Vegetarian food on Moorea Island in French Polynesia

On my honeymoon here in French Polynesia. Right now we are on the island of Moorea. Much of the cuisine here is French style. Tons of fish and meat oriented dishes. There is a lack of awareness amongst locals and the hotel staff regarding vegetarian food on the island, though there are many options available if you choose to seek it out. It does amaze me that given how expensive everything is and the number of tourists that come through that there are not more veggie options.

The fruits here are great, pineapple and papaya especially. There are citrus and coconuts too.

Many restaurants have pizza, pasta and salads to choose from if you are vegetarian. All places have desserts….Chocolate mousse, ice creams, creme brule.

Some recommendations:

Intercontinental Hotel: several options on the menu, including a salad (tell them what you want and they will make it), a veggie pizza, veggie sandwich (again, tell them what you want on it, it isn’t on the menu), veggie stir fry noodles (they have tofu…but you need to ask them for it), French fries, samosas. The breakfast buffet here is epic. Made to order eggs, pastries, fruit bar, cereals, potatoes, several steamed veggies, meats, coffee and self serve espresso machine. We got the breakfast every day and then just had an afternoon snack and dinner.

Le Sunset restaurant at the Hibiscus Hotel: veggie pizza was very good, best of three pizzas we had here so far. The goat cheese salad was great and very big. We also had French fries (thick cut, like steak fries). The view is remarkable, right on the beach. Prices are also affordable compared to other places. The owner will pick up and drop off if you stay nearby.

Les Tipaniers: close to the intercontinental hotel, this place had an amazing vegetarian lasagna. We also had a veggie pasta dish that was quite good. Prices are decent, though Le Sunset was cheaper. They also pick up and drop off from hotels nearby.

Le Plantation: this place actually had a section of the menu labelled vegetarian! They had a few options….a veggie/soy pasta dish, a tofu mango stir fry with rice and some other stuff. The food was decent. However it was very expensive and I preferred the food at the other places noted above.

Overall, as long as you eat cheese/eggs, there is plenty to eat here for vegetarians. Vegans will need to be creative and plan ahead – bring a few bags of nuts, visit the local grocery store for fruits when you arrive. It is doable to travel here as a vegan, but definitely plan for it!

Also, prices are costly, even small restaurants outside the large hotels will cost about $80 for dinner for two….for one drink each, a salad to share, two entrees and a dessert to share. Costs are roughly double what I would pay back in Seattle at a decent restaurant.

Growing My Own Food (some of it at least!)

I grew up in a rural community (the cows outnumbered the humans) and we had an acre of land, a large portion of which was planted with rose bushes, fruit trees or vegetables. I spent a large portion of my weekends growing up tending to the gardens. Tilling the soil, weeding, watering, planting, harvesting and eating gooseberries until I exploded when the time was right.

I took care of the garden and at times, resented having to spend so much time doing it. I always loved eating the fresh produce, but the whole gardening thing started to get old after a number of years. I preferred to spend my free time horsing around with my friends, playing games, reading or doing anything but getting dirty!

This mentality stuck around for years, as I went to college and moved into a series of rental houses and apartments. I loved eating fresh produce, but could care less about growing it myself.

Fast forward 15 years later, and I am now the proud owner of my first home. While my property is not that big (1/5th of an acre!) and mostly shaded, I now have a new-found appreciation for doing things on my own, and that includes growing stuff. I’ve surprised myself with how much my own mindset of owning land has made me want to take care of it, and do something useful with it. There is also something more freeing now that gardening is something I want to do, not something I have to do.

So far, I’ve planted carrots, several types of kale, red cabbage, collards and a planter box full of snap peas. It’s not much but a start. Eventually I’ll get some more planter boxes going in the sunny spots in my back yard with tomatoes, hot peppers, squash and more salad greens.

Collards, carrots and kale
Red cabbage, two kinds of kale, carrots
Snap peas in an Earth Box

One Powerful Technique for Improving Your Diet and Health

Add in the good stuff. As much of it as you can. Whenever you can. 

There it is, you can skip the rest of this post! Most diets are defined by what you CAN’T eat not what you CAN eat. Vegans are all about not eating meat or dairy or eggs. Paleo’s are about not eating grains or dairy or processed stuff. Raw foodists are all about not eating cooked stuff.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it fundamental goes against our psychology and what motivates us over the long-term. No doubt, excluding things from your diet can work very well for a while (e.g. not eating fried food, or cutting out all dairy products) – but the mental model that is FAR MORE POWERFUL and SUSTAINABLE over the long-term is one of inclusion not exclusion.

Exclusion is what I’ve already stated: defining a new way of eating based on cutting something out of your diet (meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, etc.).

Inclusion is focused on adding in the good stuff. Eat more salad. Eat more fresh fruits. Drink more clean water. Don’t worry so much about cutting stuff out. It will happen on its own if you focus on adding in the good stuff.

Here is an example:

Suppose you are trying to lose 10 pounds over the next two months and decide that you want to overhaul your diet. Instead of saying to yourself “I am going to eliminate all the bad food from my diet”…why don’t you say “I am going to eat a big salad at every meal, no matter what.”

Notice that the second statement DOES NOT imply that you can’t eat other stuff. You can still eat your bacon and eggs for breakfast, but you also get to eat your salad. You can have the burger with lunch, but you also get to eat your big salad. You can go out for dinner and have pasta…but you better start the meal with a monster sized healthy salad.

You see…when you add in the good stuff….you slowly – but inevitably – cut out any room for bad stuff to creep in. If you are eating a salad with every meal, how much space are you going to have for sugary/fatty desserts? How much space are you going to have for bacon and eggs! Not much! Over time, you’ll start making the salad the priority and treat everything else as secondary.

Likewise, if you are trying to eliminate coffee. Instead of trying to just go cold turkey, focus on adding in TONS of clean water every day. Keep a log with how much you drink. Make sure you are hydrating over and over. You’ll find that when you are more hydrated you will sleep better, and wake up feeling better. You might even find you need that cup of coffee in the morning anymore. You can also experiment with adding in herbal teas every morning.

So next time you want to make a change in your diet…focus on adding in the good stuff, not just cutting out the bad. It will be more likely you’ll stick with whatever you are trying to do and the long-term progress will be far greater than just relying on excluding things from your diet by sheer force of will.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Manage Your Time Manage Your Energy

Managing your energy is far more important than just managing your time.

Keep a log of how you feel during the day based on your energy level.

Over time see how hydration, nutrition, sleep, training and work schedules impact your energy.

Then, make adjustments to maximize your overall energy level, and make sure that your key activities during the day are aligned during the times when you have the most energy to give.

For example, I know that hydration has a HUGE impact on my energy level. I also know I tend to have the most energy between 9-Noon. After noon (and until 3-4pm or so), I’m essentially useless 🙂 . Later in the evening, I get a second wind around 9-10pm but if I take advantage of that I will pay the price by feeling awful the next day.

Knowing this I focus on getting creative tasks at work done in the morning before lunch, and do my training in the evening around 5-7pm. I carry a water bottle with me and hydrate constantly during the day – especially when teaching lots of yoga or training more in hot weather.

I don’t believe that it is necessary or even possible to feel awesome ALL of the time. Instead, strive to do your best to feel good MOST of the time, and focus on making use of that productive time to do something worthwhile.

A typical lunch during the week, a super large salad with grilled tofu and peanuts at the cafe at work. Yes, we have an awesome cafe!

2012 Race Calendar

Just posted my race calendar for 2012 on the right hand side of the site —>

6/15 2.4mi Friday Night Swim Race : This race is just a tune-up and a motivating force to get me in the pool during the spring. I’d like to swim 1:10 or so for 2.4 miles, which will be faster than my time last year.

6/23 Pacific Crest Half-Ironman : I’ll be racing at a pace above my Ironman race pace, and testing out all the planned nutrition and gear I plan to use during Ironman Canada. My goal is to beat my time (5 hrs 9 mins) from 2002 when I did this race (and IM Canada) in the same year. I was a much faster runner and swimmer then but I am a faster cyclist now (and generally more experienced racer) so I have a shot at achieving the goal.

7/26: RAMROD (152mi Bike) : OK, this isn’t a race, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and after volunteering last year I’ve guaranteed myself a spot. The 152 mile bike route circles Mt. Rainer and features 10,000 feet of climbing and some of the most beautiful scenery the world has to offer. My goal for this is to finish, and eat a TON of pizza afterwards.

8/17 2.4mi Friday Night Swim Race : My only goal for this race is to swim faster than my time in June and do a great job drafting off others. Targeting a sub 1:10 swim.

8/26 Ironman Canada : This is my “A” race for the year, my big goal. 10 years I raced here in 12 hours 09 minutes, and my goal is to beat that time and go under 12 hours. Back then…I was a much faster swimmer/runner…but poor fueling strategy left me crippled during the last half of the run. This time around, with proper pacing and fueling I have a good shot at going sub 12.

In the fall I will do at least one more triathlon and then transition to running races. Depending on how healthy I feel, I’d like to do a 50K in October/November and give The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler a go.

Me finishing Ironman Canada in 2002, age 22.

Geoff Roes’ 2012 Iditorad Trail Victory – a lesson in endurance potential

Geoff Roes – an elite American ultra-marathon runner – won an incredible race in the rugged Alaskan outback last week. Though, instead of saying he ‘won,’ it would be better to say he ‘survived the fastest.’

The 350 mile foot-race took a full week to complete in absolutely insane conditions. He pulled all his own gear in a sled behind him, often breaking trail through fresh snowfall and dragging himself up and over hills. It is worth reading his race report. To me it was a good reminder of what we are really capable of as humans from an endurance perspective.

Check out his race report at iRunFar.com.

Copper Canyon Ultra 2012 – Congrats to All Runners

I did not race this year (see my report from the 2011 race), but over the past weekend 500 runners (including hundreds of Tarahumara) met in the bottom of Urique canyon and ran 50 miles through the heat, dust and rugged canyons in a celebration of the Tarahumara culture.

My hat goes off to Caballo and his tireless effort in support of the Tarahumara people and their way of life. It is because of him that this race is what it is.

Congratulations to all the finishers and also to those who attempted to finish. From what I understand, it was VERY hot this year, which took its toll on the racers.

I do hope to visit the area again, perhaps to race in 2013.

Tea vs Coffee

20111227-144931.jpg

I enjoy coffee, I really do. I also like tea and have this feeling that coffee just doesn’t suit me so well. I get very amped up on it, it interrupts my sleep patterns and affects my training and diet.

For the past few weeks I’ve cut back on my coffee habit. I normally drink a cup in the morning….and occasionally another in the afternoon (we get free Starbucks drip coffee at Microsoft so it’s tempting).

Instead of this, I’ve been drinking a ton of tea and Yerba Mate. I don’t care so much about the caffeine content of the tea. I’m more interested in just avoiding the coffee to see what happens. My trip to China last month instigated this. The tea there is incredible and people drink it all day long.

I’ve felt a lot better. I sleep better. I can think more clearly and focus on single tasks for longer periods of time. Coffee makes me a task-monkey, able to get lots of routine things done, but at the cost of creativity. Tea doesn’t have this affect.

I’m also far better hydrated during the day which has a positive impact on my training and diet. The diuretic affect of tea must be less than coffee.

The first week was tough but now I actually am craving tea instead coffee. I prefer loose leaf teas steeped in a French Press.

I don’t know how much of the benefits I can attribute to caffeine differences, as I am consuming a lot of of caffeinated teas. There must be some other stuff in the coffee that doesn’t suit me, or the intensity of the caffeine load in a single cup (compared with having it spread across many cups of tea) has a bad impact.

Methow Valley Nordic Ski Camp

Spent a few days in the Methow Valley over the weekend getting a crash course in Nordic skiing as part of the Methow Nordic Club’s annual ski camp. We did both skate and classic skiing. I really like the sport. It reminds me of trail running combined with the fluid nature of swimming. I’m already looking into doing a race or two before the season is over.

View of the Methow Valley - near Winthrop, WA.

The Real Reason to Practice Yoga

Yoga is a fantastic workout for your physical body, but that is not its purpose.

It’s purpose is to cultivate a deep sense of connection to the present moment. In doing so it is the ultimate workout for the mind.

Sweating, losing weight, gaining strength and all those things are collateral benefits but should never take precedence over the real purpose.

I’ll go so far as to say that if your real goal is to get “fit” physically, there are many more effective and time efficient ways to do so. Start running or swimming. Do Crossfit or a spin class. There are definitely better ways to get a normal “workout.”

The real reason to practice yoga is to exercise the mind.

Another view of The Great Wall near Jinshanling, 80Km northwest of Beijing, China. 11/27/2011 by Ravi.

Why Did Steve Jobs Die?

I think this is an incredibly important article to read, especially in light of Job’s passing and his authorized biography illustrating what an impact his diet had on his persona.

According to Dr. McDougall, Job’s plant-based diet was not at fault for his cancer. On the contrary, it surely did enable him to live longer than would have been ever thought possible with such a disease.

http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2011nl/nov/jobs.htm

Paper vs Goodies

What would you rather have, a stack of paper money or a cart full of goodies?

I pay whatever it takes to get high quality organic goods whenever I can. I can’t think of a better thing to spend money on. My health and well being depends on it. Some people are terrified to spend a few bucks extra for this stuff.

Just watch people in line next time you are at the grocery store. Instead of being excited at a cart full of goodies most people have this expression of despair on their face!

I’d rather have the cart full of goodies than a bunch of paper any day.

Portland Marathon 2011 Race Report

My face says it all....

For almost every race I have ever done, I had a good time during the race even if my time totally stunk. I can’t say that about the Portland Marathon yesterday. I finished it, but it was very painful and just not fun at all.

The one redeeming quality was that I saw how much work I need to do to get my lower legs healthy, as I am suffering from a bad case of Plantar Fasciiitis that hasn’t gone away since April. It has been bearable through my entire summer of racing Ironman, another 50 miler and a few other tris….and even seemed to be getting better of late – but it is far from gone. During this race my feet ended up hurting so bad that one point I thought I wouldn’t finish. Eventually I did but it was a miserable experience.

Here is the play-by-play:

Goal: I planned to treat this as a training run. Last year I ran 3:54 with little training after just getting back into running after many years away. This year I wanted to run 3:30, holding a steady 8 min/mile pace. It seemed totally doable based on my training runs and past races.

  • Mile 0:  I started in the first “wave”. They had something like 6 waves, with the first being the fastest. I looked around and saw about 1500 people in my wave (there were 12,000 in the marathon and 3,000 in the half marathon that started in the same time). Looking around I saw a 3:10 pace sign and then a 3:15 pace sign….I realized quickly that the people around me would going far faster than me! I made a conscious effort to not get caught up in the hysteria of the race start and stick to a conservative pace.
  • Miles 1-6.2 (10K): 49 minutes…right on pace. Felt a little flat, but my feet didn’t hurt and was enjoying the run. The weather was cool (50 degrees) and it was threatening to rain.
  • Miles 6.2-10: Light rain started. Glad I wore my rain jacket. Taking splits I saw I was running a few 7:40 miles…slowed down a little to stick to 8min pace.My feet were still hurting a bit. I was waiting for this pain to go away, as normally it does on my longer runs.
Coming through 10K, feeling pretty good and practicing my finish line pose!
  • Miles 10-13.1 (half-marathon) : Came through the half-marathon 13.1 miles…with a time of 1:44 flat. Perfect pacing. However, my feet were not getting better….instead they were getting worse. I started to think this run would be more challenging than I thought.
  • Miles 13.1 – 17: My feet got progressively worse….and at mile 16 hit the toughest part of the course…a 3/4 mile hill. My feet started to hurt so bad I thought they were going to explode. I stopped cold and stretched a little….which helped. The rain picked up and it got cold. Not having fun!
  • Miles 17-20: I walked 30 seconds and ran 4 minutes….and repeated that routine. My pace slowed to 9:30 miles. My feet were going numb and were very painful. My ankles started to hurt. I thought I might be doing real damage to my feet at this point (Note: I didn’t do any permanent damage after all)
  • Miles 20-25: I slowed even more…walking more and running less. Often I would just stop and not move at all…bending over and stretching my hamstrings and calves…hoping to take some pressure off my feet. I walked a bunch on the downhills and that hurts my feet more than flat running. My hamstrings were constantly threatening to cramp…something that never happens to me. My stride was totally messed up…as I was trying to land in different parts of my feet to take pressure off them. This was probably the cause for the cramping trouble.
  • The Finish: Looking at my watch I realized that I needed to run a sub 10 minute mile to break four hours….it took everything I had to run that sub 10 minute mile….my hamstrings were cramping like crazy….I finished in 3:59:something. Once finished I could barely walk for about 20 minutes. My feet hurt so bad, like they were broken (they weren’t). I couldn’t believe that running this marathon could feel so much worse than running 50 miles in July (at White River).
Post race....trying to get some feeling back into my feet.

There you have it. Some races go well. Others don’t but are still fun. Some – like this one – just stink but I’m sure at some point I’ll appreciate having run it. Being cold and raining the entire time didn’t help. Now my goal is to figure out how to get my feet healthy. At the finish I wasn’t super thirsty or hungry…or even tired aside from my lower legs hurting so badly. I know that my fitness is great and my nutrition/hydration strategy was right on, once my injury is healed I think I’ll be ready to run a fast race.

26 Reasons Why You Should Start Running Now

Driving to Portland this morning, with Mt. Ranier in the background. My second Portland Marathon is tomorrow!

I’m sitting here relaxing before the Portland Marathon tomorrow. Walking through the race expo, it occurred to me just how much I love running, and how lucky I am to have discovered that. Many of the 12,000 other runners tomorrow will be doing their first marathon. Many is seems didn’t discover running until later in life.

I really stumbled upon running in high school and kept at it ever since with a few years break. I don’t think there is any bad time to start, even if you think you are getting too old. I can’t imagine going my whole life without having  run – though this is the case for most humans nowadays.

If you aren’t a runner….or have taken a break from running….here are some of the reasons why I think you should start running now. Not next month or next year, but right now.

I’ll keep the list at 26, one for each mile I’ll be running tomorrow.

  1. Our bodies were truly born to run
  2. It feels good
  3. Running produces more beta-endorphines (natural pain killers) than any other activity
  4. You will lose weight
  5. Running (with proper form) has been shown to strengthen joints (not break them down!)
  6. Its cheap transportation
  7. It’s social (find a running buddy or club!)
  8. Races are fun (start with a 5K…and build from there)
  9. You don’t need any new gear (the old sneakers in your closet will work fine, or go barefoot in a park)
  10. You’ll get more vitamin D by being outdoors in natural light
  11. You can listen to audio-books or music while doing it (I prefer to just run quietly though)
  12. Exploring trails is a fun thing to do on the weekends
  13. You get to expand your wardrobe with all kinds of new clothing and gear!
  14. Enjoy your desserts guilt-free (you’ll earn those cookies!)
  15. Keep track of progress, set goals, and beat them! (race time, miles in a week, etc.)
  16. You’ll have a whole new appreciation for track and field athletes during next year’s summer Olympics!
  17. If you have a dog, he or she will get more exercise!
  18. Use a social network like Runkeeper or Nike+ to share and challenge friends to runs and stay motivated
  19. You’ll be better at any other sport you do
  20. It’s moving meditation, and meditation is a powerful daily habit
  21. You’ll accumulate all kinds of cool schwag from races you’ll compete in over the years
  22. Your legs will get wicked strong (run hills!)
  23. Stuck fluid and toxins will get filtered out of your body more rapidly – leaving you clean on the inside
  24. Sweating often is healthy, it cleanses the skin, your body’s largest organ
  25. It’s better than coffee at waking you up in the morning
  26. A wise man once said “there is no better time than the present”…you should trust wise men!

How to Eliminate Confusion

Confusion arises from not following wants, needs and the resulting emotions to their logical conclusion.

The multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry implies that many people want to live forever and look young but would that really be enjoyable? Wouldn’t you eventually be bored living like that?

People want friends to never get angry and co-workers to always get along. Wouldn’t that make your day an incredible bore? If no one pushed on you and challenged your ideas in the workplace would you really be able to bring out your best?

When you carry out wants and needs to their logical end, you’ll find that any confusion will dissolve and little things that upset you during the day become less irritating and instead  become quite enjoyable.

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Heading out to Portland, OR today to run the Portland Marathon tomorrow! My goal is to hold 8-minute miles which would yield a 3 hour 30 minute finish. Last year I ran 3 hours 54 minutes, with just a couple of months of training.

An elephant is in the room! This big boy is hanging out in one of our Microsoft office buildings. He's from a Cirque d Soleil show.

Baptiste Power Flow Immersion 2011

The 2011 Baptiste Power Flow Immersion is complete!

500 + yogis gathered in Estes Park, CO for a three day immersion in Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga. Led by Baron Baptiste, this gathering included Master Teachers from around the country leading workshops in addition to plenty of teachers and students of all skill levels coming together to practice.

Each day began with a four-hour master class led by Baron that included mediation, intensive Vinyasa Yoga practice and plenty of time for group dialogue, sharing and partner work (handstands anyone?!). Following lunch, students could choose from a wide variety of afternoon breakout session. Some were discussion based while others involved more practice – all led by remarkable master teachers from the Baptiste community.

Each evening following dinner there was a different event – including a premier of the new documentary for the Africa Yoga Project and a Yoga Dance Party on the final night.

I’ve been to many yoga workshops and multi-day trainings but the Power Flow Immersion was unique. It was unique in the size and welcoming nature of the community that gathered to practice each day. It was unique in its setting – with Estes Park being the gateway to the gorgeous Rocky Mountain National Park (where else do elk walk by you on the way to yoga practice?!). It was also unique in the balance between intensive practice and discussion sessions with just enough free time that allowed things to really “sink in”.

For me, the most unique thing was the overall quality of the teaching.  Each Baptiste training I’ve been to has been more impactful than the last. Part of it might be that I’m becoming more receptive to the teaching and as such – things are starting to really “click” for me, and it’s also true that Baron and his committed teach of staff and master teachers are continually evolving and improving their approach. That’s part of what I really like about this community – everyone really seems committed to constant and never-ending improvement – and that includes Baron and his teaching!  

I’ve walked away from the past three days with a new found sense of possibility for what I can create in my own life. I’ve been inspired through witnessing the transformation of others around me in the Baptiste community. I’ve also learned the difference between power (good!) and force (not good) and how these energies show up in my own practice and everyday life.

I have a few more days remaining here in Estes Park as the Yoga Journal Conference kicks off today and continues through the weekend, but already the experience has greatly surpassed my expectations. If you have an opportunity to attend at Baptiste program, don’t hesitate to do it!  Whether you have a desire to teach yoga or not, you will surely come away with direct experiences and practical tools that you can apply to create massive progress throughout all aspects of your life.  

 Here’s a video recap of day 1 (I’m in the video about half-way through!).

Team "Shaki Vinyasa" at the Power Flow Immersion!

Improve Your Recovery to Get Stronger

Growth happens when you rest, not when you are training. If you just train constantly with little rest you will slow down, weaken and eventually get injured. Rest is the key.

Many athletes (like me!) spend a ton of money on gadgets like heart rate monitors, power meters, GPS devices and fancy training programs, but in the end you will improve just as much by optimizing your rest and recovery as you will from optimizing your workouts. Good coaches focus on this – which is partly why I think the best money you can spend to improve your performance in a sport is on a coach.

How to optimize your rest?

  • Get quality sleep in a dark room with no noise
  • Take ice baths after exercising
  • Alternate warm and cool showers in the morning to flush stale fluid from your muscles
  • Use a foam roller and do self-massage
  • Take in high quality nutrition immediately after finishing workouts (200-400 calories with a blend of sugar and protein – I like a dozen raw almonds and 4-5 dates with some water, or a smoothie made with Vega and fruit)
  • Give your nervous system a rest by not watching too much TV or using the computer a ton
  • Stay off your feet when don’t need to be on them
  • Cut back on stimulants like caffeine and sugar, especially in the evening
  • Learn yoga, develop a home practice and do it regularly (focus on your known tight/bound muscles)
  • SLEEP!!!! Go to bed early and wake up early!

How do you optimize your rest and recovery?

A view of Copper Lake, taken during a long day hike a few weeks ago near Snohomish, WA on the West Fork trail.

How to Make a Dietary Change

The biggest insight I’ve ever had in making a dietary shift, is to not focus on what you are taking away (e.g. fried food, processed sugar, etc.) but instead to focus on what you are adding (e.g. more water, fresh fruits, greens, etc.).

Focus intently on what good things (or habits) you are adding and then you will find that the bad things will naturally have less room to fit in and you’ll lose appetite for them over time.

My afternoon snack a work yesterday, an MASSIVE organic nectarine from a family farm in eastern Washington. I get a weekly delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables from this farm and the quality is incredible http://tinysorganic.com/

To The Moon

I saw part of this passage as a preface to a strategy document I was reading at work today. The bold part really speaks to me.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962, at Rice University, Houston, Texas

I get asked all the time why I enjoy endurance triathlon and trail runs and other big goals that test my limits to some degree. I do these things because it helps me really see what I am capable of. I also believe that excellence in one part of life does translate into other parts of life – even if the goal is ultimately not accomplished as planned. When I am focused in my training, it is easier to focus at work, focus on great nutrition and focus on building quality relationships with friends.

When I am moving towards a worthy goal, it takes the “slack” out of my life and helps me achieve and focus more in many other areas. The collateral benefits of setting and working towards big goals are huge.

A "buddha" in my apartment with a wounded knee. I can relate.

Back to Basics

You would never build your dream home on a sandy beach. You would seek out a solid piece of bedrock or pour a sturdy foundation, and then create your masterpiece.

Likewise, it pays to focus on the foundations of any task. Clear and concise writing and speech at work. Technique and drills while swimming, running or cycling. Proper alignment, breath (pranayama) and focus (dhristi) in a yoga practice. Nutritional basics like getting plenty of clean water every day.

The most dramatic changes can be found not through fancy supplements, hot-tips or anything you buy. They can found by getting back to the fundamentals of whatever skill you are practicing, and mastering them as best you can.

Over the long-term, mastering the basics will slowly, but inevitably set you up for success. I say “slowly” because at first, especially if you do not have a great grasp on the basics, you may actually get worse before you get better – case in point is barefoot/minimalist running, but over time you’ll be better than ever. The trick is to focus on the longer-term and not let any near-term setback derail you.

Here I am teaching a yoga class to members of my triathlon team (VO2 Multisport) in the park near my home. Most folks were relatively new to yoga. What I love about teaching newer students is that they are so receptive to guidance - since there is no preconceived notion of how to do the poses, especially when it comes to instructions for safe/healthy alignment.