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The Freedom of No Baggage

March 5, 2010

(CAUTION: THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST MAY CONTAIN CONTENT TOO PHILOSOPHICAL IN NATURE. BE ADVISED. I’M IN ONE OF THOSE MOODS.)

Life can get complicating.

One minute you’re doing what you think you enjoy. You’re knee deep in the tasks you need to get done. You’re busy. You’re feeling a delusional sense of accomplishment. The next minute you suddenly find yourself driving down a dead end street and you can’t remember how you got there. And for some odd reason, you continue to drive down that street, knowing it will eventually end. But for some reason you just have to keep driving.

Why do we do that to ourselves?

So many parts of my life have been enjoyable as of late. I have a good family, a great house, a thriving blog (that makes me no money but I still enjoy it) and supportive people around me. My health has increased exponentially as has my wealth of information. But something has been holding me back. This something has been feeding on me. This something was the proverbial monkey on my back – and it was getting fed so much it was taking root. It was firmly embedded within me and together we were driving down that deep, dark, dead end street. For how long we have been going down that street, I can’t really say. I just couldn’t get rid of it.

Today that monkey and me parted ways. Let’s face it – most of us have this baggage, these monkeys on our backs. This baggage has many names. Let’s skip the cliches by naming them and let’s just skip to the chase. You know the baggage is there. What holds you back from naming it, claiming it and then getting rid of it once and for all? Is it fear? Is it habit? Is it complacency? How can we allow ourselves to be compromised by this baggage?

BEING COMPROMISED BY THE BAGGAGE
You can bet you are experiencing some baggage in your life if one or more of the following are taking place:

  • You rationalize. Deep down inside you know you’re worth so much and you can do so much more. But a part of you realizes you’re not reaching your potential. So you rationalize why it’s OK to be sub-standard. You accept rather than challenge yourself. You allow others to tell you what you can or can’t do. The John Locke character from ABC’s LOST says, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” But you’re not THAT guy anymore – you’re busy rationalizing why you can’t do something. Like begin a new start, break an old habit, start a fitness program, etc.
  • You aren’t fulfilled. You look at yourself and you begin to find other ways to be happy instead of making things right. Some people turn to food or drugs or alcohol, etc. You’re looking for answers but can’t find them. What you can’t find is happiness. And you can’t find happiness because deep down inside you know the answer, but you simply run from it.
  • You daydream more and more. What’s a guy/gal to do when they can’t find contentment or challenge? They give up living the dream, finding the dream – and they simply think about the dream. This isn’t the goal setting type of dream. This is the type of dream that demonstrates you’ve given up. All that’s left is the dream because everything else has become a nightmare.

TAKE OUT THE BAGGAGE
Now that we have identified if you’ve got baggage and how it is holding you back, how do you get rid of it?

  • Identify your goals. In the busy shuffle of life, we can all too often forget who we are or what we want to become. Grab a pen and pencil and begin to make a comprehensive list of everything you want to do or become. Don’t allow negative thoughts to come into the picture. Just keep writing.
  • Number your goals. Did you honestly think I was going to have you write down goals and then perhaps weed them out or rank them?? Heck, no! Let’s simply put numbers next to the goals in the order you wrote them. Many productivity folks will tell you that the best way to get things done is to start at the top of the pile and work your way down. No prioritization needed. Just get it done. Start numbering.
  • Take action. Taking action takes many forms but it begins with one step. Don’t try to conquer the world. Just take one step today and then two steps tomorrow. Start with your first goal. Identify one or two things that you need to fulfill that goal. Make them easy wins or easy steps. When you see that a few steps CAN be taken, you will feel a sudden surge of success and be more encouraged to take the next steps. Taking that first step is a necessary piece. That’s called progress.

As you continue down this road of obtaining goals, you’ll soon find your baggage is quickly fading. For extra help, find support to get out from under your baggage. There is power in numbers. Challenge a friend and help them with their goals. Imagine the happiness the two of you can obtain simply by helping each other.

This “Baggage Theory” of mine relates easily enough to fitness, weight loss and resurgence – both physical and mental. It can be applied in many ways. So, start today. Start right now. Make your list without a moment’s hesitation.

Claim your baggage. Head for the exit (just like in the picture above). Walk through the sliding glass doors and get ready. Your goals and your future are not so far away as you might think.

What are your goals? What is the baggage you’re going to shed?

Grok On – For Better Health

March 4, 2010

Some days it seems like bad news is all over the place.  Luckily for me, it was just the opposite.

My favorite site, MarksDailyApple.com, released some pretty cool news today.  The topic of living and eating Primal/Paleo is popping up all over.  The message is getting out.  Mark Sisson, author of Primal Blueprint as well as MarksDailyApple.com, announced today that the site’s traffic is one of the top 5 in fitness.  This is due to not only the daily postings of Mark and his staff, but to the relevance of this topic.  The site never lacks for material and you can be sure to find many topics from Mark’s earlier postings or from the community that Mark has established.

In addition to the site, Mark’s first printing of Primal Blueprint sold out in December of 2009 and the second printing is out.  Over at Amazon, as of today’s numbers, the book is #4 in the Exercise & Fitness category, #11 in Weight Maintenance and #20 in the Weight Loss area.  Primal Blueprint has arrived – but I don’t believe for a second it has reached its peak.

I love Primal Blueprint and talking about Primal Blueprint.  Heck, I live Primal Blueprint – just ask my family.  When I got my t-shirt today (another great part of my good day), my wife said, “You mean to tell me cavemen live in California, too?!”  Little does she know that is where Mark and many other Primal folk live.  Wouldn’t she be interested to know that Mark’s followers are not only across the states, but across the world.  I’ve seen folks post from Austrlia, Ireland, Afghanistan and many other countries.  People are getting Primal and “Grokkin’ On” all over.  Perhaps even your neighbor…

The latest offerings from Mark’s camp are well timed and should really take things to the next level.  Primal Leap is the title of a package of goodies Mark looks to put out soon including a guidebook/journal, a Quick-Start 30 day guide to getting Primal, a much anticipated and the long awaited Primal Cookbook, a DVD, audiobook and a poster for extra inspiration and motivation.  I for one am very excited about this package of goodies and according to the post today, there is something guaranteed for everyone.

If you are new to this site or to the Primal Blueprint, please check out my book review here or do a search to find the other many postings I have categorized as Primal.  I hope they guide you to the same conclusion I have arrived at.  Living Primal is a highly functional plan that works for most anyone.

Final note:  I do not make any money by endorsing the Primal Blueprint or Mark’s site.  I wish I did, but I don’t.  I advocate for its utilization because I care.  And that’s how I roll.  My Grandfather died due to diabetes and obesity.  I don’t want to see another person go that route due to ignorance.  So for many years to come I want to spread the message of better health.
It’s interesting how modern day health can be improved by using age old practices.  And with the tools Mark and his team kick out, we can all get Primal, and in the best shape of our lives, without a mastodon in sight.

The Irrational Persistence of Conventional Wisdom. Argh.

March 2, 2010

Today started off to being a good day.  Ever since I’ve “gone Primal” I have hoped to eat grass fed beef as opposed to the corn-fed meat commonly found in most grocery stores.  Grass fed beef is not only a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, it’s also hormone and antibiotic free.  I have a good friend who recently alerted me that the local grocery store chain had added grass-fed beef to their organic/health market area.  Living in South Dakota, one would think obtaining grass fed beef would be easy.  But on the retail front, the only other local option I have found has been at our local co-op where bison meat is available, but not grass fed beef.  Grass fed beef is about a $1/lbs. more expensive, but in terms of health, I’d rather spend a little extra as opposed to suffer some odd malady because I was eating food I knew to be sub-standard.  So, with the prospect of finding grass fed beef and adding it to my diet, I was a happy camper today.

I placed my purchase into the refrigerator for it to thaw for tomorrow night’s dinner.  I jumped on the internet and as I was perusing the grocery store’s website to see what other plans they might have to improve my health and that of my fellow South Dakotans, I came across a “service” the chain also offers – a partnership with NuVal. (Cue the sinister music.)

Before talking about Nu-Val, have you ever heard of Dr. David Katz?  He’s another by-product of Oprah’s long succession of mainstreaming docs into making them household names alongside Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz.  Katz is an internal medicine physician by trade, but he has a hard time coming to terms with what Paleo/Primal is really all about.  He also has a hard time admitting a low carb diet is superior in this post by Dr. Michael Eades.  The opinion of Katz is closely mirrored by Dr. Ornish and Barry Sears.  That means, of course, the study must be flawed and they all know better, right?  (Sarcasm……sorry about that…)  Jimmy Moore, a popular low-carb personality also takes exception to Katz. Clearly Katz is Conventional Wisdom at its best.

OK, back to NuVal.  NuVal is a nutritional scoring system.  They use the “ONQI” algorithm to determine the nutritional value of food and the score is placed on the food by the price.  Designed to help shoppers pick better foods, NuVal looks to be a dream come true.  Sadly, the dream is short lived.  The ONQI factor uses a numerator and denominator to arrive at the score.  “Nutrients considered to have generally favorable effects on health are placed in the numerator, where higher values increase the NuVal Score.”  These items include the amount of fiber, vitamins, omega-3’s, magnesium, etc.  Sounds good.   “Nutrients with generally unfavorable effects on health are placed in the denominator, where higher values decrease the NuVal Score.”  These items include trans fat, sodium, sugar, cholesterol and saturated fat.  Uh…saturated fat.  Problem.

When you review the scores, it’s almost comical.  But sad at the same time.  Coconut earns a score of 24 while bananas rank at 91.  Chicken breast earns a score of 39 while Unprocessed Wheat Bran earns a score of 100.  My how far Conventional Wisdom has come – about 2 inches.  And the genius behind NuVal is…..you guessed it.  Dr. David Katz.

Groan.

Next thing ya know – we’re going to hear NuVal is fronted by Monsanto.

The idea of a nutritional labeling system is noble.  Having a system to assist people make better choices is better than nothing I suppose.  It’s just sad that the topics of saturated fat and quality carbohydrates are still misunderstood.  If only Conventional Wisdom could be replaced by Primal Wisdom, this subject would be unnecessary.  Then we’d all understand that if it’s packaged and processed, we just leave it on the shelf.

Conventional Wisdom is persistent indeed.  But bear in mind, Primal has been around just a bit longer.

Just a bit.

What do you think?  Should we have a nutritional labeling system or should we determine a guide for shoppers to use?  How can we bring Conventional Wisdom to its knees?

Explore the Winter Warmth of Your Crock Pot

March 1, 2010

Who can’t help but love the almighty Crock Pot, especially in the dead of winter?  I don’t think the sun has shown its face in South Dakota for about 7 weeks, but the warm glow from a dish prepared in the Crock Pot can quickly brighten spirits even in the face of a blizzard! A Crock Pot not only helps you eat Primal/Paleo, it usually ends up providing a very choice meal the whole family can enjoy.

So many times people ask the question, “I don’t have time to prepare food when it comes to eating healthy – so how am I supposed to make that happen?  Uh, this post is about the Crock Pot, so let’s assume that would be the answer…DING!  You are correct!  The greatest joy of using a Pot is its ability to make mass amounts of food that can be later stored in the freezer or refrigerator for the week to come.  Come home from work, re-heat the goods and you just saved yourself 30 minutes or more in food preparation (each meal by the way).

This is as simple as food preparation gets:

  1. Find your meat choices.  Brown them in a skillet or turn your crock pot up to brown it along with some olive oil for flavor and a healthy dose of fat.
  2. Add vegetables of choice – oftentimes that would be carrots, onions, peppers, celery, etc.
  3. Add chicken or beef stock if needed.
  4. Set dial to 200 or Warm.
  5. That’s it.  By the end of day your dish is ready.  Best of all, you should have enough left over to last a few days.

After making breakfast this morning, on a whim I decided to throw together some Primal Chili.  This is a pretty easy task if you have the ingredients – or you can make it up on the spot, like I did.  So, without further ado, here is what I added to my pot this morning:

  • One lbs. of grass fed ground beef
  • One lbs. of ground turkey
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatos
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • Diced jalapenos in juice (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
  • Diced red onion
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Diced green peppers
  • Thyme (to taste)
  • Cumin (to taste)
  • Oregano (to taste)
  • Chili Powder

I browned the meat as I outlined above with a little olive oil as well.  I added my onions next to soften them up.  Next I threw in my diced jalapenos and juice.  From here I turned the heat down to 200/Warm and added the rest.  Stir all the ingredients together and let the smells fill the house.

After I ran a quick errand in the early afternoon, I came home to find a suspicious looking ladle next to my concoction.  Turns out Haley, my 14 year old, had helped herself to my Primal fare.  Hmmm…that’s not usually like her…

“Geez, Dad,” she said, “it smelled so good, I had to try it.  It was tasty.  But it was pretty spicy!”

A distant voice in the other room belonging to my wife confirmed Haley’s findings.  My Primal Chili, was a resounding success in the household today.  I’ll bet it will be a success in yours as well.

Age is a State of Mind

February 26, 2010

Today I turn the ripe age of 42.

So what?

I’m not a fixator on birthdays.  Perhaps as a child I was big on birthdays, but who wasn’t?  Birthdays mean toys, cake, balloons and fun.  As an adult, I can purchase or seek out any of these things on any day of the week.  I’m more about celebrating other birthdays like those within my family.  I’m well known for celebrating them days after, unfortunately.  I’m always late sending out birthday cards and presents to my family, as my dear Mom would agree.  Hey, I’m honest if nothing else!

These days I look at birthdays as a personal challenge.  On paper I may be 42, but in spirit and in appearance I hope to be much younger.  So that is my goal.

I remember when I was a teenager and my Dad used to listen to a Christian musician by the name of Leon Patillo.  You’ve probably never heard of him and that’s OK.  My point is this:  Dad once told me that when he “GROWS UP,” he wants to be Leon Patillo.  Even though he was close to 42 at this point and of course, joking, he was always good humored about his age.  And he never acted it either.  So in my Father’s footprints I follow.  Age truly is a state of mind.

Pondering my age, I realize I can vote, I can buy alcohol and I could run for President at this age.  However, I already vote, I don’t drink much and running for office doesn’t interest me too much.  But living a healthy lifestyle – I’m definitely in to that.  If for no other reason, being healthy at 42 affords me the luxury of easily playing with my kids, outlasting them at the playground and sticking around for them for a long time to come.

I smile as I write this post today.  I specifically started this blog because I was 40 at the time and out to prove something.  I don’t care if I’m 40, 42 or even 70.  This guy is going to enjoy life as much as I can and along the way I’m going to enjoy the journey and bring as much of you with me as I can.  Not everyday will be a party, mind you.  But I vow to continue to pass on my knowledge of what I have learned in the worlds of exercise, nutrition and life.  And I will continue to learn from you.

In celebration of my birthday I’ll enjoy the time with my family, friends and co-workers.  I’ll look back at the past year’s successes and be thankful for the new friends I’ve acquired along with the goals I’ve accomplished.  I’ll enjoy the fact that I can knock out more push ups, pull-ups and kettelbell swings than I ever did this time last year or the year before or the year before that.  I’ll also enjoy the fact that I’m far from peaking in my physical and mental condition.  How do I know that?

Simple.

Life isn’t over.  At 40 or any age.

Primalizing the Prezent

February 25, 2010

If you’ve never heard of Prezi, you definitely need to get up to speed.  Launched last year, Prezi is an awesome online tool that you can use in place of Powerpoint to show a more linear approach to presentations.  Even more than that, I enjoy using Prezi to mindmap ideas.  I love Prezi because it allows your ideas to become great visualizations.


Primal Blueprint, a book I’ve mentioned numerous times, has so many great points to it that are also covered on Mark’s Daily Apple.  While there are too many great points to list on here, Prezi allows you to cover all those points and more so that you can literally (and visually) link thoughts and sub points under each area of the Primal Blueprint.

The multiple ways you can use Prezi include the ability to share files so that others can collaborate with you.  And that gave me a great idea.  I’m asking you, my Primal friends, to assist in creating a visual representation of the Primal Blueprint.  I’ve created a basic framework – would you like to help complete this work?  We all have our favorite parts of living Primal/Paleo.  Write those thoughts down in the appropriate spots or CREATE your own.

Watch the video for more information and how you can get started.  Simply email me and I can add you to the collaborators list – or comment you would like to be added and I’ll gladly add you in.  Together I’m confident we can create a pretty cool re-creation of Primaldom and bring the past ways of eating to the “Prezent.”

Is Sprinting Worth Including In Your Weekly Plan?

February 24, 2010

The Winter Olympics are on right now and I would be lying if I said I haven’t watched them.  Heck, I can’t remember the last night I didn’t watch them!  I love competition and watching the human spirit be all it can be.  The one downside to the Winter Olympics though is simply this:  where’s the Track & Field?!

OK, I get it.  Running on an icy track may be entertaining to watch, but not too suitable for the athletes.  So it is at this time that I have to improvise and do a little track and field of my own.  And that, my friends, includes sprinting.  In the wintry and snow-filled lands of South Dakota, you have to improvise a little more by running indoors on a track or treadmill.  Me, I went with the treadmill last night and I have my achey calves to show for it.

So, should you include sprinting?  Without hesitation, I strongly recommend it.  And here’s why:  name a muscle that you’re not using when you sprint.  I could seriously name a few, but more times than not, I’m going to have a LONG list of those muscle I would use.  Obviously your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes are involved, right?  But as you sprint, your upper body is used as well with your arms pumping and your pecs squeezing.  Your core is engaged as well along with your hips.  Is it any wonder Olympic sprinters look like bodybuilders?  Sprinting also involves recruiting those fast twitch muscle fibers – the same ones you use to explode up during squats or deadlifts.  Who knew weight lifting could equate so closely to “running?”

Here is my own Sprint workout from last night:  I started off running around 8 min/mile pace and did so for about 1/2 mile.  At that point I kicked up the belt speed so that I was running close to or below 6 min/mile pace.  I did this for 45 second intervals followed by a 45 second rest.  I simply kept the treadmill going and I straddled the belt.  Yes, I did fear the belt was going to explode and slap me or my manhood, but I persevered – and luckily so did the belt.  I did 9 intervals in this fashion and then on my last sprint I went a full minute at 5:30 pace so that I could leave it all on the track/treadmill.  I cannot wait until Spring thaw – taking this out on the track is going to be a great time!  I concluded my workout with a light jog for a 1/4 mile at 9 min/mile pace.

I would not repeati this on a treadmill too often but perhaps once a week.  I was wearing my Vibrams and as I am still in adjustment phase with both sprinting and wearing my Vibrams, my left foot was pretty beat up.  The calves still feel the burn!  And, it turns out, sprinting is a 100% Primal activity.  Of course cavemen sprinted – to get food or to run away from “said food” that turned out to be a little too big for the spear.

My Sprint workout took right about 20 minutes which was perfect for me. 

More time to watch the Olympics.