Enjoy Life Today

5 Powerful Ways To Kickstart Your Day

Early MorningYour early morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day. What does yours look like?

Do you drag yourself out of bed, stumble to the bathroom, get dressed in a fog then search for your phone and keys before leaving for work? Or are you up early, ensuring that you’re well prepared to kickstart your day? I’ve certainly done both over the years (and everything in between) & learned valuable lessons in the process.

Here’s what I found really works when you need to kickstart your day:

1. Remove/limit internet access (the night before)

This is one habit that I’ve found tough to establish and the one that determines success or failure for me regarding my morning routine.

As human beings, we thrive on news, gossip & are driven to stay connected.

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My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment | Final Report

I have now completed my 30 day vegan diet experiment. Overall, I would consider it a great success.

Vegan diet energy gains I have experienced:

  • significant gains in energy
  • greatly improved fitness levels
  • increased social connections & activity
  • improved confidence & self-confidence

and much more.

(I’ve logged my energy levels, food intake, physical activities and more. You can view all of this information here).

8 benefits of my vegan diet experiment

Higher energy levels

My energy levels were consistently high for my 16-18 hour days (averaging 7.5 out of 10 per day on a self-rating scale) & remained steady throughout each day. I observed a noticeable increase in energy as the weeks progressed. There were some periods where I noticed my energy flagging. However, I was able to easily find the cause & link it to either physical tiredness due to greatly increased physical demands or lower motivation.

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My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment | Recap – Week 2 & 3

healthy lifestyle & diet word cloudIt has been 3 weeks since I started my diet experiment & overall I’m very pleased with the results so far. (You can find all of my raw data here)

Observations:

As many of us have experienced when trying to establish a new habit, the beginning is often the easiest part of the process. Novelty, excitement & the initial burst of energy can help get us moving. Before too long however, old habits along with our environment can pull us back to our old behaviour & it is at these times when we may need to ‘dig deep’.

I’ve experienced some of this. There were a couple of times on week 2 where I thought – ‘wouldn’t it just be easier to go back to regular eating?‘ There were challenges encountered in attending a neighbourhood BBQ & also in discovering that there are very limited options for vegan or plant-based eating when you go out to a typical restaurant.

The key to pushing through these barriers was reminding myself of the reasons why I chose to undertake this experiment. We’ve all heard this advice before, to get clear about the why Read the rest of this entry »

My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment – Week 1 Recap

making-changes I’ve just completed the first 7 days of my vegan diet experiment. I thought it would be useful to share some of my experiences with you. (Here’s why I’m undertaking this vegan diet experiment)

To begin, let’s benchmark where I think I was at the start of the experiment. In terms of energy, mood, eating well & consistently exercising then I would have scored myself a C or a C+. The ingredients were all there but because I was letting myself off the hook on a regular basis (i.e. I ate well yesterday so I can pig out a bit today or I’m going to the gym only 2-3 times per week instead of my desired 5+ times), I never seemed to develop sufficient momentum & thus felt that I was relying primarily on willpower to drive me forward. Lacking hard edges to my diet in terms of what I would eat or not eat also made it easy to break the rules.

In the space of 7 days, I would say that I’ve moved up a grade to Read the rest of this entry »

My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment

A selection of Vegan foodsMy original intention was to write a post on the 5:2 diet and my experiences experimenting with it over the past year.

However, having been inspired and challenged by a number of recent posts (including here & here) and having just completed John Robbins’ book – Healthy at 100, I’ve decided to change course, fully embrace a plant-based/vegan diet for a full 30 days & closely monitor my results.

How did I arrive at this point?

I’ve always been pretty lean (skinny as a kid), active & up until my mid-to-late 20’s struggled to gain weight. Somewhat inevitably however, as I moved through my 30’s & into my 40’s and my overall levels of activity decreased (and my metabolism shifted), I gradually gained weight (roughly 0.5kg/1 lb per year ever year). Not noticeable over a short period but over 20 years it adds up. I think this is a pretty common pattern for men in particular.

In terms of my diet, I’ve been a meat eater all my life apart from short periods of vegetarianism & I have always eaten dairy products. Early on (in the 1980’s) I took on board the nutritional advice of the day, which advocated a switch away Read the rest of this entry »

The Top 10 Benefits of Spending Time in Nature

Brecon BeaconsA great irony of our world today is that while we can virtually connect with almost anyone, anywhere with the click of a mouse, the sad reality for many of us is that the frequency and quality of our face-to-face interactions has diminished.

Armed with smartphones, it can be difficult to escape the instant satisfaction of a new ‘like’ on Facebook, a response to your clever Tweet or an incoming text message from a friend or client. As a result, we often find ourselves pulled in multiple directions while speaking with friends, family members and work colleagues. We are physically present but often not emotionally present and therein lies an important challenge.

Without a conscious effort to effectively manage (and perhaps limit) these intrusions, this pattern continues and becomes the new norm and we can begin to lose our ability to be fully present with ourselves and with those around us. We can also see the negative impact in our reduced ability to engage with activities which require our sustained focus – be that grappling with a new concept, reading for work or for pleasure or doing the thinking necessary to stay relevant in a world where we are being outsourced or offshored at an alarming rate.

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It Takes 66 Days To Form A Habit

Just Stop ItThere’s been quite a bit of talk recently about habits – how to form them and how to break them. A lot of this has been due to the publication of Charles Duhigg’s book – The Power of Habit, preceded by the buzz generated after a columnist from Forbes wrote the provocatively titled post – How Target figured out a teen girl was pregnant before her father did (based on Duhigg’s article on how companies mine your data in the New York Times).

I’ve also taken an increased interest recently in the power of habits and discovered that smartphone apps are very useful for helping track habit development. As I’ve begun to more regularly use one such app to develop and break/change some habits, I thought it would be worthwhile to check and see what  google has to say about how long it takes to develop or break a habit.

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How to Make Your To-Do List Doable

To-Do ListOne of the challenges that many people have regarding their to-do list is that they have not broken down many of the items on the list sufficiently into doable actions. For example, ‘get car fixed’ does not clearly and easily identify what to do next (and is really a small project). Thus, when we look at this or a similar item on our list, we tend to skip past it because we realize that we actually need to spend some time thinking (and in this case, very little time) about the steps involved before we can identify the next action to take. And in the midst of a busy day, that can seem like too much time and effort (especially when we’re in ‘doing’ mode rather than ‘thinking’ mode). A more doable task would be to ‘locate contact details for garage’, followed by adding the following 2 tasks to your list, ‘call garage and make appointment to have car fixed’ and then ‘drop off car at garage’.

I’m always thankful to the folks over at LifeHacker for providing a steady diet of tips & tools for increasing productivity. In this post, they tackle this challenge and much more in how to make your to-do list doable.

Do We Risk Turning Our Kids Into Unhappy Adults?

Businesswoman with sad emoticonI’ve just read ‘How to Land Your Kid in Therapy’ over at the Atlantic magazine. In the article, Lori Gottlieb makes the case that ‘our obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthood.  She believes that our unwillingness to expose them to (and our desire to protect them from) life’s natural disappointments, leaves their psychological immune system underdeveloped for when they leave home. As she says in the article – “We treat our kids like adults when they’re children, and we infantilize them when they’re 18 years old.” It’s worth a read.

Taming The Beast

Picture of iPhoneOctober 17,  2008 – the day I bought my first shiny new iPhone. The joy! The possibilities! Internet on the go and ever-present email – what opportunities this brought for increased productivity. Want to know what’s happening in Washington, Dublin, Beijing or Timbuktu? No problem, it’s all there. And the apps – from those which kept track of my to-do list to those which told me the time of the next train to those which helped me convert micrograms to stones (if I ever had such a need)…..ah, the apps.

3 years on, Read the rest of this entry »