Seities Says - A 2020 B/Log experiment

I thought this might be worth a try, and was inspired by the others on here who keep a log or blog.

I’m a mid-30’s male trying to improve my health, both physical and mental. I have some core habits I have tried to stick to in recent years, with varying levels of success. The ones I want to update with this thread are:

Deliberate Exercise
I chose this wording because while the format may vary, if I make a deliberate attempt to exercise I am happy to give myself a completed mark on this one. Hopefully 3-5 days a week this is going to be in the form of either physiotherapy exercises or other gym training. Other days it might be that I choose to walk somewhere that is 30+ minutes instead of catching a ride.

Stretching
I really don’t enjoy doing this, but I have tightness in most areas of my body and I am going to have to keep working on it long term to avoid injury. I’ll work with my physiotherapist to identify three stretches that would be most beneficial for me to do every day. This may change depending on what I need.

Meditation
Part of the mental health side. I’ve worked a lot on better managing anxiety. I feel like there is more than enough evidence out there that meditation is something that will be hugely beneficial for me, and when I have kept practicing with any consistency I have noticed an improved ability to stop chasing my thoughts. I am aiming to meditate 10+ minutes a day. Also, one of my strengths through school was my ability to focus for really long periods of time. I’ve completely lost this ability. I really want it back. Meditation should help. I’m going to be using the Calm app for this and have a 12 month subscription. I’ve used the Headspace app previously, and the Sam Harris Waking Up app.

Reading
Is beneficial for learning, for improving my ability to express myself, for improving my focus, for relaxing, and many other things. I read a range of books from business, self-improvement, autobiographies and scifi/fantasy to help break up the non-fiction. I aim to read 10+ pages every day.

So my aim is to update once a week at the most on these areas, and maybe some other topics I feel like writing about. Feel free to question anything ITT, agree with it, disagree, etc.

Hope to post my first update in 1 week to get the ball rolling.

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Looking forward to reading! I like how you included reading which is excellent exercise for the brain.

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gl

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This week is not going very well. I had a cold a few weeks back, which I thought I had kicked. It is back with a vengeance, so I am doing little but bingeing Netflix. Nonetheless I thought I might take a break from add a bit more colour to this thread.

On Meditation

When I was in primary school (up to about 13 years old) my ability to concentrate was really well developed. Schooldays were like a competition to me, where I would be pushing myself to complete as much work as possible in each class. I read voraciously, and my reading skills were tested at a grade 7 level when I was in grade 3.

I guess this started to decline a little as I got into high school. I still performed well academically, but naturally once you get into your teen years you start to have a bit more on your mind. But something else came along during that period which I think has had a big impact over time - my access to the internet. Once out of school I read significantly less books. There was so much to read on the world wide web. I checked forums obsessively (shoutout to @JohnnyTruant who mentioned being active on a Tool forum previously - would that be the famous toolshed forum?), read blogs, and basically just started consuming information in much smaller pieces. Fast forward to my late 20’s where I was diagnosed with severe disruptive sleep apnea (I now use a CPAP machine every night) and my early 30’s where my anxiety really started to grab more of a hold over me, and I really felt the powers of focus I once had taken pride in were gone. In my work environment I was managing a team, which in some ways helped mask it because my days were taken up with lots of meetings and mentoring direct reports, but when I needed to sit down and work at a long task myself such as reporting or documentation making any progress felt really difficult.

This is one long prelude to saying I kept seeing more and more people extoll the virtues of a meditation practice. Eventually I downloaded the Headspace app in my early 30’s. I’d also started reading books again, and had just finished with The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I felt determined to make meditation one of my keystone habits, and so I forced myself, day after day, to do at least 10 minutes of meditation. I beat myself up a lot because I felt like I was “failing” at meditating. I couldn’t stop my mind from chasing thoughts all over the place, and very rarely felt what I was expecting myself to feel - a clear, empty, peaceful mind. Still, I persevered for about 6 months, meditating at least 6 times a week. There were glimpses of the benefits. Sometimes I felt I caught myself before my thinking spiraled too far. But ultimately I didn’t feel the benefits were enough to keep persisting.

Some time in the following years I saw I think this exact youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qo4uPxhUzU

It’s about a news anchor called Dan Harris who had a panic attack on air. After searching and research, he found that meditation was something that worked for him and many, many other people. In another clip of his, he said something about meditation which had a profound impact on how I view the practice.

When you meditate, and you feel your mind wander away, that is normal. That happens to everyone. But when you are able to notice your attention has drifted from your point of focus, and you are able to pull it back…that is like a bicep curl for your brain.

Suddenly, I had a new paradigm through which to view my practice. Each time I let my attention wander and pulled it back was no longer a failure. That very act of pulling it back was in fact the entire point of the practice.

If anyone is reading this post and tries meditating in the future, I hope that lesson saves you a lot of anguish. I wish I could say it vaulted me into a consistent practice and I now have the meditative powers of a tibetan monk. Sadly, that’s not the case. I could rattle off some excuses, but it really doesn’t matter. The main thing is that I am in a better place mentally than I have been for a long time to take up this practice again.

As I said in my first post, I will be using the Calm app. Ive tried a number of meditation apps, and the reason I am coming back to Calm at this point is because of how extensive the library is, and because of the soundscapes and imagery in the app. I don’t know that the teaching in this app would necessarily be better than some of the other well-adopted meditation apps, but the 30 day program I am working through now (How to Meditate by Jeff Warren) is quite good so far. He even uses a similar terminology regarding bringing your attention back (a bench press for your brain).

Over time this year I would like to be able to extend the length of my meditation sessions beyond 10 minutes. I think a meditation retreat could be a really interesting longer term goal, but I worry about how well my body would hold up to having to sit in positions for long periods of time. I hope it can help me further improve on not chasing my thoughts, separating myself from my thoughts, and being able to concentrate more.

I also have an idea for a mobile app that is somewhat related, but I might talk about that in a later post.

I’m pausing before hitting the button to post this. It feels really weird. Why would anyone care? I’ll post anyway, with the mindset that this thread is for me first, and if anyone else takes the time to read and get something from my ramblings, then that is a bonus.

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Yeah it’s interesting. I’ve “tried” meditating a few times but gave up easy. I’ve thought about making a more serious effort many times. Good to read this.

Also, it was the rigid tool forum.

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Weekly review

So, I’ve been sick all week. Went to my doctor Thursday afternoon and that all my symptoms indicated an infection, and prescribed some antibiotics and Sudafed. So…I didn’t complete many of my daily habits this week.

The good news is the last two mornings I have been able to sleep right through without waking myself up coughing. So things are moving the right way. I probably still won’t exercise for the next week just to make sure I fully kick this thing.

Weight: 260.4 (was 260.2)

I’m not really sure how I managed to gain weight this week. I wasn’t tracking calories, but I certainly ate less than usual. Whatevs, not going to dwell on this one too much for this week or the one coming.

Deliberate exercise

Didn’t happen. I’ve already cancelled all training for the coming week as well.

Stretches

Nope.

Meditation

I did meditate twice this week. It’s not much, but I didn’t completely lose touch with it. I think I should be able to complete this a lot more in the coming week. I’m still working my way through the same course on Calm (its a 30 day course).

Reading

I am currently reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I’ve watched one of her TED talks and read another book of hers, and am a fan of her approach and find some of her insights applicable. With that said, I didn’t read at all this week. As with meditation, I think now that my health is improving some I should do a lot better this week.

One of the things I worked on this week was trying not to get too frustrated about being sick. I was feeling excited to get some momentum with all of my habits, then this came along. I’ve spent most of the last month either seek or recovering. But I was able to pretty quickly recognize myself getting a bit frustrated, realize that it wasn’t going to help me in any way, and just accept the situation and that I need to rest and be patient. I think this is an area I have steadily improved over time as I have climbed my way out of some pretty bad anxiety/depression spirals and set myself on developing strategies to better cope and catch myself higher up the spiral. I’m in a better place mentally than I have been in a really, really long time. It makes it possible to start addressing some of the insidious thing that keep dropping me onto the spiral (core beliefs). Hoping to make a lot of progress with those this year.

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Weekly review

Another week of being unwell, though thankfully things are improving since last week. My cough is barely there now, and while I still have some congestion and fatigue it’s clear the antibiotics did their thing and I am headed in the right direction. Still, it seems I am going to need about another week before I am up to exercising. This week I did do a little better with some of my other habits though, which I am pleased with.

Weight: 260.4 (was 260.2)

Yar so I jumped on the scaled this morning and it read 262.4 - A gain of 2lbs. In the scheme of things it’s not a lot, but it was definitely a surprise. I’m still not going to react too much to this until I am fully recovered and in a better routine.

Deliberate exercise

Again none this week. Ive booked in a physiotherapy appointment for this coming Friday, but I am not going to be up for anything before that time.

Stretches

Nope.

Meditation

I meditated four times this past week. Given how I’ve been feeling I am happy to consider this to be good momentum. I am still working my way through the 30 day course I started on Calm, and still enjoying the course and feel like I am taking in the teaches much better than I did in years gone by when I attempted to buy into the habit. I have a good feeling about how much progress I can make in this area in the coming months.

Reading

I read on three days this week, which I am ok with. I am still working my way through the the same book.

My theme for this week has been about acceptance and not pushing myself too much too soon.I think with my health improving I will complete more total habits this coming week than the one just gone, and continue building from there to the 80%-90% completion rate I am aiming for during February.

Also either this evening or tomorrow I am going to take an hour or two and fill out https://yearcompass.com/ - I am interested to find out if I find the exercise beneficial.

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Weekly review - Week ending Jan 26

Still seek all week. So frustrating. Mostly was just inconvenient and prevented me from doing physical activity with some annoying congestion. Just gotta stay patient with it. It means no progress with my stretching and exercise, but I am proud of how I did in some other areas.

Weight: 258.8 (was 260.4)

It’s a loss, but again I am not going to read into this too much. Eating patterns are all over the place right now and whatever the result is here it isn’t part of some sustainable approach, so for now its just numbers.

Deliberate exercise

None. Physical therapy has been postponed until Feb.

Stretches

Nope.

Meditation

7/7. I am proud of this one. Also still feeling very good about this course on the Calm app. One of the things the teacher is throwing in right now is different meditation techniques and using different things as your “home base”. Sound, touch, your breath, and even using the space around you. It’s interesting to experiment like this and see what is going to work best for me.

Reading

4/7. It could be a bit better, but its consistent and I am happy enough with this. Still reading the same Brene Brown book which carries some info for me that I am finding quite useful.

Weekly review - Week ending Feb 2nd

All up this week is much the same as the previous week in terms of what I got done. I still feel the lingering effects of the virus/respiratory infection and so little/no physical activity. I meditated every day this week again which I am really happy about. I am going to be out of town all next week, then the week after that my physio should resume.

Weight: 261.2 (was 258.8)

Just as I didn’t ascribe too much value to my weight change last week were I lost a few lbs I am not ascribing much to this week either. I’ll be watching these changes a lot more closely once I am back and exercising and more closely watching my diet starting in just over a week.

Sleep

I am going to start adding something about this in the report. Sleep is a huge problem area for me. I have severe obstructive sleep apnea, and use a CPAP every night (and have done for about 6 years). I have done tests in a sleep lab that show it works as expected. That said, if I am averaging any less than 8.5 hours sleep per night it has a noticeable impact for me, especially as sleep debt accrues. I find it harder to focus for long periods, rely on caffeine to prop me up, and generally just don’t feel as good.

This week I averaged about 7.5 hours per night. I had issues waking up earlier than I needed to, hours before an alarm was set to go off. I also had a few nights where I woke up in the middle of the night and took nearly an hour to get back to sleep.

Deliberate exercise

None. Physical therapy restarts 11th Feb

Stretches

Nope.

Meditation

7/7. I am now on a 15 day streak here. Feelsgoodman.jpg. When I have some more time I will probably write a bit more on this, but in short I feel like this is trending towards something that will be transformative for me this year.

Reading

3/7. I persevered with Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, but I realized last night that I had fallen into that trap of continuing with the book because I felt it was “good for me”, but I actually wasn’t that interested in the book any longer. That, in turn, was making reading “harder”, and I was doing it less. Silly seities. I need a refresh, so I have switched out of that book now and will try again to read some of the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. I need something more fun and light right now. His Codex Alera series is probably my favourite of all time. My understanding is that the first books in Dresden Files aren’t so great as he was a pretty inexperienced author when he started the series, but they get much better starting around book 3.

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Good job with the meditation. I should do that.

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tyty. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

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If you’d allow me to give you a little advice, I would say to start slow with the exercise plan. Too many people try to do too much, too fast and they get too sore. That causes them to have an excuse, albeit a valid one, to miss their next scheduled workout. So if you’re doing the elliptical, start at the lowest level. Start at the minimum time. Try to add a minute or two to your time with each workout. When you can easily get through 20 or 30 minutes, its time to up your level. Same thing with weight training. Get one session with a trainer to get a series of exercises and proper form. Then you can start with very light weights and ramp up every week or two. At first, it will seem like your workouts are stupidly easy. But the key is to not miss workouts and always look forward to going to the next level. It won’t be long before you start finding your workouts are both challenging and productive. Good luck sir.

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Emotionally this is a pretty interesting time for me. I have done a lot of work in recent years (the last 12 months in particular) to get some control over the persistent story I tell myself that I am not good enough. Recognizing that I tell myself that story is itself a huge breakthrough, and learning to catch it and throw a counter at it is the way I am going to beat it back to the corner it belongs in. I know it won’t ever disappear, but it’s an ongoing fight to make sure it is in the corner, instead of me being the one in the corner retreating away from it. I want to name this malevolent it - I have read/heard of people ascribing an animal to this negative self talk so they can gently acknowledge its existence and ask it to be quiet. A raven, for example. I think it’s a useful means of separating a thought pattern from ones self. I want to try that out, but I want the “right” character for me.

This made me think of something else I would like to do for myself this year. I would like to get a tattoo - or at least one. There are several reasons:

  • I hope it will help bring comfort with my body. This can also be a motivator for me to get in better shape (though I think it’s important I don’t set some target that I must hit to be “deserving” of getting a tattoo)
  • I tend to overthink. Choosing a tattoo and getting it done is one way to challenge that. I still want to find the right meaningful thing for me (not barbed wire around my biceps) but getting something inked on myself is a way of saying “this is what I want now, and maybe I will feel differently later but that’s ok”.
  • This can be an artistic endeavour for me. Even though I won’t do any of the drawing myself, working out different concepts to take to an artist will be fun.

Some current really generally concepts I have in mind are:

  1. Pale Blue Dot. This quote from Carl Sagan is something I find myself recalling sometimes if I am in a bad anxiety spiral. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s just feels like a useful way for me to pull myself out and get a wider perspective:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

  1. Courage - so perhaps a lion, or some other representation? Dealing with anxiety a lot means living in a state of fear far too much. I give myself credit for having the courage to feel it, and do things anyway. A lion allows for some cool imagery as well.

  2. Maybe something to do with a book/story. I used to read a lot of books when I was young. It was in some ways a part of my identity. I have been trying to get back to that in recent years. But another part of this is that I am trying to shift my mindset a little to think of things that happen to/for me as part of my story. It helps encourage me to realise that me and my life are much bigger than whatever life events I am currently experiencing. I’ve really only started to think about this concept in the last few weeks.

  3. Maybe a Walrus.

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Because I am lazy, can anyone tell me how to force spaces in my posts without putting a character?
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Weekly review - Week ending Feb 8th (have changed the timeframe to go Sun - Sat)

My patterns of completion this last week remained again much the same. The good news is I finally, finally feel like the effects of the cold/virus/infection are gone and I can start ramping into exercise. I have physio appointments Tuesday and Friday but depending how my day goes today I might go to the fitness center in my building for some light stretching and 5-10 mins of cardio.

Weight: 263 (was 261.2)

Eek! This is getting dangerously close to my all-time high of 265. In my favour is that I feel I can start ramping into exercising again now, and I usually make some better dietary choices when I am not sick/miserable and have been exercising. I am confident I can start moving this back the right way now. Watch this space.

Sleep

This week I averaged 7.3 hours per night. It’s not terrible, but still not enough for me. Some of this was a result of needing to get up early for a flight and a slight adjustment of schedule.

Deliberate exercise

None. Physical therapy restarts 11th Feb

Stretches

None.

Meditation

7/7. 22 days in a row now.

Reading

5/7. Yeah - this is a lot easier to keep up with this week after switching to some lighter reading material. I am almost finished Stormfront, the first book in The Dresden Files. As I said last week, the first few books are generally regarded as the weaker ones in the series. If that’s the case I think I will definitely end up reading every book. It’s clear that Butchers writing is still nowhere near mature yet in this book, and some of it I find pretty cringey, but it is still just what I need right now. Something simple and fun.

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Hey, brother! :smiley:

Re tatoo: courage. May be as a symbol. Generally such stuff helps with changes in behavioral pattern. I generally change my hair cut in a big way when I try to change things in my life. I was every color including lila and green and every length from shaved head to down to my butt. It seriously helps somehow in the head with changes.

I challenge you this week for 10 squats every day in the morning. I am trying to shift my work outs in the morning. 10 squats is clearly not a real work out, but may be it will help to create a habit.

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Oohh, a challenge!

Well Lapka I can’t guarantee I will be aiming for 10 squats in the morning, but I just went to the fitness room in our apartment building and one of the things I did in my routine was 10 squats, just for you.

I did a pretty small and simple session tonight since it was my first time in a few months that I could try exercising.

10 minutes on the elliptical
10 squats
2x10 calf raises (Im having ankle issues and need to strengthen my calves)
2 minutes of figure 4 stretch each leg
2 minutes hamstring stretch each side
1 minute cat-cow

It’s a very light workout, but its something. Felt great to be able to do it again.

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Awesome!

I did too today ten squats.

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I did my workout routine again today. I am the most dedicated athlete aliiivvveeee!!!

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I was going to vote for the blue dot but walrus is goat.

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That is the actual challenge. To do it every day. 10 squats is not a lot. It is so easy. But to do it day-in day out every day is the tough thing.

I too didn’t fall off the wagon although the thought “I can do it later. 10 squats I can squeeze in at any place in my day” occurred to me.

gooooooo! Do it!
I did.

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