Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Things I'm Liking a Lot This Week - Hamilton, The Americans, and Taste by Tom Vanderbilt

1. As a big fan of Hamilton and Lin-Manual Miranda's work, I love James Cordon's most recent Carpool Karaoke featuring Lin-Manual Miranda.
If you're lucky to have been in Broadway and actually seen the impossible-to-get-to Hamilton, this will be a good treat. He's such a talent and Hamilton is incredibly gripping. This is coming from someone who's staunchly in support of opera and not necessarily a vociferous fan of musicals. Hamilton is in a niche of its own, though. So very good!
https://youtu.be/YshgmStEZh0


2. Ok, how amazing is FX's The Americans!
I have been a fan since the very first season and I couldn't be happier that this astutely written show is getting so much traction and they've been reviewed for Seasons 5 and 6. If you have not seen it, make it a point to do so. Brilliant writing and acting! Keri Russell has never been better.
https://youtu.be/g2mudgiqXcE

By the way, if you're interested in geeking out over this great series, check out The Slate's podcast as well. It's riveting!



3. Books:

Tom Vanderbilt's Taste in an Age of Endless Choice. The book explores why we like what we like and what informs our taste. A great summer read and if you're looking for a great birthday present, this is definitely a good choice. http://www.amazon.com/You-May-Also-Like-Endless/dp/0307958248?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=od_aui_detailpages00


Friday, May 27, 2016

A Good Road Trip Always Makes Life Better

I don't mind driving long distances. I actually like the experience of a long drive.
It allows me to think in peace, even with passengers in the car. There's something about the motion, I suppose. All of my best ideas have come to me while moving. And my whole life I've been a believer in the agito ergo sum adage i.e.: I move therefore I am.

The most recent trip however really opened my eyes to something. And that something is the ability to let things come to us. This way of thinking is foreign to someone who is wired for action and is generally a Type A. But I suppose, you live and you learn.

I got to spend time with someone that used to mean a lot to me a decade ago. The fast pace of life had sort of put a distance between us, both concretely and metaphorically. And when we decided to meet up for dinner, we were both sort of blown away by how naturally we came back to where we last left off. We even managed to reconstruct the last conversation we had in person, almost verbatim it felt like.

Time, I suppose, is indeed a human construct.

So, what I'm saying is, if you have people in your life that have truly left a mark on you, really get you, and from whom you learn a lot, make it a point to let yourself be impacted and guided by them.

Quality influences are not in high quantity in life. And when we're fortunate to get them in the first place, we need to make it a point to allow ourselves to let them come back to us.

I'm demonstrably better as a result of making time to connect with my special friend. We're both better as a result, I'm told. And life is too short to be deprived of the needed influence of quality people.

So, here's to fun, long road trips, the opportunity to think and reflect for a while, and the delectable dinner shared between special friends who share a great history. After all, and when dealing with true friendship, time never dilutes it. If anything, it makes it better!

So, cheers!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why Exercise Matters and the Key to Fitness - Add Yoga to your Day!

















I am a big fan of Mapmyrun. Huge!

It tracks all of my physical activity and it reminds me daily how my best running buddy is doing and how I compare to him.

Yes, I am competitive. Hugely! We both are. One needs to own how one is wired so that one can best understand how the body works and which work-out is best suited for one. Self-knowledge matters. Even when it comes to working out.

My buddy has made me better. He says I do the same for him. And I'm glad. There needs to be reciprocity in exercise too, after all.

I have had a really busy and eventful few months. And, holy cow!, have I loved it!

I've dedicated a lot of time, energy and resources to finding the right physical balance.

The thing is, what I've found in life so far, is that health, for the most part, is a direct byproduct of how much work you're willing to put into your body.

The thing is, this is not something you can buy over the counter or hire someone to do it for you. You just have to do it.

As of today and in 2016 alone, I've already run 799km. I'm 6 months ahead of my projection to hit 1000k in 2016.

And currently, I'm in the top 2% of all runners that are tracking their activity on Mapmyrun. More specifically, I'm #5246 out of 260,894 competitors worldwide in the You vs The Year Challenge that Under Armor is sponsoring for Mapmyrun.

By June 16th, I will have hit 1000km for 2016!


Mapmyrun is meticulously tracking and storing my workout data and I am confident my running game is "on fleek" after a few years of practice, marathons and triathlons under my belt.

Many of my family members and close friends wonder why I try so hard to track everything I do and try new physical pursuits. The answer I give to all of them is unequivocally the same every day: "it's the only way I know how to improve. I compete against myself. And I can't imagine life without competition in it."

And I do believe that working towards personal improvement is our individual moral imperative as people. Competition is at the heart of progress, after all.

I never believed in participation trophies.
I always believed in hard work, sacrifice, and the need to self-ameliorate daily.
And that's what fuels the motor.
That's what makes me work hard to move the needle every day.
And that is why I make it a point to learn from and compete with like-minded folks.

So, with close to 5 months under my belt, I believe I have found a combination of physical activity that gives me optimal health. It's taken a lot of work and a lot of resources as well as research. But I was committed to the pursuit.

Other than running every day - and I cannot imagine not running every day, or at least 6 days a week - I took up a daily practice of yoga as well. Turns out, that's exactly the secret ingredient my workout needed!

Daily activity generally consists of the following:

Option 1:

Power Yoga - Hot yoga (60 or 75 minute class)
10k on cement. 2km of the 10km are progressively uphill.
800m swimming. Laps. 600m Freestyle. 200m breast stroke

Option 2:

Power Yoga
10km on cement and gravel.
15km biking.

The following days alternate between Day 1 and Day 2.

Now, is this time-consuming?
YOU BET!
It takes 4 hours of my time. Now, I recommend that one wake up early and take yoga at 6am so that the day can be freed up for work and family time. The rest of the activities can happen as time and schedules allow.

As I am about to turn a year older, I am happy to report that I have never felt healthier. Or better.

If I could bottle how it feels after I'm done with my workouts, I'd have the secret to happiness!

Man, does it ever feel great!

Exercise helps curb stress, gain physical strength, and added overall clarity. So, why isn't everyone doing it?

Well, in addition to it being labor-intensive, it requires a lot of additional planning and added time management. And this is why I decided to make physical activity as important as anything else in life. Once I did that, everything else fell into place.

And, as I write this today, I can vouch that if you keep investing in your health and commit to your physical exercise the way you commit to your work, family and loved ones, you will live a qualitative and happy life.

Time to sign off and get the right amount of rest. Rest, after all, has to go hand in hand with physical effort.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Surfing Season is Over but Snowboarding Is Just around the Corner...

The Fall is here.
The air is crisp.
The trees outside the house have changed color already.
And, surfing season is over.
That saddens me as the weekends were the most special time of the week for me. A time to take the board out, get in the zone, focus my mind on the water and the wind and surf, and surf, and surf...
What a great feeling that is!

But, there are always more things to do between now and April. There's always paddleboarding which in Vancouver I get to do basically the whole year, and obviously the biggest win of the season is snowboarding!

Have board, will travel!

Here are some photos from the end of the season. What a great year!








And the Winner Is....


I started with the Jawbone first.
Subsequently, I moved on to the FitBit and enjoyed some great fun and competition with my friends and colleagues.
The FitBit was there when I ran my first marathon, the whole of 42.2KM in May. It was there as I trained doggedly every day for months. And, as a result, the FitBit will always hold value for me.
Plus, I'm such a fan of their customer service. Whether I broke one while wind surfing, or even lost one in the deep belly of the Pacific, it didn't matter. They sent me brand-new units. Their customer experience is outstanding!

But, as with everything, we tend to move on to other things. This is the side effect of a world that's bursting at the seams with options.

And while I have moved on from the FitBit, I made sure to have family members and friends set up with it. My parents track their activity daily and they always hit their targets. And in the process, they get more conscious of their health and activity. The FitBit is helping them with it. I think it's a great solution for people that don't need to have constant access to a lot of other information while working out.

I switched to the Moto 360 as it can do more than the two devices. The watch gave me access to my emails, texts, BBM, GPS... well, basically every app I had on the Android-powered device. And while I love the watch, it's not really a great match for my other technology. And I have a thing for consistency. Hard as I try, I can't get myself out of the habit of consistency and structure. Having it in life gives me comfort and makes me really efficient.

So, I had to start using the Apple watch. I've been an Apple user my whole life and, as any Apple user would know, it's more than just content, it's pretty much a way of life.

So, the winner is the Apple watch. It basically wins solely out of ease of use: it connects with everything and it goes with all of my other technology.

And now that the surfing season is over - sadness galore - I am switching back to 10k runs 5 days a week for an average of 50k a week. The next marathon is just around the corner and I need to best my May 2015 marathon time.

And the Apple watch will be my date this time around.

If you're in the market for a health-monitoring device, any of the above-listed options are great. My advice: pick something you will use over time.

 Happy Running!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Having the Right Gear Matters: Carve Design and Level Six Definitely Pass Muster



Surfing is not an easy sport. It's a commitment. It's part of what makes it so appealing to me. You truly need to not only make time for it, you need to work on yourself and make sure you're strong enough and fit to do it. You need to make time to commit to it, and you need to have the right gear and layers to wear when on the board.

I get a lot of my surfing and paddle boarding clothing from Level Six. You can see their catalog here.
I also get a good amount of my surfing and paddle boarding clothing from Carve Design. I especially enjoy their current lineup. You can view their catalog here.

The thing is when exploring the fierce and wild ocean, you need to make sure you're sporting the right layers so that you can focus on the sport. While I don't mind falling and tasting the salty waters of the Pacific, I really want to make sure I only have time to make decisions about my time on the board itself, and staying on it as much and as long as possible. Hence, sporting the right layers is key.

I could not be a bigger fan of the brands I listed above. They make me feel protected when on the water and I have the luxury to only focus on what I'm in the water for: surfing.

And of course when this happens you don't sweat it. You're covered. The Level Six top I have on here and the Carve Design short, along with the surfing shoes, give me the peace of mind to keep getting back on the board and, sure why not, keep falling.



And after a good workout and fun time out, it's only apropos to take a minute and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. After all, you need to know when to switch off even when you're having a grand time!


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Surfing: The Kind of Love that Keeps on Giving



I continue to be in love with surfing. Absolutely, head-over-hills, can't-imagine-not-being-into-it, don't-know-what-life-before-it-was-like sort of thing!

In short, I do truly love it.

I love it so much that I could be really tired after a long day and my body tells me I really need to relax and instead I get my equipment out, put it on the great Thule rack I got last summer, and, vroom,  23 minutes later I'm frolicking in the Pacific Ocean!



I knew early on that in order to truly commit to something, I had to give my full attention and commitment to it. I knew that I had to invest in it. I had to make it important. And how do you make something important? You invest time and resources and you make it matter. Check, check, and check! Accountability to one's self is necessary when it comes to any pursuit of value. And this pursuit definitely holds much value for me.

When I truly got into it, I bought the entire equipment and had my car entirely outfitted for surfing and paddle boarding purposes. I knew that if I wanted to truly get into it, I had to make myself available. In sum, I was making myself available to this new relationship. Because, in all honesty, this is a commitment.

One of the reasons why I work out as much as I do and I run 10km every day is so that I'm fit enough for surfing and paddle boarding. In a way, running is a means to an end. This fact alone is enough to keep me centered and focused on this sport. What gives me pleasure when I'm in the Pacific is not the fact that I'm letting the wind take me places and move about.

No, what gives me pleasure is that I allowed myself to do all the work - and a lot of work it is! - to get to deserve this sport. I put this in a paragraph of its own because I reckoned it deserved to be in one.

I've been athletically inclined my whole life. And I've loved bodies of water my whole life. But nothing quite compares to surfing. And I had to live well over 3 decades to get to this realization.

So this summer, find something you've always wanted to do and make space and time for it in your life.

1. Make it important.
2. Make room for it in your life.  
3. Invest in it.

If you don't, you won't do it. Nothing gets done well unless there's some vested interest in it.

Trust me, you won't regret doing so. My life is wonderfully rich in part because of this activity. And I can't wait till the next day or dusk so I can do the same thing again and again and again.
Because that's what you do with that which you love. You feel compelled to do it repeatedly.




Friday, May 8, 2015

Why I Ran a Marathon and What Running 42.2km Teaches One


This past Sunday, May 3rd, I ran the Vancouver Marathon.
The entire 26 miles or 42.2km of it.
It's hard.
Very hard.
But also amazing.

I didn't necessarily feel relief when I crossed the Finish Line. I felt happiness. I did it. I could do it. It's just another achievement that was only possibly because of careful planning, relentless tracking, and commitment to seeing it through. Just like anything else. And if I can do this, I can do anything else. I can now focus on improving my time and going after the coveted 3 hours and 30 minutes time so that I can qualify for Boston.

The marathon was an eye-opening experience for me. I started prepping for it in January of this year and since deciding to do this, I knew I had to abide by a strict plan. So, I did what I had to do. I consulted with some smart and capable people who'd run it before, heeded their counsel, stuck by a training agenda that was strict and didn't allow anything to get in the way. No matter how long my work days were, who was visiting, what commitments I'd made to people etc., training was never compromised. Staying on-track was non-negotiable.

While I was relatively fit prior to training for the marathon as I was running 5 days a week, albeit only for 5km, I was also doing yoga, paddleboarding throughout the year, and just generally being active.

Applying intention and added focus to my training is what helped keep me on track. And this is how I can sum it up:

1. Tracking: Get an app that works for you and stick with it. I got MapmyRun after my friend turned me on to it. I tracked every work-out carefully and reviewed it after every run. Then I graduated to a system that worked for me which basically consisted of me running 10km a day while I did a long run every Sunday. On the average, I ran 80km every week. That's the main reason why I managed to have the stamina I had on race day even though I started to train relatively late.

I also used MapmyRun to track the 42.2km run on Marathon Day. Click here to view the details.

2. FitBit: Be daily aware of your physical activity. The Fitbit helped with this. Tremendously.
I used Fitbit Charge and made it a point to keep pace with my friends. Ok, I made it a point to always be ahead of my friends. Being competitive by nature helps with a venture of this sort.

3. Accountability: Surround yourself with people of similar mindset who will support you. I made it a point to confer with friends who understood what racing and marathon-training means. They checked in, made sure I was being kept on-track, and consequently I knew I had to produce stats of my training for them every week. Hence, I couldn't not train. My friends and sypport system in a way helped enforce accountability.

And it doesn't matter how much will power we have, everyone needs to be held accountable.

On the day of the race, I divided the 42.2km distance into 5 sections in my mind. 4 sections consisting of 10km and the last stretch consisting of a very hard 2.2km. The very last stretch.  Parsing out the distance this way helped me process the massive amount of work I had to do. It somehow felt chewable, hackable. After all, I'd been running 10km every day for well over 3 months. I knew I had this! And even though the last 8km felt torturous and I didn't think my lungs could get enough air to keep me vertical, I knew I was too close to that Finish Line to not finish the job I'd started. And I did just that. I went. I saw the same route I'd been training on for months, And I finished.

I couldn't recommend this strongly enough. It will do something special to you. It will fuel you with added confidence and faith in yourself. And it doesn't matter how self-confident you already are, everyone can use more confidence.

And below you can see the stats of my race. I'm already training for the next one. I intend to run it in 3 hours and 40 minutes now. I've got a plan. And I have no doubt I will do it.

Have shoes? Will run!

Ready, set, GO!





















































































































Saturday, May 2, 2015

Marathon Prep - One Day Before Race

This is how I feel just about now:

 
In 12 hours and 30  minutes I will be running the Vancouver Marathon. Yes. It's a done deal. I've got my bib ready. My clothes are laid out and ready to put on. My water and outfit are all on fleek! Yes, on fleek!

This is quite something for me. It's something I'm going to be proud of as it's a whole of 42.2km and I've been prepping for it since December of 2014.

Tonight I feel anxious, excited, nervous, and proud. The best way to get over this mix of powerful emotions is by seeking to get into a zen place so that I'll eventually get to rest and get some sleep. So I will soon go into the bedroom and try to get into a mode of quietude as I get ready to face the anguish of completing an amazing 42.2km run! 

And this is how the journey started. Last spring I moved back to BC after spending a year in Toronto and one of the first things I did upon moving back was competing in a triathlon. I loved it. It was thanks to that experience that I vouched to do the following:

1. Get into paddleboarding - I'd never done it before and now I'm about to compete in a race!
2. Get into wind surfing - I'd never done it and now it's my all-favorite pursuit!
3. Prep for a marathon - I'd never done it and tomorrow I'm actually doing it!!

I have some great people in my life who serve as big inspirations to me. My pal Camille has done marathons in every continent. She was definitely a point of inspiration! And one of the people that has the biggest impact on me, is a big proponent of workout pursuits and I pay close attention to what he says on anything that's outdoorsy. And while he's mostly interested in mountaineering and climbing, what he opines on the matter of running and exercise has weight.

But, in the end, it's what you do that matters. We all have access to great inspiration and great feedback from others. In the end, and especially if you're running a marathon, all that matters is:

- How much have you been running to get ready for this?
- How are you trending? 
- What's your mile per minute or km per minute?
- What's your ideal time to finish 42.2km in?

And my history of training and running can be found here! By the way, I LOVE Map my Run! LOVE IT!

 And while my stats say that I'm trending to finish the first marathon of my life in 4 hours and 35 minutes, I intend to go for 3 hours and 40 minutes. Is it an aggressive goal? Yes! Would I be true to myself if I didn't aim for something like this? NO! 

And you won't be able to answer any of the above-listed questions unless you've done the work, spilled the sweat, and made it a point to make training important.

And I did.

Training for the marathon was something I deeply respected since vouching to do it back in December of 2014. And now, a few hours away from the race, I'm confident in saying one thing:
that I will do and finish the race. I'm ready!

I've worked hard for this. Very hard!

I've done what I've done in every other pursuit in life. I've tracked my activity carefully daily. I know how I trend and how I can trend better. And I've prepared for it. Unapologetically and unequivocally.
All that's left now is a good night's sleep as tomorrow morning I start the journey of accomplishing one of the things on my bucket list.

So, here we go. It's almost go-time. Look forward to reporting after the fact....
 





True Friends Support Your Dreams and Push You to Be Better



One of my oldest friends and I just vacationed together. What good fun it was! I got to share my love of the Pacific Northwest with him and, boy, was that fun! Fundamentally, the test of a true friendship is how quickly you can pick up after you last left off. He and I met when in grad school and we spent oodles of time together along with other mutual friends of ours. To other people, our group appeared quite appealing and sort of hard to enter. Often they'd say, "we like to hang with you guys but whenever we try to, it's like you guys have your own language." And they were right. We did have our own language but it sort of grew organically and almost unbeknownst to us.

It even got to a point where my closest pals learned Italian so that we would have a language in common to communicate.  If learning a new language doesn't spell friendship, I don't know what does! They learned quickly and really quite naturally. I suppose another important ingredient to a functional and time-resisting friendship is commitment. And, yup, we got that too!

The thing is, true intimacy, much like a viral video, cannot be planned. It just happens. As I think back on our relationship and connection over time all I can pin it down to is every single one of us having a motor and the respective ability to focus on what each of us were pursuing. And when we'd be done doing that at the end of the day, we'd get together and truly enjoy each other. That's what made our connection so appealing. We've all achieved things in our own right. And we all know what it takes to truly work hard and with purpose. We appreciate and acknowledge each others' hustle. And we know how to push one another. And that's what I look for in a true friend. Can you push me to get better? Can I? If the answer is yes then we're destined to be in each others' lives.

Since I'm training for the marathon - which by the way is tomorrow morning!! - I have a pretty strict training schedule that needs to be on-point without exception. What I really love about my pal is that he just eases into it. And he's uber competitive and wants to not only keep up but beat me. And I cannot express how much I love that!


The very thing we did the very next morning was to hit the road and run for 10km, then pick up a double-seater fiberglass kayak, tie it to my car - one of the best purchases I have ever made! - and explore the Pacific Northwest, rain and all. We saw seals and kayaked in the middle of a rain storm. Such fun!




What we had in common was our respective motors. We all pursued different disciplines. My pal's a neuroscientist, the other pal's a mathematician and I'm the literary scholar. Time would fly as we'd spent it together because we shared a wavelength. Moreover, we discussed various topics nightly, after we were done with our respective studies which we'd often do together and in the same spot. In short, we were joined at the hip.

And with friends like that, it doesn't matter how often you get to spend time together. You will pick up exactly right where you left off.

Case in point. "Hey. How was your flight?"
He: "Great. This is such a great city!"
I: "Dude, really! It'll be so much fun."

And that's it. That's all it took to fastforward to the present moment nd we end up exploring some uninhabited islands in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, rain and all, as we strengthen our bodies with a few bites of Cliff Bars.




And, to me, that's what true friendship is. Connecting with people who share your drive and motor and with whom you can pick up right you left off. Friendship is about supporting each others' pursuits and reams. And I'm so ready for the 42.2km run tomorrow.

Thanks, pal and see you next time so that you could be doing this too.