Work Out Early for Best Odds of Getting in Shape

We have had great weather in Chicago this summer which has given me lots of time to be outside for runs and walks through the city. These stretches in the open have occurred at all times of the day or evening. One observation I made that is anecdotal but makes sense to me is that most of the people I see running outside that are in the best shape are the ones working out early in the day.

Fitting in a workout at any time is worth commending. The key though is making it a regular activity that is rarely skipped. The longer you wait to do your physical activity for the day, the more likely other calls on your time will get in the way or the weariness building in you by the evening will make it tough to follow through.

It is possible to create a workout habit targeted for later in the day. I have seen co-workers and friends in far better shape than me let nothing intrude on their daily workout at lunch or immediately after leaving the office.

However, I like Naval Ravikant’s view. Naval says developing a habit of working out first thing every morning has had the largest positive impact on his life in recent years. In his opinion, the key is making it a priority in your mind. Paraphrasing Ravikant, when a person says they do not have time for something, they don’t actually lack the available time; they simply haven’t made it a priority.

There are plenty of activities that are not priorities for each of us, and it is fine to use the ‘not enough time’ excuse for not doing them. But if there is an area you want to make a priority, the primary adjustment required is a reshuffling of your schedule.

The fastest way to move something to the top of your priority list is to make it the first thing you get done each morning.

 

Quotes on Self-Control, Courage, and Reading/Writing

The following are some quick lines that resonated with me this week:

“The best way to improve your self-control is to see how and why you lose control.”  Kelly McGonigal

“Courage is a love affair with the unknown.” — Osho

“Read, read, read until you can’t read anymore. And then, you write.” — James Baldwin

Be around people that want to see you do great.

A friend who is a college baseball recruiting coordinator told me that when evaluating prospects, academics don’t just matter in terms of passing the classes. The whole point is ‘off the field’ can’t be a distraction. If trying to keep up in class is going to preoccupy your mind, you will not be your best on the field. My note: even as an adult, the same principle applies. Your home life and social life need to have a solid foundation in order for you to be at your best. The simplest, all-encompassing question to ask yourself is, “Do I have good life skills?”

From Meb Faber: When investing your own money or someone else’s, Step 1 is return OF capital. Only then can you think about Step 2: Return ON capital.

“Good thoughts. Good words. Good deeds.” — from the new Netflix movie Message from the King

Four Wise Lines I Read This Week

These are short pieces of wisdom I read during the week that I liked:

You must continually disrupt yourself or you will stop growing. No one will do this for you.

— “I’ve never met anyone who owned a home and paid off a mortgage who regretted it.”

— Jack Brennan, former CEO of Vanguard: “Yesterday will be the worst we will ever be.”

Focus on what you are eating rather than how much you are eating. Quality over quantity.

A Tweak to My Workout Schedule

For several months, my goal was to do a full workout 5 days a week. That would mean up to 30 minutes of cardio (400+ calories burned) and then strength/core work (pushups, pullups, abs). Then I could fit in a couple days off to rest each week. That comes in handy when I don’t have time to carve out an hour for exercise.

Lately, I have been trying to push myself as hard as possible each workout, and the 2 days to rest out of 7 isn’t enough. Also, the full hour workout makes it daunting to get started on certain days. Yesterday, I came across a different idea.

I took two days off from cardio and then ran my fastest time ever. It was eye-opening. I still want to push myself to the brink of what I’m capable of doing because that’s how you grow. However, more rest needs to be incorporated. Anders Ericsson’s research on athletes shows you only need to do 30 minutes of strenuous cardio (heart rate >70% of your max rate; would be >133 beats per minute for 30-year olds) three times a week for your body to grow.

My solution: non-cardio one day, then cardio the next day, and keep switching back and forth. Not a novel concept, but that provides the rest needed for your body to recover from one activity while you are doing the other. The added bonus is no workout lasts longer than 30 minutes. It becomes something to look forward to and knock out quickly rather than a long obligation that must be fit in. There also is anticipation during your day off about how you can’t wait to see if you can beat the previous day’s record when you get another crack at it.

Focus on the What, not the When

Too often while doing the right things, we become disappointed by the lack of visible progress from our efforts. We set out a plan to lose weight, achieve a milestone in our exercise, earn a specific bonus, get a promotion, find a job or someone who could be a future spouse, and when it does not happen within our hoped-for timeline, we get discouraged and possibly even end our pursuit.

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Some recent tweaks in my day-to-day behavior that have proven useful

I enjoy making little changes in an attempt to improve how I spend an average day. These are four recent adjustments that I’m happy with and am trying to inhabit on a regular basis.

Outline the total amount of exercise I’d like to do in a week, and fit it into five equal-sized sessions along with two off days – Basically, on the five days I work out, I do 1.4x what I’d do if I was working out every day (e.g., if I want to average 300 burned calories from cardio activity per day, I aim for 420 on the five workout days). I think this helps for two reasons: (1) Having a couple days to rest and recover has become more valuable as I get older, and (2) It takes the pressure off trying to fit in a workout every day. Travel, social activity, or a surge in work hours can get in the way at times, and this allows some flexibility in my schedule.

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Ellen McGirt and raceAhead

The newsletter I’ve really enjoyed reading since recently subscribing is raceAhead, by Ellen McGirt. She is a writer for Fortune. Her daily newsletter focuses on ‘culture and diversity in Corporate America.’

Besides being informative, I think what I appreciate most about raceAhead is the calm and earnest tone she uses to point out what someone may have missed in recent news events.

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Investing wisdom from Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, John Templeton, and others

The June_Street Twitter account posted a series of fantastic quotes from investing luminaries over the weekend. My favorites are below:

From a Fortune piece in July 1998 on Warren Buffett, the big thing is rationality: “How I got here is pretty simple in my case. It’s not IQ, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear. The big thing is rationality. I always look at IQ and talent as representing the horsepower of the motor, but that the output—the efficiency with which that motor works—depends on rationality. A lot of people start out with 400-horsepower motors but only get a hundred horsepower of output. It’s way better to have a 200-horsepower motor and get it all into output. So why do smart people do things that interfere with getting the output they’re entitled to? It gets into the habits and character and temperament, and behaving in a rational manner.”

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Notes from CFA Society Chicago lunch with Richard Driehaus on 3/1/17

Legendary growth investor Richard Driehaus spoke last week at a CFA Society lunch in Chicago. My notes from his speech and the following Q&A are below:

— He appreciates thoughtful research combined with creative thinking, and he welcomes the challenge of there being more competition in active management. Echoing Darwin, he recognizes the strongest and most intelligent don’t survive; instead it’s the ones that are most adaptable to change. Investment knowledge is gained through continuous direct observation. It requires significant focus, dedication, and hard work to be successful in this business. His willingness to change and adapt served him well.

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Notes from Purdue Lecture Series with Stanley Druckenmiller on 2/1/17

Legendary investor Stanley Druckenmiller participated in a discussion and Q&A with Purdue president Mitch Daniels last month. My parents attended the event and their notes are below:

— Interesting guy, nice guy

— Says God gave him a gift to compound money, so he gives it away to nonprofits

He knows he is best off buying 2x his best idea than splitting his investment money between his #1 and #2 ideas.

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