Lubricating the brain: Nootropics, pt 1

Sometimes you just need an extra “kick” to get things moving. Here are my results with various “nootropics” or cognitive enhancers.

Caffeine

I didn’t try coffee until I was 22 and didn’t drink it regularly until a year ago.

At the time I was having problems with a recurring, rather annoying spasm in my right eye-lid and nose. I had read that low doses of caffeine was could treat this and began to use it.

I’m not 100% sure if it did the job, but the other effects I read about during research intrigued me. In particular among them were caffeine’s ability to help the body recover post-workout when taken with carbs/protein, its anti-aging effects, and finally, as a jump-starter.

I’ve since experimented with coffee naps and caffeine-aided workouts, among other things.

My experience: 

Caffeine kicks in within 3-5 minutes of my first sips of coffee, usually signaled by a rather intense wave of what I can best describe as ‘positivity’ flooding over me.

I had caffeine’s effects explained to me as ‘taking the breaks off’ one’s brain, where now dopamine and glutamite run free. Which in a way makes sense, given that my energy levels don’t change during caffeine consumption.

I think its important to note that I definitely don’t achieve or do more when ingesting caffeine; rather, my thoughts seem more focused and optimistic, leading me to believe that progress is occurring, despite normally not acting on said thoughts. I still have much more success brainstorming and writing when ingesting alcohol than caffeine.

Lion’s Mane (+ caffeine & chaga)

A favorite of Buddhist Monks, this mental-growth promoting “bearded mushroom” has experienced a huge surge in popularity recently thanks in part to Tim Ferriss and his glowing praise of affiliate Four Sigmatic’s mushroom coffee, which according to Ferriss, “…lit [him] up like a Christmas tree.” Continue reading

30 days of Pull-Ups, part 2

I decided to give the pull-up challenge another try.

The goal this time: 100 pull-ups (or chin-ups) a day for 30 days. I started April 6th. As of today I’m at 1700 pull-ups for the month, which comes out to just under 80 a day. But I’ve taken quite a few off days, so factoring that in I’ve averaged more around 150 a day for the month.

I was so fatigued after my first big day (150 pull-ups) that I had to take 4 days off after. But just like my month of burpees, after that initial first shock my body has fallen in the routine pretty quickly and it hasn’t been too rough on me since.

I try to do sets of 10 with minimal rest for the first 50 or 100 each day. Then I’ll add in more rest or halve the set, depending on how I feel. In 10 days I’ll test out and see if I can get my original goal, which was 40 strict consecutive pull-ups.

Here’s a set of 50 from my last session in which I managed to knock out 275, my high so far.

Riveting stuff, I know!

 

In which I Attempt to Buy a Car From a Scammer

Last month I decided to start looking for a new car.

My then-current car, a beat-up ’96 Sunfire nicknamed “The Blue Crush” by one of our friends (but not because of summer vibes, rather, it owed its name to the badly patched body damage along the passenger side) was having transmission issues. About 60% of the time it needed to be started from 3rd gear, and this proved problematic and at times terrifying when in traffic or going up hilly Colorado back-roads with lifted trucks glued to my tail. It was time for an upgrade to something with 4-wheel drive and good clearance that could handle the cratered Colorado Springs city streets.

Buying a car is a usually a simple-enough process: Check out Craiglist and Ebay, send some messages, see the car in person, test drive, and after haggling a bit, purchase the car. Continue reading

30 days of juggling, part 2

Day 15 is as far as we’ll make it on this one.

I started to have some trouble with my left shoulder after day 3 of pull-ups. A slight ache underneath my clavicle become a worrisome twinge after finishing, among all the things it could have been, a juggling session. I continued to juggle for a few more sessions before shelving both that and the pull-ups indefinitely.

Despite the short time frame (15 days, 9 sessions) I was able to make a tremendous amount of progress in my juggling.

Each day I would visit Library of Juggling, a neat juggling website with gif illustrations with moves. I started with the easiest-rated moves and moved up one at a time.

By the end I had learned 17 new moves and was able to juggle with an ease and speed that, when reviewed on tape, was a night and day difference from day-1.

I’ve been experimenting with various nootropics for another article, so I double-dipped and used a chaga and lion’s mane coffee in conjunction with the cross-brain movement of juggling.  Whether it was placebo or not, during the 15 days I felt absolutely on fire in terms of thought process and awareness, or very alert and “in the moment” if you will.

It’s a fascinating feeling when you can actually feel your brain making new connections. Anyway, here we are.

The results:

This experiment, despite its short life, was a success.

Next up: 30 days of core +

 

30 Days of: Juggling and Pull-ups

Our immaculate, perfectly-lit basement gym plays host to this week’s challenges.
The first video was filmed with the Hero4 Session, the second with the 5se.

 

Max Pullups: 30

The goal here was to follow Guinness World Record attempt rules and go until failure or 60 seconds, whichever came first. The final pull-up took me over the minute mark so I didn’t count it.  Granted, the atrocious form would have kept it from counting on its own…

30 sessions from now we’ll test again. Ideally I would hit 40 or more with perfect form at that point.

Any strength tips for improving pull-ups? Let me know!

30 days of Burpees

Pertinent background info

Not too long ago I came across an article entitled something along the lines of “Top 10 Worst Fitness Exercises”. Burpees were at the top of the list. The article’s author referred to the move as “ineffective” and even “masochistic”. I let Google auto-fill a search for me and the results spoke likewise.

screenshot-2016-12-31-at-3-29-22-pm

I don’t know about the “masochistic” labeling of the burpee. There is absolutely a difference between masochism and stoicism. In the mind of the do-er, at least. More on that later…

But there is some truth to these health concerns. Burpees, like any other repetition-based exercise, can cause problems over time, especially with beginners. To avoid problems I planned on not locking out at any portion of the movement, and keeping my weight square over my shoulders and away from my knees and ankles during the kick-back portion of the move.

That and a proper warm-up should in theory keep the do-er healthy while attempting them. Joe De Sena, the god-father of the burpee, practices as much, and from what I’ve seen also lays on his belly at the bottom of the movement. He once did 4,000 burpees continuously, so if the movement works for him physically, well, you and I should be okay in moderation.

Continue reading

30 Days of Videogames

I’m still a week out from finishing my first challenges of the year, so in the meantime I thought I’d give you a glimpse at some of the tasks I took on last year. I recorded each of them throughout, but for various reasons (very un-scientific and crap writing being two of them) didn’t publish them. The following is the first of them.


I grew up in a conservative household. How conservative, you ask?  In our living room, where most families had couches and various love-seats for sitting and watching TV, we had a CHURCH PEW. A wooden, straight-backed, mahogany-lined church pew with room for at most 2, maybe 2.5 people at a time.

Needless to say, my brother and I were a few years late to the video-game train.

Continue reading

History Channel’s ‘The Selection: Special Operations Experiment’

I’ve been trying to embrace a new thought process over the past year, one focused on challenging myself in new ways in hopes of fostering growth. Comfort, for me at least, is the antithesis of positive change; therefore I’ve been trying to simulate the lack of it as much as possible.

So when I was given the opportunity to fly out to LA and participate in a new show for the History Channel, I jumped at the chance.  Continue reading