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Posts tagged ‘life’

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3-Month Check In

On 4/20/15, I walked into DC Fitness for the first time in my workout gear.  Ready to have my newly acquired trainer put me through my first workout.  One of the exercises that day was push-ups.  I was able to do 4 standard pushups, a weak 5th one, then dropped to my knees to finish the set of ten. I was able to do even fewer “real” pushups on the next 2 sets. (More on this later.) I was fat, out of shape and looking to improve those conditions.

Today is the 3-month anniversary of that fateful day.  I checked in on Facebook, one month into my journey, and have not updated since.  I had such a huge outpouring of support and kind comments of encouragement that I thought I should check in.  Besides all the kind words, I had several people that told me they were inspired by me.  THAT, is truly humbling.  If I can encourage only one person to make a healthy change, I will have successfully paid it forward.

While it’s not Biggest Loser material.  Here’s me 30lbs lighter:

2015-04-20 08.48.54

I put together some of my thoughts 90-days into this journey.

Forget the scale, it’s just a number.

We seem to measure every successful diet by the pounds lost.  I’m not here to throw stones at anyone who does this. Hell, I do it.  However, I have found that I’m finding much more joy in the “little things”.  Like:

  • cinching up your belt until you are out of holes (maybe you should buy a new belt or add more holes)
  • wearing shirts that used to look like a sausage casing on you, now hang loose (see above photo)
  • not getting winded walking up a flight of stairs
  • walking the same route, but cutting 5 minutes off your time (because you were able to run some of it)
  • buying jeans in April, because none of yours fit, but now you can’t wear them because they are too big
  • getting compliments from random people about your weight loss
  • being assigned 3 sets of 15 pushups and being able to do all 45 with perfect form 3 months later when you could barely do 4 on that first day
  • THAT’S the fun stuff.  You get enough of these “small things”, you end up realizing the big number on the scale.

Log it, log it, log it.

I had a compliance person once tell me, “If you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen.”  I carried that into my exercise life.  I log everything that I consume.  I log every exercise I do.  I use the MyFitnessPal (MFP) app on my iPhone.  I use a heart rate monitor that syncs back to MFP so I don’t have to enter all my exercises.  (If you are interested in the details of what tech I stuff I use, see the bottom of this.)

Get Started

My advice to anyone looking to get healthy;  get started.  You don’t have to set a grand master plan, tell everyone to stay away from you while you diet, just make some changes to start.  Eat more fruit, drink more water, take the stairs, park at the end of the parking lot so you walk further, get a FitBit, log your food (paper & pencil is cool if you don’t want to be a geek like me).

The best advice my trainer has given me: “Don’t ever be hungry, don’t ever be full.”  If you eat out of boredom, like I always did, stop before you go into the kitchen to graze.  Get a glass of water instead and after drinking it, wait 15 minutes and see if you feel the same cravings.

Folks, I’m not where I want to be, but you know what I am?  Happier and more energetic.  I look for ways to be more active because I know it will pay off more than the Lay’s potato chips will.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.  I’m not an expert, just a dude on a healthier lifestyle journey.

Tech Stuff I use  (You can skip this if you are not interested in geeky stuff.)

MyFitnessPal (click for link to the site, it’s free)

Since MFP is one of the most popular sites for food tracking, almost every food is already there for you to add to your list.  They also have a bar code scanner that you can scan something you just ate, enter the quantity and its added.  Very cool, if you are so technically inclined.  

Scosche Armband heart rate monitor.  I have never been a fan of chest strap monitors.  This fits nice and from my tests gives an accurate reading.

The fitness tracking app I use is Endomondo  Although, there are several.  (MapMyRun, RunKeeper, Nike Running) Endomondo links with MFP, so my exercises show automatically.

My newest addition is my Apple Watch.  I have become absolutely obsessed with getting all three of the daily activity rings. Move – calories burned, exercise & stand.  (I was shocked to find how many times in a day I have not stood up for over an hour.  The Apple Watch reminds you to stand at the 50 minute mark of the hour if you have not stood for over a minute.)  Here’s what my streak since getting my watch look like:

Apple Watch streak

Aside

Use Your Facebook Status to Change your Life

Facebook is an interesting animal.  I was an early adopter to FB (started 6/14/2007) and as an almost 5-year grizzled veteran of the social media behemoth, I have seen some interesting happenings over that time.  However, the most interesting item has to be what your FB status says about you.

In researching this post, I went back and read all my posts over the past few months (I usually update once a day or so).  Now, if I didn’t know anything about me, I would gather that I am the class clown, post funny stuff and try to make myself seem witty.  That my friends is dead on.  Now, I didn’t say I was funny or witty, but I try.

So, I took some other FB friends of mine and read their posts over the past couple of months (the new Timeline feature makes that real easy).  It’s interesting what you see.

I have friends that attempt to be wittier than me (they try).  I have friends that have a genuinely positive outlook on life.  Everyday is glorious.  Sunshine, rainbows, unicorns and puppies.  Ya gotta love it.   I have friends that seem to have lives worse than “Born Loser”.  Nothing goes their way.  Every bounce of the ball is off their foot.  The glass is way past half-empty.  Then I have friends that live if only for their kids.  No post goes without a mention of their children.  I’m not saying that’s bad, just follow me on this.

But, I would like for you to look past the above general stereotypes and read YOUR posts.  Do you see a theme?  FB is a simple way to get what’s going on with you out of your head and out there for the world to see (like this post.)  I believe that what is going on in your life manifests itself to a FB post.  So, how is that going to change you life?

Read your posts.  If every 3rd one is about how terrible your job is, or how you are dreading work,  maybe you need a new job.  Are they easy to come by, no.  But you have to decide that you are going to start looking.  If every other post is “why do bad things happen to me?”  Then you are giving a self-fulfilling prophesy.  What is making these bad things happen?  Your financial situation?  Your job?  Your partner?  Use that to look inside yourself and find a positive way to change it.

Now, you happy people don’t get off the hook either.  If you were one of the before mentioned unicorn people, nice work.  However, make sure that if that is your attitude, you are sharing it with others that don’t have it.  Is one of your friends one of the people from the last paragraph?  Call them.  Take them to lunch.  Share that good juice that you got with them.  They need it.  If you do, it will fuel you even more.

Now, I hope that I don’t lose friends on FB because you think I’m pointing fingers, I’m not.  I love all 703 of you like you are my own internet children.  More importantly, I hope this reaches at least one of you 703 and helps you in the new year.  Have a great day.

 

 

Aside

Seconds of Beauty

I saw this video this morning and I thought it was really cool.  Especially this time of year when we are rushing around buying gifts, pepper spraying people at Walmart and baking cookies.  Take a second to soak in the beauty that is life.  I just looked up from my desk to see all the pictures of Truce & Jennifer on my wall.  That deserves more seconds than 1.  My point is this; life is a beautiful, wonderful gift, take a second to take it in, marvel at it and rejoice in it.  Doing that several times a day changes the entire way you look at things.  It gives you a great perspective on how wonderful and beautiful life is.  It’s raining and cold here today, but I can’t help look out the window and enjoy the simple beauty of the rain.

Have a wonderful day. (Watch it full screen if you can.)

Seconds Of Beauty – 1st round compilation from The Beauty Of A Second on Vimeo.

 

Aside

Steve Jobs Eulogy

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs

By MONA SIMPSON

Published: October 30, 2011

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild. This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.

We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter.

I told Steve I’d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.

Steve told me it was a good thing I’d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful.

I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.

Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.

That’s incredibly simple, but true.

He was the opposite of absent-minded.

He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.

When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.

He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.

Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.

For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.

He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.

He was willing to be misunderstood.

Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.

Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.

His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.

Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.

When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.

They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.

This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there.

And he did.

Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning.

Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.

Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.

With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun.

He treasured happiness.

Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.

Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.

I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.

Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes.

“You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.

He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.

I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.

Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham.

One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially.

I told him: Steve, this is special treatment.

He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”

Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.

For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to.

By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.

None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.

I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.

What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.

Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.

His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.

He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.

Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.

He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.

This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing.

But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:

OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.

Mona Simpson is a novelist and a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She delivered this eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, on Oct. 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University.

Aside

Why I don’t remember Sept. 2001 like everyone else.

Leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I, like most people, are reflecting on what that tragic day was to us personally.  Do the events of that day conjure up thoughts of American Pride, anger, sorrow, of course.  But for me, personally, I have mixed emotions from that month.  NO, I don’t plan on writing about my frustration with airport security, or the issues around ground zero.  The other half of my emotional spectrum is joy.

On September 11, 2001, my wife, Jennifer was 9 months pregnant with our child (I didn’t know if it was a he or she at that time).  He was born on 9/26/01 and we named him, Truce Gehrig Souza.  A lot of people at the time thought that we named him that because of what was going on at the time.  That was not the case.  Truce Myers was Jennifer’s great Uncle and he’s named after him (Gehrig is after my favorite baseball player of all time, Lou Gehrig).

Following that days after 9/11, Jennifer and I poised the big question; What kind of world are we bringing a child into that things like this happen? My son was born into the war on terrorism and two weeks from now he’s going to celebrate his 10th birthday.  He’s never NOT lived under the flag of war.

But 10 years ago, there was no such thing as a “War on Terror”.  There was only me, my beautiful wife and our soon to be born son. There was no such thing as autism.  It existed, don’t get me wrong, but to us it was Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.  It would be 3 more years until we became connected to autism.   There was Jebadiah the wonder dog, and Junebug but no Eve or Bella.  There was 2003 Westview, but no 1516 Bowman.  There was a Nana, not the memory of her. There was an A.G. Edwards & Sons, there was not a Souza Financial Group.

My 30’s have given me the best damn 10 years of my life.  I’m happy and grateful for so many things that I can’t begin to name them.  America, I love ya, however I’m going to spend the day relishing in the joys you offer us, not in the tragedies of the past.  I have a pork butt on the grill and there is a full day of NFL games on.  If that doesn’t say “America”, I don’t know what does.  God bless the families of those lost on 9/11 and everyday in the war since. God bless everywhere.

Happy Birthday to the greatest thing to happen in September 2001, Truce Gehrig Souza.Truce Souza 2011