Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vegging Out

It is great that so many people are investigating vegetarian and vegan lifestyles these days. Books like "The China Study" are helping, people like Guro Fred are helping, and I think overall a new age of vegetarianism is becoming widely accepted as more of an intelligent, compassionate choice than a hippie/beatnik/pacifist overreaction.

But before we all go and pat ourselves on the backs with broccoli florets, we need to be very honest about what we are doing. There are loopholes in any doctrine and always a way of justifying something bad if we really, REALLY want to do it (just ask either of my boys).

Here are a few of my favorites slips:

1) Snack Foods (especially potato chips and chocolate)
potato chips, pretzels, corn chips, donuts, pies, cakes, and a host of other sugary/salty goodies may not contain any animal products per se, but despite the fact that they are "technically" vegetarian hardly makes them good for you. Come on, be honest with yourself. If you are hip enough to be a vegetarian, you are smart enough to know this stuff, right?

What is the point of being vegetarian and then getting cancer/heart disease/diabetes anyway??

2) Deep-Fried Foods (especially French Fries)
Anything that is deep-fried is bad for you, but french fries are by far the most popular culprit in this category. Many vegetarian friends of mine LOVE french fries (and rationalize it by saying it is vegetarian). That's not the point. Just because it is made from potatoes does not make it healthy. McDonald's and all other fast food places are off the list.


3) Coca Cola
Maybe Coke does not have animal products in it. That does not mean it is not "cancer in a can". Mineral water or tea, please.

4) Coffee
The Starbomb usually includes shockers like whipped cream, milk, sugar, etc.
If the price alone does not kill you, the drink surely will.

5) Vitamin Water and Other Sports Drinks
Maybe technically vegetarian, but very bad for your health and packed with sugar and calories. Mineral water or tea, please.

6) Alcohol
"But beer is vegetarian"...yah, I know. So is marijuana...oh, and heroin.
Don't get me started.

7) Cigarettes
Just shoot yourself.

I am sure I am missing some other big ones. The basic idea that top vegetarian nutritionists are getting at is that a whole-foods, plant-based diet is best. That said, raw whenever possible is the best rule of all. Spending every day making deep fried salad dripping with salt and sugar will not get you where you want to be. Living your life mostly vegan means you can occassionally break the rules if needed (your well-tuned healthy body will make you suffer for it, though). Sadly, I know many self-professed vegetarians/vegans for whom the above list is pretty common fare. Despite being vegetarian/vegan, they are overweight and unhealthy.

If you are not vegetarian or vegan, that's OK.
(Actually, it isn't...but it is everyone's personal choice).
If you are vegetarian or vegan, please do the right thing and don't make true vegetarians/vegans look like fools by overeating foods you know are unhealthy and justifying them by saying "they don't contain animal products".
You will feel better (and better about yourself) when you follow the plan correctly.

If you find these temptations impossible to resist, talk to someone you can trust. You probably have some unresolved things you need to let go of before you can truly make the commitment to be vegetarian or vegan.

I think veganism is a lifestyle choice that can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually rewarding. But you got to do it right.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Learning to Crawl

Let me be honest - I suck at swimming.

I mean, I truly suck. Not being overly negative here (except maybe "negatively buoyant"), I can get from here to there in the pool, but man, it's hard work.

That's what led me to start swim lessons today.

Why? Why not just focus on emphasizing your strengths?

1) We all Suck at Something (some of us suck at many things)
Nobody's perfect. Or, as Marco is fond of saying "God does not give everything to anyone"... I was never able to prove him wrong, either.
We all have our crosses to bear, and our issues to work on.
Be honest with yourself. It starts with honesty.

2) Why do we suck (and continue to suck)?
There is a negative spiral around sucking.
Maybe I could call it the "Suck Cycle" or something clever like that.
The fact is, you suck at something because you are not naturally good at it.
You are not good at it, thus it is not fun to do it. It's more fun to do what you are good at.
You don't do the things you suck at, thus you never improve at them.
Consequently, welcome to a lifetime of sucking....(unless you actively do something about it).

3) Next Steps
We all love to show off how good we are (especially in front of the opposite sex).
However, balance also means spending extra time on the things we are not good at. It means identifying honestly our own weak points and specifically taking steps to improve them to be better all-around. It may mean just longer practices specifically on those weak skills. It may mean specialized coaching, weight training, rehabilitation, or even spending time watching videos or researching on the web. It may mean asking for help/advice from others who are good at your weak areas. It may mean taking classes or getting a personal trainer or other professional.

DON'T LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE when it is about your training.
Relentlessly seek to improve yourself.

Not only does this mean getting better at the skills you have competitive advantage in, it means raising up the skills you are weak at until you are confident in them. Of course, this applies in all areas of life, not just martial arts training.

"A true master reveals himself in every action no matter how small"
- samurai maxim

This is the champion's way. See you at the finish line.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

365 marathons in 365 days

Here is a picture of Stefaan Engles.
In case you don't already know him, he was the only guy to do 20 (count em, TWENTY) Ironman Triathlons in a single year. That just wasn't enough for this Belgian dude.
He topped it by running a marathon a day for 365 days.
That's right - 26.2 miles/42.195 km a day - EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR.
This is from a guy who had asthma as a child and was told he could never do exercize. To add insult to injury, he is 49 years old (older than many of us).
CNN quoted him as saying "...It is more like a regular job. I am running just as Joe Average goes to work on Monday morning, whether or not he feels like it."
It reminds me of something my teacher told me long ago.
"some days I love to train. Some days I hate to train. Every day I have to train."

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

My wife Sanae has been a bit under the weather lately - lack of energy and gets tired/dizzy easily. Maybe it's a flu bug...

That means I have had to step it up and manage kids/dog solo for most of the time these days.

Man, running the household is HARD WORK!

I knew it was a pretty tough job, but I figured my life as an investment banker was just as tough. No way.

Dealing with getting dinner ready/washing/drying/putting away dishes, getting homework done, wash/dry/fold/put away laundry, picking up toys, clean up dog mess, bath time, tomorrow's prep, and the list goes on and on. It just never ends.

I have new respect for how hard this job really is. There is never a moment's peace, and it is constant motion 24/7. I am the first one up and the last one in bed at the end of the day, and I feel mentally, physically, and emotionally drained at the end of every day.

It is a great experience, and for their part, kids/dog have tried to be cooperative. Still, it's a pretty tough job.

Please take time out and thank your mom for all she does for you.
If you live away from home, tell your mom how grateful you are for her sacrifice in raising you. EVERY DAY should be Mother's Day.

My time away from work has had many lessons, and this has been one of the most important ones - count your blessings. being a parent is a hard job, but the most important and rewarding job you can ever have.