Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Heh, already a new post. Good game, Grouse Grind.

I just wanted to share with you guys a bit of what I've been doing recently to improve myself.

Firstly, I'm slowly adjusting my sleep schedule so that I sleep earlier and wake earlier. I now sleep anywhere between 10pm-1am and wake at 630am. It took a few tries to get this, but I had a few tricks. The first, obviously, is to get out of bed. This is difficult, because the bed is so comfortable and warm. I used a variety of tactics, including putting my alarm away from the bed, drinking a lot of liquids prior to bed, and convincing myself that I can return to bed after feeding my goldfishies. Naturally, once you're out of bed, you can think a little bit clearer and achieving your goal becomes that much easier. At the very least, just take one step out of bed and stand there for a moment.

The next step is to adjust your body to the sleeping schedule. Those that suffer from jet lag may find this difficult. I borrowed a trick learned from a Harvard research report on jet lag. Apparently, starving yourself 14-16 hours prior to sleep will help your body adjust to a new sleeping schedule almost immediately. It took two attempts with this trick before I felt like I was fully adjusted. The first day I went to sleep about 8-10 hours after eating and the second day it was 12-14 hours before. Be forewarn, however, if you starve yourself your body will go into an emergency mode where food may be rationed and stored longer in your body, making it easier to gain weight (this is the reason why diets usually fail). I'm trying to balance this with proper meals now and some extra exercise.

The final thing that you need to do is to find something to do with your extra hours. You can work out, play games, do work, etc. So far I'm doing random things. Essentially I'm taking my post-midnight activities (gaming, surfing the net, knitting, whatever) and putting them in the morning. I find that my mind works better this way and, since it's in the morning, I cannot overindulge in an activity since the rest of my day gets in the way. I'm hoping that eventually I'll be able to allocate my time to writing, but more on that later.

A nice tip for the sleeping bit and for life in general: Try to change your eating habits so that your largest meal is breakfast and the lightest is dinner. This will help you sleep better and your body is less likely to take the extra energy and convert it to fat (though the World Health Organization may argue with me on that). Nonetheless a big breakfast will make your day much easier, especially after lunch when your normal reserves are all used up. A lot of people are skipping breakfast these days, but waking up earlier should afford them the time to enjoy a heartier meal.

Exercise works wonders for me in that it keeps me from eating too much. I don't usually feel like eating too much before or after exercise, I'm just not in the mood for it. So I'm trying to use exercise a bit to keep my eating habits in check while I switch the heaviness of my meals around. For exercise, I'm going to kickboxing still, but also the gym and the grouse grind (more on that later), and I'm also doing this program and trying for 100 consecutive "good form" push ups. I'm on week 3 now and having a bit of trouble. You see, I wanted to double the minimum amount for the final set of push ups for each day. This way, I'd be at 100 consecutive by the end of week 6. However, I'm currently at 50 some push ups at the end of a grueling set and I'm having difficulties eking out past 30. Oh well, I'm still about 100 every other day now and my arm muscles are starting to hinder my flexibility. So, maybe I will scale back a bit, but not too much.

My sister and I tried to form a pact earlier last month in July. We were going to wake up early together and try to do some activity, whether it be going to the gym, a walk, or out for coffee with each other. Unfortunately that failed when we were both unable to get up in the morning. However, I'm finding some success in that now and, when our schedules permit it, we are still attempting some sibling bonding. Originally my sister was supposed to accompany me on the Grouse Grind last Friday but, seeing how we're in Vancouver, the weather crapped all over our plans with rain. She didn't want to go out, but I ended up doing it anyways. I had bought some trekking poles just for mountain climbing/hiking and I wanted to use them as often as possible before summer ended. So I climbed the treacherous mountain in the pouring rain.

Here are my times, broken into quarters (which are marked on the trail):
1. 17 mins 20
2. 13 mins 07
3. 14 mins 51
4. 13 mins 08
Total: 58 mins 27

I might have started timing a bit early, as there was a fork in the road some ways past the "Grouse Grind Timer" that pointed one way to the Grouse Grind and another way to some other trail. This may account a bit for the longer starting quarter. I pushed myself a bit too hard too early and had to fight off a cramp for most of the second half (which is steeper and much harder to navigate in the rain). I ended timing a bit earlier too, as I stopped the clock once I was clear of the trail. I noticed the ending Grouse Grind Timer after I stopped the clock, but literally it was only about 20 feet of flat terrain away, so the most it could have added was another minute, which would still keep me under an hour.

My goal for the Grouse Grind this trip was to simply not stop. Finishing in under an hour was actually a goal for the next trip, but I got that too. I'll be visiting the Grind again this Friday, but with my sister in tow. How this affects my time, we'll see, but I think the companionship and conversation would be worth it.

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