Thursday, May 18, 2017

Quick Update of the Fast and Addition of a Challenge

Quick update on the fast:  It's been pretty challenging the past week and a half due to illness and the constant rotation of waking hours my job requires and things have gone a little haywire.  I have not gotten into the 14 hour fasts yet and am simply attempting to maintain 12 hours consistently; which I've done OK with.  I've completely lost focus in regards to maintaining my journaling, I just acquired a new cell today actually but haven't had time to set up the necessary tracking features, and I've missed some other consumption goals such as daily kimchi and my daily veggie quota.  But, all is not lost.  I'm still dropping weight consistently, post meal consumption issues have lessened considerably, and I've decided to extend this for at least a couple more weeks as I try and decide if this is just trial or whether it could and should become my daily life.  There will be more updates forthcoming in the coming days and weeks so stay tuned!

Overall, the experience I've had and am having with fasting, has been positive.  I'll get into much greater detail in the next week or two when I write another post dedicated to the subject but I really believe that what I've been doing the past few weeks and how I've been feeling contributed greatly in my decision to take another step forward on my path to health improvement:  I signed up for my first running race over the weekend!  Now, it's not a marathon but rather a 5.5  mile (mile, not kilometer) trial race  that I scheduled for months out so that I've have an opportunity to build into training while reducing the risk of overuse injury.  My spot is paid for and booked, it's in the calendar and in-fact I've already begun training and dropped some dough on new footwear.  In reality I have no idea how this process will actually go but I'm in it now so many of the questions are of no concern.

So why did I chose to take on such an endeavor?  The answer is really two fold.  The first is that for the past months I've been watching some personalities I follow on social media discuss and post pictures from the various areas they trail run.  Alex Viada of Complete Human Performance is a crazy all around athlete who takes on and promotes a variety of athletic pursuits with trail running among them.  The other is Bow Hunter, Ultra Marathon, and Under Armour sponsored athlete, Cameron Hanes.  The other night I finally hit the point where I could deny their inspiration no-longer and made the decision to just go for it.

All Good Things Must Come To An End
The second reason is pretty straight forward.  I wanted to give myself a reason to do cardio that would be hard to bitch out of.  Weight training is fun, I enjoy doing it, so, in-general, it's not that hard to talk myself into getting after it even on the days I'm not feeling great.  Provided I can force myself through the warm up, I can get it done and and even relatively enjoy myself. When it comes to doing cardio, however, convincing myself that it's OK to skip is far to easy.  I don't like to run for the most part and yet, walking takes too long.  I don't mind throwing some sprints in now and again but lately they just remind me how out of shape I am so that wasn't happening either.  However, now I'm signed up for a race and while I have no illusions of winning I do have some goals with this process; the biggest being to not embarrass myself by showing up wholly unprepared.

Why did I pick this particular type of race?  For starters I work on Friday and Saturday nights so I needed something on a Sunday, which knocked 80% of the races from contention.  Second, trail running has intrigued me for awhile so I was looking to go that route over the tradition road race. Running trails or on dirt is much easier on my joints than hitting the road.  Not to mention, the roads around here are all crowned and the unevenness kicks the hell out of me and causes some awful imbalances which lead to serious discomfort.  Finally, I actually enjoy hiking and walking through the woods so I genuinely hope this will be an experience that I'll enjoy.  Trail running is more technically challenging I know but it sure beats staring at the same things while working out at the track and the aforementioned discomfort that comes from use of the local roads.

Concerning the training, currently I'm writing my own plans, though that might change in the future. During this phase I'm really just getting myself up and moving again and will be taking a very slow approach for the next month.  Now, when I say slow approach that doesn't mean that I'm only doing a day or two per week.  I've already planned out the entire first month and will be using a combination of ruck marching, walking, light jogging, and sprinting to lay a base.  Whether or not I'm doing it 100% ideal can certainly be questioned but, and this is a huge but, part of the enjoyment for me is in the learning and experimentation.  (I'm planning to discuss this in greater depth in an upcoming post so stay tuned for that).  I know I need to start putting some miles on and building both strength and stamina and want to do that while minimizing impact on my joints, especially given the excessive body weight I'm carrying (291 lbs as of this writing), that's where the rucking will have the greatest impact..  Running is going to play havoc with my body and beat my joints as I mentioned but if I build into it slowly, I'm hoping to avoid overuse issues.  Plain walking is a given and I'm hoping a lot of that will actually be hiking to keep it interesting as well.  Finally, I need to sprint because getting the heart rate up is important to building cardiovascular health and stamina.  My plan and hope it that approaching the training this way will set me up down the road to combine everything on my way to becoming a legitimate trail runner.  In addition to race training, my strength training is going forward, though it'll be undergoing some needed changes soon I think, and I'll maybe, possibly be taking on another endeavor in the next few months but time and money are a consideration for that one so no definitive announcement for now.

Cam Hanes pursues wild game and dreams though not necessarily in that order.
So there you have it.  Fasting is going pretty well given circumstances and I'm taking on some new challenges.  Whether trail running is something I'll stick with is impossible to say for now but I could definitely see it becoming a staple in my training regime given it combines my loves of woods, hiking, and physical exertion with clear cardiovascular benefits.  Not to mention, it clearly helps Cam Hanes with his hunting and outdoorsmanship and this coming year I'm looking to reinvest myself into my own hunting pursuits so we have higher quality meat in our freezer come cold weather; because who doesn't like clean, lean, naturally organic meat?!  Stay tuned because things are just getting started.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Fail

I fail.  I fail often in-fact.  Some of my failures are bigger than others.  Some affect only myself while others may have a lasting impact on those around me.  Sometimes past failures keep me up at night and potential future failures keep me from doing my best work in the present.  Failure can be all and it can be nothing.  It can keep us from reaching our potential or it can propel us towards it.  It has the ability to tear us down or help us to be great.  Like so many other aspects of life, the nuances of failure are often lost. They've been lost to me numerous times throughout life and it was only until the past few years that I really began to appreciate the teacher that failure can be.  None of this is to say that failure can't suck.  That it doesn't hurt. That it doesn't leave an indelible mark on one physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically.  We know better than that.  But it's a shame that the positive aspects of failure are often lost because within can lie unfounded greatness waiting to be revealed.

The other evening I mentioned to my wife that I'm awful at living in the moment and she agreed.  It was a revelation to me because I hadn't thought of it in that manner before but now that I have, it's maintained a considerable presence within my thoughts.  I have trouble enjoying things because I'm often thinking about what's to come after.  How is the house, the dog, her health, Caden's upcoming practice and game schedule, the travel to and from events and appointments, the future, the this, the that, the "how the hell does one actually live in the God damn moment and forget all the other shit for fucking 5 minutes."  Yes, thinking about not thinking, as evidenced by this post, is even an issue.  I absolutely, 100%, fail at enjoying almost everything because I can't focus and I can't settle my brain. And this is one of those failures that really hurts because it affects the time I spend with my loved ones.  It's not their fault and it truly bothers me that I can't seem to settle myself enough to be fully locked into those moments.  Lifting, working in the woods, and coaching seem to be the three more prominent times when I can shut everything out but given that not being fully aware for two of those could lead to serious injury or death, it would clearly be beneficial to find other, less stress inducing, times when I can remain in the present because clearly I'm making myself a candidate for a damn heart attack.

It's a bummer to think I couldn't relax here..
All that said, as I mentioned in the beginning, failure does present opportunities.  Being aware of what's happening allows me to take steps to try and combat it.  And if I'm successful I can look to build upon the successes, which in turn will both make life better and give me more to write about! That's certainly a win-win.  And it's not just with this example either.  With my current fasting experiment there has been some and will likely be more, failures that I'll have the opportunity to learn from. Shawna and I are working on a family budget (using actual technology this time!) and I have no doubt there will be some failures as we begin instituting it.  Hell, we've done this before and here we are beginning again so clearly failure has been part of the process already.  Whether or not we succeed in the manner we're pursuing cannot be known but as we begin the process, I feel confident the previous pitfalls can be avoided because we know what to look for.  And that's an area where prior failure can really shine; knowledge.

So, what's a person to do with all this failure?  My best advice is to first acknowledge and then utilize its lessons as we push forward.  I know that some of my failures are what have led me to success in the same way that some of them have simply led me to failure and no further.  Failing still scares me more often than I feel it should and at times I use avoidance to keep myself from positions where it's possible. Honestly, those times are more frustrating than if I'd just made an unsuccessful attempt but you only learn that through experience.  That's the shoulda, coulda, woulda feeling we all have at one time or another; the regret that comes from not even trying.  Is that feeling worse than failing?  I guess that's up to the individual but for me, the answer is a resounding yes.  I'm far more haunted by the regrets from not attempting experiences than I've ever been from trying and failing.  And yet, I still find myself from time to time falling into that habit.  Frustrating to say the least.

The reality is is that failure happens to us all.  No one is immune.  But it seems the ability to handle failure is a key component in what separates the successful from the unsuccessful.  The successful see opportunities within the attempts even if the task objectives are not met. They succeed because they learn and impart the wisdom from each effort not only onto that specific task but onto other tasks that may present similar challenges.  They both acknowledge and understand that failure isn't just a possibility but is at times, a necessary part of the process.  Sure, there are definite failures you'd prefer to avoid (See: Exxon Valdez, 08' Economic Collapse, Prohibition, ect) but it's hoped that even from those unmitigated disasters something good can arise (in the case of prohibition, not so much clearly).  And I guess that's what I'm trying to leave you with today.  The feeling that failure itself isn't required to define us.  Our response to it may but how many people talk about the shots that Michael Jordan missed at the end of games?  Or how many times Derek Jeter didn't come through in the clutch?  Or how many publishers turned down J.K Rowling before she achieved success?  Except for discussing them in the context of perseverance, not many.  Each of them not only used their failures as motivation, they used them as learning experiences because they knew they'd be faced with similar circumstances again eventually.  And that's something we can all strive for.  I fail, and because I do, I will also succeed.



Friday, May 5, 2017

Teaching Finance to the Teenager

I'm going to discuss a non-fitness related topic this week but before I do I need to do some housekeeping.  First off, I want to throw out a huge shout out to both my God-Mother and her son (whom I affectionately refer to as my God-Brother) who are currently undergoing huge transformations that deserve some recognition.  Thus far, she's lost over 100 lbs and as of this writing he's approaching and may have already surpassed 50 lbs lost.  It's fantastic watching them discuss and post about their continued progress and I have no doubt they're inspiring others to look in the mirror and ask the questions that can lead to their own changes. Congrats you two and keep up the awesome work!

Second, a quick update on my fasting.  The first week actually went really great.  I learned a lot about the process and also realized I still have much information to gather.  I've begun documenting the changes I've made, have tried some things that worked and others that didn't and am actually looking forward to the coming week because I feel as though the further I delve into this, the more streamlined the process will become.  I'll be getting more in-depth on the subject later but prefer to do so after another week or two of information gathering.  That said, on to something a little different this week.

The past couple months Caden has been saving up for an IPod and last week he finally accumulated the necessary funds to purchase it; or so he thought.  Experienced Amazon shoppers understand that, 1.) If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. And 2.) Before purchase it's important to always to check the rating of the seller.  When it came time to buy Caden's new music player he learned the two lessons and unfortunately in doing so, found that he was actually $15 short.  He was bummed but it dawned on Shawna and I that we were being presented with an amazing opportunity to teach a financial life lesson and it was one that we absolutely could not pass up.  So, rather than simply send him away to save up the rest of his money we instead made him an offer; one that would allow him to purchase the IPod that night but would cost him more than sales price.  In one fell swoop the subjects of credit, interest, collateral, and financial planning were ours to teach.

Once the plan was formulated, we presented it to Caden as follows:  He could save up the rest of the money and purchase what he desired when he'd saved enough.  Or, we could loan him the remainder of the money so it could be purchased that evening with a couple conditions.  The first was that he needed to put up his X-Box controllers as collateral and would not get them back until repayment was completed.  The second was that he'd be paying interest on the borrowed sum.  So, his $15 dollar loan would become a $20 dollar repayment.  Unsurprisingly he initially balked at the $5 finance charge, which is understandable, until we informed him that once he qualifies for credit in real life, a 25+% interest rate would not only not be out of the question but likely.  We could have put a time limit on it as well but decided it best to keep the initial lesson as simple as possible.  Here's the best part though. He's already paid it off.  I don't know if it was not wishing to owe money or the fact there would be no XBox until he'd paid (I highly suspect it had more to do with the latter) but regardless, not only did he learn lessons, it's lead to conversations regarding money that many, if not most, kids don't have in 2017.

In all honesty I haven't been the greatest with money over the years, which is a big reason I want Caden to learn some of these lesson's early.  I don't want him to fall into the, "student loan with thousands in credit and loan debt" trying to start a life in his early 20's with no hope of actually pursuing not only dreams, but just a regular life that doesn't include crushing debt.  The reality is not only are kids not going to get the financial education they need within the school system, they're probably going to hear information that's been past down for years but no one will admit is wrong. We cannot rely public education to teach our kids the realities of money and finance, we must bear that responsibility ourselves.  And though others may disagree, when kids hit a certain age I think doing it in no bullshit way is preferred.

When you really look at it, it's easy to draw a parallel between losing weight and saving money/working out of debt.  With each people tend to start off motivation and positively about how much they're going to lose or how much they'll save and how life with change without all the debt. But then little invitations begin to arise.  Perhaps you go out to eat and the cake at the end is simply irresistible so you indulge.  That one piece of cake could simply be an outlier and you're back to eating right by the evening.  Or, and what seems to generally happen, that one piece of cake is like dynamite hitting a a damn and the floodgates to old habits opens up.  The same thing happens with money.  You'll be doing well and then you see something you just, "have to have!" and after that you're quickly back into your old ways.  I'd say it's all self control but I think it goes much deeper than that.  Perhaps I'll expand on this further at a later date but given I'm over tired and not a mental health expert, I'm going to stop that discussion here.  But, again, the parallel's between physical and financial freedom and independence are hard to ignore.

When I changed the premise of this blog, I did so with the intent to make it more than a place to read about fitness.  That's what today was because I think not only do I fall into a large segment of society that has issues with the physical weight they carry, I think I also share traits with millions who carry a large financial burden as well.  But with both, there is hope.  Just like losing weight, losing financial requirements can be done with perseverance, attitude, and education.  While not exactly where we'd like to be, Shawna and I are working very hard to pay down debts; many of which we've accumulated through poor decision making.  Obviously not all were done in that manner but enough so that things we desire to pay off quickly take longer because we can't focus solely on them.  It's frustrating but if we've learned one thing during this process, it's that being patient can pay dividends.. And yes, I managed to drop some dad jokey financial humor into this.. But for real, talk to your kids about money.  Do it often, use examples, create and take advantage of situations to help them learn and if you're saving for something special, close the Amazon tab because chances are you don't need whatever's on it right this moment (unless of course it's the item you've been saving for and then, by all means, have at it.)  Don't just use today to become physically better, use it to take one step closer to reaching your financial goals as well.  And while you're add it, share the lessons you learn for both to the next generation for no other reason than eventually... those people...they'll be the ones in-charge.