Write While True Episode 16: Transcript

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I’m Lou Franco, and this is episode 16 of Write While True, which is a writing program for programmers.

If you follow it literally, you’ll be in an infinite loop of writing, but I mean a program as in a training program, so in each episode I’ll challenge you with an exercise that’ll help you build a writing habit.

This is season two, which is about restarting.

Listen to Write While True at your desk, and when it’s over, just start writing.

So I did season one of this podcast a couple of years ago.

I did 15 episodes. They were about some of the basics of building up a writing habit, and then I stopped. In this season, I am going to explore how to restart projects in the context of restarting this one.

I want to talk about one of the lessons I’ve learned.

Stuck in a worldview

I moved to Sarasota in 2018, and the months leading up to the move were hectic. I become lax with my healthy eating and exercising, and I put on a few pounds, which honestly was kind of my pattern over the course of my life.

The more concerning thing was that I found out that my cholesterol, which had been trending up, was now at 285.

Normal is considered 200, but I have a really bad family history, so they would like that even lower than that.

My doctors were telling me I needed to eat better, stop eating bacon, less red meat, less meat in general, or they would have to recommend putting me on statins, and I really didn’t want to do that.

So what I decided to do was to exercise more.

I’d been running on and off for over 20 years, but now I was going to get serious.

I joined a running group and was running four days a week, 20 or 30 miles each week.

I got in great shape, got other good health benefits like low blood pressure, but three months later, my cholesterol was still 285. I didn’t lose one point.

I was crushed.

I couldn’t work out any more than I was doing.

I try it their way a little

I decided to do more research and take some of the diet advice and try to cut food with cholesterol and saturated fat like red meat and cheese and bacon and eggs, which is really hard because I love burgers, especially cheeseburgers, especially bacon cheeseburgers, and breakfast buffets with omelet bars.

But I went from eating something with cholesterol or saturated fat in it every day, twice a day, to more like every other day or every two days.

And three months later, I got a blood test and my cholesterol was down to 226. This was great, but I was wondering, is this good enough?

Will it keep going down? How is this working? Why wasn’t exercise working?

I am ready

And then something happened that totally changed my life.

One of my neighbors was a retired doctor, and I was helping her with her laptop, and she jokingly said that if I ever needed some medical advice just to let her know.

So I told her about what had happened with my cholesterol and how exercise hadn’t worked and how changing my diet was seeming to have a good effect. And whether she thought I needed to do more or was I going to be okay just doing what I had been doing.

It turned out that she had decided to become vegan about 10 years earlier after doing some extensive research on her own, and she recommended that I read the China Study to see some of the science behind it.

I’m an engineer. I like to know how things work. I’m more convinced by ideas if I understand the causal mechanism.

So I read the book and I was utterly convinced.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’m vegan and I know a lot of vegans can’t stop talking about being vegan and try to convince you to become vegan.

We all feel resistance

But this podcast is not why to become a vegan. That’s not what I want to tell you today.

The important thing I want to tell you is that sometimes you have a problem, and you
may be getting good advice from people. Maybe you’re seeking it out or people are offering it without you asking, and you feel resistance.

I think we’ve all felt that, that resistance that comes when good advice, as sound as it
might be, just doesn’t match your worldview.

My doctors were telling me to stop eating meat, but what I heard was: eat less bacon. But after I tried what I thought would work and seeing it utterly fail, I gave in and tried a little bit of what they were suggesting.

And once I did and had a little success, I was open to hearing more from an expert who could give me even more advice and point me in the right direction.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

For me, when I wasn’t ready, I needed to try and try and try and fail and fail and fail. And then I was willing to give up my worldview on my own and try something outside of my comfort zone. When I had a little success, I was ready to listen.

I would change the phrase to “When the student tries, the teacher will appear.” I’m trying to apply this lesson to other aspects of my life.

What else am I not listening to?

I’ve said in this podcast that it’s important to just put things out there and lower the bar and not worry, but clearly I haven’t done that.

I haven’t lowered the bar enough so that I can keep on producing podcasts, but I’m going to try it again.

And what I’m hoping will happen is that I’ll be open to advice on how to keep going.

And what about you?

So what’s the thing in your life that you’re struggling with?

What are you doing that isn’t working even though you’re trying really hard? Are you getting advice from others that you’re resisting because it doesn’t match your worldview?

I would suggest that you try it their way a little.

See if you can get a little bit of success doing it their way, and then you might be open to hearing more and a teacher will appear.