We got a lot more than muscle-up coaching from Carl Paoli’s “Master Muscle-up Workshop” on Sunday. While we did do things like spend 20 minutes alone specifically discussing how to grip a pull-up bar, nearly everything he taught us about how to make our muscle-up better also taught us how to be better humans.
A few takeaways:
Take extreme ownership
Instead of relying on others to solve our problems or get us closer to our goals, let’s take responsibility for our outcomes. If you have a problem, it is up to you to actively seek solutions. A coach can give you the tools, but it’s up to you to use those tools.
Have extreme presence
Be aware of how you’re showing up and make sure it’s aligned with your values. Give time, attention, and intention to the actions that you’re used to doing on autopilot. This is where the magic happens.
Raise your movement standards
Being able to do complete a range of motion doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing a movement well, or in a way that transfers to other movements. Spending time on moving better will have a bigger payoff than just completing it. Once you think you’ve mastered something, go back to the basics and do them even better.
Support others in a compassionate but constructive way. Don’t give praise just to be encouraging - give feedback that will help the person closer to where they want to be.
Share and connect
Collectively we have a wealth of knowledge. Sharing it with each other makes us all better. Connection is why we’re here.
Tyler and I hope to better weave these messages into our work with our clients. Thank you Carl!
2 weeks into my month-long experiment of going vegan. Just living my best life, which is now mainly fueled by pea protein powder.
If you had told me a few years ago that I’d be trying veganism, I would have thought you were joking. In 2012 I was eating eight ounces of protein at three meals a day (!), touting the superiority of the Paleo diet (slowly getting fat as I did so).
Reasons for this experiment
I want us (Adaptive Nutrition) to be able to address veganism from first-hand experience. Whether we end up endorsing it or not, I want to be able to explain why.
To possibly develop an Adaptive Nutrition meal plan for vegans.
Adaptive Nutrition was born out of our experimentation with various approaches to eating. Though we’ve created a meal plan that works extremely well for those that try it, I don’t want to become set in our ways and stop learning. There is more than one “right” way to eat.
I just finished Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals, which addressed some questions I’ve had on my mind lately, namely, How is the meat I’m eating produced? and Is the way we’re teaching people to eat environmentally sustainable? The answers pointed to no, so here I am…getting crunchier and crunchier.
Asking the hard questions
Eating Animals forced me out of my blissful ignorance about the way meat is produced, and demanded that I now align my values with my actions: Now that you know how this all works, what are you going to do? Pretend to not know and continue as you were?
I love eating meat and I believe it is natural for humans to eat meat. I believe animals are a necessary part of the land and soil life cycle.
I believe that the way we are raising animals is NOT contributing to the natural life cycle of the land, and that it is in fact doing much more harm than good.
I do not believe in enabling the horrific acts that meat producers practice.
If I knew the meat was ethically sourced, I’d gladly eat it. Unfortunately the book made it seem that that is near in possible when it comes to chicken, turkey, and seafood, and hard when it comes to beef.
The way I’m approaching this is by continuing to eat my macronutrient ratios, but instead eating only plant-based foods for protein.
Although it’s difficult to hit my protein numbers without also ingesting a bunch of carbs (common protein sources for vegans/vegetarians, such as beans, usually have over double the amount of carbs as protein), it’s been possible.
It’s been useful to Google “vegan bodybuilding”, because bodybuilders take a more calculated approach to their food, understanding macronutrient intake and nutrient deficiencies and more of the science of nutrition. I imagine many vegetarians and vegans don’t pay much attention to these things, so any warnings about this way of eating are taken with a grain of salt.
Besides a variety of veggies, foods I’m eating include:
Trader Joe’s Organic Pea Protein Powder (Vanilla) (with pumpkin pie spice and ground cinnamon to make it not taste like cardboard)
Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Protein Granola (I use the above protein shake as “cereal milk” with this granola for breakfast and it keeps me full for hours)
Vivo Life Raw Plant Protein & BCAA in Salted Maca Caramel (I make a smoothie out of this with a big handful of fresh spinach, a banana, cinnamon, chia seeds, and water)
White kidney beans
Red kidney beans
I’m attempting to educate myself on potential nutrient deficiencies and be aware of amino acid profiles to ensure I’m getting all of the essential amino acids. More to come on this in a later post.
Observations so far
I feel more full between meals, probably due to higher fiber content of the foods I’m eating.
My weight has remained the same, though I feel like I experience less fluid retention.
Surprisingly not gassy as expected from reintroducing beans, likely because the beans I am eating have been soaked in water beforehand which removes some of the indigestible sugars that cause gas.
I’m strangely and noticeably less interested in coffee…! My energy at the gym in the evenings has improved.
Skin not quite as good as before - slightly more acne.
Gym performance (strength, conditioning, flexibility) hasn’t seemed to suffer. I even PR’d my push press 1 rep max at 155 pounds.
I feel more open-minded about other diets. I realize there are many reasons for being vegetarian/vegan, and they’re not all against eating meat for the same reasons. If someone were to ask me why I’m vegan right now, I feel I’d have to explain that I’m certainly not against eating meat, just the way most is produced, so they don’t get the wrong idea.
More updates to come!
There's so little structure to your work as a small business owner. Literally my only structured times are our two weekly meetings (coaches meeting and strategy meeting), plus weekly phone calls with clients.
I've learned that I thrive with structure. CrossFit made me realize that. You show up to class and get coached. Methods to optimize your performance are mostly well established. There's a clear path forward.
Owning a small business, you decide how to spend your entire day. Literally sitting on the couch all day and watching Netflix is an option.
Even for my personality type - who is extremely independent and values freedom above ALL ELSE - this freedom can be a little unnerving.
I've therefore been forced to explore how to create structure for myself. It's challenged me to better understand myself, because in order to create structure to set yourself up for success, you've got to know how you operate best, as well as how you don't.
I've still got a lot to figure out, but a few things that I've found work for me:
Spend 90 minutes first thing in the morning on reading/journaling/stretching. I began this habit a few weeks ago, and it ensures that I get some of my most important tasks in every day. It also allows me to go into work feeling more calm and in control.
Don't schedule meetings before 9am. Gotta protect that sleep and morning routine!
Mondays are for admin work and freelance work. The more of this I can take care of at the beginning of the week, the bigger blocks of time I have available to work on coding and projects.
Create big blocks of time for coding. My favorite thing is having a huge chunk of free time ahead of me to code. I can code for hours straight and get a lot done. Doing a half hour or hour here and there isn't as satisfying or as productive.
Stop work an hour before going to the gym. This prevents me from being distracted while seeing friends at the gym and working out, and allows me to go into the workout with more focus.
Afternoon walk with the dog. Important so that I occasionally come up for some fresh air, spend time with Kobe, and don't sit at my desk all day. Usually I listen to a motivating podcast, like the Tim Ferriss Show, Chasing Excellence, Girl Boss Radio, Heroine, Barbell Shrugged, etc.
Fridays are for client calls, appointments, and errands. Consolidating these tasks into one day means less fractured attention during the other days.
Read, read, read! Regularly devouring books and podcasts has been my attempt at figuring out this business owner thing. I'm putting the most valuable books I find here; it's a collection of all the knowledge I wish someone had given me when I quit my job and began pursuing Adaptive Nutrition full-time.
Woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep, so I worked on the app.
Yesterday I was asking Tyler how to structure some data for a new app feature, since he has experience with relational databases, which is super valuable. My excuse for not knowing more about them is that I'm a front-end developer, however it's also precisely why I should know more than I do.
He mentioned something about queries, which reminded me that I'd meant to revisit that in regards to the app. Back when I first wrote it and started using Firebase as our database, I didn't understand how the Firebase querying worked in the Ember framework, so I put it off...and just grabbed everything from the database and filtered it client-side... And then wondered where our performance issues came from.
So I read up on it at 2:30 a.m., and for some reason - maybe because I'm more familiar with everything at this point - it made sense. In fact it made so much sense that it was embarrassing that I didn't get it before.
Changing a few lines of code improved app performance significantly. In addition I had the satisfaction of finally completing a task that was painfully overdue.
I used to think the whole vibrations/energy thing was new-age hocuspocus, but the older I get, the more opportunities I've had to experience it first-hand.
Recently I was working at LDU Coffee (my unofficial office). A guy came over to the outlet by me needing to charge his laptop and saw me looking at food photos for our website. We struck up a conversation, and I learned that he's a highly trained chef.
Not only that, but he used to be a dietician and is passionate about clean eating; he showed me albums of simple but beautiful dishes he's created from whole foods. We exchanged info to discuss a possible collaboration. Even if nothing comes of it, how serendipitous of us to meet!
There have been several other strange but fortunate occurrences in the past several months:
- Deciding at the beginning of the year that I wanted to do a little freelance work, and shortly thereafter getting both short-term and long-term freelance gigs.
- Wanting to know someone who lives in Highland Park so I have an excuse to see how these fantasy people live...and then meeting one and visiting their house.
- Needing more purpose in my training, and then getting injured the week before the Open began, which made me take a hard look at why I train and eventually served to renew my enthusiasm.
- Wanting a bike, and then Tyler almost immediately meets a guy who restores bikes and finds me the perfect one.
Who knows, these things may just be coincidences, but it's fun to think that they're happening because I'm more aligned with what I'm meant to be doing.
Exactly one year ago I quit my job in order to run @adaptive.nutrition full-time alongside @tnicho1. I’ve thought a lot about food before but especially since.
I’ve thought about how it can be isolating trying to eat healthy in a country where food is deeply intertwined with politics and profit. By avoiding the manufactured “foods” everyone else is eating without question, you’re regarded as high maintenance or fanatical when your dietary preferences differ from those around you.
Add to that that finding joy in food can easily be misplaced when we think of food as a means to an end. We might consciously manage what goes onto our plates, in order to lose weight or optimize training, or cook food in batches to last the week with minimal attention to quality.
But food is a social fabric and can be a profound source of joy. So how do we eat food to create optimal health, while weaving it into our life in a joyful and social way?
Last night I had dinner at a friend’s house with a big group. Our friend, a talented cook, recently started eating according to our basic @adaptive.nutrition meal guidelines, so she prepared a delicious meal of pork tenderloin, rice, salad, fruit, and some red wine. (Since she and her husband, who has diabetes, started eating according to our guidelines, she’s lost 7 lbs and her husband’s A1C has been the lowest it’s been in years.)
We need to overhaul the idea that eating healthy means deprivation, restriction, isolation, eating bland chicken and broccoli out of Tupperware. I think it’s partly because of our struggle to make healthy eating joyful that we fall back, in spite of our best intentions, to eating tasty, unhealthy foods. If we want to make these changes last, we need to find not just utility but joy in them.
The quote below sums up why I believe our health, above all, deserves attention, and why I believe helping people improve theirs is one of the most productive ways to improve their lives:
“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.” —Herophilus
Looking forward to what the next year brings!
During my first few months of being a full time small business owner, I spoke to other entrepreneurs and small business owners. A lot of them said at some point they became workaholics, some of them hustling so hard that they were hospitalized.
It made me a little self-conscious. Was I not hustling hard enough?😳 I sleep 10 hours a night and relax on the weekend... Am I spending too much time on my physical/mental health and not enough on running Adaptive Nutrition?
Tyler pointed out that I’m walking the walk. I am doing, to the best of my ability, the things that I coach others to do. It was reassuring to hear.
I hope my words are always aligned with my actions, and that my actions speak louder than my words.
No, followers aren't everything.
BUT. I will say that, as a budding business, finding real followers (thanks to Instaforce) for our Instagram account has helped us develop brand awareness and created sales that more than cover the cost of their service.
I don't have any proof for this, but I also have a feeling it also gives us some credibility in the eyes of people we know who may still think that Adaptive Nutrition is still a little side project whose only clients are friends.
I'm not getting sponsored to recommend them, simply sharing a great tool that I think could be helpful to any growing small business.
If we can make a post that inspires someone to stop and think more deliberately about what they're eating, I'm happy to try and reach as many people as possible.
A nutrition client of mine wants to cut weight for an upcoming powerlifting meet, but was having trouble losing weight despite seeming to do everything perfectly.
After assessing her meals, sleep, training, stress, and blood work, we cut out some foods that can cause inflammation (nuts, avocado), which helped her get leaner.🥑
Buuuut despite looking leaner, her weight didn’t budge.
I started to panic. The meet is a few weeks away. She’s been a client of ours forever and I was terrified she was losing faith in our ability to help her.
So I was thrilled when I checked her weight log today and saw she’s lost 5 pounds in the last 10 days.🎉
What was the issue? The amount of vegetables she was eating. She didn’t realize she was eating a lot more vegetables to offset hunger, consequently causing water retention and stalling weight loss.🥦
Now she's right on track for making her weight class at her meet next month, without having to resort to any crazy weight loss methods in the days leading up to it.👍🏼
This is one of literally hundreds of situations we’ve solved for clients. Doing this over and over and over for all sorts of people (high-level athletes, sedentary people, doctors, new moms) with all sorts of conditions (recovering anorexic, IBS, autoimmune disorders) is why I’m so confident in our program and our ability to help people.🕵🏻♀️
kraft/ - noun
1. an activity involving skill in making things by hand.
2. skill in carrying out one's work.
3. denoting or relating to food or drink made in a traditional or non-mechanized way by an individual or a small company. (ie. craft brewing)
Because restaurant and store chains are less common here in Melbourne, Australia, the quality, craftsmanship, and hospitality at each place we visit is special.
Ran into a fitting quote yesterday at South Melbourne Market: "Where there is love, there is life."
Melbourne, you are full of life!
The most prevalent emotions I've felt since starting this venture full time are 1) happy overwhelm and 2) defensiveness.
Overwhelm in a happy way - from all the ideas I have and projects I want to work on. I have a long list of things that I actually cannot WAIT to work on. So many new things I want to try...but one thing at a time!
Defensiveness is from feeling that I am constantly having to defend what we do - not only to clients who have feedback, but from friends who have feedback about how we could change the way we're doing things, as well as friends who don't believe our program is really for them (we believe that if you eat food, you will get something from our program!).
Talking about food is like talking about religion. Everyone has strong beliefs. But nutrition is a science, and everyone believes they're an expert.
I welcome feedback so we can create the best products and services possible, but much of the feedback I’m talking about here ends up suggesting doing things the way other companies (that we’ve been customers of) do and are the exact things that we’re intentionally trying to get away from.
The positive spin here is that these difficult conversations with friends have actually served to strengthen my resolve in the way we are going about things.
I'm glad that I can talk through these things with Tyler, who fully understands as an owner of two small businesses. Like anything, unless you've experienced it yourself, it's hard to understand the ups and downs. I can count the people I can talk to about it on one hand.
I literally had this thought the other day: I wish I could just go on vacation, away from all distractions, to work. Is that a thing?
Yeahhhh. Googled workaholism and had some concerns... Aware of it now and "working" on it!
I just finished The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber. It is the how-to manual I was looking for on how to run a small business.
In it, Gerber explains that the small business owner should be three people:
- Entrepreneur - focusing on strategic, visionary work
- Manager - focusing on tactical, analytical, logistical tasks
- Technician - focusing on creating and building
It's reassuring that I enjoy all three of these roles (whether I'm any good at them is a separate consideration, but enjoyment is a good start).
I wish words of affirmation weren't one of my receiving love languages. It feels needy. Like I need external validation.
But, so it is. So I get a little sad when clients don't say anything about whether they like the app. Especially friends who are clients, who I've talked to a lot about the business or the app I'm programming all by my lonesome.
Now that we're simultaneously running three group challenges, the problem is magnified.
Whenever a client begins a sentence with "[X] isn't working in the app...", I have heart palpitations. Oh my god. Is there a bug?! Is everyone having this issue?! My old boss/coworkers are using it...will they think my code is shitty?!
Fortunately most of the time it's been user error (which does at least give me good ideas for how to improve the user interface). It's certainly made me conscious of how I speak to other small business owners. Adding those few extra words "I'm probably doing something stupid..." makes the sentence "[X] isn't working" so much less jarring. Remember, there is a person that created that thing...and you may very well be speaking to them!
As a side note, I've noticed my sleep hasn't been good lately. I used to sleep like a log. Now there are times when I can't shut my mind off, or I'm so excited to do a bunch of things that I can't fall back asleep, etc. I think I'm starting to understand the constant low-level anxiety that Tyler mentioned as related to owning your own business. Will figure out a way to chill...
I feel like this is our year. Big things are going to happen.
I actually haven't written in a while because January has been so busy:
- Kicked off a 6-week challenge in Houston
- Kicked off a 6-week challenge in Dallas
- Kicked off a 12-week private group challenge in Dallas
- Spoke at Dialexa
- Were guests on Dialexa's podcast
- Spoke at Willis Towers Watson
- Scheduled a 6-week challenge at Bishop Arts Athletics, to start February 24th
Also currently working on:
- Making our web app a native app
- Creating app features on the fly to address 6-week challenge needs
- Creating features on the admin side of the app to better track and manage client data
- Posting on social media several times a week (which has been key to building brand awareness)
Hoping to keep up the momentum.
Recently I've been thinking on how we can overdeliver to our clients. The Life Coach School Podcast (thanks for the recommendation Dave and Jess!) has encouraged me to consider more ways to do this.
I think it's important for any business, but especially a small one like ours. Hand-written notes, gifts for important life events, taking an interest in our clients beyond nutrition - just a few ways we can go above and beyond.
A blog post from August 30, 2016:
For the past few months, I've been following a diet from an exercise nutrition company. The diet is laid out in auto-generated templates based on your height and weight, and provides meal guidelines according to the intensity and time of day of your workout.
I've seen awesome results. Others at the gym using them have seen great results as well. As effective as they are, I keep bumping up against issues of hunger, and it's mildly frustrating on a daily basis using the clunky interface. In addition, as a nutrition coach himself, Tyler's been observing ways in which he thinks the macronutrient ratios might be improved.
So, I have all sorts of ideas about the user interface, and Tyler sees ways the prescriptions could be even more effective, while seeing massive success with his nutrition clients using said prescriptions.
Enter the reason I love knowing how to program: Having the means to build ideas like this feels so cool. Well, it's actually pretty nerdy...but it's cool!
The past couple of weeks, Tyler and I have been discussing features, user interface design, macronutrient formulas, meal timing, etc. (The photo above is our first SCRUM meeting!) I've been so eager to work on this mornings, nights, and weekends. We are hoping to create a web app that makes the hard and not-so-fun task of dieting just a little easier and more effective.
Stay tuned for updates!
Today was a bit rough.
I was working on my Precision Nutrition certification (I have a lofty goal to finish by next Sunday, instead of my original deadline of mid-February 2018, since I'd like to finish it and be able to focus on app development). I was reading through the chapter on how to categorize clients as Level 1, 2, or 3. Level 1 corresponds to what we call Phase 1 at Adaptive Nutrition, which is approximating portion sizes of protein, carbs, and fat according to the size of your palm, fist, and thumb, respectively.
The textbook kept emphasizing that 90-95% of clients will not need to graduate past that phase, which made me hesitate - is our program too unnecessarily advanced for most clients?
It also mentioned that Levels 2 and 3 are for those who have specific training or body composition goals, but that these levels are short-term strategies, that staying there long-term can create disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food. Are we feeding into that problem with our program by having people weigh and measure their food?
How do we create an app that supports sustainable eating and health - both physically and mentally? Did Precision Nutrition already think about this, and that's why they went the route of teaching nutrition to coaches instead?
I've been weighing and measuring my food for years...do I have disordered eating? Am I overly committed to improving in the gym and getting my food right? Will I look back in years as an older and wiser person and think that what I'm doing now is overkill?
In addition, we pushed a major release of the app yesterday, and I had to do damage control today. Considering the amount of changes made + the fact that I'm the only developer on this project, I think it went relatively well.
However it's always quite stressful hearing that people are having issues and trying to solve them immediately. I think I'm getting better at managing it.
I sent an email outlining the app updates to our list of ~350 people. Many of those people are friends and acquaintances, so I was a little disheartened that only two people gave me feedback that they liked the updates (shoutout to Erik and RJ <3).
I felt apathy creep up on me as the day progressed in a way I haven't felt in a while and wasn't sure if I was in a good mindset to go workout (I ended up going and was glad I did).
At the end of the night as Tyler and I sat on the dining room floor with our pup, I told him about my existential crises of the day; how the ideas in the Precision Nutrition textbook are making me question our program and business model, how I'm questioning my nutrition and workout routine, how I feel disconnected because none of my friends understand or recognize what I'm doing in creating the app, how I wish I didn't need the acknowledgment or recognition for it but can't help it.
All of these thoughts resonated deeply with Tyler. He and Ian have had years of experience in feeling unappreciated for what they do running the gym. But he pointed out that it's hard for others to recognize the work, the stress, the late nights, the doubt that goes into running your own business, if they haven't been there themselves.
Regarding my questions about our program, he said we can't answer the questions without first asking them.
He assured me that he recognizes what I'm doing, and for now I think that's all that matters.
I think today was an important part of making progress.
The photographer from our recent shoot posted a video of the editing process of one of the photos he took of me. Besides color and lighting alterations, he Photoshopped by waistline to be smaller.
It took me several days to realize that I felt weird about this. As a nutrition business owner and coach, it seemed disingenuous to have my hard-earned work eclipsed by a few minutes of photo manipulation.
I texted him asking to take the post down, saying I felt uncomfortable with the alterations to my shape and that we wanted the photos to be authentic and approachable. He didn't respond. Two days later, I asked him again. He skirted the question. I asked him again. He avoided giving me a straight answer. I asked him a final time. Nothing.
Tyler called him the next morning. In short, the photographer refused to take the post down.
He emailed us shortly after to say that he'd get around to deleting the post sometime today when he wasn't busy. He immediately blocked our business and personal accounts on social media. And did finally take the post down.
I can't imagine having a client tell us they felt uncomfortable with something we posted about them, and then refusing to take it down.
We got a thirteen paragraph the next day from his wife. I chose not to read it.
Lesson learned: Work with people you know well and trust.
Lesson relearned: People who seem overly-friendly are probably crazy.
Went on a little break from Instagram for a few days after that. Nasty experiences just make you want to step back and regroup.