Ice-bath

I took my first Ice-bath yesterday.

As with most of my short (but intense) enthusiasms, I decided to immediately expose myself to the full brunt of the experience. No easing myself in with cold showers and meditative breathing exercises.

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I watched Atomic Blonde this weekend. Despite the weak plot I (strangely) enjoyed this movie. It had a great soundtrack and the fight scenes were filmed as long, continuous shots (I appreciate this difficult form of choreography). After a short opening scene the protagonist (Charlize Theron) emerges from an Ice-bath that she has completely submerged herself in.

This got Joeys hamster on its wheel. Hmmmm…

Depending on how I feel when I wake up I might do 5km. So usually three or four times a week. Its exactly two and a half kilometers up to the water tower near my house and then two and a half kilometers back down. I’ve recently begun adding sandbags into my backpack to add some intensity to my workout. (currently two 3kg bags of sand) Then I usually stop and pick up coffee on the way back.

Yesterday morning I added two big bags of ice from the freezer along with my Grande Caps. If there was anyone around at 5am it might have been amusing to see someone trundling down the street struggling under the weight of two sandbags and 44lbs of ice.

Filled my bath up with cold water. And then dumped the ice in.

Holy hell!

Initially I just sat there. Hyperventilating.

Eventually after my feet had gone numb and my testicles had retracted further then I thought was absolutely safe, I decided I needed to do a full body immersion. More hyperventilating. I lasted another two minutes…maybe, before I gingerly exited myself from the ice.

By this stage I was shivering uncontrollably and I was numb all over. Tried to dry myself with a towel, which is challenging when your movement are suddenly all leaden and spastic.

There are supposed to be all these benefits to cold (water) exposure. I’m not going to list them. I’ve recently become interested in my health, nutrition and leading a more ancestral lifestyle. So I’ve been devouring books like Unconventional Medicine by Chris Kresser and his other Paleo book (whose name I forget now). I’ve also been reading some Proffessor Tim Noakes, which has been harder for me, because on some level we just don’t click. I’m not sure why that is, I guess my lego is different from his lego. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some really good ideas. But I have to get over my personal biases first.

Our bodies are constantly preparing for a winter that never comes. I’m paraphrasing. And I can’t remember which author theorized this. But it made sense to me. I am never cold. I am sometimes mildly inconvenienced by the weather. But our modern lifestyle means we never have to endure cold anymore. If I’m cold I turn up the AC or put on my Northface jacket. Besides I live in a very temperate climate, the days where I actually have to layer up number less than two dozen in a year. Food is always available and I never give my body a reason to burn fat.

The theory that sometimes we need to be cold somehow makes sense to me. Although its also possible that I have lost my tenuous grip on reality and am now in complete mental free-fall. However in defense of masochism at least I am trying something new.

Abnormal behaviour

Retirement is an unnatural act.

Perhaps more accurately it is the final act in a series of unnatural events that punctuate our modernity. In the extremely short period of time that the concept of retirement has been around it has managed to become so ingrained into our psyche that we don’t even consider that what we are doing is contrary to our biology .

Let me start my tirade with the industrial revolution. Arguably this is the time where things went both really right for us. And also really wrong. Although maybe we can just skip the evolutionary anthropology paragraph and just agree that we are not designed to sit all day in a cubicle farm, under artificial light, replying to email. Afterwhich we come home, expose ourselves to more artificial light, sleep for five or six hours and then repeat the entire process. For forty five years.

We are essentially large hairless primates. Primates that can cooperate effectively to get stuff done, but basically we are still monkeys. In the wild primates live in large family groups, as did Homo Sapiens, until very recently. In fact imagine for a moment that we lived now as we had evolved to. As opposed to all the craziness we have recently foisted on ourselves. What would that look like?

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Lets imagine that as a social mammal I would have grown up in a large communal home with my grandparents, my parents and all my siblings. Lets just pretend it’s always worked like this. (in my utopian analogy there are strong property rights and everyone believes in Libertarianism) Because our family has never moved and that land belongs to us we have managed to harness potentially the biggest factor in financial independence, inter generational wealth. We pool our resources and share assets like communal appliances and cook communal meals. In fact because there is no food scarcity in our modern world (ie we don’t have to grow our own food or hunt for it), the savings associated with living in community and the level of technology available to us we find that we would hardly have to work at all.

This is obviously in direct opposition to the way we live now. We can’t wait to move out  and get indebted buying our own home. Then we have to repurchase everything we had had while we lived with our parents, and then have to work like crazy to afford all this new stuff. If we are considered savvy we save and invest our money so that we can afford to ‘retire’ in our twilight years before spending our final chapter surrounded by strangers in some palliative care facility our kids have put us in.

Not only do we see nothing wrong with living like this, we embrace it.

In a tribal culture you don’t move out. When you procreate your tribe helps to raise your children. When you get old you don’t get sent off to a ‘home’ to die quietly, you live out your life surrounded by your family and the people you love.

OMG. I hate my parents. They drive me mad. And you’re suggesting I live in close proximity to them… forever?

And therein lies the rub.

On the one hand we are encouraged towards independence, we fight for control, seek out power and dominion over others. All the things that make habitat cohabitation socially challenging.  Yet until recently this is how we lived. In some cultures it’s still how people live. Its just my Western culture seems to have forgotten how to live this way. We perpetuate a broken system that splits up our family’s, destroys our social bonds and makes us poorer, both in monetary terms and in quality of life.  It makes no sense.

I think the misconception is that only new age hippy families live like this. Or poor people. And that you either have to live in a teepee in the woods next to a rusted out Buick or in single room corrugated shack in a shanty. The truth is with modern architecture we can design dwellings that make communal living a breeze. We’d have more money, more free time and likely lead better, more social lives with better mental health.

Probably.

I think we might already be too far gone. Far too self involved. We have taken our biggest asset as a species, our ability to communicate and cooperate and made it redundant. Imagine the possibilities if we worked together like we were meant to, instead of trying to do everything on our own. I think that would be quite something.

AC/DC

Listening to AC/DC this morning and my 20 month daughter old is dancing.

Me – Do you like AC/DC?

Daughter – Yes

Me- That makes daddy very happy

Daughter (starts singing) A, B, C, D, E, F, G…

 

The Potato diet

I’ve gotten fat. A little heftier around the midsection.

Which is quite an embarrassing thing to admit. Too much of the good life. Poor diet coupled with a now sedentary lifestyle. I used to be able to rely on my above average metabolism and workout regime to keep me lean. You imagine that things will stay the same, that you are somehow excluded from the ravages of time and sugar and that you can drink Red Bull and smash Krispy Kreme all day with reckless abandon. Weight gain is something that happens to other people…. People that you treat with derision and scorn. ‘Pick up a kettlebell fatty’.

I am now, at 39, officially the heaviest I’ve ever been. Topping out at 109kg or 240lbs. My body fat percentage is a whopping 23% and my blood glucose level is 6.1 mmol/L. All bad. Blood pressure is a medicated 130/80. In fact the only thing that is okay-ish is a resting pulse of 68.

I’ve had only a few profoundly liminal moments in my life. I’m adding Chris Kresser to the list of prophets that Joey will espouse with some level of fanaticism. Chris managed to resonate so completely with me.

As with most people I found out about Chris on the Joe Rogan experience podcast. I want to say Chris is a nutritionist. But I’m not 100% sure that’s accurate. Maybe I should say a real food and lifestyle enthusiast.

Perhaps foremost I should say that Joe Rogan is a machine, churning out prodigious content at a remarkable rate. I however tend pick and choose my podcasts even though I am a huge fan. Its more that I don’t really have the time to commit to just one avenue of information flow. Sufficed to say it was odd that I would even consider listening to a podcast on nutrition. If you haven’t listened to it. You definitely should.

In any event. Chris was describing the new normal, which is an overweight prediabetic with two or three chronic conditions. It suddenly hit me, OMG THAT WAS ME.

I devoured Chris’s two hour interview with this new and strange kind of resolve. I should probably mention I am huge skeptic. Generally pseudoscience, alternative medicine, herbal remedies, homeopathy, chiropractors and clairvoyants just make me angry. Nutrition based medicine however, is something I can totally get behind.

Enter the cold potato diet.

Initially I was somewhat weary. But I did some googling. And this seems totally plausible. You basically eat nothing but cold potatoes. If you’ve seen Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) lately and his incredible weight loss, that’s the potato diet. I LOVE Penn Jillette… and his hulking six foot seven frame of magical awesomeness.

The basics of the cold potato diet are as follows;

Starches are long chains of glucose that are found in potatoes and various grains.

HOWEVER.

When you cook a potato… and then let it cool, it becomes something called Resistant starch. Ie. It resists being absorbed by the body. Eating resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, reduced appetite and offers countless benefits for digestion.

Eating cold potatoes is supposed to do a couple of things.

  1. I makes you feel full. Potatoes are proven to be the most satiating food available
  2. It is basically impossible to over eat cold potatoes (Trust me, this is true)
  3.  It removes the food reward system completely (DEFINITELY TRUE)

If you are going to do this thing there are a couple of things I wish I had know before.

Initially you will feel, very spaced out and weird. For me this began to hit me at the end of day two.

I started to suffer from headaches. They ranged from dull background to mild. Apparently this is your body going through withdrawal.

I suggest starting on a Thursday. By Friday afternoon when you start to get irritable and foul tempered… you can go home. And then you can have the weekend to mull, pace around and drive your partner crazy. Plus if your work environment is anything like mine you will likely have the dietary equivalent of Mephistopheles in the office… who is always suggesting ordering in or bringing a box of original glaze. Those initial couple of days set the pace, easier not to get tempted.

You blood Glucose (if you’re testing it) may remain stubbornly high. Apparently when starving yourself slash fasting your body elevates cortisol levels. Cortisol’s raises blood sugar. You can’t expect your body just to adjust immediately. These things take time. I wanted immediate results. Don’t be unrealistic.

Strange things will start happening to your stools. Know that your bowels will likely hate you. (until they adjust)

I managed to loose -3.2kg (7lbs) with the potato diet in a week. I have no idea if that’s good or not. Apparently that’s mostly water. Stick with it.

You will REALLY start resenting cold spuds and the thought of having to eat will make you sad.

I think the good thing about this diet is that you can actually see results. Which is a huge motivator. Try to stick it out for as long as possible.

And good luck!

When in doubt meditate. Or medicate.

I’ve been slack. Perhaps slacker is a better word, since I’m never quite completely taunt. I’ve been using the free-time allotted to me between work and child rearing to murder pixels on Playstation. When I finally unfurl myself from the sofa after everyone else has gone to bed I feel contrite about how poorly I’ve used my time. It does not however stop me from repeating the process the following evening. A localized death spiral, day four.

I should be reading. Or exercising. Or even working. I pretend that Playstation is meditative. Or possibly therapeutic. I am not however entirely convinced, since I die more often than I care to admit, which makes me teeter towards bad language and fuels the otherwise slow-burning rage.  So really, I’m partaking in a form of self-abuse, the malingerers form of  self-harm.

I have however recently done some for-realsies meditation, usually just before I go to bed. I downloaded Oak, which is Kevin Rose’s foray into the meditative app space.  I subscribe to his monthly news letter and occasionally listen to one of his podcasts. Our Venn’s overlap somewhat.

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I’ve done about… forty minutes of meditation with Oak and tried each one of the breathing exercises. The Wisdom section features little excerpts from Alan Watts, of whose beard and philosophy I am a big fan.

However being an huge devotee of Headspace there have been some psychological consequences to my flippant behaviour. The whole time I was using Oak I felt like I was cheating on the bald magnificence of Andy Puddicombe and his general British-ness. Which leaves me conflicted.

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I feel like I need to make a choice. Like which mediation app defines me as a person. Ha ha. Its difficult. I like the artistic style of both apps, i.e the general orangeness of Headspace with its little cartoon people or the minimalistic vibe of Oak. I’m quite shallow so I often make decisions based on aesthetics.

At the moment Oak feels like a MVP. Minimum viable product. Which is a concept I understand, but don’t really like. Oak does however does feel like it has potential.  And it is competing against Headspace, the MacDaddy of meditation apps.

I consider myself a meditation-n00b. With the concentration span of a… well, lets just say its below average. I need Andy to tell me what to do, to bring me back from wherever it is I’ve wandered off to and then congratulate me at the end, stroking my sense of achievement. Well done Joey, you managed ten minutes, now go forth and wreak havoc once more on your little microcosm (with your sharpened spoon and umbrella hat).

Oak feels more hands-off and unstructured. Headspace, especially in the beginning feels like a curriculum that you work through. I suppose it depends largely on your personality.  Do you have previous meditation experience? Then Oak. Can you self-regulate? Oak. Does the quietness of your mind resemble the lush green fields of Elysium? Oak.

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If however, like me, the above .gif is an accurate depiction of whats going on inside your cranium, then I think Headspace is probably the better option.

I’ll keep the Oak app for awhile. See where they go with it. Even though that runs contrary to my SOP of keeping apps on my phone that I don’t use regularly but I am loathed to dismiss it just yet.

Happy Halloween

Its just after 2am. The kid has a fever which we’ve been struggling to break. I am not one of those amazing people that can cope without sleep. The last hour has been me lying here half awake, deliriously ‘dreaming’ about Marine-insurance*  Which seems stupid, now that I think about it, but that’s where my mind has taken me now that it’s fallen off the bus and down the rabbit hole. Its all consuming and disturbingly serious stuff. Remedied recently with 0.5mg of xanax and a cup of Rooibos.

* which is a special type of insurance you take out on your 20 or 40ft container in case the ship sinks, your container falls overboard during rough seas (something that happens more often than you might think), or your cargo is stolen by pirates. 

Old Hallows eve has come and gone. Of all the spurious events we have created, Halloween is by far my favourite. I mean I have nothing against old saint Nick and his airborne caribou or a half naked cherub with meddlesome tendencies and a recurve bow. Even the disturbingly large cotton tail with the proclivity to spread diabetes and childhood obesity get a pass.

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Halloween doesn’t require some made up feel good narrative about Plymouth Puritans and Native American Indians getting conversant over a turkey drumstick. (While being served a nice big dollop of influenza and whooping cough for their trouble)

I mean sure we should theoretically be cogn

And thats when I fell asleep, Macbook perched precariously on my midsection. I can’t remember what I was going to say. I think I was writing cognisant, but I have no idea in what context or on what tangent I was about to embark.

I sleep through my 03:59 Fitbit wake up.

And then in an autonomous state I (must have) turned off my back up alarm on my iPhone when it starts chiming thirty minutes later. My wife (who was sleeping with the kid in the spare room) wakes me at 05H30, I am the big spoon in a Macbook-Basset hound sandwich.

We decide to tag team. She’ll got to work first and finish early. And then we will alternate at about eleven and I’ll go to work.

And so I wait. The sprog has decided, after keeping her parents awake all night that now is a good time to catch some much needed zzzz’s. I have a nappy change (likely feverishly foul), inserting a suppository, and the application of antibiotics into her clenched maw to look forward to. And then the inevitable meltdown when she realises her mother has abandoned her when I try and feed her breakfast.

Things to look forward to 😉