I’ve become what I used to critique.

You know what I’ve been thinking about? EVERYTHING. But I’ll pick one thing to write about. 

Let’s talk about health and fitness. In keeping with the theme of the blog, I think this is a “Brawn” post.

(SN: I can’t remember where I picked this idea up, but read/heard that I’m not supposed to write posts that I think you will like. I guess that means that my goal is to write about my unique experiences with integrity and dignity and honesty. I write because I need to do regular brain dumps. I can’t remember where I picked this up either, but someone said your brain is like random-access memory (RAM). It’s only there for temporary storage and processing. You need to get your ideas out of RAM to make space for new things being processed.)

Back to health and fitness. 

I am trying to lose weight so that I can look good in a Speedo, full stop. Not to be healthy or reduce inflammation or anything medical, just for the sake of vanity. Vanity is a powerful motivator but it’s probably not the best motivator. 

I can’t remember all of the details of the past 16 years, but I remember being around 160 pounds for a while. And then I remember being 180. And then I remember – and currently experience – 200. 

If I didn’t cave to peer pressure, I actually kind of like my body. I average about 12-14% body fat. I workout regularly. There have been periods that I exercised with a specific goal in mind (e.g. getting ready for Trinidad Carnival) and other times when my workouts were more sporadic. For the most part, I feel comfortable in the gym and I know what to eat – whole foods, fruits and vegetables, less sugar, more fiber, etc. But this is where it gets hard. I like LOVE sugar. And I’m starting to think that I don’t have a “sweet tooth”, but rather a sugar addiction. And if I don’t want something sweet, I want something salty (e.g. salt & vinegar chips, flaming hot Cheetos). 

My current pattern is that I’ll be healthy for a couple days – eating most of the right foods, drinking water, sleeping, working out, etc. Then I’ll stop to treat myself. Or, more likely, I’ll have a hard day and will have an emotional eating binge. That makes me feel sad the next day. I get disappointed that I probably ate away my “gains” (or more technically, my losses) and that I can’t seem to get out of this pattern. 

In my mind, if I get back to 180, I’ll look better. It’s an arbitrary number. And maybe it’s unrealistic. I haven’t been 180 pounds in probably 10 years. I’m just NOW realizing this as I type. I used to look down on people who seemed to think that their best, sexiest, hottest years were just a few years (and pounds) behind them and that they could get back into that state whenever they wanted to, if they wanted to. I’d think to myself: “they’re a lot farther from that goal than they think, seems a little ridiculous; they should just accept where they are and work from there.” Eek. That was callous. 

But now II’m doing the same thing. I keep thinking, I’ll just drop this weight and get back to my old self. I did get pretty lean, maybe single-digit body fat for a trip, but it was hard. And once I came back from the trip, I put the weight back on in less than 6 months. I can’t seem establish a healthy eating pattern and stick with it. 

Maybe this has less to do with health and fitness and more about my crippling inability to stick with a goal (sometimes). And maybe that’s because I don’t have a system, like James Clear says in Atomic Habits. He says something like [obviously paraphrasing here], you don’t need to get motivated to clean your room, you should find a way to be less messy. So I guess I need to find a way to be more consistently nutritious. But I don’t want to. Sometimes I do. But other times I don’t. Like, right now, I want a pizza. I’m bummed because my boyfriend had a COVID exposure and I can’t hang out with him. Pizza does a great job of comforting me. But I made a deal of not having pizza again until I got down to 195 as a cheat meal. Probably not the best incentive, but I’m trying. And if it fits my macros I don’t feel as guilty. 

I look healthy. I’m tall and can look pretty muscular depending on the angle. People don’t take me seriously when I say I have a problem with food. I think I maintain because I’m pretty active, but if my diet were better, I’d be more lean. I want my six-pack to show – but for who? I guess having a 6-pack will make more attractive, thereby giving me more social capital and validation. And if I have more social capital and validation, I’ll be more happy? Maybe I will. But it probably won’t last. 

I go to this gym where it seems like everyone is a physique model – at least 60-70%. And the other 30-40% are 75% physique model. I feel so much pressure to constantly look beach ready. But even that desire for beach body readiness 24/365 isn’t enough to keep me from eating Taco Bell – and A LOT of Taco Bell – when I feel sad and lonely. I need to find a more consistent motivator, or like I just told someone else, more discipline. Motivation comes in waves and you can’t wholly rely on it. 

Well this was good to get out. I’d like to thank myself for writing.  

Bruce, thank you for writing. You feel better when you get your feelings out. 

And I’d like to thank you for reading. 

Midweek Musings

Learning how to blog on my phone makes this process much easier. Before, I’d have to clean off my desk, logon to Bluehost (and I’m not even sure what that’s for) and then logon to WordPress. And then I’d have the hardest time finding the button to make a new blog post. I should figure out how to use those other services so that I don’t waste my money. First, I should just make sure that I don’t get charged again. I’ll look into that now.

More importantly though, this week I realized that when I don’t respond to one email, multiple emails pile up and then I get overwhelmed as it continues to pile up. Case in point: I received a letter to sign from my leasing office on Wednesday. They offered to print it out if I came by the office or I could print and sign them on my own. I wanted to use an app on my iPad that allows me to sign PDF documents. I didn’t do it that day, though. And more emails started to come in. I watched my inbox grow. I continued to open my mail app and look at emails that had come in. Most were emails that I could just delete right away. But instead, I kept putting it off for sometime in the future when I would respond to all of the emails, including the one from my leasing office. 

It was not until Sunday at 7:30 pm that I finally deleted most of the emails, took action on a couple, and finally signed the form and sent it back. My inbox felt like a car pileup on the highway. I stopped “traffic” for one email and then all the other ones just piled up. If I maintain my email, i.e. check it every few hours and take action when needed, I feel like I’m in control. But sometimes, I think – I’ll just wait a second on this. (The same thing happens with texts and mail, too). 

A couple days later, I put to better control the traffic. Normally when I get my mail, I look at each piece and determine whether I can throw it away or whether I might have to take some type of action. And then I put it in a pile. I don’t actually throw it away or take the necessary action, even after doing the mental work. Over time, the pile gets bigger and I get more anxiety about going through it. BUT I’VE ALREADY ASSESSED THE MAIL. Like, why won’t I just throw it away or respond to it if I’ve already done so in my head?

So, I got my mail and I responded to it. I threw most away, shredded the sensitive documents, and wrote a check to pay a bill. SN: I find I like writing checks. Feels like a lost art form. It’s also satisfying. I like writing in cursive. And if you want my money, you need to go the extra mile for it. 

In conclusion, I learned it’s better to just handle stuff now. 

I’m a lazy Carrie…

One of the ways to establish a habit is to make it part of a system. How do I make writing a blog part of a system, though? I suppose I could write a little bit each day. But each day I feel a little different. Today I might want to write about work but tomorrow I might want to write about music. Does that mean I need to write everyday? That seems like a lot. That said, I do have a lot of thoughts everyday.

Sometimes, writing can feel like such a chore. I have to write and then edit. And I’m a little lazy. Actually finding the right words takes effort. And before finding the right words, I have to land on a topic.

Here’s a topic. I don’t like to read articles but I want to know the information in the article. I thought, “boy, it’d be nice to just have someone read the articles to me”. Then I found out about Noa. It’s an app that has professional voice actors read articles. I listened to an article Thursday from HBR titled “Feeling Stuck or Stymied?” (which I am)

Here’s an excerpt:

“Let’s face it: Patience is annoying. It would be far better if we didn’t need it at all and could achieve everything we wanted quickly. But the truth is, in almost all cases, our most meaningful goals require effort and perseverance—and time.”

I agree with this. And the most vivid proof I have of this is with piano. For my most recent recital, I had to practice SO MUCH. Everyday for at least an hour, sometimes more. I look back on the pieces I played and some of them were really difficult. I played this impromptu by Franz Schubert that was like 10 minutes. So many different parts to the piece and I never ran out of things to improve. In my recital I still didn’t play it perfectly, but I played it pretty damn well. And I was so proud of myself. There’s like 50,000 notes in that piece and I played it all from memory. But it took time. Sometimes it didn’t feel like I was making progress. Sometimes I was really frustrated.

The author says this in the next paragraph:

“You might need to write a blog few people read as a way to test your ideas and slowly build an audience…”

Hehe. This is what I’m doing right now.

“You might have to keep making the effort, even when it seems pointless, boring, or hard. There will be dark moments when it’s unclear whether you’re making any progress at all.”

So, with this blog, that I want to update weekly, I am going to keep doing it even when I don’t feel like it. I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before. But I’m getting tired of restarting.

With piano, I’ve learned a lot of music. But once I learn it I move on to the next piece. I don’t go back to refresh pieces so my repertoire is equal to whatever I’m learning at the moment. That is not reflective of all of the hours of practice I’ve put in. I want to be able to show more for my effort.

Universe, please help me do better this time. I will never get out of this first level of the game if I keep restarting it before I advance. I want to do better.

Determining the strategy going forward…

I think part of my initial shock of discovering this old blog was that it reminded me of how often I start things over once they get complicated or I lose interest. I’m not sure how much of this is normal for everyone and if I’m being hard on myself, OR if I really have a problem that I need to address.

I did not want to start a blog and have random, unrelated posts. I certainly didn’t intend to talk about my feelings. I didn’t want a sappy, self-absorbed blog that flagrantly displayed my neurosis and emotional instability.

This blog, Beer, Bach, Brawn and Banter (I’m surprised I didn’t use the Oxford comma, I’m pretty strict about that) was supposed to be about my journey discovering beer, becoming a better pianist, getting “swole” or “snatched” (I can’t remember which one), and there was a catch-all for everything else. And as I look back on B-tesseract I kind of did that. But I don’t remember why I stopped.

I started another blog – BPM365 – maybe two months ago. “Bruce’s Project Management”. The idea was that I would apply project management principles to everyday life, allowing one to practice project management 365 days a year. But in my last post I talked about emotions.

My first podcast initially had a theme, and I’d done all this work to choose topics specifically other than emotions. I had all this equipment but ultimately put on my headphones and sat down and just recorded what I felt after a bad day. Again, emotions won out over my more cerebral intentions.

As I’ve grown, I’ve learned that managing emotions is something that literally everyone struggles with at some point. Sometimes I still have shame around being “emotional”, but now I’m slightly less likely to care.

I have an idea though.

When I see my Facebook “on this day” posts from a decade ago, I seemed really optimistic and upbeat. This came after a period of deep (undiagnosed) depression and general mental turmoil. It feels like I’m back in a period of depression and mental turmoil, with heavy emphasis on turmoil. And I wonder what happened. I look at the 2011 Bruce and I don’t know him. I think I might try to trace things back and see where things shifted.

I recently talked to a friend and I shared with him that I don’t feel like I have a compass. I had clear goals in my 20s – finishing school, finding a place, and getting a job I wanted. I also started a relationship. Things were moving along fine, until they weren’t. At one point, I looked around and realized I was really uncomfortable with myself. I had the worst spontaneous anxiety. (I later learned this to be unresolved trauma but that’s for a later post). I was unhappy with everything. Beneath a pretty veneer, I felt like something was missing.

But now I think it’s not that anything was missing. “IT” – what I was looking for – just IS. Like, this is it. Life is whatever you make it I guess.

This was unexpected…

So, I started a WHOLE NEW blog with a different name and a different theme. 😳 I had to reset my password and stumbled on this old gem. A part of me is kinda pissed – I did this whole complicated-ass setup that cost me a lot of money and I could barely figure out how to use it. I’d totally forgotten about Bach, Brawn, and whatever. I really need to learn how to stick with things. I have half a dozen blogs and podcasts across the World Wide Web that I started with good intentions. Good grief. I guess I’ll transfer those posts over here? I suppose the theme needs to be updated – it turns out I don’t really like beer and 2013 Bruce was a different person. I need some time to process this.