Monthly Archives: August 2016

Somersize Redux: An Ode to My Most Popular Post

I’ve written about a lot of different topics over the years.  This started as a blog about life in Korea, but it’s sort of morphed into just whatever I want, since I’m no longer living in Korea (thank God).  I’ve done posts on libertarian topics, travel, divorce, makeup, and I think Divine even made it in there somewhere, but no single post has been as popular as the one I wrote about Somersizing.  I guess that tells you a lot about what sells, huh?

I first did the Somersize (Schwarzbein) Diet back in 2011-2012, and I lost a ton of weight doing it – about 130 lbs. or so, I think.  I stuck with it while I was pregnant with Brett and only gained about 25 pounds with her.  Of course, then we came back to the US, I got off of it, and I put on like, 50 lbs. apiece with the next two.  So, you know, gained almost all of it back.  Then the divorce got rolling, and yeah.  I knew I needed to get the weight off because I wasn’t feeling or looking good at all with those extra pounds on.

My aunt and uncle had been going to HMR again (the Howe family keeps that program in business, I swear), so I had them get me some of the shakes that I used to drop all the weight back in high school.  For better or for worse, I think losing all of my weight via a liquid diet was a one-time event for me.  I did it for a little while, and it got the ball rolling, but it’s not going to be something I can stick to for the long-term.  I’ll be blunt: liquid fasts suck.  They are appealing because they eliminate choice, and you’ll see major results overnight, but in my experience, they don’t do much of anything towards encouraging a permanent lifestyle change.  Once you’re done dropping the pounds, you’re left with the same bad habits that you started with.  This is the part where I say, “Spoiler!  I lost about 60-70 pounds on HMR and then left it behind.”

I quit HMR for the reasons listed above, on top of the fact that the shakes are expensive, and frankly I got sick of being hungry all the time.  Also, you can’t participate in anything when you’re doing a fast.  You don’t realize how much every single event ever centers around food until you can’t eat.  And let’s be honest: who wants to go through life not living it?  The reason I’ve gone through the bulk of my life looking bulky is because there are few things that make me happier than eating, so I’m not going to give that up.

So, surprise, surprise, I’m back to the low-carb thing.  Now, I will admit straight away that I’m not Somersizing.  I decided to give the Slow Carb Diet thing a try, partly because I think it’s fairly obvious that I’m on a Tim Ferriss kick, and also because I can still have caffeine and a cheat day once a week.

In case any of you needed a refresher on Somersizing, there are seven fairly basic rules that you follow during the weight loss phase:

  1. No funky foods: no wheat (especially bleached wheat), no sugar, no unpronounceable ingredients, caffeine, fat-having dairy, alcohol, starchy vegetables, etc.
  2. Eat fruit 30 minutes before  or 2 hours after anything else.
  3. Don’t mix fats & protein with carbs.
  4. Eat carbs with vegetables only (1 meal per day only)
  5. Eat fats and proteins with vegetables.
  6. Wait three hours between meals if you’re switching from carbs to protein.
  7. Eat at least three meals a day.  Do not skip meals.

I promise that Somersizing works.  I had a really easy time sticking with it, and the pounds melted off.  I felt great, and I never should have allowed myself to get off of it.  We got home, I was pregnant, and I let myself get enamored with things like eating bulk Mexican food and stuff like that again.  Also, it’s hard to control cravings sometimes when your hormones are out of control.  And, uh, I have a hard time keeping weight off.  I’m like Oprah that way.

The Slow Carb thing isn’t actually all that different from Somersize, but there are a few key differences.  Here are the official rules:

  1. Avoid “white” carbs.  This means no flour products, breaded stuff, dairy, potatoes of any sort, rice, etc.  Yes, cauliflower is okay.
  2. Eat the same meals over and over again.  I love this because I’m a lazy fuck and hate cooking.  I make my crack chicken and eat on that all week.  Recipe below!
  3. Don’t drink your calories.  No Starbucks, no regular soda, no booze.  A little red wine is okay, as is black coffee, tea, and diet soda (in moderation).  Don’t drink soda, guys.
  4. Don’t eat fruit.
  5. Take one cheat day per week and eat whatever the hell you want.  Faturday.

My favorite part of the whole thing is that you get one cheat day a week.  I have done “Faturday” every single week thus far, primarily because Saturday tends to be the most social day of the week.  Birthday parties, trips to the fair – all that stuff happens on Saturday, it seems like.  On your cheat day, you can do whatever you want, food-wise, except that you’re supposed to stick to the plan for breakfast (protein-heavy).

The cheat day really helps me because it feels like a reward, but it’s controlled and planned, which I like.  It actually prevents you from getting into that “reward syndrome,” where you think, “Oh, I’ve been so good for X amount of time.  I can reward myself now.”  If you’re me, you’ll find that the rewards come closer and closer together and in greater and greater amounts.  But if it’s planned once a week, well, that makes it controllable, at least for me.  I look forward to it, even though my conclusion has been the same every week: that was not worth it. I felt better without it.

Not stated in the start-up rules is that you’re supposed to have green vegetables and lentils or legumes with every meal.  I don’t like beans, so I don’t do that.  You can also have cottage cheese in moderation because there’s a lot of protein in it.  Avocados are another “moderate” food, and I believe you can have Parmesan cheese.

So now for the opinion portion on how they stack up against each other.  Honestly, I think they’re both great.  I love low-carb diets.  My body does not tolerate carbs and sugar well.  They just make me balloon, quite frankly.  And that sucks because I love pasta and bread.  But I also love steak and bacon, which is totally legal, so that’s a positive.  I feel the same way about dieting as I feel about everything else: you have to do what works best for you.

If you like to cook and need variety in your diet, you’ll definitely prefer Somersize.  Suzanne Somers has cookbooks and recipes out there will give you lots of great ideas for kick-ass meals that actually taste good.  That’s probably the single best thing about Somersizing: you will never feel deprived.  You may have to spend a little bit more time making food, but it’s doable, and you’ll be glad you did.

If you don’t care much about variety and actually kind of prefer to eat the same meals over and over again, at least during the week, the Slow Carb Diet is a good bet.  Also, if you find a cheat day to be a necessary, this is a winner.  I can’t really speak to how well it works to bulk you up if you’re into weight training because I don’t do it and don’t ever plan to.  I haven’t been doing it that long, but I’ve lost about 15 lbs. in three weeks, so again, I can promise that it works.  Because it’s more restrictive overall during the six “on days” of the week, I’m not sure how doable it is as a long-term lifestyle for me.  Time will tell.

I’ve gotten some questions and requests for suggestions about Somersize over the years, so I’m going to put some of those down here, for those that have an interest.  As an addendum, I don’t pretend to have all the answers.  My only real wisdom to pass on is that you have to do what works best for you, your bod, and your lifestyle, and you also have to do something that you can turn into a real, permanent lifestyle change.  Replacing bad habits with good ones is damned hard to do, but it is doable.

  1. Just in today: What’s your take on caffeine and alcohol?
    My take on caffeine is that I fucking need it.  I know Somersize doesn’t recommend it, but I personally don’t think it will slow your roll on its own.  That said, I think the delivery system needs to be black coffee or tea – no creamer or artificial sweeteners.  AVOID DIET SODA!Why am I so emphatic about the diet soda?  Well, for one thing, everyone knows aspartame causes cancer.  Cancer fucking sucks.  Also, and this may be TMI for some, but soda gives me digestive issues.  I have noticed, over the last 2-3 years, that I’ve started having those sorts of issues.  Never had them before in my life.  I thought it might resolve when I did HMR, and it didn’t, but I was still drinking diet soda.  I kicked it when I started the Four-Hour, and the issues resolved in less than a week.  I fell off the wagon at work this week because shit was rough, and I forgot my tea to get my caffeine fix.  Problems immediately returned when I got my snout into the Diet Dew.  Within two hours.Let me reiterate: AVOID DIET SODA!!

    As far as alcohol goes, I think you can probably get away with dry red wine on occasion without much consequence.  I would expect fruitier, sweeter wines to have more sugar, so I would give those a miss.  I almost never drink wine because it gives me splitting headaches, so I just wait until cheat day if I want bourbon or beer.  If you have the kind of social life where drinking is a daily thing, I would say stick to red wine.  I have no social life most of the time, so this isn’t an issue for me, and this scenario is just my opinion.

    2. Repeated at least twice: What are some good snack ideas?

    I am the worst person to ask about this because when I’ve got my shit together and am doing things right, I don’t snack.  If I’m on track, I’m busy, I’m active, I don’t have time, and I fill up at meals.  There’s no judgment in that statement, by the way.  I know that a lot of people need to snack between meals, either because they don’t eat big meals (like I do), because they have blood sugar issues, or whatever.  But for me, frankly, if I’m snacking, I’m probably off-track and having problems sticking to the plan.

    On Somersize, if I needed a snack, I ate fat-free yogurt and string cheese.  I kept both in the fridge at work.  Fruit can work okay, but you have to do it in moderation.  Something I like that works for either diet is to bring a microwavable plastic container and an egg or two or however many you need, and you can crack your eggs in the container and microwave them.  You can totally scramble eggs in the microwave.  It’s not a snack, but it works really well at work if you didn’t have time for breakfast or need a top-up during the day.

    I do still have this Somersize PDF that includes several good Somersize recipes, and I do believe there are some in there for snacky things.  I haven’t looked at it in a long time, but I found good recipes for Somersize.  Cooking with it really isn’t hard.

    Beyond raw vegetables or leftover meat, I feel like snacking would be hard on the Slow Carb.  I did make some peanut butter balls a couple of weeks ago.  They were definitely filling so they meet that requirement, but I need to play around with the proportions a little bit more.  I’m not 100% satisfied with them yet.  And also the cleaning lady’s crew freaking stole my last ones out of the fridge at work again.  (I was popping one for breakfast on the days I didn’t have time for my bacon, eggs, and veggies fry up.)  They’re kind of expensive to make, so I wasn’t too pleased about them going missing.  I’ll include the recipe at the end of the post, if anyone’s interested.

    3. Dessert?  Is it possible?

    Heh.  When I find a palatable Slow Carb dessert, I’ll post it, but I don’t know if such a creature exists.  I wait for cheat day.  There’s probably someone out there who came up with something, but as you all know, I’m not much of a cook and have no particular desire to become one.

    On Somersize, yes, there are great desserts.  When you’re in maintenance, you can totally have desserts made with whole-wheat flour.  Sugar-free pudding is a great option while you’re on the diet.  I used to make this cheesecake fluff stuff with cream cheese, stevia, and sugar-free pudding, I think.  I did that in Korea, and you can actually get cheesecake-flavored sugar-free pudding here, so that would probably work even better here.

    I like yogurt frozen with fruit in it.  I know you aren’t supposed to eat fruit with anything else, but if you’re splurging on some dessert to keep yourself from splurging on actual cake or something, I think you can probably get away with the exception.

    3.  Are there any artificial sweeteners that are okay?

    Suzanne Somers sells one called SomerSweet, or at least she used to.  I’ve never tried it.  Supposedly you can bake with it, and it’s pretty much like regular sugar. Can’t vouch for it, but I’ve heard good things.  It’s price-prohibitive, in my opinion.  I wouldn’t pay for it, but again, I’m not much in the kitchen.

    Stevia is okay for both.  I use it for the peanut butter balls.  I’m not that fond of the stuff though, and if you’re looking for something that can actually replace sugar, you’ll have to look elsewhere, since it can’t take the place of sugar as a dry ingredient in baking.

    4. Exercise?

    I’m going off of memory, so feel free to correct me if you know that I’m wrong, but I don’t think the Somersize books really recommended “strenuous” exercise – more like walk 30 minutes a day and do some yoga or something like that.  I wouldn’t say that she was against exercise, but she didn’t think it was crucial to weight loss, which it isn’t, but I want to expound on that in a minute.

    Slow Carb is, in my opinion, targeted at people who either want to become beast-like or who already are.  Think CrossFitters, big dudes who lift heavy weights in the Tool Shed, and the like.  Personally, I think of it as a “man” diet just because it seems like most people who are writing about it online are men trying to get bulk up, which is not something you will hear the average lady saying she’s keen to do.  I guess there might be CrossFit ladies looking to get “swole” or whatever it is that they say, but I think weight loss is still the goal for most women, even CrossFitters.

    I advocate exercise because HMR gave us a graph back in the day that really stuck with me over the years.  It showed the long-term (we’re talking in years) success rate amongst program participants, and the number one long-term predictor of success was how much exercise the person in question did every week.  They pushed for 2,000 calories of burn every week.  For people who are morbidly obese, that’s easy.  For fit people, it’s tough and requires a lot of time invested in moving your body – probably more than 30 minutes per day unless you’re a sprinter or something.

    I will say that I have known few people who could maintain their weight without exercise.  They are the exception.  Most people have to move a little bit.  Think of it as the population of straight vs. gay people.  There are some people who are 100% straight and some who are 100% gay, but they’re the minority.  Most of us fall somewhere else on the spectrum.  In the words of Margaret Cho imitating her Korean mother, “Eberbody little gay.”  (Her impersonations of her ajum-mom are spot-on.  I roll every time I hear them…  “And Daddy was shock!… Uh…Uh… Uh.”  Spot.  On.) It’s the same way with dieting.  Some people maintain strictly by exercise and some strictly by portion control and diet, but most of us fall somewhere in between.  Makes sense, yeah?

    The second reason I advocate exercise is because you will feel better, and the more active you are, the more active you want to be.  At least, that’s how I am.  And I am not one of those people who just loves exercise.  Honestly, I don’t know that many people – even some amazing athletes I’m acquainted with – who say that they love the pain.  They love the sense of accomplishment, and most of them are naturally competitive.

    For me, the equation is a bit different.  The only person I tend to be competitive with is myself.  I want to be able to do more with my kids.  I want to have the energy to run around at the park, play sports with them, and be crazy.  Do you have any idea how much energy it takes to haul three little girls to the state fair for the day on your own?  A lot.  But I have to have that kind of energy to make the most of the activities the girls and I do together.  I want my kids to be active and enjoy sports.  I never got encouragement in that direction growing up, and it would have been strongly to my benefit if I had.  I want to be happy with my fitness and the way I look.  I’d like to be able to have a marathon shag and not get tired at the halfway point.  I think it was Oscar Wilde who said that the physically fit can enjoy their vices.

    4. What do you do if you fall off the wagon?  How do you stay accountable?

    Call your sponsor.  No, seriously.  It helps most people to have a buddy.  It doesn’t have to be your best friend.  Actually, it’s probably better if it isn’t your best friend.  Sometimes they’ll be nice when it would be kinder to be cruel.  Find a friend who’s looking to get fit but who won’t tolerate your bullshit.

    I have a buddy at work who CrossFits.  I don’t endorse CrossFit because I feel like it will hurt you, if you give it long enough.  She’s been benched with injuries three times this year, and one of them required emergency surgery.  But when I was debating about the C25K routine, she offered to call me every day and get my fat ass out of bed so that I would work out.  Sister-girl is serious about fitness.  She’s also ridiculously nice, but she will not tolerate your stupid excuses.  I declined her offer because hey, I’m an adult, I can get my own fat ass out of bed.  And I did.

    This whole mentality is the thing that has spawned programs like HMR and Weight Watchers.  You go every week (like AA), you report your weight, and you’re held accountable to your peer group.  Nobody wants to fail publicly.  And if you do, you have people there who will help you get back on track.

    I personally don’t care about “group work.”  It has no noticeable effect on my performance, far as I can tell.  I’ve lost the same amounts of weight with and without group supervision, and I prefer not to have to listen to other people make excuses for themselves.  It is nice to hear what works for other people, but I can read that on the Internet.  I guess I’m not a team player.  Shocking, I know.

    My main deviation from the above mantra is that I have enlisted a buddy for my first 5k.  She’s blunt and won’t tolerate bullshit.  She doesn’t work out all summer and then starts running again in the fall when it cools off.  She’s been attempting to get her husband involved in some manner of fitness activity – he’s diabetic and has to watch it – but she hasn’t had much success so far.  I suggested that, in the spirit of encouraging fitness, we run a 5k together in the fall sometime, once I’m through the training program.  That way we’re both accountable to someone who won’t listen to crap excuses.  I think we’re doing the “Abe’s Trail Trek” in Petersburg in November.  It’s a trail run over the river and through the woods, and it looks really fun.  In case you were curious, I think I’m also going to run solo in one of the Halloween runs around here, if for no other reason than I think I’d like to do a flat pavement run before I do a trail run.

    Anyway.  If you know that you have a problem sticking to it on your own, get accountable.  Get a buddy, if there’s no group where you are.  Make sure they’ve got a little asshole in them.  Because you don’t want someone who will tell you what you want to hear – you want someone who will help you succeed.

Those are the big ones that seem to come up.  Even though I’m not doing it right now, I still heartily recommend Somersize as a long-term program because I honestly believe that it’s healthy and doable, as a lifestyle.  There is serious emphasis on shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store (you know, where the real food is) and making your own stuff.  Yes, it’s probably more expensive.  Yes, it takes a little more time to prepare.  There is no better investment of time and money than that which you’ll make in yourself.

I’m going to leave everyone with a parting thought from a mini-book I’ve been reading by Ray Dalio, who is an extremely successful investor.  It’s called “Principles,” and it’s available on his company’s site, Bridgewater.  I highly recommend checking it out.  It’s an extremely logical reality check in a somewhat grandfatherly tone.

One thing he had to say in it that really stuck with me was the idea of first- and second-order consequences.  First-order consequences deal with desires and the immediate gratification of said desire.  Second-order consequences are what happens next, and they are where you focus if you’re more goal-oriented.  I find that asking myself before I eat or before I make a decision to do or not do something, I ask myself if it’s more related to a first- or second-order consequence.  If you eat something and the first order consequence is that you’ll be happy because it tastes good and you just want it, ask yourself what the second-order consequence will be.  Will it be as good as the first?  Ideally, the first-order consequence should probably suck, and the second-order consequence will be good.  I’m not going to eat cake for breakfast, and the eggs I’m going to have may not taste as good to me, but I also won’t gain any weight when I avoid eating cake for breakfast.  Eventually, those positive second-order consequences pile up.

Try that intervention with yourself.  Sometimes just hitting the brakes and creating mindfulness in yourself is all it takes.  I’m finding that it works 90-95% of the time for me.  I mean, sometimes you’re just going to have some cookie cake on Faturday, and that’s cool.  You have to live, and cookie cake is delicious.

 

Peanut Butter Protein Balls – original recipe from http://www.eatteachlaughcraft.com

1 1/4 c. almond flour
3-4 tbs. all natural, unsweetened peanut butter (I’m more of a 4 kinda gal.)
2-3 tbs. melted coconut oil
12-15 drops liquid stevia
1-2 drops vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
chia seeds – as desired and optional

Mix the almond flour, chia seeds, and salt in one bowl.  Mix the oil, stevia, peanut butter, and vanilla until smooth.  Pour the peanut butter goo over the dry mix and combine thoroughly.  Form 12-14 balls and refrigerate overnight.

*They are not as good if they get a chance to warm up a little.  Eat them cold.  Just saying.

Marge’s Crack Chicken

~1 lb. chicken breast
1 jar salsa – make sure there’s no/very little sugar in it
1 packet of taco or fajita seasoning

Dump it all in the crockpot and cook it for about 6-8 hrs. – longer if you throw the chicken in frozen because you’re a lazy fuck like me.  It should pretty much just fall apart when it’s done.

I make it overnight on Sunday so it’s ready to go in my lunch box Monday morning.  I use it for lunch and dinner through Thursday but sometimes Friday, so by the time I run out, it’s time to make it again.  It’s delicious.  And also pretty amazing on cheat day with queso and chips.  You’re welcome.

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Home Improvement

Good evening, America.  I’m writing to you tonight from the deepest, darkest depths of my soul… Heh, not really, but I am sitting in my half-lit basement with my kids, next to my good bed that my ex-husband inexplicably decided would be better in the basement, instead of in my room.  We are in the midst of having new flooring laid, and the upstairs is awash in pieces of flooring, power tools, and a sheen of dust.  Most of the furniture is in the garage, and the rest is piled up in my bedroom such that I can’t get to my bed without climbing over several things.

I am in hell.

I’ll state right now that the floors are nearly done, and they are gorgeous.  I hate carpeting with an intense passion, and the carpeting throughout the majority of the first floor was at least 15-20 years old.  It was craptacular when we moved in, and my kids took it from craptacular to downright disgusting.  Brett leaned over the chair and just barfed everywhere one night, and that was just one incident.  Once the divorce was finalized, my aunt told me literally the next day, “Okay, that’s over.  The carpet has to go now.”

It has been a literally two-month process that should have taken half that time, but it’s almost over.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not a locomotive. This is the last night of disorder and chaos…

We’re fortunate to have a full, finished basement with a spare bedroom, living room, bar area, and nice carpet.  The littles are sleeping in pack ‘n plays out in the living room, and I’m sharing the big bed with Brett.  I’m sure I’ve made mention of my general dislike for nocturnal closeness, but sharing a bed with Brett is like sharing a bed with an epileptic mid-seize.  She flings, she flails, she snores, and I woke up with her literally on top of me at 4:45 this morning.

That sort of brings me around to the overarching theme of this post, which is that I am losing my damn mind (again).  I have reached a place of zen with my morning routine.  Up at 4am, meditate for 20, visualize for 5-10, read and write for 20-30, then GST and run.  I would never have believed it possible if you had told me this six months ago, but my body now naturally wakes up between 3:45am and 4:30, so even if I have an alarm snafu (it’s happened once or twice), I still wake up and get the essentials in.  A lot of the time, I even have time left over to make myself some bacon and eggs for breakfast.  I am officially a morning person, and I fucking love it.  I am deeply and genuinely disturbed by the fact that I haven’t run in three days or had the space or alone time to meditate.  I’m starting to get batty.

You guys, she’s over there right now, alternating between snoring and opening one eye to watch me while I write this. Fuck.  And she’s lying sideways in the bed.  She’s fighting sleep so that she can stay awake and watch me stare at a glowing screen.  Go the fuck to sleep, Brett.

I value my alone time.  My alone time is when I make the magic happen.  I restore and rejuvenate.  I gather my strength.  I also spend that time studying trading, meditating, exercising, and generally taking care of myself mentally and physically.  The scoff rate is high amongst the people I deal with daily, but the results are so obvious to me that it seems ludicrous that anyone would scoff.  I have felt off for the last two days, and I am not loving it.  I had to sit through a six-hour update meeting yesterday, and I thought I was going to go insane by the end of it, I was so jittery, bored, and ruminating over what 1,934 other things I could be doing that would be more productive than sitting at a table and only taking notes when the grain marketing guy talks (marketing in this sense being related to when to sell your grain, buying and selling puts and call options, etc.).

And in case you were curious, I feel like being miserable over the absence of my morning routine, exercise, and meditation is a great thing.  That means there’s been some positive change.  I binned a writing project that was nothing but mental masturbatory nonsense, and the two times I’ve made any sort of attempt to re-engage have resulted in me saying to myself, five minutes later, “This isn’t even enjoyable anymore.  Go do something that will actually go somewhere.”  This is officially the only place where I mentally masturbate now.  It’s liberating, actually.

Sideways.  She is now sideways completely and taking up well over half the bed.  She is three.  This is nonsense.

Anyway, I have preliminary reviews to write.  The first is the Couch to 5k app thinger.  There are several of these available out there for your phone.  I’m using the original, and I don’t hate it.  Bear in mind, I’m a treadmill runner, so I don’t use the GPS feature to map my running routes or anything like that.  The C25K app uses a 9-week timeframe to get you fit enough to run in an actual race.  You can repeat days or weeks as needed.  I haven’t done that yet because even at the weight I’m at (way too fucking fat), with the shape I’m in (abysmal), I find the pace to be more than reasonable, at least thus far.  I believe there are apps out there that will supposedly get the job done in six weeks or eight weeks or whatever, but I feel like nine is perfectly fine for me.  Six weeks probably wouldn’t be realistic unless I could run every single day and push myself to make better times every day.  It could be done, but it would come at the expense of, oh, being able to walk upright or, uh, at all, and I doubt I’d feel like doing the GST thing, which brings me to my next partial review.

I will freely admit that I bought into the gymnastic strength training thing after listening to Tim Ferriss’ three-hour interview with Christopher Sommers.  It’s an expensive program, but it’s cheaper than a year of gym membership, and the early levels you can do in your basement, next to your treadmill and the pile of unfolded laundry from yesterday, and I’m all about anything where I don’t have to find time during the day.  GST is officially part of the routine, before and after running.

Um, it will kick your ass.  Or it will if you’re getting old (say, over 18), fat, and aren’t already a yogi or gymnast.  I’m just doing the first month’s worth of stretches, and it is introducing me to muscles, tendons, and probably ligaments that I didn’t know existed, most of them in my upper arms, shoulders, and upper-to-mid back.  Also my right knee.  Fuck.  What did I do to that whiny bastard?

But.  But.  I feel awesome when I’m done.  The majority of it seems like simple stuff, and most of it is very doable, even if you’re in poor shape.  It all hurts.  Or it will for most people, especially desk job workers like myself.  I am honestly astounded by how much better my shoulders and upper back feel.  I’ve only been doing it a couple of weeks, but after about day four, it started to feel like something I could and would do multiple times a day.  I enjoy it.  I don’t know if I’d call it “fun,” because it’s not like a party or something, but I feel good enough afterwards that I don’t mind the temporary pain.  And it’s painful.  But it seems to work.  I’ll be anxious to see what it looks like a year from now.  And no, for the record, I’m not expecting to look like one of those ripped fuckers who can do side levers or whatever.  Feeling good is the first goal.

Just to add a few extra sprinkles to the icing on the cupcake, I’ve been attempting this 21-day challenge to not say anything negative, engage in idle gossip, etc.  I started over a weekend, thinking that would be easier because I don’t see many people over the weekend.  The longest I’ve made it is 13 hours, and it was a damn struggle.  It would take a monumental effort to stay the course for the entire 21 days.  And funnily enough, it’s not when people are obviously gossiping and saying rude things that it’s hard to refrain.  For me, it’s when someone says something I think is dumb or does something I find irrational or ill-advised, and I mutter some remark under my breath. Or the road rage.  Holy hell.  I have really awful road rage.  Like it even matters around here.  Whether you go 40 or 25, you’re pretty much gonna get to work at the same time.

I will say, the failed 21-day challenge has served to make me more cognizant of what I’m saying and how I’m saying it.  It has also served as an excellent litmus test for who in my life encourages that sort of bad behavior.  The unfortunate answer is that most of the people in my life do.  The Bro-Co says there are three kinds of people: people who talk people, people who talk events, and people who talk ideas.  I prefer to be an ideas kind of person, but I’ve realized that the majority of people prefer to talk about other people.  I’m not saying that I’m better or smarter or anything like that.  I can sling it with the best of’em, and I have done more than my fair share.  But I would prefer, given the option, to talk ideas.  For better or for worse, I think those people are in shorter supply.

I am extremely fortunate to be able to say that, although I have relatively few people I would call true friends, the vast majority of those individuals are ideas people.  They’re all about having a philosophical conversation.  I have always preferred those types of people, and I’ve always felt that there was something inherently superior about wanting to be intellectual, but I could never exactly say why.  Now I think it’s because if you’re having a meeting of the minds with someone, your minds should necessarily be stretching a little bit, and that’s a wonderful thing.  Improvement should be the goal, right?  And you want to be around people who encourage improvement in you.

But for today, I’ll settle for home improvement.  The floors have to be done by 5pm tomorrow, and from the look of things now, they’ll be done before that.  One room and the quarter round left to go.  Beds are going to be the first thing going back in.  Kids are sleeping in their rooms, and I am reclaiming my bedroom as my own.  I am going to bask in the glory of being able to Swiffer and sweep my floors, and then I’m going to bask in the glory of having my basement back for workout purposes.  The floors look great, but I’ll be frank: home improvement is a pain in the ass, and the only further plans I have for any home projects are installing stall bars next to the treadmill in the basement so that I can eventually use them to get my stretch on.

I’m planning on entering a 5k for sometime around Halloween or into the early part of November with a coworker that tries to stay semi-fit and is wanting some accountability.  That gives me a couple of months to get this C25K training bit wrapped up, so stay tuned to find out if I can make that happen or not.  (I’m going to make it happen.)  If all goes well, I’ll probably move on to a 5k to 10k program.

… My three-year-old has her feet on my pillow.  This is why I prefer to sleep alone, folks.

Trust Rub!

I was a Clearwater Camp counselor back in the summer of 2006.  It was a superb summer – outstanding staff, awesome campers, great weather, a hot kitchen boy, and a wedding the day after Wits’ End.  It really doesn’t get better than that, right?  It was a quintessential wet, hot American summer.

The summer before was probably good too, although the weather was significantly cooler, and there was one traumatic event that stuck out in everyone’s mind: the Great Lice Infestation of 2005.  It started off like these sorts of things always do with one kid who magically brought lice with them from back home.  Campers live in pretty close quarters with their counselor and cabin mates, so it’s not hard to imagine how lice could spread in a cabin. The infected individual got a dose of Rid of Nix or whatever, and everyone thought that was the end of it.

The counselors started joking about it.  “Trust rub!” they’d cry at staff meetings or out at Otto’s, and they would rub heads.  Because adults don’t get head lice.  That kind of thing is for gross campers.

Fast forward a week.  It’s cold.  It’s raining.  And the entire camp has head lice. From Wausau to Rhinelander, Mincoqua-Woodruff, Sayner, and probably beyond, all of the Wal-Marts, pharmacies, and probably outdoor stores were cleaned out of lice-killing shampoo because Clearwater was in a code red crisis.  The camp shelled out over $2000 on shampoo alone.  Campers stood in line for the Point shower house, where they were given their box of Rid and a comb.  The hot water ran out after the first hour, and it was an all-day event.

You still can’t bring up the Great Lice Infestation of 2005 to the majority of people who were there for it.  There seems to be some PTSD from it, especially among the staff.  And let’s be real: what’s grosser than approximately 140 people who are or might potentially be infested with head lice?

I wasn’t there, so it’s always been something of a joke for me.  I never had head lice in school, and I only knew maybe one or two kids that did.  I never thought much about it.  Honestly, I’d never seen a louse.

Until yesterday.

Brett brought home head lice from Y Camp.  Fucking camp.  There was an outbreak on one kid a month ago, and I checked Brett’s head, but there was nothing there.  Fast forward to her spending the night with my aunt.  She scratched her head all night in bed with my aunt.  I don’t ever sleep with Brett, so I hadn’t noticed any insane scratching, but I suggested that she check Brett for head lice.  And she had it.  Of course.

And it was bad.  I mean…  It was bad.  Negligent parent who didn’t realize she had a lice infestation on her hands, right here.  I’d seen her scratch a couple of times, but shoot, they’re outside all day, they sweat, they’re itchy.  I don’t know.  And the way I give them baths, I don’t look directly down at Brett’s head (she sits furthest from me because she can mostly bathe herself), and she frequently brushes her own hair.  Man, that is going to change for the foreseeable future!!

So I took off work, bought $75 worth of lice shampoo on the assumption that Millie and Parker would have it.  Fortune thankfully shined on the littles, and they are lice-free.  I don’t know how, but they are.  My aunt and I combed their little heads, cut Millie’s hair, and found nothing.

Mom, however, was not so fortunate.  I woke up this morning and started parsing my hair for any creepy crawlies.  After you spend the day fucking with head lice, you feel infested, whether you actually are or not.  Lo and behold, there was a louse right on one of my front hairs.  I’m amazed I didn’t scream.  I grabbed the extra Rid and ran to the shower basement.  Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that one of the knobs on the main shower, the one with the tub, conveniently broke yesterday  morning?  Fifteen bucks more at the hardware store to repair that POS.

Anyway, I am lice-free.  I have shampooed twice, but not much came out for me.  I guess they hadn’t gotten a good foothold like with Brett.  I am going to get some more Rid, some Cetaphil (for the potentially shampoo-resistant ones), and a flea-and-tick comb for dogs tomorrow on lunch break.  If you’ve never had lice, you think that the shampoo is going to be your saving grace, but friends, it won’t be.  It’s the combing that gets rid of the little bastards.  And the combing takes for-fucking-ever.  And you’ll have to do it for days.

I have literally spent over four hours in two days sitting with Brett, pouring some weird gel in her hair, and combing the grossness out.  Nits are fucking hard to get out of hair, and I have a new understanding of the word nitpicking.  Nitpicking is one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do, and I know that it’s not over.  I had her down pretty good at the end of the session tonight, but I’m just waiting for her to start scratching her head again.  Lice are, unfortunately, kind of tough to get rid of.

I have also been running the washer nearly constantly.  I have washed all the bedclothes, sprayed the beds with louse spray, sprayed the furniture, vacuumed all the carpets and furniture, washed pillows, and threw a lot of stuff in the dryer without washing to heat kill whatever is clinging on for dear life.

Honestly, the whole thing has been traumatic.  I’ve had to miss work, and although my boss is letting me make it up, that basically means I’ll be working from home this weekend.  I had plans to get my Forex demo account set up, but I guess that’s probably shot now.  This lice thing has taken over my life, and it’s fucking miserable.  I’m going to be furiously shampooing and combing for the next like, two weeks.  I’ll give credit where it’s due, though: poor Brett has been a damned fine sport about it.  And also, I told her she has flowers growing in her hair.  She has no idea that she had bugs on her head.  And I’m sure an outgrowth of flowers seems highly plausible to her, given that she thinks she’s Superman right now.

Incidentally, I am convinced that my personal bout with the little buggers was the result of a Trust Rub from Brett.  That is, in fact, how she shows affection sometimes: she rubs her head against me like a cat.  It’s actually really adorable.  Except when she’s covered in lice.

So what’s the moral of this story?  Just say no (emphatically) to any sort of Trust Rub ever, even if it’s from your children.  Especially if it’s from your children.  And the kind of adults that do Trust Rubs are the kinds of adults that spend a lot of time around children, so I’d avoid them, too.  Just don’t do Trust Rubs, okay?

The Plan, or; Thank You, Tom Woods

“Remember those posters that said ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’?  Well, that’s true of every day but one – the day you die.”  So said Lester Burnham in American Beauty, and he was right.  But for all of us, on most days, it is the first day of the rest of our lives, and that means we have one more chance to get it right.

I woke up this morning to an article that a guy in the class behind me died of some sort of opiate overdose on Thursday night.  I knew who he was but didn’t know him.  He had been popular – a soccer player, usually had a girlfriend.  His dad was my junior English teacher.  His dad was a Rhoer, like the Bro-Co.  He was involved in the community.  He was a raging Democrat.  He was a good teacher, and he cared about his students.  He lives in a beautiful historic house across from Illinois College.  His son was adopted, if memory serves.

And now he’s dead. Thirty-one years old.  He had every opportunity to get it right.  I know he did.  He had good parents and a good upbringing.  We’re not talking about a kid who was living down by the railroad tracks, whose parents were smoking and selling crack, or who were just working their asses off so that there would be food on the table.  We’re talking about a guy who, compared to most folks in the world, had it all.  And he wasted it.  And then it wasted him.

That sounds harsh and cruel, but no matter what feel-good things the psychologist tells you, at the end of the day, drug addiction is a mental weakness.  Take it from an addict.  I never had any real problems with drugs – I gave it my damnedest shot, by God – but Lord if I can’t put down the fork.  That’s how I’ve been digging my grave: one bite at a time.  Think eating disorders are only for 85-pound girls whose hair is falling out?  Think again.  There’s a lot of disordered thinking involved with chronic overeating.  I know there is.  And there’s only way to beat it, in my experience: mental discipline.  I jokingly tell people that if I were a drug addict, I’d have been to rehab probably 18 times if I’d been there once.  Because mental discipline is an ongoing thing, and it’s really, really fucking hard to do.

So don’t mistake my bluntness for lack of empathy.  I get it.  I know what it’s like to want to change and finding yourself seemingly unable to overcome.  The main difference between being a terrible overeater and someone who prefers heroin or coke or whatever is that those are far likelier to kill you fast.  Killing yourself with food tends to be a slower burn.  But make no mistake about it: they are both the product of bad habits and lack of control, and if those are the result of other issues you have, well then, so be it.

That brings me to a truism that I’ve known for a lot of years but didn’t truly understand until fairly recently, and that is that you are your own worst enemy.  The toughest enemy you’ll ever defeat is your shadow self.  No external threat could ever compare to the dark shroud that lives in each and every one of us.  Because who knows you and your weaknesses better than you do?  You might not be consciously aware that you know them, but trust me, somewhere deep down, the other one knows.  And (s)he will use them to great effect to make sure that you never get to the point of self-mastery.  I started to compare it to exorcising a demon, but that’s not it.  I got it right with the zombie-killing post.  And even if you kill the zombie and leave it for dead, the minute it sniffs a new weakness that replaced the old, it will resurrect itself, and there you’ll be again, putting the magnum to its head.  If you can.  If it doesn’t waste you first.

Turning slightly in another direction, you all know that I’m a big fan of Tom Woods.  Or I think you do.  You do now, anyway.  I don’t listen every day.  I binge listen, kind of like people sit down on Friday night to a show on Netflix and don’t get up from the couch again until Sunday afternoon.  Except that, you know, I listen at work while I’m working on acreage.  Apples to apples, right?  Right.  Anyway, Woods mostly has guests on to talk about specifically libertarian topics. However, on occasion, he’ll do something that’s just of interest to him, and those often end up being some of my favorite episodes because they’re usually about business or some such.  I’m a big fan of learning how to make money from people who have actually managed to do it.

Woods had a guest back in March or so that, for whatever reason, kind of put the hook in me.  Sometimes what you need to hear is that you’re the problem.  You need to hear the truth.  The truth will set you free.  I learned about something else, rather indirectly, through that show, and it also put the hook in me.  Don’t ask me how I actually got onto it because I actually don’t remember precisely where I saw it, read about it, or whatever, but it was an instant attraction.  It’s an attraction I’ve managed to stay faithful to for close to six months now, and that’s practically a record for my fickle heart.

So here it is, my dirty little secret that I’ve been working on since the day I saw it:  Forex trading.

I didn’t know what Forex was when I first read it.  I’m into the theories on money and gold standards and all that, but I never really thought about how money gets traded – the practical side of things.  Well, the Forex market is where central and investment banks trade currency.  Retail traders (individuals) can get in on the action, too.

Forex is leveraged, liquid, and volatile as hell.  We’re talking billions per day.  It vastly dwarfs the stock markets, in terms of daily transaction amounts.  I keep hearing that 95% of retail traders never make a dime on Forex.  I think in the near-term, the number is probably more like 70-85%.  I mean, those aren’t great odds either way, but given the nature of the beast and the ease of which people with literally no trading experience whatsoever can get into it, I’m utterly unsurprised by that figure.

This is probably the part where you’re looking at me with a raised eyebrow.  “But Marge… You aren’t a trader.  You don’t have any experience either, right?”

Quite right, quite right.  But you know what I didn’t do when I realized what Forex was?  I didn’t jump right in, fund an account, and start trading.  To the contrary, I realized immediately how ignorant I was on the subject and decided that I’d probably wind up spending months and months reading and learning before I ever made a single trade.  I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this now, but I didn’t know the difference between long and short selling when I started teaching myself Forex.  I now officially understand the phrase, “Don’t sell yourself short.”

I’m nearly six months in now.  I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours or more per night studying technical analysis, reading money management strategy and trading psychology, and anything else I find relevant that I feel like I’m weak on.  I’m just now seriously contemplating opening a demo account.  I won’t fund a live account until I’m consistently profitable in demo.  Well.  Profitable for six months.  If I can’t be profitable for six months, I have no business in the market.  And besides that, it’ll at least give me some modest idea of what it might feel like to lose money on a trade.

I hope I do lose on my first live trade, whenever that comes.  That probably sounds crazy, but there’s method in my madness.  The best learning experiences come from the mistakes, so I figure if I learn to overcome the feeling of failure early on, it’ll be a much easier pill to swallow later.  Of course, I don’t want a string of losing trades, but I look forward to profiting from experience.

People seem to be afraid of failure anymore.  I hear about soccer leagues where everyone gets a trophy and nobody is a loser.  This is a terrible way to teach children how to live.  No, everyone is not a winner.  You can’t win all the time at anything because that’s not how the game is played.  It is valuable to learn how to be a good loser.  For one thing, it’s good to develop manners in competitive play and learn how to be gracious towards the winner.  For another thing, it’s excellent to learn how to cope with the disappointment of loss, and it’s an even better thing to cope with it and learn from it.  In fact, to that end, I would say that learning to lose is far more important than winning all the time.  Yes, you should strive to win as frequently as possible, but you shouldn’t let not winning make you a loser, if that makes sense.  Not winning doesn’t make you a loser.  You are the only person who can make yourself a loser.

I had to interrupt writing this post for the kids to have visitation with their father.  Nine times out of ten, that amounts to him conversing with me, which is frankly a suck fest.  That was still the case, and I started to deal with him in the way I usually do, which is just not productive and does nobody any good.  After a few minutes, I got a handle on myself and tried something different.  When he was done being a pain in the ass and trying to squeeze information out of me so that he could use it against me, as he does, I asked him point-blank, “Why can’t you just go be happy?  I’m happy.  I’m happier than I’ve been in years.  You have all these friends.  You’ve got a job in the city.  You’re going out and getting laid supposedly.  So go be happy and leave me alone.”

You’d have thought I had physically slapped him.  He pulled his head back and looked at me like he didn’t understand.

“What do you mean?”
“Why can’t you be happy?  You’re free.  You should be out making your life better.  Go be happy.”

And he didn’t understand.  So I relayed to him some wisdom that I have personally come to understand a lot better over the last year: you are responsible for your own happiness.  In fact, you’re responsible for your whole life.  Don’t like your job?  Aren’t happy in your marriage?  Too fat?  Can’t run as far as you’d like to?  Have a crap sex life?  Do you want to know whose fault that is?  Take a good, long look in the mirror, because the person staring back at you is ultimately the only person to blame.  And that same person is also the one and only person who can put it right.

Are you happy?  Like, really happy?  If you aren’t, ask yourself why.  Is it because you aren’t rich?  Don’t get to travel enough?  Aren’t satisfied with your family, friends, current relationship, or lack thereof?  Spoiler number two: none of those things will make you happy.  Money will free your life from the worry of food and shelter, but having a big house and a Bentley won’t make you happy.  Having a great partner should add to your quality of life, and you should bring each other joy, but it’s not their job to make sure that you’re happy.  You can’t saddle another person with that burden.  Ultimately, if you aren’t already happy with yourself, you aren’t going to find that happiness in someone else, somewhere else, and in another job.  Yes, you can improve your quality of life, but if you aren’t a fundamentally happy person, having those things won’t be what tips the scale to happiness.

“You have to tell yourself you’re happy.  Because happiness is not a goal – it’s a habit.  You have to get up every damn day of the week and tell yourself that you are happy.”

“But… You’re losing money from daycare.  You’re alone.  Your family won’t help you financially.  Why are you happy?”

“Because I made up my mind that I’m going to be.  I’m happy, and I’m grateful, and I say that at least once every day.  I find one good thing about everyone, even when I really don’t like them – even you.  You’re good with money.  Trust me, if you don’t tell yourself that you’re going to be happy, you won’t be.”

Over the course of that conversation, which lasted far longer than I would have preferred, I heard so many things that say nothing positive and will never do anything good for anyone.

“I’m not paying child support because I feel spiteful towards you.”
“I’m just a negative person.  That’s just me.  It’s who I am.”
“Yeah, you might not win if you take a risk, but you’ll never fail, either.”

The first one is just… Don’t even get me going.

The second one is a fine example of what you shouldn’t be telling yourself.  Tell yourself you’re a failure, a negative asshole, a bad athlete, a poor parent, a grouch, a crappy cook – I guarantee you that if you say it often enough, you will be.  Be negative about everything all the time, and I promise that nothing is ever going to be good enough for you.

And the third… If you can honestly say that you’ve never taken a big risk and never failed, you are a failure.  The only way you ever really fail is by not trying.  Not only have you not won anything, but you haven’t learned anything.  You haven’t grown as a person, and you haven’t ever made any effort to do so.  That is true failure.  That is fucking sad.

That is why we are not married.  He was a coward.  He was a negative, unhappy, unmotivated, petty, cowardly individual, and he still is.  He has not learned one single damned thing from the failure of his marriage and the loss of his family, and that is sad.  I told him I felt sorry for him, and he seemed taken back by that, too.

Because he wants to feel sorry for me.  He wants to make himself bigger by making me small, and it’s not going to happen.  Guys, don’t let small people make themselves bigger by dragging you down so they can gain half an inch by standing on your chest.  People like that are really and sincerely not worth it. 

This whole encounter with negativity personified brings me to the second part of The Plan, and it has been an offshoot of the Forex thing.  I started with the aim that I would learn how to trade Forex and make some extra money.  It morphed into a revamp of my entire life, and once again, I have to give some credit to Tom Woods.

It’s been over a year ago that he had a guest on named Hal Elrod.  I listened to that particular podcast while I was making lunch on a Saturday not entirely different from this one, except that I was still married and miserable.  I was catching up on my Tom Woods as I made lunch, and this Hal guy came on.

He has a website and wrote this book called The Miracle Morning.  Not being a morning person, I wasn’t particularly interested at the time, but I listened anyway, devoted Woods fan that I am.  He talked a lot about self-improvement, which I was not into, and between that and the morning crap, he came off kind of hokey and cheesy to me.  I didn’t really think that I’d paid much attention to the episode, but I thought back about it multiple times over the next six to twelve months, so I guess something must have made an impression on me.

About a month and a half ago, I got a wild hair up my ass to look this guy up.  The main motivation was that I had been busy, between regular life and the divorce and trying to find time to squeeze in studying for Forex.  I knew I wasn’t making the best use of my time, but I felt like I was stuck, and you know when I’m willing to try getting up early, I’m desperate.

I didn’t remember the guy’s name, but I remembered the whole Miracle Morning schtick, so I went and checked out the website.  And for the record, if you’re interested at the end of this post, the website has everything you really need to implement the ideas.  You don’t have to buy the book.  I did, and I’m glad I did because it was only like, $10, and the benefit that I’ve gotten from it far exceeds that $10, and I’m happy to reward a person with a good idea, or at least a good idea for making the most of a common sense idea that isn’t so easy for many to implement.  I read the whole thing in one sitting that probably didn’t much exceed an hour and a half or two.

I got up at 5:00 the next morning, and I have been pretty damn faithful to the practice since that first day.  In fact, during the week, I get up at 4:00.  Yeah, you read that right.  4:00.  As in, long before the sun rises, even when we’re on DST.  And it doesn’t bother me at all.  Actually, my alarm got screwed up on Wednesday night, so I overslept on Thursday, and I was legitimately bothered by it.  I still got through the essential parts of my morning routine, but I didn’t get to meditate or read or exercise – none of the usual stuff.  I just showered and got ready like I used to.  And I spent the whole day feeling like something was missing.

I am not trying to beat bite here (check out his website – it’s all there), but the Miracle Morning thing is pretty easy to do.  Meditate.  Do affirmations.  Visualize.  Journal.  Read.  Exercise.  Each for 10 minutes.  One hour.  It takes me longer because I spend more time reading, writing, and exercising, but trust me, it is worth it.  I was extremely skeptical initially, but I have not for one day regretted it.  Not one day.  Not even when I was tired.  At no point have I thought to myself, “This is not worth it.  I am getting nothing from this.”  Actually, my thought runs more along the lines of, “I am fucking tired, and I am going to power through this because it is worth it.”  And if I’m ever tired, it’s 100% my fault because I didn’t stick to my bedtime.

I can get by on 5-6 hours of sleep and be in top functioning order the next day – thank you, parenthood.  I do like to keep Sunday as my day of rest, although the latest I have slept so far is 7:30, and I still got up and went through the whole routine except for the exercise.  But I’ll tell you, I was ready to get back at it the next day.  I slept until 5:30 today and still got everything in, but I didn’t really have anywhere to be except “visitation.”

So what has getting up early done for me?  Uh, more like what hasn’t it done for me!  My attitude is miles better.  Miles.  And meditation actually works.  I am not getting paid to, but I highly recommend the Headspace app if you, like me, relate to the phrase, “Your focus needs more focus.”  It’s not too hard to get me reading and writing, since I’d do that pretty much all day, if I could, but I’ve found that it’s helpful to have that time set aside to productive reading and writing.  Exercise, well… I’m working on it.  Exercise has never been my favorite thing, but I’m making up my mind that it’s going to be in the top five.

I’ll admit that the whole self-improvement schtick was never something I was at all interested in.  Of course, I’d never read any books about such a thing, but I knew it wasn’t for me.  I guess, like a lot of things, you have to be in the place to want to hear something.  And some of them are legitimately hokey, cheesy, or just out for your money.  There has to be some substance there.  And some tough love.  I like the tough love.

So where am I at right now?  I’m about six months in with the Forex studying.  I’ll probably get a demo account or two going before too long.  I’ve just about got my money management plan wrapped up.  I need to add one more formula to my spreadsheet, which I’ll do tonight.  (That spreadsheet is gorgeous.  It is the culmination of months of work and puts into mathematical terms what I’m actually doing.)  I’m also doing a probability and statistics refresher through Khan Academy, so that I’ve got my head in the game for the math again.

I am getting up early every day.  I read, I write, and I exercise.  I’m way more positive, and I get a lot more done.  I used to be late to work all the time, but I haven’t been late for weeks now.  I’ve read two new books and made a full set of notes on both (because NERD), and I’ve learned a lot from them.  I’m getting ready to start a new exercise and eating program that I’m pretty stoked about.  I get enough done in the morning that I have more time in the evening for the girls and for Forex stuff.  I’m more positive about everything generally, and I care less about other people’s opinions and such.  Let me tell you: not giving a fuck what other people think is a serious blessing, and it’s one that I’m working hard to cultivate for myself.

Oh, and I quit smoking again.  I started back up after the divorce got going, but I hadn’t really made a definitive decision to quit after it was over.  My friends were here for a visit, I shared a pack with Adrienne, and… That was it.  There’s one left in the pack, and I haven’t touched it.  I haven’t had one single craving since that night, and that is odd.  I have literally done nothing to promote this; it happened completely organically, which will probably infuriate people who have put a lot of effort into quitting.  Actually, reading it back to myself, it sounds a little bit questionable, but I would be honest with you all if I were struggling to quit.  It really did just happen overnight, and I really didn’t put any particular thought towards it.  Maybe my body was just done.  Or maybe it was my brain.

The moral of the story is that everything is going a lot better around these parts.  On the surface, it doesn’t look like much as changed.  Oh, people think I’m nuts now because I get up at 4:00 in the morning.  Nobody around here knows about the Forex thing because, well, everybody has an opinion, and I honestly just don’t want to explain what it is 35 times only to have them turn around and be negative about it.  It’s not that the negativity will turn me away from doing it, but why listen to that if you don’t have to?  Forex is one of those things that you can do quietly in the background without anyone knowing about until you actually generate some revenue.  People are usually a lot more receptive to things that are making money.

A possible topic for my next post will be doing something delusionally self-confident.  My friend Dave is a photographer in Tokyo.  His stuff is gorgeous and brilliant, and I used to say that I don’t know why he isn’t famous, but I think I’m getting onto it now.  We were talking a couple of nights ago, and he was telling me how he keeps seeing people paying vast sums of money for crap photography.  I said, “Well, they’re delusionally self-confident.  You need to get some of that.”

But delusional self-confidence, much like happiness I think, is a practiced behavior.  The more delusionally self-confident things you do, the more you’ll do them out of habit.  Right?  So I issued a “Do Something Delusionally Self-Confident” challenge to Dave.  We both have to do something that we’re scared shitless of doing by next Saturday.  This should be good, if for no other reason than we’re both awkward and ridiculous.  Stay tuned.

 

Things You Should Check Out That I May or May Not Have Mentioned in the Post

The Miracle Morning
Hal got me going in the morning.  Give it a shot.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

The Tom Woods Show
I am, in fact, a supporting listener of this show, so rest assured that I absolutely recommend and endorse this guy.  If you are a libertarian, you need to be listening to this guy.  If you’re not a libertarian and want to broaden your political perspective, Woods will do that for you.  Smart.  To-the-point.  Great guests.  Great host.

David R. Munson Photography
Dave is stupid talented.  He needs a following.  I don’t even think his best stuff is on his website, but don’t tell him I said that.  I have a couple of prints of his stuff (not from the website) that I’m getting made to hang once I’m done laying the new floors and painting in the house.

The Tim Ferriss Show
Tim Ferriss does not need my endorsement, but I’m giving it to him anyway because I’m hooked after one and a half episodes.  Lots of interesting stuff with this one, that’s for sure!  

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This book is literally $1.09 for your Kindle.  It is worth a hell of a lot more than that.  If you are serious about life and haven’t read it, stop reading my blog and go cough up the money for this book.  Spend your Saturday night reading.  

The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
I can’t recommend this one because I’m barely 20 pages in, but it gets a lot of great reviews, and a lot of highly successful people recommend it as excellent reading.  Please do read along with “Marge’s Book Club,” if you’re so inclined.