Hi guys —
I posted an updated version of my Macaw tutorial on Medium. This blog doesn’t have the greatest formatting for images :)
You can find it here: Using Macaw to Build a Simple Landing Page
花間一壺酒。 A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
獨酌無相親。 I drink alone, for no friend is near.
舉杯邀明月。 Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
對影成三人。 For he, with my shadow, will make three men.
月既不解飲。 The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
影徒隨我身。 Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
暫伴月將影。 Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
行樂須及春。 I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
我歌月徘徊。 To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
我舞影零亂。 In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and break.
醒時同交歡。 While we were sober, three shared the fun;
醉後各分散。 Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
永結無情遊。 May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
相期邈雲漢。 And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.
It’s been a while.
I completed a four month protein-rich diet, paired with an intensive weight training program.
I gave no updates the last two months of the program. This does not indicate an easy time on my end — throughout those eight weeks, I dealt with traveling, holidays, and family, culminating in a struggle that created an absurd amount of stress. But I finished, a weary but victorious figure.
Here are the individual stats:
- I lost 12 pounds, with the scale occasionally tipping in at as much as 14 lost.
- I lost 5 inches in my bust, three inches in my waist, and one inch on my hips.
I look fantastic, and I feel great. But, the last two weeks were difficult, and I was mentally and physically exhausted.
Here are some cherry-picked notes from the last eight weeks.
Take a break already.
This is a stark difference in tone between the last update. Sometimes, a break is necessary to move forward. I had three parties lined up between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and the difficulty of saying no to holiday treats and traditions became overwhelming. It culminated with a messy Christmas party with friends, and a New Year’s Eve party where I shoveled chips into my mouth, washed down with moscato straight from the bottle. I felt physically awful, but the sorrow brought on by my drunken failure felt worse.
I truly wish I lived in a world where the joy of eating food was independent from the damage a delicious meal could do to your body. But this isn’t the case — so it’s okay to give in and enjoy it occasionally if it allows you to recoup your mental willpower.
Food & friends.
Food is a social experience. Dining with friends is fantastic — sharing a glass of wine over a rich meal builds beautiful friendships. Yet, when you choose to eat well, you choose to say goodbye to these social interactions.
During the last month, I had some great friends visit me for a week. I loved spending time with them, but I was torn when meal time came around. I had to choose: do I compromise three months of built up dedication, or do enjoy a break with friends? I chose the former, and although I maintained my diet and exercise schedule, I didn’t enjoy myself. Worse, I felt like a wet blanket when I left my fantastic supportive friends to go lift, or declined dessert. Yet had I chosen the latter, I would have exchanged my frustration for depression at giving in. There’s no perfect solution.
Listen to your body.
The last month of the program, I didn’t sleep well. I woke up in the middle of the night, my lower back so sore that regardless of the position, I felt an aching pain. The constant pain flowed into every crevice of my life. Even sitting at my workspace, I thought of the dull ache, wishing it to go away.
I knew my training was causing the pain, but I believed I could work through it with more stretching, or greater concentration. What a fool — if your body starts calling, don’t ignore it. Weeks out from the program, I’ve changed my training, and the pain has gone away.
Be attentive. If I’d done so, I wouldn’t have had those sleepless nights of agony.
So, the program has ended. What next?
Although my initial goal was to maintain strength while dropping into a lower weight class, I’ve still lost strength in my core lifts. I’ll spend the next month doing starting strength to bring myself up to my standards.
For food, I’ll take a two week mental break. I’ll eat in a similar fashion of high protein, low carb macro distribution, but I won’t track each individual gram. Then, I’ll reassess and eat at a slight calorie deficit. We’ll see how it goes.
Coming up next, I’ll do a post-mortem of the entire program, with some holistic observations
Well, a certain amount of faith has paid off. I’ve continued cheating, and cheating merrily, and my progress continues with less yoyo-ing than before.
This post is late, and in fear of balking and not writing at all, I’ll summarize the past two weeks thusly: just enjoy it, already.
To finish this up, I’d like to reflect on progressing halfway through the 16 weeks of training.
Before I began this program, I had terrible eating and exercise habits.
Whenever I’d encounter a food, I’d obsess over it. If I saw someone eating an ice cream sandwich I hadn’t eaten in a few months, I’d think about making an excuse to eat it, until eventually my willpower gave in and my food lust conquered. As I started the program, I experienced this sensation to a painful degree. Three weeks in and I thought constantly about all of the food I wasn’t eating — all the brunches missed, all the free desserts I turned down, the myriad of treats and indulgences I painfully refused. But I severed the restraints of food obsession, and now I refuse unhealthy food because I understand how horrible it makes me feel. Physically, oh god how some of these desserts make me feel, yet emotionally I recoil at eating food that’s actively awful for my body.
Exercise was an exercise — ha! — in facing discomfort. I used to despise gym class throughout school. Running the mile was a particular feat of anguish; the weeks we ran the mile, I would stare out the window and wish daily for rain, just so I could be spared the pain and embarrassment of being one of the last students to cross the finish line. I dealt physical activity only when it was easy. However, this program put me in a state of constant discomfort. I was forced to try new lifts, and lift at a pace that wore me into a disgusting, sweaty puddle of mud. But I kept doing these difficult, bizarre lifts week after week, no matter how much a fool I looked. Each day is still a challenge; now, these challenges I confront accepting the difficulties that lie ahead, no longer shirking responsibility.
These eight weeks have challenged me to grow in ways I hadn’t thought possible. But I have, and I’ll continue.
Ahh, everything had proceeded so smoothy — I thought — why not take a break and post bi-monthly? Oh Em, how naïve you are.
Week 5 ended with the introduction of cheat days, which thrilled my gluttonous heart. However, when a Sunday scheduled with pies, cakes, and brunch actually arrived, I balked. Progress was happening. My willpower was strong, and my body was cooperating. Why reintroduce such chaos into my life? Well, the experiment had worked so far, and if the experiment called for a cheat day, I’d give it a go.
I lifted in the morning and ran home to make some cookies for a brunch at a Hacker House of which I was a former tenant. After mixing and mashing, I had some cookie dough left. I tasted it — rainbows, explosions, stars in my eyes — and downed spoonfuls. After seeing an empty mixing bowl, I panicked and ate a protein bar. But it had begun.
After a night of grilled cheese, endless cocktails, and cookie dough night terrors, I awoke to a food hangover unlike any other. Fasting an entire day was incredibly welcome, and necessary. The concept of Feast and Fast seemed conceptually sound, but as the week progressed, my progress stalled, and my bloated stomach belayed a disappointment and sadness I felt deep inside. "I cheated. Am I always going to feel like this?"
When my body recovered, another cheat day reared its head. This time, I ate modestly, until as host of a fantastic wine and cheese party I, well, partook in festivities. And now I write here, reflecting on the torments and troubles of Feasting and Fasting. Two weeks have past, and progress is at a standstill. And worst: my willpower and resolve have sunken into the gutter. I want cookies and cake. If I’m not progressing, why not eat what I please?
And so, reflections for the week.
Progress does not come prepackaged.
It’s impossible to conceptually separate yourself from the idea of progress in even increments. Each bite is not an ounce lost or gained — it’s nebulous, impossible to pin down. Although correlation appears to be causation, it’s hard to pin cheat days as the root of lost progress. That said…
Give an inch, and you’ll lose a mile.
Yes. My willpower is slowly degrading. I can no longer say “No.” as easily as before to extra barbecue or a piece of candy. An absolute viewpoint of the world is terrifying, but it’s an easier branch to hold onto when the rest of the world is trying to shake you off the tree of progress.
So what now?
I’ll take the next week off — no cheat days, just full-on eating well. Although this doesn’t solve my long-term woes, it’s a small patch that will prevent my willpower from fully seeping away. As the workouts continue to increase in difficulty, I’ll minimize the toll of decisions as much as possible.
Hey y’all, it’s been some time. I’ve moved from the great midwest to the westest coast, tumbling over obstacles, sailing over turbulent rent prices as I encounter them. I apologize, I’m sorry; time has passed by just as quickly as this blog has sifted through the sieve of my thoughts.
A lot has happened. This week has been one of my most productive weeks thus far working at Bloc. My mind has whirred and clicked like a wind-up cicada, and design has been chattering through my brain with a pleasant hum. I have a few theories for why this is the case, and none of them are light enough to discuss on a public blog. This is why I now write of an activity that enables that smooth flow of cohesive thought, but in a reliable, attainable way.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I lift. I pay a non-trivial sum to walk into a warehouse-like gym, pick up increasingly large amounts of weight, and put it down. The absurdity of paying money to pick things up is overwhelming. I balk at the prospects of moving furniture off of Craigslist, yet this tri-weekly ritual, in all of its ridiculous practice, feels fantastic and makes my brain hum.
Weightlifting is not an easy sport for a girl to come by. I’m not referring to gender discrimination; on the contrary, the weight room is filled with some of the most supportive, positive men and women I’ve encountered in any field. However, many women balk at the concept of “bulk”. When I was young, I was no different. Despite being a mediocre high school shotput and discus thrower, I found the gain of lifting vast amounts of metal outweighed by the sheer terror of being judged and doing a “dumb fucking thing” like dropping a 45lb plate on my knee, skinning it. (A fair risk.)
Eventually, weightlifting stuck. Despite my body’s laziness and muscular apathy, I began again out of a pure will to do something. And so entered the labyrinth of squat racks and smith machines and simply lifted. I simply did the same thing, over and over again, on a fixed schedule. I followed the same path, waved at the same patrons of lifting, and picked heavy things up and put them down.
I craved the routine with a hunger I couldn’t quite grasp. At once, I experienced a sense of futility and fulfillment — I felt and saw myself building strength in the way that my clothing shifted, or that dull ache in the muscle fiber, flowing throughout my body. My brain operated with surgical precision after a session at the deadlift platform. But still, the pure act of loading and unloading the bar with increasing amounts of weight left me empty and fulfilled. I picked up weight, and put it down; the weight remained unchanged. I affected it in no large way whatsoever, despite spending months with it. I stared at the bar, but it did not grimace back; it remained stoic and unchanging.
And then, that’s it. I understood that weightlifting was my koan. It’s the final achievement in Cookie Clicker. It’s that San Francisco hill that seems like you might be able to bike it this time, until you collapse panting, yards from the leveled out sidewalk. This unchanging question was the giant teddy bear I wanted to hug, knowing full well I’d never get my arms entirely around the beast and grasp it with full control. For me, weightlifting is not the answer to sharpening your mind, or honing your physical strength, it’s the question that builds your response through iterating again again again.