Your Best Year Ever

Dear Brain Dumpers,

It feels good to be back in the site again after a long hiatus. Feels so good that I’m using this anonymously and that. Feels good that I can write about things without being judged.

So, I started reading this book called Your Beat Year Ever. The book says that people who talk or write about their negative experiences have report “improved life satisfaction and enhanced mental and physical health relative to those who merely thought about it.” Writing about my negative experiences is a big part of what I do on this blog. It helps me to process my emotions and, more importantly, to create actionable responses to the negative experience. So let’s do it, penises.

There’s a lot to complain about recently that I haven’t really processed. It’s mostly about my dad and my sister. Regarding my dad: I feel like he doesn’t support my weight loss plans. Every time I tell him that I’m not going to eat or that I’m trying not eat a certain thing, he pretty much scoffs. I guess it might be a chore to keep up with my Ever-changing diets . . . So I understand if he gets fed up. But, I’ve been losing weight for 1 year now and I’ve lost over 30 pounds. That means I’m doing something right. If I need to change the diet intermittently to keep my progress going, then I should be able to do that without facing resistance from him.

But

I don’t actually know why he scoffs, I’m just guessing that he’s getting frustrated with the frequent changes. It could be that he’s just a negative person that scoffs at any type of self-improvement goal. But I don’t know his position on self-improvement or weight loss because he doesn’t really stick to his positions or attitudes. He’s moody and his positions will change based on his moods. Like an emo kid running for office.

What can I do about it?

I can just get good at politely refusing food with deference. I’ll be really polite. My stepmom supports me so I think he’ll come around when I establish a pattern.

I’ll writer about my sister in another post.

Marcus

Advertisements

S.M.A.R.T. New Year’s Resolutions

Hola Brain Dumpers,

Welcome to another edition of Marcus Brain Dumps.

Today I’m going to talk about my New Year’s resolutions. I have 3 resolutions and I think that I can achieve them if I put in a little effort. Of course, there is the chance that I don’t achieve them. . . and that would suck. Considering the possibility of failure, I will create S.M.A.R.T. goals that will make success far more likely.  So, first let me explain what an S.M.A.R.T goal is. I hope this explanation of S.M.A.R.T. goals and it’s application to my own life will illustrate their usefulness and implementation.

This explanation is taken from Mindtools.com, and the original concept is attributed to George T. Doran.

S is for Specific

Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise, you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it.

M is for Measurable

It’s important to have measurable goals so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.

 

A is for Achievable

Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.

R is for Relevant

This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it’s important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you’re still responsible for achieving your own goal.

 

T is for Time-bound

Every goal needs a target date so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

Marcus’ S.M.A.R.T. goals for 2018

This year, I’m focusing on 3 outcomes:

  1. Become a better drummer
  2. Lose weight
  3. Continue to excel in school

Let’s focus on drumming to see how to make our goals S.M.A.R.T.

Become a better drummer

  • Specific
    • “Become a better drummer” is an ambiguous statement and can be considered to be achieved with enough mental contortions and self-delusion. I’ll ask a question that will force a more specific outcome: What criteria if met, would mean that I had become a better drummer?
    • Meeting these criteria should obviously mean that I would have accomplished something that is beyond my current skillset. In my case, that would mean to play all the international drum rudiments. So we’ll adjust our statement to “Play all 40 international drum rudiments.”
  • Measurable
    • Now, we’ll need some method to measure our progress. Tracking progress means tracking incremental gains towards our overall goal. So what incremental outcomes can I track that would mean I’m making surefire progress towards playing all 40 international drum rudiments?
    • With drumming, you can play something fast and slow, with accents and without accents. You can play it on one specific drum, or you can play it across multiple drums. You can also play them for a long time or a short time. So we have to decide how fast we are going to play the rudiments, and with what accents, on which drums, and for how long. These decisions are somewhat arbitrary but they should still challenge us as we make progress. If we decide in the Achievable section that these decisions need to be adjusted, then so be it.
    • For now, we can adjust our statement to the following: “Play all 40 international drum rudiments and play each rudiment at 120 beats per minute (bpm) with the fastest notes as 16th notes, without accents, limited to the snare drum, and for 5 minutes.”
  • Achievable
    • The Achievable section is our checkpoint in the process of making S.M.A.R.T. goals, with every adjustment to our goals statement, we have to ask, “Is this achievable?” So let’s see if our current version is achievable.
    • First, we’ll make sure that our goal doesn’t our goal doesn’t break the laws of man or of physics. . . we’re good there.
    • Next, when checking to see the achievability of a goal, you have to be honest about your current skills and how far you’d have to stretch your skills to achieve your goals.
    • I can definitely play the 10 double stroke roll-based rudiments at 120 bpm with the fastest hits as 16th notes, without accents, and limited to the snare, and for 5 minutes but I can’t definitely say that I can play the other 30 rudiments with the same constraints.
    • One trouble spot is single strokes, which I can barely play at 90 bpm with each stroke as a 16th note. However,  since I’m almost there, I know that I can stretch my abilities until I can completely master single strokes at 90 bpm. After that, I can master the rest of the single stroke based-rudiment at 90 bpm including diddles which are a combination of singles and doubles.
    • Flams are also giving me trouble and I can barely play them at 45 bpm with each flam as a 16th note. So we’ll set our benchmark for flam-based rudiments at 45 bpm.
    • Our goal is becoming a little too long to be encapsulated as a single statement so let’s describe our goal as a list from now on.
      • Become a better drummer by playing all 40 international drum rudiments:
        • Maintain double stroke roll rudiments at 120 bpm
        • Play single stroke rudiments 90 bpm
        • Play flam rudiments at 45 bpm
        • Play all rudiments with the fastest hits as 16th notes, without accents, on the snare, and for 5 minutes
  • Relevant
    • In this section, we re-consider if the goal is actually important to us after having a clear understanding of the measures necessary to achieve it. Will this improve our lives somehow? Maybe our self-worth, or financial well-being, or relationships, or joy?
    • Drumming is important to my life in many ways.  It boosts my social worth, stimulates me intellectually, gives me “flow” which is important to maintaining happiness, provides an outlet to express myself, and gives me an immediate path to meeting and bonding with people through “jamming” and discussing music.  Increasing my skills as a drummer increases all these benefits so it is definitely worth it.
  • Time-bound
    • Without a time-frame, goals become nebulous desires that get pushed to “someday” and “never”. In our example, we’ll set a time-frame for the overall goal and a time-frame for the incremental gains that we outlined in Measurable.
    • My goal is to master all the rudiments by the end of 2018. There are 40 rudiments to master and I think to master 1 rudiment per week achievable. But what does schedule mean for daily time commitment? I think it is achievable with 25 minutes of practice per day, 6 days per week. On this schedule, I’ll finish with time to spare if I start on Sunday, Jan 7. In addition, we’ll add a few more bits of criteria to make our goal more focused
    • The final version of our goal becomes
      • Become a better drummer by playing all 40 international drum rudiments:
        • Play double stroke roll rudiments at 120 bpm, do this first
        • Play single stroke rudiments 90 bpm, do this second
        • Play flam rudiments at 45 bpm, do this last
        • Play all rudiments with the fastest hits as 16th notes, without accents, on the snare, for 5 minutes
        • Master one rudiment per week by practicing 25 minutes per day Sunday through Friday

We did it!

Our goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. I hope you enjoyed this example and that you have a clear grasp of S.M.A.R.T. goals. Let me know what your S.M.A.R.T. New Year’s resolutions are in the comments.

P.S.

Here are the S.M.A.R.T. versions of my other 2 resolutions:

  • Lose weight by dieting (same diet I used to lose 30 pounds in the first 6 months of 2017)
    • Start today
    • Eat 1 meal per day on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and have that meal be a can of Rosarita refried beans (under 500 calories)
    • On Tuesday, eat 1 meal and have that meal be Mexican food for 1000 calories or less
    • Starting from dinner on Friday, for 24 hours eat whatever I like
    • Lose 1 pound per week starting a 190 pounds
    • Weigh 170 at the end of the year
    • For holidays, see my other post, (adjust days according to 2018)
  • Continue to excel in school by maintaining a 4.0 GPA
    • At the very least, study 5.5 hours per day Sunday through Friday including breaks using the Pomodoro Technique
    • Take off work for the 3 days before each exam to study to 7.5 hours including breaks using the Pomodoro Technique

 

 

Things I️ Know About Self-Discipline

Brain Dumpers,

I’m not having a very productive night, but it’s bed time so I’m not going to let it bother me anymore. I’m here reminding myself about how to build self-discipline so that I️ wake up tomorrow ready to go.

  1. Control your environment. Sheer will power is no match for a distracting environment. Remove everything that sends your mind off into random thoughts. This includes your cellphone and the Internet. Turn off your phone while you need to work and turn on a website blocker.

2. Self-discipline is like a muscle. Use your self-discipline so that that it gets stronger, like a muscle. The one caveat is that you can deplete this muscle. Make sure tackle the most important tasks first so that you do your best work when your discipline is fresh. Decisions also deplete your discipline muscle so reduce the amount of decisions you make by automating your day as much as possible.

3. Your discipline transfers to other tasks. When you build your discipline in one task, you build your capacity for discipline in other tasks. You actually strengthen the discipline faculty.

4) Watch your diet. Drops in blood sugar decrease your ability to stay disciplined. Make sure to stay away from sugar because you will crash and lose your discipline. Eat slow carbs and plenty of fat. Eat brain food like fish oil and walnuts

5) Sleep is important. When you’re tired, you’re not disciplined. Get nine hours of sleep per night

6) Do something meditative each day to clear your mind and being yourself to the present. A mind-cleanse will prevent you from getting distracted with thoughts about the past and present

7) Encourage yourself. Keep yourself motivated by talking positively to yourself until you complete your goals

Self-Discipline

Welcome Brain Dumpers, to HEEEELLLLLLLLLLL!!

Just kidding.

I woke up on time today, but the rest of the day has been a complete failure. After playing guitar for an hour in the morning. I decided that I would have a snooze. I tried sleeping for 2 hours, at peace with myself for my productive music session. Sleep didn’t really come because of my noisy sister.

My alarm went off at 12:45PM, telling me that I needed to get ready to play the drums. I planned on playing, but then I tried to go back to sleep again, saying to myself, “I don’t have THAT much to do today. I can just play drums later.” Again, sleep didn’t come because of my noisy sister. Really fucking noisy.

I got off the couch at 1:30 and promptly got an energy drink. Planning to practice right away. I just procrastinated, even more, vacillating between the thought of drumming and the thought of studying for my exam.

I finally sat down in front of the computer at 2:10, but I went on Facebook. Then, I turned on Self-Control and decided that I should learn about self-discipline.

I basically learned that I need to meditate, exercise, and sleep well. This is the fucking advice for EVERYTHING! WTF?

About meditating. . .

I tried it a few times during college and then again with my various therapists afterward. I didn’t hate it and I didn’t like it either. All it did was rejuvenate me, and I didn’t like the process. Tim Ferriss, blogger, author, investor, podcaster and amy idol, meditates every day and so do the top-performers he interviews.  I’m having doubt that I can realistically make this a part of my daily routine. I know that I can do it if . . .

BRB, I need to feed the cat and scoop his litter. . .

Okay.

I need to find some specific time during the day I can meditate. In the mornings would be good. . . I can meditate for 10 minutes from 9:40 to 9:50. Perfect. I just set alarms before I wr0te that last thing.

About exercise . . .

I’ve been lifting, then walking 4 miles per day, 5 days per week. I was 5 miles initially but I change it to 4 miles so I would have time to write blog posts. I want to change it to 6 days per week, Sunday through Friday. I know I can definitely do this no problem. I just have to make sure that I don’t make excuses. Today, I didn’t go because I wanted to study instead. But, according to information I got online, exercise helps your brain and it helps you become more disciplined. So, I’m just hurting myself if I don’t exercise.

About sleeping well . . .

I’ve been having trouble getting to sleep for the past 2 weeks. At 10:30, an alarm goes off that reminds me to get ready for bed. I’m usually on Facebook at this time and I’m usually making a post about the good things that happened during the day. . . or I’m just wasting time. I brushing my teeth is more like pulling teeth. I take 2 minutes and I hate it. I delay it as much as possible. This makes me late getting to bed sometimes. This is when I really need self-discipline. If I get to bed late, I won’t get good sleep, and that sucks away your willpower. Vicious cycle . . . I guess I can make my teeth-brushing less painful by watching a video while I brush. Yeah that’s what I’ll do. Aside from this, I need to stop my caffeine intake at about 3:30 everyday.

Ciao

Fat Punk

Howdy doody, Brain Dumpers,

I’m losing weight fast on the Slow-Carb Diet. I was 210lbs at the beginning of the year and now I’m 197. I’m having this strange feeling like I’ve done enough work and that I can eat whatever I want now. But I know my work isn’t done until I’m 175 lbs. I only have about 20 more to lose! I’m feeling like I am a fat person at heart and that it’s strange for me to keep losing weight. But I know this isn’t true. I’ve only been fat since 2014, and I gained all of my weight that year. I’m actually a skinny person and I’m fit, too. I’m getting this weird feeling like I’m not that excited about losing the weight that I’ve lost already. It seems to be just a routine thing for me now. But I know I will feel a lot better when I look better. I will be more confident about my appearance and I will be able to have the skinny punk look that I want. Fat punks just don’t make sense.

 

Nicotine and Caffeine

Hello Brain Dumpers,

I’m getting really distracted when studying. I find myself on Facebook and Instagram and random sites on the Internet. Today, I spent two hours of study time researching ways to prevent gum recession.  I did come to some valuable insights, but I could’ve come to those same insights on a day when I didn’t need to study. From now on, I plan to save all my Internet bingeing for Friday nights and Saturdays, days when I skip studying already.

Speaking of cramping my study time, I feel distracted because I haven’t had nicotine for the past 24 hours. I keep thinking about having nicotine. I stopped on purpose, I’m doing it because nicotine causes your gums to recede and I’m having a major problem with that.  I also feel distracted because I just switched from tea and energy drinks to 5-Hour Energy. Okay, fine -I’ve only just switched in the past two hours. But I’m committed to switching permanently because tea and energy drinks are very acidic, which is bad for my gums. We’ll see how long I last, I hope it’s a long time.

Overall, I think because of these recent changes in my intake of stimulants, I feel wispier, less anxious, and distracted. I still want a cigarette, but not that badly.

Marcus

Hello Brain Dumpers,

I just switched 0mg of nicotine in my vape and I feel really deprived. I don’t think I’m going to switch back to 3mg though. I’m really quite proud that I’ve lasted these past 3 hours. (3 hours!? that’s it!?) I normally puff away nonstop and I now that I’m not, I realize how addicted to nicotine I am. I think it’s only going to be a couple of days before I’m used to it. The goal is to quit using my vape permanently. I don’t want nicotine to control my life like it is right now. I quit smoking once before in Idaho. It took a couple of weeks but I eventually quit for two years, except for a few months when I was with a band and we all smoked a few cigarettes per week.

I think that I’m going to do it for good this time, maybe. I’m hopeful. I’m already feeling okay on 0mg of nicotine right now. I do crave smoking whenever I’m lost in thought or when I’m facing a mental task like thinking about what to write. I’m at a loss right now and I just vaped.

Quitting is hard, quitting anything is hard. habits that involve stopping an activity are harder than habits the require starting a new activity. In order to stop doing something, you need to replace it with something else. Habits occur in loops that start with a craving, goes to action, then ends with a reward. In order to stop a bad habit, you need the replace the action with something else that will give you the same reward. . . at least that’s the advice I got from the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I can think of habit that I formed over a year ago without using this method. I started eating well. I just decided that I was going to

I started eating well. I just decided that I was going to eat well and follow the Slow-Carb diet. I could eat as much as I wanted, I just needed to avoid white carbs, sugar, fruit, and dairy. I ate a lot at the beginning and I really ate a lot of calories. Now, I’m only eating 800 calories 5 days a week! I just started doing this last week, but I’ve been doing really well. I’m going to keep it going until I lose 15 more pounds. I lost 15 pounds since last year and I want to lose 15 more.

Marcus

Cheating Today and Yesterday Was Not Good

Hello there, precious,

Welcome to another edition of Marcus Brain Dumps. Today, I’ll be sharing with you my remorse over cheating on my diet.

Yesterday, I ate a steak when I was technically supposed to be fasting. I normally fast on Sunday until night time when I eat beans. When the day started, I knew I was going to make an exception at dinner because it was Christmas, I was going to allow myself to eat anything I wanted as long as it was part of our family’s Christmas celebration.  I lasted until about 12pm and ate a steak. I felt guilty about it, and I want to say that it wasn’t that bad of a mistake but it was. You see, I’m trying to form the new habit of not cheating so much on my diet. These first few days are crucial. I cheated today as well when I ate a burger, so that’s not good. I need to keep myself accountable because no one else really cares that much that I lose weight, not as much as I do.

I think I cheated today because it felt weird not to cheat with my brother around. He isn’t strict about his diet and I felt like I would be acting strange if I didn’t cheat. I should’ve let him know that I was trying not to cheat anymore and that I’m becoming more strict with my diet. I think he would be the kind of person that I could talk to about things like this. But then again, I feel like would cheat anyway around him even if I told him. I have to watch out for this when I see him.

Marcus