Category Archives: Fitness

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Right

It seems that I am always in a rush.

I find it very difficult to just do what I am doing without thinking about what is coming next or when I’ll be finished with whatever I am working on.

rushing Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Right

Even as I am sitting and writing this blog post, I’m not really as immersed in the process as I should be. Instead, I am thinking about the fact that I need to get this post done and ready to be published today.

For some reason, I always feel like the clock is ticking down on me. I always feel rushed and that I need to rush things along.

I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and written something that had more than a single rough draft and a final draft. I can’t imagine having multiple drafts of a thing.

Why am I saying this? Because, lately I’ve been meditating on the phrase “anything worth doing is worth doing right.”

Am I really giving it my all?

I’ve been thinking about that phrase a lot and how much I tend to ignore it. I get a lot done, but what I get done isn’t always as satisfying as it should be, because I often find I’m not applying myself as much as I should be.

This “weakness” seems to permeate every area of my life. As I’m running or lifting weights at the gym, I often realize that I’m not giving it my all. As I am writing a blog post, or writing code, I get the same feeling of not giving 100%. When I’m playing with my daughter, or spending time with my family, I’m often not 100% there—but, it’s not like I’m somewhere else either. I’m often just sort of wandering through life a little bit “checked out.”

The best word I can use to describe this is slothfulness. I’ve been feeling this pressing need to eliminate as much slothfulness from my life as possible.

I’m beginning to realize how much time and effort is wasted on doing things in a half-ass manner. If I sit down to do some work and I don’t know exactly what I am doing, if I’m not focused on a specific task I need to get done, I end up wasting a lot of time.

But, it’s actually more than that. I’ve found ways to make sure I am focused on the task at hand in order to make sure that I don’t waste time by taking too long to accomplish a particular task, but what is more difficult is giving 100% to the task at hand. It’s quite possible to be 100% focused, but not to be giving it all you’ve got.

There is a huge penalty in not giving it all you’ve got. This is the real struggle—at least for me—at least right now.

I know the work I am producing could be better. I know the time I’m spending could be more fulfilling, if, I could just fully subscribe to the belief that anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Fixing the problem

The good news is that I have been thinking about some ways to combat this problem. Here are some of my ideas:

First of all, I am going to try and not do anything unless I know what I am going to do and I am going to devote 100% of my focus to that activity.

That doesn’t mean that I have to plan out every aspect of my day ahead of time, but it means that I have to at least plan out what I am going to do before I do it.

For example, today I decided that I was going to go to a coffee shop and get the intro letter for early readers of my book done, write an email that talked about the revisions to the chapters in my book and write this blog post.

I didn’t plan for reading through my email, checking Facebook or doing anything else during that time. I’m sitting here working on exactly what I had planned to work on and I am putting my full focus into that work.

I’ll also plan out when I’ll do certain things so that they aren’t hanging over my head and distracting me from other things I am doing. I find that I can’t focus on the task at hand when I have some uncertainty about another task that I need to get done. Whenever I feel that uncertainty about something that needs to get done, my plan is to schedule it so that I can take it off my mind.

Setting standards

Next up, I’m going to try to have a bit more rigorous standards for what I am doing before I start doing it. I’ve found that it’s often difficult for me to decide what “doing something right” means. It’s pretty subjective and when I feel like I am done with a task, my judgment tends to be skewed. I’m likely to call something done that is “good enough” rather than “right.”

Sometimes the effort to take something from “good enough” to “right” is very small, so it is worth taking the extra time and putting forth the extra effort to go the last mile. I can spend a large amount of time and effort on a task or project and have this gnawing feeling of discontent if I am willing to accept “good enough.” This acceptance of “good enough” often negates the entire reward of the effort, so I want to strive towards doing things right instead of just “good enough,” even if it takes more time.

Stop rushing

That brings me to the next point: stop rushing.

I’m always rushing. Always trying to get things done as fast as possible so that I can be as prolific as possible. While being more prolific might have a higher monetary reward, I’ve found it often comes at the cost of feeling discontent with the work being done.

flowers Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Right

This one is going to be one of the most difficult ones for me. Even now, thinking about this very subject, my fingers are still frantically striking the keyboard as I glance at the clock, worried about how long it is taking me to write this post.

I think a solution to this problem may be to block out ample blocks of time to work on a thing. To purposely give myself breathing room. For example, I might feel less rushed if I came here to write a blog post, that I figured would take me about an hour, but I gave myself two hours to work on it instead. And, if I forced myself to spend the entire allotted time working on it, I would probably not feel rushed and I’d would produce an overall better product.

The next task I do, I am going to try and block off time and force myself to use the entire allotted time.

Living in the moment

Let’s see what else is left. How about living in the moment—another extremely difficult one for me now. I have a difficult time stopping to smell the roses. I imagine that if I stop rushing, I’ll probably solve this problem as well, but for now, I am going to try to start purposely giving 100% to what I am doing at any given time.

With every activity I am doing, work or otherwise, I am going to try and focus 100% on what I am doing and also give 100% to that activity. This one will be difficult—I am sure of it. But, this might be the most important thing to focus on. Sometimes I feel like my life is passing me by because I’m always looking forward or backward—I’m never taking time to stop and smell the roses.

One aspect of this that I have been thinking about is to actively think about what I am doing at any given moment and to clearly define it. For example, if I am sitting on the couch, I should ask myself what am I doing. Am I having a conversation with someone? Am I relaxing? Am I doing something else? At any given time I should be able to define what it is I am doing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something productive. It is better to actively decide that I am spending time browsing Facebook than it is to just be sitting at a computer “doing nothing.”

In fact, I just purchased The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. Not sure if this book is good or not, but several people have recommended it to me and it came to mind today.

Drop more stuff

Finally, I think I need to drop anything that I am not going to do right. This is the full interpretation of “anything worth doing is worth doing right.” I simply need to make a rule that if I am not willing to do something right, if I am not willing to devote my full energy to it, if I am not willing to slow down and not rush through it, then I simply should not do it at all.

I often have thought that if I stopped splitting my focus so much that I’d be able to be much more successful at the things I do choose to do. This is another difficult one for me, because I tend to see one of my greatest assets as my ability to do so many different things. It’s scary and dangerous to either drop things that I am used to doing or to recommit to them, giving 100% effort.

At a surface level, I know that it would be better to focus on a smaller number of things and to dive deeper into those things, but at a deeper level, I’m scared to do it. I’m the kind of person that likes to leave as many doors open as possible. The thought of closing some doors scares me, but I know I need to do it.

Well, that is about it. I’m trying to use this time in Hawaii, away from my normal schedule to be as introspective as possible. Expect some big changes in the next few months as I start to get everything figured out and set the course for the future.

For more of my thoughts about life, and software development, join the Simple Programmer community here.

Get Up And Code 34: Breaking Your Running Plateau

I hate running.

But… I run 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) three times a week.

That relatively short distance doesn’t seem to get any easier for me, so in this episode of Get Up and CODE, I decided to ask Iris what I was doing wrong and how I can break through this plateau.

Iris gave me some great advice that I’ve actually been using to really improve me running and… I’m actually starting to like it.

Check out this week’s episode and let me know what you think.

Get Up And Code 32: Do You Know What Your MQ Is?

I’m pretty excited about this episode of Get Up and CODE.  Iris and I had the chance to interview the CEO of an up and coming fitness gadget making company, Skulpt and their new product Aim.

Aim, is exciting to me, because it is something completely new.  I never seen a device like this before.  The Aim will actually measures your body fat percentage at certain body parts very accurately and tell you how strong or dense you muscle is (a term they call muscle quality.)

When I heard about this device, I immediately reached out to Skulpt to try and see if I could get someone to talk about it on the show, because I thought it was a perfect fit for Get Up and CODE.

Oh, also, Aim isn’t out yet, but you can get yours early at a discount price from their Indiegogo campaign here.

So, check out the podcast and let me know what you think.  I can’t wait till I get to actually try one of these.

Get Up And Code 31: Building A Fitness Plan With Jessica Engstrom

Many developers know how to get started with a new technology, but getting started with a fitness plan can be intimidating.

Worse yet, you can get bad advice and waste your time.

In this episode of Get Up and CODE, Iris and I are talking to Jessica Engstrom about her fitness goals.  The plan is to develop a diet and fitness plan for Jessica.

jessica engstrom thumb Get Up And Code 31: Building A Fitness Plan With Jessica Engstrom

Iris will be handling the diet part and I’ll be handing the workout part.

In this episode, I really wanted to dive in and talk about how Iris and I were going to go about creating a fitness plan for Jessica, so that you can learn how to create one for yourself.

Get Up And Code 29: Sit Down With Matt Baxter-Reynolds, Author Of Death Of The PC

Just published a new podcast episode of the Get Up and CODE podcast.

In this episode Iris and I talk top Matt Baxter-Reynolds author of Death of The PC and popular blogger for ZDNet.

matt Get Up And Code 29: Sit Down With Matt Baxter Reynolds, Author Of Death Of The PC

This episode was a great reminder of how important it can be to take care of your health before you end up having an issue.

I found Matt’s attitude about running a marathon to be very refreshing.  He didn’t say he might do it or he would try, he said he will do it.  Because of his absolute belief in what he wants to accomplish, he is much more likely to succeed.

I find this kind of attitude to be the attitude that breeds success and it is no wonder why Matt has had such a successful career in technology.

You can listen to the episode right here:

Programmer Fitness Journey: A Lifestyle Change not a Diet

A little off topic from my usual posts, but I thought enough tech people struggle with some of the same problems I do for this to be an interesting post.

I’ve had an interesting fitness life.  I seem to always be swinging from one extreme to another in regards to physical fitness.

In high school I ended up deciding to start lifting weights and play sports.  I gained about 50 lbs of muscle over the summer of my sophomore year.

When I was in college, I started an acting and modeling career on the side, eventually moving to Santa Monica when I signed on with an agency down there.  I even competed in a bodybuilding competition.

But over time, perhaps due to stress, long hours, and so many life changes, I ended up gaining weight.  I would continually hit a point where I would want to get back in shape and I would do some extreme form of dieting and exercise program.

I would bounce from a peak of 300 lbs to a low of about 210 lbs.

It seems every time I would lose the weight, I would eventually gain it back.

Lifestyle vs extreme diet

The problem really is a matter of lifestyle vs extreme diet.  One of the things I have always been good at is extreme discipline.  I can do the most extreme thing for a long amount of time, but eventually it will wear anyone down.

I would do diets where I ate zero carbs for 2-3 months, eliminating anything that contains sugar, including fruit.  Or I would lift weights for 2+ hours each day.  Something like that is not maintainable over the long run, and when I finally would burn out from it, I would go the other way, undoing all that hard work.

I finally got to the point now where I’ve figured out that I need to have a healthy lifestyle instead of doing some kind of extreme diet.

What I am doing now

I am currently in the process of dropping down from 270 lbs (around Feb of this year) to probably around 210 lbs or so depending on body fat vs lean mass levels.

I’m currently down to 235 lbs, and this is how I’m doing it.

Walking while working

I bought a used treadmill off craigslist.  I have a cheap laptop that I can use to remote into my main workstation, and I set up a nice high resolution computer monitor on a wall mount by the treadmill.

img 20100824 092440 thumb Programmer Fitness Journey: A Lifestyle Change not a Diet

I work from home, so it is easier for me to do something like this.  But, I bet many people end up working from home to check email or do something else, even if you have a regular office job.

I set a pretty simple goal each day of walking about 45 minutes while I am working.  I just set the treadmill on 2 MPH and an incline which has been steadily rising and is now at 7.

At this pace it is pretty easy to type and control the track pad, but I usually try to time my treadmill time to be when I am in meetings.  Think about all those wasted hours sitting in a chair during a meeting when you could be burning calories.  If you are in a meeting with me, chances are, I am walking on the treadmill.

Walking while reading

I also set a goal for myself to read a technical book for 30 minutes a day.  No reason I can’t be walking on the treadmill while I do that.  So I grab my iPad and walk and read.  I end up burning a bunch more calories with really minimal effort.

Nutrition and portion size

I don’t do anything extreme anymore.  Basically, I just eat healthy most of the time.  I also am always aware of and limit my portion size.  This is a major change from what I used to do, but it works so much better.  I am not grumpy all the time and I am not cooking all the time.

Here is a typical day of meals for me.

Breakfast: Egg McMuffin sandwich which I make using a whole wheat english muffin, 1 egg and a piece of light pepper-jack cheese.

Mid-morning snack: An apple or a piece of fruit.

Lunch: A turkey sandwich on light bread or whole wheat bread with light cheese and light mayo.  Some baby carrots.  Some fruit.

Afternoon snack: A handful of peanuts or a piece of fruit.

Dinner: Usually a portion of a whole roasted chicken, some frozen vegetables and brown rice.  I’ll also grab a 6” subway sandwich or something else, I just limit the portion size.

Desert: A small 100 calorie or so ice cream pack or pudding.

I’m not starving, and if I am hungry during the day, I grab something.  I just make sure it is healthy.  Most of my nutrition information comes form articles I read on bodybuilding.com.  It is a great resource for learning about nutrition.

I’ll usually go out to dinner once a week, but I split an entrée with my wife.  Most restaurants serve portions that are way too big for one person.  I’ll also cook something on the weekends when I have more time.  If I am going to eat something that I know isn’t going to be healthy, I make sure that I eat less at other times during the day, and I make sure the portion size is small.

I am amazed how easy it is to control yourself when you are not starving from some extreme diet.

Running

I started running using a couch to 5k running program that has you running a 5k (3.1 mi) in 9 weeks.  I used an app for my Android phone to get started.

Since I completed the program, I now run 3 times a week for 3.1 miles.  To be honest this is probably the hardest part of my routine, but it is pretty important to get a good cardio workout and 3 times a week isn’t all that bad. It is something that I will try to continue to do for the rest of my life.  It is a good habit and doesn’t take up much time.

Lifting

I am just hitting the gym at the clubhouse in my subdivision 3 times a week and only lifting for about 20 minutes.  I used to do prolonged workout sessions for several hours a day, but I have found that 20 minutes is enough time to maintain the muscle that I have.  If I were trying to put on mass I would probably boost that up a bit, but what I am doing now I know that I could continue to do even after losing the weight.

Goals and philosophy

I set a goal that every two weeks I will need to be 5 lbs lighter.  I check my weight every day when I get up in the morning in order to keep myself on track.  Having a short goal like that and knowing exactly what makes it a success makes it easier to see if I am on track or not.

If I am not losing weight fast enough, I cut back a bit and increase some cardio to make sure I make it.  If I am losing weight too fast, I relax a bit.

Each small goal keeps me in check and propels me forward.  I also said that if I was over my weight for every 1/3 a lb over I would have to walk an extra mile each day until I made the weight, but so far I’ve never been over.

The basic idea when I started this program was to make lifestyle changes that would allow me to maintain this kind of a routine even when I am not trying to lose weight.  I know exactly what I need to do each day and it really isn’t that hard.  I don’t feel like I am on a diet program, I feel like I am just living my life and being healthy.

Oh, and I never eat fast food anymore.  Never.  It just isn’t worth it.