Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Garage Muscle and a Tale of Two Minds

As the title implied, today's workout took place in our garage. In a very small space, due to clutter. I have a weekend project now.  It wasn't anything big. Just three sets of:

10 push ups,
10 upright rows with a 25 lb kettle bell,
10 sandbag shoulder slings, and
10 air squats.

The last set of squats, I added a slosh pipe. I will be doing that all the time now.  Blessed Killer of Abs!  Instructions to build your own are in the link.  I highly recommend it.  In fact, my garage gym has been the single best influence on improving my health, other than select people.  A future post will show and describe each piece of my home gym.


I've been battling with myself a lot lately. My two biggest challenges have been not spending money and eliminating sugar. It feels as though there are two minds in my head. One, the rational one, wants to change.  He sees the benefits and wants them. He is willing to sacrifice to get them. He knows what is right, what I should be doing. I refer to him as my grown-up brain. Or wolf, if you know the allegory. He is similar to the Senex in Jungian psychology. He is what I want to be. The trouble is, he doesn't seem to be in charge of my actions and decisions.

That honor lies with the child brain/wolf. He is the impulsive, childish, selfish, prideful, needy one. (Am I saying I am all those things? Yes, yes I am.)  He is the Puer Aeternus, the God child.  He's terrified of becoming the Senex. He's afraid of missing out.  He worries that committing to any path eliminates all the others. (Which it only partially does.)  He does what feels good, when it feels good. He doesn't connect the consequences to the actions.  He is eternally malleable and shifting.

And he doesn't want to leave. 

This eternal child likes being in charge, likes sharing his premature wisdom. He thinks he can skate by on smarts and dumb luck.  And as he does, the Senex, the old man, counts the hours wasted in reckless pursuit of pleasure, leisure, and ease.  This is the battle raging in my head moment to moment.  As I lay here, typing this post on my tablet, the adult wolf is counting all the tasks I didn't do. And the child brain is begging to sleep.  And I feel torn.

I know there aren't really two minds. Just useless and destructive habits that undermine my efforts to change.  The Senex has been neglected for so long, he is weak and easily dismissed by the strong, well-fed Puer.  He always speaks up, though, even after all these years of being ignored. The voice has gotten weaker, but it's always there. And that's the key.  Putting in the effort to heed that voice and ignore the blaring pleas for the now and the wants. Working at working.  Which, for a lazy individual, is magnitudes harder. Because while you're working,  you have to work at working.  It all sounds so exhausting. Or exciting. 

My inner child must be sleepy.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Catching Up

I have seriously been slacking on posting. My apologies. Well, I would apologize if I had any readers. Yet. But, as this started as an exercise to keep me honest in my efforts to improve,  blaming my lack of new content on a lack of readership seems slightly hypocritical. So, let's play a little catch up:

I have not done well adhering to my rules. The reasons for this are many. However, two main factors stick out. 1, I don't engineer my environment to increase my chances of success. I still have sweets in the house, I still allow myself trips to the mart to get snacks and I don't have a reliable accountability partner.  (Although this seems to be changing in the near future.)  2. I let stress get to me too easily. I don't have methods of de-stressing that don't involve lazing about and pigging out.

It sucks cutting good people out of your life. This is unfortunately necessary, occasionally.  It still hurts and it is never easy, at least not for me.  But, no regrets, right? 

In spite of the many setbacks in my life, I feel uncharacteristically optimistic. This is a new sensation for me. As though this new chapter carries with it genuine hope and real promise. This leaves me uncharacteristically excited.

As always, thank you for joining me on this journey.  I have several future posts planned, most likely to come once I have finished the training I'm currently assigned to be in.  Feel free to check back or subscribe to receive updates. Once I've discovered how to set subscribing up....

I have placed a subscription link to the right. Blogger is surprisingly easy.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Beginning

Now that I've decided to begin this journey, I guess it's time to get out a basic blueprint.  Knowing myself and what has or has not worked in the past, I base these on the following:

1. I cannot do cold turkey.  Food or lifestyle change.
2. I loathe failing myself, and this loathing leads to more failure.  The spiral continues.
3. I need accountability.  I can talk myself out of anything.
4. My pride is one of my biggest hurdles.
5. I am awful with money.

So, with those five factors in mind, this is what my plan for reformation.


- Exercise everyday.  At least something.  It can be a quick calistenics session, or an hours-long lifting session but I have to work my muscles somehow every day.

- Move often.  No more sitting on the couch.  If I want to watch TV, I can either do it standing, exercising, or sitting on the floor with no support.

- Eat plenty of fresh food.  After a great deal of research, I've decided to begin this experiment following the Primal Blueprint guidelines for diet.  This, as well as anything on this blog, is subject to change.

- Play.  And beyond that, play without concern for how I appear to others.  Who cares if my neighbors see me wearing a tiara and having a tea party with my four year old?  Or pretending to be a monkey with my 18 month old?

- Get plenty of sleep. My body and mind will need rest from all the activity, especially at first.

- Make and follow a budget.  I can already tell this is going to be a fairly expensive endeavour.  Especially the dietary changes.  The days of blowing money on movies and snacks has ended.


- Eat processed food.  I'm not quite to the point of making all my food from scratch but at least I can buy lots of meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, and water. Speaking of water...

- Drink anything that isn't water.  I get between 25-30% of my daily calories from sugary beverages.  That's just unacceptable.

- Beat myself up for failing.  Especially for failing to meet my unrealistic and unspoken expectations of my own behavior.  Not only does it not improve my behavior, but having those expectations at all makes me feel as though I'm starting from behind.  But behind compared to whom? I sense potential for a whole blog post on this subject.

- Use the previous bullet as an excuse to just do what I want.  The purpose of not self-flagellating isn't to give myself an excuse.  It's to prevent backsliding.  Holding myself accountable and beating myself up are two different things.  I just have to learn the distinction.

- Forget to update my wonderful audience on my progress.  Having never run a blog before, I can imagine it would be fairly easy to let the life changes overwhelm my time and forget about all you good people.

So, there's the basis.  I know I'm going to add more to this later, but for now, I think this counts as a good start.  I know this is not an actual plan.  But, baby steps.  I've just set the ground rules the plan is required to follow.  This feels like a definite good start.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Post That Will Inevitably Be Linked To Often

So, this is my first post.  The commencement of a lifelong journey in self-improvement and self-discovery.  The movement from slacker to self-actualized, alpha male.

If you can't tell from all the hyphenated self words, a lot of the emphasis of the blog will be on the self, the individual.  Because this is where it all starts.  Having sat in the same place you (probably) are, I know that a true slacker can mentally countermand essentially any form of external motivation.  See that motivational commercial on TV with all the rippling abs and sweaty muscles?  Imagine how much they are deprived of to get that body!  See the "Visit my state and see all the great things!" commercial? Sorry, enthusiastic resident, I have no savings or money.  Hear your coworkers' stories about their crazy weekends? Sounds exhausting.  Your excuses may be different but no less "valid."

Note the "" around valid.  Because excuses are only as valid as how much people believe them.  One person can sit on a couch and dream about college but know he has absolutely no money to get there and no chance for a scholarship/grant.  Another person can dream about college and spends hours on hours collecting recyclables to get the money to go.  The difference? Priorities. 

And thus we reached the crux of the blog.  This process is about invalidating excuses and rearranging priorities.  Or, more accurately, it's about chronicling my personal process as I do those things.  I'm not going to pretend my original intent is to help anyone but myself.  But if this helps others achieve similar goals of improving themselves, so much the better.  I sincerely do hope that what I write here and post on my YouTube channel helps others. 

So, feel free to join me on this journey.  This blog will, no doubt, evolve as it and I progress.  I'm excited to see what changes the future brings.  I'm also a little terrified.  But that's another blog post.

-The Reformed Slacker

PS- Pardon the writing.  I haven't written anything that wasn't an official Marine Corps document for several years.  Hopefully it becomes less burdensome to read as the posts pile up.