For many people who live in the same part of the world as I, the Christmas season is a time of plenty. We eat, drink, and give and receive stuff that isn’t needed.
After the fog of alcohol, turkey, and presents passes, we make New Year’s resolutions.
What if we all made our resolutions now? Start working out before Christmas. Start that new business. Get back in touch with that sister you don’t talk to anymore. You could even try to be that great person that you were going to try to be last year.
It seems that making the change now would be more difficult, but if you can manage a resolution through the Christmas season, you can manage it forever.
I might just start that new business I’ve been mulling over.
Many years ago, due to a very sad series of events, I lost touch with my sister, Mandy. She wasn’t more than a few years old, and I was barely legal to drink in all of North America. I got married young, moved away, went to university, graduated from university, moved further away, had a child, then started a career. Yes, it was in that order, and it all happened between 1999 and 2002.
In that time, I lost touch with my father’s daughter (my sister). As it turns out, he decided his days as a father were over, so he abandoned his little girl, leaving Mandy with her mother. Recently, I was able to find Mandy’s mother, Natasha. I was eager to connect with Mandy again, even though we haven’t seen each other in 14 years. To her, I wouldn’t even be a memory, only a stranger that she has heard about once in a while.
It saddens me that I let this time pass, but I’m not the kind of person to keep regrets. I’m the kind of person to fix the mistakes of my past. Although I let my father bully me into not seeing Mandy for all these years, deep down, I feel that it’s my fault. I’ve always known that my father is a bad person. I knew he had his best interests in mind, but I kept doing what he said.
From this experience, I now know that regardless of the cost, regardless of what I could lose, there are certain things that aren’t negotiable in life. A relationship with my sister is not negotiable. It had to exist. If I lost my father because of it, that would be his fault. Now, I’m struggling to start a relationship with my sister, and my father stopped talking to me years ago because he got everything he wanted from me.
The common terms that I thought of when deciding how I really want to live my life were these.
Live in the moment
Live everyday like it were your last
I would like to break each one of these terms down, just a bit.
YOLO is You Only Live Once. This is a common expression that encourages a person to go out and experience life. Since it comes with no specific guidelines, you can apply it to anything you want to try. This is really about enjoying your life through short-term goals and quick pays offs. The good: sometimes you have to get out of your house, stop watching TV and playing video games. That is a YOLO moment.
Live in the moment is also mindfulness or right mindedness. This terms isn’t at all what many people think it is. Going to a bar and having shot number ten while spewing out “live in the moment” doesn’t actually make sense. Living in the moment means being present for whatever you’re doing. If a friend is talking to you, you are truly listening. You aren’t thinking of anything else, and you aren’t texting anyone. You’re just listening. That is living in the moment. It just means that to truly enjoy what you’re doing and be happy, you have to actively take part in that and nothing else. Count how many times a day you actually live uninterrupted in a specific moment. I’ll bet you don’t even need all the fingers on one hand. The good: if you’re using this term the right way, it’s basically all good.
Live everyday like it were your last is probably the easiest to understand. This is a guideline for life that suggests you live everyday as though you would die within 24 hours. Although it seems to make sense and many people agree with it, it’s actually a fools concept. If you were to truly live everyday like it were your last, you would surround yourself with all of your family and friends while they cried uncontrollably and said goodbye. Instead, people use it as more of a YOLO. The good: same as YOLO’s good.
Carpe diem is seize the day. This is more of a business executive approach to YOLO. People tend to say this term more about accomplishing something. However, the term is still for short-term goals, and it was originally meant as enjoy the day, which is basically just YOLO. The good: this gets people away from the routine of their day-to-day and makes them do something different.
Bucket list is a list of things you will do before you “kick the bucket” (die). Some people make this list when faced with terminal illness. Other people just make this list because they want to accomplish everything they want in life. A bucket list is as selfless or selfish as a person makes it. The good: Although many items are short term goals on a bucket list, the bucket list itself is about accomplishing goals, wants, and needs over a long-term period.
1 year list
A 1 year list is my concept, based on the bucket list. The 1 year list is a list of 10 goals. I have 1 year to complete a goal from the time it goes on my list. Anytime I complete a goal, I add another goal, so the list always has 10 goals. My goals are selfish, selfless, long-term, and short-term. The only rule is that a goal isn’t a dream. It’s something that is obtainable through normal circumstances. In other words, if you want to make $1,000,000 in the next year, that is not obtainable for most people. Unless you’re already making close to $80,000 a month and can work harder to increase your earnings, it isn’t a goal. My list is below.
200 lbs Dumbbell Press: I’m currently pressing 160 lbs, and my body weight is between 185 lbs and 190 lbs, so this is easy enough to do within the next year. Occurrence: never accomplished before.
Write 36,500 words: in the past, I’ve tried to write everyday. It doesn’t always workout, and then I end up with a defeatist attitude. I can’t write everyday, so why bother. This way, I never get defeated, since I can always catch up. I’m counting all writing that is for the public. This means that anything I write for money, this website, or future publications will count. Occurrence: I might have done this while in school. This was more than a decade ago.
Run 520km: before you laugh, remember this is not all at once, this is over the course of a year. It works out to 10km a week. This is a reasonable and conservative goal, but it means running every week, which I don’t do now. Occurrence: never accomplished before.
Complete French lessons: this is something I do in my free time. I learn French. I’m able to do it, but language is the one area where I’m a slow learner. I often put off lessons to do something else. Occurrence: never accomplished before.
Visit my mom: she lives almost 4000km away, so it’s financially difficult to see her often. Occurrence:she moved several years ago, and I’ve only been to see her once.
Family charity event: simply take my wife and kids and take part in a fund-raising charity event. Occurrence: never accomplished before.
Get below 185 lbs: my current weight is about 187 lbs. I know this sounds easy, but I’m muscular and 6′ 2″. Losing a few pounds of body weight when you’re slender is actually quite difficult. Occurrence: I’ve only been under 185 lbs when I wasn’t lifting weights.
Make a new friend: I know how this sounds, but most people who I truly call friends, I met when I was 19 or younger. I’m now 36. This might be my most difficult goal. I consider someone a friend when the two of us can hang out without anyone else there, and there is no business relationship. Occurrence: it’s happens, but hardly ever, definitely not yearly.
Reunite with an old friend or family member: this is just reconnecting, in person, with someone I haven’t seen in a long time. Occurrence: it’s happens, but hardly ever, definitely not yearly.
Help a stranger in need: this might be anything from helping a lost child find a parent to pushing someone’s car out of the snow in the winter. Occurrence: this probably happens more than I think it does. I never take note of helping someone, so I have no idea how long this will take.
That is my list. Judge it how you will, and feel free to write your own 1 year list. I’ve written a list of very achievable goals, most of which I’ve never accomplished before. I believe this type of long-term thinking is a better and happier way of living your life, and anything I write after the list is pretty much just a way of me getting my word count closer to 36,500.
My last post was about my no grain diet. It has been a bit over a month. Although I’ve eaten a few grains along the way, when no other option has been available, I’ve stuck to the diet whenever possible. Less than 1 out of every 20 meals has included grains.
I’m no longer taking any supplements or protein shakes. My weight has increased by five pounds, but I’m weight lifting, and my lifting increases have been substantial. Most importantly my waist size has not increased.
The diet has been and will continue to be of huge importance for me. I’m healing faster, making gains faster, and I feel way more energetic. I’m not a “body builder.” I just looking to stay healthy and be strong. Most of my weight lifting goals are nearing completion, and my next goals will be focused on running.
Just to be clear, this is not a low carb diet. I eat a lot of fruit, quinoa, potatoes, buckwheat, arrowroot, and squash.
I hit a significant three-month plateau in my exercise regimen. A couple of months back, I started taking protein shakes to get past the bad situation I was in, muscles getting weaker and constantly getting sick. The protein shakes worked well. I was restored to my healthy self, but I had no progress.
Lately, within a few days without grains, I’ve already noticed a fair bit of progress in my workouts. Without grains, I’ve been eating more dairy, fruit, vegetables, and meat. This is high nutrient food, and I suspect that the change in nutrients is mostly responsible for the gain in strength and energy.
The challenge is getting enough carbohydrates. With 100 minutes of cardio and about 200 minutes of strength training per week, I’m not about to try a low carb version of this diet, so I’ve eaten quinoa (not an actual grain), potatoes, and a lot of fruit (especially bananas).
Now, I just have to make sure that I eat enough and I eat often. Hunger is will be the thing that can stop me from continuing down this path. I’m certainly not militant about the way I eat though. Certainly, if I’m with people who are eating pizza, I’ll eat pizza. Still, most of my meals are at home, and I’ll continue to benefit from eating this way.
I went to Montreal this past weekend. Whenever I go there, I feel completely inspired. Not every situation or encounter is wonderful, but every time I’m there, it’s a vacation for me. To me, a vacation is time to heal, time to think, and just generally time to breathe. I have good friends in Montreal. They are different enough from me that I get to experience new ways of thinking and being, but they are similar enough to me that I never have to feel bizarre around them.
I’ve also recently begun talking to an old friend from the past. I think we would have always been friends, but we took different paths and simply fell out of touch. She is one of the coolest people I’ve ever known, and she’s the only one I’ve ever really cared about falling out of touch with.
I even have a new friend, a relationship that is just beginning.
Friends aren’t everything, but this weekend has been a good lesson for me. Friends are important. They shape my outlook, and help to make me a different person. This decade around I’ll remember to hold on to the good people in my life.
There was a candy bar that my Dad used to eat, when I was a kid, called “Eat More.” I gave it the less than fond alias of “Eat Less.” This candy bar is by far the worst tasting thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, even with how many times I’ve “been around the block.”
The point of it is that the more palatable something is the more a person will want to eat it. I enjoy eating healthy foods, and I like the taste, but I also like french fries, perogies, chips, cake, pie, and anything with a lot of melted cheese on it. In my journey of healthy eating and six days a week of exercise, month after month, I keep forgetting that it’s easier to get calories from these bad foods. Yes, I’m eating healthy, and yes I like healthy food, but I eat less of it, and it’s lower in calories. This is becoming a problem for me. With massive energy dives, I’m getting moody, tired, and angry.
I have to keep reminding myself to eat more, which is tough, as the portion sizes for healthy food are very large when exercising six days a week.
I’m a bit full right now, but I feel good, and it’s sunny outside, not a cloud in the sky.
I see a resolution more like an epiphany, an awakening even. Telling myself that I’m going to give something up for 365 days is not a resolution. We’re not talking about lent here; we’re talking about a resolution. This is where we reevaluate our lives and decide on changing forever. I tend to think that the first day of the New Year is one of the worst times we could make a resolution, but if all your friends are doing it, I guess you should too. After all the alcohol, relaxation, and gluttony, we decide that we’re going to suddenly change direction and live a disciplined life.
In April of 2012, I decided to start exercising 6 days a week. I’ve kept it up all of this time. I didn’t say that I was going to give up my lazy ways or be strict with myself. Instead, I set a goal. I decided how much I wanted to lift in 1 year and how much I wanted to weigh. I’m meeting my goals because of a strong sense of realism and a serious want for improvement. This challenge was never about suffering for me; it was about reward. If you can do that with your challenge, your resolution can be successful, no matter what time of year you make it.
I got a song in my head today: “Yes! We have no bananas.” I love the tune, and I thought I loved the song, so I listened to it on YouTube.
I quickly learned that this is a horribly racist song. People argue that it wasn’t racist in its time, or that you just have to understand the context – it’s somehow good-natured. The song deliberately makes fun of people who are different from the person who is singing the song. I can’t see how it’s anything but racist.
Now, I’m stuck with a tune that I enjoy and can’t get out of my head that is obviously racist. Listening to old songs and watching old movies are like that though. I remember a time that I was watching an old movie with my wife, and I hate old movies, but she said they were great, so there we were watching a movie that was 20 years older than us.
The men were terrible to the women. The kept telling them not to think, not to worry, and not to try to make decisions for themselves. The thing is – there was no obvious social justice going on, the women just ended up giving in. The moral of the story was do what the man says and you get a happy ending.
OK, full disclosure here – I’m a white male, but I hate oppressive crap, especially oppressive crap that is disguising itself under the pretense of art or entertainment.