Archive | March, 2013

Fasting

18 Mar

Before I even start, I want to save us both some time. If you’re thinking about saying anything negative about fasting along the lines of “it’s unhealthy” or “your body just eats muscle” or “you shouldn’t starve yourself” or “you’ll just instantly gain it all back!” don’t bother. Take your self-affirming platitudes and go somewhere else. If I seem defensive and hostile, it’s because I’m tired of running into the same shit over and over again from people who don’t understand and would rather parrot “common knowledge” than actually try to understand.  Because of this I can’t ever really talk about fasting in public. When I am fasting, I have to hide it from people or else get pelted with their bullshit advice and judgements.

Ok, now that that disclaimer is out of the way…

I’m so excited! I just completed my first week long water fast! I had dinner with my folks on Sunday the 10th and we finished around 7pm. From that moment on I started a timer and consumed only water, tea, black coffee, and powerade zero until 7pm Sunday the 17th. Each day I took two doses of  25mg of ephedrine and 200mg of caffeine, along with one multivitamin. The ephedrine and caffeine, known as an EC stack, raised my resting metabolism.

So how did I feel throughout all of this? Amazing! The first two days are a little tough. You get hungry in the normal sense where you’d like to eat something, but I never got the feeling of OMG, I’ve got to consume everything around me!!! I just kept busy and drank water throughout the day. I did not get any headaches, low blood sugar, nor did I feel weak. After day three I stopped getting any physical urge for food. This was extremely liberating. I just went about my day and the idea of eating just became like another chore, but one I didn’t have to do. I went on jogs with the dog, and even did a couple of pull-ups each day.

Previously my record was 4 days. That fast was a lot more difficult because I allowed myself chicken and beef broth throughout. I’ve found that it’s a lot easier if I abstain completely from calories. If I don’t, my digestive system never really goes dormant and it makes everything more difficult. At the end of that fast I made the colossal mistake of breaking it on an all you can eat steak dinner. My digestive system really didn’t like that. This time I’m trying to take it slow with live culture yogurt, soft fruits, and juice. I’ll slowly work my way back up to more solid foods.

This whole thing has provided me with an opportunity at a lifestyle reset. I feel it’s easier to start eating health now that I’m starting from zero. I also reset my portion size. I feel full faster and thus can be happy with much smaller portions.  Weight has always been an issue for me since I graduated high school. Everyone’s body and genetics are different, so what works for one person won’t always work for another. Over the years of trial and error I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that really works for me is limiting calories and trying to avoid sugars and carbs. I made my first real losses when I adopted a routine of oatmeal, a granola bar, a cup of tuna, and a small dinner. That was back when I was working my first real job. I cut out the granola bar and lost even more.

When you’re fasting you begin to realize how everything in our society is completely saturated in food. Eating is how we socialize. You’d be hard pressed to go out with friends and not consume something, be it a movie snack or a beer. I drove down to the hardware store the other day and was just amazed by how many places there are to eat. Seriously, look around. Most people never notice it, but you can hardly look in any direction while driving down a main road without seeing a plethora of fast food joints or sit down restaurants. Walk into a store and there’s food everywhere. It doesn’t even have to be a store focusing on food! The hardware store had shelves with soda and candy in the checkout line. It’s no wonder Americans are so obese.

Part of the reason I was successful in this week long fast was because I just removed myself from food as much as possible. My girlfriend was out of town for the week and it was just myself and the dog. I taped the fridge up to remove any temptation to open it (though in reality I never was tempted at any time) and I stayed at work while my coworkers went off to eat. It was impossible for me to lose weight at college and living with my parents because easy food was just there all the time. I was also required to eat when it was the designated time because that’s how we socialized.

Doing my research for this fast was a little challenging. It’s difficult finding good, authoritative sources on what exactly to expect and how to come off the fast. Fasting is unfortunately also associated with a lot of “woo” bullshit new age crap like detox. There are a lot of people out there that buy into this idea that your body is full of “toxins” (whatever that is, it’s never clearly defined) from all the bad genetically modified food we eat and the chemicals we use. To get rid of these nondescript toxins, people fast to detox. It’s all a bunch of bullshit because your body normally gets rid of “toxins” in normal bowel movements and whatever other “toxins” exist are never actually clearly defined in a way that they can be scientifically tested.  It’s the same bullshit as the vague notion of “energy” in new age circles. I had to wade through a lot of this to find good information.

So how did I do on this fast? Well I didn’t check my start weight because I’ve been avoiding going by the scale as a measure of success. Instead I’ve been going by what pant size I could fit in and how I felt physically.  Before my fast I fit in a 40 really comfortably, a 38 snugly, and couldn’t fit in a 36. This was back up from 6 months ago when I fit in a 36 nicely. Well after my fast 40 is loose, 38 is comfortable, and 36 is snug. I did check my weight and I’m back down to 215. The best I ever got at one point was 205, but then I got excited about getting so close to my goal, I fell off the wagon and went right back up. My short term goal is to fit comfortably in a 36 since that’s the size of most of my jeans. Ultimately I’d like to reach a 32, but I’ll be ecstatic if I hit 34.

Where do I go from here? Well I’m considering looking into doing a combination of keto (no sugar/carbs) and IF (intermittent fasting). This will help me keep my calorie intake low and make the calories that I do consume good calories. What I really don’t understand is my willpower. There will be times when I can just decide to make big lifestyle changes and then there are times when I feel like I have no willpower at all. For example: I’ve quit soda for several months now. I just decided one day “Hey, I’m not going to drink soda, not even diet” and I just stopped cold turkey. There will be other times when I’m doing fine and then I see a bag of chocolate and I just think to myself “fuck it” and I demolish the whole thing. I’m really not sure what’s going on with that. I would say that it’s an issue of being presented with temptation, but I’ve been presented with the opportunity to have a soda plenty of times, but I always never feel the urge.

Anyways, that’s something I’ll have to look into, but for the time being, I’m happy and feeling great.

New shoes

11 Mar

Over the past year or so I’ve been becoming more and more interested in male fashion. I feel caring how one looks is part of being an adult and I’d like to project a good image. Dressing better is pretty hard to do and it’s not easy to revamp your entire wardrobe overnight; it’s best if you do it in increments. I started by getting rid of a lot of clothes I never wore, especially after I lost some weight.

I would periodically make trips to department stores and thrift stores, but it was hard to find something when I didn’t have a good concept of what I was looking for. I’d collect inspiration albums of outfits I thought looked really sharp, but often I feel that the outfits look good only because the models wearing them look good. It’s true that if you look good without clothes, you’ll look good with clothes. The opposite is true too: If you look horrible without clothes then there isn’t too much clothes can do to conceal it. Sure there are some things, but generally it’s best to be in shape. I’ve been working on that and my wardrobe at the same time.

One of the best fashion discussion communities I’ve found is the Male Fashion Advice community on reddit. They have lots of really great guides designed to help someone move from just throwing on whatever is in the clean pile to actually dressing like a well put together adult. When you start to learn a little about how clothes should fit and hang on the body, you’ll quickly become aware of just how poorly the majority of people dress themselves. You’ll also start to notice and appreciate those who take the time to do it well.

One of the areas I’ve really wanted to improve upon is footwear. There’s something distinctly American about wearing sneakers everywhere. When traveling abroad you can usually pick out the American tourists by their shoes. Lots of people also tend to wear boxy, ugly, square toed shoes that don’t compliment the human form. Slip-ons are also a common sin. Over the years I’ve been really guilty of this. For a long time the shoe I wore everywhere was a Merrel Moc:

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They were easy to put on and take off and were extremely comfortable. While they were great shoes, I wore them primarily as a teenager. My wardrobe didn’t go beyond jeans and an ill-fitting t-shirt.  My first big improvement after reading up on fashion was a pair of Bucks:

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These shoes are great for casual wear around town. You can even wear them sock-less in the summer if you want, though I’m not too overly a fan of this. The only downside is that the sued darkens really quickly. Mine have gone from tan to a chocolate brown. The next improvement I had my eye on was a pair of wingtips. Wingtip shoes have little design patterns on them like this:

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The dilemma now was to what shoe to get. There are plenty of wingtip shoes out there but most of them are cheaply made shoes by either Bostonian or Johnston & Murphy. All the research I did into which shoes to buy always said to not skimp on the shoes. A good pair of well constructed shoes might cost 5-6 times that of a cheaper pair, but they age much better and can last several decades if you take care of them. If I was going to try and get a genuinely nice pair of shoes I needed for them to be flexible enough to be worn with most anything. Brown is usually more flexible than black as far as shoes go, and lighter brown even more so.

The pair I had my heart set on was Allen Edmonds McAllister. I went to the fine clothing store downtown and place an order, but since I have such wide feet I had to wait a for a custom pair to be shipped in from the factory. Well after a month of waiting they’re here and they’re stunning.

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I’m so excited that they’re in, I’m giddy. I wore them around a little bit yesterday, but I’m being supper careful with them as they’re my baby. I know this might sound stupid, but I feel a big confidence boost by just wearing them. I still have a long way to go with both weight and wardrobe, but I imagine my confidence will continue to rise as I get better with both.

Should America have a secret police answerable only to the president?

10 Mar

Since it’s now apparently normal and OK for the president to have the power to execute American citizens with no judicial due process, congressional, or judicial oversight, why not a secret police force? If we’ve already established that it’s OK to execute citizens over seas, why not here inside the country? (The whitehouse has already acknowledged killing Americans overseas, but they won’t let on if they’re planning on using drones inside the country.) Why does it matter if the president uses a drone or a man with a gun? They both achieve the same effect. The executive branch, through Bush and now Obama, has already asserted it’s right to perform warrant-less wiretaps, searches and seizures, indefinite detention, and suspend habeus corpus. You just need to be labeled an enemy combatant or terrorist to lose all your rights. With the new ability to extrajudicial execute Americans, it would make a lot more sense for the president to form a special terror-fighting task force that combines all these powers. They would be able to spy on all Americans freely, arrest terrorists and dissidents, and imprison/execute offenders. Operating as an independent task-force answerable to only the executive branch would enable them to move quickly and decisively when protecting the state. We could call it something snazzy like the Security Task-force And Safety Initiative.