Yup, prayer can work! But prayer and meditation aren't mutually exclusive. Repeating a prayer can be a mantra, which is a great way to meditate, especially for beginners. Most meditation being done around the world is deeply religious in nature, it's just that we have secularized it in the West and don't tend to use mantras or prayers.
+1 to what Cam said. If you feel a constant tug to turn on some electronic device when you have a couple minutes of down time, like when you take the elevator, something's not quite right with your brain (sorry to say, but it's true!). We are supposed to be naturally comfortable for a few minutes without distractions. You gotta learn to meditate to beat this problem. You'll power through some initial 'detox' phase and it will no longer be a problem that needs to be solved with willpower afterwards. The thing that many people don't realize is that these opportunities are perfect for meditating. We don't have to set aside a certain period of time to meditate every day at home if we can make use of our down time outside the house and use waiting time as meditation time. It's not like we need to be sitting in a lotus position to meditate. You can learn to focus on your breath and empty your mind anywhere, anytime.
Well, technically, Feb 17 to March 17 is 28 days due to Feb being short a couple days, but yeah.
So what's new? Not much, but I thought it was a good time to update anyway. I've been keeping up with my good habits and keeping the bad ones away (mostly). I haven't played anything at all, but I've felt like playing some kind of solo RPG. It's weird, but I randomly remembered my childhood days of playing Harvest Moon 64 a couple days ago. Then I imagined myself playing it, and running around the town, and it kind of lost its appeal for some reason. I knew I wouldn't feel like I did back then.
I've been mostly staying away from Twitch, but perhaps browsing a little too much Reddit lately. If I could replace that with more actual reading, I'd be super happy with myself. Gym is going well - I'm always sore somewhere. I'm going to get a personalized program done soon to try to maximize my progress. It was free with my subscription to the gym, so we'll see how that goes. I've definitely gained a bit of muscle since I started. A little bit of fat too, but that comes with it since you have to eat more. I've been waiting to get the personalized program done because I wasn't quite sure what my goal should be. I think I want to gain strength mostly and some definition. Problem is, I don't want to do any risky exercises, so I'll make sure to tell the trainer that I want the most safe exercises, i.e. no squats, dead lifts, power cleans, etc. I'd rather use the machines until I'm a more experienced lifter. I do think olympic lifts look cool as hell though and I'd like to try them soon (mostly inspired by fellow vegan Clarence0 on YouTube).
I started some new studies on edX. I got my certificate for nutrition 102x from Wageningen and I'm about to start the last module on food safety. McGillX is running a program on exercise which I began yesterday too. It's been very odd so far, I didn't like that they invited a certain controversial professor. I'm sure there will be some valuable stuff coming up later on though. I'm quite passionate about nutrition and have been looking into doing local studies and trying to get somewhere with that, but after looking in depth into the career opportunities, I'm a bit disappointed in what is available so far. I don't think it would suit me.
I've done some progress on my guitar too but won't be able to complete the project I wanted (the tablatures aren't available for all songs). Still, I've learned two complete songs and working on a third right now. I'll try to find some other project, maybe even start writing my first song. I guess that's it for now!
Certainly. The number one place I would start with is the website http://NutritionFacts.org. It contains a wealth of information. You can even navigate it by topic here if you're interested in specifics: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics. (When I was very ill, I used this feature to find videos about my illness and to try to reverse it with diet.) The most important factor when you are searching for educational material is to find people who do not have a financial interest; who don't have something to sell you for personal gain. The web is full of websites giving conflicting information because the people behind them are usually bought by industry, poorly educated, or they have products to sell. NF.org is non-profit, run by a board-certified family doctor who specializes in clinical nutrition. The only thing the website sells is basically the culmunation of all the research on the website put into a book, and the proceeds are 100% donated to charity. The doctor who runs the site reviews all of the medical literature and gives you the best recommendations based on the best current scientific evidence, which you can review yourself because all links are provided under 'sources cited' for every video (I use sci hub in order to have access to the paid papers if I want to have a closer look).
For the basics: Eat a "plant-strong" diet. That means you want to eat whole plant foods, as much as you can manage. Minimize or completely avoid processed, refined foods, as well as animal products. You can look at what an optimal diet (and supplement regime) would look like according to the evidence here: http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/ . Note: It's important not to confuse this nutritional paradigm with veganism, as is often done. Veganism is an ethic that encompasses far more than just food. Plant-based eating is solely concerned with the science behind eating this way for health. Some people who eat this way are vegans, while others are not. It's generally accepted that according to the evidence we have right now, you might be able to have about 95% of your diet being whole plant foods while 5% isn't and still have the same benefits as those who take it to 100%. Again, this is for optimal health and longevity only. Some people don't care to add a couple years to their lives and so to those people I'd say, aim for at least 70%-80%.
I'd also recommend watching the documentary "Forks Over Knives". The website also has a lot of good articles, success stories, and recipes. https://www.forksoverknives.com/articles/ https://www.forksoverknives.com/category/success-stories/
Two other great doctors whose work I value a lot are Dr. Joel Furhman and Dr. Garth Davis. You can look up their videos on YouTube. Ray Cronise is also very much worth listening to, but he delves into a few more things like cold thermogenesis and fasting in order to maximize healthspan. This is pretty advanced stuff. http://hypothermics.com/
Still going strong. I'm wasting a bit of time watching streams online still, but I am overall impressed as fuck with how much more pleasant my life is. I just have more time for other hobbies now because I'm not constantly making the easy choice of opening a game that I can end up playing for hours. It makes a huge difference to just have halted this behavior in its tracks. In the last 16 days, the only thing I've played is Civilization, for about 1h30 total. It's a somewhat constructive game at least, you learn a few things. No mobile games, no anything else. Like I said before, single player games just don't give me the stimulation that I've always been looking for, so I just barely play them. As suspected, this hasn't changed, which is good!
What have I been up to? I'm still working out, learning about exercise. I'm more fit than ever. I picked up guitar again and have been spending more hours playing it than in the past 10 years. I bought a new guitar and I'm enjoying myself a lot. I found an insane price on a great model which usually sells for around $950, found it for $600 brand new! My new guitar project is to learn an entire album (Exercises in Futility) and cover it like this dude did.
I finished reading two books: Stumbling Upon Happiness by Dan Gilbert and Mysteries by Knut Hamsun. I started The Optimism Bias as an audiobook for when I'm active and Death By Video Game as an ebook (relevant!). I'm planning to read another novel after this, maybe Hesse's Glass Bead Game, or Céline's Journey to the End of the Night.
Tomorrow, I am going snowboarding for the first time in 10 years. I'm super thrilled. I just wish I had someone to go with; that's the problem when you've been a video game junkie for so long... you have online friends, and once you move on, you've reset the button on your social life. Anyway, I am a recluse, so I prefer being alone most of the time. It's a shame my partner doesn't want to come, it's an activity that's more enjoyable in company.
I just noticed something. You reset your entire progress whenever you eat junk food. So you could not eat junk food for 29 days, but at the end of the month, you have a junk food meal, and suddenly it becomes 0 days again. The next day you would see 0 days, despite the huge accomplishment, which seems pretty discouraging. It seems like a system that puts a lot of pressure on you to be perfect.
A tip I learned for overcoming junk food addiction is to simply not have it inside the house. If it isn't there, then you have to eat healthy, or go through the trouble of going out for it, which is an obstacle. The more obstacles stand in the way, the better it is. We're hard-wired to seek foods that are very high in calories, so if it's in our immediate environment, it's just a matter of time before we eat it. It's a challenge if someone else in your household purchases a lot of junk food though...
Quitting an addiction is supposed to be the hardest in the first week or two. So, I guess the hardest is behind me already. It's a great feeling. I'm just gonna make sure I don't let my guard down. To be honest, it wasn't very hard for me since it was long overdue for me to quit and I hadn't been satisfied with myself for years of playing them. I had been preparing for this for a long time: it was always in the back of my mind that I was wasting my time, so it was very rewarding for me to quit and do other things this past week. I've started playing my guitar again, went to the gym multiple times, established a stretching routine, spent more time cleaning, reading and studying and less time doing mindless browsing. Most importantly, I can feel myself being more at peace with myself. I don't feel like I need constant stimulation anymore. If I want to get a dopamine rush, I know I can go to the gym at any time. I feel more in control of myself. I feel more grounded.
Next step is, well, I'm thinking there is no next step currently. I don't want to overwhelm myself and fail. In my view, life isn't about constant growth and improvement. I think that's something that a lot of people want to sell us, and it has counter-productive results. I watched a good talk on this yesterday: How to Resist the Self-Improvement Craze. Sometimes, life is about being stable, knowing who you are, knowing your limits, seeking tranquility and being satisfied with what you currently have. If you're constantly chasing a better state in the future, it's counter-productive and leads to despair. I'm just gonna keep on keeping on for now with the same activities and no gaming. Really looking forward to having completed the 90 days and seeing how I feel.
In my view, it comes down to the person you want to be. Do you want to be that guy who is into that game, or is there something else you'd rather aspire to? If you can't moderate video games like many of us, you have to make a conscious choice. Evaluate who you want to be. Imagine yourself in 5 years - where you could be at. Which version of yourself do you prefer, the one who keeps playing this game, or the alternative you can think of? If the answer is the alternative, then quit. Remove the game. Go through the withdrawal, keep your head up! Remind yourself that you have standards for yourself and use this community to make yourself accountable.
I am doing much more than just quitting gaming. I am trying to re-orient myself in the world, and this is the necessary beginning. The problem goes something like this: gaming has been a large part of what has fed my self-esteem for so long, and I basically need to rebuild my self-esteem in order to be able to move on and take on new challenges. Before I can feel confident enough to take risks outside, in the world, I need to be able to sit comfortably with who I am. Currently I am not satisfied with who I am, and that is normal. I have neglected myself for too long. I think I can trace that back to my upbringing, my environment and my poor health, which I didn't choose. I can see many causal chains that have led to this, but it isn't necessary for me to get into it for now.
In the past year, I have focused a lot on my health and my relationship with food. I tried to model my diet after the cultures which do not get the chronic diseases we have in the West-- the so-called Blue Zones. I was very successful in this and reversed two chronic conditions. Now that I have the diet part dialed in and got my health back, the next logical step would be to change my environment and try to model it after those same healthy and fulfilled people who live longer (and healthier) lives than everyone else in the world. This is a real challenge, because I live in an individualistic, consumeristic society. My environment constantly encourages bad behavior and selfishness. They even subsidize it, as we learn in nutrition studies when it comes to the obesogenic environment. In such an environment, you need to be informed and prudent, because the world we live in doesn't have your best interest at heart.
I believe there is something inherently self-destructive within most human beings and that this is taken advantage of by people who are in positions of power and influence. Our society would collapse if people could no longer be self-deceived into doing things that are not good for them. But this isn't just some top-down thing -- it isn't a boogeyman that's responsible for all our ills. It exists and it is structured in this way because it is what people think that they want. It is what people think will make them happy. And we know from research that people are notoriously bad at knowing what will make them happy. As social animals, we have multiple "programs" competing at all times and which dictate action, and a big part of why we do what we do is simply our desire to conform. It isn't there to make us happy, but conforming feels safe. I know that I need to gather enough courage to go against the grain and do what I want to do with my life when I will have identified it. It will be very hard, but it is a journey I must make. To not journey is to decay.