Getting to Green

Last Friday, my good friend Gene invited me to speak on a panel at the Social Media Club of Kansas City to talk about wearable technology and how it has affected my life, specifically, my fitness.

Shane Adams at SMCKC Breakfast

Before you laugh (which is what I did at first), the truth is that I’m actually a pretty good candidate to talk about a topic like this rather than some tech blogger or gadget blogger or fitness guru. I’m exactly who wearable fitness technology should be designed for: I’m somewhat overweight, a little nerdy and in need of some motivation.

My FuelBand

Two birthdays ago, I asked Alli to get me a Nike+ FuelBand. There are lots of wearable fitness bands out there, but I’m a Nike loyalist so this seemed like a good choice. I liked that there was an app (iTunes) to monitor my progress on my iPhone and the design was pretty straightforward and cool. So in December, I began tracking my progress of how much activity I managed each day.

I set my goal at 2500 “Fuel Points” each day. “Fuel” is Nike’s proprietary way of tracking movement. While other fitness gadgets typically track steps (which the FuelBand does too), I liked the idea of tracking my overall activity. I didn’t have to know the science behind it, it just had to work.

So I started moving more.

At first, I would just move around the house. It was winter in Kansas when I got my FuelBand, so outdoor activities were out. I would get on our elliptical machine at home, or do a workout video…anything to get out of the sedentary rut that I was in. Over time, I became obsessed with watching my FuelBand get progressively more full and I would always feel a sense of accomplishment each day that I “got to green” (reached my daily Fuel goal).

Trying to “Be a Runner”

On a whim, I decided I would try running as one of my ways to get to green. I downloaded the Nike+ Running app (iTunes) because I wanted to see how far I could run and I just started running.

I quickly discovered that running is the worst.

BUT…I looked at my FuelBand after my run and I was already to green. I had run for about 15, maybe 20 minutes tops and I had reached my Fuel goal. This was a revelation to me. I could work out for a very short period of time and get to my daily fitness goal, which is all I really cared about at the time. If I could get to green faster by suffering through a couple of miles a few times per week, I guess I could try it.

So I started running a couple of times per week. I bought some new running shoes (Nikes, of course) and I even upped my daily goal from 2500 to 3000, feeling like I needed to push myself a little more. I entered into last summer and went on a streak of over two months in a row where I reached my Fuel. I was feeling good, so when Gene said to me, “Hey man, I see you’ve been running lately. Do you want to run a 5K together?” I agreed. It would give me something to aim at, even though I wasn’t running more than 2.5 miles at a time. (Adding another half-mile or so couldn’t be that hard, could it?)

“Training” for My First 5K

We put a race last fall on the calendar that was (thankfully) rained out. It was a busy time of year. I got out of the habit of running quite as regularly as I’d hoped. And then winter came again. There would be no 5K in 2013.

Fortunately, Kansas City has a bunch of 5Ks, including one that Gene was the race director for a few years ago. So we signed up for that one.

It was last Saturday.

It was cold and I still don’t feel like I am a runner, but I finished my first 5K, 16 months after I got my first Nike+ FuelBand (I say first, because I had to buy a new one last week when my old one stopped charging). Over that same period, I’ve lost about 20 pounds (I still have plenty more to lose) and I feel better about my health than I have at any time in my thirties.

What’s Next

The January before I got my first FuelBand, I hurt my back so badly that I couldn’t walk for a few days. I had herniated four discs in my lower spine. I went through rehab. I went to the chiropractor. Both told me I had to be stronger in my core. Now, running isn’t exactly good for your back, but it worked for me.

Fast-forward two years later: after I crossed the finish line on Saturday, I looked at my Nike+ Running app. I had run my first 5K at a pace that was almost 3 minutes faster than my original goal (don’t freak out, it was still really slow). I didn’t die. In fact, I thought to myself, “I could probably have run faster.” Which, if you know me at all, you’ll realize that these words coming out of my mouth is as unlikely as me buying season tickets to the Royals.

So I guess I have to find another race, keep training and keep improving. My friend Jake once told me not to focus on pace, but just worry about doing the miles. So I’ll keep running. Then maybe this fall, I’ll try a 10K. Making the jump to a half-marathon…don’t count on it.

And I’ll be tracking it all along the way.

#SFBatkid Saves Gotham (San Francisco)

While it’s true that the internet can be the seedy underbelly of the world sometimes, there are times when it can be the best thing ever. Today, in San Francisco, the Make-A-Wish America foundation has transformed the city into Gotham to fulfill a 5-year-old’s wish to be Batman. Over 10,000 people have volunteered to be a part of the campaign when he will save a damsel in distress and fight both the Riddler and the Penguin. Follow along on Twitter via the hashtag #SFBatKid or check out the Storify below.

And bring tissues.

The Office - Season 9

The Good Old Days

Andy Bernard

“I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you’ve already left them.” — Andy Bernard

Everyone can relate to this feeling — this longing for the good old days that we are sure have passed us by. For some of us, it was high school, where we lived like kings and queens as big fish in small ponds or maybe we didn’t blossom until college where that tinge of awkwardness that kept potential suitors away floated into the ether and we came into our own. Late night parties and staying up until 4 in the morning just to talk because we could.

In my mid-30’s, it’s easy for me to look back on those times and reminisce about that one time we packed 9 people into my green Dodge Avenger (3 in the front, 4 in the back, 2 in the trunk) for the 10-minute drive from our small Iowa college town to the only place that was open that time of night — the truck stop diner that never closed across the state line.

I like to think that I enjoyed those times of my capricious youth to the fullest, but even then I remember the times where I found myself sad and longing for the past or for the future.

What is it about us as humans that keeps us from savoring the moments of our life like we would each morsel of a 9-course meal prepared by a master chef?

When we are in our lives, we’re often sidetracked by just that: life. Life sometimes gets in the way of us finding beauty in ordinary. The one person who I never saw this in was Michael Scott, played so brilliantly for 7 seasons by Steve Carell. Everyone has had a Michael Scott in their life: that bad boss who just doesn’t understand the line between friendship and management. The guy who inevitably says the wrong thing, not out of malice, but out of a desperate attempt to be liked.

(Michael was always the heart and soul of The Office and why they continued the show after he left is beyond me.)

The thing about Carell’s portrayal of Michael that was so damn endearing despite his many peccadilloes was that he was one person who seemed to live in the now…to enjoy his life at every aspect. Sure, he got depressed at times, but his zest for life and the people around him made him such a likable character who, despite his obvious flaws, was just good. He believed he was an amazing basketball player and the World’s Best Boss (according to Spencer Gifts) and he fell head over heels in love with a woman who WAS THE MODEL IN AN OFFICE FURNITURE MAGAZINE.

When the executive producers decided to make Andy the boss after Michael left, I think that they hoped that he would find that same wide-eyed appreciation for his life, but even in his relationship with the adorable Erin Hannon, he couldn’t see past the end of his nose.

In the finale of the show, seeing Andy say this quote resonated with a lot of people. I remember watching the episode live accompanied by Twitter (an irony that is not lost on me) and seeing so many people tweet out that quote over and over and over again. We all have that same longing for understanding what is good about our lives and appreciating it in its time rather than six months or years or decades after the fact.

But what I’ve found in my life is that you just need to make a decision to start enjoying the mundane. Find beauty in the normal. And embrace your life wherever you might find yourself. Sure, it might not be the place you thought you’d be at 36, but it sure hasn’t sucked up to this point either.

“I went to the woods to live deep and suck the marrow out of life.” — Henry David Thoreau, as quoted by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society

So live deep and recognize that even at the worst, you are alive in the most amazing time mankind has ever seen.

Here’s to the Good Old Days that are yet to come. May we find ourselves enjoying them.

dawson-crying

Never Say You’re Sorry (When You’re Crying)

“I get so emotional, baby…” — Whitney Houston

I’ve noticed this thing lately when I’m watching my stories on the TV (read: reality competition shows, usually focused around dance or cooking) that when the inevitable person gets choked up and cries (because they never thought they’d make it this far or they never thought this competition would be this difficult or the host asks a producer-prompted emotionally-charged question) that the first thing that they often do is this:

“I’m sorry.”

An apology is apparently now the most acceptable first response when finding yourself overcome with emotion in a difficult time. Because GOD FORBID that we show some humanness or emotion toward each other in times that try us. Sheesh.

The truth is that we likely apologize because we know what it feels like when someone cries in front of us. It is gut-wrenching and particularly soul-crushing if there is nothing you can do about it.

And so our best assumption when we cry in front of others is that those people are feeling those same feelings of discomfort and so we apologize for putting them out. Never mind if they were the ones who prompted the feelings of sadness or joy or whatever it was that overcame us with emotion.

When we apologize for crying, I feel like we are saying: “PLEASE FORGIVE ME for making you uncomfortable with my human reaction to this situation. I apologize for being unable to control my emotions for five seconds.”

I’ve worked in different companies over the past 13 years of my career and I continue to get a fairly consistent, specific piece of feedback when review time comes up: “You can sometimes get TOO passionate and emotional when you care deeply about something.”

Wait, what?

How is that a bad thing?

I can’t stand it when people walk through their days lackadaisical about the things happening around them. Care about your life! Be present! If something makes you mad or excited, get mad or excited about it!

Don’t be a damn robot.

And please, for the love of God, don’t apologize when you get overcome by your emotions. They prove that you are alive and I’d much rather hang with someone who has an emotional attachment to this life than someone who is so fearful to show emotions that they hide them under a rock or a bushel or wherever you might hide them.

Mars Hill founding pastor Rob Bell wrote a book called Drops Like Stars as a companion piece to a speaking tour that he did by the same name. Much of what he talked about was the topic of suffering and pain. He said something to the effect of: “Suffering is what connects us.”

We relate to others through our pain and suffering and find solace in the fact that there is someone else out there who is feeling our pain about this thing that we are experiencing right here, right now.

I hope that the next time you break down in front of someone, you find courage in the fact that they may just understand you and where you are coming from. (I’m hoping that you’re not necessarily a reality TV dancer or chef and you are speaking with a friend.) I hope that in that moment that you won’t apologize, but you will embrace the fact that emotions are a natural part of our human fiber. And I hope that the person you are with says this:

“Thank you for sharing your emotions with me.”

Originally published on Medium