Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Reflecting on Five Years

I'm coming up on five years being a moderator for r/Fitness and I've been thinking about it. These are some of the thoughts.

Now that I'm thinking about it, it's a little weird to think that something that's been part of my life for that long came out of having a job that didn't give me enough work and left me with nothing better to do than tell several hundred people a day to read the Wiki. That's why I was invited to do it. Nothing more than that I spent about 9 hours a day for a month copying and pasting a link to the FAQ because my manager, while being a pretty good engineer, was absolutely terrible at being a manager and had no idea how to balance my team's workload. Everybody either had way too much work or nowhere near enough.

Almost of the other mods from that time have moved on. Svunt, phrakture, Mogwoggle all stepped down. MetaBoob is still with us but only pokes a head in occasionally, I assume for the same reason as the others - life is more important and Reddit is tiring. It's mostly just me and eric_twinge from that era, which seems like forever ago. I think we're both tired, too, but we're also really stubborn.

ZBGBs and I have talked a few times about life being more important, and I think about that sometimes. Not sometimes, all the time. I question if the time I put into Fittit is "worth it" at least once a week. The answer is usually "yes". Sometimes "meh". I think it will only become "No" if I start giving away time with my family to Fittit. So far that hasn't happened and I intend to keep it that way. But if the day ever comes where I find myself choosing Reddit over my family, that's the day I'm gone until I fix my broken priorities.

I'm a software engineer. I've spent the last several years doing everything I possibly can think of to reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to keep Fittit tidy. I've built and rebuilt so many moderation tools in that time that I can barely keep track of them all sometimes. When I first came on board as a mod, I was so green to everything that I was going into my comment history to copy/paste removal comments into threads when I shut them down, until somebody told me about a moderator browser extension. There was a joke at the very first job I ever had, before I was a real programmer and was still dabbling - "Give <Spengler> a task you don't like. He'll hate it so much he'll write a program to do it better." And I'm gonna toot my own horn here - What I built for r/Fitness blows that extension out of the water. It is better in nearly every possible way for most of what we do. All of that is to say - I value what I'm doing on Fittit enough that I'm using the skills that feed my family to make it effortless so I can keep doing it for free.

Moderating, yes, is a thing I do entirely for free! It's weird to me that so many people don't seem to know it, but I don't work for Reddit. I'm just a volunteer, wading through a lake of human feces trying to find the gold nuggets for other people to use in my spare time. This is a good thing. If I worked for Reddit, I'd have to answer to Reddit, and let me be clear - fuck Reddit. Reddit doesn't care about anything that I care about. I don't want to answer to people to whom I am disposable.

On occasion, people question what I do care about. Clearly, the only reason I would be a Reddit mod for this long is because I'm a fat small dicked ugly incel virgin roid raging meathead idiot loserchad with no sense of humor living in my mom's basement who doesn't lift and the only way I can feel powerful enough in my otherwise worthless, lonely, miserable, sexless life is to click a button that prevents a large group of dummies from seeing lazy questions asked by a smaller group of dummies and preventing completely disposable accounts from being able to make comments on a small corner of a small website on the internet. Right? No other possible reason. It's because I'm sad and pathetic.

Describing the first fitness forum (if you can even call it that) I ever participated in is very easy - poop emojis. Because it was /fit/ on 4chan. That was a huge influence on what I do (or try to do) with Fittit. Because it's a shithole, and only garbagepersons hang out there. Maybe it's better now. I haven't been back. But I doubt it. The reason for this, I've decided through many years of consideration, is that it's a place where nobody cares about anything because they think irreverence is power and there is nobody telling the children to stop shitting under the dining table they have to eat off of. Everything that made /fit/ a burning trash heap when I was there stemmed from those two problems - Shitgolems are everywhere, and the adults are on vacation.  So one of my guiding lights for all of the last five years has been that r/Fitness should never become /fit/. Because you can't get good fitness advice from a place where you could get blasted in the face by dicks and asses, or stupid photoshopped frogchild memes, at any moment, and you definitely can't get it from a place where so few people who know what the fuck they're talking about congregate that one person can tell another, " SS is a great routine, ignore the champion powerlifting coach who told you it sounded dumb and gave you a program he used successfully" without being shouted down. That's a real thing that I watched happen.

Since starting as a mod, I've taken a lot of shots in the dark - shotgun blasts with a wide spray hoping to hit a target I wasn't even sure was there. It was when I was introduced to the concept of Help Vampires that I started to get a more clear direction to move in. I realized that one of most core sources of my experience on /fit/ was that nobody knowledgeable wanted to be there, surrounded mostly by idiots playing advice telephone that they had to fight with every time they tried to share actually good information, surrounded by the same 15-30 questions, nobody ever telling these people to fuck off. So I told them to fuck off.

Rule #0 was ultimately my idea. If your question can be answered by the FAQ, by searching past threads, or just by using Google - fuck your question and fuck you. Try harder. Almost half of all threads that we remove are removed because they are directly answered by one of those three things. Imagine having to try searching for a dozen different variations of what you're looking for across a dozen different search engines and sometimes still not finding what you need - because that's the internet I used as a teenager. Today you can pop over to Google, type the dumbest version of your question imaginable, and Google knows what you want - and people still want other human beings to tell them shit like "What exercises hit the biceps" and "What foods are high in protein".

Ultimately these questions are terrible, lazy, and rude. At some point somebody said "Sometimes people get tired of being used as a service", and nobody has ever said it better than that. People want to treat Fittit as a service, and to the extent that I can, I show them the door, because I believe with the highest level of conviction that if we didn't, Fittit would be a worse place in aggregate. Some individuals get mad and don't get what they want. Fuck 'em. I know that statistically, only 9% of people who have a thread removed contact us about it - only 9,100 people in the last two years. Fittit sees an average of 150k unique visitors a day and 2.5m per month. So it is with no hesitation that I say that these people being mad does not matter to me, because it cannot be allowed to matter.

Luckily, we have a small but high quality group of regular posters giving out good advice to hundreds of questions a day. Every single one of those people have said that they would have jumped ship a long time ago if we weren't as hard as we are on low effort questions. And that group has been growing over time for the same reason. These are the people whose opinions about how the community is run that I care about. I've learned to be judicious in whose feedback I listen to.

Even though I dismiss it now, in my first year or so, I used to take complaints a lot more seriously, until I started to notice a pattern - Nobody, zero people ever, has ever cared about integrity in moderation until something they didn't like happened. No matter how lofty someone talks about professionalism or consistency or transparency, they don't give a fuck about any of those things, they're just assbothered that their Cocoa Puffs were taken away. Nobody who goes to another sub and complains about being banned tells the truth. Nobody who complains about the content focus (looking at you, perennial "fittit should be called liftit" bitchers) contributes any content themselves. It's all personal for everybody who complains and no one is looking at larger pictures or long term goals in the way we are. Nobody cares about cleaning up, cultivating, growing a community as a resource. They just want their own personal needs served.

Besides it being personal, the reason I listen to the core group of regular, helpful people and not every Tom, Dick, and Harry is because of what I know about how people use and participate in r/Fitness. It's a drive-by forum. People dump a question, get an answer, and then leave. They aren't interested in being part of a community - they just want information or social connection. 79.5% of people only make a single post and 53.4% of people only make a single comment. Ever. 31.8% of people never even comment on their own post. We see more traffic in January because of the New Year's Resolutioner cycle than any other month of the year. All these things together paint a picture.

And more than anything, what those people want is to get bigger and stronger. This is something we've all always had a gut feeling about from observation, but the launch of the external Wiki proves it beyond any shadow of a doubt. Nothing - nothing - gets more traffic than the Strength and Muscle Building Routines page. By miles. It makes up 25% of all traffic to the Wiki - the next closest is 6%. So yeah, maybe it should be called r/lifting. Or maybe people who wanna talk about other stuff should talk about that stuff on Fittit instead of the smaller, more niche subs if they don't like it. I'd prefer they just shut up instead of being harpies about it every couple of months, expecting the moderators to do something about hundreds of thousands of skinny dudes wanting nothing more than to get jacked.

Now, I want to be really clear here - Despite some dickery, some rudeness, some hard lines drawn in the sand, everything that we (and I especially) do with Fittit is because we genuinely, seriously, want to help people have access to good quality information that can help them achieve their fitness goals. The Wiki is something I have put more effort into than anything else in the entirety of the time I've been a moderator. I've rewritten it in whole and in part more times than I can count. I have a giant backlog of bookmarks of posts, articles, blogs - you name it - from smarter, stronger, more experienced people than I will ever be that I'm constantly looking to use to update what we're telling people. I want the Wiki to be huge, and I want it to be counted among the best fitness resources on the internet.

Not because I want to make money from it, or be a famous fitness dude, or anything like that. Because I remember what it's like to be tired of being a skinny teenager and not knowing what to do. In my day there was no such thing as Reddit, and I had to rely on advice from sources that could just as easily be dubious as they could be brilliant, and experimentation, and failing over and over and over to rule out what doesn't work so I can find out what does. Most people only see me as purplespengler - the mod who is a dick sometimes and bans dudes. It's rare that anybody sees enough of the inner workings to really get what I'm trying to accomplish, that I have to have a very long game plan, and that I can't be concerned with "helping" absolutely everyone with absolutely everything if I want Fittit to be the kind of resource I never had when I was young, that I would have killed to have.

Every day I'm reminded by some whiny baby that the victories I need to look for in helping people have to be at an individual level. These are people who try to doxx me, write weird, creepy poems about me, send me angry messages about how they hope my family gets raped and murdered by animals, spend money on a website to tell the world they think I suck... This happens all the time. Nobody told me I was signing up for a legion of sewagepeople to tell me how mad I've made them on a daily basis. But it hasn't affected me for years because I learned to take those people doing those things as confirmation that keeping them away from my community was the right choice. And yes, I do think of it as "my community" - in the way that my home is "mine", my family is "mine", my friends are "mine". Ultimately I care about it and want it to be as good as it can be, for what it is.

Do I have days where I question if putting up with shitheels like that, reading and removing hundreds of threads and comments a day, pouring hours into writing and organizing information that not enough people will read, is all worth it? Absolutely. But when I get a modmail that says "Thanks for making the Wiki, it has really, really helped me", or people give their own money to Reddit to express how much they thought one of these blog posts was useful to them, or I look and see that thousands of people a day are reading all that information, or the regulars I know from Fittit tell me how much better Fittit has been in the last few years, or somebody posts a progress thread that thanks the community - that tells me that these five years have definitely not been wasted.

Monday, July 15, 2019


There was a time in my life when I was the biggest World of Warcraft nerd that you can imagine. It was around the middle of the second expansion that I got exposed to the concept of "theorycrafting" or "min/maxing" and it revolutionized how I played not just that game, but all games. Instead of simply playing the game, I also played a meta-game of spreadsheets, equations, simulators, math, numbers, and I was able to achieve character power and success I never had before. I lay this groundwork so that what I am about to say can land more strongly - because I am a nerd, and not just a dummy meathead or whatever who is shouting and drooling.

Nerds ruin everything.

It's been a long time since my WoW min/maxing obsession days but I still remember how to think that way. And it's because I do that when I read questions like this:

  • What's better for functional strength - powerlifting, bodybuilding, or strongman?
  • Should I do 5/3/1 or GZCL?
  • How can I optimize my PPL routine?
  • When do you become an intermediate?
All I see is this:
  • Should I play a Warlock or a Mage or a Shadow Priest?
  • Should I be Arms or Fury?
  • What's the Best in Slot gear at Tier 9 for my Ret Paladin? (fuckin' rerolling, that's what)
  • Is my gearscore high enough to do Heroic ICC?
To put it in the vernacular: Hi, my name is John, and I hate every single one of you.

If you're not familiar with the term "min/maxing", it's shorthand for "minimizing weaknesses / maximizing strengths". The concept is to build the most powerful possible character with what you've got, often also determining the best things to get. In practice, what this boils down to is little more than doing a bunch of math, which works out pretty well because that's what many games, especially RPGs, are based on. And for the most part this strategy is incredibly successful, across many different games. There are parts of it that can even be applied to aspects of real life with success. So people get into a habit of thinking this way. And then they get into lifting, and try to think the same way.

But there's a problem - Lifting is not a fucking video game. And you people need to stop, because you are driving the rest of us insane.

Min/Maxing is touted as being a strategy for making strong characters. But in my opinion, what it's really about is removing as much effort from gameplay as possible. This does not just apply to the dudes who make twinks (not that kind) to steamroll the game. Even for people who try to build the most powerful characters so that they can tackle the hardest possible content are still, ultimately, trying to reduce their effort level. Fundamentally, min/maxing is about trying to front-load effort through thinking, doing math, planning, and acquiring the right gear, to reduce the impact that their gameplay can have on their success. It is about determining the perfect way to create a character that can be as successful as possible, as quickly as possible, just by virtue of knowing all the pieces, where they come from, and exactly how you will acquire them and in what order, in advance, before you even truly do anything in the game itself.


This is reason number one that lifting cannot be treated like a video game. The 80/20 rule is out in force, and for my money one of the top three of what gets you the 80% (it's really more like 90, IMO), alongside consistency and time, is effort. Min/maxing is about transmuting future effort in execution into present effort in planning, so that by the latter you have reduced how much is required in the former. But this is backwards and wrong. Success in lifting is heavily tied to effort in execution, and only tenuously at best to effort in planning. Focusing on having a "perfect" training and diet plan while leaving the execution of that plan as a given is flawed at best and self-sabotage at worst. I've said this so many different ways that I feel like a broken record, but I truly believe it needs to be hammered on again and again - effort trumps intelligence. The time to focus on your effort and execution is not after you have created a great plan and it fails, as you would when min/maxing, it is from Day 1.

It sounds stupid to have to say that video games are nothing like real life, but apparently on some level people don't understand this, and it is reason number two to please for everyone's sanity stop treating lifting like an MMO. The entire practice of min/maxing hinges completely and 100% on all inner workings of the game being both completely knowable and infinitely replicable. If DickSocks69 puts the same gear on his character as WarlockMasterXXX, the math and equations that determine their characters' potential damage will always be exactly the same. And both of them can always know exactly what those equations are, how any of the potential random factors average out on a certain timescale, and even what the most optimal rotation or priority list of spellcasting is. But human beings are not RPG characters that are built on math equations. You cannot take Jim and Bill and put them on identical training and dietary plans and have their results be exactly the same. Ever. There is simply too much variance at every possible level and too many factors that are unknowable. This should be obvious, but every single day people behave as though they don't understand that they are not an Orc Warlock.

Finally, there is an inherent attitude of min/maxing that is incompatible with the pursuit of lifting. As always, the context of this is having actual goals. The attitude I mean has many facets and can be described in a many ways, but one I feel that captures a lot of them is "When can I stop?" Part of the strategy of min/maxing is about minimizing the grind from character creation to the highest levels, and acquiring the best gear as rapidly as possible, because it is not until this point that "the real game actually starts". Min/maxing treats the process of a character growing as a waste of your time, a barrier that must be torn down. If you think of leveling up or iteratively improving the power of your gear as a parallel for training, it becomes about trying to skip as much training as possible. 

But this, again, is completely backwards, and ties back in to the first point about effort avoidance. Skipping training is wrong - You want to train more, not less. In a game, you can come up with character builds that manipulate numbers and allow you to walk into a level, lay waste to it, and rapidly advance through the game. But there is no such thing as a secret training and diet plan that is so well planned out, so firmly based in science, that it removes so much effort while giving you such rapid results - because effort and time are primary drivers in results. You can't, through the magic of perfect exercise and food selection, skip the years of consistency and effort it takes most people to achieve their true goals, in the way you can blast from Level 1 to 90 by dumping a bunch of +Experience Gain gear onto your character.

I see this way of thinking fuck with people constantly. Everyone I've ever tried to help with any fitness goal who was a nerd first, they have this exact same problem. And I say all this because I have been there too, and for me, it was only because I figured out how to break myself that I ever got down to the brass tacks of actually busting my balls in training and accomplished anything real. The challenge is not simply to understand that this way of thinking is not compatible with every pursuit, and why, but it is more importantly about learning how to find the switch in your head so you can turn it off sometimes. I don't have any advice to offer there other than to say that I know there's a switch because I found it. But I've only got a map for my own head.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Leprosy of the Mind

[Damage to the nerves caused by leprosy] can lead to the loss of parts of extremities from repeated injuries or infection due to unnoticed wounds. An infected person may also experience weakness and poor eyesight. (Wikipedia)
I think most successful people would agree that one's mindset is one of (if not the) most fundamental "make or break" factors in pursuing a goal. And yet, I see so many trainees building castles of obsession about their training split, macro split, exercise selection (just do literally any kind of goddamn curl it's fine), water intake, salt intake, protein bioavailability, and every other possible factor except the entire laboratory of drums covered in Mr. Yuck stickers that are just rolling around in their heads, spilling everywhere.

There are ways of thinking and feeling and behaving that are poison, and these are some that are at the top of my list.

Needing to fall in love or have fun

Somebody once said, "It's called working out, not funning out." I thought this was funny.

No matter how many times somebody stumbles off the reservation with a trying, pedantic critique of an analogy, it will not dissuade me from my love of analogies. Here's one now - I have a number of pets, and two of them are cats. Because cats are sophisticated, they shit in a box instead of just kind of wherever they want outdoors. But Arm and Hammer lied to me, and there is no technology that makes cat shit stop smelling. Cleaning litter boxes is something I find unpleasant, and there is nothing that can make me love it. But I do it anyway, because something I do love is my house not smelling like cat shit.

If you want to fall in love, websites exist for that. Assuming you have some actual training goal (see: Mark Rippetoe's Training vs Exercise), the need to enjoy your training is something you must discard, much as I (with annoying frequency) must discard cat turds to keep my house from being disgusting. The thing to look for love, enjoyment, and satisfaction in is the results of your training - the ones you see now, and the ones you can anticipate in the future.

I am confident in saying that you do not love your job, and even if you do, you don't love it every day nor do you love every part of it. But you don't stop showing up for work, because you love a lot of other things instead - such as you and/or your family not starving or living in a stolen grocery cart. I feel it is important for long term success to be able to treat training as "just another thing I am doing today".

There's a great quote from a now deleted weightroom account on this subject that you would do well to read:
Getting good at pretty much anything involves doing boring shit over and over again to make progress. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you want to get good at playing guitar because you love performing on stage you still have to run scales, train your ear, learn music theory, learn that crazy song that your drummer likes even though you hate it, and do various exercises to improve your technical abilities. It doesn’t matter if you find it boring. If you want to be good, you have to do that stuff so you can do the really fun stuff well. And you have to do it in some capacity every day whether you feel like it or not.
If you have genuine training goals, you cannot allow your commitment or effort level to be at the mercy of how much fun you're having in the moment.

If you want to exercise and love it, you should do that separately from your actual training. Join a local sports club of some kind, pick up a physical hobby, or have days that are just solely about having a good time and forgetting how they contribute (or don't) to the results that you are trying to get out of your training.

Having casual means but a hardcore mindset

Some people have a disparity between how hardcore they try to be and how hardcore their life allows them to be. You can often find such people justifying their attempt to earn a PhD in The Minors with such phrases as, "What's wrong with trying to get the best results possible?" I'll tell you what's wrong - You are misusing your time masturbating over minutiae that will have a minimal, mostly marginal impact on your results, because the baseline of what you can manage is too meager for marginal improvements to matter. A very simplistic analogy is improving 10lbs by 10% is only adding 1lb, but improving 1000lbs by 10% is adding 100lbs.

But, they say, what is the harm? The harm is in the return-on-investment for the time you spend majoring in the minors and the additional cognitive load (and sometimes the money you spend on supplements or whatever) - it's bad. That time is better spent elsewhere, and that load on your cognitives is better borne by something more useful or productive than eeking out a 2% gain on a 30 minute workout.

Here's an example of a question that I think is next level absurd. This is not made up. This is a real question that a real person has asked.
How can I maximize my strength if I can only work out for 30 minutes twice a week?
The answer is you can't. The way you maximize your results is to take all that time and effort you're spending on researching optimal intra-workout carbohydrate intake and asking silly ass questions on the internet, and figure out how to find more than an hour a week to train.

Another example of this is, and again, this is a real question:
I have only $15 a week that I can spend on food, what should I buy to maximize my muscle growth?
MythicalStrength once said something that I absolutely love - that being big and strong is a luxury. Now, I'm not about to descend into something as dickheaded as saying that "poor people don't deserve to be fit", because I'm not living sewage, but there are certain realities about being impoverished with regards to what you can accomplish in training because of how heavily it restricts you. You can budget all you want and find the cheapest foods there are, but eating big so you can get big costs money.

These are just examples to help clarify what I mean when I say "casual means and goals with a hardcore mindset". Don't come at me about them. The overarching point is that you've got to be able to look at your life situation and accept how it restricts you in the most important foundations of training - your equipment access, your training time, your recovery time, your eating - and not throw time and energy down the toilet trying to find out the most scientific way to squeeze water out of stones.

Being afraid of imperfection

Surely, everybody has heard the phrase "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good". Another way of describing this that I like a lot is The Nirvana Fallacy. If you expect perfection from yourself, you will be disappointed. Instead, you must look for "good enough".

Sometimes, this manifests in the "deload and work on form" meme advice that so many strong people I know are engaged in an endless war with. There is a subset of mostly novice trainees that have been sold on the idea that form must be P E R F E C T with all lifts, at all times, or your spine (it's always the spine) will explode and you'll never lift again and you'll die. Look, it's true that you shouldn't just YOLO that high intensity deadlift rep off the floor, but you also need to dial it down a bit. Even setting aside the fact that the concept of "perfect form" is silly to begin with, high effort is going to result in some imperfection. And this is the danger of fearing to be imperfect - It will make you sacrifice effort, which will impair your results.

But the fear of imperfection goes beyond this. A far worse way that it manifests is when a trainee, expecting perfection of themselves, gets completely derailed from their plan and their goals when their imperfection inevitably rears its head. In this case, the need for perfection turns any instance of imperfection or deviation from a plan into a huge production. This is the "I keep trying to exercise and I make it for 3 months and then it's Christmas and I eat pie and it all goes down the toilet" story that so many have to tell.

I recently told someone who had this problem:
What you are doing to yourself is equivalent to stumbling a bit on a stone and going AH FUCK AGH MY LEGS ARE BROKEN AGH I'LL NEVER WALK AGAIN FUCK. 80% adherence for a year is better than 100% adherence that turns into 0% adherence after a few months.
Another useful perspective on one's inevitable stumbling is something my first martial arts teacher was fond of saying:
It's not a bad thing to lose your balance practicing and training and sparring. Even with the Masters, it's not that they never lose their balance. They've just learned how to recover their balance more quickly so it doesn't throw them off as much.
This all applies to so many different things - bad training days, getting sick, going on vacation, sleeping poorly, splurging on a piece of cake. On and on and on. Imperfection, and forging forward in spite of it, needs to be part of the plan.

Training ADD

I got this term from Jim Wendler and I think it's brilliant. Previously, I had sometimes used the classic word "fuckarounditis", but it doesn't really convey what I'm going for anywhere near as well. This is about changing, or considering changing, your training plan with too much regularity.

Being able to commit to a singular, cohesive plan and see it through over a reasonably long period of time is useful. Evaluating the results of and iterating on your plan is also useful. But there is a kind of person who can never stop tinkering - always making "tweaks", trying to "optimize", encountering new information and questioning what they're doing. This is not useful.

My favorite example of Training ADD is something that happens every time Joe Rogan has somebody on his podcast that talks about anything related to exercise (to be fair, it happens any time anybody with a large reach says something about exercise, but Training ADD and JRE listeners seem to have a very tight knit relationship). r/Fitness is bombarded with people who ask some version of this question:
I have been training using XYZ method for about two months now and I've been seeing great progress. But I was listening to the Joe Rogan Experience and Firas Zahabi (writer's note: it's always Firas Zahabi for some reason) talked about training in a different way than what I've been doing. Should I stop everything I'm doing and completely change how I'm training?
No. You should not immediately slam the brakes on something you've been doing, that has been working, just because you've encountered new information that is different. This is Training ADD.

Training takes time to produce results, and those results are a cumulative adaptation to the stimulus of training. Even further, sometimes, because of the nature of a given training method, there will be a large gap between times where you actually measure the results (5/3/1 Leader/Anchor methodology is a good example of this) of your training. For this reason, I feel it's important to be willing to give what you're doing, whatever it is, sufficient time (within reason) to produce results (or not) before you look to make changes.

This applies to training methodology, specific routine within the methodology, exercise selection, and even dietary protocol. The Fear Of Missing Out is an albatross that must be discarded, because it will sabotage your ability to be consistent. The adage to remember is "Rome wasn't built in a day", and also sometimes "Many roads lead to Rome". Just because someone else is taking a different road to Rome doesn't mean you need to immediately abandon the one you're already on.


There's a few more of these, but each time I start to write about what's left I find I have no steam for it and start thinking too hard for things to say. That's my cue that I'm trying to force it, so I'm just gonna bullet point them and call it a day.

  • Overestimating how unique you are
  • Treating training and goals like cramming for a test in college
  • Being afraid of experimenting (which I've said more than enough on in Crystal Balls Do Not Exist)
  • Needing to understand the "why" or have scientific backing for everything you're doing
  • Being excessively risk and discomfort averse
  • Letting fleeting "motivation" dictate action

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

You Do You

Though somebody recently told me, "Nobody starts a blog to not share it", and I guess that's probably true, the honest-to-God reason I started writing anything here was because things grind my gears and I don't like having gears that never stop grinding in my brain. I want to get them out so I can stop thinking about them, as was the case with my rant about vanity. Usually, this works very well, and I get to go on with my life.

This time though, an unfortunate alignment of the universe started those gears grinding back up again, because a few days later I stumbled onto a side-grind of that rant. So here we are. I'm paraphrasing, but tell me if this looks familiar.
You shouldn't do things for other people. That's empty. Work out for yourself. Take me - I don't care about what anybody else thinks, man. I work out for me.
Statements like this always strike me as so masturbatory that I can practically smell the sock this imaginary guy is ejaculating over himself into. There is a nugget of truth and value to be had here. But I find there's always an undercurrent of telling someone that their motivations are inherently wrong. There are definitely real people who genuinely don't train for anybody but themselves. Those people are almost never found posturing about it on the internet.

The Hodge Twins, in their prime, had a couple of catch phrases that ended up being memed into the stratosphere. One of them, which was always my favorite, was this:
Do whatever the FUCK you wanna do
From the bottom of my heart that's how I feel about peoples' motivations for working out, right down to the inflection he says "FUCK" with. You wanna go get some abs and shoulders because you think it'll help you clean up on Tinder? That's not what I'm about, but you do whatever the fuck you wanna do. It's okay. Fuck anybody who tells you you're wrong for wanting to look good to potential sexual partners so that you are more likely to bump uglies with them. Pick almost any other motivation and I'll say the same. Including if you actually do just work out completely for yourself and nobody else.

Many people need to be more real with themselves and realize that what they are doing, no matter how seriously they are taking it, is still just a hobby. They don't compete and have no intention to. They will never make a living based on their exercise or even receive any amount of payment. And that's okay! Do whatever the fuck you wanna do. But it is endlessly eye rolling to decide what is and is not a valid reason for participating in a fuckin' hobby. If some dude you'll never encounter again just wants to participate in your hobby for that Instagram mirror beach body, what is it to you? It's only lifting, hwhy you heff to be med?

It is insufferably pompous to be deriding someone because they do a thing for the attention or approval of other people. Mind you, there is wisdom in the advice that these statements started out as, before it was perverted into yet another way of bandying about one's own superiority - Living for the approval and attention of other people, when taken to extremes, can be an unhealthy way to go through life that will usually leave you feeling bad. But in the form I find often on the internet, it is nothing more than deriding the very nature of human beings as social creatures, as though it is somehow beneath you to enjoy attention and approval. This is one of the ways we form the social bonds that have been an important part of how humanity has survived and thrived, as well as how people as individuals survive and thrive. Imagine giving the finger to all of human evolution and progress.

Wanting attention and approval is so much a part of being a person that it's like making fun of somebody for having lungs. Like, can you believe this dick breathes air? How empty his life must be to fill his torso and subsist on such a massless substance as air.

But the most delicious irony of all is that in getting on the internet and sneering at somebody for liking attention and approval, these jerksocks with lips and fingers are just fishing for a different kind of approval from a different set of people and doing the same thing they're sneering at other people for.

And yes, obviously I like attention and approval. Just like you and anyone else does. Because I'm definitely a real human person. But I wasn't always okay with that. Growing up, I was brainwashed to cringe away from anything that smelled even a little like "showing off" or "being an attention whore" and I feel that did me a tremendous disservice - just as it does a disservice to somebody to be snidely told that working out "for anybody but yourself" is empty and vapid. I had to come to the conclusion that it wasn't actually bad on my own, and this is a bit of a rant at who I used to be - which is a person that some people currently are. Maybe it'll help somebody realize that the world is full of dicks and they should just do whatever the fuck they wanna do*.

*This post not to be taken as endorsement or permission to actually do literally anything the fuck you wanna do.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

It's Okay to be "Vain"

Show me a man who says "I don't care about aesthetics" and I will show you a man I'm going to say "i dOn't cArE AbOuT AeStHeTiCs" back to.

Controversial opinions:

  • Almost everybody cares about "aesthetics". 
  • There are people who don't. None of them are on the internet telling other people about it.
In the never-ending quest most humans are on to prove that they are better than every body else no matter how much of a garbageperson they really are, there are an equally never-ending number of ways to contort your bullshit into a pretzel until it sounds good instead of stupid (to oneself, at least). One that gets stuck in my craw regularly is when knobs decide that wanting to look like shit makes them better than people who want to look good. These people snidely say things like, "Oh, I don't train for aesthetics, I train for strength. I'm not like those vain meathead bodybuilder teenagers." I can practically hear the squishing sound of a head entering an ass.

If you've ever unironically said something like this, please, come here for a moment. Listen closely.

Bury yourself.

Get a shovel, go out into the woods, dig a hole, climb in it, and start filling the hole back up. Ideally, you will also hit yourself in the face with the shovel. Continue doing this until you are smarter. Because unless you're winning or at least doing well in competitions, nobody in the world cares how much you lift if you look like noodles wearing a person costume. Including your mother. She lied to you because you're her baby, but in her heart of hearts even she is thinking, "You'd think he would look a little better for all that time he says he spends in the gym".

Anyone who says they genuinely, completely, utterly, care absolutely zero about looking good (or even just "better") is either lying to sound good or being an asshole, especially if they say they care about sTrEnGtH instead (as though those two things are mutually exclusive). That is my honest opinion. I feel comfortable with the broad statement that every human being cares about how they look and wants to look better.

Repeat after me: There is nothing bad about wanting to look good.

It is not vain, it is not shallow, it does not make you a meathead, it does not make you an asshole, it is not just for teenagers trying to get their dicks wet, it is not sad, it is not an invalid goal. It's fine. It is normal human nature to care about looking good to other humans. 

From my observation, it appears to be people with modest goals, modest results, or modest means who are the most likely to end up as "fUnCtiOn / sTrEnGtH NoT AeStHeTiCs" jagoffs. I don't see anybody who has accomplished anything significant talking this way. It's always the guys who look like shoe-ins for the lead role in Fuckarounditis: The Motion Picture, and who strike me as trying to save face. It's always guys who are small (in body, mind, and probably also genitals) trying to attack guys who are bigger. Like most forms of lying to oneself, I find this sad.

And to be clear, this is not just for dorks who are running around acting like they're better because they lack significant muscle mass, visibly because they're flabby or just... at all. This is also for people who have "aesthetics" as a goal. It's okay to have your primary goal in training be to look better, be more muscular, be leaner, get abs, whatever. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. People who try are not your friend.

All that being said, though, this is also important:

If your goals are modest, that's okay.

If you have big goals but can't go balls to the wall because of modest means, that's okay. 

If your training goals don't involve building muscle or strength training, that's okay.

If you just generally prefer a less muscular or less defined look on yourself, that's okay.

You don't have to climb up your ass about it, make up excuses for it, come up with bullshit reasons why you're better than people who have accomplished more things or different things, or just generally be a dick about it. Just own it and accept it. Don't try to bring others down because their goals are different or higher or they are better placed to achieve them. In theory, we should all be in this together.

Beginners: Think Less, Not More

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