Winter blues? Shine a light.

Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD syndrome. It’s real, and it’s thoroughly unpleasant.

Mercifully I don’t get it any more because my life does give me the chance to get outside enough. If you’re chained to a desk all day, you might want to try light therapy.

I used an Apollo Golite (now owned and made by Phillips under the same Golite name). There’s probably cheaper options that work just as well. I wouldn’t know personally, I was young and my parents were indulgent. Anything to get me out of bed and off to school in midwinter. No, cold flannels don’t work.

If you’re not getting enough sunlight, it wouldn’t hurt to supplement with vitamin D. By itself or in a multi, it’s all good.

Don’t hide in the dark. Be well.

Having the desired effect as you can see.

Talk to old people.

Not just your grandparents. Go to a residential/nursing home and go talk to old codgers you’ve never met. Why? No one deserves to be isolated the way some of our elderly are. It’s hard to maintain a big circle of peers when you were born under the premiership of David Lloyd George, and you can’t get out much because your legs or your bladder won’t keep you going for long.

It’s not their fault. It’s not yours either, but you have the physical capital to spare.

I don’t think I should need to convince anyone that long life is central to human culture as we know it. Seriously, the reason we don’t butcher each other nearly as much is that we have much older leaders. That’s just one positive effect of keeping these silver-haired sages around.

What about the ones going a bit fuzzy in between the ears? Here’s an anecdote. My parents ran a residential home for 17 years, and I actually spent the first eight years of my life living in the same building. My absolute favourite moment was speaking to a little man called Joe. (I wish I could find his last name.) He was about 5’4, he had brilliant blue eyes, and he was rather senile. A happy fog, you could say.

One day I managed to click something in his head. A memory of the 40s from a throwaway comment about Italy. I don’t remember exactly, I’m getting old you know…

Little Joe sits up straight in his chair, face aglow with a huge smile, and starts babbling in perfect Italian.

Beautiful.

Christmas is coming, and 450,000 old people in the UK will be spending it alone. You can make it better.

Just use your legs while you still can.

Let yourself be happy.

The first time I lived in China, I had culture shock so intense it was all I could do to go out of my bedroom for the first three months.

Everyone feels culture shock to a degree, but I made it MUCH worse for myself because my expectations of myself were so unreasonable. I often denied myself the right to feel happy in the present, on the premise it had to be earned by some future accomplishment.

It was self-harm, and ironically it put me in such an emotional state that I’d never be able to reach any future goals.

Just this evening I was talking about money and happiness with my twin brother and his friend Kelly. She said “You could be happy. On the other hand you could be happy and have a nice bag on your shoulder.”

This too is self-harm.

There are only three things I feel I HAVE to do, and they’re really rather selfish when it comes down to it.

  1. Look after my health.
  2. Show gratitude.
  3. Try to expand the circles I live in.

Why selfish? Because these things make me happy. Of course, when I do these things it seems to benefit others and makes me a useful, likeable person to have around. But the core motivations are self-interested.

Be selfish. Let yourself be happy. Let yourself be happy NOW. You don’t have to “earn” it.

Eat more vegetables.

My mother is starting the Fast Diet. “Tomorrow”. Even something as simple as consciously eating a quarter of your daily calories twice a week goes astray when you keep resetting your first day on the diet.

Enough already. The reason you overeat is that your body is still crying out for nutrients after you’re so full of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that you want to be sick. (We’ve all done it.) Go and eat a bag of spinach. A big one. Then later, lots of brown rice and kale. Fill up on the stuff. I’d be amazed if your hunger suddenly goes away and you feel satiated rather than full.

There’s lots more to be said on human nutrition obviously, but it really comes down to getting as much nutrient density in your food as possible. Do that, and your body will start functioning properly again, your weight will reduce to a healthy setpoint determined by your DNA, and you’ll live to play with your grandchildren.

Joel Fuhrman calls it a nutritarian diet. I call it eating more plants. A lot more. Same thing.

Notice that Fuhrman talks about re-training your taste buds. This is partly an issue of habit formation, but also one of learning how to cook plants. Most people can’t cook for shit anyway, and it usually revolves around a chunk of meat on a plate with other stuff as an afterthought. Pathetic. Buy a cookbook from Fuhrman or John McDougall. My favourite veggie cookbook is Veg Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

I’m off to eat some spicy cassava mash with a ton of green stuff in it.

Stop watching motivational workout videos.

Watching CT all day isn’t going to motivate you.

Or at least stop bloody showing them to me.

The people in the video are usually genetic freaks. You are probably not. Stop making yourself miserable because you’ll never be 6’6 and handsome as well as deadlifting 700lb.

Even if you did have the genes (and the drugs) that are usually at play, you haven’t cultivated the habitual focus on busting a gut like they have. I certainly haven’t. You’re probably watching the video in the hopes that it’ll be some exogenous source of motivation. But it doesn’t work. You’ll get fired up for a few minutes, but at some point you need to develop the resolve to motivate yourself. You might as well start now.

Besides, most of these people live a life that will never intersect with yours. Sure, a one-off response on a message board might feel validating, but you need to go out and find people in your own daily life that can support your goals. Ross Enamait is a phenomenal specimen, but he’s never going to be my training partner. The man is too busy with his own life. By all means, get a hold of some of his books and DVDS, but then go to the gym and reach out to the other serious athletes and trainers that you can build relationships with.

Now close Youtube before you get square eyes.

Self Control

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Most Christians would do well to start their exploration of faith in this verse. Frankly, if you’re not developing these qualities, why are you wasting your time? I don’t care about your “relationship” with Jesus, SHOW ME YOU’RE A GOOD PERSON.

I also think pastors and church leaders would do well to start at the end of the list and work backwards. We all know what love is, arguably. It’s not something most of us have to really cultivate. Love of enemies is another issue altogether, but follow me on this.

Self control though? You must be joking. Real health issues aside, I think being overweight or obese makes you a bad Christian. Wanna tell me about sin when you can’t control your eating? PUT THE COOKIE DOWN. Your body’s supposed to be a temple, not a megachurch.

I think Christians would do well to embrace the insights of behavioural psychology. I could talk about it but I’d just be plagiarising James Clear’s excellent article. Much of the ideas on self-control I’ve heard bandied about in churches are as useful as a carpet fitter’s ladder.

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