Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Get in shape quickly, easily, and (almost) without sweating - and at low or no cost

Mens sana in corpore sano. First, allow me to clarify that I'm not trying to sell you anything, except maybe an idea - and that one I'll give you for free. It's nothing new, but it's possible that you just haven't thought of it before.

If you're reading this, you probably want to get in shape, which means that you haven't been working out much recently, right? I've been studying for years and I didn't take care of my physical condition during that time, until I graduated with my first M.A. At about that time I realized two things: I was in a really bad shape, and stress can (at least to some extent) be controlled by physical exercise. And stress is a bitch - I've been trying my best to avoid it ever since.

Anyway, I was spending most of my time at home, reading and sometimes writing. So I came up with a method of exercising that suited me very well: I could do it at home, without buying any new equipment, and I could do it with very little need to sweat. And it turned out to be a surprisingly powerful method!

The first thing to do is to think of a motivator. Anything that can drive you to do the exercise should work. Eventually this can be replaced by just the desire to follow the method, or it can be changed to something else. I chose to use alcohol as my motivator.

The idea is then to draw a table with columns for date, daily total, and between them columns for all the exercises you're going to be doing. They can include just the basic pushups and stomach crunches, but the more variety, the better. They should include walking, and carrying, because these you will probably do daily anyway.

For each exercise you figure out what amount of effort will reward one point, and then you'll just mark the points in the table as you get them done. For example, walking to work could be one point, carrying a bag of groceries another, and doing 25 pushups a third. Then you need to have a goal for the amount of daily exercise. It can take a while to find a suitable amount, but for me it eventually turned out to be 15 points. It doesn't matter that much, if some days you can't get all the points done, you don't have to start from scracth the next day. Instead, you continue from the previous day and try to get the average effort per day to the same level.

When you have attained your daily goal, you can use that to reward yourself with your chosen kind of reward - for me it was a dose of alcohol (a shot of whiskey or a bottle of beer). When you take your reward, just mark one of the daily totals as used.

It also helps to have a routine for doing the exercises. I used to do them every hour, on the hour, usually in sets of two exercises, such as stomach crunches followed by dumbell curls.

You probably noticed that I'm talking about my method in the past tense. That's not because I had stopped using it (completely), but because I recently bought a barbell (cf. the picture) and new dumbells, and I've been using the work out courses in the booklet that came with them. I still use my own method, but the now most of the exercises I do are in the weight lifting courses, and I don't mark them in their separate columns. Instead, I added a column for the courses and another for chores I have to do, which includes cleaning the appartment and washing dishes, as well as studying.

I am already in better shape than I've ever been, and although I now sweat when doing the work out with the weights, I didn't have to, when I was doing the old method. Having some basic equipment, such as dumbells and some kind of bar for chinups helps, but they aren't necessary for that method to get you in shape. Just remember to do different kinds of exercises, for the stomach and the back especially, if you're normally doing some kind of sitting work (as opposed to manual labour). But I have to say, the barbell is a very good tool for excerices, probably the best along with the chin up bar (the name of which I actually don't know).

I'd like to hear if this method actually helps you!

My motto

It is my duty to seek the truth and avoid falsehood as honestly as possible,
striving to promote fairness and justice in our world,
and to do good to the best of my abilities, or at least to do no evil.

These duties have I set for myself, for only thus do I justify my own existence
and make my life worth living.


Although it is my motto, I don't mind if others adopt it. IMHO, it might be a good idea for people to do so, or to devise their own, to help them steer their lives toward their own goals (which, hopefully, will not be totally selfish).


In Finnish:

Velvollisuuteni on tavoitella totuutta ja välttää epätotuutta mahdollisimman rehellisesti,
pyrkien reiluuden ja oikeudenmukaisuuden edistämiseen maailmassamme,
tehden hyvää kykyjeni mukaan tai ainakin ollen tekemättä pahaa.

Nämä velvollisuudet olen asettanut itselleni, sillä vain näin oikeutan olemassaoloni
ja teen elämästäni elämisen arvoisen.


Mottoni saa omaksua, jos ei keksi itselleen sopivampaa.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bilingual Introduction

I have for a long time thought about joining the masses of (more or less) intellectual exhibitionists on the web, who shamelesly parade their lives, thoughts and emotions in a public diary (as opposed to hiding and locking away their diaries, as people used to do). I'm not presumptuous enough to think that anyone besides myself will actually read what I post here, so I will use this blog as an opportunity perhaps to vent some steam and write less carefully than I might in a more traditional publication. I will doubtless offend many potential readers, but as the number of actual readers will probably remain low, I think that will be acceptable. In any case, I don't intend to provoke, offend, hurt, or cause anything negative to anyone who does not deserve it, so I can only hope that the readers will be wise enough to understand the purpose of this blog and so avoid such effects. I have a website for my more academic texts (among other things).

I'm a philosopher (a lover of wisdom, therefore a seeker of truth) and I hope much of the content of my blog will reflect this. I am a grad student working (very slowly) on my Ph.D. thesis, so I'm not a professional philosopher (yet).

I am also a student of history, working on my M.A. thesis. This will probably be reflected less by the content of my blog.

What I fear will take more space here, though, I fear will be my comments on boardgames and roleplaying games. These are my hobbies and they take much of my time and especially money, so I will probably often write about them here.

Other content will be whatever I happen to think of at a given time, and may vary considerably.

I will now mention that I am not a native English writer, because I hope to avoid accusations of slaughtering this fantastic language by doing so. :-)
I intend to write and publish these texts quickly (although infrequently and perhaps not very often), so this will likely excacerbate the flaws of my writing, as I may even forgo consulting a dictionary and therefore end up writing utter nonsense. But again, this blog is not intented as an academic podium, so it should matter very little.

One thing that I've been pondering lately, is whether to use English or my native Finnish in this blog. I will most likely end up using both (and who knows, perhaps even some other languages if I feel like it), but probably reserve Finnish posts only for subject matter that I assume will be of interest mostly or only for the Finnish readers out there.

And now a few words in my "mother tongue":

Jos ymmärsit tätä edeltävän tekstin, älä turhaan jatka lukemista. Toistan vain muutaman pääkohdan.

Olen tamperelainen filosofian (FM+ eli teen väitöskirjaa) ja historian (FM- eli teen gradua) opiskelija. Blogini tarkoitus on toimia vain julkisena päiväkirjana, johon kirjoitan milloin mitäkin. Tarkoitukseni ei ole provosoida, loukata, tai tehdä mitään pahaa sitä ansaitsemattomille. Aion kirjoittaa melkein mitä vain sylki suuhun tuo - tai siis tässä tapauksessa kai näppäimistölle? - joten voin vain toivoa, että lukijani, jos sellaisia on, ymmärtävät kirjoitukseni terapeuttisen tarkoituksen, eivätkä turhaan vedä hernettä nenäänsä.

Aihepiirini tulevat olevaan lähinnä filosofian ja harrastamieni lautapelien ja roolipelien suunnalla. Näiden lisäksi siis kuitenkin mitä tahansa mitä jostain syystä haluan sanoa, tulee olemaan täällä luettavana. Asiallisempia tai akateemisempia tekstejäni niistä kiinnostuneet voivat etsiä kotisivultani.

Kirjoituskieleni tullee olemaan lähinnä englanti laajemman potentiaalisen kiinnostuksen omaavissa aiheissa, mutta ainoastaan suomalaisia kiinnostavista asioista kirjoittanen suomeksi. Muitakin kieliä saatan mielijohteesta satunnaisesti käyttää, tehden varmasti siten kuvaannollista väkivaltaa kyseisille kielille.