Saturday, January 5, 2019

Making myself smarter - the 2019 reading experiment.

One of my goals for this year (and probably appropriate for the rest of my life) is to continue to get smarter. Either a derivative of this goal or perhaps a complement to this goal - I don't know which because I'm not that smart - is to not get dumber. Either way I look at it, I've got to do something to make this happen. It won't happen automagically.

So, I've decided to read. I've set a goal is to read a book a week, at least 52 for the year. Luckily I got some good book recommendations from a Facebook post where I asked for help. I also got a bunch of books as gifts for Christmas.  So, I have a queue of quality reading material to get through. Once I get through the queue I'll either buy some, get others from the library, and some I'll borrow.

Very few will be electronic books. I read old school bound words on paper. I am somewhat flexible in hardcover vs. softcover but a side effect of this goal is that I'll be looking at my phone less than before. Reading should expose me to more diverse thought as compared to reading the same stuff over and over on the phone.

I'll update this post with every book that I read. Here is the completed list:

1) The Autobiography of Malcolm X - as told to Alex Haley. Completed 1/2


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Accountability

On twitter the other day, I read a thread by Ali Yahya (twitter handle @ali01) where he described how he was inspired by Benjamin Franklin (no twitter handle) to manage a set of "virtues" on a daily basis. Franklin's virtues originally included Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, and Independence and were managed by tracking with red ink in a book. Over time, Franklin added virtues to track, ultimately ending with 13.

@ali01 modified this slightly. He called them habits rather than virtues. He tracked via a spreadsheet rather than via ink and paper. He started with four habits: sleep well, exercise, meditate, and update his habit list. In order to improve on something, it has to be a priority and have focus. There cannot be too many "habits" tracked, otherwise it this process will diminish them all. Even so, he has added to this list over time, managing 16 habits currently. He believes this has changed his life and helped make him who he is today, personally and professionally.

I've decided to do my own RockStarTri derivative of this. I'm going to start with my resolution themes: 1) Making myself smarter; 2) Improving my weight and body composition; 3) Continuing my Athletic transformation; and 4) Becoming a better person. I've realized this these aren't really goal oriented but more process oriented which is new for me. I expect to add sub categories to each habit  to help track progress, and perhaps add more habits to track.

One additional habit may be to update status via the blog but I haven't finalized this. Stay tuned. 


Saturday, December 29, 2018

2019 Resolutions

The overall theme of 2019 is that MrsRockstar and I are going to focus on ourselves more than we have in the past. I've been trying to put together some ideas on some resolutions for 2019 that I can actually help me become a better me.They fall into the following categories:

1. Making myself smarter via reading

2. Improving my weight and body composition

3. Continuing my athletic transformation.

4. Becoming a better person.

5. Regularly tracking my progress (or lack thereof) against these goals.


That's it. More details will come in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.



Sunday, June 17, 2018

Life Goals

1) My friend Guido recently posted on Facebook that through diet and exercise he was able to eliminate all prescription drugs from his life. I don't know where he started but I currently take 7 prescription drugs. The life goal is to get to zero but let's shoot to reduce 2 in a year.

2) I'm fat at BMI = 42. I need to get unfat. Unfat is a BMI of 30 - for someone 6'2" that means 234 lbs. If I can get halfway in a year, BMI=36, 280 pounds, that would be good progress.

3) I can't lose weight at the expense of muscle. Need a stat to measure.

4) I need to get in shape (see number 3). Disney half in Jan19, StA in Apr19.

5) Fit into 2xl clothes and some XL. The 2XL are often too tight.

6) Need to find something to engage my brain.

7) Need to gain flexibility. A good goal would be to be able to touch my toes. Haven't been able to do that since high school.

8) Need to sleep through the night.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A life update


I officially retired from my work career in May of 2016. I was young to retire. Many thought I was so driven at work that there was no way that I could stop playing that game especially in the context that I generally played it well.  Many considered my retiring some sort of a ploy and figured I'd reappear at some other firm quickly.  My over/under was 6 months. Everyone else's was shorter.

The reality was that I was burned out. My health was crap. I lost any semblance of a work/life balance. I was not nice to be around and I wasn't performing at the standards that I expected of myself. In almost everything.

Since then I've been keeping busy with various projects but my focus has been simplifying my life, trying to avoid drama, getting my health under control, and dealing with the noise that otherwise can't be avoided while trying to live a life worth living. I did introduce some complexity by trying to relocate to the South but mostly I've been concentrating on the present.

I don't miss work. I've become mellower and less stressed (although my family will quickly interject that I still have my moments).  To paraphrase the great Chico Escuela "Retirement has been berry beery good for me.

I've decided to dust off the blog to chronicle what I do miss and what I'm going to do about it.

Stay tuned.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Resolution Ramblings

In this season of resolutions, three articles that I read earlier today seem to be having an impact on how I hope to think. Here is what I read and what my mind turned it into.

The first article by Mark Manson talked about how establishing habits can be more productive that setting goals. Goals, if done right, should be hard and are not always accomplished. Habits, while also hard, can be "keystone habit" which the author describes as habits that, once adopted, will reverberate into other areas of your life. These habit make acquiring other desirable habits more natural and require less effort. I let you read through this article from the link and rejoin this when done.

Welcome back.

The next article, while using many different themes, talked about what I interpreted as a candidate list for keystone habits. I edited the list down to 4 pillars to be done every day; exercise, cook. read and write ( I left out a few of the others mentioned but that is how I roll). I can't find the original article as it had more of an impact after I read it than when I was actually reading it. If I find the link, I'll update this post.

One of the themes throughout this recent reading journey was that, at the beginning, it is better just to do some each day rather than to get a big ass hairy goal (like an ironman, HA!!) and see where that leads. So I am exercising every day (2 days in a row),  will strive to cook rather an eat out as much as I do (Mrs Rockstar cooking counts too), and will write on this blog more frequently although only a rare sample of my writing will make the cut of being advertised via social media. As to what to read, I picked a book off from this article and a different book off another list of books that a well rounded person should read in their life. So, first up is David Sedaris' 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' and 'The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money' by Carl Richards.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

What were the most significant days in your life?

On this upcoming 15th anniversary of 9/11/01, my mind was wandering around the concept of the top days of one's life. The context is often when people being interviewed say something along the lines of "after the day of the birth of my children, today is the mos important day in my life. Some people keep a top 10 day of life list. Some are days that something good happened, some days something bad. I decided to give it a try:

1) The day I married my wife. (GOOD)
2-3) The days that my two children were born. (GOOD)
4) 9/11/01 - I had a 10am meeting in WTC, I never made it. My professional career changed significantly. (BAD)
5) 11/5/11 - the day I completed my first and only(so far) ironman. (GOOD)
6) 7/25/92 - Christmas in July. The day my then girlfriend agreed to become my wife-to-be by saying yes. (GOOD)
7) 9/15/08 - The death of Lehman Brothers. (BAD)
8) 9/8/09 - The day I lost a bike vs. car collision . (BAD)
9) A private bad day so bad that I won't discuss and will never on social media. (BAD)
10) 2/15/1990 - the day of my back surgery. (GOOD and BAD)

There are more good than bad but I think my quest needs to be to replace the existing bad with better goods.

Do you keep a list?


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What Type of Eyes Do You Have?

Last weekend I got up early (for me) to go for my "sweat-once-a-day" walk before the current heatwave made my day too uncomfortable. Rather than go to a track or a trail or some other  "official" running venue, I decided a better route would be to wander around the few roads of my neighborhood. I left my house at 6am.

Let me describe the geography a bit to put some of this into context. I live on a dead end street. It dead-ends into a county park which focuses on a 1800s era restoration village. They recently added a museum. There are only three streets in my neighborhood with a total of about 30 houses.

This county park was hosting a Tough Mudder last weekend (why a restoration village was hosting a Tough Mudder was fodder for many of the local newspapers so I won't go into that here). There was no athlete parking at the facility, instead the athlete's parked a few miles away with bus transport to the race site. Several enterprising athletes (and their support teams) decided a better option was to park as close as possible to the venue and walk it in. Since the closest place to park was my street, at 6am there was a traffic jam on my block with some athletes trying to park and others heading to the site. I decided to join those athletes and walk to the site as my daily walk.

Surrounded by athletes on their way to the race site, I initially felt a little like a poseur. I looked at the folks walking with me. I noticed and recognized the look in their eyes.

A guy who worked with me once said that people had one of two types of eyes and you can tell a lot about their personality based on which type of eyes they had. The first type of eyes are typical of raptors, they are focused ahead, on prey, and are ready to be aggressive. The animals with these type of eyes are ready to attack. The second type of eyes are the opposite. This second type of eyes is typical of bunny rabbits, large, constantly looking behind them, passive, yet ready to flee. Animals with these eyes are defensive.

Many of the athletes had raptor eyes, A few had bunny eyes. I used to have raptor eyes. Now, I don't know.

This reminded me of Rocky III and the "Eye of the Tiger." Apollo's speech (edited a bit) was:

"You lost your edge. All right, you were all messed up in but the truth is you didn’t look hungry. You had that eye of the tiger, man, the edge. And now you gotta get it back, and the way to get it back is to go back to the beginning. You know what I mean?"

I know what he means.

What kind of eyes do you have?








Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sweat once a day.

Earlier this week, Ironman announced a 70.3 will be held at the iconic Lake Placid Ironman venue. The 70.3 would route the athletes through one lap of each of the full's 2 lap per discipline's course, a true Half. I've never raced Placid but have been there for a few structured and unstructured training camps. Sign ups for the half are this September with the race a year later in September 2017. This announcement intrigued me.

I realized that, even at one lap, this course is the wrong course for me and even more so, I am so out of shape that there would be no hope for my success in 2017. Many of the triathletes in the Long Island area are excited for this race. I'm guessing that many would be looking for training groups and if I could latch onto a group, even if I didn't succeed at training for LP70.3, I would improve to the point where maybe a 2018 HIM would be a realistic goal. That may of may not be Placid but I called my former coach for his view.

He agreed. "If  you want to climb a hill, don't start with Everest." I asked how would I know if I was ready to begin training. We talked a bit and agreed upon a training structure of "sweat once a day."

This means every day I should either bike easily for an hour, walk easily for >20 minutes, or swim >30 minutes. He asked to post the workouts and he would respond with occasional snide comments.

We'll checkpoint in a month or so.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What makes a good day?

I've been trying to come up with some sort of rubric to define a good day vs. a bad day to make it more objective than subjective. Here is what I'm going to use for a while (until I need to adjust):

Food:
- Calories as measured by livestrong. Under 2000=pass, 2000-2500=push, over 2500 fail.
- Carbs as measured by Livestrong - Under 100g=pass, 101-150=push, over 151=fail.

exercise:
- Stretching. 2 sessions=pass, 1 session=push, 0 sessions=fail.
- Workout. > 1 per day=pass, 0=fail.
-Fitbit Steps. 0-5000=fail, >5001=pass.

Will measure the next week and see what this translates into. As of now for today I have 2 pass, 1 push, and 2 fails but have some time before I go to bed.