Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shoe Update

So it's actually been about two weeks since I made a post, because of scheduling issues, but I wanted to make sure I had time to really sit down and flesh out this update about my shoes.  So here it is, in all it's questionable glory.

As far as the barefoot shoe thing is concerned, I figure there are three types of shoes I wanted to have before I'd consider myself well-equipped.  Strange that I need three different types of shoes to work on a barefoot lifestyle change, isn't it?  Anyway, the three types I wanted are -
VIBRAMS - I want these for when I do things like going hiking in places where I can't be sure what kind of terrain I'll encounter, or where there might be (sadly, quite likely) a broken beer bottle in amongst the pine straw or something.  Or when I might go stepping into a creek that (again, quite likely) has rusty metal in it.  Believe it or not, my friends and I went swimming in a creek about a year ago and came across an overturned lawnmower.  This was both shocking, and not terribly surprising considering we found it while swimming under a bridge with cars driving by overhead.  Anyway, I think it'd be a good idea to have these for a little extra preparedness when I either don't know or can't see where I'll be walking.  I don't have these yet, but I plan on acquiring a set within the next few months. 
HUARACHES - These sandals I'm expecting to wear when I go to the beach or some place where I might be going between the indoors and outdoors a lot.  They're quite comfortable to leave on, but they're also very easy to slip on and off and very lightweight for carrying while I'm not wearing them. 
The type I'm referring to can be purchased in high-quality form from several places, like Luna Sandals or Invisible Shoe.  However, being the person that I am, I decided to make my own, as they're fairly simple.  I found some tutorials here and here.  I bought a farmer's bundle of leather from Hobby Lobby for 6 dollars, a sheet of PVC sheeting from Lowe's for 12 dollars, some contact cement for, I don't remember how much exactly but it was pretty cheap, and some elastic for, like, 3 bucks, also at Hobby Lobby.  And while 20 dollars is about as much as the shoes cost from Invisible Shoe, and theirs are probably a bit better quality, I have enough material left to make two or three more sets of mine.  This is what mine turned out looking like:

I put the smooth side of the leather down against the PVC so that the contact cement could soak into the relatively porous leather and have a flat surface for the most contact area with the PVC.  The unfinished side of the leather went up against the sole of my foot, for traction and whatnot. They're actually pretty comfortable, and so light I forget I'm wearing them.  I'll tell you what though; they were a lifesaver when we went to the water park and everyone's bare feet were cooking on the white, hot cement. I don't know if my skin will be able to handle that kind of heat after I toughen it up, but for now I was happy.

You can see the writing from the PVC sheeting on the bottom.  The PVC isn't all that necessary, but I figured it'd help the leather last a little bit longer, as it's added waterproofing and will prevent general wear and tear from degrading the leather as fast.  I will say that it's super slick, though, so I won't go running around in the mud and rain in them if I can help it.  Not that that's sandal weather anyway...

MOCCASINS -  These are for places where it's really only socially acceptable to wear normal shoes.  They're close-toed, and on cursory inspection or from the corner of the eye appear to be normal shoes.  However, looking more closely will reveal that they do look a bit strange for shoes.  That's nothing compared to the comfort level, though.

 The laces are actually a bit longer than I need them to be, and so they flop about a bit and stick out from under my jeans when I wear these with pants.  Not a huge issue for me, though.  As you can see, they look a bit shapeless compared to normal shoes, but that's a necessary side-effect of having the wide toe-box that allows your toes to splay properly, and the thin leather that they're made of for comfort.

Here you can see that the leather is perforated, which makes them extremely light, comfortable, and airy.  They felt great to run in.  Unfortunately, being shoes and all, I have to wear socks with them or my feet start sweating something fierce.  So they're not as airy as I'd like them to be, but that's more the fault of the socks and my recalcitrant feet than anything else.

 Here's a side view of the shoes, where you can see both how soft the leather is, and how flat the sole is.  I mean, there's no heel-to-toe drop at all.  There's no other padding or material inside the leather; that's all the sole you have.  I got the thinnest, "street" sole, at 2 mil.  They have a 5 mil "trail" sole, but as I said I plan on using my eventual Vibrams for that kind of terrain, so for these I wanted a thinner sole for better ground feel and lighter weight, as I'll be using them in more urban environments.
This is a close-up of the sole material, which as you can see has some light cross-hatching, and also some alternating Vibram logo stamps.  Despite the relatively light texturing, these actually have quite a bit of traction.  Again, not something I'd go running through mud-slicks in if I can help it (though the "trail" sole may have some thicker texturing; I'm not sure) but up and down the street it was plenty for me to maneuver safely.

Overall, I'm happy with them, and the "Elves" that make the shoes at Soft Star were extremely helpful and friendly when I called, asking me questions about my needs and my likes so that they could provide me with the best shoe options.  Also, it was clear they weren't just trying to sell me the most expensive model.  I will say, of course, that if you want to buy a pair, it's best to do your research and know something about barefooting and what your needs might be, to be better able to answer their questions.  I'd say "tell them I sent you" but I won't get a discount or finder's fee or anything, and neither will you.  Either way, if you're looking into barefooting, I'd definitely recommend getting a set. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Food Addiction

So, it's taken me a while to get around to this, partially because I don't really want to talk about it.  But, then... all the more reason for me to do so, yeah?  So here we go.
Believe it or not (and some people who don't deal with this don't seem to think that it's an issue, but there's science behind it) food addiction is a thing.  Check out this article about it if you don't believe me.  But the long and short of it is, for some people, certain foods can mimic the same effects within the brain as cocaine or heroine.  This generally applies more to foods that are high in sugar, salt, or fat.  I think you can all see where that would lead.
The problem, though, is that you don't need cocaine to live, though you may feel like it.  But if you stop eating, you will die.  And this stuff, this garbage food that has this effect on people and (while I'm not huge on conspiracy theories or seeing a bunch of faceless, money-grubbing demons behind every big corporation) it's certainly possible that companies are exploiting the things that make their foods more addictive.  I'm not gonna get into the whole food market thing, because I can't really do anything about what the food industry, or the FDA, does.  All I can affect is me.  And I'm a food addict.
So the thing, then, is to no longer "reward" myself for doing well by going completely off the reservation and pigging out on a bacon double cheeseburger with large chili-cheese fries and a wading pool-sized bucket of coke.  Does it serve the crackhead's best interest to celebrate a week sober with an 8-ball and a party?
The answer, my friends, is no, and if you said yes then put down the lighter and call your sponsor now.
What I need to do is not eat all this garbage that I have grown, over 30 years, to love and enjoy.  I need to retrain my brain, my palate, and my behaviors.  That involves making a transition from the delicious, convenient, cheap food I've depended on for years, to food that costs more, takes more time and energy to prepare, and that doesn't taste as good.  But it's for my health.  It's worth tacking another 30 years onto my life to do.
And of course I realize that once I've done it for long enough, a huge salad of mushrooms, peppers, and other vegetables of unknown provenance that I can't even properly pronounce, will taste as delicious as yesterday's greasy burger, and I'll feel good about it.  I won't have to wait until I'm alone at the house to eat, or try to hide a bunch of disposable dishes covered in ketchup and mayonnaise, because it won't be there.  I'll be proud of having made that transition from what is modern and cheap, to what is good for me.  And that's a huge part of the Primal Shift.
Even as I write this, I'm tempted to type "so tomorrow, i start eating right."  But that's the old me.  The addict.  The obese, neolithic slug with no willpower that would find any excuse to go back to what was cheap, tasty, and comfortable.  He'd take the easy way out.
But the new me, the descendent of Grok, the world's finest Apex Predator, is not going to do that.  I am making this change now, and I am not going to revert.  I'm honest enough to know that I may backslide, but I will not give in and say "well, I might as well get a large milkshake as well...".  No longer is it in for a penny, in for a pound. 
I will make this change, this Primal Shift, and I will stick with it.  When lay dying, at 100+ years old, a shredded old man in my bed, I will be able to honestly say "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.  Booyah."