The 1000 Rep Month: Day 62

I’ve been waking up at 5 a.m. which has left less energy for working out during the day. But it has made other areas of my life explode.

Those first hours of the day are awesome for doing the things that otherwise just don’t get done, which for me include studying new code for web design and learning other things for business in general.

These first hours end up being what I will probably look back upon later in my life and realize have shaped my career most profoundly.

But they come at a trade-off.

I can no longer stay up past 9:30pm and have a reasonable expectation to get up at 5 a.m. This means I’ve sacrificed doing some things that I really love, at night, like playing sports. I now only play organized sports once a week, and when I do I wake up at 7 the next morning, not 5.

I’ve set some very aggressive goals for 2018, and in order to properly approach these I’ve had to switch things up pretty hard. My new rule for drinking is I can’t drink past 8 p.m. I’m not allowed to have coffee past 2 p.m. I don’t check my email until 10 a.m. And then again at 4 p.m. 30 minutes total (15 minutes each check).

I don’t always succeed in meeting my email goals or my drinking goals or my caffeine goals but I’ve being tracking it and I’ve been pretty damn consistent – with one or two slip-ups.

The overall change has been very dramatic and does actually cause me a lot of anxiety and stress. Apparently the ego produces these feelings when the status quo is threatened and your very identity starts to change.

This is a protective mechanism designed to keep us from doing risky things and generally has served well over the course of evolution, but for one person trying to change his behavior, it creates such insane internal dissonance that quitting becomes very attractive.

However, simply knowing that that’s what’s going on helps me not quit. I keep getting up at 5 a.m. even on the days that I don’t want to. I think a big part of this is having a piece of paper on my wall where I write the times that I wake up every morning, and tick off the hours I spend in deep practice.

On that same piece of paper I give myself a daily score out of 10: 3 points for family. 3 points for work. Three points for learning. 1 point for myself.

Knowing that I’m being graded, even by myself, cues me to focus on the area of my day that I’ve been lacking in. So if I put up a pretty big work day, I’ll hang up the computer and work hard at being present with Isla and Lia. It sounds funny to say “work hard” but I think it’s important to realize that the same level of effort applied to my learning and my work needs to be applied to my family.

The scoring format is extremely informal. On weekends I’m actually being scored in the work category for not working.

I look for excuses to give myself good scores, and will give myself a perfect self score of 1 even if I just managed to lay down for 15 minutes that day and prevent myself from pushing through exhaustion. In therapy, my counselor told me that the big area for me to improve is my self-care. Naps, longer showers, meditation, journaling, and other ways of relaxing have paid off huge in my bigger picture.

Being better rested has allowed me to work a lot harder, get up earlier, and be more creative. More work has been coming in than ever before. I’m always at the edge of what I’m able to do, but I’m learning that the discomfort that comes with this is a good thing.

To quote a book I absolutely loved (Peak Performance): stress + rest = growth.

And, struggle = skill.

The 1000 Rep Month: Day 59 and 60

Still in recovery mode, my neck isn’t 100% so I’m mixing in some restorative workouts (yoga) with some pull-oriented training. I’ve been doing so many handstands that it felt like it made sense to use “pull” muscles instead of “push” muscles today.

There are only 10 more videos left to publish in order to complete my 70 video goal and formation of a daily workout habit. Lia’s due on the 28th so that gives me 4 days of buffer if the baby comes early. I guess I won’t be taking weekends off haha!

How to Be Really Fucking Productive Whenever You Want

I feel like a big bag of shit today. Last night I drank right after sports and I think when that happens my body gets extra dehydrated. The water I need is replaced by beer and so I wake up with angry little alcohol molecules all throughout my system (and probably a reduced ability to excrete them via breathing/pissing due to my lowered overall body hydration).

But I’m still going to dominate work today, and here’s why:

I Have Magic Headphones

Yep. Magic fucking headphones. According to Olympic coach Todd Herman, creating a secret identity or alter ego can unlock peak performance in elite athletes and everyday Joes. Think back to being a kid, and pretending to be a superhero (or an animal, or whatever). Kids have this natural ability to step into another identity and behave how they imagine that other being would behave. It’s pretty awesome. But we stop make-believing when we grow up, and we think we get better at stuff by “taking it seriously”.

Apparently that’s not true.

It would seem that Todd has created some freakishly dominant athletes by encouraging them to go back to creating alter-egos. These athletes have ways of getting into character just like kids do. A name, such as Batman works. As soon as you become Batman, Batman is on the hook to deliver, not you. And we all know Batman fucking delivers! Ideally, there will be some token item associated with the change. Todd has a special set of “business glasses” that he puts on to become his superhero of business. He takes them off to be with his family, because who he is in business isn’t who he is at home. But when those glasses are on, he’s only the Todd that dominates whatever he’s working on.

Todd talks about a Tennis player who thought Wonder Woman was the epitome of badassery, so she decided she’d be Wonder Woman when she competed. She connected the identity of Wonder Woman with wearing an actual Wonder Woman bracelet.

wonder woman

So for me, it’s headphones. I have a set of those big studio headphones that completely engulf your head and blast epic sound right through your skull. When I put those on, smash a coffee and hit play on something like this, work happens really fucking hard.

I make sure I only have the headphones on when I’m working. I take them off if I stray into a YouTube session or Facebook tunnel. That way I’m physically signalling (and training myself) to respond to the headphones with only epic productivity.

That’s how I get into the zone for work. It’s different for every identity I have. For frisbee, I become the super-hero version of me by taking my shoes off. I play barefoot, and almost nobody else does in my city. So when those shoes come off, it’s time for me to play like a god damn animal. Funny thing is, when I play with shoes because it’s too cold for bare feet, I’m not quite the same. There was a game where this happened and a few points in I took my shoes off. What followed was my equivalent to Clark Kent taking off his shirt and revealing the Superman spandex beneath. Without shoes, I feel like a force of nature, and I play like one.

What are Your Alter Egos?

This is where you get to reflect on what alter-egos you step into, maybe without knowing it. How can you reinforce them with a physical item? Or an action, like taking your shoes off. If you don’t have an alter-ego, is there a super-human version of yourself you could create? What would that person wear? Try it and let me know how it goes!

For the full talk with Todd Herman and his take on becoming super-heroes, check out his episode on the Tony Robbins podcast.

 

How To Find The All Time Best Audiobooks on Audible

Audible is like Gollum. It treats its best audiobooks like precious secrets and seems to take serious efforts to hide these books from public view. I suppose this plays into some larger picture of Audible’s need to market newer, shittier books harder than older, better ones. That’s probably how money is made. But as someone who doesn’t finish an audiobook unless it’s fucking awesome, the fact that fantastic books are so tricky to find is a massive pain in the ol’ woody wood pecker.

So after a bit of dicking around with Audible’s search options I found a way to uncover the all time best books on Audible:

 

Sourdough: How To Piss Yourself Off

So about 8 months ago I stupidly asked my buddy Tyler if he could teach me how to bake bread. I didn’t even know or care what kind of bread we’d be baking, so in many ways the suffering I later endured was completely Tyler’s fault.

Tyler bakes sourdough. The most challenging fucking bread in the world to master.

Why Sourdough is so Fucking Difficult to Bake

This isn’t baking a cake. There’s no middle-ground. Either your bread is world-class or it fucking sucks. And when it sucks and you’re just starting out, you just want to scream at the ceiling and rip all of the hair off your body because it took you DAYS to get that bread made.

You don’t get to use commercial yeast. No. You get those fuckers out of the motherfucking AIR and from the flour itself. And that takes a long god damn time to happen. Days in the summer, weeks in the winter. Then only hours when you’re a Bread God and have a little colony of yeast domesticated in a jar in your kitchen, ready to bake with when you god damn well feel like it.

sourdough starter
Sourdough “starter” – fermentation using wild yeast that you fucking captured out of thin air.

For something with such simple ingredients (only flour and water, with some optional salt) – sourdough technique is next fucking level. If you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, you’re completely fucked. You stand exactly a 0% chance of getting it right. Luck can’t help you. You stand no chance. It’s that hard.

However, if you know someone who can teach you how to create sourdough bread, you’re marginally less fucked. I’m only saying marginally less fucked because during that first bake with a sourdough master, there’s going to be so much going on that you simply don’t have the ability to see – yet. The master has spent months developing a refined sense for each step of the process – from how “strong” the dough should feel after folding it, to how “alive” the dough seems after fermentation (all jiggly and full of air). The beginner only sees a ball of dough in a bowl.

The subtleties of fermentation are pretty much impossible to get a sense for by reading a blog or watching videos. Though you still have to spend many hours reading this blog if you want to stand a chance. Even with all that reading, you’ll likely have to fuck up dozens of god damn times before the table starts to turn in your favour.

Here’s a photo of a shitty loaf I baked:

shitty sourdough loaf

Every time one of these came out of the oven, I was very sad.

There were so many more depressing loaves like these. These things had the texture of hockey pucks. I threw some of this “bread” to a squirrel during the winter and it jumped over it. I baked some for my relatives and they made fun of both me and the bread. I would have laughed at me too, the bread was fucking terrible.

dense sourdough

Even near the end, when I was getting some success by using some angry-ass rye flour to power-punch my fermentation in the face, I still had to resort to using a pull saw to get through the bread:

pull saw through sourdough

It turns out that after months of fucking around and failing over and over and over and over and fucking over, I’d developed reasonably acceptable sourdough technique. Through repetition alone, I had gained a pretty obsessive understanding of the timing for fermentation and the development of strength, flavour, and how temperature retards or accelerates everything. I learned how to shape these shits with a drywall blade. It seemed like I was doing everything right.

But after half a year of failure, my bread still fucking sucked, and I was very sad. I had tried everything and nothing was working. Lia thought it was the flour that was causing the repeat failures. So I texted Tyler.

The TSN Turning Point

The next day I went down to the most reputable bakery in town and ordered 25kg of their no-fucking-around STRONG BAKER’S FLOUR.

PH Flour

And then I started dominating the absolute shit out of sourdough.

The bread was so soft and beautiful a normal bread knife couldn’t cut it without totally squishing it and ripping it apart. So I ordered the bread-equivalent of a god damn Japanese samurai sword.

And now I’m happy.

Final Thoughts

I wanted to give up so badly. And to tell you to truth, I did twice. In my head I’d quit. Fuck this, it’s way to fucking hard, I’m done.

But then I’d read something new like how you’re not supposed to cut into the bread until 1 full hour after you’ve removed it from the oven because it’s still baking and if you cut into it too early it will be all dense and shitty and the crust will be really thick and hard.

So I’d be like, “Well, I have to try that.”

And then through brute stubbornness, I stumbled into the solution, which was to switch up the god damn fucking shitty flour I was using.

And the final triumph felt amazing, made all the more blissful from all the struggling and failure.

Here’s how those beauties turned out:

Huge oven spring sourdough

 

blistery sourdough loaf

epic sourdough

Sourdough sandwich