Boring meals

I’ve been thinking a lot about what inspires someone to not only start eating well, but to keep doing so.

Starting on a healthy diet is usually exciting. You have goals, a plan, and you’re actually doing something about it. But keeping it going over the long run gets boring and difficult. Shopping for groceries, cooking, and cleaning can be tiresome after a week. Then, if the diet isn’t satiating enough, cravings drag you to junk food, and resolve dissolves.

From personal experience and observing solid long term wellness in “senior” friends and family, the greatest factor to success is a regular diet. It’s the Archimedes’ lever, in a sense. Good food eaten on a regular basis seems to be the practice that clears the path to good health. And from what I’ve seen and done myself, it’s the boring stuff that works over the long run.

My wife and I decided years ago that we would eat well, and to do the hard work involved with that. Whether we’re tired, energetic, happy, or in the middle of a fight, we both know that as dinner time approaches we’re going to cook something. We know that as the weekend approaches, we’re going to go grocery shopping.

The thing that makes it easier for us is coming up with familiar meals that we like. Korean food, Chinese food, and Italian food are some of the staples. We have an informal system in place for things like who makes the meat dish, and who preps and cooks the veggies. Rice is a normal part of our diet, so someone, usually my wife, gets that going right away. Dishes are done by the person with more energy for the most part.

Since we know we’re going to need veggies every night, we shop for at least three kinds at the weekend farmer’s market. My wife is an expert at inventory, and makes sure everything else in the pantry is in stock.

The thing is, it’s not hard to start. The hard part is to keep going. I hate to say this, but there is no easy way through that part. You’ve just gotta do the grocery shopping, the cooking, and the cleaning. It can be hard work, especially if you have a full time job plus commute.

My advice for you, if you are making plans to get healthy, is to drop the exercise programs, and establish a daily system of buying, cooking, and eating food that works for you. If you need to make extra food to last two days, and save a day of cooking, go for it. You don’t have to be a meal prepper with a thousand tupperwares lining your fridge. Just start small.

Exercise is sexy, but it takes time and a lot of energy. Not only will you be tired, but figuring out the whole food factor at the same time will be just unbearable. If you figure out the food stuff first, you’re going to see physical results anyway.

The last bit that makes it work for us is that we’re not perfect, and we have audibles. Meaning, we have some go-to places for relatively healthy food when we just. Can. Not. Cook.

Your diet should bore you, in a way. Think really old people, like people in their 80’s and 90’s, and the boring food they eat. There’s a reason they’re old. Make food so routine that you don’t have to think about it. Set it up  so that you’re full afterwards, energized the next day, and happy with yourself on a continuing basis.

Live powerfully,

Steve

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Copyright © 2017 Steve Ko, All rights reserved.

Let’s Be Happy

Brilliant Friends,

We know what it means to be happy. We have been happy. And I’m going to take a leap here and say it. We are happy.

If you’re not happy right now, I’ll say this. Let’s be happy.

I’m going to play a trick on you now. Scan your surroundings for these:

  • What you are holding in your hand.
  • What you are wearing.
  • What sounds you are hearing.
  • Where you are.
  • The people next to you.
  • What you feel.
  • What you’ve been thinking about.
  • Something new you learned.
  • The weather.
  • The food you ate last night.
  • A deep talk with someone, and who that person is.

Alright, have these things visualized in your mind, or look at them if they’re right there.

Can you be happy about any one of these things? Then be happy about it. Say to yourself, “Hm, I have this. I’m happy that I have it.” Expand out with it, try saying this for three or four simple things that are in your head.

Oh wait, that’s just gratitude. Exactly. That’s how the two connect. Tricked you, didn’t I? Did you dare feel happy for a moment?

Here’s the logic. If we can be happy about something when we acknowledge that we have it, then it would be difficult to be happy if we don’t think about what we have.

It’s hard to just be happy because we’re so busy thinking of what we don’t have. Things aren’t going our way. We could use more of that. It would be nice if we had that.

Wanting and getting more is part of a thriving life. But if we don’t take a moment to think about the good things we already have, or the good we experienced in the past, we won’t be happy.

Happy is an attitude. Attitudes come from decisions. You decide how you approach life. You decide what attitude you don.

There’s no obligation to be happy about anything, ever. If you want to be happy, though, be happy now for what you have. Practice it, perpetuate it, and the world is a happy place. Even in the midst of wanting, getting, and growing.

Live powerfully,

Steve

Do We Need the Sun

Have you felt what it’s like to not soak in UVB rays for days, even weeks, in a row? It doesn’t feel good. It is sad. It is dark. It is depressing. Literally. Have you seen Dracula? He’s pale. He’s pissed. He’s very, very moody.

Oh wait. For most people, that’s the norm. I had quite a few episodes of depression after severals days of not being in the sun, particularly during finals week in college.

But we’re not most people. So we’re going to figure out how to get a steady supply of UVB.

My next question about UVB, vitamin D, and cholesterol sulphate is, what’s the deal with not having access to the “right” type of sunlight throughout the year? Do humans really need D and sulphate constantly then? Would we be fine without it, as perhaps our ancestors may have been?

Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT gives a lot of compelling reasons why we do need these two supernutrients. Cholesterol sulphate keeps red blood cells together. It also delivers cholesterol and sulphate to all cells.

But this doesn’t explain the fact that we’re not all living with regular UVB light. If Homo sapiens evolved without it all the time, do we need it that much? We’re on the same Earth as our earliest ancestors, right? Maybe not.

Think geographically, historically.

Homo Sapiens are currently believed to have evolved in the South and East African regions 100,000 years ago. This area, shown in dark blue, straddles the equator. Ethiopia at the top, and South Africa at the bottom.

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The capital cities are Addis Ababa in the north, and Pretoria in the south. Guess what. Both see the sun at well above 50 degrees horizontal, at some point during the day, through all times of the year.

That doesn’t seem like a coincidence. It makes sense to me that our species birthed, survived, and thrived in a place that was ideal in significant ways. Regular UVB exposure would guarantee vitamin D and cholesterol sulphate production within the body.

But from a limited perspective, the fact that this region receives optimal sun position throughout the year seems to beat the argument of coincidence. Chance, yes.

Evolution patiently progresses on the emerging footholds of chance. Something, maybe many things, presented in the environment to allow the first homo sapiens to thrive and multiply. Perfect sunlight could have been one of those chance elements.

If we say our skin makes life-supporting molecules from the sun, and food doesn’t give us that, and these things are critical for our survival and wellness, then I will say we are made of the sun. If we are made of the sun, we must feed on the sun. At fifty plus degrees, of course.

Live powerfully,

Steve


 

Links:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Life Extension Vitamin D3, 5000 IU, 60 Softgels

Mercola on tanning and sun

Mercola on Cholesterol Sulphate

 

Amazon Affiliate Links

Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

I link to tools that I have used, found meaningful, and that I believe could benefit my brilliant readers.

Cracked

Cracks define the beauty that distinguishes each of us.

They are the most easily discernible features of any surface. Red earth stands out clearer on either side of a blue river. Lightening intensifies a black sky. The grain running along wood separates oak from walnut.

People have cracks. The damage is the story we remember about them.

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There’s no stronger type of skin than scar tissue. Callouses mark hands where strain is endured, breaks in bone heal and rarely break there again.

We have learned to conjure this biological magic. Strength training is a methodical practice of breaking ourselves, healing, and emerging greater.

The gashes that run across a lifetime shake us, inspire us to fight, and spur us to heal. Trauma marks the moments that ignite us to survive.

The gathered strength from healed wounds powers flight. The intricate design of past pains wraps around the legs of life as they drive forward with force, the force derived from those very pains.

This is my imagined rendition of the Japanese art form called kintsugi.

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Kintsugi is the repair of broken pottery using gold-laced lacquer. The mended bowl, with shining traces of damage, is thought to hold greater beauty than its original, virgin form.

I am here because of the scars that mark me.

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I am perpetually curious about food, strength training, and mind cultivation. Not because I’ve found the answers at the beginning. Not because I was always happy, pain free, and clear minded and strong.

But because it took so long for me to acknowledge my pain. And to figure out how to mend the wounds. And because I am searching for wellness in every corner of life.

We learn to thrive, shaped by moments close to death. Experiences of hell. We don’t have to forget the hurt. We can appreciate that we are different, unique, reformed by it.

We are free to seek truth and live in wellness. We don’t have to hide our scars. We are our scars. And that makes us wondrous to behold.

Live powerfully!

Steve

Thanks for the inspiration Ted.

 

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Water is Scarce

This is a solvable problem. But it’s kind of hard.

Even in developed places, like Los Angeles, clean reliable drinking water is not a given. I once left a white bowl full of tap water overnight. The next morning I saw that the bottom was yellow. That is not long term drinkable. Maybe if I had no other water on the planet. But no.

So I need to figure out how to get a regular supply of drinking water.

There’s the whole plastic issue too. Bottles made with BPA containing materials are the norm, and it’s hard or expensive or unreliable to use BPA free bottles still. Glass seems to be a winner in the BPA fight but then it’s a loser in the weight and practicality fight.

Perhaps I could just move to the mountains and find a spring. There actually are quite a few springs up there. Problem solved, but many many others created.

Let’s step back a little. The great thing about all this struggling is that it’s happening. We’re trying to create a world that is not here yet. We want to have water that is from a natural source, that is clean and healthy, and to have it regularly. We thought we solved the problem by creating pipes and water processing plants, but then it got complicated.

People who took control of those things did not have the best information, the tools, the desire, to provide the water that would feed everyone well. They solved one problem they thought was important, and neglected the others that were more important.

We want to live a different life. One that does not quite exist. And we are creating it. Business will grow from this desire and demand and need. And structure will surround it, and enforce it. And a new reality will take place.

And that is change. It’s growth of the Universe.

Here’s one more step for me. I found a local water shop that filters tap and dispenses for quite cheap per gallon. I met the owner, who’s run this service for 13 years. And he’s a jolly guy. I trust him. So I bought bottles (not BPA free, will get there next) and figured out a way to get the water into my glass dispensing jug. I use the fuel theft technique, as seen in Rat Race, executed by Cuba.

First

Set up the top of the dispensing jug lower than the 5gal bottle. If you can’t set it up that low, it’s okay. As long as the top of the jug is lower than the final water level of the 5gal by the time the jug is full, the water will still flow.

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Second

Place a tube long enough to reach into the 5gal, at the final water level, and long enough to place into the top of the jug. Leave the jug end out for now. You’ll need to stick it into your mouth.

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The water level in the 5gal shown above was the final resting point after the jug was completely filled. My glass jug is 2gal, so you get an idea how much it would take.

Third

This is the grease monkey step – suck on the free tube end until the water flows, then place the tube end into the jug. It helps to secure the tube in the top of the jug if you can, shown below.

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Fourth

Make sure the water is flowing into the jug.

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Just so I make sure you’re not being misled, that really cool looking flowy line coming from the end of the tube is not water! It’s part of the jug’s logo. The water is sort of dispersing out against the glass here. Stop looking at the other stuff on my table.

Once the jug is full, simply pull the tube out of the 5gal bottle. The water will stop running. Depending how long your tube is, you may have to pull it out a bit sooner, or else the extra water remaining in the tube could overfill your jug. Anticipate!

Alright, these were terrible photos, I know. I’m sorry. Not my best art. But I figured it would be good enough for this purpose.

If you’re allergic to bad photography, let me know and I may consider putting together a prettier post. Might not. But I actually might, since this guide is also for my wife, who is without a doubt reactive to bad photography.

Awesome. Find that trustworthy source of water, hustle a little bit, feed yourself well. Oh yea, and this water tastes pretty good. So I may be on to something. Let me know if you have a specific set of standards for drinking water. Would love to hear.

To powerful living!

Steve

 

Useful Tools

Glass Jug
This is what I use to dispense water. It’s been sturdy, easy to clean, and easy to refill:
Durable Glass Beverage Dispenser with Locking Clamp & Spigot ~ 2 Gallons Thick Glass Jug Bar & Party Centerpiece

Hose
So I actually detatched the hose from my Camelbak that I use for trekking for this purpose. Use whatever suits you, preferably something without that rubber scent. This is the Camelbak water pack:
Camelbak 100 oz Antidote Replacement Reservoir

Activated Bamboo Charcoal
The black things in my water jug, if you noticed. This is a bonus biohack! Absorbs positively charged microbes, particles and saves you from them. It’s what they use for poisoning in the ER. I get them from Daiso, but found similar looking ones on Amazon if you want to buy online. I’m going to try these next time.
Kishu Binchotan Charcoal Personal Sticks, 6 Sticks of Water Filter

Amazon Affiliate Links

Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

I link to tools that I have used, found meaningful, and that I believe could benefit my brilliant readers.

Powerlifting and Strength Training Definitions

I realize there is a lot of jargon out there relating to strength training, so here is a basic list of commonly used and some personalized terms I use. I’ll add as I go.

 

Parallel: (Squat) Depth at the bottom of the squat. The tops of your thighs, at the hip joint, should be below the tops of your knees. This is competition standard. It is also generally the point at which you have maximal strength. Use the crease in the shorts at the hip to compare to the knees.

Bounce: (Squat) Keeping butt and hamstring tension through the bottom of the squat and beginning the upward movement without coming to a stop.

Hole: The bottom of the squat position.

Pillar Torso: A rigid thorax and abdomen during movement to maintain a neutral spine.

  • How to – Breathe deep into bottom of lungs and hold against abdominal wall. Rib cage down, shoulders flexed back and down. Should feel like your torso is a cement pillar. Applies to all powerlifting exercises.
  • Practice with a belt secured around belly at navel level. Suck in air and practice holding it low in the abdomen, flexing against the belt. You don’t have to use a formal lifting belt, a regular pants one will do. The harder you can flex against the belt, the better. It gives you spinal support. Try a body weight squat while holding in air like this. You’ll notice an instant improvement in stability.
  • Practical use: learn to do this without a belt. When lifting things, you can use the pillar torso cue to keep your spine aligned.

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Earthing, Rain or Shine

Ground yourself.

The sky emitted that pure atmospheric blue earlier this week that only comes after intense rain. The wholesome downpour in Los Angeles had finally subsided.

So naturally I joined the radiant sun and walked barefoot to the park. I made it a point to wear shorts and sandals to maximize my connection to the grass and the sunlight.

And sitting on the grass, I let flow the Earth’s energy to my body.

Literally!

Between 1,000 to 2,000 thunderstorms raged elsewhere in the world at the same time as the one here in Los Angeles. Lightning struck the ground 5,000 times per minute around the globe, as it does all day, every day. These flashes transfer electrons from the sky to the ground.

I took full advantage of those electrons.

It’s called grounding, in physics terms. Buildings are grounded to minimize the buildup of static charge inside. This reduces risk of fires from sparks. When we ground ourselves outside, we call it Earthing. By making skin contact with the ground, I am taking the voltage difference between the Earth and me down to zero. I equalize my surface charge with that of the Earth.

Why am I not already at a neutral, zero surface charge? Because as I walk around, sit down, and go about my daily domesticated life, electrons rub off of me onto the non-conductive floors and objects I touch. Wood, carpet, and linoleum are barriers to electrical conductivity from the ground. So I don’t get the replenishing electron flow from the Earth.

Think about the last time you made skin contact with the Earth for at least ten minutes. Say, at the beach or the park? Was it more than a few hours ago? Days? Weeks? Months? Years??

You’ve probably done science experiments in grade school or middle school where you rubbed a glass rod with a furry cloth and it attracted hair and feathers. This happened because the glass lost electrons to the fabric rubbing it. This positively charged the rod, thus pulling other objects with electrons, like hair, feathers, or dust, to it.

We learned how to undo the stickiness of the glass rod. Replenish its supply of electrons to balance out the surface charge. Namely, touch it with your hand. The electrons from your body neutralized the rod’s charge.

After many months of rubbing off electrons, we humans build up and maintain a positive charge on our bodies.

Build up of positive charge on the body is related to inflammation. People with carpal tunnel syndrome, autoimmune diseases, poor circulation, chronic sinusitis, and intense joint pain, conditions stemming from chronic inflammation, found relief from grounding in multiple experiments. Even if you are not dealing with severe symptoms, grounding yourself regularly can lead to positive results.

We can neutralize ourselves simply by walking around barefoot outside and spending time on the grass, dirt, or sidewalks. Concrete happens to be a gentle conductor of electricity. Since most sidewalks are in contact with the Earth below it, you can ground yourself just by walking on it barefoot.

I like getting my feet dirty and feeling the immensely stimulating ground texture under my heels and toes. You might not share that excitement with me. And I realize this is an activity usually associated with hippies or the homeless.

But you don’t have to start by shopping around downtown barefoot. If anything, walking in and of itself brings great benefits for me as stress relief. Take a walk at the end of your day, and if you feel inclined, take off your shoes for a few pioneering steps and see what it’s like.

Or try Earth Runners sandals. They are a new take on old world Mexican sandals embedded with copper plugs that connect you to the ground through silver threading in the laces. Earthing without being barefoot.

I use an Earthing mat at home to ground myself when it’s pouring rain outside. For those of you in colder climates, this is a tremendous life hack.

Marcus Aurelius once advised, “Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul”.

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Consider that we humans came into existence covered by the electromagnetic shield of the Earth, and that maintaining that connection is key to good health. How wonderful that we can absorb the same energy as all other living beings around the globe!

Perhaps Earthing is not just about taking in charge from the ground. Maybe we are also giving our own energy to the world, to someone Earthing just on the other side of the planet.

Go, walk the earth. Let your foot grip the ground, as it was meant to, and welcome in the energy of the universe!

To powerful living!

Steve

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