I don't pitch anything unless I think it's worth your time.
I just got an email from Acorns that they'll plant ten oak trees if ten people to sign-up with my code by the end of January. And they'll give you the $5 to start!
Acorns is a brilliant little investment/savings app that rounds-up your bank, credit and debit card purchases and takes that "loose change" to invest. For example, if you buy some groceries for $59.82 it will take 18¢ and put it aside. When that loose change reaches $5 it transfers it into the account. You can also add more whenever you want, scheduled or not. I throw $10 a week in there because, honestly, I never really miss $10.
You can choose whether the investment is conservative, moderate or aggressive and it shows you exactly what is being invested in various types of stock.
I started with $5 in July 2015. By October 2016 it was up to $2400. I had to take out a chunk for an emergency house repair (thank goodness I had it) but my all-time market gain/loss is +6.17%. After the $1 monthly fee it's still yielding +5.24% (this number increases if you have more in there). There's no fee to withdraw or invest more. They also partner with businesses that invest in your account when you spend, like AirBnB and Jet.com.
If I don't touch it and stay this course the projection indicates $50K+ in 20 years. On loose change! Saving for college? Retirement? Weddings? Yeah, it won't pay it all, but it's a super-easy way to contribute to your future-self without really missing anything in the present. I call it "background" investing.
That's the pitch. Ten trees get planted if ten people sign up by 1/31 and they'll give you the $5 to start.
This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.
If this were a real emergency you would be notified of what to do — unless ties were cut to power, water, fuel, the airwaves, or any combination of the above. Actions following this test would most likely include screaming, searching for airline flights on the electronic device of your choice, heavy soul-searching, and light cannibalism. In the case of fire or mass extinction, marshmallows may be provided.
Toast, eggs, coffee and condoms will not be provided. Please stop asking.
This is only a test.
You brush your teeth every day.
You bathe (or at least wash your face) every day.
You change your underwear every day. Hopefully.
But why does making the bed seem like an arduous chore? Along with the dishes, laundry, cleaning the dog poop, mowing the lawn or dusting, bed-making is often relegated to a secondary class of hygienic maintenance. But it shouldn’t be, for a number of reasons.
First of all: Health. Your body is a factory that performs billions of chemical reactions all day, every day—and all night. Chemicals come in, churn around, combine with other chemicals, split up from other compounds, zig, zag, zoom and find their way back into the world. In the few seconds it took you to read this, another million micro-reactions occurred that allow you to think, move and emote. It’s pretty remarkable.
Now think about the last time you went shopping and you walked down the detergent aisle or the coffee aisle or stood by the fish section. The smells can be powerful. The molecules from the soaps and beans and trout have somehow magically separated from their “hosts” and gone up your nose and into your body—all at a microscopic level.
You spend at least seven hours a night in your bed in the same physical location, just like those grocery department products, and your body processes and releases molecules as well, through your skin, your nose, your mouth, your... Just like a snake, you shed small portions of yourself every night as you regenerate skin from the inside out (that’s how wounds heal and zits disappear). And just like all other mammals, you inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Did you eat today? Beans, perhaps? The gasses your body can’t contain also manage to escape and it all goes into your bed sheets where you roll and toss and dream…
Take the comforter or blanket and top sheet off the bed, slip your fingers under the fitted sheet at a corner and billow it vigorously to allow the air to flow beneath and on top of the sheet. This clears the toxins (to some degree) just like opening your car window clears away lingering Taco Bell odors. Now run your hands over the fitted sheet and you may be surprised how many little foreign objects you’ll find… I know this is gross, and I apologize for the detailing, but things fall off your body all the time. Hair, earwax, boogers, scabs, flakes of skin, stuff from between your toes and even itty-bitty-bits of toilet paper fragments have the potential to cling to your sheets. Yes, it's a bit nasty to think about, but it's part of being human (no matter how squeaky-clean you think you are). Sweep your hands across your fitted sheet and just toss that scruff to the floor (I’ll have you vacuuming in another post). You may not see or feel a thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Then put your top sheet back on after fluffing it as well. Then beat the crap out of your pillows to really let the air move around them. That's my favorite part. Then put the blanket or comforter back on and smooth out all the edges so it’s nice and clean and flat—like a hotel. There, you’ve made your bed. Fantastic. Now don't forget to wash your hands.
Let’s move on to the next important reason you should do this every day:
Psychology. When I’m making a bed I’ve managed to carve out four to six minutes for myself. Certainly I’m entitled to four-to-six-minutes, right? And no one can fault you for performing a perceived chore, right? In our incredibly over-programmed lives, this fraction of time can become a respite for introspection. Making a bed is a mundane task that doesn’t require much skill or thought, which is partly why it’s so enjoyable. When you’re cooking you have to watch what you’re doing or you could burn the sauce or slice a finger. When you’re driving you have to concentrate or risk a collision. But when you make the bed there is no risk. No attention is required. And you cannot do it wrong.
Making the bed daily can establish a continued mindset of completion and success. The moment you finish making the bed you can look at it and feel a sense of joy and accomplishment. It's not like graduating college or defeating Donkey Kong, but it’s an accomplishment nonetheless because you set out to do a task and you completed it successfully. You are a creature of emotion and satisfaction, joy and success are your fuel. It doesn’t matter that anyone can make the bed, YOU made the bed, and now it’s lovely.
I organize my day when I’m making the bed and think about what I want to accomplish in other arenas. Sometimes I think about what I’m going to eat so when I get to the kitchen I already have a plan. Sometimes I organize a shopping list in my head. Sometimes I remind myself I have a meeting later in the day. Sometimes I try to figure out the solution to a problem, find meaning in a dream, or remind myself to write to an old friend or call a sibling. Making the bed gives me the five minutes I need to recalibrate myself in preparation for the rest of the day.
What’s the best thing about staying in a hotel? The bed is made! Imagine if it wasn’t…. a visual confirmation that someone else was sleeping there is disturbing, but if the bed is made your mind believes the room was sterilized just for you. It’s a fresh, clean slate. Now imagine enjoying that feeling every time you walk into your own bedroom. Fresh, clean slate. Fresh, clean slate. Repeat it over and over, and then give it to yourself!
The final reason you need to make your bed is because Sleep is Damned Important. It has been proven that establishing a routine before bedtime can facilitate quality rest. You probably already have a routine for yourself, even if you’re not conscious of it. Maybe you brush your teeth and check the lights and let out the dog one last time, make sure your slippers are in place, check your alarm settings, read a few pages of a book, kiss someone and then turn off the light. I’m a little insane—I also have to open the closet door five inches. Anyway, the feeling of crawling into a fresh bed strengthens the routine. If you crawl into a messy bed you have to adjust the sheets and blanket and pillow to get them where you want them—in essence making the bed while you're already in it. But when you walk into your bedroom at night and pull back the covers from your fresh, clean-slate bed your mind is already prepared to rest, making it that much easier to slip off to your happy REM.
Making the bed also makes you move. You stretch, you flex, and you go back and forth from side to side, pulling and tucking and fluffing. Always keep the blood flowing and those calories burning!
So make your bed every day, launder and change your sheets every 7-10 days, launder your blankets monthly and your comforters seasonally (or more frequently if your pet sleeps with you) and flip your mattress every six months. I know you’ve got a million other important things to think about, and I know it's just your bed, but try to remember that you spend—and expend—nearly a third of your entire life in it.
From the joint unveiling memorial service for my Grandma and her brother:
I'm going to talk for a few minutes about Uncle Mike & Grandma not as individuals, but as siblings, and the significance of that particular relationship as it pertained to their lives, and ours.
One of the requisite characteristics to being a quality human being is knowing how to share. It's one of the first lessons we're taught in school, and it is an instruction that it reiterated throughout our personal and professional lives. Sharing. And no relationship prepares us better or teaches us more about sharing than being a sibling.
Genetics aside, as siblings we share the resources in the house, the food on the table, bedrooms and bathrooms and even the remote control on the TV. As we get older, if we're close enough in age, we start to share experiences beyond the home. We may have the same teachers and maybe even the same friends. What we learn from being a sibling, and all of this sharing, is that sometimes we're going to be expected to put another person in front of ourselves. We're forced to recognize that we're not the only person who has a need. There are other people in this world, and your sibling serves as a constant reminder of this.
This responsibility is a gift. If we're lucky, our sibling can be our confidant, our cohort and our example. We can learn from our sibling's failures and successes as much as from our own. Our brother or sister can be our friend because he or she is sharing our life, our situations, our parents' displeasures or respect… With your sibling you can view your parents together as those taller, older alien beings who seem to have an entirely different sense of the world. As you grow up, you and your siblings will form your own new realities together.
Even when siblings move away from each other the sharing continues. When our identities are more-or-less formed and we see ourselves as individuals, that's when we start to share bigger: ideas, perspectives, events and philosophies. We share the pleasures and sorrows of life. It can be tricky to stay connected when we're no longer playing the same games with the same rules. Maybe we don't share geography, or even the same values. This can create a dynamic situation, but it's still good because the sibling that knows you helps you to further define yourself. In architecture and photography the negative space can be just as defining as the subject itself.
So… Grandma and Uncle Mike. I honestly don't know much about what their life was like when they were children, but they always maintained their connection to each other, even when they realized they were their own people and they were leading very different lives. At some point it didn't matter if they had kids or if they were observant in the same ways, or who had a house where because they always stayed connected through their common history and they held their mutual interest in family and each other. Their relationship was forged in steel and gold.
When Mike died a year ago Grandma said "I lost my Baby Brother." The baby brother who wasn't a baby for over eighty years was perpetually her baby brother. I'm sure their relationship had its set of bumps, as all relationships do, but they were always able to go back and reapply that most important lesson from their childhood: To Share.
Mike & Edith were citizens of the world in large part because of their connection to each other. They both taught and they both gave back. They had friends and they made an impact on their communities. They had the capacity to see beyond themselves and they recognized that we don't have to be trapped inside our own egos all of the time. And that's because they were siblings and the sibling relationship is unique in that way. It always brings you back and for this reason it is special. Sacred. Like anything else it requires care and nurturing, but so long as we remember to share, even when we don't agree, we're going to recognize that these differences actually help us too, just as they always have.
I think it's fitting that we're honoring Grandma and Mike in this memorial service together. After everything they went through together from practically the same starting point to practically the same end, it's amazing to think that now they're their in their final resting place together. They're lives were a beautiful poem of intersecting stanzas, connected and disparate ideas, but with common imagery, memory and a base. As we plot our own courses we'll continue to read the versus of their poem -- and share them with each other until we arrive at our own ending verse.
The stages of death—anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance—may also be used to chronicle the way I am experiencing the departure of my beloved thirties. As I enter into an unknown decade, one that appears to be populated by greying rogue hairs, andropause, lowered metabolisms, higher cholesterols and the stirrings of future creaks and nasty tennis injuries, I wonder: Will my forties be marked by a rapid anatomical decline, or am I, perhaps, on the verge of my most empowered decade? Will I, like Don Draper, master my craft and rule my dominion? Will I value myself? Will I make more money? Will I make keen choices? Do I still have more to learn? Will I eat better?
The difference between ten and twenty was tremendous, but the difference between twenty and thirty seemed marginal. So why does thirty-to-forty feel like a larger leap than the other two combined? What is it about turning forty that instigates the mid-life crises where men dump their spouses and buy sports cars and women dump their friends and start new careers? Why all the madness and misery? Why does admitting we may actually feel okay about turning forty cause our peers to remark that we're 'handling it well'? Out of a possible 300,000 words in the English language, I can safely ascertain that the only one that accurately describes turning forty is FUCK. But why?
Anger. I don't want to turn forty, except that the alternative of not turning forty seems worse. I feel like throwing sharp objects and also throwing up. When I make the bed today I'm gonna smash the pillows a little... too... much. Doors beware, you will be slammed. I'm pissed that the illusion of time is so readily palpable and defining. I'm vexed that there's no attractive alternative. When I was growing up I had a friend with a tattoo on his foot that read 4/12/2012. He claimed it was his expiration date and if he wasn't "something" by the time he turned forty then he would throw a big party and kill himself. I told him if he wasn't "something" then no one would know about his party, either. I have to find him. I have a compulsion to give abuse today because turning forty has fueled my adrenaline and what little testosterone is left is coursing. I'm generally not like this.
Denial. I FEEL nineteen. Well, maybe twenty-three. Okay, twenty-seven. Certainly no more than thirty-one. Or thirty-five. I remember everything I experienced as a child, which was just a few clicks back on my mental calendar, so how can I possibly be forty? My DAD is forty. Well, he was, once. A long time ago... So turning forty may have happened to all of my friends and most of my family and even strangers at the supermarket, but that doesn't mean it has to happen to me. People tell me forty is still young, but it was easier to believe when they were jealous I was thirty. Now I'm harder to convince. Who are these people, anyway? Forty? I deny this. I was asked for my ID at the liquor store just last week. I have the jawline of a teenager and the wonder of a toddler. I can beat this. Clearly they made that cake with all of those candles for someone else.
Bargaining. If I can get to Hawaii before midnight I may be able to salvage just a few more hours of being thirty-something.
Depression. This is how it goes. One day you're practicing backflips in your backyard and thinking that people in college are really old and really smart, and then you're looking at your friends' kids who are about to enter college and you wonder why they all seem so young and stupid. The student becomes the master, except I don't feel like I've mastered anything yet. When I turned thirty I had rental properties and a store and a successful film festival and a nifty house and a reliable social community. I had a savings account. I had all of my grandparents. Now I'm turning forty and the house needs a lot of work, the social community has slimmed, and the rest is gone for good. The yard is bare, the rains come, the grass grows and the flowers bloom, the bees hum and the butterflies frolic. Then the grass gets cut, the tomatoes are picked, the sun sets early and the yard yields to another crunchy frost. Forty is a late-August mowing. It's the significant cut. It's the line. (Sigh).
Acceptance. Okay, my life is good. Really good. Great, actually. Follow this logic: if I didn't turn forty I wouldn't be able to celebrate eighteen beautiful years with my husband. I've learned about loss, both in business and personally, and I've survived with new skills and instincts. I've learned how to say NO to the things I don't want to do, or be (okay, maybe I'm still working on that). And I have new abilities: I can wake up earlier without being so bothered. I can take time to read or play piano or walk the dog without fretting about my other pressing responsibilities. I can go into a grocery store and know how my food choices are going to affect me. I can spend money with some responsibility and I can make money doing jobs that don't compromise my values. I pick better movies to watch. I have gained the luxury of (a modicum of) hindsight.
And I still have goals.
If I'm forty then I'm closer to realizing my dreams than I was when I was twenty or thirty.
If I'm forty then I'm closer to gaining the wisdom of my grandparents.
If I'm forty then I'm closer to relating to my parents and their own experiences of life.
If I'm forty then my adventures will take on a new immediacy which will empower their enactment.
If I'm forty then my teachers were right and I did grow up. On the surface, at least.
I'm forty. It's impossible, but it's true. It's ridiculous, but it's fact. It's astonishing and it's accurate.
Some might say it's an accomplishment. Others say it's not a big deal and they are correct, too.
I'm forty and it's good to be forty.
People take you seriously when you're forty.
They may even believe what you write on your blog.
Let's talk a little about aerobic exercise vs. anaerobic exercise.
Both are healthy for the body and necessary for weight loss, but they work very differently in the way they burn calories. Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio (running on a treadmill, for example), spikes your caloric burn which returns to a resting stasis typically within 1-2 hours. Anaerobic exercise, also knows as weight training, only spikes your caloric burn about 1/3 as much as cardio, but it increases your resting metabolic rate by 20-50 calories per hour for the rest of the day. So which is better? You know what I'm going to say here... neither is better than the other. In fact, you need to do BOTH do lose weight effectively.
Why? Exercise is about oxygen. When you exercise aerobically you intake and expend tremendous amounts of oxygen through your lungs but when you return to stasis the oxygen levels return to normal, along with your breathing. In anaerobic exercise the "interior" oxygen in the physical muscles gets "squeezed out" (okay, not literally, but it's an easy way to understand the process). Throughout the day following a muscle-building workout the muscles require more oxygen as they "rebuild" themselves. It's this rebuilding that makes them harder, stronger and sexier. Your muscles require fuel to obtain the oxygen that's necessary for this process, and they get it by burning your calories. Since it takes a long time for the muscles to rebuild you continue to burn your calories throughout the day, even long-after you're done with the exercise and the heavy breathing.
It's kind of like the tortoise and the hare. The hare is aerobic, sprinting and leaping and expending great amounts of energy, but also taking complete rest stops along the way. The anaerobic is like the tortoise, slowly and steadily and sure-footedly moving along, burning those calories evenly to the end.
The BEST way to lose weight with your exercise is through INTERVAL TRAINING, also known as a Boot Camp. You need both the tortoise and the hare to fully understand the story and interval training brings the two together. Interval training combines cardio with strength, and it also requires you to TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS. The frequent breaks part is the secret key to your success. The hare doesn't lose the race because he stops, he loses because he naps. Stopping and resting is not only okay, it's encouraged. Napping is not allowed when you're exercising.
So rabbits and turtles are your new best friends. The problem is most of us prefer kids and dogs and spouses and jobs to rabbits and turtles. We don't have the time or financial resources to attend weight loss camps that specialize in interval training. Nor do we have six hours a day to train. If we did we'd already be at our goal weight, right? Our kids and dogs and spouses and jobs are very important to us. So how can we live in the real world and still find the time to be with our rabbits and turtles?
There is a way...
If you step on a stairclimber for an hour by the end of it you're sweaty, your heart is pounding, your breathing is insane and your legs hurt. You get off, proud of what you accomplished, but utterly exhausted and already dreading the next session a mere day away. You've worked out for an hour and the effect of the spike will last another 1-2 hours, max. Then you're back to normal, burning your 85 calories an hour and wishing you could take a day off.
Instead, do this:
Warm up through an 8-10 minute deep-stretching abbreviated yoga session. It's short but necessary. It will condition your body for what's to come and set up your breathing for good inflow/outflow. I'll put up a video shortly demonstrating the positions you need to know. Don't worry, you don't need to be a yogi master to do them--I'm not going to make you pull your feet over your head or do anything scary or dangerous. Promise.
For now, stretch the way your gym teacher taught you, but do take a full 8-10 minutes to be fully comfortable and relaxed and ready.
Do 25 jumping jacks.
Do 10 push-ups (on your knees is okay if you need to).
Do 15 stomach pulls (use a device, or do sit-ups)
Sit down and rest for THREE FULL MINUTES, sipping water slowly.
If you're at a gym do one full routine of a single muscle-group exercise, meaning do your arms or do your legs or do your torso. Don't do all three, just do one. Keep the weights at a moderate level--don't hurt yourself or push yourself beyond your limits. This should take about 20 minutes, tops. (I'll post a video soon about how to exercise anaerobically if you don't have access to a gym).
Sit down and rest for THREE FULL MINUTES, sipping water slowly.
Do 25 jumping jacks.
Do 10 pushups.
Do 15 lunges on each leg (30 total).
Sit down and rest for THREE FULL MINUTES, sipping water slowly.
Stairclimb or treadmill or use the elliptical s-l-o-w-l-y for three minutes, and then at the maximum speed you are comfortable with for a full 15 minutes. It's okay to really push yourself here (but don't hurt yourself). When the 15 sprint-like minutes are up, walk it down slowly for 3 minutes or until your breathing returns to a more normal state.
That's it! You've worked out, start to finish, for less than one hour and fifteen minutes and you've not only exercised your heart and lungs with terrific cardio, you've built your muscles too. You've burned the same number of calories you would have just treadmilling the whole time, but now your resting caloric burn will increase to 125 calories per hour for the rest of the day, including when you sleep. This little extra, for only fifteen minutes more than your current routine, will add up to beyond the 500 extra calories you need to burn every day to lose weight.
The psychological benefit to this form of exercise is in the variety. Walking on a treadmill for an hour can seem daunting, but sprinting for 15 minutes, well that's very doable. The weight training is fun, but it doesn't hurt because you're not overdoing it by throwing your body into every possible contortion in one session. The constant rests and sipping water will keep you hydrated and energized.
It's just like eating: A salad is not lettuce, it also needs tomatoes and cucumbers and some dressing and maybe almond halves to keep it interesting. Your proteins need a veggie on the side. Think of your exercising the same way--a routine with variety, an interval training session, will keep you motivated and excited in a way a solitary stair-climb cannot--even if you are watching a good episode of Dr. Who while you do it.
Don't make it a one shot deal.
Think of your body like a car. It needs to be turned on consistently to maintain the fluids and the systems. Rest = Rust.
Every four hours do 25 jumping jacks and 10 pushups or lunges.
This little boost will take 3 minutes out of your day, but it will keep the metabolic machine running smoothly and the fuel flowing. You take breaks to snack, why not take breaks to work them off too? Why limit your exercising to the "I gotta get to the gym" when there are things you can do in your kitchen while your waiting for the green beans to defrost? Do it with your kids: call out "Homework break!" and dance in the living room. Do it on a road trip: Call out "Firedrill!" and run around the car like maniacs three times. Do it at work: Go into the supply closet and jump, Jack, jump.
As the Brady kids sang, "We gotta keep on... keep on... keep on movin'..."
As a good friend recently pointed out, yes, when it comes to calories the math is the math, but knowing these mechanics is probably irrelevant. Few people walk into buildings to visit a doctor or get the dog groomed and think about the structure, the columns, the glass, the air conditioning, the acoustic tiles. And even those of us who do think about these things (we can call ourselves dorks, I suppose) don't choose not to use the building if the door opens the wrong way or the windows are too small. We just use the building the way it's meant to be used and the calories are going to burn the way they're meant to be burned. What's more important is WHY we're in the building. Is it for the doctor or the dog? Are we loitering?
This component is called The Emotion and it’s typically the emotional connection to food that keeps people from losing weight. Our identities are tied up in our self-assessment of our self-image and going from heavy to thin means change, and change is scary. Remember when you stopped sucking your thumb or finally put away your childhood teddybear or blanket? Scary. Remember when you had your first sleepover at someone’s house — perhaps your first night alone in a different bed in a different place? Scary. Remember when you lost 100 pounds and started to see a new person in the mirror smiling back at you? Equally scary. Even though these things are desired it doesn’t mean they don’t frighten us. We are creatures of habit, and change scares us because we have to take ourselves out of our comfort zones and project ourselves into the unknown. Ironically, change is also necessary. Stagnant waters fester. Stagnant foods go moldy. Stagnant people become unhappy (and even diseased).
I’m going to oversimplify here (because that’s what I do) but I’ve found in my life that when I’m miserable about something, and I mean truly miserable, whether it be about a job I hate or a relationship I can’t stand or even just a blue day with gray weather, if I take a step back and breathe I’ll discover the emotion I’m feeling is actually a fabrication. This doesn’t mean it isn’t a real emotion, or genuine, or necessary. What it means is the emotion is coming from a factory of multifarious components that conspired to put out a product that somehow I ordered — even if I didn’t know it. I saw the gray day and a difficult client and my brain processed all the gray days and difficult clients I’ve seen before and it attempted to replicate the way I deal with gray days and difficult clients because that’s what it knows how to do. That’s the factory I’ve built, and my Gray Day Difficult Client Factory puts out a product I like to call Gloom.
The nice thing is, I own the factory. I forget this, but it’s true. I own it outright and I can change the orders and the components at will! I can say, “Hey, Gray Day Division! We’re going to replace component 31B: “Sadness with not being able to play in the park” with components 31B-2: “Delight that we don’t have to mow the lawn” and 31B-3: “Joy that we have an excuse to hibernate under a blanket.” And instead of being a negative source of aggravation, my difficult client will now be perceived as an opportunity: This person’s high demands forces me to exercise my ability to say No, which is tough, but good for me. I can take pride in going the extra mile in my job. If I satisfy this client I'll know I can satisfy any client I ever meet. This type of thinking takes practice, but the emotional assembly lines are ready to do what you command. You own the factory, but you have to concentrate on what it is you really want to produce.
You have to learn how to manufacture the emotion that gives you the results you intellectually know you need.
But HOW? Here’s a technique for when you find yourself in a slump or feeling miserable about something:
Literally stand up and take three big, deliberate steps backwards. Picture yourself stepping away from your emotions. Picture yourself literally taking the contents of your state-of-mind and stepping back from them. You can see it all in front of you, but you’re not connected to it—you are now literally three steps behind your feelings. Close your eyes, knowing those feelings are still there, hovering in front of you. Breathe in deeply from the base of your abdomen, up through your lungs and fill them to maximum capacity, as slowly and as comfortably as possible. Then exhale naturally—don’t push it out forcibly. The breath will come out quickly at first and then taper off. Breathe in again, slowly, same way. Exhale again, same way. Repeat one more time. Now you’ve taken three deep, cleansing breaths. With each exhale you’ve blown away the emotions you were feeling, the ones that were three steps in front of you. Each breath broke apart those emotions and they dissipated. They still exist, of course, but now they’re all over the room, blown to the corners, trapped in the carpet, stuck on the walls. Without your direct connection, they will dissolve on their own. Open your eyes and you’ll see that they’re not there anymore, holding the space where you were. They’ve moved on. Take three big steps back into the place where you were and you’ll feel different now — it's proof that those negative emotions have been cleared. You are open now to fill yourself with the emotions you want to feel. If you want to run around the room and collect all those hard feelings, feel free, but it might be easier to fabricate some new ones in your sparkling and clean emotional factory.
The Law of Attraction, at it’s core, reminds us that You Are What You Think.
I know you know this, but it needs to be reiterated because it needs to be lived, and living is action, and all actions start with your very personal thoughts.
If you think of exercise as a struggle that you have to get through every day, it will be a struggle that you have to get through every day.
If you think of yourself as fat you will be fat.*
If you beat yourself up for not losing weight then you are focused on not losing weight and you won't lose weight.
If you are frustrated with not losing weight then you will remain frustrated and you won't lose weight.
If you hate to exercise then exercise will be a chore that you hate.
If you feel like exercise is the only way out of this but it doesn't seem to work, then it won't work as your only way out of this.
*when I say fat here I don’t mean overweight, which is a truth about one’s physicality, I mean the word fat as a description with the negative connotations that makes us feel bad about our physicality and affects our emotional well-being.
Every thought has a counter-thought. Flip the stick when you think these thoughts. Flip the stick and look at the gem at the top instead of the part that's stuck in the dirt on the bottom.
The Law of Thermodynamics applied: Calories-out must be higher than calories-in to lose weight.
The body cannot manufacture weight out of nothing.
All weight is imported, through food.
All weight is exported through movement.
Take ONE WEEK and actually journal your calories-in, meal by meal, snack by snack, beverage by beverage, nut by nut. Use www.caloriecount.com as a guide.
Then try to journal your expenditure calories-out as well. Add 15% to whatever the stair-climber or treadmill says to account for its effect post-workout. If it says you burned 500 calories mark it as 500 and then add 75 more to it.
Okay, now scrap that. You didn't burn 575 calories today just because you walked three miles up a hill and made new pit-stains on your favorite t-shirt. Logging your calories-out is next-to impossible because there's no way to be 100% accurate. You cannot ascertain your calories-out for the parts of the day when you’re not exercising, when you’re running around the grocery store, watching television, taking a shower, having sex in the shower, or sitting in your kid’s piano lesson.
Calories-out fluctuates constantly and there are too many variables.
To add to the problem, even the treadmill’s readout cannot be read as absolute truth because it doesn't take into account your body type, age or other factors. For example, two people can run the same distance at the same speed at the same incline on a treadmill, but if one person is 20 and weighs 150 and another is 50 and weights 220 they will burn calories at completley different rates. Plus, what did they do to warm up? What is the temperature of the room? Is one of them at sea-level and the other in the Alps? Again, too many variables to be positively accurate.
And then, if you ARE overweight, whatever the machine says you burned can likely be deducted from the total, but as a percentage. For example, if you're 30 pounds overweight, then the machine is possibly reading you as much as 30% higher than your physical, personal reality. If it says you burned 500, it may only be a true 350. The treadmill is just computing a formula for speed, incline, time and maybe your weight and age, but that's not enough information. Sorry! I'll explain why this is later on (keep reading). Of course there’s no hard-and-fast rule to this--it’s not science and, despite what’s coming in this section, please note that I wasn’t a math major.
There is another way to look at the math (of course there is) and it is more accurate, but it's also more complicated. Life is complicated. Bear with me here...
Basically, there is BMR (Base Metabolic Rate) and RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) which correlates to the waking and sleeping burning of your calories.
This can be expressed using two different formulas:
The Harris-Benedict equation for BMR
* For men: (6.2 x w) + (12.7 x h) - (6.76 x a) + 66
* For women: (4.3 x w) + (4.7 x h) - (4.68 x a) + 655
The Mufflin equation for RMR:
* For men: (4.5 x w) + (15.9 x h) - (5 x a) + 5
* For women: (4.5 x w) + (15.9 x h) - (5 x a) - 161
w = weight in pounds, h = height in inches, a = age
For your daily calories burned, assuming you sleep 8 hours a night:
(.66 x BMR) + (.33 x RMR) = Total Calories Burned.
But then, to make it even more fun, take your Total Calories Burned and multiply it by your Activity Factor:
1.2 Sedentary Little or no exercise and desk job
1.375 Lightly Active Light exercise or sports 1-3 days a week
1.55 Moderately Active Moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days a week
1.725 Very Active Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week4
1.9 Extremely Active Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job
It takes a little time to plug in the numbers, but for someone like me, 172 pounds, 69 inches, 38 years old with 1.55 activity factor getting approx 8 hours of sleep a night, according to the formulas I burn approximately 2257 calories a day. Again, not 100% exact, but it’s a good guideline.
([(6.2x172) + (12.7x69) - (6.76x38) + 66] x .66) + ([(4.5x172) + (15.9-69) - (5x38) +5] x .33) x 1.55 = 2257 calories.
If I were a woman with the same height, weight, age and Activity Factor getting the same sleep I would be burning approximately 1957 calories a day. Sorry, ladies. Your love burns strong, but slower...
([(4.3x172) + (4.7x69) - (4.68x38) + 655] x .66) + ([(4.5x172) + (15.9-69) - (5x38) - 161] x .33) x 1.55 = 1957 calories.
Again, this isn’t always the hard-and-fast 100% true rules for everyone on the planet. But it's a good guideline. (Thank you, www.caloriesperhour.com for these formulas).
Now here’s where we run into trouble and here's what the number really mean:
Let’s say I ate mass quantities of Taco Bell and now I'm 50 pounds overweight. My waist has expanded, my face is broader, I might be developing some boobs... But on the inside the mathematical formula as it relates to my body changes as well. Even if I was just as active as before I would be burning more calories; my new body mass would require I consume more calories just to stay put. Totally unfair! At 222 pounds with the same exercise routine I have now I would be burning more, 2689 calories, in fact, or 432 more than I was at 172, but even that additional burn would only be enough to keep me at 222. What is means is that to lose weight I would have to burn not only what my body is already burning, but another 500 calories to start losing that weight. I would have to raise my activity level almost to the 1.9 level to achieve that. And that's a lot of work!
Still with me? I'll say it again in another way: If I weigh 172 pounds and I want to lose weight I’ll have to burn 2257 calories to stay even, and then I'll have to burn more to lose the weight. But if I weigh 222 pounds I’ll have to burn 432 more calories that that just to stay even, and then even more to lose weight. Let's say I add another twenty minutes a day to my exercising and I burn an extra 100 calories at my 172 weight. To achieve the same effect, at my 222 weight I would have to do three hours of exercise to burn 532 calories. Do you see what I’m saying? Do you see what this means? That’s why it’s so much harder to lose weight when you’re overweight. That’s why fat people hate skinny people who seem to be able to eat whatever they want and still stay thin. It’s not the same world for fat people and skinny people because they are burning calories at completely different rates. This totally sucks, doesn’t it?!
But, of course, you don’t have to exercise away that extra 500 calories a day to get rid of it.
Remember the Law of Thermodynamics?
All weight is imported, through food.
All weight is exported through movement.
Consume 500 calories less each day and you’ll achieve the same goal without the all-day workout.
Another thing you need to know is that the Activity Factor is the BIGGEST VARIABLE in the equation. If I take a day off of exercising my calories burned that day goes down to 1810. If I eat to maintain my current weight at 172 that means I’m eating 2257 calories on the days that my activity factor is 1.55. If I eat the same way on my “day off” and I’ve only burned 1810 then I’ve kept 447 calories that day. And keeping it means storing it and it gets stored in our tissues as fat. If I was 50 pounds overweight my caloric burn at Activity Factor 1.2 would go down to 2081, but I would be used to eating 2689, so now I’ve added 608 calories to my pot belly. Again, incredibly not-fair for overweight people because the days they lower their Activity Factors they put on more weight than people who aren't overweight who take a day off. Again, the math is the reason skinny people seem to be able to eat more... the reason skinny people suck...
Days-off are hugely disruptive to losing weight. The only viable solution is to eat less on the days you don't exercise because you’re burning less calories when you're sedentary. The irony is most of us enjoy our days off tremendously and it’s on those days that we typically eat even more.
This is the Doubly-Whammy that keeps us imprisoned in our over-weight bodies.
Here’s the fantastic conclusion that wraps it all up with a silver bow:
In order to lose just one pound a week
you need to reduce your caloric intake
by 500 calories PER DAY, EVERY DAY.
Whether this means exercising another 500 calories away or eating 500 calories less, or maybe splitting the difference, 500 calories seems to be the magic number for losing pounds.
If you eat more, you’ll lose slower; if you eat less you’ll lose faster.**
If you exercise more you’ll lose faster; if you exercise less you’ll lose slower.
**Maintain your nutrition! This is where making smart choices about what you eat comes into play, but we'll deal with that in future posts, I promise.
The very super-best news I have for you regarding The Calorie Lessson is that once you start losing your weight then the numbers ALWAYS work in your favor, maing it easier to do more with less. Think of all of this math and your body as a grocery cart: As you load it up it gets heavier, harder to push around, it takes longer at the check-out, you have to move more bags into the car and then the kitchen, and it takes up more space in your refrigerator and cabinets. Also, it costs more. But if you put less in your cart it’s easier to move around, you can use the fast lanes, you can throw it on the front seat and put it away in a flash--and save money. The numbers work in your favor in the very same way. You can do more, save more and have more time--with less in your cart, less on your plate....
Less junk in your trunk, as they say.
I am not overweight. I am a 38-year-old male, 5’9” and 172 pounds with a BMI of 20.
According to the US Army I should weigh 184.
Accoridng to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company I should weigh, at the very most, 167.
According to US National Center for Health Statistics I should weigh 178.
According to North American Association for the Study of Obesity I should weigh 161.
Those all average to 172.5, so I pretty much weigh what I should.
At my lightest at this height I was 155. That was 25 years ago.
At my heaviest at this height I was 190. That was six months ago. And that scared me.
My husband is overweight. Since we eat, travel, make plans and coexist with similar schedules in the same dietary house I have often wondered why he can’t seem to lose the weight that I was able to shed. He attributes it to age (he’s a little older than I am) and metabolism. While I agree those are compelling factors, he expressed his frustration to me about his weight issues and I told him I have ideas on things he can do. I wanted to help. He told me, point blank, that I’m unqualified to advise him because I Don’t Know What He’s Going Through. This is true, but he’s also wrong. I’ve been watching what he’s been going through for 16 years.
On the next few posts you’ll see lessons, tips, opinions, advice, perspectives and other things I wanted to tell him that might help with regards to the universal problem of losing weight. I don’t know if they will help him, but they helped me shed 18 pounds in six months. I haven’t been able to lose the last seven to reach my goal, no matter how much I exercise, how much or little I eat, if I eat on a schedule or sporadically, if I drink some wine or don’t drink some wine... Every time I hop on a scale it reads the same number no matter what time of day, what day of the week, before or after I walk the dog... I thought maybe the scale was broken, but it appears that 172 is just my weight. Still, I continue to persevere to reach 165, which is an arbitrary number that sounds like it would feel better than 172. Maybe when I get there I’ll think otherwise, but it’s good to have goals to strive for, even when everything seems to be working out.
Perhaps for someone who may be morbidly obese, or maybe for someone who is uncharacteristically overweight for the first time, what I’ve written so far may sound like whining. Poor me, 172, bitch bitch bitch... Well, for anyone who’s ever tried to lose that last seven pounds you know what I’m going through. For anyone who’s tried to lose 70 pounds, this stuff might fit too.
Again, my standard disclaimer applied: I am not an expert, I am not trained, I am not a doctor, I am not a specialist, I am not a therapist, I do not have a fitness device, a physical education degree, backers or credentials. But I do have a body and I do have a mouth. Always seek advice from your health care professional before embarking on anything that may affect your body and health. Don’t listen to me.
This essay was intended for my husband, but he wasn’t entirely interested.
Rather than waste the words, I decided to post them for you.
Do your best, love yourself and go for it!
I am not an expert. I am not trained. I am not a doctor. I am not a specialist. I am not a therapist. I do not have a fitness device for sale. I am not on television. I am not a movie star. I am not a guru.
I do have a brain. I do have a body. I have a dog. I have a husband and family and friends.
I travel. I eat. I watch too many movies and I read too few books. I try to remember to floss.
I have had success and I have had failure. I had over a million dollars once and I've also been through bankruptcy and foreclosure. I have been happy and I have been depressed. I have been in love (still am, actually). I have also been hurt and I have hurt others.
Through it all I've learned a few things--and these are the things I want to share with you.
Welcome to NonWisdom.