The Chexican

Month: April 2014

Publish by DayOne

Publish by DayOne
I’m really intrigued by the idea, and think it’ll help with the overall structure/organization of my writings. I look forward to experiementing with it once the feature gets pushed to the Mac version of the app; having to take the extra step of unlocking an iOS device, opening the app, finding the entry, THEN doing the publishing is too cumbersome and time-wasting to do on a regular basis.

Pursuing The Quantified Self

Having owned an iPhone since the launch of the 3G and being an avid app explorer from the get-go, I’ve long experimented with using technology as a supporting mechanism in my weight loss efforts. Initially, they were really unimpressive. Back in the late 2000’s, LoseIt! was the go-to app for calorie and exercise tracking. I found it really limited and lacking. As mobile computing evolved as a platform, my technological investments scaled accordingly. For a long time now, I’ve used a Wahoo heart rate monitor strap and a stride sensor to capture detailed data about my workouts. However, as I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve found myself plateaued, fluctuating between a 195–200 lb weight range. Part of it, I realize, has to do with the reality that I think I’ve accomplished as much as I can using strictly cardio. As much as I run, I do very little by way of working out muscles. I avoid non-cardio workouts because the muscle recovery time renders me unable to run, and getting back on the cardio kick after a break of even a few days is always a complete drag, not to mention the guilt I feel over days gone without running. To that end, I’ve been coaching myself to get over it and jump the hurdle. Last week, I only went running two days after getting started on an arm workout. Two days ago, I did a light arm workout and some squats before heading out on my run; I felt it all day yesterday, but was mostly recovered by the end of the workday today. Slowly but surely, I suppose.
The other part of it concerns motivation. I’ve analyzed and broken that down into two factors: some fear-based aversions which I’ve dealt with in my head, and the realization that I’m not actually using the data I’m collecting and the tools at my disposal to really make structured progress. In other words, lack of focus. That’s due to the overwhelming number of options that are available today. With so many solutions of varying areas of focus and feature depth, it’s easy to fall into the productivity trap of investing time seeking out the “perfect” tool instead of using a suitable one to get the job done. Even once you settle on a set, it’s just as easy to collect the data and never actually review it. i have my Withings smart scale piping data to it’s online dashboard and my other fitness services. I have a MyFitnessPal account that I don’t actively use because I get frustrated when it comes to logging food that doesn’t come from a menu with calorie info or packaged with a scannable barcode. Though I could enumerate the apps and services I’ve experimented with ad nauseam, the bottom line is that I’ve weeded out a good clutch of highly capable and integrated services that I use but don’t utilize.
So, problem identified, I’ve brainstormed my solution set. First, I need to start fulfilling the commitment to the weekly weight/measurement table update and taking the progress photos. There are data points that can be outsourced to my phone, and the effort that goes into it is so minimal it shouldn’t deter me from doing the necessary work. I also need to take same time and put a little design into that table; another reason I dislike those updates is because they look so drab and do not present the data in a visually attractive format; it fails to hold even my own attention. Secondly, I need to loosen my expectations. With all the running I do, it’s frustrating to not see any progress, but as I already mentioned, I’m well aware that more and different kinds of effort are required. Plus, I’ve been doing a very abysmal job on the nutritional front lately. Lastly, I need to actually need to take my scheduled review times (a la GTD methodology), and incorporate fitness tracking data into part of the review process.

The Fitness Fraud

Since my post on plateauing on the fitness front, I’ve been in a state of complete lack of motivation. I kept on top of my weekly three 5-mile run absolute minimum, and even overshot the mark with one of them, clocking in at a total of over 7 miles. I didn’t feel any desire to push myself to my 20 mile weekly quota, and what I ran I did mostly to compensate for the horrible things I was doing to my body nutritionally. After clocking in so many miles on a regular basis and failing to see measurable progress, it all started to feel pointless. Getting in shape is something I’ve aspired to do since I was a teenager, and though I made a lot of progress in my early 20’s, it frustrates me to no end how little has happened with my weight loss blogging. Physically because I no longer have the luxury of feeling comfortable in my own body like I used to and am constantly kinesthetically aware of my excess weight, and mentally because of the personal shame of having such a long-running project yielding no progress.
Though I would think that fitness minded people would say that I’m doing well enough running and simply need to make some modifications to my eating habits (which is true), I’m also entirely convinced that it’s because I’ve lacked focus and haven’t been pushing myself enough. When I get home after putting so many miles behind me, I immediately clean up and go about my night. Between my work & sleep schedule and the daily commute, I have approximately five hours of free time, some of which is usually already taken by cooking duties and eating. My running route takes up one hour, which leaves me four hours to cook dinner, eat, handle mundane miscellaneous personal affairs, and try to get some writing done on this blog & my journal, as well as getting in some study time on the various knowledges I’m pursuing. It’s easy to let myself fall in the “too busy” trap and feel frustrated that my one hour isn’t enough, but I’m also aware that output is dependent on input. There are plenty of small windows of opportunity, like doing a set of 25 pushups immediately after getting out of bed, that I haven’t implemented, leaving me with no real reason to complain.
On top of that self-imposed mental stress, I’m now starting to find that people I’ve inspired along the way to start taking a proactive approach to fitness & running are now outpacing me. I have a coworker who’s dropped more total pounds than I have, and friend who’s training to join the military that’s made a highly impressive physical transformation. Meanwhile, I’ve been allowing myself to make the mistake of focusing on the outcome instead of the process, getting frustrated on the fact that I’m not there instead of focusing on doing the work that needs to be done and trusting that I will get there. In turn, I’m getting passed by those who tell me I’ve inspired them on their own workout endeavors, making me feel like a failure and a hypocrite, armed with all the technology and gadgets that I have at my disposal.
Having done my analysis of the problem, and under the pressure of comparison to real-life peers and the accountability mechanism of this blog, it’s time to drive all my planning towards action. As much as I hate the idea of doing it yet again (for what, the third time now?), I’m thinking of hitting reset on the day counter in terms to the overall weight-loss project. I’m attacking it with a whole new angle now, and discounting the time past will do better for me motivationally in the short-term.


In this recent lack of updates, I’ve come to the realization just how much weight it carries in my mind. As a tech enthusiast whose primary field of study has been Communications with an emphasis in Marketing, I’m aware of the importance of having a well established online presence. However, after taking so much time to work on myself and living outside of my old life, with strictly information internet usage and minimal social media engagement, the story I had to tell changed. I became less the tech savvy internet marketer who was part of the senior leadership of startup organization that helped bring Japanese rock to American shores, and more the survivor of a prolonged identity crisis. In my earlier years, I used to use writing as a means of processing life’s happenings, a way to collect and reflect intelligently on things. I made the effort to reconnect with that process, and the decision to publish what I wrote openly on the web as well. As a long time internet user, I’ve seen the unintentional and unexpected positive ways in which sharing a story can help other people. As a self-aware internet user, I have no objection to contributing my weaknesses and shortcomings to the version of me that exists in the collective internet cloud. I feel it would be wasteful to not be honest about these things, and throw away the First Amendment privilege we have in being able to openly express ourselves for the sake of appearance, presentation, and personal branding. That may sound a bit naive in ways, but sometimes I’m just a stubborn idealist — I accept that about myself.
All that being said, I feel that in focusing on capturing the present narrative throughout so many past incohesive posts, I’ve delayed pushing it forward. There’s a lot of areas of improvement that I’ve identified for myself, but my efforts have been greatly scattered and unfocused, resulting in very little improvement. Life calls for the actualization of the idealized self I’ve been striving to embody, and I’m ready for the challenge. But I feel encumbered by the story my younger self decided to share. After having painted so thoroughly a picture of myself as a broken individual in the process of reconnecting with his true “self”, I now feel like I’ve got some imaginary mountain of writing output that I have to generate to clean up after that decision. I’ve talked about the challenges and the struggles, but not on the resolutions and the takeways. I’ve been open about my weaknesses and my fears, but I’ve neglected my strengths and my accomplishments. It was a means to help myself sort it all out, and I’ll admit it worked, but everything has it’s cost. Fighting this feeling of obligation towards my writing is the one I’m currently facing, and the ramifications it has on my professional prospects because of its representation of myself as an individual. Overcoming everything that I’ve been struggling with internally the past few years is what’s been holding back my confidence and proudly demonstrate everything that I’m truly capable of.
This past weekend, I spent all of my day Saturday doing some initial business consultation with a friend who’s aspiring to start a catering business. I set her up with a collaborative online workflow for us to work together on, initiated conversations on branding and identity, establishing and communicating a story, and procured templates by which to compile a thorough business plan, and more specifically, a marketing plan. Having engaged in work of that nature and produced positive and measurable results as well as engaging in a new and ongoing project has sparked that old fire. The fact that I spend every workday conducting a routine set of basic administrative and data entry tasks in an enclosed room instead of doing something measurable that utilizes all of my capabilities is suffocating. And at my age, beginning to border inexcusable.
Now that the heavy lifting has been completed, it’s time to bring those chapters to a close and move on. Every day now brings an feeling of great promise that goes unseized and unexplored because I’m not exercising enough focus and determination. I recognize there’s a certain irony to my current situation, feeling inhibited by my past efforts to put my issues with my personal past to rest. Yet, having spent that recent Saturday doing something impactful that I enjoy, and writing about all of this now and getting the actual narrative up to speed, I feel an immense sense of progress and an equal sense of relief. I’ve regained trust in the idea that there’s a wealth of great ideas and talent inside my head. Successive failures in life knocked that belief out of me, but not being able to perform to my true potential is starting to eat away me. Reorienting and reclaiming myself has been my struggle, overcome but not completely told. As a result, what I have to show so far is the introspective lamentations of a troubled personal past and a weight loss project that routinely stalls out.
All I’ve written, to date, traps me in a corner, the image of a self-doubting incapable wreck. Though a lot of it has to do with the personal image I’ve been addressing, a lot of it stems from a personal fear: the fear that I’m not good enough. It’s a message I received repeatedly growing up, and though I’ve made my peace with it on that front, the realist in me knows that the world is not a very friendly place. The last time I actively looked for employment, it took months to finally end up where I am now, and reading so many of the unemployment stories on Gawker, where university graduates have gone months unemployed or having to settle for minimum wage, to desire to want something better begins to feel audacious, considering that despite all of my past professional accomplishments, I have no formal certification that gives entry to higher paying jobs.
But I remember that despite all the failures, things have paid out when I’ve taken bold moves in the past. I have that sense of unyielding confidence and unshakable resilience that I felt I lost so long ago. This corner is a trapping of my own, and I’ve conquered challenges far greater in life.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Truthfully, I’m not one to watch many movies, which is a large reason as to why I’ve not drafted/posted any movie reviews on this blog. In the shift from adolescence to adulthood, I found myself growing frustrated with the hours of running times I’d invest into watching a movie, only to have the return fail to meet expectations. My best friend/roomie happens to love movies and has long since served as my unofficial recommendation engine. This past Friday, we had no evening plans and decided to go catch a movie now that the summer blockbuster season is starting to ramp up. We settled on catching a showing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, expecting gratuitous action sequences & special effects with a plot that would at the very least be merely “acceptable”. What I got was a story so poorly developed that it kept putting me to sleep. Every time I woke up, I’d watch for a couple minutes to try to get caught up with the narrative, only to end up annoyed by the movie and losing interest to the point of passing out once again.
As I mentioned, my expectations were pretty properly aligned. I was going to watch a big-budget action flick that was focused on the modern-day take on a comic superhero created in the 1940’s as World War II propaganda. The character is, through name, appearance, and even personal backstory, the sensationalized embodiment of the “traditional” American spirit. So, I sat down thinking I was going to get 2+ hours worth of explosions, feats, superpower, and fight/action sequences with amazing special effects. What I got was a depressing representation of the current real-life political climate.

Captain America Movie Poster, Team America
What I expected — not what I got.

From the outset, good old Cap’n ’Murrica is lost. After banding together with all the other big powers on the good guy side and saving the world in The Avengers, he’s back to trying to get caught up with the modern world and find what he wants to do with his life. Watching handsome Mr. Super-capable going through an existential crisis didn’t really evoke much sympathy from me as a real normal person who’s been through the same thing on a much deeper level, but I digress. So while we begins to work on sorting out his personal affairs, he stays busy by putting his powers to good use for the government. A few segments in, the captain finds out that SHIELD has been developing a crazy military defense system, elevating the situation from unrestricted global monitoring of people to having an invisible gun pointed at everyone. And our hero, the representation of the classic American spirit protests, but he’s unable to do anything about it as a single person. It comes to light that SHIELD has been compromised and is corrupted, and that’s when I started falling asleep.
Over few clips I caught throughout the remainder of the movie, I basically watched a super cut of all the old plot devices I’d seen in the big action films of the 90’s: the best friend who thought to have died in the war still being alive, the former best friend being alive because he was saved and turned by the Russians, the “big reveal” where every secondary character turns out to be a supporting spy/soldier/hero. I realize that I can judge the movie too harshly on this front since Captain America has been around for a considerable amount of time, and being faithful to the comic requires retreading those established story arcs. Yet, at the same time, the whole point of these movies is to bring them up to date to contemporary story telling standards; with all the liberty Hollywood exercises in adapting stories from other mediums — think video game movies here — it felt like very little was done to reinvent the story and make it fresh and remarkable.
Ultimately, it was a disappointing waste of time and money.

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