Health

There are an unfortunane number of people prone to thinking that they are in on something that everyone else is blind to. You’ve met these people; they’re usually quick to tell you what they know and, more importantly, what you don’t. They will immediately trust the word of anyone aligned with their beliefs, but refute every qualification held by anyone with a differing view. The problem with people who are suceptible to this is that, aided by a little fear, they can be convinced of nearly anything—and some falsehoods, once believed too deeply, can be perpetual.

A vulnerable person desperate for status and meaning will clutch onto the closest belief which makes them feel intelligent and in control. For some, that results in turning to faith. Religion offers the vulnerable a socially acceptable way to become ‘enlighened’: believe, and you get to join the we know something you don’t club. In this way, religion is a kind of conspiracy; it binds tightly those who believe and arms them with infallible premises to dispute with those who don’t. Religions, like all organised conspiracies, generate a cognitive bias which cannot be challenged by the logical standards of truth.

“Science adjusts it views based on what’s observed. Belief is the denial of observation, so that faith can be preserved.”

Tim Minchin

Conspiracy is attractive to vulnerable people because it arms them with an illusionary safety net: they are the ones who see and understand, and those who don’t are wrong by default. They never have to risk the embarrasment of being found out or losing an argument; your disbelief of their premise makes you wrong by default. The visciousness of this thinking is that it self perpetuates; feeling like you’re ‘right’ all the time feels good. So good, that just talking about the conspiracy can become its own form of self-gratification.

The sad result is that these people become insufferable to those who don’t share their delusions. The deeper one falls into conspiratorial thinking (which was meant to increase their status and likability by making them feel wise and in control), the further they isolate themselves from anyone outside of their conspiratorial bubble. For some, this works just fine. There are plenty of people who live entire, happy lives within two degrees of separation from someone who attends their church or mosque. But, in times of doubt, it may prove more difficult for those tricked into believing that malevolant reptillian humanoids walk among us to find meaningful engagement and community.

To return to reality, a conspiratorial thinker would have to accept the observations of the experts they have learned to distrust and denounce. If they wished to reclaim their place in the logical world, they would first have to admit to themselves that the ‘special knowledge’ at the root of their illusion of superiority was a lie; that they have been tricked, deceived and likely exploited by people and sources they have grown to love and trust; that the world might not be out to get them in the ways they feel it is; and that much of the fear they have been publicly projecting might actually reside within.

The problem with illusionary knowledge is that it leads to illusionary superiority. The problem with illusionary superiority is that it isolates you from those not under the spell of your brand of conspiracy; and the problem with that isolation is that, in order to give it up, you have to revoke the comfortable, infallible power you’ve grown dependant on weilding.

Tragically, this is often too painful. Its easier to believe that you’re a misunderstood genius than a delusional fool. Instead, they stay stuck in their unpopable bubbles of delusion, frustrated at the world for not understanding.

Never waste your time arguing with someone who has learned to believe in the things which make them feel good, instead of the things which they can prove. Facts won’t persuade someone to give up superiority which is grounded in illusion. Their knowledge and, in fact, their entire conception truth is not governed by logic or reason—their knowledge is governed by their insecurities.

Intelligent people love being wrong; every time it happens, they get wiser. It’s the foolish who can’t bear it; their fragile egos deny their ability to grow.

We’ve been at this social distancing thing for a couple of weeks now.

Which means we’re only a few weeks away from everything starting to return to normality.

The curve is approaching it’s peak, but this story is one we’ll be able to tell for the rest of our lives.

What do you want to be able to say you did in isolation?

The question is no longer: “when will it hit us?”

The question is: “how well can we spread its impact?”

We only have so many beds and even less trained hands.

This is no longer about how risky or inconvenient this situation is for us as individuals. It’s about how well we can unify to protect those who are most vulnerable among us.

We each get to decide whether we’re going to be a part of the problem or the solution.

Things we should do:

  • be especially friendly to retail and hospitality workers
  • pay close attention to our hygiene and cleanliness
  • keep an eye on the latest government advice and follow it

Things we probably shouldn’t do:

  • create scarcity by stockpiling food and toilet paper
  • ignore suggestions from health professionals
  • give any further attention to anyone who still think this is an orchestrated ruse to introduce a conspiratorial vaccine.

There are some people just not worth arguing against. We’re all tired. Let’s give it a rest.

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.