Some thoughts on depression

Can we talk about depression for a bit here?

I’ve been seeing a lot of friends make quick posts about it, and today I’ve been feeling the nudge to say a thing or two.

Many of you have been witnesses to the life transformation that’s happened for me over the past two years. Early next month marks the two year anniversary of the first time I stepped into a gym and started turning my life around. 80 pounds later, life changed blah blah, you’ve likely heard the story.

But really, I’d like to talk about the person that I was before two years ago. This is a story I’ve been reluctant to really share in public, but I’m feeling lead to speak up today.

I was depressed.

I didn’t need a doctor to tell me that, and frankly, at the time I couldn’t afford a doctor to tell me that. I found complete escape in playing video games, and even though I could tell that something was wrong, help seemed unreachable.

I was unhealthy: physically, mentally, and certainly spiritually. For a while, the thought of God didn’t make any sense in me. How could there be someone above it all that knew my name, cared about my lunch preferences or actually has a plan for my life. I sat in worship just longing to feel ANYTHING while singing, but I just couldn’t connect. God was gone.

I loved my friends but on their first sign of being concerned with my health or well being, they were met with extreme cynicism and sometimes anger. I knew that I wasn’t “in shape” and you didn’t have to tell me about it.

I never had thoughts of suicide, but I probably wasn’t far from them. I’ve always been a futuristic minded person- ask anyone who’s talked StrengthsFinder with me, but at the time I couldn’t see myself living to 30. … Or if I’d even want to. (30 is October for me… YIKES!)

I should have gone for help, but I was stubborn. Really, I still am stubborn in just about everything, but that’s a double edged sword.

My wake up call came from a dream one October morning where I had drifted back asleep after my brother had tried to wake me up to go on a walk with his new puppy. I had partied all weekend for my birthday and needed some sleep, so stubborn-Dan was going to get his sleep. I drifted into that dream world where you’re certainly dreaming, but at the same time completely knowledgeable that you’re dreaming.

I was at the bottom of a hole. But I was looking at myself at the bottom of a hole. Stuck. Trapped. Didn’t look all that strong. Frail Even. I had this feeling and realization that it was my decision right then and there on whether or not I was going to get out. … I woke up and went to find my brother!

That wasn’t the end of the depression, but a few months later a friend had finally got me signed up with a gym membership, and I fell in love with working out.

The rest was history, right?

I shared a brief story about depression in church last year, I had a friend who had suffered from mental illness during much of his life pull me aside and say “Ok, so you pulled yourself out from the Bootstraps, but next time you might not be so lucky, call me if you’re ever feeling down like that again”

He’s right.

I’m not completely in the clear, I still have bad days, I still have days where I’m unsure of priorities, or I bounce mindlessly from one task to another, just working for work’s sake. The difference is that now I recognize it for what it is, and I force myself to lace up my shoes and get to the gym for my “treatment”

I find that when I go through periods of hectic deadlines one of the first things to get sacrificed is my time in the gym, or my diet. At least I know now and can reorient when the time is right.

January is a hard month for many of us — Suicide is most prevalent during this month. Google is telling me that the 3rd Monday of the January is the most depressing day of the year. If you are struggling, or are just feeing “off” don’t be afraid to speak up to somebody, any safe person will do. I’m available to listen but I’m not trained in any way.

I believe that we are here for a reason, that we’re all different for a reason, and that you’re uniquely GIFTED for a reason. Don’t tap out before it’s your time.

Trained help can be found here:
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Veterans Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255 press 1
Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

Fitness / Health Resources

2017 update: I’m moving this content from a page on the site to another blog post in a move towards simplicity of the website. 2015 was the year where I lost a big chunk of weight, and I believe this was initially written in the fall of that year.

RESOURCES. THE THINGS I REFERENCED AS I LOST 75 POUNDS IN 8 MONTHS.

It has been just about 250 days since I started my journey of personal improvement and weightless, and I feel like a different person.

Just over a month ago, a friend started asking me questions about how exactly I was going about my routine. After a several book length text messages, I realized that this information is probably best suited for an article here on dauntless. These are the resources I have been using for my results.

The 4 Hour Body.

This book has been pretty important to my life change, however the first time I skimmed thru it, I stopped after seeing it’s heavy emphasis on diet. I wasn’t ready to change the way I ate at the time. I put it on the shelf.

After starting the gym routine in February, I found myself really taking a liking to all things health and fitness. Any promises of more results in less time were attractive. This time I was ready to listen to advice about diet. And this book’s diet plan *The Slow Carb Diet* seemed to make sense to me, so I figured I would give it a try.

Though I haven’t religiously followed any specific fitness/diet scheme, my plan most closely follows Tim’s advice in this book. I highly recommend anyone check out this book. You can purchase the book on Amazon here.

The Slow Carb Diet

Following a diet plan causes a lot of questions. This blog post laid out the rules in a way that was easy for me to reference, as well as showed a couple of case studies from people who achieved pretty big success using the diet.

Nerd Fitness

This is one of my favorite websites because Steve does a fantastic job writing about health and fitness from a very un-intimidating perspective.

I have followed his site for years, the idea of taking comic books and video games and making those the foundation for workouts and fitness resources was something that I really resonated with. Unfortunately it took a couple before I was ready to really take any action from it!

These posts are ones that I have referred back to and sent to friends multiple times.

Everything you need to know about sugar 

Easy Paleo meals (my eventual eating pattern is somewhere awkwardly between Tim Ferriss’ slow carb and the traditional paleo plan)

The beginners guide to intermittent fasting (this has been VERY interesting to me lately — get results just by skipping breakfast? tell me more)

Beginner Body Weight Circuit (because you can totally do a workout without a gym, right? )

Dumbell exercises

A couple of months in, I realized that I needed to be doing more with free weights. Machines do a great job safely getting your muscles working, but they are designed to isolate specific muscles, where if you’re doing a basic lift using a free weight, there are many muscles at work during each rep. Getting into free weight exercises insures that you’re working on the auxiliary muscles that are working throughout the motions.

I started noticing that one of my arms was slightly stronger than the other, by moving to dumbbell exercises for a majority of my upper body workouts has allowed me to workout arms individually and attempt to balance my strength.

This is the website I used to quickly look up what workouts would work for different muscle groups. I didn’t take great notes in high school, so I definitely needed this!

Podcasts

I listen to podcasts during my commute. My current line up is roughly half business podcasts and half health podcasts. These are a few of the ones I’ve found pretty helpful.

The Model Health Show.  This show focuses a lot about natural nutrition and fitness. I love Shawn’s humility and grace as he hosts this show. He has a history of reversing chronic conditions using real foods and nutrition as the cures. … I’m listening.

Fat Burning Man. My primary goal since starting my health journey has been fat loss, so this seems to fit! This show talks quite a bit about the paleo lifestyle.

Tim Ferriss Podcast. As if I haven’t outed myself as enough of a Tim Ferriss fanboy, but this podcast is probably my favorite of the handful I listen to each week. He doesn’t just focus on health topics, but he’s more focused on dissecting human excellence. I love the variety of guests he’s had, and his ability to bounce between topics and still have everything make sense.

I’ll come back and edit this post as I go, as I figure there will be resources that come and go as I go through this journey.

What am I missing?

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners.

I love this quote by Ira Glass:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap.
For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

adventure ,connection, and a picture of the good life.

Black Rocks on Presque Isle

This weekend, I was able to escape up to the Upper Peninsula with my cousin Matt to visit another cousin who lives in Escanaba. It was exactly what I needed.

Adventure,

Connection

and a reminder that life has so much to offer.

Lately I’ve been feeling the strain of the responsibilities that I’ve taken on, and parts of this trip allowed me to put things in a new perspective. That life can be taken a little slower, that there’s no shortage of people in this world, and that will always be another nook of this state, country and worl to explore.

But the trip almost didn’t happen. Our grandmother passed away last week, and we all wondered whether taking more time off work would be the best decision. Well- it was the best decision.

Marquette Ore Dock
via flickr User ThiloG

We spent saturday on a day trip through Marquette, where we explored a few breweries, schemed on how we could climb on the Ore Dock (see above) and discovered Michigan’s best kept secret: Presque Isle.

Presque Isle sits just outside Marquette, and one part of it’s coast is dominated by these huge black rocks (they look volcanic, but i’m not going to research it)

We took great joy in rediscovering scenes of boyhood and climbing all over the rocks.

At one point, Matt remarked that the whole experience made his heart feel full, and I completely agree. Actually, the whole weekend made me realize that, no matter what challenges I currently am working through, there’s so much good in this world.

Black Rocks on Presque Isle
Joe and Matt