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52 Weeks to Awesome: My Year-Long Lifestyle Experiment

Here we are, a full 3 weeks into the new year. Resolutions are full-swing, gyms are experiencing their peak of new member enrollment, and generally everyone pats themselves on the back and feels good for a few weeks until going back to their normal routine for the remaining 11 months of the year. And this is why new years comes under a lot of flak by personal development gurus:

“If you really want to make a change in your life, you shouldn’t need a big day like new years to motivate you to make those changes. Any day is a good day to begin making yourself a better person.”

And that’s a great point – if you want to make yourself better why not start RIGHT NOW – don’t wait til tomorrow, don’t even wait another hour. That said, I think those gurus can step off their high horse a bit. Yeah sure, you shouldn’t need a big anniversary to kick-start your personal development but let’s face it: days like New Years or another birthday always serve as a good time to check in on your long-term goals and see how you’re progressing.

The trick is to actually stick with your resolutions and goals. Ironically, even though we’re just 3 weeks into 2013, I’d wager a solid 30-40% of people that made new years resolutions have already given up, forgotten, or somehow compromised their resolutions (after doing a bit of reseach I’m not far off – only 45% of people stick with resolutions past the first 6 months).Continue Reading

Life Lessons from Groundhog Day

I have a confession to make… I just watched Groundhog Day for the first time. Shameful, I know.

Groundhog Day is a classic Bill Murray comedy from the early 90′s. Without giving too much of the plot away, Bill Murray plays a cynical TV weatherman covering the annual groundhog day festival in Punxsutawney, PA. However he find that when he goes to sleep, he repeatedly wakes up at 6:00 AM on groundhog day in his hotel room. He keeps reliving the same day over and over again – for upwards of 10,000 years. He eventually learns to develop himself and becomes a master pianist, ice sculptor, and fluent in french.

Bill Murray is a true modern bachelor:

After watching the movie I was talking it over with some of my buddies and we all kept debating “what would you learn to do if you could keep reliving the same day over and over?” And then we’d talk about all the awesome skills we’d acquire or things we’d try.

But one scene in the movie really stuck out for me, early on when Bill Murray is drunkenly talking it over with 2 rednecks. He says:

“You ever get that feeling you’re living the same day over and over again and nothing you ever do matters?”

To which one of the rednecks replies:

“Pretty much sums it up for me.”

Well, shit. That hits pretty close to home. I know that feeling, and I know a lot of guys that have the feeling, that you’re endlessly toiling away every day without making any real progress, and it feels like each day that passes by and you’re barely closer to your goals and dreams, if at all.

Everyone talks about Bill Murray in Groundhog Day like it’d be some fun alternate reality to live out. What no one ever takes into account is that his story is very real, and extremely applicable to all of us.

The magical 10,000 number

Harold Ramis, the director of Groundhog Day, has stated that Bill Murray relives the same day for around 10,000 years. So that may be a bit longer than most of us can afford to spend. I like to rethink it in terms of I have 10,000 days, or roughly 27 years to really improve myself and be as awesome as possible.

27 years is actually a good number for most of you reading this blog. I assume you’re in your mid 20′s, and I’m 23 at the time of writing so 27 years from now I’ll be an even 50. That’s a lot of time to make myself into the most badass version of me possible.

I recently read another statistic I really like – 30 minutes a day of working on a skill equates to 3 weeks of total time spent per year. This statistic can be great for eliminating distractions. 30 minutes of  Reddit/Facebook a day? It’s much easier to cut that out when you realize that 3 weeks our of your year gone.

On the flip side of the coin, spending 30 minutes a day to learn a new skill will get you 3 weeks of solid practice a year. An hour a day will equate to 6 weeks. Think about it.

If your goal is to be fit and healthy, spend an hour per day lifting, doing some cardiovascular work, or stretching/foam rolling. You could learn a new martial art. 30-60 minutes per day studying a new language will get you to basic proficiency in a year. You can also start learning a musical instrument or teaching yourself to dance with youtube videos.

Want to be better with women? Go out to a  public place and just be social with everyone you see for an hour every day. Or more classically there’s intensive methods like the ‘newbie challenge’ where you make a point to approach & talk to a minimum of 5 girls/day.

The point is, repeated practice works. There’s no shortcut for time spent mastering a skill. Keeping on-theme with this section, you’ve probably also heard of the 10,000 hour rule. The basic gist is it takes roughly 10,000 hours practicing your craft to become a true expert. This fits right in with the 27 year outline – an hour a day of practice means you can claim true mastery of a new skill by age 50 – if you start today.

That may seem like a long time, but remember the 10,000 hour rule is for true mastery. I would argue every 1,000 hours learning a skill has diminishing returns. That is, you get maybe 50% proficient with the first 1,000 hours you spend, and then after 2,000 hours maybe you’re 70% proficient etc (I’m totally pulling these numbers out of my ass to illustrate a point).

So what does that actually mean? 30 minutes a day for 3-4 years will get you quite far in learning a new skill. And it’s easy to set 1-2 hours aside each day for personal development & learning new skills.

Right now I spend about 1 hr/day doing physical activity, 30 minutes/day reading about fitness & personal development, and 30 minutes learning portuguese. I also train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but I wrap that in with general physical activity.

After watching Groundhog Day I’m tempted to work in playing piano (a longtime goal of mine) or learning to breakdance & shuffle. 30 minutes a day really isn’t that bad, especially when you want something.

So why do people keep on living like the core premise of Groundhog Day isn’t attainable? The truth is most people essentially do live the same day 10,000 times without realizing what they missed out on. I don’t want to wake up at 50 and wonder what happened to my life and all the things I wanted to do and skills I wanted to master.

And it all starts today, right now. Figure out the 2-3 most important skills you’d like to learn and set up a plan right now to start logging your hours and making yourself a better person. Really, go do it. Right now.

The Return of Modern Bachelor Lifestyle

The past year and a half since I first started Modern Bachelor Lifestyle have been incredible for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about the world, about relationships, and about what it means to be successful.

A lot of what I originally wrote here over a year ago still holds true, but I’ve also evolved and changed my stance on a lot of it. As such, I considered wiping the slate clean, and restarting with information I 100% agree with.

That said, I’m gonna keep it all up. I think it’s important to know where you’ve been, and how you used to see things. Who you were frames a lot of who you are, and I don’t want to blindly discard all that. Just know, starting now: this is what I believe and what I truly stand behind.

Who knows, in another year and a half maybe I’ll have evolved to a new set of beliefs. But that’s part of the process, and it’s something we can all learn from.

So… I’m back! New updates to fitness, relationships, and general life outlook incoming!

Get stronger and leaner with less effort

This is about to sound like a late night infomercial.

How would you like to get stronger, build muscle, and lose fat all while spending less time prepping in the kitchen?  The icing on the cake: there’s also some wiggle room for some junk calories and those naughty sugary foods you really crave at night.

Well the guys over at Propane Fitness seem to be onto something with their propane program. And taking a look through their client progress posts, I’d say there has to be some merit to this too-good-to-be-true method of theirs.

The basic premise of the Propane Program is such:

  • Every day you’ll do some fasting (Check out Martin Berkhan’s site for more basic info) until 1-2pm. Have some black coffee or green tea in the morning to help with energy.
  • Eat a large protein + fat meal in the early afternoon to break the fast (shoot for 1/3 of your daily calories in this meal). Low carbs!
  • Do a heavy weight workout ~3 hours later. Focus on doing 1-2 big compound movements for lower reps (3-6 reps), and then some supplemental higher rep work (8-15 reps) for smaller muscle groups
  • Consume a HUGE proetin + carb meal (approx 1/2 of your daily calories) in the 2 hour window after training. A post workout shake can be included in this. Feel free to add some junky calories from the foods you crave- a few cookies or a pastry fits right in.
  • Consume the last 15-20% of you calories 2-3 hours later, still protein + carbs and lower fat.
  • On days off eat only protein + fat, and you may also choose to completely fast on one of your off days each week.

The science behind all this is simple: early in the day you stay in the fasted state to force your body to metabolize your fat for fuel, while sensitizing your muscles to insulin. Workout out in a low carb state further depletes your muscles of glycogen, and thus primes your body to handle the large influx of carbs and protein you’re about to shove into your face.

The high carbs + protein postworkout helps you spike insulin, replenish glycogen, and gives you a psychological break by allowing you to eat some of the foods you crave at night. This all adds together to create a very muscular, lean, and happy you.

Put the ‘lifestyle’ in ‘lifestyle design’

What I like most about the Propane Program is that it fits nicely into the modern bachelor lifestyle. You wake up and get going immediately- no need to waste 30 minutes in the morning on trivial things like breakfast. Psh, who needs breakfast anyways?

Then, just as you start to get hungry in the afternoon you feed with a huge satiating meal of protein + fat.  After work you hit the gym and go home to be rewarded by a veritable feast. And if you’ve had a tough day fear not- you’re perfectly okay to have that brownie or slice of pizza you’re craving… AS LONG AS YOU EARNED IT BY TRAINING YOUR ASS OFF.

This also makes sense psychologically- I personally have no problem sticking to a diet during the day, but as soon as the sun goes down I’m ravenous for brownies, cookies, and generally anything carby. This program not allows allows for eating like that, but optimizes for it. Not to mention how cheap and generally time-saving it is to eat only 2-3 big meals a day.

So today marks my first full day trying the propane program. I’m not lifting quite according to their methodology- I’m doing Wendler’s 5/3/1 but I feel enough similarities are there between the programs to be fine.

I’ll definitely keep you guys updated on how the propane program works for building muscle and getting in great shape so stay tuned!

-Nick

Do Something.

What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski?
Dude.
…huh?
Uh, I don’t know sir.
Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost?  Isn’t that what makes a man?
Sure, that and a pair of testicles.

 

 

How do you define yourself?

Think about that for a moment.  Isolated from the rest of the world, ignoring outside pressures and demands, who are you really?

This may seem like a confusing and rather broad question at first.  You might have no idea how to answer initially, and that’s okay.  Just answer, preferably in writing, whatever comes to mind.  Who am I?  And then write down a few more answers, maybe refining and honing from previous answers you liked.  I got this exercise from Steve Pavlina on how to find your true purpose in life.

The thing is, deep down you know the true answer.  Write or say whatever you want, you know how authentic your answer is.  No one’s ever going to know how you answer that question, and no one can help you answer it.  I believe other people provide reflections on your character and give you chances to learn about yourself, but ultimately the answer to who you are comes completely from you.

Are you a man that knows what he wants from life and isn’t afraid to ask for it?  Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices along the way to achieve your dreams?  How badly do you want it?  And most importantly, are you taking the appropriate actions necessary and consistently taking steps toward being the man you ultimately want to be?

A mistake I’ve been caught up in for almost my whole life is analysis paralysis due to informational overload.  I’m an incredibly quick learner, I tend to absorb information like a sponge, which seems like a pretty cool ability to have at first.  However, due to my love for learning and understanding new things I focused too much on the mental side of things and less on actually, you know… doing something.

That’s why I had my friend make the following sign for me to put right above my desk:

See, information is great only in that it allows you to take the next step, and the next step only, in your personal development journey.  When I first started learning pickup I got caught up so much in informational overload that whenever I went to apply any of the concepts I’d read about I’d be so up in my head thinking about what to say I was never truly present in a conversation.  And it just wouldn’t feel natural to me, and women can sense your uncomfortability in those situations.

Needless to say this is still a major sticking point for me; some nights I’m really present and ‘on’ and other nights I get overly analytical and lost up in my thick skull to where I can’t even hold a simple conversation comfortably.

And the more I reflected on that, the more I realized thoughts only matter if they then lead to action.  As a kid that was always socially awkward, never good at sports, I had always prized my intellect, my thoughts above everything.  I was the stereotypical nerdy kid that learned magic tricks in high school to have something cool over all the jocks and popular kids who would just stare dumbfounded.

I prized thought above all else and forgot to actually DO something, anything.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”
-Wayne Gretsky

So instead of defining myself by my thoughts I’ve been deciding to define myself based on my actions.   I’ve always known so much about exercise physiology, nutrition, and the science of getting ripped yet I’ve never been below 8% bodyfat.  It’s time to pony up and do something.

I’ve been working pretty hard on this website since I launched it in June.  I learned how to do basic html and css, set up my webmaster account, and write and format web articles from scratch.  I’ve made decent progress, but decent doesn’t cut it anymore- time to do a mass social networking and SEO campaign to finally bring the numbers in to the site.  Time to quick fucking around and get some extra content on the site, like a motivational page, recipes, workout programs, or style gallery.

And remember, it isn’t just what you do that defines who you are- its what you DON’T do that matters.  Every single action you take is either one step closer to your goals, or one step away from them.  DO the actions that take your forward and DON’T do anything that takes you a step backward.

Again, deep down you know which directions your actions are taking you.  You’re also directly responsible for the outcome.  Sure, you can whine about how tough life is or how such and such circumstance threw you off.  You can also rationalize anything you want, our brains really are experts at backwards rationalizing any and everything a la cognitive dissonance.  But deep down you know, and you can’t escape that knowledge.

I don’t care how difficult it is, if you want it badly enough you’ll figure out how to get it done.  I simply wasn’t putting the hours into this site I needed to so  I recently started an experiment with polyphasic sleep just so I could work extra hours.  You can figure it out.

To make a cliche metaphor, its like climbing a really tall set of stairs.  At first its easy to make good progress, you’re fresh and still have the fire burning inside you.  But as you climb you start to realize how far it is to the top, and how your legs are getting tired.  Maybe they’re starting to cramp.  Most people give in to the pain and stop there, and they typically never continue their climb.  The fire’s out.

Fuck that.

If I stop, I’m dead.

“Life isn’t about going back, it’s about going forward.
Yes, there are times in our lives that we wish we could relive… but, if we’ve already lived them perfectly, why live them again? The adventure of life is there’s always something new, new challenges, new experiences.  A fun game is a game it gets harder as it goes, so it is with life.”
-Ms. Choksondik

 

 

 

 

 

So how do you define yourself?  Stop making excuses and start living the life you’ve always wanted.

Quit fucking around, and DO something.