Day 92: One Quarter In

 

keep-calm-and-check-progress-5So now that I am one-quarter of the way through this year, I took the opportunity to revisit some of my goals to see where I stand…

Physically:  I’ve been able to get a workout in every single day.  Some days, that workout consists of 50 pushups as I get ready to crawl into bed.  Some days it’s a full, heavy weight session at the gym.  But I’ve done some sort of muscle punishing workout every single day.  I’ve seen some results, too.  Nothing too tremendous, but enough that I’m happy with my progress.

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Day 4

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Day 89

No, I’m probably never going to be huge.  I resigned myself to that my senior year of high school.  Nor do I want to, as my wife claims she doesn’t like overly muscular dudes.  So that’s good.  But I am happy with my results so far.

Reading:

I’ve completed a number of books so far, but I’m slightly behind pace.  I realize that, but I’m not freaking out too badly by that, because when I get into a fiction book, I usually devour it.

Skills:

I’m pleased with my progress.  I’ve made a desk, learned to identify a lot of birds (which reminds me, we’ve seen our first robin in the yard), and I’m progressing towards my first belt in karate.

Running:  

Again, pleased with where I am.  I’m slightly off pace, but that will all change as rugby season comes into full swing this spring.  I run a lot during the spring and fall seasons.  So anywhere that I am behind, I will make it up very soon.  In addition, we’ve got our first adventure race of the season coming up in two weekends.  I’m excited to be running with my wife.  Also, I love my Vibram Five Fingers.

People Who Matter:
I’m a little behind on this, but several upcoming posts include more than one person, so I will be back to pace very shortly.

So that’s it.  A brief look at the first quarter.  I’m sure I could be more in depth, but none of this matters to you.  What really matters here is you.  Is this inspiring you to do something better?  Does it help you continue on a path you’ve wanted to walk?  In the end, that’s what I hope to do…inspire you.

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As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 44: Conversations with a Friend

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Confession:  I’m not the most gifted writer.  I don’t have Hemingway’s conciseness, nor King’s ideas, nor Shakespeare’s gift with words.  I find myself critiquing my blog against other, more popular blogs, and always coming away wanting.  Every time I get down on myself, however, I think three thoughts:  1, it doesn’t matter, I’m not doing this for adoration.  2, practice makes perfect.  3, with dedication, I can overcome.

On that note, I had the opportunity to have lunch yesterday with a very close friend.  Among the many topics we discussed was his confession that he follows this blog and has been trying to use it as inspiration for bettering himself.  However, he has trouble maintaining focus beyond a week or so.  It feeds a vicious cycle…he’ll work out for 4 or 5 days, then go 4 or 5 days without working out.  This leads to a desire to work out, so he promises to work out again.  Rinse, lather, repeat.

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It’s a tough cycle to break.  The only way to do so requires intense dedication for a few weeks.   A friend once told me that when it came to cracking your sweet tooth urges, it requires three entire weeks of completely abstaining from sugar.  Her reasoning?  The average taste bud is regenerated every 7 days.  So you have to see to it that the current generation of taste buds is completely gone, as they have the taste.  Then you have to wait 7 days so the next generation never sends the sugar signals to the brain and the nerves begin to “forget”.  Finally, you have to wait one more generation to ensure you’ve completely destroyed those taste pathways.

I realize this is far from scientific, and I can guarantee it has no basis in actual taste bud science or biology.  But it is an interesting thought.  Change requires discipline.  You have to be dedicated to not giving in to your cravings in order to change.  Do you actually change your taste buds?  I doubt it.  What you do is develop new habits and new desires.

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I used to eat McDonald’s almost every day.  In high school, as a growing boy with a sky-high metabolism who constantly played sports, I could eat anything I wanted and not see the effects (outside, at least).  What better way to sate a hunger than three Big Mac’s every day for lunch?  For years, I continued to eat McD’s when available, until I watched the documentary Super Size Me.  It’s not so much that it turned me off of greasy hamburgers as it piqued my curiosity to try a similar experiment –  in reverse.  I committed myself to not eating any fast food for two months.  Those two months turned into almost 6 months, and on the day that I finally broke down and had some fast food…well, let’s just say that I felt the difference.  Within an hour of eating, I was gassy, felt bloated, and actually lost energy.  My body wasn’t used to the preservatives, low quality ingredients and fat in the food, so it didn’t react well.

The point is this:  My desires and cravings changed when I forced myself to abstain from them.  The same has happened to me over the first 6 weeks of this year.  I used to have to drag myself away from the television late at night to go to bed.  After a full day of work, taking care of kids, cooking and evening chores, all I wanted was to shut my brain off.  TV was an all-to-convenient way to do so.  I would head downstairs, plop my feet up on the couch, and veg.   This year, however, I made it a point not to watch TV in the evenings (notable exceptions:  Super Bowl, Grammys, big special events).  I’ve discovered lately that I no longer have a desire to turn on the boob tube.  Instead, when I get downstairs, the first thing I want to do is either run on the treadmill or start working out.  As soon as that is over, I find myself either blogging for the day or cracking open whatever books I am reading.  It took 40 days for me to realize it.  40 days to change my thinking, my habits and my desires.

In the grand scheme of things, 40 days is a blink.  Have you ever given up anything for Lent?  That’s 40 days.  The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a shade under 40 days.  Think about the last time you took a nice vacation that you were looking forward to.  In the month leading up to it, were you counting down the days?  That month was almost 40 days.

Trust me, 40 days is doable.

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As I ran today at the gym, I was thinking about this post.  How could I wrap it up?  Then it dawned on me.  I was running, and I wasn’t even thinking about it.  Several weeks ago, I would have been concentrating on the ticking off the miles, half miles, quarters and tenths of a mile until I was done.  But today?  Today I was focused elsewhere.

That sums up the shift that has happened for me perfectly.  By throwing myself wholeheartedly into this endeavor, I’ve begun to change habits in myself.  It took dedication, because Lord knows there were nights I didn’t want to read my devotional or crank out pushups.  I had to force it.  As I said before, it’s becoming routine for me to almost wander into workouts unconsciously.  I now love reading my books at night.  I feel bad if I don’t post serious thoughts to my blog.  I love it.  I’m becoming disappointed by the things that used to be my goals!

That’s the sign of progress.  When you begin to leave one horizon behind in search of a new horizon, you know you’re moving forward.

And you can quote that.

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As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 42: A Running Perspective

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Confession: I haven’t been reading a lot of other blogs lately because it’s the new year and I’ve been trying to get my own thoughts under control. I have a few that I follow and read regularly, but as for the others, well, I’ve been a little lax. So when I updated the WordPress app on my iPad tonight, and it opened to my reading list, I perused through a few of the new updates, and I came across this great little post that goes perfectly with the quote I wanted to use today.

Read Ebenezer’s post here: King of the Hills- Running Like a Child

I’ve never been one for recreational running. I prefer to chase and be chased, usually at max sprint speed, and always with the threat of bodily harm through physical contact. Hence my love of football and rugby.   However, as I’ve been on my running kick this year, I’ve slowly developed an appreciation for recreational running. Heck, I’ll be doing at least one 5k run this year, and want to complete a sprint triathlon as well.

A lot of this newfound appreciation has been because I’ve come to realize the cathartic release that comes with running, as your mind begins to focus on your thoughts and your body goes on autopilot. It’s a big change for me, because I usually prefer to switch my brain onto autopilot and focus on my body.
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Either way, Ebenezer’s article makes a great point…as children, we look forward to running around until we can no longer move. Somewhere towards adulthood, we lose that joy and dread a running workout. Really, though, it’s all a matter of perspective.. Do you choose to look at workouts as tedious or as fun? Do you choose to look at obstacles in your life as barriers or as conquests? It is all a matter of perspective. Trouble is only trouble if you choose to view it as such; otherwise, it is opportunity.

Change your mind and you will change your life.

The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.
-Ayn Rand

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 33, Desk Action

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It’s a messy weekend around the house.  I tore out the old buffet area in our dining room so I could make a “mommy station” for my wife.  The plan is to put in a desk with several hanging file drawers for all of our bills and expenses, and several other multi-use drawers.  I want to make sure she has enough outlets for her computer, the charging stations for the camera and video camera, and whatever else she might need.  I also will be installing shelving units to help her stay organized.

The test of this entire thing is that I’m not doing it prefab.  I’m building the desk, drawers, shelves and facing from scratch.  I’m using this as an opportunity to help complete another skill I’ve been dying to improve upon: my drafting/woodworking ability.

I designed the desk last summer, but this was the first opportunity I had to actually try to complete this project.  It’s very cathartic to be doing something that has been on the to-do list for so long.  Honestly, it’s kind of an analogy for my life so far this year:  I’ve finally gotten off my duff to do the things I’ve always wanted to do.  I don’t know if the desk will turn out exactly like I how I picture it in my mind, nor do I know if what I will be like when this year is over.  But I do know that my home will be better off with this desk, as will my life with my commitments.

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ONE MONTH GOAL UPDATE: In one short month, I’ve already begun to see changes in me.  My concentration and focus have improved, as has my desire to do my job better.  Physically, I’m already clearly in better shape.  My wife even commented that I look a little larger physically, and I can put in two miles at a good hard pace without tiring as easily as I used to.  I’ve upped my pushup routine to 60-75 per day minimum, and I’ve added chair dips and single leg squats to my routine.  I’ve been able to get in some sort of a workout every single day so far.

I’ve also kept up with my readings.  I’ve done my daily devotional every night, knocked out two books so far and started two more.  As mentioned, I’m going to get some of my woodworking goals taken care of this weekend with the desk. I’ve run 14.5 miles thus far, and if I were to count by the average of .5 miles per day, I should be at 16.5, so not far off.

Most importantly, I’ve really begun to learn some things about myself.

  1. When I put my mind to something, I can do it.
  2. I work best when I’m holding myself accountable to someone else.
  3. I used to waste a LOT of time.

I’m disappointed because I haven’t done either of the following: finished any of my 13 classic movies or mastered any of my 12 dishes.  The movies are less concerning to me because if push came to shove I could knock them out in a few nights.  However, I like to really take time with learning my food, so I do need to get on the horse with my cooking.

Finally, we’ve really begun to have fun with our bird watching.  It’s become a contest between my wife and I to see if we can identify any new species that show up.  Today we finally ID’d a house finch that has been hanging around the last few days, so I’ve added him to the list.  It’s funny how you never notice things until you look for them.  Appropriate in more ways than one in our life.

“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.”
-Albert Einstein

“A bird doesn’t sing because  it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
-Lou Holtz

Day 27, Of Airports and Travel

wpid-20130127_101831.jpgThat’s where I was this morning.  74F and sunny.  Tonight, I will cuddle up next to the wife under a wool blanket and comforter as a moderate ice storm continues to fall outside.  Ah, the wonders of modern travel.

As you can tell from my three previous posts, I’ve been away on business in sunny Orlando.  Travelling for work is not always glamorous.  It can be physically draining and filled with stretches of boredom while at your destination.  However, there is always a positive vibe for me as I sit in airports and on airplanes, thinking about my life.  Travel itself is inherently exciting.  It stimulates our minds and awakens deep yearnings in us, yearnings about change and hope and endless possibilities.  I am always invigorated after travelling.

Over the years, I’ve learned to harness this energy.  Whenever I travel for work, I try to spend the next few days talking to potential customers about big ideas and grand conversions.  I know the boost won’t last forever, but I can tap into it while it is organic and fresh.  In short, I try to maximize its potential.  Some of my best opportunities have been realized following these types of trips.  Expect some good energy from me over the next few days, especially after I sleep off this jet lag.

Another reason that I enjoy travel is the opportunity to tune out the day-to-day and listen to your mind and heart speak.  If I go for a run while I’m at home, I find myself thinking about grocery lists, errands, work commitments and such.  This morning, I threw the headphones on and went for a 2.5 mile run around the resort compound and listened to Jimmy Buffett radio on Pandora.  I didn’t just listen to the songs, though.  I wasn’t worried about making sure we had enough diapers, whether I would make a sale today, or what would be for dinner.  Instead, I knew my tickets were booked, that my bags were packed and lunch would be served.  I found myself actually listening to the music and enjoying the sunlight.   Heard a song that I have always loved with some poignant lyrics which I wanted to pass along, lyrics that I will expound upon in my next post.

Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of the places Ive been
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again
If it suddenly ended tomorrow
I could somehow adjust to the fall
Good times and riches and son of a bitches
I’ve seen more than I can recall

Its these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

I think about Paris when I’m high on red wine
I wish I could jump on a plane
So many nights I just dream of the ocean
God, I wish I was sailing again
Oh, yesterdays over my shoulder
So I can’t look back for too long
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can’t go wrong
Jimmy Buffett: Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Quick Goals Updates:  Aside from the mileage logged today, I got a light workout (pushups, situps, etc…) in every day and a heavy workout in at the Fitness Center in the resort this morning.  I also kept up with my devotional (I found the book while packing!) and knocked out a quick chapter from the next book on my list, How To Win Friends and Influence People.  We also have a new setup in the backyard with several new bird feeders, which I will introduce once the weather breaks and I can get some outside shots.

As always: This is simply my journal, nothing more, as I try to better myself.  I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself somehow.  Make 2013 YOUR year.
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