Bit of a change of pace this week as I share some of the things that are working well and keeping me sane and on-track in the first quarter of 2016 [wow, that’s escalated quickly].
There’s a little of everything here; it’s nice to mix things up.
1. Playing Soccer 3 x Per Week
‘Play and learn new sports’ is a Crossfit mantra, although because Crossfit is so demanding and so addictive, I doubt it leaves too many participants much time for anything else.
I grew up playing football (the English kind) and, after years of mostly solo training in the gym or on the roads and trails, am loving the challenges and camaraderie that competitive footy is offering.
I’d like to say it’s like riding a bike but I seem to have forgotten most of the things required to be good. But that isn’t really the point.
2. Back To Bootcamp
Whilst earning my instructor spurs, I’m back in the platoon to experience the product as a user.
This means two mornings per week I’m getting flogged with seemingly simple, yet devastating tiring workouts. And two other mornings I’m on the other side, cajoling and encouraging the troops through their workouts.
I last did this back in 2011 and 2012 before #superfitkid came on the scene. It’s a fantastic way to set up the day, for sure, and getting your “work” out of the way first thing feels lovely. See if there’s a location near you here.
3. Eating Like A Pauper
If your budgeting goes awry, as mine occasionally does, you can adopt the approach taken by the Stoics to live like a pauper for a period to experience a humbler and simpler way of life
This can take the form of dressing in the same clothes or, what I’ve experimented with, eating the same meal every evening.
It’s cheap fare, typically tuna, rice and beans with milk. The advantages of this particular meal are: cost – less than $5; prep-time – around 2 minutes; additional free-time in the evening; no real washing up.
If I eat this way at night, I’ll have a salad for lunch and snack on raw carrots and celery in the evening to ensure vegetable intake remains adequate.
Because of my current training volume, I’m not too worried about the carbs. This method comes with trade-offs but it’s serving a purpose for me right now.
4. Netflix Docos
Like a newbie discovering Facebook in 2010, I’m late to the Netflix party. By, crikey, some of the documentaries are fascinating.
Top picks so far include:
- Finding Grace (fine dining with a seriously moving back story)
- Somm (next level fine wine)
- Bobby Fisher Versus The World (when chess was a metaphor for the Cold War and, therefore, front-page news)
- Cocaine Cowboys (as you’d expect. Miami in the 70’s)
- Freakonomics (economics made interesting)
Definitely worth $11.99 per month on current form.
5. Eating Liver
Eating “liver with fava beans and a nice chianti,” was immortalised by Hannibal Lector, suggesting he was off his meds because the combination would have probably killed him if he was taking his monoamine oxidase inhibitors, used to treat severe personality disorders.
I’m easing into it gently with chicken and lamb’s livers: both ridiculously cheap, nutrient-dense and flavourful. There’s a bit of clean-up work involved but then it’s just a case of dusting them in flour and frying in butter and oil.
The chicken is more accessible is your a beginner and is a great starter or snack. The lamb goes brilliantly with fried onion, bacon and sweet potato.
6. Beach With Drake
A bit late in the season now but trips to the beach with Drake have been a breakthrough this Antipodean summer.
We no longer need the tardis-like “bag of everything” so it’s just swimmers and a towel each and off we go.
In-and-outs, jumping off the pontoon, rock-hopping, cannon-balls into the pool; it’s been a carnival of fun and packed with moments that have reminded me just how lucky I am to have him in my life.
Update: two trips this weekend – we’re still in business!
7. Classical Music In The Bath
An Epsom Salt bath after football does wonders for my creaking joints. I throw on the Beethoven station on Pandora and soak up the mental and physical respite.
Clare De Lune by Debussy is currently Top Of The Pops, along with Beethoven’s Moonlit Sonata and Fur Elise.
It took me a long time to get into classical music but once I started listening to Classic FM on long work drives in the UK, it’s been a constant ally.
Start in small doses and see if it works for you.
8. Hot And Cold Showers
If you haven’t heard of Wim Hof, check him out now. His podcast with our old friend is a good introduction. I’ve not studied much of his program but he’s doing a brisk trade in elite performance circles.
My token effort is to finish my normal, warm showers with 30 seconds of maxed out cold water. It takes a little getting used and I don’t get the “highs” currently that people bang on about BUT…I do feel energised and dialled in afterwards.
Yoga can be a tough nut for Dads on the run. You have limited time to work-out and yoga isn’t going to get you ripped, right?
Well, yes and no.
One remedial training session per week, be it yoga or pilates or a combo, will probably be the most beneficial workout you do. You body will thank you for it. Now, and over the next thirty years.
Plus, chances are the instructor will be a sort.
10. Reading Fiction
Everyone’s an expert and there’s a guide for everything. Or so it seems.
If you’re on any kind of voyage of self-development and learning, you will never read everything you need to read. That’s why I try to stick to a (fairly) limited cast of a few; it’s simply too daunting to open Pandora’s box and realise you’re right at the start.
That said, any reading is better than no reading. But throwing in some fiction with all the self-help and improvement books, returns the best overall investment.
Yes, you’re busy. Yes, you’re rushed. All. The. Goddamned. Time.
But saying you don’t have time to read is like the guy who says they don’t have ten minutes a day to meditate; that’s the guy who probably needs to mediate two hours per day.
Try 10-15 minutes a day before you go to bed or whilst Junior is napping and just enjoy escaping the bombardment of information. Works wonders, I promise.
11. Exploring The Globe
Nev, the wily old-timer who runs the car wash at the petrol station, sometimes gives #superfitkid toys that he picks up from God Knows Where.
Some are rubbish and some are epic.
Fitting firmly in the second category is a plastic globe which occupies my wonder for minutes at a time.
Online maps are one thing but a globe seems to represent a much closer target and the learnings are incredible. Plus, my next few trips are fully sorted.
12. Mobile Phone Holidays
This is a big one. It goes like this:
1. Leave work at 5pm on Friday.
2. Leave phone in desk drawer.
3. Collect at 8.30am Monday morning.
No phone all weekend – can it be done? I’m not 100% sure, but it seems like a worthwhile experiment in disconnection.
Potential downsides: possible emergencies; childcare arrangements going south; missing out on late-night booty-calls; getting lost; no selfies in the gym.
Potential upsides: no time wasted on social media or reading the news; more present parenting; better use of time; more time outside.
Has to be worth a crack.
I’m always looking for new tweaks, hacks and hobbies. Let me know what else I should be doing with my time – email@example.com or in the comments section.