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Fling Yourself at Life


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We all have our own story.

We all have things that we have overcome or challenges we want to overcome. You know what yours is. Whatever your story is… your body is part of that story. Your body is involved in your story. That story about your body is an emotional one. We even attach emotions to parts of our bodies like our heart. When some part of our body is not working the way we want…or not the way it used to be it can affect us.

It can be emotional.

When we were kids we moved our bodies how we wanted to without a thought. We flung ourselves at life, we threw ourselves into playing…could care less about protecting our back and we were not worried about what other people thought.

As the years pass we play less. That is a past tense. We think more about form. We are more concerned about the scale, and we have to think about when we do some sort of movement that can count as exercise. We care more about getting steps in, turning on our gagets and exercise becomes more of something we have to schedule and do…instead of something that just happens.

We blame this “have to” on jobs, kids, life, getting older or because it is too hard or intimidating. Fight your excuse(s). Instead of side stepping, give yourself the permission to care less about how and instead more about what you can do.

Your story that includes your body can include better movement. This movement does not have to be forced. Allow yourself to play. Allow yourself to dance. Allow yourself to turn off the societal norms of what you are supposed to do because of your age or gender. Allow yourself to learn how to do something new.  Discover ways to move that you look forward to doing often.

You will see that if you add more movement to your story your body and mind will reward you.

Fling yourself at life.

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How Fit Can You Be Over 50?


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This question may come to mind when fitness and healthcare professionals strongly encourage various forms of exercise. How much “in shape” or “fit” do I need to be?  Many articles and studies highlight the numerous physical, neurological and cellular benefits to exercise.

The best answer is to turn the question back on you…how fit do you need to be to carry out the physical demands of your everyday life? What can that entail?

  • Sitting down.
  • Getting up.
  • Stepping to the side and reaching for something.
  • Reaching up to get something.
  • Carrying heavy items on one side while walking.
  • Turning to see what is around you.
  • Walking up stairs or on uneven ground.
  • Conditioned enough not to be winded at the top of the stairs.
  • Clothing and bathing yourself.

The list goes on…

This physical ability to carry out everyday tasks is also called your functional capacity.

Another way of phrasing this is – what do you enjoy doing and what do you need to do physically to be able to do it? Vacations? Visiting and playing with grandkids? Hiking trips? Running marathons? Enjoying the sites at a national park? Everything that brings you joy incorporates some sort of movement, regardless if that just means walking across the floor to open the door for a family member.

To answer the question one way: You should be as fit as your life demands.

This idea means you should not structure your life around your bodies limitations especially if they include your functional capacity. Instead, you should practice, exercise, and “train” to be able to do what you want to do easier and with less thought about how your body is moving.

Another way to answer the question is: Be as fit as you can possibly be.

Striving to be fit is a lifelong journey. As we age we may have to adapt and change the ways that we do exercise, but that does not mean we stop challenging ourselves. The more you move better every day you are rewarded with independence, confidence, and peace of mind that you don’t let your age determine what you can or cannot do.

To be clear, being “fit” is more than strength (although it is important, as especially leg strength is associated with morality).

It is also the power to move quickly if necessary.

It is also the agility to be able to walk over and around objects.

It is also the balance to be able to walk, bend, carry things and do things simultaneously.

It is also the mobility and flexibility to move your ankles, knees, hips, wrists, neck, and shoulders.

It is also the ability to be able to get to the ground and stand back up.

 

You CAN be fit over 50. You deserve to live the life you want to live!

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What It Means to Listen to Your Body


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You may have heard this many times or read it…

listen to your body.

However there is often very little explaining of what it means and what you should be doing. It really is not that cryptic or ambiguous of a phrase. This is important, so let’s pull down the curtain.

Let’s keep it simple…

Scenario #1

You are walking barefoot on the sidewalk to get the morning paper and didn’t see a shard of glass. Pain happens, possibly some cursing – but it hurt. You stop walking and investigate if you can pull it out or hobble back to the front door & get some tweezers.

You felt pain, stopped and investigated.

Scenario #2

You and a good friend went out for some dinner. On the drive home on the highway you were behind the wheel and your stomach started turning…really turning. There are ten miles to go until your exit but there is a rest stop coming up before then.

You pull off the highway & take that rest stop exit because your stomach was doing somersaults… so make a b-line for the bathroom.

Yes, these scenarios are fairly straightforward – you felt or noticed something going on in your body and you were attentive to what was going on. You did not ignore the pain or uncomfortableness. Instead you were vigilant and decided to do something about it.

Now enter two other scenarios…

Scenario #3

You have been putting down a respectable running regime the last month on the trails. There was no pain or any issues. You are now up to 10 miles twice a week. This week you decide to switch things up and do the same amount of mileage on the pavement instead at the same pace. You find after the second round that halfway through you feel some pain below your knees. The following week instead of the 10 you decide to decrease the road runs to a respectable 6 and then work your way up over time. Also, you sprinkle in some more stretching. Over time that pain subsided and eventually went away.

You backed off on the mileage on the roads and worked your way back up. You also increased the time stretching after runs to target any tight muscles.

Scenario #4

A bagel and a coffee has been your go-to breakfast for a while now. However, you find that by 10:30 a.m. you start dragging and have to grab another coffee to keep on point the rest of the day.  Today you wake up and decide that you are tired of the never-ending battle to stay alert. You begin trying out different things to eat for breakfast and seeing what your energy level is. Soon you found your go-to breakfast that did not leave you wondering why you were always so tired.

You decided to change up your breakfast after you found that crashing before midday was a pattern. After noticing the pattern, you edited & kept on editing you breakfast until you found what would not send you back for another cup of coffee.

You know what it means…now listen!

Honestly if in any of the scenarios someone just ignored what was happening and kept on going – the outcome would not be good. The argument is made often that you can just push through it especially if it is pain related to exercise. I would counter that eventually that pain will come back & will not go away. The solution can be as simple as taking a look at what has changed to make your body react that way. It is one thing if you are uncomforable because of a challenging workout that is targeting those leg muscles during lunges. It is another if you are feeling a sharp pain.

Of course, there may be many things in the mix like stress, muscular imbalances or running form that can be a wild card. Just fight the urge to be stubborn and think that it will just go away (like never addressing tight calves -yes runners I am talking to you!). When it comes to what you put in your body, of course that can be complicated. But again, if you ignore what you are feeling and it is not changing – why not see what you can do about it?

Above all, if you listen and can’t figure out what is going on then talk to a qualified professional that can be your guide. She or he can use their experience, knowledge & objective view of what is going on to assist you. 

Empower yourself to take charge of what is going on with your body. You have a choice – be proactive! You don’t have to do it alone.

 

 

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6 Important Things To Do In A Group Fitness Class


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Some individuals decide to go all in on group fitness classes as their choice of exercise. Others use a group workout as a way to mix things up in between their personal training sessions or their own workouts. However you decide to use group fitness classes to up your exercise game there are some tips on what not to do when you first start…or even if you are a veteran.

 

#1. Show up early.

Especially if this is your first class – get there early to meet the instructor and see what type of equipment that you will be using. Even if you are not able to go into the room because there is a class in session – you can get an idea about the class format, the flow of the class, music and energy level. Also, use this early time to meet the instructor and they will be happy to let you know what is on the menu for that day and show you equipment that you may have not used before. It could be a Silver Sneakers gym or another big setup. Either way you should still get acclimated.  Lastly, getting there early allows you to sign any paperwork that has to be done before your first class.

 

#2.  Let the coach know of any injuries or restrictions that you have.

Before class starts – always let the coach know that you have a sore knee, shoulder issues, some injury or for instance have broken something in the past. This gives the coach an opportunity before the class starts for a quick one-on-one chat about any exercises that you should avoid and what you can do instead.  If you are pregnant let the instructor know and what you can do. Often pregnant women know how to do alternative exercises, even so just let the coach know!

#3. Challenge yourself & give 100% effort.

One of the motivating aspects of a group class is the infectious energy that is in the room. This one of the reasons people love group classes because of a community that keeps each other going. Motivation is great. However comparing yourself to someone else and trying to do what they are doing could end you up injured. Allow them to motivate you to give your 100% effort. Use that!!  If your 100% effort is not matching their effort who cares? The instructor can introduce 1-ups to an exercise to make it more challenging for them. If you can’t do it yet – then use that as your motivation to come back next class and get better.

#4.  Pay attention as the coach demos the exercises.

The class has started and you are ready to kill it and get moving. There will be times during the class where she goes over what you are doing.  This is important. You may know how to do a squat or some other movement but pay attention to how the coach does it. He may have something he is specifically asking the class to do or is giving options that are useful especially if you are finding it challenging – or not challenging enough.

#5.  Ask questions before the class gets started.

If during the demo the coach does or says something that you don’t understand – ask her. If during the workout you want to know how to challenge yourself more without adding weight – ask her during a break. Of course, this is not a personal training session.  The coaches focus will be on the entire group & there are a lot of moving parts for her to juggle. Even with that in mind, questions to clarify how to do an exercise or a progression should be asked!

#5. If you know you will  – or do sweat a lot – bring your towel.

Sweating is a good thing. Sweating on equipment that a person in the class with you uses 30 seconds after you – is not. Don’t expect that the facility that you are checking out has towels. Be proactive!

Untitled design#6. Give out high-fives & fist bumps like they are going out of style.

Get some of that good energy flowing! Many friendships are started in group classes. There is a great community in group classes regardless of the type of workout or fitness level. You all may have different reasons why you are there but you came together to workout!

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Use Your Body – Move It, Test It


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Only if we actually test ourselves or apply something we know do we find out our true capabilities. This rings true when it comes to our own physical fitness. You can run 4 miles with ease, you are good at climbing over things or you ride 10 miles on your bicycle a day. It is obvious to you that you can do it. However, the best way to assess and challenge your fitness level is to seek out a way to put it to the test. Sure there are aesthetic benefits to this, but instead of that you are more focused on what is even more important – results!! Below are some ideas on how to do this.

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Photo Credit – Westend61/Creative RF/Getty

Map a course, plan your own “event” & get a timer

One of the easiest options is to do set out the route, mileage or goal to accomplish. Then set some prescribed goal and go for it! Even if this is the same route that you always do, this time it is different with the timer running. It can be very motivating when something is under timed conditions when usually the goal was just to do it.

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Track your progress

Building upon the 1st idea…Create a simple excel document to make a tracking document. All you really need is the name of activity, date and time. You can add extra columns for notes that you can add after that day like how you were feeling, what you ate before etc. Now you have a bar set after day one of recording your time. Having this on the wall will not only motivate you but you will also soon see patterns in your performance. Perhaps you didn’t sleep well the night before, stretched out the night before or had one too many cocktails the night before. All of those factors and more can affect how you do. Now you can understand more about your own body and learn how to make your weaknesses strengths.

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Competitor Gear Run Guide gives some options

Use the technology & the gadgets

There is technology that allows you can tap into an online community to test yourself. Posting your times on a website will give you the satisfaction, motivate others and make you feel part of the larger community. Wearing gadgets that automatically posts times of your results is another way to enter into fun competitions of one’s physical fitness. The options are quite varied and more come out every day so there are many ways to use technology with yourself or as part of a community.

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Signed up, check, crushed it – check! 🙂

Sign up for a race, train and crush it on race day

Now unplugging from the online community you could show up on race day! Now you have shifted fully into training mode. Now you have your sights set on a particular day. It is time to truly channel that inner athlete and train. Avoid doing that specific movement every session. It is time to challenge the body in ways that can build the foundation around completing the event well. Do your homework on the event – terrain, what the course includes or gear that would make it easier is very relevant to your training.

 

 

 

 

Blog, motivation

How to Build the Foundation for A New Year’s Fitness Resolution That Will Work


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The opportunity of a new year, new starts and new beginnings often have us in an optimistic mood for what is ahead. It is great to have a resolution that includes fitness and your health. However, until there is an invention that transforms thoughts into effort – you have to put in the work yourself!

With all of that in mind here is a short list: Three things to forget & Three things to remember. These will help you set yourself up for success for this year.

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Three Things to Forget

  1. __ days to __

Forget those gimmicks that promise or promote instant results in a prescribed amount of days. A commitment to your health does not stop after 30 days. In an age of instant gratification fight that urge to jump on that bandwagon when it comes to your health. Shortcuts are not sustainable.

  1. Slogans Like: “No Rest Days”…”All Or Nothing”…”No Pain No Gain…”

It is imperative that you allow your body to rest, especially when you are getting back on the fitness train. Even when you are well conditioned, still there are days where one allows the muscles to grow & recover and the body to refuel in some way. If you are all or nothing, then a day of progress but not completion is failure. Internalizing that idea can lead to frustration and self-defeating aspects of that could make one just stop. Lastly, a biomechanically solid workout does not have to leave you barely able to move or in pain. In fact, if you are in pain every time you do workout…it is just a matter of time until you are on the injured list. A challenging workout is one thing, painful is another.

  1. Numbers Are All That Matter

Forget defining yourself solely by your measurements and weight. It can be an ineffective strategy.  Confidence, energy level, self-worth, ability to move better, better posture, feeling stronger… can’t be determined by just flipping a switch or getting a tape measure- and these are even more powerful. Fight the urge to succumb to the numbers. You are much more than that.

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Three Things to Remember

  1. Start with What Works for You

It is simple but true – the workout that you actually do is the one that works. You don’t climb a flight of stairs from half way up. Start where you are right now & work up to a more challenging workout. Set the foundation, get in the groove then when you are gathering steam then start taking the stairs two at a time.

  1. Plateaus & Bad Days Can Be Part of The Process

Factors like doing the same workout, food you consume on a regular basis, stress or sleep can contribute to being stuck on a plateau. It may also be a good opportunity to keep track of these and other things.  You will see a pattern in your behavior that affects your workouts.  Once you see that pattern you know how you can break out of that plateau or decrease those bad days from popping up. We all have days where we wonder if our brain is actually connected to our limbs and feel out of sync. Push through it as best as you can. Keeping track of things may shed some light on why…but sometimes it is just one of those days. Celebrate the fact that you did it (easier than said done on the same day but you can on the next!) & you did not give up.

  1. Walk Backwards From Your Goal…Leave Breadcrumbs

Instead of thinking in terms of your resolution to happen this year – think of it in pieces that will make up the whole. Breaking up the main goal into months and even weeks can make the chance to crush it more reasonable. When you look at the bite sized pieces it will make you re-evaluate, refine & even change your fitness resolution.

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it..png

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Six Ways To Weave Exercise Back Into Your Life


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If it has been a while since you have seriously started exercising again it can be tempting to hit the ground running. Figuring out a plan of attack is a better way to set up yourself up for sustainable success. Below are 6 ways to weave exercise back into your life.

  1. Don’t restrict yourself to the stereotypical ways to exercise. Of course – going to the gym, getting a membership, attending fitness group classes etc. are all awesome ways to improve your health and move towards your goals. However, joining an intramural sports group, hiking group, biking to work or getting your hands dirty tending to your garden are all good ideas also. What works for someone else may not work for you, so explore the options in and out of a gym setting.
  1. Look at your week – find the time to schedule your activity. Hold yourself accountable to the times you set aside to exercise. If you are still paying that gym membership and have not gone for months – consider ending it. Use that money in another way that will move you towards your fitness goals. Also – work with the time that you have, then revisit your schedule in a month or so to see how you can make more time.
  1. Find a community. If you don’t already have a buddy or friends that can help welcome you back into the fray…seek some out. If you enjoy posting your workouts online and having others hold your accountable, then give it a shot. Start your own fitness blog & give updates. You will be surprised about how supportive others are & are inspired by your efforts. Offline or online find some sort of community, individual or fitness professional that will cheer you on and hold you accountable at the same time. You are not alone.
  1. Avoid defining yourself by being out of shape etc. Focus on your future of making exercise more a part of your life! You are taking ownership of your health and making an important recognition of its importance. Start making the right choices now. Be patient with your progress, exercise is not one size fits all!
  1. Recognize that exercise is an important piece of the puzzle. Exercise is a substantial move towards a fitter you. At the same time recognize other things that contribute to it like: stress, sleep, what you are eating on a constant basis. As you start getting into your exercise groove start try tracking what you are eating for a week, how much you are getting sleep and what your energy levels were. Turn to qualified individuals if you need guidance on those areas so you can see more gains.
  1. Stop Making Excuses. Until someone comes up with an invention for someone else to exercise and you receive the health benefits…you have to do it yourself! You know yourself better than anybody. If you know you don’t have the energy to workout when you get home after work – then do it in the morning. If you don’t like exercising outside – then get a gym membership and use it. If you work better under pressure – sign up for a race 4 or so months from now. You can do this. Be a fitter version of yourself.

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You got this! Welcome back!

 

-Damien

Tips

Ten Ways To Spice Up Your Workout


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An easy way to become burnt out when exercising, hit a plateau or just plain bored is having it become a routine. Yes a routine of waking up to work out is great…but even calling the workout a routine is putting you to sleep right now. See! Check out the list below for some inspiration to get things back into gear.

  1.  Unilateral Exercises. For instance, make the transition from regular squats to other types that will target one leg more than the other. Ideas: staggered squats, split squats or Bulgarian squats. Instead of using both arms pressing and pulling, make the exercise more of a stability + strength. Ideas: single arm press on one knee, alternating flys on a swissball or single arm deadlift with a kettlebell.
  1. Trail Running. On the day you do run, find some uneven surfaces to run on. This will make you a stronger runner as it will strengthen those legs and force you to use those stabilizers. Don’t have trails around? Find some stairs or hills to run. Start off easy. If it is new for your body – ease into it. Depending on the terrain you may want to get some trail running shoes so your feet are protected & you have a better grip. A big plus of trail running – not having to deal with cars (and the texting drivers)!!
  1. Get On The Ground. Body-weight movements that incorporate the whole body are great to keep your body guessing. Ideas: bear crawls, inchworms or Turkish get-ups even without weight can be challenging. When they become easy there are progressions such as bear squares, inchworms for distance or Turkish get-ups with a weight.
  1. Start Timing. You like your workout or one of them and don’t want to switch it out. Understood. So instead of just busting out what you usually do, time yourself. The first time you do it, the bar is set. Even if you shave off a couple of seconds the next week you are still motivating yourself. Keep track of this so you keep yourself accountable. Maybe you will see when you are faster or slower by how you are eating or the amount of sleep you got. Also it is important to note some exercises like Turkish getup for instance are all about the steps & should not be rushed. In those instances look at how much time you are resting & see if you can shorten that.
  1. Go Old school, Get A Jump Rope. It is cheap and all you need is a hard surface to jump on. Getting some expensive item is not necessary for a good workout. If doing it for time is too daunting, just shoot for number of skips. This is a great cardio & full body workout. Famous boxers didn’t jump rope just for the photo ops. If music helps you, then put some tunes in your ear and start jumping.
  1. Go Play. Team sports are a great opportunity for comradery, having some fun & the bonus of getting some exercise in. It is a great cross-training activity to give you a break from thinking about working out to just being part of a team. Competitive levels range so depending on how focused you are on winning.
  1. Test Your Balance. I don’t mean just stand on one foot (although give it a shot & close your eyes). Instead of doing standing rows, have a staggered stance so you have a narrower footprint. Or give single-leg slams with a slam ball or medicine ball a chance. Stay on that leg for a pre-determined number of reps or for time. Single leg deadlifts will fire off the muscles in that planted leg and test your ability to hinge up and down. If you have accessibility to a TRX single leg squats or even the sprinter’s start exercise require some balance to perform correctly.
  1. Stop Doing The Same Freaking Thing. If you take anything away from this list is that diversity is key. Keep your body guessing & you have less of a chance of hitting a plateau. You will be more balanced and looking forward to the next workout. Sure you love doing whatever workout you have…that may be because you are so good at it! Switch it up to something difficult or new that you have to get good at.
  1. Go For A Hike. Often when we all think of “working out” we think of weights, gyms and reps. We all fall prey to that sometimes. So pack the sunscreen, hydration bladder and go for a hike at one of the many trails we have in San Diego or if you live close to some parks. Find a challenging hike, grab some friends and pack some rewarding snacks.
  1. Hire A Personal Trainer. I know of a great one here in San Diego! 🙂 Use me as your supplement to your own workout. We can work together to meet your goals like endurance, strength, fat loss or just to have more energy in life! Only YOU can decide when your health is a priority. When you are ready to make that investment on your health we should chat because then you are ready to Get Incremental.

 

If you have any questions for me or inquires about Incremental Fitness feel free to hit me up at [email protected] Have a great week!!

Tips

Five Good & Five Not So Good Reasons To Hire A Personal Trainer


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Photo Credit – Erin Thompson & Techie Design

Hiring your Personal Trainer is more than choosing the individual that you can work with.  This choice is also one where you have to be honest with yourself.  A motivation to workout or to make healthy choice has to start from within.

Five Good Reasons For Hiring Your Personal Trainer

  1. You have had a hard time achieving your goals and are looking for some guidance to meet them and set other goals.
  2. Time is an issue but you can see where you can make time in your busy schedule to work out 3-4 days a week.
  3. You want to be a more in shape version of yourself.
  4. You are going to work out, exercise, etc…for yourself.
  5. You want to lose body fat in a reasonable amount of time.

Five Not So Good Reasons For Hiring Your Personal Trainer

  1. You are expecting someone to tell you what to do every day.
  2. You don’t have time to workout & don’t see any way there could be time, but some way it will work itself out after you hire her/him.
  3. You want to look exactly like that Personal Trainer.
  4. You are going to hire that trainer to make your wife/husband/society happy.
  5. You want to lose body fat…lets say 20 lbs in 4 weeks.

It is entirely possible to train yourself. Without a doubt it is possible to knock down those goals and be your own trainer. You keep perspective about your progress. You want your progress to be sustainable. Yes we all of days when we are off, that is part of the process. Keep the big picture in mind. Do your research about what you don’t understand about your body and recognize that sleep & nutrition are just as important as that workout. Keep your body guessing – doing cardio every day or any same workout every day will not lead to sustainable gains. Lastly, the un-measurable things are by far the most important – how you feel, your self worth, being able to move better…..vs. looking at a scale every day. So train yourself with respect…

Think of a personal trainer as your secret weapon. You have someone in your corner that is thinking about the big picture. They understand when to push you and when to back off. He will ask you questions to get you thinking more about what you ate this week and how it affected your workouts. She can target that weakness and eventually make it a strength. She is able to see your form better and can adjust you so your body is moving better. This individual should be experienced in the way to properly introduce conditioning and strengthening exercises in a way that is good for your body.  Lastly your secret weapon will tell you to stop and look back, you will be amazed how far you have come.

Set yourself up for investing in a path to success, either as your own trainer – or looking to work with a trainer.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any inquires about Incremental Fitness & interest in working together to meet your goals here in sunny San Diego!

-Damien

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Reading The Acheivement Habit


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I am a constant visitor to my neighborhood public library. Sometimes I forget when I get notified of a book that has arrived for me since I am constantly coming across and seeking useful information to help me grow as an individual & as a personal trainer. Of course also I am building my own business, so that in itself is a learning experience.

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A good book to help you get “un-stuck” on those daysSource/Homepage about the book

My Dad send me the book The Achievement Habit which he purchased for himself and my brother. Not much dust at all settled on the book (yes Dad if you are reading this). I had another one on deck which I finished so I moved on to this one.

Opening the book was at a perfect time.  As anyone does when starting out on their own there are stimulating days exciting to do something on your own and other days where stress eclipses that. I had a couple days of that earlier on this week. No need to brace yourself I won’t be doing a wordy ongoing review of it chapter by chapter but it had great insight on how to step back to perspective of things and then move forward.

I have just a few chapters of book left. I put it on pause after reading a section talking about brainstorming and more importantly “deferring judgement during the session.” I am pretty good about the former, but often I will rule out something just when an idea pops into my head. To help I shot an e-mail out to a few friends of mine to throw me some & any ideas. My girlfriend pitched in to and added some others. Anything is game.  I went to Home Depot & picked up some Builders Paper, rearranged the apartment to get myself in a changing mindframes mode, taped blank sheets on the wall & put a pot of coffee on. It was a great session & also I worked on a “mind map.” I will work some more on it after the weekend.

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Brainstorming…don’t even try to read my handwriting. It is a secret code. Lots of good ideas though.

Now don’t get me wrong I of course did not solve my & the worlds problems all in one session with the books help – but I definitely benefited from it. I don’t see this and other good reads like The Flinch  (really good read!!) as the answer to anyone’s problem but it can help push you along in the right direction until you get your momentum.

 

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Mind map. I really like the visual aspect of writing things out on paper like this versus typing it out on the computer.

So thanks Dad!