Towards Physical Potential

During the last couple of days I’ve been giving a lot of thought towards my post from Saturday. One thing I’ve been thinking about is how I was slightly dishonest in my original post. I talked a lot about wanting to be healthy and seeing what my body’s potential is at this time in life. Those things are true, as someone who thinks science will allow us to conquer death I need to be healthy enough to get to that point, and someday I won’t have an unaltered body and I think it’d be cool to see what she can do before robotics and computers start fusing with my biological shell.

Those two reasons aren’t the full truth, part of it is my desire to be considered more conventionally attractive and sexy. It is superficial, but it is true. I also realize my own discomfort with my body plays a part in that. I think that is partly why I will be taking and sharing nude photos during this experiment, hopefully seeing some photographic changes will encourage me to keep going and continue down my path to accept and love my body. And maybe it will also help someone else. When I share these photos on my blog I will put a content warning at the top and they will be at the very bottom of the post, just in case someone wants to read my updates but do not want to see me naked.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is how this would work and when I will start. It is tempting to wait until after the bike ride to start. To have a fresh point in which it begins without other things going on in my life. That is really a pipe dream, there will always be a reason to push it off another day, week, month, or year. The time will never be perfect to get things moving. So, I’m leaning towards starting this sooner rather than later, now I just got to figure out how I’m going to go about this experiment.

Measuring inputs and outputs to gather data (because gathering data makes me happy) is gong to be one of the major challenges when I do this from the road. Taking photos and doing measurements at least once a week is easy enough. Weighing myself on a scale is pretty difficult, but weight isn’t a measurement anyway. Internal vitals (blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc) are nearly impossible to do right now. I hate to start off without a baseline or any system in place to measure these things along the way, but maybe that type of in depth analysis will need to wait. It is also easy enough to get some measurements for how my physical strength has improved by taking an Army APFT every month or two to see how my push-ups, sit-ups, and 2-mile run has improved. I’ll probably throw pull-up in there for good measure.

The inputs are easier to track. It just takes some discipline to record what I do each hour, how much time I spend sitting, biking, meditating, exercising, what foods I eat, how much water I drink, etc. Ideally I’d record it all on my computer as I do it, but that could get cumbersome so I’ll probably use a notepad and enter it later into Cronometer.com and a shared excel document.

My food plan is pretty basic. I’m going to use the information from The Blue Zones solution to plot my meals. I am also limited to being vegan because of my ethics and being on the bike ride means I don’t have access to cooking or refrigeration. I’m basically stuck with produce, bread products, and canned goods. Luckily, that is all fairly healthy as long as I avoid junk food. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so that won’t be a huge problem. I’m not going to stick to a strict calorie limit, instead I will eat when I’m hungry and try to be aware of portions. Portioning is difficult for me, particularly on the bike ride. I end up being ravenous after biking and devour more food than my body needs. I like the idea of meditative eating where you focus on the act of eating and eat slowly, in my experience I enjoy food more when I do it this way and I don’t mindlessly snack or eat.

Here is a rough idea what my ideal daily schedule will look like, based on how I generally live on the bike ride:

  • 0700 hours: Wake, eat first meal (Bowl of oatmeal, piece of fruit, handful of almonds, coffee), 10 minutes of Sun Salutations, 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation, write blog post, pack up camp
  • 0900 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1000 hours: Hummus wrap with lots of veggies, piece of fruit
  • 1045 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1145 hours: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, 30 minutes exercise
  • 1245 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1345 hours:  Handful of almonds or energy bar, work for a couple hours, coffee
  • 1600 hours: Hummus wrap with lots of veggies
  • 1615 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1715 hours: Handful of almonds, 30 minutes of exercise
  • 1800 hours: Bike one hour
  • 1900 hours: Half a can of beans, lentils, or soup, hummus wrap with lots of veggies, set up camp, 10 minutes of yoga, push ups, plank

Now, I have the challenge of setting up an excel document to track everything. The big worry here is becoming a slave to the system and feeling like a failure if I miss a day or make a mistake or whatever. We will see how it goes, but I’m excited. I figure even if I only reach 50% of my input goals I will be moving in the right direction and that the project will be a success.

My photos will be shared here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-wiz3LAg756THI2dEs5S1BQQW8&usp=sharing

The excel document tracking everything is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-wiz3LAg756RnBCN1RrRUpERU0/view?usp=sharing

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Self Reflection – Introduction

The nature of my lifestyle means I have a lot of time to think. 4-6 hours of constant bike riding daily kind of demands it, your mind tends to wander and you can only focus on podcasts for so long before you ignore them outright. I guess most of my adult life I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I believe and why I believe it. The stability of my Christian, conservative, white middle-class view on the world was another tower that fell on 9/11. After that attack I joined the military, saw some of the world, met lots of people, and realized my upbringing was not the “end all, be all” of the good life. In fact, I found it quite wanting.

This penchant for self-analysis and a recent post on the app “Secret”* inspired this upcoming series of blog posts. I think it is important to constantly question what you believe, why you believe it, and how people perceive you. There are many labels that people apply to themselves (myself included) but rarely can a person’s perspective and history be defined by a few grunted syllables. In addition, I think it will be fun to provide a permanent record of what I believe for future me to look back on. It is likely that 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now I will not have the same points of view. I actually hope I don’t, because that means I have likely stopped growing and learning.

So, in no particular order, here are the subjects, roles, and views I plan on exploring in the coming months, both my current views and how I got to them. I hope to get 1-2 out per week but that depends on logistics for my ride.

  • Libertarian Anarchist
  • Pansexual
  • Nudity and Body Positivity
  • Pagan Atheist
  • Transhumanist
  • Sex Positive
  • Open Relationships and My Current Monogamish Relationship
  • Veganism
  • Minimalist
  • BDSM and Kink
  • Drug Use

*Recently someone posted on “Secret” that my life is basically childish, hedonistic, and that I’m afraid of adulthood. I responded on Facebook and it doesn’t need to be rehashed here, but that perception of me did get my brain moving and was part of the catalyst for this series.

Epic Body Love

I’ve written in this blog before about body positivity and self love (both in general and as a male), and I’ve even taken my pasty white body out into the world to spread the message, but my work pales in comparison to Nick Gilronin.

Gilronan recently walked away with the title “Smallest Penis in Brooklyn” and he conducted an inspiring interview with the Gothamist. Even for someone as body-positive as me this is incredibly inspiring. Here is a man who is so comfortable with his body that he is willing to display a part of him that has often been used to judge a man’s masculinity and worth, and it is an admittedly small part. When asked if he thought small dicks have a bad rep he had this to say:

“Yes. That’s the media’s fault, I think. For both men and women, they push out images of people who just aren’t regular normal people. The size of a man’s penis does not matter for who he is as a person or in a relationship. Same thing with breast size. We’re all made in different shapes and sizes, but the media puts pressure on people to look a certain way. Most people do not look that way. Some people let that false sense of body image upset them and they shouldn’t be upset at all. Even worse, some people use those false standards and judge other people. It’s disconcerting.”

Agreed. It is disconcerting. I understand the natural inclination to judge someone based on quick glances, it is an evolutionary trait that has allowed our species to evolve, but part of being human means holding ourselves to a higher standard than nature. Our moral code shouldn’t only be grounded in what is “natural” but should surpass it. Particularly when the standard is a false one marketed to us by social pressures.

I don’t know for sure if men suffer the same pressure for our penises that women do for their breasts. Penises are generally hidden while breasts are on display, and in general women tend to be held to a higher physical standard than men and judged more harshly. His point is relevant though, we are all held to judgments when we shouldn’t be and you might be surprised when you get to know him. Like Gilronin said, some people are “growers not showers” and you might be surprised about how impressive someone is (phallicwise and otherwise) if you look past first impressions.

Men, We Need Hold Each Other Responsible

There is an article going around about a TSA officer who shamed a 15-year old for her outfit (link here). Maybe it is my lack of sleep, maybe it is a lack of coffee, but this seriously pissed me off. Men, we need to get our shit together and take responsibility for ourselves (and hold our peers accountable).

If you can’t look at a half inch of flesh without lust in your heart that is YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM! Stop attempting to shame and control what women wear. Stop cat-calling every jogger in yoga pants. Stop assuming that a woman at the club dancing wants your penis inside of her. Did she say she wants your penis? Did she say she wants your attention? Did she say you can touch her? NO? Then the answer is no. It isn’t “if I try harder”, it isn’t “maybe if I holler at her from the corner she will see all my wonderful values and fall in love with me”, the answer is no until it is explicitly yes.

The human form is not sexual by default. I realize we have all been brought up in a country that treats the body as a purely sexual but taboo object. We’ve been told that showing skin is wrong because it is sexual. But our upbringing is not an excuse for individual behavior. There is a time and place for sexual activity, and that time and place is not every time you see the outline of a nipple, cleavage, or a woman exercising in form-fitting clothes. And any attempt at blaming evolution for this is a strawman at best, there are a lot of things that humans do that no other species has done, certainly we can add “treats everyone with respect, judges people for their character not their clothes, honors them as individuals, and requires explicit consent” to the list of things like “cooks food, wears clothes, uses technology, discusses philosophy, and shares pictures of cats”.

It is not men’s place to tell a woman what to wear, try to make her feel bad about what she is wearing, or to make assumptions based on what she is wearing. Seriously, if you lack any self control and feel like you need to prove you have a penis by hollering at everything with two X chromosomes do us all a favor and stay indoors until you are ready to be a part of civilized society.

Men, not only do we need to stop acting like sex-deprived shitheads but we need to call out our friends when they do it. It should be socially unacceptable to see a woman and assume “sex”, regardless of what she is or is not wearing. One of my favorite things about Burning Man was a woman could walk alone at night wearing nothing and feel safe. We men should help provide that safe place throughout society by holding each other accountable and treating women as something more than a potential lay.

-End Rant-

Of The Body

I have grown to really love the human body over the last few years. The human form is amazingly beautiful to me and the more I learn about how it functions the more beautiful it becomes. I also love my body, something that I could not always claim. Throughout high school, and even into my military days, I was uncomfortable being naked and found myself to be incredibly unattractive. As my views have changed and I have stopped comparing myself to the male physique that is marketed to me I find I am much happier and I am more inspired to actually take care of my body.

I believe people would greatly benefit if they came to love their body, be comfortable naked alone, and become comfortable naked around others without an assumption of sexual contact. Loving myself and my body was a huge milestone for me and helped me re-evaluate a lot of things I once believed, I think that is why it is so important to me. Unfortunately, in American society the image of the body has been completely skewed through a combination of unrealistic expectation as well as a puritan view of the body that oversexualizes it. The three sources of this skewing that comes to mind is advertising, movies/tv, and pornography.

Advertising in the western world does the most damage to body image in my opinion. The airbrushing, model selection process, and plastic surgery puts forth an image that is not attainable by most people. To be bombarded with these images has an effect on people on both a conscious and subconscious level. This is the most serious offender, while pornography and Hollywood may cause problems most people are aware movies and tv shows are fiction, they are fantasy, they are stories. This is explicitely known from the beginning, with advertising the line between fantasy and reality blurs and we are told what we are seeing is real.

Hollywood plays a part in setting up unrealistic expectations for body, but without airbrushing the real harm comes from the censorship enforced by the MPAA. If you haven’t seen “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” I highly advise it, it is available on Netflix streaming. Hollywood creates an environment where the male body is used only as a joke, the female form is only for sex, female pleasure is often censored, and homosexual relationships are rarely given the same support that heterosexual relationships are. Essays upon essays could be written on this subject but for me the distortion of the body is what matters. The body is never shown in a comfortable and normal environment, instead it is sex or comedy. We have a society that says that showing realistic murders is okay for evening television but the presence of an areola is forbidden.

This reinforcement of the nude form being only allowed for sex is incredibly harmful. From school children giggling at art to dress codes that sexualize all flesh men grow up with no need to mature or practice self control. Instead of learning that the body has many functions we are taught that skin equals sex. I think people rightfully claim that Americans are desensitized to violence and in it’s place we have become overly-sensitized to the beautiful human form.

I believe pornography also has an impact on body image, but I don’t think it is as harmful as the other two. Certainly traditional porn features an unnatural “porn star” look that isn’t obtainable by the average person. I think this is particularly true when it comes to vaginal construction, there is a certain vaginal look with minimized labia’s that is pretty common in porn but is rare in real life (at least in my experience). Fortunately, porn is a very free market with a growing demand for amateur and “amateur” porn with realistic people. I think it is worth noting that the Australian government has worked to ban small breasts in pornography, basically telling society what a “real sexual woman” looks like. Within pornography you can also find evidence that nudity does not equal sex, but coming from the reverse direction. If you’ve ever seen one of the “Beautiful Agony” videos you know that just seeing the facial expressions and hearing the sounds of someone in orgasm can be incredibly erotic, no nipples, vaginas, butts, or penises needed.

The human form is a beautiful thing. It exists independent of sex and we would all be better off if we desensitized ourselves to seeing people in the buff. When every body is no longer seen as a sex object you get more value and pleasure out of sex when it happens. Making something taboo, forcing it underground, and placing unrealistic puritanical standards on society harm everyone. I think the first step is to love yourself and your body first. Strip down, look in the mirror, and just enjoy the wonder of you. Everybody is different, there is such beauty in variety but that beauty can’t be seen if all we see is sex or shame.

Note: I realize that I address the human form in general and the female form in particular. I think there is a good discussion to be had about how specialization of nudity has an effect on men viewing men and when I get my thoughts sorted out I may do a blog post.

Post Script: While I think Hollywood and modern marketing does a lot of harm I don’t believe there should be government intervention. A society that produces unrealistic forms is bad, but a society that sees violence (and all government action is violence) as an appropriate response to all ills is even worse. Education, discussion, and information is how we should fight.

As always I recognize that my views are skewed based on my gender, sex, race, and economic status. I certainly don’t claim to speak for anyone except myself. These are my perceptions as an individual white, middle-class, pansexual with a penis

Worldwide Naked Bike Ride

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of participating the Worldwide Naked Bike Ride in beautiful Los Angeles, California. The weather was perfect for a ride through the city and my friends and I had a great time joining 250ish others in the peaceful event. Like most things it meant different things to different people, some were advocating for green energy,  body positivity, both, and neither. The participants themselves were generally courteous, polite, and friendly. There was also great variety in what people “wore”, our group was mostly body paint but some people had costumes, masks, and “au naturel”.

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As a self-proclaimed sex-positive, body-positive advocate I felt incredibly comfortable laughing, talking, and biking with people in their birthday suits. It is just skin and it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. I strongly believe that the world (and America in particular) could benefit from more non-sexualized nudity. Making the the body taboo is harmful to every individual and society as a whole. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees and many of those who disagree did not believe in passive, peaceful, respectful dialogue to voice their disagreements.

There were two times during the ride when I actually felt a bit unsafe. While I am comfortable being naked in public and private it is not the optimal condition if I need to defend myself or others. The first time was when the route took us down skid row. I’m not sure who planned the route but I feel like this was a mistake. Skid Row is a generally impoverished area of Los Angeles where many homeless people settle. While most of the people we encountered either ignored us or laughed when we were in the Skid Row area we were met with profanities and sexual comments being shouted at the women. It quickly became uncomfortable when people started leaving the sidewalk and approaching us on the street. Luckily things did not escalate and we were on our way quickly.

The second time was a little more concerning. We were all riding along a beautiful bike trail along the Los Angeles river when we passed a group of men who did not appreciate the beauty of the human form. Instead of ignoring us and waiting for us to pass they ended up trying to fight one of the organizers and threw at least one punch. Regardless of your views on public nudity, sexuality, or anything else you should not resort to violence. I do wonder what these individuals who were shouting homophobic slurs at us would have done if our crowd of 250+ naked people would have decided to defend ourselves with force. I can’t imagine it would have ended well for them. A few minutes later along the bike path we passed a park where a women had two small children playing, she started yelling things like “faggot”, “gays cause AIDS”, “I wish you would all die”, and such at us. I’m not sure how she could look at a naked body and determine sexuality (I sure can’t) but this definitely confirmed that homophobia is alive even on the Left Coast, and the example this mother was setting for her children is that anyone who is different deserves death. A scary thought.

But, I hate to dwell on the negative. It was an incredibly positive experience. The VAST majority of people who saw us waved, honked, flashed peace signs, and laughed at our group as we passed them. I’m sure their are dozens (hundreds?) of videos of us on YouTube, I’m tempted to check them out just to see if me and my body make a random appearance. There are some pics floating around and we had a camera which was misplaced, but hopefully it will materialize soon so I can share some. I had a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it again next year, though I should definitely wear more sunscreen.

Well, it seems my backside made the news, I have “Your Body Is Beautiful” painted on my back. Most of these articles show nipples and penises (THE HORROR):
LA Weekly ArticleLAist Article, Grist.com, Huffington Post

And here are a couple links if you are interested in more information:
Official Website, LA Bikeride FB Page

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