Consumer vs. creator

Have you ever thought about how much time you spend consuming other peoples work? How much time you harvest the fruits of other peoples labor? When you read content on the internet, as you are doing at the moment, you are a consumer. When you watch the news, watch your favorite movie or some documentary, you are consuming other peoples work. This is of course totally normal – the content has been created for exactly that purpose, but are a lot of people becomming almost entirely consumers?

I have lately been thinking quite a lot about remembering the creator role. Thought a lot about paying back.

If we stay in internet-terms, then there are a great chance that you are a member of several “niche” forums. This could be a fitness forum, a hifi-forum, drinks or whatever. A lot of people gain knowledge on topics of their interest from other people. They browse forums and blogs in order to move them from one point to another, they make full use of all the good free content there is available to all of us.

The reason why there are all this good free content is because a lot of people have remembered to not only be consumers, but also pay back to their community(in whatever context), by being creators of new context, and by helping people that are in the same situation they once were.

It is easy to switch and be the creator, it is easy to pay back, it is easy to help. I am not trying to make everyone create things around the clock, and feel bad about consuming. All I try to do is make you once in a while say this to yourself:

 Have I only been consuming, or have I also created something today?

What you will find is that creating feels good! Helping others feels good and paying back is actually worth it. Keep sharing information!

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Simple pushup program

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This simple pushup program should fit everyone from absolute beginners to advanced athletes. It can be used anywhere, on vacations, if time or equipment is lacking etc. I have successfully used it a few times on long trips where I was not able to find a regular gym. It is not in any way inspiring or that fun – but it gets the job done and gives a very good upper body workout.

I will not go into minute detail on how to perform pushups. But keep these things in mind.

  • Keep body tense and straight
  • Keep abs and but thight
  • Keep chin tucked – look straight down

Apart from your arms and shoulder pushing, NOTHING else should move. This should not be confused with relaxing the rest of the body, you should keep it tight. Do not lead with the head and look up, since this will break the straight body and force it into an arch.

For a regular military pushup you fingers should be just below your shoulder when in the bottom position, and the palm of your hand thereby just behind your shoulder, fingers pointing forward. 

Narrow pushup is when you turn your fingers about 45 degrees inward and then move the hands together until the thumbs and pointing fingers meet to form a triangle or diamond(these are therefore also called diamond pushups).

For wide grip pushups start flat on the floor, hands in military-position as described above. Move each of the hands minimum 2 hands-widths directly out/away from the body and turn you fingers and hands 45-60 degrees outwards. You can go wider than this, but this would be the minimum before it is considered “wide”. 

These are the 3 basic hand-positions for the pushup. Now how do we scale the pushup, since your bodyweight will pretty much stay the same. By means of leverage! Easiest to do is on the knees – this may be required by quite a lot when doing the diamond pushup, since it is very intense. You can also have your feet on the floor and do the pushup on a low table or a bench. But you will quite quickly be able to do them flat on the floor. From here you can elevate your feet which may give you a few more steps of intensity, but this aswell will run out at some point. 

Then what you do is move your hands further down, closer to your hips. This can be done both for military, narrow and wide grip pushups. When you get to this level I would start flat on the floor with my feet up against a wall, and then I would mark where I positioned my hands. Then when I got stronger I would move the hands one cm closer to the wall, mark this position and go from there. Just that little cm of change in leverage will yield an amazing effect on the strengt required to perform the pushup with good form.

Then as you progress and get’s stronger you can move your hands closer and closer to the wall. And yes it is actually possible to do pushups with your hands all the way down by your hips – but it takes years of practice. 

The actual program goes like this:

Narrow day

50-60 reps military

25-30 reps narrow

Wide day

50-60 reps military

25-30 reps wide

If you decided to train this 3 times a week, which I would recommend. The 2 first weeks would look like this:

Week 1

Monday: Narrow

Wednesday: Wide

Friday: Narrow

Week 2

Monday: Wide

Wednesday: Narrow

Friday: Wide

Week 3

repeat week 1 etc.

Then how do you go about attaining the 50-60 reps military. You are not supposed to do them all in one set, if you are able to do so. You should aim to scale the type of military pushup you are doing, so that each set will consist of anywhere between 8 to 15 reps. You should not be going all out in each set, leave one or to reps in the tank when you stop. When for instance you are able to consistently bang out 15 reps for 4 sets on regular military, then next time you move up against a wall and move your hands a little closer to your waist. If you are only able to bang out 4 reps, you moved to close aim at being close to 8 as a minimum. 

On the 25-30 reps narrow or wide you go at it with the same mindset, only that here your optimal range for each set would be 4-8 reps per set. Adjust intensity to get you into that range.

By doing this you should pretty consistently be able to measure progress. If you for instance the first day, week 1 in military banged out 12 – 11 – 11 – 10 – 8. Then day 3 in first week bangs out 13 – 12 – 10 – 10 – 9 guess what – you just got stronger. You can measure your progress both by making the exercise harder and by banging out more reps than previous. 

If you reach a point where you no longer makes progress, take the previous week and cut it in half. Meaning that your target rep ranges, has just been cut in half, and using the above example  12 – 11 – 11 – 10 – 8 you would this week only do 6 – 5 – 5 – 5 – 4. This goes for both milirtary and narrow/wide. You do this in order to cut the intensity and give your body a break. You could do this every 4-6 weeks but as everyone are different and some beginners have greater potential than others, I would leave it in the book until progress stalls.

Trouble falling asleep? Emtpy your head. Then sleep!

I have for many, many years had problems falling a sleep. Once I layed my head on the pillow, the mind seemed to go beserk and wanted to evaluate all things I had done through the day, plus all things I should, or may, do the following days. This has led to some good ideas, but for the majority of cases this only led to very, very bad mornings!

I tried all kinds of different things, drinking tea, hot showers, walking before bed-time, ZMA – but none of them seemed to quite do the trick. Some helped a bit, but if my mind wanted to wander, the body did not seem to have that much to say in the fight for sleep.

Then somewhere I stumpled upon this simple advice I wille give to you. In all it’s simplicity it is a technique that helps you empty your mind of thoughts. When done fully and correctly you can experience a striking silence inside your head.

What you need is this:

  • A pen
  • A notebook

Then you lay in your bed and simply write everything you think about down on the paper. Not in diary-form, not meant to give any meaning – simply just exactly as the thoughts are inside your head. You do this one by one until you cannot think of anymore to write, then you close the book, turn off the lights and lay your head on the pillow. What almost certainly will happen is that you think of some of the things once more, but simply say to yourself that you can take care of that tomorrow, and that it is in your book so you will not forget it. But if you think of something that you have not written in your book, you open the book and write that thought down onto the paper.

This procedure is repeated until your mind finally gives in, and realizes that it can rest, as everything is archived and can be solved tomorrow. Some days you write half a page, some days it may be 4 or 5 pages, just keep at it until your mind realizes that it can relax. I have had a few experiences where it just felt amazing, that nothing flew around inside my head, just silence, just complete calmness(if that’s a word). Then sleeping comes much more natural!

I have successfully used this technique, especially when I had very thight schedules and a lot of things going on around me. Every morning I would then start of by looking at my notes, to see which needed to be adressed during the day and what could be put off or simply forgotten. By doing so, I also trusted the “system” much easier in the evening. I knew that writing the thoughts in the notebook, meant that they were safely stored until I woke up in the morning.

If you are having trouble getting you mind to shut up,when going to sleep, then try this simple technique and see if you can get the same possitive results. A pen and a notebook is not that much of an expense – you have everything to win!

Zinc – the male mineral.

Have you ever tried supplementing with zinc? If you haven’t, you might be missing out. My first encounter with zinc was through ZMA that is used as a supplement to get better sleep. I did feel some kind of change/improvement and think I slept a little better. But I have always had quite big issues, actually falling in sleep because my mind keeps wandering, and there I did not notice big improvements by supplementing with ZMA. I have later found some better ways to deal with that, but I will cover that in a later post.

Then recently I stumpled upon some positive reviews about zinc on its own. Theory says, that even a slight deficiency of this vital mineral should be able to cause the following:

  • Lower sex drive
  • Limit muscle gain
  • Cause fat gain
  • Hurt energy levels

These are absolutely not effects you want to deal with as a man in general, and even less so, if you train hard to keep yourself in shape and be the best you. When looking at what theory says about effects of zinc, you should really be on the edge of your seat:

  • Raises testosterone levels
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Anti-estrogen
  • Improves immune system
  • Improves sex drive

In theory everything works in practice, but in practice this is seldom the case. I will however, now give you my personal experiences with this mineral. After a bit of research, reading different people’s advice etc. i found that the recommended dosis would be around 50-100mg a day. I started low to see if I had any sideeffects, and then gradually build my way up to the 80-100mg mark where I have been for the past month or so. I have read people going as high as 250mg a day, but I would not recommend that.

Zinc should be relatively safe as supplement, but in my research I found that too large quantities, can actually weaken your immune system and large quatities over a prolonged period is under suspicion for contributing in the development of cancer.

In the far less serious side-effects, some people have reported slight headaches or nausea when taking Zinc on empty stomach. Therefore start low and see how you react. It is also recommended to take Zinc together with copper as these minerals counter-act each other. Some supplements of zinc therefore contain copper to avoid this. But as most people in western civilization should be copper-rich in the first place, given our diets, the problem should not be as profound.

Before you start, you should be aware that you may not even be deficient in the first place. There are some tests you can buy and try to see if you are, or you can of course just start and see if you get any of the benefits – if not, then you are propably already where you need to be zinc-wise.

From my experience you start feeling the effects rather quickly. I felt more energized already the day after starting. Getting out of bed seemed easier, I finally felt closer to fully rested in the morning. This has been an issue for quite some time, and are absolutely not any better this time of year, when the days get shorter and shorter, where I live. My energy levels during the day were remarkably higher already from day 1, sex drive did sure as hell increase and I just felt – better. Did I notice any gains in muscle mass – nahh not really, but I have been training for 13-14 years, have worked a lot on my diet, so any changes from here come at a very slow pace. 

Are you having trouble with not really feeling fully rested, even after 8 hours of sleep, lacking energy during the day and maybe not even feeling horny and full of motivation to chase girls – then you maybe you are zinc deficient. I would highly recommend trying, if you are deficient, the upsides are absolutely awesome.

 

Defining fitness

The problem

If you ask ten different people to come with their definition of the word fitness, you will most likely end up with a broad variety of answers. Those answers will most likely include, something about being strong, being fit etc. Now that my blog carries this word in its title, I think it would be appropriate to give my definition of it.

As I have written earlier I started lifting weights at a quite early age. My main focus at that point was to put on muscle and get stronger. When you start lifting weights almost anything you do, apart from really strange and idiotic use of the weights, will make you both bigger and stronger. You may have started out without any knowledge at all about the ‘iron-game’, which exercises to choose, and most importantly, the big WHY. But then, at some point you will realize, that progress kind of stalls. This will probably be the first crossroad on anybodies weightlifting-journey. Some people – probably most people – will stop at this point.

Others will start searching for information on how to break their plateau. At this point most will come to realize that most of the information is geared towards some goal. Having a goal is always essential, because without a goal or destination how will you know if you have reached it or are on the right way? But that is a almost endless topic I will return to in some later post. But the information about training/weight lifting/fitness is almost always divided into areas like building muscle(Bodybuilding), building strength(Weight lifting), building endurance(Long distance sports) – but which one of those should you choose? You may have started working out simply to be more ‘fit’. Where is the Fitness solution?

The answer is not totally straight forward and tends to stand or fall with your definition of the word. If your goal was only to pack on muscle, and you were not concerned about strength, agility, mobility then it would be ‘simple’ – find yourself a bodybuilding program assisted by a bodybuilders diet and you would be on your way. But are there parts of that solution, that would make you look more fit while you actually were making yourself less fit?

In my opinion, the answer to that question would be, yes. Further exploring our example, you would by only working on making your muscles appear bigger, omit the part of actually becoming much stronger, you might lose a big part of your agility and most likely along with it mobility. By doing so, I would make the bold statement of saying that you were actually on the road to making yourself less ‘fit’. Yes you would be better of than doing nothing – but apart from that obvious conclusion I will hold on to my statement.

Definition

Now to explain why I see it that way, I will finally give you my actual definition of fitness. Or the definition I have adopted as being most appropriate to the way I see it.

Fitness is the difference between the least and the most you can do.

We all start our lives without being able to do much with our bodies. Then gradually through life we adopt, learn and explore our abilities and the things we can do with our bodies increase. This will at some point in your life reach a maximum and then decline until the day you die when you once again are not able to do much with your body.

Explained

If you were an active teenager then maybe you were able to play soccer, run 3.5 km in 12 minutes, swim like crazy, play basketball and tennis do handstands and all sorts of different feats with your body. You may not have looked like a superhero or had the body of a model but you could do so many things with it. Now into your twenties you have been doing bodybuilding for 6 straight years and look like the most fit man on earth. Having only focused on the aesthetics you have now lost your ability to run – that would have been detrimental to packing on muscle, so of course you omitted it. Along with the loss of your running abilities, you lost your stamina and are no longer able to do any great harm, to other than yourself, in any sort of game that requires stamina or agility. You may look way better than in your teens, but effectively you have decreased the total amount of thing you can do well, with your body and therefore by my definition, actually made yourself less fit.

Now all this bashing of bodybuilding is only meant as an extreme example, I have done my share of bodybuilding and yes you are able to make yourself both bigger and stronger, and keep your stamina and agility along the way. But you have to take the conscious and deliberate choice to do so. The example could have been focused on extreme runners, powerlifters or something else, that is not the point. If your call in life is to run marathons or set world record benchpresses then by all means focus 100% on that. This article is aimed at people that are not shooting for world domination at any specific sport, they would have their goals in clear sight.

Think about your choices for keeping yourself fit. Your body was built to run, jump, lift, climb, wrestle and thousands of other things – make a conscious choice to keep these abilities for as long as possible and enjoy the incredible feeling of living life with a fit body!

Hacking New York Times 10 article limit

PLEASE NOTE: This no longer works as NY Times found a way to block it

If you, like me, enjoy reading content from the New York Times, then you have most likely reached your 10 article limit a month, within the first few days. I often browse the page itself or is redirected there from some catchy title on http://news.ycombinator.com/.

One possible solution to this problem, also known as the morally correct solution, would be to subscribe, pay for the quality content and read all you want. I might actually do this at some point, since I have no problem paying for something that actually adds value – which I think NYTimes’ articles does. Further more, without revenue, those articles might never be written.

But this would not be much hacking, if all I suggested was for you to pay.

The Magical Kitchen

This post is going to be rather easy on my part. I am going to take a block from The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz, propably one of the most famous parts, and just let it speak for it self. This little text made a really big impression on me the first time I read it. And if I, for once, should trust my lacking memory, this exact story where what lead me to buy the book in the first place. Maybe the same will happen to you. If it does, I am sure you will not be disappointed! 

Imagine that you have a magical kitchen in your home. In that magical kitchen, you can have any food you want from any place in the world in any quantity. You never worry about what to eat; whatever you wish for, you can have at your table. You are very generous with your food; you give your food unconditionally to others, not because you want something in return from them. Whoever comes to your home, you feed just for the pleasure of sharing your food, and your house is always full of people who come to eat the food from your magical kitchen.

Then one day someone knocks at your door, and it’s a person with a pizza. You open the door, and the person looks at you and says, “Hey, do you see this pizza? I’ll give you this pizza if you let me control your life, if you just do whatever I want you to do. You are never going to starve because I can bring pizza every day. You just have to be good to me.”

Can you imagine your reaction? In your kitchen you can have the same pizza – even better. Yet this person comes to you and offers you food, if you just do whatever he wants you to do. You are going to laugh and say, “No, thank you! I don’t need your food; I have plenty of food. You can come into my house and eat whatever you want, and you don’t have to do anything. Don’t believe I’m going to do whatever you want me to do. No one will manipulate me with food.”

Now imagine exactly the opposite. Several weeks have gone by, and you haven’t eaten. You are starving, and you have no money in your pocket to buy food. The person comes with the pizza and says, “Hey, there’s food here. You can have this food if you just do what I want you to do.” You can smell the food, and you are starving. You decide to accept the food and do whatever that person asks of you. You eat some food, and he says, “If you want more, you can have more, but you have to keep doing what I want you to do.”

You have food today, but tomorrow you may not have food, so you agree to do whatever you can for food. You can become a slave because of food, because you need food, because you don’t have it. Then after a certain time you have doubts. You say, “What am I going to do without my pizza? I cannot live without my pizza. What if my partner decides to give the pizza to someone else – my pizza?”

Now imagine that instead of food, we are talking about love. You have an abundance of love in your heart. You have love not just for yourself, but for the whole world. You love so much that you don’t need anyone’s love. You share your love without condition; you don’t love if. You are a millionaire in love, and someone knocks on your door and says, “Hey, I have love for you here. You can have my love, if you just do whatever I want you to do.”

When you are full of love, what is going to be your reaction? You will laugh and say, “Thank you, but I don’t need your love. I have the same love here in my heart, even bigger and better, and I share my love without condition.”

But what is going to happen if you are starving for love, if you don’t have that love in your heart, and someone comes and says, “You want a little love? You can have my love if you just do what I want you to do.” If you are starving for love, and you taste that love, you are going to do whatever you can for that love. You can even be so needy that you give your whole soul just for a little attention.

Your heart is like that magical kitchen. If you open your heart, you already have all the love you need. There’s no need to go around the world begging for love: “Please, someone love me, to prove that I’m worthy of love.” We have love right here inside us, but we don’t see this love.