Worldview: The Rambling Road: Take a break

To say that I am motivated to lose weight and increase my overall fitness is an understatement. My overall health is directly tied to those two variables, and moving them in my favor promises a whole host of benefits.

I’m here to say it’s possible to want it too much.

Over the past four and a half months I have pushed myself, occasionally to the point of breaking and renewed illness, only to jump back into it again the moment I was able. I’ve increased my average daily steps from 4,800 a day in January to 11,000 right now. I’ve increased my average hours of movement from 2ish to 4ish. I’ve lost and kept off 25 pounds since the first of the year.

And I’m exhausted.

Now, that’s to be expected, given the ramp up in activity I’ve inflicted on myself, but it’s also unsustainable. Over the past few weeks, I’ve begun to suffer a series of chronic warning signs the outcome of me ignoring them I know too well. I’ve reached the edge of my envelope, and it’s time to back off.

I’m telling you all about this as both a warning and an encouragement. Every single thing we do has a long term effect, even if we don’t realize the correlation when that effect occurs. It could be a good effect. It could be bad. But it will be there.

What we have to be aware of is the fact that, if we burn it all up now, there may not be anything left for later. It’s okay to take breaks. It’s okay to back off for a bit. Backing off now may well be the way you push yourself harder down the road.

So, for the moment, I’m taking a break. I’m ramping down my steps for the rest of the month and transferring that effort into more natural movement pursuits and, for the next week or so, getting my sleep sorted out again. Once I have, I’ll be back at it, stronger and more motivated than ever.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: 2018 goes out a lot better than it came in

With the year drawing to a close, I would be remiss if I did not revisit where I find myself now after the past couple–and really the past few–years of illness and struggle.

One of the most important health changes I have ever experienced happened in the form of starting a mild anti-depressant at the end of September. The changed I experienced upon beginning that medication is real and enduring and has enabled nearly everything else that has happened since then.

The biggest subsequent change has been to dedicate myself to a series of dietary and exercise changes in the hope of wrestling my life back from my health. I have virtually given up process sugars, modern grains, and processed foods. I have begun an intermittent fasting regimen. I have starting moving more than I have in years.

Specifically, I am walking and using a bike trainer, and plan to start running and attending a yoga class after the first of the year. If those efforts go well, I plan to start trail hiking and purchase an e-bike for longer-distance rides sometime in the next year.

I have begun using light therapy as part of a daily program that involves waking up using light instead of sound and also using a therapy panel as part of my daily routine. The effect this has had on my mood and energy level cannot be understated.

Perhaps most importantly, I am confident that I can do the things I plan for the first time in a really long time. I am hopeful for the new year, and those are strange words coming out of my mouth.

More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: 2018 goes out a lot better than it came in

With the year drawing to a close, I would be remiss if I did not revisit where I find myself now after the past couple–and really the past few–years of illness and struggle.

One of the most important health changes I have ever experienced happened in the form of starting a mild anti-depressant at the end of September. The changed I experienced upon beginning that medication is real and enduring and has enabled nearly everything else that has happened since then.

The biggest subsequent change has been to dedicate myself to a series of dietary and exercise changes in the hope of wrestling my life back from my health. I have virtually given up process sugars, modern grains, and processed foods. I have begun an intermittent fasting regimen. I have starting moving more than I have in years.

Specifically, I am walking and using a bike trainer, and plan to start running and attending a yoga class after the first of the year. If those efforts go well, I plan to start trail hiking and purchase an e-bike for longer-distance rides sometime in the next year.

I have begun using light therapy as part of a daily program that involves waking up using light instead of sound and also using a therapy panel as part of my daily routine. The effect this has had on my mood and energy level cannot be understated.

Perhaps most importantly, I am confident that I can do the things I plan for the first time in a really long time. I am hopeful for the new year, and those are strange words coming out of my mouth.

More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: An advent

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, mostly because I came to resent the fact it seemed like I only came to these pages to complain. Recently, however, something very positive has happened to me, and after debating when and how to share it, I decided to share it with everyone all at once.

About six weeks ago, I started taking an antidepressant after consulting with my healthcare provider about some things I had going on, including rampant insomnia and some ways of thinking that lead nowhere good. For those of you who know me well enough, you may realize how important and difficult a decision this was for me.

I wish I had pushed this issue decades ago.

In the past six weeks, for what seems like the first time in my life, my head is clear of so much of the noise that has plagued me most of my life. I have slept full nights for the first time in years. The change is beyond remarkable for me, and has contributed to a host of realizations about myself and my behavior that were, for me, clouded until now.

Granted, I am just at the beginning of a process, and we’ve already had to make adjustments to my medication to accommodate symptoms and side effects, but the fact is I can see where I need to be going and how to get there for the first time in a really long time.

I’m telling everyone this for two reasons. First, because, especially as a male, it can be hard to admit something is wrong and to ask for help. Second, because it’s important for all of us to remember that the brain is an organ just like the liver or the pancreas, and if you’re willing to take medication to help them work better, why not consider doing so for your brain too if you need it?

The bottom line is that I did ask for that help and got it, and for the first time in a really long time, I am optimistic about being able to improve. I can’t say for certain where this will head, but I know it will head somewhere. Stay tuned for more as time passes.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Stimming

I don’t tend to talk about this much because it’s hard to describe to anyone who doesn’t deal with it, but I have long had trouble keeping my mind on task. This problem is more than simple distractedness or absentmindedness, but I am not making a to claim to any kind of condition to describe it. It’s just always been a part of me, and over the years, I’ve learned various ways to cope with it when it gets bad enough.

One of the ways I’ve learned is a process I call “stimming”. Basically described, when my brain gets most chaotic, sometimes intense investment in focused, mentally taxing activities coupled with liberal use of stimulants helps tame the noise. Yes, I realize this is likely a form of self-medication, but it works and helps things from getting worse (trust me, we don’t want worse than chaos).

The downside of this process is that it can sometimes develop its own destructiveness. Stimming was the reason I started smoking once upon a time (I’ve long since stopped), for example, and counteracting the effects of the stimulants can have its own cost (I was a functional drunk for a while, but that too is now in the past). Then again, in the balance, those sorts of things aren’t much worse than the side effects of the drugs commonly prescribed for conditions like mine, so there’s that.

I’m not bringing this subject up as a recommendation, because I would not wish this sort of thing on anyone. Rather, I bring it up because it can be mastered, and if you’re struggling with similar, I’m someone who understands.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Discipline

Yesterday, I wrote about being discontented and how that state drives me in so many areas, now including health. Today, I want to write about my bane: discipline.

It’s surprising that discipline is a shortcoming of mine given my natural inclination to plan, but having lived with that reality for a long time, I can tell you without any doubt that I am inclined to be easily distracted and to be lazy when it comes to executing those plans.

Yet, most things in life require some degree of discipline to get done. Even stuff I really enjoy doing has parts to them that I don’t, and that’s where the discipline comes in.

I’m learning that notion now in spades. I’m not in a position anymore to get distracted or get lazy or give up. I have to see this through.

And in realizing that fact, I’m also realizing discipline can be learned in ways I’d never given consideration to. Learning discipline, I’m discovering, is like learning to ride a bike. It takes time and practice, but the more I do it and the longer I do it, the easier it becomes.

In the end, for me, the biggest motivator for discipline is the goal I am trying to reach. In the case of health, I don’t want to always feel this way, so wanting that goal badly enough becomes its own kind of motivation. Motivation breeds discipline.

So, in the end, for me, it’s a matter of settling on a goal I want and pursuing it. Sure, there will be bumps along the way, but I know I can do it. So can you.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Discontentedness

It’s no secret to those who know me that I am a discontented person. As far back as I can remember, I never recall a time where I was satisfied with anything I’ve done, known, or been involved in. That discontent is what has driven me to pursue education, experiences, and even entire careers.

Knowing that, it then surprises me that my otherwise discontent never seemed to apply to my physical state. For most of my adult life, I’ve accepted weight gain and the creeping malaise of health that goes along with it for what it seemed to me to be: an inevitable sign of aging and poor luck. I’ve even gone so far as to argue against fitness in some absurd justification of being less than what I could be.

Yet, now that I have been laid low by illness, my discontentedness has come into full effect. I am not satisfied with anything. I want to fix it and fix it the best way possible. The issue now is that I’m not quite in a position to act. Ironic, isn’t it?

Nevertheless, I believe my discontentedness will be the thing that drives me forward. As hard as it is proving to be, I will not be satisfied until I master this thing.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Brainersize

One of the things I think we often miss in the course of physical recovery is how important it is to keep the brain engaged as well. It’s amazing to me how fast the brain can get lazy and soft, perhaps even more so than our bodies, and how that lazy, soft brain can hinder physical recovery in ways weakness and pain won’t.

I have been fortunate in my own recovery that I am surrounded by family and friends who will not let me degenerate into a pile of mental goo. Whether it’s people physically close to me asking what I’m working on or friends at a distance taking the time to engage me, I owe a lot to these people for keeping my brain active.

Beyond the social interaction, it’s important for me to keep my brain active with the kinds of things that keep me engaged under more normal circumstances. As such, I keep reading though my attention span still suffers. I play computer games because there are few better ways to keep a wandering mind moving. I’m slowly starting to work on art and writing again, though those things are going to take longer to happen than I thought they would. Eventually, I’ll get back to my tech tinkering.

Overall, what I learn from all of this engagement is that, when my brain is engaged, I actually hurt less and am more likely to commit to the other activities that will make me feel better in the long run. If there was any ever doubt the brain is the master of the body, the reality of what happens when we keep it engaged should put that to rest.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

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