Category Archives: Personal Stories

Projects Update Fall 2012

So I made myself a list of “current projects” that I wanted to complete this year. So far I haven’t really fully completed any of them. I have procrastinated on writing the books I wanted to write, haven’t met my physical goals, and got just a few things done on the house.

There are a couple of reasons I haven’t really done well at accomplishing my goals for the year. For one, my project to hike the Colorado Trail in June really took a lot of my time. Besides me not being around for the whole month of June, I also spent the months of March-May researching what I needed, and buying stuff to test out before I went. Book writing was put on the back burner.

My weight lifting goals suffered because I started putting emphasis on getting into running shape to break 50 minutes in the Bolder Boulder 10k. My training probably could have gotten me the time I wanted, but I had a severe side stitch the day of the race. I couldn’t believe it. Regardless, I think my days of achieving running related goals are over.

The rest of the summer till now is practically a blur. Between traveling and coming back to 60 hour work weeks I haven’t had the energy to put into my other projects.

Things are finally starting to calm down at work and I am looking at roughly a 2 month window to finish some of the projects I started. We have a few final things to do with the house before we sell it. Looks like we will be selling it without doing the bathroom remodel, but all the little things need done. I still want to finish my personal finance book which looks within reach if I can motivate myself to write just a bit each day. And my time frame is a bit too short to hit my weight lifting goals, but I am well on my way there.

And of course I am adding other projects as usual. The Drench Tees project I have been working on is finally up and running. You can go to our website @ My friend Haylee Powers started this as her senior thesis project and it just took off. We have been selling shirts like crazy and 50% of the profits go to a water related charity. It’s been fun helping her start the business and I am excited to see where it goes.

It has also inspired me to start doing more portrait photography to make a little money on the side. I just bought a new lens for portraits. It is Nikon’s 85mm 1.8G prime lens, and I am so excited to start using it because the test photos look awesome!

Anyhow, that’s the update for now. Lessons learned….

1. Try not to have competing or clashing goals. (i.e. running doesn’t complement weight lifting very well.)
2. Limit the number of simultaneous projects.
3. Split big projects up into chunks where you can accomplish a bit each day (i.e. book writing).
4. Love it all! If I don’t love running all that much, maybe I shouldn’t worry too much about doing it.
5. If they seem worth it, trade one project for another. Hiking the Colorado Trail and helping Haylee start Drench Tees are two of the best decisions I have made in my life. Got to follow your gut instinct and not be afraid to change goals or put aside certain goals till later so you can accomplish some important ones now.

Till next time…


Also posted in Life Tagged |

Thru Hiking the Colorado Trail – Prologue

Growing up in a rural area of southwestern Pennsylvania certainly lends itself to these types of things. And by these things I am referring to what some might consider to be a crazy trek across 500 miles of mountainous terrain.

You see in southwestern Pennsylvania a lot of people don’t seem to mind standing out in the cold rainy snowy weather to watch a football game or hunt for deer. Maybe that doesn’t seem normal in your part of the country or world, but it was normal to me.

I grew up in a family full of hunters and my uncles actually owned an archery shop for awhile. My dad was a purist who used a recurve bow while my uncles embraced the latest technology that was to found in using compound bows. Needless to say we all spent a fair amount of time in the woods.

I was also a boy scout growing up. Besides racing pine wood derby cars we also spent a weekend every year at a local state park camping out and learning all kinds of cool outdoor skills like building fires. For some reason, the other boyscouts chose me to start a fire at the fire building station (you only got three tries to get an award for the station). You would think any boy would jump at the chance to start a fire, but maybe they just recognized that I spent a lot more time outdoors than they did. One of my proudest achievements came years later as I was starting a fire in some of the wettest coldest conditions possible. It took about an hour if I remember correctly, long after everyone else gave up, but our group really needed a fire that particular night.

The idea for this trek comes from another well known trek called the Appalachian Trail. Everyone knows someone that has done it, but no one had hiked the whole thing in one season themselves. It took on a mythical quality for me. I heard stories spoken about these people who hiked the whole thing and I figured they must be something really special.

It became a dream of mine to one day hike the AT (Appalachian Trail). But like most big ventures it got put aside for other priorities. You know the ones I speak of. Career, family commitments, etc. Nobody really gets 6 months off of work to hike a trail. So you do it when you are really young or old and retired. The “really young” part of my life has already passed me by, and the “retired” part of my life is a long way off, if it ever really comes.

Dreams don’t really die though. They take different forms. For instance, it has been a goal of mine to eventually visit all 50 states of the U.S. I am currently at 48 states with Hawaii and Alaska left over. To a certain degree this goal is easier than hiking the AT. I spent about 11 days driving up through Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. And I have visited the rest of the states for various degrees of time. Years spent in Colorado and Pennsylvania. Hours spent in South Carolina just to check it off the list. Sorry South Carolina…

Which brings me to this coming summer. Every year I usually spend about 2 weeks of the summer traveling. When I first arrived in Colorado I spent a lot of time exploring every part of it. Over the past couple years I have been neglecting it for other destinations.

Something else really got me thinking about hiking the Colorado Trail this year though. My job requires me to be present during the months of July and August (prime backpacking months) so June is my travel month. The problem with hiking the high country in Colorado in June is the leftover snowpack. Snowpack in high elevations makes crossing the area difficult and navigating the trail near impossible. June also carries with it a chance for snowstorms at higher elevations.

This year however, the snowpack has only been about 50-80% of the yearly average. I have been watching the snow depth gauges closely and this year’s snowpack makes it look like hiking some of the high country in May might even be possible.

Put it all together and you have a smaller, but perhaps more beautiful, cousin of the AT that is doable for me without quitting my job or taking an extended leave of absence.

For comparison the AT is almost 2,200 miles and takes most people 4-6 months to complete. The Colorado Trail is roughly 500 miles long and by going a little faster than normal I plan to finish in a month. To go a little faster I have started doing a lot of research into the lightweight backpacking philosophy…

This is part of the “Through Hiking the Colorado Trail” series…

Also posted in Colorado Trail, Life Tagged |

An Interview With Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, Inc.

I just ran across this great interview of Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, Inc. and Food, Inc. fame that was orginally posted on Robb Wolf’s Paleo Diet website. Here is the link…

Interview With Joel Salatin

I like that he is a realist and really believes in economics and community. I learned a lot from this interview, especially how he came to be where he is today. Good stuff.

Also posted in Life Tagged , |

Gaining Muscle, Losing Fat, Looking Great

I have been doing tons of research lately.

Digging back into Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body…

Going through the archives at and

Learning more about MMA training and the differences between big strong muscles and lean dense muscles from people like Eric Wong.

And finally digging through blogs of people who are losing weight to try and find common denominators between them. Found a good link listing 25 blogs to dig through here…

Also, one of my co-workers asked me to get him started on a plan to lose 30 pounds of fat. I am excited to apply all my knowledge to see just how effective it is.

So far I have gained about 8 pounds in 16 days with my weight training and diet program. My goal here is to gain most of my pounds in lean muscle muss and not fat. I do expect to gain some fat but it should be a minimum amount.

I started out weighing 139.2 lbs and plan to get up near 160 lbs in 2 months. My lean muscle mass started at 122lbs and I plan to bring that number up as close to 140 lbs as possible. Progress seems to be coming fast but some of that weight is probably just water weight from increased water retention.

My Basal Metabolic Rate (BMI), the rate at which I burn calories while resting is 1565.6. Every little activity you do during the day adds to your average calories burned per day. Unfortunately most people don’t add much more to the total amount because they are not doing anything too strenuous. For instance, walking only adds an average of 43 to 52 calories burned per mile. *Source

If all you do every day is walk around your home to get ready for work, then walk to your car, then visit a few co-workers at the office, come home, cook dinner, and plop down on the couch to watch tv before going to bed… Well, let’s just say you probably aren’t burning more than 2,000 calories a day. Even though my job requires more movement than most white collar jobs it probably doesn’t cause me to burn a whole lot more calories through the day.

By the way, You can calculate your BMI here…

For my current diet I am aiming for 3,000 to 4,000 kcal per day. I am also aiming for 1.25 grams of protein per pound of lean muscle mass that I am aiming for. I am aiming for 140 lbs of lean muscle mass so I need 175 grams of protein per day (140 x 1.25 = 175).

I am working out twice a week which allows for a lot of rest and recovery time. I also do a full body workout to failure both days. This means my whole body is requiring those nutrients to rebuild itself into something bigger and stronger. My calorie consumption probably only goes up to 2,500 kcal on workout days which leaves plenty of calories left over for rebuilding.

I currently take at least one or two protein shakes a day equaling roughly 300 calories per shake. Sometimes I mix the whey protein with Bolthouse Farms’ Protein Plus which is a blend of low-fat milk and soy milk, or I add it to orange juice depending on whether I want more carbs or more protein during that particular time.

On workout days I take Creatine AND a protein shake with OJ before working out. Then a protein shake with milk after the workout along with the biggest meal I can eat which is balanced between fat, protein, and carbs. Extra protein shakes and big meals help compensate for the extra calories I am burning during workout days.

I’ll talk more about my workouts later, but I will emphasize that it is really important to bring not only your physical game, but your mental game as well.

Until then…

Also posted in Blogging, Life, Web Logs Tagged , , |

Healthy Eating, Dieting, and Food Combining

Longtime readers of Insight Writer will know that I got excited about the Paleo Diet last October and tried it for awhile.

Normally my body stays in a very tight equilibrium. I’ve weighed the same amount and have looked roughly the same way I looked 10 years ago.

I tried the Paleo Diet as a way to experiment with eating a different variety of foods, and to see if eating a new diet would increase my energy levels. The Paleo Diet basically recommenends removing all gluten from your diet and replacing it with other more beneficial proteins. (Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other related plant species)

While I did experience better energy levels (my original intend), I also experienced an unintended side effect. I lost fat around my mid section and lost weight for the first time in over 10 years.

The results both fascinated and scared me (because I did not want to lose any weight), and I have since adopted wheat products back into my diet, although in much smaller portions.

Here are a few articles I wrote up during that time period…

1. Mark’s Daily Apple – Primal Living in a Modern World This is the primary blog I read about the Paleo or “Primal” diet.

2. Salad For Breakfast I am now thoroughly convinced that if you replace ANY food in your diet with vegetables you will instantly see better results. With that being said, I still don’t recommend vegetarian diets exclusively because even vegetarians don’t eat ALL vegetables. Remember… Grains, Legumes, Fish, Fruit, and all the other things vegetarians eat are not vegetables. Meats are not the enemy. There is certainly more to be said on the subject in the future as I do more research.

3. Eating Healthy On a Budget Many people are concerned that they can not eat healthy on a budget. That organic food costs too much, etc, etc… That is simply not the case if you do some very basic research, some food planning, and are willing to shop around a bit. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as well…

4. The Best Snack Food For Weight Loss From my own research and experimentation I have found nuts to be extremely helpful in helping people to lose weight. I think I may be adding seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds to the list in the near future. These little things are amazing, but like all things, should not be taken in excess.

5. How Eating Meat Can Save The Planet I wrote this to show that once again, meat is not the enemy, and that raising meat can be an effective way to use land that can not be used as well for crops. And again, protein from animals that eat grasses can be really healthy for you. Again, more on this subject later.

Random Things…

1. I am still pondering the idea that clean water, wastewater treatment, and antibiotics are the three main things that have contributed to our longer life spans in the past century. Better food, pharmaceutical drugs besides antibiotics, and better surgical technology have not contributed to our long lives as much as we would like to think.

2. The Personal Finance Challenge Series is going strong over at Insight Writer, and I am surprised at how many ideas of am producing for it. I’m also surprised how much I am starting to enjoy writing about personal finance.

3. As I allow Insight Writer to be exclusively about personal finance for the time being, a wealth of ideas are popping up about health, nutrition, exercise, and everything related. I keeping thinking how science can be used to better our lives. I haven’t watched it yet, but this is an hour long movie I plan on watching about The Making Of A Scientist. I found it in a forum thread on ERE called Is Scientific Research Worthwhile? Some places are better than others for doing research and many people are disgruntled with the current system of university research. While I have aspired to a PhD in the past, and still aspire, although less so, to one in the future, I still would like to make the case for the amateur scientist. Which is why I love people like Tim Ferriss.

With all that being said, the subject of “Food Combining” will be my next research project. Until then…

Also posted in Web Logs Tagged , , , |

Life Lessons From Running a Marathon

I ran a marathon today. It was a bit painful near the end because I didn’t really train too hard for it. My longest long run was only 13.1 miles. I knew I had to have some luck on my side to finish strong, but it wasn’t my luckiest of days…

Lessons Learned:

1. Luck isn’t always on your side – Don’t count on it in any equation. Let it be the icing on the cake if it shows up.

2.Most good things require investments of time and effort – I didn’t put much of either into this marathon. I had a baseline of running practice (2-10 miles a couple days a week), but it wasn’t enough.

3. Camaraderie can carry you far. – I had a friend who was a pacer for the marathon. We had a pretty good group going for most of the race. We joked together, shared some stories, and overall had a pretty good time. It made the race very enjoyable.

4. You can go further then you realize – Most people sell themselves a bit too short. The human body and mind are both more powerful than most people realize. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a real challenge every now and then.

5. Pain always has something to teach you – A lot of people tend to ignore pain, whether it is physical, emotional, mental, or social. Pain tends to get ignored for far too long. On the flip side, pain also tends to make people give up way sooner than they should. The key is to be smart about pain, and what it is trying to tell you. There is a lot of wisdom to be found in pain.

I used this race as a way to hang out with a friend, to get back into marathon distance running, and to see whether I would still want to compete in an ultra marathon (30-100 miles), or just stick with the 10k’s (6.2 miles) I am used to.

My body is telling me running an ultra is a bad idea, but my mind is telling me it is still worth a shot. Only time will tell. Rest assured, I will be taking some of my own advice next time around…

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