Wednesday, August 29, 2012


If you've been reading my blog for a while, you've probably come to understand that I'm a pretty compulsive person. My business is as successful as it is because I pour everything I have into it.

Well, that success has come at a cost. I have known the whole time that there were other aspects of my life that were being "put on hold" until the business stabilized. Well, I guess it's stable enough because those other things have been nagging louder and louder lately.

It started innocently enough. On the last trip to Washington I decided that I could finally afford to invest in some fitness gear that I'd been contemplating for months. I bought some new, durable shoes for hiking since my hand-me-down Crocs had quarter-sized holes in the bottom. Then I splurged on thoughtfully invested in Nike's FuelBand. It's an innocuous black bracelet that turns exercise into a game where you compete against yourself using real activity measurements that it gathers throughout every day. I'll be writing a post just on this magical little device and the game theory that makes it so effective.

A couple of weeks later, on Tien's recommendation, I looked at a blog by a man named Joel Runyon. Ohmygosh! This guy is a type of person I never thought I'd have anything in common with - an athletic, in-your-face, thrill seeker. I mean, really, what could this man and a nature-loving, fashion designer hermit have in common?

Well, lots, it turns out. His no nonsense, no excuses, do-whatever-is-necessary-or-you-don't-really-want-it attitude exactly matches the energy I've had to muster to make a go of this weaving business.

My best friend accuses me of finding a sense of well-being through mortification of the flesh. And, it's sort of true. I'm not talking about anything medieval or kinky here, just small symbols of the mastery of spirit.

Joel is a big proponent of a "character-building" exercise that involves five minutes in an ice cold shower first thing every morning for thirty days. It's called Cold Shower Therapy and it really works! Tomorrow is day seven for me. Again, it'll take a whole blog post at some point to tell you about the anti-procrastination effect these showers are having. Or you could just try it yourself!

Well, one morning I got out of the shower and, before donning my cozy and not formfitting ruana, I got a good look at myself in the mirror. (This is something I've avoided for years.) I guess it was Joel's post about losing a bunch of weight and getting defined abs that got me thinking, "Could I do that?" This combined with the I-can-do-anything attitude from my icy shower gave me the strength to even look in the mirror.

(You'll notice I haven't included a "before" picture in this post... You're welcome.)

Well, let me tell you that I was actually surprised by how much weight I've gained and how much it has changed my body shape. I decided right then and there that I was going to step up my exercise A LOT and change my diet, starting right that instant.

I went to the only diet that I know, the South Beach Diet, while I looked for some assistance in setting a realistic and healthy weight loss goal and tracking my progress. And here's the third future potential blog post topic for today... I found a free app that is basically a diet and nutrition adviser in my pocket. And, you can use it even just using a regular web browser. It's called MyNetDiary and includes everything I need. At first, I just need to track how many calories are in the foods I'm eating, compare that to the exercise I'm getting and then reduce my intake to a level that will take off the weight as quickly as it is safe to do.

This program did that and much, much more. It helped me craft a plan whereby I will lose 25 pounds by December 21st. This is only 2 pounds a week, which in the little research I've done seems to be the maximum amount a person of my age should try to lose without consulting a doctor or nutritionist. And I will, at some point, write a whole post reviewing that app. It's just going to take some more time before I've got progress to report, letting me show you the nifty charts built into the app.

And what does this all have to do with discipline? Well, there are three future blog posts that will delve more deeply into different aspects of it:

1. Nike FuelBand
2. Cold Shower Therapy
3. MyNetDiary

I can't say how long it'll take to get those all written, but I can say that it'll probably be a few weeks at least. I've got a brief vacation then a show, and then a trip to get my new apprentice set up in Portland. But somewhere between all of these I'll write these posts. Stay tuned!


Tien Chiu said...

Runyon's "cold water therapy" reminds me of a class I took at Impact (a (mostly) women's self-defense program). Impact believes (with pretty good reason) that you will fight the way you train, and that means realistic scenarios - full-contact self-defense against a padded assailant who threatens you, etc. (Including "bedroom scenarios" where you wake up pinned to the ground - every woman's worst nightmare.)

Anyway, this particular class was "Defense against the Armed Assailant", and it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. Staring down the barrel of a gun while you muster up the guts to move anyway, knowing you could die if you don't do this *exactly* right, is paralyzingly scary.

But you know what? Once you've faced the idea that you could die from doing this, but you are going to do what you choose to do even if you die as a result, something changes. There's that one moment when you change from gibbering fear to a calm determination, an acceptance of death as a possibility, and EXPLODING into action, fully committed to the path you've chosen. I've never experienced anything quite like that - definitely a watershed moment.

Anyway, after doing that, no single thing really scares me anymore. It's not so much the "fight for your life" attitude as the knowledge that I *can* make that commitment, that "I may die from doing this but I will put everything I have into doing it anyway" 100% commitment - that's so amazingly empowering.

"Cold Shower Therapy" sounds like that, though probably a bit less intense. Glad it's benefiting you!

eldri said...

-recommending five minute showers
(of any temperature)every day, in world of water shortages, does not seem, to me, like good practice.

not so relevant to you, where you are living--(and you probably have a grey water system!)
It still creeps me out

Blossom Merz said...

Eldri, I totally agree. I was just in Northern California for the weekend and, whoa! It's dry and smoky from all the fires.

We're on a well in a good watershed here, but I still wouldn't usually use even 25% of this water on myself. Maybe a cold pool, covered to keep mosquitoes and algae out, is a better idea. It's more like what our ancestors used anyhow, right? The best solution of all would be a homestead near a river, but there are very few who have that!

Blossom Merz said...

Uh, yeah. Cold water is definitely less intense than staring down the barrel of a gun! It's just about pushing myself to do something that's unpleasant. There's no real danger involved.

I love how your new book is shaping up!