op-ed

you can change direction, but don't change course

Every now and then life will throw you a curve ball, or a change up:

  • New job
  • Moving to a new city
  • Moving into a new house
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Getting divorced
  • or any of a hundred others...


You'll have a perfect routine set up, where you're eating well, getting your exercise in, and making progress towards your goal, when suddenly - BAM! and it all gets messed up.

Here's the thing - Don't let it get messed up.

There are dozens of body weight exercises you can do anywhere, and a couple-few 20 minute workouts each week is all you really need to stay fit and healthy.

Eating a moderate amount of real food should be even easier than finding time in your new schedule to workout. But it's up to you to be successful.

"Go further than yesterday."

- Chris Butterworth

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300 posts ago: this one thing can make or break your day
200 posts ago: Fit-20 workout 07-06-12 - burpees, pull-ups, dumbell swings
100 posts ago: my car won't start - the yin and yang of emotions

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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

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

100 posts ago: making your own trail mix

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irony and healthy thoughts at the grocery store

Garfield was my favorite comic when I was a kid. I remember one particular strip where that lazy, gluttonous, overweight feline came across a box of diet chocolate candy and thinks to himself, "Hmmm, not bad. A couple more boxes of these and I'll be skinny as a rail."

That's not exactly how it works, but I frequently hear and see people act this way.

Yesterday I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work, and came across two women who were making a pastime out of gossiping about what was in various shoppers' carts after they had passed by. But you know what they say about people who live in glass houses...

These women, to their credit, had carts full of healthy foods. Mostly meats, fruits, vegetables, and unsweetened drinks, from what I could see. The irony, though, was the women themselves. Each was significantly overweight, and neither looked like they could get up a flight of stairs without taking a break half-way.

The whole episode was odd, and got me to thinking:

Getting healthy is a process: Maybe these women had already lost a lot of weight, and they're well on their way to their goal weight. They could be so tuned in to what they are eating that it really bugs them to see others eating poorly. Maybe.

Weight is the first marker of healthy: We can argue about one type of food being healthier than another, but we can't argue with this: One thing all centenarians have in common. People live into their 100s with a wide range of diets, but nobody gets to that age by being obese.

Eating healthy opens your eyes: It's true that once you become aware of exactly what you're eating, you start to notice just how many bad choices are available - they're everywhere you look!

Be nice: People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and when you point your finger there are three fingers pointed back at you. Be nice. Be friendly. Be respectful. It's just better that way.

- Chris Butterworth

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Nike introduces Flyease

Nike gets 5 stars for this one.

Today marks the release of the Nike Flyease - a new kind of shoe, and the first time I can remember being impressed by a shoe company doing something good. Really good. Something which will impact people's lives in a meaningful way.



Check out the full story on Huffington Post - the fact that a high school student with cerebral palsy helped to initiate the project, and then become part of it, is simply awesome.

I've always loved Nike's slogans and marketing pieces, but I've been critical of Nike (the company) for years.

I don't like that they changed (created) the running shoe industry into what it is today, brainwashing people into believing they need expensive hi-tech running shoes in order to run properly, when the company doesn't have a single study showing this to be true.

I don't like that they changed the common expectation that sports shoes should cost well over $100 per pair. Once Air Jordans gained momentum in the 1980s, the price tags moved up permanently.

And I don't like that over the last few years, as there's been push-back from the running community towards more minimalist shoes, Nike has responded by offering a running shoe which they marketed along the lines of "as close to being barefoot as possible", for $140. Last time I checked, my bare feet didn't cost that much.

Today, with the release of the Flyease, I'm standing in Nike's corner.

Teenagers and young adults with special needs (and their parents) face challenges every day from things you wouldn't even think about. A person may be smart, motivated, friendly, and have a lot to offer the world, but if that person's fingers don't work as well as yours and mine, he'll have to make choices:
  • Do I wear the elastic waist pants that I can pull up and down by myself, because independence is a big deal? Or do I wear the "normal" pants (and need help with the button and zipper), because looking different from everybody else sucks?
  • Do I wear slip-on shoes so I can be independent? Or should I wear "regular" sneakers like all the other kids, except I can't tie them myself?
  • And on and on. People want to fit in with their friends and peers, regardless of the challenges they face.


Nike is working to give people shoes that can be both - cool shoes like everyone else is wearing that are also easy to open and close. Kudos to Nike.

Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a pair online this morning for my son before they sell out. Wish me luck..




- Chris Butterworth

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MLS - give me something to cheer for

I've been reading lately about the MLS's (Major League Soccer) connundrum regarding attendance and tv ratings.

The MLS has a vibrant fan base who attend games en masse. They have multiple franchises who average more attendance per game than many MLB teams, and league-wide their attendance numbers are on par with those of the NBA and NHL.

Major League Soccer also has a fan demographics that bodes well for their future - it's extremely popular with fans under 34 years old, hispanics and other non-white Americans, and its fanbase has a higher average income than most other sports.

Yet, despite all this fervent support, their TV ratings are dreadful. They're being lapped by every other American sport, as well as by English soccer.

And I'm part of their problem. I'm an ardent soccer fan - I play soccer, my son plays soccer, we talk soccer, we play soccer video games, and we watch soccer on tv. We just don't watch MLS games.

I can't speak for everybody else, but here are three reasons why I haven't watched more than a couple of MLS games on tv:

1.) Nobody to root for

Phoenix doesn't have a team, so who do I root for?

LA Galaxy? I've spent 4 decades hating the Lakers and Dodgers. Now I'm supposed to cheer for LA..? Nope.

Seattle Sounders? With the current Cardinals - Seahawks rivalry, and the history between UA and UW, WSU, and Gonzaga? Nope.

Portland Timbers? I'm still mad at the Trailblazers' knocking the Suns off in the early 90's. Nope.

Houston Dynamo? Another Texas team? No thanks.

If MLS had a franchise in Phoenix, I'd watch every game and pay front row attention to the league. But as it stands today, I don't have a rooting interest in any of the teams, and the league is kind of an afterthought.

2.) Inconsistent tv times

My week is too busy to hunt for the game times & channels, and then rearrange my plans around it. I might find some interest if there was a game time that became part of my weekly routine, but I don't have enough interest to hunt and search.

3.) Inconsistent tv teams

Trying to learn the players of every team on a sporadic basis is too hard. It would be better if I could see the same team consistently; I could learn their players quickly, and those of its opponents over time.

This builds on #s  1 and 2 above. If I don't have a rooting interest, and I'm not watching a lot of games, I'm not developing a familiarity with many of the players, which makes it even less interesting to watch.

The English Premier League, on the other hand, signed a deal with NBC two years ago, and we've become fluent in the whole league over that time.

We don't have reasons *not* to root for any particular team, so my son and I each picked a couple teams to keep our eyes on.

The games are on tv every Saturday morning like clockwork. We either watch them live if we're home, or we record them and watch them later in the day when there isn't anything else going on.

And because we can watch the same teams over and over again (since ALL games are broadcast), we quickly learned the various players, coaches, and styles - not just of our own teams but of the teams throughout the league.

Conclusion

The MLS is doing a lot of things right, and its long-term future looks bright. But if they can't get a soccer loving fan in the country's 7th biggest market to watch any of their games, they have plenty of room for improvement.

- Chris Butterworth

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the over-crowded gym - new year's resolutions in action

New Year's Resolutions. Lots of people make 'em. Few people keep 'em. And most of the time they're the same resolutions over and over - lose weight, exercise more, quit a vice (smoking, drinking, whatever), be a better person, etc. (I'll talk more about how to be successful another time; today I'll hit a different point of view...)

To all of you who have shiny new resolutions about going to the gym this year - come on, who are we kidding?



This morning I went to the gym - I had to park further away and then deal with extra crowded facilities.

Yesterday my wife woke up and decided to sign up for a fitness class at her gym, but they were all booked out - no openings for the whole day.

It's annoying.

To each of you, individually: I really, truly wish you success. I hope you are able to make the lifestyle changes you're after - losing weight, getting fit, and being healthy.

To all of you new gym-goers as a group: can we please hurry up and get to February, so I can have my sparsely populated gym back?

Thanks,

Chris Butterworth

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gluten-free is now gluten-free per new FDA standards

My oldest son has been on a gluten-free diet for almost a decade now, and we've seen the food landscape change greatly during that time. When we started out, my wife would go to specialty stores (or order online) to get ingredients, and then would have to bake any type of bread-like food from scratch (breads, pancakes, etc.) Today we can walk into the local grocery store and choose from several different brands, and several different varieties, of gluten-free foods.

Kind Bars are one of my son's favorites.

However, we're still pretty careful about reading labels, and we've come across a few products labeled as gluten-free but which contained oats. And there have been other times where the ingredients listed looked ok, but the food still bothered my son. We've just assumed there was some cross-contamination going on, or maybe some trace elements in there somehow. But now it makes sense...

Per the Associated Press, via Fox News:

Starting this week, "gluten-free" labels on packaged foods have real meaning. Until now, the term "gluten-free" had not been regulated, and manufacturers made their own decisions about what it means.
Under a rule announced a year ago, food manufacturers had until Tuesday to ensure that anything labeled gluten-free contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten - ensuring that those products are technically free of wheat, rye and barley. That amount is generally recognized by the medical community to be low enough so that most people who have celiac disease won't get sick if they eat it.
Currently, wheat must be labeled on food packages but barley and rye are often hidden ingredients.
The standard will ensure that companies can't label products "gluten-free" if they are cross-contaminated from other products made in the same manufacturing facility. The rules don't apply to restaurants, but the Food and Drug Administration is encouraging them to comply.
Gluten-free foods have become big business in the last several years. Millions of people are buying the foods because they say they make them feel better, even if they don't have celiac disease.
Steve Hughes, CEO of Boulder Brands, which owns leading gluten-free food companies Glutino and Udi's, says his company's products all have 10 parts per million of gluten, less than the new standard. He praises the FDA regulations for being a "stake in the ground" that can increase the integrity of the gluten-free market.

So gluten-free now means gluten-free - Thanks, FDA! (and what took you so long?!)

On a side note: the article (and the FDA) puts a big focus on celiac disease, but there is also a large percentage of the autism population whose bodies don't do well with gluten, and I've met many people without any diagnoses at all who have gone gluten-free and say they feel better because of it.

Anyway, today is a win for those counting on the manufacturers' labels being accurate - and for truth in advertising in general..!

-Chris Butterworth

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FDA approves new weight loss pill - just what we need

FDA approves new weight loss pill - just what we need


Overweight? Just take a pill.

From health.usnews.com (partially included - click link to read full article.)




WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has approved Arena Pharmaceutical's anti-obesity pill Belviq, the first new prescription drug for long-term weight loss to enter the U.S. market in over a decade.

Despite only achieving modest weight loss in clinical studies, the drug appeared safe enough to win the FDA's endorsement, amid calls from doctors for new weight-loss treatments.

The agency cleared the pill Wednesday for adults who are obese or are overweight with at least one medical complication, such as diabetes or high cholesterol.

The FDA denied approval for Arena's drug in 2010 after scientists raised concerns about tumors that developed in animals studied with the drug. The company resubmitted the drug with additional data earlier this year, and the FDA said there was little risk of tumors in humans.

With U.S. obesity rates nearing 35 percent of the adult population, many doctors have called on the FDA to approve new weight loss treatments.

Are you kidding me? You're taking on the risk of God knows what (the first version gave animals tumors - yeah, I'm sure this version is perfectly safe with no side effects at all. note - that was sarcasm), and putting more man-made chemicals into your body, when the test subjects lost an average of about 3% of their body weight in a year..?! (note: non-diabetes subjects lost 5% - wow.) Let's do the math: you're carrying 200 lbs on a 160 frame. You take a man made pill full of chemicals every day for a full year. You now weigh 194 lbs. Why even bother?

How about modifying your eating habits, just a little bit, to reduce your caloric intake. You can use a hard calorie count, or a process of removing certain bad foods (meaning high calories with low nutritional value, and usually highly processed) from your diet, or you could use a portion control plan, where you simply eat less of whatever you were going to eat.

Add in some exercise, even if it's only 20 minutes at a time, and I'm betting you can lose those same 6 pounds in a couple of months. You can lose 20-30 lbs over the course of the year with just a few changes to your diet and exercise routines. But a pill everyday for 6 lbs - that's ridiculous.

-Chris Butterworth

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Mexican Drug War victimizes Tarahumara Indians

Mexican Drug War victimizes Tarahumara Indians


This is sad, really sad. And it pisses me off in a big way. If you've read Christopher McDougall's best selling Born to Run, you'll know why.

The Tarahumara Indians, an indigenous tribe living in the mountains and canyons of the Sierra Madre in northern Mexico, might be the most peaceful people on the planet. They're incredibly poor by western economic standards, yet they live rich lives filled with caring, helping, "karma", and pure enjoyment from running. They are said to be the best ultrarunners in the world. 

Now the Mexican drug cartels are coercing the Tarahumara to use that ultrarunning prowess to run (literally) drugs across the border into the United States.


From the article "Mexican Drug War's Next Victims: Tarahumara Indian Runners" (partially included - click link to read the full article):

Until recently, the Tarahumara have been partially protected by the fearsome geography of the region they inhabit— the Sierra Madre mountains. The terrain here is psychedelic: plinths and boulders and impossible overhangs. The canyons stretch down more than a mile, though the Tarahumara navigate the cliffs as easily as staircases. But in the past decades, ranchers, miners, loggers, and narcos have moved ever closer into traditional Tarahumara enclaves. One of the last travel books to chronicle the region was the acclaimed God's Middle Finger, published in 2008 by British writer Richard Grant. It describes a run-in with armed thugs, then closes with this thought: "I never wanted to set foot in the Sierra Madre again."

  



Exacerbating the situation is what -locals say is the worst drought in 70 years. Even in the best of times, many Tarahumara live on the edge, tilling just enough to survive. Now farmers can't get most food crops to grow, and last winter an unusual cold spell killed off much of what they did plant. That's left the Indians desperate—and easy prey for wealthy drug barons looking for mules to take their product north.

"You get a guy who can go 50 miles with almost no water ... they've been indirectly training for [cross-border smuggling] for 10,000 years," says McDougall, author of Born to Run. "It's just tragic and disgraceful. This is a culture that has tried its best to stay out of this mess, all of these -messes—the messes of the world—and now the messes have come and found them."

"I can't even weigh the cultural impact of what the drug industry is doing to the Tarahumara," says Randy Gingrich, an American based in the city of Chihuahua for 20 years. He spends much of his time in the Sierra Madre and his NGO, Tierra Nativa, battles threats to the Tarahumara and other Indian tribes from miners, loggers, drug dealers, and the occasional tourist scheme. He says one former drug baron once forcibly evicted Tarahumara from their ancestral homes so he could build a giant Astroturf ski slope overlooking the 6,000-foot Sinforosa Canyon. The project fell through when the trafficker died in a plane crash.

In the town of Guachochi, a Tarahumara woman named Ana Cela Palma says she knows four Indians who have become "burros" and made the trek up to the U.S. for the cartels. None was paid what they were promised, she says. "They make it back, but in really bad condition," she says. They were broken down physically, impoverished, and angry, she says.

*Note - thanks to Christopher McDougall for sharing this story on his blog.

-Chris Butterworth

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links I like - 06-26-12

links I like - 06-26-12


Here are a few articles I read this week which I thought you might like. Please enjoy..

The Top 5 Signs You've Taken The Paleo Lifestyle Too Far, by Justin Miller via Stepcase Lifehack. I haven't written much about the Paleo diet (although it's on my list of things to write about), but it seems to be popping up more & more in daily conversations. Justin wrote a clever piece with some over-the-top examples.

Eating Disorders Hitting Women Over 50, via usnews.com. I was very surprised with the results of this research. My initial thought was that we all get more comfortable with ourselves as we get older, and that teenage self-consciousness and angst mellows with age. Does our society put so much pressure on looks and body image that grandmothers now have eating disorders? That's sad.  Secondly, we need to teach these women healthier options, like eating healthy and exercising.

Foodie Economist Tyler Cowen Answers Your Questions, via Freakonomics. He hits on quite a few topics in this interview, but a couple points jumped out at me: A) "Not every part of a meal can be the best part," when talking about adding greens to your meal. And B) When comparing traditional low-income societies' meals with our fast food value menus, "The rice and beans tastes much better, especially if you puree ancho chiles into the mix, or put a little bacon on top, or best yet both.  It is also cheaper than McDonald's.  It is better for you.  More people should give it a try." Great point!

The myth of the eight-hour sleep, by John Durant at Hunter-Gatherer. Speaking of Paleo... John finds some research looking at our ancestors' sleep patterns. And by ancestors, in this case we're referring to the time before the Industrial Revolution, when electricity for street lighting and regimented time-keeping became part of everyday culture for western civilization.

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Triathlon, via Dumb Little Man. A long-time friend of mine just ran her first sprint triathlon last week (congratulations Stacy!), and it reminded me of how far I've come over the last couple years, since my first sprint in May 2010. These tips are right on the money for anyone out there thinking about giving a triathlon a shot this summer.

That's all for this week - happy reading!

-Chris Butterworth

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links I like - 06-12-12

links I like - 06-12-12


Here are a few interesting articles I've read recently.

Why Eating Off a Dark Blue Plate Can Help You Slim, by Self Magazine. The plate color thing is interesting, but author author Sarah-Jane Bedwell also correctly points out how much our plate sizes, and portions, have grown.

Caballo Blanco's last run: the Micah True story, by the New York Times. This is a sad but compelling story for anyone who has read Christopher McDougall's Born to Run. (one of my favorite books of all time.)

Skechers Forks Over Forty Million for Shape-Ups Deceptive Advertising Claims, via Justin Owing's BirthdayShoes.com. It's disappointing to know so many people were duped by the campaign "wear our goofy shoes & you'll get into great shape without exercising" (yeah, I'm paraphrasing a little bit). But it's nice to see the FTC step in on this one..

Beating the Anxiety of Online Reading, via Leo Babauta's Zen Habits. There's too much information out there - you simply cannot read it all. Be ruthless with your 'mark all as read' button, and know that it's ok if you don't read everything. Read what you want, or what you can, and let the rest go.

21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic, via the Daily SEO Blog. The article as a whole might be a bit long, but scroll down to #22 - everything we talk about on this site regarding consistency and working your plan is brought to life with a real world blogger's example.

Enjoy.

-Chris Butterworth

running around the world

running around the world


I thought this was funny, and sad.



originally posted at FailBlog.

It's cute - stereotypes can be funny, if taken tongue in cheek and not meaning to insult. The fact that they're stereotypes at all indicates either A) there's some truth involved, and/or B) the perception of the masses out there is that there's some truth involved.

So what does this say about Americans? We're depicted as chasing a gigantic cheeseburger, and our stick-figures are fatter than everybody else's.

Come on, guys.  Moderate. Cut portion sizes. Slow down the excesses.

I'm tired of the fat country stereotype.

-Chris Butterworth

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welcome PREG readers

Welcome PREG Readers!


Today I was honored by being asked to write a guest post on Jay Thompson's wildly popular PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com site. I've been reading Jay's blog since 2006, and have such a respect for him that I moved my real estate business to his brokerage in 2008.

You may be wondering, "why would a real estate blog want the author of a fitness blog to write a post?" The answer is because Fitness Gazette (dot net) is about more than fitness - it's about getting better in life. In fact, when you break it down to its smallest components, Jay and I share a lot of the same principles: There aren't any magic bullets - just do good work, paying attention to the details, consistently, over the long term, and the results will take care of themselves. (Jay's also really big on treating others the right way, and while I agree with him, this site is more about treating yourself the right way..)

As long as you're here, I'd be honored if you took a look around. Here are some of the principles guiding Fitness Gazette, as well as links to a few of the more popular articles:
  • Slow & Steady wins races - Time is on your side, and small changes add up to big changes over time. You don't need to make massive, drastic changes and turn your life upside-down to become healthy. Start small, be consistent, and let the changes accumulate over time.
  • Where preparation meets opportunity - Opportunity can be shy; she rarely calls ahead and schedules an appointment. But once you're ultra prepared, you'll find opportunities much more frequently.
  • Obesity trends since 1985 - a short video published by an MD using data from the CDC, and absolutely frightening. This shows an alarming 30-yr trend, which isn't slowing down. You can point fingers all you want (high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, big-box grocery stores, suburban sprawl, etc. etc.), but the one common theme is larger portion sizes - of everything. Super Big Gulps, Super-sized lunches, Big-Grab bags of chips, gigantic dinner portions... the list goes on. Moderation is the answer - eat a little bit less, and exercise a little bit more, over an extended period of time, and we'll get healthy.
  • Surviving a Business Trip - health on the road - some tips and ideas, along with my personal successes and failures, from a recent business trip.
  • Fit-20 - 20-minute workouts - you're busy, and don't have an extra hour to workout. That's ok; I get it. These 20-minute routines will give your whole body a workout - heart, lungs, muscles - they're a great way to squeeze a good workout into a busy schedule.
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you find something of value while you're here. If you like what you see, please add Fitness Gazette to your Reader, or you can Subscribe by Email. And you can always bookmark it, share it with your friends, or just come back for a visit!

-Chris Butterworth

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links I like - 06-05-12

links I like - 06-05-12


Here are a few interesting articles I've read over the last week or two.


The Ability to Multitask Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be, via Stepcase Lifehack.  I've written before about singletasking; it leads to better quality work and a better quality of life.

On Destiny, Influence, and the Impossibility of Being Self-Taught, via the Art of Non-Conformity. I find the destiny section interesting - we have conversations everyday, yet some of them create direction for the rest of our lives.

Understanding stuck, via Seth Godin. People and Organizations - doing something because "that's the way we do it" isn't good enough. If you don't know why you do it that way, perhaps there's a better way.

How to not suck at building healthy habits... Finally!, via Nerd Fitness. a great article expanding on the Slow and Steady concept I often write about.

-Chris Butterworth

Big Gulp - the most expensive product in history?

Big Gulp - the most expensive product in history?


I wrote this article 2 years ago on a different blog, but thought it was worth re-publishing today, based on the current goings-on in New York.


>>>>> start reprint


July 6, 2010

New products hit the shelves every day.  Some of them introduce a new fad, fashion, or function to our society; others are trying to cash in on a current fad.  Some are improvements to things we already have; others change the way we live our lives.  For example, plasma TVs and DVDs are great, but it was the old fashioned TV which changed America, and the Video Cassette introduced the home-movie industry.

I don't think a product has been introduced in my lifetime (I was born in 1969) which has had a more profound effect on our society than 7-Eleven's Big Gulp.


I remember playing YMCA Basketball as a kid in elementary school.  My dad was the coach, and after every practice half the kids on the team would jump into our van & Dad would treat us to a soda or slurpee at the corner 7-Eleven.  I remember Scott Herr being the first kid I knew who could chug an entire can of soda in one gulp, and I remember arguing with Jay Chapman that Coke tasted better than Mellow Yellow.  But my most vivid 7-Eleven memory is my first look at the all-new Big Gulp, sometime around 6th grade.


The Big Gulp was HUGE – unlike anything I had seen before.  32 ounces of Coca Cola heaven.  Drinking a Big Gulp was like pulling one over on Dad, who said I could have "a pop", but this was more like 3 pops!

Well, it wasn't long before the Super Big Gulp (44 oz), the Double Gulp (64 oz), Circle K's Thirst Buster series, and every other store following suit.

Today the 32oz fountain drink is the standard size across the country, and holding anything else in my hand feels sort of tiny.

So, that's a nice story, but what does it mean?


Today I read an article at AOLHealth.com about the effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup compared with Sugar, and I found this part interesting:

"Sugar-sweetened beverages are the main source of added sugar and the leading source of calories in our diet. When added to drinks, all sweeteners — including natural ones like brown sugar, sugar in the raw, agave syrup and honey — contribute empty calories. Since 1980, calorie intake has increased by an average of 150 to 300 calories per day with about half of those calories coming from liquids — sugar-sweetened beverages in particular. During the same period, there has been no change in physical activity levels. Simply put, Americans are eating more and exercising the same."  (emphasis mine)

So, at the conservative estimate of 150 calories per day, Americans are consuming 4,500 more calories per month.  Since it takes approximately 3,500 calories to gain (or lose) 1 lb of body fat, we're gaining over 1lb per month (until we get angry enough to do something about it!)  And since chronic diseases (some of which are driven by the obesity epidemic) are a major cause in health care premiums soaring…




(image courtesy of the Bally Total Witness blog.)

The 7-Eleven Big Gulp, introduced in 1980 and the drink which became the standard in America, is a contributing factor to my health insurance premiums being astronomical.  This might turn out to be the most expensive 69-cent product in history!

end reprint <<<<<

2 years later, and it's still an interesting topic for discussion. Portion sizes have grown to be gigantic over the last couple-few decades. (so has the percentage of overweight Americans!) I can't think of anything else which could act as the starting point for that trend..

-Chris Butterworth

introducing Fitness Gazette

FitnessGazette.net is live and online!

This site has been a long time in the making; it's the culmination of several projects and passions I've had over the years, and I'm excited about what it is and what it will be.

15 years ago I started to write a book titled "The Fat Reservoir", in which I targeted a solution to the obesity epidemic with a common sense approach to diet and exercise, arguing that we didn't need hyper-restrictive diets and obsessive fitness regimens; that small changes and moderation could add up to fitness and health over the long term.

5 years ago I authored a blog in the productivity space, where I shared ideas and stories relating to personal and business productivity, efficiency, time management, goal setting (and goal achievement), and the process of continual improvement.  The blog actually made money, but at that point in time, due to economic factors, I needed something to make *a lot* of money, and ended up not having time to continue that site.

2 years ago I began thinking about a site which would combine both of the above projects. I started jotting down notes and ideas. I built what would become this blog / website. (well, google's blogger did the work, but I don't mind taking some of the credit!) I started using the title The Better Life, and even had a logo made, to encapsulate everything I would be writing about.

Over the last few months I've been writing a lot, and reading even more. I've received some positive feedback on what I've been doing and the direction of the site. And I decided that with this much effort already put into the site, and the amount of effort I'll give over the next several years (or decades?), the site deserved its own domain name.

Last week I purchased FitnessGazette.net, and yesterday I re-titled and  re-directed the website. Fitness Gazette was born!

I'm excited about and looking forward to writing, sharing, and discussing ideas with you for the foreseeable future.  Topics will include:
  • Motivation - goal setting, goal achieving, and inspiration.
  • Technology - using tech effectively and efficiently, rather than because it's the cool new thing.
  • Fitness & Health - focus on long term health, and how we can achieve it without completely turning your life upside-down.
  • Throughput - getting things done.
  • Food & Nutrition - focus on eating less & eating healthier as a sustainable approach to living, with only modest changes from what you're eating today.
  • Continuous Improvement (Slow & Steady Progress) - keep moving forward, just a little bit at a time, without turning your whole life upside-down, and you'll be amazed at how far you can get. This goes for losing weight, as well as just about any other goal you want to accomplish.
  • Fit-20 - 20-minute fitness routines you can do anywhere, anytime, without having to completely alter your life or other responsibilities.
  • Daily Diet - real world eating ideas, so you can go out to lunch with your co-workers and still lose weight.
  • And More - if I find something worth sharing, I'll share it.
I'd be honored if you bookmarked this page & checked back often. I'd be even more honored if you subscribed in your feedreader or wanted to receive new articles each morning by email.

Coming soon I'll post links to pages for About, Fit-20, and Daily Diet, which will take this article into more depth.

Again, welcome, and thank you for reading.

-Chris Butterworth

where preparation meets opportunity

Great things happen when preparation meets opportunity.

A picture's worth a thousand words, so have a look at this video - the gold medal speed skating race from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.


It's easy to watch Steven Bradbury coast to victory and say how lucky he was, or to otherwise downplay his accomplishment. But that's selling his achievement short. There are two sides of the equation: preparation and opportunity.

Steven Bradbury spent a decade training for that race. He was the fastest speed skater in his country's history. He was one of the fastest skaters in the whole world at that time. He didn't wake up one morning and decide to line up for the gold medal race; he had given everything he had - blood, sweat, tears, early mornings, tireless training sessions, monitoring his food intake, declining social invitations - so that he could be *in* that race.

The fact that the other skaters all crashed just seconds away from the finish line was an opportunity - a big opportunity. The opportunity of a lifetime. And what did Bradbury do with this opportunity? He seized it. His tireless preparation had put him in a position where he was able to turn an opportunity into greatness. He became his country's first gold medal winner in any sport in the winter olympics! That makes him kind of a big deal..

The thing about opportunities is they're everywhere. In fact, you may have had the opportunity of a lifetime present itself this morning, only you weren't prepared enough to take advantage of it, or to even realize it as an opportunity.

The thing about preparation is it illuminates opportunities. Those who prepare relentlessly seem to be in the right place at the right time more often than not. They're able to engage in conversations, share opinions, perform their craft - whatever, wherever, whenever the time is right, without a formal invitation or audience. 

Sure, not all opportunities are equal. You might be sitting next to a department manager on your next flight, while your cousin shares a cab with the CEO. But they can both get your foot in the door, no? Then it's up to you to shine... How prepared are you?

-Chris Butterworth

the modern manly man

Check out the infographic from Planter's Nuts.

Let's see - the modern man does more chores, cooking, and child care; drinks beer or bourbon; watches football; wants to get more exercise, food, sleep, and time for himself; and finds nuts as a compromise between "manly" and "healthy". Hmmm.

by Lemon.ly. Browse more data visualizations.

I can't give Planter's a home run (that's reserved for Dos Equis!), but this should be a standing triple - I agree on all points!



Interesting indeed. Stay thirsty, and stay manly.

-Chris Butterworth