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Wellness Wednesday for March 20, 2024

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.

I think I'm losing my hair.

How do I stop this from happening.

some combination of minox/dut/fin to start with, you could also keep up with /r/tressless

Also would be interested to see what works here, 33 and feel like I’m noticing a slightly recessed hairline, but unsure because I’ve always had a widow’s peak hairline.

I generally don't participate on ground level wellness Wednesdays, but I'd like to announce some personal breakthroughs!

  1. I'm getting married! We've been engaged/planning for several months already but it's finally beginning to feel real. There are a number of hurdles to overcome, but ultimately I'm quite happy with the person I chose and that we'll be able to work together to have a healthy relationship.

  2. I have spent my entire life perusing classical music on the professional level, and I feel like I've had personal breakthroughs with my playing. Some minor setup changes and a couple successful concerts has increased my confidence as a performer, especially from last year where I had some abysmal concerts/auditions where I was quite unhappy with how I played. I need to practice more to help increase consistency but I feel a lot more confident performing.

  3. I finally tackled my health a bit and got back on asthma medication which has helped my lung capacity significantly. I really want to get back into exercising but time constraints/energy make it difficult. It has some strange side effects, but the upside for me outweighs any downside.



Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! It'll be the adventure of a lifetime, enjoy the ride!

Thank you! It's strange that while I'm excited to be married, I'm not particularly excited about the wedding. In part because of all of my ideas basically got shut down, but also the realization it's so incredibly performative that I feel like the vast majority of it is farcical. I might get a rice cooker and a new bed out of it so that's worth it, right?

I was blessed to have a wife who also didn't really want to do the whole wedding thing, and we got away with having immediate family only, 12 people total.

I reasoned that I hated every other wedding I went to, so why would I want to waste my money on one.

I might get a rice cooker and a new bed out of it so that's worth it, right?

If it's a really good rice cooker then YesChad.jpg.

Bro the wedding itself was absolute ass honestly. My wife and I both hate being the center of attention and that entire day you are the center of attention and there are so many expectations of you particularly if you come from a non-western family like I do.

Dealing with venues and vendors, who to invite, seat placements, etc. was fucking painful. Not to mention the money involved.

So it’s not weird at all that you’re excited for the marriage part instead of the wedding.

Congrats though, I’m not trying to be pessimistic just saying I feel your pain :)

How shit of an idea is just quitting your job without a replacement job to go to?

I am completely, utterly burnt out on my current job. The past few months have been non-stop ass rape on a personal and professional level. We had redundancies sprung on us in December with zero warning that I only dodged because another person took voluntary redundancy, and before that we were doing 9 hour days for about 2 months due to the business promising far more than it could actually deliver. The personal shit could be its own post. I haven't properly unwound since september.

There has been a team change and my team now comprises of me, who works on software written in one language, two devs that work on completely different language on completely different software, and one dev that would normally be working with me but is tied up with temporary projects for the forseeable future. There is no one with lead or managerial capacity on the team. This is a random grouping of devs with no clear overarching goal and it feels like I'm just expected to somehow make it work when I'm least equipped to do so.

Every task seems to take much longer than it should. I keep making really obvious mistakes that I don't seem to ever catch in the moment. I keep saying or doing things that bother my colleagues and they don't bring it to me so I can fix and address them, but to my manager who schedules a meeting about 2 or 3 weeks after the thing in question has occurred to discuss it. My manager also now routinely brings up things that I did wrong in the codebase two or three years ago and beats me over the head with them. I was on holiday last week, and the last thing my manager did before I went off was meet with me to discuss my performance, and then had another meeting with me first thing on the Monday when I returned.

I don't know really if I want to get another dev job or go back into education or work a shit but slower paced job for a while. I do have friends/family I can stay with and I have more than sufficient savings for the forseeable future, so that part is not an issue. I am primarily concerned on the effect it will have on my ability to get jobs going forward.

I've done it and I have to admit it was a bad idea. Financially I'm OK, but I started off thinking "I'm just going to take a little break for mental health," but then the break got longer and longer. Long-term unemployment has totally wrecked my motivation and self-discipline.

Can I ask how long you've been off work?

3 years now. I got extended UI from covid and never went back. I guess it's not a massive amount of time, I'll probably go back eventually, it's just hard to get back into that worker grind mindset.

That's rough. I hope you make it back OK.

I've done it. I had a lot of money saved up and needed a break. The hardest part was not getting through interviews for another job, but psyching myself up to update my resume, which I hate doing.

Ultimately it depends on how much money you have saved and how much of it you're willing to burn through and how tight the labor market in your industry is. If the labor market is tight, you can probably find another job without too much trouble even if you're not currently employed.

But I was applying for software engineering jobs in 2012, so my experience may be nonrepresentative. I wouldn't quit my current job without a replacement lined up.

Can I ask how long your break was?

Oh, sorry, I didn't see this until now. It was about a year and a half, half because I wanted a break, and half because I really hate updating my resume and kept putting it off.

For what it's worth:

  • This sounds very negative and unhealthy long term, I would definitely start making moves to leave
  • It's always advantageous to be "branch swinging" instead of finding a new job without one.

When I hire someone who quit, I have to do a lot more mental and emotional math. Are they a diva who's too good to stick it out? Did they get canned and are lying to me about it? Anyone interviewing you probably isn't going to ping your boss and won't know if you're telling the truth with high certainty. It makes things a lot easier for everyone if you can grab something new while still employed somewhere.

It may or may not be your fault, but it sounds like the feedback from your manager and coworkers is fairly negative. From your employer's perspective, it probably doesn't matter much whether it's your "fault" or not.

At the very least this is a misalignment in terms of the role and expectations, and/or a bad cultural fit—or perhaps, they're just awful and shitty colleagues, and you should find a way out. To me, personally, your manager and coworkers come across as snakes.

It wouldn't be the end of the world, but I would advise against quitting without something firm lined-up. Jobs are like women; it's always easier to get another one if you have one already. Recruiters don't want a candidate who isn't wanted by other recruiters.

You have to do what's best for your mental health, though. If you have to quit for your own mental sanity, so be it. But maybe you can tough it out for a while at the job. You can always quietly coast/quit while searching for the next venture on your current company's dime, which would better position you financially and professionally. If you get officially put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP): treat it as a Paid Interview Process, as the saying goes. You could also use that as a springboard for negotiating a separation agreement.

Job market is bad right now especially for devs. Line something up now before you jump ship.

It depends on your confidence that you'll get a new job before your savings run out. The reason people say to not quit a job before you line up another is that it's safe, but that doesn't mean quitting before you have a replacement job is going to blow up in your face.

How shit of an idea is just quitting your job without a replacement job to go to?

I've done it. I don't think it's as big a deal as it's made out to be, if you are a competitive applicant. It sounds like you have the kind of skills where recruiters are probably hitting you up on LinkedIn all the time. So I'm sure you'd be able to get a job. Which is all you really need to know. Don't just sit there and suffer, you only have one life to live.

Is there any way to give advice that I'm not aware of?

I have a good friend that should be doing well. He has a good job as a programmer working from home, his wife makes ok money as well, also working from home, and they have a healthy well behaved kid. They gross 230k. They rent a house because they have never saved enough to buy. They have one car despite the fact that it makes it difficult for either one of them to get away for a weekend to do something fun with friends.

When we first became friends I actually helped him discharge some medical debt and fixed his credit for him. I tried to get him a duplex in 2017 but he screwed up the loan application process and I lost interest.

They. Eat. Out. EVERY. MEAL! I think they probably spend 50k a year on it. When pressed he says, "neither one of us likes doing dishes." It is often a topic of fascination/conversation amongst our mutual acquaintances. We can't really understand how they never seem to have any money and this is the best reason we can come up with.

He also has a SERIOUS drinking problem that I have tried to talk to him about, and if I'm the one telling you you're drinking too much then it is a real problem. Our last 4 conversations this month have been about chess and about his drinking and that he should seriously think about going to rehab somewhere nice for a bit.

It finally caught up with him a few days ago and he got busted for a DUI. He passed the field sobriety test and then blew almost a .3... Shoot, a vampire could catch a pretty good buzz if he had encountered my friend on that particular evening. I hate to say something as cliché as "I hope this is a wakeup call" but I can't suppress that thought.

I've given him some advice on lawyering up and what to expect in that department, which he seems to be listening to. I can't help but think that there should have been some way to reach him before it got to this point. I think I'm a pretty persuasive guy, but it only seems to really work if I'm around someone 30 hours a week or more. I can't do that for him.

I suppose this turned into more of a venting session than I realized. Thanks for coming to my ted talk on the dangers of being a spendthrift drunk.

You should almost never give advice with the expectation of it being followed unless you have the power to force them to listen.

Rather, give advice because it would feel ethically wrong not to give it. Because a good friend in this situation would give this advice. And you want to be a good friend.

It won't so much be a change in behavior as a change in the expectation of the outcome. Do it so you can know you did it, not so anything happens.

Is your friend actually asking you for advice, or are you just laying this on him? I don't think humans respond well to the latter, especially coming from someone who's supposed to be our friend and equal. Sounds like he's doing OK if he can hold down a job earning that much. Rather than driving drunk he should probably take Uber instead.

My most successful advice-giving sessions have been when I build up enormous political capital by giving zero advice (like... for years in the face of obviously self-destructive behavior) and then finally "snap" and really lay into someone for being an idiot.

I think the idea if mr. easygoing yofuckreddit tells you that things are fucked up, it's a serious deal.


Looking at my own life, I usually know when I'm doing something wrong. I just have trouble sticking to doing something better for longer than a couple days. Sometimes the fix is just me being more aware something is a problem- like seeing an article that brings up that deli meats aren't very healthy, even though I already knew that, so I start eating less deli meat after. But usually the solution is me finding a new angle to go at the problem- like melatonin to start sleeping earlier, creating a to-do list I check regularly, having a to-do list for my morning routine so I don't forget my keys, etc. So perhaps work with them over a few different solutions and try to find what actually fits their personality.

They. Eat. Out. EVERY. MEAL! I think they probably spend 50k a year on it. When pressed he says, "neither one of us likes doing dishes." It is often a topic of fascination/conversation amongst our mutual acquaintances. We can't really understand how they never seem to have any money and this is the best reason we can come up with.

I hate dishes too and eat out a lot, but I usually go to fast food places and carefully look for sales and what menu items are good prices, so it doesn't usually cost me more than like $13 CAD per meal, and often less. I'm not actually eating out 3 times a day, but even if I was and doing it every day and paying for another person, it'd be $28 470 a year. Expensive, but substantially less, and again that's an absolute upper limit of if I was eating a 3 large meals a day and never just eating in. So perhaps recommend to them to eat more at cheaper places, get the restaurant apps for discounts, and don't get delivery.

I'm bored to death with the meals served at home, and I'm a gourmand so I very much look forward to food.

How do I reconcile that, while being paid not particularly well?

Well, I learned to live off a single meal a day. That means that if I find the right bang for the buck, a single delivery order can keep me going for the whole day. And the fact that I haven't lost that much weight despite it shows that at least the calorific value is there.

Win-win as far as I'm concerned. I get to eat good food, I don't have to worry about cooking, and given that it's a single meal, even the additional surcharges and hidden fees don't make it unaffordable. What else is a dude to do if he's in the live to eat and not eat to live category? I suppose at a certain point I'll have to start cooking heh.

I'm not exactly sure how you are currently giving advice. There is a big spectrum of advice giving between "polite carefully phrased bits of advice" and "yelling at them for being an idiot".

I personally don't respond well to the more aggressive bits of advice. And I agonize over the carefully phrased bits of advice and take them very seriously.

Your friend might not be like that. Perhaps if your current method of giving advice is not working it would make sense to upgrade the aggressiveness. Usually if you are already too aggressive then the friendship is not going to last.

Of course you could already be on the edge of aggressiveness, and your friend is just not willing to accept the advice.

I hear them on hating dishes. I hate them too. Would still be way cheaper to just buy disposable dishes and eat microwave meals at home. Alternatively a maid that comes in and cleans/does dishes might strangely be cheaper than eating out constantly.

On the drinking ... maybe just try and get them to go to a doctor more often. That way you can outsource your nagging to a professional. I visit a doctor a few times a year and get told every time to drink less, and it usually helps for a month or two.

Also see if you can meet his family and get them to nag him. Or maybe his family is all just as bad as him and that is where he gets the habits. In that case maybe get him away from his family.

Yeah, I don't have a clear model of how people's priorities are set, but I think it happens at a very deep level over a long period of time. If you only see him sometimes, it's like you're nudging a boulder that is already moving downhill. You might be able to deflect its course by a degree or something, but by the time people are out of school and fully in their careers, we largely are who we are and it's quite hard to change it. That boulder keeps going.

It's good that you're trying, though. If he hits some kind of rock bottom, it might be at that point that he actually reflects on the things you've said to him.

What are the best quality-on-a-budget sunglasses you've used? I'm planning to buy a bunch of pairs with summer coming up, so I can keep them in cars and golf bags and to the beach and whatnot and not worry about losing them. I want something slightly better than absolute drug store junk, but I'm not willing to pay brand name prices. I'm considering Goodr, which I've heard good things about, or buying fake Oakley frogskins or Ray Ban Wayfarers off DHGate, some people I know claim they're totally impossible to distinguish from the authentics but it's hard to know which seller to buy from and that makes me nervous (though my one experience buying fake sports jerseys off DHgate was fantastic).

I bought a pair of Izipizi sunglasses for ~€50 a few months back. I now like them more than my secondhand Ray-Bans, which would have been €250 new.

I would recommend Cheap, branded, and each time I've ordered they've offered a choice of a free pair at checkout. My worry about cheap knockoffs is that they might not have proper sun protection, which can damage your eyes in the long run.

I've randomly had good luck with drug store crap sunglasses. My strategy has basically been to buy any drug store crap glasses that look good enough, and the ones that survive and I continue to like stay around. Survival of the fittest for sunglasses.

I need prescription, so I don't have personal input, but my wife and a bunch of running buddies like Goodr a lot. By all accounts, they're durable and don't slip off easily. I like the look too, but that's obviously in the eye of the beholder.

What would you do with a free 2 months?

At 41, probably as some kind of mid-life crisis, I've decided to go back to graduate school. I start in June.

I have a bullshit email job, and I'll give notice soon (tomorrow, perhaps). That leaves me 2 months free. I have no partner and no kids.

So, what are some ideas for things I should do with this free time? Money is no object. I'm open to pretty much anything. The last time I had a few months free I wasted it sleeping to noon everyday and playing online chess compulsively.

Money is no object.

Don't listen to the haters saying to travel the world. Go to the moon, my man.

I teach, so I always have two months off, and we generally go on road trips, I paint, and I'm trying to make something of the yard.

If money and children weren't considerations, I, like several others, would travel, and did in my 20s. I especially enjoyed the Republic of Georgia, which has a very friendly guest culture. There are also some pretty interesting educational opportunities, such as the Saint John's College summer program, which is kind of a 2.5 month intensive book club (though that doesn't line up with your timeline, but I'm sure there are other things like that). An acquaintance did a month long plein air painting tour in France, which seemed neat.

I'd write a novel. A.J. Cronin wrote his first novel while he was recovering from an ulcer and couldn't work. I think John Braine wrote his in a hospital bed. You may never have a better opportunity to single-mindedly focus on a big personal project of that kind.

Hey I'll pay you a percentage if you want to keep that job and outsource it to me.

Get in as much good sleep and exercise as the body allows. Have no 0 days, even a single day at home playing video games is wasted, do as much outside real world for the next year, you don't have to wake up for work anyways.

I would play a lot of video games.

But in your case, I'd suggest a vacation. Thailand is lovely and cheap (and this is coming from a broke-ass person in a Third World country), so you can probably afford to lounge about on the beach for a few weeks. Other potential activities are left to the imagination.

Anakin: Other potential activities are left to the imagination.

Padme: Like surfing and sightseeing, right?

Anakin: …

Padme: Like surfing and sightseeing… right?

I could certainly see some sights from my fancy hotel's balcony. Apparently being next to the red light district doesn't depress property values.

Any places in the world you want to see? If you don't mind traveling alone, or maybe you even have someone to travel with in the upcoming months, now's the time to do it. I'd combine some luxury with challenging, rewarding experiences. Learn to scuba dive, and go skydiving. Push your boundaries and you'll grow from it.

Lots of things.

Audition for a play/musical.

Pick up golf and play 3x a week.

Take classes (cooking, mechanics, woodworking, etc.)

Go get SCUBA certified and visit the Great Barrier Reef.

Hike the Inca Trail.

Visit the best National Parks.

Out of curiosity, how much were you getting paid at your email job?

Thanks. The Inca Trail seems interesting - I'll look into that tomorrow. I make $240K/yr. leading a team of ~15 engineers.

Damn, that's a nice chunk of money.

The Inca Trail is super cool. It might be difficult to get a ticket in the next few months, but it's worth looking into. If you can't get a ticket for the "traditional" Inca Trail, you can also look at the Salkentay Trail, of which I've heard good things. I used Action Trek Peru for my hike and they were terrific.

When I was in a fairly similar situation, I picked up some contract wildland fire work. I didn't have any experience, but I was willing to travel and work, and they needed bodies. I enjoyed it overall, pretty slow at times but the money was decent. Seven years later, I'm a permanent employee on a hotshot crew, with a consolation master's. Unintended consequences (or were they?)

Thanks. If I were interested, how would I pursue something like that?

Call Grayback Forestry or Franco Reforestation or Pacific Oasis and tell them you're interested, they'll walk you through it. A lot of the entry-level workforce consists of dumbass 18yo kids so they're used to answering questions. With your availability window you may not get out on actual fires much but Grayback will for sure have fuels work and I'm pretty sure the others will as well.

adb shell settings put secure accessibility_display_daltonizer -1 I believe should do it. That's from ChatGPT, so grain of salt, but, it looks plausible and similar to these github colorblindness tricks. Also not clear to me if you can override that from settings without adb, which would defeat the purpose, but I say give it a try. See also google groups.

Claude Opus agrees, but suggests using Tasker to toggle it instead:

Yes, the ADB command you mentioned:

adb shell settings put secure accessibility_display_daltonizer -1

This command sets the accessibility_display_daltonizer setting in the "secure" settings database to -1, which corresponds to the "Grayscale" color correction mode.

This command will enable grayscale mode on your device. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. This setting can still be changed by the user through the Accessibility settings on the device. So while it's a little more hidden than the quick settings toggle, it's not completely permanent.

  2. When you reboot your device, the setting might revert back to the default value (depending on your device and Android version). You may need to re-run the ADB command after each reboot to re-enable grayscale mode.

  3. Some apps or system processes might override this setting temporarily for specific screens or UI elements.

So while this ADB command is a good way to enable grayscale mode in a slightly more persistent way than the standard user-facing settings, it's not 100% permanent and unalterable.

If you want to make it a bit more automated, you could set up a Tasker profile or use a similar automation app to run this ADB command on device boot or periodically to keep re-enforcing the grayscale setting. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Judging from the links, I don’t know if -1 is correct — it seems that 0 is the correct value for monochrome display. But I’m just going based on those two pages, not based on any actual experimentation with a real device, so YMMV.

How much muscle is ideal for a man? At what point does lifting weights become detrimental? What is the ideal proportion of body weight to be able to bench/squat/deadlift/overhead press for a man with healthy bodyfat?

I am at the gymbro stage wondering if it is worth evolving further.

At what point does lifting weights become detrimental?

Realistically, when you're already stronger than most men and the time cost is cutting into other valuable pursuits.

For maximum attractiveness to women, being lean (say 10~12% body fat) at something like 21 to 22 ffmi is probably the optimum, see this calculator to play around with your own stats. Regarding specific muscles, side delts are #1, then chest, back, and arms. Girls don't care about legs as long as they're not ridiculously out of proportion with the rest of your body. Glutes are also important for the overall silhouette from the back.

See this video for discussions about the optimal muscle level for attractiveness.

In general I'd say as much as possible so long as you're not doing steroids. It's hard to borderline impossible to put on too much muscle without some kind of growth hormones, which has skewed people's perception of the consequences of lifting.

An exception to this could be if you're really short (and have short limbs) in which case you might start looking a bit like a dwarf, but even that is mostly a consequence of people doing steroids. If you're of average height and above you really shouldn't worry. Even thimble sized guy like PewDiePie does 2 plate bench and do you think he looks too muscular?

Tldr: Go as hard as you can and don't do steroids.

Opinions may vary, but I don't consider any amount of muscle or strength to be excessive or undesirable.

How much muscle is ideal for a man?

How much height or wealth is ideal for a man? Height doesn’t matter, as long as you’re 6’6” or over. Similar principle with regard to muscle.

At what point does lifting weights become detrimental?

Pretty much never, unless you’re blasting a gram+ of testosterone a week with other anabolics in the mix, and lifting weights as a full-time job.

What is the ideal proportion of body weight to be able to bench/squat/deadlift/overhead press for a man with healthy bodyfat?

As much as possible, especially bench and/or OP.

For the most part, there’s no too much strength or muscle, just as there’s not too much height or wealth. Especially when it comes to dating and/or relationship management with women, basically never are there negative returns with regard to additional status/dominance signals.

I'll second @FiveHourMarathon here: if you're asking people on the internet this question, you aren't anywhere near needing to worry about the limits. Lifting weights to get stronger is basically pure upside until you get so deep into it that it becomes a part-time job, and even then it's basically all upside.

I also agree that 1/2/3 plate bench/squat/dead is a good bare minimum for a male lifter; under that your only goal should be getting stronger regardless of any other athletic goal.

if you're asking people on the internet this question, you aren't anywhere near needing to worry about the limits

My hope is this was an intellectual exercise instead of a serious inquiry.

Otherwise it's much like women worrying about being too "ripped". Honey, it'll never happen - and if it does, a week on the couch will swing you back just fine.

Lifting weights to build muscle is probably detrimental to long term longevity, particularly coupled with a high BW. If you care about that sort of thing.

Conclusions: Low SMI was significantly associated with the increased risk of all-cause mortality, and the risk of all-cause mortality associated with low SMI was higher in adults with a higher BMI. Low SMI Prevention and treatment might be significant for reducing mortality risk and promoting healthy longevity.

I agree with @ArmedTooHeavily

Person goes to hospital with cancer. Is stuck in a bed having their bum wiped for them. Loses muscle mass. Dies. Clearly they just needed some whey and squats. Or hospitals cause cancer.

Actual weightlifters have bad life expectancy outcomes, on par with athletes that get punched in the face regularly.

This guy is talking about "Olympic bodybuilders" so I am immediately skeptical that he has any idea about what is going on in the data. Looking at data that involves all Olympic weightlifters is going to be confounded by the super heavyweights with enormous fat mass.

confounded by the super heavyweights with enormous fat mass

Not just that, but if you look at the methodology they do not control for any confounders. Particularity the fact that countries that focus on Olympic weightlifting typically do so because it's relatively inexpensive to have a program compared to other sports. Look at any of the medals tables and you see a bunch of North Korea, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Belarus, etc. None of which are famed for longevity of the population. That lifespan chart is absolutely useless without controlling for confounders, unless you think equestrian and sailing has some magical protective powers other than being a sign of affluence.

They also fail to quantify the likely effect of steroid use, which is absolutely rampant in top level weightlifting. " the past decade, more than 600 lifters have tested positive." This is particularity relevant because the steroids used are chosen for their ability to avoid doping control and make the athletes stronger not for safety

Also agree, you should probably not take training advise from someone who does not understand the difference between general strength training for health, weightlifting the sport, and bodybuilding.

I'm sure you could find any number of reasons to ignore anyone you feel like - why not a typo or minor terminological error?

It's really more of a major error because the body composition of a bodybuilder is totally different from the body composition of a weightlifter. Olympic weightlifters are also (at least nominally) drug tested while top bodybuilders are not.

Again, if you choose not to be interested in this, you could find any number of rationalisations. That he wrote Olympic bodybuilder instead of Olympia bodybuilder does not really seem important to me. It's not even the only typo in his post.

More comments

That doesn't even come close to passing the sniff test. "Exercise will make you die sooner"? Give me a break, the entire first world is dying from being too fat and too sedentary.

And even if there is some correlation between muscles and morbidity, you'd be a fool to only consider the number of years lived. Physical strength is massively, massively important to quality of life in the elderly. One of the most important reasons to maintain physical vigor is so that when your aging really sets in you have a sufficient physical baseline to not be reduced to invalidity.

To quote Tolkien:

The old which is strong does not whither

Deep roots are not reached by the frost

Exercise in general is good for your life expectancy. Any yet, weightlifters have some of the worst life expectancy outcomes among all athletes, alongside boxers and ice hockey players who are literally getting brain damage from their sports. I think virtually all of this is caused quite simply - people who lift weights are too large. The sport valorises size and strength, and even hobbyist natural lifters are expected to have BMIs at 25 or over.

Lifting weights is probably not the culprit. The skinny old guy doing squats with 60kg in between running marathons is probably not endangering himself. But he will likely outlive the meatheads benching 140kg. If you can call such an existence living.

I agree that it's better to live fifty years as a meathead than seventy as a cardiohead. And you're right that people are dying due to being fat and sedentary. But lifting doesn't fix that. It's one of the few athletic activities that actively encourages weight gain and does not inherently involve any cardiovascular exercise.

Whats your squat PR?

I ask because in my experience 100% of the people who say any variation of "you'll get too big" (in this case "even hobbyist natural lifters are expected to have BMIs at 25 or over") have never picked up a barbell in their lives. It just doesn't happen, it's not a concern, its media-created fantasy. It's like people who say "why didn't he shoot the gun out of his hands?"

170kg. I don't really PR that often on squats - in theory I could probably do 180 based on my reps.

I'm no soothsayer either but what others have told me is that if I wanted to squat more I'd probably have to put on more weight, at least temporarily. And since I don't really consider my squat numbers to be respectable...

Anyway, you clearly are not paying attention to what I'm saying. I don't consider there to be such a thing as too big. There are however, clearly tradeoffs to getting big and strong that people don't want to hear about.

How much muscle is ideal for a man? At what point does lifting weights become detrimental?

Ideal for what? Detrimental to what? My effort to back squat 400lbs was detrimental to fitting into pants I had owned for years. If you're worried in a generic sense about health or injury, don't. If you're asking questions on themotte you aren't there yet.

What is the ideal proportion of body weight to be able to bench/squat/deadlift/overhead press for a man with healthy bodyfat?

That said, to try to answer the question: if you can't bench/back squat/deadlift 1/2/3 plates for a double at the drop of a hat, you should work on getting there. That's the absolute minimum for a male lifter unless you're under 5'2" or crippled. I don't care about %BW until you're competing in powerlifting. Percentages are dumb, aim for raw numbers until you get serious. If you can't do 1/2/3 plates, you should be putting on muscle to get there, not trying to math your way into claiming you are strong from the right angles.

Overhead press is a little more complicated, I would say that a bodyweight push press is the standard I won't let myself slip below and a bodyweight strict press is the goal I occasionally reach. I'd say being able to do the clean and push press casually at one plate is a good place to start.

How much is a ‘plate’? At least at every gym I’ve been to there are plates of varying weights.

Lmao. One plate as a denomination refers to a pair of 45lb/20kg plates on a standard Olympic 45lb barbell. So 1/2/3 is 135/225/315.

Thank you, here the weights are 1.25/2.5/5/10/15/20/25kg and the bar is 20kg.

A "plate" is a colloquialism for the heaviest standard barbell weight size, 45 lbs (~20 kg). That also happens to be the weight of a standard barbell, so a "1 plate" lift would be a 45 lb bar with a 45 lb weight on each side totalling 135 lbs (61 kg). "2 plate" is 225, "3 plate" is 315.

For better or worse, being able to get at least one-rep of 225 on the bench often serves as a bright-line test between DYELs and intermediate lifters (novice lifters in between may struggle).

The NFL combine uses 225 for their bench press test on upper body strength; the NBA a mere 185.

What's the goal? I like running long distances, which diminishes the value of muscle mass. If you're @FiveHourMarathon, you're less concerned with running performance and more with throwing around heavy kettlebells, so he's going to want a hell of a lot more muscle. If you're trying to play offensive line for your local university, you're not even going to try to be lean, you actively want to add fat along with your muscle, the better to move the sonofabitch in front of you.

As a broad generality, almost no one has to worry about lifting weights becoming detrimental. Even skinny runners will generally be better at running if they commit to a consistent weightlifting program and it's pretty much impossible to just accidentally add a lot of muscle mass.

Famed fitness expert Steven Crowder answered this question for us 7 years ago.

For most people, the question "What would fulfill me?" is simple; only the "how" is the challenge. Most men just want a woman, while a smaller contingent want wealth, fame, power, community, faith, or some mix of these. For virtually everyone, the template is already there for what to do, and life is simply a matter of meeting the standard. You like engineering, so you become an engineer, etc.

Currently I'm in my mid-20s, and I've stagnated heavily because none of the paths feel right. There is no person, past or present, who inspires me to follow in his footsteps and to do the same actions. Instead it's like I'm pulled far away toward some distant star, to something particular no one has done before. And no matter how confusing or inconvenient this is, it's the only way I can find fulfillment.

Oddly, this seems common with people interested in the Classics (they're also always misanthropes). Not just guys like Montaigne or Nietzsche, but even the blogger TLP who produced shockingly original work at the height of his powers. Their styles are so unique that we can't imagine their work emerged from anything other than a deeply felt, internally consistent drive. They're also all writers. At 6 years old, I decided I'd become a writer, but this dream died years later when I found all existing styles unsatisfying. Now I think I'm coming around to it. When drunk, I pace around in circles rapidly and then sit at my PC and type up a storm. Overall I'm a mediocre writer, but in rare moods everything flows out beautifully. Perhaps I'll find that star soon. I sure hope so.

Overall I'm a mediocre writer, but in rare moods everything flows out beautifully.

I think this is a misconception of how writing works. Very few writers only write when they feel "inspired", and those that do almost never make a living from their writing.

Writing is a discipline: it's pre-committing to writing 1,000 words a day whether you feel like it or not, whether it feels like pulling teeth. Most writers I've spoken to (or writers who've written about the craft of writing) have generally made peace with the idea that the first draft sucks. As my cousin said "the first draft is you telling the story to yourself".

If you think that in order to be a successful writer, the prose needs to "flow out beautifully" on the first try (at least most of the time) - you're setting yourself up for failure. I imagine the number of successful writers who would describe their writing process like this is vanishingly small.

That's a good point.

I guess I have in mind writers like Melville or Hemingway, who wrote their masterpieces in a very short window of time. This makes intuitive sense to me, because their work is colored by a specific emotion or intensity that most novels lack. It seems like Hemingway's work flow was to endure a shitty experience, and then rapidly write a story from it as a sort of catharsis. The Sun Also Rises was written over six weeks, immediately after the events which inspired it. And most of his great work lies in his short stories, probably because he could compose them rapidly while he was 100% inspired. On the other hand, a work like A Farewell To Arms has some segments which aren't that interesting, even if the ending is amazing. I think he understood this, which is (part of) why he constantly threw himself into rocky situations and lived 10 lifetimes in a single life. Without emotionally turbulent subject matter, his style sorta falls apart -- the simplicity of his prose only works when it conceals an iceberg of emotion and complex tension.

But unless you're prepared to live a rollercoaster life like Hemingway, you likely need to emphasize some other aspect of literature besides constant pathos. Hence improving in raw technical skill by putting in 1000 words a day, rain or shine. Sometimes you just need to get from A to B and there is no immediately compelling way to do so, you've just got to do it. So yeah, good point.

I guess I have in mind writers like Melville or Hemingway, who wrote their masterpieces in a very short window of time.

My understanding is that Melville spent at least a year writing Moby-Dick. Sure that's short considering its word count, but I'd hardly call it short in absolute terms.

Sure. A short time-frame for arguably the greatest book of all time, though. I don't think Melville can write lines like Ahab having a "crucifixion in his face" without being deeply inspired or passionate. That kinda stuff only comes out when you're truly moved, and the whole book is full of things like that.

In my view, literature is often boring because writers force themselves to write when they're not inspired. Same with musicians, or art in general I guess. Only, the imperative of making money from your work tends to force out less than optimal material. I guess there's an argument to be made that regular practice will keep your base level of skill sharp, though. If an artist only waits for inspiration to strike, then his technical skill will probably decline in that interval. Ideally you'd split that time between raw practice, and just exposure to stuff that inspires you.

In my view, literature is often boring because writers force themselves to write when they're not inspired.

I once read this book called 31 Songs by the novelist and music critic Nick Hornby. It features an anecdote where he watches Patti Smith performing live, and he thinks to himself that he wishes music would only be performed by people who are as obviously passionate about their music as Smith is. But then he thinks about this for five minutes, and realises that some of his favourite songs ever were written by people for whom songwriting was a day job; and also there are millions of musicians who are incredibly passionate about their music, but their music sucks. A subjective feeling of "inspiration" on the part of the author doesn't necessarily translate into a work of art which is engaging and compelling for the listener/reader/viewer.

It's very romantic, this idea of great books only being written by people who are extremely emotionally invested in their Art™, but I'm not sure if it describes the reality of the situation. I suspect the average author of Sonic fan fiction is far more emotionally invested in the spiritual journey of his Original Character Do Not Steal than, say, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, who pretty much openly stated that the craft of making believable fictional characters is a highly artificial process and no different, really, to what LLMs do. History is littered with examples of authors whose generally-considered magnum opus was written to put food on the table or fulfil a contractual obligation, while the book they poured their heart and soul into is generally considered pretentious, indulgent or masturbatory.

Guess I'm really just projecting from my own experience with art. Whatever the Greeks said about muses feels true; when you can channel that magic inspiration it's like you've made brief contact with the divine and you're just relaying their message. Only when I'm having really strong emotions does my best stuff come out. But everyone's different. I think we just have to find what works for each of us as individuals.

I understand where you're coming from, and obviously you shouldn't be trying to get a book published if you don't believe it's any good. I'd just caution you against assuming that what feels like your "best work" to you will necessarily inspire that reaction in the people who read it. I think you might be surprised by how many books you've enjoyed were written by people who only wrote them to make rent. The example of Melville is well taken, but Dickens and Hugo were paid by the word. On the other end of the spectrum, Kafka was so embarrassed by his novels that he requested they be destroyed posthumously - and isn't the literary world richer that that request was ignored? Think of how much poorer we'd be if we'd trusted his assessment of his own writing ability.

Overall I'm a mediocre writer, but in rare moods everything flows out beautifully. Perhaps I'll find that star soon. I sure hope so.

Then why not just... write? Where's your blog, your Substack? What are you putting in front of people? All the guys you mentioned did not ruminate and just did stuffs. That's the hardest step one can take, but by far the most important one.

I haven't been writing because I think our current literary forms aren't doing the job, and I've been daydreaming a lot about how to fix that. That probably sounds like a waste of time, but I do think I'm getting close(r) to some answer.

Can I ask what your thoughts are? I'm in the same boat. I feel like:

  • very few people read novels any more, especially men. Maybe there's still a market for YA garbage, smutty romance, or whatever woke stuff wins literary awards. But it's mostly just a very slow, long medium that doesn't fit the modern age of information overdose. I can spend my entire life reading great novels from the past and never run out of content.
  • twitter is the opposite, too short to have any real info at all. Lots of funny jokes there though.
  • Blogs... I don't know. So many blogs just sound the same to me now. Especially with so many of them moving to substack where it's the same format, they all link to each other and borrow from each other. Mostly they seem to be a lot of "Hi, I'm a smart guy but have no real expertise on X. Let me write about X anyway, based on some shower thoughts I had. No peer review or editing. I'll be writing more or less the same blog posts every day, forever, in order to churn out content."
  • writing comments on sites like this just disappears into the ether. Good place to generate ideas, bad place to get any credit or come up with a finished work of art.
  • Comic books/graphic novels/manga. I like this medium a lot, for how it can use pictures to very quickly convey information. But it takes so fucking long to draw anything, and it still has that reputation of being "just for kids." Bryan Caplin has been trying to write non-fiction graphic novels though, and that's very interesting.

To the general public, written entertainment is obsolete. Your average person doesn't enjoy reading -- only a great book like Blood Meridian with no adaptation will convince him to read. Dune is basically a better version of Star Wars yet nobody knew that for 50+ years because people just don't want to read.

Books are competing on the same battleground for attention as films, as podcasts, as music, and they're losing. Basically, the only way to approach book writing in 20XX is to write a book so explosive and interesting that it lures you into reading it. This is stuff like Gravity's Rainbow, or Blood Meridian or Infinite Jest. Alternatively, it's totally batshit stuff like Philip K. Dick's work. These books are still read because they offer you experiences other media can't give you.

Does literature have a future? Well, to the extent it can compete. There is absolutely potential for more books like House of Leaves to attract the attention of normal people, to move literature forward in some way. But obviously, it's going to take a lot of talent. You have to be a master writer now to compete with other media. Unfortunately that's just how it is. But it's possible, yeah.

It sort of sounds like you're saying that, yes, novels have a future, but only if you're a master writer who can produce a work of transcendental genius. Which... sure. But unfortunately most of us aren't that. And most normal people aren't reading novels, either. I want to write something that a regular man-on-the-street can enjoy and talk about with his friends.

Yeah, that's what I'm saying. That regular guy on the street doesn't read, neither do his friends. You can write a good book but the odds anyone reads it are low. But of course, the odds of success in any creative medium are bad, so do what you enjoy.

Sci-fi and fantasy are very much alive, so if you have any interest in those books, you should try writing one. It's a niche, but a very steady one.

Can you give some examples of recent sci-fi and fantasy that you like? I used to love it as a teenager, but I've fallen out of it since then. It seems like it both ran out of ideas (no more Einsteins or Tolkiens to generate new material) and also got woke.

I don't read SF myself but Three-Body Problem is pretty recent and massive, you should check it out.

How is the lying down in front of a fan routine going? Any new insights on your health issues?

Not much has changed. I tried yet another antidepressant (Auvelity == Buproprion+DXM), and after 10 days I went cold turkey on it to see what would happen. Supposedly, going cold turkey on Auvelity is a nightmare and you'll get anything from brain zaps to headaches, nausea, fatigue, insomnia...

I felt nothing. This is one of the strongest antidepressants on the market, but after around 3 days it's like I'm on nothing. Same applies to Paliperidone which I tried earlier this year. And I've done the whole, "8 weeks and change" song and dance before, it never works. However my body's set up, the overall mechanism of psychiatric meds is apparently subverted.

Anyway, no progress. Interestingly, sleeping in front of a fan produces very little effect, maybe due to a lack of stimulants like sugar/caffeine (which I'm usually hopped up on) to magnify the effect. But another angle is, perhaps my breathing is shallow during sleep. The fan stuff doesn't work without deep breaths. I should really do deep breaths for an entire day and see what happens.

Dextromethorphan as an antidepressant, I had not encountered that before. Buproprion seems like it would be a good medication for a person dealing with anhedonia -- though my experience, as someone whose depressive episodes are secondary to anxiety, was it just made me more anxious than I'd ever been before. Like "have a crisis of faith because of brand-new worries"-level anxious.

Anhedonia sucks. Scott wrote once about how his patients with anxiety+depression often said that the anxiety was more disabling than the depression, and if they could just get a handle on the anxiety they could handle the rest. That's true to my experience. But anhedonia is the one thing that's worse: there is genuinely nothing as confusing and soul-destroying as not just feeling a lack of pleasure but a lack of any ability to understand what would give you pleasure.

Interesting that you haven't experienced any brain zaps. But it might actually be too early -- I only get brain zaps after about a week cold turkey off similar medications. It's possible that the brain chemistry changes that cause a lot of the (let's call it what it is) withdrawal syndrome are slow to manifest. So you may yet encounter the symptoms.

The DXM extends the Buproprion's action, but the tradeoff is you're effectively high on cough syrup anywhere from a couple days to indefinitely on this drug.

It's possible that the brain chemistry changes that cause a lot of the (let's call it what it is) withdrawal syndrome are slow to manifest. So you may yet encounter the symptoms.

Maybe. My gut instinct is that there'll be zero withdrawal symptoms. Honestly, I've never had them before with anything (a mild headache when I quit caffeine cold turkey a couple years ago though). If ADs produce any effect at all, it'll be 1-2 mild symptoms in the first couple days, then nothing. Hell, even the Paliperidone felt like I was on nothing after week 1.

anhedonia is the one thing that's worse: there is genuinely nothing as confusing and soul-destroying as not just feeling a lack of pleasure but a lack of any ability to understand what would give you pleasure.

The upside is you get used to it. There's only about 2 things I can physically enjoy and I've optimized my life around it. If a recovery happens, the experience would be so powerful it'd be like having a second childhood. I don't remember what it's like enjoying a film, or forming a connection with friends, or having those mysterious and grand feelings as you watch the sunset, but I remember that these experiences exist and that they're amazing. This sounds depressing, but I do believe I'll figure it out soon (no thanks to the medical system). Has to be right around the corner.