When Does The Party End?

Here I am, Saturday night, listening to music (a constant that’ll forever remain unchanged) and reading articles. Five years ago, at age 21, I would have had a better chance of scoring a date with Beyonce than to be caught doing what I’m doing now. The unwavering ambition to party was unquantifiable. But things change, right? It’s natural; the party cannot last forever. I suppose, growing older does make you more responsible in terms of bodily preservation and the forethought of having to deal with a harrowing hangover makes drinking seem a bit distasteful. Everyone wants to have fun, but everyone’s definition of fun may vary. One avenue of fun we can all agree on is partying; but why is that? Why is it so hard to be sober and have fun while everyone is raging and basking in drunken shenanigans?

Back in college, on the weekends, you can almost guarantee that about 85% of the students on & off campus were devising plans to get rowdy no matter what. If a tornado was on the doppler radar, that just meant to find a basement to imbibe in – where there’s a will, there’s a way. The ‘pleasure demand’ was sky-high. People just wanted to enjoy themselves, whether it be sexually or “alcholically;” this epicurean lifestyle would flourish most in college – where freedom meets a whole lot of raging hormones and peer pressure.

For some people, that behavior can persist throughout a lifetime. For others, the lifestyle may have an expiration date – I guess it has myriad factors all of which lead to how the pleasure affects you. But one thing that is glaring to me when looking back at high school & college was the immediacy of friendship needs which may inevitably engender partying, in one form or another. For example, think about how often you would be hanging out with one of your peers. Even if it were just watching TV or bullshitting over a past-happening, you almost unconsciously gravitated toward your friends. Introspection may be a natural derivative of maturing, but it’s hard not to look back and wish you were still close-linked like you were during those unforgettable days.

Now, when you get with your friends to carouse the town, it doesn’t have the same spark as when you were younger. Well, it’s probably because it has become superfluous, and everyone tends to be scatter-brained; fretting about things that are soon to come. Some people can bury their head in the sand and party daily with no remorse. I commend these brave ragers. But, for me, and many of my counterparts – we’ve curtailed the partying about 65%. Staying in on some weekends is just the way of the future. Being able to be able-bodied and productive without wallowing in bed, unable to sleep, is a major trade-off. However, people grow, things change – our generation of big kids still lusts for happiness and yearns for excitement. That’s how we feel alive. That said, the partying will never end, but for some people past their peak, it will be greatly reduced. Old habits die hard…

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Figuring Out Your Body

Many people of all shapes & sizes ring in the new year with an immense amount of confidence. The idea of reforming one’s self and being able to examine how much potential one has can feel extremely uplifting. New Year’s resolutions vary from minute goals such as cursing less than normal to grandiose goals like partaking in an Ironman triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, all done successively without a break. But, the most troubling goal that people continually fall short of is weight loss. If you browse any library or Barnes & Noble, you’ll notice a plethora of books pertaining to the subject of “dieting.” Semantically, I try to avoid using the word diet, because it comes with an evanescent connotation. Dieters merely aspire to be lifestyle changers. The path to changing your body composition is no easy task, but the low-hanging fruit must be to understand how your anatomy works and how to do what’s best for your body.

In the past year, I’ve dropped 35 pounds. I’ll tell you this one thing: it was not easy; there were endless nights fraught with hunger pangs and cravings ad nauseam. My plight with weight loss was an ongoing battle with no armistice in sight. I was eternally at war with my mind – in the hope of improving my body, I began to introspect and outsmart myself. But why, all of a sudden, did I have the urge to succeed after many fruitless attempts at dropping weight?

During college, I had many schemes to trick my body into a skinnier physique: eating once a day, working out completely malnourished, drinking booze instead of edible food because “liquid calories can’t be that bad.” All these gimmicks worked, but only for a very short time. As my body would naturally return to homeostasis, I’d eventually be back up to my hefty weight – and with interest! I always thought of it as punishment for trying to cut corners instead of attacking the problem head on. College, in general, is a tough time to lose weight because partying and cheap food is ubiquitous around campus. One night of imbibing various alcoholic concoctions on top of late night eating will set you back a few days. Our bodies can’t overcome the consumed calories in such a short span of time. Having been a college running back, I still would always excuse my bad eating with “I’ll work it off at practice” which, of course, is a zero-sum ideology.

After college, year in and year out, I fought tirelessly. I would have glimpses of weight reduction, but once the friends called me to accompany them on a night out (which comes with a two-day package: the calorie consumption from the revelry that overflows into the following day with horrific, fatty-food cravings), everything would go straight out the window and into the dumpster.

As time progressed, I began to bury my head in articles and books on different ways to alter one’s body composition. From observing tons of workout techniques to noticing the worst times of day for my body to deal with food, I became health-conscious to the utmost degree. Booze is a weight loss impediment. The empty calories and chemical-altering aftereffects will leave you searching for harmful carbs as obsessively as a damn honey badger sniffs out its prey. By cutting down drinking, you’ll notice immediate physiological changes. No more brain fogs. No more eating voraciously as if you’re not in the driver’s seat of your body. No more being tired just enough to keep you from making it to the gym. Water is essential – dehydration thwarts all plans of muscular development and cardiovascular expansion. By lessening my alcohol consumption, I became reinvigorated and ambitious. I also implemented cardio in my weight lifting regimen, which consists of circuit training (3 different workouts then a brief break, repeat, etc.) At first, spending a couple hours in the gym for a session soon would lead to two-a-days. I became infatuated with sweating; a euphoric moisture pouring from my epidermis, which was evidence of the changes taking place anatomically.

I attribute much of my ‘getting-in-shape’ to the stairmaster. The machine is truly transformative and efficient. Since my intensity was increasing 4-fold, I had to figure out a way to mollify my insatiable appetite. This most definitely varies astronomically with people, genetically & biologically. Much of my weight gain was always amplified in the evening hours, when I would get struck by thoughts of sweets that only a crackhead could attest to. Rummaging through cabinets, at the moment, I was sure I had an undiagnosed case of “Night Eating Syndrome.” But all these issues were just bad habits that became enhanced over years of conditioning. If you do something long enough, your body will adapt to it and it will become automatic. Also, when you know you’re susceptible to eating untimely snacks, just banish them from your house. You’ll never have a strong enough hankering to get in your car at 4 am just for some Cool Ranch Doritos, well, unless you’re impaired.

When the weight started steadily dropping, I knew I couldn’t revert to my erstwhile behavior. By inculcating myself with health insights, I soon felt obliged to keep striving for less & less weight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect – I still eat unhealthy, but certainly not as much. I’m a sucker for pasta and sweets, but I’m keenly aware of when to eat them: earlier in the day, when my metabolism is still rapidly churning. The metabolism radius is what I call it – the 3-hour period of time that occurs before or after your workout that will basically eliminate what you ate.

My buddy Brandon Wilson – who lost more than 80 pounds all the while still eating voraciously – once told me, “You want to lose weight? Fall in love with exercise.” I echo those sentiments to this day. Exercise and nutritional intake equally play a role with losing weight, and you won’t get too far by adhering to one and neglecting the other.

That said, moving more and getting your body into a flow where everything becomes blissful with your neurotransmitters being fired off in all different directions is a habit that’ll create happiness and a long life. By slowly increasing your willpower from going a minute longer or a second faster will lend you excellent results. The brain is plastic – we have the ability to transform it into something better, stronger, smarter. Become aware of your proclivities and propensities. Fruits and fibers are vastly better than junk food and sodium. Just remember: There are no free lunches in life; everything comes with a cause & effect; a price tag; a consequence. Slow and steady wins the race. There’s no beating nature and there’s no easy way out, because the hard way is how we got here. Understand your body, for it is yours and you occupy it for only so long; appreciate it.

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Hangovers, Unlike Wine, Are Getting Worse With Time

We’ve all been there: ailing in our bed from the previous night’s shenanigans. The plight of the hangover has gotten increasingly worse as the years have progressed. When drinking was a relatively novel endeavor, you found yourself back on your feet in no time. For example, in high school, you could drink heavily (whatever “heavily” meant back then) and still be extremely productive the following day; whereas today, you suddenly become confined to your bed—wallowing and brainstorming ways to combat the feelings of uneasiness. It feels as if there’s no blood coursing through your veins. You’re lifeless and contemplating eating, usually something unhealthy: high in fat and in calories. You chug water, which, because of the rate of absorption, is feckless. So, you try to sleep, but that’s also ineffective because of the rebound effect—your body overcompensates for the glutamine deficiency by pumping more into your blood, thus stimulating your brain. You concoct various fruits such as watermelon and apples to only hope that it will be the antidote. Finding the proper cure will eventually seem analogous to searching for a Leprechaun’s gold at the end of a rainbow. The only real cure is time, and that, at this juncture, seems unacceptable. This harrowing, convoluted hangover can even linger into the next day, making you feel stricken by lethargy and a foggy brain. What led us to this misery? Things were all good just a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, there’s a reason for the newfound struggle, and age seems to be the leading contributor.

As we age, our body composition alters and we tend (well, most of us)to pack on more fat than muscle. This uneven distribution of mass causes us to get drunk even faster, but we keep guzzling down the drinks unaware of how affected we’ve become by the alcohol. Also, when we get older, our machines (bodies) become less efficient: the liver can’t metabolize the alcohol as fast as it once would when you were a spry, young lad. Essentially, the alcohol elimination process has decelerated. A person in their twenties probably has a 30% stronger tolerance than a person who is a teenager, consequently leading to more dehydration. However, when you’re younger your nights are truncated due to curfew and lack of hospitable options. On the other hand, older people find their ways to bars and prolong their drunken revelry, which most definitely exacerbates the soon-to-come hangover. When you’re confronted with adventurous, bar-hopping nights, you’ll be more susceptible to indulging in a combination of drinks (shots, beer, mixed drinks, wine, etc.) which inevitably delays the recovery method. Darker liquors usually provide more of a destructive hangover because of the toxic additives that are distilled into them.

I’m getting to the point (I’m pretty much there) where the pain of the hangover is outweighing the pleasure of the buzz. Pragmatically, it’s simply unwise to sacrifice a whole day of utter desolation for a couple of hours of euphoria. Although, as aware as we may be of this tormenting effect from alcohol, we’ll continue to imbibe as if it doesn’t matter. Because, in the end, we all desire that instant gratification, and we don’t care what’s to follow. We want want want…now now now. This is a microcosm of what’s wrong with society today, but who cares, right? We want to get drunk and have fun. True, indeed. That being said, I’m off to Miami this weekend for a 3-night bender and I’m wildly cognizant of the torture that will befall me on Sunday. But will that stop me? Nope, out of sight out of mind; it’s the only way we know.
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Sleep Is Everything

For about one-third of our lives, we are lost in the sea of oblivion. Sleep is one of the most fundamental features of human nature. Nowadays, it seems as if we intentionally deprive ourselves of it; whether it is from an unrelenting work habit, cellphone addiction, partying too much, disorders, or a bad sleeping environment, we are always at the mercy of our brain and how much rest it actually gets. You can mask your exhaustion through energy drinks and such, but the truth is: we all incur a sleep debt, and this debt has to be amortized in some sort of effective way or else we pay the price of being eternally fatigued and worn-down. Adequate sleep qualities can lead to a healthier life. In modern society, sleep studies are being conducted every day; long-term and short-term studies are orchestrated to determine how sleep affects our lives and how it can be deleterious to our wellbeing, granted being devoid of it. The five stages of sleep contribute to the sufficient restoration of not only our physical body, but our cognitive faculties.

For the past month, I have been dutifully using the sleep-cycle application, which monitors sleep phases and duration, in order to wake you at the appropriate time at which you are not groggy. My average night’s sleep is a morbid 5 hours and 54 minutes a night. However, my sleep is entirely reliant on everything I have done in the day, leading up to the night’s rest. If I had an early-evening coffee or decide to partake in a later-than-usual (9pm) workout, then I will find myself wallowing in bed for numerous hours, beset by the unending thought of wondering why I can’t fall asleep. My haphazard schedule of sleep has affected me in many different ways. Any night when I do not reach the optimal amount of sleep (7-8 hours) for a person in my age bracket, I automatically pay the piper. For instance, when I get less than 5 hours of sleep, I feel disoriented and less sharp. Here’s the caveat: ironically, I’m typing this on 4 hours of sleep, so my exposition may be less transparent. Everything is fleeting; my memory is like a perforated plastic bag full of water, leaking out all of the essential things I took heed of the prior day. Also, my weight fluctuation seems to tip the scales more than usual with a precarious appetite, leading me to crave high-calorie foods. However, the nights when I get the ideal amount of slumber, I feel ebullient; my brain is fast-witted, and my weight is stabilized and properly managed. Now that I’ve learned that satisfactory sleep can reverse the effects of aging, I am painstakingly aware of how many hours I obtain a night because we all want to look younger.

The vaunted rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can be disrupted by drinking alcohol. After a night of imbibing excessively, you will ineluctably be beleaguered by lethargy and laziness. This empty feeling that we have all been victims of, puts our bodies and minds in a state of fluster. REM, the most restorative stage in sleep, is thrown off-kilter and reduced because of the body’s way to combat the effects of alcohol leading to a light-sleep repose, in which you are easily awakened. When a person is constantly overwhelmed by unsound sleep, this creates other effects. These effects include: gravitation towards unhealthy foods, lack of motor skills, attention deficit, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, weakened immune system, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.

The distractions that we battle everyday flies in the face of proper somnolence. All of the artificial light and gadgets that stand in the way of bedtime are arm-wrestling with 100,000 years of evolution. Our circadian rhythm, a process that regulates our sleep-wake cycles in respect to a 24-hour interval, has been tampered with by the new technologies and varying work hours. Melatonin, a hormone in the pineal gland that is responsible for determining the times to sleep and wake, has been inhibited by all of the aforementioned interruptions. No matter how many coffees and Red Bulls we drink, nature has a way of telling us that we need time to unwind before something unpleasant happens. Thousands of car accidents a year are due to sleep deprivation; this is something that can be easily avoided with a routine sleep schedule. Sleep–as we know it–essentially discards the unnecessary information and keeps the important lessons we’ve gained from the preceding day. Even a 15-30 minute nap can provide you with more alertness. In the book Dreamland by David K. Randall, he writes, “Naps are even being used to provide a competitive advantage in the workplace. Companies such as Google, Nike, Procter & Gamble, and Cisco Systems have installed designated napping areas in their offices. The idea is that naps may allow engineers and designers to arrive at creative solutions more quickly than they would by staying awake all day.” People who remain faithful to a regimented sleep agenda tend to live longer than those who do not. Sleep itself is basic; try not to get caught up in all of the hoopla before your bedtime. Overtime, you will slowly notice your body going in the direction that you desire.

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