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?

30 Days of Ketosis

Me and Jayda

Over the past year, I’ve written about successes i’ve had in my health. I am 80-85 pounds down from my original weight of 375 back in February of 2015, however that has fluctuated around that range for the last few months. There have been a couple reasons for that.

  1. I have remained low carb during my work day, but dinners/evenings have seen a lot more cheats. I think a cheat day works, but you need to keep it at a day.
  2.  My fitness routine has become less routine. Now that I’ve been training for the 25k race in may, I haven’t been hitting the gym immediately after work 3-4 times a weeks like I had been. I think the routine I had in place had a profound impact on the diet success of 2015 for me.
  3.  Personal discipline. I haven’t been going to bed on time, waking up on time, working out on time, it’s been a struggle.

So I’m going to spend April in a strict Ketogenic/low carb diet.

So what does that mean?

It means that I’m going to follow a ketogenic meal plan for 30 days, and hopefully get my health progress back on track.

Why does this matter? >>>>>*disclaimer* i’m not a doctor. <<<<< there.

Sugars from carbohydrates are stored as energy in your muscles. So when your body looks to access its energy, the first place it looks is the energy that’s stored in your muscles as Glycogen. If you avoid the intake of carbohydrates, your body will be forced to look elsewhere for it’s energy.

One of those places is the fat in your body- which is what we’re looking for. Right? Right?

Another place is your actual muscle tissue, but based on the things i’ve researched, if you are eating enough protein, your body should be using the fats as energy.

So for the next 30 days, i’m going to avoid sugars to try to sustain a body state known as Ketosis— when your body is adapted to burning fat for fuel.

There will be challenges.

I like beer — and aside from the occasional trip to the local brewery, my brothers and I are known to brew tasty beers. We are scheduled to make some in the next couple weeks; it will be a challenge to avoid during these times.

Eating out.

It can be hard to know what is put in sauces at restaurants, as well as sometimes the choices that will work for me in the next month might be the least appetizing thing on the menu.

Traveling.

I am set to have nearly a week off in the middle of the month, during that time, I’ll be up north for a men’s retreat. I remember last year struggling with being low carb while my friends were eating all sorts of goodies that were prepared for us, I’m going to have to come prepared with my own things to eat as a backup if i can’t get my fill with things that aren’t compliant.

Crazy Predictions.

My running pace increases.

Once my body is fully fat adapted and i’m not torturing it with constant fluxes from sugar energy to fat stores, I think I’ll be able to run faster, longer. This is a good thing because my long runs are now over 10 miles long.

I feel better.

My energy levels should stay high all day, and I’ll be looking to reincorporate strength training into my schedule 1-2 times a week so that I’m maintaining a healthy muscle mass as well as doing something I love.

I hit the centennial mark.

The big one.

275 would mean i’ve lost 100 pounds, and I think I can hit the mark with a month of solid discipline.

I’m not asking you to join me in a month of ketosis, but I would love it if you stay in touch with me throughout the month to see how i’m doing, I intend to keep this site updated with a few updates as the month goes on.

 

Basketball and Reclaiming your Old Glory

On thursday night, my plans evaporated and I was left with an open night.

I had no plans to work on client work, I had nothing immediate that I needed to attend to. It’s an odd feeling for me.

One of my friends had been telling me about a pick up basketball games that he attends with a group of guys every thursday night. I hadn’t been able to make it up up until this point, and I realized this might be my chance.

I played a lot of basketball up through middle school. It was one of the main things I did at recess through elementary, and I conquered the tryouts in middle school to make the roster. I doubt we won a game that year, but I was on the team!

I probaby hadn’t tried to shoot a basket in a year.

I know I hadn’t tried to play in at least 3.

I also hadn’t subjected my surgically repaired ACL to anything as high-impact as basketball since the surgery 7 years ago.

I was nervous about it. I am competitive, I would want to win. I am a perfectionist, and I knew that I would want to perform as well as I used to.

The more I thought about how much I didn’t want to be the worst person in this pickup game, the more I realized it was time to put my knee to the test.

So I played.

And I was bad.

And I definitely airballed my first attempt at a three-pointer.

And it took me a while to adjust to the fast pace of a game where a ball can fly at your face in a moment’s notice.

By the end of the night, I was exhausted. My lungs were telling me that they hadn’t been exerted like this in ages. But I was able to contribute to the team, though by no means was I a star.

It felt so good to be back at it. To be running up the court. To make plays happen. To see the ball settle through the hoop.

After we finished, I removed my knee brace and discovered that I had abused the joint more than I had realized. I wasn’t sore yet, but I could tell that the next day was a struggle.

It was.

I limped through my day Friday. My knee had swollen up and limited my mobility. I had to skip my training workout. I begged my Physical Therapist sister-in law to do an “emergency” check up, and was given some exercises to rebuild strength around my knee. It was a tough day, but ultimately I knew that I would be back to normal very soon.

The next day the swelling had dissapated and I made the decision to run the training run that was assigned to me.

5 miles. The furthest I’ve ever run in my life. I’m on my way towards running 15.5 (God willing)

My limp still has hung around a little today, though I’m not worried about it.

I can be a basketball player again.

I can run the full River Bank Run in a couple months.

I can be an overcompetitive person in a position to lose pickup games and be ok with it, because I know it’s just one training session on the way back to the excellence I expect from myself.