There Is No Goal

Today’s Lesson: You will never reach your health goals, but keep trying.

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I have been enjoying my Garmin Vivosmart fitness tracker. Well, mostly enjoying. Okay, maybe “enjoying” is too strong. “Hating”, I think, is the right word. I hate it. It is like having JK Simmons from Whiplash as a fitness coach.

Every time I meet a goal, it sets it higher. There is no end. I walk SO much, now. I walk to the fridge, to my desk, to my car, to the bathroom, to the fridge… sometimes I will just walk randomly, like around the block, without any expectation of food at the end of the walk! I know. Crazy, right? That’s what the stupid Vivosmart does to you. It lets you know you can never walk enough.

I am beginning to get the point, though. Even if I set a weight goal and reached it (which I have not done), I would not be satisfied. I will always want to maintain or walk off that nagging last inch of waistband, or… lift some weights or some other insanity.

I am doomed to walk for the rest of my life.

We all are, because health, unfortunately, does not stop at the fridge. Health is an ongoing cycle, a motor that requires regular maintenance (walking and eating well) to keep running (figuratively and literally). Health is a never-ending quest for self-improvement and self-care. It is clearly one of the primary goals of living well and feeling good.

Stupid health.

I’m going for a walk.

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Who Is Taking Care of You?

If you do not prioritize taking care of yourself, no one else will either

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While chatting with a peer, he lamented what a busy week it has been and how he has been sick but has had no time to rest and care for himself. I laughed, and shared that I was also sick, losing my voice, but also had no time to rest this week.

The irony is, I coach my team that if they are sick, they should please stay home! I do not want them making their coworkers sick and suddenly missing half our team to illness (not to mention I do not want them to make me sick either!).

There will always be people asking you for more, even when you are sick. There will always be times when you demand more of yourself, even when you are not feeling your best. There will always be goals to chase, pressure to reach them, and stress from making the attempt. No one will ever stop you from pushing yourself too hard.

Just like a marathon runner will eventually run himself to severe injury or collapse if he never acknowledges the need to rest at some point, we each have to check our pulse occasionally and make the tough call, if needed, to stop and catch our breath. The race is not worth winning if the victor breaks the finish line but keeps running, never knowing to stop.

 

Today’s Lesson: Hey, that guy didn’t even get his trophy! He won but ran right out of the stadium and just kept running. Wonder if we will see him again?

(…Remember to stop and smell the roses sometimes, even if it is just to catch your breath.)

 

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3 Ways To Live Better: Eat More Plants.

This week, there is a theme: my 5 favorite tips that have worked for me in living a better life. Maybe one will help you, too…

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Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of being active. A rock is a machine that is designed to sit. A rock has one function–not to move. It has no parts that can contract like a muscle or bend like an elbow. The human body, by comparison, is a cleverly designed machine built to move. It is meant to walk, run, crawl, lift, jump, squat, bend, twist, stretch, and more. Our bodies are dynamic and not meant to sit for long periods like rocks or trees. As with any machine, though, they wear down over time and require proper maintenance to last long and perform their essential functions well. That brings us to today’s post.

3. Eat more plants and less animal stuff. I am vegan but I am not necessarily advocating being vegan here. I’m not going to preach to you in this post. I am just telling what has worked for me. If you have ever tried to lose weight or get fit, then you know there are many diets, cleanses, and meal plans out there. You can do Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, Bulletproof, and about a thousand others. The science on all of them is almost always filled with bad information, misleading propaganda, or just plain ignorance of actual data. Unsurprisingly, almost every diet that has a catchy name also has a product for sale.

Health is not something to buy, if you ask me. It is our default setting. As a cultured, sedentary society (that embraces propaganda), however, we have strayed away from our prima facie baseline for health. One fact no legitimate scientific study has ever disputed, though, is this: eating more plants is good for you.

There are lots of reasons why and I won’t bore you with an explanation of evolution and the human body–you can look that up on your own if you want (start with finding out why we have useless organs like wisdom teeth and your appendix).

Instead, I will offer the simple, obvious logic that catching meat was not easy for our ancestors. They lived almost entirely off fruits, roots, nuts, beans, and berries… because that was what was almost always available. Chasing big, wild animals with little pointy sticks was both difficult and dangerous despite the Hollywood depictions or artist renditions of super-soldier cavemen with expertly designed spears.

Regardless of how much you might enjoy over-indulging in meat, dairy, and cheese (which is also dairy but for some reason we tend to sub-categorize one or the other), too much of a good (tasting) thing can be bad for you.

Being vegan was one of the hardest, smartest, and most fulfilling choices I have made in life (asking Nicole for our first date falls in that same category!). You do not have to go full-on vegan. I get it. It looks like a bizarre, incredibly difficult, pompous way to eat a bunch of weird stuff. Sometimes it is.

Nonetheless, there is no disputing that eating more plants, fruits, nuts, berries, beans (legumes, if you prefer), vegetables, grasses, and unprocessed foods is better for maintaining your body. Just like your lawnmower, car, or computer need regular maintenance, care, and upkeep, so does your body. Keep your machine running like a race-car by feeding it high-octane fuel instead of heavy leaded regular gasoline and taking it out for a spin each day.

 

Today’s  Lesson: Be vegan if you don’t have commitment issues. If you just can not fathom never eating another dead animal or its waste products, that’s fine. Just try to be more vegan than not. Every other night, trade your steak for an extra helping of green beans and have an apple. It won’t kill you. Actually, it might help you live longer, and definitely better. But don’t take my word for it. 

 

 

 

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2 Ways To Live Better: Be Active.

There is a theme this week: I am sharing my 5 favorite tips that have worked for me in living a better life. Maybe one will contribute to you, too…

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Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of having great integrity. Accept it as a personal mission to always keep your word… even to yourself. You have probably heard the Latin phrase, “Mens sana in corpore sano”, which means “A sound mind in a sound body”. That brings us to today’s post.

2. Be Active. Notice I did not say, “Exercise”. That is a four-letter word in my world. I can barely stand the thought of running in place for an hour or just lifting something heavy and putting it back over and over. Some people love working out, but I find it challenging to think of anything more mind-numbingly boring than exercise for the sake of exercise. It’s just me. I would literally rather sit and do nothing, watching Netflix for an hour instead of actually doing something good for my body (but terribly uninteresting). So, for me, being active is the goal, not exercise.

Fitness, I have learned, does not have to come from lifting weights and running on treadmills. It can come from exploring your city by foot or bicycle. Or just moving from one room to the next in funny ways, like instead of walking from room to room, run like a bear or monkey with your hands and feet on the floor. Whatever will make you or your partner laugh. Do crab-walks to the kitchen. Hop. When you are sitting, fidget a lot. Tap your foot. Wiggle. Anything.

The point is to only rest when you are sleeping.

 

Today’s Lesson: Exercising sucks (if you are like me, anyway). Being active is simple: Just keep moving.

 

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The Lesson I Learned Today… 140707

Like most people I know, I sometimes agonize over my body and weight. It’s not that I don’t know how to lose weight; that’s simple. Eat less, move more. Take in fewer calories than I put out and over time I will lose weight. Easy math.

The problem for me is that I don’t want to miss any delicious food. I love food. I don’t like exercise so much and I sit or stand all day without much muscle effort (sedentary lifestyle in front of computers or driving most of the day). Worse, I love vegan desserts (which, surprisingly, are as bad for you as non-vegan desserts).

I do get exercise, though, almost every day, and I am active otherwise. I don’t have a television or play video games. I walk, bike, sometimes jog, do yoga, jump rope, and do push-ups or jumping jacks… at least something every day (even though I am not always crazy about it). Still, I think there is a big gap between how many calories I think is in food versus the actual net effect of the calories I eat (and drink).

So here’s my plan: Eat less, move more. I know. I read the first paragraph, too.

My actual plan is to systematically reduce the amount of calories I take in, a little at a time, until I reach a tipping point and pounds start to drop. Rather than watch what I eat and sacrifice the foods I love, I am going to train my stomach to be used to being hungry at least twice a day for a minimum of an hour each time. I am going to leave more on my plate and less in my belly. It may be wasteful (throwing food out instead of eating it) but I have to remember if my goal is to “clean my plate” or to lose 20 pounds?

I am also using a clever smoking cessation app that tracks how much money I have saved by not smoking (it’s a free Android app called, “Time To Quit Smoke” if you’re interested). Since I am not a smoker, I just use the app for lattes instead of cigarettes. I plug-in the price per carton (for me the price of a single latte) and how many units are in a carton (for me, 1), and then how many cartons I smoke per day (I drink 1 latte every day). The app divides the price by 24 hours so I can see how much money I have saved every day I skip buying a latte (around $5.40 per day!).

So far I have saved… well, nothing, because I just spend it on other junk food but I’m working on that, too!
Baby steps. Baby steps…

 

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