Sunday, March 31, 2013

Expansive and narrow time

I've noticed two very distinct feelings. One is the "expansive" feeling: "the world is out before me, I can do anything I want, the day is mine, and I'm relaxed." One is the "narrow" feeling: "there's a deadline coming up, I'm head down, chugging through whatever I'm doing." This is not a post about how expansive time is good and narrow time is bad. They're both kind of fun, in different ways. Narrow time has the benefit of feeling more focused and more adrenaline-driven. I often feel "flow"y in narrow time.

But it seems like they should be more balanced! Some time to feel crunched and making progress, some time to feel relaxed and thinking of ideas. Seems like it'd make me both a better researcher, and a better and happier human being. My April challenge (only check email twice a day) is pointed in this direction. And meditation helps a little, I think.

I wonder how else we can create more expansive time in our lives. Any ideas?

April plan: just check email twice a day

I sort of missed March in terms of monthly goals. As a look back, here's how they're going now:
Oct/Nov: don't snap at people. 100% integrated into my life. I feel pretty good about this.
Dec: draw something every day. Drew 24/31 days in December. I have not drawn something since December. Fun exercise, not a new habit.
Jan: Meditate: I meditated 29/31 days in January. Has it become a habit? Well, I'm still trying at it. I'm about 50% these days. It is really hard to convince myself that I should spend 20 minutes doing that. My life feels too full again. How can we get back those Seattle weekends where I had nothing planned, or taking off work and forgetting about it?
Feb/Mar: Paleo eating: Successfully completed this one for 28 days, plus a week, and then figured it wasn't worth it (see recent blog posts). It was probably a beneficial change overall; paleo is not totally wrong, just not totally right either. Some things have stuck with me. "Breakfast salads" is one, and I think I eat less grains overall now, which is good.
Also, unrelated to paleo, somewhere in here I got in the habit of eating no added sugar except Saturday. Still doing well with that one. Okay, let's call that "February" and say paleo is March. Whatever. Either way, it's a pretty good one.

For April I was thinking something about the "checking" habit. I feel like I'm always just "getting things done", always sprinting, always rushing toward another deadline. This is silly; my deadlines are not that many. I need to do something to calm this impulse and let me feel more expansive.
Also, from RescueTime, I know that my weekly time spent on email has ranged between 8-11 hours per week over the last few weeks. That's a bit nuts.
So I'm thinking the plan for April is: just check email twice a day. It's concrete and measurable, it's simple, and it would probably be helpful. (so if you want to reach me with a quick turnaround, call or text me.)

(if this post seems annoyingly self-congratulatory, sorry about that. hey, this is the internet, where we constantly curate our image by presenting the best versions of ourselves, right?)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Paleo Stats

I computed some stats. To be fair, I did a bunch of statistical hooey that went like this: I recorded a 1-5 value whenever I felt like it for my stomach, energy, and mood. Then I basically averaged them together to get an average value for the day, then I averaged all the days together. (comparing a month of eating paleo to a month of eating whatever.) ZQ values are Zeo-computed "sleep efficiency" or some such (more hooey); at least "minutes sleep" is a real value.

p-values are for independent samples t-tests (statistical hooey x3); non-reported ones are unremarkable.

stomach with paleo: mean = 3.26
stomach non-paleo: mean = 3.08
p = 0.07

energy with paleo: mean = 2.90
energy non-paleo: mean = 2.90

mood with paleo: mean = 3.04
mood non-paleo: mean = 3.29
p = 0.08

ZQ with paleo: mean = 82.32
ZQ non-paleo: mean = 86.46

minutes sleep with paleo: mean = 455.45
minutes sleep non-paleo: mean = 445.23

Another big non-result! Add to my just-thinking-about-it non-results. Also add a few awkward questions that I still have with paleo folks:
- I mean, if we evolved the "digesting milk" gene, for example, how is it fair to say that we're "not evolved" to drink milk?
- a paleo diet would include carrots and kale and rutabagas and coconuts and chicken and buffalo and salmon and seal fat. There is no caveman who ever ate all of that.
- the guy who wrote Wheat Belly is nuts.
- how do you know it's not just that paleo causes people to snack less, or eat less, or eat fewer carbs, or eat less sugar, or eat less processed food?

So there seems to be no good reason to continue to mess around with eating paleo. Except that it does cause a lot of good long-term health shifts: less processed food, less sugar, less white flour, even less (I am sorry to say this word) carbs. I'll probably keep some variation of it in my diet (like my ongoing "no added sugar except Saturdays") but drop the nitty gritty particulars of Paleo and the story behind it.

Thursday, March 07, 2013


Done with that! Spent four solid weeks paleo eating, and here's what I can say just from the ever-unreliable introspection:
- it didn't make my life wayyyy better
- it didn't make my life wayyyy worse
- I had to cook a lot more, and particularly I had to cook a lot more meat. This was difficult for me, but a fun learning experience. I discovered things like short ribs, lamb shanks, chicken thighs, flank steak, pork shoulder; braising, casserole roasting, broiling; interesting stuff!
- I did feel a little healthier after eating a meal without grains, mostly because everything is real nutritious food. It's all some vegetable or meat, no filler. So I ate as much as I want (which is a lot) and didn't really feel overstuffed like I do sometimes with grains.
- eating out was not really that hard; most places have something that you can make paleo. Sometimes you have to be a little creative and order two appetizers instead of a dinner, say.
- special occasions were hard. I couldn't really invite friends out for a beer, or an ice cream, or a waffle, or really any celebratory consumable. I started drinking the occasional liquor (under the flimsy argument that "I mean, the grain's all fermented away anyway") for social situations when I couldn't really opt for a wine.
- uh, I was kind of depressed a month ago and am not now. But I don't think that's because of the food.

Stats to follow! Sometime. Going to Cleveland and Miami in the next couple days. I am not trying to avoid grains or dairy or beans or anything there.