Why Do You Want To Lose Weight?

 "I refuse to go back up to that weight again," a friend of mine stated on Facebook. He'd lost around 30 pounds or so through exercise, diet and the help of a personal trainer. He asked the FB community to give him suggestions on furthering his weight loss. He must have gotten 80 different answers.

I posted, "Why do you have to weigh a certain amount?" He never answered. Though, I doubt he was open to learning the meaning behind the question.

Sometimes when we chase something, we bombard ourselves with failed expectations, and then pursue other solutions to meet the expectations, only to find disappointment yet again. Our minds can swirl in a never ending accumulation of thoughts that collapses in on itself like a dying star to a black hole. As we all know, even light can't escape black holes.

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But we can escape the black holes of our minds once we stop feeding it more mass, i.e. thoughts. That's why meditation is touted as a stress reliever. The basis of meditation is the silencing of our minds.

But forget that for now. What is the meaning behind my question? What's the real reason he wants to lose the weight?

To get a woman.

I had dinner with him last year when he started this process, and we talked at length, which is how I know. The way I see it, he'll always fail in regards to his weight. He'll never be satisfied because he thinks that achieving the ideal weight, whatever that is, will bring throngs of women to him. But that's not how women work.

Ask any woman what they want in a guy, and they’ll always say confidence and a sense of humor. I'm not saying women aren't superficial. But they're way more forgiving of men's looks than men are of theirs. Take my word for it. I've benefitted from that fact.

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I had told my dear friend to work on being honest with himself. Know thyself, the good and the bad. Say what he wants, feels. Don't take thyself so seriously. Have fun. Joke around.

I don't think he heeded my advice, since, from his perspective, he hasn't reached his ideal weight. And I totally get that. I still fall for that trap. When I see a woman checking me out at the gym, my mind immediately surmises that I'm getting more cut, defined. The truth is, she could be looking at me and thinking to herself, "Yeesh. Yuck," or "Did I turn off my curling iron?" or "Ugh. I can feel Aunt Flo coming." All of those thoughts are made up because I have no real proof what she's really thinking. And knowing this allows me to pay little to no attention to those made up thoughts. I don't want to be pulled into my own black hole.

If my friend does reach his ideal weight and finds that women are still not attracted to him, then he'll blame it on the one thing he thinks he has some control over. His situation. He'll think his body isn't good enough, so he'll workout harder. Or he'll find a way to earn more money, buy a flashier car, dress snappier, all in the pursuit of impressing women. Again, he'll continue to fail because good women want a confident man. And a man isn’t confident if he has to rely on superficial things to attract women.

That’s why my main pieces of clothing are t-shirt and jeans. Or maybe I'm just lazy.

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Then how should my friend approach weight loss? Or how should anyone for that matter?

I remember as a kid when I had to do my homework that time seemed to know. So it decided to slow the clock, where each tick felt like a lifetime. Then when I went outside to play with my friends, the day melted away like an ice cube sitting in the scorching hot desert. Time flies when you're having fun. That's the key. Fun.

There are two basic components to changing your body composition, which is way different than losing weight. Diet: the number of calories we take in. Calorie expenditure: what we do to use those calories. I want to focus on the expenditure portion.

A lot of people go to the gym. But that isn't necessarily fun or the best way to burn calories. I love hikes, especially urban hikes. I trek though San Francisco a lot. All over. Other people love dancing. Recreational sports such as basketball can be great fun with friends.

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Fun is an essential ingredient to becoming healthier because it'll make it easier for you to make the activity a habit. And time does fly, though I wouldn't put a schedule on changing your body composition. That'll often lead to failed expectations.

And changing our focus from weight loss to body composition is important. Body composition is the mix of fat, bone, muscle, and water in regards to physical fitness. People generally want less fat and more muscle. However, muscle weighs more than fat. So someone could weigh more by gaining muscle and losing the same amount of mass of fat, making the scale the worst measure of health.

Coming back to my friend...if he wants to date more, then his pure focus on looks is wrong. Take showers. Stinking like you haven't been is a huge turn off. He should wear clothes that fit him. Definitely have clean shoes. Now, he won't win any best in show contests. Neither would I. So he should be his real self. This is where he's lacking. When he talks to a woman he's attracted to, he's not himself. He needs to trust that being real is what confidence truly is. Unlike photography, filters like the Nice Guy, the Bad Boy, the Rico Suave, the Hipster Who's Too Cool to Care will hide who he is as a person, making him look fake. And if people are repelled that he has no filter, some will be, then they won't include him in their circle of trust. My response to that is simple: Real friends are rare.

The Deep End

Social media is the bane of my existence. Its become a way for people to try and attain some sort of fame, front a facade to hide behind of, or collect a large bouquet of followers to sell to.

Artists use it to get the word out on their work. I do that by writing these articles and posting some of them on Facebook. To be honest I don't really know who reads them. I don't go around asking, "Didya readit?" It's not that I don't care, but I sorta don't care. Some people have told me off hand that they’ve read a post I’ve written. I mean, I'd love it if everyon did. The crazy thing is that I don't speak to most of the people that I'm connected to on Facebook. I can count the number of my close friends on one hand.

When I ride the train during rush hour, I find myself swimming in people facedown over lit pieces of glass. Not that I don't do that. I do. But I spend more time people watching, and there's not much to watch.

This isn't a commentary about how our society is slowly being drained of real human connection. Though, they are.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time alone because I'm either writing or critiquing my fellow writers' pages. I love the work. I also go on long hikes and walks and fall into my introverted side and become introspective. But all of that gets lonely at times. Then I go on Facebook and everyone is liking and commenting and having a jolly good time. So it seems that if I don't participate in all the likes and commenting and gushing over how good that plate of food looks, then I don't exist. I'd rather like and comment and gush over what's happening in person. That's more fulfilling than who has liked my shit on Facebook.

In what is claimed to be the longest study on happiness, Robert Waldinger states that fulfillment in life comes from real human connection. The deeper the better. That's what she said.

Now I'm presented with a choice. Do I do what everyone else is doing and put full effort into building my social media? Or do I try for deep connections with people?

Why not do both?

Both are time consuming. And for me one gives me no real satisfaction. The habit of social media is to collect followers and likes. You become a bean counter of sorts. And like material wealth, it's never enough. So you continue chasing and accruing, chasing and accruing...

It's fun at first. Much like eating a lot of candy. It's not very nutritious, eating all those empty calories. 

However, forming deep connections can be difficult for me because my sensibilities are raunchy with a little bit of dry humor mixed in, peppered with a bit of hot temperedness, toss in some uncomfortable questions, and top it off with a heaping scoop of sarcasm. That's a mixture most chefs would be like...

Most of the time I'm not an asshole. I'm not asking women if I can slap their plump butt. But it's no surprise people who can't handle my mess of a personality run for the hills. Hence...count my friends on one hand. The most obvious solution is to dial my sensibilities down a notch...maybe all the way. Like take a tranquilizer gun, point it at my butt cheek, and yank the triggah. Eventually I'd wake up and be my old self again.

The real solution is to find folks who are willing to jump into the deep end of the crazy pool with me. Just to be clear I'm not that crazy. I don't go around flashing people. I don't do hardcore drugs. I don't torture animals. I torture people with my sensibilities, but I don't physically hurt them. Unless it's sexual where it hurts so good. I'm liberal so I'm accepting of people from different cultures, backgrounds, and the like. In other words, I'm aware enough where I'm not hurting anyone. If people are offended by me, then so be it. They can climb out of the deep end and scream running. I'll just float all by my lonesome.

The Uninvited

Do you feel happy when you receive a lot of likes on Facebook? Do you feel down if no one comments on your stuff? In the world of social media, we know when you've checked into the airport, when your cat gives you that look that says, "You lookin' at me?", when a homeless man gives you the pleasure of seeing him take a piss on the street. I've been given that pleasure. Many times.

I go on Facebook about once a day. If that. And I saw that one of my friends had held a BBQ that I had been invited to, but she cancelled due to an unforeseen circumstance. Which happened to be me. She had rescheduled but no invite for poor little ol'me. Tissue please.

I assume it was cancelled and rescheduled to avoid the embarrassment of uninviting me. There were several people who didn't like my kind of humor. So be it. Now, I didn't react with an angry emoticon. My ego was a bit shocked, but I actually don't care.

Then why are you writing this post, Jimmy? Hopefully, to show that what people think of you means nothing. Or, at the very least, has no real affect on who you are as a person.

God, you're such a hippie. No. But I did go to the Summer of Love exhibit at the DeYoung Museum. That was pretty awesome. 

If you give a talk in front of a hundred people, how many different opinions do you think you'd have? The easy answer is probably one hundred. Everyone who is watching you is interpreting what you say and do through their own lenses. In a sense, it doesn't matter what you're talking about, there will be people who agree with you, who oppose you, who love what you're about, and those who hate you with blood curdling passion. And because they're seeing things through their own lenses, how they feel about you has nothing to do with you. It's not me, it's you. And that's the real secret.

This is hard for most people to understand let alone believe. So let me give you a simple example:

If someone comes up to you and calls you a tree, you'd think, "You're stupid." Because it's simple to see that you're not a tree.

However, if someone accused you of being stupid, you might go to great lengths to prove that you're smart. The reason is because we take things such as attributes personal. Maybe at some level we're insecure about our IQ level, no matter the number of degrees we may have, so feel the need to argue for our intelligence. And let's say we were successful at convincing this person that we're smart. Does that mean we're smart? What I'm really asking is are you going to let someone else dictate how you feel?

We all do. We're human. I've become less reactive because I see the difference between my ego and me. And seeing that difference has allowed me to move on to things that matter like dick jokes. That doesn't mean my ego doesn't get in my way every now and then. It just happens less than it used to.

Now, I enjoy doling out lewd and crude and rude jokes. I also like to swear. Oh no. Call the popo! People who are prim and proper tend not to like me because I don't fit in their narrow world view. I like to have stupid fun. But the Prims have no perspective in that regard and judge me. They don't understand that there are real problems in this world that go far beyond some nuisance a writer (i.e. me) is dishing out. There are girls in Africa that risk rape trekking miles on end so they can finish their education.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Lucky for me there are people other than the Prims. They may or may not enjoy lewd and crude and rude humor, but they're open enough to enjoy it for that moment or roll their eyes. Mainly the latter, but whatever. Though, these people have quirks of their own, we somehow get along. There's very little judgment. We're there to share and indulge in each other's company. There aren't any grand expectations, so there's very little conflict. Their lenses aren't fogged up with narrow points of view. So they aren't offended by what is said.

So what do you do when people don't like you? Or get uninvited to a BBQ?

Nothing.

It's not worth having them as friends because they'll never be a real friend. Unless you want to whore yourself out and be fake, covering the real you with small talk. I for one hate doing that. I do that at work a lot, and I feel dirty afterwards. And not like raunchy sex dirty. That's the good kind of dirty. The bad dirty is the kind where the soul is slowly sucked away by millions of bloodsucking leaches. Which is why I don't display my life on Facebook. This isn't modesty. Why waste time trying shove events of my life onto a public forum for the world to see? What are people trying to front? But if there was some major event like a child being born, a marriage, a book being published, then that's worthy news.

Deciding what a real friend is up to you. For me it's tolerating each other for all the good and bad. It's kinda like marriage except no one gets half of anything if the friendship ends. One last thing, I ain't no saint. At times I'm an asshole. But when it comes to friends, I'm there for them. To have good friends, be one.

Love

I had written an article about know it alls. Now, since I'm the sole author on this website, I sound like a know it all. But if you've read those articles, I do point out mistakes that I've made and don't hide from them because I'm human, and humans make mistakes. Cuz we be humans.

In that post I had talked about reading my friend's book, her first. She had asked me to, and I asked her what kind of feedback she wanted. Honest feedback, she answered. And that was what I had given her, and I was very conscious of any judgements that had welled up. In those moments, I usually put her book away and turned my attention back to mine. When I critiqued her novel, I had focused on structure, major grammar faux pas, and story and character development. I did advise her to take any suggestions that I had made with massive grains of salt. Well, massive grains would really be chunks of salt. Whatever.

On Memorial Day, I had sent her an email to see how she was doing. Not necessarily wondering what she thought of my notes, but to see how life was going for her. She lives in a different state. We had been friends for a long time, around twenty years, I think. We had met at the martial arts school that I used to attend. And we've experience each other's ups and downs.

She has yet to return my email, and she's usually pretty quick with those.

As I've written in another article, sometimes chapters in our lives end with the writing off of certain friendships. And maybe for her, she has closed the book on ours, which saddens me.

However, if it was due to my feedback, then I completely understand. Essentially, I attacked her baby.

I've heard this said many times. Writing the book is the easy part. Getting it out into the world is the hardest. That doesn't make the author's work less important to that author. Despite the number of books being published per year, each one is precious. That also doesn't mean each one will see the light of the public, nor is the public's response any real measure of success. Though, it'd be nice!

Writing a book is a lot like love. Being in a relationship is risky business. We risk our hearts, our sanity, our very souls for love, not to mention time. But the risk is worth the reward. What we get back from another human being, that connection that we all seek is oh so amazing and beautiful.

So it is for authors. We risk our hearts, our sanity, our very souls, not to mention time, to put into words what life can portray in a single moment. But the risk is worth the reward. What we get back from the process, a better understanding of ourselves is oh so amazing and beautiful. For all us authors out there, let's put everything we have into our books because doing anything less would insult the love we have for our stories. 

Our Souls

I told a friend that it was good to see her. She totally agreed and said it was good for the soul. Several of us had gone out to dinner, and we reconnected and talked about life, how work sucks, and love. I love how I put 'work sucks' in between life and love. I'm always curious to know what people are attracted to, what will end relationships, and it's always interesting to hear your friends' perspectives. And how we all can get caught up in everything that seems important and forget to take care ourselves.

I think we don't take the time to reflect on our time here, and not think about our time here, both of which are important. What the hell do I mean by that?

I write a lot of posts about hanging out and meeting new people. I've formed what feels like lifelong friendships, though am not concerned whether they are lifelong. I've also met people that for some reason I don't connect to, even a nemesis here or two, but do put too much time into why I don't connect with them.

What's the plural of nemisis? Nemisi? Nemisises?

What I don't see is people with hobbies. Or passions, or anything that feeds their soul outside of friendships. And this is what I mean by reflecting on our time here. Art helps us do this. Whether it be abstract, writing, painting, film making, sculpting. All of it is an expression of our souls.

Famed photographer Rodney Lough Jr. has said, "Art is the language of the soul."

It's the reason why cave paintings have been a part of our early history. We can tell by those paintings what was important to them. We can tell what occupied their minds, what drove them.

I'm sitting here outside on a sunny day, enjoying a cup of mass-produced coffee, writing this post, working on my story, and feeling content. And it's unfortunate for me, but feeling content has been a rare occurrence. It's only when I write or spend time with close friends do I feel fulfilled. So it sucks that from time to time I have to cut friends out.

I mean, I have nice things, I have a place to live in, I have a day job, but none of those things feed my soul. Except my midlife crisis caR. Joking. Those things may facilitate it, like my job helps pay for this mass-produced coffee, but it doesn't directly feed my soul. I think the problem for me lies in over thinking things.

Our minds have evolved to process complex information, and part of that skill is analyzing what has happened to either learn from our mistakes or to try and solve a problem. Sometimes our minds will dive into an endless loop of analysis and never get out. And this is what I mean by not thinking. There are so many voices in our heads, or maybe just mine, that we need to sit still, or take a walk, and let those voices go. You can't force them out, they'll just multiply like rabbits or get louder like my mother. Usually a mindless activity will help quiet those voices. It's probably why I take long walks. Or write.

But I yearn for peace. For connection. For happiness. And don't we all?

Friends

Wealth - an abundance of possession or money. So often we aspire to have wealth, to be rich, so we don’t have to work anymore. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But rarely do we associate wealth with having an abundance of friends, and despite being in the age of social media, having an abundance of friends means having a massive list of people on your friends’ list. I don’t know how many Facebook friends I have. My accumulation of them has become meaningless, except for the fact that I’m building a list of people that I can say, “Here’s my book. Get it. Now!”

But I think I talk to less than 10% of those people, and I hang out with less than that! Oprah has been known to say that she trusts five people. And I can see why. People want to know her because they’re hoping to get something from her other than friendship.

For me, I’ve been pruning my list of friends for many years, or at least the friends that I’m willing to hang out with. A part of me is a little sad. Another part knows that it’s necessary.

A friend of mine only contacted me if he needed anything. For example, if I was going to a party and he wasn’t invited, he’d ask me to bring him as a guest. He’d asked me to use my account to get Comic Con tickets because the more accounts you have the more chances you get. The last straw came when he asked for my Apple ID to buy Watches so he can scalp them.

Sometimes it’s obvious when to cut people out. But what are the criteria or is the area gray?

I told a another friend that I was moving to Hawaii. He asked me which island. Oahu, I answered. “I’ve been there. That’s the worst island,” he proclaimed. He didn’t offer any reasons why. He didn’t state which one he liked. Of the four months that I’ve known him, he had been comparing himself to me a lot, putting me down every chance he gets. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s his way of showing dominance in front of the girl that he likes, which we both know. Should I give him more time before cutting him out since we’ve only known each other for a short time?

My closest friend and I had come from the same martial arts school. Our friendship was forged during our long stint teaching and our bond extended beyond that school as we explored the arts, trying to find our life’s work. Our friendship stretched over two decades, filled with ups and downs, conversations about what was important in life: love, marriage, children, passion, cheddah. After we both left the school, he had trekked across the globe in search of his life’s work, while I remained home in search of mine.

He eventually married and had children, but disagreed with my bachelor life, dating with no real goal of settling down. He chastised me about it, but I wasn’t in the place to settle down because I had been fighting myself on whether to move to Hawaii or not.

Two years had snuck by without a word from him, so I decided to look him up. I had found him on a messaging app called Whatsapp, he doesn’t have a Facebook account, and we chatted for a day or so. I said we should talk over the phone because there was too much to catch up on a chatting app. He agreed but I never heard from him. Our paths have split greatly. Shit. Our lives barely resemble those of our younger selves, but at least for me, I’m still pursuing my artistic dream of being a writer. That’s not to say that his pursuit having ended is bad or good. His focus has shifted. But does that mean our friendship must end, even though our lives have little in common?

As I’ve written before, chapters open and close in our lives, and with it new friendships begin, old friendships are written off. All I can hope for is to continue building my wealth with friendships, to delve into conversation other than with my characters in my book, which are really voices in my head, and color my day with people that have a joy for life.

 

No He Didn't

Help

Help

The task of a novelist is to create a page turner. Whether the writing is good or bad, if people buy it and can't put it down, then that writer did her job. Simple. There are many strategies to accomplish this such as cliffhangers. George R.R. Martin does this with the ending of every Game of Thrones fantasy. I first noticed it when I read Dan Brown's The Davinci Code where he had made great use of short chapters that ended with cliffhangers.

What brought this to mind was my life. Our lives has chapters that begin and end. And depending on our growth, or decline, the length of our chapters can vary. Some subplots like passions seem to continue as we open new chapters. New characters like friends can begin, or old friends are written off as their use fades from subsequent pages.

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We see this often with friends from high school. I personally don't keep in contact with any high school buddies, even though it seemed our bond during that time could never be broken. It's sad, but it reflects how much people change. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Sorry. Couldn't help myself.

An old friend of mine invited me to a picnic yesterday, so I decided to carpool. Keepin' da Earf green, yo. It was a sunny day, blue sky surrounded the green grass, the smell of the BBQ stirred our hunger, and everyone was steeped in conversation. I made my rounds, reconnected with acquaintances, conversed with new people, and played a little volleyball. Literally. The volleyball was tiny, half the official size.

I had a dinner to get to that evening and told my friend that I needed to leave. I told him he could stay because I found him a ride back, but he gave me that look, one that I'd seen many times: by his standards, the driver, a woman, was unattractive. I wasn't asking him to date her, nevertheless, he gave me that look again.

As we were driving back, we broke into a heated debate about an email I had responded from a woman I was interested in. I had razzed her about an emoticon she used, and she went off on me. My friend said that I was in the wrong. I'd agree with him if she had just met me. Except she and I have been to two dinners, and she knows that I joke around a lot. When we talked on the phone, I had joked around a lot. I joke around a lot when I write articles for this site. Basically, I joke around a lot.

I'm not sure I've told you, but I joke around a lot. I don't take myself seriously. Seriously? Seriously.

My friend tried his damnedest to convince me to apologize to her. But from my point of view, I couldn't. Maybe my ego stepped in my way, but I didn't think I had done anything wrong.

So why don't I just say sorry? Gawd! What's wrong with me?

This was what I told my friend: there are plenty of women in the world, and if she can't read me, see that I joke around a lot, then we already have a communication problem.

Now, if I had made fun of her looks, been overtly sexual, or called her a bitch, then, yeah, I would be in the wrong. I'm aware enough to know if I've overstepped my boundaries. I'm also aware enough not to be desperate and save something not worth saving. 

Unfortunately, this applies to my friend too. Because once I had told him the above, he went off and told me that he gets more contact info from women than I do. He actually used the term "contact info" because he either gets them to friend him on Facebook or gets their emails. I find no value in that unless it leads to a date, but to each their own.

All I had done was defend my stance. Why he compared himself to me escapes me. I don't know how many women he's dated, so I don't know if he's dated more women than I. Nor do I care, so I didn't refute him. I mean, what do I say to that? Nah-uh!

What I read was real anger in his words, in his body language. And I'm not sure why. He had done this in the past where he gets upset, compares himself to me, and calls my ex-girlfriends low-hanging fruit.

No he didn't! He called them that because he thought I was either lucky to have women in my life or that they were in some way below me, easy to reach. Anyone who says that is not a friend. So maybe I'm not that aware, since we hung out yesterday. 

Then why are we friends?

When I went to Hawaii this past February for three months, I had no support group. I don't have family there and no friends except for those made through meetup.com. And I realized something. I've kept him as a friend like a tight rope walker has a net. And as a friend, I've forgiven him for some of the shit he'd said, but it's time to end our chapter.

Like many romances, or in this case, bromance, people walk different paths, and sometimes those paths never circle back.