Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Way Forward

Like many Americans, I did not feel good about voting this year.

So, I decided to sign up on Represent.Us and volunteer to begin a chapter in Topeka. The entire goal of this organization is to bypass Congress (which is possible) to enact laws that will make corruption illegal.

If there is one thing that we know from being human, is that nobody should be responsible for regulating themselves. We should all be accountable to someone. Congress needs to be accountable to us.

It is possible, albeit a little tricky. It involves informing people, petitioning, and getting things on the ballot. And then it involves battling the big money campaigns that will inevitably attack such ballot measures. Getting a solid base of members that are educated enough to ignore these campaigns is one of the biggest challenges.

It is happening, though. All over the country. There was a big win during this election cycle that was overshadowed by the presidential election, and that was an Anti-Corruption Act was passed state-wide throughout South Dakota.

The simplest thing you can do is browse the sight, and sign up as a member. Read the emails they send you and stay informed of what is going on. Learn a little about it and talk about it with friends and family. Become a member of your local chapter if you have one.

Learn about the problem!  Watch some of the videos on the Represent.US site.  Read books like Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy by Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer-And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob S. Hacker & Paul Pierson, and Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress-And a Plan to Stop It by Lawrence Lessig.

These may sound like depressing books, but they end on good notes. They end with hope. They motivate. Take some time to learn a little more by watching this TED Talk by Lawrence Lessig.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Living Primal

On our East Coast Extravaganza, I told Erin that I was ready to commit to any kind of diet that she wanted to go on. I was heavy, low energy, and wanting to change something.  

She first started us out on a three-week body transformation. The goal was to transform us from carb burning vessels into fat burning vessels.  It was similar to, but not exactly like Mark Sisson's 21-Day Transformation. Mark's Primal Blueprint philosophy was what we eventually adopted. 

At first, I didn't think it would be something sustainable. I was skeptical, just like I am of any diet program. How do you make something a lifestyle rather than just a diet?  Since 2009, I've simply been on a rollercoaster of going back and forth from overweight to normal, overweight to normal. I would like something that eliminates the roller coaster and keeps me at a normal weight. 

And I think I've found it. 

Time still has to dictate whether this will work in the long run, but I have high hopes. There are a lot of things that you have to give up living a Primal Blueprint lifestyle. Grains are the toughest. As skeptical as you may be about giving up grains, when you read the science behind what grains do to our bodies and learn about our diets from an evolutionary biological standpoint, and then feel the difference in energy and hunger levels, it is easier than you think to remove grains from your diet. 

And what is great, is that it doesn't have to be for good.  As long as you stick with the diet 80% of the time, you will lose and/or maintain a healthy weight.  Anything that doesn't assume and allow a little cheating now and then will simply not work. As James Crumley said, "never trust a man who doesn't drink." 

We arrived home from our trip at the end of June. It has now been 4 months since we got back. Here is a snapshot of my weight logging app, Libra. 

The Primal Blueprint may not be right for you. Here are some things I like about it that you should try and find in any kind of diet and/or workout plan.
  • It should not depend on purchasing THEIR product. Selling products is okay. After all, the people behind all of these diets are making this philosophy their life's work, so they have to make an income. 
  • It should be a lifestyle, not just a diet program or just an exercise program. 
  • There should be a lot of research done (look for a thick bibliography). 
  • After a month of practicing the lifestyle, you should KNOW whether it is something you can stick with. Ask yourself...
  • While in the losing stage, is it near effortless? While it the maintaining stage, it it completely effortless? Do you have more energy as a result? Are you sleeping better?  Are you less gassy and/or bloated? Was the health screening looking top notch (or better than it was)? (All of these should be answered with yes. Otherwise, find something else).  
What has really changed in my life is the way I work out. After reading the Primal Blueprint and browsing Primal Endurance, which delves in to more detail of the exercise portion of the Blueprint, I found out that my own workouts were not sustainable. It made sense, as I've noticed I have to change things up every so often as I get burned out.  

I quit running in 2014 because I hated it. Now, it is back on the list of things I do again, because I'm not destroying my body doing it anymore. 

I started CrossFit style workouts earlier this year, but had to back off of these intense style workouts.  I have still maintained some of the CrossFit philosophy of changing up workouts almost every time I go to the gym, but now the intense ones are much less frequent.  I found out that these types of "sprint" style workouts should only be done once every 7-10 days.  All your workouts in between shouldn't get your heart rate above 0.75*(210-age).   

That is really easy to do exertion wise, but really hard to do mentally. It feels like you're going to tip over on a bike. It feels like you're walking instead of jogging. But the benefits are amazing. There is an amazing science here that you are privy to. You just need to check it out from your local library. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving at Work

Givers, matchers, and takers make up this world. Which are you?

Adam Grant, in his 2014 book, "Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success", describes these three types of people. It has been a fantastic read so far, and I have already begun looking for more ways that I can be a giver in my life. 

Washburn University has Employee Wellness Program Incentives separated into three Tiers.  At Truman, I was able to enjoy the rec center at no cost. It was free for faculty. Although it can still be free at Washburn, it isn't until you go through a 3 Tiered process.  

The first of these Tiers is simply to schedule a health screening and have blood drawn.  The next two are a little more activity based and require you to complete 6 different activities.  For example, in this Tier 2 Wellness Action Sheet, you can check off the third box by nominating someone for the Living Well at Washburn Award.

Who do I know that lives well at Washburn? My mentor and friend, John! That's who!

  • He has lost around 25 pounds this year by sticking with a Whole 30 diet. 
  • He and his wife Melanie, while visiting Taos, NM this summer, hiked along the Rio Grande Gorge. John, by himself, hiked Mt. Wheeler a couple times. 
  • For 2016, he is getting close to biking 2016 miles.  Whether he makes this goal or not, he has definitely biked over 1500 miles, and that is a pretty awesome year of biking. 
  • John and Melanie cook amazing meals in their spectacular kitchen. Erin and I were fortunate enough to have dinner at their place with them one Friday evening. 
What an easy way to give at work. There are awards galore at Universities and the workplace. I'll admit, that up until reading about givers and takers and how that relates to me, I have always looked through awards for the ones that I could win, and wondered what I would have to do to get one. This is a "taker" type of mindset, and I'm glad I never acted on this self-serving behavior. 

When those emails come to my inbox informing me of awards on campus and asking for nominations, I will now give them pause. What an easy way to be a giver in the workplace, by thinking of someone who you believe deserves it, and taking a few moments to write up a nomination!  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Quitting Facebook

Two days after the election, I decided to quit Facebook. I went through the motions of quitting Facebook about a week prior, but couldn't push the button to deactivate. Facebook actually makes it difficult, by informing you of all that you will be missing out on and not have access to if you decide to deactivate. During the process of deactivation, they do a wonderful job of asking "Are you REALLY sure you want to do this?"

What they aren't good about, is informing you of the freedom that will come.

It took the election for me to recognize that Facebook is worse than Fox News. It allows post-truth politics to propagate unchecked. This played a huge part in getting a racist and misogynist elected president. Soon after quitting, I began seeing the headlines about this concern.

Since quitting, I have realized that it was an addiction for me, and it was something I needed to quit. It has only been 10 days now, and I still catch myself thinking in terms of postable experiences throughout my day. I'm ashamed of myself.

Here are some pros and cons I've thought about:


  • The next time many of my friends and family see me, they'll be a little more excited to see me and hear about what I've been up to. It will genuinely feel like a lot of time has passed since we've seen each other, and we will actually have something to talk about and catch up on. I'm saving all of my 'postable' moments for when we next get together.  We'll actually have to talk and stuff because we won't be able to say, "Oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook."
  • I have now escaped this world of enabling and promoting a "fitting in" type of attitude. Brene Brown, in her book "Daring Greatly" describes the difference between fitting in and belonging. Facebook seems to me as an ultimate competition of getting likes, laughs, and loves, all which equate to some superficial fitting in. I'm tired of this game, and I'm ready to belong somewhere. That somewhere is not on Facebook.  
  • My phone stays charged all day now.
  • I spend much less time on my smartphone now. This means more time for productivity. I've noticed this in a huge way. 
  • I have been forced to reach out and communicate in ways I feel are more fruitful and expressive. 
  • Not everyone is on Facebook (including me now), so I when I organize events, I will be sensitive to this idea and not just discount or not invite people that are not on Facebook since, dammit, they should have been if they wanted to be invited to this event.  And even if they are on Facebook, sometimes they don't check it all the time. 
  • I can now converse with people more easily. I have things to talk about. I can begin to decrease the frequency of the word "Facebook" in my conversation. No longer will I say, "Oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook" or "You may have seen this on Facebook, but..."  No longer will I be interrupted by individuals with "I saw your post about that on Facebook."  
  • Freedom. Sweet, pure, freedom. 
  • I'll miss out on many significant life events of my closest friends at the time they are happening. I will have to wait until they share it with me through some other avenue or simply wait until we see each other again. 
  • Facebook seems to be one of the primary ways to organize group events. I'll miss out on group discussions happening in brewing clubs, softball groups, poker groups, etc. 
  • Facebook was a great place to store and organize photos. 
  • Facebook made it easy to invite a crapload of people to events as long as they were on Facebook. 
  • There are more cons, but I'm biased in my decision to quit Facebook, so I'm going to quit trying to think of them. 
Quitting Facebook is extreme, I get it. It is not necessary for many people that aren't addicted like I was. Many Facebook users have much better control than I did, and don't need to go to this extreme.