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Posts from the ‘Health/Fitness’ Category

Failure – Now what?

via flickr user jontunn

I had an interesting experience a few months back. I utterly and completely failed at something. Luckily the consequences have been minor… I started competing in something called the Crossfit Games Open, which is an international competition designed to find the fittest men and women on the planet. Big surprise, I’m not the guy they’re looking for.

A little back story on the competition.

In the Crossfit Games Open, each competitor needs to complete a certain workout and submit their scores online. Their scores are validated by judges watching the workout and everyone is ranked on a giant list. When you post your score you can see exactly how many people are better than you. Great!

I did the first two workouts, and posted my scores. I wasn’t doing great, but I was hanging in there in the bottom third of competitors. Life was good. I was having a good time, and I was able to sooth my competitive drive by reminding myself that even though I wasn’t the best, I wasn’t the worst either. That is, until the third workout came up. It was incredibly simple, only one exercise, done as many times as possible in 5 minutes. Unfortunately that one exercise was a 165 pound squat clean and jerk.

I can’t do a clean and jerk with that weight. Not a single one. And it’s not something I can really “work on” either. I have pretty good technique, and enough strength to get the bar up and off the ground and onto my shoulders, but my legs and back (mostly back) simply aren’t strong enough to front squat that weight. So what did I do? Started a timer and for five minutes I tried repeatedly to clean and squat that weight… my goal was 1… just do 1 rep…

I failed.

I tried to submit my score of 0 to the website… to which they responded “sorry, you can’t do that”. So not only did I fail, but I was so much of a failure that I wasn’t even given the chance to tell the world about my failure. No one was interested.

It was a pretty disappointing saturday. I took myself out to breakfast at the local diner and while I was sitting there realized that based on my original criteria of success I had failed, but viewed through the lens of history I had actually achieved something that morning. I had on my list of fitness goals for a while to be able to clean my bodyweight. I weigh 155, and in cleaning 165 pounds from the ground to my shoulders, even though I hadn’t finished the squat part of the workout I had done something I had never done before. I also got to add another item to my list of personal goals. It’s still sitting there today, taunting me. But I’m going to hit the Olympic Weight Lifting class at the gym today and see if I can’t chip away at that goal a little bit more.

Hat tip to Nerd Fitness for blogging about failure and helping motivate me to finally finish this post.

Tipping the other hat to Seth Godin, with more info on dealing with failure.

Sometimes time = energy

via flickr user janie.hernandez55

I’ve been struggling to find time to blog recently… at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. Turns out what I’ve really been lacking is energy. I’ve had the time to write, but whenever a slot opened up in my day I would whittle away the time on a number of distractions instead of digging in and writing something.

I’ve recently had a surge of energy and I’m hoping it sticks around. How am I going to do that? Here’s my short list:

  1. Get adequate sleep, 8 hours, every night
  2. Avoid insulin spikes (aka, anything heavily processed, sugary, or starchy)
  3. Get exercise
  4. Don’t overdo the exercise
  5. Go outside
  6. Have some fun, play some games
  7. Stay connected with friends

The Ever Expanding Free-time Myth

I was cruising through some old notes about blog post ideas and I hit on this one… this article is so much more poignant now that I’ve procrastinated it into October.

Researchers have found that humans are very bad at predicting “resource slack.” When asked to guess how much money and time they’ll have in the future, they accurately predict that their financial situation will remain relatively the same, but they think that their free time will expand.

via The Art of Manliness

I think this should serve as a call to action. Let’s not squander the free time we have today. We think that by pushing something off until tomorrow we are only delaying it, not fully realizing that the decision to put something off until tomorrow may be putting it off forever. You’ll never take that big road trip if you don’t start planning your stops and e-mailing your buddies to line up your schedules, you won’t have any more time to do it next month.

The other way to view this is as a call to enjoy and appreciate the free time that we have now. Things aren’t going to get simpler, up until that grand retirement. If we want more time to pursue our true interests we are going to need to find ways to make use of the time we have now.

  1. Disconnect the Cable to get back the night hours
  2. Find ways to carpool or take mass transit so you can get some thinking done on the way in to work.
  3. Skip the stationary bike, start biking to work.

I forget where I heard the following advise, but it rang true when I did and it’s stuck with me since. There was a very prolific artist who said the best way she was able to launch new projects was by using the gap time she had available in any given day. Instead of reading an RSS feed, or playing a game on her iPhone, she would use that gap time to work on a project she was trying to get off the ground. By making that effort over a few months she was able to make steady progress until eventually the gap time became the full time, and new projects would need to back fill into that new gap time.

Couch to Cavemen

Most that know me know that I’ve been eating a somewhat unconventional diet for the last few years. I was introduced to this diet by the good folks at Crossfit Seattle as part of their “Leaning” challenges. Twice a year (once in the fall and once in the spring) they encourage their members to participate in a 2 month long diet challenge where members all take before and after picture, pay 30 dollars into a community pot, and for 2 month submit their food logs for review by the trainers at the gym. At the end of the 2 months, the trainers pick the top 5 men and women they think have improved their body and eating habits. The contest ends with a potluck where the participants in the challenge vote for the top man and women and the winners split the pot.

I figured that I get asked often enough about my diet that giving a little synopsis and linking to a few resources would be a handy reference to have around.

When I first went to a nutrition lecture at Crossfit Seattle, most of the material seemed to come from Robb Wolf, one of the original promoters of the Paleo/Primal diet. He used to work out with Dave Wenger when Crossfit Seattle was the first Crossfit affiliate (Crossfit North). He’s since had a falling out with the crossfit community, but I still follow his podcast and blog and he recently posted a good outline of what it means to eat a paleo diet.

Mark Sisson blogs at and is an advocate for a primal lifestyle. Mark takes a slightly different but very compatible approach to the Paleo diet. Mark also supplements his blog with great posts about how to best express our uniquely human genes. From encouraging barefoot running, to tricks to improve sleep, to encouraging a playful approach to life. Mark takes the Paleo diet one step further and explore how our ancestors often lived their life and how we can learn from their examples to live more fulfilled and enjoyable lives. His posts are always well researched and thorough.

Both of these sites have been very instrumental in helping me to modify my lifestyle from a primarily sedentary one to a life that is more balanced and ultimately fulfilling to me.

Another resource that I’ve recently started following is Nerd Fitness. Steve has done a good job of approaching fitness from a “nerd” perspective, speaking to those of us that grew up playing video games and reading science fiction (sheepishly raises own hand). Steve also takes things outside of the purely fitness domain and looks to explore how we can live more fulfilled lives by approaching them like a the video games that many of us grew up playing. Trying to look at life like a series of “Achievements” and “Levels” can help tap into the same motivation that encourages an adult to spend 40 hours over a weekend playing World of Warcraft.

These are just a few of the resources I’ve been using to keep motivated in the health and fitness world. Between those sites for informational purposes and to get ideas about new things to try and watching the super fit folks competing at the crossfit games, and ultimate highlight videos on vimeo, I’ve got some enough resources and inspirational material to keep myself in shape and moving well into my forties.