changes, transformation, change, transitioning, health, fitness, self, true self, identity, logic, philosophy, science, psychology, neuroscience, soul

Transformation, Identity, and the “True Self” Myth

I am an ever-changing bundle of elements, emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

In 2011, Julian Baggini wrote about the problematic concept of true self in “The Ego Trick”.

He talked with Jnanamitra, who has lived as a man and a woman: “I feel like I’ve lived several lifetimes these days. It’s very weird to look back at my childhood and have a sense of that being me.”

Baggini showed how Neuroscience and Psychology have studied humans and brains, and brains with injuries, dementia, mental or physical illness, and there is no part of the brain, body, or body chemistry which is the essential or controlling section.

The world’s religions have never shown definitive proof of a “soul” nor have never agreed on where it is before birth, during life, on life support, or after death.

 

“For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure, colour or sound, etc. I never catch myself, distinct from some such perception.”

– David Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, Book 1, Part 4, Section 6.

 

Nothing is permanent, be it identity or biology. 

Fashions and hairstyles change, beliefs change, relationships change, information changes. People do things like have cosmetic surgery, and can then later have their breast implants removed.

This morning I read about a new book in which 30 transgendered people voice their regrets on their transitioning.

That book appears to have a political and/or religious agenda, but the fact remains that people exist who regret making such changes.

I support those who want to change.

I support those who regret changing.

changes, transformation, change, transitioning, health, fitness, self, true self, identity, logic, philosophy, science, psychology, neuroscience, soul

Between the old and the new

 

How much of “you” is “you”?  Or are you a cliché?

 

Are you a geek, Goth, hippy, punk, leftie, conservative, clean-eater, Christian, alternative, party girl, introvert, runner, backpacker, dissociated, wine mom, meat-lover, foodie, or muso?

 

Do you even feel lost because you’re not any kind of social stereotype?

 

changes, transformation, change, transitioning, health, fitness, self, true self, identity, logic, philosophy, science, psychology, neuroscience, soul

No “true self”

 

I am an ever-changing bundle of elements, emotions, thoughts, and experiences. 

-Zenmode.

Social group pressure has something to do with desire to change and not change in any direction. We have a survival instinct to want to be part of a tribe for protection. Doubts also arise that are affect the flux of self/identity and feeling of belonging within a tribe. Religion, politics, fashion, family, health.

In 2019, James Fell writes about “The Willpower Myth: How Identity and Values are the True Regulators of Behavior”. In his new book on health and fitness, he explains that the alleged concept of Ego Depletion caused by a supposed draining of “willpower” has now been discredited by science.

I have issues with the concept of having a “true self”, but I like how James Fell brings up “identity change”.

Change definitely happens by questioning your thoughts, attitudes, and values, and turning small efforts into positive habits.

 

“Challenge your thoughts. Don’t believe everything you think.”

-Zenmode.

 

By making some sort of change every day, I quit smoking, lost 35 kg (80 lbs) and have maintained my goal weight nearly 3 years, gone from couch to running 3 marathons, and have been alcohol free 11 months.

In 2019 I’m hoping to keep changing, learning, adapting to new information, and thriving.

New Year Tidying Photos

I had 12 days off work over Xmas and New Year. I did lots of tidying.

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Bedroom chest of drawers

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Bedroom side cupboard #1

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Bedroom side cupboard #2

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Bedroom scene with Lady the Bengal rescue cat

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Hall

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Kitchen still needs painting

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Library/office mantelpiece

 

I also heard today that a new Netflix series has started called, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”.

She’s got a bit of a decluttering cult going, which puts me off a bit, but her main concept was one I liked when I heard of it – only keeping things that “spark joy”. That was one way I sorted out all my wardrobe and room etc.
I had a look on Netflix and I watched the episode called “Emptynesters“.

I haven’t read her book, as some of it sounds a bit woo-woo, but the show was pretty cool.

It reminded me of me and my other half, and how decluttering our crap has brought us closer together.

This has all happened in tandem with quitting smoking, becoming more active, losing weight, and thinking about less alcohol.

An Adaptive Spiral.

 

walking, australia, endurance, jacaranda, walk,

I Walked 51 km (32 mi) on Boxing Day

I wasn’t even scoring bargains in malls!  I wanted to walk for 12 hours to see how far I could get, but after about 9 hours, during a fuel stop at McDonald’s for a chocolate frappé, I broke out in a sweat and felt dizzy, so I decided I should stop. It was 30 Celsius (86 F) at that point. Happy with that effort.

 

I started at 5:33 am by walking around our town’s lake. I thought I might end up doing that a few times on the day, but there were so many bugs in the air and I kept getting stones in my shoes, so I decided to stick to roads if I could.  I needed to do the walk in loops so I could come back to where I could make a toilet stop.  I went to the outskirts of town on 4 different loops, which required walking on the side of roads.

By midday, it was 26 Celsius (79 F). In the last few hours of walking my mission was to try to go where I knew there would be a bit of shade, and the last 3 loops were shorter ones on footpaths nearer the CBD.

 

Before I started: I had high protein Greek yoghurt, 3 oat breakfast biscuits, juice, decaf coffee, water.

I was drinking water from my Camelbak throughout the day.

Food:

9 km: Oat protein bar

15 km: Jelly babies

22 km: Egg & bacon McMuffin, orange juice

33 km: 350 ml lemon squash

37 km: Cheeseburger, fries, lemonade

50 km: Ordered a chocolate frappé and drank it before/after stopping at 51 km.

Dinner: Chicken & veg sweet & sour Hokkien noodles, prawn crackers, crisps, icecream, fudge, and chocolate.

 

Looking at that list, I think I should have eaten something else at about 45 km then I wouldn’t have felt like I was going to pass out at 50 km.  But when you’re feeling tired and crappy but want to keep going, eating sometimes seems like it takes too much time and energy.  Stupid “exercise brains”!

 

 

Random info:

 

 

  • I saw two hares and a mouse/rat.
  • At 32 km I ran into a good running buddy who was walking her dog and we walked about 1 km together which was lovely.
  • I applied 50+ sunscreen beforehand, and twice during my walk, and wore a wide hat and sunglasses: no sunburn, slight tan.
  • My Garmin Fenix 5 still had 58% battery left.
  • Sore thighs.
  • Hotspot or blister on my right heel sole.

 

 

McDonald’s is near home. While I was waiting and starting to feel terrible, I didn’t think of calling anyone to come and get me because I didn’t think I’d have to wait long for the drink. I had to wait 10 minutes for my frappé, but I felt a bit better as soon as I had some and started walking home.

 

I actually got outside our house and my watch said 50.7 km so I went round the corner and back to make it 51 km (32 mi).

 

This meant it was my walking distance personal best by 1 km, and quicker than my first 50 km walk by 30 minutes.

walking, decluttering, cleaning, minimalism, work, changes, fibonacci, transformation, weight loss, health, happiness, sustainability

An Adaptive Spiral

Turning small efforts into daily habits results in beautiful things.

 

NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is the term for activity other than purposeful exercise. E.g. Walking, cleaning, trips to the fridge, playing with your kids, etc.

 

NEAT accounts for a higher percentage of your daily energy expenditure than intentional exercise even if you work out 5-6 hours a week.

 

Increasing your NEAT can make a huge difference to your health and environment.

 

  • Wear comfortable shoes: You’re not in pain or grumpy; better relationships; better posture; you can walk around without hindrance; more NEAT.
  • Bring your lunch to work: Saves money eating out, and you can spend the rest of your lunch hour walking / doing errands.
  • Wear a backpack rather than carry a shoulder bag: You’re more inclined to go for a walk; you walk more easily and quickly; you don’t hunch one shoulder to keep a bag on it (my physiotherapist pointed this out and now I see people with lopsided shoulders everywhere).
  • Bringing lunch and drinks to work means more trips to the office kitchen: Saves money; more NEAT.
  • Put dishes away one at a time: NEAT; and it also doesn’t increase power bills.
  • Put laundry away one item at a time: NEAT!
  • Walk your office mail to admin on another floor instead of putting it in your floor’s mail-out tray: Saves admin staff having to carry it or forget it, and I get more floors climbed.
  • Walk to the shops when you need something (rather than waiting till you have a long list then drive).

 

One of my realisations was to just stop whining to others to do tasks and just get off my butt and do them myself. No arguments; better relationships!

 

More NEAT meant decluttering, and more space!

 

All this NEAT led to feeling better, doing more purposeful exercise, eating according to my calorie limit, losing weight, running, feeling better, round and round…

 

An adaptive spiral.

 

Today I was thinking that NEAT is sort of like doing the “right” thing:

 

 

  • You walk to the bin instead of leaving rubbish on the table – more calories burned; tidy house.
  • I just walked two sides of a triangle along the path instead of taking the short cut across a carpark – safer; more calories burned.
  • I walk the long way to & from work – less carbon emissions; save money; more calories burned.

 

 

Doing the “right” thing has so many benefits!

Losing 80 lb / 35 kg using My Fitness Pal (easy calorie-counting app), running, and participating in community discussions led me to not having drunk alcohol since January 31 2018.

Not drinking meant not needing as much time in bed trying to sleep. Now I sleep more soundly and don’t wake as often, which means I have more time to do nice things.

On Thursday after my run, study, and drawing, I still had lots of time to spare before my last day of work for the year:

  • I put away some things I’d left in the hall after doing some rearranging around the house.
  • I walked to the hardware shop and bought some picture hooks and hung prints of my son’s artwork properly in my yoga room (his room when he comes home).
  • I tidied my room and wiped down all the surfaces free of dust.

And when I came home, it all looked lovely and I was facing 12 days holiday!

 

As each day passes, we can make appropriate and sustainable growth, change, and habits that beautify the overall picture. 

 

An adaptive spiral.

 

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drinking alcohol in moderation

Less alcohol

I drank 2-3 large drinks a day pretty much every day for many years.  At the start of 2018, I had 3 of my running friends do alcohol-free months which made me start to think I should really take on a new challenge.

Then another friend wrote about “Being kind to Tomorrow You”. He made me realise that not drinking is a lovely, sympathetic gesture towards the person we are now, and whom we will wake up as.

I don’t look at a day without alcohol as a punishment for drinking too much.  A night off is a treat for Tomorrow You. You’ll wake up without guilt about last night’s drinking, and without a headache or hangover.  A night off will be an achievement you can be proud of all day.

On February 1 I decided I’d take it one day at a time and see how I went.  One day led to the next, and soon it was my birthday.  Instead of celebrating with a drink, I felt it would be a more significant occasion if I didn’t drink on my birthday for the first time in 30 years.

I also celebrated other milestones (decluttering my room; running my first 50 km run) without drinking.  I found I was enjoying my “streak” and my natural highs much more than a couple of hours “buzz” then many hours feeling crap.

I’ve now passed the 9 months alcohol-free mark.

I always felt “fine” as a daily drinker, but I didn’t know how much better I could actually feel!

  1. No guilt, fear, or foreboding about what the drinking is doing to me.
  2. Sleeping soundly.
  3. Better memory.
  4. Huge boost in creativity.
  5. No mood swings.
  6. Better relationships.
  7. More money!

 

I have an app set up, “Nomo”, which tells me I’ve already saved over $1,600 by not spending the $40 per week I used to spend on alcohol.

I read this yesterday, by an alcohol-free woman who has made and is making big changes.

She writes:

 

“From school, to uni, and at work, at sports and weddings, funerals or even community events – it’s always been a prolific and revered part of any social connections.”

“Somehow, I made it. The odds were overwhelmingly against me – as I kept reading and being told. Some fanatics declared ‘once an alcoholic always an alcoholic’ and I realised that was why so many people cannot beat the stigmas and are overwhelmed before they even start.” Hello Sunday Morning

Sure, it can be helpful discussing not drinking with like-minded others. I wouldn’t have got this far without discussing how to think differently about alcohol with others online.

But many people find the idea of attending AA meetings too confronting, though they do help many others.

To me, thinking you’ll always be fighting a permanent part of your being (“I’m an alcoholic”) seems very unhelpful and defeatist.

I choose to think that alcohol is a form of chemistry that can be fun… for a while, but it has side-effects that snowball with consumption, and increased consumption is one of those side-effects.

Don’t blame it on yourself. Blame the alcohol chemistry.

Once you’re free of the alcohol, you’re free to be whatever you want to be.

I found it easier to quit rather than to moderate, or have regular days off, with a disclaimer.  The way I “quit” was by thinking I’m not quitting forever. I can drink whenever I want. I choose not to for now.  I felt that the occasional drink is how I became a daily drinker. It’s too hard to drink then quit, repeatedly, considering how hard I found it to quit for one day for all those years.

Thanks for reading.

Edited 20 March 2019 to include something about my participation in discussions online. That was a huge part of what helped, along with reading articles such as those in the Hello Sunday Morning newsletter.

 

How to quit smoking and get your shit together

Set aside a weekend for it. Prepare yourself for a really crappy Saturday. Get yourself some sleeping tablets for Saturday night.

Gear up for a couple of weeks beforehand, smoking normally. Have your last cigarette on a Friday night.

On Saturday, instead of getting up for a cigarette every half an hour, get up and do some tidying each time you have a craving.

Tidying, not thinking

Instead of sitting around thinking and letting your brain’s repetitive cigarette cravings torment you, keep your body busy so your brain has other activities to occupy it.

  • Wash stinky, smoke-smelling clothes.
  • Wipe down or mop ashy surfaces.
  • Hide ashtrays and lighters.
  • Go shopping to buy nice new drinks if you associate habitual drinks with cigarettes.
  • Clean pet areas.
  • Go for a walk to buy cleaning supplies and enjoy your breathing on the way.

 

I did this 4.5 years ago, and that weekend, I did and put away 7 loads of washing and did so much spring cleaning! A sparkling house and a new me!!

Relief

Saturday will have been easier in comparison than what you were dreading. You’ve probably got through plenty of bad days. If you know a really tough one is coming, you’re prepared.

Just do it and get that one crappy day over with. It’s hard, but it’s always going to be hard, and never going to get easier, so just fucking do it, then it’s done.

Come Sunday, the worst is over, you’ll feel proud of yourself, your future will be brighter and the day will be easier.

 

Within 6 hours

Your heart rate slows and your blood pressure becomes more stable.

Within a day
  • Almost all of the nicotine is out of your bloodstream.
  • The level of carbon monoxide in your blood has dropped and oxygen can more easily reach your heart and muscles.
  • Your fingertips become warmer and your hands steadier.

Quit Australia

 

Keep tidying. You may feel tired, but be happy, this is your crappy but transformative weekend that puts health money in your future bank.

You’ll sleep better Sunday night, and by Monday, you’ll know you’ve won the battle.  Any urges to smoke that pop up are just brain farts.  Challenge those thoughts. Don’t believe everything you think.

 

About Me

I had 15 minutes of fame from my “before/after” photo from my first year of running.

A Year of Running

10 October 2015 to 22 September 2016

It was featured in a story about me in the parkrun Australia newsletter.

The photo garnered an article in The Telegraph, UK.

It had 1,400+ likes on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Group One Year of Running.

My Imgur photo made “Viral” status and had nearly 200,000 views

It was posted on Reddit and had 10,000 points and 381 comments.

I lost 36 kg (80 lb) between April 2015 and April 2016 by eating whatever I felt like (in moderation) within my calorie limit, using the free My Fitness Pal app.

I had started feeling better and better after quitting smoking cigarettes cold turkey in May 2014 and have just kept going. In 2015 I started walking a bit more every day.

On 22 September 2015 I suddenly felt the urge to run for the first time in 30 years.  2 weeks later, I started doing parkrun on Saturdays when it started in my town and I have only missed parkrun 3 times since then. #loveparkrun

I ran 50 km in 6 hours on 10 June 2018.
Along the way, these are the goals I’ve made and completed:

Raise money for cerebral palsy and walk 10,000 steps a day for Steptember 2015.
Run 5 km. 5 December 2015.
Run 10 km. 6 March 2016.
Run 15 km by end of June 2016. 27 March 2016.
Run 5 km in under 30 minutes. 9 April 2016.
30 Day Planking Challenge. May 2016.
Run a half marathon. 26 June 2016.
Run 100 miles in August 2016. Done by 22 August 2016.
Run 1,000 km in 2016. Done by 27 August 2016.
Walk 35 km on 23 October 2016.
Run 100 miles in October 2016.
Run 10 km in under 55 minutes. 8 Jan 2017.
Run 30 km. Done 24 March 2017.
Walk 50 km on 6 May 2017.
Hike 80 km in 2 days. 10-11 June 2017.
Run my first marathon in my year of turning 50. Sunday 27 August 2017.
Run my 100th parkrun. 17 February 2018.
Run a half marathon run (or further) every month for a year. July 2017 to June 2018.
Run a 50 km run in 2018. Sunday 10 June 2018.
Hold a handstand for 10 seconds. 17 June 2018.
Draw every day for Inktober 2018.
No-Spend November, 2018.
See how far I could walk on Boxing Day 2018. 51km!
Ran 2019 km in 2019.
1 year alcohol-free. January 31, 2019.
Ran at least one 21.1 km run (or longer) every month for 2 years. 28 June 2019.

Writing all this is a reminder to myself that goals are achieved by making a little effort every day.

Don’t wait around for motivation. Just do it.

Challenge your thoughts.

Don’t believe everything you think.

Zenmode.org was started 20 June 2018.

“About Me” updated 14 July 2019.

 

Addition for a more complete picture:

  • I was owner of The Australasian Skeptics Forum.
  • I’ve studied at The University of Melbourne, and Deakin University.
  • I studied painting and drawing under Howard Arkley and Christine Johnston.
  • I’ve worked for local, state, and federal government in Arts, Environment, and Law.
  • I’ve managed bookshops and currently work in finance.
  • Zenmode post “Less Alcohol” was featured in an Australian Department of Health newsletter in April 2019.

My First 50 km Run

My First 50 km Run – Sunday 10 June 2018 – Recap

I’d been planning it for 6 months. I have a spreadsheet I’d made with a Strava Premium McMillan marathon training plan in it, and the 50 km Ultramarathon training plan from the book, “Relentless Forward Progress”, and I basically managed to follow the distance of the long runs each week, while running 4-5 times a week as directed by what my body could cope with. Every day I would enter what I’d done, and tweak what I would plan to do.

I’d first thought I’d do the Canberra Marathon Festival 50 km event in April, but travel and accommodation were going to be too expensive, plus, events are stressful, so I decided I’d keep it simple: If I want to do 50 km, do 50 km. I don’t need to pay to run – just do it around home.

I chose this weekend, the long weekend in June, since I’d have more days to choose from if the weather was terrible, plus I could have time for recovery. Sunday was perfect. 5-15 Celsius (41-59F).

Started at 6:24 am

1-10 km (1-6 miles)

My usual morning run in the dark route on footpaths along the highway. I saw W and N who both knew what I was up to, and wished me luck. DK tooted her horn at me.

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I made sure throughout the run to only run at a pace that let me breathe easy. Early on, I had to keep slowing down, because I knew I’d need that energy later.

10-25 km (6-15.5 miles)

Uphill to the next town on a fine gravel path, then back down again. Saw G, which was nice. The fog was beautiful in the dawn sunlight.

91872883-144F-4CA2-9C63-0F5CCA05C714EC8D465A-F6A3-40A6-80AC-585F9C2F1EF494F08346-AF93-4E8D-98AC-93D86D8DF65F

25-40 km (15.5 – 25 miles)

More hills. C pulled up next to me at 30 km, and I was happy to report I was feeling alright.

I did start getting slower gradually from there. Around 38 km my left lower back was starting to hurt and I could tell I was tensing up. It helped if I stretched my arms up and out.

Fuel: I ate yoghurt and a big muesli bar before I set out, and on the run I had 2 other bars, a donut, and 2 energy gels with caffeine.

Too much information: Loo stops were at 9, 18, 25, and 39 km. Didn’t “need” them all, but I’d planned the route to go near the loos in case I did need them, and then I used them so I was comfortable the whole time.

40-50 km (25-31 miles)

Mostly flat, on paths around the lake and along the creek. My body was running alright, if slowly, but it was starting to complain in places. It was also getting warmer in the sun. Had arranged for F to run with me for the last section. We chatted, and it helped distract me from the sore back. It was nice to have someone with me when I passed the 42.2 km marathon mark, and enter into the “uncharted waters of Ultra territory”, as F put it. Then it was a painfully slow countdown jog to the finish. I’d called my husband to meet me, and little did I know, my dear friend DB had arranged to be there too, with BB, AB, and G, and bunches of balloons. My own personal finish line and cheer squad!

Too long; didn’t read? Ran 50 km! Achieved my 2018 goal! Ran all the way, which was the cherry on top! Did it in 6 hours as I’d hoped! I have awesome friends.

Fun Stats:

My 40th run of 20 km or over.

12 month streak of running a Half Marathon or more per month.

(Started learning to run on Sept 22, 2015 when suddenly my usual walk wasn’t fast enough.)