It was my birthday just recently. As opposed to reviewing my life and making resolutions at New Year’s, I usually do that on my birthday instead. I started to do this about 3 years ago, and I have found that it seems to be bearing fruit. The end of the year is quite stressful anyway and replete with activities and people. Trying to do an evaluation at that time never worked for me. Hence, on my birthday. Which I don't like celebrating in any case, so at least it serves some purpose.
It did not help that on my birthday here in Buenos Aires, I got robbed by a taxi driver. It was my own stupid fault. I let my guard down, I was tired, I didn’t do any of the things that I normally do. And I had the bad luck to run into a real crook who took instant advantage when he saw the opening. I have to give him credit for that. I think my meditation must’ve been paying off, because instead of beating myself up for days and feeling stupid about it, I have shrugged my shoulders, took the lessons to heart, and just simply moved on from the incident. But, I will discuss it in another article, simply as a brief lesson on things to do, and things not to do, when traveling. Especially in a place that you’re not familiar with.
I’m heading back to Asia in a couple of days, already packing. I will be glad to get back actually. I’ve been on the ground in South America now for almost exactly a month. And only now am I starting to feel comfortable here. Not completely comfortable, I have to admit. But I am starting to get there.
I think my meditation must’ve been paying off, because instead of beating myself up for days and feeling stupid about it, I have shrugged my shoulders, took the lessons to heart, and just simply moved on from the incident. But, I will discuss it in another article, simply as a brief lesson on things to do, and things not to do, when traveling. Especially in a place that you’re not familiar with.
It was a year ago, following my last birthday, that I embarked on a regimen of self-improvement. I had discovered podcasts, I started to write, I started to make a real effort towards getting a second passport, I continued to work on trying to disengage myself from the day-to-day operations of the business in Asia. The podcast world got me to take a serious look at different ways of working out, diets, supplements, meditation, and a host of other things that I have tried over the last year. One of the podcasts I listened to prompted me to start this blog.
Self-examination is not such a bad thing. It is a way of being able to evaluate yourself and figure out how you are doing. At least for me, it seems to be true that nobody is harder on me than myself. Meaning that I harshly criticize myself and beat myself up for all the stuff that I’ve done wrong, and then never give a thought to any credit for all the things that I may have done right. While not to be interpreted as license to blow sunshine up your own ass, there are some real benefits to taking a look at your goals, and objectively evaluating your achievements.
For example, I had set myself the goal of writing two books, and regularly making blog entries. Well I seem to have done okay on writing regular blog articles, however I don’t seem to have sent two books to any publisher for review. But, as I look back, I actually have two drafts that are in fairly good shape, they need of course a lot of work, additions, and editing, but they are there and I made a fairly significant start on both of them. Close to 50,000 words on one book and about 20,000 on the other. And of course, I am only comparing myself to myself. No point in doing otherwise. It isn’t a competition with anyone else.
A year ago, I had nothing. I had no blog, I had no book drafts, and today as I look back over the last year, I actually did produce quite a lot of work. In reviewing what I have done, this has given me encouragement to go back and start working on those books again and finish them.
A year ago, I had not even begun to think about trying to visit South America and get residency in Argentina. Today, despite some significant obstacles, I am here, and I have at least submitted the paperwork to start the residency. I hadn’t thought about learning Spanish, but today, while not anywhere near as fluent as I would wish to be, I can at least communicate to a limited degree in Spanish and my reading and writing skills are not bad.
I have made great strides on simplifying my life, putting ideas into action, and figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t. That of course is always going to be a work in progress, but I’m pretty comfortable with myself and how I’m living my life at the moment.
A year ago, I had never meditated at all. Now, I’ve probably meditated 75% of the days since last year, and I can say, with no hesitation, it has helped me to be a calmer and happier person. I am still working on it of course, and in fact I really fell off the wagon for almost 3 weeks while I was here in South America. But I have gotten back to it and it was surprising to me how much I missed meditating.
Over the last few years I had put significant effort into both life style changes and exercise. And I had succeeded in losing 15 kg initially. However, maintaining it seemed to be a real problem for me. And in the last half of the last year I ended up discovering two things; firstly, the concept of high intensity training, i.e. a short intense workout being better than a longer less intense workout. And secondly, the 8:16 eating regimen.
I’m not trying to proselytize anybody else, I’m just stating my experience with it. The high intensity workouts, have produced for me, the same, if not better physical results than the older workout regimen I was following. Under the older regimen I was spending approximately 5 to 6 hours a week working out. Now I rarely spend more than an hour working out during an entire week and I am seeing better results.
It is just over 90 days since I started following an 8:16 eating regimen. This means that in any 24 hour period you can eat for 8 hours, but you fast for 16. There are numerous benefits to this, but one of the greatest ones that I have found, is that I can eat more or less what I wish to eat during my eight hours (in my case, I have been able to continue to eat breads and chocolate), and my weight doesn’t change. Over the last 90 days my weight has not varied by more than about ½ to 1 kg. I don’t feel hungry all the time, I’m able to eat less and feel full, and I seem to have more energy. And … I don’t eat as much bread and chocolate anymore. And it is really nice not having to count calories or watching carbs vs. protein, etc. [http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/02/05/why-restricting-your-eating-time-period-to-8-hours-will-transform-your-health-fitness/] … There are loads of links out there about this. I happened to like this one.
[Addendum – I just got back after 36 days in South America. I just weighed myself. I was 85.4 kg 2 days before I left. After all the bread and pastries I consumed in South America, the stress of traveling, the constant eating that one does when traveling, … I now weigh 86.1 kg. A difference of 700 grams. That certainly seems like the 8:16 regimen helps]
Again, humans fall into an extraordinarily broad range of body types, genetics, and habits. The thing that I would recommend, based on my experience, is that you must take the time to experiment with changes to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. And I am utterly convinced of the fact, that if you are looking at your health and your weight, your lifestyle and diet are going to form about 60 to 70% of the solution. If you exercise, but eat like crap, guess what? Yes, I think you know the answer.
Personally, I have also decided that most supplements that one can find and are constantly bombarded with messages about taking, really don’t do that much good. Personally, I have found that a product called Athletic Greens seems to really do a good job for me. What do I mean when I say a good job? It seems to reduce my cravings, I feel that my digestive health in general is significantly better than it has been for many years, and I seem to in general have more energy than I have had for a long time. I don’t say that it was solely due to this product, but I personally feel that it played a large part in the health that I enjoy currently. And that’s all I take. No vitamins of any kind. Of course, common sense is to stay away from sweet soda drinks, artificial sweeteners, and most super processed foods. At one point I realized I was taking about 10 supplements a day. Now? Just Athletic Greens. And, of course, you should regularly test yourself to find out if what you are trying is actually having an effect.
I started for the first time to actually write down my goals, and then measure myself against those goals. I’ve had mixed success with that. I’ve certainly done it a little bit in the past. But I have been less than rigorous about following up. But this year, I really took it seriously. And it really made a difference to be able to look at what I had written down on a regular basis – at least every month, sometimes more.
The traveling that I have done this year, has made me appreciate the life I have in Asia. I still want to travel, and I still want to explore new places, and yes, I still want to be a digital nomad. But I have come to a greater appreciation of the home base that I have in Asia. And I think it’s always good to appreciate what you have rather than always be looking over the horizon for what you don’t. But I have been to four new countries in the last year and that is really cool.
Some, well most, of the podcasts that I used to listen to, I have dropped. In one case, I actually spoke to one of the people podcasting, and he was so patronizing and dismissive that I never listened to him again. Although, I still take his newsletter, because regardless of my personal feelings about him, he does actually put out valuable information and viewpoints. For a short while I was sucked into the podcasts vortex. I don’t think I need to explain that. But now I pick and choose who I listen to very carefully, and most of the services that I subscribed to as a result of those podcasts I have picked up what I could from and now and drop them.
But some good ones? Note To Self ; Science Friday ; Planet Money ; Hardcore History ; This Week I Learned ; As Told By Nomads
So, where does that leave me? Over the last year, I think I really did well at hitting my goals. I would give myself somewhere between a B+ and an A-. And, on top of that, when all is said and done, I consider myself to be extraordinarily fortunate. I have some really great friends, my own tribe if you will, I have a relatively successful life, and a good future. And what I really want to do is make sure that I continue over the next few years to enhance and refine what I’m doing now. I really do want to write a lot more. I would love it if I can actually produce books that some that people would buy. It was a struggle to keep up with the writing last year because of other factors that interfered with it. But at least I managed to stay up with the writing on my blog. That I think is been very helpful for me, and I hope that my huge readership (seriously poking fun at myself here) has appreciated it. I would also like to see if I could find some opportunities to teach somewhere.
In addition, I found out I could actually draw. I really want to follow up on that next year. Look for drawing on TED talks (Graham Shaw). This guy can show you how to draw in about 10 minutes. Awesome.
I hope over the next year or so to become passably fluent in Spanish, finish at least one of my two books and attempt to e-publish it on Amazon, and be well on my way to half way through my Argentinian residency. I would like to try to visit at least 2 or 3 new countries this year. I am thinking Laos, Cambodia, and Georgia. Possibly Poland or the Czech Republic if I can fit it in. After my experience on the ferry to Uruguay, I really want to try a cruise as well. Luckily, I have a friend in Thailand who does a couple a year. I’ll have to ask him about it.
I finish this article off as I am on a flight between Buenos Aires and Doha, heading back home. Curiously, I found, on my night trip out to the airport, that I have missed a really pleasant side to Buenos Aires. At night time, it looks so much friendlier than during the day. Due to my schedule of 4AM to 7PM, I only went out at night once. I think I really missed something. I’ll have to experiment with adjusting that next time. I really look forward to the next year. I wish all of my vast readership (lol) the very best and thank you for following me.