Mastery

What are the choices that bring me satisfaction?

Getting better than I thought possible at anything.

I had zero athletic success as a child (my little league nickname was “Useless”). My lack of early success makes it easy to impress myself with anything I enjoy enough to do daily. Something I can work at every day.

I use expert instruction from strangers to speed my learning process. Strangers are important — watch high-achieving spouses “teach” each other. When we notice our kids aren’t open to learning from us – we bring in outsiders. Once they get the hang of it (whatever “it” happens to be) they are keen to show us their competency.

Stay close to nature — I am trained in the desk-bound pursuits of finance, banking, taxation and corporate law. They pay well, and were a ton of fun for the first decade. However, they don’t feed my soul. What feeds your soul? Beware of craving high-doses!

Connect with others — opportunities at both ends of the age spectrum await. From teaching children to learning from aging experts.

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Excessive “anything” leaves me in a short-term state of tranquil exhaustion.

Exhaustion plays havoc with my home life because a fatigue hangover leaves me intolerant and prone to depression.

If this sounds familiar then pay attention.

Being better than myself is superior to seeking to better others.

Mastery – a different sort of game.

Training For Health – Check Yourself

Here’s how I manage my tendency to end up depleted, sore and emotionally tapped.

Strength TrainingGet really strong once a year. It is inconvenient to get my strength training done. However, I’m a true believer that life is better when I am stronger.

Sitting at the end of uphill ski season, I’ve made a big trade in strength, for aerobic performance. I tell myself that I got “something” for the trade but life is better when strong!

Don’t Race Down – if I’m going to have a bad accident, it will happen at speed. I write about this a lot because I have to remind myself! Satisfaction comes from proper preparation, not blazing at my limits.

Ditch Volume Goals – Early season, I had an idea that it would be “fun” to ski 2,000,000 vertical feet. I soon realized my initial goal would screw up my family life (by getting me to obsess about more, more, more).

Remembering that it is easier to replace an obsession than transcend it… I shifted to a frequency goal of skiing 100 times (lots of shorter ski days).

I’ve learned this lesson before when I ditched racing to create space for my young family. A goal, that has me turning away from the love of my family, is counterproductive.

No Sports Nutrition – if I find myself craving sugar, I reduce my workload. Sugar intake is a clear line beyond which I have moved away from health. Working within this restriction, I get a lot done!

The above “restrictions” reduce my tendency to create my own depression and emotional drama.

I feel better within my body, while giving more to the people around me.

100% CostCo 85% Vegan

2015-05-03 18.09.49I bought Rich & Julie’s new book, The Plantpower Way, and we’re looking at increasing the nutritional quality of our diet.

To get a start point, I thought I’d share how I’ve been eating over the last year.

In running through my diet, I realized that I could buy everything at CostCo! That made me smile. I do love the place.

I also realized that I’m ~85% plant based, at least under my own roof.

I have three meals that I eat most days. I’m not all that particular about when I eat them.

Fruit salad – chopped apple, berries, granola, vanilla soy milk, plain greek yoghurt

Veggie salad – mixing bowl of veggies, avocado, seeds and nuts – served with salmon, chicken or nothing – dressing is hummus or a miso-based product

Eggs and quinoa – scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil, quinoa, olive oil – toss in 2 cups of reheated frozen broccoli – sometimes I toss a handful of shredded cheese on top

Snacks are: apples, dark chocolate, popcorn, unsalted premium nut mix, toast with almond butter/jam, my wife’s banana bread.

No sports drinks, colas, sodas, juices or sports bars.

I don’t eat processed food and won’t eat anything with trans-fat / hydrogenated oils / artificial sweeteners.

We eat out often. I’m not dogmatic (any more). Over the last three months, I can remember eating pizza, burgers, curries, steak and french fries.

When my wife’s out of town, I’ve been known to crack a couple beers and eat a pint of fro-yo from the freezer. My binges are a fraction of what used to happen as an elite athlete and a finance-guy.

My weight has been stable for a decade, my energy is good and my health markers are excellent.

I have a longstanding habit of zombie eating with electronics. I’ve passed this along to my kids (!) and am trying to sort in myself, first.

The Beer and Rice Noodle Cleanse

valentineOne of the most poignant memories of my childhood is being a “fat kid” and wishing that I could have a second chance with my body. I’m certain childhood pain drove a lot of my ambitions as an adult.

Across my life, I’ve been given second, third, fourth, fifth… chances at health and fitness.

It’s only been the last eleven years that I’ve managed to hold a stable weight.

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Towards the end of January, I noticed that I had edged over my “winter ceiling weight.” I have a range that I move between (165-170 pounds).

Because my weight can move 4 pounds in an hour, I watch trends over time. For example, I need to be over 170 pounds for a couple weeks before I’ll take that weight as real.

Typically, when a little heavy, I will schedule a week-long cycling trip and sort myself out by adding a ton of exercise. However, that’s not possible this year so I needed to come up with something different.

I start by looking at the low-hanging fruit…

The week before I decided to take action, I had eight beers and four dinners of Pad Thai noodles. So I latched onto that and came up with the cleanse.

The fact that I was choosing a lot of beer and noodles told me something about all of my choices!

Keep everything the same, ditch two things that are holding me back.

The game is..

  • Little changes, early, before I need them
  • Microchanges are more of an inconvenience, than painful

The result => I’m highly likely to make the changes stick

Then sit back and see what happens.

This leads me to the next stage and I’m reminded that…

Good things happen slowly => I thought I’d be off this thing in less than a week but, absent excessive exercise, my body changes slowly.

Look at the why => week three of living without the “comfort” of beer and Pad Thai showed me that they really weren’t comforting at all. I feel the same. Maybe a little better!

These two “facts of life” are obvious from the outside but I’m prone to fooling myself and need reminders.

This cleanse is relatively easy. The tougher changes are the one’s that touch on our spiritual, emotional and intellectual nutrition!

Where To Focus

2015-01-23 12.03.51-1My piece on What Can Go Right prompted Mark to comment that “Worry isn’t Work.” Lots in those few words — the link is an HBR article on the subject.

Mark’s comment reminded me of two aspects of a meaningful life.

#1 – sharing experiences that require an effort to overcome ourselves

#2 – enduring positive change happens via nudges at the edge of our control

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In 1993, I nudged myself out the door for a walk. My walk was the first of many micro-choices that brought me to my current life.

As a result of decades of better choices, I was able to manage through the adverse events that hit my family => addiction, divorce, fraud, obesity, excessive spending, insolvency, infidelity, death.

Your family’s list may be similar, or different, to mine. Each family has its own set of risks that repeat through time.

Note, that we didn’t avoid the risks, we managed through them.

As Mark was pointing out, we waste valuable energy on remote risks => terrorism, air travel safety, ebola, child abductions, common core. This energy is better spend on useful “work.”

Where to focus?

Focus on small nudges away from the real risks facing your family. My nudges:

  • Choose: AM/PM exercise, shared experiences with people that love me
  • Moderate: booze, sugar, calories, spending
  • Avoid: leverage, drugs, binges, investment concentration

These ten nudges (all of which I control) will give the family the resilience to manage through the setbacks that will continue to arrive:

  • Addiction/Alcoholism
  • Excessive Spending
  • Leverage & Financial Recourse
  • Fraud
  • Abuse
  • Health
  • Mental Illness

It is a surprising challenge to maintain a focus on the little things!

It is much easier to give into the habit of fear and worry.

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SIDENOTE

Each year I like to try one, or two, new things.

I had a mindfulness streak going in 2013 and let that slide. Matthieu Ricard’s Jan 2015 TED talk on altruism discussed the benefits of mindfulness practices for preschoolers.

The results (for the preschoolers) kicked in after four weeks of 3×20 minutes per week.

February has 28 days so it’s a good opportunity to give it a shot.

With all the time I saved from better email management, I have the ability to try new nudges.

Today, am I spending time on the right things?

2015-01-22 08.52.26-1

Hidden Hazards – for aging athletes

Ron KonaBecause the big money lies in helping sick folks, athlete health is likely to remain a poorly understood niche. Here are three hazards that most people miss.

Lifestyle & Nutrition Stress

As an elite athlete, my blood markers would indicate kidney stress. I coached a kidney doc and did a consult to rule out kidney disease. Where we ended up was acknowledging the stress of the athletic lifestyle:

  • High calorie diet
  • High protein diet
  • High sugar diet
  • Constant muscle breakdown

Now, there are many ways that my athletic lifestyle reduces stress (body composition, blood pressure). However, a high-performance lifestyle increases stress, when compared to an active lifestyle.

From 2001 to 2008, I was “fast” but I carried around an immune system that was chronically suppressed.

Around 2010, I cut my training in half, and my blood markers went from good to outstanding.

My kidney function cleared up, my immune system strengthened and my HDL/LDL cholesterol improved. (82/84 mg/dL).

I put this out there because I had a fear that I would “lose everything” if I backed off.

The reality => Moderation improved my health and my marriage.

Passing Out & Crashing

I’ve been exercising daily for ~20 years and it’s the best investment I’ve made.

If you want to slow the aging process:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Don’t smoke
  • Take it easy on the booze
  • Eat real food
  • Move daily

The flip side of being a long-term exerciser is I can go a long, long way on nothing. It’s a trait that can get an older athlete into trouble.

When tired, depleted or “open” from exercise, my blood pressure can dip suddenly. So far, I have never passed out but I’ve felt lightheaded on many occasions.

Passing out is a serious medical condition – Part One and Part Two on the Athlete’s Heart Blog will tell you more.

If you share my profile then be aware that falls and crashes are different as we age. A key part of aging well is avoiding the strength and muscle losses that come from extended breaks.

I have changed my approach to improve my risk profile.

The Scalpel of Eternal Youth

Here’s how I categorize WEEKLY run mileage:

  • 20 miles = “not running”
  • 30 miles = “light week”
  • 40 miles = “basic maintenance”
  • 50 miles = “good week”
  • 60 miles = “enough to run a decent marathon”
  • 75 miles or more = “stretch week”

Follow this running protocol long enough and you’re likely to deal with orthopedic issues.

The most effective treatment for chronic injury is lifestyle modification.

Your orthopedic surgeon makes NO money from this truth!

A surprising thing about middle age => moderation turned out of be healthy and enjoyable.

Who Knew?