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Wellness Wednesday for February 8, 2023

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Dialysis diaries week 5:

Well this week has been a pretty good week, aside from a small incident. I went to a boulder competition and bashed my catheder exit site in to an overhanging boulder. It started bleeding. Thankfully my girl friend took control over the situation there and patched it up so I was able to continue bouldering. But I felt absolutely disgusting, the thing makes my skin crawl and an incident like this really puts me on edge. But aside from this the week was good!

I had my first appointment at the transplant clinic with my mother. Everything so far is good. One issue was that the ct scan could take up to a month to book, which is crazy to me, but they managed to book it in for next week. After this it's just meeting the surgeon and the anesthesiologist. Then it's a 3 month wait for the surgery. This kind of gets under my skin a bit, 3 months feels like a long time and I don't want to endure any more than I have to. But hopefully everything works out, I can wait another 3 months, its already been 6.

The day after I went to the same hospital but this time to speak with a professor doing research on kidney regeneration and organoid technology. I want to first do an internship there and quit my current job in academia as an engineer then progress further for a paid position. Despite the fact that I don't have a biological background he was very encouraging. He is pretty positive an internship is a strong possibility, he was worried about me not getting salary for a while and quiting my job. He said we could write some joint proposals after a while to try to get money to fund me. He will contact me in 2 weeks time. Overall I enjoyed the vibes coming from the group and I feel like it is a really good opportunity to get in to the field and try to fight back against the disease.

So many people seem to be struggling these days it seems, not just limited to the poor , but people who are lacking direction, or feel unfilled in their careers or life trajectory.

Thanks for sharing. Personally all of the “your personality is fixed by 25” stuff seems completely bunk to me. I know people who have barely changed from 15 to 25, and people who undergo full transformations from 25 to 28. It really depends on where you’re at and what your thinking is like.

I will say I believe there is some inertia to thinking. Thoughts tend to wear grooves in your mind, for lack of a better word. The trick is to learn to observe your mind, and try to shift your thoughts towards something more positive or beneficial.

This can be a Herculean task on your own. All the standard advice about friends, therapy, exercise and health activities applies here and helps.

If you’re really at a loss, I’d recommend trying some type of substance. Do some research, but a very small dose of marijuana or a psychedelic can let you glimpse entirely different ways of thinking and being in the world. Once you realize it’s possible, it becomes much easier to work towards.

Is anyone here knowledgable about food safety? I really hate getting food poisoning. I've been in Asia for a few months and I'm surprised to see prepared foods including seafood and meat being left at room temperature at grocery stores and food markets all day long. I've seen this in Thailand, South Korea and Japan. In the US prepared foods are required to be refrigerated or heated at all times for food safety reasons.

I did some googling but didn't find any satisfying answers as to whether I personally (as an American) can safely eat food that's been left at room temperature for hours in grocery stores in Asia or not. One forum I read said that food producers (i.e. farmers) have much more strict regulations in East Asia than the rest of the world so it's not a concern. (They also said that in the US and other countries, food safety falls more on the end seller rather than the producer as in East Asia.) Another forum said that Asians are just more used to the contagions that would be present than foreigners so they don't get sick. Another forum mentioned something called "fried rice syndrome" which is a common food poisoning from leftover rice that hasn't been stored properly. If either of the latter two cases are true I think I should avoid eating food that's been sitting out but I'd like to get some advice here.

In my experience, western visitors to Asia are more likely to get diarrhea from poor quality water than to get any sort of food poisoning, so as long as you are confident in the drinking water I wouldn't worry. Something to consider is that there is a big difference between leaving out raw meat and prepared food because many herbs and spices act as antimicrobial agents. This is sometimes cited as one of the reasons that cuisines from tropical regions are more heavily spiced than in colder climes.

I leave out food at room temperature in my home for much longer than safety guidelines suggest, never got food poisoning.

As far as I understand, most food safety guidelines are orders of magnitude safer than they should be because they are for professional kitchens that cook 1000's servings a day and 1 bad batch would have drastic consequences, the probability of that any single serving actually goes bad is quite low.

Similarly for example, the suggestion to cook chicken meat to 165F kills most bacteria instantly. But you can cook it to a lower (tastier and more tender) temperature and hold it for some period of time and achieve the same result.

I wouldn't worry about it. First World East Asian countries are hardly known for giving foreigners the shits, Developing ones such as India on the other hand you will shit your intestines out.

I'm surprised to see prepared foods including seafood and meat being left at room temperature at grocery stores and food markets all day long.

It may be cured or preserved in some way or high salt content . You sure as hell would not keep milk at room temp

Actually, milk in grocery stores is kept at room temperature in Europe....

Granted it's kept refrigerated after opened in Europe. You should still refrigerate unopened milk in the US.

I would be careful about generalising statements like that. They keep the UHT milk in room temperature, not pasturised milk and What is more common varies from country to country with UHT being generally more popular on the continent (but not in all countries) and pasturised being more popular in the UK and Nordics. If you go to "Europe", don't assume that milk can be left out, look at the carton.

UHT milk is available in most/all countries i would imagine with the most widely recognized form being the small portable milk cartons for coffee milk.

Safety of food left sitting out after cooking doesn't depend on anything the farmer did, it's all local bacteria growth.

A lot of American buffet and deli food sits at basically room temperature all day, and while I don't eat it, if people were getting sick you'd expect a lot more lawsuits. I guess the real question is do you trust that it's only been sitting out today, rather than every day this week?

Rice sitting even covered in a fridge for a few days can end up with red and blue mold, or other lovely things. It's amazing how quickly it goes off.

American buffet

American buffets are the poster child of food poisoning. Spent 23 years in India, the land of food-poisoning stereotypes without being poisoned. Went to my first Indian buffet in Boston and got the most horrifying case of violently-releasing-food-from-all-orifices.

I now refuse to eat at low-turnover buffets in the US. I only visit ones that serve so many people in 1 day that food never gets cold and a case of food poisoning would likely force them to shut down.

Yeah, I turned around and left the last time I saw one. Some of that stuff looked like it'd been there for days...

A lot of American buffet and deli food sits at basically room temperature all day, and while I don't eat it, if people were getting sick you'd expect a lot more lawsuits.

I dunno about this. When someone gets sick, is the first response to call a lawyer? The vast majority of people who get food sickness do nothing. Usually only when it req. hospitalization is a report made, because hospitals are legally req. to.

Ngl I'm really just working on the stereotype that Americans sue whenever anything bad happens to them, so if there's no lawsuits nothing bad must be happening. See the class action suit against chipotle for making people shit themselves.

I am no expert, but I got a food handling certification when I worked for Domino’s. I can’t speak to standards of cleanliness in East Asia or relative strengths of immune systems, but the reason we’re required to keep food that isn’t shelf-stable either refrigerated or hot is because ambient room temperature is a perfect sweet spot for bacterial growth. I’m both unaware and skeptical of there being anything on the food producer side that would so thoroughly sterilize the food as to completely remove those pathogens.

That was my understanding as well. If that's the case I don't understand why everyone in Asia isn't getting sick all the time because I see massive amounts of food sitting in the room temperature sweet spot for bacterial growth all day long

I'm about to enter the world of lifting, as it is about damn time I got around to it. I've got a personal trainer who is going to run me through techniques and build a program but I'm a bit lost when it comes to the nutrition side of it - any tips out there for a 30 year old male in reasonable condition looking to get stronger and not wear himself down?

There was an AAQC by @JhanicManifold, but basically:

  • don't drink your calories, unless they are a protein milkshake

  • avoid highly processed foods, they aren't satiating

  • eat more veg, whole grains and legumes instead of pasta and rice, potatoes are somewhere in the middle

  • eat 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight

  • take creatin

You'll start losing fat if you change your diet, but you won't grow muscle if you don't eat enough protein. Eat more quark, egg whites, lean meat, fish, seafood, legumes. Drink protein shakes. They are just fat-free powdered milk with sweeteners, and without them you will find it hard to hit this 1g/1lb target. Find protein bars you can eat instead of candy if you have a sweet tooth. Creatin is equally harmless, but really helps you grow stronger.

Speaking of the training program:

  • a personal trainer is good idea, their biggest job is to make sure you don't skip your gym days

  • talk to them about your goals: what do you want to look like: a gymnast, a bodybuilder? Do you want to be able to brag about your single-rep weights or twenty pullups? Or do you just want to touch your toes and do a bridge?

  • establishing a routine is important. You shouldn't schedule your gym sessions around the rest of your activities, it should be the other way around: you can't do this on Monday, that's your gym day. Don't have too many gym days per week, it's easier to establish a routine if it's only two or three

  • with two or three gym days per week you should concentrate on compound movements. Don't go too heavy, 10-15 reps per set is the sweet spot for noob gains

  • you'll still want a dedicated day for legs if you have three gym days, because leg muscles are big and take longer to recover

  • form over reps (if there's one thing to hate CrossFit for, it's for ignoring this)! Form is especially important for compound movements. If you don't feel your PT is being an asshole and just looking for something to complain about every set of yours, they might be looking at their phone instead of your form, ask them for a form check

  • however, everyone's skeleton is different (I know mine is). Some PTs are super anal about foot placement, hand placement, where the bar should touch your body, how deep you should go, etc. If something feels wrong, stop and tell them. If they tell you you should deadlift with your feet in parallel and you feel like you can really engage your hips with your feet in a more toe-out stance, tell them. If they have you do preacher curls with an EZ bar and you just can't find the right grip, tell them

I should really make a giant "Nerd's Guide to Getting Ripped & Shredded" as a post that we could always link for these questions, rehashing everything every wednesday seems like a bit of a waste of time.

When you're just starting? Mostly just make sure you're not eating total garbage, honestly. Both lifting and eating requires lots of little improvements over a long time. It's way too easy to get frustrated if you feel like you need to dive in and get 100,000 things exactly right otherwise all your gainz will be for naught. Most of the advice/debate out there is focused on how to take a 1% elite athlete and turn them into a 0.1% elite athlete, and you'll hear tons of people spouting their very particular system for trying to do such. You can probably ignore most of it.

Just start with the little things, which is probably just cutting out some garbage. Don't eat piles of dessert food. Don't drink alcohol to excess. Try to get decently regular sleep. Just keep going to the gym, even if you "don't wanna". If you don't have this base, biting off a bigger to-do list is just a recipe for frustration and failure.

If you have this good base and have consistently had this good base for a few months, then, the next typical recommendations are to try to get enough protein and get a decent approximation for how many total calories you're eating. Even this is kind of hard, takes some effort, and is slow-going. Finding a calorie tracker (or making your own) that isn't so frustrating that you quit is a task. Don't expect to settle it on day one.

Man, improving my diet has helped WAY more than I expected. Just eat lots of lean meats and vegetables and losing weight becomes both quick and painless. At least that's how it has been for me so far.

Eat clean. It's not too complicated. My brother, who is a powerlifter, pretty much eats steak and sweet potatoes for every meal. He also stays on protein and hydration shakes all day every day, but he is way more intense that me. I'm a more casual lifter and do not worry about my nutrition as much. I try to eat clean, homemade food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Greek yogurt in the morning, sandwiches for lunch, caesar salad and chicken for dinner, and nuts/protein bars/fruit and other snacks throughout the day. It works for what I need.

You don't need to overdo the lifting. 3x a week doing compound gains is more than enough to get started and you'll definitely see changes by 60 days in. Your physique will be better. You'll have more energy. Moving and lifting things in your daily life will get easier.

One other piece of advice is try going to the gym when it's not super crowded. I go to the gym after work and it's jammed, especially the squat racks and bench presses. If I could, I'd go to the gym in the middle of the day and not have to worry about it being overrun.

Good luck and have fun!

Thank you! I work nights so crowded gyms aren't really an issue for me thankfully haha.

Download a calorie tracker (I recommend Macros but MyFitnessPal is the most popular). Estimate TDEE*. You want TDEE - 500 worth of calories for losing fat** ("cut") or TDEE + 300 for building muscle ("bulk"). The other big thing is getting enough protein, which your tracker will calculate. Here's how many grams/day you're looking for.

Everything else like nutrient timing is an advanced lifter's concern.

* You should expect to to gain/lose a pound of weight for every 3500kcal of surplus/deficit. If this doesn't go as expected after your initial water weight changes in the first week, adjust your TDEE estimation.

** If you're obese, make it 500 times how many BMI classifications you're overweight by

EDIT: If you want the math behind it, the rule of thumb is to have 30kcal~ of deficit for each pound of fat in your body. But that's a little complicated and it's hard to know the exact amount without an advanced body scan anyway.

Thank you!

I just started using Silexan as suggested in Scott's post about a week and a half ago. I never thought of myself as someone with anxiety issues and never been to a doctor for it or used any prescription drugs. But dammed if it doesn't really help my mental state. I feel a lot less worry and what I guess is anxiety especially with regard to habits and social interactions. I feel like I have significantly more drive to do stuff. No issues or side effects at all, aside from the mild scent in burps, which I don't mind. Just ordered another batch of the stuff.

Thanks for the rec, I’m going to order some myself.

Google tells me this is an extract on lavender oil. I don’t know for sure, but I think lavender oil is estrogenic. Just adding for info:

So I’m going to turn into a trap if I start taking this?


I recently saw a comment on a video going over the latest scary "any amount of alcohol is bad for you" research that said "it's funny how alcohol is the only drug that people have to justify NOT using". Not that I think that's what you're trying to do here, as you said, you're just curious. At the end of the day, however, I'd just take the win and be happy that you don't enjoy something that's bad for you, no matter how many other people love it.


We can test this pseudo-empirically. Passionflower and lemon balm are gaba agonists which should make you feel similarly poor and lemon balm is serotonergic. L Theanine is an GABA agonist and has effect on serotonin. Ginger is protective against alcohol’s renal damage and serotonin-depleting effects. Of course just because something

It could also just be that, for whichever genetic or microbiota-related reason, you don’t like alcohol. In my case I hate alcohol 90% of the time, it makes me feel sick and uncomfortable, but I like the effect of lemon balm. Just because things affect GABA and release/increase serotonin does not mean they do so with the same perceived psychological result of course

Of course just because something

Good point. However, I would argue that it doesn't necessarily require a

I think you may have accidentally a word

Your response to alcohol sounds somewhat similar to that of people who experience Asian glow i.e. discomfort after drinking a small amount of alcohol, a delay, and then getting very drunk once all the acetaldehyde in their system is finally metabolized. While that allele is uncommon among people who aren't of East Asian descent, it's not unheard of. There are certainly other genes relating to ethanol sensitivity too, some of which may have been selected for in the recent past as the ALDH2 allele was in Asians. It is a poison after all, so it isn't surprising that our body can respond negatively to it.

It's been a pretty miserable winter. Not many available hours at work means more time to be depressed and introspective. Things are picking up again this week though, which is nice.

I'm starting the Deep Water program at the gym. I'm also back squatting again after months of avoiding it, and only getting tightness in my lower back instead of pain, which is good.

Eczema is bad due to the weather. I get it on the insides of my elbows, but the worst is my left hand and wrist, which have some fairly ugly dry skin and minor scabbing.

I've had some mild eczema issues. Here's a few things that have worked for me, not sure if you've tried any:

I think the root cause of it being worse in the winter is spending time in heated places which are inherently low-humidity. Setting up a humidifier powerful enough to get the humidity up above 50% or so if it isn't already may help. As may a humidity gauge to see what it actually is in the spaces you live in.

Mild Corticosteroid cream seems to help quite a bit, including the OTC hydrocortisone. I found this site that lists all of the varieties and strengths of them. A prescription for a Class 6 helps a bit more and seems to be mostly harmless for routine use or as needed.

I live in the UK, so I don't know if a lack of humidity is the issue. I've tried hydrocortisone in the past, but it tends to just make the area even more inflamed and even painful.

It may be worth getting a humidity gauge for your living space. Islands and coastal areas usually have decently high humidity outdoors in all seasons, but if you heat a space more than 10-20 degrees C, the humidity in that space will be substantially lower unless you deliberately add more water.


It's strange how it works. My mother gets eczema too, and she even gets it in the same place on her left hand.

Many of my friends and family have been deeply affected by the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Almost everyone lost a loved one. If you can, please do consider donating.

Hoping to start a book club to help people learn more about philosophy/improve themselves etc.

Anyone know of good intro to philosophy books, specifically utilitarianism? Looking for something newer and accessible but that still gives an accurate overview of the philosophy.

I wasn't going to get into it since it's not utilitarianism*, but since that barrier is broken I guess I'll throw out another strong recommendation for Meditations. I just recently did a book club where we did one notebook each week and discussed our thoughts and reflections, and it was very edifying. The book deserves its stellar reputation.

*Seriously guys, he says right in the OP that he wants books on utilitarianism and y'all are recommending classical philosophy lol.

I actually appreciate it the Stoics are my favorite. I'd start with Seneca over Aurelius though, he's much more accessible. Epictetus is good too.

Epictetus is really great. I finished reading his works about a month ago, and I loved them. He seems like he was a delightfully sassy old man when interacting with his students.

Been trying to read Seneca now, but I'm finding his work less interesting. But I'm sticking with it still.

Hard derec of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. It's a great book, but it's also one of the most repetitive books I've ever read, and it is bound to seem dull to some creative spirits. Not a good place to start IMO.

Don't have any recs myself, unfortunately, but you can try the IEP which has a handy bibliography at the bottom and sometimes includes short reviews. The SEP may also help, though it is usually more dense.

What's the level of commitment of your membership?

If/once you're very committed, Russell's History of Western Philosophy will cover, well, what it says on the tin.

If you're looking for something short/easy; I second Marcus Aurelius, or I'll throw in Hesse "Siddhartha." It's practically a pamphlet, but it has a followable narrative and asks all the big questions.

what it says on the tin.

If it says "Russell" on the tin, yes it will certainly cover that.

Start at the beginning and work you way up.

You can't go wrong with Plato's The Republic. It's honestly one of my favourite books, period. It's quite readable and in relatively plain English (depending on your translation) unlike a lot of early modern and modern philosophical texts which can have a lot of jargon. It basically assumes no prior technical understanding of philosophy. It's actually surprisingly funny.

Philosophy-wise, you can find elements of all modern political philosophical schools running through Plato's ideal city state. Liberalism, fascism, socialism. Along with asking some pretty foundational philosophical questions derived from first principles (what is justice? Why should we value it?). Socrates and Plato having the title of father(s) of Western philosophy is well earned.


On the "starting a club" side, this "make it a Thing" post/link-to-tweet-thread seems relevant:

It's funny, I've just started getting into classical philosophy and my therapist asked me if this was an interest I might be able to find others to share with. It's interesting that it does seem to be a "male" self-improvement kind of thing, but really, I just felt it as a click on of sudden interest and finding some good books.

I don't know anyone in my area and dont have a place to host if I did, but maybe this kind of thing is something I could work towards. Seems like you'd want a good grasp of things as a host anyway.

That is amazing. One of the most based things I've ever read

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It's short, sweet, and a classic for a reason. Furthermore it's actually a decent intro to classical philosophy.

Peter Singer's Practical Ethics is a pretty good starting point for preference utilitarianism.

If you're looking for philosophical self-improvement, Montaigne's Essays and Seneca's Moral Letters are excellent reading material.