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Wellness Wednesday for April 12, 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.

Are there any sane/"heterodox" dermatologists out there with science on how to tan safely, quickly, and effectively? It seems like the "science" end of things is always "avoid the sun in all cases, wear the Maximum SPF available and reapply it every half hour." And the other end of it is women who go to tanning salons or the guy on the beach trip who claims that he always tans in the summer, breaks out in blisters on day one, and scares away women.

Common sense lived experience, it does seem like getting sunburned is bad, and I doubt it's good for me to repeatedly get sunburned severely. At the same time, the idea forwarded that all tanning is just sun damage and will inevitably lead to cancer seems ridiculous, it seems like in years when I'm outside a lot over time I develop a nice tan, that also acts to protect me from severe sunburn. And realistically, if one does things outside, one is never going to consistently apply sunscreen for the entire April - September period. I'll always forget, or wear something odd at a weird angle, or whatever.

So who has the real dope on this one? What's the method to achieve a tan without burning?

the problem is with intermittent intense exposure that your skin has not built up protection against because it has not been trained on gradually increasing doses of radiation from throughout the year, if you gradually increase the intensity by spending time in the outdoors during the midday hours every day starting from early spring, you will develop a protective tan that will prevent excessive damage in the summer midday sunlight that causes sunburns in people who spend most of their life indoors.

What's the method to achieve a tan without burning?

I used to work outside a lot, and am white as can be -- it's pretty simple really, wear some SPF15 or so for a few days until you start to get dark, then don't worry about it anymore.

Not a dermatologist, but not a wrinkly prune and nor do I have skin cancer -- and I did this every year pretty much of my twenties. YMMV.

(For the record the really strong evidence linking sun exposure and melanoma for the longest time was a study indicating a correlation between childhood sunburns and eventual cancer -- so it may not be even be real. I like the vitamin D, plus it feels good, man)

the strongest correlating factor for getting melanoma is number of moles, most of which arise during childhood from sun damage events, and actually fadeaway with continued sun exposure throughout one's lifetime. sustained and regular sun exposure is protective against melanoma, this is why melanoma rates have risen drastically over the past 100 years and are continuing to rise as people started spending less time outdoors, and are higher in indoor workers than they are in outdoor workers.

I've recently bought a new phone, a Realme 9 5G. I only discovered after buying it that most of the phone shops where I live don't carry phone cases for Realme phones. I am very clumsy and tend to drop my phone a lot, so a case is a must-have. Does anyone have any recommendations for phone case brands which are trustworthy? Ideally I want one sturdy enough to stop a bullet (figuratively speaking).

I've had good results with Spigen and Speck cases combined with screen protectors. I've never had a phone break from a drop with those on, but it's not really at the bullet proof level.

I can second spigen. They're ruggedized enough that unless you're working in a construction site, you should have to worry about accidental falls damaging your phone.

They're not the prettiest, but if you can live with black and chunky they do the job well.

I bought a no name (Poetic) Amazon knockoff of the LifeProof product for my phone. It's huge, chunky, black rubber, covers the screen as well, and very protective. I do use it on construction sites and my phone is still pristine after many accidents. It was also $10. It is really chunky especially on an iphone promax and ugly, so I also bought a cheap leather slim wallet type for when I'm in a scenario where I don't want to carry the huge one.

Cases are so cheap there's no reason not to own a couple unless you're a digital nomad/onebagger. Get one for daily use and a heavier more protective one for hiking etc; or like me get the crazy protective one for daily use and the slim one for dress up.

Fwiw I've used name brand cases and see virtually no difference in the knockoff Amazon et al brands except pricing. I've never had an issue with the bad ones. It's one product category where Amazon's model just flat out does it better.

It's been over 10 years and I'm mostly happy, but it's still a habit whenever I get into a belligerent mood, to quickly become dismissive of someone's intelligence and commit fundamental attribution error.

You are not wrong to be dismissive. A lot of people who are held up by the media as being highly intelligent are seldom worthy of such acclaim or distinction.

Find God, or yoga. This sort of development is best pursued in a spiritual context I've found, regardless of which context that is.

You could try going to more presentations, either in person or online, where you think the presenter might trigger this reaction in you. In a presentation, you're not usually in a position to act on this mood and you're not likely to say something dismissive and make someone feel bad. Then try to consciously observe how you feel these emotions, have this reactionary judgment response, and then also observe how a few minutes later the response might disappear as you return to the present moment. The more you can observe that these emotional reactions are temporary, and more about your and your past than the person in front of you, the more you can ignore them and let them come and go without affecting the rest of your behavior.

You might even make a worksheet where your mark the time of the reaction, make a note of your feelings, and then later mark the time when the feelings have faded. This can help keep you in an observational mode.

Maybe it would be helpful if you shared a specific story example of this happening. I understand if you'd prefer not to.

"You fast, but Satan does not eat. You labor fervently, but Satan never sleeps. The only dimension with which you can outperform Satan is by acquiring humility, for Satan has no humility." -- Saint Moses

I struggle with a lot of the same feelings. I don't know that I have an easy answer for you, but I'm trying very hard to be humble and to think about why other people do the things they do rather than just attributing it to their essential failures as a human.

I want to share a moment when I felt like I succeeded last week. I know I'm committing some complicated meta-sin by being proud of my humility, but I can't help it. Good Friday one of our tenants knocked on my door and said his shower drain was draining slow and could I call a plumber. He lives down the street so I walked over. "Draining slow..." the septic system was backing up into the basement bathroom. It had to be snaked, I had just had it pumped so it was almost certainly clogged. So I had to come back on Easter Saturday, when my in laws were on their way and I had a million things to do, and run a power snake down the clean out. Of course the tenants claim that they never flush anything bad down the toilet, but as I suspected it was a tampon from the teenage daughter. Inevitable.

I started to get mad at the fucking idiot that flushed a tampon down the toilet on a holiday and dragged me out there, then I remembered: her parents had gotten divorced a couple years ago, and it was just her and her dad now, her mom had moved back to Puerto Rico. No one was around to teach her not to do that, her dad probably either didn't really know what to do with a tampon or didn't talk to her about it. And once I realized that, I just felt sorry for her, and tried to explain it to her father without getting her into trouble. And you know what? It felt good, it felt much better than getting angry, I was in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Have you ever written this out so comprehensively before? I find it can be really transformative to externalize things like this. I bet your dad never wrote anything so introspective and self aware. I bet you've changed a little just from writing this comment.

I've booked a week off work starting on Saturday (well, Sunday technically because I'm doing a night shift on Friday night). However, as it approaches, I don't really know why I bothered. I don't really have anything I want to do, and if anything, I'm worried I'm going to spend the whole week sitting around feeling depressed.

Other than work and the gym (which makes me hate myself as often as not), I find it very hard to actually care about anything or feel motivated. I feel basically no desire to talk to my friends, or to meet new people either. I don't really have any desire for sex and I don't have any hopes of having a relationship either.

Other than work and the gym (which makes me hate myself as often as not), I find it very hard to actually care about anything or feel motivated. I feel basically no desire to talk to my friends, or to meet new people either. I don't really have any desire for sex and I don't have any hopes of having a relationship either.

I'm not the biggest alpha male 'round these parts by any means, but honestly if you go to the gym and aren't making progress, and you have no functioning sex drive, consider T supplementation or at least getting levels checked.

I just tried some herbal shit that may or may not be real, and the change in my workout progress was noticeable. It's hard to reduce to one thing, I didn't isolate any variables, but it's got me giving credibility to the theories that most variation in workout progress is just downstream of genetic/environmental effects on T.

I've had my testosterone checked before, and it's within the medically defined normal range, but close to the bottom end. Certainly, I have some of the symptoms, difficulty with moods, lack of drive, etc. T supplementation is certainly tempting, but that's part of the reason I haven't done it. Would it be looking for a quick fix?

That said, having read your own posting, I have ordered some supplements touted as test boosters.

Nowadays many people feel a pressure to use time off from work to do something fun or leisurely. For some people, and I'm expecting this is particularly common to people who like this website, it can be helpful to accept that something fun might be something that other people consider work, like learning a new skill. Is there anything that you wish you knew how to do that you could start learning via YouTube tutorials? For me it was finally learning to code python.

I spent years trying to maximize my fun through various ways, but more recently trying to maximize my learning and challenging my brain has actually made me feel like I'm having a lot more fun on a day-to-day basis then when I was cramming as many leisure activities into one day as possible.

It sometimes helps me to do something I've never done before. Like travel or psychedelics, doing something novel can help shake up your brain and get you out of old thought habits.

Here are some ideas, it can be very simple:

  • cook a meal you've never tried before (or get takeout that you haven't tried before)

  • travel to the gym via different mode or route. Do a routine you've not done before.

  • go for a walk, if you don't normally.

  • rearrange your room/house. tidy up. buy some new art or a new rug

  • open netflix and watch a highly-acclaimed film/series that you haven't seen before

  • visit a local place you've never been to before, a park, an art gallary, then have lunch somewhere new to you

  • go to the cinema and watch something you wouldn't normally watch. (If you normally buy popcorn, get a hotdog instead)

  • get a cheap room in the next town over, and spend a day or two there

Really the challenge is only "something new".

Also, you should try to do things even if you don't feel like it (perhaps you know this already). Do things as an experiment and see what happens. You should make a schedule for the week, perhaps just pick one activity per day. Look up Behavioural Activation - when you feel low, you do less, which makes you feel low. But if you do more, you might feel better. So you should do things even if you don't completely feel like doing them, because the act of doing is itself the medicine.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Why not go on a solo camping trip or do something to shake yourself up a bit? Meditate or do some psychedelics?

I think that if anything, introspection is a danger. It's too easy for me to get sucked into negative thought patterns when idle. Psychedelics seem more promising but I don't know the first thing about them or sourcing them.

I just got into my first ever real relationship at 29 years old. It's literally less than two weeks old. In some ways I feel better, but in other ways I feel disappointed. Having a girlfriend didn't fix me. If you had a girlfriend your week off would most likely be full of activities, but maybe you wouldn't care much about them. You exchange one set of problems/anxieties for another when your life changes.

Well, there's never any guarantee that any change will lead to happiness, but the conclusion can't be that change is pointless.

I'm not really in much of a position to give relationship advice, but I don't think it's the right perspective to see a partner as someone to 'fix' you. They're just someone that you like, that you desire, that you want to make happy, and that feels the same way about you. And if in the process that changes you, that can happen too, but it probably won't if you overthink it.

Increasingly I suspect this kind of suspicion of desire is a trap for me. Trying to avoid wanting things or asserting my own desires has left me at 31 with nothing, not even much in the way of fond memories.

Ode To The Kettlebell

I spent most of the winter on barbell lifting, with mild success, I was happy with how finally running Super Squats consistently went. But in the process, I bulked up a little bit. So to switch things up in the spring, I'm back to the kettlebells. (@PracticalRomantic will kill me for this) What I love about Kettlebell work is that it has all the things I love in any workout, the explosiveness and the challenge and the feeling of athleticism and the standards to measure my quantifiable numbers by; while encouraging me to work in ways that other weight workouts don't tend to. High reps, conditioning are things I normally prefer to skip.

-- Kettlebells encourage you to own the weight before you move on, for the simple reason that they're really expensive and go in big jumps anyway, so I tend to get them one pair at a time and only buy a new pair after I've totally run out of things to do with the old pair. My 50lbers lasted me six years before I bought the 62lbers, and those went through thousands upon thousands of reps before I impulse bought a single 36kg. Where with the barbell I am constantly trying to add weight, constantly trying to squeeze another 5lbs out of my muscles, with kettlebells I'm using the same weight in the same exercises for years at a time. This encourages me to really get my technique grooved, rather than to try to cheat up a weight bigger than I can actually use.

-- Kettlebells are great because they sit around my house, and it is easy to just grab them and pop out a few exercises. I can do at least a light set with any of my kettlebells with no warmup, maybe not a max set, but even with the 36kg I can pop out some swings or a few long cycle presses on a whim. I realize this is controversial among bro-scientists, but I do believe that it is possible to train the ability to have "on tap" strength as opposed to "warm up" strength. While I have a kind of respect for those who have consistent forty minute warm up routines before they start lifting, similar to the respect I have for champion bass fishermen, if all your strength is only accessible to you under ideal circumstances do you really own it?

-- Kettlebells stand for the idea of being "strong enough" conceptually, of seeking a balance between strength and endurance. Where the barbell urges you to bigger and bigger weights, forever and ever, until you hit the world record or, more likely, pull something. The classic kettlebell workout path for a man is work your way up the 24kg or the 32kg bells, then try to hit crazy reps with those. When I first got started the gold standard was 100 reps of the kettlebell snatch in 10 minutes to pass some mythical secret service test, nowadays it inflated to 100 reps in 5 minutes to make the grade as a Strongfirst instructor and on to absurd numbers for Kettlebell Sport. For the most part, if you can snatch a 24kg kettlebell and clean press two 24kg kettlebells, for reps, you're probably a pretty strong guy. I've never met anyone who could hit the old 100 snatches in ten minutes standard who wasn't in great all around shape.

-- On the other hand, as those rep standards at set weights have gotten higher and higher, we now have a new kettlebell sport even craze, the pentathlon! Where the Snatch/Jerk/Long cycle bi/triathlon have gotten crazier and crazier, the pentathlon goes the opposite way: five different 6 minute events with max rep numbers and the score is worth more per rep the higher the weight you use. Get to a good weight, then worry about reps. Then get to a max number of reps, and try to increase the weight. You always have something to pursue, but not too much of either, bring a balance to it.

Last year I tried to hit a 10m Biathlon with my 28kgs, and got up to a 131 at 190# bodyweight, which I was happy with, then I (finally) got Covid for the first time and that kind of blew up my cardio for a month which sucked. I decided to get back at it, and I'm eyeing up training the Pentathlon for a month to get back into it, then going back to trying to hit a cool number on the biathlon. I really want to hit CMS and get 160 total points on the Biathlon.

Side note: The one criticism of Crossfit I think is 100% valid is that the "American Swing" is the dumbest fucking thing in the world of fitness. Just learn the snatch you ingrates. Although every Easter I wonder if this is the year that some Crossfit gym will put together a "Stations of the Cross" WoD for Good Friday. Extra points for the Cross-Shaped improvised loaded carry implement.

First casual 5am attempt at a "full"ish pentathlon. I used the 28kg for all exercises, I foresee modifying that as I progress to maximize reps/points, but I wanted to keep it simple to start.

I reversed the set and rep times, so rather than 6 work/5 rest I did 5 work/6 rest. Technically one could achieve this within standard timing by simply resigning one minute early, so I still count it. I wanted to keep my aims conservative to start to avoid injury. Scores:

Clean: 70 reps

Clean and press: 40 reps

Jerk: 60 reps

Half Snatch: 40 reps

Push Press: 60 reps

Score @28kg: 945

I was hoping to break 1000, but where I thought the Snatch would be one of my best events the fatigue lead me to cut it off early, not worth risking an injury that will fuck up my whole weekend.

On balance I think I was overly conservative on the clean and the jerk events, could definitely push those higher, or maybe even use my 36kg to get higher scores from every rep. Snatch I might sub the 16kg in so I can power through 108 like they're nothing, rest extra, and push the push press at the end for points? Pace is going to be a bigger problem than fitness on the clean and press, I just can't hit that many that fast, but it's one spot I'll definitely keep the 28kg.

Did a full Pentathlon today with the 16kg kettlebell. Got near full scores, but missed on the half-snatch. I suspect that this event is going to be the most difficult for me. Pacing just wasn't there. This showed me I really will need to get pacing right with the heavier bells, and work on technique. Every rep needs to be perfect to maximize speed.

Clean: 120 reps

Clean and press: 70 reps (Forgot to stop at 60, only counts as 60 anyway)

Jerk: 120 reps

Half Snatch: 94 reps

Push Press: 120 reps

Score @16kg: 1,028

I bet the Naltrexone is prescribed daily? You might consider using it per the Sinclair method (protocol when you're defending it to your doc), where you dose an hour before drinking. This blocks the reward from drinking more intensely and more precisely than once-a-day dosing.

I have been offered propranolol but exercise and dance are very important to me, and I'm worried about a medication that literally doesn't allow my heart to beat fast enough. Did your doctor tell you anything about exercising while on that drug?

What type of dance do you do?

Why do you ask? I don't really like sharing personal details on the internet without reason. There's more observers than most people think. And in certain (sneer based) circles, my username doxxes me.

I dance as well.

I've taken propranolol, it did the same thing, making me feel super calm. I wouldn't say it's normal, because I don't really have anxiety so I still feel a qualitative difference between that and normality.

I wonder if this is how normal people feel most of the time.

I'm not diagnosed with any sort of anxiety disorder, but did notice considerable improvements from propanolol and clonazepam. The latter much more potent than the former, being a benzo and all.

I don't think anyone normally feels as calm as I did on clonazepam.

I’ve started putting my phone in grayscale to reduce distractions/addictiveness. It works quite well I’d recommend other folks try it.

I’ve started putting my phone in grayscale to reduce distractions/addictiveness. It works quite well I’d recommend other folks try it.

Are you sure it isn't that you've made a conscious effort to be less distracted by your phone, and so you're less distracted by your phone?

This feels like a One Weird Trick, such as my aunt advocating everyone put lemon in their icewater after she lost five pounds in a month. Turns out she was just motivated to lose weight that month, tried a method, and ascribed her (temporary) success to the method rather than the underlying true cause of paying more attention to what she was shoving down her mouth.

No it actually works. I know because I had to turn if off, because it was so effective.

I often have to work very late hours, and my phone would turn gray at 11pm. I found that starting at it in grayscale for a while made me really sleepy quickly. Now, I am one of the rare cases were this is undesirable because I have to stay up late.

So yeah, it worked even when I was making a conscious effort to not let it affect me.

Whether it's a placebo or not, does it matter if it works?

Whether it's a placebo or not, does it matter if it works?

Things like lemons in your drinking water are not placebos, they're red herrings. What is "working" is your mindfulness towards the problem you're working at. As soon as that mindfulness fades, you start focusing on your career rather than your weight, the lemon in water is revealed to have been doing nothing. You could have been trying any approach — eating only purple foods, restricting nightshades, activating your almonds, etc

The "gains" you got from putting lemon in your icewater evaporate. And in your eagerness to evangelize the lemon-in-water method on your Facebook feed, you've polluted everyone's information ecosystem and distracted people from approaches that might work durably.

Yep I’ve been consciously trying to use my phone less for years now and I’ve noticed a marked improvement.

Also if you know anything about advertising and psychology you’ll know that colors are a crucial piece of their armament to snag your attention.

Interesting. I'll give it a shot.