Major Life Changes Coming

Major shifts in perspective fascinate me because they never lose potency. Negativity and positivity. when strong enough, overpower all logic and rationality. This is a lesson I've learnt many times. If you're a generally stable person, this might not make any sense to you. Mercurial people will understand, though, and to help the rest, I'll use the oldest cliche there is to describe thought patterns.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

If you asked me 1 year ago today, on 3/29/16, I might have said:

The glass is half full! I understand that many might think the glass is half empty, but they can't see how lucky they really are! There are so many possibilities, so many ways we can connect and help each other - if we just try, we can fill the rest of the glass and many more!

If you asked me 4 months ago, on 11/29/16, I might have said:

Who gives a fuck? 

The glass is both half empty and half full. 

Everything is true. Different truths are highlighted depending on your outlook.

I spoke a bit about starting down the path of freelance writing in my last post. This is something I've continued and something that I hope will be my main source of income for the foreseeable future. It's also an excellent example of a piece of my life that I can look at in different ways. 

On a bad day, I think:

  • I'm making less money than I did when I was 24.
  • My income isn't guaranteed. This could dry up at any time.
  • This is too complicated. With marketing and pitching ideas, many of the hours that I work are unpaid.

I'm going to pause before explaining what I think on a good day to note an epiphany I had about a year ago that seems as true and as poignant now as it did when I first had it:

Positivity deserves more trust than negativity.

Rationality, by definition, is flat and objective. Positivity and negativity both imply irrationality to some degree. Regardless, it seems that those who follow positive trains of thought enjoy better results in life than those who follow negative trains of thought. Because of this, it makes sense to me that we should strive to make our biggest decisions when we feel good, when we see the possibilities in life.

So on a good day, I think about my freelance writing in this light:

  • I'm gaining experience very quickly.
  • I'm my own boss.
  • I'm actually a "professional writer"!

And most importantly... to finally get to the damned point...

  • I can do this from anywhere in the world.

 2017: The year of the digital nomad

In a more positive mood, I stumbled across r/digitalnomad. It's an online community of people who make their living online and have the freedom to travel full-time. It dawned on me that nothing is stopping me from doing this, as well. 

My goals now are to flesh out my online portfolio as much as possible and to make plans for my first digital nomad trip. I'm not sure where I'm going to go first. Part of me wants to make it somewhere in Mexico so that I'm still pretty close to home. Part of me wants to hop on a plane to Thailand and say Bye to the United States for 6 months or more.

Either way, my life will look very different very soon.

I didn't have anything nice to say, so I didn't say anything at all.

I haven't done much of anything for KyleCast in about 6 months, maybe more.

A good friend told me that I should update my blog, if nothing else. He was right. So I dug up my old email and password and logged in to my abandoned website. I went back and read my blog. Reading my own thoughts from months and years ago is strange and oddly trippy. My younger selves, the people responsible for writing those posts, are almost strangers to me now. All of my selves and I share one thing in common, though: we're all whiny bitches.

Life update:

- I received Unemployment benefits from March to October of 2016. I consider those months easily some of the happiest of my life. If you can ever go on Unemployment, I highly recommend it.

- Unemployment ended and "reality" hit me. I began worrying about money again. 

- I started doing freelance writing jobs on Upwork.com. Although I was pessimistic at first, I quickly found work and began freelancing full-time.

- My mood dropped as the weather got colder and I worked longer hours. I gradually discontinued all of my good habits. My life consisted of working, sleeping excessively, and not much else.

OK, hardcore complaining time.

I'm probably mentally ill. I fell into a deep depression from August of 2016 and I'm only feeling a bit better right now. During the lowest lows of this winter, I started asking myself if I ever really understood depression. Well, looking back over my previous blog posts, it's clear that I did. It's amazing how easy it is to forget.

Memory is state dependent. When we feel good, we remember all the times we felt good. When we feel bad, we can only remember the times we felt bad.

When I feel good, I have a tendency to congratulate myself for coming out of depressions. I like to attribute my newfound good mood to my habits and actions. One time, I thought I beat depression with exercise. Another time, I thought I beat it by dating successfully. Last year, I was absolutely convinced that meditation was a cure for depression.

In August 2016, I was in the best shape of my life. I couldn't have asked for a better dating life. I was meditating 2-3 times a day. And I still fell. And I fell hard.

So what's wrong with me?

I still don't know. My best guess is that a psychiatrist would diagnose me with Bipolar II, which consists of long depressive episodes and briefer stints of hypomania, which are periods of unusually elevated mood. A friend of mine and the best source of info I have on this disorder is Dr. D L Shaw. Doug appeared on an episode of my podcast last year. 

But I'm not a psychiatrist. So why haven't I seen one? Avoidance of treatment is actually quite common for people with Bipolar. During the depressive episodes, they lack energy and courage to seek help. During the brighter times, they don't want help because they feel so good. 

I actually did begin to seek help about a month ago. I was unable to get out of bed for the majority of each day. I could still work (from home), but I couldn't really do anything else. So I paid for health insurance and called therapists and psychiatrists near me.

Dialing each number was a trial and speaking with each receptionist was a tribulation. One after another, they told me they couldn't help me. My insurance wasn't accepted at some and the rest had no available appointments. Defeated and depleted, I gave up and waited for my depression to lift on its own.

Eventually, it started to. Like a bear waking from hibernation, I'm climbing out from a cave. An expert on depression, Andrew Solomon, wrote, “The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.” This idea is important to understand what depression does to the mind. It's not that I feel happier now. It's that I'm now starting to have the energy, the vitality, the LIFE and desire to do things. 

So what will I do? I'll save that for my next blog post, which will contain much less misery. I promise. 

What do I want?

Of all the things that truly suck about depression, the loss of interest in things probably gets my vote for suckiest. 

I can be very passionate about a lot of things; Sometimes, I wake up crisp and excited to talk, run, play, and write. Sometimes, though, the dusty lens of depression turns these usually pleasurable activities into insufferable chores. There's no vision of happiness for me because nothing could inspire me to be happy.

Steve and I will often feel low at the same times. He's fond of asking, "What would make you happy right now?" When my answer is, "Nothing," I know I'm depressed. I'm grateful for this exercise as it proves for certain that happiness (or lack thereof) is internal rather than external. I believe some depressed people delude themselves, thinking that a better body or a better sex life might make them happy, but Steve and I are no longer as naive. 

It's these times that make me question everything. My finances are currently a big question mark. I'm existing in an eye-of-the-storm type situation - fine for now but the winds of poverty are a-blowin'. Money making ideas that sound plausible, fun, and sustainable during my happier days sound impossible and intolerable on sadder days. 

I've started to realize the value of the idiom "strike the iron while it's hot." None of my ideas or projects require any talent or skill that I'm not capable of. Rather, they require hard work and sustained focus. My dreams only lack possibility when I lack gumption. My gumption is coming back and I'm beginning to see the possibilities again. It's a wondrous feeling made all the better by my periods of fear and confusion.

If you're reading this and you can relate to any of it, just keep going. It's easy to forget how, but just keep going. With my current depression fading and my wits coming back, my own irrational thought patterns from the past few weeks baffle me. Try and recognize your moods and take them into account. Don't take yourself seriously when your brain sucks. When your brain comes back though, be ready. Don't waste the time you've been gifted.

A week later. A week wiser?

A week after beating myself up for laziness, I find myself no more industrious. Perhaps some acceptance is in order.

I'm starting to see that a longer-term approach is necessary, especially for someone like me who goes through intense mood swings. I'm lucky to have someone with a similar temperament as a best friend and roommate. As Steve and I progress through our moods at different times, it allows a richer understanding of how moods affect our behaviors.

Perfectionism might be the most powerful foe I fight. With so much perceived free time and such lofty goals, I find myself wondering how I can't achieve more every day. Steve has the exact same issue. How can we not see what's right in front of our eyes, though? Our lives are amazing and we spend so much of them fretting over what we don't have. Gratitude is a goal in itself, and I'll be honest and say that I find it difficult. 

Since the previous goalsetting session, I've recorded three things that I'm grateful for every day. The process of making it into a daily task has two primary consequences, though:

1. I WILL record three things I'm grateful for
and
2. I WILL find myself writing things I feel I SHOULD be grateful for when I'm really not feeling grateful at all

So a week later, I find myself in the same emotion with different words to describe it. Depression, apathy, lethargy, ungratefulness - these are my enemies. But how can they be beaten, or can they be beaten? Will daily tasks and chores lessen them? Can I "snap myself out" of these states by simply getting out of the house? Should I just wait for them to pass, remembering that moods are like storms?

Or should I finally just accept myself and my nature?

Life Update

At this point in time, I find myself lazy, depressed, and apathetic. This is no new state for me. Rather, it's my default state that I war against constantly. Every day, I wake up and start the battle with stretching, meditation, and exercise. My mental state can be so fragile that good or bad nutrition at any given point can make the difference between daily depression and elation. Despite my efforts, I've found myself feeling defeat often in recent weeks.

My biggest question (and if you listen to my podcasts, you'll already know this) has been: how much of my depression is my fault? Am I at the mercy of my own moods or do I cause them with my actions (or lack thereof)? You may have heard me say that free will is an illusion, and I believe it is. But at the moment I believe I am choosing to type these words and that same illusion makes me believe I have choices to do things like talking to new people, performing stand up comedy, and moving forward with my creative pursuits. It's these things that I've forgone recently and it's that forgoing that I believe has been my downfall.

I'm a hypocrite. Maybe we all are. Can anyone truly practice what they preach? My own ideals are unattainable for a man like me. Shoot for the stars, hit the moon... right?

Regardless, the only logical course of action is to try and identify where I've gone wrong and do what I can to learn and move forward in a way that avoids more wrongness. In short, I need to step it up. As time passes and my problem of income becomes more pressing, the need to "step it up" will also force itself to the front of my mind. I guess this is a good thing.

So what does stepping it up look like? For me, it's essentially a list of things that I either must or must not do for a manageable length of time. This time around, they look like this:

- Follow strict diet until 8/5 (a family vacation)
- Write 15 pages of Love? by the end of July
- Write 1 blog update a week, preferably on Sundays (this being the first one)
- Do everything possible to volunteer a local radio station ASAP
- DO NOT QUIT meditation club and continue to meditate 2x daily
- Continue to workout 6 days/week. Run a timed mile before 8/5
- Secure 3 new podcast guests before 8/5

(These goals as well as Steve's are captured on video in KyleCast 25. The link is timestamped for convenience.)

If you read about my current state of negativity and feel inclined to worry, please don't. I'll be out soon. In fact, I record these feelings with as much honesty as possible, so that the good times are balanced out and put in perspective. Thank you for reading.

BJJ and Social Anxiety - My Experience

Original Reddit Post

I posted this piece on Reddit about a month ago. I was more embarassed by this type of thinking a month ago, so I used a "pen name." Now, I'm proud of this piece. I decided to publish it here mainly so I don't end up losing it somehow. So either click the link or above or read it (copied and pasted) here:

 For me, the entire battle happens well before any grappling takes place - the real fight is simply showing up to BJJ class.

My social anxiety and depression are lazy, stagnant enemies. They have no new weapons. But the ones they do have are strong, sharpened with years of successful victories. My inner monologue is often long-winded and articulate, but the jist of it is a single blade: “Nobody likes you.”

Lazy enemies only beat lazy heros. When the illness says, “you suck,” I'm only beaten when I agree. If I’m in a state of disrepair, dulled by sloth, gluttony, and addiction, I agree. I agree because it’s easier than disagreeing. When I agree, it’s really goddamned hard to show up to JiuJitsu class.

When I show up, though, the razor-sharp blade stops cutting and loses all power. It usually takes about 60 minutes.

If I’ve gotten in my car, I’ve basically won. I will still have temptations to drive anywhere other than class, but I’ll end up at the gym. Walking through reception is a small concern, but a concern nonetheless. The girl at the desk will smile or not. Then I’m on the mat waiting for class to start. I’m new at this gym and stretch off to the side, avoiding eye contact.

During warmups, I start dreading the part when we pick partners. I think about who’s in front of me and who’s behind me and hope I don’t end up in the dreaded group of three. But then warmups are finished. I look at a guy and nod or vice versa and all of the sudden my entire false reality of fear and rumination falls to pieces. Forced into the present moment, I’m no longer thinking about what could go wrong or what has gone wrong.

We drill, reconvene, drill, reconvene, drill, reconvene, roll, roll, and roll. And then we line up and I realize I get to go home. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. And I forgot about all my bullshit for a little while, at least.

My depression was telling me that nobody likes me and that I’m lazy. But that’s a lie that can be uncovered with reality. When I give in to my reclusiveness, the evidence I’ve gathered all my life that people like me fades into the background and my inner demons get louder and more convincing. If I can get a dose of reality though, I remind myself of the truth, and the blade misses its mark. I look at it and say, “Is that all you have? Not today. Maybe tomorrow. But not today.”

First Steps on a New Path

Starting's the hardest part, right? It is for me, anyway.

I don't know when it happened, but at some point early on in life I decided not to take risks. Getting good grades, pleasing everyone around me, and refraining from causing any problems whatsoever were my priorities. I've second-guessed myself out of trying new hobbies, talking to girls I liked, and having fun in general. 

Starting a podcast is a risk. I'm risking my time and my money. Far more importantly though, I'm risking my ego. 

We see ourselves a certain way. Our self-images form and strengthen over time. Challenging them can be very painful. To follow through with recording and releasing podcasts, I need to be able to see and hear myself and be OK with sharing it. I also have to understand that I'm opening myself up to criticism. So far, I've done this.

I just recorded and released the third episode of KyleCast. Its visual quality is terrible but I'm proud of the content of our discussion in general. I'm excited about improving with practice and experience. 

Youtube

Soundcloud

 

 

A New Direction

I entertained the idea of being a Personal Trainer for a few months. The whole time, though, I couldn't help but feel, "this isn't me." The major problem I couldn't get around was that I just didn't want to be a Personal Trainer. It sounds simple when put into those words, but I couldn't fully admit it until recently.

I was on the right track. Personal Training overlapped with what I want in a career in several ways. It pertains to my interests (fitness, etc), would allow me to be my own boss, and would give me an avenue to help others. But that's where the Pros end and the Cons begin. The act of personal training itself (which I tried exactly one time), just isn't that enjoyable to me.

So I visited my old friends Depression, Apathy, and Seclusion for a while. I knew the types of things I enjoyed doing (see my previous post regarding "Path Theory"), but I just couldn't see a singular path that I would want to travel and that would take me to a desirable place. I pursued my interests half-assedly and spent the rest of my ample time sleeping, eating, drinking, and playing video games. Some of it was fun, but mostly I hated myself. 

Coming off my worst binge in years, I reached a low. I wouldn't say it was a "new low" or a "lowest low," but it was a familiar low.  I had been drinking to the point of blackout and eating the junkiest foods I could find for four days straight, right before New Years. I had a miserable hangover that lasted several days and brought anxiety with it. 

Luckily, I can speak openly about these types of things with my friend Steve of GriffGlass.com. We had a long conversation one night, probably 12/28/15, and when we hung up I felt optimistic but still physically terrible. But I stayed with the optimistic thoughts. Whenever Steve and I talk about self-improvement, the future, or anything grand in scope, really, I quote podcasts that I listen to. I listen to podcasts all day, every day at work. I started feeling appreciative for the mindless work I do that allows me to listen to podcasts.

That's when it hit me. I'm lucky because I can listen to podcasts without taking any time out of my day. Most people can't. If I could combine podcasts with an activity that people want to do, I can give them an opportunity to hear the type of content that has changed me for the better. So I thought of a Yoga + Podcast event.

Since then, my mind has had a direction in which to aim its creativity. And it's been good. I took a page out of Steve's book and decided to immediately invest in my idea:

So now I'm gonna try and say goodbye to Depression, Apathy, and Seclusion for a bit. I've got an idea to throw my energy into. Steve will be here soon. I'm going to try and see where this path goes.

Path Theory: Freeing ourselves from the paralysis of "I don't know what I wanna do"

I was a very bright child who excelled in school. I had no problem with any of my classes and had seemingly unlimited potential. I did, however, have a problem choosing a path for myself. I had nobody pushing me in any direction and nothing that particularly interested me. When I entered college, I went in Undeclared. When I did end up choosing my majors (Marketing and Writing), I did so reluctantly and without conviction.

I didn't know what I wanted to do.

I still don't.

The difference between the me of today and the me of 2006 is that I have a better understanding of my limitations, and also a better understanding of the things that I don't want to do. 

The biggest limitation that we all face is time. As the years tick by, less and less things are possible. Allow me to introduce "Path Theory."

Path Theory is a term I've coined for lack of a better one. I first came across the idea in a fantastic metaphysics video called "Imagining the Tenth Dimension." In fact, I went back to the video and stole an image from it to help explain, since I'm not much of an artist myself. In the image below, the man at the bottom represents potential at a point in time and the resulting possibilities for him stem from there. Clicking on the image will take you to the video itself, and it comes with my absolute highest recommendation. 

You will never have more potential paths than you do at this moment. You had more potential paths yesterday. You'll have less tomorrow. Some paths are more favorable than others. Whether you've chosen a path or not, you're on one right now.

The point that the 19 year old Kyle Fournier didn't understand is that the end goal is less important than pointing the compass in the right direction

I don't necessarily have to become a BJJ instructor, but as long as I continue training in BJJ, that path and the eventual possibility of becoming a BJJ instructor remains open.

I don't necessarily have to become a personal trainer, but as long as I continue learning about exercise and nutrition, that option becomes more available to me. 

Like most of the concepts that I'll try to explain, it seems simple, but somehow it's easy to lose sight of. In my youth, I was paralyzed by opportunity. I could become a mathematician, but what if I don't want to? So I stopped studying math. I could become a writer, but what if I don't want to? I stopped writing.

If something interests you and it leads down a path you may want to go down, invest in it. Never stop learning and experiencing. Think about the person you want to become and how you might get there. Then, execute. It's really that simple. 

As I mentioned earlier, I still don't know what I want to do. But I know which direction I should go in. I know the paths that interest me and many that don't. I can point my compass. I know that I should be:

  • Exercising
  • Meditating
  • Learning martial arts
  • Writing
  • Practicing public speaking
  • Socializing
  • Reading

That list isn't exhaustive of course, but it should give an idea of what I'm talking about. If I fail to meditate more often than I succeed, the path of Zen Master closes itself. But it's one I'm interested in, so I know to point my compass in that direction and meditate daily. (Obviously, I use the term "Zen Master" somewhat facetiously.)

This theory can also (and should also) be applied to actions we SHOULD NOT take. If I start using heroin tomorrow and decide it's pretty cool, many paths begin to leave my field of potential. More likely and more controversially: if I have a child, I narrow my potential paths significantly.

I would never presume to tell anyone what to do with their life, but I would urge you to think carefully about where certain paths take you and to reconsider many of your daily actions. Our actions become who we are.

Vacations and (Avoiding) Losing Momentum

In the past three weeks I've spent a week in Vegas and a week on a cruise in the Bahamas. I spent the first trip with my best friends and the latter trip with my sister and mother. Both were absolutely incredible and I feel incredibly lucky to be in a position where I can take such trips.

But there's always a Yin and Yang, right? I look at vacation as almost a polar opposite to normal life. During my normal day to day, my main focus is progress for the future. It's a concept I struggle with constantly - the goal is to live for the moment, but everything I do to become a better person is essentially an investment for the future. On vacation, it's all about living in the present. 

And in my current state, that means drinking, eating, and gambling. Where's the balance? How can I fulfill all my desires in the present without making myself into someone I despise in the long-term?

I still haven't figured it out yet. I'm getting closer, though. 

The answer is a cliche, like all the truest truths in life: moderation and balance. I've found that in so many areas of life; the truth is some trite cliche I heard as a kid but discarded as meaningless. "Live in the moment." "Treat others as you want to be treated." "Everything in moderation." These are all profoundly true, but they mean nothing until you have the life experience to back them up.

I've gained that experience. Here's a picture from my first trip to Vegas:

That was seven years ago. My understanding of moderation has improved.

The truth for me now is that my brain lies to me. Yes, I want to drink my face off and eat 35 Krispy Kreme donuts, but I only want that for the exact immediate present. The after-effects last longer and hit harder than the immediate pleasure gained from short-term actions like binging. 

So do I indulge? Yes. I do it with more moderation now but I still have a long way to go. In both Vegas and on the cruise, I went too far with eating and drinking. It feels great in the moment but there's still a balance that I'm too far to the right of, if that makes sense. I ate these two plates within about an hour on the cruise:

I'm a very analytical person. I keep coming around to this idea that there's a concrete formula that could be used to determine how much to indulge. I'm thinking it might be something like this:

Current Entitlement > Pleasure - Shame

So there are three variables here that have to be analyzed. I'll start from the end and work backwards.

Shame: How bad is it going to feel if you allow yourself this indulgence? Unless it's something new to you, you should have a good idea. I have a lot of indulgences that I could succumb to at any time. A couple examples are Chipotle and Pizza Hut. Chipotle is a high calorie meal but I don't consider it too bad. I can eat it and recover fairly easily. Pizza Hut is on the other end of the spectrum. If I eat the entire stuffed crust pizza like I ususally do, I'm going to hate myself pretty bad. So Chipotle™ has a low shame value while Pizza Hut has a pretty high one. Make sense? Moving on...

Pleasure: How good will the indulgence feel in the moment? Again, this is something you can usually determine from prior experience. Interestingly enough, as I type this I kind of realize that I should never indulge in Pizza Hut again. Why? The Pleasure value for Pizza Hut™ isn't much higher than the Pleasure value for Chipotle. So if Pizza Hut causes that much more shame, the equation is off and it's a dumb move. 

Current Entitlement: This factor is super important and something that I feel I've really figured out. Current Entitlement is the lesson I've TRULY learned in the past few years. It's super simple and obvious but it took me a while to really understand. If I've been dieting strictly and exercising religiously for weeks and I allow yourself a cheat meal, I often feel like I've earned it. The Pleasure value shoots up and the Shame value falls. If, however, I've been in a rut, not dieting nor exercising, and I eat some junk food, the opposite is true. I barely enjoy it and I hate myself. 

Is this something everyone can relate to? Is this true across the board?

It rings so true for me that I feel like it's almost the entire answer to this riddle that's plagued me for so long.

If we can't overcome the desire to indulge, we must work to build our entitlement up first. Then we can indulge with maximum pleasure and avoid the shame. I'll probably continue to improve and elaborate on my feelings, but this is my current feeling: I will continue to indulge, but I'll do it with the knowledge that it only really feels good if I've earned it.

On my vacations, I ate too much and drank too much, but I also did things like this:

Again, I'm still figuring it out. But here's what I've got so far... when on vacation:

  • Keep up with your positive daily habits. Meditating for 20 minutes and exercising for 40 minutes only takes an hour out of your day and will make you feel better for the rest of the day. It's about increasing your Current Entitlement, which will increase your Pleasure and lower your Shame. It seems like these activities might take away from your vacation, but the opposite is true. They're small investments that pay dividends.
  • Understand that some indulgences may not be worth it. There's always a point of Diminishing Returns. You feel you've earned a beer? Dude, go for it. Four beers? It's up to you - you know how it will affect you. Twenty beers? I'm gonna advise you against that. I may even join you, but I know it's not for the best.
  • Enjoy yourself! This is something that I didn't really cover in this post, and that's mainly because I still don't quite get it. I'm getting better at it but I can't say for sure why. My best guess is meditation. Meditating regularly helps bring you back to the present more often. In my most recent vacations, I've really been able to enjoy the moment and appreciate where I'm at. This wasn't always true. In the past I've indulged and let loose but still had negativity override my pleasure. As you're in that beautiful location with no work to do, stop for a second and remember how lucky you are. You're on vacation!

NAGA 8/15/15 Texas Championship

I competed yesterday for the second time at NAGA in both Gi and NoGi in the Featherweight weight class. My first match was in the NoGi Beginner's division where I lost to a very tough opponent on points. I was behind the whole time and I found myself desperate to make something happen late in the match. I was unable to and was eliminated with that first loss. Here's the full match:

I lost all confidence after the match, honestly. I was beaten mentally and physically. It was lucky that I didn't have to compete again in NoGi. I sat with Sandra in the stands and recollected myself. I had a bit less than an hour before Gi started. There was a brief period of time where I wished I hadn't signed up for Gi. Luckily, I was able to turn myself around and by the time Gi started for my division, I was ready to compete, but still not confident.

My first opponent had taken Silver in my NoGi division. That fact made me pessimistic. Before the match started, I asked the ref if I would be eliminated if I lost. He said yes and I figured that's what would happen. Instead however, we had a tough match and I won on points:

I just watched that match for the first time and my entire body tensed up reliving it. I had forgotten about the submission attempt my opponent tried near the end of the match. I was able to pass his guard (get around his legs) and get a dominant position on him. He then got his legs around my head and arm for a Triangle. He also straightened my arm out to attempt an Armbar at the same time. Honestly, it was close, but my position was dominant so he couldn't get enough leverage to finish. I held on and the points I earned from the dominant position were enough to win the match.

My next match was against the guy who ended up taking Silver in the Gi. He was very tough and had me beaten the entire time:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulDAOuxdH7UIt was my first time watching this video, too, and damn that was hard to watch. He had some strong support! The cheering after he sweeps me about 30 seconds in really sucks to listen to.

I almost forgot about a pretty major thing that happened in this match. Check 1:08. My mouthguard had been knocked out of my mouth and I was struggling with it half in/half out of my mouth the entire time my opponent was on my back. It left me unable to breathe, completely distracted, and with a bloody lip. I was trying to get the ref's attention for about 20 seconds, I'd estimate. He tells me to toss my mouthguard and I do, but it gives my opponent an even stronger grip. I can't blame anyone, and it probably didn't significantly change the match, but it sucked and really frustrated me.

I was beaten thoroughly, but I can say I did give my opponent a tough time. I escaped back control, continually recovered guard, and pulled off a sweep at 2:40. He got the Armbar in the end though, and good for him... that bastard.

My final match features my first ever submission in competition by Rear Naked Choke. My favorite thing about the match is that I started out behind. Whenever I go behind, I lost tons of confidence. This match is a great reference experience for me: it's very possible to come from behind and get victory:

Thanks to Richard for the coaching in this match. Also thanks to Sandra for filming and the "Shit yeah" after my RNC.

That victory earned me a place on the podium and a chance to introduce The Shocker to the Austin BJJ community:

Check out this video for more thoughts on the tournament, cutting weight, ego, and motivation:



Personal Training - 1st Session!

I barely slept last night. When I got up and checked my phone, I prayed that Elizabeth, my client, had sent me a text canceling. No such luck. I texted, "Still on for this morning?" She was. Wow, it was actually happening.

As I drove to Zilker Park where Elizabeth and I agreed to meet up, I started psyching myself up to meet my first ever client. It felt like any other social encounter with weight behind it - a job interview or a first date, even.  "Butterflies in the stomach," is so cliche... but that's what the feeling was.

Of course, I had nothing to worry about in reality. Elizabeth very nice and easy to talk to. She had just gotten off work and I asked her about her job a bit to break the ice. We found a spot on the grass in the park and I spoke a bit about my philosophy on working out and how consistency matters above all else.

We jogged a bit to warm up, did the work out, and cooled down. Throughout the session, I asked Elizabeth what types of exercises she liked and disliked. As I led the session, I oscillated uncomfortably between authoritative and supplicating. I wanted Elizabeth to like me and enjoy our time together so I asked for her opinions on how to proceed at points, but I started to understand that her whole motivation behind finding a personal trainer was getting someone to push her.

Elizabeth had worked out in various capacities for years. She told me that she exercised somewhat regularly alone, but did so sluggishly. She needed someone to push her. Interestingly enough, that's exactly what I thought people disliked about personal trainers. I saw the "bootcamp" approach as crass, but I think it's what someone like Elizabeth needs.

If I'm to become an effective trainer, I need to be able to assess and adapt to various personality types. I was set on being almost a counselor - a friendly big brother type who would say, "you can do this, here's how." That may be called for in the future, but it wasn't today. 

Despite my feelings of inadequacy, I can only really view the session as a success. We both got a decent workout in, we got along well, and left on good terms. I sent Elizabeth a followup email and told her I'd be glad to meet again.

Groceries, Pace Bend, and Flow States

It's always toughest for me to avoid "bad food" on the weekends, but I survived this one. I'm loving the accountability that this website/blog has given me. I went grocery shopping to continue my shake challenge (Day 5 today, going strong). Here's what I got:

groceries.jpg

Saturday, I went to Pace Bend State Park. I've gone two Saturdays in a row now. Being at Pace Bend really helps me realign my goals and priorities with regard to fitness and wellness. It's time to reveal a little bit more about myself...

I'm an extreme introvert. If I just followed my natural inclinations and didn't actively try to step out of my comfort zone, I'd stay at home all day every day, ordering pizza very often. I've had mild to severe social anxiety throughout my life and quite simply, NOT going out and experiencing life is easier - but when I do push myself and get out, I'm always reminded how much better it is.

 Pace Bend is a place where I can dive, swim, and climb. When I'm doing these types of things, my mind opens up and I'm so much happier. Here's a fun, quick workout video I shot. I'm fat, but we all knew that already.

A concept I continually return to is Flow. We reach flow states when we engage in activities that are challenging to us, but also suited to our abilities. When we're in flow states, we're in the present moment. Time flies, our worries melt away, and we're happy. At Pace Bend, when I jump, swim, and climb, I feel Flow.

As I continue this journey, I hope I can remember these thoughts. Life is like water that's just a little bit too cold. It's easier to stay out, more comfortable to stay warm. But if we jump on in, it's always more fun and we never regret it. So let's jump!

Am I actually gonna do this?

I spoke briefly about how unready I am right now to do basically anything in life, especially be a personal trainer. 

Luckily I've got a friend (who's on his way to becoming a world-famous glass-blower) who motivates me to do the things I don't want to. He made me post this ad on Craigslist last night:

I basically created the post because I didn't want my friend nagging me for failing to create it. Sick motivation in most things in life, actually...

My friend and I actually discussed how difficult it was to find my ad once published. We broke it down: the market is saturated. To reach anyone, I'm going to have to hustle and spam. I went to bed satisfied that I had at least done something, with zero expectations of anyone actually reaching out to me.

Shake Challenge

I want to be a personal trainer.

But I'm fat.

That's dumb. So I'm gonna do a shake challenge. I leave for Las Vegas on 8/19. I don't know how many days there are until then (almost 30?), but I'm not going to eat any solid food until then.

What does that mean exactly? Well... all the solid food I eat will be blended and no longer solid. I'm not going to specify exactly what I can't eat, but I'm using standard Don't Be a Dumbass™ protocol.

Today was Day 1.

The Beginning

I could have waited several more years to write this post and I still wouldn't have felt ready. If we're to make any substantial progress in anything, we have to be willing to feel unready

Y'all unready for this? I am.

I have numerous goals.
I can be vague: I want to be my own boss. 
If you prefer, I can be specific: I want to open up my own martial arts gym by 2020.

Along the way to these "macro" goals, there are probably millions of "micro" decisions I'll have to make along the way. Examples of some decisions I'll have to make:
1. Dammit it's 7am and I don't wanna get up... AHHHH GET UP FINE I'M GETTING UP.
2. Hmmm I could really go for an entire Stuffed Crust Pizza™ from Pizza Hut... NO DON'T DO THAT DUMBASS.

You get the picture. 

So let's do this. Let's go "full ass."