Archive for the ‘General’ Category
My blood draw took a total of about 5 minutes. 5 long minutes in a downtown Seattle lab… looking out the window, focused on the “Go Seahawks” and “12th Man” signs on nearby buildings so I didn’t pass out. Something like 12 or 13 vials of blood were taken from my right arm and confirmed, one by one, that they were labeled correctly. I thought I would be lying down in a spinning haze after the 6th vial but I breathed through it like a ninja warrior would.
One could say that the lengths I go to learn more about my mind and body are a tad bit excessive. And expensive. But you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and in this case what I’m measuring include some of the most important indicators available today for overall health, well being, and spiritual, mental, and physical performance. If there’s something I could be doing to feel better, think better, or move better that I’m not already doing, I want to know immediately. Am I overtraining? Am I more stressed than I thought I was? Are my hormones getting in the way of my training progress or ability to solve problems at work? Is chronic inflammation an issue and if so, why? Do I need to scale back on my creatine or fish oil supplementation? Is lack of vitamin D holding me back during the winter months? What about the summer? Is my Primal/Paleo lifestyle actually improving my health as promised or making it worse? And so on.
Enter WellnessFX. WellnessFX is a relatively young service with a pretty straightforward outward mission: to improve the health and performance of its clients through data. And that data comes from the ultimate source: your blood. A quick trip to a lab and a couple weeks later you have a complete analysis of the primary blood markers you should care about.
Why does this matter?
“The future has not been written. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.” – John Connor
What we eat and what we do in our everyday lives have major impacts on our body and mind. The field of epigenetics explains how controllable environment factors like your diet, your training, your friends and family, your job and stress levels, and the sunlight or toxins you’re exposed to can trigger gene expression. So while we may be pre-coded for certain outcomes, we aren’t prisoners to those outcomes. We have a lot more control over how our body ages and adapts to external stimuli. So if we care enough about living better, there’s frankly a lot we can do.
I do believe that taking your health into your own hands is an important skill to hone. I’ve found that far too few doctors keep up on the latest research, so their recommendations are typically outdated (“eat a low-fat diet and lose weight”). And the lack of true personal connection with patients means their advice is almost always based on limited information about you. So it’s best to arm yourself with the same data they have – and then some – since only you know how you actually feel at any given time. In other words, a medical doctor has a role in your overall wellness, but so do you.
Every year I work to increase my reading output by figuring out unique ways to squeeze more books into my schedule. It isn’t always easy, but I do view reading as a priority given the clear benefits (and joy) of learning and growing as an individual. Americans in general are reading less every year; the last stat I saw said less than 40% of the population read at least one book last year. Yikes! Each year it seems as if our reading behavior becomes more fleeting; more geared towards the mindset of impatience in a world filled with 140 character ramblings.
The hardest part about sitting down to read a book these days is that there are so many other things competing for your attention, almost tricking you into believing you’re actually reading. As an example, on a typical day, I could read 350 Facebook status updates, 75 Twitter updates, 250 emails, and 75 blog posts. The first two types of “reading” are completely passive – days go by before I learn anything interesting about myself (or others for that matter). The last one, blogs, are far more useful in that many times full ideas are presented in a clear, coherent manner. Most of the bloggers I follow have unique and interesting things to say, and I value the time I spend reading their work (and if I don’t, I don’t follow them).
But blogging is still what I’d consider “short-form” in that most blog entries are fewer than 5,000 words. While still far more than the 140 characters of Twitter, they aren’t (usually) long enough to form a complete “story” about a topic. They don’t always go into any reasonable depth on the research they cite, and many times they don’t do their own research like published authors do. You just can’t always learn as much as you can from a well-written book. Most importantly, you can’t get lost in a blog entry. It’s awfully hard to find any sense of flow while reading a 2,600 word blog post. And I value flow.
So I read books. I appreciate the depth.
The year is coming to a close in just a few hours, so now feels like a good time to wrap-up with an end of the year post! Posts like this can help serve as a restart, just like the 1st of the year does for many people. It’s also fun to use this opportunity to talk about interesting stats… and re-introduce some of the forgotten posts from the past year in a single place. If you’re in a hurry, this one entry will give you links to every post on the site so far (below). It’s a great way to catch up on things you may have missed!
This year, Refocuser’s first in existence, has been a great one. After an entire decade of thinking about starting a site like this, I up and decided to just do it one day in early 2009. A few weeks later, the site soft-launched – and thanks to all the great tools out there like Twitter search, people started to find it within a few minutes!
Writing here really has been a lot more rewarding than I thought it would be. To get emails, comments, and – in the case of family and friends – phone calls to discuss some of the topics on this blog is the primary reason I wanted to start it to begin with, so that’s been a lot of fun. The site has also given me an outlet to crystallize my thoughts and processes into something (hopefully somewhat) understandable, and to connect with new people who are interested in similar topics. And then there’s the added benefit of writing practice. What a blast!
Hi there – my name is Mike Torres and I’m a father, husband, son, brother, blogger, author, martial artist, weight lifter, and a team lead at Microsoft among other things. Like you, I wear a bunch of hats and as a result, my focus shifts constantly from week-to-week, day-to-day, and even hour-to-hour on busy days.
About 15 years ago I become fascinated with the area of focus, specifically what I call self-directed focus or the ability to apply your focus at will to whatever requires your attention. I’ve been itching to start a blog on the topic for some time and just recently decided to just "go for it". This is that blog.
Refocuser is about focus. And about me at times.
This is not a pure productivity or "life hacks" blog. There are already enough Getting Things Done (GTD) blogs on the interwebs and many of them are fantastic and well-written. But just checking things off of a to-do list can feel meaningless without seeing the bigger picture. This blog is more about realizing your potential as a human being through self-directed focus; and you can never learn enough about that.