Putting Yourself to Sleep

People are always tired because they’re undisciplined in how they sleep. I know this because I’m the same way.

Sluggish, plodding lethargy tends to be my mode of being around 3:00 every afternoon, even if I slept until 7:00. This is because (1) I go to bed late, and (2) I am not consistent with my sleep and waking times.

For most of my life, I was a night owl and an early riser. This served me well when I was on school, working, and playing in a band, with time for a social life. It also helped when I had a small child, went back to school, and had lots of homework.

But a funny thing happens when you’re not 26 anymore . . . you might still feel young, but your body says otherwise.

For the past week, I’ve been experimenting with sleep and wake times to figure out an optimal solution for the afternoon swoon (and general lack of energy). I’ve instituted a relatively strict bedtime between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m., while setting my alarm for 5:00 a.m. to wake up and work out then.

What’s helped me has been:

  • Planning this before hand
  • Having my workout clothes and shoes laid out
  • Putting my phone with the alarm far enough away to necessitate getting up to turn it off
  • Sleeping with one window shade open
  • Envisioning how good that first cup of coffee or protein shake will taste after my workout

Systems over goals . . . and it works. Continue reading “Putting Yourself to Sleep”

Physicality = Mentality = Spirituality


Here we are in February, and I can reflect upon two New Year’s Resolutions I decided to make in late December:

  1. Adhere to every Greek Orthodox fast day in 2018
  2. Lose some fat

No, these two things aren’t unrelated. And I have done both before. But this year, I felt that I needed a little spiritual cleansing as well as physical cleansing, which often lead to mental and emotional cleansing. It sounds esoteric, but to paraphrase  Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes (who you should follow if you’re in any way interested in fitness):

Physicality = mentality = spirituality

Everything is connected. I’ve written about the benefits of fasting before, and I stand by my assertion that “When I’m not worrying about the food I consume, I start to think about the other stuff I consume.”

I’ve also discussed my thoughts about physical fitness, and how it helps improve other aspects of my life. It’s amazing what a little self-discipline and enforced unpleasantness can do–let’s face it, lifting feels good, but there are some days when you just don’t want to go to the gym.


Lastly, I’ve discussed how the only way to get anything done and done well is to get obsessed and stay obsessed. Ruthless focus is what you need. At least in my life, when I haven’t been obsessed with something, I just kind of meander around.

This isn’t a post to brag, although I’ve been pleased with my results. Instead, I’d like to hopefully inspire anyone reading this to

So let’s put this all together. First, we’ll go over what I’m doing, and then we’ll go over what I’ve learned. Continue reading “Physicality = Mentality = Spirituality”

What Owns You

Hands in chains

Compulsion. We think it’s a disorder–OCD. Most of us, we say, are above it. We’re in control.

But really, that’s a delusion. So many things control out lives. And adding more irony is that we are keenly aware of it.

The device you’re probably reading this on: How many times a day do you check it? If you’re an average person, the answer is 80 times per day. Eighty! Who’s in control?

It’s no great revelation that the stuff we own ends up owning us. But it’s helpful to occasionally remind ourselves of this.

Tyler Durden Fight Club quote the things you own end up owning you
People knock Fight Club, but the book and movie resonate for a reason.

Lots of these things are vampires, leeching us of or time, money, and energy. Time, money, and energy that could be put to more productive use. It’s bad enough that we don’t really own much of the stuff we think we do . . . and then, this stuff turns around and owns us.

I know that I myself have several things that own me, physical good or otherwise. These keep me from doing what I really want to do and know that I should do: write, read, pray, work out, play music, think, and so on.

Bela Lugosi Count Dracula

A caveat: These things don’t interfere with family time. When I’m with my family, the screens are out of sight. That’s an iron clad rule, and it’s one that’s easy to follow, because my wife and I keep each other in check (this will be important later on), and quite frankly it’s embarrassing wasting so much time on this stuff. Continue reading “What Owns You”

Why Fitness?

“Check out these gains!”

“What supplements you take?”


These are things I have never, ever, heard at the gym.*

Yes, weightlifting has a negative image. Many think, thanks in late let to our popular culture, that guys who life are nothing more than meat-headed, steroid-abusing, unintelligent, overly macho, testosterone-soaked (like this is a bad thing?) jocks.


In truth, most of us are just guys trying to stay healthy in an environment filled with sedentary jobs, endless entertainment, bad food, and aimlessness of purpose.

If you follow my social media, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting about fitness more often lately, though I’m not giving advice.

What gives?

I’ll tell you what gives: It all goes to the “Renaissance Man” (or “Woman,” if you get offended by such gendered language) aspect of life: 

Never stick yourself in one box. Don’t look at having many different sides as a bad thing.

In life, be a generalist.

The mind and the body and the spirit are all connected. You cannot ignore any of these without negatively affecting the others.

If you are mentally or spiritually ill, it will have outward manifestations.

If you are physically ill, it will have inner manifestations.

The entirety of a human being is linked. This is why, though people mock Biblical statements about the body being a temple that should not be defiled by sin, including things like gluttony and lust, those boring old guys were on to something.

Let me give a little background here which may explain why I find fitness so important, despite the fact that I check pretty much all of the “Nerd” boxes.

You see, I am a former fatty.

I know, I know. Some of you might object to this term as well. I don’t care. It was only by being harsh with myself I was able to cut through the self-deception that convinced me to be comfortable in this state.

Until I was in my late teens, I never got serious about my health. Continue reading “Why Fitness?”

The Road

The oxygen machine continues to hum along in 7/4 time, clink-clanking on the last two beats. 

“Did you give a full syringe of morphine, or…?”

My wife shakes her head, not needing to hear the rest of my question thanks to the weird spousal telepathy that develops over time. 

Not the full syringe. Not because my mother-in-law isn’t in pain, but because we hate seeing how the full dosage of pain meds make her look. Slack-jawed, eyes half-open, face skeletal and wan. 

In other words, like she’s already dead. 

We are selfish. We can tell she is in pain because the tears that squeeze from her broken body out of those yellowing eyes can mean nothing else. But she is too weak to talk, too weak to lift her head or her hand, too weak to even swallow a pill. 

We will relent, of course, and give her the full dosage. And more, on the nurse’s recommendation. Because anything is better than seeing her in this pain, even a drugged-out stupor. 

The worst part about cancer is that it lingers. It stays well-after the party is over. Everything’s already been ruined, my mother-in-law’s poor body a near lifeless shell of itself, and still the cancer stays, as if mocking us, the bastard. 

Cancer eats away at your memories of your loved ones as much as it eats away at their bodies.  Continue reading “The Road”