Putting Yourself to Sleep

People are always tired because they’re undisciplined in how they sleep. I know this because I’m the same way.

Sluggish, plodding lethargy tends to be my mode of being around 3:00 every afternoon, even if I slept until 7:00. This is because (1) I go to bed late, and (2) I am not consistent with my sleep and waking times.

For most of my life, I was a night owl and an early riser. This served me well when I was on school, working, and playing in a band, with time for a social life. It also helped when I had a small child, went back to school, and had lots of homework.

But a funny thing happens when you’re not 26 anymore . . . you might still feel young, but your body says otherwise.

For the past week, I’ve been experimenting with sleep and wake times to figure out an optimal solution for the afternoon swoon (and general lack of energy). I’ve instituted a relatively strict bedtime between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m., while setting my alarm for 5:00 a.m. to wake up and work out then.

What’s helped me has been:

  • Planning this before hand
  • Having my workout clothes and shoes laid out
  • Putting my phone with the alarm far enough away to necessitate getting up to turn it off
  • Sleeping with one window shade open
  • Envisioning how good that first cup of coffee or protein shake will taste after my workout

Systems over goals . . . and it works. Continue reading “Putting Yourself to Sleep”

Physicality = Mentality = Spirituality


Here we are in February, and I can reflect upon two New Year’s Resolutions I decided to make in late December:

  1. Adhere to every Greek Orthodox fast day in 2018
  2. Lose some fat

No, these two things aren’t unrelated. And I have done both before. But this year, I felt that I needed a little spiritual cleansing as well as physical cleansing, which often lead to mental and emotional cleansing. It sounds esoteric, but to paraphrase  Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes (who you should follow if you’re in any way interested in fitness):

Physicality = mentality = spirituality

Everything is connected. I’ve written about the benefits of fasting before, and I stand by my assertion that “When I’m not worrying about the food I consume, I start to think about the other stuff I consume.”

I’ve also discussed my thoughts about physical fitness, and how it helps improve other aspects of my life. It’s amazing what a little self-discipline and enforced unpleasantness can do–let’s face it, lifting feels good, but there are some days when you just don’t want to go to the gym.


Lastly, I’ve discussed how the only way to get anything done and done well is to get obsessed and stay obsessed. Ruthless focus is what you need. At least in my life, when I haven’t been obsessed with something, I just kind of meander around.

This isn’t a post to brag, although I’ve been pleased with my results. Instead, I’d like to hopefully inspire anyone reading this to

So let’s put this all together. First, we’ll go over what I’m doing, and then we’ll go over what I’ve learned. Continue reading “Physicality = Mentality = Spirituality”

Dangerous Vacation: Keeping the Ball Rolling While on Holiday


We all deserve a break, right? After all, we’ve earned it. Even God Almighty rested after creating the entire universe, and if a little respite is good enough for the Lord, I suppose it’s good enough for me.

Yeah, I’d be pretty tired too.

There is a problem with this, though: I don’t do well when I have nothing to do.

Seriously. I am at my best when there is pressure. When I have deadlines. Give me a bunch of stuff that I have to do, and limited time to do the stuff I want to do, and I make time.

In the absence of this, however, I tend to decompress like the proverbial watermelon flung out into the vacuum of space. It . . . isn’t pretty.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I did nothing but eat, sleep, and eat some more. Oh, and drive.

This is hyperbole, of course. I spent time with my wife and my son, and got a chance to visit a bunch of family I hadn’t seen in months. But other than that, when the opportunity to choose between (a) doing stuff and (b) being a lazy bum, option (b) won every time. Continue reading “Dangerous Vacation: Keeping the Ball Rolling While on Holiday”

Think “Fast”!


“Fasting is that weird thing religious people do where you don’t eat so that you can go to heaven or something. I dunno. Pass the bacon.”

Or it’s a way to focus your mind, body, and spirit, exercise self-control and channel your energy away from cramming things down your foodhole and towards other things you may be trying to accomplish.

I’ve already written about the religious aspects of fasting, and won’t go into that again save to say that, at least in Christian tradition, there are no hard-and-fast fasting rules in Scripture; it’s all based on ancient traditions. If I had to boil the practice down to a sentence, it would be this:

A little humility does a lot of good.

First, let me acknowledge the elephant in the room.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:16-18

But I’m not doing this for reward or accolades. I’m just trying to pass along an experience that’s worked for me in the event that maybe it’ll work for you.

So why am I fasting, even though Lent and Easter finished months ago?

Am I trying to lose weight? Who isn’t? Intermittent fasting is a thing that many say helps achieve your fitness goals. And while this is a part of why I’m fasting now–it’s nice to not feel stuffed and bloated, weight down by all the garbage we tend to eat!–that’s not the only reason I’m fastinjg.

Am I trying to accomplish something? I was. I was working furiously to finish the second draft of my book, which I did last week a little past the deadline I set for me, but it’s done regardless. Still, there are always other things we want to accomplish in our lives.

Am I trying to commune with The Spirit? Yes. This one is a bit more subtle, but there are things in my life that need work, and I’m taking a page out of Jesus’ book: “. . . this kind [of demon] goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Continue reading “Think “Fast”!”

Why Fitness?

“Check out these gains!”

“What supplements you take?”


These are things I have never, ever, heard at the gym.*

Yes, weightlifting has a negative image. Many think, thanks in late let to our popular culture, that guys who life are nothing more than meat-headed, steroid-abusing, unintelligent, overly macho, testosterone-soaked (like this is a bad thing?) jocks.


In truth, most of us are just guys trying to stay healthy in an environment filled with sedentary jobs, endless entertainment, bad food, and aimlessness of purpose.

If you follow my social media, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting about fitness more often lately, though I’m not giving advice.

What gives?

I’ll tell you what gives: It all goes to the “Renaissance Man” (or “Woman,” if you get offended by such gendered language) aspect of life: 

Never stick yourself in one box. Don’t look at having many different sides as a bad thing.

In life, be a generalist.

The mind and the body and the spirit are all connected. You cannot ignore any of these without negatively affecting the others.

If you are mentally or spiritually ill, it will have outward manifestations.

If you are physically ill, it will have inner manifestations.

The entirety of a human being is linked. This is why, though people mock Biblical statements about the body being a temple that should not be defiled by sin, including things like gluttony and lust, those boring old guys were on to something.

Let me give a little background here which may explain why I find fitness so important, despite the fact that I check pretty much all of the “Nerd” boxes.

You see, I am a former fatty.

I know, I know. Some of you might object to this term as well. I don’t care. It was only by being harsh with myself I was able to cut through the self-deception that convinced me to be comfortable in this state.

Until I was in my late teens, I never got serious about my health. Continue reading “Why Fitness?”

Book Review: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

I never “got” Dilbert until I started working an office job. And then it all started to make sense.

Dilbert comic strip
Copyright Scott Adams. Used without permission. If Mr. Adams wants me to take this down, I will do so without hesitation.

In just a few panels, creator Scott Adams is able to get to the heart of the workplace absurdity in corporate America. Adams brings this same clarity of thought to his political analysis, being one of the few people to accurately predict the course of the 2016 presidential election.

Whether it’s because of his persuasion and hypnosis training or just an inborn way of looking at the world, Adams provides a fresh perspective and a clarity of thought to everything he writes about.

Oh, and in 2013 he also published one of the best “self-help” books you’ll ever read.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life is, by Adams’s own admission, “not an advice book,” cartoonists being notoriously unreliable role-models. Instead, Adams catalogs all of his life’s failures and explains the lessons he learned from them, suggesting that the reader “compare[s] my story with the stories of other people who found success and see if you notice any patterns.” (p. 1)

This sounds funny, and it is. Adams has a way with words. But aside from making you laugh, you’ll be blown away by the insights and just how practical Adams’s advice is. Here’s a big piece, for you:

Systems are where it’s at. Goals are for losers.

There. Now you don’t have to read the book. I saved you $10.00. You’re welcome.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams
Scott Adams

That was a joke. I highly recommend you give Adams your money in exchange for his book. But I’ve made my point: Although he illustrates his lessons through the use of stories, Adams doesn’t play games and he doesn’t hide the ball. His descriptions of things that have worked for him in his life are direct and incisive, and he provides practical tips on how to incorporate these lessons into your life. Even better, he uses his persuasion techniques to plant the seeds in your head in a memorable way so that, months after you finish the last page and put the book down, the lessons still percolate in your head. Continue reading “Book Review: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams”

The Cranky Guy at the Head of the Table: A Philosophy of Fatherhood

Father and Son Silhouette

Sometimes I hate being the disciplinarian to my son. Nobody likes to be the grumpy guy that’s always saying “no.” But somebody has to do it, and that somebody should be the father.

The amazing thing about children is that they instinctively understand boundaries and norms, even as they test them. Even after receiving a stern rebuke and maybe a time-out or two, my son still loves me. More importantly, he doesn’t fear me.

This is the way I want it to be.

I don’t want my son, or any of my future children, to ever be afraid of me.

I want them to be afraid of disappointing me.


Because the end result will be that they will end up disappointing themselves. And I do not want anybody to bear that shame. Especially my children.

A father and his small baby son fist-bumping

A large part of my parenting philosophy involves combining the stern with the tender. Once whatever disciplinary action is over, I act like it never happened. I never want my boy to think I’m angry at him per se, only at what he’s done.

And another important part is this: I do not believe in corporal punishment.

All children need structure, but boys especially. Not in the helicopter parenting sense, and not just a set of rules, but a set of expectations and standards. I want my son to be self-sufficient. I don’t want him freaking out over every skinned knee and banged elbow. When he hurts himself, I stay calm. If it’s minor, I tell him he’s a tough guy and that the hurt goes away by itself. If it’s major, I calmly tell him the same as I tend to his wound. Afterwards, he gets back on his feet and right on with being his playful, risk-taking self.

Discipline Flow Chart

Does this reinforce cultural stereotypes about gender and masculinity?

You’re damn right it does. Continue reading “The Cranky Guy at the Head of the Table: A Philosophy of Fatherhood”