Be a Fitbit Boss

I only recently got on the Fitbit bandwagon… Actually a week ago. But, I’m not new to wearable fitness technology. I’ve been a huge Garmin GPS watch fan since my first one, the Forerunner 405; which I bought back in circa 2007. Actually, if you count heart rate monitor straps, I’ve been on-board for twenty(ish) years. Our treadmill and my VersaClimber both came with wireless monitors back in the 90s.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was missing. My company that I work for, Mythics, gave me and my coworkers a Fitbit as a Christmas present. Upon receiving it I instantly saw the potential. Not only is this watch considerably smaller and lighter than any of my Garmin watches, it is also sharp enough looking to wear every day of the week. Needless to say, I still absolutely LOVE my Garmin 920XT triathlete watch and I will continue using it for my training and events. However, the Fitbit has become my daily health device, and my new way to challenge and strengthen myself.

Dear Fitbit, If you are listening (reading as it were), I do have two requests:
1. Make the battery last longer;
2. Make it waterproof enough to swim with, and shower with.

 

Now… Before we dabble into being a Fitbit Boss, let’s get the painful disclaimer out of the way…
WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

My initial stab at making the Fitbit work for you is a straight forward approach. Wear it. Always! Not only does it do a great job of tracking your physical activity, but it also monitors your sleep and gives you some great feedback, so you should always wear it (except for swimming, showers, or baths). That may sound over simplified, but it really is the key to utilizing this robust fitness monitoring tool. If you always have it on, it’s a constant reminder to get moving. And, it is leverage to push yourself just a little harder to accomplish set goals.

The second thing I would recommend is make sure you familiarize yourself with the software and then connect with lots of your friends. Along the lines of wearing it, having friends chime in on your successes really helps boost your confidence and motivates you to try harder.

The third and final thing to push you down the path to using the Fitbit like a boss is to create and accept challenges with friends. Caveat: if you are new to fitness, or online workout challenges, you might want to wait a few days or weeks to really familiarize yourself with the watch and application. Make sure you are comfortable and confident keeping up with your fitness and hitting your daily goals. Once you get into challenges you will find friends who will literally climb out of bed in the middle of the night just to walk around their bedroom for ten minutes to get past your daily score… I’m one of those people. hehe.

Instead of going into further detail, I thought I would let you guys and gals hear from two of my friends who are dusting the competition. These two have a combined mileage of more than 14,000 Fitbit miles! And, they each average over 21,000 steps EVERY DAY! They are both inspirational in many aspects, and they’re also Fitbit Bosses!

I asked Josh and Christine the same questions, and also to give all of you words of encouragement and additional advice. This is what they said:

JOSH

weighed 329 pounds in November of 2013. It was his wake-up call… Ten months after working to lose weight, Josh had lost more than 130 pounds, and weighed 198 pounds. At the start of 2014, he was not happy with his life. Health issues included high blood pressure, cholesterol, risk of diabetes/stroke/heart attack, and many other things. After a heart attack scare (turned out to just be gas) in January 2014 Josh decided it was time to make a change.

After changing his diet and adding activity to his daily life, he began losing the fat and started feeling better. In the words of Josh, “Everything bad went down and everything good went up!” Josh was officially was hooked on 5/10/15K’s, Krav Maga, and the simple joy of going for an active walk/run. Bad foods were replaced with good ones! Life was anew!

Josh plateaued around Halloween of 2014 and now works daily on maintaining the weight and enjoying the new life that he worked his butt off for!

Josh before and after

CHRISTINE

has a son who is a bleeder. He is one of the reasons that their family started using the Fitbit. They knew that it would help make sure he is as active as possible to keep his joints healthy! Christine’s husband lost almost 30 pounds with his Fitbit. And although she is a runner, and thought she was in great shape, she realized with Fitbit that she was barely moving outside of her workouts!

Christine

Now that we’ve been introduced to these Fitbit stars, let’s do some Q&A…

Josh’s Answers

Do you think that the Fitbit contributes to your current level and state of healthy lifestyle?
Josh: Absolutely! Using my Flex has made me more aware of my activity and also helps me be more accountable to myself when it comes to meeting those daily and weekly goals.

How do you leverage the Fitbit to give you extra motivation and keep you going down a healthy lifestyle path?
Josh: I use my Flex in conjunction with a fitness app (RunKeeper). I use the Flex as a way to track my passive movements throughout the day and RunKeeper as a way to track my active activities (running, Krav Maga, etc.). The daily Flex goal is to hit those 5 lights with my morning run before I head to work so I can build upon that and see how more active I was after the initial active activity.

Would you recommend the Fitbit to someone who struggles with their fitness?
Josh: I already have! I have a friend who wants to get started on doing what I did in terms of weight loss and improving my lifestyle (for the record, in 2014 I lost 131 pounds and have maintained it ever since). They started out with small goals and are currently building up on them and adding more steps/miles every other week to keep themselves motivated and active.

What piece of advice would you give budding Fitbit enthusiasts on how to maximize the benefits?
Josh: Start off small, do not go for the ‘gusto’ initially or you will just burn yourself out. Start off with a 10K step goal and slowly add more to it as you find you have more energy as you build yourself and your endurance up.

Throw out your own ideas, thoughts, inspiring tidbits to help our readers get spun up and motivated!
Josh: Being active is very easy it turns out. A simple 1 mile walk starts you off on a journey where you amaze yourself by going further and further every single day. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from wanting to improve yourself and when you start seeing the results, you just want to go further and further!

The one thing about being a FitBit user is that your mindset changes over time. You want to hit those daily goals and sometimes you find yourself doing silly things to meet them. For example, I once roamed the isles of a supermarket just to add to my daily steps so I can go over my previous day’s total. Just be careful not to go too OCD on it – that is when you have nightmares your FitBit might sprout blades and impale you if you don’t hit those goals (it doesn’t – I’ve tried).

Do you have any final words of encouragement or thoughts to share?
Josh: When you attach your Fitbit to your wrist, you are making a pact with yourself. That pact is to improve on yourself and only you can do that. If you need motivation from others you’ll find that you want to rebel against them (like a teenager with their parents). When you do it for yourself, by yourself, and only for yourself, that motivation becomes your sole driving force and coach.

I don’t see myself as a inspirational figure but I know if I can do this (and maintain it) – anyone can!


Well… Josh may not see himself as inspirational, but I for one certainly think he is!

Christine’s Answers

Do you think that the Fitbit contributes to your current level and state of healthy lifestyle?
Christine: YES. Fitbit holds me accountable. Maybe to an extreme degree, because I am terrible about taking needed rest days! My overall health is MUCH better with it. I can honestly assess my movement. As a runner, I can run 10 miles in the morning and think I am so active, but not be in the greatest shape. With Fitbit, I might still get 10,000 steps in addition to my workout, and that has helped me stay fit and healthy outside of the gym.

My husband had to lose about 30 pounds a few years ago. He thought his four mile run in the morning was the ticket to weight loss. Using Fitbit he had a huge epiphany about his lack of movement throughout the day. He also got into the app, tracking his sleep and logging his food in the My Fitness Pal (which cooperates with Fitbit).

How do you leverage the Fitbit to give you extra motivation and keep you going down a healthy lifestyle path?
Christine: The key with Fitbit is making the goal HARD. I know so many people who whine that they are not losing weight even though they get 10,000 steps a day. The key is to push yourself so that you can get frequent success and still be challenged.

Would you recommend the Fitbit to someone who struggles with their fitness?
Christine: YES. I would recommend it. But the challenge is many people I know who need to get healthy hate seeing that they are a failure. So it is a good idea not to friend people for a few months, or they get discouraged and stop trying, if they constantly see others ahead of them. I also like to get the Aria scale for people who really need this to work. Most people get really accountable when they see the numbers every day.

What piece of advice would you give budding Fitbit enthusiasts on how to maximize the benefits?
Christine: Sometimes, the number of ACTIVE minutes per day is more crucial than steps. So I might not run and do a 2 hour spin workout, and my Fitbit steps look crappy. But my active minutes rock. Learning to adjust expectations and make a commitment to ACTIVE minute is important. I think 10,000 steps a day is doable for anyone. Active minutes is more crucial for weight loss.

Throw out your own ideas, thoughts, inspiring tidbits to help our readers get spun up and motivated!
Christine: My husband, sons, and I all wear fir bits. We compete often, creating challenges and contests. We walk to the park and play outside so much more when we know we will get credit! Ultimately, we live in a sedentary society and the Fitbit will get you off the chair. To get the Fitbit to work, honesty is the trigger. Being honest about food, water, sleep and workouts is huge. My husband still cannot believe that eating a handful of gummy bears means he needs to run 6 miles.

Do you have any final words of encouragement or thoughts to share?
Christine: Ultimately, the Fitbit got us all honest. I was a marathoner with pounds to lose. Now I am in the best shape of my life. I stopped hiding behind the thought that I was incredible. Fitbit got me real!


There you have it… You heard it from the mouths of Fitbit pros! I hope this was informational and inspirational! Thanks for reading, and please chime in with comments. We would all love to hear about your Fitbit experience and leveraging ideas!

Feel free to track me down and friend request me, if you want a competitive training partner! www.fitbit.com/user/3WKFRM
Posted with love from your virtual fitness and life coach,
-Vaughn

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How to Give a Killer Speech or Presentation

So much advice exists out there, and here I am just piling on more… However, I do have some experience in this field. I am an inspirational speaker and extreme encourager who has given hundreds of speeches and presentations. Over the years I’ve learned some really important key factors and also built some of my own opinions on things that do or don’t work. So, I thought I would share some of my findings… Just remember that like most things found on the web, this is my personal opinion and you should obviously create your own based on your findings.

Probably the number one question I get asked is, “How do you speak to an audience without fear and nervous tension?” The short answer is, I don’t. HA! How do you like them apples?? Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever be completely rid of the butterflies. I mean come on, this is simply a human reaction (stemming from flight, fright, or freeze) that we cannot control. That said, there are several things you can do (or not do) to alleviate your pain. Some of these will sound ridiculously obvious to many, but hopefully I can share enough of my own ideas to help anyone.

Before I list my thoughts on soothing speech jitters, let’s dispel a few ideas I think aren’t as good as some people say they are:

1. Imagine your audience is in their underwear. Really? Um… I dunno about you, but this just doesn’t work for me. I mean come on… Do I really wanna be thinking about that?? I have enough trouble concentrating on my task at hand, without throwing in: the old guy with the walker and wondering if he’s wearing a diaper… Or, getting stuck on that hot lady in red…

2. Never look people in their eyes. Stare at foreheads or something else. This might work for some, but I’m sincerely trying to connect with my audience. My speeches and presentations are from the heart and it just doesn’t feel right trying to locate a mole on someone’s head, or worse getting caught (accidentally) staring at the lady in red’s breasts.

3. Use lots of bullet points so you can remember where you are and what you’re talking about. Ahhhh… No. Bullet points are boring as shit. See my section below about preparation and practice, know your talk like the back of your hand, and skip the twenty lines of code on each slide. I don’t have a cute line about the lady in red for this one, but for some reason I can’t get her out of my head…

Now let’s talk about real world things we can (and probably should) do to eliminate or at least lessen stage fright… First and foremost, if you want to skip the upset stomach, sweaty palms, and nervous stuttering, do this one thing:

  • Make sure your speech doesn’t suck!!!

That may sound silly, but it’s true. If you’re already nervous about your content then you will automatically be nervous while presenting it! The easiest way to do this is to prepare. And then, prepare. Finally, after all that, make sure you prepare. You need to carefully and meticulously research your speaking points and ensure that the material is actually going to be important to your intended audience! Skipping this stage is sure to keep you up late at night and make you horribly nervous at speech time.

  • Along with the three prepares, you must also do three (or more) practices. There is no simple algorithm that tells you precisely how much time to spend practicing, but I can tell you that the better you know your material, the better you will feel when you walk onto that stage. Think about this, would you be more nervous going on stage and trying to simply say, “A, B, C” or reciting a page of Shakespeare’s King Lear from memory? I dunno about you, but I’ll take “A, B, C” any day!!! The reason is simple. My odds are infinitely higher that I will screw up chanting ancient tomes. That said, by practicing and knowing your material you will calm yourself.
  • Use photos or graphics instead of words… If at all possible, don’t put words in your presentation slides. If I have any words, they are short one-liners that give an overall look at this section of my talk. Instead I find inspirational (and cool) photos that relate to the subject. The audience doesn’t want to read through boring line after line… They wanna see a beautiful sunset or picturesque ocean wave. Just make sure that whatever you put there will keep you focused on the part you’re discussing. For instance, when I get to a part where I’m telling a scary story from one of my mountaineering expeditions, I have a photo of a crevasse, or mountain peak, or guy freezing his arse off. This way you won’t distract yourself, or (more importantly) the audience.

Side note: If you aren’t relying on bullet points or run-on sentences in your slide deck, then you will be much better prepared when the laptop, projector, or something else fails. Part of the “be prepared” and practice session is that if a wrench gets thrown into your talk (it happens to the best of us), you will be ready to roll despite the hurdles. In turn, this makes you even more comfortable when speech time comes!

  • Be properly fueled up and hydrated. I can’t express this one enough… You must have a balanced level of nutrients and water in your body. If you aren’t hydrated you will feel it on stage. Along these lines, don’t go out partying late the night before a speech… Getting drunk, hung over, and tired before a speech is a big no-no. If you enjoy libations, feel free to do that AFTER your speech! This can be an exhilarating way to celebrate with some of your audience.
  • Fitness goes hand-in-hand with nutrition. I find that doing some physical activity before a speech (make sure you have time for a shower and clean-up… Don’t just run right on stage after a five mile run, ding-dong!) really ramps me up and energizes me. Don’t over do it, but get some exercise in and empower yourself!
  • Take a potty break a short while before your sprint onto stage. Regardless of how often you pee, you will feel like you need to go to the bathroom leading up to your speech. Make sure you get a bathroom trip in before going on stage. Feel comfortable knowing that the sensation is all in your mind, and move past it.
  • Remember the rule of tens… Actually, I’m not sure if there is a rule of tens… hehe… But, I call it that. People tend to get bored after about ten minutes. So, prepare your speech so that you are switching slides at least once every ten minutes. Change your subject or storyline at least once every ten minutes. If one of my stories or subjects goes over the ten minute line, I like to throw in something scary right at the ten-minute mark and emphasize it with extreme arm flailing and loud vocals. Whatever you do, keep the crowd engrossed by giving them a change of pace.
  • If you’re funny, then start with a joke… If you aren’t, then skip it. This is another of the obvious ones, but must be discussed. I’m a goofball, and love laughing at myself. It’s actually a bit of a tension breaker for me (not just the audience) to get up and start with a chuckle. Often I will pick on myself or one of my silly faults. That said, if you aren’t a naturally funny person, you might want to forgo the awkward joke. There is no written rule about using or omitting a joke as an introduction… But I can tell you that your nerves will only get worse if you tell a dry joke and no one laughs. food for thought!
  • Lastly, and perhaps most important… Believe in yourself, believe in your message, and believe in your audience. Remember, these guys and gals signed up to hear what you have to say. You owe it to them, to relay your message with a positive impact and inspirational spin. Now get out there, and nail it!

BTW – did you notice I used bullet points to point out my ideas?? Remember: BPs are okay in an article, not okay in a speech.

Disclaimer: The lady in red is a fictitious character and is simply a product of the author’s lewd imagination. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely in my dreams…

What do you do to spice up your talks and ease your worries?

I hope this post was not only helpful, but also inspirational in some form or fashion.

Cheers,
Vaughn

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Tall Poppy Syndrome

I was born in 1967 with a rare bleeding disorder called, hemophilia. All through elementary school I was bullied because of my weakness and difference. Also in junior high, where the bullying became more dangerous. Fortunately, the varsity football team took me under their wing and protected me in high school… For the first time, I was not bullied.

I thought the bullying was over… Then, in the mid eighties I received a bad batch of blood to cure a bleed. This blood product, called Factor VIII, was tainted with HIV and I was the lucky recipient. Little did I know that the bullying was about to go to a whole new level. Besides the whispering of people whom I called friend, the biggest first thing that happened to me was being asked in front of my entire community at our neighborhood swimming pool, “Do you have AIDS?” I lied and ran crying from this situation.

Next, the death threats started coming in via anonymous telephone calls (back then there was no caller ID). Someone also threatened to burn our house down if we did not move out. This was a scary time for everyone and the stigma was in full swing. I quickly realized that a safer bet was to hide my HIV status and act as if there was nothing wrong. Well, this was tough because it was becoming more known that most hemophiliacs had it. So, I also hid my hemophilia.

Within a few, short years, all of my hemophiliac friends were dead. I was literally the last man standing and completely quiet about my affliction. Twenty-three years later, I compiled my life journal into a book and published my memoir, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C. This was my “coming out” party. I mean, it was impossible to hide my status with a published book out there… I felt relief overcome me as I admitted to the world that I was a long-term survivor and thriver. People came out of the woodwork with questions and stories. I was thrown into the limelight and overnight became an inspiration to thousands of hemophiliacs who had dealt with this situation in their own lives.

There was a down side… The stigma surrounding HIV was lessened, but still in operation. So, I have managed to duck and dodge my way through a few of those situations that brought back horrific memories of the old days. Mostly though, it was all up-side and inspirational things that happened to me.

Out of the blue, an amazing man, Barry Haarde, approached me as another HIV+ hemophiliac who was also coming out about his status. He was quickly becoming a special man in our easy bleeding community. Barry talked to me, and inspired (more like motivated) me to get back into the bleeding disorder community and not only tell my story, but help raise awareness and battle for other hemophiliacs. I did.

What does all of this have to do with poppy plants? You ask… hmmm… Well, I wanted to give you a little back-story of where I’ve been before discussing today’s article.

The Australians have a saying… It’s called tall poppy syndrome. See, if a particular poppy grows taller than the others, it will steal the sun and water from a bunch of other, smaller, poppies. So, they chop the tall one down in a sacrifice to save many others. When this saying translates to people, it has a less positive outlook, and means when some people see you attaining success and growing before their very eyes, they chop you down to keep you down among them. You can see this derogatory version is a little bit disheartening.

Today’s post was inspired because I find myself trying to promote me, hemophilia, HIV, and fitness to raise awareness in this callous world. I am currently leading a competition (by a long shot) to appear on one of the most popular Men’s magazines in the world, Men’s Health. You can see my entry (and vote for me) here: www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37 (yes… that was a shameless promotion).

Of course I want to be on the cover! I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite my “issues.” However, I’m not so shallow that this is only to get ME on the cover… I’m doing this for you too. I have found a purpose that is more important than just me. Supporting people with hemophilia, Von Willebrand, other bleeding disorders, and HIV+ or other life-threatening diseases. Also, for anyone who struggles with staying fit and healthy! I am the poster child for all of us!!!

The rules of the competition state that people can vote once daily. I did not write these rules, but I understand the importance of them. Therefore, I posts a daily plea to my friends to request their vote.

Can you imagine putting an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of a popular health magazine (for the first time ever)?? This is an incredible opportunity to raise a huge amount of awareness in an otherwise unknown community of bleeding disorders.

With this in mind, over the last several days I have received a few messages talking about me spamming the community. Now I must mention that I am receiving thousands of like, votes, and messages saying how inspiring this is. And, hundreds of hemophiliac moms have reached out to me saying how important my message and story is to their children. The good outweighs the bad by the hundreds. However, the bad messages do stand out to me, and hurt my feelings.

You see, I was asked by many, a few years ago, to please stand up and be heard. To help support the community by sharing my story. And, I answered this calling by doing so. Yet I now find myself occasionally battling people who seem to be trying to bring me down. I know these feelings might be my own internal battles, but I can’t help but wonder if some are merely picking on me and my advocacy simply because they are miserable and want to attack people who they see doing good things in this world. I’m certain that not everyone of these spam name callers feel this way, but I’m also aware of a few who literally are negative and sometimes downright mean.

Spam? Really?

Let’s define Spam… Besides being a canned meat product, spam is also defined as a noun that means: Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.

While I am posting in an environment that has a large number of recipients, I feel that my appeal for awareness is extremely relevant and appropriate. Perhaps I’m nitpicking by defining spam and excluding my posts from it, but I’m making a point. If I’m reaching out to a community to raise awareness and help those who cannot help themselves… How can I possibly be spamming? It is not always easy to raise awareness, be an advocate, and speak out to the world about tough subjects… If it was easy, everyone would do it!

No one is asking for your money (although I might if the event warrants it). I’m not asking you to do some crazy thing… I’m simply asking you to visit a website and make your voice heard, by voting for me. How do you think I got in first place (by more than double)? Do you think I would have this many (or any) votes if I didn’t post anything? Of course not!

I’m an honorable man doing honorable things. I stand by a community that all but disappeared when they all died around me. I feel like a phoenix who has risen again and find a whole new generation of young bleeders and their families flocking to me for advice and inspiration. I will continue to tell my story to the ones who want to hear it. If you don’t appreciate my outlook on life, then simply don’t read my posts!

We recently passed the thirty year mark of discovering AIDS. And, I have been living with it for more than twenty-eight years. It is high-time that we broke this stigma and show that you can be a HIV+ hemophiliac and still be healthy.

I’m not only standing up for hemophiliacs. Nor only HIV+ people. I’m also standing up for average people in general. Statistics show that more than 65% of Americans are overweight. I fear this number is far higher than advertised. I am using myself as an example of someone who is suffering through much more than the average person and still manages to stay extremely fit and healthy. My message is simple: If I can do it, so can you! This applies to everyone!!!

Most of you are VERY supportive of me and my platform. Because of you wonderful people, I will not stop my efforts. This is despite (and sometimes to spite) the naysayers who try and beat me down. To quote Chumbawamba, “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”

You all lift me up and make me feel like a loved person. You also inspire and motivate me to continue my work and voice… Thank you!

Have you ever run in to “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” or know someone who has? Have any advice or thoughts on the matter?

Cheers,
Vaughn

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First Quarter Goal Gut Check

You guys might or might not have read and participated in my 2014 New Year’s Resolution post, Are New Year’s Resolutions Bullshit?

Well, today’s article is a quarterly check-up on where we stand, and what we’ve accomplished since that initial post.

Here is my list and notes on how I’m doing:

Vaughn’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Do something special for Kristine;
  • It is our 20th Anniversary next month… Must think of something special.

  • Start my new(ish) career and get back on track;
  • This is in the work and the gears are spinning. More on this later…

  • Continue the debt turnaround (path to becoming a financial wizard);
  • Last year’s job situation made this one tough… Slow going.

  • Turn up the training for triathlons;
  • No injuries yet this year, and my workouts are more powerful than ever.

  • Do Mountains of Misery again and stay in the saddle for both hills;
  • I’m signed up and training hard…

  • Start 5/3/1 weight lifting routine and get stronger;
  • Done!

  • New Military Press PR (personal record) of 150 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 135. My current PR is 150. Yahoo!

  • New Deadlift PR of 315 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 255. My current PR is 305. Very close…

  • New Bench Press PR of 235 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 205. My current PR is 215. This one will take some work!

  • New Squat PR of 275 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 235. My current PR is 260. Getting close.

  • Preparation for Mt. Rainier in July 2015;
  • Books and backpack purchased. Starting to study and plan training. Plenty of time, but don’t want to slip.

  • Publish Decrypted;
  • My agent is working diligently on this one and I’m helping where I can.

  • Finish Weapon 67 (my second fictional title);
  • Struggling here. 2014 has proven to be a very busy year. That said, I am working on it.

  • Finish outline for non-fictional book, (title pending for a “growing up” book) and get agent approval;
  • About 15% done with this one, so I’m behind schedule… Ramping up the efforts.

  • Start super-secret business idea and start ball rolling;
  • Planning is done and planning has begun.

  • Work with Hemophilia Foundation of MD (HFM) on the board and make progress;
  • I was sworn in as a board member, and I have visited Maryland senate to help pass a bill. Yay!

  • Continue focusing on this (HealthyWealthyTribe) blog and update at least twice per week.
  • I was averaging three posts per week in 2013… This year Ive struggled. Must work harder!

    Now let’s list all of the people who commented on the initial post with their own goals and resolutions:

    Andrea’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Staying fit in ways that are not dangerous to me, including exercising at least 5-6 days a week.
  • Doing at least 3 different kinds of exercise on a regular basis to mix things up (e.g., running, swimming, cycling, lifting, hiking). Bonus points if I can get up to 4 modalities on a weekly basis.
  • Maintaining my weight. Bonus points for dropping 5 lbs.
  • Maintaining or growing my running group.
  • Visiting my mom and sister at least 3 times.
  • Helping my son to stay fit and pursue any sports activities he is interested in (right now learning to swim, hiking, running).
  • Going out on a date night with my husband at least once a quarter. Bonus points for going monthly.
  •  

    Lesley’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Make religion part of every day.
  • By the end of the year will be debt free.
  • Lose my final 10 pounds.
  • Allow myself to learn the art of forgiving, compassion, and loving towards others.
  •  

    Sara’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Better manage my time.
  • Make a reasonable schedule for myself to adhere to each day.
  • Cook more often.
  • Read at least one book a month.
  • Do one project for myself each month to completion.
  •  

    Melanie’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Reduce my 5K time to 25 minutes by the end of 2014.
  • Go on monthly date nights with my husband + use our firepit more and go on more weekend camping trips together.
  • Email/write my brother at least once a month (he’s in the military).
  • Schedule my work so I can spend time back home in Indiana for about 2 weeks this summer.
  • Cut way back on soda, ie., Sprite. (I already gave up caffeine in 2009.)
  • Improve core strength and do more strength training.
  •  

    Eric’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Be a better father: listen more, make more small time, yell less.
  • Get a new job.
  • Fitness Metrics: get weight <195, squat 135×10, deadlift 195×10, Clean&Jerk 135×5, Pullups x5, Dips x10; get flexible enough to squat below parallel with wide stance heels.
  • Do a ‘new’ fitness event for me – something not already checked off.
  • Get the cub scout pack in order.
  • Get 20 minor projects done around the house.
  •  

    Please comment and let us all know how you’re doing with your 2014 goals and resolutions!!!

    We’ll be back in three months with another check-up. Here’s the goals/resolution post schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – The initial post
  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – Our first quarterly check-in
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Our second Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Our third Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Our final check-in and evaluation
  •  

    Your friendly neighborhood motivator,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    The Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search

    A sudden and powerful change happened to me on (or about) March 11, 2014. I was flipping through the pages of Men’s Health magazine and saw an ad titled “Are you fit? Healthy? Driven? Giving? Enter to win the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search.” The ad went on to say that one lucky winner would be featured on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.

    I smiled and thought… I’m extremely fit. I’m very healthy. I’m over-the-top driven. And… I absolutely love giving. My smile eased a little and the gears started grinding in my head. I chuckled… But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized… I was cut out precisely for this competition.

    Then the doubt started creeping in. You know the doubt… The realist inside each of us. It was saying things like, “Dude, you’re 46 years OLD.” “You’re medication over the years has stripped fat from your cheeks and butt and stuck it in funky places!” “Life has put battle scars on you.” “There will be two dozen or more seriously good looking model-ish men competing in this among a field of hundreds of others.” Finally my inner demon said, “What possible chance do you think you have?”

    For a few minutes I nodded my head in agreement with the dark side of my mind. Then, a tipping point happened. I thought of John Belushi saying, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” I laughed again. And something neat happened… A glimmer entered my eye. And, I realized that this was doable. I knew it would be an uphill battle, but honestly what great outcome isn’t tough? I decided then and there that I would enter. The contest started on March 15, 2014 – so I stored this thought in the back of my brain, tore the page out, and got on with life.

    Jump to 3/15/14 – Some of the original negative thoughts started pouring in. I was nervous. Am I being silly? Before these bad feelings could bring me down, I suddenly had another thought… Has a hemophiliac EVER been on the cover of Men’s Health? I don’t know… Maybe..? Has an HIV+ person ever graced the cover of Men’s Health magazine? Again, I didn’t know, but figured probably… (I should know this stuff). Then it hit me – I know… That there has NEVER been an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, because I know them all! It was settled then and there… I opened the website and started my entry process.

    March is Hemophilia Awareness Month. For goodness sakes, Ronald Wilson Reagan made it so back in 1986!!! And, more than 90% of ALL hemophiliacs born before the mid-1980’s got HIV from a bad blood transfusion. And, almost ALL of them died from AIDS or complications around this horrible disease! It was destiny that I would stumble on this opportunity in March, during Hemophilia Awareness Month!!! I was in head first!

    Honestly, I was simply hoping to be in the top ten, so I could raise awareness for hemophiliacs and HIV+ people. When I entered I sincerely did not think that I would win. The competition would be far too strong and who the heck am I?

    Guess what… On day one, I skyrocketed to first place. And, I’m not talking about a little jump, I was ten times ahead of the second place person! It was incredible.

    By day two, many more men had joined and they were gaining, but I was still at least four times as many votes ahead of everyone else.

    By day three I realized, I could actually win the voting portion of this competition. That was when it happened. You see, in life, nothing (I mean NOTHING) worthwhile is easy. And, there is no reason that this would be different. Realizing that I could win this voting section of the contest, I re-read the rules carefully. There it was glaring at me…

    Upload at least one (1) but up to three (3) digital photographs … taken within thirty (30) days prior to the date of your Entry into the Contest…

    Holy crap! In my rush to enter… With the mindset of “I can’t possibly win this thing…” I had made a vital mistake. I had uploaded older photos of me… You see, I am 46 years old (47 next month) and because of how fit and healthy I stay, my physique really hasn’t changed very much in over a decade. So, I assumed any photo would do, because quite honestly I am in the best shape of my life NOW and even look better than those photos from a year or two ago…

    The sinking feeling of dread overcame me as I realized that I could potentially be disqualified. And, on top of that, I was essentially cheating by not following the rules. My head pounded and my stomach was upset… This couldn’t be happening to me. Moments later, I wrote the editor of Men’s Health and explained my situation looking for a resolution. Well, fortunately for me, the editor was very cool and said simply “you are also permitted to enter once per day per email address throughout the entry period. So, you are welcome to submit another entry with current photos…”

    Well… That settled it… I had to ditch my first place entry that had more than 2,200 votes already and start a new entry with current photos. So, I worked with my Aunt, Patty Abrams, to quickly take a few “today” photos of me. These photos were nowhere near as cool as my previous entry (me posing in a triathlon suit looking all heroic, me on Mount Rainier in -40 degree temperatures, and me on a 185 mile bicycle ride on the C&O canal towpath), but they are legit and follow the rules.

    My new entry, was sitting there with zero votes in 113th place… Wow! Talk about a buzz kill. To add insult to injury, my original entry is still sitting there on top of the pack all pretty and perfectly happy. DANG!

    Time to eat some humble pie… I spent a few minutes typing up a quick status update for my social media friends that had all helped escalate me to the top of the heap. I had to explain that our 2,200+ votes weren’t going to count toward this newest entry. I laughed at myself. Cheered them for their support. And then asked for their continued support. I wasn’t sure how folks would respond. I mean, I’ve already been SPAMing them with numerous requests to vote for me as a cover model… yada. I thought they might rebel. *insert upbeat music here* Something very special happened. They all stood behind me, and picked me up. From the nadir of this event, my friends and their friends all wiped the dirt off my face, picked me up, brushed the tears from my eyes, and gathered as a community to support me… Their brother.

    After adding my second entry, folks got behind me and stormed the contest pouring in massive votes. Within one day I had gone from 113th place to 3rd place and had a solid 600 votes! Just when I thought all was cool, Men’s Health reached out again and said that they need to remove my second entry. So, they offered to put one of my new photos in the original entry and delete my second entry into the contest. Unfortunately they were not able to migrate my votes over. However, I still had the healthy amount of votes and a solid lead. Stuff happens, and I’m usually one that rolls with the punches. Besides, I can’t really complain considering my sizable lead.

    You guys have all given me so much support during this entire process, and I am eternally grateful!

    This is what it’s all about. I now know why I’ve entered this competition. It’s not some vain attempt to plaster myself on a magazine… It’s not about me. It is about us. It is about hemophiliacs. It is about HIV+ people, it is about average Joes who are beaten down ever day of their lives and continue picking themselves up and reporting for duty despite the odds stacked against them.

    I have survived for more than 28 years as an HIV+ human being. I believe there is a reason why God spared me. I honestly believe that it is my duty to spread awareness and advocate for people who struggle to have their voices heard. Well… I am here. And, I felt you help pick me up. I feel your love. I feel your support and caring. I feel you. And, I love you. I will fight for this and every other opportunity that we have to scream at the world.

    Together, you and I can and will put the first ever HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of one of the most popular men’s magazines on the planet.

    Please help support this cause by sharing my link, voting (you can vote daily), and spreading the word.
    www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37/

    I’m currently standing with a strong lead in first place…

    Love to you all,
    Vaughn Ripley

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    The Secret

    The secret is… Are you ready for this? Do you have pen and paper ready? There is no secret. No secret to life. No fountain of youth. No secret to fitness and health. No secret to money making. No secret group watching you.

    But wait… Don’t you believe in an ultra secretive Illuminati that is working very hard to mold us into automated machines to do their bidding? Of course I do! This article is not to say that I don’t believe in the dastardly secret societies… Because I do. It’s more like, I don’t really care about “them.” Who cares if someone is out there trying to draw in all of the power, money, and glory? I have too many of my own problems, issues, and challenges then to worry about a bunch of old (dying just like the rest of us), bald, crotchety, control freak men, in drab robes, chanting under candlelight. WTF?

    HA!

    I’m just kidding… This post isn’t about the Illuminati or some other secret society. Instead, it is about the secret of success. When I say, “the secret,” I mean any old secret. Folks often ask me for the secret to fitness, health, success, money, parenting, and so on and so forth. I honestly love this question, because it gives me a chance to do one of my fun skits… It usually goes down like this:

    The lights in the expansive restaurant reflected off a myriad of shiny surfaces and glimmered through hanging wine glasses to create Pink Floydesque colorful prism sparkles on the bar counter.

    Mike leaned in to Vaughn slightly, furrowed his brow, and asked, “What’s your secret, man?”

    Vaughn sipped his water, squinted his eyes slightly, and queried, “Whadda ya mean?”

    Adjusting himself on his stool, Mike leaned in a little further and softly said, “You know… How do you stay so fit and lead such a healthy life?”

    Nodding, Vaughn says, “Ahhh… You want the secret to my longevity and healthy lifestyle.” Nodding a little more, Vaughn leans in and lowers his voice, “There is a secret.”

    Mike leans further and carefully listens over the music’s deep bass and the chatter of mingling patrons. Turning his head slightly, Mike puts his best ear forward.

    Sotto voce, Vaughn says, “The secret…” Drawing in a breath, Vaughn plays with Mike’s emotions. Finally, chuckling, Vaughn continues, “There is no secret, Mike.”

    Discouraged and angry at being left out, Mike diverts his eyes and leans back huffing.

     

    This is obviously an exaggeration, but I do love toying with this one. So many of us think there is some super secret to accomplishing things in life. The truth is, if you want to be successful at ANYTHING, you simply need to follow this list:

    1. Carefully assess the result you want, and write it down as a desired outcome.
    2. Investigate your goal and find out information about how to accomplish it.
    3. Track down friends and acquaintances who have already achieved your goal, and ask them for assistance.
    4. Complete and write down a plan of action with milestones and goals along the path to this ultimate result.
    5. Buckle down and follow your plan.
    6. Adjust your plan as sticking points get in your way.
    7. Stay focused and determined.
    8. Reap the rewards of your hard work, focus, and drive!

    It really is this simple. The funny thing is… You already knew this. We all know this. The thing that separates those of us who do from those of us who don’t is writing down our goals and following through with them.

    If you want incredible results. Change yourself today!

    Do you know a secret that you can share with the rest of us?

    Thanks for reading! I wish I could have given you a real secret, but hopefully you gleened something anyway.

    -V

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    Surround Yourself with Good People

    I’m sure you folks already know this, but one of the best ways to improve yourself is to surround yourself with friends who are also improving themselves! Think about this for a moment, if you wanted to improve your golf score do you think you’d do better playing with people less motivated and worse at golf than you? Nope! And, this applies to life as well.

    We can’t pick our family, our coworkers (for the most part), our neighbors, or our classmates… However… We can pick our friends.

    Everyone of us have had friends who brought us down and friends who lift us up. And, if you’re honest with yourself, you know which kind of friend is better for you. Sometimes you need to evaluate your life and make adjustments. Your friends, and relationships in general, is simply one of those areas that you must assess and adjust accordingly.

    Don’t blame me when you break off a friendship, take responsibility for your own choice. But I firmly believe that you should take control of your life and surroundings. A good way to accomplish this is by figuring out who you are surrounding yourself with and dropping the deadbeats.

    Just as important as dropping the deadweight, you must also strive to add friends who will help improve you. This often starts in the form of mentorship. Find someone who is already doing something that you wish you could. Then approach them. Be honest and sincere with them. Tell them that you wish you could do “X” better, and that you know they are proficient at it. Then ask if they would mentor you and help you to improve and figure out how to accomplish their level of expertise. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how receptive people are at helping you to improve.

    If you have a friend who is constantly bringing you down, or belittling you, perhaps you should consider kicking them to the curb.

    What do you guys and gals think about this? Have you ever had to break off a detrimental relationship? How did you do it??

    Thanks for reading!

    Hugs,
    Vaughn

    How to Invest

    Let’s become financial wizards together! Now that we know how to get ourselves out of debt ( healthywealthytribe.com/get-out-of-debt ) and how extremely important compounding interest is ( healthywealthytribe.com/compounding-interest )… Let’s discuss what to do with our money once we are more financially fit and ready to start saving and investing.

    WARNING: I am not a financial advisor. I do not have a finance background. I’m just a guy who desires to be financially free and I’m working hard on becoming a financial wizard. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend taking my advice with a grain of salt… Do your own research and use my articles more for helping you to better yourself. I accept no responsibility for anyone who tries this and loses money. Obviously, your money and your circumstances are individual. YOU are responsible for your own finances and the outcome of trying things.

    With that out of the way… Let’s discuss your paycheck and what to do with it! In the future I will have an article discussing budget creation, but for today we’ll chat about savings. I have done a lot of my own personal investigating on this subject. This is a compilation of what I’ve gathered from a plethora of sources and resources. It is my personal opinion of how to successfully save for the future.

    The most important part of this message is that you must pull the savings out of your paycheck before you see it. Ask your payroll division to withdraw 10% (pretax) of your gross pay and deposit it into a different account. This way you never even get a chance to see the cash before it is invested.

    Before we talk about how to invest, let’s talk about two other investments you should be making… I believe that you should put 10% (or at least what your company matches) into a 401K plan. This is free money, so you must take advantage of it. I also think that you should give 10% back to the community. This can be in the form of religious tithing or charity. Regardless of what it is, I think it is our duty and responsibility to giveback to the community that give so much to us.

    Now let’s talk about what you do with your 10% savings…

    Like the piggy-banks in my article picture, you will break your savings into three different types of savings: Safe, Risk, and Wish. Here’s a breakdown of what each is:

    SAFE
    This one is simple and straight forward. You look for a low interest form of saving that is secure and guaranteed. This type of account is money market, CD, or other account. The idea is that it will grow at a very small rate, yet be a safe place for your money.

    Any interest that is earned on this account gets re-invested back into itself.

    RISK
    This is the fun one… Think stock market or real estate. This account will be considerably more risky, but it is also a growth account that has the potential to grow at a phenomenal rate.

    Because this account is riskier, we will re-invest the interest earned in all three piggy-banks equally. i.e. Put 1/3 of the annual interest earned into Safe, Risk, and Wish. In this way, we get to keep some of the massive growth even if you have a bad year or two in the stock market.

    WISH
    This account gets money deposited only from the 1/3 interest earned by Risk. This is essentially an account that you will use to treat yourself to something nice. Sometimes you will wait a few years and get something big (think motorcycle, screened-in deck, swimming pool, or something else extravagant). Other times you will spend it immediately on small items like clothes, shoes, jewelry, paintball gun, or something similar.

    Essentially, this account is used to celebrate you being so good with your savings. It is important that you celebrate every now and then and get something for all of your hard work!

    Now let’s talk about how much of your savings goes to the Safe fund and how much goes to the Risk fund… This is totally up to you, but I have a simple formula based on three quick questions:

    1. How old are you?
    2. Do you worry about (or fear) losing money in risky investments like the stock market?
    3. Does risk (in general) worry you?

    Baseline your “Safe” deposit amount by using your age. Round this number up to the nearest decade (e.g. If you are 24, you would round to 30). Next, add 10 points for each of the next two questions that you answered “yes” to.

    For Example: I am 46 years old, and answered “no” to both questions, so my value is 50.

    Once you have your number, think of it as a percentage… Deposit the percentage into the Safe category and put the remainder into Risk. My calculated percentage was 50%. That means I will deposit 50% of my savings into Safe and 50% into Risk.

    Remember, initially we won’t deposit anything into the Wish piggy-bank… That one only gets money as you get interest income back from the Risk category.

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    The most important part of this whole thing is that every year you wait to save is an immense amount of money lost from your savings. Think about how compounding interest worked… The longer your money is earning interest the greater the gain. Start today!

    I hope this was helpful! Please chime in with your experience and ideas!!!

    See ya,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Compounding Interest

    There is an urban legend that says that Albert Einstein said, “Compounding interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” (or something along those lines). Regardless of whether he really talked about the power of compounding interest, the statement is still very viable and profound. The truth is, that with an understanding of compounding interest, you can reveal an immense power that can double your money in a short period of time. First…

    WARNING: I am not a financial advisor. I do not have a finance background. I’m just a guy who desires to be financially free and I’m working hard on becoming a financial wizard. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend taking my advice with a grain of salt… Do your own research and use my articles more for helping you to better yourself. I accept no responsibility for anyone who tries this and loses money. Obviously, your money and your circumstances are individual. YOU are responsible for your own finances and the outcome of trying things.

    Let’s start by talking about a simple formula to find out how long it will take your money to double when using compounding interest. This formula is called, The Rule of 72. This is the formula:

    72 / interest amount

    In other words, if you get a 10% annual interest on your money, you would calculate how long it would take to double like this: 72/10 = 7.2

    So, your initial investment would double after 7.2 years.

    Now here is the magical part of this… When we say 7.2 years, that is assuming that you did a one time investment and let it sit for 7+ years. If instead you re-invested the same amount each year, your money would obviously double the second year. But, there is much more value that comes from this. If you add to this money each year (as you should) than your savings go up astronomically!

    Let’s assume you decide to invest $50 per month to a savings account. After a year, you would have saved $600 (not including interest). If you stopped adding money after the first year and relied on the 10% compounding interest, it would take just over seven years to double your money. However, the better way to save is by continuing to add to your funds on a monthly basis and reap the rewards of your investment plus the interest.

    Let’s take a look at our two examples:

    One-Time Investment of $600
    $600.00
    $660.00
    $726.00
    $798.60
    $878.46
    $966.31
    $1,062.94
    $1,169.23
    $1,286.15
    $1,414.77

    Continued Investment of $600 Annual
    $600.00
    $1,260.00
    $1,986.00
    $2,784.60
    $3,663.06
    $4,629.37
    $5,692.31
    $6,861.54
    $8,147.69
    $9,562.46

    As you see, in the one-time investment chart, we saved just over $1,400 over a ten year period. However, if we continue investing each year, our savings jumps to nearly $10,000 over the same ten years. That is the magic of re-investing in conjunction with compounding interest. For a real eye opener, let’s look at these two styles of investments after a forty year period:

    A one-time investment over forty years of $600 gives us: $24,687.12

    That is a very nice chunk of change for simply investing $600 and re-investing the annual interest (compounding interest).

    Ready for the shocker? If we add $600 each year over those same forty years, it gives us: $265,555.67

    I dunno know about you, but I prefer the quarter million dollars. This can simply be achieved by saving $50 per month and re-investing the interest. Think about this for a moment. You could simply quit something (like smoking or drinking) and this would save you approximately $5 per day. That is $152 per month or $1825 per year. Not only would you be saving, but you’d also be making a healthy alternative choice by quitting something detrimental to your health!

    If we saved $1825 per year over those same forty years and received 10% annual interest, our savings account would be: $807,731.73

    How do you like them apples?

    The moral of this post, is that you need to start saving today. Even if it is a paltry $50 per month, you can see how important this is!

    Look for my next post, which helps us decide how to invest our savings…

    Good luck, and keep me posted on your thoughts and ideas!

    -Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Was Steve Jobs a Hero or a Shithead?

    Is that the question?? Before you guys attack me for such a blatantly ugly question, allow myself to explain … myself. Steve Jobs was fond of calling people heroes or shitheads. Walter Isaacson points out numerous “hero” and/or “shithead” occasions in his biography, “Steve Jobs.” Jobs rarely found a middle ground. As a matter-of-fact, it seems like people were black and white to Jobs. Most of us mere mortals see people in shades of grey. Jobs had a knack and perhaps even a gift of calling it exactly the way he saw it. His brutal honesty would often make people feel like kings or tear them down into shreds of flesh.

    I grew up knowing about Steve Jobs because my dad « Continue »

    Vow to Be a Better Parent

    Father’s Day was a special treat this year. My children are getting older and finally grasping what these holidays mean. I got lots of love and some wonderful homemade cards among other things. Despite all of these creative gifts and tons of love, I believe that the greatest gift I received was an eye-opening experience about parenting.

    My epiphany came sometime during the morning of Father’s Day. My wife, Kristine, shared an article with me. The article was about a man (a bad father) who essentially had mentally broken his child. The article was a bit overzealous, but I got the gist of it and it really sunk in. After reading it, I did a little Google research and found more articles and thought provoking tidbits. As I delved in deeper, I uncovered some inner feelings that I had about myself and my family.

    My dad raised me with a strict and stern outlook. He was swift with his hand and mouth. However, he never struck me out of anger. He would always send me to my room to wait for my punishment while he (presumably) calmed himself down. When the spanking time came, Dad was always sad and determined at the same time. He would explain to me why I was being punished and the ways that I could improve. Dad loved me with all of his heart, and he sincerely was doing the best that he could to raise me into a respectable adult. I happen to think he did a fantastic job with the tools he was given.

    Looking back, I can learn from some of my dad’s mistakes. I can also learn from the things he did correctly. I can use the generations before me to figure out what worked and what didn’t. It struck me as sudden as a shock from an electrical outlet. I hold in my hands and mind (and always have) the power to improve based on what I’ve experienced.

    This latest bit of information hit home and I sat pondering… I philosophized for literally thirty or forty minutes. It was deep thought. And, it was emotional. In the moments that followed my thought provoking inner look, I realized that I want to improve. Strike that… I NEED to improve.

    I know that I’m not here to be my children’s friend.

    I know that it’s my parental duty to create responsible and caring adults out of my children.

    I know that my young children rely on me to guide them and help them.

    However, all of those things don’t mean that I can’t still be my child’s friend. That I can’t be loving and nurturing at the same time that I’m strict and firm. Deciding then and there, I vowed to be a better Dad to my kids. I vowed to listen more to them. I vowed to touch and hold them more. I vowed to try and empathize with their needs, wants, and feelings. I vowed to love.

    Love is the key. It means everything to me. With love, I can accomplish anything. And, with love I can help teach my children how to be all that they can be.

    It has always been my goal to do the best as a parent. To teach and lift my children. To inspire and motivate them. Now, my eyes are opened to a deeper feeling. A longing of improving my abilities and doing even better and even more.

    Today I vow to be a better parent. Will you take that vow with me? Together let’s turn the world on its ear and show that it is possible to raise understanding, smart, and responsible adults by using our brains and our hearts. Let’s learn from our past… Let’s learn from our parents… Let’s learn from our friends… And, let’s learn from each other. Join me on a quest to make a better world, one child at a time!

    I hope this touched some of you, and maybe even inspired you to vow to be a better parent.

    Typed (and conceived) with love,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Get Your Beach Body Now!

    Since the New Year is here, and we already discussed resolutions… Let’s talk about the most popular New Year’s resolution in the world… Get fit. I want to take it one step further, and assume that many of you with this goal are actually trying to burn some fat, add some muscle, and look all around better for the Summer.

    We already know (from my previous articles) that fitness is extremely important, that pushing yourself to and beyond failure is a huge key to success, that making excuses for skipping workouts are weakness, and that you will live longer if you get and stay fit… That isn’t anything new. Today, I’m going to tackle something that I know many of you want to do… Preparing and shaping your body up for this coming Summer.

    Since many swimming pools open on Memorial Day, I thought I would simply count that day – Monday, May 26, 2014 – as our finish point. In other words, we want to achieve our lofty outcome prior to that day.

    Before we do anything, let’s get the dagg-on disclaimer out of the way…

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s figure out our goal, plan to accomplish it, and get started!

    First and foremost, before you dive into a workout routine, I think it is imperative that we carefully figure out precisely what we’re trying to achieve. For ease of use, let’s assume that everyone reading this article has the following desired outcome:

    I want to get healthier, burn some fat, lose a little weight, and pack a little muscle and definition on.

    Perfect! Now we can get to our plan…

    We need to know our timeline… Well, since we know our goal needs to be reached by 5/26/14 it is easy to calculate… We see that we have 20 weeks (approximately five months). This is more than enough time for us to lose 20-40 pounds of fat (if we need to) and tack on five pounds of pure muscle. Plus, and most important, this is ample time to get us in terrific shape for the beach!

    Now let’s quickly tackle each key subject area to getting in shape. Note: I won’t cover this in great detail. Most of you know what I’m talking about, and the remainder of you curious/learning folks can research the web some to get more than you ever imagined possible. If you need more information and tips, start with my Health category.

    REST DAY
    This one doesn’t require much description. Suffice it to say that you must take one day off from working out each week. This day is key to letting your muscles heal from the previous six days of working out, and it allows your entire body to regenerate stronger than before. Do nothing during your day off!

    EAT GOOD
    Do I really need to lay this one out? Simply eat better foods and fewer calories. On top of proper nutrition, make sure you take in liberal amounts of water (90 or more ounces each day). What you eat is what you get! Read my Nutrition article for more info.

    WEIGHT LIFTING
    Hit the iron. Hit it hard. Take your body to utter failure in each set! Do a full-body routine twice per week.

    CARDIOVASCULAR WORKOUTS
    In order to turn your metabolism into high gear, you will do six days of cardio each week. Each day will consist of 45 – 60 minutes of cardio that will have your heart rate in a target range of 65 – 85% of your predicted max heart rate.

    CORE CROSS-TRAINING
    This is an optional workout that you can do three times per week. This is for those of you who REALLY want to rip up your abs and core to give yourself the best beach body possible. Read my Chiseled Abs article for more info.

    Now let’s break the week down (each week is precisely the same over the entire 20 week training).

    SUNDAY – Cardio and full body weight lifting routine
    MONDAY – Cardio and core
    TUESDAY – Cardio
    WEDNESDAY – Cardio and core
    THURSDAY – Cardio and full body weight lifting routine
    FRIDAY – REST DAY (this can be any day, but it must happen!
    SATURDAY – Cardio and core

    Last note… If you’d like more info, I recommend perusing this blog in the “Health” section. Especially checkout this article: healthywealthytribe.com/secret-to-getting-fit

    Finally, pick your butt up and get to the gym to get started TODAY!!! If you follow this advice for the next twenty weeks I can guarantee you a new you!

    I hope this helped, and I hope you follow through! Please keep me posted and let me know about your experiences.

    Good luck,
    Rip

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    Are New Year’s Resolutions Bullshit?

    HaPpY NeW YeAr!!!

    Now let’s address this tough title. I think it’s time that we start facing facts… The fact is that a majority of us will come up with all kinds of cool changes we want to make in our life and follow through with them for a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months… But, we won’t keep them as life long changes. In essence, we will fail.

    I am not a big fan of new year’s resolutions (because I think you should strive to make yourself better EVERY day, not once per year – Kaizen, people!) However, I know that many people set resolutions and it is fun to hear and support them. So let’s take advantage of this new year and do something different this year. Let’s set some measurable goals and stick to them!!!

    Who’s with me?

    Before we set off on this grueling task, let’s take a quick look at why so many folks fail. I believe the main reason for failure is not proper follow through with maintaining and tracking the goals. If that is true, than we can easily cure this. We should write down our goals and track them on a regular basis.

    My plan is to put my goals/resolutions in writing (on this post and on printed paper). I will also do a quarterly blog article about my goals (and anyone else who responds here with goals) that lays out my goal progress throughout the 2014 year. In this way, I hope to better myself by keeping my wants and needs on my immediate radar!

    I’m sort of contradicting myself (I do that sometimes), by starting this post bashing New Year’s resolutions and then asking you to create some. My point was to make sure that we do things differently by following through and actually accomplishing some (or all) of these!

    Hypocrisy aside, here is my resolution/goal list for 2014:

    Vaughn’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Do something special for Kristine;
  • Start my new(ish) career and get back on track;
  • Continue the debt turnaround (path to becoming a financial wizard);
  • Turn up the training for triathlons;
  • Do Mountains of Misery again and stay in the saddle for both hills;
  • Start 5/3/1 weight lifting routine and get stronger;
  • New Military Press PR (personal record) of 150 pounds;
  • New Deadlift PR of 315 pounds;
  • New Bench Press PR of 235 pounds;
  • New Squat PR of 275 pounds;
  • Preparation for Mt. Rainier in July 2015;
  • Publish Decrypted;
  • Finish Weapon 67 (my second fictional title);
  • Finish outline for non-fictional book, (title pending for a “growing up” book) and get agent approval;
  • Start super-secret business idea and start ball rolling;
  • Work with Hemophilia Foundation of MD (HFM) on the board and make progress;
  • Continue focusing on this (HealthyWealthyTribe) blog and update at least twice per week.
  •  

    Feel free to put your goal list for 2014 in the comments below. That way we can track each other’s goals and how we’re doing throughout the year.

    Note: If you comment on this post with goals/resolutions, you will be held accountable and called out in my quarterly update post about goals!!! So beware! That said, if you’re like me, that will only incentivize you to participate!

    Here’s the goals/resolution post schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – This initial post
  • Tuesday, April 1, 2014 (April Fool’s Day!!!) – Our first quarterly check-in
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Our second Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Our third Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Our final check-in and evaluation
  •  

    So… What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2014?

    Your friendly neighborhood motivator,
    Vaughn

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    When the Going Gets Tough…

    The Tough Get Going!

    I know this saying sounds cliché, but sometimes each of us needs a kick in the tush! As 2013 comes to a close, I thought I would quickly chat about something that most of us like to avoid discussing. Life can be tough. We all know that… But we don’t all react the same way to tough things in life.

    Stepping into 2014 let’s agree (together) to battle this tough life head on! I mean come on… Is it really that bad? I don’t think so.

    Anytime I feel down in the dumps (yes I do, I just avoid showing it if possible), I think about people who are less fortunate than me. I mean there are people with no legs who somehow manage to thrive in life! There are people with inoperable brain tumors who refuse to give in and keep living despite their ailments!

    If these folks can survive and thrive then who am I to complain?

    Your life will have its downs. You will struggle sometimes. Some things will seem unbearable and inescapable. You need to suck it up and carry on during these times.

    If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that even though we have hard times and down times, life will always come back around and improve. Just batten down the hatches and trudge through the tough times.

    What do you do to help yourself during your times of need?

    Let’s make 2014 a banner year!!!

    Love you all,
    Vaughn

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    Writing is Tough

    In past articles (Checkout my Inkslinger category for more writing blog posts) I alluded to how easy it is to write and publish. Today, I will play Devil’s advocate and tell you just how tough it is.

    When I wrote my first book, it was essentially a timeline of my life. It started out as a journal of sorts and then worked its way into a book. However, it didn’t just come flowing out of me in a matter of hours or even days. It took years. And, it was hard work. Spewing forth words isn’t tough, it’s the assembly and management of those words to compile them into something readable and enjoyable by others. This was the challenge for me.

    I wrote an hour or two each day for months on end. Then I would go through and adjust parts. After a couple of years of this, I had my book.

    The second book, Decrypted, was just as crazy. It was different, because I didn’t live the story. This one was tough on another level. But, it did sort of flow out of me. I didn’t know what would happen at the end of each chapter, because I had a slim outline at best (more of a skeleton). Most of the story surprised me as I wrote it. The tough part of this one was simply staying in the game. It took a butt-load of motivation and willpower just to keep writing it.

    A few chapters in I found a local writing group. This was an immense help! I mean, I was meeting weekly with like-minded folks who asked me regularly, “How far did you get this week?” This was a challenge and I struggled some, but mostly it helped me. They also asked for chapters to read so they could give me advice and feedback. This helped me as well, because I felt compelled to have something complete for them on a weekly basis.

    Now I’m working on my third book, Weapon 67, and I’ve found a whole new problem. The problem is, I have four books (Weapon 67, a young adult fantasy, and two non-fiction) in my head. I’m struggling again, but for a different reason. This time, I find it nearly impossible to stay focused on the one book. I have so many ideas popping around in my head, and that is driving me mad!

    So you see… Each book has had a different set of problems and challenges. However, there is one common theme: None of them were/are easy.

    I imagine that my next book will have some additional complications, but one things remains for me… I love writing. And, for this very reason, I will continue to do so, despite (or in spite of) the fact that it is hard to do.

    This article wasn’t meant to scare you away. More like a reality check. Writing is awesome and spiritually fulfilling. It is something magical. But, let’s not kid each other… Writing is tough. I merely wanted to point that out.

    Who among us loves writing, or has thought about writing? Please share your insight and experiences.

    Cheers,
    Mr. V

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    One Rep Separates the Boys from the Men

    That’s right folks… There is a secret to making physical gains after all… The secret is…

    *drum roll please*

    ONE REP!

    Most will have you believe that the secret is actually going to the gym and working out. While this is true for beginners, it is not so for intermediate or advanced lifters. The true secret, and the thing that separates the boys from the men (or the girls from the women) is the last rep. I’m dead serious!

    Depending on where you fail, and where you quit, determines the type of gain(s) you will make. I mean it… If you REALLY want to make measurable gains in your level of fitness, your strength, and/or the size of your muscles then you need to do one more rep.

    You know how when you are doing curls and it gets tougher as you’re finishing a set? That is because your body is reaching muscular failure (your lactic acid threshold). Well, the largest portion of your gains will be made precisely AT (and even beyond) muscular failure.

    It is easy to type, “just do one more rep.” However, if you are really at your limits and cannot possibly do anything else, then one more rep takes more discipline and determination than anything you’ve ever imagined. If it is so tough that you cannot imagine completing it, then you are there, my friend.

    So, the next time you’re banging out reps and calling it quits when it gets too tough, and your body is screaming, and your muscles are failing… I challenge you to do just one more rep. I know it feels like you couldn’t possibly do one more. I know that it hurts. I know that it is tougher than imaginable… I also know that this is the point in which your muscle will make the biggest gain!

    I have a simple plan of action, and follow this same routine each time… Try this:

    First, you must know your limits… Know approximately where failure will occur. I am intimately familiar with my body and what weights take me to what failure point at how many reps. If I’m trying to make bigger muscles (maximum slow and fast twitch muscle fiber hypertrophy) I will aim to fail between 8 and 11 reps. If I can’t muster eight reps than I know the weight is too heavy. If I do more than eleven, than it’s too light. Adjust accordingly. (that said, for strength gains, I shoot for 6-8 reps before utter failure / for fat burning (I never do these, unless I’m simply doing periodization and switching up routines) I would shoot for 12+ reps).

    Once we know the proper weight, bang out your ten(ish) reps. Go until you are certain you cannot do another rep.

    Now comes the tough part (I’m not kidding folks… If you are truly at failure, this could possibly be the toughest thing you do all day)… You must dig deep. You must tap your inner willpower. You MUST do one more (painful) rep. For best results, use a spotter who can take a half a pound off the weight by lightly touching the bar and helping you accomplish this.

    Try chanting this in your mind, “Anyone can do one rep!”

    USING EVERYTHING YOU HAVE – GET THAT LAST REP IN!

    We aren’t done yet. Now we are going to do what lifters call a negative. Instead of dropping the weight and crying, we SLOWLY lower the bar over a six to ten second period, using every ounce of energy left. If you did it right, tears will be welling in your eyes, your muscles will be SCREAMING, and you might even feel light headed. Congratulations!!!

    If you can accomplish this with each set, I guarantee quick results. You will make (and see) serious gains that you never thought possible.

    Give it a go and let me know what you get out of it!

    Thanks for reading,
    Rip

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    V is for Victory

    I’m gonna start this article with a disclaimer… I do have a sharp tongue. I often give people the wrong impression. As my friend, Katty, says, “There’s a fine line between being proud of what you’ve done with your life and rubbing your accomplishments in the face of someone else that doesn’t have your motivation.” Obviously some people don’t have the same motivation as me… That does not make them a bad person. Sometimes when I try to “help” folks by talking about my personal accomplishments and what I’ve been able to do (or can do) and combine it with my sharp, blunt tongue, it can (and does) hurt feelings.

    If you do not have a thick skin, I will probably offend you with this article. I apologize in advance… But, if you don’t want scary answers then stop asking scary questions!!!

    I sincerely love all of you! For different reasons I have found joy in my relationships with everyone I know. Life is a playground… You’re gonna scrape your knee sometimes. We dust ourselves off and get back in the game. That’s a given. But, when you fall on the monkey bars and land on your nuts… That’s what separates the boys from men.

     

    Without further ado… Here comes the rant!

    It’s hard for my friends to understand this, because for the most part, they are overachievers as well. But… I believe that most people are lazy. And, not in a good way.

    When I first started this article I really just wanted to talk about body language. Have you ever noticed that when someone runs across the finish line of any race they raise their arms into the air creating a “V” as they complete the race? This is especially true of someone who wins the race. And, referees do the “V” to signal a touchdown. The weird thing is that pretty much every person from all different backgrounds does this famous “V” when they are victorious. It is a natural reaction to throw your arms in the air when you win! Rocky (and other boxers) did it with every win and every success!

    I recently asked myself, Self… Why can’t you simply raise your arms for victory before you do something and then be better at it? The answer I got back was strange (mostly because I was talking to myself)… I can. That’s right folks… I believe in the power of body language. We all know it is important for communicating our feelings with others, but many of us didn’t know it works for ourselves too. Try it. Put a huge smile on your face, hold your head high, and throw your hands into the air. You will feel like a million bucks. And, your chances to succeed will increase exponentially.

    Now let’s segue into the second half… Simply throwing your arms in the air is not enough. You MUST dig deep and stay motivated to accomplish great things!

    Dead Horse… Kick… Yada… I was born with hemophilia. I spent my entire childhood being told by doctors, parents, adults, siblings and friends what I COULD NOT do. I was rarely told what I could do. At nineteen I was told by the family doctor that I would be dead within the next couple of years. Did I give up? Nope. Did I die? Nope. Have I been held back by my disorders, viruses, diseases, and injuries? Say it with me… Nope!

    After my HIV diagnosis, I spiraled into a stint with drugs and suffering. Shortly after that bad faze in life, I was gripped by reality and turned my life around. I went from making $9 per hour to running an entire systems department. Within five years of this, I had quadrupled my salary. QUADRUPLED, people.

    Two years later I started a computer consulting company with two close friends. Within a year we had twelve employees and were pulling in $2,000,000 in annual revenue.

    Since then, I have had two children even though I’ve been told countless times that it isn’t even possible.

    From a fitness and healthy perspective, I am sick and tired of hearing people bitch and moan at me about my LUCKY metabolism. Funny thing about my luck (to paraphrase Harold Hamm), “The harder I work, the luckier I get!” Most people see my slim, muscular build and assume this is a metabolism thing. Has anyone seen my father? Metabolism is not one of our gifts. I workout HARD and OFTEN.

    I play hard – Ask any of my mountain biking buddies. Ask any of my paintball buddies. Ask any of my motorcycle friends. Ask any of my climbing bros. Ask anyone who off-roads with me.

    I workout hard – Hello? Come join me at my gym (it’s called The Vomitorium) for the beating of your life… If you dare, punks!

    I work hard – I haven’t gotten where I am in the business world by sitting on my thumbs.

    I study hard – I have literally read thousands of books about manifold subjects. Ask my dirtbag friends what I did when we started climbing… I am a self taught computer programmer. I am a certified personal trainer who adamantly studies exercise and the human body. I am certified and taught motorcycle classes to beginner and advanced riders.

    Did you know that I post an article on this blog every other day? Do you think that is easy? Do you think that’s air you’re breathing? HA!

    Am I rough around the edges? Hell yes. Am I a straight shooter, who will tell you how it is? Yep. Most people around me appreciate my bluntness… Those who don’t rarely last.

    Do I know the secret to life? Nope. But I know what it ain’t… Lazy.

    Enough tooting my own horn for now… There will be plenty of time and other posts for that.

    (:

    Am I vain? If being proud of my accomplishments in life is vain, then yes I am. Merriam Websters defines vain as: having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements. I do show pride in my appearance and achievements… Is it excessive or undue?? I say, nay.

    Do I have to be vain and have an enormous ego to accomplish great things? Absolutely not.

    I guess my point is that it takes some confidence and motivation to really push yourself past the envelope. In life, people will try to bring you down. People will try to tell you what you can’t do. People will doubt your prowess. Prove them wrong!

    Do you have some accomplishments that you battled to get? Do tell…

    I challenge you all… Step it up a notch! You can start by motivating yourself, and by starting tough tasks with your arms raised into a “V” for victory!!!

    I will leave you with this:

    Tony Manero: You know what I wanna do?
    Jackie: What?
    Tony Manero: Strut.

    *struts*

    Posted with an edge and some love,
    V

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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