life along the way.  Because with this option, if you don’t, you’re probably miserable.  The work/life balance in this situation is essential because you don’t have the ownership and you don’t have the long-term dream that you achieved.  You are working to live.  That’s really okay so long as you don’t lose sight of why.  The balance isn’t always about a set amount of hours, it’s about whether or not your work allows you to do what you enjoy.  That means both the time, and the resources to be happy in your life outside of work.  It doesn’t have to be everything you dreamed just yet, it just has to be enough to have fun, be happy, and make progress.  So working those extra hours is totally worth it if it makes you feel better about your work and gives you the extra funds to treat yourself and/or those important to you.  But if you feel like a slave to your job and go home miserable only to crash and repeat the next day; get out.  No amount of money will save you from that, and the more you make, the more of that scarce life they will ask for.

Don't be THOSE guys.

Don’t be THOSE guys.

This brings me to a few guidelines for maintaining that balance (be realistic):

1. Don’t be afraid to say no.  Draw your lines, draw your boundaries and don’t back down from them.  Do NOT allow a job to corner you into making compromises that will make you miserable.

2. Know what you are worth and ask for it.  If you research and feel you deserve a specific wage, ask for it.  If they won’t work with you to at least make a plan to get there, move on.  The same goes for benefits you need for you and your family.  Often these are arguably more important than base wage.

3. Ask for the time you want in advance. Know what you are willing to give and not to give and barter that time as needed to be certain you have the time that is most important to you.  This can be a specific schedule or specific days.

4. Along with number one, be honest and communicate about all the above needs.  If you aren’t seeing what you want, give your employer a chance to accommodate you before you just get fed up and leave.  It looks better on both parties even if something can’t be worked out.

5. Have a contingency plan.  We’d all like to be “lifers” with a great company, but shit happens, and it happens fast.  Make sure that you have the cards up your sleeve to be willing to walk away from the table if you need to.  Feeling trapped in a job you don’t want to be in is a very quick way to demoralize yourself.

Finally (and yeah.. this post got long…)

6. Make sure whatever you are doing for work leaves room for you to BE HAPPY about your life outside of work.  This means having time to have a life outside of work, having enough money to enjoy your life outside of work and having a job that doesn’t make you feel bad about you your life inside or outside of work.  The work/life balance isn’t about a specific number of hours per week or a wage you make, it’s about how it enables you to live, and how happy you can be in the process.

Errr...Maybe Allen is hollow inside? ^.^;;

Errr…Maybe Allen is hollow inside? ^.^;;

How to: Casual Sex

My last post on relationships / cheating / communication was the most popular in the last five posts or so.  I know, you want juicy stuff as opposed to pictures of fantastic food (though I maintain that tasty food is one the great joys in this life.)  I think you’ll find that communication (and a lack thereof) remains a major theme in many of these posts as it directly affects the success of probably 90% of human social interaction.

It's tough.  He understands.

It’s tough. He understands.

Anyway, as you’ve read a few times now I’ve been single for right about eight years now (I’m literally within a week or so of the anniversary of the breakup.)  Post relationship I spent a lot of time focusing on myself and rebuilding, and then a few years later I started looking around for somebody who could be “the one”.  Well, the bad news is I haven’t found her yet.  The good news is I’ve gotten pretty good at this bachelor thing.  I’ve had a fair amount of forward movement professionally,  I’m improving my financial status daily, I’ve got some pretty strong bonds with friends of mine personally and (sometimes related) I’ve generally been pretty successful sexually (As in, women have regularly found me desirable enough to share themselves with me in that manner…)  So if I can’t have the one, this is a pretty awesome close second.

What blows my mind when I talk about this with some people is why they (or more often their “partners”) really suck at this casual sex thing.  It’s like they took something they saw in a movie and expected real life to be like that (thanks Hollywood.)  While I understand the male need to “alpha” (ugh) and the female desire to not be a “slut” (really ugh) you need to understand that those terms, and even those concepts are fucking ridiculous ideas created by insecure morons who were likely trying to manipulate you in order to keep you “in your place”.  Men must be physical, unrelenting, dominant, stupid cave men, and women must be weak, blindly dedicated, subservient nurturers.  Obviously… NO.    Now don’t get me wrong, this sort of role-play in the bedroom as playtime is all fine and well and healthy if that’s what you’re into, but as a standard of operation in the real world it’s narrow-minded and limiting for both genders.

So, whether you’re in-between serious relationships, getting a little on the side (legitimately.. or not..), indefinitely single by choice or you’re like me and are holding out for “the one”, here’s a few guideline “Dos and Do Nots” that have worked very well for me and I think are pretty universal (but is nowhere CLOSE to a complete list.)

First, DO:

Honesty at work.

Honesty at work.

1. Be Honest.  If there is one thing that will ruin a potentially good situation and make it ugly, it’s you spouting a bunch of bullshit.  It’s not “the game”.  It’s real adult life, so act like it.  Be straight up about what you want (and even how you want it…) in the beginning, even if it’s tough to let somebody who was hoping for more down.  It’s true, this might damage your chances of getting busy in the short term, but think of it as an investment.  The worst thing that happens is they respect you for being straight up with them and move on.  Sometimes though, they become friends, and sometimes that comes with benefits.  More than a few times I’ve been told I’m a good choice for that sort of thing because they know where I stand and don’t have to worry about complications.  Honesty keeps it simple.  When things are simple we can do our thing and get on with our lives.

2. Be Respectful.  This is huge.  Did you know that when somebody feels like you respect them, they are much more likely to let you see them naked?  It’s not rocket science.  This means eliminating words like “slut, whore, etc” from your dictionary as those are basically misogynistic double standards created to shame women (and albeit far less often, men.)  Newsflash: If you make people feel bad about being sexual, they are a lot less likely to be sexual with you.  This is ironic because people will often put down somebody’s sexual activity/history with others and then turn around and try to make something happen. You’re not going to make them feel okay about hooking up with you if you berate them for hooking up with others.

flirty-just-friends3. Be A Friend.  So a big part of functioning as a friend with benefits, is (wait for it) being an actual friend.  I’m not saying you need to pour your soul out to them and spend a bunch of time with them, but communicate, relate and hang out without any expectations periodically.  You’ll find some people become important to you and others stay very casual, but as long as there’s not false expectations, things stay pretty light.  When the benefits DO kick in, it depends on the person, but they might be wanting to play every time they see you anyway.  Sometimes that really IS the core of your “friendship” (gee darn.)  But the danger is in assuming.  So be cool, be a friend, keep it light, and fun.  The more fun and flirty (if accepted / appropriate) you are, the more likely at some point you’ll hit that moment when you know something is about to go down.

4. Be Patient.  If there is any one major secret to my sexual success, it is that I know when to be patient.  Often times people are not in the mindset / position to hook up (or, maybe just not hook up with you) when you first meet.  But that doesn’t mean they won’t always be. If you were honest (see step 1) and told them what you were about in regards to them, and then you were respectful (see step 2) then you will probably have some level of interaction with them on a friends basis (see step 3.)  So long as you’re not overbearing about it, if they thought of you sexually at some point in the past, odds are somewhere deep down it crosses their mind from time to time IF you’ve been fun and easy to be around.  Then if you’re lucky, they’ll let you know when they feel like acting on those thoughts.

Possibly overkill....

Possibly overkill….

5. Be Smart.  Sometimes I tell my friends stories of people I know that have literally slept with over a hundred people.  To this day they are healthy and happy and obviously know how to attract attention.  On the flip side I have personally witnessed somebody in a Frat House years ago who had been with probably five people in their life at most, hook up with three different people consecutively in a drunken rampage that didn’t appear to include protection.  That, to me, is a stupid, sad story.  (For the record, there was no visible rape involved… this person was literally seeking the people out and they were very happy to receive them…)  Point being, both sound pretty scary right?  Yes and no. There’s something to be said about numbers, as number of partners can indeed affect your chances of contracting an STI.  But the point of my example is that the first person knows what they are doing, is protected and communicates openly with their partners.  The second… not so much (obviously.)  Who’s the bigger risk for you to hook up with?  Call me traditional (see that whole friendship thing) but I kinda like to get to know my partners and even moreso communicate with them.  Does this mean I haven’t hooked up randomly at a party before…?  Well, no.  But I was protected and though I left the next morning, I left my information (which she was super surprised by), we became friends, had some great sex and her and I have hooked up a few times in between her boyfriends since then. Regardless my point is:  Learn about your potential partner by communicating with them, use protection, get tested.  It’s all fun and games until you start screwing around with somebody’s health (including your own.)

Next: DO NOT:

1. Have expectations.  This isn’t just about friends with benefits, this is about dating in general.  Numerous times have my friends told me the person they were out with made some offhanded remarks like “Oh man you’re going to be so amazing when we finally sleep together…”  What?!  I can’t even make up something that ridiculous.  Needless to say that sort of attitude is a very quick way to screw your chances (no pun intended…) and possibly damage the friendship.  Having expectations also leads to inevitable disappointment if they happen to not feel like hooking up at that point.  This can cause you act out in stupid ways and damage your chances in the future too.  So play it cool, show your interest (casually!) and don’t count on something happening the first, second or any time.  To be honest I’m not certain of the science behind it but I very often end up getting busy when I am pretty sure something won’t happen going into the evening for whatever reason.  It’s nice to be surprised!

What.. are.. you?!

What.. are.. you?!

2. Try too hard.  I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all gotten to the point where we got really really excited about a potential date/hookup/girlfriend/boyfriend/etc.  We got super nervous, put on too much smelly stuff, forced the conversation and likely drank entirely too much in the process.  Where did it get you?  Lot’s of places, but not in bed with the person you wanted.  Both genders have a sense for when the other is trying too hard, and it comes off as desperation, which in most cases is a huge turn-off.  Sometimes they may have totally planned to hook up with you, and the sort of erratic behavior that comes from nervousness and irritating passive-aggressive pushiness convinces them it might be a bad idea.  It’s good to seem interested, but keep your cool because desperation will scare most people off.    

Don't Judge. :D

Don’t Judge. 😀

3. Judge.  I’m going to be straight with you here, your opportunities for casual sexual encounters will come from all kinds of unexpected places (I mean.. they have websites for this stuff.. and no, for the record, I’ve never used Ashley Madison.)  Anyway, the point is regardless of circumstance, judging the other person for their choices will (obviously) screw up any chance you have of hooking up with them.  I’m not just talking about those fooling around on their spouse either.  You want to take the moral high ground?  That’s your business.  But otherwise people are in totally honest, open, polyamorous or even mostly monogamous relationships that might, for some reason with to include you and/or legitimately see you outside of it.  Maybe the idea of multiple people weirds you out? Well that’s fine!  But judging others about their activities outside of their involvement with you is not.  At the very least, it’s really hypocritical being that you’re trying to make yourself a part of those decisions.

4. Be Possessive.  This happens all the time, and women get the bad rap for it despite the fact then men very often get emotionally attached and fall into this trap.  “No Strings Attached” means no strings attached. (Like “no means no” with more words.)  Do not come into a situation claiming your ability to remain unattached and keep it casual and then expect it to magically change (thanks again Hollywood.)  If you begin to feel differently, you’re gonna have to talk about it.  The whole point of the benefits behind casual sex is that it’s casual.  You can get together, have a good time, maybe grab a bite to eat, and get on with your lives without having to take it with you.  It’s like going to the gym: you might be sore from it the next day, but otherwise it has no effect on your outside life other than making you feel better about things.  I realize that for some the emotional separation is difficult, and it’s easy to attach to somebody that is both a good friend and fantastic in the sack, but once you start feeling like you can tell them not to see anyone else, or go on dates, or even how often they need to see you, you’ve crossed the line from casual to trying to control them, and that’s not okay.  If you find this happening you need to talk about it, and it may be best if you downgrade to regular friendship.  If by chance you’re both wanting to take it to the next level?  That’s wonderful!  But very rare, so don’t hold your breath.

1332453942295_473877If you keep you head in the right place and your emotions in check, you can have a really great time and take care of those urges without hurting anyone.  I think that’s the best thing: when everyone knows what they want, they get it, and everyone walks away happy.  But this is only going to happen if you’re willing to be honest and communicate about your situations.

I could go on about this forever, I even considered dividing it into two posts.  But I liked how it flowed, and I felt it was related enough it warranted a long post.  Last week was the longest post yet until this one and it was very popular so perhaps you don’t mind a lot of words as long as I can keep it interesting (or maybe just sexy.)  Regardless, expect more on this, we’re just getting started.

Run

I’ve spoken briefly before about long-distance running being my cardio of choice.  In the past I’ve done Capoeira and a Tae Kwon Do based mixed martial art as well, but running has stuck with me more consistently than either of those.  The reason is simple: It’s mine.

10561713_10152659357917264_4839020079635313872_n

Current: Much better.

Obviously the concept of running isn’t mine, but when I run, it’s just me and my music.  When I first began running years ago in Seattle, it was mostly indoors on a treadmill (and later a really nice indoor track at WSU.)  The advantage of such things was climate control and smooth, even terrain. The disadvantage was that it’s boring and doesn’t prepare you as well for the outside world.  But the thing is, especially back then, I really didn’t like  running.   I didn’t know how to dress, so I was in typical, long gym shorts and I wore Nike GOLF shoes (yes seriously…) because they were the only real “athletic” shoes I owned and I figured they were “good enough.”  Thankfully at that point I was probably only running between 1-3 miles anyway or I might’ve actually damaged myself.

So, I needed cardio because my girlfriend at the time (who was SUPER nice about those things) actually admitted I “could lose a little” and my diet at the time consisted of Fast Food, Pizza and the occasional deli meat and cheese sandwich (those were good though, I miss those.)  Regardless I was chubby, and the Tae-bo videos I was doing at home weren’t cutting it.  So how do you convince yourself to do something awkward, uncomfortable and stressful on a regular basis?  Simple: distraction. Running is where I would develop my ideas, sort out my days, and figure things out.  I would do everything I could to take my mind away from the fact I was running because the moment I started focusing on the fact that I was running, I felt everything, my legs clumsily plodding on, my bronchial tubes contracting in protest and my heart racing trying to keep enough oxygen flowing to my muscles that were threatening to go on strike at any moment.

Over time I went from daydreaming to focused thoughts and battles with my own inner demons (some of which I obviously, admittedly lost…  those jerks are stubborn…) but as my thought processes became more involved and focused, my attention

We all have our demons...

We all have our demons…

went further and further away from the running until I developed a sort of auto-pilot that could potentially go on forever.  Imagine distracting yourself by sparring with another version of you inside your head.  You have to think of each movement, each strike, each block and the reactions to all of those things.  Then add in the fact that I’m an avid anime watcher and gamer and you’ve got all kinds of fantasy things going on (flying, weapons, energy beams, etc.)  It gets intense in there.  So all this distraction, and then all of a sudden you come out of it and realize you’ve already got three miles down and you don’t know where the time has gone.  That’s how I developed my natural pace, by distracting myself.

Over the years my runs evolved, by the time my ex and I broke up and I was back in Seattle I was up to five mile runs along with a workout (though still indoors.)  The nice thing about a treadmill is that you can manually speed yourself up to improve your pace and then allow your mind to wander off again.  Probably the only downside to this is that as you get comfortable, you can incrementally increase your pace, but the numbers deceive you, and though you might feel better about going 6.2 miles per hour instead of 6, the affect it has on you is minimal (granted any improvement is improvement.)

Moving to Florida was when things got serious, but not right away.  While I attended Full Sail I have a very similar routine involving runs at LA Fitness on a treadmill.  At this point I had to try a little harder to go into my head as that particular location has an abundance of attractive women in tight clothing… it was easy to get distracted.  To be honest (and this is just my personal opinion) I’ve always felt like LA Fitness is the place you go to be noticed (both genders.)  People seem flashier and it just feels like more of a “look at me!” mentality compared to a place like Planet Fitness where you just go to get the job done.  Maybe that’s just my personal experience though…

Capoeira:  The goofy looking upside-down one is me.

Capoeira: The goofy looking upside-down one is me.

Eventually I finally hit a point where I was just bored with running and tried other things.  There was about three years that I totally supplemented my cardio with Capoeira.  The desire to run would come and go, but I never felt motivated enough.  It was during my fourth year that I felt like I had become considerably lazier than I had been previously.  Additionally, though Capoeira was a fantastic exercise and gave me a great personal support structure, it didn’t do much to deal with my inner-demon.  In fact, because of the combatant nature of the art form and the rampant egos of some, it actually FED that side of me and brought it out from time to time.  I resolved to return to my runs in addition to Capoeira.  There is a convenient running trail that I can run to from my house with beautiful scenery and wildlife (but you have to watch for snakes.. and gators.. seriously.. I almost injured myself avoiding a snake on today’s run.)

Around this same time an avid runner joined my Capoeira group and invited me out to the Disney runs she liked to do.  At the time I had a bit of a crush on her, so I was feeling very motivated to impress her.  Since five miles had been my staple, I had to adjust to the upcoming “Race For the Taste” length that was a 10k (6.2 miles.)  The adjustment was easy and the run was magical.  I finished at a very good pace and felt inspired for more.  Over time I increased my distance to the point that just last year I was able to complete the Walt Disney World Marathon without stopping.  What an amazing experience (walking to the car shortly after finishing.. not so much.!)  I took a bit of a break after the marathon but have picking up my consistency more recently.  Even with a couple weeks off I can easily run a 10k at the drop of a hat, and could very likely finish a half-marathon with some struggle.  But the Walt Disney World wasn’t my last marathon.  This year the funds didn’t line up right but I’ll be back one way or another.

Walt Disney World Marathon! Magical!

Walt Disney World Marathon! Magical!

These days the hardest part of the run is getting my lazy ass out of the door.  Once I manage that, the run is good.  I’ve evolved a great playlist to motivate me while I go and have 3 different courses to run depending on where I am.  I don’t drink water during my runs because I want to be ready for cardio under any circumstances (you know.. impending zombie apocalypse rule #1: Cardio!)  As much as the meditation aspect is great, and I feel great after my run, my main reason is still the reason I started:  so I can come home after, eat my Magnum chocolate ice cream bar, drink my ginger ale and sit around writing a blog about why I run while feeling no laziness or guilt what-so-ever.  It keeps me acceptable for bachelor-like activities and extends my life span.

The Oatmeal (Best. Internet Comics. EVER.) wrote a highly entertaining and touching comic about why HE runs long distances that resonated with me and I think you will enjoy (far more than all these words, hence I put it at the end of the post.. suckers!)

Check it out here: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running

It really is beautiful (check out his other stuff too.. hilarious!)  In the meantime thanks for reading!

Philosophy of Moderation (Part 1) – Physical

So recently I’ve been debating on how often to post.  On one hand I feel I have a lot of fairly interesting stuff to say, but on the other I don’t want to over-saturate you to the point you get bored with me right away.  As it is I babble enough, so best to space out your doses.  Originally I had thought every 2-3 days, but since I had about 2 visitors today, I’m thinking an average of every other day is ideal (as time allows) to keep you interested.

2014-09-27 23.42.34-1

But maybe not too much of this…

All that said it makes a lot of sense to talk about my belief in moderation here.  I know.. “WTF man.. you’re supposed to be a hedonist!”  Ohhh I am and I earn it.  But I even it out.  There HAS to be a balance.  Just as you can have too much of a bad thing, you can most certainly have too much of a good thing.

Keeping the balance is a lot harder than it sounds.  I’m in an office the majority of the day like many of you and I very strongly believe in a solid work-life balance/division.  Being that I’m an Executive Assistant for a busy CEO, that’s a lot harder to pull off than it sounds.  Beyond that I want to be consistent with my blog AND I play an MMO (Final Fantasy XIV ARR.. don’t you judge me!)  Meanwhile I’m reading Paulo Coelho’s latest (Adultery… more on that later) and I’m making a concentrated effort to see my friends more often and/or have more social life.  I could conceivably juggle all that, but there’s a major element missing: Physical activity.  Unfortunately I don’t have the genetics for a ridiculous metabolism, so If I were to only juggle the list above, I would get very, very plump (and my love of cheese alone would likely kill me.)

1521288_10152185558177264_1429631024_n

Concrete… yeah, that happened.

But I can’t do that.  I’m an 8 year bachelor veteran, and frankly I want to get laid at least occasionally.  So as much as I would love for my charming personality to do all the work for me… I’m just not THAT awesome (actually.. I might be but why take chances right?)  I need to look sexually appealing too.  But how?  That evil, evil word: Discipline.  I spent many years serving as an assistant for a Tae Kwon Do Grandmaster (yes, seriously) and if anything stuck, it’s that even for somebody who wishes to indulge in worldly pleasures (that said Grandmaster may not agree with…) discipline is not only necessary, but it can greatly enhance your enjoyment.  So, I’ve got a plan with a friend of mine to train her at the gym twice a week, which in turn motivates me (because naturally I have to show her what I can do…)  Meanwhile I keep an Iron Gym (Pull up/chin-up bar) at work and toss sets in every few hours just to wake me up and keep my upper body engaged.  If you do NO other exercise, do the “ups”: pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and chin ups.  Those alone can make a huge impact on your physical look.

My choice of cardio is long-distance running.  I know, I hated running for years too, but at some point it became a sort of meditation that lets me unplug from the world and focus inward.  I’ll post about that specifically later, but regardless, the key is to find SOME form of cardio you don’t hate.  This could be anything from DDR, to Spinning, to Mountain-Biking, to Marathon Sex (but honestly it would have to be marathon to count…), to Capoeira (I did it, look it up.)  As long as it gets your heart-rate up and involves you moving (so no, horror movies don’t count) then it’s going to be good for you.

BUT!  Don’t overdo it.  Perhaps you’ll become one of the body-building obsessed types that finds passion in sculpting themselves, but unless that’s what truly makes you happy, take it easy and give your body chance to recover.  Exercise is important to offset sedentary lifestyles like mine, but while extreme laziness is terrible for you, the opposite extreme can be just as bad.  People very often injure themselves (sometimes permanently) by being overly obsessed with their performance, and unless you’re a million-dollar athlete, I don’t think compromising your way of life is worth lifting that extra 50 lbs.

Don't be THAT person...

Don’t be THAT person…

The same goes for pushing your cardio too far.  A lot of trainers will push you until you literally vomit.  Any GOOD trainer will tell you this is WRONG.  Not only is puking generally not good for you, but even if you “toughen up” and go back to training when you’re done (also a TERRIBLE idea) your benefit will be drastically reduced (if not destroyed) and your recovery will take longer.

I suppose the key is; listen to your body.  If you’re like me and like to indulge in food but still want to keep fit, then you’re going to have to moderate those calories (and you’ll feel it if you don’t).  That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat that New York strip, smothered in sautéed mushrooms with a fresh lobster tail and melted butter for dipping… (because you should.. immediately..)  just, not every meal (though I would still be jealous of you on your deathbed…)  If you get used to listening to yourself,  you’ll know when you’ve been sitting too long, or when you need to take it down a notch to avoid being sick,  or when your blood sugar is low and you need to eat, or when you need to take a day off to let your body recover (and you do sometimes, period.)

Which brings me to the next, and possibly most essential point: REST.  For the love of god, rest and sleep.  Too often as teenagers we get used to staying up all night in marathon Netflix/Hulu/gaming sessions (okay fine.. not just as teenagers… but that’s only on rare weekends..)  Did you know that actually getting proper rest helps you LOSE WEIGHT?  It also makes you generally happier and helps you recover sooner meaning you will actually enjoy your exercise more and feel better about doing it more often.  Admittedly this is my weakest point.. I try to cram so much into a day that sometimes six hours a night seems difficult.  I recognize it and want to improve it as I already know I have noticeably better days when I’ve gotten about 7.5 hours of sleep or so.

I could go on and on about this, there’s sleep cycles to consider, fluid intake (drink water… lots of it… but even that to an extreme can damage you) meditation, supplements (I don’t take any other than a multivitamin sometimes) and the careful selection of your chosen poisons (quality!!)  But I’ll save those for future, specific posts.  Also, in the meantime I welcome questions about any of this, but be thoughtful and polite, or I’ll ignore you.   Meanwhile I’ll leave you with my general “plan” based on working M-F at around 45-50 hours a week (boss already said he wants me to work more… moderation?)

Sunday – Sleep In/Recover (Optional Workout Day/Cardio if no workout Saturday and I’m not “recovering“… ) + Chore day (Laundry, Dishes, etc.) Photo Edits, Blog

Monday – Work, Walking Dead with Friends, Photo Edits, Catch up on other shows (Crunch Ball + Elevated Diamond/Wide Push-ups while watching). FFXIV* for an hour or two if time.

Tuesday – Work, Train w/ Friend at Planet Fitness, Photo Edits, Blog and/or FFXIV*

Wednesday – Work, Cardio Day (Run 6-10mi), Photo Edits, FFXIV*

Thursday – Work, Train w/ Friend at Planet Fitness, Photo Edits, Blog and/or FFXIV*

Friday – Work, Beer and Wine Friday at Work, Typically Dinner out of some sort w/ Friends, Social Time otherwise late night FFXIV ARR.

Saturday – Sleep in.  Most common day for Photo Shoots (Possible Run/Workout Day in early afternoon.  Most common party day.  Social Time otherwise late night FFXIV ARR.

*The rule with Final Fantasy XIV ARR is “As time allows”.  It’s a guilty pleasure of sorts but is not to take precedence over real-life priorities and interactions… it does sometimes infringe on sleep (though it’s not allowed to…  discipline…)
**Sexual activity, social dinners, or other general debauchery will almost always overrule most aspects of the “plan” listed above and WILL trump sleep most days.  Life is meant to be lived, especially those parts!

Heavy Lifting back in the day...

Heavy Lifting back in the day…

Allow me to say to my friends who are body-builders / “hardcore” about their physical routine that this is not meant to disrespect your lifestyle.  As I mentioned, if that’s what truly makes you happy, nobody can argue with you and I’m in no place to judge anyone.  I simply disagree with it being best for me and for those I generally come across.  So if nothing else it just means you’re a special breed (but you already knew that. )  As usual, I think it comes down to “why”.  If it’s to fill some unexplainable hole in your soul and you only feel good when you push yourself past your limits, I think that’s unhealthy.  But if at the end of the day you’re happier in general because you fill your free time with hard work, then more power to you.  I’ll be over here with my scotch not being happy and not “swole”.

Finally, this blog will have a great variety of post topics. This one may have bored you, but stick with it, I think the next one will be a bit more fun.