Fat free and brainless

               I’ve been going from victory to defeat on the health front for a while now. To paraphrase Bilbo Baggins, I’ve been there and back again. I managed to lose a few more pounds, then put them back even if nothing on the food front changed. But something changed. I’m beginning to see the light – figuratively speaking, of course, since I have no wish to look upon the light at the end of the tunnel. There’s something few dare say out loud, but everybody needs to hear. No, it’s not about losing weight. Well, it is about losing weight. Like all things good, it’s good across multiple disciplines. But weight loss is only the beginning.

               Almost 2 years ago, I began something to keep my diabetes in check. It is checked. Chess style, to be more exact. I started avoiding sugar like the plague. But then things changed. Shit got real. It wasn’t enough. My first discovery was, after a year and a bit more, that the rabbit hole is big enough. It’s an equation I’m just beginning to solve. You know what stops type 2 diabetes from going worse? The brain. Eating less carbs is only one variable. Exercising a bit more is another variable. Eating a hell of a lot less food is another one. And sleeping 8 hours a night is the cherry on top. You see, everything’s connected. How? Pull up a chair, I’ll tell you.

               There are tons of things happening in my life, some good, some bad, all moving at an infernal pace that can’t seem to slow down. But it is enough to glimpse this from the chaos: caloric intake, willpower and carb intake are all important in weight-loss and diabetes. What’s more important than knowing them is the fact that all of them are linked variables. Carb intake (amount of carbohydrates) and caloric intake (amount of calories) are strongly influenced by willpower and willpower is strongly influenced by confidence and confidence is strongly influenced by sleep and the image of yourself in the mirror. Also, the influence of both carbohydrate and total calories eaten is lowered by exercise, even a if by little bit. Therefore… You get the picture. If you’re weak like me, eating a ton of carb-free food won’t help you lose weight. And not losing weight means not much delta blood sugar (difference, for those not… reading up on math and physics). This was the easy part – once I got it, my weight started dropping about 4 pounds a month, since I’m having a hard time falling asleep and even faster, once I filled the rest backlog. How come? Well, for me, when I’m tired it’s like half my brain goes to sleep and temptations are harder to resist. Especially when it comes down to bread and potatoes. Exercise? Well, 15 minutes a day of sit-ups and playing with my 10 pound dumbbells, just enough to get the blood flowing, before the coughing sets in. Yeah, that’s one thing I forgot to tell you, I’ve been coughing for more than a month now, with the occasional runny nose every other week. Everything bloody happens when I try to improve, it’s like a sign from above or something.

               But this made my day. Hell, it made my year. I’ve been thinking again, which is bad, as you all know. What if this ain’t just what it seems? The hard part of it all was to check the theory (the one I haven’t told you just yet) against other things, and to be honest, I’m still checking. Early results point to one thing and one thing alone: competence and a big mouth is one hell of a combination. You want to know how luck is created? Exactly this way. You don’t have to have them, you have to be associated with them. It’s all variables and equations, and I may or may not be thinking straight at this point – but it works. Holy hell, it works. What’s the theory?

               Forget the classics. There’s plenty of evidence that there isn’t a sure way to greatness. My theory is that everything is connected, every little thing. Mental health and physical health, abilities, willpower, concentration, attention, performance, everything. Looking fit, feeling good, first impression, body language, confidence, identity, behavior, a sound (even dirty), adaptable mind all are part of selling our value to others. It’s the difference between a Bugatti and an Aston Martin. And if you aren’t a rich bugger, you won’t see much difference between the two besides the fact you can’t affort to look at either one. The point is this: try driving them on a country road, without an audience to make you feel important, speed limits and all. Can you do the same and feel the same in a Toyota? Sure. But the price.. The price reflects the value of the cars, and so do you. There’s plenty of people, average, having the same skill set you have – if you work on your appearance, on your body language, on your confidence, you’ll have an edge they won’t have. And even more, stop daydreaming about “being recognized” and tell everybody what you can do. Modesty? Sure, let others use it. You? Brag. Learn. Make everybody know about your transferable skills, the ones you can use in fundamentally different roles. Everybody can learn to do a job the right way but few have the mindset to learn something different and new once they’re “broken”.

               Most salesmen can learn accounting, but few can take on programming and fewer still can learn engineering. Couple that with the right attitude and you’re in the black. The point is, mature people are, in fact, broken. Life broke them. Debt. Family. They go through life thinking “this is me, this is who I am” – but it’s not, they’re not. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen what happens when I forced myself to keep my chin up, literally, and my back straight. After a while, it was like I got an IV of confidence. Find your own reasons to feel better than others and keep those to yourself, that’s your way of “acting”, your lesson in humility. Nobody else can do it. Dress to impress, lose a few pounds, force yourself to tweak your body language to show confidence, even if you don’t have it. Work smart, work hard and tell everybody.

               Success isn’t about luck. Think of it as a house of cards, each one important for the stability of the whole. You think trading your health for money is the way to go? Bummer, because you’d be wrong. A job is not a skill, it’s a set of acquired habits, behavior and rules. X happens then you do Y. Z happens then you do K. Every job is different because a job is a self-centered universe where even the same job description has to balance different environments and they’ll teach you the basics anyway. Your skills, however, reside in your brain, they’re attitude, willpower, adaptability and experience. You think a good manager hires people based on what they can do? How would that manager know, if all they have is a few sheets of paper they call resume, a few references and a 5 minute conversation with each candidate? And let’s not even talk about freelancing, where experience and networking matters more than knowledge.

               You fear young people? You see them and go “gee, they’re fast, they’re smart and they’ve got more knowledge”? You shouldn’t. All they have is that knowledge. In fact, you can learn it yourself if you’re willing. I’ve seen people fired from important jobs, not because of something they did but, increasingly in the last few years, because of “cost reductions and outsourcing”. Some felt it was personal, others didn’t. Not one of them found the same job they used to have, but somewhere else. You know who got up? The ones willing to take on a less technical role until they either learned what they knew was needed to get the job they wanted or they found a new job in a different area. They all got up, dusted themselves and began climbing the ladder again. Knowledge is something everybody can learn, from new programming languages to new manufacturing methods. Sales? That’s for young people or for those not willing to learn, because everybody can sell but most never get out. That area is toxic for the mind, mostly because people suck (no, not the sales people, the customers suck and that’s the god honest truth, ask any sales people). It’s a nightmare. You have a choice, though. It’s hard, yes. Harder than finding out at age 50+ you don’t have a job anymore because they don’t want to pay more for something any youngster can do for beer money? Not bloody likely.

               The way to happiness, to success, isn’t a road, it’s a gimmick – it’s like riding an unicycle while balancing two trays of food in your hands and a glass full of water on your head. If you manage to pull it off, you’re good. If not… There’s plenty of people willing to give it a try. And you get to see them all perform. It’s an equation where every variable matters and every variable is a part of your image – your behavior, your response to feedback, your actions, your decisions, your looks, your confidence, your self-image, your stubbornness. Everything. And they’re all connected. It’s not about being specialized, it’s about having general competence. You may think it’s bullshit, or not. But so far, everything I’m facing says I’m right about this. Composite score – that’s the ticket.

               Ever seen the film “The Intern”? You should, not because it’s that good but because you get to see first hand how the gap between generations looks to me. And don’t get me wrong, most old people I know are idiots, the same idiots who have raised the kids portrayed in the movie. They may have some of the knowledge, but not the skills and certainly not the education to know when to put that knowledge to good use. They want to be different, unique – but have no idea why or if that’s desirable in the long run. Let me spell it out for you. You may not want kids now, or a family, and choose money instead. You fuel your work with crap foods, sleep 4-6 hours a night and when you do go out it’s usually to get drunk or pick up somebody to sweat with for a night. Your idea of dating involves some software and your idea of relaxation is drinking till you can’t remember who came with you in a club where there’s no conversation just music with enough decibel to silence the sounds in a factory. And then you wake up, older but not wiser, with your friends gone because life and stuff and your job being whisked away because why the hell not. And you’re alone with your thoughts and looking at booze you see only the headaches that will wake you up in the middle of the night looking for water and aspirin. And everybody will post on Facebook or its successor only victories in battles you never knew happened, with perfect tan, perfect kids, perfect houses and accessories – all there, reminding you to log in and create your own perfect corner of the universe – even if it’s only by careful editing of pictures. And you will be unhappy, even though you know their perfect lives are as real as your edited photos.

               It’s never too late to start, unless you’re on your death bed. Call it divine intervention, airplanes flying to low or aliens, you don’t have to give the real reasons to anybody who asks – and they will ask. Everybody else will want to keep you there, on their level, to justify their own shortcomings. But reinforce enough variables of your own self, change your habits, improve your image and play deaf – you do what you want, not what they want. Now, if only I could do it myself, that’d be just peachy…


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