The big rainstorm that couldn't. Fizeek check. Principles for 2023.
Greetings from San Francisco! It’s the first day with sun in a while, so I’m feeling zesty. Sun + Aamir = joy. Might quit my job and become a solar panel, hoo hoo!
Speaking of the weather, I remember looking at this image of the storm earlier this week and thinking bruh that is a full on hurricane (why isn’t anyone else calling it a hurricane?) we’re definitely gonna die.
As usual, the apocalyptic media forecasts were far worse than reality. For many of us, it was just another rainy week.
“I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
I also spent most of today with my youngest brother Yusuf. He’s one of the best parts of my life, a joy to be around. Most importantly, he’s ALWAYS down. Today, we tried to run up Buena Vista Park in the middle of Reveling through SF while on a quest to eat the most delicious fish (Hook Fish Co) and the most delicious pizza (Golden Boy Pizza) we could find. Cinched all three. We joke around, we talk life, we talk jokes, we talk everything.
On a more serious note, I’m always impressed by his ability to remember small details and ideas that have been brought up in conversation to let you know that he’s been listening. He’s attentive, empathetic, and intelligent. Love to admit it, even at 7 years my junior, I’m starting to learn a lot from him.
I feel incredibly lucky that he’s not just a friend, or a coworker, but my very own brother. I know you’re reading this, I love you man.
Over COVID, I’d let myself go physically. My hamstrings and hands were in constant pain from sitting at a desk for the last several years. I required a CPAP machine to sleep at night due to untreated sleep apnea. I had gained a lot of fat. I was just starting to take care of myself at ~155lbs.
In 2022, I started to change all that. I began stretching every single day. I began hitting the gym, playing sports (soccer and volleyball), and going on runs, HARD. I didn’t miss a single workout for months. My diet was 95% home cooked - high protein, high fat, low carb. I started taking my sleep hygiene extremely seriously, and began experimenting with removing the CPAP machine at night. I had surgery and began addressing my sleep apnea with nightly tongue exercises. I saw incredible changes in my body, mind, and spirit.
By the end of the year, I couldn’t recognize myself. My face looked different. My body had leaned out. I felt nimble, athletic, and powerful. Best of all, my sleep has improved and I haven’t used the CPAP machine since September. Here are some of the results.
Lifts (3-4 sets of 6-8 reps):
Dips: 60 lbs of assistance —> No assistance
Pull-ups: 80 lbs of assistance —> No assistance
Dumbbell bench press: 30 lbs per hand —> 60lbs
Dumbbell single arm row: 20 lbs per hand —> 40lbs
Seated row: 60 lbs —> 100lbs
Bicep curls: 12.5 lbs per hand —> 25lbs
Also, I started the year being unable to run more than a mile at a time to running a half marathon in December!
For me, health is the foundation to living an enjoyable life. And I’m just getting started.
Transforming my life
The trap I run into is that I love to think. I love to think about thinking. I love to create frameworks and theories and philosophies about every detail in my life. I love to analyze my negative emotions and figure out where they are coming from.
Ostensibly, the purpose of these thoughts is to improve my life. But empirically, I’ve found that this rarely happens. I think Mark Manson summarizes why quite well:
When I look back at the periods in my life that transformed me for the better, a pattern emerges:
Self-awareness of a problem does pile up over time, but then:
A significant event (a crisis, a psychedelic experience, or creative vacation) breaks me free of my normal patterns, forcing me to look at life with a new lens
I choose a high-value direction to move towards
I consistently act (>30 days) towards that direction without failure
Of course, that last step is the most important. The longer I’ve stuck with something, the more transformation I experience.
A key ingredient to enable consistency is enjoyment. When I genuinely enjoy the habits that I’m working towards, it feels effortless.
Enjoyment comes from mastery, from steady dopamine. So avoiding hyperstimulus that ruins healthy dopamine - we all know what those are in this day and age - is also key to staying motivated.
For all of my new projects, initiatives, and life changes in 2023, I’ll remember: On record, if I have taken consistent action by moving in a high value direction and protecting dopamine centers along the way for >30 days, I’ve never failed to succeed. This year will be no different.