The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness

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My husband drives me crazy. He never writes anything down. Not a single reminder. Not even a note in his phone. He laughs at all my list making. So what.

The Secret to Achieving Your Goals

Now, I imagine if you are reading this, the headline got you and you are looking to achieve something great. Weight loss? More money? Better relationships? Peace of mind? Whatever you are attempting to get better at, it helps to set goals. Here is the formula I found works for anything I want to achieve and it is a mash up of some of the best advice and tips from experts throughout history on how to go about setting and achieving goals. 

Scientific behavioral studies at Harvard have proven that those who WRITE down their SPECIFIC and ACHIEVABLE goals increase their chances 10 fold.   I add that WRITING and SPEAKING your goals OUT LOUD with emotion each day in the morning (and maybe in the evening too) increases your success even further.

It’s simple, it’s easy and here is how it works.

STEP 1. SET PRECISE and MEASURABLE goals that you are CONFIDENT that you can achieve.

For example: I want to lose five (5) pounds by Thanksgiving, November 25, 2015.

body weight

I found this free Body Weight Planner recommended by Shape Magazine and developed  by the National Institute for Health with the help of Dr. Kevin Hall’s research group for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to better understand how diet and exercise quantitatively contribute to weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

According to this calculator, I’ll achieve this measurable goal if I walk/hike and run at a moderate jogging pace for 60 minutes a day seven (7) days a week consuming no more than 1,955 calories a day. I calculate this is a loss of .75 (3/4) of a pound a week.

STEP 2.WRITE them down on paper (or in your phone) and keep them in CLEAR site. READ the goal OUT LOUD each morning.

Me in the mirror every morning:

I will be 123 pounds by Thanksgiving in 48 days by following these easy steps to achieve this weight. I will practice self-discipline and design my days around achieving this goal. Relentlessly.

STEP 3.BREAK down the goal and REMOVE all obstacles involved in the process of achieving it.

Each Bite Counts

Each day, I commit to counting calories – the LoseIt App is wonderful for this, as is the FitBit calorie tracker. You can also use a note book. Here are 5 great calorie counting sites/apps that you might want to try. I will jot down what I ate or take a photo of what I ate to calculate my calorie intake every day.

What if it’s raining?

How will I make SURE that I get in a 60 minute moderate run/hike each day? What if it rains and I can’t go outside? Will I go to the gym? Do I have a way of doing this at home in the house?  Will I ask a friend to hold me accountable? Will I get it out of the way every morning? What if I am traveling?

Have a PLAN to REMOVE every obstacle.

No more chips. Damn.

I eliminate all refined carbohydrates from my daily meals. No breads, crackers, chips, cookies, etc. I will try to each a very healthy, plant-based meal with protein three (3) times a day and limit by alcohol to 1 glass of white wine. I will consume no more than 1,955 calories a day.

STEP 4.READ your goal OUT LOUD every morning and include HOW you will FEEL when you achieve your GOAL.

Me, in my head all day long:

I will look and feel amazing in my jeans, feel lighter on my feet and freer and more energetic. All that movement will also help me feel less anxious and healthier at 123 lbs.

Inspired by Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance

You can do this four step process with anything you want to achieve, including making new friends, getting a raise, building a business, whatever. The secret is a mindful attention with intention and focus on your goal.

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Visit Jason’s website here

This gem of a book by Napoleon Hill  Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller – Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

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And the book that inspired me to lose 25 lbs last year.

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

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Training and Tracking the Quality of Your Time

A sudden and shocking moment of realization came upon me the other day as I was listening to one too many self-help podcasts. The moment when a voice inside of head said, Why, Madeline, this is all starting to sound, well, a bit ridiculously redundant. You my dear, are swimming in a deep-blue sea of self-motivation sameness.

It took me less than two minutes to figure out that I needed a mid-course correction.  Just how many hours was I was spending trying to fix what isn’t broken? Pattern interrupt once again. I had to track my trance of non-productive learning. So I downloaded ATracker, by Wonderapps.se (.se is Sweden)

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I actually do get more than 1.5 hours of sleep, but this pie chart is for today only. And look at all that commuting/driving time spend today. Ugh.

I am still learning how to work this baby, and I am not sure it is the best time tracker, so if you are using one you love, please send recommendations my way. I am totally open.

Quality over Quantity while Upgrading My Time

The goal in this little self-experiment is to not only figure out how much time I am wasting, but to look at how I can jack up the quality of each minute of my life. I want to upgrade it all, the books I am reading, videos I’m watching and how I am training my body.

trxWhich got me thinking about how much I hate my dirty old gym and how I want to try new methods of training. I am stoked about TRX Suspension Training at Covert Fitness along with two to three days of Spinning instead of just the weekends. I am also going to test out a few Streaming Fitness Videos.

The Daily Burn has a 30-day free trial that I am going to sign up for and Shape Magazine has this link to 13 Killer Streaming Videos I just wish there were more hours in a day. Oh but how little time we have.

Seneca on Time

Who can you show me, who places any value on his time, evaluates the worth of his day, and who understands that he is dying daily?   

Read more stoic philosophy here

On the Shortness of Life (Penguin Great Ideas)

 

 

 

 

 

Pattern Interrupt, Pushing Through and Improving Your Workouts

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Usually habits are really useful. When we are on “auto pilot”  our brains have become so efficient at doing something we can tune out our conscious minds, which can be helpful sometimes, like when brushing our teeth, but not when working out.

More about the upside of habits in this awesome book:The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Problem with Mindless Patterns

Habits and patterns can also be a real problem. We can eat mindlessly and therefore overeat. We can tune out important people and not actively listen. We can exercise without paying attention and not get the most out of our workouts.

Russian Twists

I’m focusing on a bit of mid-course correction while making sure I don’t become weary from unconscious behavioral patterns during my morning exercise routine. The minute boredom sets in, I am reminded to “pattern interrupt”. It keeps things fresh – and improves results. So I do something different – I step up my stride, moving faster; add 20 more squats with calf stretches and try new exercises, like today – the Russian Twist (see illustration above) for toner abs.

Chi Walking and Core Movement

I’ve also been practicing engaging my lower abs throughout the day, especially when walking, jogging, running and sprinting. It has taken my routine to the next level.

When you correct your posture, you will be able to tighten your abdomen while you are walking. Leading your stride from your pelvis or what some call “Chi Walking” teaches us how to redirect the workload of propulsion to our core muscles around the pelvis and lower trunk area.

Pushing Through

When you are working out  every single day, it is easy to find yourself in a state of apathy about the mundane routine. Four things that help me push through –

Focusing on my super hero strength.  Yes, that’s me, in my mind, when working out. Lara Croft. Beautiful and brainy, with a fearless quest criss-crossing the globe, in an amazing attempt to save the world. 

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Break it down into small increments. 200 squats in a row my ass. I do 10 sets of 20 deep squats and jog in-between. Before I know it, I’ve completed 200 squats with a tighter tush.

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Feel your body and get to know the slow, soft burn. Get to know what small progress feels like in your muscles. Where there is energy, there is life and growth – Seneca. More philosophy and wisdom here: Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

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Don’t focus on the time. Cover the clock and speed up the pace, even if it is just a bit quicker.

What are your workout tips? 

Do you have tips to push through to the next level? Something awesome to help make workout routines more fun? I’d love to know what you recommend. Leave a comment below.

 

Happiness is a Skill, The Dangers of Impoverished Thinking and Coconut Muscle Mylk

bikeCall it what you will, bliss, contentment, excitement, enthusiasm, well-being, enchantment — happiness is a skill, a skill that needs to be trained and practiced daily.  My mind and body training includes a daily ritual (beginning around 5:30 am) of gratitude prayer, stoic philosophy studies, meditation practice, workout training (running, hiking, biking, swimming and high intensity interval training) and learning something new every single day.

Self- experiment for the day – to pay very careful, non-judgmental attention to the contents of my consciousness in the present moment. To watch my mind – to bring my soul into harmony with itself, and not let my purpose be out of tune. Seneca wisdom Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) Why all this mind watching? Because it’s a over-crowded zoo in there.

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Through the Lens of Thought
What lens are you using? The way we see and think about things is the most powerful force that shapes our lives. Any impoverished thoughts that are brought into our perception are like poison for the brain. This would be thinking that is deprived of richness or strength; thoughts that are limited or depleted.  Yeah, these thoughts have to go.   Inspired by the wisdom of  Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

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Biking Plantation Run & Coconut Muscle Mylk from COMO Parrot Cay

Rode the sweet four-mile palm-covered path to the fresh coconut plantation on Parrot Cay. Yes they grow their own and serve it up for breakfast daily.

Coconut Muscle Milk

This delicious drink speeds muscle recovery by reducing inflammation and replenishing electrolytes and nutrients with 1 banana, 1/2 cup young coconut water, 3 slices of coconut meat, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of almond milk, handful of flax seeds, 3 dates and a few cocoa beans. Blend and replenish.

Sparking Joy and Spontaneous Fun

rsw_7977When your body is spinning towards a heart pounding, sweat streaming, muscle burning exertion rate of 9 out of 10 it’s really difficult to find room in the mind for limiting beliefs. All of the focus is on breathing, pushing and moving forward. There is a sense of freedom in this state of motion that has helped me get out of my head. I have found getting out from behind enemy lines, free from the worry and anxiety, to be the most empowering place to be.

Turning Pro

Getting to Spinning at Covert Fitness on a Saturday morning is trying enough, let alone getting my body to an exertion rate of 9.0. I’m always wondering, is this my 9? Should I push harder? Load up the resistance? So I tap it on. I tap it on because I want to believe I’m turning pro. Turning pro means doing what professional athletes do. Call me crazy, but I think that’s what it takes to get you where you want to be.

“When we’re living as amateurs, we’re running away from our calling — meaning our work, our destiny, the obligation to become our truest and highest selves. Addiction becomes a surrogate for our calling. We enact the addiction instead of embracing the calling. Why? Because to follow a calling requires work. It’s hard. It hurts. It demands entering the pain-zone of effort, risk, and exposure.”  Quote by Steven Pressfield

Wanna Go Pro?

Recommended reading
Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work

Sparking Joy & Spontaneous Fun

The idea of spontaneity, trying things on a whim, letting go – it all seems so foreign to my ambitious, list-making, task-master lifestyle. No more.

Starlight Pajama Sails

Last night we went sailing under the stars with friends in our pajamas. The intention was to unwind with a glass of wine and a one hour sail around the sound on a beautiful summer night.  Jib and main up and a nice breeze to move us along, we sliced through the water, jogging waves, by the beautiful star lit sky. We rowed in at midnight, rather tired as we crashed on the bed in our salt-water soaked bottoms. We were nine years old again, and it felt so right.

Karaoke Spinning

Karaoke singing during Spin class this morning felt the same way.  Our instructor had us belting out pop tunes through our most difficult climb. It felt ridiculous and it was fun as hell. I like ridiculous.

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Try a bit of letting go. Next time, do it in your pjs or take it outside – camping, workouts, cooking. Sing out loud while you scrub the kitchen floor.  All engines running. Super-charged. Switch it up. Have some fun.

Mount Climbers, Transhumanism and Being Bored to Genius

transhumanismNever one to get too comfortable with my routine, I’ve added mountain climbers (fat burning, toning and strength-training all-in-one) to my daily workout, which now includes – 60+ minutes of interval cardio with strong sprints, 100 bicycle sit ups, 30 push ups, 50 squats, 50 forward and 50 backward lunges, 25 side lunges and 30 mountain climbers. I am aiming for 100 of each daily.

Podcast Picks

Tim Ferriss and Srivanas Rao of The Unmistakable Creative both had interviews with artificial intelligence experts this week.  You can listen to a fascinating interview about the future of technology and the human race with Zoltan Istvan, the transhumanist running for U.S. president here.

What exactly is a “Transhumanist?”Transhumanism_h+_2.svg

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Think bionic eyes and robotic hearts. Note: I am not a member of this tribe, I just find their stories of the future very intriguing.

One of my favorite Zoltan (his name even sounds transhuman) quotes from the interview –

“I do not let emotions be part of my decision making

process because it leads to dangerous things.”

Zoltan warns of the dangers of “going with your gut” when making big decisions. He claims that one should really consider the long term effect each decision may have. Emotions shouldn’t dictate every decision because they may lead to irrational choices – and you know what happens then.

I must remind myself that today I am a result of the decisions I made yesterday. Deciding to workout each day a year ago, has made me a healthier and happier person today.

The takeaway: Decisions are what get you where you want to go. Everything you are today is a direct result of a decision you made at one point in time.

Some should be made through the prism of reason.

In the meantime, back on the treadmill, I can make bigger decisions because I have Fitbit technology to track my workout habits and success.  Habits + technology help free up the brain. Not having to think about tracking my movements or what to eat for breakfast, leaves more brainpower for the bigger, creative ideas. Read more about the science behind being bored to genius.

Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband, Black, Large

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Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black

As you think, so shall you become. – Bruce Lee

Smarter, Stronger, Wiser Workouts

girl,headphone,headphones,music,illustration-27065f4052621ed175246266a0ba660e_hI use to spend over three hours on a Sunday afternoon creating a fresh Spotify music playlist for the weeks to come until one day during an experiment I listened to bunch of Tony Robbins videos (the man is pumped) and a very long interview on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast and said to myself – – myself, you should be learning and training, put those two together and take your workout routine to the next level. It worked. I’m hooked. If you haven’t tried it, you should consider your own experiment.

Listening well

So, I began subscribing to all sorts of podcasts on iTunes. I also had to drown out the yakkers at the gym, so I upgraded my headphones, which don’t get wrapped around the elliptical arm when I’m going hard, because they’re bluetooth and they wrap around my neck.

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Smartest investment for 2015 right here-
LG Electronics Tone Pro Bluetooth Stereo Headset – Black HBS-750

img-thing Awesome Podcasts I am listening to right now –

The Tim Ferriss Show. He deconstructs world-class performers from all walks of life, giving you tips, books, wisdom and daily habits to help you excel in whatever you are trying to achieve.

Srinivas Rao’s The Unmistakable Creative dives deep into the stories of authentic and creative achievers.

Tara Brach has a weekly talk on Buddhist teachings. Admittedly, I usually go for long meditative walks when I listen to Tara and then repeat her podcast with my husband on Sunday’s for our one hour meditation ritual together.

Another favorite is The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes. He’s a former pro athlete, humble as hell and great at digging into what makes pros great at what they do.

Note: I usually get so inspired from listening to these amazing people while I am biking, hiking, lifting, etc, that I stop to take notes in Evernote on my phone and sometimes go back and listen to the whole interview all over again at home.

I just listened to Phil Libin @PLibin on the Tim Ferriss show and discovered that as much as I love @evernote I need to discover all of  its potential @evernotehelps

And finally, yet another workout and travel upgrade, the travel hoodie by Baubax.

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Built in neck pillow, gloves and hand warming pockets? Hello people, why didn’t we design this? It’s been the most funded fashion item on Kickstarter ever.

If you listen to podcasts and have favorites you want to tell me about, please do in the comments below. I am always open to learning and growing. Thanks for reading and sharing what you have found to work for you.

the wisdom of your body, keystone habits and the side (lateral) lunge

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I workout every day because I am reminded that past performance is not an indicator of future results. What I do today will determine what my tomorrow(s) will be. Workout wisdom has it that you should never miss more than three days in a row or it’s really difficult to get back in the habit. I say, never miss a day.

Keystone Habits

Daily exercise has become a critical ritual for me because a.workouts are a keystone habit and b.  I sit way too much and sitting for too long each day can have serious side effects on my health.
Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death — and Exercise Alone Won’t

Movement & the Mind

Movement also helps me mentally, maybe even in more impactful ways than I know. A great workout helps clear my brain and keep the worry and anxiety at bay.

Although I am a member of three gyms, take spin and dance classes and I am looking into downloading Class Pass to try new workouts, I train outdoors as much as I can.

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Today’s work out included biking along the beach (2.5 miles) to and from the gym, 30 minutes (hard) on the eliptical, High Intensive Interval Training training for 15 mins at the lacrosse field adding side lateral lunges as recommended by my daughter @lanathecowboy on Instagram and then a swim back at the beach.

Our body’s are so intelligent. This morning I read a beautiful essay from John O’Donghue’s
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

The body is also very truthful. You know from your own life that your body rarely lies. Your mind can deceive you and put all kinds of barriers between you and the truth; but your body does not lie. Your body tells you, if you attend to it, how your life is and whether you are living from your soul or from the labyrinths of your negativity. The body also has a wonderful intelligence. All of our movements, indeed everything we do, demands the most refined and detailed cooperation of each of our senses. The human body is the most complex, refined and harmonious totality.