Spinning new adventures into my routine

Have you tried spinning? Not the kind your head does when you’re stressed out, the kind on a stationary bike.

Okay, bad joke, but I’m in my 30s so I can make them.

There is a comfort in having a routine. I love it; it gives me stability. My wife can hate that I love it, but that’s why she’s perfect for me, she helps me throw off my routine for new and exciting adventures. Adventures are what keep us young and thriving.

Here is what I did on Memorial Day: I woke up with my wife and decided to try a spin class for the first time, ever. My initial takeaway – my weightlifting allowed my legs muscles to keep up, but my lack of cardiovascular endurance really crushed me.

Our instructor (Emily B) was great. She helped me set up the bike and explained a little of what to expect. I appreciated it, she was thorough, but not overbearing. Most importantly, even though it was hard work, it was FUN.

You can definitely do this at your own pace, but the tricky thing is getting your functional threshold power (FTP) accurate. There is no way to know without trial and error. I set mine too high, which made things a bit more difficult to keep up.

My lesson: Go, and go frequently. There is nothing quite like it, and I am so happy I gave it a shot. These are the type of classes that can make you feel invincible – but be prepared for some seat soreness the next day.

Spinning, like all types of exercise, allow you to challenge yourself. But unlike lifting weights, which can be intimidating for some folks when they see others preforming at a high level, only you know what setting you’re on, so there is no shame in being a beginner. Look, I was bad, probably embarrassingly so, but let that be a motivator to you – just know you won’t be as bad as I was. Then again, when you are pushing yourself, there’s no such thing as bad, only a baseline.

I encourage you to try it. I’ll be back again on Sunday, God willing.

Be well everyone and Fight On!

Yoga journey continued

Quick update; I’ve stayed true to the promise I made to myself, I’ve continued my commitment to practicing yoga at least once a week. My flexibility is not the greatest, but I can already feel some pretty wonderful improvements; it probably helps that I’ve also stayed committed to stretching each time I finish a weight lifting session.

Today I did a quick 16 min session with my wife. It was nice to have a partner to struggle alongside me – even though she said my breath smelled of coffee; I blame Nespresso for being so delicious.

That’s it for this beautiful Sunday from Southern California. Stay healthy everyone, and Fight On!

My little mission: accomplished

Alright folks, I have a confession to make. In my adult life, I don’t think I’ve ever had a blood test done. I’m terrified of needles; I hate getting shots, but I can usually tough out a quick injection in the shoulder. A blood draw, that’s been a giant obstacle for me.

That is until today.

Here is the proof everyone

I bit the bullet and did it. I was very lucky to have a great compassionate nurse and doctor to help me through it.

The thing is this, after today’s experience, I feel a bit invincible. Getting a blood draw was single-handedly the most challenging thing I have had to overcome. It may sound really strange to many, but for YEARS I have declined the procedure (if you can call it that) when I would have my annual exam.

This is all to say this, we all have little things that seem like mountains to overcome, and even if it seems like not such a big deal to others (flying, riding a roller coaster, or petting a dog), those fears and anxieties can seem debilitating when you are put in that situation. You don’t need to be ashamed of it, I know I was for a long time, as coworkers and relatives would roll their eyes at my terror.

Even if it’s nothing to you (or maybe you feel the same way I do about getting a blood test), I am very proud of this achievement today.

This is just one challenge checked off the list of things to do – now time to move onto the next.

CA moderates should rally behind one candidate: Chiang or Villaraigosa

Today the LA Times published the latest poll in a tight race for second place in the June Primary for California governor – Villaraigosa and Cox are within the margin of error.  If you are a supporter of any of the other Democratic candidates, say John Chiang or Delaine Eastin, but are not a supporter of Gavin Newsom, this puts you in a bit of a predicament.la-polling-for-california-s-governor-race-20180522

As a moderate voter in California, it seems there are really only two candidates that seem palatable: Chiang and Villaraigosa.

The latest poll would seem to push moderates into a certain direction; however, there are still a very substantial number of undecided voters out there that could easily sway the results at this point. With only a few days to go until the election, it’s a bit surprising so many are left unsure.

I look forward to the results, and depending on the outcome, November could be a very simple decision or very difficult.

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.