Sunday, February 28, 2010

A good problem

57 miles today in just under 3 hours.. lot of wind, lot of sun, lot of rider’s snot. Good times. I was surprised how high my energy level was.. pushed near my max the full 3 hours.. even walked my dog afterwards and didn't nap. Food intake was:

Berry smoothie w/ almond butter, yogurt, whey protein, cocoa, & coconut milk for breakfast.
2 Clif bars
3 coconut ball concoctions
A few handfuls of dried fruit
Fig newtons
Another cup of coffee
2 handfuls of almonds/walnuts/pecans
Chicken for lunch w/ sweet potato, half an avocado, veggies, cheese, olive oil
2 dried Korean squid, more almonds, some cheese.
Bowl of berries
Salmon for dinner w/ veggies, quinoa, avocado and more cheese.

Not sure how many calories that equals but it must be in the 4000+ range w/ all the high fat food, but I’m still hungry… and I lost more weight in the past 2 weeks. How do I gain it back is the question while maintaining my habit of eating healthy. My grocery spending went from $165 last month to $340 this month so I’m definitely eating a lot more. But the engine must be fed.

So in order to minimize more lean mass loss, less riding this week (if I can help it).. more eating, more lifting. Kettle bells and body weight are the only weight lifting I enjoy.

Bloodtest from my doc came out good. Cholesterol 171, Triglycerides 38.. everything was normal except my B12 levels.. he said due to my chronic drinking. He told me to cut back even more.. all this while a 1.75 litre bottle of Johnny Black sat in his office. What a trip this one is.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fear as a tool.

So much of marketing is geared toward our natural and unnatural fears as humans. Natural in that we want to protect our kin, our families, ourselves, health & well being.. so we purchase health care insurance, disability coverage, fire-proof for our homes. These are a given and understandable since they are used to sustain our lives, not our social status. But what becomes unnatural is all keenly developed through marketing. They know human weaknesses and tailor to that to drive consumerism up. Psychology is a huge part of analyzing how to sell items to people in marketing firms, which is why their ploys are so effective; humans are predictable.

So some unnatural phenomena of this is selling items in order to simplify our lives and eliminate stress because of an outcome we fear may happen when in fact, the culmination of all events happening are not likely. We try to avoid too much risk at the expense of our livelihoods so when the chance comes along to go on vacation or make a drastic change in our lives, there's more loose ends to tie or sever. By trying to manage our busy and hectic lives, it ends up managing us because we're constantly trying to close any potential gaps we see in your loops. These add more clutter to our lives and as a result it compiles to the list of things we want to avoid as potential hazards. Marketing makes our view of the loop get bigger and bigger.. beyond the realm of what we need to get by as essential. It paints fantasy-like pictures with dialogue that isn't like we experience day to day. We constantly try to avoid fires around the things we see can go wrong.. got a fear or problem, buy this! Afraid of your potential health issues? Take these pills, which have side effects, so take these as well. It ends up making us dependent on our paychecks and deathly afraid to lose our jobs to ultimately supplement our lifestyles. These can even be manifested in little things… bike salesmen always try to warn me how I need particular items to avoid the cold, heat, bonking, pain, being stranded with a flat and I've certainly been sucked into it. But the days I forget my cold gear and gloves? Sure it's not the most pleasant ride, but I still get by unscathed. You really have to read between the lines and try hard not to get sucked in.

Fear is one of the most useful tools used against people. It causes us to take action to avoid what we imminently fear is possible, not necessarily probable or likely. Take scary movies as an example. Some people avoid them like the plague because the human imagination is so good at creating images and fantasies. These movies paint pictures of what could potentially be real.. grotesque images, murder, demons.. and our imaginations automatically apply this to our everyday lives and the possibility that it can manifest itself somehow. But the reality is it's a movie and the chances are minuscule. Possible? Yes. But not likely. So how do advertisements and news creating fantasy-like pictures or bringing these fears into your living room television set differ? They don't.. we start to imagine things in our lives going wrong, causing inconveniences and the like. We then see purchasing something as a way to alleviate the feared outcome. Our reckless purchases only feed the demon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Get Stuffed

George Carlin (RIP) puts it well in this comedic bit. We all have too much stuff and our dwellings are simply places where stuff accumulates. "Their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff!" I hate stuff, but I'm still a victim to it. My journey to the side of minimalism came from various factors of living abroad, my personality, age, an improved self-esteem and travels.

  • Living abroad. I moved to Australia knowing my stint would be a year. I was given a container the size of a full size bed to fit my belongings into to live on for a year.. clothes, shoes, accessories. My mentality shifted a bit there because I no longer bought things knowing I would have to stuff (no pun intended) those into my container back home so I made economical purchases and learned to let go and give away those things I couldn't take back when my time was up. I lived in a furnished apartment with everything I needed provided so it was like living out of a big suitcase with only a few things being my own. This attitude stayed with me on my move back and I no longer hoard things.. also because I want to move out of Houston within a year.
  • My personality. I'm an economics major so I've learned to put a value on everything so anything I purchase, I intend to maintain and see through till the day it dies because a lot of what we purchase is an illiquid asset. That said, the more STUFF I own, the more there is to maintain and worry about. You could waste a whole day running errands on dry cleaning for clothes you don't need, cleaning/polishing unnecessary furniture, cleaning extra living space, organizing all the extra stuff lying around.. on top of that the clutter becomes an eye sore. Who really needs those 4th grade papers dear George refers to? So after shedding a lot, there's a lot more leisure time to get on my bike, play w/ my dog, have a meal w/ my parents, read and just veg. Less stress all the way around, less resources used and more money to pad the bank account.
  • Age. I used to try to impress others by the things I owned and outdo my friends' posessions. But that's an exhausting slog. You own something and your friend may not beat you, but something or someone eventually will so then what, waste more resources to continue the tug of war? This makes you lust for what's new and not appreciate what you have. I've noticed how Americans are much less thankful people as a whole than others.. small gestures and things around us are taken for granted completely. (The cheaper price of gasoline relative to other countries, free restrooms everywhere, free to sit anywhere) We all have our weaknesses, though. I'm tempted all the time to go out and splurge on a $4000 carbon bicycle with all the fixings. But I realized the exercise and training I put in on my current bike will allow me to ride a lot harder than simply upgrading an item, of which the most crucial part is the rider. I don't have to fill a void w/ the pang of temporary joy filled by something new and shiny. Others' compliments used to give me a sense of pride that I had good taste or by convincing myself they envied it. This uplifted my spirit, which is sad if you think about it since it was rooted in some self-esteem issues. I saw those unneccessary items as "needs."
  • Travel. I did a lot of traveling in 2009. It first started off in New Zealand, where I took an oversized bag and way too many things I didn't end up using or wearing. As the year wore on I packed lighter and lighter, taking old clothes I now shed during the trip to make room for anything I might bring back as gifts. By the time I traveled to Europe in December, I only took essentials in one small carry-on size bag and wore things multiple times. Worst case scenario if you run out of something, you just buy it where you're traveling. It helped me appreciate how much stuff we have back home is unnecessary to survive.. they're simply fluff conveniences and luxuries we've been accustomed to see as "needs." The more we accumulate, the less we're able to have the option to drop everything and move somewhere because you're financially tied down more on top of having to unload it all or store it somewhere. We overvalue our things and it becomes an unhealthy attachment to identify ourselves with our possessions, belongings and money.
I still make bad, unnecessary purchases today, but I have a much keener eye to ask myself before buying something if I'll really use it or if I can get away without it.. which will be the case most of the time.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Recovery rides

Rode 70 miles yesterday in Katy. Headwind was horrid going on the 70 loop averaging 14mph one way, but a nice 24-25 on the way back w/ the tailwind. It was fun heading to the 3rd rest stop because a lot of people were heading there so I got a good gauge for my speed and endurance. I even caught up w/ some pacelines to avoid all the wind. One of them appeared to be a group of friends, some of which included members from the UH cycling team. They had some sweet bikes and I don't think they really appreciated me in their paceline but it helped my confidence I could hang w/ them at 24-25 mph.

Of course over 4 hours on the bike was tough on my body. Lower back was aching, hamstring cramped 65 miles in, lateral knee pain brought back bad memories of my ITB flare.. so I went home carefully, ate some good meals the rest of the day and took it easy. Dodger slipped out when I opened the door so chasing him 2 blocks down to get him back was a nice surprise.

I got a full 9 hours of sleep but my body was screaming when I woke up. So I got some chow and headed to the gym to yes, cycle. I did some spinning for about 30 minutes at low resistance to get the blood flowing to the muscles and did some stretching for another 20. Then I sat in the dry sauna for another 30. It's amazing was a recovery ride can do.. a few hours later I feel no more soreness in my legs. From my limited understanding of biology, recovery rides get the blood flowing back to the legs to deliver nutrients and flush out lactic acid. I sat in the sauna because after all the stretching the heat helps me feel more loose. The initial instinct with people who do long rides is to rewards themselves w/ a lot of food (generally junk), veg and do nothing the next day... but a recovery ride is the key in my book combined with a good diet. The food you eat directly after a ride is what replaces your glycogen stores and is ultimately delivered to your aching muscles.. so quality carbs (to restore glycogen) and protein (help muscle repair) are pretty important.

More on my recent nutrition in another post.

Monday, February 1, 2010

False Identity

Remember back in our adolescent days we would be nervous about buying cigarettes and booze or anything that could potentially put us at risk of being called out? I used to try buying cigarattes when I was 16, walking into a convenience store like I owned the place and asking for a pack of lights. The dodgier the place the better because some of them weren't concerned with upholding legal values but rather pocketing the extra few dollars. After I turned 18, that worry then shifted to booze. This proved more difficult since shops are prone to card you more often.. let's face it booze is a lot more risque so I conceded and drank at dodgy Korean establishments notorious for serving underage, past 2 AM to make it worse!

After 21 there really are no more worries or self-conciousness with being put on the spot or coming up with a dumb excuse to save face. One thing still remains for me, however. Back in 9th grade I was 5 foot 7 and I figured I was still young and growing. When it came time to apply for my driver's permit, I filled out 5'9, sure that I would grow a few more inches. Today I'm 28 and still 5'7.. and my license still says 5'9. I've also shaved my head since so I don't resemble my license very much. It hasn't happened yet, but most times I go to a bar, the bouncer will do a double take to make sure I'm the person but the height question hasn't been raised yet (probably due to the shaved head and weight loss). But what if it does? Do I go on a spiel about how I foreshadowed growing 2 inches 12 years ago and never corrected my license after 3 renewals? The DPS makes it far too easy to renew our licenses online with a click. They should take more responsibility in forcing its people to take a trip every five years and do a proper update of their records.

Oh my license also says I don't need corrective lenses but I've been wearing glasses/contacts for the past 5 years but I figure the bar guy won't be staring into my eyes to detect lenses.

Time for a trip to the DPS.