Friday, August 22, 2014

0002 - On First Realizing the Magnetism of Mountains

I first apprehended the hold the mountains had upon me while living on the Winward Coast of Oahu in the winter of 2011.  A few weeks prior I had been up in The Green Mountains, inland on the mainland, where I lived a life of privation and seclusion.  My recluse neighbors on the adjoining ridgelines were accustomed to this life, but I was racked with the weariness of a long winters within a wind-whipped cabin, where a  ubiquitous monotony was rooted in the dark pines that stood over me while I watched a world of ice, rock, and bark sleep  in the cold.  There was always the ache of the cold, weighing upon me like a lead vest, as I stumbled through the morning light scrambling to find wood to tend the fire that threatened to expire during the few hours of dulled sleep I seized beside the wood stove.  Anxiety, euphoria, loneliness, and dread:  I drank my fill during the slow crawl to solstice and the slower death march towards equinox, while I endured the strain of living alone in a natural landscape that made no allowances for emotional weakness.  Often enough, in weariness of being in this state, I longed to retreat backwards, following the New York City water supply and I-87 southward towards Jersey, my birth place.

Now, in Kailua, I was sitting on a beach blanketed in warm surf and moonlight.  The palm trees shrouded my seat  upon their root systems; the sand at my feet a welcome alternative to the dry, dusty ice and snow I habitually tracked in upon my icey wood floor.  There was warmth in every breeze here, a seasonless consistency rocking you in its womb.  There was everything that I had conceived as being a constituent of a tropical paradise, the everyday acts of existence were studies of the book of Genesis; never in my wanderings there, was I far from gardens.  Yet it was here that my mind escaped towards the mountains, seeking new investigations and journeys back in a barren place, where I could only sustain outdoor efforts for less than an hour.  It was one thing to romanticize about Vermont as a New Jersey hipster, it was another thing to long for it after finding myself on the easiest of terms in Hawaii.  But I know that it was the uneasiness of life’s harsh context  in the mountains that drew me there .  It was the land’s ability to push me, rather than simply sustain me, that beckoned.

Returning from where I had just fled would be to resume a challenge, and to stay there for years would test my resolve.  But I was unexplored, I felt, and Vermont was one of the few places that I had found on this planet that illuminated a pathway within my own understandings of myself.  When the horizon is without movement, one can read clearly within, and the comprehension of what was inside of me, or, more meaningfully, what was not within me, was the gift that would render every insufferable moment meaningful, and keep me from the realms of needless masochism.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

0001 - A Morning Run to the Stone Cabin

0001 - A Morning Run to the Stone Cabin

Purple light silhouettes barren and stark ridgelines.   With the sunrise, a ribbon of pigment illuminates the horizon and delineates an otherwise colorless and hostile landscape of pine, granite, and ice.  

The texture of the countryside is triangular; one always feels off balance, as if standing on a hillside, one foot lower than the other.   One feels that there are nearby mountain peaks, there is a  valley floor, and there is the angled land between- and that is all.  One intuitively feels the water table, the governance of gravity unto that which yields, pulling you with it.  

19th century humorists attributed the invention of the one legged milking stool to Pittsfield- the terrain being too continuously sloped for anything else.

But the land is tamed.  Animals graze on the many cleared mountainsides, gridded with fences:  some made of wood, some wire, some stone.  Most of the stone walls are deep in the woods, remnants of 17th and 18th century farms that are now covered in a second, third, or fourth growth of trees.  

Columns of smoke rise from isolated homes tucked up in the hills the rise from both my sides.

At -5°F the atmosphere feels more vacuum than substance; your cough is as dry as your lips and you always feel thirsty.

A fresh, dry snow dusts Tweed River Drive, a dirt road now cemented with snow and ice, but enough gravel and sand, to be drivable.  Drivable, if you have four wheel drive. Best to have a Jeep or a Land Rover.

I don’t have either, so I just run.  I’ve got another 1200 feet of climbing till I’ll reach the stone cabin at summit, where I can try and thaw out a bit before turning myself back to the West, running the 3 miles back to the valley floor, and running up the opposing hillside back to my home.

There could be worse ways to start a day.

There can be better.  Like staying warm in bed.  That’s what the rest of the world chooses to do.  It must be the case since I’m labeled as the crazy one.

Am I?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bad Body Math

Bad Body Math - The Why and the How of a Food Journal
by Jason Jaksetic

What goes up comes down for the most part - but what goes on doesn't necessarily come off.

The purpose of this blog is to show that poor calculation, or rather, the absence of calculation, is at the root of excessive body fat.

Being thin is a matter of addition and subtraction.  It's not rocket science - yes, there are immeasurable variables all over the place in your life - it's what makes you unique and dynamic and so interestingly you - but all things considered, if you balance what goes in your body, with what what your body emits out, you derive a perfect figure.

Not rocket science, just thermodynamics.

Think of your body as a furnace.  Or better yet, a star.  Your body is a radiant point where matter ignites into energy.

(The whole Einstein-ian equation thing, remember?)

We can build bombs because we can unleash energy from matter.

Your body unleashes energy from food in the same way.  The calorie is a unit of heat measurement.

You get fat because you are piling up fuel, but not burning it.

In fact, maybe you are so fueled up, you can't even get a spark going.

Herein, lies the problem.  Here it my be beneficial to think about the First Law of Thermodynamics here.  Matter is not created or destroyed.  It just changes form.

Herein, lies the solution.  You can transform the body fat into energy.  You need to carry all the excess  numbers on one side of equation to another.  Actually, light them on fire!

If you want your body to drop energy bombs all over your surrounding landscape you might want to consider a food journal as part of the equation to balance your weight.

If you burn more calories than you consume your body will burn the fat weighing you down.  Your body has to burn the fat - it won't let you die.  Though you feel like your starving, your not.  Your body is snacking away on the lard your carrying around 24/7 when you are not resupplying via your stomach.

Exercise accelerates this process by pumping up the burn, but you will probably notice that just observing what you eat will put the weight loss odds in your favor.

A food diary let's you see one side of body's equations.  (We'll worry about the other side - the burn - in another article.)

The Food Journal - 3 tips to consider on getting it done right

- it's about awareness...

The first thing I find people notice when they even attempt to write down what they eat is that they are blown away with how they've never examined such the mundane, yet brilliantly enjoyable and complex  behavior of eating..  Humans are so busy these days it seems eating as become an autonomous motion to accompany our other activities.

 - don't stress...
You are doing your food journal wrong if it's a burden.  Don't stress about descriptions and nutritional information of what you are eating.  (Look at that later.)  Just take quick notes throughout your day on a pad you keep handy or on a notepad app on your smartphone.  Oh, there are 10,000 apps, too, but don't use these if the technology will stress you out.  Just grab a napkin at breakfast and jot down what you eat, every time you eat.

- try it for a week...
You can learn a boatload of information with just one week of data.  It usually is enough to make your bad habits obvious.  Knowledge is the power to that allows you to shift the momentum of your habitual behaviors.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Make Your Tax Deductible Cancer Fighting Donations Here

I coach people for a living pretty much - as a writer anyway, breaking down the ins and outs of nutrition, fitness, and putting the two together for some successful weekend racing, whether that be triathlon, obstacle racing, or train running.

I write tips and programs all over the internet, and tens of thousands of readers swing by and read them. But I never really get to connect with them often, and that is kinda a bummer.

This charity page is where I reach out to my readers to give back, if, in some crazy karmic occurrence, my writings about my experiences have fostered any positive changes in your life, and make a tax deductible donation to help cure cancer. This is a damn reputable charity, and I'm proud to work with them.  

$5? Perfect! If you've read my stuff over coffee, consider donating the amount of a fancy ass coffee to help cure cancer.

$250? Perfect! That will be a sweet hunk of change you can keep from the IRS - and use it to fight cancer. Oh, and you'll get a free year or workout, nutrition, and racing advise.

Click here and make a quick donation now....will end SOON!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Facebook White Noise

Lately I've been struggling with Facebook. I log on and scan it feeling alienated and confused. It's led to a lack of enthusiasm for the whole affair, that I wish to examine now.

At a certain point all the voices turn to static, a hum of a machine engineered to lull one into the illusion that things are actually being said. Never before have the data streams of mankind been so densely saturated, and never before have they been so vacuous. The cacophonous static of pixels is just colorful enough, familiar enough, that it is not rendered by the brain as static, but as a narrative – a veil of illusion that leaves us feeling as if we belong to a community of sorts, and are thus equipped to properly respond to the stimulating static – usually, through digitized banking systems, by buying something with just a few clicks.

For me, Facebook as become a community of static - not of individual voices of friends. And I can’t understand what is going on anymore.

As we paw at our smart-phones, we are only the ghosts in the machine – our true selves lost somewhere behind the chattering output that is fed to others, and then back towards us. Our own lives are a whisper in the babel.

Commercial algorithms, the DNA of social networks, govern our senses – a noisy dream of familiar faces spouting corporate agendas served with innocent naivety  – the specter of free will infecting our judgments and the meanings we assign to the characters strung together (with the help of guiding proprietary tools of 'sharibility') by our friends. As nodes in a web we forget that all we say, and all we can say, is conditioned by that web, and serve only to promote the survival, the nourishment, and ultimately the thriving of that web.

Wiggling our thumbs upon glass screens the actual physical world falls away to a visceral infection of emotional prodding – feelings of acceptance, unity, shared beliefs, and the affirmations of a meaningfulness born of an experience misperceived as being a faithful rendering of reality. Our inboxes are too full to read, so we must be fed a feed. Bobby is at Gold’s Gym. Sally is Jamba Juice. These are the lines for the appetites that are forged for us, whet with the misguided belief that we are smelling what’s really cooking outside the realm of marketing dollars that lubricate the entire chewing and swallowing process. These people were thrust before us, not out of the merit of being our friends, but out of the merit of being our friends with something commercially viable for us to consume. We have too many friends to talk to - so we've been spared having to, the machine will do it for everyone. We can just listen. Listen to what the algorithms spit out this month.

At a certain point everything is so hyper personal, so perfectly crafted for our consumption based upon our 10,000 previous choices, that we forget we are eating it all up, all the time, every time we tune in, thus consequently tuning out all else that might actually be before us.

And suddenly, when one can hear the static, one is no longer hypnotized by the 10,000 story lines – and one can easily change the channel.

Ultimately, from CNN to your Facebook feed, there is one imperative - click here. Thus you're measured and weighed, your impulse tabulated and stored, so your next one can best be fabricated for you in the soundscape of a numbing, commercial static. 

I'm not trying to hate. I'm trying to rationalize a sudden lack of enthusiasm that has left me feeling blessedly lonely online, that more often than not, leads me to venture out into the real world, to strike up a conversation or two.