How to Pick Yourself and Start Making Change in the World

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Hanging on the wall in my office, so that I see it every time I start a workday, is a one-page essay by Seth Godin, titled “Pick Yourself.”

This simple phrase, to me, represents the enormous opportunity offered to each of us by our hyper-connected world. There are almost no “gatekeepers” anymore: if you want to be a leader, an artist, a change-maker, you don’t need to wait around and hope you get picked.

Instead, pick yourself. Start doing the thing you want to do and use the incredible tools — blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, social media — now at your disposal to amplify and deliver your message to the people who need to hear it.

This is exactly what Alex and Jeanette Ruiz have done as leaders of the successful NMA Miami group. At a time in their life when they were considering a move to another city for lack of plant-based culture in Miami, the opportunity to step up and lead their local movement came along.

Their success in connecting with like minds made them hungry for more change, and they’ve taken their role as leaders in this movement a step further with a new podcast, called Planted in Miami, which was featured in iTunes’ “New and Notable” section last week.

In this episode of No Meat Athlete Radio, I talk with Alex and Jeanette about the success of NMA Miami and the steps they’ve taken to achieve early success with their podcast. This in hopes, of course, that it inspires you to find your voice in this movement, and to pick yourself.

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A Look at Our No Meat Athlete Virginia Beach Group

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Just like Miami and our other big running group successes, Virginia Beach came as a huge surprise.

In an area that’s home to several military bases and training centers — which means a transient population and (I figured) not a lot of interest in plant-based diets — one of our most active, tightest-knit running groups emerged.

And from my first morning with the group, I understood why.

My First Experience with the “Energy Lab”

We got up early on a Saturday to meet at leader Andrea Denton’s house, where we piled five into a car and drove 45 minutes to a 100-mile Tour de Cure cycling event … not to race, but just to support three members of the group who were riding.

When we arrived, I was surprised to meet another four or five group members, also not riding, just out there to cheer on their friends from the group. We brought out a big sign they had made that says “No Meat Athlete Virginia Beach — Energy Lab” and set up a table with lots of plant-based fueling options that they had made the night before, and long before we saw our three riders, other riders came by to grab some food (homemade Glo Bars were a hit) and ask what No Meat Athlete and the Energy Lab were all about.

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Feel Better, Do More

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“How have you been?”

“Good! Super busy.”

That’s the common answer to what is probably the most common question … and that makes me sad.

We love being busy. If we’re busy, we must matter, right?

I’ve never been good at being busy, which is probably why I didn’t last long in the corporate world. I like to have time to do the things I like doing, not the stuff I feel like I have to do.

So that’s my focus in today’s episode of No Meat Athlete Radio: not a time management system in the traditional sense (those have never worked for me) but an approach to making choices that maximize the time available to you. So that you can find the time to eat well, exercise, and be happy … all without being “super busy.”

Here’s what I talk about in this episode:

  • Why time management systems don’t work for me
  • Our modern love affair with “busy”
  • How to ruthlessly cut the activities that drain your time and energy
  • Creating time by adding new activities
  • Does eating healthy save me time and make me more efficient?
  • Why Steve Jobs wore the same shirt every day

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If you’re a fan of NMA Radio (and you like all these new episodes we’re making!), we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

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17 Ways to Finally Make That Change

Make it happen!

1. Make the first step smaller than you ever have before. Then do this tiniest possible action each day for a week before you let yourself do more. Or …

2. Go all-in, all at once — but set an end-date, instead of facing “forever.” Make it a 7-day or 30-day challenge, and once you make it there, then decide if you want to keep going.

3. Make a bet with a friend.

4. Get a partner to make the change (the same change, or their own) with you.

5. Burn the boats. Make a commitment you can’t go back on — an action that’s easy to take now, but that makes it very hard for you to go back on in the future.

6. Instead of starting now, like you always do, set a start date for the change. This way, you teach your brain that it’s important. Use the time until then to plan.

7. Start a blog or podcast about your change, and share it with everyone you know. Instant accountability.

8. Increase the pain, fear, and guilt you associate with the way things are — instead of doing what most people do, which is everything they can to ignore or soften the pain.

9. Tell the handful of people in the world whose respect you most value about the change you’re making, and set up a system where you’ll report to them every day or week about your progress.

10. Do the Jerry Seinfeld technique: Post a calendar in a visible place, and draw a big, red X through every day when you successfully do your new habit. Get a streak going that you don’t want to break.

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Our Favorite Running Hacks

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At the beginning of the year I wrote a post called The Frictionless Kitchen, about the little tricks — hacks, if you will — we employ at my house to stay on track with healthy eating, without having to think about it.

Well, today’s episode of No Meat Athlete Radio might as well be called The Frictionless Runner.

As a dad, I’ve learned just how precious my time is. There’s plenty I’d like to do, and so little time to do it — so when it comes to the really important habits, running included, I do everything I can to grease the wheels a little bit. That doesn’t mean I cheat my way out of the difficult days (that’d be missing the point of running), but it does mean I take advantage of easy tricks that make a difference.

It turns out Doug’s the same way. In today’s episode Doug and I pulled together our favorite running hacks to help you remove a few obstacles from your running routine.

Because if you were given the opportunity to make something inherently difficult a just little simpler — and more likely to happen — why wouldn’t you?

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The difference between a hack and a cheat
  • Running shoes — how to buy all you need without going broke
  • Simple nutrition tricks to get the job done, without extra stress
  • How to turn “not enough time” into your best workout of the week
  • And a dozen more genius (if we don’t say so ourselves) running hacks

Click the button below to listen now:

Or:

If you’re a fan of NMA Radio (and you like all these new episodes we’re making!), we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

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The Ridiculously Simple Way to Peel a Mango (With a Pint Glass!)

(Click here to watch the video on YouTube.)

First, proper credit. While I would love to have invented this trick, I didn’t: I learned it from a Crazy Russian Hacker video.

To call this trick “life-changing” might be a stretch, but it’s not far off. I bet I ate 100 mangoes last August after I learned it. For real. (It helped that I was on a fruitarian kick, sometimes eating three or four mangoes for lunch.)

I’ve shown this trick for peeling mangoes to anyone who will watch, and I’m continually shocked by the number of people — even vegans, fruit people, etc. — who don’t know it. Maybe I get more excited about mangoes than most, but still: if this one were common knowledge, I truly believe there would be no wars.

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26 Weird Ingredients Vegans Use: An A-to-Z Guide

Note: this is a guest post from Esther at A, B, C, Vegan.

It’s time we admit it. We’re weird.

I mean that in the best way possible. And I know at least a few people agree: three years after Matt wrote it, The 17 Weirdest Things I Do Now that I’m Vegan is still the most popular post ever on No Meat Athlete. 

But you know what the weirdest part is, right? The ingredients we use! 

You know, the stuff you buy at the strange-smelling health food store. The foods your friends are scared to try. The ones that melt like cheese, gel like gelatin, and chew like pulled pork.

And of course, the ones that most people still associate with As-Seen-On-TV plant-pets from the 80’s.

It’s not just weird ingredients, though. Even when we use totally normal ingredients, we often do it in very unexpected ways.

But as weird as our ingredients may be, we use them for a reason: because they’re wonderful. 

These ingredients (and the strange ways we find to use everyday ingredients) help us fuel our plant-based lifestyles in a healthy way, while allowing us to experience some of the tastes and textures that we still crave. 

So here goes, kiddos: one weird vegan ingredient (or weird use of a normal ingredient) for every letter of the alphabet.

A is for Aminos:

Specifically, coconut aminos. Liquid aminos are an interesting easy way to add those building blocks that come from protein to your diet. More importantly, they’re a gluten-free alternative for the soy sauce flavor (if using Bragg’s, the brand you will commonly find), and the coconut aminos provide a soy-free and lower-sodium option as well!

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The Key to Losing Weight the Healthy Way

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From the very beginning, fitness has been at the heart of my relationship with my wife, Erin.

Before I was brave enough to ask her out on a real date, I made it a point to go buy shoes at the running store in Baltimore she managed, just to talk to her while she fit me in shoes. And after dating for just a few months, I flew out to Chicago to watch her run a marathon there — her first of three marathons, two of which we would run together.

But then we had kids, and as tends to happen, we got busy. Erin made it her priority to be the best mom she could be, and this came at the expense of exercise time. Even with our mostly whole-food vegan diet, Erin never quite lost the weight from her second pregnancy … until now.

Erin recently lost 18 pounds in six weeks, and she’s now smaller than even before we had our first child. More importantly, she’s rediscovered her passion for health and fitness, and is making plans to run a half marathon (her first in over 5 years).

So what inspired the change? What did she have to change from our already-healthy diet to actually lose the weight? That’s the topic of today’s episode of NMA Radio — hope you enjoy it!

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • How Erin finally got inspired to make a massive change
  • The single, simple concept at the heart of her diet plan
  • A typical day on Erin’s plan
  • The personality trait that helps her stick with it

Click the button below to listen now:

Or:

If you’re a fan of NMA Radio (and you like all these new episodes we’re making!), we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

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