Health

Long story short, I’m trying to put on a little bit of useful weight. Skip to the bottom for the delicious recepie I’m using to jam breakfast back into my mornings.

Unfortunately, I’m not bulking up just for the hell of it. In order to continue being competitive in higher level jiu-jitsu competitions, I need to be stronger than I am.

As it turns out, this is harder do than I thought. First of all, getting strong hurts. A lot. Which doesn’t make training jiu-jitsu any easier either.

In spite of the pain, I’ve just started the Stronglifts 5×5 workout program. A number of muscly people I trust have reccomended it as a good starting point for building the type of strength required for jiu-jitsu.

The program consists of two alternating body weight workouts, each comprised of compound free weight exercises with the intent of progressive overload.

If that was gibberish to you (like it was to me a few weeks ago), what this means is that the program has you switch between two workouts which don’t involve any machines or special equiptment. You show up, lift free weights and progressively add a tiny bit more weight each session until you can no longer complete 5 reps at a given weight in an exercise.

Avoiding machines at the gym and focussing on free weights means there is a whole lot more balance and posture involved in the lifts. Because Each exercise activates (and agitates) a big portion of your body, so you have to focus on keeping your whole body activated throughout each lift, and need to focus on less total exercises to get results.

I’ve never been one to get motivated by superficial physical incentives. Muscles are nice, but if I were desperate for them I would have started going to the gym a long time ago.

I’m going to the gym primarily to hone the tools I take to war on the mats.

But what I’ve found out is that in order for all that work to mean anything on the mats, I need to pay a lot of attention to what I eat while I’m off them.

If I want to gain muscle mass, I need to be consuming roughly 4000 more kilojules than I’m used to eating every day and a large portion of that needs to be protein. At my current size, I’m simply not putting in enough food to offset all the energy I expend exercising. Which is a good problem to have. But still…

As someone mostly disinterested in the prospect of breakfast most mornings, this was a troublesome fact to uncover.

However, I think I’ve stumbled across something which is going to solve my problem; peanut butter protein shakes.

Luke’s Peanut Butter Protein Shake

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 scoops vanilla flavoured protein powder (whey or plant based)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 table spoons 100% peanut butter
  • 1 table spoon chia seeds
  • 1 table spoon honey
  • 1 date
  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups milk of choice

The best thing about this recepie is that you can prepare it ahead of time.

Just put everything except the milk into a container or zip lock bag and pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to have it, empty the contents of a container into your blender, add your milk and blitz away!

I’ve prepared a batch of these in advance, and am now looking forward to each morning when I get to slurp down a meal which feels like a treat, even though it’s a necessity.

Fear of success can prove more frightening and even more paralysing than fear of failure.

This may feel counter intuitive, but look closely and you’ll see it everywhere – perhaps even within yourself.

The main reason we fear success is that it implies change.

When we and fail, there is often not much to lose. Usually we end up more or less where we started and the status quo recovers.

But when we succeed, things have to change by definition.

If we’re successful in applying for a new job we may beed to change the way we dress and sleep, we’ll need to develop new relationships and solve new problems. These things are exciting for the same reason that they are terrifying; risk.

Risk comes paired with all change and that risk creates fear, the most immobilising emotional force we experience.

Are you content with the way you fit into the world?

If not, try asking yourself: what am I more afraid of, things going wrong or things never changing?

An eternity of things carrying on the way they are sounds like my worst nightmare.

I’d rather take the chance that changing my course could send me backwards before I move forwards.

“Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.”

Naval Ravikant

In both art and business, we are usually defined by those we can be likened to.

We’re lumped into genres or styles, niches and roles.

When competing for success, we are often assigned a category.

Maybe you were proactive enough to assign yourself the category which best defines you.

This is great news, on one condition;

That you’re the best in class.

If you’re going to allow yourself to be defined by a category, ensure that you’re the best fish in the pond.

When in doubt, dig your own pond.

Don’t be a slightly-above-average animal photographer when you can be the world’s best Quokka photographer.

(Photo: Natalie Su)

Never call yourself a ‘pretty good’ sales assistant when you could be the best speckled beanie salesperson in the state.

Why would you be a writer with a blog when you could be the only young West Australian writer with a BJJ blue belt who publishes original work daily?

(If there’s another one, someone let me know, I’d love to meet them.)

You do you.

I only ask that you do us all a favour and do it brilliantly.

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable.”

Seth Godin

Seth Godin makes a hugely insightful point in his riff on Theodore Levitt’s famous quarter-inch drill bit quote.

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.

Theodore Levitt, Harvard Marketing Professor

Godin argues that it’s not even the hole that people want.

It’s not the shelf they plan on installing on the brackets they’re going to drill into the hole.

What people want are the feelings they’re able to access now that they have the drill bit; the feeling of pride when they install the shelf by themselves, the gratification of pleasing their spouse, or the safety and security they might experience when then can put all their things on the shelf, and keep their space tidy and organised.

This is important for marketers to understand, but equally important for us to understand as consumers.

When we spend (be it our money or our time), what are the feelings we’re trading for?

Are we being capitalised upon?

Are we making decisions which will serve us over time?

That next Big Mac might feel incredible at the time, but it won’t an hour later. And if that feeling you purchased diminished so quickly, what will it’s value be in twenty years when your health catches up with you?

People are plagued by the fact that we always want, but don’t always know what we want.

Learning to want less, and more specifically is the trick.

Nobody wants a quarter-inch drill bit – but we all want to feel safe, healthy, respected and loved.

I have at times been perplexed by the amount of sneezing I do at seemingly random intervals, deducing that I probably just have allergies to something.

During a meeting today, I needed to walk from one building to another. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Fremantle, and as we approached the second building, I couldn’t help but let out three muffled but aggressive sneezes.

“Sorry about that!” I said, embarrassed. “I think I must be allergic to one of the trees or something around here, it gets me all the time.”

The woman I was meeting with didn’t miss a beat before responding, “No, it’s probably the sun.”

Apparently, this is an actual thing.

The Photic Sneeze Reflex is a legitimate medical condition which causes people to sneeze when exposed to a variety of stimuli, including looking at bright lights.

Strangely, the earliest know record of the Photic Sneeze Reflex lives in the writings of Aristotle.

‘Why is it that one sneezes more after one has looked at the sun? Is it because the sun engenders heat and so causes movement, just as does tickling the nose with a feather? For both have the same effect; by setting up movement they cause heat and create breath more quickly from the moisture; and it is the escape of this breath which causes sneezing.’

Aristotle

Aristotle thought that the sun might cause nose sweat, which could tickle the inside of the nose enough to illicit a sneeze. While the logic checks out, this isn’t actually how it works.

Scientist’s best guess at the moment is that the sneeze reaction has something to do with the overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve,

Image result for trigeminal nerve
NHS

This nerve is the connection point for three other nerve branches including; the ophthalmic branch, which can be stimulated by rapid changes in light conditions; and the maxillary branch, which when stimulated, can cause sneezing.

The running theory is that when the opthalmic branch is overstimulated, it can cause other branches of the trigeminal nerve to become irritated.

A 2010 study discovered that if you’re amongst the 18-35% of people who report sneezing at the sun, you almost definitely have a very specific and seemingly pointless inheritable genetic mutation.

For those of us with the mutation, the irritation passed on to our maxillary nerve from overstimulation of the ophthalmic nerve through bright light changes is just enough to send us over the edge and into a small fit of sneezes.

The condition is harmless unless you’re a brain surgeon, but one hell of a nuisance nonetheless.

You can test whether you’re affected quite easily. Just walk outside and look at the sun for a while (not directly, obviously). If after thirty seconds or so you wind up achoo-ing your head off, welcome to the Photic Sneeze Reflex Club. You’ll receive your card in the mail.

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.

Qa’ed Mai

Complex carbohydrates have three or more of these simple carbohydrates strung together, and are broken down into to further categories; oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

Qa’ed Mai

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.

Hobbies are things we regularly do for pleasure.

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.

Our own perspective is the most reliable one we have access to.

Yet, we are fallible.

Anyone with a scrap of humility will admit they have biases.

And most honest folk will tell you that their biases are often self serving.

Why then do we act as though our perception of reality is objective?

All the while assuming that those who disagree with us are uninformed, misaligned or simply too blinded by their own incessant biases to see the objective truth that we see so clearly.

This phenomenon is called naïve realism.

In some way or another, we’re all guilty of this naivety because we are unable to consider the perspectives of others without first filtering them through our own ‘objective’ lens of truth.

What a responsibility it is to impose our own judgement onto the rest of the world.

Perhaps we should do so with care.

The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) is one of the fiercest submission grappling competitions on planet earth.

In little over a week, the ADCC World Chamionships will be held in Anaheim Calafornia. The best no-gi grapplers in the world will travel to compete for the highest prize in submission grappling.

But this Sunday September 22, ADCC Western Australia (ADCCWA) will be putting on a show of its own at Craigie Leisure Centre. If you have any interest in grappling or Mixed Martial arts… you should probably be there.

Unlike traditional Jiu-Jitsu competitions, ADCC organises competitiors into divisions based on experience, not belt rank; allowing grapplers from all backgrounds to compete against one another.

Freestyle wrestlers will fight Judo practitioners, who will fight Jiu Jitsu artists, who will fight Sambo competitiors.

In a sense, ADCC is the Mixed Martial Arts of the submission grappling world. It fosters a space where grapplers from all disciplines can come and test the efficacy of their practice.

Which is why it’s so impressive that ADCC champions are almost exclusively Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners.

My favourite Jiu Jitsu artist (Nicky Ryan) on his journey to ADCC 2019

But on Sunday, at the local level, expect everyone to have a chance at victory.

‘What sets the ADCC apart from the other grappling competitions is the emphasis on going for the submission victory’.

ADCC WA

ADCC WA are adopting the same ruleset we’ll see at the Word Championships next week, which is the perfect introduction to grappling for the unaquainted.

One of the common critiques of Jiu-Jitsu competitions is that there is an overemphasis on complicated point systems, which isolate those who don’t already train. ADCC WA promises that this won’t be a problem on Sunday.

‘You won’t see stalling tactics used like you do in other grappling competitions’.

ADCC WA

Over the past few years, submission focused competitions such as team-based grappling competition Quintet, and the Eddie Bravo Invitational have emerged with the hope of appealing to more casual fans.

For the competitors in these organisations, the ADCC is their version Olympics.

If you’re a grappler of any kind and haven’t signed up to compete this weekend, you only have a few hours to register (which you should).

And if you’re at all curious (or skeptical) about what submission grappling looks like, or whether Jiu-Jitsu is a practical martial art to pick up for self defence, do yourself a favour, support your local grappling scene, and be at Craigie Leisure Centre on Sunday.

Submission focussed competitions like ADCC are the future of grappling. With so many new organisations promoting the sport, there’s never been a better time to get involved; fighter or fan.

Being ‘in control’ is a mindset.

“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us.”

– Epictetus

Being in control of things outside yourself is relative to your influence over them, but being in control of yourself requires nothing more than feeling in control. This is a skill, and we can practice it.

Feeling in control requires you to acutely focus solely on the things which you can change.

We can change much more than we usually give ourselves credit. Even in times of hopelessness;

While we may have no control over a a thief who wishes to break into our home, we do have control over how we prepared we are for that possibility; installing security screens, cameras and investing in insurance are all measures we can take to minimise the possibility of disruption.

We also have power over how we react to being stolen from; we can grow fearful, bitter and angry, or we can deal with the problem as best we can, prepare ourselves better in case the circumstance arises again, and move on.

The problem with reacting angrily is that there’s nothing to be gained by allowing those emotions flourish. The thief has been and gone. There is no perpetrator to receive the justice of your anger, so what are you to do with it?

It feels good to embrace negative emotions in times like these. To imagine what you might do if you found the thief. How good you’ll feel if the police find them. You may find yourself playing these scenarios over and over in your mind, your emotion building as the visions become clearer.

But with no way to act on or utilise these feelings, thinking this way is nothing more than self-pollution.

This thinking does nothing to change what happened, nor does it aid in actually realising your imagined capture of the thief.

It’s useless.

We can’t control the actions of others, their reactions to our actions, nor the hand we’ve been dealt in the game of life.

Unless a feeling informs action, you don’t need it. That doesn’t mean that like a stray cat it won’t try to stick around, it just means you should probably avoid feeding it incase it decides to live with you permanently.

Take care not to obsess over things which fall outside the bounds of your control. When we do, especially if the thing scares us, we often wind up ruminating; thinking in abstract circles about how concerned or bereaved we are about a problem, without committing any energy to actually resolving it.

Ruminating about problems is useless, because problems require solving.

Solving is active where rumination is passive. It implies that action is being taken in the direction of a solution.

Nobody cares how worried you are about climate change, but plenty of people care about how you’re planning to vote at the next election.

People value action because it drives progress.

We can take control of our lives by choosing to focus our attention not on rumination, but on actively seeking out problems we have the capability to solve through our own individual action.

Accept everything which you cannot change, focus solely on those things you can, and pursue them with rigour.

There is no more powerful endeavour.