The Pondering Coconut
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Health and Wellness

I know my WHY!!

By April 7, 2017 Fitness, Health and Wellness, Something to ponder

What is the point of getting up in the morning, driving to work, staring at your computer screen for 8 hours, driving home, spending only a few moments with your family, going to bed and waking up in the morning to do it all over again?

Just over a year ago my 6 year old son called me into his room one night and asked me a question that caused me to examine my situation at the time, with a serious demeanor he took a deep breath and asked¬†“Dad can we travel the world? I want our family to travel the world together, I want¬†to see the world!!”. ¬†Surprised at his¬†question and sincerity I replied reluctantly, “Yes son¬†we are going to see the world as a family, that’s why Mum and Dad are working hard to make that happen”. All the while thinking of how the f@#$ I was going to pull this off?!

 At the time baby number 4 was due to arrive and I had previously come to the conclusion that the 9 to 5 rat race life; the pursuit of things; paying bills and being a mindless drone on autopilot was not for me. Now with my son having shared his desire with me it only added extra fuel to the fire, but still the question of how? haunted me.

I did not want to sell my soul to a ponzi or a get rich quick scheme and¬†whatever the vehicle was I felt that it¬†had to be connected to what was¬†important to me. I learnt a useful concept called finding your Eulerian Destiny¬†from investor, entrepreneur and author Tai Lopez. You’ve probable encountered one of Tai’s¬†many ads online or heard his Ted talk; Why I read a book a day (and why you should too); the law of 33%. The concept is¬†derived from a eulerian graph/Venn diagram where four circles¬†intersect with each other:4 Circles

Each circle is populated with experiences that coincides with the following categories:  1.What did you grow up around?;  2. Stranger feedback (what do strangers say about you);  3. What have you been doing for work in the past 5 or 10 years?: and lastly  4. What can you talk about effortlessly/what fascinates you?  The common denominators should appear in all four circles giving you a clearer picture of what your purpose or destiny may be.

Over a period of days the exercise got me looking far back into my past moving from conversions, interactions and experiences that I could recall right up to the present. Common traits, skills and accomplishments began to connect. At the center, to my surprise was the skill and passion I had for running?!

Hmm ok…”¬†I didn’t know how running was¬†going to get my family and I around the world ¬†but I thought, ” ahh¬†f@#$ it, there’s¬†obviously¬†something to this running thing and I love it!!”¬†

So fast forward a year and a bit to now, my wife and I have lost a significant amount of kilograms between us and run in a few full & half Marathons and a 10km around the North Island of New Zealand with more on the horizon. If I were to include the GPS training logs¬†from my Tomtom Spark Watch¬†and¬†wife’s android phone I don’t think there would be one path or trail that we haven’t crossed in our region, but I suspect there is more out there to be discovered. ¬†We have also completed multiple 5km Parkruns at our beloved Bothemly Park in Porirua¬†and at times done so with¬†our 4 reluctant children in tow.

We still haven’t made it around the world just yet but¬†we will get there when the time is right. ¬†At the moment my family and I are loving what we are doing, seeing the beauty right here in our own backyard of Aoteroa. I no-longer feel like a purposeless, mindless automaton who’s existence was to pay the bills and acquire things!! I have gained a true appreciation for life, enjoying the here and now with an optimistic outlook for my families future. ¬†I have always loved to run and now I run knowing that it is part of the reason I have been put on this earth. I will continue to refine my purpose revisiting the four Eulerian circles from time to time, but at last I know my why!!

 

 

 

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Running on love “My First Marathon”

By November 1, 2016 Fitness, Health and Wellness, Something to ponder

Done and dusted, my first marathon has officially been banked!!

I’ve been quiet on the blog posts with the exception of my Instagram training logs since undertaking training for the 2016 Auckland Marathon. I needed to conserve¬†all the energy I had to persevere¬†through injury, juggling family commitments, work, and Wellingtons unforgiving weather conditions.

I must admit that coming from Wellington my perception of Auckland was somewhat skewed as one tends to focus on its negative aspects such as traffic congestion, crowds, the crazy housing market, and again traffic congestion. But as I took a moment and pulled my mind back from gravitating towards the dark side the treasures began to appear, the beauty of Auckland harbor and its water activities, cafes, beaches, the humming viaduct, the warm weather, the diversity of people and especially its the place my beloved extended family call home.  We perceive what we expect so for me I expect to see the beauty in all things.

I expect that there are many who perceive running events or running in general as a waste of time, a crazy pursuit, an exercise in self-adulation, an otherwise caucasian dominated spectacle.  Well, they can be what you want them to be and you can judge from afar, missing out completely on the triumph of personal achievement, networking with positive people who are physically tearing down personal barriers and my personal favorite appreciating and beholding views that have to be seen from the perspective of a runner. There I find a deep sense of being connected to something much bigger than the human condition.

So the race, if I attempt to describe it all I would miss one detail and every detail to me matters so maybe I won’t try and describe it at all, but I’ll keep it close to my heart as one of the best experience of my life, from the¬†initial thought of doing a marathon to crossing the finish line…oh and barely being able to walk a few days after the excitement subsides.

I set a goal of finishing in 3:30hrs and exceeded my expectations by 25 minutes finishing in 3.05 minutes….I am officially hooked.

This marathon was for my loved ones both past and present, especially my kids and my beautiful wife who are my number 1 supporters and my fuel to succeed.

See you in 2017 Auckland Marathon!!

 

rt20x30-afin2217

 

 

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Our interpreted World

By August 3, 2016 Health and Wellness, Something to ponder

 

Albert Einstein stated that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”. Our perception of reality is formed by information that has been gathered by our five senses:¬†touch, taste, hearing, smell, and sight. You could say that our view of the world is a construct built from sensory stimuli that your brain translates¬†in order for you to make sense of it.¬†In a way, the world as we know it exists only in our minds, as we do not experience it directly. What we are experiencing is our brains’ interpretation of the information collected by our sensors.

So we are not directly experiencing our environment, for example, the sound we hear are our ears response to fluctuations in air pressure with which our brain then interprets and the colors that we see are our eyes detecting the way in which light respond’s to the property of a particular surface of an object. Therefore the sound or color we experience is not inherent to the object but is an effect that the object invokes within our minds, it is a subjective experience, hence¬†“Our sensory experience of the world is a reality we can’t look behind to see what’s really there…”¬†(Bobby Berman – bigthink)

How much more skewed would our perception of¬†the world be then if our¬†health or the delivery systems that transport this sensory information to our brains were in a poor condition? Possibly not the most accurate representation of the environment that we are subjectively able to perceive, like a dirty pair of spectacles that¬†do not receive the appropriate amount of care, the wearer’s ability to navigate obstacles would be somewhat diminished.

I guess the point of this post is to highlight how our health can affect the interpreted¬†experience we have of our world. ¬†If “knowledge is power“, and I’m sure that these words originated far earlier than who Wikipedia¬†attributes ownership ¬†to, then the quality of information with which we derive knowledge from is vital in achieving our personal goals.

I’m currently 5 weeks into training for the Auckland Marathon¬†and have invested in a few training aids i.e, Tomtom Spark GPS WatcTomh, Bluetooth¬†earphones, Nike+ running app etc. ¬†The information that these training aids provide me with enables me to monitor my performance and make the necessary adjustments to my training & nutrition to ensure the best outcome for my efforts. I could train without them but the information these aids give me helps me to clearly ¬†visualize my goal of running my first marathon whilst boosting my self-esteem at the same time.

Why further cloud our experience of the world with sub-optimal health when we are already experiencing the world through an interpreted experience?

 

 

 

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I think its time to run my 1st Marathon

By June 14, 2016 Fitness, Health and Wellness
Marathon

For whatever reason I’ve been putting off doing my 1st marathon, and it’s not because I lack the fitness or drive to do it.

So today I decided to commit to running my first marathon. I have plenty of time to prepare, 19 weeks as of today. I’ll use this week to research the essentials: training plan; nutrition; work & family timetable to keep the balance; and some gear.

I don’t¬†want to over analyse it, just do what I have to do and enjoy the journey.¬†I’ll keep a training log and post updates on here.

Let the fun commence!!

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A strong body requires a strong mind

By May 11, 2016 Fitness, Health and Wellness

Working out and eating right¬†I can do. I am also a firm believer in working out the mind as much as the body. However, I must admit that although I have been consistent with the exercise and nutritional side of things the latter has been sporadic as of late. I mean I still read, listen to podcasts, blog and meditate, but it’s lacking a bit of order. It’s not absent, though like exercise it needs to be reassessed or tweaked here and there.

In my case, I need to go back to the bread and butter, a very beneficial tip received from Tai Lopez’s 67 steps program that I tweaked a little to fit my regimental style of training … a little tip from me, bypass the hate and skepticism you might encounter when looking this bloke up, his s@#$ is good and I don’t receive any dividend for saying so.

Anyways where was I?..right my reading regime: a¬†classic in the morning for 15-30 minutes; Something of heuristical value at midday for 15-30 minutes; and a biography or autobiography before bed for no less than 15minutes. Whilst reading I keep my eye out for anything that provokes or resonates with me; what Tai describes as being a gold miner who for a set time heads out to the river and returns at the end with whatever “nuggets” that may be found. I keep a log of my thoughts with regard to the “nuggets”, and any leads to other material I¬†might want to explore further.

I don’t always start from the beginning I skim through the contents, chapters and see what captures my interest and start there. When I finish the book I place it back amongst my treasured library like a friend¬†that I hope to visit on another occasion…‚̧ԳŹ my book collection. I read across a broad spectrum of genre.

My reading is not restricted to this regime outside of it I read many books from start to finish, but I like that it is a basic foundation which connects with my regimental style of working out…I’m a little robotic like that, as Arnolds Schwarzenegger would say “everything is reps, reps, reps.”

In conclusion, your body requires a strong mind to improve physically, so it is just as important to develop a strong mind. Author George R.R. Martin wrote that “…a mind needs books¬†as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.”

Stay sharp

 

 

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Learning to rest can be harder than exercise

By May 8, 2016 Fitness, Health and Wellness, Something to ponder
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Putting the feet up and not training is a hard thing for me to do. I train all year round and have a week and a bit¬†off of training between every 12-14 week cycle. During this rest period, I do enjoy the freedom from my routine, as well¬†as a few little nutritional indulgences here and there. However during this downtime, there is a little voice in my head that keeps telling me to train. So whilst supposedly resting, I do throw in some weight sessions, log a few kilometres of¬†earth-treading and hit out a couple of sessions of boxing. It doesn’t¬†really sound like much of a rest, right? Well as that voice keeps delivering parcels of guilt I do manage to free myself from the clock with which my training cycle seems so closely entwined.

I record every minute of every hour during training cycles making sure that my time is managed efficiently between family and work commitments. Managing my time can seem so rigid during training cycles and the one thing that I do appreciate during rest periods is that room to breathe, even if I still exercise I do not have to be so pedantic. Freedom from the clock!!

Time is often mentioned as being our most important asset, and that’s¬†true for the most part. But I think you can reach a point where you can feel as though your time and workouts are controlling you. ¬†This could be the origin of that little voice that is so used to my training being on cue with the clock? The time passes by and my heart rate has not yet elevated; sweat has not perspired; the pump in the muscles is absent, and my protein based meals just aren’t happening as frequently.¬†“What the f@#$ is going on” my body must be thinking, and it does relay that message via a guilty voice.

As the years have passed by I have learnt to quiet that voice and appreciate it at the same time. I have learnt to give that voice a vacation for its efforts during training “you deserve a rest buddy, I’ll see you in a week or so”¬† And I listen to it intently when it’s time to refocus, hmm sounding a little schizo right now…ūüėČ

¬†Well, it’s been working for me because today is day 1 of the next cycle of training and the voice I have learnt to embrace is flowing smoothly¬†with my athletic output.

Hmm, you could think that resting for me is harder than working out? I need to remind myself that resting is not the same as quitting. oh well to each there own, but to all, I wish a happy and healthier lifestyle ✊

 

 

 

 

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The Family “Dojo” – Our Shrine to Healthy living

By May 6, 2016 Fitness, Health and Wellness

The family #dojo #healthyspaces #theponderingcoconut

A photo posted by @theponderingcoconut on

There is a space in our family home that has undergone several changes over the past 37 years. Built from the ground up by my father and his relatives,¬†the space has gone through several stages: as a function room for extended family gatherings; it was once a bootlegging brewery; a few versions as a home gym; an MMA pit; and for an extended period of time a storage room for things my parents would horde. If the walls of this room could talk…oh the stories it would tell.

Currently, this space serves as a fitness studio/music studio/Friday night Karaoke spot. What once paraded Darts; Rugby League; Rugby Union sporting memorabilia; and an extensive beer can collection, has for the past 3 years been repurposed as a centre for self-improvement and positive affirmation. Gone has my father’s blue suede¬†Elvis portraits and in its place are weight plates; barbells; skipping ropes; pull-up bars; a power cage; punching bags; and yoga mats.

With the obvious benefits of not having to pay for a monthly¬†gym membership, the current setup servers my young family as a totem to living an active and healthy lifestyle, a maxim my wife and I wanted to instil in our children. Of course, this is not a pretty setup that sits idle and forgotten. The “Dojo” is in regular use for the activities I previously mentioned, with the smell of oxidising iron and a musky undertone of sweat from regular use, it has its own pulse. A few posters and affirmations would definitely enhance its appeal, but the bottom line is that the kids see us using it and are encouraged to use it also. The “Dojo” combined with a number of family-friendly activities, is geared toward our family maxim and exerts a¬†positive influence on our whole family.

Any space I believe¬†can be transformed into a place of Zen and focus, for what was once utilised for shady, hedonistic pursuits in the hood is in this instance our own little¬†shrine to better living. Our beloved Dojo¬†‚̧ԳŹ

 

 

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Barefoot on Collaroy Beach

By May 5, 2016 Fitness, Health and Wellness

Waking up to the sound of waves crashing on the shore is a rear luxury for me; and oh… how I envy those who have that¬†privilege. It¬†is a dream that I hope someday will be a reality for my family, but for now,¬†the short coastal holidays will have to suffice.

Everywhere I travel, I make sure I tread the earth and log a few kilometres. So as though setting foot for the first time¬†on the moon, I embarked on what I initially thought would be a light and easy 3Km jog on the golden sands of Collaroy Beach. Unlike running on the compact iron sand beaches of New Zealand, the golden grains of Collaroy are a little like quicksand. What would usually¬†be a light 15 to 16 minute 3Km run in New Zealand was easily doubled to a sweat pouring; quad burning 25 to 30-minute barefoot run. Although it may have looked like I wasn’t struggling at all, I managed¬†to retain a facade that suggested the opposite. Contrary to my local New Zealand barefoot running haunts, I got to cool off in the beautiful carved out rock pools that are present throughout Sydney’s¬†Beaches.

If I had the luxury of running that every day I’m sure my legs would be tree trunk-like, and my skin golden from being near naked due to the¬†enviable climate of Sydney.

Anyways, for now back to the iron sands of NZ.

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Where does your treasure lie?

By May 3, 2016 Finance, Fitness, Health and Wellness, Something to ponder
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How much time and money do you spend or invest¬†on your health?¬†I shouldn’t¬†expect a return on anything that I have not invested anything in, right? Well, your bank or credit card statements are good places to start looking if your wanting see what you are actually investing in. Your social media behavior;¬†Twitter news feeds, Facebook likes and friends¬†are also good indicators of the amount and types of content you allow to take up space in your mind, is that content conducive to a healthier you?

Start by identifying the transactions in your financial accounts¬†that¬†appear as though they would be beneficial to your physical or mental health.¬†¬†If you¬†find the names of¬†takeaways, bakery’s, bottle stores or caf√©s¬†appearing more¬†frequently than say health supplements, fresh produce,¬†fitness equipment, gym fees or training gears, it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t be expecting a positive return on your health.

Social media can exert varying degrees of influence¬†on our daily lives via images,¬†news, memes and advertising, so it is important that the content you consume¬†is conducive to improving your physical and mental health. The benefits of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter is that you can regulate some of the information that you read everyday and intern you are able to regulate the company you keep in cyberspace.¬†There is a saying that goes a little something like this¬†“You become the average of the six people that you spend the most time with”¬†Do a quick inventory of the¬†social media accounts that you follow and the friends that you connect with, what or who¬†is taking up the space in your mind? are they a reflection of the goals you are wanting to achieve. Are you liking and viewing images that contradicts the lifestyle you want.¬†Purge that which has nothing to do with adding to you physical and psychological wellbeing. Connect and follow only friends or¬†accounts that are relevant to what you are wanting to achieve. This purge¬†not only applies to cyberspace but also the real-world.Sometimes a branch¬†that produces¬†nothing needs¬†to be pruned in order to promote growth and higher yields on a branch that is productive.

So follow the trail¬†of money and your social media behaviour should reveal what is important to you.¬†“For where your treasure is, there your heart is also” – Matthew 6:21. Make the recommended adjustments to your financial statements and social media¬†consumption, and it will be reflected in¬†your physical and physiological appearance.

 

 

 

 

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Barefoot Running

By April 27, 2016 Fitness, Health and Wellness, Recommended Books

There has been a bit written about the pros and cons of barefoot running in recent years. Approximately a year ago I came across a TEDx talk where author, journalist, and runner Christopher McDougall, spoke about how the modern shoe had transformed our running style from forefoot striking to heel striking.

Christopher suggests that the modern shoe has made redundant many of the functions that our lower limbs have been designed for, which has resulted in a list of common running-related injuries: Runners knee; Achilles tendonitis; Plantar Fasciitis, Shinsplints; Iliotibial Band Syndrome, the list goes on.

Years of sports and running has left me with¬†many of these common running related injuries. Some injuries have¬†persisted more than others causing me to move on from the activity from which I sustained them…a demoralizing transition! ¬†

I had little optimism when it came to recovering from injury. I wallowed in self-pity and any news about celebrity athletes who were forced into retirement¬†by injury, only served to emphasise my pessimism and self-doubt. I mean If these guys with annual salaries that make what I earn seem like ashtray change couldn’t get it sorted what chance did an amateur like me have of making a full recovery?

When I came across¬†Christopher’s TEDx talk I thought what the hell it sounds like a lo220px-Born2rungical argument, I’ll give it a go.¬†Eventually, I¬†brought Christopher’s book “Born to Run”, admittedly a little voice¬†at the back of my mind was saying “you’re a sucker for good advertising”.

“Born to Run” describes how a personal running injury led Christopher to numerous specialist and therapy sessions that all suggested that unthinkable!! give up running altogether. Obviously, not an option for Christopher to consider, so he¬†started to¬†look for answers outside of western medicine.

The traditions and running style of a Native American people of north-western Mexico called the Rarámuri or Tarahumara, piqued Christophers interest and became the subject of his enquiry.  This tribe is known for their prowess in long distance running; and most notable the absence of shoes, or conventional footwear in the western sense of the word. Their ability to achieve near superhuman performances in the absence of modern technology warranted an in-depth analysis of their lifestyle and running methods.

Christophers made comparisons between Tarahumara and Modern western runners which led him to assume that as western footwear evolved so too had the corresponding running styles alongside the increase in running-related injuries.

Armed with this newly acquired knowledge I began a slow transition into barefoot running, first the local rugby fields and then a few local beaches.

What I have discovered thus far and one of the key point that I have derived from “Born to Run” is the motivation for running is different. Westerners run for accolades and competition.¬†The Tarahumara run to survive, running is intrinsic to their perception of the world, they bond and run with delight.

I have come to embrace a similar outlook in my approach to running. My feet and its senses have been entombed within shoes, which means that I have been perceiving the world with less than the senses I have available to me. Since barefoot running there seems to be a little more colour, a little bit more  awareness and appreciation of the world I occupy.

I have moved on from running to log my kilometres to running and being aware of the present moment. I have become grateful for what we have in this world and most of all my running has improved.

I always look forward to getting out barefoot and amongst the collective that I feel privileged to be a part of.

Give it a go!!

 

 

Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall

Are we Born to Run? – TEDx Talk; Christopher McDougall

 

 

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