There’s a glut of self-improvement apps coming out for your smartphone lately. WeightWatchers, Strava, FitBit, the various one’s built into Android and iPhone’s operating systems, and plenty of other ones.

Most self-improvement apps focus on a specific purpose, whether that’s exercise, dieting, or quitting bad habits.

My self-improvement app of choice doesn’t have any specific focus. And if you haven’t already guessed from the title, the app is called Habitica.

Habitica Banner

Habitica lets you define your goals, what habits you want to develop, and which bad habits you want to lose. You can also define rewards for yourself (such as eating a piece of cake while on a diet). Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

Heart Problems

A couple months ago I mentioned to my wife, “After I started giving blood regularly I’ve been getting the heart flutters a lot me often.”

And she said, “Heart flutters?”

“Yeah, you know, when your heart feels like it’s beating faster for a second or two?”

My wife informed me that this was not a normal feeling and that I should go see a doctor. Big surprise to me!

I went to the doctor and she concluded that I was probably having heart palpitations. Not unusual. About one third of people have them with some frequency.

I’d been getting mine about once or twice a week, often in association with exercise.

The doctor did a bunch of tests and found two things.

  1. The right ventricle of my heart is a little bigger than it should be. The ventricle is bigger so there’s more blood in it, but it doesn’t exert enough pressure to remove as much blood as it should per beat. Since it can’t pump everything out there is a slight backflow into my heart. This small disruption in my bloodflow might occasionally be causing heart flutters.
  2. I was suffering from acute anemia, not enough hemoglobin for my red blood cells. This was due to giving blood. One of the symptoms of anemia is heart palpitations caused by my heart not getting enough blood. There just isn’t enough of the stuff in my body to keep everything working all the time.
Obviously my heart is much prettier than this.
Obviously my heart is much prettier than this.

I asked the doctor, “What do I do? This has a small risk of a heart attack and I want to control that risk as much as possible.”

She said I should avoid things that trigger the heart palpitations and if I experienced any additional symptoms of a heart attack at the same time as the flutters I should call 9-1-1 immediately.

Haven’t had any additional symptoms yet, so I’m good on that count!

Avoiding the triggers has been… difficult.

Giving blood was the biggest one. I stopped doing that.

I’d like to continue giving blood and I still have the option of donating plasma. Plasma is the actual liquid part of your blood, not the cells. Giving just that part doesn’t lower my hemoglobin or red blood cell count so I shouldn’t get anemia afterwards.

Giving Plasma by Dave Coverly

The other two things to avoid are exercise and caffeine.

Taking out caffeine was a letdown. I survived all of college without caffeine but I’d grown to like having a cup of coffee in the morning.

I still occasionally have some caffeine but I have switched to decaf or healthier low caffeine substitutes like tea. There’s been a noticeable reduction in the frequency of my heart flutters since I stopped drinking coffee everyday.

Exercise is the weird one to cut out.

I wasn’t exactly active prior to going to the doctor for this issue. I bike to lab every day and I walk my dog, but that’s about all the exercise I get. I don’t get heart flutters doing either of those things, only when my heart rate gets elevated past 140bpm (estimate).

So it’s not like my lifestyle is really changing by stopping those forms of exercise but it is a rather strange message to hear from my doctor, “Don’t exercise.”

I feel like eventually that’ll cause problems for me. I avoid heart palpitations by not exercising, but as I get older I’ll accumulate other problems that will mostly be solved by keeping to an exercise routine. But if keeping to the exercise routine causes other problems, then what do I do?

Ultimately, this is not current Isaac’s problem. This is future Isaac’s problem. He can deal with this when I have to make those sorts of decisions.

I feel healthy with the amount of exercise I’m getting now and hopefully low bpm workouts will continue to fulfill my needs in the future.

Long story short, I have some sort of heart condition, but it’s fairly common and not dangerous as long as I don’t give blood or drink caffeine every day.


PS. This is also the 300th post on the site. Woohoo! Milestone!

Getting Weights

Recently my wife and I got some dumbbell weights to lift at home. She’d had some previously, but was getting stronger and ready to use some heavier weights while I was getting a fresh set for myself.

Oh yeah! So hot with my ten pounders.
Oh yeah! So hot with my ten pounders.

This is all part of that constant problem I’ve had after high school, “Without AYSO for fun exercise how will I prevent myself from turning into a potato?”

Lifting the weights is a lot of fun. My wife’s taught me the basics about which directions you’re supposed to lift them in, how many times (20), and how often (every two days).

Once I’m able to do all the different directions 20 times easily, then she says I’ll be ready for a heavier set of weights.

I can do all the different lifts 20 times in a row easily enough except lifting from my back over my head (triceps) and holding the weights out like I’m a plane ready to take off (static hold).

As you can see, I’m using 10 pounders (4.5kg) right now. My goal is to move up to 20 pounders. What’s the timeline on that goal? I have no idea.

My main issue right now is sticking with the frequency of lifting weights every other day. I often forget when I get home.

Who wants to lift weights after a long day at work?

Well, I sort of do, but I’d also like to eat dinner and watch some TV and work on my blog and on D&D related things.

I think the best move would be changing my workout time from in the evening to in the morning. I enjoyed exercising in the morning when I was in high school. Maybe that’s still true!

So here’s hoping that morning weight lifting will turn my wormy arm muscles into pythons!


Exercise Regime

7:30? Time to do some calisthenics!
7:30? Time to do some calisthenics!

Two weeks ago I started a simple exercise routine to build muscle slowly without going to the gym.

I don’t need to exercise to stay healthy. Somehow my body remains thin and wonderful no matter what I eat.

I only like exercise when its fun or when I can get something tangible out of it.

Exercising for fun is doing stuff like playing sports, running around on a playground (I’m 23 and I still do this. Get over it), or swimming.

I exercise for fun occasionally, but I don’t have a routine of doing fun exercise.

I’m afraid that if I make it a routine that I’ll start disliking fun types of exercise because “I have to do them.”

Fortunately I don’t need to exercise to stay healthy yet. My heart rate is perfectly fine as well being 80bpm at rest and as low as 40bpm after I’ve recovered from exercise (my heart is weird). Part of this is probably because I bike to work everyday.

Still, there’s the added benefit that some types of exercise build muscle mass. I’ve always wanted to get stronger so I can look hot for my wife.

I tried going to the gym, but that was super boring unless I listened to lectures on Greek and Roman classics. But then I ran out of lectures.

So how do you build muscle mass without going to the gym?

Lots of pushups and situps!

So two weeks ago I decided I would do 20 pushups and situps everyday.

If I successfully completed that many then next week I would increase the number by 5 to 25 pushups and situps.

If I completed the week again, then I’d increase the number again.

I missed a few of the days my first week because I wasn’t used to the routine yet, but once I set an alarm on my phone it became easy to remember.

I’ve completed a week successfully and both pushups and situps have increased to 25 per day.

I’m curious how high I can get the numbers. My record for pushups is 37 in a row. I’ve found that the limitation on how many situps I can do has more to do with boredom than exhaustion.

Maybe once the numbers get high enough I’ll have to mix it up a little bit by doing one handed pushups or something.

If you’d like, comment with what your exercise routine is!

-Mister Ed

Original Gurutama Timeline

As I continue to develop more of Gurutama I’ll be making page links in the top bar for permanent information.

Eventually those page links will be an easy source of information for myself, my players, and anyone else who wants to read up on our imaginary world.

I’ll add more organization as necessary, but with only one link right now, I don’t think its needed.

If you haven’t already seen it at the top, the Original Gurutama Timeline is now accessible.

This is the unedited version which is probably filled with inconsistencies, timing problems, and other errors. I’ll be smoothing those out and posting a Revised Gurutama Timeline as I go.

That’s pretty much it for today!

Here’s a picture of a bear starting an exercise regime to make up for the lack of a real blog post.

Hula Hoop

-Mister Ed