I have been in college for a while now and have been studying psychology the whole time. I have never been a partyer, preferring to read a book about how alcohol is made than consuming cheap, terrible alcohol. However, over time I have grown to appreciate things like a finely crafted liqueur or beer, smoking a tobacco pipe, or drinking good espresso. After two negative experiences with alcohol and a college psychology course on Substance Abuse, I began really thinking about how we use perception and mind-altering substances in America.

So I decided on a set of rules based on my knowledge of the addiction process and psychology. It is a short list of questions I ask myself if I am thinking of having coffee, a pipe, or a drink.

The Questions:
Am I sad?
Am I lonely?
Am I angry?
Am I stressed out?
Am I overwhelmed?
Have I exercised today or am sore?
Is my blood glucose above 140?

If I say “Yes” to any of these, then I don’t have the smoke or the drink or the caffeine. If I did, I would not be doing it for fun or an experience. I would be doing it to self-medicate instead of solve my problem.

This sounds all pretty and easy for a guy who doesn’t have much interest in partying or drugs of any sort right? Well, that is ignorant. I have been under MASSIVE amounts of stress from legal, social, interpersonal, physical, and emotional sources. This list of questions has likely saved me from picking up an addiction more times than I could possibly count. No one WANTS to have a smoking habit, but they usually don’t have the training to come up with a cognitive tool or don’t have expressed priorities in order to stop themselves. They see a cigarette and think of stress-relief because of their culture. If they stopped to recognize it as a dangerous gamble with a whole world of negative experiences, they would probably never try it, or never in a time where they have a predisposition towards an addiction.

This is really important because it is so much easier to use than abstinence from these tempting options. There are certain things you should never do, like heroin or pre-rolled cigarettes, but there are more things that are interesting and relatively harmless. The problem isn’t that people have too little willpower to resist an addiction. In my mind the problem is that we never give people the tools to resist a poor decision regarding potentially addictive substances and instead make good decisions regarding them.

Okay, so I have become frustrated with how I am making progressions to harder exercises. What happens is I finish a progression standard, like 3 sets of 30 full squats, and the I move to the next step in Convict Conditioning. When I move up to Close squats, if I do a warm-up, I ed up moving from 90-100 squats in a workout to 30 squats total. This makes my workout easier but it takes all the accomplishment I felt before and throws it out the window. It feels tiny and worthless for me, and I am not convinced that the next step is so much more difficult that it can make up for the drastic reduction in Time Under Tension.

I was also watching some youtube videos that explained the directions in Convict Conditioning more clearly than I have ever understood. The idea that I should begin with 1 set of the beginner standard and then not add another set until I reach one set of the intermediate standard. Example: Begin Wall-ups at 10 reps 1 set. Do one set until I can perform a solid set of 25 reps. Only then do I move up to doing 2 sets. This makes much more sense than the random ways I was adding on reps or trying to interrupt the text.

So now I have a few problems with my progression:

  1. Loss of psychological reward
  2. Loss of Time Under Tension
  3. Unstructured increases

What is my solution for this?

I will adopt the above described method of increase my reps before my sets. When I reach a progression standard, the next workout, I will repeat that exercise and on the end I will add as many of the next Step as I can. When I reach 1 set of the beginner standard I will drop a set of the previous step and continue working on increase reps in the 1 set of the new step. This will continue until I replace all of the previous step with the new step.

Example:

Yesterday I did 3 sets of 30 full squats. Next Wednesday I will do 3 sets of 30 reps AND as close to 5 reps of Close Squats as I can get. Let us assume I reach 5 reps. The following Wednesday, I would do 2 sets of 30 full squats and 1 set of 7-10 Close Squats.

02014-09-17

3:30 Full squats

02014-09-24

3:30 Full Squats

1:5 Close Squats

02014-10-01

2:30 Full Squats

1:10 Close Squats

02014-10-08

1:30 Full Squats

1:10 Close Squats

1:5 Close Squats

This would continue till I reach the Progression Standard of  2 sets of 20 reps. Now, would I get rid of that first set ever? No. It would become a more strenuous warm-up. So for Uneven Squats I would end up with 1 set of 20 Close Squats and then my Progression Standard of 2 sets of 20 uneven squats.

Right now I am thinking of how to make a structured progression method for the Handstand Push-ups, but that will require much more thought on whether I want to progress against a wall or stop and master away from the wall handstands.

So, I mentioned that I have had some trouble staying on track. This week I purposely did my workouts different days so I wouldn’t be sore when I went to hangout with my girlfriend. The bad part is that this one day I moved my workouts around changed how I was thinking about workouts in general. A weird loss of direction that I have seen myself repeat over and over in countless hobbies. This time I want to think about it some before it causes any real problems to see if that introspection will lead to a resurgence of discipline or insight into the problem.

The first thing that popped into my head when I thought about the timing of my workouts this week was the tops I played with as a kid in my Paupau’s rec room. They were old fashioned wooden tops that you wound up with a string and then held just right on the hard wood table to pull the string and watch the alien twirl of the toy. As I watched them I always loved the moments when they began to wobble. I tried to spot the very first moments of their demise. My workout this week looked to me more like the full shaking back and forth of the top’s death throes.

With that image in mind I realize that I need to ignore any outside influences, any ideas that it is too late in the day or that I am already tired or I have eaten too recently. Like Cobb’s top from Inception I needed to ignore all of reality and rules that might distract me from my beautiful unaging children and just go for it like I haven’t noticed a thing. That is why I just did a workout at 10:30pm, which historically makes it super hard for me to sleep, and is likely why I am writing a blog post instead of sleeping. However I am back on schedule today!

Next week I need to keep this up. Sometimes I let myself come up with all sorts of reasons of not wanting to be sore(I know, that is a pitiful reason) or because other responsibilities come up and I have poor time management. The most dangerous option is to ignore my workouts with the idea that I am doing something more important like meditating or studying for classes in the coming semester. Yes, those ARE much more important, however they are not stopping me from working out and acting as if they are is just insulting myself.

Something I let hold me up over the last year was a stupid idea that I NEEDED certain situations in order to do my workouts, like I needed to set up my gymnast rings or I needed to find a place tall enough for me to hang without my feet on the ground. These were easy things to find, tree limbs and swing sets and problems solved. The issue was that I made excuses. The swing sets were to thick of bars. The tree limbs near my house were either to high or made getting my gymnast rings down a living hell. (A homeless man once went to nighttime construction crews around town to find me a ladder to get down a gymnast ring that accidentally got stuck in a tree.) However thick bars are often sought after, and tree limbs are in abundance if you just ride your bike or drive for a few minutes in ANY direction. I am not stopped by real physical barriers like my diabetes, however little psychological walls can feel like they are thousands of yard tall.

 

However, right now, I am on schedule. All I have to do, is be on schedule when Monday comes.

 

Also, because of the inception reference, check it out: http://inception.davepedu.com/

Today I was out doing some chores for my mom. Just picking up some stuff to fix her bike and get some groceries for the next day or two. I went to Walmart first, for the bike parts. I don’t really like Walmart, so I head to a Publix nearby to grab the food. I got there, had some delicious pork tenderloin at those little “meal station” things they have in the front right of Publixes. The potatoes were too hot and I almost burned my mouth. I went on and got my bananas and yogurt and other healthy stuff. I’m at the very end of my shopping looking for raisin bread for mom. I look down.

 

My shopping cart is gone…

 

I saw a guy on the aisle when I stopped by the bread, but I didn’t look at him, I don’t even know what color shirt he had on. His cart, with some plastic cups and plates, is still in the aisle, facing the opposite direction of me. He would have had to come around to get my cart and walk off with the load of yogurt and fruit. I start wandering around the store quickly mumbling “What the fuck?” under my breath while overly exercised soccer moms glare at me if they hear me. SOme glare at me just because I seem to have a purpose to my movement, I’m not sure why that bothers them, but it seems to. I go toward the milk corner, but no luck, everyone there has their own carts and they look at me untrusting because of how studiously I examine their carts.

That would be a great prank wouldn’t it? You see a friend in a grocery store, but they haven’t seen you, so you just duck your head and grab something big from their cart and hurry away. How would they react? You aren’t really stealing anything. They don’t own it yet. Maybe it is something you were looking for. Is there a precedent for what to do when someone takes something that isn’t yours?

So, I am heading back to the bread aisle to stand next to the cart for when the guy realizes his cart is not with him at check-out. For a second I see my familiar pile of yogurt, bananas, and Greenwise brand cookies. I walk up to the man, and politely say “Hey, were you just in the bread aisle? Cause you have my cart.” I’ve never seen a man so embarrassed and flustered. I would have felt bad for him, if he hadn’t just taken my cart. He was mortified. Not so much as to stop him from getting the wine he wanted from that aisle, but enough so that this story would never be told except by me, over and over and over again.

 

This really made my day so much better.

I’ve been seeing these news articles online about a NASA study, and as usual they are just a few scary or exciting views from the study, but this time they were particularly annoying because there was absolutely no way to figure out what study they were talking about! They didn’t list the name of the study at all, and while they mentioned one of the researchers, most people don’t know how to access research.

My summary is this, The article describes an algorithm to help determine what pattern a civilization can follow before it leads to collapse. If it does not lead to collapse, then it detail what will likely happen instead. There are also insights into which form of civilization we are in and what we need to do to avoid a collapse we are headed towards according to this model.

I HIGHLY suggest you read the article yourself, even if you skip the mathematically dense sections. The intro, section 5, and the conclusions are worth a read.

http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~ekalnay/pubs/2014-03-18-handy1-paper-draft-safa-motesharrei-rivas-kalnay.pdf