Food Junkies Can Be Healthy Too! It Just Takes Some Work…

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Now that I’m a little bit older and wiser than I was in my twenties, I’m all too aware how easily I can become addicted to something. Luckily, I’ve never been addicted to anything dangerous, but food has always been a weakness of mine.

I don’t know if you guys have heard, but food is DELICIOUS. You should really try it sometime.

This has been a thing as far back as I can remember and though it’s gotten much better into my adulthood, I still have my struggles. It’s not so much the act of eating, but the experience of flavor. Salty, sweet, fatty, sour, rich FLAVOR.

Amirite?

That’s the messed up thing with taste as a sense: it usually involves ingestion. Seeing things doesn’t make you go blind (just don’t look directly at a solar eclipse). Smelling things doesn’t make you eventually… uh… uhhhhhhhh…

Anosmatic!

Google FTW.

Anyway, you know what I mean. Taste, you are an evil temptress.

A deliciously evil temptress.

Surprisingly if you don’t know me and unsurprisingly if you do recovering from a food addiction relapse is all about mental fortitude. Remember, this has been a thing since childhood for me so, yeah, old habits are hard to break and all that jazz. So because I’m in this mindset of attacking life 100% (I’m not into that whole more-than-100-percent thing that people sometimes use), I made up five, count’em, FIVE rules for myself to help make this a lifestyle.

  1. My primary beverages will be water and wine, not to be confused with turning water into wine. I don’t drink wine every day, but it’s something I do with my fiancé on our days together. I can throw tea in there as well, but anything outside of that will be relegated to once every couple of weeks. WWAD?
  2. Snack foods are a Friday only thing (for now). While my fiancé and I are apart, I’m keeping snacks to my favorite day that begins with an F.Yeah, not Father’s Day. Sorry, Dad, but it’s a close second. At least it’s not Frog Jumping Day. Only suckers celebrate that.It’ll probably be a different story once we’re living together, but for now, Fridays are our day so I don’t mind being a little reckless one day a week.
  3. I’m going to eat raw at least once a week. I’m not a big fan of eating raw because I love warm food, but this one shouldn’t be too tough.
  4. The only things I’ll buy that have more than three ingredients are bread, pasta, and my Friday snacks. Is there more to explain? No? Let’s move on.
  5. Meditation is key! At least it is for me. And although I don’t really meditate in the traditional sense as much as I used to, mindfulness will only help keep me on point.

You may have noticed I don’t have much of what many might call a “diet” on my list. That’s because diets are for chumps, y’all! I’m not trying to get über muscled up like I was some three or four years ago either. This is about health and balancing it with my infatuation with my mistress, flavor.

Sweet delicious flavor.

I firmly believe that body and mind are much like chaos and harmony in the sense that they are constantly in a state of flux. For many us, chaos and harmony appear to be at odds, but a high level view shows us they’re part of the same thing because you can’t have harmony without chaos and vice versa.

Side note: I hate when people say “vice-ah versa,” but apparently that’s some old school British English at work there so I don’t have a leg to stand on.

Er… on which to stand*

It’s tough for grammar junkies in these streets.

Anyway, I think mind and body are the same as well. Let’s call them our physical and non-physical selves, shall we? Some people have strong physical attributes such as good health, muscle mass, high metabolism, etc. Others have strong non-physical attributes like a sense of inner peace, determination, courageousness, etc. Tangible versus intangible.

Makes sense? Awesome!

Okay, the balance between harmony and chaos is somehow managed by our entire realities. The balance of body and mind is up to us as individuals.

Kind of. External factors come into play, but stick with me here.

If you have the means to properly take care of your mind and body, do it. Why not, right? I feel doing so is a large part of achieving personal balance. While I’m here on this earth, that’s the goal. I’m pretty sure I have the mental/non-physical side down; now it’s time to refocus on the body/physical.

What do you do to maintain or increase balance in your life? Let me know! Tips and insights are always welcome.

Let’s do this!

Peace out, party people.

Let’s Come Together and Be Extreme Non-Extremists

Alright, so let’s get into this. It’s not going to be a sunshine-and-rainbows kind of topic, but if that’s all life was about then we’d have no problems to address.

We definitely have a lot of problems to address.

Al-Shabaab, a group linked to al-Qaeda, decided it’d be a cool idea to massacre 148 people at a university in Kenya. Why? It doesn’t matter, but apparently it has something to do with Kenya sending troops to battle extremists in Somalia. Christian students were separated from Muslims and the rest is… tragedy.

The human race has a cancer called extremism. You know, people with such strong beliefs that they’ll do just about anything in the name of them. Many people point at religion, but let’s be real here, extremism in any shape or form is ridiculous and I’m pretty sick of it. It’s easy to point a finger at religions, but any ideology can be taken too far.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I firmly believe we can come to some common ground as long as there are enough reasonable people out there. The question is, do we have enough reasonable people who care enough to speak up against the unreasonable ones? I have no clue; optimism doesn’t always equate to certainty.

The thing about extremists is because they’re, you know, extreme, they have the drive to organize and effectively make non-extremists roll their collective eyes and say, “WTF are these crazy people doing?” But our head shaking and finger wagging from afar aren’t exactly effective tools, now are they? If they were we’d probably have less so-called “whack jobs” running around murdering people who simply live a life with which they don’t agree.

So where does this leave us? I don’t know, man. That’s a tough question and I don’t think I’m equipped to answer it alone. But I have ideas and I’m willing to cooperate with anyone who simply wants to live in a world without violence and inequality. Is that so much to ask? I’m not asking for a complete 180 in a day, but what’s it going to take here? We have super pro-Americans taking up arms to fight a war with the government and they’re not scared one bit. We have groups like ISIS straight up recruiting people worldwide for a cause not all Muslims are down with. We have power-hungry leaders willing constantly threatening wars that I guarantee most regular folks don’t care about. Do I need to go on?

I’m not saying we need to take action now, but I really want to have like-minded people come together with me on this. We’re the only ones who can put this whole thing back into balance. Well, maybe not the only ones, but we can sure as hell make an impact. Cancer doesn’t stay benign forever.

Peace out, party people.

Experiment Complete: What I Learned from My Fast

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn
Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

I finished my fast, y’all! I’m not going to lie; it was tough, but rewarding. Want to know what I took out of the experience? No? Too bad because I’m going to let you know anyway.

  1. I feel lighter. Not in a weight type of way, though I suppose a fast will do that also. I mean I feel spiritually lighter. “Spiritual” is a word that can come with some baggage, but the way that I’m using it refers to my sense of being. I feel less stressed (not that I had much) and I have a ton of energy.
  2. I have renewed clarity. I now have a much better sense of what I want to do with my life going forward. Not specifics, mind you, but a general direction. I’ll definitely be writing about this more, but my focus is to make a positive impact on this world as much as possible.
  3. Food tastes MF’ing awesome. Do you know what I first ate after fasting? Grapes. And I kid you not when I say those were the most delicious grapes I’ve ever had. There’s something about deprivation that makes you appreciate the most common things like, I don’t know, the flavor of good, natural food.
  4. I’m officially out of my creative rut. The inspiration is back, baby! I’ve been writing like a madman and I can’t wait until this book is done.
  5. My eating and sleeping patterns have been reset. I’m actually getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night and I’m now eating smaller, but more frequent meals. I think the former was brought about by the meditation as well, but I can’t say for sure.

All in all it was an awesome experience and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned. Fasting isn’t for everyone, but it definitely did a world of good for me. As an aside, I just read this awesome article on IFL Science that talks about the benefits of intermittent fasting (http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/how-fasting-might-make-our-cells-more-resilient-stress).

Kind of convenient timing, no?

Anyway, I may do this from time to time just to have a reset every now and then. Meditation, veganism, and now fasting? I’m transforming into quite the hippie, aren’t I?

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Taking a Sabbatical with a Fast

Experiment: Taking a Sabbatical with a Fast

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn
Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

I’m going to try something new this week: I’m going on a fast.

So before the cavalcade of questions regarding my health and sanity come my way, you should know something about me: I’m at a crossroads. An important one at that. At least for me it is. I’m stuck between either working to pursue my dream as a writer or go back to the corporate world to something less fulfilling.

O woe is me. I should be so lucky to have suck minuscule problems.

Yeah, I am lucky. I don’t know if I could ever forget that. Still, this is a decision I have to make nonetheless. The only thing preventing me from moving in a direction either way is fear. If I work a corporate gig, I fear I won’t be happy. If I continue chasing this dream I fear I may not be able to actually become a success because the playing field is so crowded.

So I’ve been at a stalemate. Creatively, I’ve been in a rut and I’m fully aware I’m just going through the motions. Therefore, I’m going to do what I always do in these situations: I’m going to meditate a bunch. Not contemplative meditation; I’m not going to focus on anything. Additionally, I’m going to fast.

But you already knew that.

So what’s the fast have to do with anything. Well, that fear, as minor as it is, is nothing more than an attachment. A fast for me will be a period of ridding myself of attachments. The only television I’ll be watching is the stuff I need for The Gibbler Podcast. No alcohol. No food. Any time not spent working or with my fiance will be dedicated to reading, writing, opportunity hunting, or meditation. All I need is five days.

I’m a big believer in not hunting for answers to questions. I used to hunt, but over the years I’ve found the right answers come to me as long as I’m open to them. This “cleanse,” if you will, is to help me do just that.

I’ve juiced – not the steroid type – before long meditation sessions before and I always felt the difference. A five day fast shouldn’t be too bad as long as I still get water and take a multivitamin. I’ll let you know how this one goes! Hopefully I don’t get the urge to cheat, heh.

Inspiration 101: Chance the Rapper

Photo Credit: Spin
Photo Credit: Spin

Some time ago, I remember hearing of some kid from Chicago going by the name Chance the Rapper.

I also remember thinking that his name is fairly self-explanatory. I appreciate that.

As a music aficionado who delves deep into hip hop, I figured I’d give him a shot despite my waning interest in the genre. I gave a half-hearted listen to one of his songs back in 2013 (sadly, I can’t remember which) and I was immediately turned off by Chance’s kinda-sorta off-key voice.

It was March of 2014 when I finally decided to give the Chicago-bred emcee another listen. It was all due to stumbling across his video for “Juice,” an infectious, care-free tune sprinkled with psychedelic references.

Well, this was right up my alley! I was (and still am) at a place in my life where I’m a sucker for feel-good music. I’m not talking about some syrupy sweet, bubblegum pop music. No way. I’m talking about music that makes you feel light.

If that makes any sense.

With a more open mind and a set of open ears, I dove into his two available mixtapes. What I discovered was an eccentric young artist with a bit of genius bubbling underneath the surface of his limited musical offerings. I got the same feeling from him that I got from Kanye West when I first heard the beats he produced for Talib Kweli back on his album Quality. This wasn’t just a rapper. This was an artist.

I swear, there’s something in the water in Chicago.

Strangely enough, the rapper known as Chance seems to have a clarity that Kanye lacks. Where Kanye is always fighting for respect and acknowledgement, Chance the Rapper feels more freeform and willing to explore both himself and music. He plays with lyrical wizardry, cadence, and melody, tiptoeing deftly from one to another. Sure, he has his hiccups, but other than Kendrick Lamar, he’s the most exciting thing in hip hop in my opinion.

I never thought one person could inspire me musically to the degree Chance the Rapper has. The last time I was this inspired was probably (once again) the first time I discovered Kanye, questionable douchebaggery aside. I can, after all, separate the artist from the art as long as there are no Stephen Collins-style shenanigans afoot.

After listening to Chance and some other non-hip hop acts like Broken Bells, I rethought how I was making music. I began toying with singing more (I’m not a great singer, but I have a tight range where I’m listenable), I explored deep, abstract topics, and my verses became less about a strict cadence and more about the flow of the song as a whole.

Anyway, I know Chance’s offering aren’t for everyone. As a matter of fact, my fiancé hates his voice and though I no longer agree with that sentiment, I also understand that particular cup of tea isn’t her ideal. Still, give the guy a chance…

Har, har, har

…and listen to what he’s putting out there. He’s been releasing some songs with The Social Experiment via Soundcloud, but I REALLY recommend his mixtape, Acid Rap. There’s some quality work there. And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired too.

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/chancetherapper
Acid Rap: http://www.datpiff.com/Chance-The-Rapper-Acid-Rap-mixtape.483826.html
10 Day: http://www.datpiff.com/Chance-The-Rapper-10-Day-mixtape.337986.html

Peace out, party people.

Peek’s Picks: SwitchPitch Lets Larger Companies Pitch Ideas to Startups

Peeks Picks

I’ve been stewing on possible startup ideas recently. Who knows if I’ll ever come up with a home run idea, but a brotha has to give a shot right?

Aric then told me about SwitchPitch, a cool concept that lets companies pitch startups instead of the other way around. This allows companies to avoid the onslaught of startups vying for their attention. These reverse-pitch meetings are also face-to-face, allowing for more personal interaction. This sounds like a pretty awesome way for companies to partner with the right people. Take a look if you’re interested and, as always, thank you, Mr. Peek!

Website: http://www.hellohub.org

Previously: Hello Hubs Is a Community-Built and Owned Internet Kiosk

Peek’s Picks: Hello Hubs Is a Community-Built and Owned Internet Kiosk

Peeks Picks

Aric and I met briefly this Sunday and he tossed this gem my way. Hello Hubs is a community contributed project that builds internet kiosks that also act as an educational resource. Each terminal has access to 24-hour WiFi and up to four people can be seated at once. Additionally, there is a workbench for maintenance and repair of the hub.

This is an awesome idea and shows the power of cooperation. Why can’t we organize like this more often? Think of the greatness we could achieve instead of the pain we create by being adversaries. Support this endeavor!

Website: http://www.hellohub.org

Previously: Bluemix Is an Open-Source, Cloud-Based Development Platform