I’m long overdue when it comes to setting new health goals. My last list was made 2.5 years ago. Before I list my new goals, let me share my current health state. I am lean, my skin is clear and I have healthy digestion. For my age and somatype, my strength is good and so is my mobility. Other than my sinus headaches, I do not have any pressing health problems.
#1 Solve My Headaches
I’ve posted a few times on how I often get sinus headaches late at night that wake me up. I’ve done many tests so far to track down the cause, but have not been successful so far. You can read my posts and the comments on Hunting Headaches (1,2,3) and Trying Acupuncture for a background on what I’ve tried so far. I have more tests planned and may have found a correlation with headache intensity and the timing of my last espresso of the day.
#2 Stress Reduction
I’ve always had trouble understanding stress. When asked if I am stressed, I’m never sure what the answer is. Stress compared to what and to whom? How I deal with stress may be different than others and vary on a continual basis. I don’t know how to quantify stress to determine if it is or isn’t a problem. Thinking about quantifying and dealing with stress has always been in itself stressful.
Two things recently have made me think that starting a stress reduction program may be beneficial to me. First is the idea that it may be connected to my headaches. The second came from super trainer Keith Norris when he appeared on the Latest in Paleo podcast. My question for Keith was about being able to predict the ability of a particular body to recover from an intense workout. I was wondering about sex, age, training age, and somatype, but Keith provided an angle I hadn’t considered, which is stress. Stress could be the limiting factor in how well a body recovers from exercise.
Since that show, I have been thinking about this idea. The two periods where my fitness level tanked were during the dot-com days after moving to the Washington DC area and when I was trying to sell my house in San Diego. Both were highly stressful situations and I lost strength both times. Interesting.
#3 Dialing in Optimal Coffee Level
Although I did learn some things during my coffee detox, there is a lot more I need to figure out. Am I consuming too much? Do I have some form of adrenal fatigue? Is the caffeine addiction covering up a possible nutrient deficiency? How does coffee affect the depth and quality of my sleep? To what level is coffee increasing my stress levels (cortisol)? I have a lot of questions that I need to answer.
#4 More Varied Movement
The more I restrict my movement, the worse I feel. Since I live in the modern world and push pixels all day, I need to figure out a way to incorporate more varied movements in my life. I don’t have a sport or kids to play with, so this will be a challenge to make part of a daily habit.
Back when my movement was more varied.
#5 Improve Posture and Alignment
Because I sit at a desk a lot, my shoulders and neck will sometimes get rounded forward. The more I sit at the desk, the more pronounced the effect. Years ago I used Egoscue exercises to help. Conditioning Research often posts links to videos that tackle specific posture and alignment issues.
I haven’t been very disciplined about doing posture exercises over the years. I think I need to discover a High-Intensity approach. Find a few core exercises that yield maximum benefit in the shortest time. If I need to spend 20-40 minutes several times a week, I’ll likely fail.
#6 Improve Memory
I am concerned about the effect of always being connected to the Internet is having on our brains. Nicholas Carr wrote a book on these concerns. From my review post of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains:
As great of a tool that the internet is for researching and learning, it comes with a cost. We all have working memories used to do reasoning and comprehension. Another way to view working memory is as a short term storage. When we surf the internet, our working memories are being full engaged. Being filled and emptied of information. Without time for reflection, what we learn doesn’t make it into long term memory.
Some internet cheerleaders believe that outsourcing memory functions to The Cloud will eventually be seen as an extension of what it means to be human. Since memory and creativity are linked, I suspect Carr is more right than his critics. To answer this question for me, I will engage in memory improvement activities and decide if it improves my thinking enough to justify the time commitment.
#7 Tabata / HIIT / Sprinting
I tried sprinting a few times a couple of months ago, but I jumped in too fast and ended up limping home. I’ll need to baby-step this one. I’ll probably start with a single Tabata every week. For me, it is not about figuring out how much I can do, but how little I can do. Maximum benefit in the least amount of time. The economics of nature rewards efficiency.
#8 Build Muscle / Strength
Last year was the first year in a long time where I gained muscle. I credit High-Intensity Training and will absolutely continue using this protocol. It is effective and efficient, and I was never sidelined with an injury, which is something I could never say about traditional weightlifting. Stay the course.
I suspect that these goals are at least partially connected. The more varied movement could lead to better posture. Lower stress could increase muscle and improve memory. And the reverse is probably true as well. For me, this list of health goals will be extremely challenging. I’ve only had success with #8 and partial success with #5.