Projecting

These are projects I’m currently working on:

MY OWN HEALTH

     This is something that I will focus on for the rest of my life. Being genetically predisposed to obesity, heart disease, cancer, stroke, etc. (Thanks Mom and Dad and their mom and dad and their mom and… you get it) means that if I don’t take care of myself, it’s much more likely that I’m going to suffer in my health and likely I will die young. I don’t want to die young. I’d like to be the first Flamm in generations to see 70, 80, dare I say 90 years old. Ultimately, it’s about being the best ME I can be. Lately, since deciding I want to help others with their own weight and health, though, it’s about more than that. It’s also about not feeling like a fraud, a fake, or a POS. I want to be able to look others in the eye(s) (hey, some people only have one) and feel good about the advice I give them or the way I train them, because I know something works and I’m able to do it myself. This purpose drives me to be a better me. If I can have a career that encourages me to be better AND help others be better versions of themselves, what more could I possibly ask for?

DEFINING WEIGHT LOSS AND NUTRITION PHILOSOPHY

It’s easy to read something and nod your head. It’s harder to take that information and store it and then teach it to others. Right now, I’m in the process of trying to accomplish just that. Luckily, I have people that believe in me enough to allow me to attempt this information-passing-on to them. I have to narrow down my own beliefs if I am to feel confident enough to pass them on. For example, would you expect a person who is Vegan to not share why they have chosen to be Vegan to you if you ask (or even if you don’t and never did ask?)? It’s about convictions. If I believe in a specific lifestyle I should, in the very least, have a strong opinion about why I believe in that lifestyle.

SCHOOL

I am going to school full time. I have been for over a year now. I plan on getting my four year degree. Just over a year ago, this path looked daunting and LONG. I’m over a year (almost 4 semesters, actually) in and it still seems daunting, but not as much so. I have roughly four semesters left. I’m halfway there. I have finally (after going to school off and on for 14 years) picked my degree: Dietetics and Nutrition. I feel better about this than any I’ve ever picked before. It makes sense. It makes purpose. I’m 100% on board. Couldn’t have happened at a better time (maybe a little earlier in life, but whatever).

CAREER

As previously mentioned, I have a career path now. It’s pretty specific. It can become more narrow and niche, but it’s further along than I’ve ever had one pathed (that’s not a word) for me before. The great thing about it is that I can now simply fill in the blanks and start checking things off. Have I mentioned how exciting this is?! Oh, I haven’t actually. Well, there ya go.

SKETCH WRITING

I haven’t done this since 2012. I have the itch again. I long to collaborate with people smarter and funnier than I am. Taking a creative writing course this semester has done this to me. Damn you school for actually inspiring me!

WRITING (IN GENERAL)

Blogging, ebooks, actual pen to paper, telling stories, writing poems… I love it all. It’s mostly for fun (like this post/blog), ego, and soul-searching, but it’s a thing nevertheless that is always worth pursuing for me. Fun secret about me: I own more notebooks than probably anyone you know. Fun fact #2: Most of those notebooks have about 5 pages worth of use out of them. I don’t care. When I go to Target (or anywhere that has notebooks) I think “hmm, do I need a notebook?” and the answer I come up with is “Yeah, I do.” Even though the answer SHOULD be “um, no idiot, you have a million. Use those.” I never listen to SHOULD statements.

IMPROV COMEDY

This one I do less and less, it seems. But it’s still important to me and always a relaxing, enjoyable experience. It’s my version of fishing. Time at the pond soothes your soul. Like most things I challenge myself to, it can never be mastered and there in lies the reason I continue in it. I am sick in the head.

SOFTBALL

It’s weird calling this a project, but I take it just as seriously as some of my other ones, so it makes some sense. I don’t drink with a side of softball. In fact, we don’t drink at all when we play (some do the night before or right after). We tend to take it semi-serious and I spend time during the week working on my swing as well as my pitching and defense. I hope to play softball until I die at the age of 70, 80, or dare I say 90 years old.

JOB

I separate this from career. I think most people would agree. Right now, I’m doing my job in hopes of being able to work on my career and someday that career will become my job. My job is meaningless, but it does take up my time. It’s an unfortunate by product of having to pay bills. The goal for my job is to simply make me enough money to fund what I actually want to do in life. I look forward to the day when this particular project ends.

What’s the point of this post? Besides the reasons I mentioned earlier? I like categorizing things. I like small paragraphs. I also like collecting everything into one clean sheet of paper. Then I can move on to the next notebook (or blog post).

What are your projects in life?

 

Whatever Scares you the Most you Should do

I’ve decided recently that instead of always being the one to offer advice, maybe I should actually take my own. I’m the type of person that if you were to come to me and say “Oh, man, I really love (x) I think I should quit my job and do that instead.” I would reply with “Um, ya, you idiot why are you wasting time. DO THAT!” To me, it’s so obvious. You have one life, why wouldn’t you make it the best life it can be and why wouldn’t you follow your dreams.

Yet, I don’t do this myself.

I realized this a few weeks ago. I have a half brother, who I’ve seen probably 20 times in my life. We keep up with each other, like most people, on facebook. Well, a few months ago he began to do stand-up comedy. So, I went and saw a show of his recently. After the show, he actually said to me, “honestly, you were my inspiration for doing this. You do improv and I see your posts all the time and I thought I should give it a try.”

Now, I’ve been told I’m an inspiration a lot over the past year and a half. Almost all of it because of weight loss. This is one of the first times though, after being told that in which I felt like a hypocrite. It hit me hard.

For a long time now, I’ve been focusing on behavior psychology, health and weight loss, nutrition and all of these things (mostly the things on this site, actually) and every time I consider making these things my career I put myself down and cast barriers. The same things I tell other people, I don’t follow myself.

So, over the past week, I’ve come to grips with this fact and I don’t want to feel like a hypocrite after receiving an amazing compliment from someone. I’ve decided to make the things I love into my career.

What exactly will that be?

I don’t know. But, that’s okay. I have faith that through my natural passion for these things I will learn ways to make it happen. I have begun to read about what it takes to be a nutritionist or a dietitian (or even that “dietitian” and “dietician” are both proper ways to spell the same thing, who knew?) or a personal trainer. I want to help obese people get their life back because I have been there and I know what it takes. I also know the value of doing such a thing. I want to help other people achieve these things. I’m going to do this and I want to do this for a long time.

So, time to take my life to the next level. It’s time to no longer consider myself a hypocrite or a fraud. It’s scares the crap out of me… which means it’s the right thing to do.

If St. Louis Improvisers were Hip Hop Artists…

For funsies, I’ve decided to form a link between certain popular hip hop artists and improvisers in St. Louis. Hopefully, those I name will enjoy this and even those that I don’t will enjoy it as well (you might be next!). So, if St. Louis Improvisers were Hip hop artists this is who they would be:

Steve Raines/ Drake

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“From the bottom to the top, now we there” could sum up the quick rise of both of these careers. “Rainsey” much like Drake blew up quickly in the game. Now they are two of the hottest on the scene and everyone is vying for a piece of their action.

Jake Sellers and Jacob McGuire/ Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

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When these two collaborate, it’s magic. Dropping references that everyone understands while at the same time being as relatable as any rap/improv player out there. Sellers and McGuire have also excelled due to an independent label (Meowsers) and now like Macklemore and Lewis the sky seems to be the limit. Not sure which Jake is Macklemore and which one is Lewis – but perhaps that’s how great duos should be.

Michael Barrows- Fitzgerald/ Nas

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One of the best, if not the best. And boy, does he love to prove it to you. If anyone can drop some “ether” on a heckling audience member it’s Fitz. Much like Nas, Michael came into the game strong and continues to make a case (even when he doesn’t have to) for why you shouldn’t forget about him when considering the elite.

Melanie Penn/ Lil Kim

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When this fireballer opens her mouth everyone listens and it’s always so cute, no matter what expletive comes out of it. She can hang with the crotch grabbers and stir a big pot with the best of em. She’s been around way too long to be surprised by anything and she’s seen a lot of improvisers come and go over the years. She still holds strong and finds a way to stay relevant.

Lorne Cox/ Snoop Dogg

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Much like Snoop surprised everyone by switching to reggae while at the top of his game, Lorne shocked the St. Louis improv world by initially passing on the opportunity to realign into a Harold team. Now that Lorne is back in the mix, it will be nice to see that laid back attitude that can still spit with the best in any scene he finds himself in.

Andy Sloey/ Lil Wayne

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Sloey like Lil Weezy, has nothing much to prove. He’s a top player in the scene and whenever he shows up in a scene or drops a verse everyone is reminded at just how spectacular he is. He is also the best at making everyone else around him more successful just like Wayne does with his YMCMB.

Meghan Kenny/ Nicki Minaj

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The baddest chick in the game right now. Not only that, but Meghan can be found scening with anyone and everyone in St. Louis improv. Need a line to blow your mind and take your scene to the next level, phone up Meghan. You never know what she’s going to say next, but whatever it is she makes sure you remember who she is.

Eric Christensen/ Jay Z

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Maybe the best improviser in St. Louis. But, he’s too busy proving that he’s more than a improviser with his newfound success in StL Uplate. He has nothing to prove to anyone but himself and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. His brand just keeps growing and he’s bringing talent along with him. Not sure if he’s quite on the level of Tom Ford tuxedos for no reason, but with his work ethic, he might soon be.

My “Success So Far”

Being “in process” is very difficult for me. I imagine it’s difficult for most people, since things like resolutions, aspirations, and dreams get dropped by most on the daily. Perhaps the difference of those that are able to finish things and those that aren’t is the ability to realize that you are struggling through the process and at the same time be OKAY with it. Part of realizing that it’s about behaviors and not results, is just that. Somehow you just have to have the trust that doing the things daily that needs to get done, will get you the results you want. It’s a faith. But, it also works my inner insecurity to its max. I think I’m beginning to accept that I need motivation just as much as the next person. So, I seek out things to continue in that motivation. Success stories, for my weight loss, do that for me. I like reading them.

At some point, I’d like to write my own weight loss success story. However, I feel like I’m still transitioning and that it will be silly to write it right now. Usually, when you read one it’s a complete 180 for the person. I’m more toward a 140 or 145. I still have a chunk of degrees to go. Perhaps that’s selfish of me. Perhaps someone out there would find my “success so far” as something that is perfect for them to get up and get moving in the right direction for themselves. Perhaps that’s my ego talking and I want others to find me or what I do as important. I look at bodybuilders as people who have to be quite obsessed with themselves or at least in how they look in order to get to the point of muscle that they achieve. I can’t ever imagine loving myself (or my image) that much. But, then again, what’s the difference between bodybuilding and blogging?

Perhaps in the end all that matters is that we get the job done that we wanted to get done in the first place and how we go about it (assuming it was ethical and didn’t hurt anyone else in the process) doesn’t really matter. Truth be told, I can’t vision myself being done with anything or feeling completely finished with some kind of task until I’m dead. Even after I get to the body I want, the emphasis will be to get to either a) a new body or b) to maintain my body as I age. Throughout my life, I’m going to gain 20-30 pounds and lose 20-30 pounds several times over. Life happens. Emotional times hit. Tragedy strikes.

So, essentially, if I can’t share success in the beginning (because I haven’t accomplished anything) and I can’t share it in the end (because the end never actually comes) and NOW I can’t even share in the process (because I’m IN process) then how would I find success in anything I ever do? It sounds like the best way to share in success is to accept wherever you are in any moment and just be honest and truthful about that spot right now. “Before” and “After” don’t really exist except in before you are alive and after you are dead.

Sharing success then should be a daily thing. It should be a thing that exists because it’s happening right now. Right now someone is looking for that motivation to continue on in whatever it is they are trying to accomplish themselves. I hear the phrase “you are inspiring” quite a lot since I’ve begun sharing my weight loss journey with people. The insecure-selfish person in me replies in my own head with “I’m still so fat” or “I haven’t really done anything yet.” This does more harm to my own psyche than an extra piece of cake would do to my weight loss. I avoid the cake… maybe I should avoid the self-hate as well.

So, yes, I have lost a lot of weight and I am super proud of myself for doing so. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done and each day I get to reap the benefits of doing it. I feel sad when I see other people struggling with their weight or even worse, not seeming to care that they are going to live a shortened life. On one side of my family, everyone seems to die in their 50s. I’m determined to break that cycle and change the entire course of my family’s history. I’ve taken on that burden because I feel like it’s my duty, but also I’ve taken it on because I want to be that strong. I want to carry an entire family tree on my back, uproot it, and plant it in a more fertile area of the field.

Now that would be a success story worth reading about.

January is over, how’d we do?

January is over! New month, new behaviors checklist. First a quick recap:

In January, I wanted to recommit to going to the gym 6x a week (ended at 20x total, for 5x a week), I had an idea I might join Crossfit (I chose to follow a bodybuilding.com workout instead), I wanted to finish my Darth Plagueis book (still didn’t), I wanted to recommit to the FMD diet (except for cheat days, I did), the girlfriend and I wanted to hold each other accountable (we did!), Post weekly to the FB group (I have), One hour of coding (donezo!), Increase financial responsibility at home (cha-ching), and lose as much weight as those behaviors would allow me to (lost 19 pounds and definitely gained some muscle).

All in all, a pretty good month. I also lost 8 1/2 inches overall. Which means I’m fitting in my clothes again. I am 12 pounds away from the lowest I’ve ever been (by ever I mean since becoming an adult). Most importantly, I was able to just focus on behaviors for the month and not worry about the numbers. I think in the past it would’ve bummed me out a little bit that I lost ONLY 19 pounds and didn’t reach 20. This year, I’m proud of it. Also, I feel like I am in even better shape than I was when I was a lower number in weight. I think the muscle addition has been the most I’ve ever had. My legs are SOLID.

A few interesting things to note in January. 1) I have changed my outlook on my current job. An opportunity was presented to me to try and change jobs and I am pursuing that opportunity. So, instead of trying to increase my workload at my current job, I’m actually considering something else. I think this shows why month-to-month planning and resolutions are better than trying to set year long resolutions. Life changes too much. 2) My workout has evolved- which I plan on talking about at some point. 3) Re-reading old books and articles, I have also changed how I view foods a little and my diet has also evolved into something mildly different – again, I’d like to post about that as well. Basically, things that are important can change importance and forgotten or newly founded ideas can alter behaviors. 4) It wasn’t part of the plan but the gf and I have signed up for our first and second 5k. We will be doing the Cosmic Run on March 29th and the Graffiti Run on April 13th. How awesome is that?! And it wasn’t expected, but… life.

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So, for February-

* I am still going to follow the guidelines of the FMD diet (no soy, dairy, sugar, caffeine, wheat, alcohol) except we’ve decided we get 1 cheat day (more like one meal) a week. I also have added in elements of the Slow carb diet, by Tim Ferris.

* Workout 5-6 days a week. I’d like to beat the 20x I worked out in January. I started February off with no workouts on the 1st and 2nd and since there is only 28 days in February, that makes it harder. So, gotta get at it! Also, I’d like to continue working out on a regular basis with my gf. Since we both have the same goals, that should help us do just that.

* Since we are doing our first 5ks, I need to train at least 3 times a week on top of my weight lifting plan. By the way, my plan is the Lee Labrada plan you can find here. I have also re-found the kettlebell exercises that are so highly touted by Tim Ferris and have incorporated that into my workout multiple times a week. I used to kettle the bell all the time in my early days of weight loss. You can read about the importance of that here on Tim Ferris’ blog.

* Continue learning programming on Khan Academy dot org.

* I already submitted my resume for a new job – so keep fingers crossed all month!

* Use my school pell grant refund to re-supply my savings that I have used to get new tires on my car so that I’ll stop sliding due to the Game of Thrones like winter we are having.

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* In the theme of saving money and eating better, I’d like to take my lunch to work more often. It would save me $20-30 week and I don’t have to succumb to the options that the grocery store has at 9:30 am (since I start work at 430am, that is often my lunch time). This would help me a lot I think and I really need to do this behavior.

Ultimately, you can’t have the second month of a plan without the first one, but I believe that the second one solidifies the first one and can really make long term habits if you can be successful with it.

If I’m able to keep this up all month, I should be set for the rest of the year in this routine of setting monthly behaviors and getting great results, that aren’t the focus, but the results of those amazing behaviors.

What’s your plan for February?

I chose to run 3.2 miles today; it made me cry

I wanted to quit after the first mile. I really wanted to quit at mile two. When I hit mile three, I smiled in victory. Point two miles later, I was sobbing and had to leave the gym before anyone saw me.

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Yesterday, my girlfriend and I signed up AND paid for our first 5k run. It will happen in March, it’s the Cosmic run. We’ve talked about running one for awhile now, but never committed to actually doing it. Now that we’ve paid for it, we’re going to do it. So, today, I wanted to see what I could do. After my workout (which was legs, btw – DOH!) I hit the treadmill. Because running outside is barely like running on a treadmill, I put the incline at 3.0 and then I started at speed 4.0. It’s a decent jogging pace for me. I aimed for 45 minutes. I wanted to quit so many times. I told myself, “what’s the point?” “You know you can do it, so why even waste the time.” “Running on the treadmill isn’t the same as running outside, so AGAIN this is pointless.”

But, I wanted to do it. THAT made it NOT pointless. That made it worth achieving. That made it a mission and a goal. There was absolutely no REAL reason for me not to try and prove that I could do it to myself on the treadmill. Every time I wanted to quit I distracted myself. Either with a new song, or by singing along in my head, or just looking down at my feet concentrating on breathing or other things. The point was not just to run. The point was to push past all of these mental barriers.

It’s the same with my weight loss. The point is NOT to get to a certain weight. The point is NOT just to lose weight. The point is NOT just to live a longer life. The point is all of those things and yet none of those things at the same time. There are always going to be days I just don’t give a damn. Then there are always going to be days that I give so much damn that I wonder how I have days where I don’t give a damn. The point is knowing that no matter what kind of day you have that you are still you and you can do amazing things that you never thought you could do. You can do it when you want to and you can do it when you don’t want to. And if you can do it because you want to, then you can DEFINITELY do it because you have to.

I don’t have to weigh 416 pounds. And now I don’t. I don’t have to have a life that makes me completely unhappy. So, I don’t. I don’t have to be able to run a 5k. But, now I can. I don’t have to be happy with myself and my life. But, now I am.

The Peter Principle; Why Managers are Awful

The Peter Principle states that “workers are promoted to their highest level of incompetence.” Essentially, the way our management system works is that if you show competence in your job, you are promoted. If you do it again, you are again promoted. All the way up until the point where you are no longer competent. At that point, instead of being put back down, where you would serve at your highest level of COMPETENCE, you are left at that level, doing a terrible job. Since hardly anyone is ever demoted back down in this system, this applies to management everywhere. This is the system we’ve built for ourselves. In this system, we are left with constantly believing (because it’s true) that managers are bumbling idiots who never seem to know what they are doing, but can do whatever they want because “they are the manager.”

peterprinciple

Why?

I think it has a lot to do with necessity and fear. Imagine a District Manager who oversees Store managers, who in turn over see everyone at their store. We are talking corporate here, so there is a chain of these stores. The Store manager decides one day to quit. They hand in their two week or 30 day notice and the DM is suddenly in need of a new person to run their store. There is likely some system in place in case of this. A system that involves training someone such as an Assistant Manager so that they are prepared to take over the job. Even if you do have a few of these in your back pocket, it’s likely that over time, these will run out and instead you are left with people who are also at their highest level of incompetence. The best case scenario is that the DM steps in for the SM, (who has likely already had this job to get to the point where they are now) and runs the store for themselves until a proper replacement is found. But, this NEVER happens this way. Instead, the DM begins to scramble to find a replacement usually within the store itself or surrounding stores. They choose from a pool of Assistant Store Managers who have also “earned” their way up to that rung of the ladder. Inevitably, one is chosen and a new SM arrives.

It doesn’t matter if the ASM is actually prepared or even fully trained for the job. There is a need. There is an urgency. They are placed within the system. Once that placement begins it’s like a whirlwind for that new manager. Just a few weeks ago they were under someone directly. Now they are top dog. Not only that, but they are put in a position to where they have to learn a lot of things on the fly. Profit and Loss. Inventory. People management. Decision making for others. Store Operations. How to order supplies. What their bank is for deposits. Why the previous manager has 15 extra cases of toilet paper laying around. Any bad habits or misconceptions they have about managing real people comes to the surface very quickly. For most, there is a bit of a power surge that gives them false confidence (much like alcohol) and being lost for how to actually handle things take on the mantra “I’m the boss, dammit.” This becomes a war cry as well as a pacifier when things don’t go well immediately. If they don’t know the answer to something they can make it up, because they are the boss (dammit!). And in the meantime, everyone under neath them needs to “understand and recognize that!” “I mean, I was promoted to this job. I EARNED this job, so they just HAVE to listen to me!”

Almost always, when a new manager takes over, there is a level of staff turnover. This isn’t always due to the new manager. Sometimes, it’s a matter of the staff recognizing change and deciding to change for themselves regardless of who the new manager will be. Also, sometimes it’s a matter of actually getting rid of dead weight that the previous manager overlooked for some reason.  Most of the time it’s because of the immediate changes and personality conflicts due to this increased amount of fear and (depending upon the manager) delusional self-talk that occurs between management and staff. This is unfair to the manager and the staff. What the DM doesn’t realize is that it’s also unfair to them. And it also showcases their own level of incompetence. Likely, they will create a firestorm in which they are having to overturn managers more often then they should and their own job suffers because they are spending more time on finding managers than they are on training managers or increasing profits in stores.

So why would the DM handle it this way? Well, think about it for a minute. Let’s say you worked somewhere for 5, 10, even 15 years. You have worked your way up the ladder and now you are sitting at the top. Would you want to take a step back down? Even if it’s just for an extra month? We will justify our decision with why it doesn’t make sense for us to do that. “Well, who will run MY stores while I’m busy doing this?” “That person seems ready. They are good at sales so clearly they know what they are doing.” “I’ll simply train them really well and they’ll do just fine.” Our egos can’t handle the idea of taking a step back, even if it means helping ourselves immensely in the future.

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People make excuses for doing the things they choose to do AFTER they’ve already made the choice of action. Not before. We need the comfort that we know how to make decisions, so we fill our heads with these justifying thoughts after the fact. It’s like a nice heat blanket thrown over us during the Winter Vortex. It feels good. We crave it. So, we create this world within ourselves in which we believe we make logical decisions while everyone else is floundering about uneducated and ill informed. The truth of the matter is we want to be right, so we find reasons for us to be right. Most decisions are made in an instant based upon our bias, our history, and our own life (Read BLINK or Predictably Irrational) and not on reasons we give later.

The mind of a manager is truly irrational and because of the system we’ve allowed to exist, it’s also incompetent. Read a book on management, leadership, behavioral psychology, or anything that starts with you thinking “I need help in this, because I’d like to be better at my job.” Understand that you are affecting the lives of real people and that you can truly never learn enough about how to motivate or understand others. Recognize your own weaknesses and just like AA, the first step is in admitting that you have a problem. The second step is you do not talk about Fight Club.

To recap:
* Management suffers from the Peter Principle.

* People are put into positions whether they are prepared for them or not out of necessity, fear, and ego.

* This begins a cycle of more incompetence causing real people harm and not creating long term solutions.

* If you’re a manager read a book or seek out how you can become a better manager (of people).
 

Coach Flamm

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