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Comment author: Bound_up 22 April 2015 11:11:01PM 0 points [-]

Who is the composer of Singularity?

The link provided just sends me to Myspace's home page, with no mention of any Singularity.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 27 April 2015 11:43:35AM 1 point [-]

The Lisps, from the Album "Are We at the Movies".

Comment author: [deleted] 14 April 2015 04:35:18AM 3 points [-]

"Every day, with no excuses, I went to the gym and did fifty pull-downs on one of the machines."

This is not the most efficient means to get towards doing a pull-up. High reps with low weights activates different muscle fibers than low reps with high weight. I would recommend increasing the amount of weight and reducing the number of reps on your lat pulldown. You should also skip a day in between doing this exercise each time. You could do 50% of your body weight as a warm-up, then try 75% of your body weight and see how many reps you can do. If you manage more than 5, you don't have enough weight on there. Incorporate this into a circuit routine to minimize down time. A warm-up set followed by 3 sets of 3 reps is one way of doing this. By 3 reps, I mean your goal is to reach complete fatigue after only 3 reps. You should still try to complete as many reps as you can. Your circuit would include at least 3 other exercises in between that don't target your back so you have time to rest. On your skip day, just do cardio. Another thing to try is to use different variations of the lat pulldown, so you target as wide a variety of muscles as possible. Be careful about your form.

In response to comment by [deleted] on How I changed my exercise habits
Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 14 April 2015 12:37:48PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the advice. I don't want to do alternating days, because doing the same thing every day makes it easier to have as a habit (for me, anyway). More weight with less reps/set and doing a circuit both make sense. I'm sort of combining weight maintenance and strength goals, and I should probably meet with someone who advises on these questions for a living instead of winging it.

Comment author: jam_brand 14 April 2015 06:04:31AM 0 points [-]

I imagine this may be the TDT post you were thinking of: http://lesswrong.com/lw/4sh/how_i_lost_100_pounds_using_tdt/

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 14 April 2015 12:27:36PM 0 points [-]

Yes, thank you! I'll add the link.

Comment author: [deleted] 14 April 2015 07:32:57AM *  3 points [-]

It would not work for me. The whole idea of going to some gym alone and doing training that develops skills such as strength I do not actually need to use feels very demotivating. It feels useless and sterile.

My method: I wrote about it elsewhere, but in nutshell, I needed a real sport, such as martial arts. Without a sport goal, simply being healthier and sexier is not motivating enough, and it feels silly to get stronger or more flexible without ever having anything to actually use that for. It feels silly to get strong and then go back to the computer and not use it. I also needed the motivation a martial arts trainer yelling commands is giving. On my own I would get bored after maybe 10 mins of cardio, while with a trainer I can do an 1.5 hours long martial arts training without even getting tired, and it offers me a whole package of strength, technique, flexibility, speed, courage, all kinds of trainings, while the whole session doubles as a cardio with actual bouts of HIIT (such as heavy sandbag stuff). So I get a nice overall package there (boxing, but now more drifting towards the kick-boxing class as the trainer is simply better, generally it is better to choose the best trainer you can find, not the "best" martial art).

The only issue is that it is suboptimal on the strength training, 4 x 20 push-ups during a training won't make anyone buff, but once I signed up to an actual sport, such as trying to get a yellow kick-box belt, I feel way more motivated to also do bodyweight progressions at home. This is where being kinda fat is actually helpful. I intend to impress the guys at the martial arts training by doing one-handed push-ups (Pavel Tstatsouline: Naked Warrior book) and given that I am like 106kg (233 lbs, not as horrible as it sounds as I am fairly tall, 189cm) I will probably have scary big arms by the time I get there. Well, either that, or seriously damaged wrists. I think I need to tread careful there...

In short, my view is that I need a real sport, a structured sport training with a trainer, a real goal to use strength or other skills for, which also gives an extra motivation to do exercises outside the training times as well. It is hard for people to motivate themselves to acquire skills they don't need to.

I am not saying I need to have competition as a goal. For example, people can choose to be hobby rock climbers, it gives them a motivation to be strong, yet light, not fat and so on as they can now actually use it.

I chose martial arts not because I am interested in them. I am not actually interested in any sports. But I simply figured fighting is a very basic part of animal life, like feeding or fu... making love, it is simply a very very basic biological experience that must be on your "bucket list", because it is a huge part of life as an animal in general. So I figured if you have no special attraction to any sport, then just fighting makes a good general jolly joker.

My issue with your method, I mean, why I don't think it is generalizable enough is that for example in the modern world you don't need the ability to do a pull-up. You won't use it for work. It just makes you sexier and healthier and this may not be a strong enough motivator, and it is also a mismatch (muscle mass may correlate to sexiness and health but the ability to do a pull-up doesn't, as much of it is in the nerves, not muscle size). So IMHO what is needed is find a sport goal that makes it worthwhile to have the ability to do that pull-up, such as rock climbing or parkour. So you have a real reason for wanting that ability. This would be contribution to your method. (Even better: if there is such a thing as "belts", some form of a certification of rock climbers or parkour traceours, so that you have a really clear goal to work towards, a pride based goal.)

EDIT: I missed the sentence " I initially started exercising because I wanted more upper body strength to be better at climbing". That is exactly my point, my only issue now is the relative importance of it. If I was you, I would have written this article as "Step 1: I decided to find an activity, sport, hobby where fitness can actually be used. In my case climbing." IMHO this decision was the single most important in your chain of decisions and I think you are not emphasizing it enough. If you would not have a goal like climbing, but only the usual be sexier / be healthier goals, the whole thing would work differently. This is why I think a huge amount of emphasis must be put on this, recommending people to first find a hobby, a sport, where fitness can actually be used.

In response to comment by [deleted] on How I changed my exercise habits
Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 14 April 2015 12:24:52PM 0 points [-]

"Step 1: I decided to find an activity, sport, hobby where fitness can actually be used. In my case climbing."

My intention was to give strategies that can be used to build any good habit, not necessarily physical fitness. But within the realm of fitness, you make a good point that a sport where you can see the gains provides additional motivation on top of the desire to be healthier.

Comment author: bingobongo 14 April 2015 10:36:01AM 0 points [-]

My goal is “become able to do at least one pull up, or more if possible”

So, 20 months later, did you succeed in this, and if so, how did you modify your goal in time?

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 14 April 2015 12:21:57PM 3 points [-]

I can now do at least two consecutive pull ups and sometimes three. Hardly world class, but I feel great about it. I also succeeded last December at the climbing route that, when I couldn't complete it, inspired me to start working out. With the cardio I started a few months ago, I've gone from panting for air and feeling awful after running a mile to being able to run two miles and start to enjoy it.

Comment author: kingmaker 13 April 2015 10:44:49PM *  1 point [-]

Only a pantheist would claim that evolution is a personal being, and so it can't "try to" do anything. It is, however, a directed process, serving to favor individuals that can better further the species.

But I agree that we shouldn't rely on machine learning to find the right utility function.

How would you suggest we find the right utility function without using machine learning?

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 13 April 2015 10:52:25PM 0 points [-]

How would you suggest we find the right utility function without using machine learning?

If I find out, you'll be one of the first to know.

Comment author: kingmaker 13 April 2015 08:41:52PM *  1 point [-]

I never claimed that evolution did a good job, but I would argue that it gave us a primary directive; to further the human species. All of our desires are part of our programming; they should perfectly align with desires which would optimize the primary goal, but they don't. Simply put, mistakes were made. As the most effective way of developing optimizing programs we have seen is through machine learning, which is very similar to evolution; we should be very careful of the desires of any singleton created by this method.

I'm not sure of your assertion that the best advances in AI so far came from mimicking the brain.

Mimicking the human brain is fundamental to most AI research; on DeepMind's website, they say that they employ computational neuroscientists and companies such as IBM are very interested in whole brain emulation.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 13 April 2015 10:24:31PM 6 points [-]

I never claimed that evolution did a good job, but I would argue that it gave us a primary directive; to further the human species.

No, it didn't. That's why I linked "Adaptation Executers, not Fitness Maximizers". Evolution didn't even "try to" give us a primary directive; it just increased the frequency of anything that worked on the margin. But I agree that we shouldn't rely on machine learning to find the right utility function.

How I changed my exercise habits

16 Normal_Anomaly 13 April 2015 10:19PM

In June 2013, I didn’t do any exercise beyond biking the 15 minutes to work and back. Now, I have a robust habit of hitting the gym every day, doing cardio and strength training. Here are the techniques I used to do get from not having the habit to having it, some of them common wisdom and some of them my own ideas. Consider this post a case study/anecdata in what worked for me. Note: I wrote these ideas down around August 2013 but didn’t post them, so my memory was fresh at the time of writing.


1. Have a specific goal. Ideally this goal should be reasonably achievable and something you can see progress toward over medium timescales. I initially started exercising because I wanted more upper body strength to be better at climbing. My goal is “become able to do at least one pull up, or more if possible”.

Why it works: if you have a specific goal instead of a vague feeling that you ought to do something or that it’s what a virtuous person would do, it’s harder to make excuses. Skipping work with an excuse will let you continue to think of yourself as virtuous, but it won’t help with your goal. For this to work, your goal needs to be something you actually want, rather than a stand-in for “I want to be virtuous.” If you can’t think of a consequence of your intended habit that you actually want, the habit may not be worth your time.

2. Have a no-excuses minimum. This is probably the best technique I’ve discovered. Every day, with no excuses, I went to the gym and did fifty pull-downs on one of the machines. After that’s done, I can do as much or as little else as I want. Some days I would do equivalent amounts of three other exercises, some days I would do an extra five reps and that’s it.

Why it works: this one has a host of benefits.

* It provides a sense of freedom: once I’m done with my minimum, I have a lot of choice about what and how much to do. That way it feels less like something I’m being forced into.

* If I’m feeling especially tired or feel like I deserve a day off, instead of skipping a day and breaking the habit I tell myself I’ll just do the minimum instead. Often once I get there I end up doing more than the minimum anyway, because the real thing I wanted to skip was the inconvenience of biking to the gym.

3. If you raise the minimum, do it slowly. I have sometimes raised the bar on what’s the minimum amount of exercise I have to do, but never to as much or more than I was already doing routinely. If you start suddenly forcing yourself to do more than you were already doing, the change will be much harder and less likely to stick than gradually ratcheting up your commitment.

3. Don’t fall into a guilt trap. Avoid associating guilt with doing the minimum, or even with missing a day.

Why it works: feeling guilty will make thinking of the habit unpleasant, and you’ll downplay how much you care about it to avoid the cognitive dissonance. Especially, if you only do the minimum, tell yourself “I did everything I committed to do.” Then when you do more than the minimum, feel good about it! You went above and beyond. This way, doing what you committed to will sometimes include positive reinforcement, but never negative reinforcement.

4. Use Timeless Decision Theory and consistency pressure. Credit for this one goes to this post by user zvi. When I contemplate skipping a day at the gym, I remember that I’ll be facing the same choice under nearly the same conditions many times in the future. If I skip my workout today, what reason do I have to believe that I won’t skip it tomorrow?

Why it works: Even when the benefits of one day’s worth of exercise don’t seem like enough motivation, I know my entire habit that I’ve worked to cultivate is at stake. I know that the more days I go to the gym the more I will see myself as a person who goes to the gym, and the more it will become my default action.

5. Evaluate your excuses. If I have what I think is a reasonable excuse, I consider how often I’ll skip the gym if I let myself skip it whenever I have that good of an excuse. If letting the excuse hold would make me use it often, I ignore it.

Why it works: I based this technique on this LW post

6. Tell people about it. The first thing I did when I made my resolution to start hitting the gym was telling a friend whose opinion I cared about. I also made a comment on LW saying I would make a post about my attempt at forming a habit, whether it succeeded or failed. (I wrote the post and forgot to post it for over a year, but so it goes.)

Why it works: Telling people about your commitment invests your reputation in it. If you risk being embarrassed if you fail, you have an extra motivation to succeed.


I expect these techniques can be generalized to work for many desirable habits: eating healthy, spending time on social interaction; writing, coding, or working on a long-term project; being outside getting fresh air, etc.

Comment author: Dahlen 13 April 2015 04:54:56PM 1 point [-]

To me it seems like you have no idea where you want to go that's more specific than "I don't want to be depressed."

Well, yes, basically. I said as much to my psychotherapist as well.

To get positive effects you indeed have to allow change.

My question is, change in what? There's little I can change about my beliefs that would improve my mood, aside from becoming implausibly optimistic about my future. Change in baseline happiness? For one, that seems genetically determined; for another, when I don't get my heart broken I'm in a stable, content, neutral disposition, so it's not that. Change in goals? I've considered that, but it's just the kind of thing to make me more depressed, seeing as I'm not bloody asking for much if I want to have one relationship with a person of my choosing (a hypothetical someone in my future, not the lost cause I've been pursuing) in which nobody's deceiving anybody; it feels a lot like admitting defeat.

On the other hand everybody has the right to suffer as much as the want. You are allowed to have "being happy" not on top of your list of priorities.

Please don't.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 13 April 2015 09:05:40PM 1 point [-]

There's little I can change about my beliefs that would improve my mood, aside from becoming implausibly optimistic about my future.

How do you think you know that? Maybe some of your beliefs or aliefs are causing wrong actions that are making you sad. From what you say elsewhere in your comment, it sounds like your depression is triggered by romantic failure, so changes to beliefs that help you relate to people better probably could improve your mood. In fact, your particular case of wanting "a relationship . . . in which nobody's deceiving anybody" sounds like a good one for CBT. (Or rather for fixing with rationality-type changes in general, I don't know enough about CBT vs. other therapies to really say.)

Comment author: moridinamael 13 April 2015 06:39:12PM *  2 points [-]

I don't have a lot to add except to say, I can't think of a single reason why not to do it. Which makes me just a bit confused, because it's unlikely that this is the only time that society has generated a widespread taboo against a thing for literally no reason.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 13 April 2015 08:55:37PM 1 point [-]

The reason in the past was probably disease and/or unintended pregnancy, and both of those can be fixed now. Also concerns about making sure women wouldn't cheat on their husbands and leave them raising someone else's kid, I think. The third reason, which is still applicable today, is that hiring a sex worker signals "can't get sex without paying, therefore undesirable" but that's probably not too big of a deal.

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