So what is #DocsWhoRock and can I join? I get this question from time to time and I’m finally going to attempt an answer.

In brief, #DocsWhoRock is group of people, mostly medical doctors (but everyone welcome), who Tweet videos of the music they play. Anyone can join, it’s not really a group or a club, it’s just a hashtag so we can find each other.

Every 2 weeks we pick a new theme. The theme is nothing ironclad, it’s just something that might help inspire or help us learn about new music. Past themes have been based on musical eras, words in song titles, song subjects, etc.

Mostly, I’ve been announcing the theme and on some level, I’ve been picking the themes each week. That being said, it wasn’t always me who picked and to clear up a common misconception, I wasn’t the person that started #DocsWhoRock.

I tried to go back and put together a short history of the beginning. We are after all, coming up on one year of this hashtag.

March of 2020 was a bad month. For me, the turning point was Friday March 13th. That was the day my jiu-jitsu gym shut down. That weekend was when the Mayor of NYC announced the shutdown of the schools and non-essential businesses.

Like so many others, I figured it would be a good time to start playing music again. This tweet below on March 14th was the first time I posted me playing guitar on Twitter.

Meanwhile, some distance away in the wilds of Illinois, Seth Trueger was also playing guitar. He decided to post on Twitter this video March 29th.

Atul Grover saw the above and was inspired, here are his first 2 uses of the hashtag and the birth of #DocsWhoRock.

I saw Atul’s tweet the next day and here’s me responding with my first use of the hashtag.

And here’s Melissa Reed’s tweet from May 13 containing a rare screenshot of the first ever #DocsWhoRock convention.

Here’s a joyous thread of the first #DocsWhoRock t-shirts, from #1 fan @tippin_elaina.

So the above is an incomplete history and I’m working on updates.

That being said, the people in this community kept me going through the horrors of 2020. We kept each other going. For me, it started out as just a way to be accountable to practice guitar. Now, I think to myself all the time, “These are the only people who get me.”

So if you’re on Twitter and if you see a video with the #DocsWhoRock hashtag and you want to join in, please do. Play something, record it and post it. There’s a lot of pro-level AV work being done now but to this day, I mostly just record with a cellphone camera playing a guitar with no amp. However you can join, we’d love to have you.

Weight loss FAQ part 1

It’s June. I actually started this blog thinking I would write about weight loss. And I’ve written a bunch on the subject. But all a bunch of false starts. Let’s see how this shakes out as a FAQ. Here’s what I have so far. Please don’t take any of this as medical advice.

Q: What do you know about weight loss?
A: I’m currently about 162 lbs at 5’11”. I used to weight about 220 lbs 10 years ago. A really long time ago in high school, my max weight was 240 lbs.

Q: How’d you lose weight?
A: Lots of ways, most recently through what I call my “meat, cheese, and eggs diet.” The diet is exactly what it sounds like.

Q: You don’t eat fruits or vegetables?
A: I hate to admit it, but I’m allergic to almost every fruit. It’s oral allergy syndrome, nothing life threatening. But I don’t care for fruit at all. I like vegetables but honestly feel better not eating them. I eat vegetables rarely.

Q: Do you take vitamins or supplements?
A: Occasionally multi-vitamin. Occasionally caffeine, magnesium, BHB.

Q: How do you not get constipated?
A: Eat more fat.

Q: Why’d you lose weight?
A: Lots of reasons, different reasons at different points in my life. Most recently for Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitions.

Q: What’s your diet advice?
A: Everyone is different, I would never make a blanket recommendation that my way of eating is best. It seems to work for me. My first advice for anyone is “No sugar. No flour.” At least try your damndest to cut out sugar and flour. I first did a keto diet in medical school, over 10 years ago. Made me realize how much sugar is added to food, trying to shop back then.

Q: What about sweeteners?
A: People’s reactions are very different here. For me, artificial sweeteners make me feel terrible. I think the best thing would be to quit. Especially if you’re hooked on diet soda. People should drink water. Maybe with a little flavor. Definitely not with sugar or sweetener.

Q: You don’t drink alcohol?
A: Rarely red wine or bourbon and club soda.

Q: How do i do your diet.
A: First of all, I can’t really recommend my diet to anyone. But if you want to know, this is how I do it: Cook a bunch of ground beef into patties. Cook a bunch of eggs. Put a ton of melted cheese over everything. Drink water. If you’re craving something sweet, eat a full fat piece of cheese.

Q: How am I going to feel on your diet.
A: If you’ve never quit carbs before, you’ll feel awful. It’ll be like quitting any other addiction. You’ll have intense cravings. You’ll wait them out. They’ll fade. Over time, they’ll hit less and less often. Then once you adapt, it’s feels great. Like a cheat code for life. Relationship with food and hunger completely changes.

Q: Isn’t this diet bad for you?
A: My blood pressure is normal. My cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL are all tip-top. I feel mentally more clear than ever. My eczema is gone. So for whatever that’s worth. I’m not sure everyone will do as well on the amount of cheese I eat. It’s kind of an insane amount of cheese.

Q: Is this diet sustainable?
A: I’ve been eating this way since March 2018. Burger patties at first. Now I also broil, roast, and stew meat. Simple cooking, just meat, salt, pepper, maybe some olive oil if broiling a steak. Meat, cheese, eggs. All I need. So far, so good.

Side Control

When I first started Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), my least favorite place to be was in side control. I think this is a common feeling. For the uninitiated, side control is where your opponent’s body is on top of yours, one knee by your shoulder and one knee by your hip. You’re especially in bad shape when your opponents arms are around you and his shoulder is pushing into your face, grinding away at the skin of your cheek and chin.

I remember trying to read everything I could about side control escapes. I would search endlessly on YouTube for ideas and techniques. What stuck with me, was when someone told me, that the best way to deal with it, was to seek it out. To get used to being in the suck. Like with any uncomfortable situation, the natural tendency is to become tense, forget to breathe, have panic set in. So the best advice is like with so many things, to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

At this point, I have spent a lot of time in other people’s side control. I expect to have a long journey with BJJ and that means I’ll spend a lot more time there. But I’m comfortable with the suck now. I know when I’m in danger and I know when someone is just trying to feel me out. I know how to make the person on top of me uncomfortable now. I know how to control an arm, push the top person’s head, throw up my legs and lock up a triangle choke with my legs from the bottom. It’s not a high-percentage move but people have to respect it and it opens up other ways out.

I don’t know why, but here’s just another BJJ parallel with life that I’ve been thinking about. How the only way I can get better at dealing bad situations is to be in bad situations. There’s a small part of me that never wants to roll (practice sparring) against the big guys in my class. The guys that outweigh me by 50 or 100 pounds. But the part of me in charge, seeks those guys out. Because the only way to learn how to slay giants is to go out and try to slay giants. And until I learn, I’m going to spend a lot more time pinned and trapped under those giants.

Trying to be present

“The measure of a man is his ability to sit still in a quiet room.”

I read this somewhere when I was a kid. And I’ve thought about it a lot. Recently I’ve been thinking about it in regards to the impulse to check my phone in any quiet moment that comes up during the day.

It’s a terrible impulse that I’ve recently redoubled my efforts to fight. I want to mindful. I want to be present in the moment. It’s hard.

I’m reminded of quitting smoking. The best advice I got about quitting smoking is that the craving will pass. Just wait it out. Survive 10 minutes, 20 minutes. The craving will pass. This same process I’m now using to fight my phone.

My current mantra is, “Be present. Be present.” I repeat this to myself. “Be present. Be present.” Think about where I am. I try and just experience the world around me. I don’t want to dwell on the past. I don’t want to worry about the future. I just want to be present. Focus on my breath. Hear the world around me. Feel the sensations in and on my body. Without judgement, without assigning anything a value of good or bad. Just be present. I want to do what I’m doing and focus on that.

It’s hard.

A few words about jiu-jitsu

I recommend Brazilian jiu-jitsu to just about everyone I know. Partially because I’m interested in having more training partners but mostly because the practice of BJJ is so good at putting the rest of my life in perspective. Truly, it’s improved my life in so many ways.

And as I was commuting home from BJJ tonight I kept thinking about my favorite aspect. BJJ is really good at draining all the energy from your body. Many times tonight, I fought until I had nothing left, I got submitted, I tapped, and then my opponent let me go. While part of me wants to just lay on the mat gasping for air, there’s another part of me that sits up, smiles like I just woke up from a power nap and asks my opponent, “Ready to go?”

And we fight again, full force, basically trying to kill each other. So even when I think I have nothing left in the tank, I discover that there’s more. There’s always more than you think. I used to row in college and that was my favorite thing about rowing. How much can you empty the tank? How much can you put out when you think your body has nothing left? David Goggins, the retired Navy Seal and ultramarathon runner would say that when you think you’re done, you’ve only used 40% or what you really have. How can you train yourself to tap into the rest? Like everything else, it’s practice.

I love that so much about BJJ. The moment when you think you’ve got nothing left and you just say to yourself, “Fuck it, let’s keep going.” BJJ gives me that moment over and over again.

And when someone is behind you, trying to choke you to death, you can’t panic. Tonight, this choking scenario from the back happened to me a few times. There’s a systematic way out. I put my hand near my neck so I can protect my airway and carotid artery. Move my weight down and slide my butt to the mat. Try to come up and face my opponent.

There’s wrinkles and variations but it’s all very algorithmic. I’ve heard BJJ likened to trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube that’s trying to kill you. As a fan of cubing, I like the analogy.

So yeah, just figured I’d write a quick love note to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It gets you exhausted, then teaches you to think systematically under pressure without panic while exhausted. And whatever other problems are going on in life, if you can discipline yourself to get through jiu-jitsu, you’ll be able to manage most other things just fine. Works for me at least.

Gotta start somewhere

So it’s 2019. Happy New Year. I started my first blog in 2009. People liked that blog. I liked writing that blog. Somehow, some way, I lost the drive. So like I did 10 years ago for 2009, I’m making a New Year’s resolution for 2019. I am going to write.

In school, my 2 best subjects were always Math and English. I remember being near high school graduation, speaking to my English teacher, Mr Appels. I was saying something about my difficulties finding inspiration to write. And he said to me, “If you want to be a writer, you have to write.”

I think about that a lot. So here it goes.

I may be embarrassed putting out such a shoddy product but like it says above, gotta start somewhere. And I’m starting here. My first blog from a decade ago was all these crazy stories that I wanted to put out anonymously. Since then, I’ve become more comfortable putting out stories as the person I am. There are things that I’ve learned that I want to put down on paper, maybe just for me.

Actually, if I’m really being honest, it’s because I want to be a writer, and what is it to be a writer without an audience? Also what is a writer if he doesn’t keep writing? There are so many things about writing swirling in my head and it’s a struggle getting these ideas out.

I am out of practice.

My other inspiration was that I just finished the David Goggins book, Can’t Hurt Me. The big message of that book is getting out of your comfort zone and staying out of your comfort zone. So what if I used to be a good writer? So what if I’m terrified to start writing again? It’s a good thing I’m terrified. It means I’m getting out of my comfort zone. It means I’m growing as a person. So I’ll stop here for now. This is my new beginning. Thanks for reading this far. More to come very soon.