Self improvement thread

Discussion in 'Health' started by 9suns, Jun 30, 2022.

  1. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Whether it's alcohol, tobacco, or some other poison, in most cases it is not necessary to do the cold turkey thing. There is stuff to help. as @Qildail says, if necessary, go talk to a doctor about it.

    When someone gives me the cold-turkey talk, I usually find it to be a guy with a macho and/or puritanical streak. But, hey, if it worked for them!

    Yes, I was gentle on my giving up nicotine. I'd had previous failure with gum, but the patches really took the pain away. One gets a hit with gum: patches keep the nicotine level above craving but below hit.

    Actually, I didn't even completely stop smoking for the first week. The occasional one. It didn't matter, because my decision was "irrevocable," and even if I did that up to the day before, I had to be a non-smoker on the chosen date and ever after. But... every cigarette just makes it a little harder not to have the next one.

    Withdrawal Symptoms

    We don't get withdrawal symptoms because we gave something up. We get them because we did it! This is another of those simple truths that is obvious, but actually hard to realise. You don't get withdrawal symptoms because yougave up smoking: you get them because you smoked.

    It is now thirty years since I stopped smoking. i have no interest or temptation whatsoever. But if I did smoke a cigarette, it would probably be 20 a day again from that point.

    Alcohol is a little more complex, because most drinkers are not alcoholics. Even if they drink daily, they are not going to writhing on the floor if they stop.
     
  2. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    This thread is timely since I've been thinking about quitting drinking. Mostly because it's hindering taking my health and workouts to the next level. I have been tapering down over the last 6 months, but it's still calories I don't need, and if I have a moderate buzz on my cravings take off and I eat dumb stuff before bed. I also know it affects reaching deep sleep which is essential for muscle recovery. Also I'm more likely to skip a morning workout if I've had a couple the night before. Not from hangover but my motivation tends to diminish if I've even had a glass of wine the night before.

    I've been working out for the last 2 years. My weight is pretty much the same but my strength and muscle definition is better than its been for 20+ years. The working out has become a habit and part of my lifestyle. I've been thinking about how much I could improve past the current plateau if I was 20-30 lbs lighter, and giving up alcohol would be a good way to start.
     
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  3. Qildail

    Qildail Friend

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    Well then, if I can ever get my schedule undorked enough we can meet up sometime, we'll have to find a decent juice bar. Or something. I'm sure someplace down the interstate there has an artisan water shoppe. Or something.

    In all seriousness though, good luck with that drop if you decide to commit to it. Even with all the weight I've run off this year (and I know I still need to do more), I'm not quite ready to give up my evening wine glass just yet.
     
  4. 9suns

    9suns [insert unearned title here]

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    I've quited cold turkey, didn't use medication for it, but can see how some people may need it to be able to quit successfully.
    BMI shaming...never had that happen to me, however I don't have much of a problem with it because everyone should have an athletic figure for optimal health and well being, so even if it happened to me I would largely agree with the GP. I understand that people is very sensible to it and of course won't sit well with many, I'm just talking about myself. Currently I'm in the middle of my weight loss journey and feel better than ever, can't wait to lose those last 10-12 kilos :)
     
  5. 9suns

    9suns [insert unearned title here]

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    It will help you a lot, specifically with bloat and muscle recovery. I'm on the same boat as you, hitting the gym 3-4 times per week and going for that defined, improved physique. Already lost 15 kilos in 5 months and need to lose another 10-12, I'm starting to see the real progress now because I went back to the physique I had when I smoked but with more strenght and health. Can't wait to see how I look like in 6 months at this pace. Best luck with it!
     
  6. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    I've watched the many YouTube videos focused on what happens to your body once you quit alcohol for 30 days and that's definitely additional motivation. I'll get there, and likely before the end of the Summer. One thing that helped me taper down from drinking 3-4x a week, to 1-2x was Kratom.

    I was introduced to Kratom by a friend who has used it to cut down on his Psych meds, as well as the frequency in which he has seizures. I guess some people have used it to get off of opiates. I take a teaspoon of powder in water after work a couple times a week and I'm much less inclined to have a beer. It doesn't give me a buzz per se, but it does tend to take the edge off and help mood. I guess Asian countries have used it for centuries.
     
  7. Tchoupitoulas

    Tchoupitoulas Friend

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    Not much wisdom here but a few quick thoughts:

    I quit smoking many years ago after thinking it'd be impossible. I made the firm decision, though, that if I did quit, I might stand a chance of dying from something other than a tobacco-related disease. As @Thad E Ginathom noted above, once the decision was made, it was comparatively easy. It helped that the patch had just come out. The first day was great - liberating, even. The second and third days were hard, and required resolve and keeping busy. But, after a few days, I didn't really struggle with it. If I'd known quitting would be that easy, I'd have done it much sooner...

    I've found that moderating alcohol consumption gets easier with age. I'm in my mid-40s now and seldom if ever drink beer - I start getting a hangover of sorts even before I've finished a pint. I've switched to a sniff of bourbon in the evening and seldom finish even a small glass of it. And a small tipple helps reduce the calories vs beer, I suppose.

    Finally, if you're cutting out things like nicotine or alcohol, and if you use them as a crutch when stressed, give some careful consideration to strategies for dealing with stress. That's been the hardest thing for me. After I came off the patch, insomnia hit hard. Even after taking up a rigorous exercise routine, which didn't exhaust me as I'd hoped, my doctor ended up putting me on Ambien. It took me a long time to come off it, and doing so involved finding ways of dealing better with stress.
     
  8. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Yes! It's odd, though: sometimes I think it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and sometimes I think it was actually quite easy. That decision and really meaning it is the actual hard bit.
    Haa... yes. That should be the next thing to give up. Not the same drug (that one doesn't work for me) but I take a mild dose of an anti-anxiety medication. Giving up that one would be good. It really shouldn't be a biggie, either, no real nasties. Worst thing should be a couple of sleepless nights. It's just a matter of decision-making and doing it.

    Salt.

    About thirty-five years ago, a girlfriend asked me why I put salt in my cooking. I replied that it made stuff taste better. She said, "No, it doesn't: it just makes stuff taste of salt!" I stopped. I compensated, for a while, with lots of garlic in everything. I use almost no solt in my own cooking now*, and never, ever add to food on the plate. I don't miss it. I'm certain I get plenty from other sources, and actively dislike the actual taste of it on food. (except... on potato crisps (many of you guys call them chips)!)

    Sugar.

    This would be my biggie. I am no longer a daily chocolate-bar eater; I do not drink cola or other carbonated drinks. I have a level teaspoon in a mug of tea two to three times a day, and two tsp of sugar in my nightly mug of cocoa. I eat some stuff, like biscuits, buns, sesame balls.

    It seems to me that I do eat a lot of sugar, but I know, compared to much of the world, it's nothing. But, if it ever became a health problem, then it might be tougher than nicotine for me!

    India has very high rates of both diabetes and blood-pressure problems. A pinch of salt is actually a handful, and white rice, pure carbohydrate, is served by the shovel full! (at least here, which is the rice-eating end of the country).

    But, wherever... Salt and sugar intake is something you guys might want to consider. If you don't have a good reason to now, it is a good idea not to develop one later.


    *ok, I confess to a few drops of soy sauce on mushrooms. That's salty. But I mean a few drops.
     
  9. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    I can now drink a maximum of 3 coffees a day. Tea and water remain.

    It was a slow process. I am more hungry though, so yeah that happens.
     
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  10. 9suns

    9suns [insert unearned title here]

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    Congrats!

    The hunger is the most difficult aspect to control, because it requires the discipline of not eating (or eating something very, very low in calories) to avoid gaining extra weight.

    I think the real bad habit is bringing things to our mouths (cigarettes, coffee, unnecessary snacks, nails, etc). I could get rid of the anxiety once I managed to quit all of those habits and went to a nutricionist to have a solid meal plan, so I finally don't have the necessesity of bringing unnecessary things to my mouth. I see that most people don't really "quit" but "changes" one bad habit for another, ie: quitted smoking but now I drink twice as much coffee, and as such they don't get rid of the problem completely IMO.
     
  11. GuySmiley'sMonkey

    GuySmiley'sMonkey Almost "Made"

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    This is a great thread!

    The focus has been related to physical self-improvement. I'd be interested to hear any disciplines people use to improve the mind. For example, I'm considering going back to studying the ancient Greek language after a break of almost 30 years. If I commit to this it would ideally consist of an hour a day of study. My hope is that it will keep my mind malleable as I pass through middle age (currently 48), assisting analytical thinking and pattern recognition.

    Anyone else taking their minds to the gym?

    What about digging into creative outlets? Learning an instrument? Water colour painting? Woodwork? All require discipline and help a zen like state of being in "the zone".
     
  12. Rob the Comic

    Rob the Comic banned from ASR

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    I’m 62 and I finish the Cryptic Crossword every day and have read my entire life. I’ve had serious cancer twice, so it’s also important to me to keep physically fit.
     
  13. nithhoggr

    nithhoggr Author of the best selling novel Digital Jesus

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    Any period of Greek in particular? I was awful at Greek when I took it in college (we started with Attic, like most people do), but I remember Homeric Greek was particularly a nightmare (I took a class reading the Iliad in Greek). I also took Biblical Greek for a semester, which was pretty easy compared to Homer. I swear the only reason I survived as long as I did in Greek was that my professor really liked me. (And I figured out how to write a full paper on a line or two of close reading so I didn't have to deal with more than that.)

    I've been learning Japanese for a few years now...weekly classes, plus studying the Kanji outside class, about an hour a day or so. It's definitely been a mental workout...so much different from any other language I've studied. Thinking about starting studying Hebrew again, too...since I'm converting to Judaism (and have been working on that for a while), that one's got a practical side to it, too.

    I've also been taking Karate classes, which is kind of both mind and body...learning the forms and figuring out sparring strategy really gets your mind into it, too. Maybe that's why I've enjoyed it more than other exercise I've tried.

    I've got a clavichord sitting next to my desk, and I really ought to start practicing it again...I'm so bad at tuning it, but I really do miss actually making music in addition to listening to it. I also want to learn to play the lute eventually...took lessons for a semester or so in college, but didn't have time to stick with it.
     
  14. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Believe or not but exercise is the best thing you can do for your brain. Lot of research shows that there’s a relation with physical activity and Alzheimer's and also depression

    I read Spark by John Ratey where he says that exercise produces BDNF which has an effect on memory and plenty of other cognitive benefits. I tend to think that you are much better off doing sports over regular workouts. The less likely you are to use earphones for an activity the better off you are

    next thing I think is engaging in activities that focus the mind. Yoga and meditation are both very good
     
  15. GuySmiley'sMonkey

    GuySmiley'sMonkey Almost "Made"

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    Wow, your Greek is far better than mine! I took a year of Attic Greek at Uni and a 2 years of Koine. Homeric Greek was always a goal but never a reality. The trouble with learning a language outside of a course of study is the lack of accountability. I can see a benefit in a thread like this in checking up on one another's progress.

    Renaissance music has always been one of my loves. When I was a teenager I wanted to be either a composer or a harpsichord builder, neither of which eventuated LOL: a music nerd's equivalent of wanting to become an astronaut when I grew up. I toyed with building a clavichord sold in kit form here, but it's been a step too far.

    You, my friend, are the person I aspired to be but never became.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2022
  16. 9suns

    9suns [insert unearned title here]

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    Good suggestion.
    I excercise my mind by reading and listening everything I can in english (first language is spanish), so if I want to google something, I do it in english, same if I search a youtube video.

    Another good exercise I do is freestyle rapping, I have been improvising (inventing the rap at the moment, no pre written lyrics) for the last 14 years. I think it is the best exercise for the mind by far, because you need to rhyme, adapt yourself to the beat's tempo (which can change btw) and be aware of your surroundings to include them in your freestyle if you want. It requires lots of practice to do decently, let alone well, but is the most mentally rewarding hobbie IMO. This is a great example, he improvises with the words the other man says:


    Of course, that's top tier and around the highest skills level that can be obtained, but you can see his mental agility truly is something else.

    I focused this thread mainly on physical improvement because it is what occupied the highest priority in my life this last year, and truly after improving my habits I agree with the ancient greeks: "mens sana in corpore sano".
    There's no mental health without physical health, and viceversa.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 15, 2022
  17. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    For the last seven years I have endeavored to enjoy a 2 mile aerobic walk five to six times each week. Result has been reduction of resting heart rate from mid 80s to typical of 50 ~ 52 and sometimes dipping to 46 BPM. My cardiologist is very happy about this.

    However not everyday goes as planned. Today upon return from exercise walk I managed to catch my toe on the cement steps leading up to our house and take a serious fall. Felt like how I imagine being thrown to the mat by a Sumo wrestler. Couldn't even call out, wind knocked out. Unfortunately one knee took some damage. Being a cardiac patient and on anti-coagulants, even simple scrapes result in what looks like a major crime scene. Now feeling the overall body aches. It's all ok, just some time to heal back to normal activity.
     
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  18. Priidik

    Priidik MOT: Estelon

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    Some thoughts.

    Coffee. Some of this stuff should be set into context. Coffee is not universally bad. Some people thrive on it, for others it destroys sleep. It is quite well studied scientifically, there is not much controversy here.
    Also I get slightly triggered every time someone spreads advice from a nutrition adviser. Most of these are hacks without relevant training and not being grounded in science (not that science is the only way).

    Exercise. For modern first World person this has to be the best intervention anyone can do. It literally improves every parameter of health and wellbeing. Best to combine resistance training with zone 2 cardio and once a week try to hit your HR max.
    Most people underestimate what minimum good level of exercise is per week. It is a lot of daily moving around (at least 4 hours of easy activity a day - walking, gardening etc), at least a few hours of hard resistance exercise for muscles per week.
    For optimal health add in VO2 max and top heart rate training. The latter can be in combination with speed work (sprinting).

    Belief effects. Subconscious brain is severely under appreciated and misunderstood by general public. If you truly believe something to have an effect - it very likely will. (Dr Alia Crum's and other's research). You can spike insulin in your bloodstream by believing you just drank a sugar loaded drink - even when it had no sugar, just sweeteners; an actual example from a research study.
    By extension - you believe coffee is bad for you - it will be bad, certainly more bad than if your believed it was good for you.
    You believe exercise is fantastic for you - it will have more grand positive effect.

    Also. Scientific tools for personal use are akin taking sledgehammer to repair your watch (I stole that from Dr Layne Norton). These give solid general guidance, but based on statistics and averaging. Every person is somewhat unique. Best to try stuff on your own with open mind to dial in what is really effective for you.
     
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  19. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    And sometimes we even believe things in spite of ourselves.

    I was in a mall about two decades ago and a young girl working a kiosk approached me. She put a copper band on my arm and told me it would give me strength, that if she attempted to push my arm down, the copper's power would make my arm immobile. So, I have a degree in psychology and am aware of suggestibility, and even knowing that, I still behaved as she wanted me to; my arm wouldn't move anytime I was wearing that copper band. Subconsciously, I must assume I was attracted to the girl and didn't want to disappoint her. The skeptic in me wanted to prove her wrong but I played into the effect anyway because that's really what I wanted.

    Later in his career mentalist Derren Brown explained suggestibility was about people's personal narrative, that many people want to surrender to another even if they said they didn't. So, long story short, what you tell yourself and what you really believe don't always align.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2023
  20. Priidik

    Priidik MOT: Estelon

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    I am biased, so I will say strength training.
    This will be the most potent tool to get the physiology in check, and the brain is a lot of physiology.
    Next for dopamine system health - cold bath, and make sure it sucks hard and you are scared to do it. Overcoming suckage is superb for brain health.

    Strength training is the sole reason I practically dropped alcohol. I used to love my malts. Now the collection collects dust for over 5 years. Drinking whiskey and having serious goals with physical strength do not go together.
    Now lately finding out science tells one of the best thing for brain is weight lifting and one of the worst is alcohol.


    What is left is spiritual. Psychology has never helped me - the psychology tools appear to be full of mechanistic stuff that predicts how it should work but often does not.
    Buddhist practices have helped me a great deal. Meditation, when you get it and understand the practice, is transformative. It changed me to a great deal.
    I give a lot less crap about anything but my two kids.
    For context I know people who are crazy gym rats, eat well, sleep ok and still suffer in their heads. They lack the spiritual part.

    Activity wise carpentry is great.
    Working with wood or other natural materials has some deeply mind calming vibe.
    I go to forest and chop some firewood when I feel spread thin. Always appreciating how the tree was grown from the seed and how the chemical energy for heating my house makes me content. This works better than any teaching or science.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 12, 2023

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