Friday, May 2, 2014

Before and After

So I just finished a workout/diet program.  It was an online group training program, so it was much cheaper.  I started it 16 weeks ago in the first week of 2014.  Here's the results:

What I learned from this:

1.  Meal timing is not as important as you'd think, but it's still important.  This diet involved a new trend called Intermittent Fasting.  The idea is that you fast for 16 hours with nothing but water, then do your workout, and then feast for the remaining 8 hours.  It increases insulin sensitivity, reduces ghrelin (hunger hormone), and increases "growth hormone."  As long as I kept myself preoccupied, it was no big deal.  If my stomach started to hurt or growl, I'd just have a few sips of water and I'd be fine.  Some days I was so busy that the first chance I had to eat was 8pm, and I needed to go to bed by 10.  Those days were hard to cram 2600 calories down my throat, but I learned which foods were great for those situations (nuts, peanut butter, and beef jerky are at the top of the list).  I was allowed epic cheat days, with the stipulation that they were followed by a 40 hr fast.  Again, not as big of a deal as it sounds, if you can keep your mind off of it (and if you can keep from getting cranky in hours 24-40).  
I won't share the inappropriate details of how I learned this, but I learned that your body doesn't necessarily consume all the calories you feed it.  Eat fast enough, and you won't keep all those calories.  However, I don't suggest ANYONE use this as an excuse to eat more than what they ought to eat.  I had no way of measuring how much exactly wasn't digested.  It could be a lot less than you think.

2.  Don't let bro-scientists and the current diet fads fool you: not all carbs are the same, and not all fats are the same.  If you work with a trainer, they'll probably tell you your diet needs to have x carbs, x fat, and x protein to meet your goals, and that it doesn't matter how you get those nutrients.  6 weeks after starting my program, I was diagnosed with astronomically high cholesterol.  My low carb/high fat diet certainly wasn't helping.  I had been eating ridiculous amounts of eggs, red meats, and dairy over the previous month and a half.  I replaced many of those fats with nuts, avocado, and fatty fish.  But mostly nuts.  They're like candy to me now.  The low carb part of the diet naturally got rid of white flour and refined sugar.  It's much more rewarding to get your sugars from fruit anyways.  I'm a fan of clean eating now: if it comes in a box, eat sparingly.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Witness Protection Program

For about 2 years, Melissa and I have been creating a game called Witness Protection Program.  It's a night game - who doesn't love those?  Anyways, we're finally taking the game to the next step - it's time to officially publish this game and share it with the rest of the world!  To get the ball rolling, we've got this Kickstarter campaign running.  Please check it out!  If we don't raise $5000 by March 18, none of the pledged money is actually donated.

And if you don't want to or can't make a donation for whatever reason, PLEASE still go to the project page and watch the video and leave a comment.  Anything at all that will increase the "popularity" rating on Kickstarter helps us reach a wider audience - which inevitably will help reach our funding goal.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Menacing Society #5: Keeping Quiet

Up until now, my Menacing Society series has been focused on describing to the world what it’s like to be over 25 and single in the LDS culture. And if you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know that a majority of the things that bother me about it are all centered around conversations. So why not just stop the irritating conversations? A few years ago I did just that. And you know what? It worked! I picked out the biggest offenders (in my case, family), and officially stopped talking to them about my dating life – good or bad, crazy or quiet. And when they started playing detective, I stopped talking about my social life in general, as well as stop sharing details with anyone who was likely to inform the offenders. Since then, there have been times when they’ve suspected I had a girlfriend, when I wasn’t dating anyone. And there have also been several months of exclusive dating that my family knows nothing about.

The result? 100% pure awesomeness. After a couple months, they stopped nagging me with the most annoying questions. A few months later, they were so sick of trying to pry information from me, they pretty much gave up. Now I only have to deal with a fraction of the treatment they gave me. But it gets better than that – my dating life has actually improved! It turns out that it’s easier to date and be yourself when the idea of dating doesn’t bring up a bunch of negative feelings from a previous conversation.  And when I'm NOT sharing details with others, the magic moments AREN'T KILLED by preempted conversations.  That's right: for me, a lot of the magic in dating disappears when others become involved.

I’m not alone my decision to withhold these details either.  I have several friends who also have some sort of policy on who they’re willing to share dating details with, and how much they’re willing to share. Everyone has justifiable reasons, too. Take my brother for example: He decided about 6 months ago to adopt my policy. He kept his girlfriend secret from the family for as long as he could, but it didn’t last forever. As soon as the family heard about it, the tormenting began. I was there a couple days after my family found out, and witnessed my brother weathering a rain of nosey questions, playful jabs, and inappropriate comments. After one particularly cruel comment, someone said, “no wonder Jon keeps quiet about his dating life.” The response was, “but we have to tease you: it’s our job,” as if the divinely appointed role of family members is to make life hard for each other.  I took a mental note: my family is definitely NOT ready to meet anyone I might like to bring over. It didn’t help that the following week, everyone was planning my brother’s wedding on his behalf – even telling him when he can and can’t get married, so as to not cause them an inconvenience in scheduling.

The truth is, I’m legitimately afraid to introduce girls to the family. I’m sure my family doesn’t feel like they’re all that cruel to me. But I have a big enough family that if everyone only said one comment, I’d endure over a dozen on some days. And everyone always seems to have at least one thing to say to me. The other day, a family member made some comment to me about dating. I reacted, and he started to tell me he was intentionally teasing me. Someone else jumped in and said “you should be used to it by now.” I think I’m used to the teasing. I’ve been teased all my life. But there doesn’t seem to be any effective way to desensitize myself on the subject of dating. Like a bruise, the more you poke at it the worse it hurts. Besides, my family doesn’t seem to understand/care when they’ve crossed the line between playful joking and relentless torment.

All my life my family has taught me that if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. I’ve been staying out of the kitchen for a long time. But I know it can’t last forever. Unless I plan on eloping, I’m eventually going to get to the point where I need to introduce a girlfriend to my family. A couple months ago, a sister-in-law told me she didn’t expect to hear about me dating anyone until I was engaged. She joked that I’d say, “What are you doing next week? Can you come to my wedding?” I think my mom must have overheard that comment, because she called me a few days later and shared her nightmare that I would think about not introducing a girl to the family until I was that serious. But if things keep going the way they’re going, that might become a reality. I have gotten enough grief from my family about the girls they have met, it sometimes makes me want to be single forever. Since my family isn’t changing their behavior, the only solution I can come up with is to keep them out of the loop until I am ready to get married.

Family: If you’re reading this, don’t brush this off as not-a-big-deal-Jon's-just-overreacting.  I don't care how well-meaning you might be: it’s a very sensitive topic to me (see the last 4 posts), and you’ve been very insensitive about it. The more you push for information, the more I’ll pull away from you.
Friends:  Assuming I'm likely to experience the same thing my brother recently experienced, when and how do you think I should start involving my family in details about my dating life?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Menacing Society #4: Pet Peeves

I've been putting off this post for a while because I knew once I posted it, I'd come up with a million more things to add to the post.  But it's high time I write another post in this blog series, and there's only 2 subjects I have left to cover.  I may list more pet peeves in another post later, so don't think this is a comprehensive list:

  • Being set up on a blind date, "because well, you're single, and she's single..."  I don't mind blind dates, and I certainly hope everyone you set me up with is also single.  But if that's all we have in common, please don't waste my time.  You'd be surprised how often I hear that phrase.  On a side note, it's also a pet peeve to be set up on a blind date with someone you think I need to learn major lessons from.
  • Having to explain what I'm looking for.  I don't know anyone who has a specific list of requirements in a future spouse.  Yes, I can probably name a few things that are important to me - testimony, physical attraction - but I always end up finding myself struggling to give them an adequate answer.  It's as frustrating as trying to describe the taste of salt to someone who's never tasted it.
  • The jealous and snide comments people make about how I spend my money.  Believe me, I'd rather be broke if it meant I was using my money to take care of a wife and kids.  But I've got savings, and I no longer think I should punish myself for not having found "the one" yet.  So I reserve the right to go on cool vacations, buy cool toys, etc.
  • Talking about my marital status at someone else's wedding.  It's usually always accompanied with some form of "don't worry, you'll find her."  The conversation is usually anything but comforting and, depending on my recent dating misadventures, just rubs salt in an open wound.  And there comes a point when you become too old to participate in the boquet/garter toss.  I'm here to support the bride and groom, see family/friends, and have a piece of cake.  There's a reason I'm keeping a low profile, so can we NOT turn the focus on me?
  • Why is my dating life the only thing people want to talk about?  I don't want people living vicariously through my love life.  Most singles have pretty exciting lives - more frequent vacations, school, stories at work, etc.  By the time I tell you about all my news in those departments, I've told you more about my life than you've told me about yours.  Additionally, I feel like my life is exceptionally exciting - I'm frequently involved in a performance or two, I'm heavily involved with church, I find frequent volunteer opportunities, and I'm in an improv comedy troupe!  I feel like I live out of my car more than my apartment.  Apparently I'm the only one who thinks all that is conversation-worthy, though, since married people don't take much interest in those things at all.
  • Assumption of fault.  I covered this one pretty well in a previous post.  Just because I'm single, doesn't mean there's something so wrong with me that I can't find someone to marry.  Yet I'm constantly bombarded with questions such as, "Why don't you want to get married?"
  • Prying questions about one's current relationship.  I know you're only asking how serious we are so that you can try to predict when you might hear wedding bells.  It's none of your business whether or not we've used the "L word."  I understand many people just want to see us happy, and are looking for confirmation, but how awkward are those questions when the relationship isn't going well?  The bottom line: please stay out of our relationship - three's company.
  • Advice.  When it comes to dating, everyone suddenly becomes Dr. Phil.  Since when are you the expert at dating?  I recognize that you found a successful relationship, but who's to say your circumstances are like mine?  Even well-intended advice can turn a good dating situation sour - I've seen it happen.  I'm not you - different things make me happy, I handle situations differently, different people are going to attract me, and different issues are important.  It's not that I don't value what you may want to say to me.  It's just that my world isn't the same as your world.  If I want your advice, I'll ask for it.  And if red flags do come up, I'm much more likely to listen to you if you've respected the privacy of my relationship otherwise.
  • How married/engaged people seem to forget overnight what it's like to be single.  I know I'm not alone in these pet peeves - in fact, most of my peers feel EXACTLY the same way.  Yet, I've known newlyweds of less than a year that violate almost every one of these pet peeves.  It's like there's a veil of forgetfulness that they pass through between their single life and their married life.  And don't give me any cheek about some "awakening" that changes their mind about all these issues - if they truly remember what it's like being single, they would also remember the effect these things have on singles.
Another thing that bothers most singles my age (it's not a personal pet peeve of mine, but seemed appropriate to post here) is how people in the church treat singles.  They talk about the singles ward as if it's the Island of Misfit Toys.  Nobody wants them, and there's something wrong with each one.  They just don't fit in, so let's send them somewhere that they don't bother us.  I've had friends express frustration about how they don't feel welcome in family wards.  There's a huge chunk of singles who fall away from the church; there's no need to put undue pressure on them to fit in.  Why is it that so many people feel like there's no spot for singles in the church, when we preach that 2 out of 3 degrees of the Celestial Kingdom are for them?  Just an observation...

Okay, for all you single people: what are some pet peeves of yours that I didn't put on the list?  For you married people: I know not all of you are guilty of these things.  And for those who have a differing opinion, I'm happy to hear your reasoning.  :-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Menacing Society #3: A Case for Discrimination?

In case you haven't heard yet, I'm moving!  I signed my new lease the other day, and will be out of my apartment by the end of the month.  With finding a place to live fresh on my mind, I think it's a good time to talk about how I believe singles are being discriminated against in the housing market.

A year ago, while I was looking for a place to live with 2 of my friends, I was denied the opportunity to move into several homes because they were zoned as single-family units.  Renters told me they wanted to rent the house to us, but didn't want to suffer any legal consequences due to violations of city ordinances.  It turns out that there's a large number of cities which have single-family zoning ordinances that set a maximum number of unrelated people from living in a house - generally ranging from 2 to 4 unrelated people.  Most of these ordinances are accompanied by local news articles citing the reasons for establishing the limitations:  loud parties, unkempt yards, cars parked on the streets, and generally irresponsible singles moving into the neighborhood.  In other words, unmarried people who live together are menaces to society.

It was always my understanding that zoning ordinances were supposed to prevent businesses from moving into residential areas, not singles.  I always thought that loud parties could be stopped by noise ordinances, not housing ordinances.  I always thought the law was meant to punish behavior, not people.

I understand that there is a large percent of greedy people who are overly concerned about neighbors bringing down the value of their homes.  I understand that almost everyone wants their neighborhood to be nice.  But based on my understanding of basic human rights, parking your car on your lawn is not a crime.  And if you really don't want your neighbor's garbage can to show from the street, I think you're better off moving to a neighborhood with an HOA that has the appropriate bylaws (and I also think you're WAY too obsessed with trying to control your neighborhood).

I'm moving out of a place that has been discriminating against singles and multiple-family homes in a similar way.  The community isn't zoned as single-family, but I've had to park a block away from home just to prevent my car from being towed, regardless of the number of empty visitor stalls in the community, OR the fact that I have a visitor parking tag.

I stand firm in my opinion that single-family zoning ordinances discriminate against my marital status.  The ordinances are vaguely familiar to the literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses that were once put in place to prevent black people from voting.  Not wanting to sound negative, I did a lot of research to find a positive source online that addresses the issue.  Ironically, it comes from my least favorite city, in an effort to change the city ordinances to remove the cap on the number of unrelated people that can live in a house currently zoned as a single-family unit.  Enjoy the read here and share your opinions with me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Menacing Society #2: There Must Be Something Wrong...

Admit it - you know you've said it (or at least thought it) at some point in your life:  "Anyone that old and still single has something seriously wrong with him/her."  I know I said it more than just a couple times when I was younger, before I really got to know anyone who was older and unmarried - back when dating and courtship seemed as easy to me as elementary school arithmetic.  My equation went something like this:

Dating Efforts + Worthiness to marry = Happy Ending

There are way too many people who think it's that easy.  Most married people I run into seem to have forgotten their dating lives, and revert to this equation, or a variation of it.  And why not?  It makes it easy to explain why people go unmarried for so many years.  Either they're not trying hard enough/don't want it bad enough, or something is wrong with them that makes them unworthy of another's affections.

And suddenly people become my personal date doctor, and try to diagnose why I'm not married.  After asking about my dating efforts, to make sure the efforts are healthy, I become the subject of a superficial psycho-analysis.  I say superficial, because most people base their hypothesis on assumptions.  Whether they say it directly to me or not, most people are terrible at keeping their thoughts off their faces.  Suddenly their eyebrows will contort, and they'll look at me as if they're trying to read my soul for the answer.  And here are the test results:

1 - "You're not physically attractive enough.  You're just a sweet spirit."
My response:  Looks may make a big impression, but if it were really about looks, then there are TONS of couples that should never have married, and several others that should be married.

2 - "You lack the necessary social skills."
My response:  I may not be socially compatible with you, but trust me - I have WAY too many friends for you to be making that claim.

3 - "You're too picky."
My response:  Are you seriously suggesting I marry someone I really don't want to?  Really?  So, you really don't care about my happiness...

4 - "You've got a skeleton in the closet."
My response:  No.  No, I don't.  And it's offensive that you would automatically assume that of me, simply because I'm not married.  I mean, what kind of skeleton is bad enough to keep every girl I'm interested in from getting close to me?  And if it's that bad, how could you think I'm capable of it?

5 - "You must be gay."
My response:  I don't even know where to start with this one.  One of the most awesome people I know, Melissa, was asked if she was lesbian by an old acquaintance after revealing that she was 28 and unmarried (the other person didn't even ask Melissa if she was dating someone before asking this)!  Her response blew my mind: "No.  But if you need to tell people I'm lesbian because you're so embarrassed to know someone who's 28 and single, then you have my permission."  I mean, really!

There are other reasons people make up to explain why I'm still not married.  They're pretty ridiculous excuses, and less believable than the ones I've listed.  But even then, people still get married - every day - with any number of the reasons I listed above.  So it's pretty clear that it's not that simple.  Obviously I don't have it figured out yet, but I'm pretty sure the equation for marriage is better represented by the following:

My point is, finding the right person, and convincing them that you're the right person for them can be complicated.  And sometimes, you can go a long time without finding that special someone through no fault of your own.  Could it be that there's no simple explanation for why some people go unmarried for so long?

If you ask my opinion, I'd say that sometimes you have to consider divine providence.  I look back at all the efforts I've made to get married, make myself more attractive, meet new people, etc.  Then I look at all the other experiences I've had, and how it's changed my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  I have grown and changed a TON each year, and my perspective is completely different than what it was just a few years ago.  I'm grateful I didn't get married before turning 25 - there's a lot of me I wouldn't have discovered yet.  Not only that, but I've had incredible experiences through service that I wouldn't have been exposed to had I been married.  And the older I've gotten, the more comfort I find in my prayers that one day I'll be happily married to a woman who was absolutely worth the wait.

And let's face it - I'm not old by any means.  Anywhere outside of Utah, no one would think twice about the fact I haven't "settled down" yet.  But here, it's a social norm to be married by the time you turn 25.  And since I'm outside of the norm, the Sociology text-books would call me deviant.  Deviant sounds like a cross between defiant and devil, therefore I must be a menace to society.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Menacing Society #1: Thoughts on General Conference

For those who may have missed General Conference this April, several of the talks directed some attention to the single men of the church, and their responsibility to get married.  In fact, it stands out to most people as one of the prominent themes of Conference this year.  So it comes as no surprise that I've been confronted several times about the topic.  But I've also noticed that my conversations seem a little one-sided and presumptuous.  Therefore, I've decided to write a series of blog entries from the perspective of a 25+ year-old priesthood holder.  Comments are welcome as always, as I'd love to hear the opinions of all my blog readers.

First off, I want to say that I fully support the brethren, AND the message.  Over the last several years, I've noticed how the family unit has become more and more attacked by the adversary.  More and more families are victims of divorce, pornography, etc.  The last several years have seen more and more negative reactions to the church's position on homosexuality and same gender marriage.  The scriptures prophesy that in the last days women will refuse to have children (don't be surprised when the brethren focus on that at conference 5 years from now).  It should come as no surprise that marriage is becoming a lower priority for an increasing number of people.  And let's face it, society doesn't do much to support the concept of marriage.  People in my generation have seen a greater number of broken marriages, cheating spouses, and expensive divorces than any generation in the past.  Jaded people preach against marriage all over the world.  The baby boomer generation has done well to teach the importance of education and financial success to their progeny.  Not to mention, dating has taken on a whole different meaning - especially in Utah.  The perception is that commitment is expected earlier and earlier.  I can tell you from experience, that if I haven't kissed a girl by the 3rd date, she starts to wonder if I'm playing mind games with her, and she'll drop me for someone else.  Knowing this, girls are much more afraid to accept a 3rd date with a guy they're undecided about - for fear he might pull a move on her before she's ready for it.

Yes, I've seen way too many peers procrastinate marriage, dating, etc.  They put their primary focus on education and career.  They hang out with girls so that they can get to know the girl before deciding whether to take that bold commitment and ask her out.  Yes, asking a girl out is perceived by too many Utah singles as a commitment to pursue the girl.  So I fully support the brethren in their challenge for the men of the church to change their priorities and just go for it.

HOWEVER, just because I fit the demographic - just because I'm a single, worthy priesthood holder over 25 years old - DOESN'T mean that the Conference teachings were directed toward me.  Elder Holland even reminded everyone of the fact in his talk.  Elder Oaks directed his comments toward those who are lacking the desire to marry.  Elder Scott's talk was quite clearly meant to convince everyone in the church of the wonderful reasons that we value marriage.  Let me spell it out for you:  there was NO call to repentance toward those in my demographic who are earnestly trying to get married, and have been unsuccessful for several years.  President Monson advised us to choose our wife wisely.

When people point a condescending finger at me in reaction to the words taught at Conference, it's a little painful - not because I'm guilty and need to repent.  It's painful because they don't understand how much rejection I've faced over the last several years, and they assume it's all my fault.