Categories
Guest Post Life

4 Simple Self-Care Tips to Improve Your Mental Health by Brad Krause

This post was submitted by Brad Krause. Brad is a full-time life coach who writes a lot about self care, which is something I’ve been big into in my own writing (if not in those exact words). You can find more of his writing at https://www.SelfCaring.info.

Image courtesy of Pexels

4 Simple Self-Care Tips to Improve Your Mental Health

With family obligations, deadlines at work, and meals to cook, sometimes we forget how important it is to take time for ourselves. But self-care isn’t selfish. In fact, taking care of yourself both mentally and physically can boost your health, prevent burnout, and make you more alert, focused, and present — all things that will allow you to perform better in every aspect of your life. Here are a few simple things you can do to improve your mental health.

Meditate

If you’re feeling rushed and overwhelmed, you may balk at the idea of meditation, but as Healthline explains, meditating can calm anxiety, increase optimism, and reduce stress. This is vital for your mental well-being, especially if you’re routinely tense. While everyone experiences occasional stress, chronic stress can be detrimental to your health. If you’re constantly stressed, you’re more likely to get sick, have digestion problems, or suffer from insomnia. 

Not sure where to start? Apps like Calm or Headspace offer a great way to dip your toes into meditation and reap the benefits to your mental health.

Make Time to Exercise

If meditation isn’t quite your speed, exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Regular exercise can give you an endorphin rush, boosting your sense of accomplishment and well-being. To really get motivated, fitness trackers can be just the ticket. 

As an example, the now-available Apple Watch Series 5 is a prime candidate. It monitors not only your workout progress, but also your heart function. There are integrated safety features as well, such as fall detection and the ability to summon help if you get into trouble. Or consider the Fitbit Versa Lite, which monitors not only your workout, but also your sleep patterns, and will provide you with information to help you make adjustments. 

Prioritize Sleep

When you’re rushing to get things done, sleep is often the first thing to get ignored. If you often find yourself saying that you can get by with just a few hours a night, reconsider — some studies show that sleep deficiency causes a whole host of problems. In fact, if you miss out on a good night’s sleep for just a few days, your brain begins to function as though you’ve been fully awake for 24 to 48 hours. 

Taking the time to sleep for seven or eight hours a night rapidly improves your brain health. It helps you learn faster, focus better, and make decisions more easily. Getting enough sleep also improves your immune system and allows your body to heal during the night, meaning you’re less likely to need sick days. So next time you start to prioritize work over sleep, take a step back — and if you can’t relax enough to fall asleep, try incorporating some soothing music or ambient noise into your evening.

Self-Soothe With Aromatherapy

While research into aromatherapy is still ongoing, Verywell Mind points out that using soothing scents can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and help people sleep. Lavender essential oil is a great way to calm your mind after a stressful day, but you can experiment to find the scents that work best for you — maybe you’d prefer a pop of citrus to energize you and clear your mind, or a more earthy smell like rosemary. Try using an essential oil diffuser or putting a few drops of oil on your pillowcase. 

If you choose to use pure essential oils in a household with pets, be sure to do your research first; certain essential oils can be toxic to cats and dogs. Scented candles are a great alternative if you’re concerned about the use of essential oils around your pets.

No matter how you choose to take care of yourself, it’s vital for you to continually prioritize self-care in your everyday life. Even if you’re busy, simply meditating for 10 minutes before bed can make a world of difference over time. Get sufficient sleep, add some exercise as well, and indulge in scents that revitalize you. Taking care of yourself means you’ll be happy, healthy, and better able to help the people you care about.

Categories
Books Podcasts

Review: Heads by David Osborn

This Fall I read the 1985 medical thriller Heads by David Osborn. You can hear the audio version of it via The Slow Reader; full text is below!

About the book 

Publish date: December 1, 1985 

Back of the book summary: 

More shocking than Coma, more terrifying than The Terminal ManHeads is a thriller that goes deeper into the horrifying future of medicine than any novel has dared to go before. In an ultimate step into terror, David Osborn explores the murky boundaries between volunteer and victim, ambition and ruthlessness, life and death, when what begins as highly-classified research by a team of responsible doctors ends as a deadly game in which any of the players can be condemned to a purgatory more ghastly than hell. 

Quick notes about the summary – The Terminal Man was a 1972 Michael Chrichton book (who himself referred to it as his “least favourite work”). Coma probably refers to the 1977 novel by Robin Cook.  Osborn is also the author of a book called Open Season – best summarized by this review from Leslie on Goodreads

3 former college buddies meet every year for an annual hunting trip at their secluded lodge. For the past seven years they have kidnapped a young couple, forced them to commit humiliating acts and then after a short head start they begin hunting them down. 

From what you’ll hear about later in the review, that sounds on par with Heads

I also found Heads listed as The Head Hunters on Kindle (published 2017) when searching for it online, so if you’re unable to find it try using that title. It has quite a different book cover that looks like it was put together as a cut-and-paste job compared to the 1985 cover. Had I realized these books were identical I might have paid for the eBook rather than buy a physical copy. 

Speaking of which, that’s how I found the book! I first found it at a yard sale on Manitoulin Island over the summer; however, I decided not to buy it at the time. I realized after the fact that I should have bought it, so I bought a used copy from Amazon. It came from somewhere in California, but it looks like it originated from Alberta, Canada. I’d be interested in following that trail.  

Getting back to the book, some basic stats: 

  • There are 294 pages in the main story 
  • There are 36 chapters (with a prologue) 
  • There’s a preview of the book Evidence of Love by John Bloom and Jim Atkinson, apparently a true crime novel, at the end of the novel, plus an order form for more Bantam books 

My Reading Timeline 

I started reading Heads September 10th, and finished reading it October 23rd. Depending on how you calculate it, that’s 44 days, good for approximately 6.7 pages per day. Or by chapter count, 1.2 chapters per day.   

Questions to Answer 

Of all the things I want to cover in this review, I want to make sure I answer these questions I have about the novel, partly based on the back of the book: 

  1. Are the “murky boundaries between volunteer and victim, ambition and ruthlessness, life and death” really explored in this novel? 
  2. Did I feel that any character was in any real danger at any point in the story? 
  3. Further to question 2, did the story and setting seem at least believable (in other words, could I suspend my level of disbelief)? 
  4. Somewhat related, is this “future of medicine” really something that was considered to be plausible in 1985? 

I’ll circle back to these questions at the end of the review to provide a sort of summary of my thoughts both while I was reading, and after I finished the book. Up until this point the podcast has been spoiler-free for Heads, but while I’m not going to cover off the entire book as I’ve done previously, consider anything past this point to have potential spoilers (if you were intending on reading the book). 

What’s the book really about? 

The back-of-the-book synopsis is probably one of the vaguest descriptions of a book that I’ve ever read, yet it (combined with the cool cover) still managed to spark my interest. Still, it’s not very descriptive as to what actually happens in the book so here’s a short summary. 

The Borg-Harrison Institute is conducting highly-classified research experiments for the government or the military (to be honest, I’m not entirely clear who is funding this research).  Borg-Harrison scientists are recruiting volunteer patients who are about to die – those with terminal diseases, life-threatening physical problems and the like – and offer them extended life as life-supported heads.  No body, just their head attached to a console.  In exchange, they sever all contact with their previous life and remain hidden away in a research laboratory.   

One researcher, Susan McCollough, joins Borg-Harrison and starts working on the project – although she is unaware that the project is dealing with live severed heads.  Eventually she stumbles upon the secret and must tread carefully, or else she could end up with a severed head herself.  

So that’s what’s going on at the surface level. I’ll get into some more of the plot details as I talk about the book, but I want to introduce the main characters at least. Here’s who we’re dealing with:  

  • John Flemming. Brilliant scientist and “youngest-ever medical director of the University Hospital Brain Research Laboratory in Washington” 
  • Susan McCollough.  Another scientist, and John’s assistant –  which is why she’s brought on to work with Borg-Harrison. 
  • Michael Burgess. The lead scientist and surgeon on the project. 
  • Katherine Blair. A psychologist working on the project, is closely involved with Michael. 
  • Al Luczynski. An anesthesiologist at Borg-Harrison. Apparently has a talent to perfectly imitate other people’s voices which pays off only in one scene to manufacture a tense moment. 
  • Toni Soong. Michael’s assistant in surgery. 

There are some smaller characters in the novel as well, but those are the main players. All of the lead doctors and scientists all seem to be considered experts in their field. They also know how to party, and that’s how we’re first introduced to them. Oh, and they’re also all extremely good looking. Somehow, Osborn still manages to give them a different look while still making them out to have perfect bodies. I guess in a way, it worked for me – I was able to get different mental pictures of the characters.   

That’s another thing, though; Osborn seemed to have a penchant for describing Katherine’s “titian” hair. I’d never heard of that before; apparently it’s a “brownish shade of red hair” often confused with auburn hair. I thought it was overused in the book at first, but the descriptor came up at another point in the novel to create a somewhat helpful context so I would again conclude that in terms of physical descriptions, Osborn was able to differentiate the characters very well. 

However, that’s where the “characters done well” bit stops. I felt that the personalities and motivations of the characters were all surface-level, with very little depth to any of them. The characters also portray some viewpoints very much rooted in the 1980’s. The men in the novel are seen to be powerful, and the women are forced to use “their gender” to advance their careers or ambitions. Katherine in particular is portrayed as cold and calculating, and the few times we get limited 3rd person narration from her perspective don’t do very much to cast a better light. She’s basically there to be a manipulative, power-hungry antagonist for Susan, the lead character of the novel.  

About Susan – it’s more than a little disappointing that a lot of her actions are governed by her overwhelming attraction to men in the novel. The book starts with her and John Flemming together, but when he dies early in the novel it devastates her. This is understandable, I mean I can’t imagine going through losing a loved one. But not too long after John’s death, she becomes overwhelmingly attracted to Michael and many of her decisions in the novel (until probably the last third of the book) are only in conflict because she is so attracted to Michael. Part of the attraction is rooted in his physical appearance, but they have very frequent, mind-blowing sex in the middle of the novel (some of which is described in somewhat amusing detail, but mostly just referred to in passing). The way it’s written, Susan seems to be very much controlled by her relationship with Michael and finds it hard to think straight.  

I guess you could say that I wasn’t impressed with the characters and how they were written. Luckily, the story moved along at a good pace and was interesting enough that I could look past the poor characterization. And I actually enjoyed at the way information was slowly revealed as I read along. It wasn’t a mystery novel so I didn’t feel cheated that plot details were withheld behind-the-scenes, so to speak. 

After John Flemming dies in a horrible car accident, we mostly follow Susan’s point of view with a few glimpses into the other characters actions. Most of the information that we need comes from Susan’s limited viewpoints; we really only check in with the other characters so that we know what’s going on at the surface. Osborn seems deliberately vague with what they’re talking about (even though we can kind of infer what’s really happening), but that’s okay.  

As Susan moves out of her deep depression due to John’s passing and starts to work for Borg-Harrison, we start to get more details revealed – both from Susan’s perspective, and from the other characters – and it mainly follows at the same pace as Susan’s revelations.  

For example, once Susan joins Borg-Harrison, we start to get some more details about squabbling between the scientists and the source of their funding. Not too long after that, while frustratingly coming to an impasse in her work, Susan accidentally discovers John is technically still alive in the form of a disembodied head connected to a console. He’s not the only one – there are five or six active “volunteers” in a restricted floor of the institute. Once Susan finds out what the project she’s working on is truly about, that’s when the information just starts flowing out.  

We get some more insight into just how close this project is to failure, and the inner machinations of the research institute as they try to figure out how to minimize any damage potentially caused by Susan’s discovery of the heads. The solution is to give her full access, and as Susan learns more and works more closely with John, more and more is revealed. We even get point of view chapters from the heads themselves, which in itself is interesting. At one point, they also go through the surgery involved in severing a head from the body and keeping it alive (although in that surgery, there’s an error and the head dies anyway).  

Eventually we learn more about the nature of the volunteers. They’re supposed to be those that are basically dead already – either a terminal disease that has almost run its course, or some other reason that their bodies will cause them to die. But it’s revealed that Katherine is fudging things – an unknown number of volunteers could be people who are healthy and not close to death at all. It’s implied that John Flemming’s signature was forged while he was being worked on in the hospital after his accident. 

This revelation about the source of the heads is actually very important, because it lays the foundation of the threat to Susan’s life – that she could very easily become a head on a console. In fact, that’s the main conflict at the end of the novel.  John dies, and in order to deal with knowing too much, Katherine and Michael conspire to put Susan’s head on a console. I actually wasn’t sure what direction the book would take, and thought that it was possible Osborn could actually do this to the protagonist.  

Spoilers! She makes it as far as the prep table for surgery. Part of the prep process includes shaving the head of the “volunteer” and drawing incision lines across the neck. This is what leads to a fairly cringe-inducing scene. Susan escapes, and eventually encounters Katherine in a locker room. She knocks her out cold, and anesthesiologist Al L. walks in to find her unconscious, on the floor. His first thought is not to help her out – far from it. 

No, his first thought is that he’ll never get another chance to have Katherine in such a vulnerable position again. His second thought is that he could do whatever he wanted to and take advantage of her. The only reason he doesn’t take off his own pants is that he realizes he has no time and would get caught. So he hides her hair and draws the incision lines across her neck. He figures that no one would be able to tell the difference between her and Susan without hair and naked from the neck down. 

I guess he was right, because it’s Katherine that ends up on the surgery table when the details of the program are revealed to the media – but too late to stop the surgery in progress. 

That’s probably the only spot in the novel that I thought could have been ripped right out.  

Highlights from the Book 

I dog-eared some pages while I was reading because there were some passages there that I wanted to highlight.  Here they are: 

“Al Luczynski, wearing an undersized bikini completely at odds with his round bearded face and big bearish body…” Was bikini an often-used term for Speedo’s in the 80’s? Weird image from this quote. 

In chapter 10, Katherine is going to the Borg-Harrison headquarters to meet the board chairman, and Osborn describes the house in great length. His wording for when she doesn’t find him is odd: “Katherine found him not there.” Wouldn’t it have been better to say “Katherine didn’t find him there”? 

Chapter 20 – not a particular line, but this chapter was unique in that it was from the viewpoint of John. It was neat to get inside his head (no pun intended) and then he also describes the surgery process. Chapter 23 was also from the heads’ viewpoint and what goes on “after hours”. 

Answering the Questions 

Getting back to the questions I asked earlier, let’s start with number one. 

Are the “murky boundaries between volunteer and victim, ambition and ruthlessness, life and death” really explored in this novel? 

I would say no. That quote implies to me that there are current processes in medical sciences (current in 1985, at least) that would be explored. It’s true that the line between volunteer and victim blur in the novel, but I don’t think they were really “explored” in the meaning I’m thinking about. As far as I can tell from the book, it’s clear that the research project started with good intentions and was all “proper”, at least as proper as severing heads and keeping them alive could be.  

But eventually as they started experiencing problems keeping heads alive or useful, and running out of viable candidates to volunteer, the board director basically tells Katherine “don’t tell me what you’re doing and I won’t ask” when it comes to being creative with procuring new subjects. Once we have that topic broached by the characters, it seems like the novel tailspins into creative new ways Katherine can find new volunteers.  

So no, this “murky boundary” is pretty much just a surface-level feature of the book. 

Did I feel that any character was in any real danger at any point in the story? 

Yes! I mentioned earlier that I thought Susan could potentially end up a severed head on a console at the end of the book. And I guess by direct correlation, Katherine was for sure in danger at the end. The book was at least realistic in terms of not protecting characters or pulling punches. 

Further to question 2, did the story and setting seem at least believable (in other words, could I suspend my level of disbelief)? 

I don’t truly know much about research projects or hospitals, but I had a hard time believing in the characters. They all seemed to be partying and sleeping with each other, and were all perfect specimens of the human race (except for an avuncular old man working at the institute, who made me think of Ducky from NCIS).   

But yes, I suspended my disbelief a little bit while reading the book. I don’t mean that as I was reading I believed that what they were doing was truly possible. I just mean that there wasn’t really anything in the book (the almost-rape scene aside) that made me stop reading and say, “well there’s no way that could happen.”  In the universe of the novel, it was believable. 

Somewhat related, is this “future of medicine” really something that was considered to be plausible in 1985? 

This one I need to research a little bit. Unfortunately it’s not something that comes too easily in a Google search. I think I’d have to dive deep and read some essays, but I’m not really interested in doing that (nor do I have the time). I picked a bad question to ask, in retrospect. I did find some breakthroughs in medical treatments in the early 80’s, though, and they included things like vaccines, MRI scanners, and apparently a surgical robot.  

Digging a little deeper, apparently artificial skin was discovered and developed in the late 70’s and early 80’s. But also in 1981 was the first successful combined heart-lung transplant. Since the novel features what I would call a head transplant (from a body to a machine), I looked up some more transplant firsts near the 1980’s. Here’s a short list: 

  • 1963 – First human liver transplant; first human lung transplant 
  • 1966 – First human pancreas transplant 
  • 1967 – First human heart transplant 

So I suppose if you were to look at what was happening in medical technology I’d argue that you could speculate the kind of procedure described in Heads would be at least plausible. I’m rather impressed by the research David Osborn seems to have done in this field.  

Wrapping Up 

Overall I scored this book 2 stars on Goodreads. My one-paragraph review: 

The characters act on a mostly surface level in this book, but the plot was interesting enough to keep me going. A lot of 80s view points very obvious in the characters too. 

Obviously, I’ve done a bit more thinking about the novel since then and went a little further in-depth. But I still stand by the 2-star review. It’s a very disposable novel, and I’ll probably forget about it in years to come and never re-read it. The characters are not at all memorable and some of the secondary characters are very cartoon-like and have exaggerated traits. If you want to read this book, find a very cheap copy (free, if you can) but don’t spend a lot of time hunting this down.  

Categories
Life Technology

Step-Focused Life

I came to a realization recently – ironically while walking my dog – that ever since I got my first FitBit a few years back, I’ve been leading a very step-focused life.  And if I’m being honest with myself, this is why my creative drive has taken a steep dive these last 4-5 years.  Let me explain.   

The FitBit – and by extension, most health-focused smart watches (such as my Gear S3 or Samsung’s latest offerings in the Galaxy Watch / Galaxy Watch Active) – have as their main feature a step count.  They’ve branched out to include heart rate monitoring and other fun stuff, but the main draw is that these are smart devices that track your steps in a better way than those simple pedometers.   

At the basic level, most of these devices try to encourage you to reach 10,000 steps (even though that’s an arbitrary number and there are probably better numbers to reach; but that’s not important right now) every day.  On top of that, in both the FitBit and Samsung software ecosystems at least, there are communities where you can add friends and join challenges (most of the time the challenges are to earn the most steps, but there are other kinds as well).  I would say that the goal is to get the wearers more active in general.   

This is overall great for me; I do feel motivated to move more and be more active.  I wouldn’t say that I was a complete couch potato prior to putting on a FitBit, but this is the point I’m getting at; I’ve found that my main driving force every day seems to be “put the watch on to make sure I capture all my steps – I need to get my steps!”  This extends to make it important enough to wear my watch at night.  Tracking sleep is useful, sure, but the truth is I’m more worried about catching those steps between the bed and the bathroom in the middle of the night.   

I used to read a lot more often during the week at work.  Now, I go for a walk more often than not (unless the weather is particularly bad).  Especially if I see a low step total by lunch time (anything less than 3000 is cause for an extra walk), I feel the need to take a short 20 minute walk around the block.  I’m not complaining entirely; I mean, it’s usually nice to get out of the office and enjoy the fresh air, even in the winter.   

But I think it’s also leaving me frustrated creatively.  Why don’t I take some time to read or create something instead of going out at lunch?  Sometimes I try to do both, but it doesn’t always work out.  More importantly what I’m trying to do is let go of my attachment to my smart watch.  Oh I’ll wear it every day, but I’m trying to be less worried about my step totals.  Perhaps one way around that might be to find a watch face that doesn’t put my steps right in my face.   

I’m also going to be lowering my daily step goal.  Right now it’s set at 10690 or something to that effect.  I’m not going to lower it to something ridiculously low like 2000, but I think I’ll be able to find a sweet spot that allows me to hit it consistently (although not necessarily every day, to keep it something I can work toward).   

I feel like this kind of change will help steer me away from being worried about making sure I have enough steps during the day.  That’s the first change here.  The next step to increasing my creativity is probably unrelated to this, so I won’t get into it (plus, I don’t know what that is right now). 

Categories
Life Sports

What I learned playing softball 3 nights a week this summer

Softball image by Kelsey Vere from Pixabay

Most summers, we play softball one night a week. A few years ago that got bumped up to twice a week – only because the league I joined played two nights a week. It was still just one league. Last year, we kept to 2 nights a week – but in two different leagues. This year, we jumped ahead and upped our game a little bit – three nights a week.

And not offsetting nights either; every week we played 3 nights back-to-back-to-back, with no break in between nights (barring any teams not able to play or rain-outs). Most weeks this meant 3 games, but there were some weeks where we had two double-headers back-to-back, so we would play 5 games in 3 nights. Craziness!

I predominantly played third base, though I shifted around the corners playing 1st, left and right fields, and occasionally rover (we’re not as good as MLB players – we need at least 1 extra outfield position to actually stand a chance) as needed. There were some nights I just didn’t have it defensively, but I felt that I improved immensely at third base simply from having the extra reps at the position. Well, on the catching side of things. I have issues throwing on target in a hurry.

On the offensive side, I think it’s best described as being a wash for the entire season. This is essentially what I expected – that I would have some good games and some bad games. Near the end of the season I was stringing together several really good at-bats; unfortunately I struggled a bit right at the end. Things turned around a little bit during the tournaments, and again in Fall Ball, but really I’m ready to end the season so I’m not too worried about it.

The end result is that I’m not getting super upset with myself when I don’t have a good game at the plate. I really hate messing up defensively, but just knowing I’m going to get a billion more chances to hit the ball helps mentally get over the sting of going 0-for-3 or something on a night. I find it much worse to be the cause of a run scoring against you than it is to not be able to get on base.

So what did I learn? It’s not worth beating myself up for missed plays or bat plate appearances. It’s a rec league – everybody else is in the same boat.

Categories
Food Goals

Weight Loss by Numbers

Weird title, I know – after all, weight is already just a number. So what do I mean by “weight loss by numbers”? In short, it’s reducing my efforts (eating, exercising, etc.) to data points. This is my latest “scheme” to get on track with losing weight.

The other day I found – by accident – a really useful spreadsheet designed to help you nail down your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure – the amount of calories you burn per day). It’s the kind of spreadsheet that requires a lot of data – to work well, at the very least, 4-6 weeks’ worth of data. It took me a little bit to figure out what I needed to do to get value out of it, but once I did, I found I really love it.

How it worked for me

For the past several weeks I’ve been working with a max 1555 calories per day, and that was based on some TDEE calculations and MyFitnessPal goals. The idea was to be in a 1000-calorie deficit from my TDEE. Well, this spreadsheet takes into account your weight and calorie intake to calculate your TDEE. This is, I feel, slightly more accurate than the calculators available online. What the sheet is doing is calculating the TDEE based on how calorie intake is affecting your weight the next day.

All that said – what it’s telling me today (at the time of writing, Wednesday) – my TDEE is approximately 2650, which means I need to eat about 1650 calories daily to lose 2 pounds per week. There are some missing days in my data, unfortunately, but this is a very good approximation of where I should be. Since I’ve committed (mentally, at least) to being diligent with logging, I believe I should get even more relevant data as time goes on. I’ll be able to adjust my daily calorie intake more correctly.

So – here’s hoping I can make the right adjustments and get going with my weight loss. I want to get back to where I was 4-5 years ago, and keep going from there. Biggest roadblock to overcome in the coming days: I need to keep logging. That’s really all there is to it.

Categories
Goals

Results From an 8 Week Health Challenge

8 weeks ago (give or take a few days) I joined a challenge on reddit’s LoseIt sub – it was an 8-week challenge with at least two goals in mind: to allow individuals to try to lose weight, and also to collectively walk a bunch of steps. I’m being admittedly reductive in the description but it was actually a lot of fun.

I set an 8-week goal of losing 12 pounds, which would take me from 269.8 lbs to 257.8. By week 5 I had lost 2.6 pounds on the scale; but that’s also around when I unfortunately sabotaged my efforts and stalled a bit. I didn’t lose any significant amount of weight, and it looks like I possibly gained 1 pound on top of my starting number. Not so hot. But I did put up some crazy numbers in terms of steps and activity minutes. Here’s what I did, week-to-week (daily average steps):

Week1234567
Steps 80349589536386608912100348255

So, based on the daily average, I did about 411,929 steps! I could probably get a more accurate number but that would involve going back over 98 days or so…not quite what I want to do right now. Anyway, I’m quite happy with the work I put in despite not getting results that I wanted.

I don’t think I’m going to change anything up right now, except to try to stick within my calorie budgets as much as possible. I would like to see my scale weight go back down to 269 by the end of this week, if possible. If nothing else I’d like to get my trend weight lines to get moving back down instead of up.

I will tell you this…beer is probably the number one enemy for weight loss. That’s what started my 2-3 week setback.

Categories
Podcasts

New podcast up!

Wow! It’s been a while. I dismantled my studio, cleaned it up, and put it back together again since the last episode. I was going to record two today (Slow Reader + Alternative Airwaves) but I opted for just The Slow Reader. I might do Alternative Airwaves later this week.

I like the way this turned out; I’m pretty much resigned to not worrying about the length of the podcast. It’s going to be a sub-10 minute show. There’s a niche for that and I’m filling it.

Categories
Podcasts

Slow Reader? More like Slow Podcaster

I just finished (yesterday) typing out my script/outline for the final podcast episode about The Saturday Night Ghost Club; I still need to go back over it and give it a little polish, but I’m happy with it in general. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to structure the episode, but all of a sudden I got an idea yesterday afternoon and just got going.

In a perfect world I would have had this done and published as of August 8th, but I didn’t want to publish something sub-par. I’m not sure when I’ll get this episode done, but I think it will be good when I finish it.

Categories
Life

The Fear of Being Judged

“Don’t think of confidence as being a switch.”

Stephen Gates

Words from Stephen Gates, a creative design leader and host of The Crazy One podcast. The meaning behind that is you need to practice confidence – it’s not an inherent trait that people either have or don’t have. A recent podcast episode came out, which included that line, but also talked about some of the common fears in the workplace.

The “fear of being judged” specifically inspired me to do some thinking; this is something I hold in the back of my head all the time. I don’t share my work as widely as I could, because I (secretly) don’t want my friends and co-workers to see it and jusge me for it. I feel like my stuff isn’t good enough for them (some impostor syndrome seeping in here).

And occasionally, I have “oh shit” moments when I realize my co-workers see what I put online. Are they reading and listening to what I’m putting out there? Thankfully, the team I manage seems to have no clue of my online presence. Just the same, I think this is one of the reasons why I find it hard to share my work online.

However, I know that I’m not alone, and that’s one way in which this podcast episode helped me to understand. Clearly this episode wasn’t directed at me, it was directed at people like me. In that sense, things like this help. And hearing from people with more success than I do share that they have the same feelings (impostor syndrome, fear of being judged, etc.), that’s also immensely helpful.

I’m not sure if I said what I set out to say in this piece, but I think it adequately gets across why I don’t put more effort into some of the things I do online.

Categories
Goals

Weight Loss Roller Coaster

This is not new that I keep posting about weight loss, as it’s something I’m working at – constantly. I recently completed a review of my weight data from 2013 to current day, and it disappoints me to learn that while I lost 40+ pounds by the end of 2014, I gained it all back by 2018.

At my lowest I hit 228 pounds (November 2014); that was from a starting number of 272 (February 2013). Today, August 6 2019, I’m still at 272. I knew that I was climbing back up on the scale over the past 3 years, but seeing it laid out in a spreadsheet made it pretty painfully obvious.

Clearly, I’ve talked a lot about my strategies for weight loss on this blog. Just as clearly, my strategies have not worked. I can’t remember exactly what I did when I lost the weight 5 years ago, but I at least know that it was a combination of diet (via MyFitnessPal) and going to the gym. I still have a gym membership, I just haven’t gone in several months – but it’s not like I’m inactive, it’s just not practical to go to the gym in Summer months when there’s so much to do outdoors.

5 years ago I wasn’t armed with the knowledge of CICO, though, so I feel like this time around it should be a bit simpler to approach. Of course that’s the thinking that I’ve been trapped in for a while, now. But since giving myself this kick in the pants, I’ve outlined a new plan.

  • Reduce daily calorie goal to aim for a 2 lb / week loss (so for right now, ~1555 calories per day)
  • Get back to the gym, 3 times a week. Doesn’t matter which days, and need to be there at least 30 minutes per session (if it’s a short session, it has to be all cardio).
  • I’ll allow myself to eat back maximum 50% of my exercise calories – since they are not accurately tracked, anyway.

Given this plan, I should be at 232 pounds by January 2020 at the latest. I anticipate setbacks, that’s a given. So buffer zone…end of January 2020 to shed 40 pounds. But my “real” goal is to try to hit that number by December 22 2019.

I’m not going to finish at 40 pounds, though. According to most sources, a healthy weight for me should be 148-153 pounds. That seems a bit extreme so probably my next goal after 40 pounds is to get down to 200. That was the original goal, back in 2014. I just never got there.