After a weekend of sulking, I decided that I needed to make goals for myself. The center of these goals is to improve cognition, mood, and overall fitness. Each of these three goals are tasks that I’ve done in the past and I know to work for me. While they may not work for everyone, I encourage you to make goals and work towards improving yourself. When you’re living life passively, it’s easy to get in a depressive funk. This was a solution to my downward spiral.
1. Regular Exercise
The first goal is the most physical. When I noticed that I was being a Debby Downer to myself, I thought about taking 5-HTP again. Last year it temporarily relieved my depression but left me feeling horrible after a couple months. Immediately I deterred myself and decided to go for a run.
It worked. The depressive funk cleared and I was able to focus on other things. While running I thought about my relationship to exercise. Earlier this year I wrote about being skinny (short story – I was tired of other people commenting on my diet and my body). While I am physically healthy, I had an unhealthy view of myself.
The way other people talked sounded like they wanted me to gain muscle or that my body wasn’t good enough. My way of rebelling was to neglect my body. Internally I wanted to prove to others that I was healthy, even without weight lifting. It was mostly ego, centered on displaying the image “I can be healthy like this”.
While that view hasn’t changed, I’ve decided that I don’t care what other people think anymore. I want to build my body for me. It doesn’t matter if they see me as skinny, muscly, or anywhere in-between. I’ve always been a health junkie, so it’s never been a question of health. I just want to see how I can maximize my body.
Plus, exercise has always helped manage my mood swings. That was the original goal from this weekend; I want to improve my life in as many ways as possible. If I can do that through exercise, then that’s a good place to start.
Haha, oh look at me. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to smile in this sort of picture so I made a serious face.
A few of the ways that cardiovascular exercise improves your mind/body are through growth factors. In the book “Spark“, John J. Ratey discusses BDNF, VEGF, IGF-1, FGF-2, and other ways that your body changes through exercise. The next day after a good run, I feel mentally sharp, clear, and fit. I want to maximize that.
In this first picture I look bigger than in real life. I want to focus on my arms and my chest. People have bothered me over the last few years to start going to the gym. As an act of defiance, I always said I’d just do bodyweight exercises. I never liked gyms or the gym-rat mentality, so I read books on exercise.
Unfortunately I never picked it up. I have a few bodyweight books next to my bed now but I’m going to start a routine for this week and change it over the next month. My goal is to run 2 1/2 miles on Mon, Wed, Fri and to do bodyweight exercises on Tues and Thurs. I’m working next weekend so I don’t have anything planned for those days.
Afterwards I’m going to swap and do running on Tues and Thurs. I’m already great at running, so after a week my body should be used to movement again. At that time I’ll focus on bodyweight exercises Mon, Wed, Fri. Each session will be approx. 30 minutes.
Later on I’ll develop a plan that involves Pilates or yoga to improve flexibility.
Another aspect I struggle with is diet. I’m a Pescatarian, which means that I’m a vegetarian that eats fish and other seafood. This means my base protein intake is lower than average. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, which are quick to to be burned off. Over the next month I will integrate more fish and proteins into my diet.
In the past I’ve raved about how great cold showers are. They increase circulation, help with breathing, and, of course, they wake you up like nobody’s business. Since I wrote that post in December, I stopped taking cold showers. I don’t know why but it just happened over time. Everyday I will take at least one cold shower.
2. Daily Meditation
Moving onto other goals, mediation is another great activity that boosts happiness. Personally, I feel more alert through the day, my mind is quieter, and I’m better able to concentrate after a good meditation. For the last year, I’ve supplemented sessions as necessary, usually 5-10 minutes in the middle of a rough day.
Now I want to make it a regular thing. For this goal to be reasonable, and to blend with this 365 project, I’m aiming for at least 15 minutes a day of sitting meditation. This will continue on for the next two weeks or until I decide to change it.
Other people I know that meditate have qualities that I want to find in myself. Easy traits to notice are presence, clarity, and peacefulness. When you’re having a conversation, they’re participating in it. They aren’t waiting to respond and their mind isn’t wandering. It’s just another wellness boost.
3. NOCNOM (No Complaining, No Masturbating)
The original name for this goal is NOBNOM (No Booze, No Masturbating), and the goal is to increase average testosterone. Rather than taking supplements to increase testosterone, removing alcohol and masturbation naturally levels it back out. Since I’m underage and already choose to be sober, I’ve adopted the alternate challenge to eliminate complaining.
I know it sounds silly but Tim Ferriss talked about his success with it. He listed increased focus, productivity, and sex drive on his blog. It’s just something to try over the next month. Hopefully I’ll free up some extra time, keep more protein in my body 😉 and become more focused. Who knows?
The reason I’m focusing on exercise, meditation, and NOCNOM (that acronym won’t get any better) is to improve my life. Each of them are simple things that I can implement into my daily life.
The point is, life is not a movie playing out in front of you. If you choose to sit back, it can seem that way. Life is happening inside of you and you’re the one who’s feeling it. This weekend, I felt helpless. I knew there were things I wanted to accomplish but I felt that I was going into a downward plummet. Even in creating these goals, I feel better. Instead of watching life pass by, make a few goals, accomplish them, and take part in your life.
I’ll keep you all up to date on how everything is going!