Being Okay (with Being Just Okay)

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Last week I went on my first long run in months. Long, here, is generous.

It was six miles, a shortened version of a mostly flat (for Asheville) route I ran dozens of times when I was training for my hundred last summer.

Twice I stopped to walk. It was hot, but that’s not much of an excuse.

It was defeating to realize just how far I’ve slid since the hundred last July. It’s like when you go back to the gym for the first time in months or years, and struggle under a bar that’s a fraction of what you used to lift for double-digit reps. Or when you get on the scale after months of avoidance and see a number that quantifies how much you’ve let go with your diet and habits … and just how far you have to go to get back.

But something was different with this six-mile run. There was no guilt, no frustration, no overwhelm at the size of the task of getting back into marathon or ultra shape.

Because I’ve been on the roller coaster enough times now to know that this is how it works. Three different times I’ve started over in the gym, sliding back to 140 pounds after bulking up to almost 160.

More than once in my seven-year quest to get to Boston, I went six months without running — sometimes frustrated, sometimes injured, sometimes both. Once, I was pretty sure my days as a marathoner were over.

And from the time I first signed up for a hundred-miler to the time I actually ran one, I went through a lull in running where running 100 miles seemed a mere fantasy. Or perhaps a monkey I’d have to learn to be okay with carrying around on my back.

This, I realized, is the price of shunning moderation.When your approach to doing big things is to so pour yourself into them that you don’t want to think about them again for months or years, this is how it has to go.

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The Not-So-Secret Secrets to Succeeding at Anything

A few months ago, Rich Roll wrote a great post called “Why You Should Stop Lifehacking and Invest in the Journey.”

As I read the post, I found myself nodding along, as expected. When I look at the biggest accomplishments of my life so far, it’s clear that shortcuts had little to do with them.

How about you? Look at what you’re most proud of in your life, and you’ll surely find that hacks weren’t the reason you did it.

It’s not that “hacks” — in fitness, diet, business, whatever — aren’t valuable. It’s absolutely worth learning the tricks and the insights that will help you make quantum leaps along the way. Soak up every bit of knowledge you can about what you’re trying to do … and that includes the hacks.

But when a hack works — and not just for a day or a week, but for good — it’s usually because it comes on top of a foundation of fundamentals that you’ve practiced for years.

It’s those fundamentals that the internet hackarazzi ignores.

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The Small-Steps Approach to Healthy Habits (And Sharing Something New)

Happy Marathon Monday! Wishing the best to everyone running and cheering today — and congrats to Jason, Joe, and of course, Meb. (And to Greg, whose wife’s Twitter post made my day.)

On a day that makes you proud to be a runner, to be part of a community who understands you, I’m excited to share something I’ve been working very hard on — something that I hope will take our little part of the running community at No Meat Athlete to a new level.

I’ll explain more below, but first, here’s an 8-minute sample of an interview I did with author and nutritionist Sid Garza-Hillman as part of the new project. In this segment, we talk about the “small steps” approach to habit change that underlies the whole 2-hour interview (and we actually did a second interview for another hour, too!).

(If you’re reading in email or an RSS reader, visit the post to view this video.)

A Better Way to Make Healthy Changes

At the beginning of the year, I sent around a survey to part of the NMA audience. I asked about a few frustrations people have with their diet and fitness, hoping to use our new community site to address the biggest one or two.

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3 Painless Ways to Start Eating Right When Nothing Else Will Work

small steps imageYou know what you’re supposed to eat.

You don’t need another blog post telling you this food is good and that one is bad … those rules seem to change every day anyway. (Hint: “Eat whole foods” is one that’s a constant.)

It’s not that you don’t want to eat healthy. You even understand that, over time, your taste buds will adjust, and you’ll actually crave raw fruits and vegetables while becoming less interested in processed and fried foods.

You know how important it is. Not just for you, but for your family. And that if you don’t start soon, it’ll one day be urgent. And — maybe — too late.

And yet …

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In Defense of Inconvenience (and Why I Ditched My Smartphone)

Three days before I left to start my book tour last fall, I begrudgingly traded in my old phone (the one with the huge extended-life battery that always falls out, and that I usually hold together with a rubber band) for a smart one.

I had resisted for years, fearing that with 24/7 access to email, Twitter, and the like, I would become a miserable drone of a dad. Of a husband. Of a person.

But I needed the iPhone for the book tour. To use that nifty Square card swiper to sell books and shirts, to navigate from one state to the next, to book hotels on the go, and (crucially) to stay in touch with my wife and kids via Skype. In this case, the phone would help us to feel closer, not more distant.

I asked the sales rep at the Verizon store what my options were for when the book tour was over and I wanted to go back to my old phone.

“Once you get used to a smartphone,” he laughed, “you’ll never want to go back.”

The Inconvenience of a Plant-Based Diet

Something I often say about a vegan diet (that many other vegans seem not to like) is that it’s inconvenient — but that its inconvenience is its strength, when it comes to health.

I’ve come to believe that the best diet for any person is the diet that will cause him or her to make the best food choices. And that, far more than the replacement of animal products with plants, is why this diet has made me the healthiest I’ve ever been.

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7 Inspiring Links, Books, and Changes

It’s January 7th, which means two things:

  1. We’re a week into the new year! Not a bad time to check in and see how you’re doing, if you’ve got some changes to make this year.
  2. Today is the last day to get Wake Up (my new 31-day program) before two of the bonuses go away. I added a brand new bonus yesterday (to help people whose goal it is to start a blog or podcast); see the end of the post for details on that.

And it also means … I’m going to write a post with some 7′s in it.

And then, after a few much-needed days off to put some of my own resolutions and plans into place (described below), I’ll be back.

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Why Goal-Setting Doesn’t Work

Yep, you read that right. Coming from one of the biggest goal-setting freaks you’ll meet.

Goal-setting, the way most people approach it, simply doesn’t work. Not in the quantum-leap, overnight-success way that most first-time goal-setters assume it should.

This, of course, is where most people go wrong with their New Year’s resolutions — they expect that they’ll suddenly have willpower they’ve never had before, and they’ll use that willpower to get immediate and dramatic results.

Most people — and I’ve been one of them — think that once they’ve set goals, magic should happen. As if that’s all you need to do to: set the goal and write it down, then visualize, visualize, visualize, and untold fortunes will soon come flowing your way.

Or, slightly less airy-fairy but no more true, that the simple act of writing down a goal and committing to it virtually guarantees that you’ll find a way to make it happen.

I’ve got some bad news: setting a goal just isn’t enough.

What Makes Goals Work When They Do

Don’t get me wrong: I strongly believe in the tremendous power of goal-setting, when it’s approached from the right mindset. So what’s that mindset?

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33 Rules I Strive to Live By

iStock 000004705762XSmallToday — December 26th, 2013 — is my thirty-third birthday.

Everyone always assumes having a birthday right after Christmas is no good because you get short-changed on presents, but I’ve always loved it — having Christmas, my birthday, and New Year’s (still my favorite holiday) all in one week is pretty sweet. And writing this post is the closest I’ve ever come to working on my birthday, another plus.

I like what Leo did for his birthday post a few years ago, so here’s my version. This list of “rules,” of course, leaves out many obvious ones like “be a faithful husband,” “tell the truth,” etc. And I’m by no means perfect with the ones I’ve included here, but I’m happiest when I am doing well with them.

I hope you find one or two that might be worth adopting in your own life.

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