Browse Category: Mind and Energy

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET SICK

probiotics

Our goal when we get sick is to feel better (often, as soon as possible). For this to happen, however, we need to play ball with our immune system. We need to give it the tools to perform.

What we should know first before we can do that is –

Our immune system is a bunch of bugs (good and bad) in our gut. When the bad guys are increased relative to the good guys, bad stuff happens (of course). Not only can it weaken us so much that we easily become  sick, but it can make recovery long and slow once we do get sick as well.

Here is how we can help the good guys win to prevent that from happening:

A) SLEEP

  • Tack on at least 3 more hours onto the amount you already should be getting (3 +8 = 11).

B) CONSUMPTION

  • Drink a lot of water while cutting back on coffee, alcohol, and nicotine.
  • Eat probiotic containing foods (like yogurt) to feed our good bugs and anti-bacterial/ anti-viral foods such as coconut oil (my go-to) and garlic.
  • Supplements: ZMA, probiotics, and vitamin C will help.
  • Drugs: Do what you have to do (be critical).
  • Limit or stay away from immune system depressing foods such as sugar-laden foods, diet sodas, things that you are allergic to,  and pretty much all junk food. Also stay away from fiber-rich foods as well as our digestive system is not in a position to process these efficiently.

C) EXERCISE

  • Do what you can do. If the sickness is below the neck or you have a fever, sideline yourself. If you have a cold or strep, however, you can probably get away with doing low to moderate intensity exercise such as walking, yoga, and mobility exercises.
  • Will exercising extend the recovery? Maybe, maybe not. When in doubt, do easy things. Working out while sick is not about setting personal records, it’s about giving your mind it’s medicine.
  • And please, exercise @ home.

How close you follow this outline depends on how sick you are. When I am really sick (fever or flu), all I do is sleep and eat yogurt. When I have a cold, however, I go for walks and pretty much eat normally (which means I drink coffee, but less of it).

The sicker you are, the more help your immune system will need.

Be prepared to give it.

THE POWER OF MONEY (AND WHY FREE SUCKS)

We humans are rational creatures.

We do things for reasons and not on just on a whim.

When we make an investment (with time, money, or energy), it is in hopes that we get some type of reward in return. We don’t just do things to do them. We figure out what we want then we calculate what we have to do to get it. This thing we do (ie the investment) is really what creates the value of the thing we want.

Degree of investment = degree of value.

Examples:

  • We are going to value a bike that costs the equivalent of 100 hours worked a lot more than a bike that was given to us for free.
  • We are going to value a mate that was harder to get over one that was easy.
  • We are going to value money that we earned much more than money that we found or that we won in a lottery.
  • On and on and on…

FREE SUCKS

As much as I like seeing “free” attached to things, I realize it’s only hurting me. The fact is, the things I get for free, I respect less.

Free food? I overeat.

Free beer? I overdrink

Free knowledge? I skim or don’t consume at all.

Free anything else? I take for granted.

The same goes for things that are CHEAP. My brain just won’t let me assign value to something that is so easy to obtain.

So knowing this, what do we do?

=> Find what is important and pay for it.

There are two things that you should ALWAYS spend lavishly on. Health and Education… because they both become who you are.

Elliot Hulse

For the most part, these are things we do not want free or cheap:

  1. Food and supplements
  2. Training and equipment
  3. Seminars, books, and coaches
  4. What else?

I just bought this wordpress theme that you are reading these words on right now. Before, I worked on and off on this blog. Now, I am committed to “get my money’s worth“. Funny how that works.

In the end, if you want to play, you got to pay. Life finds a way to balance things out. Going the cheap route will help you save money but it may cost you results as well…

Note: I don’t care for dieting in and of itself, but I am a fan of the price tags of some diets (like Ideal Protein). Expensive works!

2 Ways To Skin A Fat Cat

I think it is safe to the say that most of us have some degree of fat that we want to lose.

So what’s the game plan?

There are generally 2 different methods people use to go about achieving this.

#1: ACCOUNTING

This is a left-brain, mathematical approach that puts the focus on calories. “Calories in, calories out“, the Accountants say. So if you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. Dieting and 60 minute elliptical sessions are often the result of this type of thinking.

#2: MANAGING

This a more right-brain, holistic approach that puts the focus on positive hormones and how we feel. Managers see fat loss as a by-product to how well our life is running. So if we want to lose weight, learn to manage stress and cultivate a healthy relationship with eating, exercise, and ourselves. Invigorating resistance training and lax meal plans are often the result.

Both methods work, but for a large majority of us, the first one  is not sustainable. Counting calories, stressing over food intake, and dreading exercise,  this all eventually takes it’s toll on us.

This method – entry level position as an Accountant – is where most of us begin. This position, however, can only be a temporary one.

Our options are 1) get fired or 2) be promoted to Manager.

Gain all the weight back….. or keep it off for good.

Advice for Resolutioners

With the new year approaching quickly, I thought it would be prudent to share some tips on goal-setting.

Many people are going to vow to “lose weight and get in shape” this year both through exercising and dieting. Many will also fail.

This change (or failure to change) all starts with a game plan and if you can get started in the right direction, you may just survive.

Here are 3 tips to help you with that.

 

TIP 1: MAKE IT BEHAVIORAL (AND MAKE IT FUN)

No one loses weight by doing the activity “losing weight”.

Weight loss happens when our body becomes better able to burn our current caloric intake or we adjust our calories [slightly] lower so we don’t have to burn as much.

Behaviors that contribute to this are:

  • Getting More Sleep. Make it a game/more interesting by wearing a ZEO.
  • Eating Better. No special diet is necessary, just eat better than how you are eating now. For most, this means more whole foods (see: unprocessed). A strategy that has been successful for both myself and others is to eat primarily whole foods during the week (experiment with cooking?) and whatever goes on the weekend (reward: eating out?).
  • Engaging in Resistance Exercise. The more intensely you train, the more supercharged your hormones and metabolism will be which will not only allow you a few eating hiccups but will give you more energy throughout the day. On top of this, more intensity equals far less time spent needed to exercise. In fact, to reach your goal, you will probably only need to spend 1 – 2 days a week for 20 – 40 minutes doing this. To make that a reality, recruit a training partner or trainer, join a competitive environment such as a training group or a gym, and/or dedicate yourself to chasing an ambitious goal such as competing in a Tough Mudder.

Whatever your outcome goal is, try to attach a behavior to it.

 

TIP 2: BREAK IT DOWN (INTO SMALL MANAGEABLE CHUNKS)

So your “I want to lose 50 lbs” goal is now  “I want to compete in a 5 mile obstacle course”.

What’s the next step?

If you are not currently exercising, aim for the smallest most comfortable step you can take to get you to that behavior.

There is no need to rush into this and start exercising hardcore 4 times a week. Not only is this killer on your body but it will freak your brain out as well.

Instead, aim for teeny weeny change such as one 20 minute workout a week. Still, this may be too scary. If it is, go buy workout clothes OR go for a 1 minute walk OR do some research for your goal.

The key here is to always be moving forward however small that step that is.

Inch by inch its a cinch.

Kaizen

With this, you will eventually get to where you want to go.

Note: On the same token, attempting 1 small goal is ENOUGH.  As Resolutioners tend to prove time and time again, the more one takes on (like trying to change diet and exercise at the same time), the more likely one is to fail. When in doubt, change one small thing at a time.

 

TIP 3: BUILD THE ENVIRONMENT (AND IT WILL COME)

When we are moving towards this goal we have in place, what is most important is not burning calories but building the habit. If we can make it a habit, we can make it automatic. With this, we can even make weight loss unintentional.

How we do this is by making our options more health/fitness friendly.

Because willpower is a limited resource (and when it gets drained we make shitty decisions), we must make sure the decisions we make are good one even when they are bad.

For example, I tend to only keep whole foods in the house. Regularly, veggies and meat is my main food. When I want to get “naughty”, however, I will cook up yam fries in heavy coconut oil. Both are wins, right?

Sure, I eat ice cream and pizza from time to time, but it is not a fixture in our house. If it was, I’d eat it every night.

Bottom line: If crap is in the house, crap will be eaten. “But it’s for my ___”   ==> Shouldn’t they have the right to eat awesome too?

Working out at home is similar. Give yourself options (ie different equipment and routines) so that it is exciting enough for you to want to exercise even when you really don’t.

I’ve found, however, that we can only do so much in this arena. We are social creatures so, of course, our environment is filled with other social creatures. These people will impact our goal more than a cupboard full of treats ever could.

We may not be able to “get rid of” people in our circle that are negatively impacting your goal, but we will certainly be able to bring in new ones that will help spur us forward.

If you are scared, find others that can help make it less scary.

If you think you can do it yourself, look back at your track record and be honest about how much your goal really means to you. If you are not really good at “change” and/or this goal is “high value“, you may want to look outside yourself.

For example, I hired out for this website. Looks pretty nice, right? This is what it looks like when I try to do it myself (gross…).

In the end,  people are the most critical environment piece. If you can get that down, you may not even need a goal. The environment will take care of it all.

And with that, you may just survive…

Why Expectations Make Us Miserable

An expectation is strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

Most times it is what we want to happen.

We have expectations that we will succeed or that things will be painless. We have expectations that our spouse will be our “night in shining armor”.  We have expectations that our family or co-workers will treat us with respect. And most importantly, we have expectations that the things that we think will make us happy WILL MAKE US HAPPY.

What we want to happen, however, rarely happens (at least not exactly as how we imagine it).

As Mike Tyson used to say:

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.

Translation: There is just too many variables and too much chaos for us to rely on our predictions (or expectations) for the future.

Because of these variables, reality never matches our head and our “plans“.

And the more we play in our head, the more we fail to see what is right in front of us ( and the more disconnected we become from reality).

Often, what is next, is to become angered that they aren’t matching up together.

Your body. Your financial situation. Your loved ones. Your mind. Your ___.

We place expectations on them all, but do they ever end up the way we want?

And if they do, do they live up to the hype? That is, do they make you as happy as you thought they would?

 

AN ALTERNATIVE

The Method: Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

We can go into a new relationship hoping that is going to be awesome. It wouldn’t be fun if weren’t allowed to think that way. We have to, however, prepare ourselves.

==> Life is Dramatic (and shit happens).

If we are caught off guard and thinking (or expecting) tulips and roses, this bad stuff can really throw us off track. If left unchecked, it can destroy us and leave us thinking, “Why me?”

To prevent this, give some thought on how bad (or worse) it could get.

So….  your diet? Probably gonna suck at sometime. And you are going to get hurt exercising. And a loved one is going to do something that offends you (but it is only your expectation they are offending, not you).

Don’t expect happiness and good things to happen. It will only take you further away.

Instead (if anything), expect Life. Expect that you will get the full gamut – the good with the bad.

With this, you may just close the gap between “what should be” and “what is“.

And with that, well, you’ll be where you want to be.

THE TRUTH ABOUT DEPRESSION

Depression.

Sadness.

Unhappiness.

Whatever you want to call it, this “down” state of mind is something that we all dread and hope to avoid.

Oddly, however, it’s often something that most of us recognize as one of the greatest drivers of our lives.

Stuff like bad relationships, working jobs we hate, and making stupid decisions teach us how to make the future ones better (or at least help us persevere) and, all-in-all, it is this unhappiness that gets us on a better track in life.

But… sometimes the future doesn’t get better. And sometimes the depression doesn’t leave.

Why this is, of course, is different for everyone.

I believe for the majority of us, however, it is because we seldom or no longer process our feelings and thoughts.

If we did, we would  be able to hear what is really being said.

But because we are too busy (or maybe we just never learned how), these unchecked thoughts are driving us to feel emotions (that we probably don’t want to feel) and to do things (that we probably don’t want to do).

A TRUTH

We all have to something we have to say and give to the world. When we keep it in, however, it slowly dies.

Deep down, the core of our being wants to keep it alive. So instead, it makes us depressed in hopes that we will change our ways.

So this is where the solution to our pain and sadness lies.

With giving.

When we focus on giving to others, we forget ourselves.

This is exactly what we need.

Before we can fully give to the world, however, we have to figure out what our core wants us to give. Trying to be something (or give something) that is not aligned with our core is futile and will be short-lived at best.

Here are 3 steps to help you with that discovery:

STEP #1 : LISTEN

Pay attention to the stream of thoughts and feelings that are coming out of your head. Don’t run or hide through various activities or substances. Instead, go find solitude. Bring a pen and notebook and track the flow.

Like I said in You vs. Your Mind, our mind says some crazy stuff. This isn’t necessarily us but a huge conglomeration of our past  (ie, our culture, our media, our parents, our religion, etc.).

There will be assumptions (that have never been tested) as well as beliefs (that are untestable).

Let them all out.

This is something we all need to do once in a while. We all need to take inventory on what is running us and understand the beliefs and feelings that are behind our depression.

If writing is not your thing, draw them or do a video log. Capture the emotions however you can.

STEP #2: ASK QUESTIONS

With time, you should have a good idea of your inner dialogue. With this you can start questioning your beliefs and why you want this or that or feel like you should do ___ .

How far you want to go down the rabbit hole  is up to you. Generally, after 5 Whys, we will be at our destination.

Before we jump to conclusions on why we are sad, I can already tell you this: We are not depressed because we are poor or that we are overweight (and to suddenly get rich and fit would only be a temporary fix).

I am not saying those things don’t matter (as having a well-functioning brain can certainly lead to better well-being), I am just saying they don’t matter as much we think.

We already have what we need to be happy (food, shelter, safety) so we definitely do not need anything more.

What we need is to get lost (in laughter, in love, in positivity, in giving ourselves to the world).

So the main question(s) we should ask are not “Why am I sad?” or “How can I be happier?”, but instead ones that are a bit more refined: “What can I offer to the world?” and “What is my purpose/gift?”

With this, we can take the focus off ourselves again, forget the mind, and truly get lost.

Some other questions that might help:

  • What did you want to be as child?
  • What is your personality best suited for in communicating/giving to people? (introverted vs extroverted)
  • Is there anything you would do for free?

STEP #3: TAKE ACTION

So you think you have your purpose/gift?

Pursue it.

You will find almost immediately that it’s not exactly your purpose. You will, no doubt, probably be in the ballpark.

Finding our purpose is a refining process and is full of trial and error.

I’ve heard it before be compared to the layers of onion. The more you peel off and deeper you go, the more it will leave you full (filled).

So once you have a [vague] idea of what it is, figure out what step 1 is and go from there.  With a thousand or so steps, you will be well into the onion.

In the end…

There are a ton of other things that contribute to happiness and beating depression (such as exercise and sunshine).

Without a purpose, however, we will sink (even with them).

Without giving what we must give and saying what we must say, we will always have those days where we feel without hope.

And like I mentioned above, the solution to this shouldn’t be about putting more focus on ourselves, but less.

Where should the focus go?  To what we can give others of course.

That’s the Truth.

Note: This “giving” … this should be something that we actually want to give (ie, it shouldn’t be forced). We all have something that we are good at, like doing, and can benefit others. Find it – Refine it – And Give. I just gave you this post, and I couldn’t care less how you use it. That’s a real Gift. Thanks for reading.

CHANGE YOUR BODY, CHANGE YOUR BRAIN

Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as:

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Basically, once we build momentum in something, it’s hard for us to stop. But if we are at rest,  it’s hard for us to begin.

When we are tired (and maybe depressed), exercise is the last thing we want. In fact, if not acted upon by another force, we will keep doing what we are doing. This is why it’s so easy to let depression to consume us and for us to feel trapped.

So how do we exercise when we are “not in the mood”? And how do we get excited for this?

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT

Try this:

1) Put a big gaping smile on your face. Then start laughing. Louder and louder. Hysterically. Make some real funny faces.

2)Now clean up your body language. Sit upright. Pull your shoulders back. Put your chest to the sky and be proud.

With these 2 suggestions, you will be feeling better.

To change your brain even more,  follow along with this video from Elliot Hulse:

How did this make you feel?

Did you hold anything back? If so, go back and do it!

Throw the ego and “sillyness” to the side and let the animal be free.

EXPRESS yourself.

If we cannot “mentally will” the ball into position, we are going to have to push it…

WHY YOU’RE TOO CHEAP

Too Cheap to Buy Tickets

WE’VE BEEN LIED TO.

The biggest step is not the first step.

It’s the pre-step.

It’s all the work (physical and mental) that goes into preparing for that first step.

You want to know why many people find WAG workouts hard to stick with? The pre-step is too easy. Unlike a gym, we do have to invest resources (energy to dress nice, time to drive there, and money to pay) before our workout.

Because we do not invest, it is a lot easier to skimp on the workout once it begins or skip it entirely.

INVESTMENTS KEEP US TRUE

We do not quit on marathon mile number 25 just like we don’t “half-plate it” at a $30 chinese buffet.

No, when we invest, we go all out. We aim to get our resources worth. And the bigger our investment, the harder it can be for us to quit (even when it’s a bad thing).

Why not take advantage of this?

If we are having a tough time getting a habit to stick (and still relying on that good old “will-power”), investing may be our saving grace.

THE 3 INVESTMENTS

  1. Spend time and energy researching, planning, and learning how to accomplish goal.
  2. Spend money on our goal: Coaching, training materials and equipment, food and supplements.
  3. Spend social value by making public commitments (you don’t want to look like a flake do you?).

The only hurdle that will remain is giving yourself permission to spend on these things.

I’ve met enough people who find $40 too expensive for a piece of fitness equipment yet wouldn’t bat an eyelash spending that same amount in cigarettes or eating out for the week.

It’s not a money or time thing, it’s a priority thing. And even though we say our goal is such-an-such, we do not really give it high priority. We don’t do this because we’re scared of the failure, work, and responsibility that might come along with it.

I’ve been there. Heck, I’m still there. Knowing that I have to “pay to play”, however, allows me to make those necessary investments. From there, things seem to just take care of themselves.

The question you will have to ask yourself: “Am I moving closer to my goal?” 

If the answer is no, you may be too cheap.

Spend more.

FAT LOSS, MUSCLE GROWTH, AND THE ARCHER’S PARADOX

arrow2

FOCUS LESS

There is power in the ability to see the trees and the forest at the same time.

Archers, for example, aim slightly off the target to hit the middle (that’s the paradox).

They do this not only because the arrow bends (and throws the trajectory off slightly), but because over-focusing causes less accuracy.

When aiming for our targets, fat loss or mass gain, it’s no different. Overfocus here causes us to zoom in on only a couple of variables (be that calories or some certain “rule”) while neglecting the rest. Often, it is our health that pays the biggest price. Like I talked about in Why Chasing 6 Pack Abs May Make You Fatter, once our health goes, so does our results.

WE DON’T HAVE TO AIM AT THE CENTER

I’ve had clients lose twenty-to-thirty pounds without giving them a diet just like I, myself, have gained muscle without focusing on muscle growth.

The key is to aim slightly off to the side.

  • Instead of dieting and counting calories, eat more foods (greens, fiber) that cause you to naturally eat less.
  • Instead of adding more arm and chest exercises to build your upper body, do hormone-stimulating exercises like squats and deadlifts.
  • Instead of logging 5 hours a week on the treadmill, sleep more.

The point is that THIS is all related.

If you focus on changing one variable, you risk changing them all. If you do not know which variables these are, then failure is likely.

HOW TO USE PROCRASTINATION

using procrastination

You’re putting something off.

I don’t know what it is, but you are.

So am I.

The truth is, we all have something that we should be doing right now, but for whatever reason we aren’t. Rather than explain how to beat this procrastination, instead I want to show you how you to become better at it.

There is no sense in denying whats in our blood: We are phenomenal at delaying important action.

This quote (stolen from Jon Goodman) explains this nature well:

“Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him [to] do it.

However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.”– John Perry

This last sentence (bolding is mine)  is where the gold is.

So what does this mean?

In order to do the things we have been puttin up on a pedestal, we have to make them less important. We don’t do this by simply believing they are but rather by putting more important stuff on our plate.

AIM ABOVE YOUR MARK

  • If your goal is to start working out 3 times a week, aim instead to compete in the Crossfit games.
  • If you have been putting off writing for magazines because “it’s important” (like I have), aim  instead to write a book.

Whatever it is you want to do, you have to make it seem less important (because these are the type of activities that us procrastinators like to do).

Don’t be realistic, be audacious.

This is how we use procrastination.

WHY COMPARISONS ZAP OUR ENERGY

I think one of the keys for becoming who we want to be and achieving goals is to surround ourselves with people who inspire us to do so and who have done the same.

So want to become a fantastic writer (or ___ )?

=> Read fantastic writer’s work, befriend fantastic writers, WRITE, and get feedback from these fantastic writers who are now your friends. Repeat repeat repeat until you are, yourself, a “fantastic writer”.

I think this process can pretty much work for any other goal as well.

This is because when we hang with others that are better in areas we want to improve, we become impelled to improve. And one of the great things about the internet and technology is that we are now able to “hang” with specific people regardless of where we live.

Your network is your net worth.

Robert Kiyosaki

In my quest to improve in my ventures, I have filled facebook with people who both Train and Write. Seeing them in my feed everyday with their work let’s me know where the bar is at. This drives a natural competitive spirit in myself to experiment more, write more, and be more.

With this strength (ie the drive), however, also comes a weakness.

THE DANGER OF COMPARING

So we know comparing ourselves to others can lift us up by improving our standards. It, however, can also crush us.

It is all too easily to look at someone elses accomplishments and then judge ourselves for lack of achievement (what did you say to yourself when you saw the image above?).  And often, we find error in their work or make justifications for why someone “achieved” more than us rather than just be happy for them.

The biggest negative of them all, however, is that comparing prevents us from starting.

Let’s face it, we suck in the beginning. Anything we do (if we have to learn something new), we are going to struggle. This is just part of the process.

The problem is when we take our current state (failure) and compare it to others who already benefitted from the struggle process (in my writing example, Stephen King), we can become demoralized. We only see the end product and NOT the hours, days, weeks, months, and years spent refining it. We think “Them = talented, Us = Not” and quit it (or never really begin).

The truth is they failed and so must we.

Bummer, I know.

If anything, however, we should be excited by the fact that a human can achieve that and we should be inspired to do so. Their failure propelled them to their current level and it can do the same for us.

So, you still want to compare your level of fitness to mine? Please know that I have been training since 7th grade, I haven’t taken off more than five consecutive days in 7 years, and I am constantly learning and applying new techniques. Hardly magical, right?

And just like you can compare yourself to me, I can compare myself to other writers.  In this arena, I am brand spanking new. I suck and I have a lot more sucking to go. I admit it, some days I put the sucking on hold because I become so paralyzed with comparisons. In the end (and this is how I power through), I realize I can only compare my current self to my past self. In fitness, in writing, in business, in everything — Past Levi is the benchmark. Everyone else is here for my amazement and inspiration, not competition.

This all being said, the human default mode (always comparing and contrasting) can sometimes get the better of us.

We must guard against it.

Remember, we all have to suck and all that matters is sucking less. If we keep walking on the path, we will do this.

:)

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