Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lessons Learned from 2,500 Consecutive Days of Blogging

 Nearly seven ago I ventured into the blog world for the first time and I really had no idea what I was doing.  My greatest fear was running out of material.  That's not a problem because my life is filled with limitless opportunities to correct errors, develop new ideas and change the world, one story at a time.  2,500 consecutive stories are nothing more than a tiny ripple in the blog universe.  The day I stop learning is the day I sign off for the last time.  My error rate appears to be increasing because I'm more willing to try new things and less afraid of making mistakes.  In fact, I think my blunders supply the best material to write about.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me.  May my daily lessons be your inspiration for improving the quality of your life.  I'm going to keep asking myself every morning when I wake up, what can I share about my life today that may help someone in need?  I'm learning consistency matters.  My life is better today because I pay attention to small things and do them repeatedly.  The quality of my life is better when I leave the docks and venture out into the deep end.  2,500 days of swimming far away from the distant shore line may seem like a long distance.  It's only the beginning of a life-long relationship with anyone who cares to join me.  We may see sharks along the way.  I promise one thing – I won't freak out on you.  Let's keep swimming together.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Do You Know How Much Your Worries Weigh?

Got too many worries in your life?  If you could put them on a scale, how much would they weigh?  There was a time in my life when my worries were so overwhelming they nearly broke my back.  Worry affects everything – your relationships, your physical weight, your attitude, your quality of life.  If you're feeling overweight from your worries today, this story is for you.  My hope is for you to feel uplifted.  Consider these suggestions as ingredients for a worry-free diet.  Ready?

  • Avoid eating processed foods.  They may give you headaches.  Some worries are food related.
  • Avoid negative people.  These people may be suffering from excessive worries.  Beware.  They're contagious.
  • Get help when you're in over your head.
  • Avoid over-committing.  Missed deadlines are the source of many worries.
  • Resist past worry elimination diets that didn't work – excessive drinking, binge eating, negative self talk.
  • Eat your worries for breakfast.  Don't save them for the end of the day.  The longer they sit around, the moldier they get.  They're best eaten when they're ripe.
  • Clean out all the worries in your cupboards and in your garage.  Seek them out.  They like to hide.  Confront them.  Ask them, "is this all you've got?  What's the worst that can happen?"  Then consider what you will do if the worst case scenario happens.
  • Give your mind, body and soul a regular workout.  Your worries grow like a cancer when you're not paying attention to your health, your physical fitness and your mental well-being.  The best way to keep a worry from growing is to starve it with regular exercise, meditation and positive thinking.
You deserve a worry-free life.  Start today.  Shed those pounds of worry, one ounce at a time.  Eat them before they eat you.  Have a great day.  Hakuna matata!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happy 21st birthday to a Young Man in a Land Far Off

He prefers to remain under the radar and keep his movements silent.  He chooses to serve rather than be served. I will honor his wishes to remain anonymous.  I just want him to know how much he is loved and that there isn't a day that goes by without his loved ones thinking about him and praying for him.  Happy 21st birthday, young man.  See you soon.  Thanks for all you do.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Next Epic Challenge – the Honey Do List

The familiar answer when you ask the famous athletes what's next after they win the Super Bowl is "I'm going to Disneyland."  I'm not famous and I'm not a professional athlete but I do have my own personal challenge to accomplish after winning our state championship match on Saturday.  It may not be as exciting as Disneyland but to Mrs. Caveman it's as good as any e-ticket ride at the Magic Kingdom.  It's her honey do list.  I didn't waste any time getting started after our team match on Saturday and if all goes well this week's list will be complete before I head back to the late shift at my day job today.  It's all about home improvement.   Yesterday it was laying bricks in the front of our home and hacking away massive weeds in our backyard resembling something from Jack and the Beanstalk.  This morning it's doing laundry and  installing a new storm door.  The associate at Lowe's asked me if I'd like an installer to come out.  I looked back at him and flexed my muscles.  I think he was laughing under his breath.  Maybe he heard about my first project in wood shop.  That's okay.  I don't give up.  The Karate Kid had Mr. Miyagi to mold him into a champion.  I have Mrs. Caveman.  Next week it will be "wax on, wax off."  The honey do list is my epic challenge.  What's yours?  Have a great day.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Men's 4.0 USTA State Champions

The battle in Waterloo for the state championships is over.  We won.  Final score, 3-2.  My team carried me.  My partner and I played number one doubles and lost in a super tiebreaker after splitting the first two sets 6-3, 5-7.  There were four super tiebreakers out of five matches.  Now we're headed to the regional playoffs in Oklahoma City, August 5-7.  The second place team was offered a wild card spot so we may see them again should we advance out of pool play.  This makes me extra happy because I may get to take a mulligan on yesterday's thriller.  It's an opportunity to raise my game.  The difference between winning and losing at this level is razor thin and I'm thankful my teammates pulled out an amazing win against an undefeated team.

We are one of eight teams headed to Oklahoma City in six weeks.  The teams will be divided into two groups.  The weather will be a scorcher and the competition red hot.  That's the way I like it.  I grew up in the Valley of the Sun and moved to a small town outside of San Diego also nicknamed, the Valley of the Sun.  My time in the heat shaped me and my caveman food experiment chiseled away all my body fat.   My inflammation challenges from eating the wrong foods are no longer an issue.  It's been nearly ten months since I discarded processed foods and anything with a label.  As the oldest member of the championship team, I need all the help I can get to keep up in the 18+ division.  Maybe someday I will act my age.  Not today.  I need to prepare for the next chapter in our fairy tale lives.  Will the final chapter of the season end in Rancho Mirage, California in September, about a hundred miles from my hometown of twenty-two years?  My team has a one word answer – practice.  That's the story of my life – practice, practice, practice.  Have a great day.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

It's Game Day

I've been preparing for this moment all year long.  The workouts have been super intense.  Our local pro pushed us to our limits.  Now it's time.  We're one team victory away from a Men's 4.0 state championship and a berth in the regional championships in August.  It won't be easy.  Our opponents are undefeated.  I'm showing up an hour early to stretch and get ready.  Win or lose, it will be a day I never forget.  My date with destiny is here.  Have a great day.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Last Day of Preparation for the Championships

It's the last day of preparation for our playoff match in Waterloo tomorrow.  One of my tennis buddies is with me today and we're headed to the courts for a fun workout.  Life doesn't get much better than this.  I'm thankful my community leaders stepped up and repaired our dilapidated tennis courts near my home.  The courts are amazing.  I'm hoping for good weather on the 4th of July so I can get my family on the courts for more fun in the sun.  Have a great day.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Does Your Life Look Like a Movie Script?

It's been sixteen years since Tom Hanks and his buddy, Wilson, were castaways on a remote island.  His transformation from overweight workaholic executive to ultra-fit tropical island Tarzan look-alike almost looks to good to be true for most couch potato Americans.  This movie script is no fairy tale for me – it's my life.  I even have a sidekick named Wilson.

Tom Hanks spent four years living in a remote place far away from the life he once knew to transform himself.  That's how long I've been living in Iowa, a place similar to where the script ended for Tom Hank's character in the movie Castaway.  I may not have long scraggly hair or a beard but I do have a new body thirty-five pounds lighter that comes from eating like our caveman ancestors.  Tom Hanks worked out two hours a day and ate mostly vegetables in order to earn millions of dollars for his role but my motivation is profound – survival.  I needed to rid my body of dangerous inflammation caused by eating processed foods.  My old eating habits would have sunk me if I didn't follow the script prescribed by a doctor who believed he could help me find my inner caveman.  I'm glad I answered the casting call.  Now it's time to bring Wilson with me to our championship playoff match on Saturday.  Mrs. Caveman will be in the spectator section.  I'm living happily ever after.  Tom Hanks can have his millions for playing a caveman.  I'm content to live like one with Wilson and Mrs. Caveman at my side.  That's my own personal movie script.  What's yours?  Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Physical Challenges Ahead

I'm three days away from the next physical challenge for our men's tennis team.  It's the second step in our quest for a national championship.  I'm ready.  The food program I'm experimenting with is keeping me lean and mean.  I need all the help I can get because I'm the oldest member of the team and we're competing in the 18+ division.  The difference between winning and losing may come down to diet and training.  I'd like to thank all the people responsible for inspiring me to do this and my team captain for believing in me when he first met me.  I was a happy guy socializing on the tennis courts with men much older than me, some in their 70's and 80's.  It was the first time I was eligible to play in the senior group and four bucks for an hour and a half of indoor tennis was a deal.  I guess senior tennis will have to be on hold for a while until our team completes our mission.  Stay tuned.  There are some amazing challenges ahead.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Paper or Plastic?

Yesterday we introduced a new credit card at my day job and the reviews are coming in.  I understand the tight rope others walk choosing paper or plastic.  Those free offers flood the mail box with all kinds of smoking deals but they can be dangerous carcinogens for the undisciplined.  If credit card debt  is a disease, I'm a stage IV survivor.  The smell of plastic turns me off.  But I'm also a frugalite and I enjoy using my creativity to save a buck.  My wife and I committed to using our rewards card to buy gas, groceries and other purchases for twelve months.  We promised each other to pay all balances in full.  One dollar of interest means it's time to go back to paper.  This is a challenge.  If we stay disciplined, we can trade in our rewards certificate for a couple of Ben Franklin's.   I'll let you know how the challenge goes.  Have a great day.

Monday, June 20, 2016

My Favorite Kind of People

There seems to be one common denominator in the people I tend to get along with the most – they have a desire to be better today than they were yesterday.  It doesn't matter where they're from, how far away they are from their goals, or how challenging their situations may be.  If the desire is there to improve and they're willing to pay the price, I want to be a part of their pursuit.  Maybe you're one of "those people" who want to lose weight, get fit or become financially independent.  I find it sad how the "naysayers" gang up on the ones who like to dream big.  What are they afraid of?  I haven't spent enough time with the naysayers to figure out why they want to be dream killers.  Instead, I invest my time helping others reach for the stars.  Maybe that's why I love being a dad and a husband.  The whole world may believe I'm a loser but they don't see the value in the lessons I learned from the school of hard knocks.  It's all about continuous improvement.  It's about not giving up no matter how dire the circumstances.

Thanks for stopping by today.  If you have a goal you're working on, I hope you keep in touch.  Let me know if I can help.  Have a great day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mask On, Mask Off

Today's story is dedicated to my dad, Patrick John Mulligan.  As per the terms of my writing contract with my family, I use fictional characters in my stories unless family members are deceased.  Dad has been dead for fourteen years so he is fair game.  If you don't like my material, blame him.  You can find him at Ft. Rosecrans in Southern California.  I inherited my writing gene from dad, although there also appears to be a recessive writing gene on my mother's side of the family.  Please don't try to blame my mother for my writing.  She's alive and well which means she's off limits.  Besides, today is not Mother's Day.    Okay, enough stalling.  Here's my story.  It's already past deadline.  I can hear dad honking the horn at the bar upstairs telling me to get moving...

My quasi friends, Huey, Louie and Dewey, took me to an undisclosed location in an unnamed city to meet one of their friends, Lady Godiva.  She dressed up for the introduction but seemed rather uncomfortable.  I did my best to keep my eyes focused but she was on a mission.  I told her, "I have boundaries."  She turned to Huey and asked, "Do you also have boundaries?" The mission to get me to the dark side failed.  Good thing dad always taught me to look people in the eyes when speaking to them. 

I shared the story about Huey, Louie and Dewey with dad before he passed away and asked him to forgive me for almost ruining our good name.  "Don't worry, son," he said.  "I'm the black sheep of the family and I've done some things I'm not proud of either."  Dad went out of his way to right all the wrongs before he left us.  It wasn't easy for him to take the mask off.  He even apologized for the tears, something he restrained with military style for nearly four quarters of his life.  The two minute warning must have distracted him from keeping the mask on until the final curtain call.  Mask on or mask off, dad had a big heart, especially for his siblings, his wives, his children and his grandchildren.  The best gift he gave me was his writing gene.  I promise to keep using it until it's time to be reunited with him.  Happy Father's Day to all the dads and to my Father in Heaven.  Have a great day.  And make sure to always look people in the eyes, especially Lady Godiva.  Mask or no mask, stay within your boundaries.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Three P's to Get You Ready

Another important mile marker is approaching.  It's one week from today.  Our men's 4.0 tennis team is competing for a state championship.  The competition is tough.  We face an undefeated team.  I like our odds of a successful outcome.  It all comes down to the three P's – plan, prepare, perform.  It all started near the beginning of the year when I received an email from our team captain.  He shared his plan and asked me to be a part of it.  The initiation was rough – I played singles and lost in straight sets.  My new teammates all got wins.  What happened next showed me how special this team is.  Notes of encouragement flooded my inbox.  I got invited to special practices to improve my game.  My confidence soared.  The plan was in place and we spent four months preparing for our championship match on Saturday.  Win or lose, we're ready to perform at our peak levels.

Take the three P's with you wherever you go.  Make a plan.  Prepare for the mile markers ahead.  Perform.  Treat the mile markers as guide posts to help you stay on course to a happy, healthy life.  And if you find yourself playing for the men's national doubles championships at age 90, be sure to thank your younger partner for his willingness to be a part of the three P's.  Remember, it's never too early to put your plan together or to begin preparing.  Keep performing until the final curtain call.  Have a great day.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Keep Your Focus on the New Habits

Are you looking for a way to break free of bad habits?  Here's an easy tip that works for me:  Stop thinking about what you're trying to give up and direct your energy to new habits.  When your brain is focused on what you're creating, the old habits fade away.  It may be something as the way you wake up in the morning.  How many times do you hit the snooze button?  Forget about trying to break that habit and tell your brain, "when the alarm goes off in the morning it's smoothie time."  Your smoothie is going to get you off to a great start.  Make sure everything you need to make your best smoothie ever is ready before you go to bed.  When the alarm goes off, that's your signal to head to the kitchen.  Your brain is only thinking about the smoothie.  That's it.  Do this every day for 30 days and you're all set.  You can do this.  Have a great day.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Letter to Destiny

Dear Destiny,

Thanks for waiting for me.  Forgive me for dragging my feet for so long.  Those excuses I was hauling around for all those years really slowed me down.  What a burden they were to hold on to.  I know you've been hearing the same old story for eons.  I can't speak for anyone else today but I want you to know I'm finally ready for our date.  I cleared my mind, I stopped eating all the wrong foods and I got my body in shape.  I'm ready.

Thank you, Destiny, for all the people you put in my life, past, present and future.  These people are an important part of my life and I'm grateful for every one of them.  Some bring me incredible joy.  Others bring lessons.  I hear you knocking at the door.  I'm ready now.  It's time.  Let's go.  Show me the way.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Read This When You're in the Valleys

So, you feel like you've got a long way to go.  Your hopes and dreams seem so far off.  Maybe you feel a little lost or distracted today.  I can relate.  I spent decades trudging through the valleys, not sure when the sun would come out.  One thing kept me going – hope.  Remember this, your dreams will never appear larger than those moments when you're at the deepest depths of your troubles.  I learned to climb.  I learned how strong my legs are.  I learned hope is still there on the darkest of days.  Put hope in your backpack and look up.  Just take it one step at a time.  You have everything you need to make it to the peak.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How to Know if Your Current Food Program is Working

Be careful when asking others about what's best to eat, especially if they have over-sized bellies, take medication to keep their blood pressure and/or cholesterol under control or if they are suffering from diabetes, arthritis or any other food related illnesses.  Their prescription medicine is really no more than a permission slip to keep eating the very foods causing trouble.  Please don't look to me for advice – I was one of "those" people in the danger zone and I got it all wrong.  My numbers were off the charts and I thought my diet wasn't all that bad.  What you don't know about food can kill you.  My advice is to talk with your doctor about anything health related.  Today's story is really about awareness.  Your best way to measure your current program is to look at your weight, your lipid panels and your grocery list.  All three are related.  A great grocery list can help improve your lipid panels.  Your weight will improve when you cut out foods with a label and concentrate on fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds.  Try this for 45 days and weigh the results against your current food program.  Do this under your doctor's supervision to monitor any big changes to your medicine needs.  Have a great day.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Why I Love Monday

Got the Monday blues?  If so, ask yourself "why can't I fit more time into my favorite passions on Monday?"  Make a list.  When you're done making the list, read it and look for anything that may be an excuse rather than a valid reason.  If it's an excuse, cross it off your list.  I have a feeling there's nothing left on your list.  Once all the excuses have been crossed off, make a list of all the fun things you're going to do to kick start your week.  You'll be loving your Mondays from now on.

I'd like to share a couple of lessons I learned about Monday.  I found it to be my least productive day at my day job because it happens to be the slowest day of the week and there are fewer people to deal with.  People are moving slower.  Rather than join the "I hate Monday group," I requested Monday to be a scheduled day off.  I usually head for the indoor pool and swim laps.  The place is nearly empty on Monday.  I have a whole day to "work" on my passions.  You can do the same thing if you re-arrange your schedule.  Don't kill yourself on the weekends.  Pace yourself so you can enjoy every day.  Happy Monday.  May your day go swimmingly.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Need Some Healing Today?

I read an interesting quote this morning about meditating.  The point is to meditate twenty minutes per day unless you're too busy.  If you're too busy, then meditate sixty minutes per day.  How many times do you give up on your passions because you fill up your days with time-wasting activities?  How did fun drop off your priority list?  When was the last time you were with people who made you laugh?  I bet your brokenness can be traced to a spirit in need of healing.  The remedy is simple – play more, laugh more and be joyful.  Meditate on that for twenty minutes a day, unless you're too busy, then you need to bump it up to sixty minutes.  The solution is within you.

There was a time in my life when I was too scared to look within.  It meant facing tough challenges and it was easier to fill up my days with work in order to avoid introspection.  The root of all my problems came down to one thing – fear of loss.  Running away from fear also meant running away from play, laughter and joy.  I was a workaholic.  The key word is "was."  I let go.  The world didn't come to an end.  In fact, my play time doubled recently because I re-arranged my priorities.  My vacation time also doubled.  It was easy to find laughter.  All I needed to do was reconnect with the people in my life who also enjoy laughter.  As for my spirit, all I needed was to quit looking in the rear view mirror.  There is so much in this world to be joyful about if you're willing to look around.  Today is your day to get some healing in your life.  Play more.  Laugh more.  Be joyful.  Have a great day.  Have a great life.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Remember the Journey

Life is a journey.  I like to think of it as a series of continuous challenges.  As time passes, the opponents seem younger, faster and smarter.  That's part of the fun – to find a way to win when the odds may be against you.  I believe it's easier to win when you get in the habit of winning.  This is best accomplished by getting in the habit of preparing to win.  The race is over quickly but the journey to the finish line is long and arduous.  Savor the journey.  Thank the people you encounter on the course.  Be appreciative of every opponent and every opportunity you have to rise to the occasion.  And remember the journey.  This is your life.  Live well.  Have a great day.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Are You Healthier Than a Caveman?

Ever wonder how you would measure up against a caveman if one were around today?  We should have all the advantages, right?  Advanced medicine.  No dinosaurs to wrestle.  Abundant food supplies.  We should be the healthiest.  Those poor ancestors didn't have much going for them.  Who is the healthiest?

In my opinion, some of our advances may be handicapping our health.  My money is on the caveman.  They may have lacked access to food but they also had no worries about hormones, genetically modified foods, water and air pollution, pesticides, fast foods, processed foods or confined work spaces with little access to the outdoors during long work hours.  Think about it.  The caveman had to walk for miles just to find something to eat.  A marathon in a day was normal behavior.  He didn't need a gym – the world was his gym.  Nothing the caveman ate had a label on the package.

It's not to late to let your inner caveman out.  Start walking every day.  Shed some of those extra pounds around your waste by eating more like your ancestors.  Give up processed foods.  A little more hunting and gathering and a little less sitting.  Give yourself thirty days to get in shape before you answer the question – are you healthier than a caveman?  Have a great day.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Push Your Boundaries to Become the Best Version of Yourself

Got bruised knees?  Don't worry.  This is part of the process of growing and maturing.  Your bruised knees are evidence you're pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.  The same thing is true about your critics.  People attack you when you're making mistakes.  Thank them.  They're simply identifying your areas needing improvement.  You will always have critics, unless you're not failing.  Be careful when your peanut gallery disappears.  It may mean you're playing it too safe.  You will never become the best version of yourself by remaining in the shallow end of life.

Go ahead.  Get muddy.  Fail.  Get back up.  Find a way to get past that obstacle in front of you.  Keep learning.  Be a little bit better today than you were yesterday.  You are a work in progress.  Push your boundaries and become the best version of yourself.  This is what you were born to do.  Show the world what you can do.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Simple Math for Optimized Living

The number of people interested in my food experiment is multiplying because the results are positive.  It all comes down to arithmetic.  I was a lab rat for 45 days and I kept the math simple –  subtract all foods with a label on the package and add mostly fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds to my food program.  Subtract all other drinks except water and add two glasses of red or white wine per day.  Subtract tortillas (sorry, mama) and substitute romaine lettuce.  Add more salads but subtract most dressings.  Results of this math equation?  Twice as much good cholesterol, a 50% reduction in bad cholesterol, a 35 pound weight loss, mostly body fat, and one happy, healthy lab rat.  In my opinion, this is simple math for optimized living.  Are you ready to give this equation a try?  If you want to understand the science behind all this, talk to my cousin.  Remember, I'm just a lab rat and simple math is my specialty.  I'll leave the complicated algorithms to the good doctor who shares 50% of my genetic code.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Is Your Life in Danger Because of the Foods You Eat?

In my opinion, food addiction may be perhaps the most difficult addiction to break free of.  I believe this because we need to eat to live.  It's impossible to stop eating.  We know what to do in the case of drugs, nicotine, gambling and other addictions – stop.  Most people don't understand how our food supply has been manipulated in order to cause cravings that are nearly unquenchable.  Don't believe me?  Look around.  Food addiction is impossible to cover up.  It shows up in our waistline.  Premature death is the only way some will end their addiction because they aren't even aware they have a problem.

If you find yourself in a situation where you will go out of your way to satisfy a food craving or if you can't stop eating when you're full, you may be in the danger zone.  Your body's natural on/off switches may be broken – just like the heroin addict who can't stop.  The road to recovery won't be easy.  In my situation, I really didn't know I was addicted to certain foods until I gave them up for 45 days during my food experiment over nine months ago.  My weight loss was extraordinary – 35 pounds, mostly body fat.  The most satisfying experience for me was the loss of hunger between meals.  I remember always craving food.  I reached for ice cream at the end of the night, even after a large meal.  Snacking was the only way to satisfy my constant hunger.  Once I stopped eating the foods I was addicted to and concentrated on fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds, my body's on/off switches returned to normal. 

The first step to ending food addiction is to admit you have a problem.  Ask yourself, "is my life in danger because of the foods I eat?"  If you're not sure, ask your doctor.  And if you are willing to go through 45 days of hell to break free of your food addiction, stay away from processed foods or anything with a label.  You may suffer withdrawals.  It won't be easy.  Your friends will tempt you.  Reach out to me if you need someone who understands what you're going through.  You can do this.  Have a great day.

Monday, June 6, 2016

How Champions are Made

The sun finally came out on the last day at the French Open yesterday.  Novak Djokovic added the elusive trophy to impressive resume at the age of 29.  Many believe that's the age most players begin slowing down and dropping out of the top rankings.  I have a feeling Novak could change our views about aging.  He began his championship pursuit with a dream and did everything possible to turn that dream into a reality.  The same thing happened with a young twenty-two year old.  She grew up wanting to be the best tennis player in the world.  On Saturday, she beat her childhood idol to fulfill that dream.

If you want to be a champion, the first step is to dream it.  Then, practice, practice, practice.  Champions never give up.  They don't blame their parents for being born into a part of the world that is war-torn.  They just find a way to win no matter how challenging the odds.  Are you ready to dream today?  More importantly, are you ready to do everything it takes to achieve that dream?  I'm cheering for you.  Have a great day.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Your First Step to Removing Unforced Errors in Your Life

This is my 4th day in a row working on my commitment to remove unforced errors in my life.  These are mistakes you make that you have control over.  Forced errors, like missing a shot in tennis because your opponent overwhelmed you and forced you to lose the point, aren't part of the story since these are mistakes you can't control.  I'm referring to mistakes in life you can prevent if you plan properly and pay attention.

The first step to removing unforced errors in your life is to identify them.  I recommend charting them (writing them down).  Look for patterns.  Are you making mistakes because you're trying to multi-task without focusing on one thing at a time?  Are you allowing your mind to wander?  Did you reach for an unhealthy snack because you weren't thinking about that commitment you made in January to eat healthy?  Did you forget to go to bed early enough in order to get a full eight hours of sleep?  Lack of sleep may cause loss of concentration and lead to more unforced errors.

Imagine how much better the quality of your life will be when you reduce the number of unforced errors you commit daily.  Your stress levels will decrease.  Your productivity will increase.  Keep charting for 30 days and keep practicing.  You can do this.  Have a great day.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Food Lessons from a Pro

(Photo: SAEED KHAN, AFP/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic probably prefers his competitors remain in the dark about his food program.  Why?  Because his ways give him a huge advantage over all his opponents.  The truth is, Djokovic was one of the sickest athletes on the tour until he stumbled upon the keys to nutrition.  Novak is in the finals of the French Open this morning.  I won't be watching live because I'm on the courts with my team-mates in preparation for our playoff match three weeks from today but I'll be recording both the singles and doubles finals for later viewing because I want to find ways to improve my game and these guys are the best in the world.

One of the things I admire most about Novak is his commitment to healthy eating.  He prefers his opponents remain in the dark about his food nutrition because this gives him a huge advantage and most people, even top athletes, have no clue how much influence foods have in our lives.  Those closest to Novak are required to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to keep his winning ways out of his opponent's playbook but I'm a food detective and I found a couple of morsels for my readers to devour.  Here's how Novak gains the upper hand against his opponents:

  • No processed foods
  • No dairy
  • No gluten
  • Berries and nuts for breakfast
  • No more than one beer to celebrate a tournament win
I have a feeling Novak will be savoring a beer today after capturing his first-ever French Open win.  I'll keep my beer on ice until three weeks from today.  There's plenty of training ahead and healthy meals to prepare before the old men from eastern Iowa take on their younger opponents.  We need all the help we can get and I'm on Novak's side of the court when it comes to eating like a pro.  Have a great day.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Create Your Own Personal Playbook

30 days.  That's about how much time you need to create your own customized playbook.  It's a way for you to become your own personal life coach.  I'm still fine tuning mine and I'm sharing it here to help you get started.  One of the best recommendations I can make is for you to challenge everything.  Think of it like cleaning out your fridge –  throw out the expired, start fresh and only add things that will enhance your life.  Here goes:

Items to discard
  • Negative thoughts
  • Negative people
  • Processed foods
  • Time wasting activities
  • Bad habits
  • Anything in your life that distracts you from reaching your dreams
  • Anything you own that is more of a burden than an enhancement
  • Credit card debt
  • Anything in your closet you haven't worn in over one year
  • 10 lbs of body fat (read my archives for ideas if you need help getting started)
 Items to add
  • Positive thoughts
  • Positive people
  • Fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds
  • Time for your passions
  • Good habits
  • 30 minutes a day of walking
  • 3 hours per week of exercise
  • A daily to do list with your three top priorities that you complete before you go to sleep
  • 8 hours of sleep
  • One day per week of down time to rest and recover
  • 15 minutes per day to connect with your creator
Some of you reading this may fight me about the 10 pounds of body fat because you want to release more than that from your body.  That's okay.  My point here is ten pounds is very doable.  It's a bite-size goal you can swallow.  Just concentrate on the first ten pounds for now.  Once you reach that goal, release ten more pounds.  Repeat this as many times as you need to in order to reach your target.

I have one more thought about negative people vs. positive people.  If you're trying to be politically correct about how to drop the negative people, don't fret.  They may beat you to the punch and drop you because they are uneasy in your presence.  My point here is that you shouldn't waste any time trying to chase after them if they want out.  Let them have their peace.  Once you develop a positive mind-set, the positive people in the world will naturally gravitate toward you while the negative ones will be repulsed.  Spend as much time and energy as you can with the people who make you feel good and reduce time spent with those who want to bring you down.  Have a great day.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Improve Your Life by Reducing Unforced Errors

Is it possible your greatest opponent in life – the one who stands in the way of all your hopes and dreams – is yourself?  In my personal experience, I'm finding most of my defeats can be traced to one area of my life that needs improvement, the unforced errors.  Let's use tennis as an example.  50% of the time, you're in a position of advantage.  I'm talking about the serve.  I can count thousands of times when I let my opponent have a free point just because I failed to get two serves in a row into a very large area with only one tiny obstacle in front of it.  Sure, there's all kinds of excuses – the sun was in my eyes, the wind was excessive, I was thinking about the idiot who cut me off on the way to the courts.  It's sad but it's true – too many times in my life I've given away great opportunities to declare victory because I was my own greatest opponent.

Take inventory of all the assets you're carrying around in your tennis bag and remember your most important tool located on top of your shoulders – your mind.  How many times are you going to allow your thoughts to dictate the important outcomes in your life?  Are broken relationships the result of your own unforced errors?

Here's a reasonable method for reducing the unforced errors causing destruction in your life.  Consider charting your errors for the next 24 hours.  How many times in a day do you open your mouth when it's not your turn (fault)?  Or try to win an argument without understanding what your opponent is trying to say (double fault)?  Or fail to acknowledge something or someone good in your life (game, set, match – the love of your life)?  Chart these errors.  Not sure if an error is forced or unforced?  When in doubt, call yourself out.  Your goal is to increase awareness of all the times you're making mistakes when there's really no reason to be goofing up.  I'm going to dedicate the next thirty days of my life to charting my errors, on and off the courts.  I'm looking for patterns of behavior that need changing.  Life is all about the percentages and your odds of winning increase when you can handle your greatest opponent in life without having a meltdown.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Today is a Good Day

There's no gloom in my June.  There aren't any excuses.  There's no wasting of precious time.  Today is a good day.  It's a good day to begin doing what matters most.  Decide what should be a main priority in your life.  What's on the back burner that needs attention?  Once you focus, there's no gloom or doom.  Your life is not dependent on the weather.  Go for it.  Have a great day.