How to Run a Caloric Deficit

Living in a committed relationship tends, in my experience, to make you a bit chunkier. You dine more consistently, you spend fewer hours on your feet or at the pub dancing like a fool. You cook together. All of this is wildly enjoyable, and being in love is fulfilling, ridiculous and fun. I highly recommend it.

But regardless, regaining your proper weight is a one-week affair. No more than that. You just have to be willing to do it properly.

Find a hill. Run to it. Then run up that hill, as many times as you can, as fast as you can.

Hop on your bike. Ride it for forty kilometres, through city streets, acting like a car. Assert your space and yell a lot. When you get to a hill, sprint up, off your seat.

Does your gym have an assault bike? Do ten minutes of intervals, 30 seconds on, 3o off. Then hit the elliptical for ten minutes at a consistent rate.

At peak sprint, your heart rate should start to inch up to 190, or slightly more. While doing a fitness test as a 16-year-old, I hit 212. They told me to stop.

You may develop tunnel vision, as all your blood is occupied elsewhere. Your exhaled breath may have blood in it. You will be completely drenched in sweat. You will become nauseas. If you vomit, have a sip of water, and continue.

Afterwards, stretch, and foam roll your quads, your hip flexors, and your back. Drink at least two litres of water. Eat a protein-heavy meal, with greens, and nothing more. Hard-boiled eggs, lean chicken, or unbreaded fish. Then do the same, every day, for one week. Punish yourself for your intransigence. Exercise drives weight loss only if you possess the drive. But your body will surprise you with what it’s capable of.

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Aboard a sealed up passenger train, once the sun sets, you might as well be on a flight. The only view, since maybe Goulburn, has been the lights of approaching towns on the railway and the occasional view of a waning moon to the east, barely strong enough to penetrate the reflection of the interior lights.

I’ve been in transit for eleven hours. We should be pulling in to Sydney right now, but a derailed freight train at Junee meant we had to be bussed around the obstruction, to the southbound compatriot of this route at Cootamundra, as its residents did the same to the northbound. One day, two trains, twelve total hours before I’m back in the arms of urban life. Saving coin comes with the odd sacrifice.

I’ve been a city boy my whole life. The pace, proper coffee and diversity of experience make the country a spot of reconciliation with nature, a place to move through, and little more. The romanticism, and cheap real estate, aren’t enough to conquer the lack of pace. But Victoria and New South Wales were colonised as farming destinations, even despite the average fecundity of the interior. The sheer number of tiny, dying towns on this train route, their unused grain elevators and rotting loading platforms dangling rusted booms, evidenced this. The pace of the decline, and a sense of origin, are much more obvious from this antique vantage point.

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Northerning Pt. II

I meant to finish this post nearly a year ago, and completely forgot about it.

Canoe-only lakes, in areas that have been progressive enough to put slot limits on their pickerel and pike fishery, mean the fishing up here is next level. Lake trout hang off the fringes, bass lie in the shallows, pike and pickerel are everywhere. Between this, the nostalgia of finally being back in my home land, and the stunning weather, I could hardly process it all.

I think it’s the lack of a waterway that bothers me the most about Australia. It is insidiously dry. Movement here is dictated by your diesel tanks, by your hardiness, and by your ability to use a road map, like the rest of the world. It has been mapped out. On the water, no one has ever gone the exact same route you have.

There is always that level of uncertainty on the water. Is this channel clear? Has debris floated in? Is the weather soon to change? It’s just enough to offer the sense that you are in charge of your own destiny. No one is leading you. You must make the call, for better or for worse.

These lakes, and areas of the Great Lakes that I have sailed, are remote enough not to be a casual destination for your average hack. Not to say that they require exclusivity – they only require preparedness, and the balls to get there. People who aren’t seeking the coast guard to get them out of trouble. Or roadside assistance.

The freshwater lakes of Ontario are special, and they will always be my spiritual home. I am most excited to see them again in a few short weeks.


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Traveling here, this is medium mode, the same in South America and China. Most of Europe, North America, Australia, the rest of Asia? That’s easy mode.

All right, so where do we find hard mode.

Africa. Africa is hard mode.


I met Andre at the Hsipaw train station, in north-east Burma, back in 2011. In a place like this, the absolute dearth of English speakers means you share a bond almost immediately – what else is there to do during a three-hour wait at a rural train station, rather than chat with your compatriot? By then, and surely moreso by now, the train was not the most efficient method of moving through the region. So anyone here is either stuck on romanticism, or simply taking their time. Either way, they’re good company.

Among the traveling crowd, there is the invariable dick-measuring contest when the passports come out. Who has traveled more? Who has been to a war zone? Who has seen this and this…it goes on, but it’s never the real hardcore who partake in these discussions. They don’t do it to brag about it. For them, it’s a lifestyle. Andre was one of these.

He’s in his early forties now. He works a labour job back in the Netherlands, doing stage setup work for events in his area. It is steady work, although he said it took a toll on his body. But with the right work ethic, it funds the remainder of his year. This, he spends anywhere he feels the urge.

When I met him, he had traveled to all but a few countries, less than a dozen. This included three that no longer existed. He had tasted the thrill of constant change, of the true breadth and width of the world, of the invariably stunning variety of people and places that one can find with the right motivation. He didn’t live large, but he lived well.

You wouldn’t find him waiting in line to reach the base camp of Everest, or on a safari, or in a Khao San road hostel in Bangkok. He stuck to the third world, to places where the locals lived, and he adapted, living amongst his world, a traveler, not a visitor.

And he seemed, to all appearances, to be very contented about his lot.






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Keep Pushing

I’d always assumed that with age, comes a taste for creature comfort. Not the grandiosity of home, two cars and cottages, necessarily – just the basics of home and hearth, and a full fridge. It isn’t a lot to ask, but it’s typically enough to keep you localised.

You aren’t held back by your possessions any more than you are by your mindset. Either one can breed a level of inflexibility in your decision-making, making even the smaller moves in your given day privy to a moment of pause. One is only as free as they decide that they are. But this feeling does tend to magnify with time. I can only imagine how people would react with kids around.

On some days, it does take more to get loose, and just move about the city, doing little more than finding odd coffee shops to work and study. But it’s the most important part of my day. I need that variety, or risk falling in to a trap of constant boredom, looking no further than the screen or the basics of my world around me, without delving further than the walls, word of mouth, or someone else’s writing.

In this early-30s life, I’ve caught myself becoming passive, an observer to my own life. I have looked at the things that I want in life – a family, locational freedom, money for a reasonable crib and to indulge my habits – with the same long-distance view that I’ve held since youth, not with the goal-orientated approach that they require to actually obtain.

The best method of breaking out of this reality? Travel, a fitness kick, a session on the beers with friends. Bounce some ideas around. Break out of the day-to-day mould, and ask yourself, how does one change? On a micro scale, on a macro scale?

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I moved north a few months back, to the unofficial capital of the lucky land, for the girl to chase down some contract work in the burgeoning infrastructure environment of NSW. I was in the peak of a post-MA slump, and was working maybe three times weekly, spending entirely too much time at the pub, and while making the most of the summer months, clearly needed a change. For the cash they were offering, what the hell? Travel tends to break me out of slumps, and my liver would love me for it.

I had little prior experience in Sydney, apart from a couple of short weeks at my sister’s house in Bondi back in 2012. It hadn’t left much of an impression – it was too big to learn quickly, the laughable housing insulation meant your winter was spent perpetually cold, and shit was crazy expensive. The harbour was pretty, and everyone raved about the bridge, but it presented an unwelcoming, brash, overtly posh facade to the casual observer, and I didn’t stick around to let these impressions get shifted.

Now, eight months in, it still hasn’t changed. My current home town is a lucrative spot, and there are career opportunities here, but that’s largely where the buck stops. Sydney is an average stop, at best.

It’s massive, nearly five million people stretched out among a sea of suburbs of terrace housing and Cold War-era high rises, all the way to Parramatta upriver, and driving here might be some of the worst in the western world. It’s cramped, aggressive, and utterly confusing – nothing seems to go anywhere purposeful, and it’s mired by half-baked construction projects and tolls. The bike lanes are inches wide, running alongside four-lane roads with parked cars, and you are given absolutely zero room. The gutters that you’re obliged to ride through are also chock full of wheel-catching drains and broken concrete. Meanwhile, you’re obliged to carry around your ID. While on a bicycle. You get a motorist-level fine if you don’t stop fully at a stop sign. Given the traffic here, you’d think there would be some more support for cycling, but they’d rather put you at intentional risk.

Part of the reason for this is the sensation that you’re living in the midst of a pitched class battle. There is zero quarter on offer for anyone starting out with little to their name, and those who would dare not to commute in their AMG Mercs are worthy of no consideration, bordering on disdain. It’s a town built for the elite, something that is reflected by its unbelievable real estate costs, some of the highest in the world. This rush for land, meanwhile, has had the effect of destroying any hint of historical architecture, bulldozed in favour of more and more saleable, modernistic, and horrendously priced units.

The rental culture, as we found out, is governed by a bidding system – the only of its kind in the country – and you are obliged to compete with your fellow bidders for the unit. Typically, an agent will advertise at a cost perhaps 25% south of the value of the unit, to draw a crowd on inspection day. Then, let the bids rain down. Twice, we won bids, only to have the agent simply organise another inspection in the hopes of attracting a higher-roller. We like our current spot just fine, but the coin its costing us would cover a beachfront in South America. And a weekly slab. And probably a lot more, and would have a working elevator and someone to chase loud methheads away.

Out east, the beaches are lovely. Accordingly, they’re packed on the nicer days and weekends, a solid forty minutes in the inevitable traffic, where you are then obliged to pay heinously for parking – if you can find it at all – or even more on the bus. Then you can burn to a crisp, or attempt to battle the aggressive young guns on the surf breaks. I hardly even bother any more. No amount of salt is worth the irritation. Down towards Royal National Park, you can pay $15 for entry and get some solitude, but its an all-day affair to get there, and the amount of release you gain by doing so is somewhat cancelled out by the commute.

But the night life seals it. A good indie music scene, some late-night dive haunts with music and cheap beer and food, is all that would be required to make the situation bearable. It would break up the torpor of the dull days, encourage the sight of a few more sunsets and bring people together in their hatred of the spot. And it’s a non-option. They’ve all fallen victim to knee-jerk, reactionary politics and the screams of the media here, and apart from a couple of widely-spread exceptions, pubs close at twelve midnight, liquor stores at ten. 12 midnight. In a modern country, there is a veritable curfew.

There is nowhere in the world that places such restrictions on its populace. By 1, Newtown, Darling Harbour, and King’s Cross are ghost towns, the windows dull and blank, a few listless cab drivers wandering around, more out of habit than a legitimate hope for fares. The so-called Lockout Laws came in to effect via the state’s legislature after a young man was killed by some idiot’s cheapshot on the sidewalk in the Cross. Truly, it was a tragic situation – the guy was only twenty or so – but they caught the guy and threw the book at him. Apparently, that wasn’t enough.

And did I mention that this occurred at roughly 9pm?

Conspiracy theories have abounded about the true reasoning for such a move, and regardless of the intention, the reality is that dozens of venues have subsequently shut down. In a real estate market as driven as this one – in fact, it’s one of few growth industries – this has become a natural method of encouraging these venues to close, to make way for more high-density housing, less socialising and noise, and ever-fewer low-skill jobs at these venues. But the situation is just so perfectly ‘Sydney’. A primal scream to the youth of the city, to the noisemakers, to the lower class and lower earners, that they are perfectly unwelcome.


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Reviving the Journo

The Age of Information is rife with promise for global enlightenment. There are enough free tutorials, language courses, books, lectures, and documentaries to last a million lifetimes, and a motivated individual can learn as much, or more, about a given niche with a wifi connection as in a top-flight university. We live in the most high-velocity period of human adaptation and change so far, and unprecedented period of fundamental alteration. It’s a cool time to be alive.

The addition of nearly every human voice to this collective shout brought with it some interesting notions. The concept that everyone could become a form of ‘expert’, that we had ears to the ground everywhere in the world, is a romantic one. But this idea has lately come in to competition with a basic tenet of human kind: roughly one out of four people in the world, or 25%, are complete and utter fuckwits. They have zero concept of rational argument, they aren’t intelligent enough to realise that some concepts aren’t black-and-white, and when notions go over their heads? They dig in even further to their impossible position, invoking every form of nebulous evidence under the sun to back them up, or claim ever-more absurd forms of prejudice as the ‘real’ reason their point of view hasn’t been wholeheartedly adopted.

Let’s take the anti-vaxxers. These group of fine, civic-minded individuals would rather choose to believe in a global conspiracy to infect their children with some manner of mind-control. Wiping out a number of deadly diseases is only a side effect. These notions, which ordinarily would only be directed at commuters from the pulpit of a cardboard box, now can be proven and confirmed with a basic web search. People can confirm any crackpot notion this way. We haven’t yet evolved to question the supposed knowledge that we find online. If it’s got a URL, it must be true. Confirmation bias is a real problem in today’s world, but the inflexible mindset of idiots is the cause of it.

And this is the problem: the mainstream media has lost any form of legitimacy. In places, this has been well-deserved, and has been derived from a more informed look in to who is being paid. They are big businesses, after all, and the elite will often have their hands in a number of pies. But the simple fact is, they have something to lose with shit writing and a lack of fact checking. They can be taken to task. They have a history to protect, unlike the blogger who can cut and run.

I see, in the future, a step back towards reporting under the edifice of an agency with a taste for ideals. The individual will now require a history, and qualifications, before he can be broadly accepted. Think Bellingcat, or early Salon-era Greenwald (before they turned clickbait).

Perhaps a rating agency? A Moodys of the writing and journalism world, who’s job it is to vet the supposed ‘proof’ of a journalist, before they can be taken as gospel. A mark of legitimacy. Such a thing should never ask that the writer, necessarily, be revealed. Such a notion would destroy part of the reasoning behind the gift of a truly anonymous, far-reaching news landscape: the notion of keeping people honest. But it might begin to clear up the rubble.

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Northerning Pt. I

You can never really put a proper grasp on your hometown until you’ve travelled, and after seven years on the road, there’s a few elements of southern ontario that create a good, solid cringe. The yokel accents. The incredible lack of style awareness. The bravado on the roads. It’s still possessive of that distinctive Canadian politeness, but there’s a lot under the hood here.

The urban life in Toronto is something you tend to grow out of. It lacks the style or action of a New York or London, the controlled chaos of a Bangkok or Hong Kong, or the grit of Melbourne or Mexico City. It’s too spread out, the weather is sticky humid in the summertime and downright depressing in the winter. And the transit system is so laughably poor, mired in the 1970s (what kind of first-world city uses diesel locomotives for commuter trains?), that you either wind up dropping nearly $100 on nightly transit (if you live in the suburbs), staying sober, or slumming it on a friends’ couch. Not my cup of proverbial tea.

But the true appeal of Ontario isn’t the city life, it’s in the huge tracts of unpopulated land to the north, rife with Canadian Shield lakes and forests. Apart from a few mining or pulp logging concerns, there isn’t much to offer industry here, and the towns are suitably small and modest. It means less pressure on lakes. And it means that with a little work, there is some outstanding outdoors pursuits to be had. I’m biased – I summered on the Great Lakes for the first twenty years of my life – but I’ve yet to find its equal.

I was still jetlagged halfway to Sodom by the time we left the city at 4am, on the strength of a 36-hour turnaround after the flight landed. I’ve never dealt well with jet lag – random acts of extreme fatigue tend to knock me down a peg – but not unlike a serious hangover, distraction is absolutely vital. Besides, who cares how badly you’re hurting? You’ll feel better at some point. In this case, the sunrise in the east over the stretch of rural farmland off the 400 was easily attractive enough to wake me from my torpor, and a body clock that had essentially done a bolt.

We fortified with some ghastly coffee after a few hours, and almost exactly on target, I had to piss. It’s a truly annoying element of North America, on the whole: the coffee sucks. Its absolutely brutal. It’s brackish, overly sweet, way the fuck too big, and weak as piss. Four years in the land of espresso machines and proper mixes will destroy anyone’s illusions that what we’re drinking isn’t processed garbage.


Six hours of asphalt, and we made it up north to Temagami, set up, gained our permits, and launched. The fatigue had properly began, as I found out on our way out, nine days later, when I couldn’t recall nearly any of the landscape. But there was nothing for it. Eight hours of shoulder-wrenching paddling, and three stinging portages later, we set up our first camp, on a canoe-only lake surrounded by naught but the purest wilderness.


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Bruised Ribs


I’ve broken or bruised ribs four times in my life. One each for skiing, hockey, basketball, and one drunken occurrence for which memory is lacking. I’m in this halfway immobilised state now, courtesy of a relatively mild elbow on the court three weeks ago, which is still keeping me largely off my typical gym pace.

It feels like a fucking eternity. It’s the first time I’ve wrecked my ribs in six years, and none of the rest of them took nearly this long to sort themselves out. But it’s par for the course, and easily the most noticeable aspect of hitting one’s thirties: you just can’t heal as fast. This runs true across hangovers, illnesses, injuries. As memory lengthens, so too does your recovery.

It seems to coincide with a period of time when you begin to grow impatient, or even desperate, for that big change. Or maybe it just serves to underline the growing awareness of a ticking clock on your truly productive years. I always postulated that the spongey adaptive quality that defined my earlier travel years might wane as time passed, and creature comforts, and routine, became more friendly or familiar. I have fought the dying of the light, but in truth, it is comforting to know that I’ve got a warm bed with food in the fridge, and good friends at the pub.

The popular notion exists that 20 is the new 30, 40 is the new 30, and a whole host of other trendy articles about the eternal option of reviving your youth. I’m not so sure. When I think back to the pace that myself, and a few good friends maintained in the height of our balls-to-the-wall phase, there is not the slightest chance I have the energy now. We were young, stupid, and living large. Work all day in the sun, physical work, with heavy gear and machinery, and the responsibility for guests and fellow crew. Crush a bottle of rum for dinner, fuck all night, sleep for a couple of hours, and arrive at work (relatively) fresh. One day of that, and now, I’m laid low for half a week.

It stands to reason that getting your proverbial shit together isn’t the result of an epiphany, or becoming bored with excess. You simply can’t do it, physically, any more. Waiting around for one’s retirement to travel and live large is like waiting until your dream car has half a million clicks on it before you take it out; it might run, it might get you there, but at a pretty average pace, with a lot of work thrown in to get it out of the garage every morning.

Not that this will stop us from trying. Salut, and rage on.

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It’s the dawn of a new day here in Sydney, and fuck it all, let’s lay down some goals for the remainder of this year.

French. A good friend is currently building solar installations in Sierra Leone, and I want in. It’d be badass. How? Vocab books, check. Duolingo for a half hour nightly. Check. A pair of French friends? Done.

Read more. I have Edwards Gibbons’ ‘The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire’ on my bookshelf, and I’m going to read it. Half hour nightly, and more on the weekends.

Build my all-rounder mountain bike. My old commuter needs investment in a seat, a bottom bracket, brakes, pedals, and some fresh wheels. It’ll suit the trail, and the hard stuff, with different rubber.

Motorcycle license.

Save towards my pilot’s license.

Book a flight to India for January/February 2017 for a trip on the rails.

Become a better boxer during the week, and surfer during the weekends.

You saw it here, folks. Six months to go.




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