January Goal Progress Report

Posted: March 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

Already March? How about a January update

We Made Some Custom Shoes

My Little Brother is a big shoe fan. I wanted to get him something for his birthday that we could do as an activity instead of just something material. I found a YouTube video on how to make custom shoes and then bought some leather paint and paint brushes online. Some Air Force Ones on Craigslist would serve as our canvas. JJ really enjoyed painting the shoes and they turned out great! This will be an activity that we will have to repeat. JJ and I hung out 9 hours in January bringing my total volunteer time to 47.80 hours.

JJ Shoes

Jonathan Biss Concert

I attended a concert with my piano teacher Luke at the Lied Center. The performer was Jonathan Biss and he played some Beethoven, Schumann, and Schoenberg. It’s amazing to watch an expert pianist. I was blown away how fast he can move his fingers and how accurately he can hit the keys with the perfect amount of force and timing:

Progress on the Third Movement of the Moonlight Sonata is slow, but progress nonetheless. Learning to play it quickly is proving to be a challenge.

Off The Saddle

I didn’t ride my bike once in January. Not good! I’m running the L.A. Marathon 3/15 and need to get more consistent about running

January Exercise Totals
Run: 63.19 Miles (455.18 Total / 750.30 Behind)
Bike: 0.0 Miles (1896.88 Total / 4,000 Behind)
Swim: 17,150 Yards (152,172 Total / 450,567 Behind)

The Ball is Rolling

I finally got my first project for the business. I’m woefully behind on the goal to save $50,000 and have been moving in the wrong direction since I quit I my job. However, this work has the potential to be continuous, and if I work hard I could potentially meet the lofty savings goal.

December Goal Progress Report

Posted: February 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

Only a month late…

Catholics and Methodists
I attended church twice in December. I first went to a Catholic Church service with Alexis.  I’m not a big fan of Catholic services, there is a lot of ritual and worship that doesn’t mean a lot to me. Alexis tells me that if I understood it I would appreciate it more. The service makes as much sense to me as those Oregon play calling signs.

Oregon Play Calling
A few days later, I attended The Water’s Edge with my friend and fellow bike enthusiast The Real Wes J. The Water’s Edge is a United Methodist church with services at Millard West High School. I enjoyed it. The sermon was about the difference between joy and happiness. My total church attendance is up to four services.

Christmas

Alexis was back in town for the holiday. It was great to spend time with her and her family. My sister got me a lock-picking set and cut away lock for Christmas, so now it’s time to get practicing!

Lockpicking Set

I Didn’t Exercise
December ’twas a piss poor month when it comes to the ‘ole swimming, biking, and running. However, Alexis had decided to do an Ironman! She’s thinking IM Texas in 2016, which seems like a good race for me as well.

December Exercise Totals
Run: 27.17 Miles (391.99 Total / ? Behind)
Bike: 44.47 Miles (1896.88 Total / ? Behind)
Swim: 15,200 Yards (135,022 Total / ? Behind)

Working at the Car Wash

The business is slow getting off the ground, requiring a lot of patience. In order to have some income, I picked up a part time job at Cornhusker Auto Wash. I worked there for three years back in college and they were seeking employees for the winter rush. It’s exhausting work, but I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Carwash

 

November Goal Progress Report

Posted: January 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

This is very late. I was originally planning on combining this with the December Goal Progress Report, but then I realized that a lot happened in November! Also, writing two posts instead of one will get me closer to my goal of 50 blog posts.

Goal #15: Read 20 Books

This was supposed to be one of those goals that took all year, but I accomplished it early. I read six books in November, all of which I would recommend: Swim Speed Secrets / The Little Book of Talent / Faster Higher Stronger / Against the Grain / The Happiness of Pursuit / Turning Pro.

November Books

Courtside for Creighton Basketball

Big Brothers / Big Sisters has some fantastic donors. Tickets always seem to get donated for Nebraska Football games or the hottest concert in town. I grabbed some tickets they were offering for a Creighton Basketball game, and man were they some tickets! We kept walking down the aisle until we eventually ended up sitting courtside. I kept thinking, “This is what it’s like to be Jack Nicholson!”

Creighton Tickets

JJ and I also went and saw Big Hero 6 which I really enjoyed, and I think he would have enjoyed too if he had managed to stay awake. His previous night sleepover led to some undesired snoring sound effects.

Philadelphia Marathon with Alexis

In one of my previous posts I mentioned that my lady-friend was running the Philadelphia Marathon in order to raise money for Partners in Health. I’m proud to report that she accomplished both of those difficult tasks. The marathon started off great but she had some back injuries flare up part way through (most likely do to the large temperature shift from Haiti to Boston) and managed to grit out the last 6 miles through the pain. Thanks to a lot support from family and friends, she was also able to raise $5,000 to purchase loupes for the Haitian surgical residents.

Alexis Marathon

It was cool to explore Philadelphia and meet some of the people that she works with in Haiti who also ran the marathon. I managed to see a Flyers game while I was there but did not try a Philly cheesesteak. That’s fine though, I mean, how could anything beat Pepperjax?

November Exercise Totals
Run: 90.25 Miles (364.82 Total / ? Behind)
Bike: 276.23 Miles (1852.41 Total / ? Behind)
Swim: 46,609 Yards (119,822 Total / ? Behind)

Finally Finished the Fur

Fur Elise that is. Learning to play this song was goal #9 on my 25 before 25 list. I had said in my 25 Before 25 Review that I was 90% through learning Fur Elise. That might have been a stretch as mastering the last 10% took about four months, but I finally finished. I’m going to write a longer post on learning to play the piano, but in the meantime here is a video of the results.

 

I’ve always been a skinny guy. If not for my fair complexion, I could star in one of those commercials where for 10 cents a day you can feed a starving child. In high school I grew like a bean, 6’6″ and 175 lbs. I was so skinny, and transparently pale, that you could see me heart beating. You could (and still can) see my ribs.

You Would Assume I’m Healthy, But I’m Not

I workout a lot, putting in hundreds of miles a week swimming, biking, and running. I also eat a lot, consuming thousands of calories a day of Burger King, Taco Bell, and Jimmy John’s. My consumption of fast food is so frequent that my order for each establishment has been memorized on a subconscious level. The number of times I’ve ordered a #8 with crunchy tacos and a Mountain Dew is well into the triple digits. ‘If the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn’ has always been the motto that I use to explain away my poor eating habits. I could be the poster boy for how skinny you can be eating McDonald’s on a biweekly basis.

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That Kind of Diet Is Unsustainable

A year ago, I pursued donating a kidney. I went to the hospital for a series of tests to examine kidney function and passed all of the tests except the final one — blood pressure. The medical staff deemed my 140/90 blood pressure as being too high to donate the organ responsible for regulating blood pressure. Go figure.

This was the first time that I had seen the negative consequences of eating fast food. I had foolishly assumed I was immune to the adverse affects of poor eating — that if I worked out enough I could consume all the Chicken McNuggets and Reese’s McFlurries my heart desired

That’s When I Gave Vegetarian A Try

At the recommendation of a friend, I watched a documentary on Netflix called Forks Over Knives. It’s an eye opening film that makes a compelling argument about the negative effects of consuming meat and other animal products. I enjoyed it because it brought to light information on the effectiveness of eating fruits and vegetables that I had never heard before.

After watching that documentary, I added goal #4 to my 26 Before 26 List – Eat Vegetarian For A Month.

forks-over-knives

I Successfully Unsuccessfully Ate Vegetarian

The first week was really tough. Meat is the centerpiece of most American meals and abstaining from meat consumption requires a lot of forethought. The days of Pepperjax Phillies and Dinker’s Double Bacon Cheeseburgers were replaced with spinach salads and fruit smoothies.

Two weeks in I relapsed, unconsciously consuming some scraps of summer sausage from a cheese plate I was preparing at work (doesn’t every office have a cheese plate a 3 pm?). I was upset with myself, but realized I need to be more vigilant if I was going to reach my goal. The one month restarted.

I would eventually make it the full 30 days in a row, consuming large amounts of cheese pizza and coca-cola along the way. I had managed to make vegetarian unhealthy, ingesting more chocolate milk shakes and waffles fries than fruits and vegetables.

Would You Do It Again?

For sure, except that I’d like to do it the right way.  Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients that are vital for a healthy body. I’m not convinced that animal products need to be eliminated completely from my diet. I am convinced that a significant portion of my diet should be fruits and vegetables. All of the major diets recommend eating a large amount of plant based products. Not one recommends the Mcdonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell trifecta

I would like to be a world class triathlete, and consuming copious amounts of fat, sugar, and salt is not consistent with that goal. I’m quick to pass judgement on those who have trouble managing their weight when I make a majority of the same poor decisions just without the visual consequences. That makes me a hypocrite, and it needs to stop.

I first dated Alexis in middle school when we were both members of the cross country team. She didn’t have much interest in running, but was instead cross training for her real passion: soccer. To say that Alexis loved soccer would be an understatement. I clearly understood my secondary role in her priorities.

Alexis Prom

We dated again our senior year of high school. Alexis had been recruited to play for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a team that had won the Division II Soccer Championship two year prior. She was excited for the opportunities that lay ahead.

Until She Couldn’t Play Anymore

Most Americans don’t believe soccer is a physical sport. It is, especially the way Alexis played. Her smash mouth style would eventually be her downfall, but an aggressive mentality was the only way she knew to approach the game. An ongoing back injury caused her immense pain and continually worsened, limiting her abilities. After a year of attempting to play through it, she faced reality and had to quit the team.

She was devastated. She had invested so much energy into a sport she could no longer play and didn’t know where to turn.

And That’s When Her Passion Shifted

Slowly, she found ways to fill the void. She took up undergraduate research, interned for a neurosurgeon, and got accepted to medical school. She spent several weeks volunteering at clinics in Honduras and Jamaica. The dedication she had for soccer had transitioned to medicine.

Alexis 4

At the beginning of this year, she applied for a fellowship program with Partners in Health, an organization founded by the chair of the Global Health Department at Harvard University. Partners in Health has clinics in the poorest countries around the world and is even taking part in the recent Ebola outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone. She didn’t think she would get accepted into the highly selective program. The pool of applicants was very competitive, largely made up of students from more prestigious universities.

She Got In

This week will mark four months of a year long commitment in Haiti for Alexis. Her time there has not been without difficulties. Adjusting to a any foreign country is challenging, especially when you don’t speak the language. The situation is exacerbated when you are working a high stress job, treating individuals with conditions beyond reprieve, and where the demand for your care is so high.

Alexis Clinic

When I tell people about my girlfriend, the med student spending a year in Haiti, they think she’s nuts. They can’t understand why someone would choose to live in a third world country. That’s how Alexis differs from you and I.  She sees the benefits of providing medical care to the most impoverished people in the world as more meaningful then the hardships that go along with it. She has a strong desire to help others, specifically those who do not have the means to help themselves. She recently started a fundraiser to equip Haitian surgical residents with the tools they need to perform delicate operations. Her goal is ambitious, but with our help, I have no doubt that she can reach it.

Alexis 3

This is Where You Come In

The actions of people who are passionate about what they do can not be found in the middle of the bell curve. They are outliers, assuming more risk than others because they posses vision that can see further through the fog of potential consequences.

I’m not asking you to donate to make a difference (it will), but instead to show support for a woman who is passionate about what she does. A majority of people will tell you to play it safe, to stay on the well worn path. That’s not how you make an impact in the world. In order to affect genuine change you must veer into uncharted waters.

Alexis 5

The Thing Is, This Is Just The Start

Helping the most downtrodden among us isn’t some fleeting desire for Alexis. It’s her life’s mission, and her effort in Haiti is just the tip of the iceberg. She is going to continue work like this for the rest of her life providing care in parts of the world where hope has long been forgotten.

You can support Alexis’ mission by donating here

October Goal Progress Report

Posted: November 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

Completed Another Goal…Kind Of

I successfully ate no meat for 30 days allowing me to cross #4 “Eat Vegetarian for a Month” off the list. Did you know cheese pizza is vegetarian? I ate a lot of cheese pizza…

Road Trip

Every fall, some college buddies of mine and I try to go to one Husker football road game. We’ve been to Jerry’s World (That Screen!), Oklahoma State (Awesome!), Minnesota (Eh…), and UCLA (Rose Bowl). This year, Mike, Brad, Tyler, and I went to Northwestern. Nebraska played well bringing our win loss record on these trips to 3-2.

Northwestern Game

The Tale of Two Races

I participated in two races this month — Race for the Cure and the Market to Market Relay. I complete the RFTC in 20:34 (6:22 min/mile pace) which was a good 1:30 off my 5k PR. The following weekend, I ran 3 legs and 13.1 miles in the Market to Market Relay. I had made the assumption before hand that this would all be very easy, enjoyable running. It wasn’t. The ‘Get a Clue’ team took the pace out fast and sped up as the day went on in order to finish before the sun set. M2M was a very well organized event that I would recommend to all runners.

Market 2 Market

Largest Training Volume Ever!

I significantly ramped up my training volume this month, managing 85 hours of swimming, cycling, and running. It felt good to train so much and by good I mean completely exhausting.

October Totals
Run: 128.71 Miles (274.57 Total / 425.89 Behind)
Bike: 756.35 Miles (1576.18 Total / 1,985 Behind)
Swim: 65,825 Yards (76,238 Total / 279,926 Behind)

Volunteering
Despite my increase in free time, I haven’t increased my volunteering time. JJ and I hung out twice for a total of 4.25 hours. This month I taught him the most efficient way to eat at a buffet and how to scream like a girl at a haunted house.

Haunted Hollows

I Read Three Books

Do you remember the BOOK IT program from elementary school? If you read five books you got a free personal pan pizza. They should bring that program back for adults. Anyways…here are my very short reviews of the three books I read.

Superhuman By Habit is a solid book about developing habits so that you don’t need to rely on your finite reserve of willpower. It’s written by a guy named Tynan who writes a fantastic blog. The book is a quick read that I’d definitely recommend.

Vagabonding is a guide for world travel. My main takeaway was to travel with less and to enjoy the journey, not the destination. Despite the overwhelming positive reviews on Amazon, I didn’t like this book.

Kon-Tiki is the crazy, true story of six men who travel from Peru to Polynesia on a wooden raft in 1947. A researcher wants to prove that the inhabitants of Polynesia originated in Peru, so he finds five other guys who are up for adventure, builds a raft out of balsa trees, and goes sailing. This book is awesome, check it out.

September Goal Progress Report

Posted: October 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

A little goals progress report for last month. I’m chipping away at some of the goals and getting way behind on most.

Candlewood and the Quakers
I went to church twice this month. First, my friend Nathan invited me to Candlewood Church which takes place a Westside High School. They really have the fellowship part down at the ‘Wood. It was mostly younger crowd with a band that played Christian rock and a very passionate sermon. I had a good conversation with Nate about his beliefs which I really enjoyed.

The following Sunday, my friend Matt invited me to attend a Meeting of Friends, which is a Quaker service. A MoF is very different from any other church service I’ve been too. The first notable difference is the size of the congregation. I could count the number of attendees on two hands. The next difference was the furniture — wooden pews don’t cut it with the Quakers. Instead, all seven of us sat in a circle in some very comfortable lazy boy chairs.

20140928_095624Some pleasantries were exchanged at the beginning of the MoF when, without warning, everyone stopped talking. For an hour we sat in complete silence, a Quaker practice called waiting worship. I may have dozed off for a minute. At the end of the quiet game we had an hour long conversation about how would the world be different if God controlled everything. The discussion gradually gravitated towards helping other with each person chiming in with their own experiences. I’m looking to go to church to help build character and both churches seemed to have that down.

Exercise results

This month I achieved my largest volume week ever, due mostly to biking to work everyday (15 miles each way)

Large Volume WeekSeptember Totals
Run: 70.54 Miles (145.86 Total / 380 Behind)
Bike: 486.93 (819.83 Total / 1,808 Behind)
Swim: 5,748 Yards (7,388 Total / 255,000 Behind)

Relapsed to Being a Carnivore

September was supposed to be my month of being a vegetarian. Everything was going smoothly until I accidentally relapsed on the 16th, starting the one month period over. If I can continue to avoid Pepperjax Steak Phillies (mmmmm) then I should be able to cross another goal off my list.

Book!

I read I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. It was a very entertaining personal finance book targeted at a younger crowd. After finishing this book I immediately paid off all my credit card debt.

Book

Quit My Job
Goal #17 on the list was to get promoted. That will be difficult as I resigned my position on September 30th. There will be a bigger post on this, but the gist of it is that I’m starting my own business.

GSS Logo

Thanks Steph for the logo help! You can tell how sad my coworkers were to see me leave based on the the cookie that they got me on my last day…

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