Life challenge: Change it all

Biking with my daughter during an apple fast

2011 changed my life forever, the best year yet. I thought differently, listened to myself, and learned a lot in the process.

Looking back at it all, it started with the snowball method — once I successfully quit smoking (one of the hardest things I’ve ever done) I was looking for the next challenge, “high” if you will, to take on. I felt that I could do anything I set my heart to.

Here are a few challenges I experimented with in 2011:

Favorite reads of 2011: One Simple Idea by Stephen Key and The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

One Simple Idea – From patents to selling your ideas to large corporations to do all the hard work for you, this book explores the interesting path of licensing intellectual property. And collecting royalties while having fun. This was a much needed and well written book.

The 4-Hour Body – Much like his first book did for me (The 4-Hour Workweek), this book will change your life forever if you read and try it. Tim finds interesting and fun ways to hack the human body to achieve maximum result with less effort. Simply brilliant, it’s an encyclopedia to living better. I owe a lot of my achievements to this book, like: losing 50lbs., a complete lifestyle change, building muscle, running long distances, and getting into wine :)

Quit smoking

Even though I quit smoking in 2010, this was the first major milestone that lead to everything else on this list. This was the snow ball at the top of the mountain, once it started to roll and build momentum I could start the next challenge with confidence. For more check out the article on Quit Smoking: Escaping the Addiction.

3-day apple fast

I ate only apples and drank only water for three days. The preferred apple of choice: Organic fuji apples. One tends to know a lot about oneself during fasting. I learned that I was a snacker. I picked at food all day long, especially when cooking or making the kids something to eat. Fasting is like a high and the longer you do it the crazier you get. I did it for detoxing/cleaning the body including the liver, kidneys, and it’s the best way to prevent disease. Apples are high in fiber and malic acid, which is known for increasing energy and endorphins. It’s an amazing feeling. After about 18 non-stop apples later, I didn’t touch the damn thing for almost a year. But I did feel great and the best part?.. No mess, no cooking, no cleaning, no trash, no worries — just eat an apple when hungry and move on.

Going from 0 – 300+ miles

I started out like most americans, on a treadmill, with my latest Nikes, iPhone with GPS app, playlist, and workout plan. I was forcing myself to run to achieve a goal or to beat my latest mile, huffing and puffing at the end and hating running. What’s the point? Who am I running from? Why the hell am I doing this?

All sorts of questions like that entered my brain as I was pushing the very last mile out, sounding like a walrus in labor in the process.

One day something changed. I was on vacation in Florida and went for long run – raw. No goal, no iPod, no treadmill, no shoes, no shirt, no problem. I just kept running on the beach in the sun, barefoot, taking a dip in the ocean now and then to cool off. Before I knew it I went over 12 miles – the furthest I’ve ever gone in my life (9 miles previous) and I felt like god. Since that day, I now run with just my shoes, shorts, and peace of mind. I enjoy running now—love it. It’s like a form of meditation. It has forever changed my life, I’m not balanced unless I run.

Want to read a great book on running? Check out Born to Run, it will forever change the way you run and think about running.

Fast Food Fast

I was a fast food junkie. On average, I would have eaten at a fast food restaurant about 5x a week. Every week. My brother-in-law and I made a bet at the beginning of the year to go on a Fast Food Fast for 30 days. Only home-cooked meals, no fast food – with the exception of Subway for lunch (both of us had day jobs). This challenged forced me to cook and I learned more about cooking that year than the last five years combined. At the end of the fast I received a text from my brother-in-law with a Filet-O-Fish and fries he was about to wolf down. And on my way to Micky D’s, something happened. I looked around at the people who are waiting in line and realized that I no longer a part of that demographic. Since that day I’ve been on a fast food fast for live. With the exception of coffee, bean burritos from Taco Bell and veggie yellow-egg omelets from Subway—delicious. I haven’t been back and I don’t plan to.

Cracking a book

For the first time since grade school, the first time in my life, I opened a book for pleasure. I enjoyed it. I’ve been listening to audiobooks and reading ebooks on the computer but nothing really feels the same when you get a book and touch the pages. Reading is one of the single most important educational materials available, just don’t go on information overload. Take your time, read only what is relevant to what you are focused on now and if it sucks, get rid of it and move on. I found that by taking notes on my iPhone (chapters, titles, keywords) and indexing the most interesting page numbers to be quite helpful. Now I have a single note that sums up the book for a reference at a later time.

Idea generation

This year I started to share my ideas and I found that when I do, people begin to share their ideas with you. Plus nothing compares to instant feed back and first impressions (especially facial expressions ). One day I grab a series of notepads: 1 large 5 subject notebook dubbed as “The Next Best Thing” and a hand-full of steno pads to keep in the car, at the office and at home for when something comes up. My “quick-note system” is simply a note on the iPhone to jot down a line or two or I use the voice memo app when in the car, but when I want to flush it out, I put in the big notebook.

Doing 200+ pushups a day (still do)

I started doing 10 pushups (10 = set) 7x a day. 1 set before and after breakfast, lunch, and dinner – I also did an extra set for a “snack”. I’ve done everywhere I gone home, work, friends/family, restaurants (public bathrooms are disgusting, coffee houses are the best.) Later on, I change it to 30 a set, thus 210 pushups every day. Do some sort of exercise around meals (before, after, or both) to burn fat and to kick your metabolism into gear. That topped with eating a high protein, low carb diet and you will see results in no time.

Losing 50+ pounds

Losing that much weight is the result of a few different actions, but the main cause is from the snowball. You see, I was on the high from quitting smoking and naturally wanted be healthier and live an active lifestyle. Therefore my confidence was up and I was ready for the next challenge.

We are all like kids in that we want rewards for our actions. So by getting little rewards one at a time, can achieve something great.

And here’s what I did:

  • Drank only water, coffee, and organic tea
  • Ate a high-protein breakfast within 30 mins of waking.
    • Two microwaved eggs, 1 tablespoon of black bean salsa (Newman’s Own makes the best), and a handful of spinach. No mess and delicious!
  • Started running twice a week
  • Combination of plyometric and crossfit exercises
  • BIG ONE: I ate a low-carb, high-protein diet. That means no white foods (bread, pasta, or starch of any kind), I was eating stuff like cabbage tacos and bean/green/tuna/hot sauce combinations.
  • One “cheat-day” a week. Even the kids look forward to this day (I still do). It’s the day to eat anything you want. Anything. I take the kids to the donut store or make chocolate pancakes every saturday. And eat all the carbs I can find. I have this “junk corner” where when I want something that is “junk”, I put it in this corner until saturday rolls around. Then it’s like a kid at christmas.
  • I did this for about 4 months. Lost the majority weight (35lbs.)

2012 is going to be even better

Now that the ball is rolling, here are some game-changing challenges to face in 2012:

  • Juice Fast for 5 days
  • Launch a product… stay tuned :) (Now available)
  • Bike the Mississippi (Baton Rouge to New Orleans, 100 miles)
  • Run a marathon  (26 miles)
  • Complete a triathlon (1,500 swim, 25/m bike, 6/m run)
  • Complete a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race
  • De-clutter life: remove 100 things
  • Write a blog post every month
  • Go vegan for 30 days (no animal by-products: meat, milk, cheese, etc.)
  • Drive a Dodge Viper: Why the hell not
  • Enjoy every minute of it :)

The world is what you make of it.

It’s time for change, to do what’s worth doing :)

Want to join me? Let me know in the comments.

5 thoughts on “Life challenge: Change it all”

  1. This is AWESOME :) You have such passion for life and to try new things. I think I might take this blog to heart and try a few of them. I need to lose 35lbs…..any recipes or helpful tips would be awesome :) Keep it up!!! Look forward to reading more. Love ya

  2. I think that it is wonderful that you are accomplishing all your goals and you are taking care of yourself… You are such an amazing person and are changing other peoples lives in the process…. I am RUNNING now… something I thought i would never do! :) Im so happy to have you in my life.

    I love you

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