Archive for December, 2008
As Aaron mentioned in his post, over the last few years I’ve gotten to know Ted Murphy (even in the middle of all of the brew ha ha over paid post made during PayPerPost‘s inception) and have always found him to be a completely standup guy.Image by BenSpark via Flickr
I’ve hung out with Ted, had dinner with Ted, even (I think) done a panel with Ted. I’ve met with Ted’s investors, his team, his PR folk and given and received recommendations that have improved both of our companies and personal lives.
Given that I was one of the first folk in the blogging world to do sponsored posts in 2003/2004, my early issues with PayPerPost were basically twofold. The first was that disclosure wasn’t required (that changed long ago). The second was that when companies could buy links and stories, you fundamentally changed the structure of The Conversation by allowing corporations to insert themselves into it in an inauthentic way.
Obviously the first problem has been long since solved. But not only was it solved, nearly 2 years ago Ted and I came to see eye to eye on a very core principle we both hold: helping bloggers get as much profile, value and $ out of their blogging as possible.
Over the 2 years that followed I basically put the IZEA thing on hold, just hanging with Ted occasionally. b5 has done a few low-level things with IZEA (none involving paid posting), but really I’ve always intended to try something out.
Not only that, but over the last 2 years the blogging world has changed. There is now a “media blogosphere” made up of folk actively trying to make money without losing their authority made up of at least half a million bloggers. Corporations are now buying ads, buying links, flying bloggers out and so forth. Not only that, but most consumer companies now give tens of millions of dollars in free product to bloggers per year, most of which bloggers write about. The only difference with IZEA is that bloggers also get cash.
So the world has changed, how corporations interact with the blogging world has changed and lets face it – there is no longer a single “Conversation” taking place. For better or for worse, advertorials, paid posts, paid reviews, solicited reviews, etc are here to stay. And since they are here to stay the most responsible thing we can hope for is a company to step in the middle and actually ensure companies do their part and stay ethical, bloggers do their part and stay ethical and that the entire thing is conducted in a transparent and professional manner.
This Christmas Ted sent me a quick email on a promotion for Coke Zero that actually resonated with me. I’m a Diet Coke/Coke Zero drinker, the promotion involved a flash game (which is decent), and I blog about both the health side of the equation and the gaming side of the equation often enough that Coke wasn’t really buying a post – and the guidelines are such that all they’re really getting is my unbiased opinion.Image via Wikipedia
So this week (sometime, not entirely sure when), I’ll be writing up at least one post on the promotion, the program, and doing a giveaway of a bunch of Coke/DietCoke/CokeZero swag that the b5crew have been coveting for the last week.
The post will be clearly labelled as sponsored, you’ll (as when I used to do sponsored posts pre-IZEA) get my honest opinion, and I’ll fully disclose what I receive for doing the post.
Realistically, though, the reality is that what IZEA is doing is what is soon going to be absolutely needed: a group guiding corporations through the process so they do things in an ethical and professional manner, a group guiding bloggers through the process in an ethical and professional manner and a group that ultimately matches the right bloggers with the right corporations.
The notion that bloggers will somehow trust each other is now dead, given that even when bloggers DO disclose they are being called into question, so an outside entity is required in some way/shape/form, and for now I’m good with giving IZEA a chance since they’ve been at this for so long – which means they’ve learned a tonne if for no other reason than they’ve had the time to make the mistakes.
So I’m testing this for 2 reasons. The first and easiest is to see if there is any backlash from my audience to this. The second is to try and find a way to make this work in the blog world, and generically to get first-hand knowledge of something I’m often asked about while speaking.
Your opinions are of course more than welcome (positive and negative).
FYI: I’m also testing Zemanta, hence the images ;-)
If you’re reading this, you hopefully completed the entire first week of the program! If you have, I’d love your feedback in the comments!
Before we get into Week 2′s goals, thoughts, tips, etc, I wanted to share some thoughts and tips from readers :)
Linda wrote a handful of great tips to help you along your way:
I once read a comment by Joan Collins. Her diet tip was always leave the table feeling that you could eat more. Apparently that’s what the Victorians used to do.
I recommend you always take a packed lunch to work. It only takes a couple of minutes the night before. It saves money and stops you grabbing calorie laden sandwhiches from shops.
I’m a great soup maker and in the winter I make big batches of soup which I use over a few days for lunch times. It’s easy to take some with your in a thermos. Coupled with a wholemeal roll a nice healthy alternative
I’ve been using MyFoodDiary.com to track my food & exercise. I find its a great tool for understanding the impact of different foods on your goals. There a few of these types of sites but I found the food database to be the best and its dead easy to use. The only down side is the $10/month fee but I think its worth it compared with all the search I’d need to find equivalent information. There is also a good goal tracking component.
Jim reminded us that you should rest for 2 minutes between each of your sets of crunches for maximum effect :)
Stephanie added to my tips on breakfasts by suggesting pre-packaged egg whites (a huge tip if you can stomach it!):
I am all about the egg whites for bfast. I mostly use the ones that come in the container – like egg beaters. It’s great if you can mix in a few veggies or low fat turkey and swiss for a very special egg white omelette.
If you have any of your own tips, leave a comment so everyone can benefit from what you’ve learned works for you. This program is really my tips that worked for me. They may not work for you, and in the same way by sharing what works for you, you could easily help someone else lose weight and get healthier!
How Was Week 1?
Now that you’re preparing for Week 2, ask yourself how Week 1 was. Did you get closer to a healthier lifestyle? Did you lose weight? Did you accomplish something you didn’t feel you’d be able to accomplish? Did you want more things you could do?
Week 1 was admittedly fairly light in terms of working out or food changes, but that’s because doing a crash course where you change your life isn’t our goal. Because those types of diets and exercise programs, for most people, are incredibly hard to implement. That’s why we’re focusing on 1 core new goal for each day. Last week was more water, better sleep and better breakfasts.
This week we’re going to focus on starting to build a workout regime (more on that later), better lunches and how to eat out in a slightly healthier manner.
My Secret for Success
But before we get into specifics, I want to talk about the core thing I believe is helping me succeed. As I said at the start, I’m still not “there” yet, but in the last month I’ve often hit the point where I would have given up. And I personally believe that’s because I adopted the philosophy I’m about to talk about – and the philosophy I want you to focus on for Week 2.
Week 1′s philosophy was to build great habits.
Week 2′s philosophy is, simply put, to diversify.
In the past when I tried to lose weight I looked at it as a 2-part system: good food and more exercise. “Eat right, exercise properly!” is what we hear over and over again. The problem is that these are binary solutions. You either eat right or you don’t and you either exercise properly or you don’t. And if you have a bad day you feel like a failure. Have a bad weekend and you want to give up. Have a bad week and you’re done for.
This is why for me, “eating” isn’t one goal. It’s 5 (we’ve covered 2 of those already: drink more water and eat better breakfasts). And working out is actually 5 as well. But the core is the same: diversify.
I am not an advocate of something like “go to the gym 3-4 times per week” as your only solution. Because it’s a huge, huge barrier if you don’t go regularly.
I’m a huge fan of building severall smaller exercise plans you can follow, and building more into your lifestyle as time goes on.
As an example, here are the exercise programs I currently try and follow. As you’ll see, if I don’t hit all of them, it’s okay because I’m working at so many:
- 2-3 cardio workouts in the gym per week (I didn’t start with this, my original goal was to get to the gym 10 times in a month)
- Joining the Hundred Pushup Challenge (3 times per week)
- Doing 2-3 ab workouts per week
- Doing 1-2 outdoor jogging workouts per week
- Doing 1-2 full weight workouts per week (I do intervals of 2 mins on the bike followed by 3 groups of weights and back again)
For example this week I went to the gym twice, did my hundred pushup challenge all 3 times, did 2 ab workouts and did 1 full weight workout. So basically 8 workouts (some short, some long). Now obviously I didn’t start with that. What I started with is what you started with last week: regular walks, regular crunches.
This week we’re going to add a new part to that component: The Hundred Pushup Challenge.
The Hundred Pushup Challenge is notable for 3 key reasons: it’s easy to start, it’s easy for even the most unfit person to follow and it’s hard. In fact if you look at Week 3 at the start of the program, even the lowest level will probably seem close to impossible. But take it from someone who’s just finished Week 3 (only the highest tier), even if you can only 5-10 pushups consecutively, you can do this.
So let’s get to the specific goals for this week:
Eating & Diet
Last week you hopefully nailed down a handful of good habits, specifically drinking more, eating a better breakfast, eating less junk food and drinking less non-diet pop. This week we’re going to focus on 3 key areas:
- Eating less junk food
- Eating better lunches
- Drinking more water
Noticing a pattern here? Yeah, that’s right, we’re keeping it simple. The pushup challenge is going to be a significant milestone for you, so the core of what we’re trying to do is to build one more good habit, ie: better lunches. Because if you’re eating better breakfasts and eating better lunches, by definition you’ll be eating less junk food! Adding in your existing water habit and you’re well on your way to a solid diet (and next week we’ll take this to the next level!).
In addition this week you should start thinking about healthy snacks. Snacks in an unhealthy person’s life are evil. Snacks when you’re trying to lose weight are a tool to stop you from binging. But they must be used properly. We’ll cover this in Day 3.
The entire focus for this week really is the hundred pushup challenge, but we also want to continue building on what we did last week, so here’s our full set of exercise goals:
- If you didn’t do 3 sets of good form half-crunches last week, that’s your goal for this week. The easiest way to think of this is that you should do the crunches on the day following when you read this post. So if you read the post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, do the crunches on Tuesday, Thursday and sometime during the weekend.
- Your walks. Walking is key if for no other reason than it gets you outside or on the treadmill or to the gym. You’ll only be burning 5-7 calories per minute, but the point isn’t the calorie burn. It’s building the habit and getting your heart pumping. If you’re anything like me you had medium to high blood pressure, caused by (among other things) an unfit heart with fat around it. By getting your heart rate up (ie: working til you sweat) 1-2 times per week, you are starting to get your heart healthier!
- Your Hundred Pushup Challenge. Do this the same day you read these posts, so probably Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Now this might seem like a lot, which is why it’s okay if you don’t do everything. As I said above, the purpose of all of this is to start building habits and to diversify so that if you don’t accomplish everything you are still getting healthier. So if you’re like me you might only do your hundred pushup challenge, 2 crunches and 1 walk. But that’s fantastic because 2 weeks ago you weren’t doing any of that!
Plus, if you count up the time you’re spending, even if you only accomplished half of the above, you still got in 2-3 solid workouts for where you’re at and probably worked out for more than an hour!
Metrics and Milestones
As with last week, keep taking your measurements, but now you should start to set goals for your walks and crunches. My recommendation is to set 3 goals for each of the areas you’re trying to improve on. Try something like this:
- Get to the point where you do all 3 groups of crunches each week / complete all 3 sets of 10 crunches for your workouts / get to 15 crunches per set
- Eat breakfast every day / eat a healthy breakfast every day / add fruit to your breakfasts
- Cut your fast food intake to once per week for lunch / when you do eat out, choose a healthier option / pack your lunch and bring it to work
These are examples of 3 goals for 3 different areas. The last one is a significant improvement over where you are now, where the first 2 build to the point where the last one is achievable. By having lists like this for each area you’re trying to improve on, you are able to start checking off a lot of milestones this week!
Week 2 and Week 3 are always the hardest in any workout or exercise routing. Mostly because anytime you make the decision to live healthier you generally have 1-2 weeks of energy and enthusiasm. After that it’s all discipline and persistence.
This week is significantly harder than last week in some ways (the hundred pushup challenge specifically) but significantly easier in others (less things to focus on).
Anytime you feel down or depressed or unmotivated, talk to someone. Feel free to email/comment/twitter me and I’ll do my best to help. But talk to someone.
And my biggest tip of all for this week: if you feel like you didn’t get everything out of this week that you could have, start the week again. There is absolutely no shame in redoing a week to nail a bunch of the goals, feel better, improve your quality of life, etc.
As an example, next week I’m going to start Week 4 of the Hundred Pushup Challenge. A lot of my friends have said this is the hardest week and they barely get through it. As a result they repeat it, so that Week 5 and 6 are more doable. I’m expecting to do the same thing, but I view that as continuing on my path to success vs failing.
So do what you need to to succeed. You only fail if you give up, give in or stop trying. Even if you stop all the habits and start again, you still didn’t fail. You started again. So keep it up!
By now you should have completed Week 1! If so, give yourself a huge pat on the back! Week 1 was really about starting to build good habits that lay the foundation for a healthier lifestyle. As I siad at hte start of all this, when I started losing weight I was lazy, fat, completely unfit and had built a lot of bad habits.
Over the last year I dropped a lot of those, but I was still far from living a healthy life. When I got onto my newest health kick 4 months ago (give or take), I realized that the core thing I had to do was to build healthy habits. If I didn’t build habits, and didn’t diversify my “portfolio” of good eating, healthy living and exercise, I’d only have 2 options: I’d either be “on” the bandwagon or “off” it – and for me that’s a recipe for disaster.
Week 1 was, at its core, about building 3 core habits: drink more water, eat better breakfasts and sleep better. If you were able to do those 3 things consistently, you succeeded!
In addition, I made some minor suggestions to help you improve your quality of life. I’ll put these in a list format so you can check off how much better you’re doing on each of those. Your goal here is to have hit at least 7 of them. If you do, you’ve rocked the house. If you hit 5 you’re doing great and if you hit 3 you’re doing better than you were a week ago and still deserve to celebrate!
So here are some milestones you may have accomplished:
- Did 2-3 ab workouts via good form half-crunches
- Completed 1-2 light walks (where you broke a sweat but didn’t kill yourself)
- Cut your junk food / fast food intake
- Stopped eating when you were no longer hungry instead of going back until you were full (not everytime, but you started to build the habit)
- If you drink pop, you switched to diet
- Began thinking about what you were eating in terms of calories or “cost” (of working it off) instead of how much you liked the food
- Told somebody you were trying to lose weight. The shame of starting can be intense. The support of others knowing is significant. Personally, I use Twitter and this blog to communicate how well I”m doing. Others setup dedicated blogs to share successes, failures, tips, dreams, realizations, etc. No matter how you do it, sharing the experience creates a support network, which is critical for success.
- Set goals for yourself, set milestones and realized that it’s possible for you to hit them. The sense of hopelessness that accompanies trying to lose weight can be incredibly significant. Hope is your biggest weapon against depression. And the easiest ways to build hope are through your support network but also through setting goals that you can achieve. Everytime you feel like giving up, set a goal you can hit in the next week (or less!) and hit it! Show yourself how wrong you are that it’s hopeless!
- Took your measurements at least once, building the habit of taking it every week to show yourself your progress.
- Started taking this program (yes it’s a freebie, but it’s a milestone and deserves to be celebrated)!
For tomorrow (Sunday) I’ll have the notes up for Week 2′s program. Week 2 will start to build in some significant milestones and tools, so hopefully you’re ready to start working!
Over the first part of this week you should have begun developing core habits for living a healthier life. You might have experienced some weight loss, but more realistically you’ve simply experienced a bit more energy, a bit better sleep and a bit less depression about your weight.
This first week really was about setting yourself up for success, instead of most diet and exercise programs which are designed to set you up for failure by requiring too much of you at the start (which is why most folk only last about 2 weeks).
During the first couple of days we focused on drinking more water. During the next couple we focused on eating better breakfasts. Over the next couple we’re going to focus on something that’s just as core but just as simple: getting a better sleep.
There’s a very simple truth to weightloss: if you aren’t sleeping properly you aren’t setting your day up for success. Read through this article on weightloss and sleep. While sleeping won’t cause you to burn a tonne of calories (400-800 depending on your weight and sleep habits), a solid 7-8 hours will setup your metabolism, keep your hormones in balance and ultimately keep you happier (which will result in less binging, more balance and more weightloss overall).
So your goal for the next 2 days is very simple: make sleep a priority. Given that this should be your Friday, basically try and catchup on lost sleep this weekend. If you haven’t been sleeping 7-8 hours, you may need a couple of 10 hour days to reset your system. Don’t be afraid of that, or of any lost work time, because in a couple of weeks your body will be rocking and you’ll be quite happy at 6-7 hours once you’re working out more, eating better, etc.
In addition, if you haven’t already done 2-3 sets of crunches (here’s a video on how) and haven’t yet taken 1-2 light walks (break a sweat but don’t come home panting), you’ll want to try and catchup on those things this weekend.
And if you haven’t yet taken your measurements, suck it up and get them done now. The biggest reason for doing this is so that you know exactly how well you’re doing. The longer you wait, the less dramatic your results will be, so get it done ;-)
If you have taken your measurements, feel free to update them this weekend. You probably won’t notice a significant difference, but as with everything in this program: building the habit is key!
So have a great weekend, don’t eat junk food at the theatre, stay away from fast food altogether, try and eat soup instead of steak (you’ll be surprised how filling it can be), sleep well, drink lots of water, eat your breakfasts and have fun. The weekend is the time to recharge. If you’re going to eat poorly, keep it to one “free day” (I use Sundays). Don’t spread it over the weekend.
And if you’ve completed your first week, celebrate! It wasn’t the hardest, but this is the first step in a very successful journey to weight loss, a healthier life and better eating!
Hopefully for the past 2 days you’ve been focussing on the basics: more water, less junk, healthier snacks and a touch of exercise.
Today’s focus is very simple: eating a bit healthier. As you should know by now, it’s easier to not put calories in your mouth than it is to work them off. So you should (slowly, it takes time, I’m still working on this) learn to eat better vs learning to exercise more. Both are important, but to save yourself hours in the gym (and lots of frustration), eating better is key.
For most people, the easiest meal of the day to fix is breakfast. You’re (generally) at home. You have (most of) the things you need at home (hopefully). And you have total control. The hardest meal is generally lunch because it requires eating at the right time, not overeating, planning your meals, not “upsizing” when you eat out, not buying dessert when you eat out, etc. It’s a minefield.
But breakfast is easy.
Now you’re likely in one of 3 camps for breakfast:
- You eat chocolate frosted mini wheat flakes with marshmallows
- You eat some kind of cereal, with milk and sugar
- You don’t eat breakfast
If you aren’t eating, start. It kicks off your metabolic process. What we want to work towards is to having your body constantly digesting food all day long. It’ll burn calories, but more importantly it’ll supply a constant amount of energy, vs the peaks and valleys you’re probably used to now. And, contrary to popular early weight loss program belief, eating less doesn’t mean losing more.
Eat your breakfast. It’s the best way to start things up.
Some healthy choices for breakfast:
- Oatmeal, skim’d milk. Fruit on top (I find frozen fruit the easiest, you can buy 2 week’s worth of breakfast fruit for 5-10$). No sugar.
- Kashiik cereals (specifically the Go Lean variety). They taste quite decent and have a metric tonne of the vitamins you need early in the morning. They’re more expensive though. Eat with skim’d milk (noticing a pattern here? Heh). Some blueberries will round this meal out.
- One piece of whole wheat/brown toast. One poached egg. A bunch of fruit. This is my favourite because it gets me protein early which staves off all kinds of cravings, it’s fast and easy and it tastes really, really good.
- Have other suggestions? Let me know in the comments!
Your other goal is to continue exercising. During the last 2 days you should have done at least one ab/crunch routine. If you’re able to, do another round of 3 sets of 10 crunches again. It’s not a huge amount of exercise, but getting your muscles moving the right way is the hardest part of crunches and pushups, so the practice really does help and you’ll see rapid improvements by doing these simple exercises every couple of days for 5 minutes at a time.
In addition, try and take a medium-paced 20 minute walk. A treadmill is fine if you want to go to the gym, but outside is best if it isn’t too cold where you are. Your goal is to basically break a light sweat. So whatever pace has you hot and bothered about 20 minutes in. Feel free to bring music, a book (if it’s early enough) or better yet a book on tape you can play from your iPod. Whatever it takes so you don’t get bored and think about the time passing or how much work it is.
And again, that’s about it. A bit more explanation this time, but the goal for your next 2 days is pretty simple: drink more water just like before, eat a better breakfast and try and get 1-2 very light workouts in, just to get your body used to the idea.
During Day 3 we’ll deal with eating out, whether it’s lunches or dinners, and start to prep for the beginnings of an exercise routine in Week 2. At this point, you probably aren’t noticing any specific changes in your body, so to stay motivated focus on the changes in what you’re able to do. Are the crunches easier the second or third time around? Do you feel more energy due to starting a better breakfast and more water? Are you drinking less pop and eating less junk food?
Celebrate these milestones. Once the weight starts coming off it’ll be easier to focus on that, but the first few weeks your weight loss won’t be huge. Your goal here is to build habits that will last, will give you more energy and will make you feel better about yourself. The actual weight loss is always secondary to personal fulfillment. And when it isn’t, the weight always comes back on.
Good luck, and have a great week!
As always, any comments, questions, suggestions or tips let me know in the comments!