Lebensgefühl

Seems it’s been a whole month since I last composed an update. Life’s been full of change and really busy since the end of the previous month. My best friend and long time roommate moved out, leaving me facing the prospect of being out in the world and sharing living space with someone I didn’t have an existing relationship with for the first time ever. After doing the interview rounds on Craigslist, I ended up with a 25 year old guy from Germany that’s going to be studying at San Diego State University for a year.
From the night I picked him up at the airport, it’s been a non-stop month full of activity. Since he had the first three weeks as down time before the semester started, we’ve been going around getting him setup for his stay (getting cell phone service, a bank account, etc.) and familiarized with the city. Even on workdays, soon as I’ve gotten home and knocked out a run, we’ve been off to go explore San Diego. All that foot travel has been definitely helping with the weight loss efforts — every weekend, I’ve been matching/exceeding my running miles (5-8) with our sight-seeing walks.
As far as a roommate goes, I think I got really lucky. He’s very easy going, and generally open to trying anything and maximizing his experience here in the US. Almost every night we’ve gone out to a sit-down place, we’ve ended up meeting new people and sharing a dinner table with complete strangers.
One of the German words he’s taught me that I really like is lebensgefühl, which means one’s “awareness & attitude towards life”; mine has improved greatly over the past few weeks. I feel fully locked and engaged with life now, steadily moving forward. The memories of the past few years, all the posts I’ve drafted along the way, seem feel completely foreign to me. That place of confusion, fear, doubt, and helplessness, all those past burdens I couldn’t unshoulder, all left behind for good and determinedly a place I am literally incapable of returning to. I don’t worry about myself having relapses into depression and unhelpful mental/behavioral loops because they don’t apply to me anymore.
This sense of completeness and confidence in both it and myself are what I’ve been relentlessly pursuing the past decade. To deconstruct, analyze, and reform an entire lifetime and personality was a hell of a process. Now, starting to really see and believe myself to be that person I’ve aspired to be, that opposite of the mental/emotional damaged mess I used to be, it’s good to have my inner monologue back in a supporting role, no longer the harsh and hyper-critical warden I forced it to become.
Readjusted. Rebalanced. Refocused. And ready to get shit done.

Humble Beginnings

It’s been a good few weeks since I’ve done some writing. I’ve been neglecting both the blog and my offline journal, focusing on the goings of daily life, exercising, and planning my next steps carefully. The last update I posted on the blog was very cathartic for me; getting into a lot of the smaller details about the past couple years and everything that’s changed in that time has given me a sense of finality to a chapter of my life that I needed to bring to successfully bring a close since my younger self decided it was something worth introducing to the web. Moving past it, I feel like I’ve just woken up from a bad dream to a giant mess to clean up.
From experience and what I’ve read on the matter of productivity and goals, journaling and capturing life at its different stages provide excellent points of comparison against which to measure progress made. Here is the narrative at present.

Career

I’m 27, and on the cusp of turning 28. I’ve been in a prolonged state of isolation, almost two years, in my own journey of personal development. I’ve fought to reconcile myself with my past, reclaim my sense of identity, and redefine myself, my goals, and my expectations in life. I fight to give myself the opportunities a person of my capability deserves and to realize my full potential. I also recognize that the road ahead is long, and filled with challenges greater than those I’ve already overcome. Though I showed great promise as a child, I was not raised in conditions that agreed with academic achievement. I didn’t produce the scores and work to qualify for scholarships or even realistically apply to any university. Without any money having been saved by my family to pay for college, I joined the work force immediately after leaving high school. My plan was to take a couple years off to just have fun, and save money to buy myself a car and a computer capable of running software for graphic editing and web design, then return to school starting a local community college, and transferring into a university after a couple years.
From 18–20, I worked a series of jobs in retail and coffee shops. I bought myself a car, which was stolen only a year after I bought it. I came upon the opportunity to work a part of a startup marketing company that a group of close internet friends decided to form at the age of 21. For the first time in my life, I was able to apply all of the technological and organizational skills that I’d picked up through my hobbies and areas of interest for self-study. I spent 12–16 hours a day in front of my computer, writing emails, drafting documents, templating stationary, coordinating teams, managing projects, conducting research, processing data, and compiling business plans and campaign deliverables. The results the team produced opened the doors to some great experiences, traveling to Japan and meeting the bands I used to listen to in high school in a professional capacity.
Eventually, the marketing startup phased out of operation, and I returned back to “normal” life. I worked at a couple of restaurants before landing a job in a tech-oriented field as a support specialist for a local SEO company. At this point, I started making good enough money to buy myself another car, and build sufficient credit to finance a MacBook Pro to replace my aging computer that was unable to keep pace with my performance needs at work. Early last year, I transitioned away from that job, and after a couple of months wading through a highly competitive job market for a replacement income source, came upon my current position as a temp for Union Bank at a corporate office site.
Right now, I find myself frustrated and feeling trapped by my current situation. My job entails duties that are way below my capabilities. I’m constantly bored, and resent that I’m forced to spend my time doing what I do when I could be doing something more meaningful, and in turn, higher paying. I’m at an age where I should have a bachelors/masters degree and time invested with a company, or finishing up a doctorate degree. Since college wasn’t academically or financially viable for me and all that time lost can’t be reclaimed, my path is now forced to be one of the self-made success. I’ll admit that despite my age, I do have a strong intent to obtain the academic dress of a degree. However, the cost of education is something that I’m going to have to find a way to finance myself. Essentially, I’m going to be doing things backwards – getting the job to make the money for the degree, not getting the degree to make the money. Unconventional, but that’s just the way my life is.
Right now, I work my day job to cover the essential living costs. I’ve been in a constant state of financial constraint for almost a whole year now, causing me to further resent myself for letting myself get into this current position, but also motivating me to do something to change it. In my down time, I’m focused on buffing up my knowledge in various disciplines in a systematic order. Right now, I’m concentrating my efforts on getting acquainted with computer programming by learning Python, and soaking up everything I can in relation to finance and taxes. One thing I’ve noticed in all the loan applications I process at work is that successful people applying for high principal loans all have extensive investment portfolios – indicates to me that I need to learn how those work. I’ve also been planning to make a stronger effort to develop my writing ability, both by building a blog with read-worthy content and keeping my private offline journal consistently up to date. Once I can successfully design & build for the modern web landscape, I aim to freelance my development talents to make the income needed for school, and to upgrade my lifestyle. Ultimately, I’d like to be able to make another income stream out of building useful software for computers and mobile devices.

Health

Along with the career situation at present, the subject of health commands the majority of my efforts at present. I’ve been meaning to address my physical deficiencies for a very long time now, and I’ve grown tired of constantly carrying the guilt of failure at actually getting anything done. Over the past year, I’ve been making solid strides in making that part of me that enjoys running a regular part of my routine. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been completing my 5+ mile routes multiple times a week. Admittedly, I haven’t been dieting too well because I’m hesitant to push to a lower weight at the moment – doing that would mean having to buy new clothes, and I’m still not out the woods enough to accommodate that investment. Still, I run regularly now, and have also starting implementing arm and core workouts into my exercises.
This year, I’m going to reach those high goals I set for myself so long ago. I’m running out of 20’s, and while I’ve still got youth on my side, I want to experience the what “the other side” feels like; I’ve been a husky kid and an overweight guy pretty much all of my life, and I’ve got no excuses for letting things stay that way. I want to enjoy runs in different parts of the world. I want to be able to go rock climbing and hike long & difficult trails. To know what it feels like to sprint down a shoreline or lose myself in the middle of a crowd at a dance festival without a shirt on and feel confident.
There’s a giant laundry list of experiences and sensations that I want out of life, and being the pudgy, sedentary, overweight smoker I’ve been over the past few years has outlived its viability as an option.

Relationships

In my time away to myself, I aimed to get myself back to a state of mental/emotional self-sufficiency. Though I’ve proven to myself that I could very well live out the rest of my life in permanent solitude and in perpetual pursuit of a better self, living life isolated and alone is not how I want things to ultimately pan out – one of those just because I can doesn’t mean I will type of situations. So in addition to everything I’ve got on my plate in direct relation to myself, I also aim to start reestablishing my “tribe”. Back before I started focusing on all of this self-improvement, I was a pretty active social butterfly and networker. Now, after so much time apart to myself, staying in touch and constantly in communication with people has come to feel very strange and irregular. Yet, now that I’m once again confident in my ability to create, nurture, and maintain relationships with people, it’s a part of life that I’m very eager to once again partake in.

In Closing

I look ahead at what the year will bring, and I see wave after wave of continuous hardships and challenges. I no longer have the naive belief that I’ll reach some certain “point” at which I’ll feel happy and content. I’ve got a lot of dreams that I want to accomplish and some pretty high standards that I’ve set for myself, and I’ve got a lot of lost ground to make up for. My story hasn’t been a happy one, nor an easy one, but I accept it. More than that, I celebrate it. Had my life played out to all of the better alternative outcomes of my past experiences, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. For a long time, I focused on all the negative results of those experiences – the self doubt, the feelings of abandonment, the unwillingness to fully trust the people closest to me in life, etc. Now, I’ve reconnected with that inner fire, that unwavering confidence in my identity and capabilities. I’m ready to pick up the fight again and start doing everything I should be for myself.
May this year be filled with things that I’ve legitimately earned. I’m ready and willing to hurt, sweat, and bleed however much it takes to get things done.

Measurement Monday: The Start of a Diet & Exercise Shift

I am resurrecting a practice I once started to use awhile back that I called “Measurement Monday”. Now, I had already done this back in July right before I wiped all my accounts to a clean slate, so this might be redundant if the original post was read.  Now, As much as I’m excited and eager to do this, it’s a serious long term commitment that honestly intimidates me; Not only is the commitment aspect intimidating, but this particular practice introduces a risk of humiliation. “Measurement Mondays” aren’t just text updates of tables and numbers. I also plan to attach photographic documentation, and publicly posting revealing photographs when you’re not physically in shape is a pretty embarrassing prospect that can only be validated through change and progress. So I have to really be committed and reach my goals, or end up making quite a big fool of myself.
When I think of this project and all future posts under this “fitness” category, I wish I had an extremely defined plan, something that whatever few readers I get could not just follow, but also participate in.  However, I don’t have detailed knowledge when it comes to diet and exercise like a nutritionist would. I’m just going to go along with what I have, and document the progress. However, I do have a rather vague plan, and I’ll get to that later on.


STARTING POINT


Stats
Height 5’ 10”
Goal Weight 160
Day # 1
Date: 08/02/2010
Measurements
Neck 17
Upper Arm (Left) 13
Upper Arm (Right) 13
Chest 44.5
Diaphragm 44
Waist 42
Abdomen 45
Hips 43
Upper Thigh (Left) 24.5
Upper Thigh (Right) 25
Upper Knee (Left) 17
Upper Knee (Right) 17.5
Calf (Left) 16.5
Calf (Right) 16.5
 
Total Inches 378.5
Total Inches Lost 0
Weight 232.6
Weight Lost to Date 0
BMI 0
Change in BMI 0
Goal Distance 0
100531-181400 100531-181401 100531-181403 100531-181505 100531-181507-0
More of me than anyone should ever have to see [Taken back in July 2010]

PRESENT SITUATION


Right now, I’m at the heaviest I’ve been in two years. I’ve gained (what I’ve recently learned to be) more weight than I estimated over the past 6 months. My sleep schedule has also gotten way off track lately. I find myself staying awake into the late hours of the early morning, and waking up in the late mid-morning hours (around 11:30 – 12:00). When I wake up, I feel lethargic and tired for a good two hours after waking up. My energy levels are pretty low. My metabolic rate is abysmal. My circulation, I’ve learned by how easy my legs "fall asleep" when sitting cross-legged for a moderately short amount of time, is also really poor. Compounding this, my cigarette consumption has gone through the roof due to stress and boredom. I haven’t had an elevation to target heart rate since I last went to the gym about months ago. I feel my body yearning for exercise because I get really restless often, but mentally, it’s been so long without regular exercise that for some odd reason I find myself scared to engage in it, because of how badly I’m expecting to perform. I haven’t done any of my favorite things, like walking or dancing, in quite some time as well. Nutritionally, I’ve also been failing pretty hard. Due to the budgetary restraints imposed by unemployment, a lot of my diet lately has been consisting of cheap fast food and frozen processed foods, both of which are doing me absolutely no favors. Subsequently, bowel movements have been kind of infrequent and more often than not feel lackluster. Again, I blame what my diet has been mainly comprised of lately.


PLAN OF ACTION


I’ve been preparing mentally to start working on my physicality, and also materially. Combined with equipment I already owned, my current resource pool is as follows:

IMG_7006

  • Large Balance Ball
  • Perfect Pushup Handles
  • Iron Gym Pullup Bar
  • 8lb Medicine Ball
  • Ab Roller
  • Resistance Tube Set
  • Jump Rope
  • Light Resistance Band
  • Medium Resistance Band

Not pictured, I also have 4 750ml stainless steel water bottles, which I plan to drink at bare minimum three per day to meet the recommended daily water intake.
I’ve also recently acquired copies of the P90X DVD set. So for the first few weeks, I’m going to do running and combinations of the workout DVDs supplied with the balance ball and resistance tube set before graduating up to the P90X videos. Once i get other pending matters in my life squared away, I’ll renew my membership to 24 Hour Fitness and work fitness classes and gym time into the routine. Far as tracking goes, I’ve done my research on systems. On the web, there’s Spark People, Dailyburn, and Livestrong to name a few. On the iPhone, there’s also a range of apps, such as Lose It! and iFitness. After playing around with different interfaces, I’m going to attempt to use Spark People and iFitness, since they seem like the ones that’ll work best, and I’d rather hit a home run with my first picks than try ones that don’t work and have to waste time exporting data to another system.


GOALS


Upon doing some more internet research, I’ve also determined a goal weight. Average ideal weight of people my age/height/weight/gender: 194 lbs Medical Recommendation: 132-174 lbs. Devine Formula: 161 lbs All the sources listed present quite a big range. Initially, I was just gonna take the average of the first two and eyeball it from there, but I like the Devine formula. 161 lbs sounds good, but considering my body type and frame, I think 165-170 is the target range. Other body specific goals:

  • Get rid of the gut, get some ab action going
  • Get my poor arms to match the bulk and tone of my calves (which are pretty boss, considering they carry the rest of me around)
  • Whittle down the mass of my thighs. They’re way too big.
  • Build some muscle in my ass. Shape and tone back there would be nice.
  • Have my back muscles well defined too

Performance specific goals:

  • Vastly improve time it takes to run a mile
  • Be able to do a set of handstand pushups
  • Increase flexibility. I have pretty awesome flexibility now, but I’d like it to be borderline gymnast status
  • Train body in basic tumbling and flips