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Fear Itself   Leave a comment

Last night it rained a bit, and early this morning it rained a bit more here in northern Alabama.  Shocking, I know.  So when I drove into work this morning the roads were a little wet, and there were a few sprinkles along the way.

The road conditions were not perfect, but not bad either.  There was a car in front of me most of the way to work.  If a vehicle approached our road from a side road he’d start slowing down.  If he came across a puddle in the road he’d swerve a bit to miss it.  When people would pass him on the left he’d quickly move right as far as possible.  His driving gave me the distinct impression that he was fearful of driving on the wet roads.

It wasn’t that any of the things he did were inherently bad ideas.  Puddles can hide pot holes so avoiding them would seem wise.  Except these puddles really weren’t that big which meant it was really unlikely there was an issue there.  Sometimes people ignore stop signs so slowing down for the people approaching on side roads could seem a prudent precaution.  But the vehicles on the side roads were going really slow and showed no signs of bolting out.  And giving someone a wide berth when they pass you would seem reasonable, if he wasn’t moving so far to the right he was crossing the line and driving on the shoulder.  He appeared way more fearful than he should have been under the circumstances.

When you experience a small amount of fear, that’s a good thing.  It’s your mind’s warning system telling you to start being more vigilant.  Experience too much fear and it quickly become negative.  You begin overreacting and stressing out, neither of which is good for you.  If the level of fear rises high enough it can even be crippling, keeping you frozen and unable to react at all.

Making things worse is the fact that your mind doesn’t know the difference between a real threat you should fear, and a perceived threat, that only has the potential for harm because a perception in itself isn’t harmful.  Seneca famously stated “We are more often frightened than hurt;  and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”  Or more simply, fear’s bark is often much worse than its bite.

So how do you fix this?  How do you keep fear at the smaller level of a simple warning system?  You be mindful.  If you are keeping yourself focused on the here and now there’s less time to focus on the fear.  If you aren’t focused on the fear, it can’t grow.  If you’re focused on the here and now you can make decisions in the present moment, not the feared future.  And when you’re making those decisions mindfully and calmly you’re seeing more options and making better decisions.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation, which means it’s stress reducing, which reduces anxiety and fear.  It promotes calmness, which reduces fear.  It makes you happier, which reduces fear.  It enhances gratitude, which reduces fear.

Why focus on an imaginary future of fears and worries when you could spend that time quietly thinking to yourself that “you’ve got this” and that “I am more than enough.”  Focus on the good things in life.  Or dwell in fear.  The choice is yours.  Me, I’m going with calmness, happiness, and gratitude.  I hope you do to.  Have a great day.

 

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Your Great Experiment   Leave a comment

I was talking today with a coworker about the ketogenic diet.  She was interested in knowing what I was doing to lose so much weight since the beginning of the year.  And I didn’t mind sharing.  In fact, I’d say that the problem tends to be getting me to shut up after I get started talking about keto.

As much as I love keto and as much success as I’ve had with it, though, I always try to remember to share that not every diet will work the same for everyone.  And I think that’s a good thing for everyone to remember for a great many things in life.

When I first tried losing weight a long while ago I tried simple calorie restriction.  It’s worked for many a person, but not for me.  I lost a little weight at first but after a short while my body just adapted to the lower calories by slowing down my metabolism.  I was tired and cranky all the time.  My cravings went up, and soon enough I just broke and went back to eating what I used to, and lots of it because I was starving.

I tried creating a caloric deficit from the other side of the equation, increasing the calories I burned each day via more exercise.  Again, I lost a bit up front, but then I just started feeling hungrier all the time and eventually broke again.  And I felt terrible to boot as I know that lots of people have lost weight this way.  So what was wrong with me?

Over the years I tinkered with lowering calories and increasing caloric burn in shifting amounts but it all wound up right back reaching the point where I lost the willpower to keep at it.  So eventually I just gave up trying for a while.

Then a few years ago my friend wanted to try the Whole 30 plan.  She felt it would be easier if she had an accountability buddy to do it with her and asked me if I would go Whole 30, too.  I got a copy of the book “It Starts With Food” by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig.  I liked the premise of it and felt it was something I could stick to for 30 days, especially if my motivation was to help a friend.  So I told her I’d be happy to try it.  I dropped a lot of weight quickly and was really happy with the results.  I felt better and had way more energy.  It’s a great diet plan that has worked for a lot of people.  I highly recommend it and have included an affiliate link to the book below (just click the pic).

The problem came after the 30 days was over.  If I had continued to follow the Whole 30 eating plan I have no doubt I’d have continued to lose weight.  The worst mistake I made was after the 30 days was up I decided to reward my willpower with a mocha, as I couldn’t have one for the last 30 days.  It seemed innocent enough.  After all one mocha wouldn’t erase all the success I just had.  And it’s true, that one mocha didn’t.  But the mocha I had a few days later, and the trip to Dairy Queen I justified using the same “just one” principle, plus other justifications slowly led me back to my old habits.  So the diet was great, my desire to stick to it wasn’t.  The only difference was instead of reaching a breaking point where my will just snapped, it was more a slow downhill slope that eventually created enough momentum to knock my willpower out.

This brings us to January 1st of this year.  I started the keto diet.  Like with the Whole 30 I wanted to be prepared by studying up on it.  So I purchased a copy of “The Ketogenic Bible” by Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery (there’s also an affiliate link for it, just click the pic).  And I started doing research online, including following people on YouTube who were living the keto lifestyle.  And a friend of mine had great success with it so I was really excited to see what it held in store for me.

The best part was that I knew I wouldn’t fall into the same trap I had with Whole 30.  Although I do enjoy one day off from keto a month, I knew the rest of the month I needed to be strictly keto.  Unlike the Whole 30 where one mocha wouldn’t wipe out all the rest of the proper eating I was doing, one mocha on keto stops the diet in its tracks.  Doing that for one day a month is ok because it won’t override the other 29 days of staying keto.  But it’s definitely knocking you out of ketosis on the day you do it.  A day of fasting after my day off and I’m quickly back in the game.

And it’s worked.  I’ve steadily lost weight on keto.  Sure, there have been a couple of upswings in weight since the beginning of the year, but I’ve still managed to lose a lot of weight.  Because I’ve stuck with it.  I’ve found what works for me.  I clearly needed the disciplined nature of keto so I couldn’t allow myself to make excuses.

Which is why I titled this post “Your Great Experiment.”  Not every diet your friends have had amazing success on will work for you.  Or the supplements that your friend has taken that increased her endurance while running may not move the needle for you at all.  Or running itself may be a terrible exercise choice for you.

The thing to keep in mind is, just because one thing didn’t work for you, doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail at all things.  Thomas Edison famously stated that he didn’t fail 10,000 times developing the lightbulb, instead he discovered 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb.  He experimented with a lot of different methods and one finally paid off.

So treat your life like a great experiment to find your best version.  Try this, that, or the other.  Figure out what works, and keep it.  Find out what doesn’t work, and discard it.  But keep running the experiment every day.  Eventually by implementing all the things that work, while not wasting time on the things that don’t, you’ll arrive at your best version of yourself.

Was I happy I had failed so many times before?  Of course not.  But I kept running the experiment and eventually found what works for me.  And now I keep running the experiment by continuing with keto while trying new things like meditation (it works and I’m keeping it) and supplements (a lot don’t work so I don’t waste my money on them, but a few have shown promise).  And I’ll continue to run my experiment until my final day so that when my time comes to an end I’ll leave with a smile knowing I’ve done everything I could to be my best version.  Have a great day.

Own the Day   Leave a comment

For today’s blog post I’ve decided to do a book review.  Looking through the Kindle at the books I’ve recently read, “Own the Day, Own Your Life” by Aubrey Marcus was the one that jumped out at me.

I first discovered Aubrey from listening to Joe Rogan.  This led me to listening to the Total Human Optimization podcast.  If you consider listening to it keep in mind three things. First, the name has changed to Human Optimization Hour.  Second, it has a new host (Kyle Kingsbury), and I haven’t listened to it with him in the driver’s seat so I can’t speak for the quality of it now.  And third, some of the content is explicit so if that would be offensive to you, definitely give it a pass.

Now back to the book.  The whole book is about improving yourself by making small changes to how you start your day that compound on each other to produce a better you. It’s very much like the concept I mentioned in yesterday’s post about a little boulder. The idea is that instead of trying to create a change or event in your life that fixes the whole rest of your life in one move, a rather unreasonable and unlikely plan, you should focus on owning one day.  When you learn the skills to own one day, you can own any day. String enough days together and own them all and you naturally own your life.

Instead of seeing things in big picture terms, which can be very ominous and unwieldy, the book gives you a list of small changes you can make in every day practices that will add up to owning your day.  And owning one day is a much more reasonable and manageable goal to have.

Each chapter covers a specific topic.  Some of the topics covered are nutrition, sun exposure, exercise, and even how sex can figure into owning the day.  Aubrey breaks those topics down into four important areas.  Getting owned, Owning it, Prescription, and Now do it.

Getting owned explains the problem.  How does this particular area typically affect most people’s lives.  The answer is inherent in the section title.  How are you getting owned by this situation?

The Owning it section is a general discussion about how you can accept responsibility for the area and begin a process of changing things for the better.  This naturally transitions into Prescription.  Prescription is a much more detailed section on specific steps or processes you can take action on to improve that area of your life.

Finally comes Now do it.  This is, as Aubrey puts it in the book, the “kick in the pants” to get you started implementing the Prescription.  It ends with what he calls the Three Pointer. Three important points from the chapter you need to focus on to be successful.

Occasionally there are other additions to the chapter.  He includes Pro Tips, which are additional tidbits of information that you don’t have to include in the process, but can give you better results if you do.  Deep Dive covers extra resources to further broaden your knowledge base on a given topic, if you really want to know all the nuts and bolts. And last are Caveats, which will let you know what the risks involved in some of the Prescriptions are.

Although the book is designed to be read start to finish, I don’t think jumping around from topic to topic in the Table of Contents would be too big a problem.  Some of the chapters will reference other chapters before it and why a previous Prescription will set you up to better deal with the current Prescription.  In that case you could just jump back to the referenced chapter and get the information.  All in all though I do think that at least on the first read through you should go from front to back.

As far as readability goes, he made the book very conversational in tone.  That makes for an easy read.  Aside from the Deep Dive areas he keeps the discussion at a layman’s level. He doesn’t use a lot of jargon that might be confusing or interrupt the pace of reading. There are a lot of pulp culture references, so if that isn’t your thing it could be a little distracting I suppose.

It’s definitely not a one read book.  There’s a lot of great information in it, so you will want to go back over places in the book as you put the plans into action.  And by the way it’s designed it’ll be easily usable as a section by section reference book after the first read through.

If you are interested in an easy to read book with lots of helpful advice on how you can make small changes in your day that will have big down the line effects on your life, it’d be hard to beat this book.  If want to get a copy for yourself I’ve included an Amazon affiliate link to the Kindle version of it, just click on the picture below.  On that page you can also select a hard cover, paperback, or audio version of the book.  It’s a great book, but wait, there’s more.  There’s a Facebook community (coincidentally called the Own the Day community) you can join with tons of people ready to help you apply what you’ve learned from the book. And also to share success stories with.  The book seems a little pricey, but measured against the improvements it can bring into your life, it’s a bargain indeed.  The choice is yours.  Should you decide to buy it, I wish you happy reading.

A little boulder   Leave a comment

I used to watch a lot more television then I currently do now.  I would get lost in wonderful adventures as they unfolded before my eyes.  Which is why I don’t watch as much anymore.  I’d rather be spending more of my time doing things which nurture and nourish my mind.  Reading and meditating being big parts of that

Having said that there are always lessons to be learned if you look closely enough.  And one of my favorites comes from Superman: The Movie.  What kid wouldn’t be fascinated by it.  Christopher Reeve was a great Clark Kent, but an even better Superman.  The movie had a classic villain in Lex Luthor, played by the amazing Gene Hackman.  Great storyline, great special effects (for the time), and top-notch acting.  You watched it and you felt like a hero.

If you haven’t watched the movie, beware, there are spoilers ahead.  It’s a great movie, so if you hate spoilers go ahead and get a copy, watch it real quick, and then come back and finish the post.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Back with me?  Good.  During the movie a large dam breaks and Superman has to save a town in the path of the raging waters.  How does he do it?  Does he pick up a mountain and drop it in the path?  Nope.  Does he use his freeze breath to turn it into a big iceberg? That isn’t it either.  What he did was push a couple of rocks over.  And those rocks hit other rocks on the way down, that went on to hit other rocks, that went on to start an avalanche of rocks that created a new rock dam which stopped the water in its tracks.

One little action, begat another action, which led to big things.  What a wonderful lesson that is.  Superman, as powerful a being as he is, didn’t go from start to finish in one big move.  He started a cascade of smaller actions which created big results.  And if it works for a guy running around town in blue tights and a cape, it can work for you too.

Take my case for example.  As I mentioned in the beginning, I don’t watch as much television as I used to.  I didn’t go from watching hours of tv a day to pulling the plug on the cable.  Instead, I just came to the realization that one of the shows I was watching just didn’t really have any benefit for me anymore.  I didn’t even feel entertained by it.  And so I stopped watching that show, adding an open hour to my schedule.  That was the first small step.  I used the extra time to read more.  Another small step.  Reading opened me up to new ideas which did benefit me, leading to more steps.  And then the cascade happened.  I sat down and thought about the shows I was still watching.  A number of them were just as bad about squandering my time.  So I stopped watching them as well.  Now I had a lot of extra hours in my weekly schedule.

I still have this really nice 4K television that I enjoy using.  I just use it for viewing things that are more beneficial.  I watched “The Magic Pill”, which is a documentary about the ketogenic diet.  It’s on Netflix.  In fact there are a lot of good documentaries on Netflix. There’s also a lot of great information to be found on YouTube as well (although I will mea culpa to a few funny cat videos along the way).  YouTube has videos on working out, van life, the ketogenic diet, and mindfulness to name a few.  You do have to be mindful that it’s very much like Wikipedia.  Go into it knowing that just because it’s on there doesn’t make it 100% true so take it all with a grain of salt.  But there is plenty of good information to be found there.

All of this information has led me to better life practices.  I meditate more.  I’m learning how to write better.  I’m learning music again.  I spend time making plans and goals using methods I’ve learned have worked for others.  And that cascade of rocks continues.  Each little act getting me closer to being saved, like the village.

So this week, knock a rock over.  Just make sure it’s in a direction where it will hit another rock.  Let those rocks hit more rocks for you.  Let the movement create a cascade of energy that propels you forward until you reach your goal.  All because you took a small action with intent and precision.

You don’t need one big action that solves everything.  You don’t need to have godlike powers because you were born on Krypton.  You just need to be willing to knock over a rock.  And just like Superman, knock over another rock from a slightly different vantage point to compound the results.  Start today.  Let the actions compound.  And in time you’ll have created your own damn, stopping the things which are putting your village in jeopardy.

Choose to be the hero of your own life’s story.

09/17/2018 Weigh In   Leave a comment

So this weigh in was a bit of a surprise.  Unfortunately the surprise was in the wrong direction.  I weighed in at 288.0 pounds, which is 7.4 pounds more than last week.  My muscle mass went from 27.1% last week to 26.5% this week.  In pounds that’s 76.0  to 76.3, so that small gain was a bit of good news.  Body fat went from 38.2% last week to 39.3% this week.  In pounds its 107.2 to 113.2.  And finally hydration went from 47.7% to 46.8%, or 133.8 pounds to 134.8.

So six pounds of fat gained in a week.  That seems a bit much to me.  I did have my day off from Keto this week as the 14th was my birthday (I turned 48).  And that was the Friday before my Monday weigh in.  When I first saw that gain my immediate thought was that it had to be water weight, but then I ran the numbers.

The good thing is I didn’t let that quick weight gain ruin my mindset.  I didn’t panic or feel bad or get down on myself.  I realize that there is any number of reasons it could shoot up that quick that won’t necessarily apply to next weeks weigh in.  I keep in mind that while the weight the scale shows me is likely to be very accurate, the other numbers are best calculations from the electric impedance of my body and not definitive numbers.  It could be that the water and fat readings are backwards and next week when my body has had time to get rid of the excess retained water my drop in weight will be as impressive as this gain.  It could be it’s all accurate and I just put on the fat, and I’ll get rid of it like I have the other pounds I’ve lost.  I still feel good about what I’ve accomplished overall and still feel confident that by mid year 2019 I’ll have gone as far as I can in weight loss via fat loss (other than skin removal if I need it).

Whereas my numbers didn’t show improvement in my physical goals, they were part of a bigger picture this past week of my mental improvements.  I don’t get carried away with these feelings, but in the past when I’ve had setbacks or the numbers weren’t as big as I’d hoped there was a little bit of disappointment in the back of my mind.  Not so with this one.  I didn’t feel bad at all.  And that attitude stayed with me throughout the day.  In what would usually be the kind of day at work that would have me clocking out in a foul mood, I actually kept a positive disposition.

I think a good deal of that is the fact that I’ve been much better about repeating positive affirmations to myself throughout the day.  I always intend to do it, but by the second or third bump in the road I’ve just gotten so consumed by the negative things happening it just falls by the wayside.  This time though, each time my mind felt it was looking in the negative direction the little voice in the back of my head reminded me to repeat a positive affirmation a few times.  That kept me happy the whole day.

Plus I’ve been doing much better with planning my life and not just meandering through it.  I think that the goal setting is part of it.  You just feel better when you’re working towards your goals.  But I think the activities themselves to reach those goals are having the biggest impact.  I’m writing more and planning more in my head which brings the creativity out.  This creativity leads to visualizing a better future.  Visualizing a better future leads to better visualization, which is creative, and creates a positive feedback loop.

When I first started the blog back up it was partly to get back into writing.  And now I’m working on a book.  And when I get done with that one I’ll immediately start the next.  And I’ve started planning out my first video for YouTube.  The main incentive when I started all this was creating a new income source to have better control of my life.  So, obviously, I wanted the blog, the books, and the videos to be very well received and very successful.  In talking with a coworker yesterday I’ve come to realize that while I won’t be upset if they turn out really well, I’d still be doing the same thing even if I knew right now it’ll never be successful enough to be a source of income.

The thing is that I’ve come to realize that the biggest benefit of all these things is I’m trying.  I’m actively living my life with intent.  And that’s what is bringing the happiness. Even if it isn’t as successful as I want I know I’m doing my best.  You can’t control the outcomes, only the effort you put into it.  And that thought is where I’ll end this post.  Just keep trying.  Have a great day.

 

Writing a Book   Leave a comment

So I’ve started a new project.  Well, that’s not entirely accurate.  I’ve restarted a project I began a few months ago but let fall by the wayside.  I’ve decided to write a small book about the basics of the Ketogenic Diet.

The aim for this book is to be a quick read.  Less than an hour.  If I can, less than half an hour.  I’m not worried about filler, just the basics.  I’ll include a list of resources at the back of the book that will allow anyone who wants more than the basics to keep learning.

I’ve been working on it for about 6 hours now.  Taking a break to give myself a little time to get refocused.  I’ve made a lot of progress.  Since it’s not designed to be long I’d guess I’ll be done writing by the end of the weekend.  Then I’ll need to edit it so the content is sharp.  Along with that I need to design a book cover.  I think I’ll go the easy route with that by just using the same image for the front and back of the book.  I’ll be creating it only as a Kindle book so I don’t think having a separate image for each makes the same sense as it would if it were a physical copy.

I’m finding that there’s a lot more to it then I imagined.  It isn’t as easy as just opening a word processor and banging out a book.  Logical progression is an issue as well as getting it into a format that Kindle can use.  Thankfully Amazon made researching all that and getting the tools necessary to do it really simple.  I didn’t even know this before today but they even have a free program to alow you to see what the book will look like on a Kindle simulator on your computer.  Having read a few Kindle books where I wondered why they formatting was so awkward, this just made it all the more odd. Why wouldn’t you use the simulator to know how it’ll turn out before you ever upload it to Amazon?  Maybe they did and it just turned out wonky anyway.  Guess we’ll see how mine goes.

When I get it published I’ll leave a link on here for the book.  I haven’t fully decided yet but I think that I’ll be offering it as both a Kindle Unlimited title and for $0.99 if you want to buy and keep it.  Don’t see charging more than that considering how short the book will be.

Along with the book project I’m finally completing, I had another idea I started a while ago but never followed up on.  I like doing this blog, and will continue to do this blog, but I want to try to reach more people in other ways.  So I contemplated having a YouTube channel to track my progress as well.  I even got so far as creating the channel.  Just never made a video for it.  So that’s on the agenda now.

Like this blog, the channel will cover both The Ketogenic Diet/Lifestyle, my progress with it, and also how I’m working to be a better person on the inside.  I don’t have a lot of experience with video production so I’m sure it’s going to look a bit amateur at the beginning but I’m thinking it’ll grow in production value as I grow along with it.

When I get my first video posted I’ll add a link here for people to follow.  Mainly today I just wanted to get a post out where I stated I was doing these things because accountability.

I turned 48 yesterday and spent a little time thinking about what I’ve done with that time.  I’ve led a good life so far but when I thought about it, it’s really been the last year that I’ve been most proud of.  I’ve made a lot of improvements.  Lost a lot of weight, both in terms of body fat and bad habits.  But I still see a path ahead of me where I’ll get better still.  I don’t know how the book or the YouTube channel will turn out, but the best part is that in just doing them I’m already better because I’ve tried to be better.  Although I’m hoping the success isn’t just in the trying, of course.

That’s all for now.  Time to get back to the book.  Thanks for coming along on the journey so far and I hope you join me on these new journeys.  Take care.

Monthly Update   Leave a comment

So this will be my monthly update with pictures.  My weight as of this weigh in is 280.6 pounds.  My first weigh in for August had me at 285.4 pounds.  So I lost 4.8 pounds.  I’m pretty happy with that considering I did take a week off from keto while I was in Bellingham, Washington.

My body fat was 38.2% for a total of 107.2 pounds of fat.  At the August weigh in it was 39.0% for a total of 111.3 pounds. So I lost 4.1 pounds of fat.

My muscle mass was 27.1% for this weigh in, translating to 76 pounds of muscle.  For August it was 26.7%, putting me at 76.2 pounds of muscle.  So I dropped a little in that category.  Not surprising as all the exercising I did in Bellingham was simply walking.  Also, at .2 pounds lost this could be the result of the small inaccuracies in determining my muscle mass through electrical impedance, as the scale does.

That leaves around half a pound lost somewhere else.  Probably water weight.  I’m ok with all this.  The vast majority of my weight loss this month came from fat, which is exactly where I want it to come from.

My starting weight on this journey was 352.6 pounds.  My body fat was 52% and my muscle mass read 25%. But I’m guessing it was well under 25% as that’s as low as the scale goes for muscle mass, and it didn’t go over that until near the end of May.  So overall I’m down 72 pounds.  I’ve lost 76.2 pounds of fat.  So I can’t be sure what the other 4.2 pounds gained is.  Could be muscle.  Could be water.  I know going by the first time my muscle mass percentage did change I’m up a pound of muscle.  At the end of the day though, the most important thing I want to track is my current weight and body fat lost.

I’ve been back on keto for a few weeks now owing to using the second weigh in of September for my monthly check in.  So the October check in will represent a smaller time window.

Right now I’m averaging 9 pounds a month.  A lot of that is due to a huge weight loss near the beginning of the year.  So I expect that number to drop.  Lately I’ve been around 4 pounds lost per month.  Based on that it’s looking like my weight loss for the year will be just under 90 pounds.

That’ll put me within 12 or so pounds of my initial weight loss goal.  I used 230 pounds for that goal because I wanted to wait until I was 230 to narrow down what I thought would be a healthy weight for me.  So when I hit that mark I’ll have a new goal to reach for.  It’d be easy to speculate what that would be now, but I’ll resist the urge.  The only prediction I’ll make right now is that I should be hovering around whatever that will be by around mid year 2019.

This makes me very happy.  In two days I turn 48.  I’ve been this heavy for at least two decades of that.  To think that what I took around 28 years to gain, and held for nearly two decades more, could be wiped away in a year and a half.  Amazing.

When I reach that point there may be other health decisions to make.  The most obvious being the real possibility of loose skin and what I’ll do about that.  But that’s a concern for 9 months from now.  As for right now, I’ll just enjoy my victories and keep plugging away a day at a time.

The progress pics are below.  The Superman tee is the current weigh in pics.  The blue t-shirt and red shorts are last month.  And I’ve included the first pic for overall comparison.  See you next month.