Connecting With Your True Self

As young children we inherently embrace the present experience and our true self. Therefore, our happiest and most free moments of existence are often tied to our childhood. As a child I remember following a daily routine of exploring the fenced horse field with my pet dog, and that field felt like it was my world of existence. This is not because I confined myself to that space, but because I only had a faint awareness of everything beyond that space. There was no reason to explore anything beyond the field because there was so much to learn within that area. It was a pure and complete experience of my true self.

A Glimpse of the True Self

During my high school years I had a few glimpses of my true self and a clear mind. I swam for my high school, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sport. Mostly I loved the competition within each race. The shot would fire to start the race, and my body would simply take over the experience. I was in autopilot mode.

Swim a few strokes; flip turn; repeat.

Bolt to the finishing touch pad.

The race experience was automatic. My mind was clear and I was fully experiencing the movement of my body.

Unfortunately, I slowly began to integrate some borderline obsessions. I was constantly thinking about the next swim meet, which was trumped by the more important conference meet, which was trumped by the more important sectionals meet, which was trumped by the more important state meet. Once the date arrived my day was still about preparing and waiting for the event. The event was exhilarating, but even that started to fade with time. After the event I over-analyzed the experience. How could I have performed better? What should I do to train for the next one? The experience of my true self was only a glimpse.

Culture and the Self

In many ways I feel that our culture does not promote a full embrace of the true self. With time my life evolved to focus on the pursuit of knowledge, the pursuit of labels, and the pursuit of money. I am willing to guess that everyone has struggled with balancing these factors from time to time.

I thought I had a strong grasp on the human self. I studied the science of biochemistry as well as the psychology of development and interaction. I had also studied and experienced different religious and spiritual perceptions of the self. Each were valuable perspectives, but I was unable to fully grasp the interconnectivity between each topic.

I was constantly formulating perspectives of the world around me, and I did not realize that my perception was often trapped outside of myself. My viewpoint was often intertangled with what a psychologist would describe as an adapted self. The adapted self has lost touch with the intimate identity of the true self, and the adapted self has a primary goal of adaptation to the surrounding environment. I lost touch with my true self.

As I was studying chemistry I had to be flexible. I had to adapt to the new research, and mesh with my research team. In the psychology realm I wanted to help my clients identify their barriers, so they could adapt to their surrounding environment. In the context of religious practices, my goal was to practice the faith with full and complete honesty. My overall goal was to continue to grow, learn, and adapt myself (my adapted self) to the surrounding environment. I thought that was appropriate, and it matched with what I was taught as a child, adolescent, young adult, family member, team player, and employee.

The True Self Vs. The Adapted Self

Near the end of my psychology studies I came to the following realizations:

My ‘adapted self’ became my primary focus and identity

My ‘true self’ was distant and unclear

These realizations were startling at the time. I began to question my helpfulness as a counseling psychologist after realizing that I did not even know my true self. In the field of counseling psychology, a primary goal is to help the client see their world, their sense of self, more clearly. We help our clients find a pathway to step outside of their internal dialogue of entrapment. We help them to see the picture of the true self.

I spent quite a bit of time analyzing my adapted self. I questioned why it mattered to adhere so strongly to habitual agendas, social expectations, and economic satisfaction. Was I doing this to conceptually please my true self, my adapted self, or the people around me?

Throughout my personal process of self-discovery, I was able to help my clients through their explorations as well. I helped my clients question why it mattered to adhere so strongly to habitual agendas, social expectations, and economic satisfaction. We explored ways in which their adapted self could undergo change for a more productive adaptation to their community. Eventually, we could then question the adapted self and reconnect with the long forgotten, true self.

I learned that strongly holding onto the adapted self inhibits the complete and pure experience of life. I struggled with this realization for 2 reasons.

  • My clients had a strong need to live within the flaws of their adapted self. Most of the time this directly related to their formulated vision of how other people saw them. It was my goal to help them modify this formulated vision for the better. The breakthrough came in directly and positively modifying the adapted self. However, the next step of abandoning the adapted self to embrace the true self was a daunting challenge.
  • I had glimpses of abandoning my adapted self and reaching my true self, but I could not maintain a connection with my true self. If I couldn’t do this for myself, why should I be counseling others?

I had too many goals to accomplish. I was trying to help my clients reach their highest potentials. I was focused on being a good family member, friend, team player, and employee. I saw the light, but I was still entrapped within my adapted self.

Social interaction was my primary concern, and if social interaction was not involved I was intertwined within too many personal distractions: Home repair projects, athletic training, watching tv, speed reading the next book, scanning social media, pursuing more education, and writing more papers. My adapted self had full control over my time.

Even though the consistent experience of my ‘true self’ had risen high on my (adapted self) list of priorities, I (my adapted self) was incapable of letting go. I was incapable of letting go because I fit the social norm quite well. I was physically active, continuously learning, financially supporting myself, saving for retirement, socially involved in several groups, and well-connected with my family. I was getting things done and accomplishing my goals. However, I was trapped within my previous accomplishments and future goals. I was disconnected from the present moment and disconnected from my true self.

I decided to fire my ‘adapted self’.

With more awareness, I learned that my adapted self was too much. My adapted self was requiring relentless effort toward constant achievement. Even my individual practices were becoming obsessions which had secondary benefit for achieving social success. My adapted self had become my identity.

I experienced my true self though meditation.

Firing my adapted self required meditation. Meditation allowed me to ‘see’ my train of thought, and eventually I was able to disconnect from it. I was able to acknowledge entrapment within goals and accomplishments. I was able to see the distance my thoughts had from my true self.

Meditation was not a quick fix for the problem. When I first started the practice of meditation I had maybe a 5-minute glimpse of my true self within the 45-minute practice. This experience reminded me of the glimpses of peace within my childhood. I wanted to experience more of my true self, so I began to focus on the thoughts which were inhibiting me from reaching that goal. I began to realize that focusing on these thoughts, focusing on the problem, was the whole problem! My adapted self really wanted to be re-hired, so it was a sneaky pursuit of re-orientation which happened a countless number of times!

Meditation eventually evolved into a 30-minute pure experience within the 45-minute meditation. My adapted self was gone. My thought director was silent. My goals pursuit coordinator was absent. My history analyst was disappeared. It was a great feeling, yet it was a bit alarming at the same time.

Nothing was in my mind other than the present experience. Rather than noticing that I was breathing, I was in the experience of breathing. Rather than noticing the feelings of my hands on my knees, my hands were simply present and touching my knees. Rather than noticing the feeling of my body sitting on the floor, my body was simply in direct contact with the floor.

No other thoughts were present, and no other thoughts were relevant.

I experienced plenty of regression within my meditation practice, and I still do to this day. I gave some credit to the adapted self earlier, but I just want to clarify that the adapted self is a remarkably efficient mastermind which is very eager to control the mind. The adapted self is a hard worker, forever available, and freely available to you. The adapted self is just waiting for an opportunity to jump back into the scene.

I applied the meditation experience to other practices.

The disconnection from the adapted self cannot be sustained if meditation is your only escape. However, the meditation experience is valuable when applying your true self to other activities. I was able to experience meditation similarities through solitary activities like biking, walking, and gardening. Initially the pure experience did not last as long when I was doing these activities, but similar to my meditation practice, time and practice helped.

Bike on a TrailWith the biking scenario it was certainly important to maintain awareness of the world around me. My goal was to enjoy life, so it was important to remain aware of things like traffic, stops signs, and deadly accidents. The first step to applied meditation was clearing my mind, and the second step was becoming one with the bike. Although the initial step of clearing the mind was more challenging in the applied biking situation, it was much easier to keep my mind clear when I was connected with the process of biking. My body became synchronized with the rotation of the pedals just as much as it was already synchronized with my heart beat. From that point I was able to expand the connection I had with my bike to the world around me. The bike synchronized with the road and the road synchronized with the traffic.

It should be noted that this goal of applied meditation has some competition with the applied self. The preparation for the experience and post experience analysis slowly begin to suffocate the true self. I still have trouble with this from time to time, but I have found ways to limit this from happening

Repositioning Your Adapted Self

The thoughts and analysis will always be there for me. I am not going to retreat to a meditation camp for years at a time to overcome this issue. I hope there will be a social shift which promotes this in the near future, but I don’t think it will happen.

That being said, I have removed my adapted self from the forefront of my mind. In high school my true self was sadly watching my adapted self maintain 99.9% of the operation. Now, my true self maintains at least 80% of the operation, and the ruminating thoughts of my adapted self still sneak in to take the other 20%. My goal is to be at 100%, but here is how I got to 80%.

I literally mapped out my physical, psychological, and rational perceptions and priorities through studying, research, practice and writing. After that extremely lengthy process I concluded that all aspects of my body and mind are only tools allowing my true self to operate on earth. I concluded that I should optimize these aspects so that my true self can fully experience each moment of life.

I continued this journey with an exploration of spirituality. I discovered many similarities and differences between the locally approved religion of Christianity and the mostly ignored religions including Taoism and Buddhism. I chose to practice one religion and continue to fully respect and experience the teachings of other religions. I recognized that religions are only tools. I choose to use these tools to help my true self be the primary operator of my mind and body.

I found that my true self needed to have some disconnection between my physical, psychological, rational, and even my spiritual references. I found that my true self was truly synchronized with the present moment in time. The practice of meditation helped me feel that experience, and I was motivated to apply that in all areas of my life.

Now my true self, my connection with the present moment, is who I am. The thoughts that are ruminating on the past and future have been quieted, and they are further from me. My adapted self has been quieted and repositioned, and my true self is my primary identity.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback and your story!

Health and Metabolism

Why the Killing Your Metabolism Slogan Misleading

Several (23.2 million based on my recent google search) health-based articles have focused on the things that are ‘killing your metabolism’:

Search Results for Metabolism 'Killers'

Many of these authors have concluded that a low metabolism is hindering your weight loss goals. I am not opposed to many of the health recommendations within these popular articles, but idealizing a fast metabolism is not a healthy approach. Within this article I will clarify the meaning behind popular recommendations and explain why the ‘killing your metabolism’ slogan is misleading. Finally, I will make a case for appreciating a lower metabolic rate and remaining physically active which both play key roles in optimizing your long-term health.

Consistently Practice a Great Night Sleep

Many popular articles recommending the ‘metabolism boost’ make a solid argument for a great night sleep. Sleep is undoubtedly important for a healthy mind and body. Individuals who do not get enough sleep are likely to be groggy the next day, and this may slightly decrease their resting metabolic rate. However, this slight decrease in the resting metabolic rate is not enough for relevant weight gain issues to be considered. The more appropriate label for chronic sleep deprivation should be titled ‘metabolic dysregulation’. Studies have confirmed reduced glucose tolerance rates, reduced insulin response to glucose, and increased proinflammatory markers in sleep deprived individuals. The take home message is that metabolic dysregulation is not a simple drop in your metabolism. These issues cannot be corrected by a cup of coffee or short-term exercise plan to re-boost your metabolism. Allowing your body to fully repair itself with a great night sleep is crucial for optimal health.

Build and Sustain Stronger Muscles

Resistance training is another common recommendation in metabolism booster articles. I am also in complete agreement with this recommendation for more resistance training to build stronger muscles. Publications have confirmed that more muscle mass and a lower BMI may slightly increase your resting metabolic rate, but the minor increase is often over praised. What should be valued is the fact that the consistent practice of weightlifting increases your metabolic rate substantially when you are weightlifting. Furthermore, the muscle tearing and rebuilding process of resistance training increases your metabolic rate for 0-2 hours after the training ends, and that increase is still notable up to 48 hours after the resistance training ends. Rather than hoping for a long-term weight loss miracle with more muscle mass, making resistance training a consistent routine is required for long-term benefits.

Avoid Processed Foods

Processed foods do not necessarily lower your resting metabolic rate. In fact, several processed foods, especially those loaded with caffeine or other stimulants will undoubtedly increase your resting metabolic rate. Regardless of the specific metabolic effect of the processed food, it is in your best interest to avoid the biochemical manipulation.

Consistently eating processed foods, especially foods which are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, is extremely taxing on the body. This requires the body to generate high quantities of insulin to digest these sugars. When too much sugar is eaten, the body resorts to converting this excess energy to fat and storing it throughout the body. Eventually, the body may become overwhelmed by the consistent demand for insulin. If that is the case, a diabetes diagnosis is soon to follow.

The resting metabolic rate for diabetes patients is higher than average, especially when medications or dietary practices have not achieved adequate control of blood sugar levels. Additional studies have confirmed resting metabolic rates also increase with obesity, and when paired with diabetes the increase is even greater. This metabolic ‘boost’ is inevitable as the body continues to scavenge for solutions to regulate blood glucose (A1C) levels. The increased metabolic rate is caused by the body being internally overworked.

Avoid Metabolism Boosting Supplements

The misleading ‘Killing Your Metabolism’ slogan is the perfect gateway for great metabolism booster promotions. Whether the goal is to optimize workout performance or stay awake at your job, the metabolism booster products have already been targeted in your direction. Soft drinks have been around for more than 100 years, and high quantities of sugar and caffeine in these soft drinks have given their clients a thrilling short-term metabolism boost. Additional heavily marketed metabolism boosters include capsaicin (hot peppers), Arginine (a natural amino acid), L-carnitine (a natural amino acid derivative), chromium picolinate (a natural mineral), and conjugated linoleic acid (a lab synthesized mixture of cis and trans fatty acids). I would not make an argument against eating small quantities of any of these products from a natural food source, but consistently overloading the body with any of these products will undoubtedly cause unwanted stress. Using external supplements to stimulate hyperactivity within your body is not a healthy muscle-building or weight loss solution.

Be More Physically Active

Since the metabolism boost promotions may still be lingering in your mind, I need to clarify that a lower resting metabolic rate often means that your body is operating efficiently. You are healthier if you have a low resting metabolic rate because there is not a taxing health issue which your body is striving to heal or correct. You are free to apply your body to whatever adventures you are willing to take, and the more physical adventures you take (unless you consistently overdo things and break plenty of bones like I have), the healthier you will be. Research articles describe physical activity as energy expenditure (EE) practices. Data in these research articles clearly show that more physical activity directly correlates with a longer lifespan, better health, and a lower resting metabolic rate.


Rather than hijacking your metabolism with expensive boosters and quick fixes, the better option would be to allow your body to exist in a peaceful and healthy state. This is reached and maintained with a consistent practice of sleep, resistance training, eating nutrient dense foods, and physical activity.

Let me know what you think with some intriguing feedback!


  1. Sharma, S., & Kavuru, M. (2010). Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2010, 270832.
  2.  McMurray, R. G., Soares, J., Caspersen, C. J., & McCurdy, T. (2014). Examining Variations of Resting Metabolic Rate of Adults: A Public Health Perspective. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 46(7), 1352–1358.
  3. Alawad, A. O., Merghani, T. H., & Ballal, M. A. (2013). Resting metabolic rate in obese diabetic and obese non-diabetic subjects and its relation to glycaemic control. BMC Research Notes, 6, 382.
  4. K J Acheson, B Zahorska-Markiewicz, P Pittet, K Anantharaman, E Jéquier; Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 33, Issue 5, 1 May 1980, Pages 989–997,
  5. Manini, T. M. (2010). Energy Expenditure and Aging. Ageing Research Reviews, 9(1), 1.
  6. Jumpertz, R., Hanson, R. L., Sievers, M. L., Bennett, P. H., Nelson, R. G., & Krakoff, J. (2011). Higher Energy Expenditure in Humans Predicts Natural Mortality. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 96(6), E972–E976.

Children and Television Background Noise

My recent post discussed the objections which the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has regarding TV watching experience for infants and children. I shared my personal perspective which sided with the AAP. Feedback from the post has inspired me to continue researching the topic with a focus on non-direct television exposure (TV background noise). This article will summarize a few research studies as well some additional thoughts and perspectives on the topic.

Before we begin, I admit that I used to over-watch the television. Between the NFL, NBA, college sports, news, weather, and prime-time television, I was often close to the national average of television watching time.  Currently, my wife and I do enjoy a few entertainment shows; however, we watch them only when our daughter is asleep. They do not offer any educational value, and I am not willing to admit the names of the shows. Feel free to guess our current preferences in the comments section!

Research on Television Background Noise

One of the most inclusive research summaries of background television noise found that children aged 0-2 years old are exposed to an average of 5.5 hours of background television per day. Television noise of 5.5 hours per day is 38.5 hours per week which is 83.4 days (24 hour periods of time) per year. This is equal to approximately 3 months per year. Nearly ¼ of the year is clouded with television shows and commercials. This extensive quantity of time is a crucial data point which is often overlooked when considering the specific effects of background television noise exposure.

A more recent publication has clarified the impact television background noise has on child development. Children exposed to significant tv background noise develop shorter attention spans and decreased playtime focus abilities. Even if they do not care to watch the television, they are cognitively distracted by the noise. Since they are also experiencing less person to person communication as well as less content rich communication, they consistently test at lower levels of language development, receptive vocabulary, and cognitive development.

In summary, television background noise is limiting the thought processing and developmental potentials of the child, and it is distracting the adult from high quality parent-child interactions.

Does the Specific Distraction Content Matter?

Very little research has been completed on the content specifics. What is the difference between watching Jeopardy vs Judge Judy? Higher fractions of Jeopardy content are more content rich and educational. Commercials are also slightly more content rich, and the emotional tone is much less negative. That being said, background noise from either source is a cloud of distraction. The closer and louder it is for the child, the more distracting it will be. The repercussions are also dependent on the parent’s level of investment. If you are only distracted from the child for 5 minutes of a Judge Judy show vs 15 minutes of a Jeopardy show, then Judge Judy might be the better option.

Children playing with constant television background noise

Although the television is high on the list of distractions within today’s norms, the broader distraction issue is the primary concern. Other potential distractions include the radio, cell phone, computer, books, magazines, and newspaper to name a few. If you are focused on something else you cannot be fully present with your child. For this reason, very little research has delved into the specifics in terms of distraction rankings for the impact on child development. Silent options might be slightly better since they are not directly distracting the child. However, they are often more fully displacing the interest of the parent. Noise only options like the radio may be better since they might be less distracting for the parent, but the child is exposed to the constant sound. If the radio content is a flurry of negative news and commercials, it is probably not the best option for yourself or your child. If the content is positive music with plenty of co-singing and dancing involved, then we have probably ventured into the realm of positivity for child development.

Maximize Learning Potentials

I am the first to admit that interacting with an 8-month child is not the most entertaining experience. However, I assure you that children are soaking up your words and actions like a sponge. If your language is distracted and inconsistent, regardless of the cause, valuable knowledge is not present to be absorbed. At this point you might be wondering if you should hire out jobs like washing dishes, doing laundry, and cleaning the house in order to maximize positive parent-child interaction time 24/7.

I am not making  a case for obsessive catering to all of your child’s immediate desires, as this will probably do more harm than good. However, your child is very perceptive to your presence. Rather than distracting yourself and your child with TV background noise, consider including some fascinating self-dialogue about the dish washing experience, laundry organization process, and the house cleaning chores. With these habits you are maximizing the child’s focusing and language acquisition potentials.

Consider limiting your newspaper or magazine scan to just a few minutes, or better yet, read the details while your child is asleep. Then, your child would love to hear your perceptions of the content, especially if it closely relates to the order and efficiency which all the toys are removed from the toy bin. When a text is received make sure to verbalize who contacted you, what they have to say, and the thoughts behind your response. Two or three years later they will have much more valuable input when you are working together to formulate an ideal text response for family updates.

Outdoor time is a valuable experience for child development as well as parental sanity. Consider taking a walk highlighting the sights, sounds, textures, and smells of the great outdoors. Another blogger has already beat me to writing a great research summary clarifying how the outdoor experience allows your child’s the imagination, patience, and peace to truly flourish.

In conclusion, if you feel that your time could be invested more productively for yourself and your child, then I highly recommend you clarify and pursue your goals. For me it seems fair and logical to provide a pathway for my daughter to reach her highest potentials. One big step in the right direction is simply pressing the off button on the TV remote and remaining present with my daughter.

Applied Meditation

Before our daughter was born I meditated for at least 30 minutes per day. My wife and I would often follow a guided meditation including a few hand motions and about 20 minutes of calm background music. The meditation would then include the following quote:

“Just for today, I am free from anger. I am free from worry.
I am humble. I am honest. I am compassionate toward myself and others.”

Now that practice has been reduced to about 30 minutes per week. I have chosen to title this post ‘applied’ meditation because I have found that I am still practicing components of meditation each day. As I am calming Madelyn before bed time, when she is fussy, or when she just seems interested in hearing me speak, I often state the quote to her. It usually helps calm her, and I feel like it also helps me remain calm. This is especially true during more challenging situations of parenting.

The meaning I feel within the quote:

  • Each day I optimize my psychological self by remaining perceptive to the destructive and counterproductive feeling of anger. Although I accept the immediate emotion of anger, I do not cognitively reproduce or reconstruct feelings of anger into my rational thoughts. I am free from anger.
  • Each day I optimize my rational self by remaining perceptive to the emotions that I feel, and I choose to accept challenges which are presented to me. I follow the drive of my spiritual self and accept the present moment. I am free from worry.
  • Each day I optimize my spiritual self by being thankful. I am not possessive of anything I have or anything I have done. I choose to live in the present, and graciously accept each present moment. I am humble.
  • Each day I optimize my spiritual self by fully exploring the innermost thoughts and feelings I am experiencing. I fully accept what they are, and I learn more about myself. I choose to share my thoughts and feelings with those who would benefit from them. I am honest.
  • Each day I optimize the person that I am so that I can share love with the people around me. I value and care for my physical, psychological, rational and spiritual foundation. I pursue the complete awareness of who I am, and this allows me to pursue a genuine awareness of the people around me. With this fully encompassing awareness I strive to share an open-minded acceptance in all situations. I am compassionate toward myself and others.

The Meditation Experience

I started meditating about 5 years ago, and from the start I felt like meditation allowed me to be a more peaceful individual. I know meditation is a journey which is never mastered, but I was starting to feel very comfortable with my habits and the corresponding peace which had entered my life. Now that Madelyn is here, my meditation habits have changed. I am surprised that the quotes I had repeated for years within my meditation practice have started to synchronize with my daily activities more clearly. This experience has truly opened my eyes to the direct application potentials of meditation.

The experience of silent meditation in a quiet place certainly has its advantages. It is easier to disconnect from the human self and find a place of peace. As the mind starts to wander back into the scene, it is possible to refocus on background rhythm, meditation posture, or a place of peace and drift back to a pure nothingness. The clear mind is certainly a valuable experience. There is a new connection between the mind and the body, and there is a disconnection between the mind and the thought within it.

Applied Meditation

Applied meditation with my daughter certainly has its differences. I am usually holding her, and I am often starting the meditation at random. Also, rather than clearing my mind at the start, I am starting with the meditation quote which I continuously repeat. If I am holding her, laying next to her, or feeding her, I remain fully aware of her physical presence as well as my own. However, the thought within my own mind does eventually disconnect. I simply become present in the room with her.

Both meditation practices allow the experience of pure nothingness, but the applied meditation practice allows me to remain connected with the people around me. Each day I am grateful for the opportunity to experience and share that peace.

I look forward to hearing your feedback, and here is the quick link to the comments!

Weight Loss Dieting

The Popular Presentation of Weight Loss

Weight Loss Dieting Magazine Cover

I saw this magazine as I was waiting in the checkout line at the local grocery store. This fitness magazine is for women, and this seems fit the content norms that I am accustomed to seeing. There is a model saturated in make-up on the cover. I can’t see the name of the magazine since the adequate amounts of hair product are maximizing hair volume to cover the letters. Weight-loss is the main theme as usual. There are processed food treats (upper left corner) to entice the reader to eat low-calorie junk food and read the magazine content. There are at least 4 miraculous well-being cures (in this case tiredness and stress are solved, and beauty and inexpensive supplements will resolve many health concerns). For me, the most ridiculous part of the magazine was the ‘Drop 19 lbs in 10 Days’ promo in the bottom right corner.

I am sure that a few of the natural remedy ideas do have some merit. Many natural foods do indeed support health. Maybe the tiredness and stress resolutions also have some credibility. Maybe they are referring to dropping 19 pounds of water into a water basin over a period of 10 days. I hope that is the case because promoting a weight loss plan where 19 lbs of fat is lost in a period of 10 days is pure and complete ignorance.

The Mathematics of Weight Loss

One pound of fat stored in the body is equivalent to approximately 3500 calories of energy. In order to actually lose 19 pounds of fat you would have to metabolize 66,500 calories of energy. The magazine said we could do it, so let’s do some math.

Approximately 100 calories are burned for each mile that is run. Over a 10 day period you would need to run 665 miles, 66.5 miles per day. If you can run 66.5 miles per day for 10 consecutive days, you probably have goals more along the lines of shattering world records or maybe marketing your superhuman qualities to save the world. I am not a huge fan of distance running, but the weightlifting, swimming, or biking equivalents would also be impossible.

The Negative Impact of Extreme Diets

In my previous breakdown I did insert the word ‘fat’ into the weightless scheme. The magazine cover didn’t say fat, so we can assume that their scheme probably has some water weight loss built-in. Losing water weight is rarely a healthy practice. The scale may read slightly lower and you may look thinner for a short period of time, but it is crucial to stay adequately hydrated. The magazine may have made an argument against adequate hydration under the junk food promo, but I can only tackle one issue at a time.

Another consideration is the likelihood of the loss of muscle mass. If enough calories are cut from the diet, the body quickly resorts to a convenient fuel source, muscle tissue. Even without adequate caloric intake, your muscles still require fuel to move your body. During times of inadequate caloric intake, this energy source often comes from your muscle tissues. On a side note, studies have shown that adequate protein intake and weight training is best method for maintaining muscle mass while burning stored fat.

In conclusion, losing 19 pounds of weight in 10 days is not a healthy goal. This would require extreme caloric deficits, lost muscle mass, lost water weight, and some burned fat. The most concerning issue is the decrease in your metabolic rates. Let’s take a moment to explore what this means.

Decreased metabolic rates mean that your body is aware that your food intake will be less than what is needed. Crucial internal functions will slow down. Your GI tract will not process food as quickly. At the same time your body will become much more aggressive when selecting food to store for later. If there is ever an abundance of carbohydrates available, as much as possible will be stored as fat. That is the great mystery of dieting. That is why the person who posts a Facebook story about losing 20 pounds on their favorite diet plan will quickly recover their losses (and that post probably won’t be created for you to see).

A Realistic Health Perspective

If you are exploring some weight loss options, initial goals should include building muscle mass in order to support your mind and body through the weight loss process. Once you have synchronized your muscles with an exercise routine, your body will begin using stored energy within your fat tissues to achieve your exercise demands. As long as you focus on optimizing your health rather than demanding lower weight scale numbers, your body will re-synchronize with a more healthy infrastructure and eventually display the physical potentials which you have built within your body.

*Check out the shortened version published by the Carmel Current!

Please let me know if you would like me to expand on any of these topics, and here is a quick link to the comments section.

Children Watching Television

Concerns and Research on Children Television Time

Infants and children seem to love watching the television, and many adults love seeing their kids watch TV as well. After my daughter was born, I searched for some articles clarifying the impact which television sights and sounds have on young children. Our families, friends, co-workers, and even the random lady at the grocery store have advice about TV time (and pretty much any topic), and advice from one person to the next is frequently contradictory. Fortunately, there is plenty of research describing the implications of increased amounts of television exposure. A great summary on national data is available here, and the specific learning implications are specified here.

There are many important details within each article, but the following quote sums it up quite well: “Audible television is associated with decreased exposure to discernible human adult speech and decreased child vocalizations. These results may explain the association between infant television exposure and delayed language development.”

Children and the Television Experience

As the child views the screen they are processing the non-stop and overstimulating content to the best of their ability. It is the item of peak interest. There is an entire world of complexity beyond reality and beyond imagination all encompassed within a viewing box in the living room. The child is completely invested in the television moment, and the adults are grateful for the short break from the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
Once the world of fascination is turned off, the mind of the child is slow to disconnect from the television. Nothing in the actual living area is able to reach that level of stimulation, but it doesn’t matter because their mind is still attempting to process and store the massive quantity of information which was recently projected onto them.

Children and the overstimulating tv

Imagine the most thrilling movie you saw when you were 10-12 years old. After you watched that thrilling movie, what was it like as you left the theater?

You were probably feeling some emotional excitement, and you may have been feeling a bit exhausted from the theatrical journey of the movie. Most importantly, you are engrossed within each moment of the movie. After the movie you enjoyed remembering the specifics of what you saw and re-experienced the excitement of your favorite scenes.

When a young child watches the television, there are some similarities. They are also completely engrossed within each moment of the show, and they are also emotionally stimulated by the screen activity.
The child is also hyper stimulated with the thrilling experience of non-stop motion, happy sounds, and bright colors. Their ability to categorize and discuss the events are lacking, so the experience is inefficiently stored within their developing mind. The TV experience takes priority over the sights, sounds, smells, touches, and tastes of their current experience, and their ability to process their surrounding environment is hindered.

Perceptions after the TV Experience

Children are still experiencing the stimulation of the television after it is turned off, just as you continued to experience the stimulation of the thrilling movie after you walked out of the theater. The journey of learning, and the sensory experiences of reality are altered by the television experience for two reasons.

  1. The lights and sounds of the living room and the family experience are not up to par with the television.
  2. The child’s experience of television excitement requires additional ‘processing’ even after the television is turned off.

Since infants and young children are incapable of adequately processing that level of stimulation, the jumbled excitement is scattered across their mind. Sensory learning experiences become secondary and different from what they were before the television stimulation. Processing the words of people is less interesting, and communicating with people becomes less relevant.

Recommendations for Families

NPR has a great article summarizing the recent recommendations changes made by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). ‘No screen time before the age of 2’ has been replaced with allowing limited educational content after 15 months, and video chat communication (Skype or iPhone Facetime) are OK for communication with family and friends.

However, if you read beyond the quoted headlines, the AAP has three important recommendations for children under 5 years old:

  1. Only allow the children to watch the best educational content options including Sesame Workshops and PBS.
  2. Limit screen time to no more than 1 hour per day.
  3. Always co-experience the screen time with the child to support adequate information processing.

I am in full support of the AAP recommendations. Rather than exposing my daughter to overwhelming screen stimulation, I will do my best to fill her day with broad ranges of human interaction, toys for learning and imagination, and as much time outdoors as possible.

Please let me know if you would like me to expand on any of these topics, and here is a quick link to the comments section.

Prioritizing Sleep

Why Quality Sleep Is Often Overlooked

In high school and in college there were times when I overlooked sleep on the weekend. Staying up late with friends was higher on my list of priorities. Other than that, I cannot think of a time-stretch when I did not prioritize a good night of sleep. During my time with roommates I discovered that the sleep priority was abnormal. I had trouble understanding why I would walk downstairs at 8:00 a.m. to find a roommate asleep on the couch with the tv still on (the electric bill might have also been on my mind at that time).

Within the last 9 months I have also bargained with my sleep priorities. Sleeping BabyMadelyn’s well-being has taken first place. We have yet to perfect her sleep schedule, and we are not yet in the category of excited parents posting their child’s sleep miracles. Madelyn had about 2 months when she was awake every two hours. Now she is up for one reason or another at least once per night, and I am happy to take plenty of turns helping her when she needs it. Fortunately, Lorean and I have offset sleep schedules, so we both get at least 8 hours each night. I sleep from 12-8 and she is sleeping from 9-5 most nights.

Regardless of whether the sleep issue is choice, circumstance, or somewhere in between, insufficient sleep is a modern health epidemic according to me and the CDC. The world of psychology has some great ideas to help, but I think it is crucial to gain a better understanding of the impact which a lack of sleep has on the human body.

The Negative Impacts of Insufficient Sleep.

I am going to skip over the metabolic specifics and jump right to resulting items of interest. The deprioritization of a good night sleep is a major cause of the obesity and diabetes epidemics of today.

I wish that would be enough motivation for everyone to go to sleep early and that would solve the issue. Unfortunately, the debilitating health effects of processed foods, over-medication, physical under-activity, and excessive light stimulation have each been associated with the cause of the current sleep epidemic. The lack of quality sleep, which the average individual attains, inevitably enhances the degrading health effects of processed foods, over-medication, physical under-activity, and excessive light stimulation. And the cycle continues.

It is fascinating that these seemingly unrelated topics have harmoniously synchronized into the major problem it is today. I do not have a quick fix for the sleep problem. Although plenty of other sources have some great ideas, the only way to truly correct the problem is to re-prioritize your health.

Optimizing Your Potential for a Good Night Sleep

This means that a healthy diet, more physical activity, less exposure to toxicity, and minimized evening light stimulation need to be prioritized. Health practices should be the first line of defense and the major form of treatment for obesity and blood sugar challenges. Finally, positive night time habits including visual or audio books, family communication, outdoor time, indoor games or puzzles, and meditation are great options to be included within nightly routines.

Our sleep time schedule is not extremely consistent and certainly not perfect, but I am appreciative that our general health as well as our nighttime habits do allow us the restorative pleasure of a good night sleep.

Let me know if you would like me to expand on any of these topics, and here is a quick link to the comments section.

The Fear of Guilt

As Lorean and I are raising our daughter Madelyn, the choices we make for her seem to be non-stop. With my ties to psychology and obsessions with neurological development, I am known to overthink decisions every once in a while, (or all the time according to Lorean as well as reality). We are trying to provide a loving environment where our daughter can maintain her sense of peace while experiencing the world around her. Decisions including:

Food: times, temperatures, quantities, introductions, allergies, etc.

Sleep: times, habits, positions, environments, consistency, etc.

Family: times, obligations, travels, vacations, meals, etc.

Medical: appointments, doctors, research, medications, etc.

Babysitting: times, cost, selection, etc.

…can be overwhelming from time to time (or all the time). So, then I start to ponder the inevitable question: Am I doing what is right for her as well as what is right for us and the people around us?

Unfortunately, that question doesn’t have an answer.

Am I doing what is right for her as well as what is right for us and the people around us?

The black and white assessment of right and wrong is an overwhelming weight to carry. If the standard is locked at the unreachable (right) perfection, it would be more accurately described as impossible. The impossible scenario often leads to the feeling of guilt, and with habit and more thought, the guilt is enhanced with fear.


According to Merriam Webster, guilt is defined as “feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy”. First, let’s assess the components of this definition in more detail:

‘Feelings of deserving blame’

When you feel that you deserve to be blamed, you are identifying yourself as the cause of the negative situation. The feelings associated with this label include fear for the situation itself, and fear for the potential guilt which may occur. There is a potential of experiencing more guilt. Therefore, the feeling of guilt is compounded into a more overwhelming feeling.

‘Imagined offenses’

Something may happen in the future which the family, friends, group, coworkers, or whoever else will not be happy about. There is a fear that the something will happen, and there is a preconceived guilt regarding the potential experience. Personal blame is anticipated due to situational involvement.

‘Sense of inadequacy’

This sense of inadequacy may be a bigger issue to tackle, and it is important to jump right to the specific root of the feeling of inadequacy:

[Let’s imagine I am currently experiencing extreme cycles of the fear of guilt. That was a fairly negative introduction to this topic, and I am personally feeling a little down about things after that analysis. Surely if I am feeling negative then everyone else who reads those descriptions will also be feeling negative. If there is already a fear of guilt factor within the reader I don’t want to impose more negative feelings. I am feeling anxious that the reader will not benefit from my attempt to help. Somehow, I have to make things better for the reader. Everyone will probably end up worse than where they started. I need to delete this whole thing and start over. It would probably be best if I just didn’t post anything on this website. At this moment I am feeling some tension in my neck. My palms are starting to sweat. I am thinking about other faults I have, and I am wandering further into how these faults may have a negative impact on other people.]

If you can identify with similar feelings related to work, parenting, relationships, family, etc., then I have a few considerations and self-assessment work for you.


First, let’s take some time to assess the bigger picture. Whether the situation is a couple years within the 4 million years of human existence, or the situation impacts a small group of individuals within the 7-billion-person population of the current earth, it could be argued that the ‘imagined offense’ is not of significant magnitude. Yes, all lives are important, and all time is valuable. Therefore, your time should be allocated for sharing positivity within yourself and with those around you.

Another perspective of the bigger picture might be related to the wrath of your religious leader and/or God Himself. Many religious followers and leaders have thoroughly implanted a fear within the minds of children who accept the affiliation (before their minds are able to differentiate rational choice). Thus, it may be rational to fear the potential scenarios which may damn you to hell. My apologies for sliding right back into a spin of negativity…..

Spirituality offers another helpful perspective of the bigger picture. The following Bible verse from the book of Matthew is one of the most important as well as a personal favorite:

“Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”

This is a very simple and profound message with 3 important take home points:

1. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind

Your spiritual journey must remain fully encompassed within your love for God. Obsessions over personal and/or community issues will distract you from loving God.

2. Love others as much as you love yourself.

Your love for God and your spiritual journey will become distorted and distracted if you do not also share your love with yourself and the people around you.

3. Love yourself

This crucial message is usually grouped with the previous point, especially in the context of current Christian religions. Within the quote the statement was phrased as if loving yourself would be easy and inevitable. Although immediate personal satisfaction could be argued as our current social norm, it has become easy to disconnect from the true love of our human self. I will write more about this later, but personal satisfaction tends to outweigh self-love too much of the time.

If you have fully dedicated your heart, soul, and mind to loving God and loving others as much as you love yourself, guilt is minimized. This love is a holistic entity of belonging which is more than right and wrong, it is different than the social norm, and it is a fulfilling experience.

Before we move on, it is important to first clarify a common misconception of love. The picture of yourself which you have created, your ego, will not support lasting or meaningful love. Unfortunately, it is easy to become trapped within our ego. We try to optimize feelings we have for our created sense of self, and these feelings are usually dependent on the guessed opinions of the people around us. The true entity of lasting and meaningful love becomes confusing and clouded. Personal satisfaction jumps up to become the primary concern, and there is an unhealthy dependence on the ‘love’ that other people have for you. Guessing how much you are loved and feeling guilty when optimal levels aren’t reached (or when there is a chance they won’t be reached) becomes habit.

It is time to break the guilt habit and resolve the underlying fear of guilt. Hopefully the enormous time-frame of human existence, the massive human population, and the full dedication of heart, soul, and mind references were helpful, but let’s identify some specific times when you feel the guilt and tackle the issue!

Self Assessment

What specific experiences initiate the cycle of guilt?

Has the situation actually occurred?

If the answer is yes, then you can move on to the next question. If you want to gain more control over the feeling of guilt, or if the answer is no, then it might be best to understand that many future scenarios ranging from the happiness of new life through the emotions surrounding death are quite possible. It is best to fully experience the present moment and share your love with the people around you.

Are you sure you are the primary cause?

If the answer is yes, then it may be more efficient to discuss the situation with the person or group before the negative situation occurs. If the answer is no, then it might be beneficial to simply experience the partly negative event with an open mind.

Do you feel that you have not prepared well enough for the situation?

It might be beneficial to simply experience the partly negative event with an open mind. If you feel that better preparation would have been beneficial, imagine this as a learning experience which will guide you through the process of preparation for future events.

Do you feel that you are incapable of preparing well enough for the situation?

This is a self-esteem or sense of self-worth issue if you feel that your preparing is always or inevitably lacking. Depending on the accuracy of your assessment as well as the level of the feeling, it may be beneficial to tackle these issues with counseling and other appropriate activities. On the other hand, if I were signed up to run a marathon tomorrow, I would certainly be having that feeling. I have not adequately prepared my body to run the marathon, and that would probably be too taxing for my body to handle. I would have to make a firm decision to either withdraw from the marathon, or pack a couple meals and plenty of water as I begin my casual 8 hour, 26.2 mile walk.

The overall goal is to focus on sharing and experiencing love. Therefore, when the feelings of guilt arise it is best to immediately tackle the issue. Here are a couple options to consider:

Stop participating in the experience if the guilt association is inevitable or it is not in your best interest.

Take a deep breath and accept each moment of experience for just that moment. Your assessment of potential scenarios is now complete, and the step-wise sequence of future events may or may not take place as you have foreseen. Either way it will be a learning experience and it will be a valuable experience for you.

The fix will not happen overnight, and you will have to remake your choice hundreds of times until it becomes natural for you. As you practice the valuable experience of self-growth, it is always helpful to focus on the positives. This applies to yourself and the potential situations which trigger the fear/guilt response.

What positive qualities are you bringing to the situation which may present potential challenges?

What characteristics about the upcoming situation may be interesting, valuable, or beneficial to yourself or others?

If you believe you will start to see progress, that is likely what will happen. However, if there are specific situations which you cannot overcome, it may be beneficial to ask yourself the deeper question: What are the specific reasons I cannot overcome the cycle of guilt within that specific situation? More importantly: What steps do I need to take to overcome the cycle of guilt for that specific situation?

As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback. Please leave a comment.

Diet Trends

There are already thousands of articles presenting a topical analysis of the popular trend, the Nordic diet. As usual, there are lists of what you can eat and what you cannot eat followed by comments regarding what should be eaten in moderation. Plenty of books have already been published on the topic, many of which follow the ‘weight loss’ sales trend in the title. Here is a screenshot of a google search:

Google Search Results for the re-emerging Nordic Diet

I don’t have a problem with the Nordic diet, but I do question the purpose of the obsession. This is remarkably similar to the Mediterranean diet, which was also covered in thousands of articles and books. One of the few differences is the choice of oil: Canola oil is preferred in the Nordic diet, and olive oil is preferred in the Mediterranean diet. Hundreds of additional articles will analyze the difference in omega 3/6 ratios between the two.

Why is healthy eating labeled as a diet?

Choosing to eat a normal range of foods which are beneficial to the body should not be considered a diet. Both the Nordic and Mediterranean plans certainly lean in that direction. Additional trends including Vegan, Vegetarian, and Paleo diets aren’t usually discussed in the same sentence, but those lean closer to an appropriate ‘diet’ label. The Vegan and Vegetarian diets avoid all meats, while the paleo diet usually results in the over consumption of meats while avoiding all grains. The Ketogenic diet is another interesting extreme.

For two years I was on a ketogenic diet which helped me optimize control of neuron firing in my brain (aka avoid experiencing complex partial seizures). My caloric intake was about 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. It was certainly fair to call that a diet. If I was eating at a restaurant I saved up my 20% protein allocation for the fish or steak I would order. For the first time I saw food as a necessary means of energy intake to optimize my function. It was remarkably easy to buy only whole, unprocessed foods.

Food manufacturers love to follow the diet trends and produce packaged foods which fit the numerical criteria for diet trends. ‘Cut the Carbs’, although fitting for the Ketogenic diet, is one of my least favorite diet labels, especially since the carbohydrate calories are usually replaced with bulk fillers and/or artificial ingredients. A few other idiotic pet peeves include the ‘no added sugar’ label on nuts or any other whole food as well as the ‘fat free’ label on fruit drinks and pure sugar candy. The human body requires unaltered calories including carbohydrates, fat, and protein as well as nutrients for healthy function.

Processed Foods are Outpacing (over-generous word choice) Human Evolution

For thousands of years humans ate foods which had undergone minimal processing, and the biological human system adapted to the consistent habit. Within the last 70 years the human race has transitioned to processed foodstuff replacements which taste different, last longer, and fund the food manufacturer that ‘built it’. Unfortunately, our metabolic systems have not been able to adapt that quickly. As issues including obesity, diabetes, chron’s, alzheimer’s, etc. are becoming the norm, we are introducing plenty of revolutionary drugs to treat them. Yes, that was off topic: WE ARE OVERLOOKING THE CAUSE.

I started to question the purpose of foodstuff replacements such as soft drinks (LOW FAT!) and chips (LOW SALT!).

Soft Drinks: I once paid a food manufacturer $1 to add carbon dioxide gas, 10-30 grams of sugar, food coloring, and stabilizers to water. I drank the beverage which spiked my blood sugar, forced my liver to process additives, and forced my fat tissues to store additives which my GI tract absorbed but couldn’t digest.

Chips: I once paid a manufacturer $3 to overheat and chemically modify potato, corn, and wheat starches with inexpensive oils which are high in omega-6 fatty acids and trans fats. I ate the chips which spiked my blood sugar, forced my liver to process chemically modified proteins (acrylamide), high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, and trans fats. As my body was overloaded with these foreign chemicals, cholesterol was my last resort to neutralize them. Unfortunately, my oxidized cholesterol and LDL blood levels increased.

What benefit was I attaining from eating these foods? The isolated time-frame of satisfaction is a decent argument, but that was only there if I consistently ate them. Now, it is fairly repulsive to taste either option since my taste buds aren’t attuned to eating food replacements. I was paying additional money to lower my potentials.

My Personal Dietary Conclusion

Eventually, I switched from the ketogenic diet back to more regular eating habits. In my ‘regular diet’, if the food contains added sugar, heated starches, processed oils, trans fats, artificial coloring, chemically modified additives, mono and diglycerides, added emulsifiers, etc., I will not eat it. I eat food, and I will stay on this diet until I lose at least 5 more pounds of muscle mass due to inactivity and lack of required nutrient supplies since I desire to maintain optimal health. I would rather not pay a food manufacturer to reconstruct, modify, and overprice modified foodstuffs, and I don’t believe my body ever adapted to the foodstuff replacements I used to eat.

It could be argued that my diet is similar to the Nordic, Mediterranean, or Paleo diet, but it is certainly higher in fat than what is considered ideal by many (I’d love to hear your arguments!). Vegetables and healthy fats (avocados, nuts, and oils) are my main food focus for every meal. My caloric intake of protein is still about 20%, carbohydrate intake has increased to about 30%, and fat intake is at about 50%. Most of my carbohydrate intake comes from vegetables, rice, beans, and lentils as well as occasional berries and other fruit. Most of my protein intake comes from nuts, seeds, lentils, bone broth, local eggs, and occasional meat. I am also a huge fan of healthy spices including turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, ginger, and garlic to name a few.

Please let me know if you would like me to cover any of these topics in more detail! Here is a quick link to the comments.

Self Awareness

Self-awareness is a general term which fully encompasses the topics I have specified within this blog. As this content continues to grow; more importantly, as you continue to learn, do not forget to step back and re-assess how the knowledge and content relates to your sense of self. Self-awareness is a cyclic process of continuous growth. As children, we experience these cycles for the first time. I am watching my daughter, Madelyn, begin to experience more physical potentials (sitting and crawling) followed by her emotional experiences in response to them. Eventually she will be able to talk about her actions, and one day she will ask about the purpose of learning her next task. The valuable cycles will continue as she begins to apply her physical self to mastering more complex tasks. She will experience more intertwined psychological responses, and she will have a better grasp of the rational pathway of achieving her goals. Her greater purpose will hopefully become more clear as she expands her interactions with the people around her.

How can I improve my sense of self awareness?

Self awareness is a broad and potentially daunting topic, hence why it is minimized and often overlooked by many. To tackle this challenging task it may be useful to itemize the components of who you are as a person. I look forward to relating a few well known references including Maslow’s hierarchy, Erikson’s stages of development, Piaget’s model, and Kohlberg’s theory in later posts. For now it is best to start with a more simple overview.

1. What are your physical health needs?

Many people overlook the critical needs of the human body. We are all dependent on the oxygen in clean air to breath, clean water to hydrate our body, healthy foods to nourish our body, a good night sleep to repair our physical body, and maintenance of the homeostasis potentials within our body. Unfortunately, we tend to overlook these necessities as more complex social challenges inevitably become prioritized. It is always important to keep in touch with your health.

2. What are your psychological needs?

Once your health is optimized, you are able to fully and completely experience the psychology of yourself. You have a psychological need to feel secure and comfortable with yourself, and this allows you to develop healthy relationships with the people around you. This drive to improve yourself and your relationships will also motivate you to follow at least a few social trends which may or may not be optimal for your health.

3. What are your rational needs?

Learning is a lifelong process, and the amount of knowledge which can be attained does not have limits similar to physical potentials. Whether you are eating a meal, interacting with other people, studying a book, or meditating in silence, the ongoing stream rational processing will continue. Each moment you are blessed with the option of applying that stream positively and productively for yourself and for those around you.

4. What are your spiritual needs?

The robotic and repetitive nature of socially defined productivity has minimal value unless there is a greater purpose. While churches aim to assist in helping to define spirituality, it is up to you to truly connect with something more. The support of your spiritual needs helps to fulfill the sense of the human self, beyond the human body and beyond the psychological ego. Spirituality fully encompasses the physical, psychological, and rational self in order to relate with the soul which will be carried into eternity (the ‘location’/specific definitions are up for debate).

As my first blog post I left this fairly general, but please let me know if you have any topics you would like me to discuss in more detail! Here is a quick link to the comments.