Conquer; But First A Break

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The utmost control. Falcon 9 to deep space. photo credit SpaceX

Control is increased with ample rest.

Control is lessened with insufficient rest.

You will rarely get praise or encouragement for resting. As a matter of fact, it’s more likely that you’ll get condescending or patronizing comments from friends, family, coworkers, or your boss, for taking a break after working only a short period of time.

Pay them no heed. Listen instead to Benjamin Franklin, master of accomplishment: “He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.”

Apply this to physical control as well as mental and emotional control. A rested mind and body will empower you with more control over your muscular actions, your words, and even your thoughts. Emotions become smaller in scale and manageable when you have the energy to face difficulties. Reactions that you thought automatic are suddenly under your command.

Resting is simple. The act of resting can take many forms: sleeping, sitting, laying down, closing the eyes, relaxing, breathing deeply into the belly, loosening the muscles, mobilizing joints. We all know how to rest. But resting so is often trivialized and forgotten.

Realize that if you want to have better results in the end, rest is critical. You may not receive praise for taking rest. But the same people who criticize you for taking a break will also be the ones to give praise for the quality of your accomplishment made better through rest.

It is just as important to your performance to fully rest as it is to give full effort. Rest involves a good night’s sleep, but you can also gain tremendous recharge from periodically resting throughout the day.

Make it a point to stop your efforts before fatigue. Switch off while you are still strong, just past your maximum output, before non-productive tiredness sets in. For example, if you are trying to convince someone of your point of view, to win them over to your side of a tough argument, push the discussion to an intense point of disagreement, taking it further and further though you know it won’t go anywhere at the moment. Just as you or the other person is about to boil over,  cease your fire. Change the subject. Take a break and use humor to relax the mood, and give perspective to the differences you have. Things are not so serious. Once rested, you’ll find you can continue at full force. Your colleague, after the lull, will have his defenses down. Your opinions will seem less of a threat. The result will be greater and more impactful than if you were to endlessly press forward in an exhausted state. Do this repeatedly, over hours, days, weeks, for as long as you must until you reach your goal of winning him over.

The point is that giving it a break allows you some slack. You gain time and energy to build up another set of counterargument and creative problem solving. Pulling back also gives your colleague the impression that you are giving way. It puts him at ease, and loosens his control of the situation and ultimately disorients him.

Remember the simple lesson: you have more control in a rested state. With control comes precision. You will accomplish your tasks and handle interactions with ease, through use of well-aimed efforts and words. You eliminate unnecessary expenditure. The saved energy allows you to assess situations with greater clarity as they change, giving you the advantage of reorganizing efforts as needed. Risk diminishes because you can deftly position yourself for oncoming difficulties or possibilities.

Naturally, it will take less time and less effort to clear a yard of debris, or execute a difficult assignment, with periods of rest. You will have projects done without going in circles. Email sorting will become a neat, packaged task rather than a harrowing maelstrom. And in the end, you will have accomplished more with less work.

Finally, think of the effective tug-of-war team. The game is almost always initiated amongst a group of people not trained in any sport together. They’re merely gathered together for a work event or special reason. However, one team always wins. More often than not, the team that cooperates, pulls in unison, and uses a rhythm of pull and relax is the team that wins. This is because giving slack between pulls allows a moment of rest. Each member can quickly readjust their footing, their grip, and their posture in that moment to exert maximal power. Their efforts create a series of short bursts that destroy the sustained, ever weakening pull by the other team. They will never meet defeat by a team that has no organized effort.

Control is of the utmost importance in delivering effective action. It will enable you to build the world you intend. And rest is the fertile ground from which control regenerates.

Live powerfully,

Happy For Now

Right now, I’m happy.

It’s not that I’m well-rested. Nor that I’m well-fed. Nor that I’m sitting in a comfortable home on my earthing mat. Nor that the sun is bright outside, promising a beautiful day for training later. It’s not that I have family near me. Nor that I feel vibrant, strong, mobile, and well.

I’m happy because I am appreciative of all of this. I’m happy because this is what I let myself expect, want, and feel good about. I desire more, ultimately. I have dreams. And I will see them through. But I am at the moment, just now, here, satisfied with who I am, what I am, what I have, what is here.

I am not ecstatic, overjoyed, or excited. I am calm, serene, and still. I won’t be in this state for long. I won’t be happy all day, every day. It will fade, and I’ll enter one or another mood, state of mind, point of focus. And that’s okay. Happiness to me is about moments. It’s about ebbing and flowing, entering and exiting a state of awareness, an appreciation of the environment. And as transitory as it is, I still enjoy it and have it when I will.

Happiness for me is something to pull in and hold when it comes, then let go when it’s gone. What choice do I have? I can’t hang on to something that’s no longer there. Happiness is something I can be sure will come again, even though I let it go this time. Happiness is not nature’s permanent gift to me. It is a temporary reward for a state of mind I build. It is a result of mental, emotional, and physical work I give. And yes, it will fade. The rich aroma will run out. The warmth will dissipate. And I’ll accept that, in order to fully embrace and enjoy it when I have it.

To be sad, to grieve, to feel glum when happiness fades, can give way to greed. Greed is the opposite of happiness. To continuously want more, to not enjoy while something is in my hands, is to be greedy.  Greed is an absence of appreciation. It is constantly grabbing for something else, just out of reach, letting the good I have in my hands slip out in my grope for something else. It seems simple and innocent enough to feel this way, but you can see how greed feeds dissatisfaction, unhappiness, sadness, and anger. These feelings can lead to cruelty. Why should someone want to act gentle, considerate, and positive, when they are never satisfied? When they feel discomfort, unquenchable thirst, and grating want? Something as innocent as reaching, when you have something already, can lead to shameful consequences.

Happiness is not settling, though. Being happy does not mean you sit for the rest of your life once you’ve gotten something you appreciate. Settling is a determination not to grow. Happiness, rather, is the momentary appreciation of what I have, and it doesn’t dictate that I will not work for something else. It is a continuous state of taking, basking, and letting go. In this way, I can be happy all my life, although I won’t be happy every moment of life.

This is the difference that confuses many people, myself included. Happiness is not an ultimate state. It’s not a heaven at the end of life, a permanent place to dwell and forever feel “good”.  Quite the contrary. Nothing is good in infinite quantities. Golden retrievers, the Prius, coconut water – how undesirable they’ve become through ubiquity! Scarcity makes a thing valuable, cherishable, desired, delicious. Happiness is scarce. It is a rare fruit, something I can come upon, pick, and enjoy at points along the road. How much better a single, ripe pomegranate by chance, hanging from a happenstance tree branch, than a boxful at the store? If you have something all the time or everywhere, it’s just not as good. And that’s why happiness is so sought – because it’s so rarely had.

How to be happy more often then? It has a lot to do with your placement of needs and means of living. What you expect from yourself, others, and the universe will determine the threshold at which you find yourself satisfied. But you can see that this isn’t all. Even if your “current” needs or wants are eventually met, your standards might have changed by then. The other component to being happy, then, is to hold steady the expectations you’ve set for yourself – at least until you’ve achieved them and allowed yourself to reap the benefits of that achievement. Even if for only a moment, you will be in possession of happiness for the appropriate amount of time, and at the appropriate time.

You don’t have to do this consciously, like keeping a record of the things you want and then checking them off one by one. This sort of blatant, systematic approach might kill the whole thing. But if you are the type to need or take extreme satisfaction from doing such methodical things, then it might benefit you. You might actually find clearer, more recognizable moments of happiness. For others, the process can be a bit more touch and go. It can be something you think of every once in a while, setting goals and making note of your desires and only coming to it again when it is in front of you to achieve.

Either way, it’s important to see that happiness isn’t a permanent state of being. At least it’s true for me. And that being happy, when you are, can be a deliberate action, especially if you are not in the practice of allowing yourself to be happy. Study yourself. Are you the type of person who puts off reward, and feelings of satisfaction or achievement, even if you have truly done something well or achieved or gotten in possession of something you desired? Do you delay these feelings of gratification because you would rather wait for a greater moment of accomplishment, the ultimate desire met?

There’s much benefit from this sort of discipline. However, you might want to break down the accomplishment into smaller segments. Because as great as the reward may be for that ultimate accomplishment, you may never find yourself enjoying it or being happy. For, when you do reach it, how do you know that you won’t simply feel that there’s something better? And there’s always better, given the type of person you are. As much as discipline can give you great results, it takes discipline to acknowledge when it’s time to rest and celebrate. To never feel happy or satisfied can damage your well-being. It is good to let yourself enjoy what you have accomplished, although it might not be the ultimate goal.

That is, if happiness if what you really value.

Live powerfully,

Steve

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Me, enjoying a coconut on a Bali beach. Happy. photo and editing by Audrey

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Pound-For-Pound Most Powerful Tools

I like to share some tangible things that help me in my “quest” for wellness. This time it’s a book. Actually two.

There is nothing that pound for pound has the changing power of a book. After all, how much does one printed word weigh? Is that even measurable in ounces?

Multiply that by hundreds of thousands and it barely amounts to one or two pounds. But the power that those words have in instructing, revealing, and illustrating truths for the mind can hardly be contained to a measurement.

Fire in the right hands can produce the advancement of civilization, and in the wrong hands can destroy it.

Then again, sometimes all you need is a candle flame to get your job done. Think melting butter versus searing steak.

There isn’t one book that’s right for everyone. And no one will find every book useful. This is all the more important when you consider the time, energy, and attention it takes to read a book. It’s a significant investment.

However, a few swimming strokes down the cresting wave are more effective and less tiresome than a hundred against it. The right book can catapult you forward. So pick your book wisely.

With any book you consider, read a bit first if you can, like the first few pages, the summary, or listen to the first minute of audio sample. Determine if it’s going in the direction of your endeavors. Will it be a powerful advancement toward your goal, or futile effort against it?

One human struggle close to my heart is the work-life balance. I believe people struggle to achieve this because it doesn’t exist. Just like the act of swimming and the act of riding a wave, I believe work and home life can either go along with each other, supporting and building up the counterpart, or clash against each other, drowning one and weakening the other.

It appears very simple to me: either build, with focused work, your own livelihood; or pay, with work, toward the livelihood of someone else’s dream in which you truly and strongly find inspiration.

Here are two books that have helped me on both faces of the coin.

The Four Hour Workweek if you intend to create your own business. It isn’t perfect for everyone and every type of endeavor. But you’ve got to take a glimpse to see if it resonates. Tim Ferriss makes plain the paradigm shift of separating yourself from the 9-5 working ranks, and to take initiative to start your own business.

The 48 Laws of Power if you want to learn the intricacies of dealing with politics in the workplace, and increase your influence on your own destiny. Many choose to let others lead, allowing them to take the brunt of the hardships of initiative and fear. These people would rather enjoy success in managing, making decisions, and helping to propel the endeavors of the leader they admire. It takes great skill to acquire and build power. This book by Robert Greene is a sure stepping stone to increasing your longevity in that art.

I hope you find one of these to be a powerful stroke toward the exciting wave that is your life. If you’ve read either or both, please comment on the effect the book has had for you. Even if it’s a year later. You never know who might find your words meaningful.

Live powerfully,

Steve

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End It Strong

I can’t stop rediscovering the importance of finishing with vigor.

This applies to almost anything.

The last words of a deep talk with someone.

The last rep of a training session.

The last, climactic part of a book.

The finish line of a race.

Hiking the last leg of a mountain trail.

The end is so important. There’s some kind of primal ecstasy from roaring through, full speed, full passion, to the end of it.

Never plod at the end. Don’t drag something out. If you’re gonna do it, commit and hit it hard, do it right, until you’re done, and especially right when you’re finishing. Otherwise quit early.

End with the beginning in mind.

The way you perform your last rep is the primer for the first rep of your next session. If you let your form go, you tell your body, your mind, your soul that it’s okay to fail. That it’s not that important to do things right every time.

I’d rather end it early while it’s good than slop through to mediocrity.

This applies to nearly everything in life. Where have you found it to be true? I’d like to know where you’ve applied this to!

Live powerfully,

Steve

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Marsing

People are going to live on Mars. Elon Musk gave this talk recently about living abroad. It inspired me to think about life on Mars. I can see that humans will find a way to travel to and live in other parts of the galaxy. To see space as a real frontier makes Earth appear as just one of many possible homes.

I believe all elements of the universe are connected. Everything, everywhere, follows the same laws of nature. Attraction, orbit, and energy pervade throughout. We just look at it differently depending on the context. What’s the difference between a thrown ball landing on the ground and the 12 or so planets orbiting the sun? Nothing. Both situations follow the same rules, and they in fact are part of the same system. So naturally, I think it may be possible to live on Mars if it is possible for us to live on Earth.

Obviously, there are a lot of problems to address. The temperature, the gases, the chemical makeup of the planet, the length of the days and years, and the distance from Earth. But I liken the venture to a familiar one that many people can attest to: living in the wild. If you ask the average person whether they would be able to survive in the wild if they were forced to, most would say yes with varying qualifications. The idea is that no, they haven’t done it before, but they are pretty sure they can.

The problems with living on Mars are numerous, and I think there are many problems with living on Earth we haven’t yet solved. There are still diseases that evade our medical treatments. Autoimmune conditions are still being investigated. Cures and recoveries are sparse and not fairly discussed in the medical community. Solutions to much of what we suffer as a species are band-aids rather than the stitches that are needed. And so people work to discover more.

One of my main concerns about my life on Earth is my connection to the ground energy of this planet.

“Earthing” is known as making skin contact with the bare ground on Earth. In the context of our own planet, the EMF and the charge that is produced in Earth is well known. This energy that surges through us as we ground ourselves is measurable and the benefits to the human body has been documented. Free and mobile electrons from Earth’s surface provide antioxidant action that reduces inflammation.

Regular contact with this energy is necessary for a thriving life. It’s something people and animals and plants have been connected to since “the beginning”. Recently, things have changed for humans, our pets, our plants, and zoo animals. Isolation from the earth’s surface leaves a living being with unnecessary, low levels of inflammation. This is dangerous for people prone to autoimmune disease, and limiting for everyone else. The solution, of course, is to be barefooted on bare earth regularly. Earthing.

“Marsing”, or earthing on Mars, is a concept that popped in my mind as I thought about the general mission to populate Mars. What is not known is the effect of “Marsing”. What happens when a person makes skin contact with bare ground on Mars? Provided the outside temperature permits, is there a surface energy capable of maintaining antioxidant needs for humans and other earthlings? And when the temperature is unbearable for a person to be barefooted, whether too cold or too hot, is there a possibility of “Marsing” through grounding pads plugged into an energy source? Is the composition of Mars soil healthy, harmless, or poisonous to a human?

It’s encouraging to see the progress of SpaceX and other organizations to make people interplanetary. There are already many astronauts who have lived extensively in space, away from the surface of the Earth. Even chimps! So it is possible to measure the effect of isolation from grounding in space and on other planets like Mars. It just hasn’t been done yet.

How does Mars compare to Earth in this respect? Earth’s surface has a charge of -1 nC per square meter. According to this Drexel University physics course calculation, the surface charge of Mars is -2.21 nC per square meter. This would put the Mars charge at more than double Earth. It is on the order of a nano-Coulomb, which is tiny, and would seem to be harmless upon skin contact. This will need to be tested.

The system of earthing seems to be an electrical one. But like all other natural things that are broken down to specific parts to isolate the benefits, the result may not be the same. Let’s say this charge on Mars, in the long term, is not healthy for humans.

A generator could produce a similar charge, in theory, as that found on the Earth’s surface. It wouldn’t need to be much. People could hook themselves up to grounding mats, like the one I use daily, to access an artificial ground charge from a generator. It seems doable. But is it the same as touching bare ground?

There are clearly benefits to using earthing mats for recovery from inflammation. In this study I highlighted previously, subjects attached to grounding pads were found to recover faster from pain and tissue damage.

Human life on Mars will need a lot of technological aide. There’s lots of talk about terraforming, heating, and accessing water on the Red Planet. But what about the electromagnetic field?

Thinking through the hurdles of Mars life is a good practice for thinking about Earth life. I think the problems of Mars life point directly back to life on Earth today. Do we breathe clean enough air? Is our energy source really endless? Can we sustain civilization with solar power? What is the impact of isolation from the planet’s surface energy?

There are many parallels in wellness issues on Earth to those we’ll face on a strange planet. Perhaps thinking in the context of Mars life can help us improve Earth life.

Go out and touch the ground we so freely have. And forward this to anyone you know who is working on preparations for a life on Mars.

Live powerfully,

Steve


Image Credit: By Moyan Brenn from Anzio, Italy (Mars) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Mars_%2813026811355%29.jpg Edits: cropped to 600 pixel width and removed name.

Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?

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The Butter Coffee Dip

No, not something for dunking your donut.

The Dip. This is the term used by Seth Godin to describe the valley of hardship you must cross to reach the promised land of whatever endeavor you start. Every good result, beneficial enterprise, and upgrade in life involves some form of a dip. I’ll use the word plainly, without emphasis, moving forward.

Stop: This article is not for the sensitive or faint of heart. It’s meant to help you determine whether you’ve got the resources to be able to adapt to fat using butter coffee. There’s a bit of explicit and abrasive content here. And it’s long. It’s meant to challenge you. If you’re ready for it, please proceed. Otherwise save yourself some grief and leave this page – hopefully for another day.

The dip that I describe here is the barrier to using butter coffee for fuel. It involves the challenge that lies between you and proper fat utilization for energy and wellness. If you want to be ketogenic, or be able to primarily utilize fats for energy, you will come to this dip and be forced to reckon with your current metabolic tendencies. Butter coffee is an excellent gateway tool to optimal fat metabolism if you love coffee.

The rewards are great. If you have ever fasted, or had to skip breakfast to do something first thing in the morning, you may have felt a type of euphoria before finally eating. High focus, light mood, ease of effort, and creative outpour. Some people fast regularly for these benefits.

There is a way to access this “mode of operation”, let’s call it, without the hunger. There is a way to have it for a long period of time. Every day. And for the rest of your life. Once you get past the dip.

For some this will be easy. My own adaptation was fairly simple, as well as that of other people I’ve spoken to. Anecdotally, these “lucky” people are under 40, have no major health issues like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, or organ dysfunction, and are physically active or relatively fit. You may not agree with the term lucky if you are within this group. Regardless, these are attributes I have seen that make the dip shorter or less troublesome.

I have seen others struggle with the dip more than I have. Much more. The type of person I have seen struggle to maintain ketosis are over 40, have some health issues like obesity, diabetes, or metabolic dysfunctions, and generally are not as lean or muscular as the first group. However, I have seen a few examples of people in this category of mine who made it through the dip, regularly drink butter coffee, and enjoy the benefits of ketosis.

Many people I’ve talked to, in both categories, had decided to discontinue their efforts toward ketosis because the struggles did not justify the goal. There are definitely people of the first category who did not make it through the dip.

Don’t take this as a scientific grouping of people who will and won’t benefit from fat adaptation or butter coffee. Argue all you want about this. This is my narrow, limited experience with people. Whatever your current physiology and life circumstance, I believe you have the chance to enter a new realm of wellness. And I believe it is most likely through a transition of diet that relies on carbohydrates to one that is more strongly based on fats.

I will apply an insight from a field outside of medicine and health to the task of overcoming the dip here. I heard this from a conversation between Tony Robbins, master life coach, and Tim Ferriss, the human guinea pig. It is an insight from a plastic surgeon, one who’s created more attractive looks for women by minuscule adjustments to their faces. This surgeon lives by the practice that a mere two millimeters of adjustment can make all the difference. Most people are just within one or two tiny millimeters from being irresistibly beautiful.

Take this with a grain of sea salt. I know the general feel about plastic surgery, and I understand how this comes off. However, I look at the core lesson. A tiny distance separates me from accomplishing things I feel are impossible.

This can be expanded to wellness. The idea that for most people, the prize of a healthy body and mind awaits just a few more steps from where they’ve stopped. Just a couple of tiny steps from the point of utter pain, suffering, or misery. I believe that for most of humanity, for most of the endeavors that have been attempted, this is true. Wellness on an individual level is not exempt. Here, I address a very small endeavor that has slipped past many because of the tiny adjustments that need to be made before reaching the rewards.

Before you fully enjoy the benefits of butter coffee and other good fat in your diet, you will come to a few barriers to pass. They were well worth my time and effort to overcome, and so I share this with you. I urge you to read these elements of the dip that I encountered in the past five years to adjust myself to this superior energy source. I welcome you to join me in enjoyment of ketosis, higher focus, and overall improved wellness. But only after accepting the reality of what you must surpass to get here.

First

You will need to move through the fear that grips most people.

  • It’s partly the fear of eating fat. Simple. Although you might eat animal fat already, the social mores against butter, lard, and other forms of fat are strong. People around you will stare, ask hard questions, and flat out make fun of you. I’m talking about people you work with, play with, and love. By starting this experiment of wellness, you are entering a world of fat consumption. You will be harassed. You must embrace this to proceed through to the other side. My most effective quote for dealing with this: “Fuck’em all”. In gentler terms, I didn’t deal. I simply looked ahead and kept moving.
  • There’s also the fear of taking control. You are tackling this big aspect of your life called wellness. If you are afraid of actively making changes to improve your wellness, you are not alone. It sucks to try something you thought was good for you and find it was a waste of time, money, and attention. It’s also embarrassing when your friends and family find out and they tell you that you shouldn’t have done that. So, you’ll need to accept this fear and move through it. You will need to accept responsibility for your wellness. Whether you suffer or not is in large part a result of your own daily doing. To be well, you must decide to do. Know that it only seems harder to be healthy. The reality is that it takes just as much effort to eat candy as it does to eat grass fed butter. You put either in your mouth and swallow. Eaten. The hard part is all the intangible stuff surrounding the butter. Fear. Accept and move through it. As a hack to get there faster, may I suggest meditation.

Second

You will need to adapt to fat. This means your body will need to physiologically learn to effectively absorb nutrition from fat. This takes several days to weeks for some people, maybe more if you are not in the habit of eating a lot of fat. Keep your regular meals at first. Have just a cup of this coffee beverage with breakfast, or an hour before training. Eat “normally” otherwise. Feel it out.

  • Do you feel dizzy? This is a sign that you had too much MCT oil and your brain is in overdrive. Reduce MCT oil.
  • Is your stool wetter or more sour than usual? This is a sign that you are not able to digest as much as you ate. Reduce butter until stool is solid and smooth.
  • Did you get “cold diarrhea”? This is the classic sign of too much MCT oil for your system. Your body is trying to rid itself of excess nutrition. You aren’t ready for however much you took. Reduce MCT oil.
  • Did you get hungry within the next few hours of drinking the coffee? This is a sign that you are not able to optimally utilize fat for energy. Eat other food with the coffee, enough to satiate, not to the point that you are bursting and too full. Adjust the amount of food as hunger levels change through time. Balance the amount of butter in your coffee with the amount of food you eat. More butter, less other food.
  • UNLESS you went through a lot of stress the previous day. If you trained strength or exercised, if you had an emotionally difficult episode like a high stakes meeting or a fight, if you did not sleep enough, or if you had some other taxing situation the previous day, you naturally need more nutrition the next morning. Go with your gut feeling in the morning – literally. If you are hungrier than usual, add more butter than usual. Test the degree and duration of satiety.
  • Did your cravings come back? Distinguish cravings from hunger. Cravings are mostly in the mind, but they stem from a lack of significant nutrients. There’s an interaction between brain and gut that tells you you’re hungry or full. This goes back to amount of butter, adapting to fat utilization, and slowly replacing “food” with good fats. Slowly reduce the instinct to reach for sugary, starchy, processed, “fake” foods. No candy, ever. Seek instead “real” foods, incorporating good fats, green leafy veggies, and rice over bread into your meals. Cravings only grow as much as you feed them. Remember, address your brain.

Third

You will spend a lot of time making this every day. It also takes a long time to clean up. One of the greatest hurdles in making butter coffee is making butter coffee. It usually takes me a full 15 to 20 minutes to finish making mine. This includes heating the water, adding all the ingredients, blending, and pouring it out. You will have to make time. This means that other things will get pushed or omitted from your start-of-day schedule. If it’s Candy Crush, good riddance. If it’s meditation, perhaps you’ll want to plan more carefully. Also, don’t forget cleaning time. You’ll have a dirty and greasy blender, knife, measuring spoons, and coffee-making gear to reckon with. If you don’t tolerate dirty dishes in the sink all day, you will have to figure in the cleaning time.

Fourth

You will need to adjust and test the ingredients of butter coffee to suit you. You must find the best possible quality of ingredients within your means. Cleanliness of the coffee, source of butter and MCT oil, and quality of water are examples of components that affect your wellness. Do not disregard any symptom, do not diminish the value of any single ingredient, and pay attention to adjustments that you make.

Obtaining quality ingredients is one of the most difficult things in the dip. It is both “expensive” and hard to find some of these things, depending on where you live and how much money you can use. But know that this cost can undermine the cost of breakfast, going out for lunch, snacks and candies, and “healthcare” from complications related to your body running primarily on sugar.

Do your best. Compromise on ingredient quality only with full expectation of compromised results. The beginning is often exciting, with the heightened capabilities you feel from the first cup. The dip will require you to make adjustments and will stop most people from getting past the initial highs.

  • Did you get the jitters or a headache? Low coffee bean quality, cheap stuff, and blends are more likely to contain mold contamination, be overcooked, or not fresh. Coffee is a naturally enhancing food. There are a lot of qualities that aren’t identified. Much of the benefits from coffee are lost through these subpar characteristics.
    • Aim for single source or single estate or single origin. This means the beans are grown and processed in one place. The time and attention to the beans is more focused and you will get cleaner product.
    • Dark roasts risk overcooking the beans. If you “like” uber smoky coffee, carefully examine your symptoms. Overcooking coffee can damage the fats and the beneficial elements within the beans. Big name brands usually are careless about this process. Look for brands who pay attention to the roasting process, who talk about it and highlight it.
  • Did you get acne? I am prone to acne. Any bad fats I eat result in different types of acne. Some cause the small bumpy skin on my forehead, others cause large zits deep in the skin, and still others cause the smaller white fat pustules. Now, assuming you are avoiding fried foods from outside home, sugar, and vegetable or subpar animal fats, check your ingredients for the following:
    • Butter. Is it really grass fed cow butter? Research and get a clear answer. Grain fed cows produce fat that is not clean. You might as well be eating margarine. If you cannot find a clear answer, ditch and move on. I would avoid it altogether if I get noticeable acne.
    • MCT oil. Where are the coconuts or palm oil from? Thailand is usually the best source from my experience. The processing also matters, and some companies do not have control over that. Does the product you are using have that level of quality guarantee?
    • Powders. Chocolate, vanilla, cacao butter, cinnamon, collagen. Whatever it is, is it sourced from identifiable places? Or blended from multiple locations? Remember that blends involve extra storage and shipping times, unaccountable processes, and reduced integrity.
  • Is your coffee flat or greasy? Follow the instructions I laid out, verbatim, for making the beverage. Check your timing, making sure to keep things hot and blending fast and long enough for good emulsification.

Fifth

You will need to find the goldilocks amounts of nutrition, the golden timing, and fine tune the quality of your results.
  • Hunger will come sooner or later. The more fat-adapted you are, as they say, the more energy you can obtain from butter coffee and the longer you can perform without eating. Adjust amounts of butter to see how much you need for proper energy. You don’t want to be faint later in the day, and you don’t want to physically deteriorate. I can last ten or more hours on butter coffee if I must. Ideally, I eat around hour eight. Remember, I have been doing this for years. My body is adapted. In the beginning, and for a very long time, you will not be. Prepare to experiment!
  • Find the ideal time for this drink. I like to have my coffee first thing in the morning. Sometimes I can sit all morning and work and drink all my coffee within a couple hours. Other days I have to go somewhere far and will sip while I drive, over a longer period of time. Lately I’ve had to walk the dogs at my mom’s place, and I find that doing this first thing (yes, before my coffee) is most beneficial for every creature. It hasn’t killed me. I have plenty of energy first thing in the morning without any nutrition added, so I am sticking to this schedule. You are different from me. Find your ideal timing for coffee.

Sixth

You can’t avoid discipline. There is no way around this in the dip. You simply must stick to your goal. You must regularly work to make butter coffee right for you and to become fat adapted. Let me end this long article with a long quote by Jim Collins from his excellent book, Great By Choice:

“Discipline, in essence, is consistency of action – consistency with values, consistency with long-term goals, consistency with performance standards, consistency of method, consistency over time. Discipline is not the same as regimentation. Discipline is not the same as measurement. Discipline is not the same as hierarchical obedience or adherence to bureaucratic rules. True discipline requires the independence of mind to reject pressures to conform in ways incompatible with values, performance standards, and long-term aspirations… the only legitimate form of discipline is self-discipline, having the inner will to do whatever it takes to create a great outcome, no matter how difficult.”

I told you it was long. Now make a decision.

Live powerfully,

Steve

If you need more information or guidance from my experience, please contact me by email. I have limited availability for consultation. If you have questions or comments for other readers, please leave them in the comment section of this post.

 


 

Collins, Jim. Great By Choice (2011)

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

Mobility At Work

Having worked in an office, I understand when most people say that sitting for hours at a time is required.

After all, what the hell else can you do? Even though there are some avant garde companies out there that have standing desks, most are not so progressive. And although more and more workplaces will get adjustable seating, it doesn’t make a difference if people have no understanding of what to do with the tools at their disposal. Simply standing is not going to solve your back pain.

Believe me, I know. I’ve dealt with low back pain for years, and standing in shoes with elevated heels and pointed toes hurt my back as much as sitting did (yes, men’s shoes also have heels). Not to say standing is bad. It’s a step in the right direction.

But what direction to go? Answering this, and visualizing how you want to be, will guide you through each day for the long term. For me, the goal was to be a standing, upright, limber human being. Not just as work but in life in general. I didn’t want tight hips. I didn’t want aching knees and back. I didn’t want knots in my shoulders. I didn’t want to be a slouching leaning tower of persona.

The workload, and the fact that most of it is at a computer, limits most people to think that they have to sit. Well, rethink it. Visualize yourself as mobile and embody it.

You don’t need a standing desk to be mobile at work. Allow me a bullet-pointed list of ways to not be sitting in a corporate office, doctor’s front desk, home office, wherever:

  • Go knock on office doors or cubicle walls instead of email or phoning. Your impact will be greater.
  • Get up and walk for phone calls. Use an earpiece. You will be more creative.
  • Meet people in the middle of halls and spaces for talks, rather than where they or you sit. This is called a standing meeting and it doesn’t have to be super deliberate. Make it subtle like, “Oh hey, I was just going to see you, so, what’s up?” Things will be easier.
  • Body language does wonders. Learn to Jedi-maneuver so you stay standing and avoid going to your or another person’s desk. This works with your bosses too. Beware, they are probably more practiced in body language than you. The first few times you may find yourself somehow sitting in their office. But it’s only a matter of time before you are both still standing at the end of your exchange.
  • Time your sitting-prone activities. Have some emails you need to respond to? Set a fifteen- to thirty-minute timer to get them done. Then get up to finish, face-to-face, the remaining interactions.
  • Schedule email responses. If you respond live, there’s high potential to get an immediate response. How do people do this? I don’t know. But it’s insane. Schedule your responses to go out in the next hour or two. Outlook does this, and so do others. You just have to find the setting (usually in the same place as “read receipt request” type stuff). You will be able to send your answers and be free of your “work box” without having to return volleys of mail in the moment.
  • Take your shoes off at your desk, and sit cross-legged or with at least one leg crossed under you. Lace-less shoes make this much easier. This will save you a world of back strain. It opens up the hips and stops the pull on your low back from your pelvic and abdominal connections. Smelly feet? With increased “air time”, this problem will diminish.
  • Elevate your screen to eye level and brighten it so that you can easily see it from a straight-postured position. Why cause yourself to lean forward because it’s too dark to see? Life hack!
  • Keep your keyboard close enough to reduce forward pull at your shoulders. It helped to have mine on my lap. With laptops, this is going to be difficult. Get a separate keyboard to plug in (I am still paranoid about wireless stuff).
  • Wear flat shoes with wide toe space. If you must wear shiny dress shoes, go as flat and wide as possible. And keep them off as much as possible at your desk. Do lunch barefoot if you can. Fancy shoes are meant to not be worn.
  • Take your breaks, take your lunch. Don’t be a ninny about break time. Get the hell out of your desk. Chances are you are not a coal miner. So why take fewer breaks than coal miners do? Effective, executive-level people take breaks. They breathe. They get out of their setting regularly. How often do you actually see your CEO, COO, or CFO in her office? Making a connection now?
  • Ditch your phone. When you step away from your desk, put it on silent and leave it at your desk. It will survive without you. That’s what VM and texts are for. Follow this rule for the next bullet too.
  • Remember that you have to pee, and sometimes poo. Do not neglect this urge. Follow it, and take forever walking back to your desk. If done correctly, you will find many chances for standing meetings, Jedi maneuvers, and creative, on-the-spot solutions.

Want happier, more mobile coworkers? Forward this to them. Oh, and don’t be a ninny. Send to your boss.

Live powerfully,

Steve

Pumpkin Eggnog Butter Coffee

Horizons ripen to gold and burgundy as summer breathes its last breath. In this regal setting mornings and evenings lengthen. The hottest part of the day is squeezed down to a short hour. The cooling air makes dogs lift their heads higher. New scents drift past and the year turns a page.

I get this revived feeling of adventure in the autumn. It’s a time of preparation, planning for the cold ahead. A reality check after summer’s dreamy heat. It’s easier to work hard when it’s no longer so hot. There’s lots of possibility in the atmosphere. Lots of planning to close the year, and excitement to start a new one.

I’m going to try something new with my butter coffee recipe. It’s fall and there’s a big fat craze over Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte. It’s a tasty treat for sure. I remember cold days in college that were warmed up by this beverage. Full credit to Starbucks for the feels, but not for the nutritional value.

Let me show you how to make it for the autumn morning: a drink that’s fat burning, high focus and high energy, and gives you that cozy feeling of leaves turning red.

I need to give you a disclaimer first: I haven’t tried it yet. The only reason is I need to do a bit of shopping for some ingredients. I know, this is different. I never throw things your way that I haven’t tried and loved first.

However, based on my experience with, and research into, all of these ingredients, I am certain they won’t fudge my morning dietary values –  focus and long lasting energy. Here goes.

Pumpkin eggnog butter coffee: the no sugar morning fat burner beverage for fall.

Ingredients

Recipe

  1. Boil two cups clean water
  2. While water is boiling, add these to a large blender:
  • Kerrygold butter
  • MCT oil
  • Eggs
  • pumpkin flavor extract
  • nutmeg
  • cinnamon
  • xylitol
  1. Water should be hot now. Brew coffee into the blender. If using a French press, pour coffee into blender when ready.
  2. Secure lid on blender, hold down the top with a towel, and blend on highest setting for 20 seconds. Pour out a little at a time between mugs to evenly distribute foam. If you want to share, that is.

The Power of this Beverage

Regular butter coffee, briefly:

  • No sugar means no major insulin response in the morning. Leaves your energy and focus high, making you ready to kick the day in the butt (tiny amount of carbs in xylitol shouldn’t cause insulin response).
  • Good fats from grass fed cows and coconut derived MCT oil give you healthy building blocks and super clean fuel.
  • Clean coffee gives you jitter-free alertness and creativity

Egg Yolks

  • CLA – good fat
  • Vitamins
  • The protein in the yolks will trigger an insulin response, although not nearly as much as sugar or carbs. Test for optimal focus. If you don’t need a killer morning, don’t worry about this.

Nutmeg

  • manganese – helps blood clotting, Ca absorption, blood sugar regulation, and formation of tissue, bone, sex hormones
  • copper
  • magnesium
  • multiple antioxidants and essential oils
  • potassium
  • zinc
  • iron
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin A and C

Butter coffee is no joke. Use it wisely. Don’t eat too much food while drinking it. You’ll get too full and ruin the effect of razor focus. Some of you may want to eat a little bit. Try eggs, bacon, avocado. Adjust to your needs.

You can have it all at once while reading or journaling in the morning. Or you can sip it over a couple of hours at work. Do what suits you best. The brain fuel should hit in the first few minutes.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily


Mercola, Joseph 2016. http://foodfacts.mercola.com/nutmeg.html

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Posture, Knots, and Slow Twitch Muscles

“I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest.”

Posture is not just how you hold your shoulders and head. It’s a total body position. We just think of the shoulders and head because we sit all the time. When sitting, all you can see of a person is the top of his body. So we forget the rest of it.

When you move forward, backward, sideways, your body is constantly balancing its long self. It’s technically a couple of thin sticks with a really heavy bowling ball on top. Takes a lot of finesse to move that sort of thing through the world. The finesse is curated by an accumulation of nerves, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. All of your body works to enable you to move through your environment with care.

Sitting in a chair, your body from the butt down is taken out of the equation. You leave it up to your torso, shoulders, and neck to balance your bowling ball. Because it’s been attached to your neck for so long, it’s hard to realize how hard it is to balance something of the weight of your head.

Your head weighs just around 11 pounds. Take a virtual, eleven pound bowling ball and stick it on top of a broomstick. Let’s say you’ve got really strong glue to hold it there. Now hold that broomstick just a few inches down from the ball, where your neck might be. Using the stick, virtually move the bowling ball forward, then backward, keeping it upright. Imagine the effort you need to keep it balanced.

Now tilt the bowling ball forward a few degrees. Hold it steady. You don’t need the real thing in your hands to know that this is quite a task. Now virtually hold it in that tilted position for the next two hours. Or four hours. Or however long it is that you sit at your desk at a time, you crazy human you.

Are your virtual hand muscles cramping yet? Sweating? Achy? How about your virtual forearms? Fatigued eh? You get the point. Your neck, shoulders, and torso work all day in this ridiculous balancing act as you sit slouched. What should normally be done in conjunction with your hips, legs, and feet, at least for a larger part of the day, you are doing with just your upper tippity top body.

No wonder there’s strain on the neck and back.

Your postural muscles, namely the neck, are mostly made of slow twitch fiber. Slow twitch muscle fiber gives small but steady output over sustained periods of time. This type of muscle is much more resistant to fatigue than fast twitch fiber, which gives big output for a short period of time.

Slow twitch fiber is ideal for sustained duties like maintaining posture. They take longer to get tired and only need a small amount of energy at a time. But fatigue is still possible. If slow twitch fiber is strained too long, it will fail. And when it fails, it fails hard.

Slow twitch fiber is known to crumple up into knots when it fatigues. Ever wonder why you keep getting those tight spots on your upper back? Do you sit at a desk for hours every day? Do you have a slouched posture? Do you drive for long distances or time? Think slow twitch fibers fatiguing. You’re hanging your bowling ball at an angle, and the strong glue that is your neck and upper back muscles are pulling back on it all day. At the same time, your chest, front shoulders, and biceps are getting a break. Except that they are resting in a shortened position, because your body is slumped forward.

Long term result: overstretched, fatigued neck and back; shortened, inflexible chest and shoulders. We could put a name to this specimen – the modern human.

Short term fix:

  • mobilize your chest, abdomen, biceps, and front shoulders
  • lay on a tennis or lacrosse ball on the floor and roll out knots
  • drink water and salt
  • breathe deep, relax your muscles

Long term fix:

  • adopt awareness of your posture – there is always something doing work
  • sit with your head balanced – may need to raise your screen and have your keyboard close (laptops are non-ideal)
  • time limit your sitting – does not work without an alarm
  • change your environment – sit on the floor, drive less, stand or squat when talking with someone

Live powerfully and live upright,

Steve


Rand, Ayn. (1999) Anthem. First published 1938.

MACKENZIE, B. (1999) Muscle Types [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/muscle.htm [Accessed 27/9/2016]

Icarus And The Sun

Icarus got too close to the sun. He felt it as he soared, and wanted to get close to the thing that gave him good feelings. He wanted more. Then he got an urge to see if he could soar higher and higher, to see if he could perhaps touch the thing that even the gods had to fear. He didn’t respect it. It melted his great wax wings, impressive as they were. The liquified fat sprayed all about him, as his shrinking wings struggled to keep him afloat. So great was the span of his wings that the wax fell several kilometers from the point above the earth where they flailed.

Many literary analysts say this story is about man and his hubris. His greed for more. His blind trek toward that which he does not deserve. Maybe it was literally about the sun. I’m sure more than one ancient Greek has experienced the magnificent power of the sun. Both in the way that it made him feel excellent, basking in it, as well as the way his skin got destroyed when he stayed too long in it. Everyone knows that clothes can pale from sun bleaching. But leave them just long enough, and you get fresh, dry laundry. Plants become brown and crisp when they can no longer stand the energy of the fiery globe. But before that, they absorb the sun’s light and turn it into sugars to feed the growth of their stems, roots, and leaves, and to make full, sweet fruit.

Too much sun hurts. But the right amount is one of life’s staple ingredients.

Someone, somewhere, fed the fear of the sun with “links” to cancer. Yes, there is research linking overexposure to the sun with skin cancer. A good look at this research shows weak relations between sunlight and skin cancer. It shows that the relationship exists with people of specific traits: European origin, sensitive to the sun, and reduced skin DNA repair abilities.

Avoiding the sun, on the other hand, leads to vitamin D deficiency, which is related to bone and muscle problems, increases in cancers, autoimmune disease, and cardiovascular disease.

One billion people are vitamin D deficient. Many of them are in this state because of their fear of the sun. Funny, eh? Not really. Fear is a serious thing. It’s literally keeping our race from a staple of life.

To get enough sunlight, you need the following:

  • At least 40% skin exposed
  • 15-20 minutes
  • Every day

Things that block UV-B from spurring vitamin D and cholesterol sulphate production:

  • Sun block
  • Clothing
  • Glass windows of houses and cars

You who have decreased production of Vitamin D in the sun if you are:

  • Obese
  • Older
  • Heavily clothed
  • Indoors
  • Darker in skin shade
  • Pregnant
  • A child or infant

Use your common sense in being in the sun. Don’t stay if it hurts, it’s too hot, or it’s uncomfortable. Just be out enough to feel good. If you have problems stopping at satiety, you are not alone. Figure out how to end things when they are good. Look into meditation.

The tale of Icarus ends in tragedy, but it expounds on a basic human instinct. After all, it is about the sun. There’s a reason we love it.

Be in the sun at the right time, for the right amount of time.

Like all good things, have until satiety. Then stop.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily