A New Approach to HIIT

In the last month I suffered an injury to my left Achilles and it’s compromised my ability to run and do some other types of exercise I normally do. A few years ago I started doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) and it has made a measurable difference in my exercise habits. Much of the inspiration has come from the work of Dr. Doug McGuff. I found him by way of Peak Fitness. He was the catalyst for taking a new approach to HIIT.

I had tried Dr. Mcguff’s process with weights before, but I never tried it with full commitment. Funny how an injury can get your attention. Dr. McGuff calls his approach with weights, Super Slow. You can click here to review the transcript of an interview with Dr. McGuff where he discusses in detail his methodology and the science behind it. I just started this program about two weeks ago and I’m noticing that many of the indications he gives in his interview are true.

Dr. McGuff’s  approach is that you’re going to do high intensity interval training not more than two times per week, at 15 minutes a session. When I first read about this it made me scratch my head.  However, I’ve never had more of an intense workout than using this type of HIIT. Dr. McGuff has also written a book on the subject, titled Body by Science. As noted above, I’m early on, but at this point it’s kind of undeniable to me. Tim Ferriss’ book, The Four Hour Body is another source to look at on the subject. Dr. McGuff consulted on the content with Tim as well.

I will keep you updated on my progress and certainly I hope to it some point recover from this Achilles issue. I do want to continue my running at some level. This current frame has taught me that variety is best in exercise because things change, as they always do. HIIT is a great process to meet the changes head on.

The Trade

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As I progress through life, I am more aware of the trade-offs each day brings. When I look at my calendar, when I reflect on my thoughts or when I consider a business opportunity. Regardless of the situation, a trade is made in everything. Like you, I want to be pleased by what I trade. I apply this to today and tomorrow.

In my younger days I thought I was made of steel. I still feel really strong. I now pause and consider my choices more carefully. My margin for error has changed. I’ve found an interesting correlation between feeling like a man of steel and ignoring life’s trade offs; comfort.

Comfort is worshipped in many parts of the world. America is a leader in this type of worship. I’m not against comfort, I just see it as something to be careful with. Change never comes through comfort, no matter how much we delude ourselves.I even introduce discomfort for the purpose of keeping myself on a healthy razor’s edge. For example, I practice muscle confusion in my exercise plans. This is not revolutionary, but it helps my mind stay focused on growth and not on what feels “familiar.”

It’s a daily battle and it doesn’t happen naturally.

I highly recommend you give careful consideration to the trade-offs in the following areas of life:

  • Relationships-Is what you’re pursuing more important than your relationships?
  • Business and Career-Is the move into something bigger, more important than the space you operate in now?
  • Physical and Mental Wellbeing-Is trading the quality of your physical and mental wellbeing worth compromising, in the end?
  • Spirituality-Is your spirituality only a passing thought?
  • Learning-Is what you’re doing supported by something that will last, like learning?

Each of the above will require something from you, make sure you can live with the transaction.

Elephants in the Room

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I had the pleasure and honor to shoot a part in Elephants in the Room a few months back. The trailer is above.

I’ll let you check out the trailer to learn more, but the subject matter is so timely and relevant. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to check out the full length when it hits full release.

Your Moments

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Got this from a friend. It was a response to a note I sent him regarding staying in your moments.

Thanks Eric. Great timing.

Last Sunday, my wife and I were resting after a long day of splitting wood and stacking. We were sitting in our garage just talking when we heard a loud ‘pop’ and then a sliding sound.

We walked to the entrance of our garage to look out toward the road (our front yard is 100 meters long and spotted with mature trees) to see if we could see what made the sound.

We saw a truck stopping with two people getting out and hurrying toward our driveway entrance. We also saw something else on the ground, but couldn’t make it out.

We ran up to the entrance to find that an elderly couple had a motorcycle wreck on our road. Their rear tire had blown and they were thrown from the bike, hit pavement, and then slid into our yard. The bike was still in the road, and the husband was holding his wife in our ditch, propped up on her side to prevent her from drowning in the massive amount of blood that was pouring from her nose and mouth. She was unconscious and non-responsive, but breathing (difficultly).

I called 911 and ran to the house for towels and water. My wife was with the other people that had witnessed the wreck and they were calling all of the family members of the two as the driver of the bike told them where their phones were.

Once the two ambulances, two fire trucks, four state troopers arrived, they moved the husband away from his wife and proceeded to work on her. Life flight was then called and moments later, a helicopter was landing in my neighbor’s yard to fly both of them to a nearby trauma center.

This lasted for several hours. They worked on the woman for a while before flying her to Dayton and the man suffered a broken hip and broken shoulder.

I couldn’t help but think when it was all done how the day must have started for those two. They woke to a beautifully sunny day with perfect temperatures and no clouds in the sky. They must have said to one another “let’s go ride around and enjoy this picture perfect day and feel the wind on our faces and be together.” They were 5 miles from home and were headed there to end the evening…..only to have it end in tragedy.

I watched family members rush to the scene and express a variety of emotions; anger, sadness, fear, calm. I felt emotional as I thought of my wife and how I would react if I were holding her knowing it may be the last time I am allowed. The emptiness that it would create.

The woman died on Tuesday evening. She was in a coma, and they cut away her skull to help with the swelling of the brain, but it was too much for her system and she passed.

I will be taking some time to hug my family more and to pray to God and thank him for the ‘now’, because we don’t know what the future, short or long, will hold.

Work and Employee Happiness

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Most organizations, these days, are speaking the language of happiness. For some entities it’s just talk, for others a striving everyday.

Employee happiness and engagement are connected. Maybe it’s obvious for you. I come from a view that says your company is not responsible for your happiness. Only you can own that. Whether it’s changing roles, transferring geographically or firing your boss with your feet, it still comes back to you.

Why are so many employees unhappy?

My answers:

Employees make choices that lead to unhappiness. On the whole, we live unbalanced and incongruent lives. The unbalance is found in our willingness to pour mind, body and soul into one area of life, while ignoring another. See the work versus family civil war, many are fighting right now. As someone who used to value my work over my family, it is a civil war. The incongruent part is the BS we tell the world. For example, “family is number one for me.” Nobody is perfect, but if you know you haven’t lived this out in over two years, you’re living incongruently. These are the recipes for unhappiness.

Employers foster unhappiness by the conditions their employees work under. Here’s the deal, if you are a CEO and you expect an employee to get excited about the stock price or last quarter’s earnings, you need a straight-jacket. Happiness and engagement happen when there is a great mission to achieve, something beautiful to create or a dangerous problem to solve. Without those, most will leave, or worse, die and stay.

Employees have defined happiness incorrectly. For me, happiness is fluid. It’s not a genie to be captured in a bottle. If you would have looked at my life yesterday, I would have been 90% happy and 10% unhappy. Those numbers don’t make me special, I just chose to be happy 90% of the day. I chose to be unhappy too. I think many are too fixated on happiness. Like life, happiness is not an arrival point. If we look at happiness as fluid, we’ll be better able to handle the stuff of life. Maybe we’ll find that moments of unhappiness are not the end of the world.

Employers are living in the past. Organizing your company like the industrial revolution happened last year is a disaster. Most employees live life in and around the 21st century. It frustrates the hell out of them when they’re treated like an assembly line worker or treated as if they’re a 4th grader.

In the end, every employer has an agenda. It may be a fit for you, or not. Either way happiness is your animal to wrestle with.

ARS DUCENDI

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I can’t think of a more abused/overused word than “leadership.”  So few practice well the ARS DUCENDI (latin for the art of leadership).  Seems like we should shy away from using it.  But, alas, this post isn’t about how to remove a word from our modern lexicon.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I believe that the “art” of leadership is found in integration and balance.  Show me a man or woman who integrates and applies balance to their lives, and I’ll show you someone who understands what true leadership is.  They may not have a title, may not have a corner office, may not rake in tons of dough, but they know and live the art of leadership.

The integration part is when the leader sees all areas of life (eight in my view) as important and therefore worth the time and work needed.  It would be easy here to anoint then as a superhero/heroine.  In a culture like ours (America in my case) we see these folks as superhuman and worthy of worship.  This is a fatal mistake.  We should never allow any human to live out our destiny for us.  As rhetorical as that statement sounds, many people are on the sidelines, content to let someone else play their role.  As you have heard before, only you can be you.

The balance part is a thing of beauty.  I consider it the knowing when to and when not to.  Miles Davis was brilliant at this from a musical standpoint.  He seemed to know that the music was inside him and he needed to get out of the way so that it could flow out.  Balance is found when you know the context and you live accordingly.  For example, you know you’ve hit the point of diminishing return in the workday and your daughter is nudging you to communicate.  You want to tackle one more email, but there she is.  At this point, those who practice balance know it’s time to shut the work down and inject themselves into the life of their daughter.  Like Miles, you get out of the way.

It’s time for you to start your version of ARS DUCENDI.  You can’t ignore it and expect to have a life you want.  Fools have tried and find themselves in the sad state of regret.

 

The Organization Versus Your Health

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I admire the organizations that are structured around encouraging strong wellbeing for their people. It’s rare, but important in so many ways. Kinda makes sense that a growing organization would want employees who are sharp mentally, physically and spiritually. Only trouble is the rest of the sample size makes up the majority. They’re representative of organizations who may market themselves as a “best place” to work or a “healthy employer,” but the reality is far from it.

Call me the Upsetter of the apple cart. I’m not alone, you know?

One thing must be made clear; it is not the responsibility of the organization to make sure you have great wellbeing, that’s a you-responsibility. I certainly feel that many employees are bound and determined to kill themselves. The blame for the diabetes problem in the U.S. does not lie at the foot of H-P or BofA. Most of the blame is ours to accept.

Some time ago I observed the perfect storm of the organization versus the health of the employee. I was doing a project, unrelated to my work in wellbeing, I felt my senses and passion for the wellbeing of people come alive in the engagement. It would safe for me to write that as the organization was making great strides to move forward, financial results and such, the wellbeing of the employees was moving backwards. I can’t say if that reality kept the senior leaders up at night. One thing is for sure, as I look back, it should have.

So what are employees to do? They’re bombarded by messages telling them to save for a retirement that often seems like an impossibility, raise perfect kids that get scholarships to the best colleges, trust in an economy that never seems to be as good as reported, and the list goes on. I have a few ideas, not silver bullets, just some things to consider/try:

  • Make wellbeing a priority. This post could be a starting point for reference.
  • Don’t ignore your wounds. These are the emotional disappointments and failures you’ve never looked fully in the eye. Trouble always hangs around wounds not dealt with. Healing leads to breakthroughs.
  • Leave the organization that refuses to create conditions for good wellbeing. Make this decision with thought and care. Don’t wake up tomorrow and make an emotional jump. However, the problem must be dealt with.
  • Get a coach/advisor/wise-man/woman. This is not a time to go it alone.
  • Look at your bad habits and take responsibility. Like wounds, these need to be dealt with.

Health is undefeated in the game of life-good outcome or bad.

 

You Are the Disruption

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As I’m sure you’ve heard, disruption is the groovy thing to be in. VCs dream of it (the success part anyway), designers and developers are pushing to make it happen. I have a little different take.

You are the disruption.

I’m really sick of hearing about the latest and greatest gadget that will revolutionize life as we know it. Disruption and advancement are great, but if we don’t see a change in human behavior, it will be a complete and utter waste of time.

Humans are moving backwards, technology is moving forward = not sustainable.

What is being left in the dust are the choices of life. I really wish the schools would require courses in life management. Imagine what an impact that would be! No judgements here, but we suck at making good-to-great choices. I think average would describe our best day.

Ok, I’m ranting! Now, let me give you a concrete example:

Diabetes is near epidemic in the U.S., Type 2 most applicable here. The diagnosis of the disease is typically related to obesity. The main causes are rooted in diet choices and lifestyle (sedentary behavior) choices. These choices are cannot be separated from the outcomes (heart disease, stroke, cancer, and amputations). Ironically, we refuse to turn around.

I sat in a meeting with the head of diabetes research for a large university a few weeks back. In that meeting, the development of a pill to combat the accumulation of visceral fat was described. If you didn’t know it, visceral fat is the killer fat because it accumulates around our organs. In so many ways, the research is focused on developing a pill to fix what we refuse to do for ourselves. We’ve seen the enemy.

So here’s a real disruption; join me in making choices that shake up ourselves. No more blaming the President, the tea party, our parents, our employer, you get what I mean. You might even start a ripple.

This is a big deal, friends.