Catch My Breath

The July Project: Day 11

Once in a while you might have a day when nothing goes quite right,

and all your best-laid plans fall flat,

and you’re tired because you haven’t had enough sleep all week,

and you have a million things to do,
but everything takes longer than you thought it would,

and distractions keep cropping up,

and in your panic to get something accomplished, you relax the rules, you try to quiet the sense of panic by stuffing yourself full of snacks,

and you know you’re doing it,
but you’re in that bruised mood where you can’t be bothered to care,

and then you force yourself back to banging away on tasks that refuse to yield an inch of progress,

and finally,

finally,

finally it’s late enough in the afternoon to say, “Screw it, I’m going to the park, at least I’ll get some exercise,”

and you think to yourself for about the thousandth time:

If you can’t do everything, you can at least do something.

You Can Make Up Rules, Too

The July Project: Day 9

A few days ago, I mentioned the rules of the exercise game that I’ve been playing:

Rule #1: Do something every day.
Rule #2: Everything counts.

On Wednesday, someone who’s been reading this blog lately said to me, “I just can’t exercise every day.”

I replied, “I’m not saying that you should …[MORE]

Birds of a Feather, Part I: Small Moments of Contagious Happiness

The July Project: Day 8

Someone once told me, “Happy and successful people tend to be surrounded by other happy and successful people.” If we assume for a moment that it’s true, what are the implications? If you don’t find yourself in the company of people who are thriving, how are you supposed to get ahead?

  1. Trade in your friends for new, better ones.
  2. Keep your friends, but add a few higher-quality ones to raise the average.
  3. Concentrate on what you can do to improve your own life.
  4. Leverage your happiness and success by focusing on the well-being of the people around you.

It seems that answers C and D might be two sides of the same coin …[MORE]

I’d Like My Meal for Here…and to Go!

The July Project: Day 7

Nearly a week, and all I’ve managed to talk about so far is exercise. Diet is a more difficult subject to approach. Food means a lot more than sustenance, more than just the source of energy to keep the body running. Food is laden with emotional context.

We’ll come back to that context another day. Today, I’ll ease into the topic with one of the simplest weight-loss tips I can offer.

Do you eat in restaurants? I love to dine out, but restaurant portions are out of control. Restaurants seem to be engaged in a competition to see who can pile the most food on a plate. I’ve never worked in restaurant management, but I can only suppose that an economy of scale is at work here …[MORE]

A Brief Meditation on the Need for Patience

The July Project: Day 4

Turtle

Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get fit overnight. You spent years getting out of shape, right? It might take a few years of good habits to reverse the damage. Be patient. You’ve got time.

When you feel impatient, say to yourself: “I’m healthier today than I was yesterday.” Repeat as needed for a sufficient number of years.

The T-shirts Were Right All Along

The July Project: Day 2

I see T‑shirts with slogans like “Softball is life,” “Rugby is life,” “Shark-diving is life,” and so on. I used to find them stupid and arrogant. What the heck is that even supposed to mean: softball is life? Obviously, there’s a lot more to life than softball.

Hockey is lifeGotta have it? Go ahead and click. I won’t tell.

Then I found my own exercise passion: walking. It didn’t turn into an obsession overnight, and I never felt compelled to rush out and buy a walking is life T‑shirt. But I got hooked on it.

And over the course of several years, I discovered the wisdom of the T‑shirts …[MORE]

Now Is a Good Time to Start

The July Project: Day 1

I like to take on a new self-improvement project or two every month. I pick some part of my life that needs work, and then I try to give it time and attention every day. This week, as the first half of 2010 came to an end, I got the idea of collecting my favorite ideas about diet and exercise—a draft owner’s manual for my body, a reference I can turn to when I’m struggling to lose one more pound. Maybe someone else would like to read it, too.

I’ve lost about a hundred pounds in the last six or seven years. When people ask me how I’ve done it, I don’t like to give them the simple formula …[MORE]

I Should Never Ever Take a Day Off

One of my daily routines—and a stated goal of my “projects” for the last four months—is to write at least 3,000 words per day. I started this practice almost two years ago. Usually, most of the 3,000 words are taken up by stream-of-consciousness blather, rants, and what I’d call verbal sketching—writing down what I might say if I were going to write about something in a serious manner.

Writing 3,000 words usually requires two periods of about 25 minutes each. I try to get through the first one before I do any other work each day and the second some time after dinner. Sometimes the “3,000-Word Initiative” (or 3kWI) exercises yield blog posts …[MORE]

You Could Be Here a While

Last weekend I told some friends about the work of Aubrey de Grey, gerontologist and chief science officer of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Foundation. Dr. de Grey speculates that we’re eventually going to cure the causes of aging and that some day humans will live to be a thousand years old. That notion always gets me thinking about a question I find intriguing: How would you live your life differently if you knew you had another thousand years to live?

Let me put it another way: How would you treat your body if you knew it had to last another thousand years? Would you quit smoking? Would you be more careful about what you eat? …[MORE]

Give Up the Game, or Change the Rules?

In some of her workshops, my friend and sometime coach Mattison Grey has offered a theory that everyone is about either fame, money, or winning, and that making this distinction can help you figure out how to help people get what they want.

I don’t know whether that idea holds water for everybody. I can’t speak for people who are about money or fame, and it seems to me that there might be all kinds of other things to be about—love, pleasure, or security, for instance. But as Mattison explained it to me, since my orientation is toward winning, the way for me to reach any goal I’ve set is to turn it into a game I can win …[MORE]