Just a couple of generations ago the dream life involved working your ass off for an ever increasing salary until you were 60.
If you were successful, you would have been investing portions of all those pay-checks into assets, which would increase in value over time – hopefully just enough to let you retire comfortably and leave something for your kids.
If you’re in Australia, chances are you’ve seen this petition doing the rounds on social media.
It’s incredibly important that you sign it before the 16th of October.
I only just remembered to do so yesterday, so I imagine there’s a chance that it’s slipped past some of you too.
Unlike some other well intentioned petitions (like this one on change.org), this petition will be presented directly to Australia’s House of Representatives.
There’s a lot of heat around this right now (da-dun-cha), but in the past few weeks, much of the news coverage has centred around the tirade of insecure, well-off white gentlemen who have taken aim at Greta Thunberg.
In the face of all this nonsense and ignorant white noise, it’s important that we focus on the things we can do, and how we can inform change on an individual level.
If there’s a reason you’re not willing to take two minutes to put your name on this, I’d love to have a discussion about it with you.
Today I realised that I didn’t really know what a carbohydrate was.
I knew they were delicious. I knew that I should try and eat complex ones instead of simple ones, and I had a vague understanding that carbs had something to do with sugar.
If you know what a monosaccharide is and how the glycemic index of the food you eat relates to your insulin resistance, now’s the time to stop reading.
Otherwise, here’s what I learnt today.
Carbohydrate is the food category for sugars, and molecules which your body breaks down into sugars.
Carbohydrates can be simple or complex.
Simple carbohydrates are broken up into two categories; monosaccharides which include glucose, fructose and galactose; and disaccharides including lactose, maltose and sucrose, each which are each a combination of two monosaccharides.
Complex carbohydrates have three or more of these simple carbohydrates strung together, and are broken down into to further categories; oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.
During digestion your body breaks down the linked sugars within complex carbohydrates into their simple parts so that they can be transferred into energy.
As these carbs are processed, your blood sugar rises. The simpler the carbohydrate, the faster your blood sugar spikes.
These complex polysaccharide carbohydrates are not all created equal either.
Starch and fibre are both polysaccharides sourced from plants, each contain hundred to thousands of monosaccharides connected together, but the way in which these monosaccharides are linked together varies greatly.
The linkages in starch (which is found in foods like white bread and pasta) are called alpha linkages. Alpha linkages are a weak bond which is easily cleaved by your digestive enzymes.
On the other hand, fibre (think green vegetables) is connected up by beta bonds, which cannot be broken down by your body.
As a result of this difference, starch and fibre have quite different effects on your body.
The way we measure this effect is by rating foods on their glycemic index.
Glycemic index refers to the amount that a certain food raises your blood sugar.
Starchy foods like crackers, white bread, pasta or soft drink have a high glycemic index.
Foods with indigestible beta bonds like fruit and vegetables have a low glycemic index.
The foods with the lowest glycemic index are proteins like meats, eggs and fish.
When blood sugar rises, our bodies release a hormone called insulin from our pancreas. Insulin serves as one of the body’s main tools for regulating blood sugar.
It prompts your muscle and fat cells to let glucose in, and jumpstarts the process of transforming sugar into energy.
The degree to which a unit of insulin lowers blood sugar informs your insulin sensitivity.
Basically, insulin tells your muscle cells to eat the sugar you’ve just consumed.
We can measure how well insulin does its job my measuring insulin sensitivity.
Insulin Sensitivity is the degree to which your blood sugar goes down in response to a unit of insulin being released into your system.
If your blood sugar drops dramatically in response to insulin being secreted, you have high insulin sensitivity.
The problem with eating too much junk (simple carbohydrates) is that it can cause your insulin sensitivity to decrease.
When insulin sensitivity falls too low, this is known as insulin resistance.
When carbs are introduced to an insulin resistant body, the pancreas continues to create insulin, but cells (especially muscle cells) are less and less receptive to it.
When insulin can’t do its job, it can’t help convert carbs into energy. Blood sugar fails to decrease and blood insulin levels continue to rise.
Insulin resistance leads to a condition called metabolic syndrome, which involves high blood pressure, high blood sugar and increased waist circumference, and also increases risk of type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Not fun stuff.
If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around that, check out this awesome illustrated video from TED-Ed which spelt it out for me.
The tiles in your bathroom are exactly the same temperature as your bathmat.
But it don’t feel that way.
Physics 101 taught us that when things feel hot or cold, it’s not their actual temperatures we’re meassuing. We only feel temperature of things in relation to ourselves.
When you first dive into a pool on a warm day, it feels freezing at first because your body was acclimatised to the heat outside.
But as your skin cools to an equilibrium temperature with the water, the water seems to get warmer.
In reality, you jumping in barely changes the temperature of the pool water at all.
But the variance in temperature between your skin and the water has reduced greatly as your body has cooled.
Hopping back to bathroom tiles, the second factor we need to understand when thinking about temperature exchange is the conductivity of different things.
When you walk into your bathroom in the morning, you dart over the tiles and onto the bathmat not because it’s warmer, but because it takes a lot longer to exchange it’s temperature with yours.
Before you enter the room they are exactly the same temperature, and each share the exact same variance in temperature with the sole of your foot.
The difference is that your tiles are far more conductive. They equalise temperature with your feet much quicker than the bathmat.
The tiles have a higher capacity for receiving and exchanging heat. The tiles are more sensitive to the incoming heat transferred through your foot. They experience your heat more intensely, and you experience a more intebse feeling of cold.
In a similar way, some people are more sensitive to certain inputs that others.
This conductivity is not necessarily a weakness. Even if at times it’s inconvenient.
I’ve been trying to spend less time aimlessly bouncing between social media apps while using my phone.
The problem I’ve had in the past is that every time I’ve tried to detox, I’ve relied on discipline to keep me from sliding back to subconscious scrolling.
There is one trick which I’ve implemented that has had a huge lasting impact;
Delete everything non-essential from your phone’s homepage.
And I mean everything.
Keep your calendar, important emergency contacts, and maps if you use it a lot.
The rest should remain buried beneath the search function of your phone.
By forcing yourself to use the search function on your phone to type in the name of the app you’re trying to open, you’re far more likely to be making conscious decisions about what you’re doing on your phone.
This seems counter intuitive at first. Why would you strip away functionality from your phone’s perfectly good user interface?
Aren’t I wasting time searching every time I need to use an app?
And it’s true. It takes an extra five seconds or so to open Instagram, every single time. But they aren’t wasted.
These five seconds act as a barrier which protects your attention.
Five seconds is enough time to consider what your purpose for opening an app is; is there a specific reason I’m doing this, or am I burning time while avoiding another task?
It’s a buffer, a tool to help you make active choices about how you spend your time.
If this sounds like too much hasstle, try installing a screentime tracker like Flipd.
I was resistant too. But after coming face to face with the time I spent across these apps each day, five seconds stopped sounding so bad.
ADCC 2019 is done and dusted and Australian grappler Lachlan Giles has taken bronze in the open weight division. The Anaheim crowd erupted as Giles submitted Mahamed Aly by heel hook to secure his place in ADCC history.
Why is this such a big deal?
Giles weighs 77kg. The three people he submitted on his way to bronze each outweighed him by more than 20kg. He submitted the +99kg champion (Kaynan Duarte) in his first match. And the only reason he didn’t take the gold was that he lost to the winner of the division (Gordon Ryan).
As a smaller guy, I know first hand what it’s like to be overpowered by someone significantly stronger than you.
The fact that Giles managed to overcome this, on three seperate occasions against some of the most dangerous grapplers on the planet and in an age where performance enhancing drugs are rampant throughout the sport is outrageous.
His success is a testament to Jiu-Jitsu; it’s an art form which empowers smaller, weaker combatants to defend themselves against larger, stronger opponents through effective use of technique, timing and strategy.
Even at the highest level.
Giles is a head coach at Absolute MMA in Melbourne, has a phD in physiotherapy and is one of the most respectful guys in grappling.
I’m looking forward to taking a trip over there to train with him and his team sometime in the near future.
They tend to be fun, nieche activities involving some form of social element. Our hobbies recharge us – in part because it doesn’t matter if we’re bad at them.
Pursuits are like hobbies, except for the fact that gradual improvement is at the core of our enjoyment of them.
Going bowling with your friends for a laugh once a fortnight is a hobby. After a few months, perhaps you’re a better bowler than average. Some nights you might even get lucky and put together an impressive score. But the vast majority of your time bowling would still be considered leisure time.
If you were treating bowling as a pursuit, while you might still have the same fun fortnightly game with your friends, the majority of the time you spent thinking about bowling would revolve around the question;
How can I be better?
You’d find time to practice on your technique, you’d probably invest in your own ball and shoes and you’d study footage of professional bowlers with awe.
You’d be obsessed with progressing and improving, because becoming a better bowler is the fun part of pursuing bowling.
All pursuits require the processing of feedback in order to innovate our approach to the activity.
In bowling, the feedback is clear; you either knocked the pins over or you didn’t.
Until you can score five perfect games in a row, there’s technique to work on.
When you find a pursuit you’re passionate about, there is an intense gratification which sprouts from putting in the work to improve. You bowl to get better at the bowling.
The fortnightly hobbyist has no interest in the intensity or focus required to pursue bowling.
When bowling is a hobby, the fun is showing up. The fun is the bowling.
When it’s a pursuit, the fun is the result of consistently showing up. The fun is the bowling because it’s making you better at the bowling.
Idenfying these patterns in the things you love to do and making clear decisions about what you’re willing to suck at is can liberating and quite valuable.
Pursuits demand tenacity and a refusal to fail. They’re high stakes and hard work, but far more gratifying tham hobbies long term. Pursuits are a commitment to growth.
Hobbies provide a special kind of short term satisfaction which we all crave. They’re low stakes and relaxing. Hobbies are the time where we can give ourselves permission to fail. The results don’t matter because taking part in the activity is it’s own result.
We should all have both hobbies and pursuits, but we should also know the difference.