A Year’s Worth of Exercise

A year ago I weighed 352 lbs and decided to change my life. A year ago I had been “trying” to lose weight for several months only to be continually derailed. Derailed or sabotaged. A year ago I didn’t know how hard this was going to be. A year ago I didn’t know how good “this” felt.

Here is my journey over the past year, sharing how I shed and lost my weight thus far.

The Work

“Do or do not, there is no try.”

The workouts began simply, I walked on the treadmill. Not a casual stroll though, I cranked it up to a fast walk (up to 4mph) which quickly had me sweating, and I did that for 30-45 minutes. I did this nearly every night for the first few weeks. Every evening after work or morning after getting up on the weekend I would head to the apartment complex gym and use the treadmill. I found that I really enjoyed walking on the treadmill and reading e-books, so that was my way of passing the time. Simply walking fast attained much of the results you see here. Well, walking fast and eating less crap (but not zero crap.) I’ll talk about food later.

Along with walking one of the things I was most excited about in Seattle was going hiking. I don’t have complete tracking but I did a fair bit of day hiking around Seattle and logged over 40 miles of hikes for the year.

When Summer arrived in Seattle, the weather turned gorgeous and I decided to take advantage of my short commute to work (just over 2 miles) and bike to work. Biking was nice, the ride to work was easy with a large downhill to give me lots of momentum to start, and only one uphill segment for an overpass near the office. The ride home was the bear because of the giant hill and it took a few weeks before I was capable of biking up it. With biking though I laid off the walking, so progress slowed.

Then in September I went to the gym to see how far I could run, I expected to get to a half mile and stop, but then I reached the distance and kept going. I hit 0.75 miles and kept going. Then I hit a mile and hit stop out of shock. As I said in the post ‘Learning to Run‘ – as far as I know, I never ran a full mile before, ever. That was a big milestone for me, but it also was such an accomplishment that I let my foot off the gas and despite attaining a new level, saw a backslide.

This led me to set the goal for November to do my “RuMiDaMo” where I ran a mile for everyday of the month. I felt it was fitting since November was already a month of challenges such as NaNoWriMo and Movember. That was an awesome challenge and really felt like a new level.

After that month of daily runs I discovered I had upped my ability to running a full two miles. But with that came a concern about pushing too hard, so I slacked off a bit and took to running roughly three times a week, but without it being everyday I missed more runs and again felt my progress slow.

And that’s where I am, in a year I went from walking 2-3 miles to being able to run 2 miles.

The Food

“One should eat to live, not live to eat.”

For this first year, I made strides to simply “eat better.” I cut way back on non-diet sodas, at least cutting those calories if not all the other crap. Largely I set my diet around the following two anchors:

Breakfast was a smoothie. Its contents varied a bit, but the core of it was a banana and strawberry smoothie. Eventually I came to the final concoction which I’m quite happy with. The final recipe is: Spinach, Strawberry, Banana, dry oatmeal, and whey protein with milk. The whey protein helps it hold me through the morning.

I also relied on a morning snack of almonds, I keep in the desk at work. Almonds are potentially high calorie so you have to manage the quantity you eat, but they are also very good for you.

For lunch I relied on a noodle bowl. This is one of those “the devil you know” sort of things. This lunch is “fine” in terms of healthiness, but it accomplished some very important things:

  1. Be quick to prepare
  2. Be cheap
  3. Be tasty
  4. Hold me through the afternoon

The noodle bowl was a store bought (from Trader Joe’s initially, though we’ve since found it at Fred Meyers) under the brand Annie Chun’s Teriyaki bowl. Basically an upscale ramen bowl. To that I add broccoli and chicken.

Dinner was the shared meal with my wife, so it was much more fluid. We ate whatever we wanted (within reason). Pizza, meat loaf, sometimes chili, or we would go out and eat sushi etc.

And through out all of that I still battled with my sweet tooth and my penchant for gorging. In many ways it is an addiction for me. Hand me a giant bucket of popcorn and a movie and I’ll do my best to plow through it. Giant bag of Starburst? Yep. Basket of snacks for a two hour meeting? I better sit as far from it as possible. Doughnuts? NOM.

I would say my success was largely accomplished despite my food habits. Sure I made strides to improve it, but I would say I still have a fair ways to go.

The Result

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

So here we are, it’s time to show the cards. I present to you, a side by side of change.

weightloss

A few notes:

  1. Sorry for the watermark but it’s necessary as I learned. Websites, fitness sites, and spam sites, love gobbling up the side by side progress photos and not giving credit or presenting them as evidence for whatever they’re selling. I had a side by side I shared earlier this year posted to MSN without credit to me (or others in the list).
  2. The right photo is actually a few days ago, and a few pounds heavier but I don’t think you’d see a 2 lb. difference. It was also taken after a two mile run so pardon the horrible look on my face.

Now for the nitty-gritty. I weighed myself 86 times over this past year. Allowing me to share this chart of progress with you all.

 

chart

 

Some stats:

  • Total weight lost so far – 67.8 lbs
  • Average weight lost per day – 0.19lbs (1.33 lbs / week)
  • Best month – January 2012, lost 17 lbs
  • Worst month – October, due to a work trip that complete derailed my progress

You’ll see that there are numerous points on this chart which go up and not down. This was not a simple downward journey, many times I’d misstep and pay for it on the scale. The thing to understand is that fitness is a war that’s only over once you declare it over, until that day it’s just a series of battles. And you can lose an infinite number of battles so long as you keep trying you can still win the war. As you’ll see, despite the numerous jumps in weight, I won this year’s war. Just keep on working and fighting.

The Future

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”

My goal for 2012 was to lose 75 lbs, I think my goal for 2013 is to lose a total of 40lbs, but I’ll actually lose more as I add muscle.

I’ve been tracking my body fat percentage for much of last year making use of a handheld device which measures it. It’s far from perfect and those results are far less interesting given that I haven’t tracked it for all of 2012. I’ll be tracking it continuously for 2013 and hope to really see marked change on it for next year.

One thing lacking from this past year was weight training. I did a little but nothing major and never set down to make it a core element of my workout. I will begin adding it to the workouts for 2013. I’m also going to begin doing road races, though only casually. I had hoped to do them in 2012 but obviously did not. My first road 5k is the St. Pat’s Dash here in Seattle. I’m also eyeing the Run For Your Lives race up here in August and possibly a Mud Run. I’m eager to resume hiking once the weather cooperates and hopefully do some overnight trips with some friends! Along with that I’d love to start doing other stuff like rock wall climbing and maybe adding a martial art to the list (there’s a Krav Maga studio near the house.)

Eating-wise I am eager to turn it up to the next level. I think the smoothie breakfast is good though I may refine it some more. My main focus is to experiment and research other lunch meals that are healthier. I’m setting a 30 day challenge for January where I drink nothing but water (or milk with morning smoothie.) Water can be by itself or as tea, but I’ll cut out all sodas completely for 30 days. Should be interesting.

The Thanks

This progress wouldn’t have been possible without my support team. At the heart of that team is my wife who has been supportive the whole way even going so far to be the pushy coach to make sure I hit my goals and didn’t miss workouts.

Along with her though are two very important people, my younger sister Charlotte and my brother Adam. With them as major motivators who also spent this year exercising and sharing our progress with each other they are the main driver behind my continued success and indeed for getting this ball rolling.

Also all of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers who cheered me on and joined me in this journey as I’ve posted about it.

Thanks to you all, I’m eager to update you all again down the road! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a run.

How Jayne Saved My Christmas

Firefly holds a special place in many a nerd’s life, but it is especially meaningful to me for what it, Jayne, a knitted cap, and my mother did for Christmas. Specifically, how my mom was entrepreneurial about the iconic Jayne hats.

This past weekend the Science channel held a Firefly marathon they called ‘Browncoats Unite’ which included an hour long interview with the cast and crew, now ten years since the show aired. This gave fans of the show a glimpse back and the interviewed cast members to reveal some of the deeper stories and inner workings of their beloved characters. My wonderful wife spotted this special roughly three months ago and marked it on the calendar to ensure she recorded it for me because she knew how much I love Firefly.

Firefly, for me, holds a very special place in my heart. Among the copious Sci-Fi shows and books in my life, as well as the SyFy series, Firefly is on a rung all its own. Is it the perfect show? No. But it is one of the universes I especially enjoy exploring.

I was among the many fans introduced to the show after it was already cancelled. My friends Sam and Tolena introduced me to it. I recall that I was dubious of it based on the premise but after they showed me the first episode I was hooked and asked to borrow their DVDs. It’s worth noting that Sam and Tolena also introduced me to a few other great TV shows such as Coupling (The BBC version) and Wonderfalls.

I cut my Sci-Fi teeth on Heinlein and Herbert but I also grew up a die-hard fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I would race home after school and plant myself in front of the TV, enduring the Rosie O’Donnell show which led into TNG at 4pm. Then for an hour I would lose myself in the adventures of the Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard, Q and of course Data. (By the way, if you don’t follow @TNG_S8, you really should. It’s excellent.) And then, the show was gone, 4pm was another show, Sliders I think. I never really fell in love with Voyager or Enterprise, so there were years where I turned back to books and movies for my Sci-fi fix. My love for space opera was unseated by cyberpunk and The Matrix. But I still held a deep passion for space operas with their starships, their crews, and the adventures they could go on. Firefly struck all of these chords and provided me with a show I was really missing at the time.

I think it was during a phone call I mentioned the show to my dad, saying I thought he would really love it. I guess he made a note of it and picked up the DVDs at Best Buy or something at the time. Maybe I ordered them for him as a birthday gift, I’m not sure. In any case, he watched it with mom, and they both fell in love with it too.

Now, one of the episodes of Firefly, episode 12 is titled “The Message.” This episode, of all of the show’s short series of episodes, is especially important to me. In this episode Jayne, the tough burly warrior of the ship, receives a gift from his mother. It’s a knit cap and a letter from ‘Ma Cobb,’ his mom. The hat isn’t exactly the definition of high fashion, it’s yellow, orange and red and as he puts it on there are pieces of hay sticking out of it. He wears it through the end of the episode, so happy with this gift from his mom.

I asked mom to make one of the hats. The hats have become one of the show’s signature pieces of regalia for fans at conventions, wearing the hat makes you immediately identifiable to other fans as sure as a lightsaber or a Starfleet comm badge.

I got my hat from mom just a few weeks later and proudly wore it around the campus as the winter weather settled in overhead.

Mom, being the enterprising sort she was, realized that if I wanted one then other nerds on the web probably wanted one. And indeed there were a number of people selling Jayne hats. So she began making them and selling them online.

Both of my parents have an entrepreneurial streak. For much of my life Mom wrote a newsletter about organization called “The Get Organized! News”. Dad ran a computer business, “sep Computers.” We were Geek Squad before there was Geek Squad.

So, mom’s foray into the hat business wasn’t altogether unsurprising but it turned into a very important thing because this was around the time that dad’s computer business was sputtering, competitors were impeding and consumers were getting smart enough that he was getting squeezed out. So mom, over the course of I think four months, sold over 100 of these hats. With each hat she hand wrote the letter from Ma Cobb, and included pieces of hay stuck in the hat. Those hat sales ended up making Christmas possible that year, otherwise the budgets would have been too tight and it would have meant an especially lean year for us.

I have two versions of the hat. The first one she ever made, as well as an updated one that she made after refining her technique and the yarn colors she used.

At one point, I had hoped to give one of my two hats to Adam Baldwin, a token of thanks for the part he played in all of this. I know it’s silly, he’s an actor and this is a character he played. He has no idea who I am or who my family is. But for the next few years our paths never crossed. He didn’t come to Dragon*Con, and I didn’t go to any other cons he would be at. It seemed important to me to let him know my story in all of the Firefly fandom. That time has passed though, now I have just one hat the other lost over the years, and I treasure this hat a great deal.

That’s how it was for me and my family. Firefly came into our lives and enriched it with the characters, but also for one winter, financially as my mom became Ma Cobb to 100 lucky people. Now that mom is gone, I treasure so many things I got from her, but this is perhaps one of my favorites.

Some Vacation Reading

As a kid growing up in Florida, the idea of a beach vacation lost some of its enticing allure. It meant, heat, sand, salty stickiness, and more often than not – sunburns. So, the idea of a beach vacation is still something of a mystery to me. One thing I can easily comprehend is the idea of seeing friends, family, and spending some quality time with myself and a good book.

A vacation is something I haven’t done in a while.

It was 2007, when I founded ManaNation, it was around that time that I took my last real vacation. Since then I’ve never had a proper vacation. Running a website, especially as a largely one-man operation, required sacrifices. For four years that sacrifice was sleep and the inability to fully unplug, ever. I always had to be connected and running the website, or shut the site down for X days.

In 2009, Katie and I took a trip to Puerto Rico. Which we took because it conveniently tied into the Pro Tour, during which I wrote, edited video, and spent some time with my wife. Not a real vacation.

We traveled to Seattle in March of 2010. I took a day to visit Wizards, and we then spent a lot of time doing our own stuff and seeing Seattle. But during that time I spent every night posting articles and running the site.

Up until December of last year any trip we took required me to have internet access to run the website and be ready to respond to any news breaking about Magic as well as publishing and overseeing the site.

Now that I work for Wizards itself, the emergency needs of the site are low, and I am able to take a vacation. A real vacation.

Starting this Friday I’ll be leaving on our first trip back to Florida since we moved to Seattle in December of last year. During that time I’ll be endeavoring to turn off my email notifications and generally unplug.

After a wonderful discussion on Facebook, I’ve built up quite the reading list for the trip. I’m currently working on Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, but once that is done I’ll be diving into some of these books:

Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series – Following Gordianus the Finder, this historical fiction in ancient Rome is a series I’ve partially read over the years, and I hope to explore some more of these books. I love ancient Rome and love being transported to that time in Saylor’s books.

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files – These are a series of books I never really got into, following a witch detective in the modern day. I watched the SciFi TV series but haven’t yet dove into the books. Hopefully I’ll take to them as I expect.

Stephen R. Lawhead’s King Raven trilogy. Suggested to me by my friend Stephen, it sounds like it is a more historic, historic fiction of Robin Hood. So hopefully I’ll enjoy that series as well.

Don Winslow’s Savages and the new prequel Kings of Cool are both on my reading list. I haven’t read either of these books so I’m looking forward to diving into them.

David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, a book that’s been on my reading list for a while but something I just hadn’t dove into. To call a popular meme to mind, “One does not simply read David Foster Wallace!”

Additionally on the list are books from Jasper Fforde, Cory Doctorow, Iain M. Banks, and more.

Now it’s important to realize I don’t expect to get through all of these books. I do expect to have a handful of starts and stops and most likely books which don’t strike my fancy, so I will be able to try and explore new options.

As for the nonfiction books I’ll be reading, the list is a bit shorter.

George Dyson’s Turing Cathedral is a book I’m super intimidated but also super excited to get into. This one could very well swallow me whole and chew me up over the course of the vacation.

Willpower by Roy Baumeister is a book about willpower and how to recapture it. I expect it to be interesting and informational if not somewhat info-tainment, we’ll see!

A Majority of Scoundrels by Don Berry examines the history of America’s fur trade in the country’s formative years.

And that’s it. Holy crap I’ve got a lot of reading ahead of me. Thank goodness for my Nook and the wonders of ebook technology.

Just like riding a…

Living close to work I’ve been thinking for months about the idea of biking to work during the cooperative months in Seattle (July to September.) So in June I began researching. What I needed was a ‘trek’ bike or a mountain bike. A trek bike is like a modified mountain bike geared towards a more urban setting. A few weeks ago I got sized at a bike shop, he said I needed a 59cm bike. But what I realized was that the seat was raised a fair bit on that bike, he let me test ride. So it was great to realize a 59cm bike would work for me, but also that I actually needed a bike even bigger.

So I set up a Craigslist search and checked it daily for a few weeks. What I ended up finding was a used 61cm mountain bike. I met the seller in the parking lot of a Home Depot and gave it a ride, it was in great condition. They had bought it for their 6’3″ daughter to use for getting around her college campus but she wasn’t into it so they were selling it to recoup some of the cost.

Now, I haven’t ridden a bike in over a decade. Almost two decades in truth. But, as they say, it’s just riding a bike. Once I got home I took a quick ride and it came back to me. But, one thing I’ve realized is that when I biked in Florida, gears on my bike were largely superfluous. Like, 100% superfluous. I used them thinking I was gaining a huge advantage on the mole hills I might bike over.

On bikes here in Seattle, gears are critical. So I’ve had to relearn to ride the bike and properly manage the gears, and in truth I’m still coming to grasp how they are used.

Today I took my first “sizable” ride, a test ride from the house to my office. I put sizable in quotation marks because it was a four mile ride, that’s all. Serious bikers will regularly put 20+ miles a day on their bike. My bike did good and my gear management was definitely improved from where it was just a few weeks ago.

The ride went well and I had no real issues except for one…

I confirmed today that even twenty years later, I am still unable to jump my bike’s front wheel up onto a four inch curb.

Here’s how I know:

Raw skin from a minor knee scrape. I took a fall and did a roll as I hit the ground but not before scraping my knee.

Biking is very fun and it’s a tragedy that so few people keep doing it once they get to be car-aged. I’m very much looking forward to returning to a world of biking frequently.

Two of my siblings, Adam and Jessica, are both avid bicyclers, using them to commute to work and run errands. But they both live in the South where the world is flatter (albeit frequently hotter.) Renton isn’t the most bike friendly part of town, but there are bike lanes and wide sidewalks.

In my seeking for bicycling knowledge, in case you are curious, let me drop some links for you:

  • SheldonBrown.com – Your first stop resource, a veritable bible when it comes to biking in any form.
  • /r/bicycling – Reddit’s primary biking subreddit. Lots of good stuff here.
  • /r/bikewrench – A subreddit focused on bike repair and work. Great resource for when things break.
  • Seattle Bike Blog – If you’re in the Seattle area this blog is a great resource to follow.

What I’m Working On

Almost two months since my last blog post, so let’s take this time for a gentle review of what I’ve been up to.

OffHiking.com – My current side project is an outdoors, camping, hiking and backpacking website. It’s in a slow nascent growth stage as I write new content and build up material for it. I started the site so that I could have a side project to work on, using my experiences from working on ManaNation.com / GatheringMagic.com.

All The Covers – As a much lighter side project on Tumblr I have ‘All the Covers.’ Twice or three times a week I post a look at the varied covers for books. It’s just a fun side project.

In addition to these digital projects I’ve finally, since moving to Seattle, begun making sizable progress on my weight. I’ve lost 35 lbs since Christmas of last year. I’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s really rewarding to see this much progress.

Four Things to Know About Seattle

As a recent transplant to Seattle, I feel like there might be some knowledge I can drop on future transplants.

1. The Department of Licensing, while overseeing both drivers licenses and car tags, does not handle both in a single office. You’ll have to go to two different offices.

I got my driver’s license approximately three weeks after arriving in Seattle, and only after digging online did I realize that they’re different offices. Also important is that after you get your new driver’s license you’ve got 30 days to get your tags changed. Before what? I don’t know. I just know that’s the window I was told.

2. If it snows more than flurries, the city shuts down and public transit is going to be hours delayed everyday.

Having just survived a snowpocalypse, I can personally attest to this. The city expects and lives with rain, but if it turns to ice then much of the city is helpless. I live two miles from my office and the weather made it unsafe for me to get to work. But the good news is that the snow doesn’t last.

3. Seattleites are good people, but they’re not the kindest of people.

The first night my wife and I were here in Seattle, we went to the place people have gathered for thousands of years: the marketplace. Or as we call it now: Wal-Mart. And at Wal-Mart we discovered that people here were blunt and not the same politeness which we were accustomed to in Florida. People moved us out of the way, cut us off, and generally gave us the cold shoulder.

4. Teriyaki shops are everywhere.

In Florida it was Mexican food, here in Seattle it must be part of the building code to require a teriyaki shop in every strip mall. Cheap, easy, quick and… everywhere. Literally. So far I’ve really enjoyed the teriyaki places I’ve tried, but there are also some amazing sushi restaurants to be had, so don’t be shy in trying them out!

How I Got Fat: A History

Update: Nearly a year after I posted this article, I’ve changed my life and undone most of the ‘fat’ you see here. I lost 67 lbs in 2012.

Me being goofy in high schoolLooking back, I don’t think I really got fat until I was in college, but I definitely began getting fat in high school. Up to my Junior year I played high school football and I was on the rowing team, these activities covered much of the school year and allowed me to stay in okay shape despite my never really pushing myself physically. Man did that exercise and sports boost my metabolism.

I can recall vividly after a football game I was starving and I was in the car with my parents as we drove home. I requested we drive through and get me some food. We stopped at a Wendy’s and I ordered not one, not two, but three chicken sandwiches. And fries. And a soda. Oof. High school metabolism why hast thou forsaken me!?

It was my Junior year when sports stopped being fun and I began to really discover how much I liked hanging out with friends or better yet, working and earning money. So I quit. But as far as I can remember, I still ate like I was an athlete.

Continue reading “How I Got Fat: A History”

Our West Coast Christmas

As it turns out, the west coast celebrates Christmas just like the rest of the United States. I wasn’t certain, but am glad to see it’s true. After buying a tree earlier last week, Katie and I waited until Christmas Eve to actually decorate it. We had to go through the still packed boxes in our garage before finding the right ones. We unpacked our decorations and enjoyed a wonderful tree by our fireplace.

Continue reading “Our West Coast Christmas”

Where You Might Be Swept Off To

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Five years ago, when I launched ManaNation, I had naivë dreams of untold riches as I captured a niche market and gained throngs of followers. Little did I know how difficult growing a Magic website would prove to be. It became a monumental task to continue to expand, innovate and find new ideas for the site. Then two years ago fate decided that it was time to take it to the next level and the site exploded and I was dropped into possibly the perfect job for me.

It’s been quite a journey. One that I admit I had no clue where it was taking me. And one that has swept me off my feet.

Today I get to announce a new leg of the journey. One that is a surprising and delightful turn: Starting next month, on Dec. 12th, I will work for Wizards of the Coast as their Content Specialist overseeing DailyMTG.com.

So in a few short weeks, with a holiday and a major Magic tournament (World Championships) in the weeks in the middle, Katie and I will be moving to Seattle with an epic 6 day cross country road trip. And like every good war-time commander, I’m ready to throw plans out the window at a moment’s notice.

Leaving CoolStuffInc was a tough decision, my bosses and everyone there have been fantastic – in many ways it’s been my dream job. They gave me almost carte blanche to pursue ideas and explore my entrepreneurial spirit to find new ways to make the company money. I was a one man mad-scientist R&D, the “resident dreamer” and it has been awesome.

The truth is that Wizards is just about the only company who could pull me away from here. Talking to my bosses and telling them the news is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do professionally. But, I’m excited at what’s coming down the road.

I wrote an article about this news for GatheringMagic.com, and in it I use a quote from Conan O’Brien: “Work hard, be kind and amazing things will happen.” I can 100% confirm this is true.

Three Months of Wisdom

It’s been nearly three months since my last blog post. I feel like a lover spurning an old flame, but the trap I continued to fall into for the past months is that – my life hasn’t been overly interesting. I haven’t felt driven to chase my muse across the keyboard, though I’ve watched her flit about to and fro.

I’ve considered stories, like one I have working titled “RIOTBall” which explores a world where sports and police forces intermingle almost indistinguishably. It sounds zanier than it actually is, but it’s a concept still – nascent and unready to be brought forth.

I’ve done some travel and I could talk about the places I’ve gone and the things I’ve done, but not yet – there is a story there, but as above… it’s time hasn’t come yet.

My wife and I just celebrated our first year of marriage, a muted but intimate affair. We’re overjoyed that we survived the first year and have agreed to carry on for at least 79 more years.

I have opinions on the current state of politics, the current financial crisis, and the whole #OccupyWallStreet movement but again, none of these are wholly formed and ready to be put down on paper.

There is wisdom all around us. Spun out in bands like radio waves from a tower, if only we are paying attention to see them. The wisdom which resonates in the world comes from the news of Steve Jobs’ passing, and it’s a quote that is now six years old. I remember reading it when the transcript of his commencement speech was posted – but it never resonated with me until he died.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

To me, that’s three months of wisdom. Gained at the cost of three months, to be spent frivolously over the rest of my life.