Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Primal Man

For the past 6 years, I've had what many would call a decently healthy lifestyle.

I ate the appropriate foods most of the time (save for a couple of months occasions here and there when I would frequent restaurants... frequently), I never smoked, drink regularly but not to excess (usually), and exercise regularly; cardio and weight training.

That's great.

Recently, I've been playing around with diets due to knowing people who are passionate (like, hardcore) about the appropriate diet being the foundation of optimal health; a sentiment I wholeheartedly share.  For the past 2 months, I've been 95% vegetarian.  It wasn't that bad and was actually an interesting challenge to see if I could adapt to that lifestyle since it was my third attempt at making the switch.

That being said, I've recently been reading MarksDailyApple; a blog about the primal/paleo diet.  This diet essentially says that eating grains = silliness.  Proponents of this lifestyle say that mankind evolved eating animals and vegetables/fruits, grain was introduced into our diet relatively recently and has properties that are unhealthy for human consumption.  Your diet, according to this school of thought, should consist of protein, fats, and low carbs (compared to conventional wisdom) attained from vegetables and fruits.  They state that the Inuit people eat high fat, high protein diets, and are still healthier than us!  

Wait, it gets weirder.

The Primal diet is also a fan of something called Intermittent Fasting. Get this, they say that the primal man operated on a feast and famine schedule: essentially if they didn't hunt successfully, they didn't eat.  Makes sense.  We see the same thing happen with carnivorous animals today.  The benefits of intermittent fasting are the most striking.  They state that it manages insulin levels, increases growth hormone, increase neural plasticity, reduce proliferation of cancer growth, and more!  

I should have starved myself sooner...

I have to be honest, I don't know if I buy it all quite yet, but I'm intrigued enough to give it a try and see how I feel.  If I get the results they say I should, then consider me converted.  I'll keep doing my research, but so far everything is looking legit.  I'll try to stick with this for the next month while keeping up with my exercise.

Next Steps?

FRIDAY I'm going to get my body fat and weight measurements to track my progress.

RIGHT NOW, I'm eating some pasta, cheesy potatos, porkchops, and a hearty serving of apple crisp (consider it a last meal before Jurassic Park),



I can't WAIT to look and feel like this guy! ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Upgrading Productivity

I want to more be productive...  

But there are so many distractions!  There are the obvious ones i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Sudoku, then I have the ones that seem important, but prevent me from adding value that matters by ruining focus, i.e. email, phone calls, etc.

Why not try something new?

I recently read about something called the Pomodoro Technique.  Basically, you get a timer.  You commit to working on a task for 25 min.  When the timer stops.  You stop your work, make a mark on your sheet, and move to the next task after a short break...NOT MY STYLE!!!

I need much more flexibility than 25 minutes with a timer.  My tweak was to bunch my hours into blocks.

For the last month my work day looks like this:

Block 1: 8-11am - WORK My first three hours at work are spent on the important projects; the ones that I affect my value.  I make this time sacred by blocking it on my calendar to prevent my administrative assistant from scheduling any meetings during that time.  I also turn off my IM, my Groupwise Notify, put my phone in my desk, and close my door.  The only windows open on my computer are ones that I need to work on my projects.

Block 2: 11-12pm RESTORE  This is an hour of relaxation.  I go check my mailbox and connect with my colleagues and student employees, read some blogs, check my social media.

12-1pm  LUNCH!

Block 3: 1-3:30pm  TASKS   This block of time is dedicated to replying to emails, returning phone calls, and paperwork.  I log into my IM, open my door, and just react to people's needs as they come to me.  I make it a point to ONLY check email during this time, so once per day! #winning

Block 4: 3:30-4:30pm  ME  I like to spend this time doing some personal professional development.  I spend my last hour reading articles about higher education, student development, etc.

This works like a charm!  

A simple and effective way of focusing my energy.  I've made remarkable progress on projects that would have sat on my desk for far too long before this tweak.  The only difficult part of this process is getting my colleagues to recognize my blocks.  You have to be adamant about this process or it won't work.  People expect replies, feedback, etc immediately; the trick is being consistent to train them to know when you will deliver.

How do you structure your day to stay productive?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Got The Blues!

There was time when to be considered a learned man/woman, you had to have ability in the Arts; whether that be composing, playing an instrument, painting, sculpting, etc.  Nowadays, most Americans "artistic" ability is seen during a drunken karaoke rendition of "Brown Eyed Girl."  To make matters worse, several states are seeking to cut funding for the Arts in the upcoming fiscal year.

My personal artistic ability has been displayed in my years of recorder playing and choir; my 2 years of clarinet and tenor sax in high school; and in my college visit with guitar (the only song I learned was "Ode to Joy") and penchant for the beauty that is karaoke.  Sadly, the musical part of my life is more commonly expressed through I-Tunes.  

My plan is to become a Guy With Skills (GWS).  So, I'm going to undertake learning how to play an instrument, specifically the harmonica or blues harp.

Her name is Harmony.  And she's Beautiful.

I've only had Harmony since last week Friday and I'm already in love.  I won't post all my jam sessions, but I'll keep you posted on the milestones I'll reach.  If any of you play the harmonica, know someone who does, or have some suggestions, please feel free to comment!  I'll need all the help I can get.  Ciao!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. If we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I'm not a travelling man, but three or four of weeks ago, I traveled four hours from home because someone had caught my eye.  Four hours to determine if I was mistaking my imagination for memory.

So, I hopped in the car with no intel and an extremely underdeveloped plan.  And I started driving.  It was in that instance that I came Alive.  The car ride is still vivid.  I can see the sun slipping below the horizon as I glanced out the window.  I remember the meal I ordered at the Wendy's in St. Cloud.  Every mile brought me further into the unknown and I became more aware; my senses absorbing information in preparation.   

I stayed in Minneapolis for two nights.  Every waking second is imprinted in my mind.  This isn't an instance where someone asks you what you did last weekend and you try to piece it together.  No, I can tell you 

  • that I walked out of my room at exactly 11:57am, 
  • that the old lady at the T-mobile store was wearing a red blouse,
  •  that the cashier at Gap was a brunette with a white blouse and black pants, 
  • that a spanish speaking woman had a crying baby in the dressing room next to me,
  •  that I had the new grilled chicken and cheddar sandwich from Potbelly's with harvest cheddar sun chips, sat in the booth directly behind an Indian couple, and a pregnant wife w/ husband came in as I sat down
  • that at the first park I visited an elderly couple walked past me as I left the car, there was a young black woman with three small children on the swings and a trio of black men sitting by a grey car in the parking lot 
These are a few of the many details I remember. These details that people would call "minor" are literally burned into my mind.  Being in a situation with no plan, with no sure direction of what you're going to do, or how the day would end forces the mind to anchor every seeming minor detail.  

And when I encountered the reason for the journey, I was ALIVE (notice the caps).  I felt as if I was picking up cues, making judgments, and walking a path that I didn't make but that materialized one step at a time.  The nervousness and excitement that swept over me was thrilling.  I was attuned.  I was completely There.  That doesn't happen often enough.

Harnessing that level of awareness, being Alive at that level would be amazing.  What could I create and accomplish if I could train my mind to Be There and grab the answers from around me.  Easier said that done, but a feat worth attempting.  Great weekend overall.

Oh and it was definitely Memory.  

In response to...
When did you feel most alive recently? Where were you? What did you smell? What sights and sounds did you experience? Capture that moment on paper and recall that feeling. Then, when it’s time to create something, read your own words to reclaim a sense of being to motivate you to complete a task at hand.

(Author: Sam Davidson)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Personal Recipe

I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've never been much a chef, but this is a recipe I think I can handle.  So, let's begin!


Things To Do:
  • Continue to learn new things
  • Laugh at life often
  • Make decisions based upon your values
  • Try to be better than the year before
  • Keep reading words that inspire

Things To NOT Do:
  • Blame others for your situations or circumstances
  • Be negligent of personal finances
  • Ignore the relationships that matter most
  • Forget what's important to you.


In response to...
Think about the type of person you’d NEVER want to be 5 years from now. Write out your own personal recipe to prevent this from happening and commit to following it. “Thought is the seed of action.”

(Author: Harley Schreiber)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Call to Arms

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today marks the beginning of Something New.
Today the dynamic of the job has changed.  Although you are in my employ, you work for yourselves.
Own your work.
Together we will set a direction, but you will set the path.
Feet draggers will be left behind.


In response to...
What if today, right now, no jokes at all, you were actually in charge, the boss, the Head Honcho. Write the “call to arms” note you’re sending to everyone (staff, customers, suppliers, Board) charting the path ahead for the next 12 months and the next 5 years. Now take this manifesto, print it out somewhere you can see, preferably in big letters you can read from your chair.

You’re just written your own job description. You know what you have to do. Go!

(bonus: send it to the CEO with the title “The things we absolutely have to get right – nothing else matters.”)

(Author: Sasha Dichter)