Challenging my flexability

Earlier this week my wife started a subscription to MyYogaWorks, which I promptly broke in with a 20-minute session. It wasn’t my first time doing yoga, but I can almost guarantee that I could count each time I’ve practiced yoga with one hand (maybe two fingers). Nevertheless, I’ll call this my “first time.”

For those unfamiliar, MyYogaWorks is an online yoga studio, where instructors go through their sessions on the web and you, the viewer, follow along. The instructor generally has a few people in the class to demonstrate each pose or movement while they glide through the studio describing the actions and feelings you should experience; my instructor was Melanie Lora Meltzer.

I’m going to challenge myself to do each of Melanie’s classes on the site – attempting one to two per week – she has to 118 sessions, to date. Some of the videos are under ten minutes while others can be longer than an hour. The difficulty may be finding the time to accomplish the longer sessions – but I recall a great and inspiring section of George W Bush’s memoir – Decision Points – when he said, if it’s important to you, you’ll find time for it (which is how he explained his ability to workout daily while his time as POTUS). Additionally, to make matters a bit more difficult, I still plan on hitting the gym as I normally would, I do not want to supplement this for weight training.

I’ll keep you posted along the way, wish me luck!

The California Primary is upon us

George Skelton wrote a column in the LA Times as a disgruntled moderate witnessing the failings of the top-two open primary in California. I agree with his sentiment, but disagree with what he believes is the cause of the issue. Skelton argues that because voters in California continue to drift further apart and gravitate closer to their wings of each party (left-leaning voters tend to outnumber right-leaning voters 2:1), the top two finishers in the June 5 primary may well be a left-wing Democrat and a right-wing Republican. This is mainly because there are four contending Democrats – one consolidating much of the support and three others splitting the remainder. That leaves the two front-running Republicans with a good chance of finishing second.

Now, there are still a number of voters who are undecided, which could sway the results and leave Republicans totally off the ballot in the General Election. If you’re a moderate, that’s what you want to see.

Skelton wants to see the top-two system reformed. I want to give it more time to find its footing. You see, in California, with a top-two primary, voters who decline to join a political party still have the opportunity to participate in the primary process. Because party registration in the state is slowly shifting and newly registered voters are choosing to register as an “independent,” we will notice that fewer people become tied to any particular party, or at least see themselves as a more pragmatic thinker rather than a follower of some predetermined dogma.

Skelton and I disagree with the fabric of human thinking in this sense – now this isn’t to attack him, I generally enjoy his commentary and find him a very refreshing voice in the Times; however, that is my point. Voters are more informed than we like to give credit. Of course, if you are a Republican, you generally think all Republican voters have “done their homework” and those voting Democrat are misinformed or ignorant of reality. This is true on the other side, as well.

The truth is that most of us do our homework. We have our beliefs, and those beliefs are rooted in the fabric of our experiences. The more we remove ourselves from party dogmas, the more we’ll allow our experiences to influence our voting behavior, and we’ll free ourselves to think about issues based on our cultural, professional, and intellectual pasts.

Skelton isn’t wrong to fear Gavin Newsom taking on a right-wing Republican, no matter which of the two (R) candidates wins, but that’s no reason to think the system is flawed. The system is working – he says it himself – the California legislature is more moderate today than it was prior to the top-two primary system being implemented (though that’s partly due to independent redistricting).

I’m not going to publically endorse any candidates for governor; however, I do hope that either John Chiang or Antonio Villaraigosa finish in the second spot to face-off against Newsom in November. Both are more fiscally responsible than Newsom but both are socially progressive. I know who I’ll be voting for, and I’m sure that those voters who do not yet know who they’ll support are in the process of doing their best to make an informed decision.

Happy Voting California!

What makes a home?

Every so often (we try for once a week – but it’s probably closer to twice a month) my wife and I take a stroll from our small two bedroom apartment in Pacific Palisades and hike to the beach with the dogs. It’s a nice walk, the weather is so temperate, and seeing the ocean never gets old; we’re incredibly fortunate to be where we are in our lives.

The walks are great, but there is an eyesore; there are increasingly bigger and gaudier boxy homes replacing small single-family dwellings in the community. This is an internal conflict for me: on one hand, I’m a firm believer in the free market and individualism – I’m a libertarian at heart; however, I’m also disappointed in the direction some of these developers and eventual home buyers have taken.

These giant homes just don’t jive with my vision for the world, which, doesn’t necessarily mean my vision is the right one, but it is mine.

All this is to say one thing, I recently found these modular homes made by MADI – an Italian home manufacturer – and they brought a smile to my face. I don’t think every home on the planet needs to look like this, but I generally enjoy the idea that a home can be nice, energy efficient, spacious, and compact.

When I walk through neighborhoods in the LA area, I often wonder, what about a backyard? I see kids kicking a soccer ball on sidewalks because there is nowhere else for them to play – that’s not for me. I know my vision is shaped in part by the lifestyle of my childhood, which included a large backyard during the school year and a 150 plus acre farm when I wasn’t confined in “town.” However, the thought of my future children needing to kick a ball that skids across a paved sidewalk or back alley because there is no yard or field to let their wings spread is disheartening.

I think we can do better than “keep up with the Jones’.” However, it feels like my opinion is not only mine – especially as those in my generation seek out jobs not for the material paycheck but also for the social connection they feel with the organization – whether that’s the direct mission of the company or it involves their company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.

That’s my two cents for today.

A lost Republican dignity

In the year 2000, the George Bush/John McCain rift in the Republican Party was real – Bush the more isolationist (if you can believe it) and McCain the globalist. There was a real fight for the lifeblood of the party. Today, just 18 years later, Bush and McCain are two among the same side of the party I used to call my own.

In 2016 as the GOP primary was really heating up and Donald Trump looked to be gaining more and more momentum, I told many around me that Republican voters were at a crossroads of identity. Ultimately I felt they were left with two drastically different candidates in respect to both ideology and personality; one a more reasonable and sensible candidate in John Kasich and the other a brash outspoken, “America First” Donald Trump.

Of course, I would argue that the “America First” model of policy will not end with America in first and is at best, myopically nativist.

I write this to say that the recent comments by White House staffer, Kelly Sadler, about Senator John McCain are shameful. Those who defend them – or are willing to overlook them – must take a deep and thoughtful look at their own moral compass. John McCain is much more than a firmer presidential candidate, he’s more than a long serving senator and representative of the State of Arizona, and he’s more than a POW from the Vietnam War – is is all of the above and a true American patriot.

I will be the first to say I don’t always support his policy points of view; however, I would never discredit the value he adds to the policy dialogue. Moreover, the class and dignity of the Bush/McCain era is in danger of extinction. Republicans across this country should be calling on Sadler’s removal – but, at least this administration “tells it like it is.”

VCF Summer Wishlist

Generally, with a number of weeks remaining in the season, it can feel premature to think about your summer wishlist. However, La Liga’s Champions League spots (knock on wood) are pretty much secured with Barcelona, Atleti, Real Madrid, and Valencia in safe positions. As I sit and watch the Champions League semi-final matchup of Liverpool v. Roma, I wonder what realistic improvements are available for Valencia this off-season to compete with the major clubs in Europe – and maintain a solid base to continue to compete in the league.

Right Back

There is no question that the RB spot is the biggest glaring weakness for Valencia. Martin Montoya – as much as I generally like him – is not up to par with competing against the top teams in La Liga, let alone the top teams in Europe. My personal thoughts are that he’s sufficient to fill-in against bottom table teams, but Valencia is in major need of upgrading this spot. In a perfect world, Valencia will secure a transfer for someone of the caliber of Hugo Mallo from Celta.

Midfield

Carlos Soler has done an admirable job at RM this season, but it’s evident at times that he’s not playing his natural position. Valencia needs to find a way to bring in a young player that can play the position more naturally, such as Serge Gnabry (even if only on loan from Bayern Munich). This should be a big help with the impending departure of Andreas Pereira.

It already seems likely, but it’s vital for Valencia to secure a permanent move to keep Gonçalo Guedes. The current value, per some media reports, is €40 million. They also need to exercise the option to make the move for Geoffrey Kondogbia long-term. Both players have been integral to the success this year at Mestalla.

 

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Image from ValenciaCF.com

 

Attack

Rodrigo, Zaza, and Santi Mina have all been delightful to watch this season, each picking times to peak throughout the year and combining for some wonderful finishing – the best in 28 years. The connection between Guedes and Mina for Valencia’s only goal against Celta Vigo last week was one of my favorites this year.

There is definitely a chance one of those three will be missing next year, and we can assume Vietto will not be a part of the club for the 18-19 campaign. My hopes are that all three of our important attackers are back for another year, and Valencia can add a realistic addition like Florin Andone, who will most certainly be leaving Deportivo La Coruña in the summer – he is too skilled to be in La Segunda Division.

Rumor has it that Mario Mandžukić will be looking for a new home this summer. This is likely the longest shot, but he is in the latter stages of his career, and he (or another former Bianconeri Fernando Llorente) could be a strong addition. Mandžukić would bring a ton of Champions League and La Liga experience. Outside of securing a solid Right Back, he may be the biggest (and most unlikely) signing possibility this summer.

 

How I keep it consistent

Let me first say, I’m not a certified trainer or a fitness expert; however, I love going to the gym. If I could ever offer advice about fitness, it would be to find a small handful of experts you trust – don’t look for the person that posts the best youtube videos, look for the person that is the most helpful and trustworthy. Second, I, like many, struggle with consistency in the gym, but over the past five months, I’ve hit a nice stride. I’m going to share the things that have helped me with getting my behind to the gym, and things that have helped me stay intense without feeling burnt out.

Make it a routine

It’s very cumbersome and annoying to hit the gym if you have to go out of your way to do so. That’s why it is so important to ensure your gym location is super convenient: close to home, close to work, or somewhere along the way. I like my gym close to home. I get out of the office a bit earlier than most, and it makes it easier to beat traffic if I get home and then head to the gym. For my wife, it’s the opposite, she beats traffic if she goes to the gym before she heads home, so it’s important to her that the gym is close to work.

Vary it up

You have to switch up your routine, which makes it NOT a routine. In my experience, if I am doing the same workout for more than 5 or 6 weeks, I am exhausted. I try to change my workout plan every four weeks or so, but I don’t necessarily put a timeline on it. If I find a fun routine, I stick to it a bit longer. I do stick to a core set of exercises that I feel comfortable with performing, but I enjoy varying up the structure, and reps. For example, right now I’m focusing on more high rep work, however, I think the next plan will focus more on low rep circuit training with supersets and a greater volume of sets. Keeping my workouts fresh and new help me stay motivated.

Gradually increase intensity

My tendency is to dive headfirst into the gym, but that can be a mistake if you’ve taken some time away. It’s important to ease yourself back into fitness. Your muscles, joints, and body overall are no longer accustomed to taking the beating that is running, cycling, or lifting weights. Start small, but over time, push yourself to new limits by increasing the intensity. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a day or week of light training here and there, that can be a nice regroup for your body. However, I find that pushing myself to new limits only generates more drive and passion for improvement.

Water Wise

Wonderful: that’s how I feel at the end of the day when I’m able to reach my water intake goal – four liters. It can be tough to maintain that consistently, but I notice my skin clears up, I’m more alert, and I feel more energized when I am drinking a lot of water throughout the day. The downside is pretty obvious – frequent restroom visits – which can be cumbersome at the office, especially when you’re busy. However, I think there are a few things we can all do to help drink significantly more water – unless of course you already drink enough.

First of all, I find it incredibly helpful to have a one liter bottle to help track how much I’ve ingested throughout the day. I have a Camelbak Chute – as does my wife. I try to top it off in the morning, from the moment I wake up and finish that first one liter before I get to the office in the morning. That gives me two hours to knock it down. The first half of that bottle should be easy, especially if you do it right away out of bed, and then, I sip the remaining half on my commute to the office.

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This is my Camelbak Chute – 1 liter, and yes, that purple box is holding my Sirius Black wand

Now, here is the trick while I’m at the office: I try to drink 250ml (about 8oz) everything I use the restroom – either before or after. It’s like a little alarm I use to remind myself to take a few gulps of water. My goal is to drink two full bottles while I’m at the office before I head to the gym.

The last bottle is the easiest of all – after the gym. I drink plenty of water throughout my workout (which I do not count toward my daily goal), but when I’m in the car driving home, I am very thirsty. That’s a great time to work on that final liter of water. Before you know it, you’ve ingested a gallon of water in the day.

If you’re not going to the gym, just try to drink that last bottle of water on your way home and while you’re at home.

You’ll notice more frequency in the restroom, but I promise, you’ll also feel more alert, and think of the benefit, you’ll be putting in that many more steps each day. I’m “lucky” that I get to take two flights of stairs each time, really keeps me active throughout the day at work.