CrossFit and Being Paleo(ish)

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About three year ago, I was 50 pounds heavier, was sick every few weeks, consumed about 6 diet cokes a day, was winded climbing the stairs at home and I didn’t have a visible neck. I still snore like a banshee on a cold day but ya can’t fix everything!  I made the decision to start CrossFit and adopted Paleo(ish) — and I haven’t looked back. My primary motivation was the goal of “mastering” my body and fitness. I love the concept of constantly improving, “leveling up” and “mastering” things — be it technology, management, music, being a father, whatever. Plus, I surely wanted to be able to wear a t-shirt without thinking my “man boobs” might knock someone out or having my stomach start eating my shirt as I would just sit there. To be honest, I’m surprised I’ve been able to sustain my commitment to my fitness — it’s truly just part of my life now.

I started slow — one CrossFit class a week and started to cut out bread from my diet.  Those first 8-12 weeks were super hard.  It was such a humbling experience — I was one fat, out of shape old man.   The one CrossFit class would crush me — I wouldn’t be able to move the entire week and it hurt to sit down on the toilet.  As things progressed, I got strong and I was able to do more and more.   

Here is a list of observations and lessons I’ve learned through my journey.

  • Baby steps.  Start small and work your way up.  Transforming your way of life doesn’t happen overnight or after listening to a Tony Robbins seminar.
  • Write down the things that motivate you and revisit that list every few weeks.  That becomes your inner motivation to keep going.    
  • Be pragmatic as you level up and know your body.  Having been consistently going to my box for multiple years now, I’ve seen so many people cycle out — push themselves too hard and then hurt themselves.  Its usually a 50/50 shot if they come back.   
  • Don’t drink too much of the CrossFit cool aid — its fun but doing a WOD isn’t the only way to get a good workout in.  Diversify with other activities.
  • There are no silver bullet supplements. Just be pragmatic about the things you consume that you think gives you an edge.
  • Tracking what you eat and your workouts is key to progress.  I use an app called MyFitnessPal to track my food — its fairly popular and hooks up nicely to my FitBit Surge.  The library of cataloged foods is quite good.  Additionally, my box uses Wodify to keep track of personal records (PR’s).   
  • Alcoholic drinks are the biggest waste of calories and you don’t realize it until you track your intake of them.
  • One of the best aspects of a CrossFit box is its community.  I’ve met some great people at my box and find myself exploring other boxes when I travel.
  • Olympic lifting is hard and so much of it is technique, flexibility  and practice.  It so fun to try to get good at.   
  • Partner workouts are the best, way harder to cheat.
  • CrossFit sneakers are essential for a good rope climb.
  • Wrist wraps are the best.
  • I hate double enders, muscle ups, snatches and anything involving me being upside down.  That list will grow and you will love it.

Looking forward — I’m still the older, slower and fatter guy at my box but that’s what keeps me motivated to keep pressing hard.   I have a long way to go and I’m up for the challenge.  I’m going to try to do a WOD 4-5 times a week and combine it with other activities such as skiing, weightlifting, etc.  I’m currently investigating jiu jitsu as an interesting martial arts to augment my fitness.    

By the way, kudos too all the coaches at CrossFit San Ramon — they are awesome.

My 2015 Reading List

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My original goal was to read a book every two weeks and I was able to complete 29 books in 2015 with a bulk of my reading not starting until May 2015.  I guess it really pays to have a 3 hour commute a day.  I consumed the books in number of different way —

  1. Reading via Kindle App on my iPad Mini or iPhone 6 Plus
  2. Listening/Reading via Kindle App WhisperSync
  3. Listening via Amazon Audible App on my iPhone 6 Plus
  4. Listening via my Amazon Echo

Amazon WhisperSync was really a step up in terms of my ability to consume more content.  It was so nice to be able to switch between listening, reading or a combination thereof depending on where I was.  Additionally, I found that I could listen to a book at 1.5x to 2x the reading speed while still being able to absorb the content — effectively at 1/2 the audio book time.  Sure, it was as if the chipmunks were reading to me but whatever.

I generally gravitated towards business, leadership, autobiographies or science fiction books.  It seems that I ended up more on the non-fiction side of things but I did my best to alternate between genres.

Ok, let’s talk about some of my favorites — below are my top 5 non-fiction.

  1. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson — Generally speaking, I enjoy Walter Isaacson’s writing and I totally enjoyed this book from the historical computer science perspective.
  2. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone — This was a fun read because I’m such a big fan of the entire Amazon ecosystem and I’m intrigued by Jeff Bezos’s larger than life character.
  3. Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins, Morten T. Hansen — Who doesn’t like Jim Collins books?  I’m sure its desired reading for any MBA student.  Very data driven and full of insight.
  4. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene — this was somewhat of an “evil” book, full of devious techniques to wield power based on history.  But you have to take it with a grain of salt just like anything else.
  5. The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Stafford — I enjoyed the storytelling writing of this book.  Different from other books on the topic, very enjoyable and full of insight.

Below are my top 4 fiction:

  1. Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline — simply loved this book.  So many great references from my generation.  It will be impossible for them to make it a movie effectively.
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir — I read this book before the movie came out and the book is 1000x better than the movie.  The inner dialog of the main character in the book is so fun.
  3. Wool by Hugh Howey — Post apocalyptic storytelling with very fun twists and turns.
  4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel — Similar to above but the character development really stood out for me.  Not sure why I gravitate towards there “world is ending” books.

Below is my complete list of books in the order that I read them:

My goal is get over 40 for 2016 so please send me some good book recommendations!  I’d love to hear them!

Where’s Renato?

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Holy smokes — my last post was 12/3/2013!  Where the hell have I been?  To be honest, blogging has not been a huge priority for me since I’ve been so focused on building “things”.  Most recently I’ve been helping companies like Atari, Rosetta Stone and Recurly (re)build their teams, realign technology stacks and launch new products.  So much fun.

Alas, its 2016 and I’ve promised myself that I would blog more and share my many years of technology building experience with the world — or share my favorite poop joke.  Haha.  My conservative goal is to write one blog post a month that isn’t just a YouTube video link.

I think I can.      

I think I can.

Stay tuned!

“If you go back back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic—being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that would have been considered magic a few hundred years ago. So engineering is, for all intents and purposes, magic, and who wouldn’t want to be a magician?”

–Elon Musk