13 Ways Past Burnout

Call it Spring Fever, call it competing priorities, call it whatever. For whatever reason I am burned out this week. And it shows, especially on this blog. Complaining isn’t going to help anything so let’s focus on what does.

There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison.

-King Cyrus, Conan the Barbarian

How to Overcome Burnout

No need to discuss what burnout is or how you know you’re toast. Everyone who chases big rocks has been there and likely will be again so the question is really:

How do you avoid burnout in the first place and how do you bounce back once your are?

Admit Your Mistakes

I am a big proponent of personal accountability. Even if nobody besides yourself notices you’ve been slipping, admitting a problem is the first step to fixing one.

Things I Messed Up

For the sake of brevity, let’s just limit the list to this week on this website:

  1. My Friday video posts keep getting messed up.
  2. Skipped a few posts: I am trying for a M-W-F schedule and had a great streak going. Not so this week.
  3. Haven’t kept up with other blogs, comments, Diggs, etc.
  4. Failed to prepare next week’s articles in advance.
  5. Wanted to continue posts in the theme of service but slipped.
  6. Slacked on the prompt reply to commenters.
  7. Still haven’t hooked up my email notification service to the blog posts.

And that’s just the list for this site!

Contemplate the Roots

Time got away from me. I spent more time in the past 3 weeks consuming content rather than creating it. Also, I deviated from my core plan of timely articles in favor of writing back articles in pursuit of the Notebook Project. Multiple commitments to my full time job AND my booming side web design business left me feeling drained. Last week being the tax deadline and the shooting annaversary didn’t help my mood any at all.

Celebrate Your Victories

It’s not like I spent my time doing nothing. As I mentioned my web design business is doing wonderfully and I have been writing lots of articles about my Germany travels and my Israel archeology trip for this site.

There have also been a lot of house rennovations going on lately making Casa de Ted a much nicer place to be. My Kung Fu studies have helped my surgery recovery immensely. So much so I have been walking and hiking at length nearly every other day! While it might not sound like much, if you spent the last 4 years in crutches, casts, or under the surgeon’s knife you might think differently!

All in all, things are going pretty well!

Things I’m Doing Now

The best way I know out of this funk is movement and progress. I need to find the fun again. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  1. Destress with a Good BookI read MASH and just started Josh’s new book.
  2. Change Your Scenery – Heading to Blacksburg, Virginia Home of the Fighting Gobblers for the annual Spring Game.
  3. Pay Your Respects – Lots of things worse than being stressed.
  4. Stay the Course – Keep working your plan for your projects. A lot of writing has taken place for Cubicle Warrior. You’ll see a monster post (and a dozen sub-articles) about Germany come Monday.
  5. Exercise Everyday I’ve wanted to skip working out. Luckily, I have standing appointments with Kung Fu and the gym that I cannot break.
  6. Friends See above note about Spring Game.
  7. Switch to Decaf – I did this at the start of the month. Rather, I am now limited to one cup of coffee or soda per day. I think it’s helping!
  8. Spend time with other productive people I helped an old friend brew beer. And sample the last batch we made! The man really needs to drop his software gig and do that full time.
  9. Just Move! – Been doing a lot of hiking lately. Working wonders for my feet.
  10. Learn Something New – A personal theory that fun is the opposite of boring. Fight boredom by learning new stuff. Enter Teaching company history videos!
  11. Plan the Next Vacations – Trips to Savannah, NY, LA, Baltimore, Boston, and more set for this summer. South Korea is in the works for late fall! China in fall 2011 is looking very likely, too!

Your Part

I left the 2 biggest components for last:

12. Enlist Help

Hence this post!

What do you to do bounce back from burn out? What would you add? How do you avoid it? Share with the rest of us …. I’ll be back

13. Unplug!

I’m signing off right now and going to the Spring Football game at Virginia Tech. I’m outta here! See you all next week!

Daily Diet and Workout Checklist

Want a fool-proof way to get in better shape? Download and print out this checklist. Follow it every day.

Checklist Setup

The checklist to have all of the major workouts, meals, supplements and other items that I know I need to do every day to ensure success.

Days by Sprint

If you are familiar with Cubicle Warrior’s concept of F-Club, it will make perfect sense. For those not, F-Club encourages fitness results by getting you to commit to a three week ‘sprint’ where you measure your bodyfat at the start and at the end and are rewarded by comparison vs your peers. Each of the 21 days in a sprint get a cell.

Diet

Most of us are trying to follow a 6 meals per day plan as encouraged by the 50-20-30 diet and the checklist reflects the 6 meals – 3 via whole foods, 3 via Beverly Shakes. I have included rows for commonly-used supplements like Lean Out, 7 Keto, Mass Aminos, Ultra 40, and L-Glutamine.

Workouts

Major sporting enthusiasts from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Tony Horton to football coaches around America recommend a 2-a-day approach to working out. I find this is INCREDIBLY important for cubical warriors like ourselves. I have found tremendous success doing a small workout in the morning before going to work (8-minute abs, P90X Ab Ripper X, Pushups or just simply stretching.) I use the evening for my major workout.

Customization

Update: The original was an excel sheet so anyone could customize it to what they need. You may use different supplements or a different diet approach than I do. I have included generic sworkout but you may like hiking or yoga more. Do whatever suits you!  Just copy and paste the tables below into excell or Google Docs.

  Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Date:              
6am Abs /
Workout / Cardio / Stretch
             
  Breakfast              
9am Shake              
1pm Lunch              
3pm Shake              
6pm Dinner              
9pm Shake              
Anytime Workout              
  Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Date:              
6am Abs /
Workout / Cardio / Stretch
             
  Breakfast              
9am Shake              
1pm Lunch              
3pm Shake              
6pm Dinner              
9pm Shake              
Anytime Workout              
  Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Date:              
6am Abs /
Workout / Cardio / Stretch
             
  Breakfast              
9am Shake              
1pm Lunch              
3pm Shake              
6pm Dinner              
9pm Shake              
Anytime Workout              
  Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Date:              
6am Abs /
Workout / Cardio / Stretch
             
  Breakfast              
9am Shake              
1pm Lunch              
3pm Shake              
6pm Dinner              
9pm Shake              
Anytime Workout              
                 

My Fool-Proof Way to Lose Fat, Gain Muscle

Tired of not making progress in your fitness goals? Me too. Luckily I know the way out. It’s a 4 part equation covering and it works for everyone I know who has tried it. Give the following steps a try. There are a lot of diets and workout plans out there. Some work, some don’t. Some are for you some are not. This works for everyone. What do you have to lose – besides fat?

Step 1. Follow the 50-20-30 diet.

That is, follow the steps of the 50-20-30 diet as laid out here. Figure out what you should be eating spread out over the course of 6 meals through out the day and don’t eat anything else.

Step 2. Pick a Workout

There are 100s out there. Find one that interests you and stick with it!

Step 3. Make a Checklist

Consistency with your diet and workouts are the key to changing body composition. It is easy to convince yourself that you always do the right thing, that you always make the right choice. Sadly, that’s not always the case. I know that I have been unpleasantly surprised when the time came for me to weigh in at F-club more than a few times. Using the checklist I know exactly how faithful I have been to my diet and exercise plans.

Step 4. Validate Your Progress

with Measurements and Social Accountability

Step 5. Reward yourself

While consistency is key, a strict diet and workout regiment can be very difficult for people to stick with. Schedule a cheat meal once a week or a cheat day once a month. Promise to buy a new suit, dress, (tank top?) once you reach a certain milestone. That will mitigate your risk of falling off the wagon and maximize your success.

300 Workout

Remember the movie 300? You know, the one you started feeling uncomfortable watching with your wife because all the guys in it were next to naked and they looked in better shape than you? Much, much better shape?

Well, here’s how they did it.

A personal trainer came up with a series of exercises – 300 reps all in one. The idea is to keep going through all of them, timed until you finish. DevilDog and I have a personal best of 31:40. The trainer reported that one actor had a best of under 25 minutes. That’s amazing.

If you want to torch fat and shred muscle, this one’s for you. Not recommended for beginners!

How I Workout On the Road

Being on the road traveling for work can be great for your career but it will suck the life out of your workouts if you let it. Take measures against falling out of shape while you’re out of town with these steps.

Make a Plan to Stay in Shape.

-Commit to 1 or 2 workouts per day.

Sounds simple but making a promise to yourself is the first step to keeping in shape. You’re far less likely to break a promise to yourself than follow through on a nebulous

Everywhere is a gym

Take advantage of any gym available. If there is no gym, make the world your gym. In his Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding Arnold talks about running stairs and doing countless push ups and sit ups. Parcour or free-running turns any urban environment into a world-class obstacle course. You could even bring a set of work out cords with you as they easily fit into any suitcase. You can download any number of workouts to your computer or iPod/iPhone.

Keep on Track With Your Checklist

Staying accountable by following a checklist geared to your plans is a great way to keep your routine while on the road.

Why Swim 5.5 Miles in Open Water?

In short, I’ve had a cast on a foot every spring for the last 3 springs from playing football. Don’t let anyone tell you flag football is non-contact.

Aside from the foot problems, I needed something new to try for a workout. As it turns out, I went for something old. I used to swim a lot. Swimming long distance offered me a new way to keep in shape and have fun.

Of course, me being me, I couldn’t:

A) do something without a Big, Audacious Goal
or
B) do something that didn’t challenge my friends as well.

About the same time my Dad told me that his childhood friend (and former college quarterback) returned to NY to swim this same race for his 60th birthday in 2007. While his friend had won the entire race several times in his youth, I figured that if a 60 year old man could do it, I should be able to as well. I also realized that at that time, I probably could not do it. Plus, once I found out you needed a kayak team, I set out finding a training team.

So there you have it. Quadruple baits of need, novelty, camaraderie, and ego.

How Much Protein in a Diet, Really?

A friend of mine who competes in 24hour long endurance races recently asked me about how much protein he really needed in his diet. This was an interesting question from an interesting man; for example he now does adventure races over the weekends when away from his cubicle job because he learned all the necessary skills being a Navy S.E.A.L.!

I’ve been reading about protein intake…and while opinions vary, it appears that most formulas point to me consuming about 160 grams of protein per day given my size and body mass? Does that sound right to you? Most of the calculations are from bodybuilding type sites…do the formulas translate for trying to build “endurance” muscle as well as pure muscle mass?

-Tortoise

Short answer: Yes, it sounds right to me.

Long answer:

Bodybuilding would require at least 1g of protein per lb of lean body mass and up to 2g.

Ex. 200lbs @ 10% body fat = 180 lbs of lean mass = 180 – 360g / day over 6 meals that day.

He was correct that this metric is for bodybuilders looking for as much mass as possible.

On the endurance side I think it matters how much destruction you are doing and how in / out of shape you are. Remember, your body can only rebuild and recover with the building blocks you provide to it.

The first question you should ask is can you stomach that much protein. I for one can and like to even in endurance training. I am a carnivore at heart! If the amount is not an issue, go with it. If you feel that is too much, don’t do it. You’ll never stick with a diet you disagree with.

I would (and have been) focusing on macro nutrients in veggies and fruit as well as essential oils / fatty acids in cold water fish to help me repair. Another focus has been on getting enough water.

Do You Barter?

They say a Penny Saved is a Penny Earned. So I’m going to try to save a million pennies by bartering website design work for help around the house. We’ll see how it goes.

Was Not Successful Before

I tried this before by simply responding to ads in Craigslist. This devolved because there are a million awful website designers out there trying to do the same thing. Forget them. I’ve got a better idea.

How I will be successful now

That’s easy. I will be successful through the game of 10!

I am going to approach 10 specific disciplines that I need help with:

  1. Interior Painting
  2. Exterior House Painting
  3. Tree Cutting
  4. Drainage
  5. Lawn Care – actually, just get grass growing at all!
  6. Brush Clearing
  7. Cabinets
  8. Drywall
  9. Electrical Lighting

Let’s see how I do. I’ll post the results as they happen. When I am successful (and by that I mean reach my Special Number), I’ll post my entire process.

Have you ever used Craiglist to barter? How did it go?

10 Things I Like About My Cubicle Job

One way for a cubicle warrior to endure the corporate jungle is to keep things in perspective. I know I spend a lot of time bitching and moaning about my cube. Here are 10 things I like.

1) Paycheck

Nearly self-explanatory as it gets me closer to my Special Number and helps me research how to get my new free car.

2) Retirement Accounts

It’s not much but the 4% matching contribution to my 401k will buy plenty of scotch-on-the-rocks and victory cigars when the time comes.

3) Health Benefits

Health care is tremendously subsidized by my company. This is an area that I will really have to look into!

4) Education

My company reimbursed me for 1 and a half masters degrees that I took after work. That education will propel me to ever greater heights. Remind me to thank them for that.

5) Great Contacts

By and large my company didn’t hire too many fools. They fired or lost via attrition most of those who were. I feel like I have a pretty good and diverse network for non-employment activities, like learning German.

6) Training

I’ve really learned a lot in my cube. Let’s say that I spent my captivity well. Here’s a short list:

  • Computer Training
  • Systems Engineering
  • Corporate Operations
  • Management and Resource Allocation
  • Investing

7) Discounts

Aside from the fact that I am working all day and don’t have time to blow my cash like I normally do on the weekend, my cube has saved me a ton of money. Things like AAA membership to computers to phones to adventure park passes.

8) Miles and Status

They fly me places, I get miles. The reimburse me for shit, I get thousands of miles.

9) Structure

As silly as it sounds, working in my cube has been great for my diet. I have to be there at a certain time. There are organized activities and nearly everyone adheres to a schedule. When I get out, I burn off frustration in the pool, at the gym, or in the dojo.

10) What I Don’t Want to Be

I realized the other day that there were 2 ‘best’ jobs at my company. There’s the head guy who makes the bank… and the associated hours and stress that goes with it. Then there’s the guy who negotiated half of Thursday and all of Friday off…forever.

One guy makes millions, the other guy gets time but will never, ever make more than he does now. I don’t want to be either of them. I want to be Anthony Bourdain when I grow up.

F-Club Office Survival Kit

It’s a jungle out there. Late days, missed meals, vending machines, donut breakfasts and pizza lunches. These are a few of the booby traps your coworkers set for you that can derail your fitness plans. Fear not. Pack these items in your cube and you’ll be shielded no matter what cubicledom has in store for you.

Workout Clothes

Pilots have a phrase ‘Dress to Egress’ that means when it’s time to eject, make sure you have everything you need for the ground. A Cubicle Warrior needs to think the same way. Keep a bag of workout clothes, towels, hygiene kit stored and ready to go at all times. Whether in your car or at your desk, it doesn’t matter. Just don’t forget your socks and shoes! You’ll look really funny lifting at the gym in dress shoes!

Emergency Food

Powdered shakes work very well here but I stock tuna (in easy zip pouches rather than cans), nuts, and beef jerky for lean times. I keep crystal lite and other sugar -free powders that mix with water, too. Cans of Coke Zero, sugar free coffee creamer, tea bags are also mainstays.

Implements

You can’t have shakes without containers (I stock 5 at a time). It’s really hard to eat food without utensils so I keep plastic sets in my drawers.

Supplements

My drawer looks like a GNC shop. In addition to the aforementioned shakes, I have pills (Ultra 40, Mass Aminos, Lean Out) and anything else I am taking that time in ready supply. The idea is never to have a reason to deviate from my diet checklist.

So, that’s what I do. It’s been a lifesaver more times than one helping me get through retirement cakes, late nights, and early mornings. What did I leave out? What do you pack in your cube?