Great AA meeting last night!

Last night’s AA meeting was superb. This was my first in two weeks, so I was getting antsy, although, true to form, I would have argued that I was fine and didn’t really need to go to a meeting.

I was feeling stressed before I went. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time. I had to go to the supermarket on the way home from work, then get home and make the dinner, then get out to the hall for half-past 7. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to skip it, arguing that I was fine anyway, just as I did with church on Sunday for the very same reason.

But, thankfully God works in mysterious ways and I had already agreed to give someone a lift home so I pretty much had to go.

As I sat in the room, I felt resentments, a sure sign that things aren’t well. I had no desire to share anything at all—I was fine. But, as people started to open up, I found my tortoise mind starting to explore. Then came the identification, followed by a whole range of thoughts about what I would like to share. As usual, I was worrying about how awesome I was going to be in my share. ‘Would people like it? Would they get identification? What if they didn’t? Can’t I just pull the covers over my head?’ You know, all that self-esteem and grandiosity bullshit.

But, when it got to my turn (second to last, following seven great shares!) I had a good idea of what I was going to say. And, d’you know what? It was really helpful to me!

My share

D’you know what I shared about? Tortoise brains and John Cleese! It was inspired by my recent post about OmniFocus and John Cleese. I’ve been thinking more and more about that, you know, the notion that I can’t seem to just be. I can’t go without some form of content input. I’ll invariably have my headphones in, or I’ll be reading my RSS feeds or Twitter at the dining-room table as I eat. I’ve been that way for years now. I think it will have been around 2005 that I discovered podcasts, but I was listening to audio books waaaaay before that.

Podcasts (again)

But this constant input isn’t giving my brain time to be. I took the dogs down onto the beach this morning and it was gorgeous. I paused In Beta and stood listening to the waves lapping the shore. It was lovely. I did that for all of about three minutes, then shouted the dogs and hit play again before heading home.

I shared at last night’s meeting that I was curious about whether I would actually cut down on the weekly podcast queue. I was thinking about it a few weeks ago and, since then, I’ve probably added a couple without unsubscribing from any others. The thing for me to grasp is that I don’t actually need to listen to every episode of every show. But then how will I know which ones I can ignore if I don’t hear them first? Hmmmmm.

I had a good chat in the car taking the other AA attendee home, and on the way home after dropping them off, I listened to episode 3 of Systematic, which I really, really enjoyed and which may just have given me some more knowledge to make my computer life easier.

And today I listened to the [latest episode](http://www.merlinmann.com/roderick/ep-40-status-butter.html) of [Roderick on the Line](http://www.merlinmann.com/roderick/) and it was so incredibly good that I actually stopped what I was doing and listened to the last half-hour sitting in the sun out the back. It was fantastic. So podcasts are NOT a waste of time. I guess I just need to be more discerning. Maybe if I cut out the shows that I don’t’ feel I’m getting much from, it would take the pressure off my audio book queue, which is, of course, not the point at all!

It’s all food for thought right now.

Creative Breathing Space

John Cleese and OmniFocus

I just watched a 10-minute video of John Cleese talking about creativity. Here’s a link:

[John Cleese WCF]

I got the link from Kourosh Dini’s book, Creating Flow with OmniFocus, in which he referred to JC’s concept of a tortoise mind and an oasis. In other words, one needs to clear from one’s mind the clutter in order that the tortoise mind of creativity thinks it’s safe to come out.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, not in terms of creativity but in terms of spirituality. I think the two mean the same thing really—the mind can be creative when it’s cleared of clutter in the same way that one can feel a connection to the universe.

This came about in reference to OmniFocus because that particular app is designed to be a repository of clutter from one’s mind, freeing it up to do some actual work or find peace.

My Clutter

In the digital age there is so much information that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. If I’m not listening to a podcast or an audiobook when I’m doing a mundane chore or walking the dogs, I feel like I’m wasting time. If I don’t get to read my RSS feeds during lunch, I’ve wasted more time.

I like to read novels and non-fiction. I have tutorials to go through on Lightroom, Photoshop and Pixelmator. I have albums to catch up on. I have so many guitar books it’s ridiculous, not to mention the practice for forthcoming gigs.

I’ve got work six days a week. I’ve got to walk the dogs before work and prepare dinner at night for the family. I’ve got church on Sundays. I’ve got to clean at work.

I’ve got the entire Twilight Zone to watch, as well as Six Feet Under.

And then there’s family. How much time do I spend with the kids? Well, almost none, because if I do that I’m going to fall behind in all the other stuff.

Does this sound familiar?

Podcasts

My weekly podcast list is at 32. That means that if I’ve not go headphones on at every conceivable moment, I’m going to fall behind, and that’s before I even consider my Audible queue. The one-in, one-out policy clearly has not worked, because I seem unable to unsubscribe but continually subscribe to new ones. Something’s got to give. All it takes is one weekend away from my routine and the queue starts to build up and up and up.

So, this afternoon I took Poppy out for a walk to the shops without my headphones and I felt my mind beginning to breathe. This must be why I always have ideas in the shower—I’ve got no device in there! And to think I was putting it in terms of: ‘how can I capture ideas in the shower?’ Hah!

This must also be partly why I feel good after an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or church, where I feel my mind beginning to wander.

I guess that the mind does its processing when I’m asleep. It puts me in mind of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation [Night Terrors], where the crew are prevented from dreaming and begin to go insane. In other words, the mind is doing its information processing in dreams. But dreams are fleeting. I need some space to let my mind breathe when I’m awake. Mindfulness and meditation would be ways to get there.

I often feel incredibly overwhelmed, like I have no time for anything, let alone an AA meeting, but that’s usually when I get the most out of going to the meeting.

Will I give up the podcasts though? It has become a habit over the years and it’ll be a hard habit to break.

I Made my Ideal Weight!

I started learning about and following the paleo diet back in March of this year. At that time I was around 82kg. Today I weighed in at under 72kg 🙂

How it Was

In July of 2010 I was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, which, now that I know what I know, isn’t really surprising. I was put on metformin to manage my glucose. Not long after that I was put on statins and ACE inhibitors for cholesterol and blood-pressure respectively. I was 40.

Not long after that, I was put on anti-depressants and was seeing the community psychiatric nurse for depression and anxiety.

I would get home from a long, tiring day of sitting on my arse all day at work and fall asleep. I could hardly stay up past 9 o’clock because I was so tired.

One day at work, I was feeling extremely low around closing time, so what did I do? I headed to the pick ‘n’ mix sweets in my shop and ate more than my fill. Yep, not clever. But, according to the HbA1C long-term blood-sugar tests I was getting, everything was all right, and that was with me NOT following the recommended eating pattern for diabetics, not even a little bit.

The following day I was sick and couldn’t come in to work. I don’t know if this was just a sick bug, or whether it had anything to do with pigging out on sweets. Either way, I took it as a wake-up call and decided to do something about it.

Podcasts

I listen to a lot of tech-related podcasts, including a bunch on the 5by5.tv network. I’d heard this term ‘paleo’ bandied about a lot by 5by5 founder Dan Benjamin and knew that it had something to do with low carbs and no gluten. Dan would say that if you were going to do just one thing, cut out the gluten. So, when I decided that I wanted to change, I had an idea of where to start.

I got Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution and read my way through that whilst changing my diet. Some of the science was baffling, not because it was turgid and dense — on the contrary, the book is very well written and easy to follow — but because I don’t have the kind of brain that retains science very well. .

Not long after that, Steve Gibson released a two-part series on low carbs [Steve’s Low Carb Page] and set out the health benefits that he was experiencing.

So who says podcasts aren’t useful?! These may just have given me another 10 years!

Gadgets

I got myself a Fitbit Wireless Ultra and decided that I would at least start walking more. So I set my iPhone alarm to play my favourite radio station at 6:15 and I would start walking the dogs. I signed up for a premium account at Fitbit so I could monitor my blood-sugars closely.

I also got a Withings Blood Pressure cuff for my iPhone and finally a set of Aria scales. I could now monitor blood pressure, glucose and weight all within my Fitbit premium account.

The Plan

Meds

I stopped taking all my meds. Yes, all of them. Friends were telling me I was crazy. ‘You can’t do that’. Well, apparently I could. I wasn’t quite that crazy though. I did go and see my GP to get medical advice. It didn’t go down too well at first, but I explained that my sugars were within safe limits and that I was monitoring it extremely closely. So we agreed that I would go back on the ACE inhibitors because my BP was still on the high side, but that I would stay off the metformin and statins. However I welched on the agreement and didn’t go back on the ACE inhibitors either. Naughty, naughty!

Diet

I changed my diet overnight. It’s still in a state of flux as I learn more and discover the effects of different foods. The foundation of the diet is that I don’t touch grains. I toyed with dairy because I love cheese and it makes salads so much more interesting, but Robb Wolf recommends no dairy and so does Geoff Bond in Deadly Harvest (which I’m about half-way through) so I’ve got some consensus that says ‘no dairy’. All righty then. I’ll cut out the cheese. I take my coffee black anyway.

Exercise

As soon as I stopped eating grains, literally within a couple of days, the tiredness went. And with that lifted the depression. It was that immediate benefit that gave me the determination to consider this as a lifestyle change, not a diet. I was able to get up in the morning and walk the dogs. I signed up for RunKeeper and started monitoring my walks, because I’m a nerd and I stats help to keep me motivated.

Results

Well, as you’ll see from the title of this post, I hit my weight-loss target this morning. I’m down 10kg from when I started and am now within my ideal weight and BMI brackets for the first time in 20 years.

I don’t wake up with indigestion through the night any more. In fact, I no longer have to keep antacids on my nightstand. Before the change I was waking up every night and having to sit on the edge of the bed until the antacids did their thing.

The lethargy seems to have gone for good. Don’t get me wrong, I still get tired if I don’t get enough sleep, but it’s not the same sort of unmotivated lethargy that I used to feel.

I’m playing guitar again! I had pretty much stopped completely, which, as anyone who knows me will attest, is a sign that something ain’t right!

I’m back to caring about productivity again. Hence this post! That productivity and motivation is changing my life in so many ways, from cooking the family dinner at night to learning OmniFocus.

I’m able to stay up later at nights and spend time with my wife. After about two years, we’re finally on the final season of The West Wing!

I saw the GP about a month ago to get the results of my first HbA1C test since coming off the meds and going paleo. The GP was very happy with the results and said that I may just have given myself a multiyear respite from going back on the meds. Now that’s what I call a result!

Moving forward

Robb Wolf talks about the importance of sleep. So does Geoff Bond. So we’ve ordered some blackout curtains for the bedroom. I try to get to bed at 10 when I can.

I’m sure that my diet will continue to evolve as I learn more from books and from experience. For instance, I considered cutting out bacon, which I have with eggs for breakfast, but I went back onto it this week as I just can’t seem to enjoy fish for breakfast and omelettes would take too long.

Exercise? Well, I could always do more. I suppose that’s the case for a lot of people. This is one area that I really could improve on. And now that my podcast queue is reaching the realms of impossibility, I could do with more listening time. And how else would I ever get through Dance with Dragons?

Testing Mars Edit

Does Mars Edit work with Markdown I wonder? 

Overwhelmed

I’m getting pretty overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I’ve got to do. The Internet seems to be changing right now, at least for me anyway. Learning Markdown, shifting my blog from Squarespace to Wordpess – yes, I know I’m going against the tide!

Podcasts

I’m subscribed to waaaay too many podcasts, but I can’t seem to let them go. I love them all! Damn you, 5by5.tv!

  • Amplified
  • Hypercritical
  • Back to Work
  • and many, many more!Kids!

Blogs

My Google Reader is full of interesting stuff that I have trouble keeping up with as well. I got a load of them from the “>Gridwriter, which is brill!

OmniFocus

So it really is time for me finally to get to grips with OmniFocus and get some sort of review process scheduled into my life. 

The Talk Show

I woke up to a strange podcast in the 5by5.tv specials feed called Regarding the Talk Show and I though, huh? What could this be?

Turns out that John Gruber has left the 5by5.tv network and taken his show with him over to muleradio.net. The specials podcast was the first I’d heard of it. Dan was very gracious in wishing John well, but expressed his disappointment that they couldn’t have recorded one more show as a farewell. I share that disappointment. What’s with that John?

What hit home with me was his explanation of how he got to ‘know’ radio talk show hosts, and that, when they go, you feel like you’ve lost a little something. That’s how I feel.

I first came to 5by5.tv by following Merlin Mann to my favourite podcast of the week, Back to Work. Merlin is someone that I can relate to extremely well and I would consider him to be more of a friend that some of my actual friends, at least in the Facebook sense of the word. Love that guy! I miss him on MacBreak Weekly and the show is very much the poorer for his absence. But without that move, I may never have discovered Dan and his network. I may never have got to ‘know’ John Gruber, John Siracusa or moneyboy. And these are people that I now spend a huge chunk of my week listening to.

As has been stated in many tweets (Tweets?), the shows are more than the presenters, or ‘hosts’ as you say. Put John Gruber and Dan Benjamin together and you end up with John and Dan and something else, something that could make me giggle when out walking the dogs in the mornings, something that could evoke an emotional response in me, and THAT’s why I continue to listen.

So, John has moved on. For what it’s worth, I also wish him well. I’ve enjoyed sharing part of my week with him for the past however long, but, to be honest, this could mark the parting of our ways. I tried episode one of the Talk Show in its new venue and found it hard to stomach. I shall persevere for a few, but it could give me the very opening I’ve been looking for to add Amplified to my weekly playlist. I’m trying to operate a strict ‘one in, one out’ policy with my podcasts now because my days remain 24 hours long, no matter how many podcasts and audio books I may wish to listen to.

Thank you Dan for putting up that specials episode. Thank you.

More stuff: B2W #18

This was such a good episode of Back to Work. Listen to this one and the one before it. It’s all about priorities. I love this show so much.

“There’s always gonna be people who want you to do stuff for free; there’s always gonna be more stuff; there’s always gonna be somebody who’s gonna keep giving you stuff until you say: ‘hang on a second’…”

#17: Brick Building Full of Lies

#18: Forking the Question