10 Minutes

Today is a great day. I feel really positive today, even though it's a little bit chilly outside. Yesterday afternoon, I planted our modest vegetable garden. I am keeping it very simple and sparse this year. A couple weeks ago, I added some fresh topsoil and composted manure fertilizer to the raised bed in the backyard and covered it all with black landscape fabric to prevent weeds. Yesterday, Deborah and I went to the nearby garden center and bought some vegetable and flower seedlings. The flowers are intended for the flower bed in front of our house and we will likely work on planting those tomorrow, weather permitting. The vegetable seedlings were tomatoes (2), broccoli (2), zuchini (1), and yellow squash (2). I don't want to overcrowd the raised bed and all of these vegetables have a pretty large footprint. I cut holes in the landscape fabric and transplanted the seedlings into the garden. This way, I only need to weed and water around the bases of the vegetable plants, because the landscape fabric will minimize weed growth in the area that it covers.

In about six minutes, I am going to start a focus block of book writing work for about four hours, which may be briefly interrupted around noon when the tree guy comes to take care of a fallen weeping willow branch in our yard.

I have some chores I need to tend to that are weighing on my mind. I have a strong compulsion to take care of these chores before I start my focus block, but that's only because I am a little OC about that and don't want the distraction of unresolved chores to impede my writing progress. In reality though, there will always be chores and there is no great urgency on these particular chores. In fact, the ball is in other peoples' court right now, so it is really up to them to do their jobs and my pestering them about it is unnecessary busy work. I had planned to have a focus block today and I am not going to let anything screw it up. Boom. My book isn't going to write itself after all.

I'll conclude this free writing exercise with a non sequitur by noting that Larabars are pretty awesome whole food snacks. Check out the simple ingredients list of these Pecan Pie Larabars. Nothing refined or artificial. No sugar. No gluten or even flour for that matter. Just three totally whole food ingredients: dates, pecans, and almonds.

Deborah and I keep several flavors of Larabars on hand as part of our healthy diet.


The Lightest I Can Ever Remember Being

I weighed in at a solid 209 pounds this morning, the lightest I have weighed since any neurons in my brain that recalled a lower weight were annihilated, probably during my college years.

Losing almost 40 pounds over the past year was no easy feat, but nor was it especially difficult. It was what people call in the vernacular "not rocket science." I started eating healthy food and limited snacks and junk food to rare or special occasions, coupled with goal setting milestones and rewards (more on this in a minute). I joined a gym with my wife Deborah and began going there about thrice weekly for an hour or more, also incorporating moderate swimming and weight lifting into my regimen, something I never bothered with before. This kept me quite a bit more active through the cold Wisconsin winter months, when I would normally go dormant and sedentary in the past. It also diversified the portfolio of muscle groups that got some exercise every once in a while, increasing my overall basal metabolic rate.

I did not limit my caloric intake at all during my fitness kick, so I did not feel like I was ever dieting. Instead, I focused on eating as much nutritious food as I wanted and limited refined carbs, including keeping unhealthy snacks out of the house. I tracked my weight in a simple smart phone app and set achievable weight loss milestones. When I hit my milestones, I rewarded myself with a dietary "free day." To wit, for one day after achieving the goal, I can (if I choose) eat anything I want without guilt, but only for that one day (and it's a very fun and gluttonous day, I'll have you know). That way, I can still enjoy cake or milkshakes or fried cheese curds or pizza once in a rare while, but it is coupled with my fitness goals in a positive way. 

For example, my most recent goal was to get my weight below 210 pounds. I hit that solidly today, which means I can grant myself a free day here pretty soon. I'll naturally transiently go up a few pounds in net weight right after the free day due to the onslaught of empty calories entering my gut, but my next weight goal after that will be to get below 205 pounds, meaning I have to continue trending downward in weight before I can have another free day. So there is a potent incentive to stay on track, notwithstanding the 24 hours of unbridled gustatory hedonism.

Leave a comment or a question in the COMMENTS section below and I'll be happy to answer ASAP.


Live in the Now

It's common sense...but good luck trying to convince your pesky mind of this. The only reality that matters is RIGHT NOW.

The past already happened and can't be undone. Regretting past actions or feeling sad about things that happened to you in the past creates negative energy that subtracts from the positivity of the present moment and depletes your human potential in proportion to how much you dwell on past negativity. We humans tend to focus on past bad or sad things and often take past happiness and success for granted. The latter things can't be changed either, but when you are stuck on past negativity, a possible solution is to redirect your focus on something good from the past and use that to guide your present actions. Taken to the extreme, obsessing on past negativity leads to sadness and depression in the now, but that is counterproductive to moving forward in a positive direction and can lead to stagnation and failure to grow and progress as a human. Given that the past cannot be changed in reality, you have within you the power to change how it affects you in the now by using your brain to limit negative thoughts and focus on positive ones.

Exercise: When you catch yourself having a sad thought or a regret from the past, take a moment to reflect on something good that happened instead and embrace that positive energy.

The future hasn't happened yet and even the best minds can't predict with 100% accuracy what will happen. Worry about worst case scenarios or fear of failure in the future is counterproductive to actualizing the future you want. Worst case scenarios seldom occur. No one wakes up in the morning and says, "I am going to make bad choices today and eff up my future." Everyone wants good things to happen in the future. The best way to achieve this is not to think about bad or negative future outcomes, but rather to visualize the best case scenarios and positive outcomes. If you don't already have one, begin to picture a vision for a future that would make you happy. You cannot predict the future in reality, but you can visualize it in your mind. You have that power, and having a solid vision for a positive future can guide your current actions in the direction of that future. You can periodically assess your current actions and situation against the vision and make small, actionable adjustments to steer you on the right path to future positive happenings.

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on the couch and meditate for 15 minutes (set a timer if you have to). Direct your thoughts toward a positive vision for your future, and picture yourself in that future. It doesn't have to be realistic, but it should be a future you want for yourself. The goal here is not to set unachievable expectations for yourself, but rather to orient your present being in the general direction of that future reality. Your mind will generate a magnetic pole based on that future vision and cause the present to orient toward it like iron filings to a magnet. Repeat this exercise daily or as often as you like. Over the next few days or weeks, you may be surprised how much progress you make toward your envisioned future.