holidays, resolutions, and 2016 programming notes

Here we are at the midway point between Christmas and New Year's - smack dab in the middle of The Holidays. I thought I'd share a few quick thoughts today:

Holidays - I hope you enjoyed a great Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate), and that New Year's will be fun and safe. I write a lot about diet and exercise as means to health and fitness, but physical fitness alone doesn't get you to the finish line. It's also important to be healthy emotionally, and spiritually. This is a great time to celebrate, explore, and connect with your family, your friendships, and your faith.

Resolutions - the social webs will be filled with resolution advice, so I'm not going to bother with details you can find a hundred times over. But I do want to stress a couple points:

1.) Choose Resolution(s) that matter. Whether it's one simple thing, or a complete lifestyle overhaul, choose a resolution that will make a difference to your life, and then see it through will all the energy, focus, and passion you can conjure. Be resolute in your success.

2.) Start Anytime. If there's something you want to change in your life, why wait until next week? Start today! Or start any other time.. If something strikes you in March, or over the summer - simply pick a day and get after it. Give it all you've got - no holds barred. Success doesn't have to start with January 1st.

2016 Programming Notes - This will be my last post of the year. I finished 2015 eight posts shy of my writing goal; the problem is that my goal was way too low. I've been asked by a number of people to write more frequently, so I will try to do that in 2016. However, because there are only so many hours in the day (and I'm not willing to give up any more sleep or any more workouts in order to write more), there will have to be a trade-off:

In 2016, look for more frequents posts, but also for shorter posts. My typical post has generally been 800 - 1,000 words, along with a photo or two and several highlighted links. I think I can convey the meat of most topics with a shorter, text-based article. At the very least, let's give it a try and see how it goes.

I'd love to hear your feedback in the coming months - let me know what you think..

Farewell, 2015. We enjoyed your time.

Welcome, 2016. We're looking forward to another terrific year!

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: fit-20 workout - July 4th edition

100 posts ago: making your own trail mix


checking in on my fitness plan

I've been challenging myself to the same weekly goal since mid-September (you can read the challenge here). Now, 3 months later, seems like a good time to reflect on what I've learned:

  • Big success will come when you have enough little successes to keep it company. Running a couple miles in the morning doesn't feel like anything Earth-shattering; heck, it's not even worth sharing on social media. But the results add up:
  • I had previously only run 50 miles in a month once before; I've now done it two months IN A ROW! (and I'm getting close to the mark for this month too!)
  • On a weekly basis, I had clocked 10 miles only 20 times, with the last one being 67 weeks previously. I have now run 10 miles 9 weeks in a row and 12 of the last 13!
  • You can't short-cut success, anymore than you can wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon. But a short run, everyday, adds up to a lot of miles.

Running in the Cold
  • Is Hard - my very first post on this blog was titled "Running in the cold is hard", and I still think that's true. But I've learned a few things this winter which have made it easier:
  • Gear Matters - As the morning lows have dropped from the 60's through the 50's and 40's and down into the 30's, I've been able to wear the right gear - which makes the cold a little more bearable.
    • Ear Band - a simple, inexpensive fleece headband to cover my ears has made a world of difference. I can't explain why I've never used one of these before.
    • Layers - base layer long sleeve, short sleeve t-shirt, long sleeve microfiber running sweatshirt, long sleeve baggy cotton t-shirt, and I'm out the door! When the temperature is mid-30's or less, I'll skip the last cotton t-shirt and replace it with a heavier cotton sweatshirt. For bottoms, I've been fine with track pants all the way down to 32 degrees. (my coldest run so far.)
    • Gloves - warm hands are a big deal (almost as much as warm ears), but I didn't like wearing gloves. Luckily my long sleeve microfiber running shirt has really long sleeves, so I've been pulling the sleeves down over my hands, and it works great.
    • Feet / Socks - I generally run in Luna Sandals (more on that here), and I rode the cold weather all the way down to 32 in my Lunas. However, that last week of 36, 35, 32 sucked, and my toes were numb after 10 minutes of running each day. I've since decided that anything lower than 38 degrees deserves socks and "typical" shoes.
  • Patience, and Savor your Victories - when it's really cold outside (or wet, or windy), I know before I even start that I'm not going to break a speed record that day. So I give myself permission to run at whatever pace my body wants to run. The victory comes from taming the "lazy beast", keeping the streak alive, and adding miles to my body's fitness, and from doing something all my friends think is crazy. (Maybe I am crazy, but I get a bit of pleasure from knowing I'm the only one out there getting it done.)

Consistency Wins
  • Before the Run - Sometimes I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. Simply rolling my feet over the side of the bed is a huge victory. However,
  • After the Run - I have not once, repeat - not one time, finished the run and thought I would have been better off with another half hour's sleep. I might wish I had gone to bed earlier the night before, but I've never felt like the run was a bad idea.
  • Pace - it's difficult to explain how much better I am at running today than I was 3-4 months ago. My fastest times are faster than they were, which is to be expected. But what's unexpected is just how much easier running has become. My "slow" runs today, where I'm just cruising along at a fairly easy pace without breathing too heavy or exerting myself too much, are at about the same pace as my "fast" runs used to be.
  • Endurance - My 2.25 mile baseline course around the neighborhood - it used to feel like a workout and today feels like a warm-up.

  • It's been 13 weeks - that's a long time compared to one week, but it's a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. That being said, it's a great start.
  • I'm not a marathoner, and I'm not even very fast compared to the "real" runners out there. But I feel a lot more comfortable running than I used to, and I'm getting faster.
  • Add to all this running that I'm able to do more push-ups and pull-ups than I could 3 months ago, and I'm more flexible than I was, and that my weight has remained constant while at the same time I've been able to increase my meal portions - and it feels like a win-win-win.

I think I'm going to stick with this program for awhile longer - maybe I'll revisit this post in the spring..

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: links I like 07-03-12


5 thoughts BEFORE you make your goals and resolutions

5 thoughts BEFORE you make your goals and resolutions

pad and pen ready to write down goals image Microsoft clipart

This post is a follow-up to my 8-point primer on goals and resolutions earlier in the month..

1.) Your goal isn't fun. (at least, not in the beginning)

Nobody sets a goal of playing more X-box or eating more donuts. We set goals that will make us happier in the long-term, but that require giving up something fun (like X-box or donuts) or inducing discomfort (like working out or focusing on writing a novel) in the short term.

Understand and embrace this trade-off. The short term pleasure is a drug; the long term benefits of your goal - whether physical, financial, emotional, social, or spiritual - will far outweigh whatever it is you're giving up.

2.) Goals involve change.

Understand that your goal will require you to change what you do and how you spend your time. Obviously, right? Because if you were already doing your goal you wouldn't need to set a goal for it.

Change can be uncomfortable. Change requires motivation, energy, and dedication. Change can cause friction. All good things - if you were happy with the way things were, you wouldn't have set this goal!

3.) Goals can be a grind.

The first time you workout, or meditate, or block out time to read, or write a few pages - it feels exhilirating, like you're controlling your own destiny. The second and third time will feel cool, too, but not quite as powerful as that first time.

But pretty soon you'll hit your first dip, where you aren't seeing the results you expected as quickly as you expected. You're tired, you're frustrated, and you can think of plenty of other things you'd rather be doing instead. It's critical to push through this first dip and continue on your new path.

You'll have more dips along the way - setbacks, illness, family obligations, projects at work - but they'll be easier to push through than that first one. And push through you must!

4.) Success breeds success.

Once you see results, it gets easier to buy into why you're making the effort you are. Maybe you've been able to:

  • Run a mile without stopping.
  • Drop a few pounds off the scale.
  • Meditate deeply for 15 minutes.
  • Finish reading a book.
  • Develop characters and a plot in your own book.

Whatever it is you're working on, seeing your own success makes it easier to continue making those short-term sacrifices and pushing through the dips. In fact, most people turn up the intensity once they start seeing results.

In addition to being more successful in that particular goal, seeing success also gives you the confidence to start thinking about the next goal you want to tackle!

5.) I want it BAD.

Knowing everything you're going to give up in exchange for your goal (sleep, TV, video games, fast food, facebook, sweets), and how hard you're going to work at it (sweat, sore muscles, hunger pains, cravings) - you better want this goal badly. You need to be able to elevate it above everything else in your world:

  • Being skinny is more important than eating the snacks in the break room at work.
  • Exercising is more important than that last 20 minutes of sleep.
  • The kids will be OK while I do my thing for a few minutes.
  • Finding peace and tranquility is more important than seeing pictures of other people's kids online.
  • All that stuff.

It's going to be hard. It's going to be uncomfortable. It's going to be a grind.

It's going to be successful - IF you want it more than you want your short-term drugs.

Here's to your success in 2013!

-Chris Butterworth


my car won't start - the yin and yang of emotions

my car won't start - the yin and yang of emotions

This morning my car didn't start.

my Toyota 4Runner

It was early - 5:15 am. It was dark. It was cold. And my first two reactions were anger and frustration. I rattled off some cus words. I banged my hand on the steering wheel. Then I changed my mind.

I realized there wasn't any reaction on my part that was going to have a positive effect on the outcome of the situation. Instead, I spent a minute contemplating my options and the potential outcomes on my day. I came up with a game plan, and then I executed:

  • The door lights and audio chimes worked, and the clock had the correct time, so it probably wasn't the battery. Maybe it was the starter?
  • The engine made no sound whatsoever when I turned the key. Strange, if it was the starter, I should hear the car trying to start..
  • I was definitely going to be behind schedule today. Could I get to work on time? Not if I needed to be towed and wait around for a mechanic's shop to open.
  • The mechanic I trust is near my office, but that's too far away for a free tow. How much would it cost to get my car over there? Would it be better to find an authorized repair shop near my house?
  • OK - let's get to it.
  • First, I have to try to jump start it. If that doesn't work, I'm not out anything. But if it does work and I didn't try it, I'm an idiot.
  • Then I'll call my road side assistance, and I'll have to adjust depending on what happens from there.

I pulled opened the garage, backed out my wife's car, hooked up the cables, and Voila! My car started easily.

Sometimes we make a bigger deal out of something than it really is. We overreact. We give too much power to things we have no control over.

Better to focus our energy on the things we can control. Be proactive. Be ahead of the curve. Be prepared for uncertainty. And be ready to choose your reaction to things you can't control.

It reminds me of a Chinese proverb I read about awhile ago:
Once upon a time there lived a farmer in the three kingdoms of China.
This farmer had a son who worked the farm with the help of a horse.
The horse ran away one day.
The local farmers came and said, "How unlucky, your horse ran away."
The farmer said, "Perhaps."
The next day, the horse came back, but was followed by a whole herd.
When the local farmers found out, they said, "You have great luck."
Again, the farmer said, "Perhaps."
Another day passes, and the farmer's son broke his leg while riding some of the new horses.
The local farmers again came, and this time they said, "What bad luck, your son broke his leg."
The farmer repeated, "Perhaps."
On the fourth day, the emperor's army were recruiting for the army and because of the son's broken leg, did not recruit him.
The local farmers this time said, "What great luck, your son did not get recruited."
The farmer again, repeated, "Perhaps."

In health, fitness, goal achievement, and life in general: Do your best. Try your hardest. Control what you can control. But there will be setbacks. How we react to the setbacks can be the difference between winning and losing.

-Chris Butterworth


catching up to your goal - the tortoise or the hare?

catching up to your goal - the tortoise or the hare?

Yesterday I met someone for lunch at Chili's (first mistake). I ordered a couple appetizers instead of an actual lunch (second mistake), thinking I could share them and wouldn't eat as much - plus they both sounded awesome and I couldn't decide on one thing to order! Boneless Buffalo Wings and Southwestern Eggrolls - mmmm good.

Chili's boneless wings and southwestern eggrolls

As it turned out, my colleague only ate a couple wings, leaving me to finish both plates (third mistake). And for some reason I just couldn't muster up the willpower to stop eating. Then, when I got back to my office, I looked up the Chilli's nutritional guide to see how many calories I had just stuffed down my cake hole (fourth mistake!) - let's just say it rounds to about 1,800. For lunch. On one day. Ouch.

A smarter person would have looked up the menu & nutritional guide before going to lunch, and already have known what to order before even leaving his office!

Doing the Math

So how does that big lunch fit into my overall calorie budget? This is the time when a little math, and a little rationalization, go a long way...

First of all, I stopped the bleeding by eating a very small dinner - a couple hundred calories at the most. Unfortunately the damage had been done; breakfast, snacks, dinner, and those gigantic appetizers put me at about 2,800 for the day.

Next I took a step back and thought about the big picture. I know I'm not going to be perfect every day. It's easier to hit my mark as a weekly total than it is to hit my daily mark 7 days in a row, so I want to see what my week looks like.

For this example, let's assume my daily calorie budget is 1,900. (I'm in maintenance mode, rather than weight loss mode. - side note, on that calorie budget calculator, always use sedentary for the activity level.)

1,900 calories per day * 7 days in a week = 13,300 calories per week.

So, if I've been on target lately, and I was 900 calories over budget today, I need to be 900 calories under budget over the course of the next 6 days.

The Tortoise or the Hare

The Hare would attack those 900 calories, possibly going so far as to quasi-fast on 1,000 calories the next day and get back to budget-even. (This is the old "rip the band-aide off" method.)

The Tortoise, on the other hand, would take his time, adjusting his daily budget from 1,900 down to 1,750 for the next 6 days. (The "pull the band-aide off slowly" method.)

Which is Better?

Neither option is better, per se, since both animals will get to the finish line. (and both methods result in the band-aide being removed.) The trick is matching your personality to the right animal.

Frustration and failure set in when you choose the wrong method. If the tortoise's method of "just a little bit of pain each day" sounds better, but then you don't have the patience to stick to it for all 6 days, you won't be successful. On the other hand, if the rabbit's "get it over with" plan sounds better, but then you find yourself not able to get through that ultra low calorie day, you'll be over cal-budget and disappointed with yourself.

Personally, I usually start off by planning like the tortoise, but then I get impatient and accelerate the schedule, finishing up like the hare!

Bottom Line

Yesterday's story has a few takeaways:

1.) There will always be failures along the way.

2.) Planning ahead can make a huge difference. No need to play catch up if you never get behind in the first place.

3.) Accept that there will be failures along the way, but try to minimize the damage as it's happening. If I had had the waitress take the plates away while there was still some food on them, I could have had a 500 calorie problem to recover from, which would have been much easier.

4.) Consistency Counts - as long as I stack together enough successful days in a row, I can easily overcome an occasional failure. It's not about one day; it's about the week, and then the month, and then the year. Little successes, day after day, for months at a time - they add up to greatness.

-Chris Butterworth


salt, sugar, and child obesity - more from the no duh dept

salt, sugar, and child obesity - more from the no duh dept

From a new study that will appear in the January issue of Pediatrics, titled "Dietary Salt Intake, Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption, and Obesity Risk":

The study found that in addition to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, dietary salt intake, was also associated with a risk of obesity. Children in the study who eat more salt also drank more fluids, and therefore got more calories if they were drinking sugar-sweetened drinks.
This study offers another good reason for our kids to limit juice and other sugary drinks with calories, avoid foods high in salt, and to not add a lot of extra salt to their foods.

No. Duh.

Let's follow the bouncing ball on this one..

salty and sweet snacksmicrosoft clipart

Salty snacks are most likely to be pre-packaged snacks.

Pre-packaged snacks were created using processes and chemicals which will trick your body into not feeling as full as it should, given the number of calories being consumed.

Therefore, salty snacks are more likely to have you consume extra calories. But there's more...

Salty snacks make you thirsty.

Sweet tastes really good with salty.

Therefore, you're likely to crave a sweet drink after eating a salty snack. And...

Sweet drinks have lots of calories. (see "Big Gulp - the most expensive product in history?")

So, to tie it all together...

Salty snacks will have you eat extra calories, then crave a sweet drink which also has extra calories.

The results of this study shouldn't be a surprise. In fact, I wrote a post a few months ago called "5 steps to reducing your caloric intake", and Step 1 is to ditch the prepackaged snacks.

What would be better is to stop wasting money on moronic studies proving things we already know, and instead spending that money on educating people about basic calorie counts - how many calories are needed to maintain weight and how many calories are in everyday items people eat..

-Chris Butterworth


making your own trail mix

making your own trail mix

make your own trail mix

I'm big on trail mix as a healthy snack. In fact, it's become my go-to snack over the years, as it hits on just about every point:

  • Portion Control - eat as much as you need, depending on your needs and how many calories you can afford that day.
  • Portability - no cooking, no cutting, no silverware, no refrigeration.. Just put some in a baggie or tupperware container and you're good to go.
  • Yummy - enough said!
  • Customizable - you select the nuts and the fruit, so you can vary the flavors each time you make it.
  • Calorie Dense - at approximately 150 calories per 1/4 cup (depending on your specific mix), a little goes a long way. Eat just a little bit to take the edge off your hunger and give you an energy boost, then wait awhile before digging back in. If you wait, you probably won't need to dig back in.
  • Nutrition Dense - you'll get a good blend of carbs, protein, and fat, which will give your body fuel to burn for the next couple hours. Plus you'll get the benefit of those unsaturated fatty acids (nuts) and antioxidants (fruit), which I've heard are good for you..
  • Inexpensive - if you break it down to a calories per dollar calculation, you'll have a hard time finding less expensive snacks with this much to offer. Maybe fresh fruit (no protein or fat, and not as portable and doesn't stay fresh as long) or a can of tuna fish (no carbs, not as sweet, not as portable), but I doubt it. Certainly not protein bars or any other pre-packaged snacks..

How to make your own Trail Mix

I make my own trail mix from the bulk bins at the local health food market. (Sprouts, in my neighborhood.) I go to the builk aisles and choose 6 ingredients - 3 nuts and 3 fruit, and take one gigantic scoopful of each. Actually, I take an over-flowing scoopful of the nuts, and an under-flowing scoopful of the fruit, so my mix is a little more nutty than fruity. You can mix and match any number of flavors - I try to keep a good blend of some that are the least expensive with some that have a great flavor.

Here's an example:

  1. Almonds. Choices include whole, sliced, or diced, and raw, roasted, salted, unsalted, etc. I typically use the sliced almonds, just because it's easier for my kids to chew and it makes the mix more "mixey".
  2. Cashews. Whole or pieces. Salted or unsalted. Raw or honey roasted. Again, lots of choices, and like the almonds I generally use pieces instead of whole nuts.
  3. Peanuts. The least expensive of the nuts, with the most variations in choices. Just take a scoop of whatever looks good.
    1. With all the nuts, I want to make a blend of salted with unsalted, and raw with roasted (or honey roasted.) I'm not afraid of a little salt or honey-sweetened, but I don't want too much of either.
    2. I've also tried Walnuts, Macadamia nuts, Pecans, Sunflower seeds, and Pistachio meats, but I keep coming back to my first three options.
  4. Raisins. The least expensive fruit, so I include it almost every time.
  5. Pineapple. Everyone in my family loves the dried pineapple, so this has become a pretty common ingredient in my trail mix.
  6. Cherries or Cranberries. Depending on which one is on sale (the cherries can be particularly expensive sometimes). This gives our mix a little "pop" of flavor.
    1. I've also used blueberries, bananas, mangos, and papaya.
At home, combine the contents of all six bags into a big container, shake well, and you'll have yourself about 3 pounds of trail mix for about $12 - $15.

Regarding chocolate: My oldest son can't eat milk chocolate due to digestion issues, and I don't care for dark chocolate, so chocolate never makes it into our mix. This is actually the reason I started making my own several years ago. I suppose you could add a scoop of chocolate to your mix if you wanted to sweeten the pot, so to speak.

How about you? Are you a trail mix eater? Have you tried something similar? Let me know in the comments below.

-Chris Butterworth


run down and Christmas'd out

Last week was all sugar plumbs and candy canes. We were Christmas organized, ahead of schedule, and under budget. We had holiday events lined up, and were somehow managing to keep up with working out and eating well.

This week? Not so much.

A stomach-bug-thingy went through our house, knocking each of us down like dominos. The kids each missed a day or two of school and/or weekend activities. My wife and I weren't lucky enough to stay home and sleep all day, so we trudged through. We had to miss one of the holiday events we look forward to every year, and another event wasn't very fun.

Bedtime, when we should have been going to sleep early, was pushed late into the night by holiday cards, online photo galleries, and other family sharing stuff. We were tired from not getting enough sleep, run down from illness (and not being able to eat), and barely getting through the days. Suddenly, somehow, we're disorganized, behind schedule, and over budget - yikes! (And I haven't written or worked out most of the week!)

I'm not sure if the holidays or being under the weather for a few days has a bigger impact on my workouts. But having them both together was killer. Luckily I feel better today - I'll squeeze in a couple miles either at lunch or after work. 11 days 'till Christmas? Bring 'em on!

How are your Holidays coming along? Are you eating well and keeping up with your workouts while still enjoying the season?

-Chris Butterworth

dumb article - "social media may be a weapon against obesity, experts say"

dumb article - "social media may be a weapon against obesity, experts say"

One of the dumbest articles I've read. From (emphasis mine):

In a new scientific statement published in the journal Circulation, the group calls for more research into how to incorporate social media into programs fighting childhood obesity. However, the AHA acknowledges that current research on social media intervention has been mixed and that social media is also linked with a few drawbacks. "Teenagers are texting and using Facebook and other social media as their primary communication with their peers, and we need to find out what factors can be incorporated into social media that will increase the effectiveness of these interventions to initiate and maintain weight loss in kids and adolescents," says Jennifer S. Li, lead author, in an AHA press release.
Yet while the statement notes that children are drawn to social media, preferring texting over paper journals, Li and her team note that social media also plays a role in cyber bullying, sexting, and privacy issues. "Doctors need to understand digital technology better so that they can offer guidance to patients and their families on avoiding such issues, and will be aware of any such problems that occur," she says. The report was published December 3 online and will appear in the January 15 issue of the journal Circulation. 

So many things wrong with this article, I'm not sure where to start..

  1. Who are these "experts"?
  2. Scientific study? And their results are: kids use social media, so we should try to figure out how to use that to make them exercise more? Really? How is that different from any other company in the world saying "Our customers use Facebook, so we should get a Facebook page"? Basically, they're publishing a study saying they have no idea what to do.
  3. Regardless of how they spin this, social media rarely makes you eat less and exercise more. My guess is the more you're using social media, the less you're outside, and the more likely it is that you have a bag of Cheetos and a Mountain Dew sitting next to you.

Don't tell me social media "may be a weapon", but you're not sure how to use it. You know what else "may be a weapon" against obesity? A shrink ray. But I'm not sure how to build one.

-Chris Butterworth


choosing the right workout partner

choosing the right workout partner

1.) I have one workout parnter who's a really good guy - reliable, hard-working, ethical, generous, funny.. I can count on him to always be there on time, and to do what we set out to do. But that's not always enough.

His internal compass and strength of character keep him steadfast in his workout, unwilling to be goaded into a faster pace or heavier weight just by peer pressure, and unwilling to push me further as well. My workouts with him are enjoyable, and I'm better off for having to be accountable to somebody, but that's about it. The quality of my workout will depend on me.

2.) I have another workout partner who's also a really good guy, when you have his attention. He's flaky, sometimes unreliable, shows obvious signs of having adult ADD, and 2-parts crazy. But he's an awesome workout partner!

He'll do whatever I challenge him to do - faster, heavier, more - and he'll call me out for not pushing myself hard enough as well. Our workouts last 50% longer than we expect them to, with about a half dozen "last set"s before we call it quits. I'll be dead the rest of the day, and sore for the next 3, but I'll feel great.

Choosing the right workout partner can be the difference between success and failure. When I'm in maintenance mode, not training for anything specific or wanting to lose weight, having a reliable partner is perfect, since I'm less likely to skip a workout. When I'm in hardcore training mode getting ready for a race, I do better with a workout partner who will push me to my absolute limits.

At the very least, even if you don't have a workout partner, having somebody to talk with about working out can be a partner in absentia, since you'll need to do a workout in order to talk about your workout..

-Chris Butterworth


goals and resolutions - an 8-point primer

goals and resolutions - an 8-point primer

It's about that time of the year - we're winding down this year and New Year's Resolutions for next year are just around the corner. (We all know how crowded the gym gets in January, right?) I've succeeded, and failed, at scores of goals over the years, and here are some of the key points I've learned:

man running stairs
(microsoft clipart)

1.) Not too many! Pick 1 goal, maybe 2, that you can give your full attention to, and win on that goal. Over time you'll be able to modify that goal and add additional goals.

2.) Envision your Goal; Act on your Subgoals. Losing 40 pounds will be great - envision the skinny you as hard as you can. But your daily actions will include the subgoals of eating less and exercising more.

3.) Consistency Counts. 50 push-ups a day doesn't sound like a lot; you could do a few in the morning, some more throughout the day, and then a few at bedtime. Do this every day next year and you will have done 18,250 push-ups! Small actions, done consistently over time, become great achievements.

4.) Achievement Goals. Running a marathon, writing a book, learning to play guitar. Achievement goals require massive amounts of focus and energy, but once they're done, they're done. You will always have that achievement in your life-resume. Dream big on achievement goals.

5.) Habit Goals. Regular exercise, reading more frequently, writing a blog, social commitments. Habit goals take an enormous amount of time and energy, and their time commitments add up cumulatively. Start with very modest habit goals; you can always add to them later.

6.) Quitting Goals. Smoking, drinking, sweets, soda, watching TV, aimless internet surfing.While quitting something doesn't take time or money, and often gives you time and/or money back, they require a great deal of emotional and mental energy. I think they're the most difficult type of goal, because you'll have multiple opportunities to fail every single day.

7.) Time-Free Goals. Saving money, eating healthier, being friendlier to strangers. These goals require the same dedication and consistency as the others, but they are essentially free - they don't take you away from your other time commitments.

8.) Why this goal? Dig deep to understand why you're working on this goal. Losing 40 pounds sounds good, but why are you doing it? To look better for others? To look better for yourself? To be healthier - to stop taking blood pressure medication? To be around for your grandchildren? To be able to do more "stuff" without getting winded? Goals driven by internal factors are more likely to be successful; goals with an external focus are harder to define and harder to achieve.

This should give you something to think about as you start working on your goals and resolutions for next year. Let's make next year the most successful year yet!

-Chris Butterworth


the curse of open eyes - seeing calories everywhere you look

the curse of open eyes - seeing calories everywhere you look

Once you start paying attention to calories - how many calories your body needs to maintain weight, and how many calories are in the foods you're eating - you start to see food as numbers. It's no longer "Jr. Double Cheeseburger"; it's now "600-calories before I even eat a french fry!"

Sonic Jr Double Cheeseburger
 clipped from

There's a Sonic burger joint across the street from my office. I like their food, but I don't eat there much anymore.

The problem is that a kids' cheeseburger (410 cal) and small tots (220 cal) make up a reasonable lunch on my weight-maintenance plan. And although that would taste great, once I start looking at the menu, it's no longer what I want..

Sonic meal - bacon double cheeseburger with tots and slushy

Instead, I imagine how great a Double Bacon Cheeseburger might taste, along side a large order of tater tots and washed down with a strawberry slushy..

But then I see the numbers in my mind's eye: Double Bacon Double Cheeseburger (1,280 cal),  large order of Tots (580 cal),and Strawberry Creamslush (1,150 cal) - for a lunchtime total of 3,010 calories!

Once that flashes through my mind I get repulsed by the whole thought of eating there. I also quickly understand the obesity epidemic, and wish more people would order smaller lunches. If they only knew...

Too bad my advertising budget can't be as big as the fast food guys'; I'll have to settle for writing one post at a time, and hoping millions of people read it and change their habits. :)

-Chris Butterworth