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    1. Fitness Weekly Discussion #1

      What have you been doing lately for your own fitness? Try out any new programs or exercises? Have any questions for others about your training? Want to vent about poor behavior in the gym?

      13 votes
    2. What are your mental health upkeep habits/lifestyle?

      I've seen a few posts about sharing issues, but I don't think anything about habits. I'm former "quantitative-self" hobbyist (if you want to call it that), keener and have a side interest in...

      I've seen a few posts about sharing issues, but I don't think anything about habits. I'm former "quantitative-self" hobbyist (if you want to call it that), keener and have a side interest in psychiatry. So in my personal life I'm very active and serious about my own short and long-term mental health. I'm wondering if anyone shares my habits or has others I have not considered. I wont link any literature because there is a lot out there to support most of these habits and I can't make this exhaustive (but I'm happy to help find specific resources).

      Morning quiet time. I wake up early and spend about an hour drinking tea, looking outside and reading. The major benefit here is it gives me a buffer before the start of the day. I used to get up and rush out of the door - I would be stressed from the start and wouldn't have an idea of how to go about my day effectively.

      Reading fiction. I used to read a lot more non-fiction (pop sci and "self-help") but I found with fiction (and also biographies) not only is it generally easier content to process, but the narratives can be therapeutic. There is something about getting exposed to other peoples thought processes (real or not) and overcoming of challenges that can be comforting or inspiring when facing your own.

      Aerobic exercise. And also anything exhaustive - as in you gave it all of your energy. The general health benefits are obviously well established at this point. But, a subjective (AFAIK) experience of mine is the feeling of self-actualization - a sense of victory and fulfillment you can get almost anytime anywhere, and fairly frequently.

      Regular social contact. Specifically AFK/face-to-face. This seems banal but it's really not. I make a serious active effort here - I think about who I haven't seen in a while, who I might feel like would complement or share my vibes right now or near future and make plans ASAP. This among the most important of my habits, or at least has the most therapeutic effect. Something about social interactions, even if they're just about talking shit, can be therapeutic and energizing. And this is coming from someone who is generally an introvert and would usually prefer to stay home.

      Restrict social media. I probably don't need to explain this one. But I'll also add that, after following the advice of someone on Tildes (sorry I can't find the post!) limiting my news source to only the Current Events of Wikipedia has done wonders for me! I've stayed informed and have avoided the anxiety-inducing clusterfucks of newstainment. I group this with social media because they're so close nowadays (gossip?).

      Meditation. Big one right here. I've been practicing for ~7 years now, and it's very noticeable when I skip a 20 min session a few days in a row - I become more agitated, short tempered and anxious (is depressed, but mainly just too focused on myself either way). Specifically "mindfulness" (loose term) or Vipassanā style (I use and highly recommend Waking Up). Style here is important because they all exercise different neural pathways. The product of this practice 1) being much more aware of what has emotionally triggered me and 2) being more able to let go/resolve of negative states of mind. E.g. instead of grinding my teeth with a negative thought train the past 3 hours I notice it's all petty within a moment or two and am able to move on and focus on my task at hand and later sleep soundly.

      Psychedelics. Namely the tried-and-true classics. This one is finally getting the attention it deserves in the public domain. As opposed to the others which I do on a near-daily basis (aim for daily), psychedelic experiences I limit to only a handful of times per year because 1) it's work, it requires planning and a day or two off; 2) the positive/resolving effects last for months/years/lifetime; and 3) it requires integration with you baseline reality life to really be effective.
      This one hands down has provided me the most benefit out of all and has inspired me to actively pursue everything above, especially meditation and social life. Specifically, it's the perspective you can get from a psychedelic experience that can be like years of therapy because it's all internally-motivated - you can get an objective perspective on you own life that no one else can offer and one you normally would not accept, especially if it's self-critical.
      For best results I do this with close friends, at home and/or in nature - taking long walks by the river or woods. Sometimes quiet time at some point as well, to allow self-reflection, taking a moment for an honest review and check in.

      Safety disclaimer Psychedelics, and also exhaustive workouts and meditation, can have serious adverse effects if done in excess or without proper planning. Always practice harm reduction: do your research (e.g. Erowid for substance info) test your drugs, carry Naloxone and *always* have a friend, at leas to check in with. Start small - you can always take more but not less.
      32 votes
    3. What are some basic excercises for keeping my midsection toned up?

      I'm around fifty years old, do a fair amount of mountain hiking and have a healthy diet. I know that one's heart can be stressed by excessive mass around the midsection and could contribute to...

      I'm around fifty years old, do a fair amount of mountain hiking and have a healthy diet. I know that one's heart can be stressed by excessive mass around the midsection and could contribute to heart disease.

      For someone like my self, what would you recommend for keeping my midsection toned up? I would like to hear about practical and simple weekly exercises in lieu of high intensity daily ones. There's no rush and I don't believe in things like crash dieting or the like.

      16 votes
    4. Harm Reduction for Nicotine Addicts

      So given the outbreak of severe lung disease apparently related to vaping, mentioned in recent Tildes threads here, here, and here, I thought I'd provide some semi-informed opinion and experience....

      So given the outbreak of severe lung disease apparently related to vaping, mentioned in recent Tildes threads here, here, and here, I thought I'd provide some semi-informed opinion and experience.

      I've had to kick a nasty smoking habit more than a few times, and the last effort was only partially successful. I stayed hooked on nicotine gum, got jaw problems, and switched to vaping.

      Vaping was cool! You can play with the electronic gadgets, get involved in the vaping equivalent of hot-rodding and over-clocking communities, play with liquid formulas, build coils, and do all kinds of intricate hobby-type stuff... while slowly poisoning yourself. Vaping was cheap, both by comparison with cigarettes, and with the FDA-approved nicotine-cessation systems. I'd been spending $50/week on gum, but $20/month for the liquids.

      I was breathing outrageous dragon clouds, going through 50 ml of liquid a week, and getting nowhere near nicotine freedom. Despite careful avoidance of noticeably irritating flavors, I was getting back to the good old smoker's cough in the morning.

      I've since formulated a super-simple homegrown nicotine mint recipe (below) that's as minimally toxic as I can manage, and very slowly gotten down to the equivalent of a cigarette or two a day.

      So here's my advice:

      1. Avoid pre-made e-liquids and cartridges. There's no telling what's in them; in the U.S., at least, there are no labelling requirements other than nicotine concentration.

      2. Avoid flavorings altogether. "Generally Regarded As Safe", the FDA designation for flavorings, only applies to food ingredients. Many common flavor chemicals are known as toxic to inhale. Extracts are often complex mixtures, and there's little data on how all the constituents may interact in your lungs.

      I'm not going to provide advice on "safe" ones - just don't use flavorings.

      1. If you must vape, do so at the lowest possible temperature. Even unflavored liquids can create toxic byproducts when heated.

      You can get pure, unflavored USP-calibrated nicotine liquid base, in a wide range of concentrations, from the same vendors that sell other e-liquid ingredients. I personally preferred propylene glycol (PG) base, because it vaporizes at a lower temperature, and forms less toxic heat decomposition byproducts than glycerin.

      1. Don't vape. Nicotine inhalation has some pharmacological advantages - quick brain hit, few or no gastrointestinal effects, but lungs really want clean air. If you're seriously nicotine addicted, you can continue on oral or dermal products with less risk. If you're in a country that doesn't charge outrageously for drugs, there are regulated nicotine nasal sprays.

      If you're in a country that does charge outrageously even for over-the-counter medicines, my solution follows.

      So, the latest and greatest version, the ultimate plug-and-play version, of the cheap garage DIY nicotine mint:

      SAFETY WARNINGS:
      Nicotine is a deadly, neurotoxic poison, even on skin contact.
      -Do not use nicotine solution concentrations greater than 24 mg/ml at home. Even this concentration is potentially hazardous - wear gloves, work on a washable tray to contain any spills, purchase the smallest size containers you can. Higher concentrations are extremely dangerous without special precautions I won't discuss here.

      • Store all nicotine products, treated mints, and potentially contaminated tools and materials far out of the reach of children and pets, preferably under lock and key.

      • Wash any exposed skin under running water as soon as possible. Call a Poison Control Center immediately if you suspect that there's been an incident of ingestion or extensive skin contact with nicotine liquid.

      • Store mints and materials only in properly labeled, secure containers. [I've found a labelled medicine bottle eliminates social awkwardnesses about not sharing candy.]

      • Work on a washable surface, wipe up, wash down with soap and water, and safely dispose cleaning materials for any spills.

      • Following these instructions is at your own risk. Based on my knowledge and experience, this nicotine mint recipe is safer than smoking or vaping, but to an unknown degree. You should consult a doctor and/or use approved pharmaceuticals.

      Tools and materials:

      • Intact 1-qt. (1 L) Ziploc or other sealable polyethylene bag

      • 10 ml syringe, optionally with 12- or 14-gauge Luer-lock blunt needle

      • Nitrile gloves

      • 24 mg/ml (2.4%) nicotine USP solution in propylene glycol** (There are many potential vendors.)

      • 8-pack of Altoids "Arctic" flavor sugar-free mints* (cheapest available price on Amazon)

      This recipe makes approximately 389 mints at 1.2 mg/mint nicotine strength. Divide or modify it at risk of your own math.

      Instructions:

      1. Open tins of mints and empty them into the Ziploc bag.

      2. Wear gloves. Using the syringe, measure and add 20 ml of nicotine to the bag. (Nicotine solution comes in sealed bottles. To minimize risk of spills, you can use a blunt needle tip on the syringe to pierce the seal and withdraw nicotine liquid without fully opening the bottle.)

      3. Completely seal the Ziploc bag. Massage the mints and nicotine liquid together until uniformly distributed and completely coated.

      4. Let stand at least overnight, turning and mixing the mints every few hours, until all the liquid is completely absorbed.

      Use:

      Dosing is similar to nicotine lozenges - hold a treated mint under your tongue until dissolved, repeat no more than a total dosage of 24 per day.

      *There are other sugar-free mints that are usable, but I've found sorbitol mints work best for this purpose, and the 0.5 gm per mint size gives a nicely steady nicotine release for 15 - 20 minutes.

      **You can use a lower concentration, but the dosage in the final recipe will vary accordingly. Exceeding 20 ml per 8-pack of mints may leave them sticky, and if the liquid isn't fully absorbed, you can become ill from handling the mints. Don't do it.

      7 votes
    5. Fitness tracker recommendations?

      I'm in the market for a fitness tracker. My usual fitness activities (stationary elliptical trainer, hiking, biking) are temporarily restricted, so I've been swimming a great deal. Using a phone...

      I'm in the market for a fitness tracker.

      My usual fitness activities (stationary elliptical trainer, hiking, biking) are temporarily restricted, so I've been swimming a great deal. Using a phone isn't giving me adequate exertion tracking data for walking (stride counts and heart rate not available/accurate), and it's especially not useful for aquatics.

      I'd be grateful if anyone can recommend something they have experience with.

      My constraints are as follows:

      I'd rather not contribute to e-waste with yet another gadget du jour - service life should be at least the recharge cycle life of the battery.

      No Apple or Samsung devices. I'm not in those ecosystems, and don't plan to be because reasons.

      Should be at least IPX5, preferably IPX7 waterproof.

      Helps if it's not butt-ugly, but I'll take what I can get - replaceable bands are a plus.

      Able to fit women - I don't have issues with a larger face so much as a band that's too large to fit comfortably or provide secure contact for accurate heart rate monitoring.

      GPS and sleep tracking would be nice, but not mandatory if the device ecosystem isn't reasonably private.

      Non-proprietary rechargers preferred.

      A couple of Fitbit models seem be well-reviewed, but actual user ratings are equivocal, and quality is erratic.

      Looking forward to any contributions!

      11 votes
    6. Weightlifters: your stories of pain?

      I was feeling great in the gym yesterday and switched up my normal deadlift by using the hex bar. It requires a slightly different posture than the straight bar deadlift but felt so good that I...

      I was feeling great in the gym yesterday and switched up my normal deadlift by using the hex bar. It requires a slightly different posture than the straight bar deadlift but felt so good that I kept adding on weight and, evidently, speeding up. What happens when you get a little too enthusiastic under load? Zzzlip! There went my back. So I’m home from work today, barely able to hobble around. Ibuprofen is not enough. I sneezed earlier and it felt like someone had inserted a power drill into my lower spinal column. Yep, I’m feeling stupid today.

      Weightlifters, what are your stories of pain? I’m sure there are some good stories out there.

      9 votes
    7. Does anybody here use a wake up light?

      I'm working on some sleep hygiene habits at the moment and would like to know if anyone has any feedback, good or bad, for using a wake up lamp/sunrise alarm clock. I have to get up for work...

      I'm working on some sleep hygiene habits at the moment and would like to know if anyone has any feedback, good or bad, for using a wake up lamp/sunrise alarm clock. I have to get up for work before it's light outside so this wouldn't be replicable by just leaving my blinds open.

      Part of me likes the idea of a softer, gentler wakeup from light rather than noise, but there's another part of me that's worried I'll hate it just as much as I hate my alarm clock. My bullshit detector is also ringing pretty loudly when I see that the flagship brand name model is selling for $200 USD. Two hundred dollars for... a... light... that... slowly... turns... on. What?!?!

      Nevertheless, maybe there's something I'm missing here (like the other $180 worth of technology presumably hidden in there). As such, I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has one. I'd love to hear your experiences and, if you're willing to share, which model you have.

      14 votes