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.

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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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Dodging Raindrops, Brilliant Podcasts and Rising Above A Toxic Workplace

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Two words, good posture.

Stop. Did you just do what I think you did? Did you just sit up a little straighter?

Next time you walk into the elevator or a big meeting, think about what your posture says about you as you pass through those doors. Then try these exercises for better posture.

It’s early morning, pouring rain, headed to the office in Soho (70 minutes, stuck in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, followed by a soaking 30 minute walk). Rain coming in sideways. I feel like –

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Wellness in the Workplace

Now, while big corporate decides whether there’s enough ROI (return on investment) around creating a “corporate wellness” program at your office (read: you healthier in their work camp), organizations are adding things like energy-absorbing flooring and enhanced air and water filtration. That’s all well and good but you must take matters of health into your own hands and back to your cozy cubby.

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Movement + Meditation = My Medication

When there is no time to work out in the morning I walk the five miles to and from work.

Walking at various speeds with intervals of stairs help me stay energized throughout the day and less guilty about not getting to the gym. Except when it rains really hard. Then I’m just like, what was I thinking?

That’s why I have invested in some serious commuter gear – I have provisions -umbrellas, rain coats, knapsacks, rain boots, you name it.

Love these rain boots and my  jacket below from Uniqlo

sperrySperry Top-Sider Women’s Pelican III Rainboot

UnknownTotes Signature SuperDome Auto Open/Close Umbrella, Black, One Size

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Learning on the Go

Podcasts I listen to at the gym and on my warrior walk to work.

  1. The Unmistakable Creative – brilliant interviews with super creative people.
  2. The Tim Ferriss Show – the #1 business podcast on iTunes right now
  3. School of Greatness with Lewis Howes – because he just wants to get better and better and so do I.

Or sometimes I simply walk and meditate. Huh? How do you do that? Well, you breathe and walk and just be aware of the fact that you are breathing and walking. Unless you are like me and want to Instagram every little stupid thing. Then you might want the guidance of a walking meditation app.

Movement meditation can be a very accessible way to restore the equilibrium of the mind.

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Workouts During the Work Day

Not as powerful as sweating it out for 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym, moving throughout the day gently keeps my body and head in check. Evidently, according to this Forbes contributor, there is something to this fidgeting.

Here’s what I am trying to do every day at work.

  • 10 Exercises to Do at Your Desk on Forbes.com here
  • A full glass of water (8oz) every two hours.
  • A healthy lunch – salad with protein.
  • Two 100 calorie snacks. Almonds or apples. (buy in bulk at Costco).
  • Always take the stairs and go outside every few hours.
  • 1 minute of breathing meditation at my desk on the hour.
  • A moment or two to laugh. Best of Jimmy (Fallon) here
  • Network – spend a little time connecting with others.

waterbottlemarkedwithtimeAre you shy? Want to make friends but feel a bit socially awkward?

Listen to this brilliant Tim Ferriss episode How to Build a World Class Network in Record Time.

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True Grit, The Act of Envisioning and Living to 100

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I am adding yet another new daily habit of 30 minutes of focus and deep concentration by journaling precisely what I want to create in life with the honest intention of being in service to everyone I meet.  I imagine and behold a (super) better version of myself, eliminating any negative thoughts including envy, hatred, judgement, selfishness or cynicism. No matter what, I will carve out this time to make sure this becomes a ritual in my life.

“. . . in applying one’s whole soul to doing right and speaking the truth. There remains only the enjoyment of living a liked succession of good deeds, with not the slightest gap between them.”  – Marcus Aurelius

Study: Meditations (Hardcover Classics)

marcus-aurelius-quote-fridge-magnet-2_largeSystem Restore -A Metaphorical Moment

The other evening I was pulling my hair out while trying to free up some space on my computer with Daisy Disk (not worth the $9.99, a total waste). After backing up my laptop I had to restore my operating system. Not something I wanted to be doing at 11 pm at night. I have no patience for this, but it’s like laundry and cleaning the kitchen, it just needs to get done. But I had a moment of true realization while I waited for my Mac to restart with a new blank desktop –  I am also in the process of refreshing and restoring my operating system.  Some call it reinventing ourselves.

The Act of Envisioning the Future

The way I see it, we can worry about the future or we can focus on creating a better story for tomorrow. Recognizing that the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually transform themselves into physical reality, I have committed to concentrating my thoughts on precisely who I want to become and I am creating a crystal clear picture of that person each day, by writing a new future. This also helps with incessant useless monkey-mind worry because I am putting my thoughts to better use. I highly recommend you try it for yourself.

True Grit

Just like building a start up or pursuing any dream, this life project of mine requires deliberate practice and focus and as many have come to understand a great dose of grit. Grit defined as perseverance and persistence coupled with an unwillingness to wilt, complain, or cry about my current state. It’s the ability to accept my reality and make the best of it, never wishing I was somewhere else, or in someone else’s shoes.

I have come to understand that people who value grit have a number of things in common. They appreciate everything in their lives and what they have right now.

small-daily-improvementsThe “gritty” among us also –

  • Remain cautiously optimistic.
  • Exercise their muscle of self-control.
  • Have a higher level of social intelligence.
  • Maintain the ability to preserver through even the toughest times.
  • Stay enthusiastic about the process.
  • Embrace the art of curiosity about everything. Even their problems.

Grit: harnessing the courage, the resiliency, and the power within.

Climbing Hills and Recreating Blue Zones

Barring heavy rain or deep wet snow, every day I take a 25 minute steep hill hike around my town. What I am trying to do is recreate the effect that blue zones have on the body.  Blue Zones are places in the world where people live to 100 and stay healthy.

The five blue zones are as follows:

  • The Italian island of Sardinia
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
  • Ikaria, an isolated Greek island

Ikaria_1428628iThe people in blue zones don’t need to artificially incorporate exercise into their lives with machines.  The exercise comes for free, already built into their daily lives naturally.  Common across all of the blue zones is that the people climb mountains, walk through the hills, work the land, and generally use their bodies in a constant grind as they perform their daily activities.  And it doesn’t have to be high intensity “run as fast as you can” exercise either.

To live long and healthy requires a constant, daily lifestyle of positive enrichment for the body and mind.  For many this may seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Read more about what it takes to live to 100 here.

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Read: The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People

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.

 

Normal will Get You Nowhere and Other Random Career Advice for My Daughters

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  • Unpaid internships last no longer than three months.
  • Make yourself memorable by being a true professional.
  • Don’t let things sit back and happen. Make them happen.
  • Give more , ask for more and plan fun weekends.
  • Whenever possible, jump at the opportunity to speak in public.
  • Have your own personal brand of elevator pitch.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety, don’t harbor it in your body. Exercise. Every. Single. Morning.
  • Don’t tell them, show them. Let your actions speak louder than your words.
  • Always be interviewing.
  • Create your task list for tomorrow, tonight.
  • You will always be juggling too many balls in the air. Life is busy. Balance is hard.
  • Don’t ever spend more than 2/3rd of your day at work.
  • Measure your value. Create a portfolio of all of your milestones.
  • Don’t over compensate and don’t over promise.
  • Build your skills. Commit yourself to lifelong daily learning.
  • When stressed, remember it really is okay right now.
  • Don’t get stuck. If you don’t feel it, don’t do it.
  • Normal will get you nowhere. Be astonishing.

Anything to add? What do you think is great advice for someone entering the workplace?

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.

Morning Rituals, Mindful Breathing, Spinning and the Slow Carb Breakfast

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The Importance of a Motivating Morning Ritual

When I decided to change my daily habits to create a more fulfilling life, I created my very own morning ritual. The idea was to create a more inspiring way to begin each day and then in turn, create a better life for not only me, but for all of those that I love around me.

I urge anyone trying to improve their lives  to awaken one hour earlier every morning to learn, read, meditate, move and take a moment to think about all that you have  to be grateful for, even the smallest of things. This daily habit has  made a huge impact on my life.

I am currently studying the teachings of the philosopher Seneca, because I believe that without a philosophy to guide my work and life, I will succumb to daily excuses and distractions. I will make the mistake of acting on my moods throughout the day and not on my principles.

Many of us want to place blame and responsibility on external objects because it’s easy to do, but the truth remains that all conflicts start internally, in our minds.”

Taken from this essay @99U written by @PaulJun_ of Motivated Mastery “The Stoic: 9 Principles to Help You Keep Calm in Chaos.”

Read an essay a day  Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

I’ve been experimenting with breathing techniques to help me stay energized and relax throughout the day. Who knew that the simple act of mindful breathing could actually improve the way I do just about everything –  exercise, work, write and deal with frustrating craziness throughout the day. Evidently proper breathing has profound effects on our health and unbelievably most of us don’t know how to breathe properly. Crazy.

The Power of Vital Breathing

As I was sleep-driving to 7:30 spinning class at Covert Fitness this morning, I tried the four short & fast breaths  that I heard Tony Robbins talk about as part of his Power Hour morning ritual. It’s a simple technique of breathing in and out through the nose rapidly four times with about 10 repeats. Hello and good morning, my brain just woke up! Now, I am not an expert on the topic but there are plenty of tutorials on  breathing techniques .

How can we improve our breathing? Well first by recognizing the bad examples like over-breathing, holding our breath and/or shallow breathing. These breathing patterns are very stressful for the body and lead to a shortage of oxygen and energy. Read How to Breathe Properly

Spinning away the Stress

Let’s get this straight, Spinning is not for everyone, although you may wonder with Soul Cycle and it’s cult-like following now filing an IPO.  I lost my last 10 by Spinning on the weekends and found my self to be a lot less stressed. I join Saturday & Sunday morning classes at Covert Fitness which have also helped me power up my outdoor cycling routine. There is something very motivating about letting the instructor take over your brain for 60 minutes while you zone out and focus on your body doing the hard work. After a few sessions of Spinning (along with my regular daily workout routine) I became even more energized and motivated as I watched my weight melt away.  The calorie burn is intense and there are plenty of residual effects.

Schisandra chinensis & the Slow Carb Breakfast

If you are looking to lose extra weight and eat to sustain your day, then the slow carb diet from The Four Hour Body is a must try. My breakfast begins with two soft scrambled eggs (yolk included) with a few tablespoons of small white beans and fresh spinach or left over vegetables. The white truffle salt that Tim Ferriss recommends helps to spice things up.

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

I drink a ton of coffee, but in the morning I also take steep a small glass jar of Traditional Medicinals Detox Tea which contains organic chicory and dandelion root. Side note: my grandmother use to boil dandelions and drink the water which she claimed helped clear her kidneys and liver.

This tea also contains a strange, exotic berry from China and Russia. The berry of Schisandra chinensis owes its name Wu Wei Zi (five flavored berry) to the fact that it is sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. Schisandra chinensis has been digested to prolong life, retarding the aging process, increasing energy, as a fatigue-fighter, and as a sexual tonic.

I am always looking to learn how to make my morning rituals and work outs even better, so if you have something that you think I should try, please share it in the comments.