Bulletproof update

As some of you know, I started intermittent fasting on December 27, 2018. For me, this meant eating during a nine-hour period of time, so fasting for fifteen hours, each day.

Upon strong urging from my trainer, Chris, I started using the Bulletproof coffee concoction as a supplement to the fast on January 7, 2019. 

Making the bulletproof coffee took a few tries to get it right (and drinkable). The first time I added raw cacao powder on Chris’s recommendation, but couldn’t handle the chalkiness and decided to forego the added antioxidants it promised. 

I also had to play around with the amount of butter, oil, and collagen until my stomach could handle it. I started with half the recommended amount and upped it little by little over time.

The second, third, and fourth coffees (in as many days) proved to be really enjoyable once I figured out how to make the coffee while keeping it nice and hot. 

I found blending actually cooled the coffee down because of the room temp oil and cold butter. So I brewed a shot of the coffee, tossed it into the blender with the butter, collagen, oil, a little more hot water, and mixed it well. Then I poured the concoction into a coffee mug, which filled it about halfway. I added more hot water to fill the mug, and the result was a perfectly smooth, steaming cup of coffee loaded with collagen, butter, and oil. (Still waiting for the face to breakout but it hasn’t happened yet.) 

Of the past ten days, about half of them included the coffee concoction. I had been traveling, so while lugging my blender, butter, oil, and collagen around might have made me a more committed dieter, I prefer to travel light so left it all at home and skipped it. 

Even though the three-hour time difference and busy work schedule made it challenging, I stuck to the nine-hour eating window.

All in all, I enjoyed – and continue to enjoy – the fast. I feel tighter and less bloated. My jeans fit great. This could be caused by my eating a little cleaner in general, i.e., no gummy candy, but I have had a snack pack of potato chips here and there. (Gummy candy is my weakness. If I have a little, I’ll have a lot, so I’m avoiding it all until after the race.) 

With the intermittent fasting and avoiding gummy candy, I find myself simply eating less. It’s like the perfect diet for a minimalist. When I do eat, I’m hungry but my stomach is smaller so less feels like more. Just like minimalism. I’m not tired or weak. Actually, I feel really good and strong eating less. 

While traveling, however, I had a dark night of the soul. 

Usually after eating my final meal of the day, I crave candy, especially gummy candy. On the last night of the trip, something changed. I went from casually craving candy to let-nothing-stand-in-my-way-to-get-it craziness.  

It surprised me how hard it was to will myself not to go to the store or worse just tear into the bag of Haribo gummy bears in the mini-bar. Everything in my body, down to a cellular level, insisted on gummy candy that night.

I really needed to think and rethink about why I wanted to stay gummy free: Running a strong race in Antarctica and training injury-free. Like a mantra, I repeated it over and over in my head, and maybe out loud, too.

Eventually, the terrible craving passed and I was able to trust myself to stand without running out of the room and down to the Walgreen’s. Instead, I brushed my teeth, undressed, and got ready for sleep. The war was won. Good gal 1 – Crazy craving 0. 

Back to intermittent fasting. For the first few weeks, I found myself sleepy around 1pm or 2pm. That eventually passed and instead I felt energized, even motivated, to do a run or get in a few pushups or sit-ups at the office, when no one was looking.

During this experiment, I noticed how I genuinely appreciate the food I’m eating when I sit down for a meal. I’m more selective with good foods, except when I picked up the aforementioned snack pack of potato chips. (Potatoes are the most misunderstood vegetable in my humble opinion.)

Another side effect of the fast has been the feeling of a slight hunger pang at night when lying in bed before sleep. It’s not particularly strong or painful or scary. Instead, it’s somewhat comforting knowing that my body is entering ketosis and will burn fat through the night. 

It’s worth mentioning, I’ve continued with the vitamins I take regularly (or don’t, depending on if I remember). Those include a multi-vitamin, iron and vitamin D. I also take a dosage of Airborne (a mass of vitamins) whenever I feel the start of cold or sore throat. I swear by the stuff. 

So that’s how the Bulletproof and intermittent fasting experiment is coming along. I’m still unconvinced the coffee concoction is doing anything other than briefly alleviating my appetite with butter and caffeine during the morning portion of the fast. But I’m not half of the way through my little experiment yet, so we’ll see how it progresses.

Will give an update in another week or so. Until then 🙏.


Gaining clarity

gain clarity

One of the things I love about January is I get to start anew. Of course, I bring my old 2018 self into the mix, but I have twelve new months to create just about anything.

In order to decide what I want to do or give or try or travel to, I need to take time beforehand to gain clarity. There are almost limitless opportunities, so it helps if you can stop for a second and get really clear about what’s next for you in the upcoming year.

Here are five of my favorite ways to gain clarity.

Writing. Journalling is the single best way for me to figure out what I think and feel and, consequently, want for the year ahead. It so happens I’m in good company.

Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” Stephen King said, “I write to find out what I think.” And, just in case you’re not convinced, Flannery O’Connor said it too, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Granted all of these people are famous writers, but the spirit of their words is true for all of us. And if you’re not into writing or journalling, read on.

Decluttering. Decluttering is a wonderful cathartic practice that allows us to see what remains as a way to understand what’s important. In Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she implores readers to keep only what sparks joy and let go of the rest. How lovely. She also has a killer method for folding clothing that has changed my drawers forever.

There have been dozens of books and hundreds of articles written on decluttering. Any of them can help, so I won’t spend time on detailing out all the methods. My favorite is to take everything you own and put it into four piles – keep, donate, sell, and toss. Then go for it. Start with the easy stuff like clothing and work your way up to tougher things like gifts or heirlooms.

In my experience going minimalist, every time I give, donate, sell or toss something, a little space opens up in my mind. In this space, I have more freedom for creativity and, you guessed it, clarity to focus on the meaningful stuff.

Praying. I pray a lot. Before meals, before a big meeting or work call, before I buy or sell something expensive and sometimes something cheap. If you ask, you shall receive. And I believe it. Ask for clarity in your prayers. Ask for guidance and perspective. Not in an oh, God, whoa is me, please help me, boo hoo hoo. Or as Wayne and Garth might say, We’re not worthy.

In all seriousness, ask in earnest and humility, as if you expect a response. Keep at it until it becomes clear.

Meditating. Some people say praying is talking to God and meditating is listening. I’m not sure about that exactly, but meditating is wonderful. The stillness and presence of being in meditation is special.

When I first started, a laundry list of to do’s would flood my brain. I’d think, wow, this is great, look how productive I’m going to be with all these things I need to do. Little did I know that it was my brain trying to bolster its importance (and you are important, brain) and sabotage my meditation. Thoughts will come, just let them come and let them go. No judgments.

The goal of meditation is to be present, watch (so to speak) your breath, and commune with all that is in the present moment. That is all. If you hear God, lucky you.

Reading. I’m not talking about picking up a good Stephen King book, but I wouldn’t begrudge or fault anyone for such an enjoyment. He’s the master of storytelling and I love his books.

But, today I’m talking about reading a couple, or even one, really good self help or inspirational (nonfiction) book. Whatever you might be drawn to or want to improve in yourself, pick up a book or three and get to work.

Read to understand and learn and to (most importantly) take action based on what you learned. A good book will give us ideas that might have been swirling in the ether above our heads, but once we read them – bam! – one lands on us. Hopefully gently.

Those are my five favorite ways of getting clear about what I want for the year ahead and beyond.


5k training run

Signed up for a 5k in December. It will be my first trail race in preparation for my last, and most ambitious, half marathon in Antarctica in March.

But right now, my fitness level is embarrassing. I’m so out of shape when I run even short distances, I’m winded for the first five or ten minutes. Other runners say that will go away, but I’m not feeling it. This is my second week and I’m still fatigued. If I don’t start running now, by setting small goals like the 5k in early December, I can’t fathom being prepared for a much longer – four times longer – run in five months.

The training race I picked is called Summit Rock, and its organized from one of my favorite local companies, Brazen Racing. When I’ve run with them in the past, many years ago, I found they ran well-supported races and a good post-race spread. They have a great community of runners too. For Summit Rock, racers can partake in three distances: 5k, 10k, and half marathon. Located in Saratoga, Sanborn County Park has a challenging foot trail that increases in elevation for about four miles before leveling off.

Since I’m running the 5k, the course is straight up – about 2200 feet of elevation gain – and at the halfway point, runners turn around and head back down 2200 feet to the start/finish line. I don’t have trail running shoes, so I’ll use my road shoes and see how things go.

While I’ve sold or donated most of my possessions, oddly enough, they didn’t include trail running shoes or winter running gear, which is what I’ll need for the half marathon in Antarctica.

I haven’t started to think about the actual packing list for Antartica. When I get to it, I expect to have warm, waterproof trail running shoes on it, along with a solid race-day winter running getup, which I’ll get to test out during my cold winter training runs.

Until then, I’ll keep hitting the warm trails, working the hills, and feeling the exhaustion. Send love and support.


Less stuff, more meaning

motorcycle on narrow road

It’s been almost six months and yes, I’ve lost a little steam, but no, I haven’t given up.

I’ve continued to whittle down my wardrobe to just five button-down shirts, two jackets, three pairs of jeans, four Smartwool shirts, and a handful of t-shirts. I went from almost a dozen pairs of Chuck Taylors down to three. I’ve still got a lot of work to do on my socks. I don’t know why, but I just can’t bring myself to go there, as if I might – or they might – run out on me.

I haven’t bought anything new since – no strike that. I haven’t bought any new clothing or shoes or socks or undergarments or hats or things to wear since January. But I did buy a new bike.

In my attempt to cut down on gasoline consumption coupled with my desire to ride a motorbike, after much debating, I finally purchased a little Honda Ruckus. However, I did sell all of of my other so called transportations possessions, with the exception of my little GTI, before I bought it, including two road long boards, a beautiful Specialized road bike, a skateboard, and did I mention all those shoes?

With the purchase of the scooter came a few other possessions, mainly a helmet, faux leather jacket and gloves, all for safety. Because my closet was cleaner and more austere than ever, it was easy to find a spot for each. The helmet looks badass on the shelf where once upon a time too many pairs of mom-jeans sat folded and unused.

On the whole, I feel good about the new possessions because every time I get on that bike, I smile. I feel alive and happy. I have fun. Most people who ride a motorbike will tell you there is something wonderfully therapeutic about the experience. It’s inexplainable but palpable and real. One day we might want to swap Xanax or Zoloft or Prozac or Percocet for a an hour or just thirty minutes on a bike to see the results. Imagine the possibilities.

But back to the acquisition of the bike. It’s made my commute so much more fun and in some ways meaningful. It’s a strange paradox. By getting rid of so much clutter, so many other possessions, I had space to think and feel and figure out that I truly wanted a bike. Then take the action to go get one.

I wanted to reduce my petrol consumption and usage and increase fun and meaningful life experiences. Now, I get to do all of it while doing something that was once mundane, like commuting to and from work. My commute is mundane no more. It’s an adventure.

As the summer progresses, I’ll continue to reduce my possessions as promised in my New Years resolution. Those socks – at least thirty or forty pairs – need a little thinning out to start with. And while I’m doing that, who knows what other epiphanies or grand adventures await.


 


A minimalist three weeks in

My New Year’s resolution is to go minimalist. I know what you’re thinking resolutions are silly, senseless, and seriously ineffective. But I’m not trying to be a minimalist forever, you know, just for a year. Forever seems impossible, but a year is finite. I mean I can do anything for a year.

Over the past few months, I’ve read several books on minimalism and started decluttering as a way to test the waters. I put a few possessions on three resale websites: letgo.com, eBay and Craigslist and wrote about it. The short story is if you price it right, it’ll sell. I also recalled a terribly vivid dream I had many years ago, and now I can’t shake it.

Three weeks ago as part of my New Years resolution kickoff, I started an inventory of my possessions. And I’m still working on it. The amount of stuff I’ve accumulated and stored in various drawers, closets, shelves, nooks, crannies, plastic bins, and storage boxes is staggering. It’s not simply the number of like items I own – how many pairs of running socks or Saucony shoes or copies of Into the Wild does a person really need. But also the sheer quantity of total possessions. I must have thousands and thousands of things.

Overall, I’m a fairly non-materialistic person. Expensive cars, clothes, and shoes don’t really do it for me. I wear almost the same getup every day. I put on the same Arc’teryx hoody, same Levi’s jeans, same puffy vest, and same SmartWool shirt only in a different color most days. When I feel like really mixing it up, I sport a button down shirt under a Uniqlo sweater. I don’t think there is a person more boring than I am when it comes to clothing. Even though I don’t wear a ton of variety, I still have a lot of clothing, shoes, belts, hoodies, etc. taking up space.

Let’s talk about books. I love them. All of them. When we moved from Chicago to San Francisco, I gave away or sold over three hundred books I had collected since college. All of my hardback copies of Stephen King and first editions. All of my dog-eared paperbacks. Even the small collection of spiritual books that I read and reread almost annually. I took with me only a few of my absolute favorites and a couple of cookbooks that were too expensive (and never sold) for me to be able to part with them in good conscience. In the five years since, I’ve accumulated another hundred or so books. And another hundred plus live somewhere on Amazon’s cloud or downloaded to my iPad.

Little did I know back then in Chicago that selling or donating those old books would be my first taste of what it feels like to embrace minimalism. I recall feeling good to see people dropping a few bucks on my coffee table while smiling ear-to-ear in anticipation of reading the story inside the book tucked under an arm or placed in a bag. I don’t really know if that’s minimalism exactly, but I want to keep exploring it.

During my initial inventory sweep, I picked out and sold or donated over fifty of my possessions ranging from books (again) to fitness gear to shirts, shoes, and suits. And it’s felt good.

In fact, every time I remove an item that I no longer need or use, the physical space that opens up on a shelf or inside a closet also opens up a figurative space inside my head, heart, and lungs. Space in my head to organize my thoughts, space in my heart to be more open to others, and space in my lungs to take in life a little more fully. It’s the strangest thing, but I can’t complain about feeling better.

Experts say the third week in January is just about the time when New Years resolutions usually go to pot and old habits come roaring back. But I feel even more driven to stick with it. 2018 is my year of minimalism. Let’s see if I’m this optimistic when I have to declutter my camping gear.

In the meantime, onward and upward with a lot less stuff and clutter.


Take Only What You Love

Many years ago, I found myself in the driver’s seat of a little car like a Fiat or an older tiny Ford Escort hatchback. It was packed to the brim, incredibly cluttered and disorganized. Boxes, papers, toys, stuffed animals, and other unidentifiable items filled the car to the rooftop. I was driving the car. Confused about what I was doing driving a packed car, it dawned on me that this mess and this vehicle belonged to me. I couldn’t out any of the windows because they were blocked by all of the stuff. The car swerved and swayed as I attempted to get a handle on it. I felt like I was driving one of those cartoon trucks, think 101 Dalmatians the cartoon movie, all over the road. It was so difficult to concentrate on driving that I was undoubtedly headed for a crash.

Suddenly, I remembered there was a baby in the backseat. Oh no, a baby was buried somewhere under all this stuff. She’s buried and can’t breathe and I probably killed her. Oh God, please, baby, don’t be dead. I pulled the car over and ran around to the back driver’s side door, swung it open, and started pulling things out of the car. Like a dog kicking up sand, my arms moved swiftly as I unburied the baby in the backseat. First I saw a pink sleeve, then a small hand, and finally, there, under all my stuff, sat an unmoving baby with her eyes closed. Oh no, I killed her. She suffocated under all this stuff. I unbuckled her out of the carrier and pulled her to me. She was warm, but still unresponsive. Come on, baby, come on. I’m here. I’m sorry. You’re okay, I told her. I held her in my arms and talked to her, cuddled her, and felt her move. She squirmed a little and stretched. She was alive. She was going to be okay.

I woke up in a hot flash and lay still in bed trying to decide if any of that actually happened. I almost killed a baby with boxes and other useless stuff in my car. No, I thought, it was only a dream. I didn’t have a baby and I didn’t have that car. But what did it mean? I supposed it symbolized something. It felt so real that it must be the heavens sending me a wake up call. Think. You minored in psychology, try to remember, what did dreams mean?

I guessed that the vehicle in the dream represented my life or my body and mind. It was a container holding a mix of precious cargo and crap. There was way too much stuff I was carrying around. I was scattered and my small life, possibly small mind, was cluttered with mostly useless things. Under all of the junk, I had an amazing, valuable, beautiful baby. The baby represented the best part of my life, joy, happiness, potential – all the things a baby embodies and it was buried. I almost smothered it with the other useless junk in my life or mind.

After thinking through this, it wasn’t like I hopped out of bed that morning and got right down to cleaning out my crap. In fact, I did almost nothing. Not out of spite or disbelief but because I doubted myself and people have weird dreams all the time. I had a lot of work to do and bills to pay and I’m sure my subconscious hadn’t taken any of that into consideration. In fact, I wasn’t really sure exactly what the dream was telling me. And in a couple of days, I had forgotten all about it. Never said I was a quick study.

Eventually, I connected the dream back to my life, and it reinforced my thinking and actions when I had already started the process of decluttering. It wasn’t until I had had the mind shift and discovered what I didn’t know then but now has the name, minimalism, that I could point back to that dream and say, there, that’s when deep down I knew even though at the time it wasn’t in my waking consciousness, something needed to change.

Today I’ve only just started figuring out what minimalism means in my own life, but it feels a lot like what my grandmother told me many years ago when I was a just a teenager. She said, “Take only what you love from your life and leave everything else behind. Make yourself a beautiful life.”

It was the best advice I’ve ever received.