Tag Archives: physical fitness

Key to Good Relationships: Sleep

How important is your family and work life? I’m willing to bet it’s a top priority for you. Would you say your spouse and children are more important to you than passengers are to an airline pilot? There’s no FFA – Federal Family Administration, but take a look at this.

Key to Good Relationships: Sleep

While visiting one of my squadrons not long ago I saw the following notice posted at a chief petty officer’s desk:


is an expected and ubiquitous aspect

of life.

For the average individual, fatigue presents a minor inconvenience, resolved with a nap or by stopping whatever activity brought it on. Typically there are no significant consequences. However, if that person is involved with safety-related activities such as operating a motor vehicle, piloting an aircraft, performing surgery, or running a nuclear reactor, the consequences of fatigue can be disastrous.


Notice the author? The Federal Aviation Administration. This notice comes from a pamphlet on fatigue, one of the best pieces I’ve read on the need for adequate rest.

Notice something strange about the notice? The second half of the warning contradicts the first part. Operating a motor vehicle while fatigued “can be disastrous” but for the average individual fatigue “is a minor inconvenience.” How often does a day go by when you don’t drive your car?

Contained in the pamphlet is another important warning stating any fatigued person will exhibit the same problems including apathy, feeling of isolation, annoyance, slowing of higher-level mental functioning, and memory problems. Think about the last disagreement you had with your spouse or child. Were any of these at least partially the cause? It seems to me for the average person fatigue presents a significant problem that can create long-term damage to physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.

Among the FAA’s recommendations to stay properly rested are:

Don’t . . .

  • Consume alcohol or caffeine 3-4 hours before going to bed.
  • Eat a heavy meal just before bedtime.
  • Take work to bed.
  • Exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime. While working out promotes a healthy lifestyle, it shouldn’t be done too close to bedtime
  • Use sleeping pills (prescription or otherwise).

Do . . .

  • Consult a physician to diagnose and treat any medical conditions causing sleep problems.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment at home. Adjust heating and cooling as needed. Get a comfortable mattress.
  • When traveling, select hotels that provide a comfortable environment.
  • Get into the habit of sleeping eight hours per night. When needed, and if possible, nap during the day, but limit the nap to 30 minutes or less. Longer naps produce sleep inertia, which is counterproductive.
  • Try to turn in the same time each day. This establishes a routine and helps you fall asleep more quickly.
  • If you can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, get up and try an activity that helps induce sleep (read, listen to relaxing music, etc.)

You cannot avoid the challenges that life throws at you and your family, but you can get enough sleep to deal with them more effectively.

Sleep well!

How important to you is sleeping well? Please comment below.

The One Thing You Must to Do to Lose Weight

Recently I reconnected with a friend from college. Amidst long days and nights at USC’s architecture school, we often did two free weight workouts a day. Having not seen each other for almost two decades, I was gratified by his remarking how good I looked. You see, when last we got together I tipped the scale at nearly 195 lbs., close to obese for my 5’-8” height. “How did you lose weight?” he asked.

The One Thing You Must to Do to Lose Weight

By Cha già José / CC-BY-SA-2.0

During most of my adult life, a typical dinner was half a dozen sourdough rolls (often with sweet cream butter), a small salad, a pint of Haagen-Dazs ice cream (coffee or vanilla fudge) washed down with a liter or so of caffeine-free Coke. Breakfast and lunch were no better. Would you like to know the sad thing? As I write this I'm salivating at the thought of such a meal.

Shortly after Melanie and I got married (still weighing in the low 190s) I realized it was time to lose weight.   I had a heart-to-heart talk with myself. It went something like this:

Responsible Kevin: Well, you have a wife now, and soon probably children.

Childish Kevin: Yeah, so what?

Responsible Kevin: Do you want to be around to celebrate your golden wedding anniversary and bounce grandkids on your knees?

Childish Kevin: Isn’t that the point of getting married?

Responsible Kevin: Don’t be a smart-aleck. You think you’ll make it toting around an extra 30+ lbs?

Childish Kevin: I run three mornings a week!

Responsible Kevin: And you haven’t dropped an ounce.

Childish Kevin: Well, what do you suggest?

Responsible Kevin: How about restricting your caloric intake to an appropriate level?

Childish Kevin: And what would that be?

Responsible Kevin: 1500 calories a day.

Childish Kevin: You must be joking. A pint of Haagen-Dazs has got 1000 calories.

Responsible Kevin: Exactly. Are you getting on board or are you going to be obese for the rest of your life?

Childish Kevin: No need to nag. You’re right. I’ll get with the program, 1500 calories a day it is, except for the Sabbath.

Responsible Kevin: Deal!

And so for the next three months I ate a breakfast of two pieces of fruit and high-fiber cereal with skim milk. Lunch was usually cottage cheese, salsa, and chips. Dinner was a salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Such was my fare six days a week. Sabbath meals were elaborate and more caloric but not outrageous. Each day I gave myself a treat of some kind of chocolate, about 150 calories worth.

Nothing happened for the first week. Then, the pounds started to fall off, about two per week. Three months later I was down to the low 160s. At that point, I started an exercise program that eventually allowed me to up my daily caloric intake to 2400. That’s where it stands today. Meals still consist primarily of fruit, vegetables, high-fiber grain products, and low-calorie protein.

Maybe you

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can commit to losing weight for its own sake. I could not. It took my duty to my family to stir within me the self-discipline necessary to permanently change my eating habits.

What will motivate you to lose weight and keep it off?

Is it longevity, the image of the body you have pasted to your bathroom mirror, or desire to be there for your family? While you think about your answer to the first question ask yourself:

Am I Living to Eat or Eating to Live?

If the former, it is unlikely you will find sufficient motivation to change since food is too important a part of your identity. An attitude shift to the latter philosophy will undergird your motivation. You can still enjoy eating without making it central to your life.

So here is the thing you must do to lose weight:

Determine your proper caloric intake and don’t eat more.

Here's a website that will help you. You cannot exercise your way to weight loss. Exercising three to five times a week will give you less than a 30% caloric bump over what you can eat if you live a sedentary life.

Exercising is crucial for cardiac health and obtaining and maintaining strength and muscle tone. But trying to adopt both a better diet and exercise routine will overtask your self-discipline. You increase your chances of success if you tackle them one at a time.

Do not wait until after the holidays, START NOW! Telling yourself you will succumb to the temptations of the season undermines the self-control you intend to develop in a few weeks. Give yourself a bigger win by making a plan that allows a small indulgence as part of your new lifestyle of healthy eating.

What do you think is your biggest hurdle to a healthier diet

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The One Word That Changed My Life

No man is an island. ~ John Donne

The One Word That Changed My Life

Two weeks ago I had an emergency appendectomy. In the moment it all seemed routine. We dropped something off to a friend before going to the hospital. Once there, everything happened with beautifully choreographed efficiency. The first incision was made four and a half hours after we arrived. No miracle here – just ordinary healthcare, right?

But lying in the hospital while waiting to be discharged, I realized it is not overly dramatic to be grateful for being alive.

  1. Surgery by contemporary standards dates from 1867 when British surgeon Joseph Lister published an article extolling the virtues of cleanliness. X-rays are only about 120 years old. Antibiotics have been around for less than a century, laparoscopic surgery less than half that. Without the first three, my chances for survival would have been low. The last one reduced my hospital stay to 24 hours.
  2. Had it been up to me, I would not have gone to the hospital. My stomach was hurting, but I was prepared to tough it out. Thank goodness my wife Hannah is a registered nurse and knew better. I felt too awful to put up my usual argument. Left to my own devices my appendix would probably have had to rupture before I sought help.
  3. I overheard a conversation between my wife and the discharge nurse who said as he cut me, the surgeon noted my lack of belly fat. Evidently, my physical condition was crucial to my high tolerance for the surgery, lack of post-operative pain, and rapid recovery. I was unable to engage with my family and work for only two days.

Remove any of these three factors and I am, at best much sicker, and, at worst dead.

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This time last year I was nearing the end of four months of recovery from the debilitating effects of an acute back problem compounded by a severe reaction to medication. (See Lessons from Taking Lyrica). I lost out on or had reduced productivity for one-third of a year. My daughter’s favorite holiday, Chanukah, was not much of a celebration. I had been trying to live a balanced, resilient life. Therein was the problem. I should have lived it instead of trying to do so.

I committed to living intentionally. Period.

  1. In the near future, I will be releasing my first product. It is a tool I used to determine what a balanced life means to me, identify my areas of weakness, and set goals to strengthen them. Then I developed a plan. I have not conquered my challenges, but this latest episode demonstrated I am on the right track. I reduced the time I could not pursue the life my family and I want by 6000%!
  2. Strengthening my marriage is my number one priority. Forming an enduring connection with my daughter ranks a close second. Not far behind that is my commitment to continue building friendships and business relationships, both existing and new. Donne’s words carry more weight for me today than ever before. The quote above to be sure, but the end of his poem too:

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

Is my life actually balanced? On a day-to-day basis? No. In the longer horizon. Yes. Am I resilient? You be the judge. I intended to title this piece Success Is Not Always Moving Forward because I felt fortunate not to have lost the ground I did last year. Now I see that I have vaulted forward.

It all came from one decision. When I asked myself are you #LivingIntentionally? A year ago I answered:


Are you living a balanced, resilient life? If not, when will you commit to doing so?

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New Look, More Great Content

With this week’s post my blog takes on a new look. While my old theme was attractive unfortunately the developer did not keep it current with today’s functionality. So with a new year comes a new theme.
New Look, More Great Content
It features a fresher appearance and improved readability and navigability. Also, I have reorganized my material to make it easier for you to find the information you want:
Personal Development: Here you will find material to help you design a purposeful, balanced life. My suggestions for strengthening specific aspects of your Three Pillars of Fitness – Physical ∞ Mental ∞ Spiritual appear as subheadings.
Entrepreneurship: Before joining the navy I spent 20 years as an entrepreneur and built five businesses. My sixth gets underway in a few days (hold tight, we are almost there). Having learned countless lessons (still am), I share them here.
Spirituality: If you are a fan of Parsha Nuggets, now you will find them here. In the future my guest bloggers and I will delve beyond Scripture, addressing other aspects of religious and spiritual development.
Sea Stories: Did you like my posts about life in the navy? Concerned about veterans and service members? Love to learn about things military? All these are covered here. I am planning more behind the scenes posts, pulling back the veil as far as my clearance allows.
History & Tales: History can shed light on some of our most difficult challenges. Several articles I have written about history will be published later this year. Here is where I will be continuing with this work, especially the history of everyday life.
Resources: Are you looking for information on sleeping well, guidance on eating, motivation for exercising, material to improve your mental resilience, tips on bettering your marriage and relationships, spirit enhancing thoughts, or help transitioning from military to civilian life (so close to my announcement)? You will find these and much more here.
All right, you're up-to-date on my blog.
I am practically intoxicated by the launch of my first major civilian program since I started my blog. It happens this Wednesday, January 22, 2014. Watch your email for the official notice.
By the way, you are going to have the chance to go on Active Duty with my colleagues and me. I do not think you will want to miss this opportunity. Remember the date, this Wednesday, January 22, 2014!
Please take a couple of minutes to look at my new blog. I really want to know what you think!

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Should You Be a Fanatic About Moderation?

“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Having at one time been borderline obese, I confess to intermittent zealousness about diet and exercise. Evolving from the extreme position often necessary to changing your life to a more sustainable posture poses an unending challenge. But indeed moderation is truly a virtue that is sensible in most, if not all, aspects of life. Let’s look at it through the Three Pillars of Fitness.

Should You Be a Fanatic About Moderation?

Physical Realm. There seems to be broad agreement that sleeping too little can cause a range of problems from lack of focus to weight gain. But too much sleep may lead to diabetes, heart disease, increased risk of death, and could be indicative of depression.

Drastic diets can help you lose weight quickly but are ineffective for long-term maintenance and nutrition. Protein-heavy diets dehydrate your body. Vegetarianism can cause protein-deficiency. Very low-fat diets deprive the body of its ability to store energy, adjust temperature, and lubricate tissue.

Lack of exercise is bad for your health, but many health professionals advise that extreme regimens like P90X are harmful by unnecessarily stressing the body.

With your finances, you should strike a balance between funding your current cash flow needs and saving for the future.

When investing, a portfolio diversifying risks and terms commensurate with your stage in life is universally recommended. Being opposed to debt probably means you will not buy a house.

Recognizing many children have been destroyed by inheritances, should you donate your wealth to a worthy cause? Yet, if you follow Andrew Carnegie’s advice, leaving nothing to your children, are you sure the organization to which you leave it will follow your wishes?

In your leisure pursuits and entertainment, are extremes wise? With extreme sports comes increased risk of extreme injuries, even among top athletes. People lose their jobs by staying up all night playing online games and being late for work. Recreation and diversion are healthy, danger and mania are not.

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Is there anyone more boring than the person so immersed in a hobby he thinks everyone is as fascinated with Cirripedology (the study of barnacles) as he is? The line between passion and obsession is fine. When your friends’ eyes glaze over you have crossed it.

Moderation is Essential to Sustaining the Physical Pillar of Fitness

Mental Realm. To be emotionally sound requires well-developed cognitive skills, moored self-esteem so you can be balanced in your societal habituation, and psychological resilience that supports you through the emotion roller collar called life. Extremity impairs development of these skills.

When approaching societal engagement, enduring friendships require a balance of empathy and self-concern between two people. Beyond your close circle, the demands of a larger community can engulf you. But sacrificing yourself to such claims, without periodic self-care, will eventually retard or prevent your community service.

Pets provide companionship and opportunity for stewardship. But infatuation with a pet can hinder the ability to forge human ties and their accompanying growth.

Intellectual challenge stimulates the mind. But obsession with such activities, be it reading, education, or avocation poses the same danger as that of an obsessive hobby, often at the cost of not exercising or engaging socially.

Definitionally, Moderation is Crucial for Sustaining the Mental Pillar of Fitness

Spiritual Realm. Does G-d want a moderate relationship with you? This is a complex, intensely personal question. Your love for G-d, like His for you, should be limitless. A strong connection entails balance among prayer, fulfillment of duties, and engagement in rituals. Should you reject the secular world? According to my faith no, but I would not argue with those of other faiths who disagree.

Familial relationships also challenge the question of moderation. You should love your spouse, parents, and children without limit, abusive situation excepted. In other areas, such as material support and giving advice, restraint is wise. But unbounded love does not preclude having to say no.

“Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.” ~ Thomas Paine

With core values, I agree with Paine. Having once compromised your principles it can become habitual. Have you engaged in the process of identification, articulation, practice, and assessment? Principal among my values is humility. Discourse, not imposition, enlightens.

G-d, Family, and Core Values Are Exceptions to Moderation in the Spiritual Pillar of Fitness

Moderation applies even to moderation, love and core values being the exceptions. As you instill new habits and take on new vistas to conquer, the tendency to excess is tempting. By keeping moderation as a value you keep your life in balance, sustain relationships, and are truly #LivingIntentionally.

Where do you think moderation does not apply?

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