Something something tying the snot

Forgive me if this is somehow less coherent than usual.

Whatever sickness I’m down with is kicking my ass. At the very least it’s deeply inhibiting my ability to sleep. Over the past few days, every few hours while in bed I’ll wake for some indeterminate amount of time. Always it feels like hours slip away. I’ll roll over, turn to my back, rotate my head, then turn the whole way ad infinitum. Despite not having had strenuous activity afoot, my brain feels messy. You know those old scrambled egg brain on drug PSAs? It’s like that, but someone has wedged a big block of cheese into the middle and it’s slowly dissipating through my mind. I think they call that melting, and I certainly feel like I am. With another hour left before my alarm went off, I figured I’d be better to get up and take writing out of the way for today. It sucks, I haven’t had coffee for the past three days, and I’d hoped it’d aid my sleep. Not so, apparently. I can’t tell if I’d feel more or less strung out if I’d been drinking it.

I’m gonna be in a car for five to six hours today. Will I perhaps manage to car sleep? Cram my body full of meds and conk out? Here’s hoping. We’re driving to Montreal, which seems like a shitty city to be sick in. Firstly, it’s bound to be snowy. Secondly, Montreal has all the best things to see, experience and eat. Thirdly, I’m going there for a wedding, and who wants to be sick at a wedding? Not this guy, that’s for sure. I’m there to eat, drink, and probably cry once or twice. While it’s true that being sick does not explicitly prevent any of these activities, I’d prefer not to leak mucus while shedding tears. There’s graceful wedding crying, and there’s whatever shit show I’m likely to be.

I also feel incredibly unprepared. I shouldn’t. We’re going to Montreal, it’s not a different country or anything. I shop in the same currency, there’s nothing fancy I need to enable for my phone, I don’t need a visa or even a passport. We have the Air BnB all booked, and it’s close to the venue. My bag is packed, but yet again I feel like there’s something that isn’t. I’ve got my clothes, still need to fold my dress shirt. I packed toiletries, my meds are ready to roll, I have comfy clothes for the drive. I could do well to put together some snacks for the trip. We have an abundant pile on the kitchen table. We also have things in the fridge I want to eat before they go off. I guess that means cutting that big chunk of ham into more tactile fry shaped strips. Do I need to shave? If so, it’d be so much quicker at home rather than at the Air BnB. Is that something I need to factor into my morning? Do I need to download some podcasts to zone out to in the back seat?

I think what I need is breakfast, to at least put myself into a place where I can make decisions. Oatmeal here I come!

Sweater weather

Well I feel like wet garbage.

I don’t know what exactly has me down, but I feel cold and flu-esque. My skin is ultra sensitive, my muscles ache, I’m mega congested. I spent most of last night in bed just tossing and turning around. It felt like purgatory. I’d turn one way, settle in, then feel uncomfortable and turn the other way. I don’t know how much sleep I actually got, but I imagine it was in the realms of 4-5 hours if even. According to this article I read yesterday, that ain’t enough. The article says eight hours or bust, basically. That while we think we’re doing fine on fewer, we ain’t. That the cumulative effect of losing an hour daily can be tantamount to feeling drunk. Maybe 2020 is the year I finally tackle my dislike of slumber. Much as I don’t want to be sleeping that much, if it’s the healthy and responsible choice, I’m getting too old not to make those. It only gets worse from here on out, and the undesirable task of mitigating that falls to me. Gross. Is that what growing old is all about?

I’m honestly kind of gutted to be missing work today. It’s my first sick day as an independent contractor. Without paid sick leave, there’s a very real cost to being sick. I’m impressed that this is the first time since I started in September that I’ve had to stay home. Still, I could use the funds. We’re going to Montreal over the weekend for a wedding. So yes, money could be handy (as if it’s ever not), but I think it’s more important to take the time and heal up, rather than potentially ruining a trip. I’ve got a few days to right myself, or at least to get to a place where meds can do the heavy lifting. It’s gonna be cold and snowy no doubt. Montreal in January tends to be. Last year when we walked down the road in Montreal, cars were entirely covered by snow. It was nuts, and felt like we’d strolled through a blizzard. If I don’t get healthy soon, I really will be under the weather. Pun 1000% intended.

I’m actually pretty excited for this trip. I love weddings, and while I don’t know this couple super well, I do know them as abundantly loving, creative people. I’m sure it’s gonna be a fantastic ceremony, but moreso it’s gonna be a great crowd to spend time with. As far as I understand, there are a few group activities, and the wedding itself has involved a lot of communal work. The bridal party is quite extensive and close-knit. My girlfriend is part of it. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve cooked up, and the special touches that the ceremony will exhibit.

Right now though, I’m looking forward to kicking this flu to the curb.

Lookin’ like a pile o’ snacks

I have a problem right now.

It’s not a big problem, or an urgent problem, but it is a problem at the moment. There are too many snacks in this house. We hosted a party the other night, and ended up with more snacks than we had at the start of the night. It’s hard not to overdo it. Just because they’re there, it doesn’t mean that I have to eat them. Thing is, I do want to eat them eventually. Most of them are sealed, so they’ll keep. We have biscuits, candy, chips, crackers, popcorn. All yummy stuff. We also have charcuterie remnants in the fridge: Cheeses, meats, pickled goods. I’m having top tier sandwiches these days, and it’s fantastic. My problem-that’s-not-a-problem will sort itself out eventually. We’ll spend time with friends, bring snacks over to watch movies. Share the love. At the moment though, the snacks are just sitting there on our table. We don’t have the cupboard space to fit them, so they’re watching us. My girlfriend thankfully took the mini cupcakes to share with her co-workers. That still leaves a veritable pile, and I don’t just want to give it all away.

If I had to estimate, I’d say we have maybe 2-3 weeks worth of snacks. I’d rather that they were 3-4 weeks worth, but I know our nature. We’ll haphazardly open a bag, then feel obliged to finish it. Snacks are insidious like that. To compound the non-problem-problem, my girlfriend got me a heap of delicious cookies from back home as a birthday gift. They’re EVEN BETTER snacks than anything sitting on the table. I want to spread them out over time, but that would take the kind of willpower I rarely come by. These can’t all end up in my body. Maybe we’ll have to pointedly invite people over to share the load.

Underlying all of this faux woe, is the fact that I’ve gained weight recently. Much like the aforementioned munchery menace, it’s not truly a big deal. I’m in a great place with body image. It’s not the sort of thing that throws me for a loop anymore. A few days back, I stepped on the scale. It’d been a long long time, and the weight I’d gained was understandable. There’s been a lot of revelry over the Christmas and New Year period. I’ve supped and sipped with a lack of concern. It’s been fantastic. I’ve definitely overdone it, but I don’t feel terrible about it. Where in previous years I’d be pulled into this negative spiral, now I can look back at the past month or so and see very obvious causality. That doesn’t mean I’m stoked, but neither am I torn up. I just understand, is all.

While I may have surpassed the worst of my anxiety around my body, I can see that I want to do something about it. My clothes aren’t ill-fitting, but some are perhaps more snug than I’d like. The winter months are hard for keeping active in any case, and I’m sure a bunch of this weight will dissipate when I don’t have to contend with snow. At the moment though, a literal pile of snacks aren’t the first thing I want to see when I enter the kitchen. It seems the solution to my not-quite-problem is that I need to learn moderation. I can have little a cookie, as a treat. I don’t need to resort to demonising less healthy foods, but it’s worth taking into account what I’m taking into my mouth. Irregular schedules have meant that eating habits have been uneven, and I’d be well served to figure out how to work around these patterns. If that means just chowing down on cabbage on main, I can do that. I can always eat more cabbage.

As ever, kimchi can be a snack too.

His pitch was deadlift on arrival

I knew it was a sales pitch from the moment I saw him.

It’s fine. I’m seasoned enough to have gotten away unscathed. I entered the gym yesterday and saw some dude with a spinning wheel. He called me over and told me to spin the wheel. It landed on “Free Squat Assessment”. I figured he was a personal trainer who was starting out, and this was a gimmick Goodlife used to pull in new clients. He seemed nervous and I wasn’t in a hurry, so I was friendly and patient. He told me that he could give me a free squat assessment and asked if I wanted to book a time. I figured I had nothing to do today and working on form was never a bad thing. I set an appointment for today at midday. I hummed and hawwed over whether I wanted to spend an hour and a half going through the motions to inevitably get sold at. If I got one or two new technique tips, it’d probably be 90 minutes well spent.

I turned up today on time, and he took me to a side room. He asked about my fitness goals and trends. What was my activity level? How long have I been going to the gym, etc? I realised that I am actually kind of aimless right now. I care more about consistency, keeping up mobility and maintaining my level of health. Instead of trying to push for growth, I’m looking at the long term. I’m pretty happy with how my body works at 33, and my hope is that with good habits I’ll still be active past sixty. Ambitious? Probably. Achievable? Probably. He gave me a page with check boxes next to health habits. Was I getting 7-9 hours of sleep most days? Was I eating fast food less than once a month? Was I getting 6-8 servings of vegetables a day? Was I having fewer than three drinks per week?

As I went through the list I realised that a bunch of the goals were a bit over the top. I feel like 3-4 servings of veggies a day is all you need, and 6-8 is a shit ton. Three drinks per week seemed like a very low threshold and once per month of takeout (and I imagine this means eating not at home, essentially) also were rough goals to achieve for the average person. Like the list had been specifically formatted to make it look like everyone had lifestyle aspects to change, and guilt people into starting personal training. At this stage, there had been no sales pitch. I knew one was coming. We measured my weight, body fat and BMI. I’m heavier than I had been, which feels pretty natural a couple of weeks post Christmas. It’s a big feasting time, I’m not worried about putting on weight. I’ll drop it over the summer. The guy told me that I had about 10% body fat to lose. “10-15% is normal” he said. 10-15% body fat is not normal. 10-15% body fat is normal for high performing individuals. 10-15% body weight is not achievable for most people. I figured a pitch was coming any minute.

We went to the training area and tried some squats. First with no weights, so he could check my posture. I told him I usually squat without shoes, since mine aren’t flat. He kept the shoes on. He said my ankle mobility could use a little work. Noted. We tried without my shoes. He said my form was fine, and I’d be aided by exhaling at the bottom of my squat. It was a good reminder. My form has fallen off in recent years, and it’s nice to get a refresher. Aside from that, he said my form was fine. Good squats. We tried deadlifting. He put a bar flat on the ground and told me to deadlift it. He said I wasn’t quite hinging enough, and needed to focus more on that. I asked him if we could raise the bar from the ground, like it would be if it had plates on the end. We did. He said my form was good. I told him I had a little bit of lower back tension, which wasn’t a big deal because I could stretch it out. I asked him if he saw anything in my form that would’ve cause that? Nope, my form was good. Assessment over. I figured the pitch was coming.

He took me back into the office. He asked me what lessons I’d learned. I still wanted to be nice, so I said that the ankle mobility suggestion and reminder to breathe were helpful. He beamed. He asked me if I knew what a certain type of training meant. To me it sounded like a marketing buzzword. I stopped him and flatly said “just to let you know, I’m not interested in personal training or buying any packages, and I’m not gonna leave this room having signed up for a package, okay?” His expression faltered. He stumbled a little bit and went back into his pitch. “Sure” I said “but I’m not looking to do personal training, okay? I pay sub $300 for my gym membership for a year, and I’d rather put the money for personal training into different physical activities.” He looked back to his sheet, and started offering smaller packages starting at $250. I asked him if there was anything else to talk about aside from pitching training packages? He said no. I thanked him for his time, and shook his hand farewell.

I’ve never been to the rodeo, but this ain’t my first one.

Rootin’, tootin’, hollerin’, hootin’ & the Blowfish

It’s writin’ time.

I can’t promise that I’ll never use that intro again, but I hope to God I don’t. I don’t know why swappin’ an apostrophe for the “g” looks like such a shitshow in the word “writing”, but it lacks any form of charm. I feel like it’s the worst iteration of droppin’ the “g”, but I need to test this theory. While I feel responsible for bringin’ this atrocity to light, I can try my best under contractionable obligation to avoid spreadin’ it like the plague or an insidious jam. What is the most insidious jam? Clearly raspberry. It has a relative sweetness to strawberry, and a pleasant mild bitterness, but those damn seeds ruin its otherwise jolly gelatinous texture. It is utterly the worse, and I say that without reservation. Just preservation. Is it obvious yet that I’ve got nothin ‘to talk about today?

When has that stopped me before. I think it’s time for me to return to my roots and shoot from the hip. Let the stream of consciousness flow straight from the top of my dome. A freestyler in the vein of Bomfunk MC’s. Did you know that they’d reformed in 2018? Did you know that they existed at all? Did you know that they’d re-shot their classic video, with a modern twist? I didn’t, but I googled them to check the spellin’, and “Freestyler 2019” was one of the first links. I’m not enough of a villain to force you into searchin’ it yourself. Here you go. It may not have been a big deal in North America, but back in New Zealand when we first started college, the video was all the rage. I remember bein’ mystified by that newfangled minidisc device the pallid kid was usin’. I eventually got a minidisc (in an unrelated decision. Come to think of it, my parents bought it as a gift. Maybe they were big Bomfunk MC’s fans), and it never gave me the ability to control strangers via remote control. My disappointment was salved somewhat by my delight in makin’ my own mixtapes with pretentious names. Coherence and concordance. Fuckin’ gag, dude.

I could not be bothered leavin’ the house yesterday, so I did a hallway workout. If it sounds absurd, it was. I’m not sayin’ I didn’t sweat buckets, but I felt sheepish even if nobody was watchin’. I’ve been sufferin’ from mild tennis elbow lately, and it’s given me a disincentive to head to the gym. I cranked up an album and got to work. Bear crawls and reverse bear crawls, lunges, inchworms/ab wheel rollouts, walkin’ side squat with a resistance band, renegade rows, squat thrusters, single arm dumbbell snatches. I don’t have any heavy weights, but you’d be surprised just how much you can get done with stuff around the home. Nonetheless, I’m destroyed today. I haven’t done a specific ab workout in yonks. I figure they’ll get enough work as stabilisers for other movements, that there’s little point in isolation. Egads, yo, that rollout wheel is effective. And those walkin’ side squats? I’ve probably spent more time foam rollin’ out the damage they did, than I spent on the exercise itself. The bulk of my normal exercises are sagittal, and it’s rare for me to toss in many frontal or transverse movements. If that wasn’t obvious before, it sure is now. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine, and it’s harder to forget that humans function on three different planes. They’re all important for overall body health. I guess I that was a lesson I needed to be taught. Now I’m just taut. But if I compensate for all the work with a delectable dessert? That may well be torte.

As for now, I guess I’m departin’.

Diet ‘nother day

I ended up writing a novel on a friend’s Facebook post, and figured I might as well toss it up here in case it was useful for others.

I agree many times over with this post, and I have a lot of feelings about the subject.
 
I was a marshmallow of a kid, and it heavily impacted my upbringing. I was incredibly lucky to come from a loving, supportive family. At the same time, my mum had a lot of baggage from her own childhood experiences with weight loss, etc. While her methods at times- likely out of personal frustration- felt tantamount to bullying, that was never her intention. She encouraged me into trying a bunch of diets, sports, and eventually fitness. Most of them didn’t stick, and I’m sure that the issue felt really resonant for her. Fitness had totally changed her life and how she was able to navigate it. Overall she just wanted me to be happy, albeit through her own lens.
 
The thing is, even as a kid I wanted what she wanted, but it felt so out of my reach that it was a constant source of stress and anxiety for me. So many tears and a recurring cycle of self-doubt. You’re 1000% right that we’re inundated with these messages of what we “should” look like, etc, and it’s next to impossible to decipher what we actually want vs what society tells us that we want.
 
After a childhood of trying again and again, realistically exercise and a better understanding of nutrition didn’t really start to take for me until I was around 20. I get how hard all of this is, because it’s been such a focus and point of contention for my entire life. It impacted how I thought people saw me, and having been on both sides, it absolutely changes how people treat you.
 
That’s what I hate most about all of it. I’ve always been the same person, irrespective of what I looked like, but it’s unavoidable to say that people were a lot kinder to me once I lost weight. People who literally wouldn’t give me the time of day before would only be too happy to have a conversation. It’s fucking abysmal how society treats those who don’t fit into a myopic standard, and I don’t have words for how furious it still makes me. There’s no reason for this kind of othering. It’s fucking shameful how society not only tolerates it, but is also complicit in furthering this mentality.
 
In saying all of this, as much as I was dragged kicking and screaming into it, ultimately mum was right. Understanding more about nutrition, and keeping active, has changed my quality of life. Weight loss, personally, was a big part of this. Who am I kidding? Of course it’s been nice to be able to dress in certain ways that weren’t accessible otherwise. It has made being active a lot less of a burden than it had been. I’d grown up straight-up believing that nobody would ever be attracted to me, and it’s inextricable to discern whether this was from how I looked or the confidence the weight loss gave me. It hasn’t remotely made me a better person, or changed who I am inside, but it has allowed me to understand my body in ways I otherwise would not have.
 
I would hope that my achievements (and they have been achievements, because they’ve involved many years of hard work and personal intention) wouldn’t diminish others’. I would hate to think that people would feel bad because of self-motivated decisions I made. It also sucks to feel like I can’t talk about things that have been a massive part of my personal journey. I would hate to make people feel shitty and ultimately, if talking about it means that others would, it’s worth not talking about it every time.
 
I do not for a second believe that anyone’s value is tied to the way they look. I also know that it was incredibly difficult for me for a long time, and it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve been able to learn that self-compassion and understanding is far more important than numbers, etc. The scale does not matter whatsoever, it’s how you feel in your body.
 
My biggest takeaway from all of my experiences is that they didn’t matter- and changes didn’t happen- until I decided that I was actually doing it for myself. That’s a really hard place to get to, and when people talk about their struggles, trust me I get it. Of course I only have my personal, able-bodied, cis male experiences to go on and I’m not professing to be an expert. Still, a lot of those feelings are universal. It beyond sucks to be made to feel negative about yourself because of others’ expectations. I wish so deeply that society would stop judging and punishing people for how they look, but I’m also realistic about how long it takes society to change. It’s probably not gonna happen in any of our lifetimes.

I’m sure Maurice is actually really nice in real life

I’ve been taking a week off weed.

It made sense to me. I don’t think weed has been causing serious issues in my life, but since legalisation I’ve definitely noticed my usage creeping up incrementally. Having a vape has made it far too convenient. If I can smoke inside (to avoid the wind chill), and have nothing important to do, it’s been hard to find an excuse not to. Watching a movie is great, but do you know what’s better? Watching a movie high. It’s been nice having a small smoke and going to the gym. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, it’s a swell way to get in touch with my body and figure out where certain exercises have an impact. If I’ve had a smoke I’ll always refrain from lifting heavy, and instead focus on movement standards. Is my form good? Where am I feeling muscle tension? Is that where I should be feeling it? If not, adjust. Stretching feels so much better, and I get less antsy about starting my workout. It makes me actually take the time to stretch properly, and refrain from injury. I love snacking, but it’s even better high. Playing Magic is fun, but drafting nonsense while high is also a ton of fun. Wanting to be social, but not keen on drinking a lot? Weed has definitely helped to cut down my consumption. I can’t remember the last hangover I had, and that gives me no small amount of joy.

So yeah, the above stuff is great, but I figure it’s quite alright taking a break from things you love. In the past I’ve done non-alcohol stretches. A month off here, three months off there. I even did a six month period without booze. I’m no stranger to cold turkey scenarios, and I kind of like testing my mettle to see how I do without certain substances. It means something to me knowing that I have the discipline to cut something out if it potentially could be problematic. So far, no weed has been easy. I did the simple task of taking my vape from the top of my dresser and putting it in a box where I keep my supplies. All of ten centimetres behind the vape’s usual resting spot. It was a tiny, but meaningful change. I look at it in the box and think I put it there for a reason, and the reason was not to. So I don’t. Simple as that. I’ve heard before that weed isn’t physically addictive, and I get it. Scenarios have come up where I’d rather be smoking, but it’s been nada big deal. The vape stays in the box.

Have I seen benefits yet?

It seems far too early to tell. Obviously if I’m not smoking, I’m mentally sharper. No question. That’s not to say that weed puts me into a state of idiocy, but I’d surprise nobody by saying that I’m more alert sober. I think I sleep better when I smoke, and wake up more refreshed. When I don’t, I dream far more intensely. They’re more evocative and narrative. I can remember them better. I’ve always been a vivid dreamer, and it’s nice to refresh my memory on what that feels like. Last night, for instance:

I dreamt that I was on Big Brother. I don’t watch Big Brother. There was some contest going, and I totally didn’t get the rules. Contestants were running around rugby fields with foam chunks strapped to them, holding either ducks or little pigs. The handlers were telling me to hurry up and join in, and I kept saying that I didn’t know how the game worked. Could someone explain it to me? They sighed, as if it was really fucking obvious, and showed me this video. It didn’t make sense to me. I had three choices, but I didn’t understand what the objective was. I could choose the duck, the pig or the third option. I was getting frustrated, and tearing up as they started yelling at me. “I don’t watch the show, it’s not my fault” I kept saying. “Just fucking choose one” the handler said. I thought for half a second and decided on the mystery option. Everyone gasped. “Why would you choose that?” The handler asked. “Well” I said “I’ve fed ducks before and they pecked really hard. I don’t want to run with something that might attack me. I’d feel really bad if I dropped a pig, and nobody seems to have chosen option three, so I will.” The handler nodded solemnly and told me to follow. “I guess you’re gonna meet Maurice then.” He said. I followed him into this dank barn. Rotten fruit and vegetables covered the ground. I felt something under my foot, and a lizard scuttled away. Flies were everywhere. Behind a gate was this raging bull, held back by a group of guys. “Uhh, isn’t this really dangerous for someone untrained?” I asked. The handler nodded. “Why do you think nobody ever picks it?” I felt entirely terrified, and suddenly everything cut away. A promo for the episode started playing. It talked all about the wacky hi-jinks of the other players, and a “heart-pounding, nail biting new experience for Leon.” I woke up having no idea what the game was, or how I did, but the worst thing was that I really wanted to watch the episode.

I dunno, I’ve seen a couple of Big Brother episodes for work. I don’t think even being high could make it an entertaining show.