From Couch To Spartan Sprint – Exercise 6

Like so many great things in life the answer is books, big piles of books.


You can train your grip strength by gripping anything really but wider is better because you’re using real squeezing force generated by muscles rather than curling something in your fingers and letting gravity play a part.

Really almost all exercise is about working against gravity as obtrusively as you can, now that I think about it. So be difficult in your battle against gravity, taunt it.

Look at me gravity, I’m doing pull ups, temporarily escaping your hold on my earthly body. Oh gravity you’d like to pull this stack of books from my hand but my mighty forearms prevent you, ha ha.

It’s okay, be a weirdo. It’ll make training better.

Book Review: The Longevity Paradox Part 2

Diving right back in my book mark on page 198 I’ll just block quote this bit

It turns out that the real anti-inflammatory compounds made from DHA and EHA (two types of Omega-3s) in fish oil are called resolvins, and these guys are the superheroes of blocking inflammation in your nerves and eyes. But here’s the caveat: you need a little bit of the active ingredient in aspirin (salicylic acid) to get these effects.

with a quick google I found there’s a lot of foods (green vegetables and nuts) that contain salicylic acid, including my beloved pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are the new walnut, they are good for everything.

Moving on, he talks about glucosamine acting as a lectin blocker. Good, because I take glucosamine, specifically he singles out glucosamine MSM.

My next bookmark is a reminder to get 1000mg of DHA per day and a little note to sprinkle some rosemary on fish. Ultimately Gundry wants you vegan but I guess if you’re not he’s still at bat for you.

And my final bookmark is his liver protection supplement stack and he particularly mentions while fasting; milk thistle, D-limonene, dandelion, N-acetylcysteine, activated charcoal, and chlorella.

I’ve never heard of two of those and spellcheck doesn’t think 3 of them are words.

So that’s all my bookmarks. I’m tempted to go through the book cover-to-cover again, there’s a lot of information in it but a lot of it boils down to expensive and rare food and supplements.

I do think everyone should read this book but not first, it’s not intro-level clean eating. Someone still eating packaged food and whatnot is just going to balk at this and reinforce their bad habits.

What is intro-level? I still give it up to Clean Eating For Dummies, read that then Brain Food by Lisa Mosconi, then maybe you’re ready for the Longevity Paradox.


Book Review: This Is Day One by Drew Dudley (part 1)

You should read this book if you’re feeling disorganized and unmotivated, or like your goals are on the other side of an intangible barrier (like they’re going to happen someday but you don’t what the signal will be that someday has arrived).

If that’s all the takeaway you need (that I recommend this book to people who feel that certain way) then go in peace, otherwise I’ve got 7 dog ears and let’s get started:

Page 18. He’s talking about his narrow world view during his time as an ideal student; You find out what the person at the head of the class (a teacher or any kind of authority) and you give it to them. Preferably better than anyone else in class.

This touches on two things for me. One is that it reminded me my work so often resembles an elementary school and a number of people prefer it that way and model that behaviour.

And two, I’ve seen this kind of small-pond syndrome a lot. Some people want to get ahead in life and some people just want to get ahead in the group their in. Whatever group it is. You can make anyone a judge (like a hot guy or girl) and then ‘beat’ your friends for their approval (by flirting with them). Like it doesn’t matter how much they can lift objectively, as long as they can lift more than someone else.

The problem with that is when you reach the top of whatever little heap you’re in, you don’t want to go be middle of the pack somewhere else. You stop growing and you try to stop your peers from moving on as well because if they leave there’s no one under you to hold your ego skyward.

It’s a sign of emptiness. Of not truly being oneself, only oneself in relation to others. I’ve seen it in myself when I feel like I have nothing special going on. Someone’s putting out their first graphic novel and suddenly, deeply, I want to put out a graphic novel. Then I remind myself that no, I have literally never wanted that, and I need to stay on my own course and find accomplishments of my own.

Dudley learns that same lesson, he spent so much time being the perfect student he didn’t grow into the ability to be his own master. Til later of course and wrote this book.

Page 74. Confidence versus Courage. Confidence can be faked, says Dudley, whereas courage can only be displayed through action.

This barely needs explanation as to why I’d write about it, it’s obviously good. I’ve written in the past about how I’m annoyed with people who project themselves, confidently, into tough situations and assume they’d handle it glowingly meanwhile they never practice their courage day to day. How can you expect to muster up a skill you’ve never had before when you need? People picture all the game-winning free throws and foiled bank robbers because it feels good to imagine them but they don’t do the first thing, the little things, that are between here and there.

Confidence can be faked, it can be a lie, but real confidence can be just as dangerous. If you’re confident an event is going to go well then you don’t look for how it might not, you blindside yourself. Rather than be confident, be humble – acknowledge the skills you have and how you’ve worked for them without thinking they are you, and you’ve somehow become infallible.

This will get rantier and rantier, movin’ on.

Page 91. Still on courage, this is about how a lot of people are terrified of public speaking. I’m not, I thrive.

And I think of it just like writing, people say I’m good at it (public performance and writing) and always say they can’t do it. When you look back you’ll see that’s two different things. It’s not you’re good and I’m bad or you can and I can’t it’s you’re good because I can’t.

I may or may not be good, everyone’s feelings including my own may change on that periodically, but I am able. I’ve worked through whatever the thing is that stops people entirely. And I think that thing is people talk themselves out of it, thinking they’re being careful. But the danger one feels with public speaking or writing isn’t real. All nervousness isn’t danger.

158. Dudley was so overweight during a trip to an amusement park he was told ‘the ride cannot accommodate your dimensions, sir’

First of all my heart breaks for everyone in that situation. I’d have counselors on hand for both people, imagine being told that or having to tell somebody…

But Dudley’s point is that he had, once again, let his weight get out of control. And the once again part is crucial. I said to a friend once that having quit smoking before makes it less likely you’ll stay quit, not more. When you’ve done the hard part of something once you don’t want to do it again, you feel like you’ve earned the outcome. But you tell yourself you could. You’re certain you could. Drop of a hat you could reconstitute that discipline. And you will. Tomorrow.

I see my drinking friends trying to rack up 30 days of sobriety and every day they break off the start day and tack it on at the end. Instead of starting today and the goal being 30 days away, they’ll drink today and start tomorrow and the goal is only 31 days away, that’s no big deal. And they do this, one day at a time, for weeks or months. It’s always Day Zero, never Day One. But they feel close enough to the work and the goal that they don’t feel bad either. The feeling that one is going to change is enough to take away the feeling that one has to change.

We’re nearing a thousand words so I’ll do a part two…



Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It? By Matt Fitzgerald part 2

As promised, picking up from where we left off with Siri Lindey’s over active internal criticism.

Siri’s childhood home was emotionally desolate and she wanted to achieve things in order to feel seen, to be valued.

I can relate.

Unfortunately this meant that when she put tons of pressure on herself at big events and it caused her to make mistakes or to just plain panic and when she didn’t achieve her goals it confirmed what she really believed about her own value.

Again, I can relate.

Positively, I can also relate to the fact that she eventually got fucking sick of it and decided to be fueled by that anger. I wrote about this before (There Is Room For Negative Self-Talk In Fitness) and now I feel validated.

It’s a shift from thinking I’m a loser, no one loves me unless I’m perfect, I’m letting people down, everyone knows I suck and the more they encourage me the more it means they see that I suck because only babies need such patronizing (like I said, I related intimately to this story)  to thinking I’m just not going to let myself down anymore. That’s it, single priority, and everything else is a by-product I can’t control. And of course she goes on to be a champion. But more importantly she stops caring about being a champion. She let’s go of the idea that she has to be better than good enough to be loved or that other people have to love her in order for her to love herself and she retires young and takes up coaching to help other young people see that.

This chapter was called The Art Of Letting Go and I have another book mark a page later about how fantasizing about desired outcome – winning the race, losing the weight, finally being loved, whatever – actually decreases the amount of effort people put in to the task at hand. You get the micro dopamine hit of imagining it and then don’t want to put in the suck to truly get there.

So much of my depression came from comparing my life to my fantasies, to real self to my perfect self, and that’s why I was helped so much by losing everything. Dream dead and I’m still here, sun still comes up, I started living in the real world. Or at least stopped obsessing about how things were supposed to be and how they weren’t.

Again my race mantra of I’m merely here comes in handy. Rehearse the race not the victory lap, rehearse the suck not the celebration.

Luckily in all my rambling I covered the ideas behind a bunch of bookmarks and we’ve only got two left. I’ll do the shorter one first because it ties in a bit to what we just talked about – the effect of past wins.

On the one hand past wins build confidence, we love doing what we’re good at even if the test has been rigged and we’re artificially good at it. People shown they’re doing well at a game keep doing it – and by continuing to do it they do actually improve – more so than people who were merely allowed to suck.

This doesn’t work however on people with big egos, like big wins in other areas. You get a beginners luck dopamine hit by being surprisingly good at a new task. You don’t get it if you take for granted you’re great at everything. If your ‘greatness’ is a confirmation you then don’t practice because, obviously, you don’t need to.

So thinking about past wins can give you a boost but past wins aren’t future wins. You have no future wins, you just have your level of effort right now.

And finally, The Group Effect.

I have a problem with training partners because I find it always becomes a Mutual Excusing Society, a mes.

We decent people want others, especially those we care about, to be happy and safe. Training, real training, doesn’t bring that out. We also don’t like to be seen suffering and straining so we don’t push ourselves as hard in public (even a public of one) either.

But interestingly in the book I learned that we actually work harder while projecting, while reporting, quite possibly while feeling, less discomfort when we work out with a group.

So there is something to be said for training with a partner, or in groups, or in public but – firm pause – there’s a caveat I want to add. I think we should train alone in order to feel more strain, to get into the pain cave by ourselves and have only ourselves to rely on. Because that’s how you’re going to feel when it really, really, counts, the only time it counts.

When you’re really running a race, when you’re really doing something that matters, that puts you at your best now or never, everything you hear sounds far away, everyone you can see feels far away. If you always train with your friends, and your headphones, on sunny days, when you’re well rested, then you haven’t really trained for anything. Every hindrance, anything that’s sub-optimal, will just be overwhelming annoying and disappointing. You won’t have built any Resilience.

I train alone. In a silent concrete room. So that I know that the core of my strength comes from me. Sunny days, music, company, anything more than just me is a beautiful bonus and I’ll use it, I’ll love it, but I won’t need it. I won’t depended on it. I won’t depend on anything but me.

And that’s how bad I want it.