Winter Vacation

Alas, I am almost at the end of my January vacation. If you haven’t noticed, I have used a little of this time to switch the blog back to a self-hosted format. That means the URL will now exclusively be ericksodyssey.com. If you have been accessing the blog through WordPress at ericksodyssey.wordpress.com, that will now redirect to this address. I am still using WordPress, and will still be connected to the WordPress Universe via their Jetpack addon. I’ve changed the aesthetics around here a little also. Hope you like it.

I always take the last week of January off because Denice’s birthday is on the 31st. We have a had a really good week together. We went out to a little place called ‘The Island‘ on her birthday to celebrate. The Island is a neat little place next to the Great Smokey Mountains national park. There are several nice restaurants there. We ate at the Timberwood Grill. Before dinner, we took a quick ride on the Great Smokey Mountain Wheel; a two hundred foot ferris wheel.

I have kind of fallen off the wagon as far as my health and fitness this week. I’ve done almost no running and have been eating terribly. I tend to do this when my daily routine gets disrupted.  I’m not going to dwell on what is done, just try and learn from it, and hopefully do better next time.

I have discovered a new person out there on the Interwebs, her name is Katy Bowman. She is a “biomechanist,” and author of several books in the realm of movement and health. I like a lot of her ideas, the ones I’ve seen so far anyway. Check out her stuff here: https://nutritiousmovement.com/

That’s all I’ve got for now friends.

The road that remains

I reached forty years of age this past weekend. I’m now in the half-time intermission of my life. The plays have been pretty conservative up until now, and the score shows it. I think it’s time for a new game plan.

Denice and I just got back from a really great time, on vacation in Colorado, her home state. We spent most of the week camping in the Rocky Mountains. I witnessed in these past few days some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It helped me realize just how little I have seen of this world.

We traveled across the vast openness of the Colorado plains, over windy mountain passes that were clothed with green Pines and whispering Aspen trees, on into the high desert mesas. Wild. That’s what Colorado is. It is a wild place. I feel a pull inside me to explore wild places. This trip has left me hungry for more of the wild.

At night it was so dark that I could scarcely see my hand in front of my face, but the sky above was a dazzling ocean of stars. For the first time that I remember I was able to clearly see the Great Rift of the Milky Way.

In the down time of our trip, I had been reading the book, Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. The book is awesome, by the way. It is mostly about ultra-running. I felt inspired one morning and decided to go for an early morning run. I awoke just as the sun was coming up. I put on my Vibram Five Fingers and set off into the wild. I have been doing barefoot walking for a while, with a little bit of running here and there. This particular morning I ran about a quarter of a mile to the lake, and then a half-mile up into the rocky hills. On the initial ascent, I spooked a deer that was feeding on the grass around camp. I made it almost to the top of the ridge and was pretty tired, so I decided to head back to camp.

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The day after my run, my calves were very sore, and my feet were a little bruised from the rocks. It felt good though. It felt good glide across this unforgiving terrain with nothing but the equipment I was born with (and the aid of a thin strip of rubber). It also felt good to feel the pain afterward. I know that I can handle this stuff now, and I think it’s time to stop holding myself back, afraid of breaking something. I’m going to start running a little every day and hitting the trails on the weekends. I think my weight issue will take care of itself if I just pursue the joy of moving under my own power.

So, my new game plan for the second half: Number one… stop playing it so damn safe. Life is a short and fast adventure, not a game of chess. If you play it too safe, you will miss the whole point. Number two… I can do way more than I think I can, so I’m going to test myself in the wild, and not hold back. And, number three… People are what this is all about. I am going to stop neglecting the relationships of my family and friends and make it a point to seek out and forge new friendships.

Till next time.

Back in the Saddle

Hello, friends! I know, I know… it’s been a while. Sorry for the hiatus. I hope all has been going well for you monkeys. I hate that I go through these cycles of interest and disinterest in writing. It is a regularly occurring pattern, and I can’t promise it won’t happen again in the future. For now, though, I think I’m ready to get down to some blogging.

Let’s begin with a few updates. I haven’t had much progress in the weight loss department. for the past couple of months, I have been stalled in the upper two-fifties. Last week was a pretty good week. I was solid with the intermittent fasting, and not so bad with the food choices either. I was keeping my caloric intake down to under a thousand calories a day, and it paid off. I am down nine pounds from last Saturday. I’m confident that I will do well next week also, and I expect to be in the two-forties by next Saturday. However, Denice and I are going to be on vacation the following week. Historically, being on vacation is a deathblow to my eating plan. When I’m at work all day I don’t even think about food, and there is no social pressure to eat at certain times. That all goes out the window when I’m on vacation. My plan is to get as much progress as I can before the vacation, and then do the best I can to minimize the damage during it. It is a vacation, so I am going to have fun, and that will involve social eating with family and friends. I think if I put my mind to it I can keep the food choices a little on the healthier side, and possibly reduce the eating frequency here and there. We’ll see.

For our upcoming vacation, we are going camping in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Denice’s mom, dad, and some other family members are renting RV’s, and taking them up to Gunnison for a few days. Camping and outdoor stuff is my thing, so I think we are going to have a great time. I’ll post some photos when we get back.

One new thing that I have taken an interest in is barefoot walking and running. I discovered a person out there in the Internet Realm by the name of Christopher McDougall, who is the author of a book called, Born to Run. The book proposes that running long distances, without the aid of cushioned running shoes, is one of our species greatest’s, but mostly forgotten powers. The general idea is that most injuries people experience while running is the result of running in shoes or at least shoes that drastically change and inhibit the way our feet and legs are evolved to work. There’s a lot of information to explain so I would recommend watching his TED Talk on Youtube if you are interested. I have started experimenting with this idea. For the past few weeks, I have been walking the dogs around the neighborhood with no shoes and doing some very lite treadmill running with no shoes. My feet have definitely changed. The soles are a little tougher, and my feet feel a little stronger overall. Not counting the one time that I stepped in dog poo, it’s been a very rewarding experience.

20170710_170154I have also purchased a pair of Vibram Fivefingers, which are shoes that are designed to give the closest approximation to going barefoot while wearing shoes. I’ll probably write up a review of these once I’ve more time to play around with them. They are way too clean. I’m going to have to fix that.

Denice and I are also at the beginning of a very big, life changing big, new chapter in our lives. I really want to share it with you all, but the timing is not right. I did want to mention it only because I am very excited about it. Let’s just say it is something that we have waited a long time for, and now it looks like we are finally ready to move forward on.

That’s all for now. More to come.

Bad Habits

I seem to be stuck in a relapse of my former bad habits. For the past few days I have eaten food whenever I felt the compulsion, and the food I have been eating is not in any sense healthy. Tomorrow I weigh in and I can only guess how much fat I have reacquired. This is unacceptable. I have come too far to revert to the creature that I was before.

Yesterday morning I did wake up and do three rounds of the Wim Hof Method first thing. That day I was able to hold off eating until the afternoon. I have not had any cold or contrast showers all week. I’m going to try to reboot things tomorrow. I know I will get back on track, I just hope I will be able to do it before I have to go back to work on Monday.

Besides my cutting loose into debauchery, everything else is going well. I’ve been enjoying getting to spend a lot more time with Denice. We haven’t really been doing anything besides hanging out at the house, but it’s still nice. I always take the path of inactivity when I don’t have a plan. If there is no structure, I fall apart. This is troubling seeing that I would like to have a more financially independent lifestyle in the future. I really need to work on correcting this weakness. If I cannot self-organise my life outside of a company imposed schedule, I’m not going to have a good time with it. I need to learn self-discipline on a whole other level than what I am operating on now.

On a positive note, I did complete one project that was on my list. I successfully replaced our sink sprayer. The old one was worn out and would not immediately stop spraying when the trigger was released. Replacing it and the hose was much more difficult than I had expected. The connection of the hose to the faucet module was very hard to access. There was not enough room to get a wrench on it. It took a while, but I eventually worked it free and got the new hose connected. It was a frustrating but ultimately rewarding task.

We have two Redbox DVD’s to watch tonight: Deepwater Horizon and Denial. Denice is taking a nap, so I’m going to go wake her up.

Til tomorrow.

A year of Change

I have heard much of the woes of this past year. It has been a tough year for many. This is true. We all suffered through one of the most turbulent presidential election in living memory, with a result that almost no one is truly happy with. Terrorist attacks seemed to surge in 2016, and death claimed an unusually high number of the famous. For me though, 2016 has been a year of transformation.

For most of my adult life I have been stuck in a rut of mediocrity, living the same day over and over again, slowly spiraling into a lower state. At my lowest point at the start of this year I was on the verge of passing the 300 pound mark. Denice and I lived on junk food and fast food. I had terrible gastric problems that would leave me sick almost every morning, and I could not produce results in almost anything I decided to undertake. I was a wreck.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I remember the turning point. It was spring or maybe early summer of this year. I ran across a short documentary on Youtube called, ‘Inside the Superhuman World of the Iceman.’ The documentary was about a Dutchman by the name of Wim Hof, the one they call The Iceman. He holds dozens of world records for what can only be described as superhuman feats of strength and endurance, especially endurance of the cold. He credited everything to a simple breathing excercise that he developed from observing how his body reacted when exposed to the cold. The breathing exercise and short cold showers seemed easy enough, so I decided to give it a try. What followed was a subtle, but very real change that happened in my life.

The first two or three days of doing the breathing exercise made me feel, um… off. I felt short of breath and foggy in the head. I stuck with it though and this sensation passed. Slowly but surely my mind cleared up and my energy increased. I began to think in ways that I han’t before, and this led to other changes. One of the following changes that I made was trying intermittent fasting, which has helped me to lose 65 pounds to date. My stomach problems have completely disappeared. I have also started blogging on a regular basis. My outlook on life has gotten much brighter too, and I am now dedicated to continual personal improvement.

So for me 2016 was a year of awakening. I don’t know if I would be where I am at today if fate had not brought a crazy Dutchman into my life. It was the first domino to fall, triggering a cascade of changes that has pulled me out of my rut, and is taking me into the future.

I guess if I could wish you one thing for 2017 it would be that you find your own Wim (or version of him/it) to push your first domino over. Transformation is possible. If you need it, I sincerely hope you find what you need to make it happen. Happy New Year.

Weekend Gluttony and GTD

I have truly overdid it this weekend. I would be embarrassed to tell you of the junk I have eaten over the past couple of days. Sure, it’s my Off Cycle, but I have pushed it to the point of sickness, and that can’t be healthy.

In spite of my gluttonous weekend escapades, the program is working. I dropped another five pounds over the week. I’m at 240 now. Yes, my friends, that’s 60 pounds lost. This shit works, simple as that. Tomorrow I cycle back on, and I can’t wait because I always feel great when fasting. Sometimes I have a post-weekend hangover for the first morning, but it fades quickly. Before long my energy rises, and I feel great.

2016-12-18-drive

I think I got all the kinks worked out of my GTD (Getting Things Done) system. I’m basically using Google Drive and Docs for everything. I’m using the INBOX folder as the funnel of my GTD workflow. I have the Drive app. on my phone set to upload scans to this folder, and I have a web clipper Chrome extension that does the same thing. I do a weekly review where I process everything from my email, Drive InBox, and physical documents. I also review my current and future projects, and my Possibilities (Someday-Maybe) folder at this time. For a task manager I am using TickTick (search Google Play), which is a very minimalist system. For my calendar I’m just using Google Calender, which is more than adequate

Maybe on the next post I’ll unpack how I use Google Sheets to manage my projects. It’s a very simple system, which is exactly the way I want it. Complexity is the mother of Doesn’t-Get-Done.

Ok friends, I’m going to hit the sack. I have agreed to go in early to work tomorrow. Much love and happiness to you all.

The broken chain and some updates

Alas, after nearly two months of daily blogging, I have finally missed a day. What can I say… I was wiped out yesterday. The previous two days I got very little sleep, probably five hours or less a night. I’ve struggled with getting to bed on time for a long time. I have gotten better with it, but I still go through phases where I have a hard time. It finally caught up with me last night. I passed out on the couch not long after I got home.

Writing daily has added a lot to my life. It is excellent exercise for my mind. It keeps my writing abilities tuned up, and most importantly it allows me the opportunity to express my thoughts.

I still haven’t gotten started on my review of Walden Two. I promise, it’s coming.

I have already launched into The Four Hour Body however. I’m not far into it, but I can say right now that it is really well done. I had to get started on it right away. I needed some clarification of a couple of the techniques that I’m going to be trying out next week. Oh, by the way, I have survived Thanksgiving with no weight gain. I was able to maintain my Intermittent Fasting protocol all week, with the exception of Thanksgiving day. I basically did the Standard American Diet (SAD) though. Next week is going to be different. I think now that Thanksgiving is behind me I will finally start making some serious progress on my body recomposition goals.

I am going to be trying a completely new physical training protocol next week. It will be limited to two thirty-minute workouts a week. I am trying to utilize the principle of the ‘minimum effective dose.’ The idea is to simply do the amount and type of excercise to get the desired effect. Anything less will be ineffective and anything more will just produce waste and increase my risk of injury. This is an idea that I have gleaned from The Four Hour Body.

Ok, that’s all for now. Stay thirsty my friends!

Why? Because it is there.

I was excited to see that Joe Rogan had done another podcast with The Iceman, Wim Hof. I’m about half-way through it. Wim is as excitable as always. apparently there is some new research on his method. I love JRE, but I really hope he rides the circuit and does another interview with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. She always cites the sources and I need that for my own personal research.

leconte
View from the summit of Mount Le Conte. Great Smokey Mountains, Tennessee.

Wim mentioned that he is doing another summit of Kilimanjaro… Kill-a-Man-jaro. This gave me an idea. We have some mountains here too. One is called Mount Le Conte. While it’s no Kilimanjaro, at 6,594 feet, it’s nothing to sneeze at. My idea is to train in the Wim Hof Method until this winter, and then hike to the summit of Mount Le Conte in nothing but shorts. What could possibly go wrong?

In all seriousness, I think I could do it. The hike would be about fifteen miles round trip. The first half would be the hardest because of the steep incline, but I think I could handle the cold ok.

I would need someone to occupancy me, in case something does goes wrong. If I’m going to face an untimley and frigid death, I should at least have someone to witness it. So, the search begins for a hiking partner.

Chronic Male Syndrom

Today  was the first day working in my new custom orthotics. Orthotics are a type of shoe insoles, designed to correct some malformation of the feet. In my case, I tend to put too much pressure on the outside edge of my left foot. Generally what happens is the heel of my left shoe will get worn down on the outside edge really fast. It causes me to walk with my ankle at an uncomfortable angle, which results in pain. It’s been like that for as long as I can remember.

I finally got my feet checked out last month. Although they look totally normal, there was an abnormality lurking under the surface. To my surprise though, this is not uncommon, and is quiet easily corrected. They took a plaster mold of my feet, and a few weeks later I had my insoles.

This difference is incredible. Usually after a long day at work on my feet, I would be in a good deal of discomfort right now. That familiar pain has been more than cut in half.

Basically, I suffer from Chronic Male Syndrome. It’s a condition that causes one to “tough things out” and put their health and comfort on the back burner. It’s a very difficult condition to cure. The only know therapy that has any promise is continual female exposure. (Thanks, Denice!)

Podcasts

On an average day I commute about an hour to and from work. That’s five hours a week, two hundred and sixty hours a year. I spend about eleven sold days a year in the car, driving back and forth to work. It’s sickening when I think about it, but at least I have put that time to good use.

Most days I will use my car-time for returning phone calls, chilling to Pandora, or my favorite car-time activity: education via podcasts, audio books, and Youtube videos (listening, not watching). I will get into the audio books and Youtube in another post, but today I want to share with you my current lineup of podcasts that I follow. This list changes periodically. Podcasters are a lot like Youtubers (or Bloggers for that matter). They will start a podcast hard and heavy, but over time they will lose interest and stop making episodes. When that happens I drop them. I will start my list with the staples, the ones that are super consistent and that I listen to regularly, and progress to the more infrequent ones:

jreThe Joe Rogan Experience

You probably know Joe Rogan from Fear Factor or the UFC. Well, he is also an epic podcaster. I’ve been listening to The Joe Rogan Experience longer than any other podcast on my list. He does interviews with a wide range of people, including: MMA fighters, comedians, doctors, scientists, actors, and many other cultural movers and shakers. His podcasts usually last about three hours and he is super consistent. Joe normally does a podcast every other day. He is also a comedian, so the podcast is hilarious at times, but still manages to cut through the cultural bullshit of our time. Highly recommended.

timferrissshowThe Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss is the author of The Four Hour Work Week, Four Hour Body, and his latest book The Four Hour Chef. He is well known for using himself as a guinea pig to experiment with all sorts of self-enhancement strategies. In his podcast he interviews various “high performers” and attempts to extract the underlying principles that make them who they are. Tim is also a proponent of Stoic Philosophy. In fact, I got into Stoicism from listening to this Podcast. His podcasts are usually over an hour long, and he produces about one per week. Also, highly recommended.

richrollpodcastThe Rich Roll Podcast

Rich Roll was your average overweight American until he adopted a vagan diet, lost the weight, and became one of the most badass ultra-endurance athletes in the world. He is also a great podcaster, and interviews a wide range of (usually) health related movers and shakers. I am not vegan anymore, but I still highly recommend Rich’s podcast. He is very pragmatic and open-minded. He updates usually once per week.

jamesaltucherThe James Altucher Show

James Altucher is an entrepreneur and writer. In his podcast he interviews a wide range of “choose yourself” movers and shakers. He usually produces shows once per week.

 

samharrisWaking Up with Sam Harris

Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, author, and one of The Four Horsemen of New Atheism. He is seen as controversial by a lot of the so-called Regressive Left. If they would put being ‘triggered’ aside long enough to actually listen to him, they may feel differently. Sam is a deep, analytical thinker. His podcasts are usually over an hour and he updates a couple of times a month.

thinkingatheistThe Thinking Atheist

Seth Andrews is a man who was born to be a podcaster. He has the perfect voice for it. Seth is a former Christian broadcaster who “escaped the bonds of superstitious thinking,” to become The Thinking Atheist. He usually interviews guest on the subject of religion, science, and of course atheism. His shows are normally around an hour and he updates about once a week.

fmfFound My Fitness

Dr. Rhonda Patrick is a biochemist and science communicator. In her podcasts she interviews other doctors and scientists in the areas of human health and performance. Her shows can get very technical, but are a treasure trove of useful information. She regularly explores topics like intermittent fasting, various diet plans, and the effects of environmental stressors like cold and heat exposure on the human body. Her podcasts can last from thirty minutes to multiple hours, depending on the subject. She usually posts a couple of times a month.

rewildReWild Yourself Podcast

Daniel Vitalis is a proponent of reclaiming your inner wildness. In his podcast he explores various strategies for enhancing your life by casting away societal and self-imposed domestication. I have gotten some good ideas from this podcast, and it is always entertaining. Daniel’s shows are usually a couple of hours long, and he updates about once per week.

tzmTZM Global Radio

This is the podcast of The Zeitgeist Movement. TZM is a sustainability and educational organization that promotes the use of science and technology for social concern. If you haven’t seen the Zeitgeist films, watch them here: Zeitgeist, Zeitgeist Addendum, and Zeitgeist Moving Forward. The films literally set my life on a new path. The podcast isn’t as active as it used to be, but they still update about every month or so and their shows are around an hour long.

historyonfireHistory on Fire

History on Fire is a podcast by author and university history professor Daniele Bolelli. Whether you like history or not, if you care about bravery, wisdom, passion, larger than life characters and some of the most emotionally intense moments in human experience, then this podcast is for you. I first heard professor Bolelli on Joe Rogan’s podcast. His heavy Italian accent really adds to the uniqueness of his episodes. Highly, Highly recommended. The shows are usually a couple of hours long, and he produces about one per month.

dogmadebateDogma Debate

David Smalley’s Dogma Debate is a podcast where conflicting ideas on religion, atheism, science, and politics meet in a (usually) respectful arena to duke it out. I haven’t been listening to Dogma Debate very long, but is definitely entertaining. The debates usually range from one to two hours, and new episodes come about once a week.

friendlyatheistFriendly Atheist Podcast

Hemant Mehta and Jessica Bluemke are a couple of friendly atheists. In the podcast they interview various people on the subjects of religion, atheism, science, and politics. The shows are very light-hearted and fun to listen to. Episodes usually last from thirty minutes to an hour, and come about once a week.

_podcastTemplateInfant Adoption Guide

I haven’t listened to a lot of episodes of this podcast yet. Denice and I started listening to it a little while ago to do research into the adoption process. We have struggled with infertility since we have been married, and have recently decided to explore adoption as a possible means to expand our family. Episodes are thirty to forty-five minutes long, and seem to come every month or so.

jockoJocko Podcast

And last but certainly not least, The Jocko Willinks Podcast. This podcast is brand new to me, but it is really popular right now. Jocko is a former Navy Seal, and talks on the subjects of discipline, self-improvement, and leadership. He is nothing if not intense. He is also a black belt in JuJitsu, a style of martial arts that I am really interested in. Jocko and his co-host, Echo, produce episodes that usually last a couple of hours and seem to come about once a week.