Monday, June 30, 2014

My Favorite Scenes

When I was in college, my roommate bought a copy of The Sixth Sense on DVD. Back in those days I used to watched all the bonus features, including the director's commentary on the deleted scenes. For this movie in particular, M Night Shyamalan said something that really stuck with me. "Sometimes to serve the movie, you have to cut your favorite scene." He then showed the scene he had cut. After watching it, I was glad he cut it. It didn't work. The movie was better without it.

What stuck with me is that often in my own life, to serve the "movie," I have to cut my favorite scenes. Sometimes the things I cling to most tightly, whether good or bad, are the things I most need to get rid of, and once I do, I open the door for enormous growth.

I used to follow about 14 TV shows. I couldn't imagine missing any of them. It took a while, but I phased all of them out and hardly watch any TV now. A movie or two on the weekend is usually enough to entertain me for the week.

I used to be very confident in my knowledge of healthy eating. Pasta, pizza, Subway, breakfast cereal, and Hamburger Helper were all staples of my diet. Then I got fat. Admitting to myself that I was wrong about healthy eating was almost as hard as changing my diet, but once I did, I lost 30 pounds.

I used to read about 25 books a year but realized I was spending all my time reading because I was afraid to go out and actually do things. As a challenge, I limited myself to one book a month. With my free time, I started doing things I never would have done before and accomplishing quite a bit. Now I'm in shape, a coach, a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu, and still pretty well read.

When my band broke up, I tried for a couple years to recapture the glory. I was determined to start another band and pickup where the old band left off. I spent a lot of money on gear and chased a lot of dead ends, but eventually I realized I needed to step away. It wasn't until I put down the guitar that I discovered other pursuits which fit my current stage of life even better.

I've found this method so effective that I try to use it proactively. If I find myself stuck in a rut, I examine my favorites scenes and evaluate if they need to be cut. Even if I'm not in a rut, I try to be objective with how I'm using my time, and if there's an aspect that doesn't seem to be producing results, I'll eliminate it, if only temporarily, to see if there's a change for the better.

Cutting my favorite scenes is essentially admitting that I'm wrong, and not just wrong, but wrong about the things I most want to be right about. It's never comfortable, but so far, it's been very valuable. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Michelangelo is a party dude.

My childhood dreams are coming true again. I can't wait for this movie.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The First Five

Every weekday my alarm goes off at 4:00 am. Getting out of bed is tough, but the biggest challenge lies ahead. As I'm walking down the stairs to let the dogs out and start the coffee, the temptation to collapse on the couch and sleep for two more hours is miserably unbearable.

I will admit, there have been many times I've given in and gone back to sleep, but one day, after an unusually tough battle, I had a breakthrough. I realized the extreme temptation to go back to sleep only lasted for about five minutes. As soon as I made it through the first five minutes, I felt fine; ready to take on the day.

Once I figured this out, it became much easier to motivate myself to keep going. While my body tries to convince me I'll be miserably tired for the rest of the day, my brain knows it's only going to last five minutes, and powering through five minutes isn't that difficult.

I think this rule may apply to lot of things. The first five words of a conversation, the first five steps of a jog, the first five reps of a workout, the first five lines of a book. 

Break through the resistance and most challenges aren't as tough as they seem.

That being said, I'm taking the first steps of a personal journey starting today. I'll have more details to follow. Needless to say, it'll be both exciting and extremely challenging.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why I want $5,000,000

As a child growing up in the church you're often told that the love of money is the root of all evil. Then you become an adult and find out that money is really important and it would be nice to have more, but how much money makes you evil? This question used to cause me a lot of turmoil, and my nagging desire to make more money riddled me with guilt. It took some time but I've finally decided that it's not evil for me to want to make $5,000,000. Here's why.

1. I know $5,000,000 isn't the key to being happy. People love to remind you money can't buy happiness. I understand. I'm already happy, and my happiness does not hinge on whether or not I make $5,000,000.

2. Making $5,000,000 is just a goal I've set. I'd like to earn my black belt in Jiu Jitsu. I'd like to learn Objective C (and Swift!). I'd like to make $5,000,000.

3. I don't want $5,000,000 to buy stuff. I don't really like stuff and actively try to eliminate the excess stuff from my life. This is not to say I'll buy nothing with $5,000,000. I think a Tesla would be awesome, but I'll be ok if I never own one.

I'm not a car guy, but I dream of owning one of these some day.

4. I want $5,000,000 for the security it provides, but I realize it won't eliminate all of my problems. On the other hand, it will help eliminate some of my worries. What happens if my parents need elder care? What will I leave my wife if I die young? What if the car breaks down or the furnace goes out?

5. I want $5,000,000 for the freedom it provides. Some people wouldn't know what to do if they had lots of free time. I am not one of these people. I have a huge list of things I would like to do. I would train more, read more, spend more time with my wife, play more music, start flying again, travel more. I would also work. I would go crazy if I wasn't working on some sort of project. The difference is that I would work on things I care about and not as a means of economic survival.

6. I want $5,000,000 so I can give more. Notice I didn't say "so I can give." I already make a habit of giving, but if I had $5,000,000, I could give more. 10% of $5,000,000 is a LOT more than I'll be able to give in a lifetime on my current salary. 

7. I want to make $5,000,000 because it's a challenge. It's going to take a lot of creativity to figure out how to do it. It's also going to take a lot of work. I look forward to both of these aspects.

So call it what you want, my conscious is clear. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a lot of work to do.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Jiu Jitsu Life

I had the chance to spend some time with my little brother this weekend. His art continues to to astound me. The above picture is the result of a 5 minute photo shoot and 15 minutes of editing.

Jiu Jitsu is one of my passions. It has shaped me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It has toughened me up from the inside out. It continues to make me a better man and a better human being. I think Jake managed to capture all of that in this picture.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How much?

How much money would it take for you to quit your job?

Not to retire for the rest of your life, but to quit and take a chance on yourself. Maybe start your own business, move to a new city, work a lesser paying but more fulfilling job, or go back to school?



3 years' worth of living expense? 

1 year's worth of expenses?

If you love your job, this question is irrelevant, but if you don't, I think it's pretty important.

Depending on tenure, Amazon will pay an employee up to $5000 to quit. They assume that if an employee doesn't like their job, it saves the company money in the long run. If you think this sounds like a pretty sweet deal, why not find a way to save $5000 and then quit? It might take extra work and sacrifice, but it's a small price to pay for a more fulfilling life.

If your number is bigger than $5000, what can you do to reach your goal? Are there any ways you can reduce the number so it's more attainable? Can you earn more? Can you spend less? How creative can you get? 

I'm asking for a friend...

Monday, June 9, 2014

My Favorite Recipe

The recipe that I'm about to share with you could change your life. It's my absolute, number one favorite recipe, and it's reached this distinction for 3 reasons. 

1. It's insanely easy and fast to make. 
2. It's healthy. 
3. It's delicious.

I use this recipe at least twice a month, and more often than not, every week. Are you ready? Here it is.

1. Put frozen chicken in a crock pot.
2. Cover it with a layer of taco seasoning.
3. Cover with a jar of your favorite salsa.
4. Cook on warm for 8 hours, or on high for 5 to 6.

Normally I have to think ahead and thaw out chicken to grill or bake, but not with this recipe. Throw it in frozen and you're good to go. Normally, I'm not a big fan of crock pot meals, but this one doesn't taste like a standard crock pot meal. It has a LOT of flavor. I love it because I can be running late for work and still have enough time to get it cooking for dinner later that night, and it's so versatile, it can be mixed and matched with different things so that it tastes new every time, even if you eat it every day. You can use chicken thighs or chicken breast, or whatever part of the chicken you want to use (I prefer white meat). You can use it for tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, salads, tostadas, nachos. I even ate it on a hamburger bun one time, kinda like a taco sloppy joe. It wasn't my greatest creation, but I had to make due with what I had... For a guy that eats a lot of chicken, and was getting tired of the standard grilled or baked chicken breast, this recipe is a great way to get my  230 grams of protein a day and enjoy my meals at the same time.  
Give it s shot and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

That's my secret Captain...

Losing weight is tough.

It doesn't start out that way. The first week is awesome. You feel great, you're eating healthy, you made it to the gym a couple times, and you've finally made the decision to change your life for the better.

Then week 2 hits and you start to second guess yourself. You find the Oreos in the pantry and think "Is weight loss really that important? Will an unscheduled cheat set me back that much?" You struggle, but you persevere.

Then the third week comes and a coworker brings donuts to the office. This time the temptation is like nothing you've felt before. Your vision turns red, you picture yourself devouring handful upon handful of fried dough, and even imagine tossing coworkers out of your way to get to those sugary, fatty carbs. This is the pivotal moment. Do you control yourself or transform into the Hulk?

There will be several Hulk moments in your weight loss journey. Your brain wants to feed its addiction, so it makes you to believe you'll never survive unless you give in; that eating healthy will always feel like this. It won't. It gets better. Much better.

Even though my weight loss transformation took place several years ago, I still remember the Hulk moments with great clarity. Every time I fought them off, they made me stronger. These days, eating healthy is a habit and easy to maintain. The Hulk still comes out from time to time, but only when I say he can. With some work, the same can be said for you.

Monday, June 2, 2014

7 Things I Think Will Change My Life in 2014

Here it is. The highly unanticipated 2014 list of things I think will change my life. You'll see the "Focus" theme from my 2013 list is very prevalent in this one.

Purple Belt - I earned my Jiu Jitsu purple belt in March this year. It's the culmination of a lot of hard work and I'm pretty proud of it. Something like 90% of people who start Jiu Jitsu never get to the rank of purple. Truthfully, it's terrifying. If a blue belt is the equivalent of getting married to the sport, purple is the equivalent of having kids with it. I absolutely can't quit or cut any corners, and the competition is infinitely tougher. Regardless, I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Personal Training Certificate - After years of indecisiveness about what to do with my life, I've finally chosen a path (or at least a wedge, which I'll write about later). I've studied fitness, nutrition, and martial arts extensively for the last 4 years, and for a guy that rarely sticks with anything, this is important. Why it took me so long to decide to get certified is a mystery, but I'm excited to start helping people discover fitness and nutrition on a professional level.

Sugar/Alcohol* - Once I decided to become a personal trainer, I realized there were some aspects of my own diet that I needed to fine tune. For the last several years I've maintained a healthy diet during the work week and then cheated with extra carbs, sugar, and some drinks on the weekends. While I never drink enough to have a hangover the next day, I didn't like the idea that I was regularly drinking, even if only on the weekends. In addition, my sugar consumption on the weekend was a bit ridiculous. Since it's easier for me to restrict than to reduce, I've restricted sugar and alcohol consumption to one weekend a month. The results are fantastic, and I really don't miss either of them. 

*I still drink wine because it has health benefits and it's delicious.

Precision Nutrition - One of the sources I regularly turn to for nutrition information is Precision Nutrition. I'm a big fan of John Berardi and his scientific approach to sports nutrition. I've considered taking their certification course a couple of times, but couldn't bring myself to spend the money. Now that I'm pursuing fitness as a career, I finally have a good excuse. The next certification round doesn't open until September, but I'm counting the days until I can sign up.

Intermittent Fasting - In my nutrition studies I ran across this method and it's worked wonders for me. There are several different ways to approach intermittent fasting, but I follow 16/8:  I fast for 16 hours and then eat my meals within an 8 hour time period. Basically I don't eat anything until noon and stop eating at 8:00 at night. I also take 1 day a week to cheat (without sugar or alcohol), and then the day after my cheat day is a full 24 to 36 hour fast. 5 days 16/8, 1 day cheat, 1 day full fast. I've shed 4% body fat with this method and still train as hard as I always have.

Objective C - I mentioned HTML and CSS in my last list, but Objective C is what I really really want to learn. It will enable me to program applications for iPhone, iPad, and Macintosh. I found a course online that I'm currently working through, and I have a nice list of apps I'd like to create once I've developed my skills. It's just a matter of putting in the work. This may seem a little out of the scope of everything above, but it's all a part of the plan. The future of fitness is technology, and I want to be on the cutting edge.

Hustle - I love entrepreneurship. I love creating something and then selling it. I've been doing it since I was a little kid. My grandma used to take me to the store to buy a toy to play with when I visited, but I'd buy beads and string and spend hours making necklaces to sell. One time I caught bullfrogs and sold them on the street corner. When I had dreadlocks in college, I taught myself macrame and made hemp necklaces to sell at festivals. When I was in a band I made t-shirts, CDs, stickers, buttons, posters, and bouncy balls and sold them like crazy. One of the things I miss most about the band is the hustle; finding new and creative ways to make money. One of my biggest goals this year is to get back to that hustle. Becoming a personal trainer is one of the first steps, but I've got plans for an empire and it's going to be a lot of fun to build.