Why Heat and Cold are Good For You

My journey into the fascinating world of heat therapy and cold thermogenesis

 

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Most of us have been conditioned to believe that the best temperature is the one that’s the most comfortable. But the latest science is revealing that we’ve got it all backwards. It turns out that our bodies thrive on extremes. Getting really hot and really cold actually makes us stronger, healthier, and happier.

My journey into this new world began by watching a documentary on Wim Hof, aka The Iceman. It’s entertaining if nothing else.

This inspired me to do more research on the health benefits of temperature extremes, which led me to Rhonda Patrick.

 

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To summarize some of the latest findings:

Heat therapy health benefits:

  • Increases your ability to use endorphins and feel less stressed
  • Increases your focus and attention
  • Increases BDNF for new neurons…helping you get smarter and remember better
  • Improves your athletic endurance
  • Increases your muscle growth
  • Detoxifies your body
  • Decreases your Alzheimer’s risk
  • Leads to longer life via the creation of more heat shock proteins
  • Increases your insulin sensitivity

Cold therapy health benefits:

  • Helps you feels less stressed and more relaxed
  • Reduces your insulin spikes by increasing insulin sensitivity; keeps your blood sugar levels low
  • Reduces inflammation and speeds workout recovery
  • Improves your athletic performance
  • Revs up your metabolism and burns your bad fat (white fat)
  • Releases dopamine, endorphins, and noradrenaline, making you feel much happier; fights depression
  • Gives you increased focus and energy, leading to greater productivity
  • Helps you live longer
  • Creates a stronger immune system, meaning you get sick less often
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Helps to protect your brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s

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At this point, I was in. But I knew I needed to ease into it. So I started by wearing the Cool Fat Burner vest for two hours every morning. Obviously, given the name, some people wear this thing for weight loss, but I wanted to get the cold thermogenesis health benefits. It definitely helped me transition into greater cold adaptation.

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Next up I began taking contrast showers. Experts have found that alternating between hot and cold make both more effective. One simple way to do so is by taking a shower at your normal temperature, then doing 10 rounds of 10 seconds hot and 20 seconds cold. I used an interval timer on my phone to cue the transitions and let me know when I was done.

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Then I began looking into infrared saunas. Ben Greenfield does a great breakdown on their health benefits, but they tend to be pretty expensive.

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So I began thinking about what I could do to get really hot, really fast, really affordably. I was already running, so I began wearing a sauna vest and sweatshirt, creating a kind of mobile sauna experience. I found a great sweatband too. Suddenly my runs became more than runs. I was becoming acclimated to the heat and reaping the huge health benefits.

Getting so hot made it easier for me to ditch my contrast showers and go straight into cold showers. I noticed an immediate improvement in my mood and energy levels throughout the day.

I no longer complain when I start getting hot or cold. Instead, I remember all the health benefits and embrace the extremes as my friends.

 

On Fatherhood

Lessons learned over the last six years

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Kate (3), Molly (1), Leo (5)

I’m approaching six years of fatherhood. Given that tomorrow is Father’s Day, I thought this might be a good time to reflect on the experience so far.

Being a good dad has been harder than I thought.

I’ve always liked kids. Their playfulness, creativity, curiosity, and innocence is such a great contrast to the harsh and sometimes dull realities of adult life. But I think that my appreciation of children led to some naivete about how challenging good parenting would be. Being a bad dad is easy – you’re either not there, or you’re absent when you are there, or you’re just annoyed or unloving when you do engage. Being a good dad requires the willingness to constantly give yourself away – to sacrifice your time, energy, and tasks in order to address the endless stream of wants and needs that children bring. Of course this is obvious to anyone who’s been in the game long enough, but for me it’s been a progressive revelation. One thing that’s made it especially challenging is that I thrive on solitude and silence and these are not gifts that children bring! I’ve learned that so much of effective parenting is about self-management – managing my time, emotions, energy, and expectations so that I can bring my best to my kids instead of my leftovers.

Parenting is heart work.

I got this concept from the excellent book of the same title. The emphasis on heart change and inner motivations over surface change and behavior modification is so key. I review my Kindle notes on this book from time to time because it’s so easy to forget how important it is that I relate from God’s heart and my heart to their hearts. If you only read one book on parenting, make it this one. This is the foundation.

I need to parent each of my children differently.

Again, nothing new here for those already in the trenches, but part of successful parenting involves understanding how each child is unique and then adjusting your parenting strategy accordingly. It’s about you adapting to them, not them adapting to you.

We joke that in terms of personalities, Leo is our dog, Kate is our cat, and Molly is our monkey. Leo loves people and is loyal, adventurous, and wants to cuddle close. Kate is strong willed, responsible, and happy to do her own thing. She’s relational, but on her terms. Molly is playful and affectionate but also quite mischievous and has already earned the nickname Bandit.

With these different personalities comes different needs. Right now, Leo needs to know I enjoy being with him and he also needs my patient, gentle instruction. Kate needs to be invited into more of my adult world and be treated with respect. Molly needs to have fun with me and feel included in my life.

Quality time goes a long way.

If you don’t date your spouse, your marriage can very quickly descend into task-management mode. If you don’t carve out time to have fun with your children, one-on-one, and invest in building the relationship, your parenting can very quickly become all about rules, rewards, and punishments.

I try to do something special with each of my kids once a month. Sometimes it’s as simple as a Happy Meal and the Playplace. They love it. Other times it’s a park or a bike ride or a trip somewhere new. The point is that we’re having fun together and they feel cherished by me.

I always come away from these times liking them more. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. I need it as much as they do. It helps me remember how great they are and appreciate their uniqueness instead of just being annoyed when they misbehave. And the more securely attached they become to me, the more their behavior tends to improve as well.

I’ve found that in general, maybe means never. If I don’t schedule these times, they won’t happen. So I do. Speaking of scheduling…

Consistent schedules and routines make life easier for everyone.

We are structured around our house. Maybe to a fault. But we all need it. We have wake times and mealtimes and walk times and play times and quiet times and bedtimes. We have daily routines and expectations and things we know we can count on.

One example – scripture reading, prayer, and songs before bed. After toys are picked up, baths are taken, teeth are brushed, and pajamas are on, we plop down on the couch for a Bible story, some prayer time, and some singing. Our children love this routine and always look forward to it. Per the usual, they never want it to end. Sometimes it evolves into tickling and wrestling. Other times it devolves into arguing and we shut it down fast. But the important thing is that we all know it’s there.

I need to grow with my kids.

I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth restating. Children grow and change so fast that just when you think you’ve got it figured out, they’re on to something new and you need to catch up. My job as a dad is to relate to my kids as they are and as they will be, not as they were and as they won’t be. The leash should be getting longer, not staying the same length or getting shorter. This is as much about my mindset and flexibility as anything. It’s also about paying attention to their development and responding appropriately instead of being lost in my own world and work.

Time flies.

The days are long but the years are short. My goodness, they really do grow up fast. I heard this so early and so often that it almost became a platitude, but boy is it true.

When I scroll back through Instagram and look at pictures of Leo as a little kid, I feel a mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy because of his growth and the good times we’ve had together, but sorry because of the recognition that I missed a lot of it because I was too busy, distracted, or annoyed to be fully present with his journey.

I’m working on really cherishing every moment instead of just trying to make it through each day.

More is caught than taught.

My children are always watching me. They’re watching what I do and how I do it. They’re observing my attitude, body language, conversations, responses to problems. I can give the best pep talks and life lessons but at the end of the day, people do what people see and kids learn more from observation than information. I am their role model, for better or worse.

Dare to discipline.

Yes, I stole James Dobson’s line here, although I’ve never read his book and don’t agree with his politics. But discipline is important and Dobson certainly didn’t invent it. The Bible is full of imperatives on disciplining our children – not to punish them, but to train them. The discipline is for their own good.

When I walk through Wal-Mart and see parents who don’t know how or why to discipline their kids, I feel concerned for their family and for our society. We know where this leads.

When I see parents say no, set limits, and enact consequences, I want to give them a high five. Their kid may be screaming, but they care more about doing what’s right than being liked.

Culture matters.

“We don’t do that in our family” is a powerful line when applied appropriately. This one is pretty fresh as our kids are still so young, but Leo is already bringing back words and behaviors he’s learned from peers that we simply don’t want to incorporate into our family culture. It’s my job as the dad to be a sort of filter for what we allow into our home. And more importantly, to explain why. If I don’t proactively create our family culture, then society will automatically fill in that space, often with negative things.

Some of the best parenting moments happen on the way.

I’m learning to invite my kids to join me for errands, house projects, problems I’m solving. It teaches them about life, but it also creates more time for us to be together.

I don’t always do this. Sometimes I need space to recharge or focus on the task at hand without a gazillion questions coming at me. But when I do, it often creates a kind of relational margin that fosters some meaningful moments and conversations.

For example, I invited Leo to join me on my run the other day. He rode his bike and got to see my usual route. We talked about goose poop and snapping turtles and rabbits and shared a cookie at the end. Nothing earth shattering, but he got his bucket filled and I still got my run in.

Some of the most important questions I’ve received from my kids have come at the least convenient times for me but the most convenient times for them. They can come when I’m middle of a task, or exhausted after a long day, or totally in my own world. But they are on the way and I don’t want to miss them.

Relax.

Sometimes I expect my children to act like adults, which is just ridiculous. It’s so easy for me to have unrealistic expectations of them when all they need to be doing is playing, using their imaginations, making mistakes, being silly, getting messy, and acting like the kids that they are.

Some parents are too hands-on while others are too hands-off. For me, being a good dad in this season of life involves letting my kids be kids while simultaneously growing our relationship, pointing them to God, and guiding them into greater maturity.

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Are you a dad? What are some of the things you’ve learned along the way?

 

Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book

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It took me forever to get through this one, but I really loved a lot of Welch’s practical advice and hard-won wisdom. I took detailed notes for me and you (lucky you).

No, I don’t agree with everything in it, and you probably won’t either. But as they say, eat the fish and spit out the bones. I honestly believe there is something for everyone in a book like this. Take a look and let me know what you think.

First the official description, then my notes:

Jack Welch knows how to win. During his forty-year career at General Electric, he led the company to year-after-year success around the globe, in multiple markets, against brutal competition. His honest, be-the-best style of management became the gold standard in business, with his relentless focus on people, teamwork, and profits.

Since Welch retired in 2001 as chairman and chief executive officer of GE, he has traveled the world, speaking to more than 250,000 people and answering their questions on dozens of wide-ranging topics.

Inspired by his audiences and their hunger for straightforward guidance, Welch has written both a philosophical and pragmatic book, which is destined to become the bible of business for generations to come. It clearly lays out the answers to the most difficult questions people face both on and off the job.

Introduction

Winning is great. It’s better for you, your family, your community, and the economy.

The best teams win, so find the best players.

Don’t overthink and underact.

“The mission announces exactly where you are going, and the values describe the behaviors that will get you there.” The mission statement answers how you intend to win. Be super specific about what those values actually mean otherwise they are meaningless.

The importance of candor

Candor is essential to winning. It saves everyone time and money and gets to the core issues quickly. It also generates more ideas faster. People aren’t candid because they are lazy and afraid. It’s easier not to be honest, but it kills success.

There needs to be an open culture where everyone feels safe to speak their mind and anyone can debate and critique at will. If people on the ground level do not feel like it safe to speak their minds, then the ground level problems will keep happening.

Differentiation

Differentiation is vital to success. Make a clear and meaningful distinction between winners and losers. Pour more resources into what’s working and improve, sell, or eliminate what’s not. “Cultivate the strong and cull the weak.”

Put people in these categories: top 20, middle 70, and bottom 10. Shower praise and rewards on the top 20. Motivate and equip the 70 to get better. Fire the bottom 10 – if you have clear expectations and honest evaluations they should know they don’t belong and hopefully leave on their own initiative. Tell them where they stand and that they have a year left before they have to go, and usually they’ll exit before then. Everyone should know what’s expected and where they stand. It’s like school. You get grades for a reason. “Grades guide us.” “Protecting underperformers always backfires.” It takes courage to implement differentiation but it’s a service to everyone.

Leadership rules

  1. Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build self confidence. There is no event in your day that cannot be used for people development. Leaders should be like gardeners walking around with water and fertilizer and only occasionally weeding.
  2. Leaders make sure people not only see the vision; they live and breathe it. They repeat it constantly, it is clear, and it is so ingrained in others that you could wake them from their sleep and they could repeat it to you. Reward those who love the vision. What gets rewarded gets repeated (by them and others).
  3. Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism. Energy and emotions are contagious. Get out of your office and into everyone’s skin. Go around carrying a good virus. The right attitude makes work more than work.
  4. Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit. They don’t keep secrets, they keep their word, and they are open about how things are going and how people are doing. “When you made a leader, you weren’t given a crown. You were given a responsibility to bring out the best in others. For that, your people need to trust you.”
  5. Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls. “You are not a leader to win a popularity contest. You’re a leader to lead.”
  6. Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action. Individual contribution is about knowing the answers. Leadership is about asking the questions. Leaders should constantly be asking what if, why not, and how come? “Just because you’re a leader, saying something doesn’t mean it will happen.” Ultimate responsibility for what actions the organization does or doesn’t take falls on the leader. “If you don’t make sure your questions and concerns are acted on, it doesn’t count.” Encourage debate. Ensure action.
  7. Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example. They share their past experiences of failure and model a growth mindset. “In the best case scenario, all your people will be smarter than you. It doesn’t mean you can’t lead them.”
  8. Leaders celebrate! It doesn’t have to be some forced cheesy party. It’s doing things for others that they love like buying them tickets or giving them gifts. Things they actually want. “Celebrating makes people feel like winners and creates an atmosphere of recognition and positive energy.”

How to hire the right people

“Nothing matters more in winning than getting the right to people on the field.”

Pre-screening:

  1. Integrity
  2. Intelligence
  3. Maturity

Next round:

  1. They have positive energy
  2. They energize others
  3. They have edge – they are willing to pull the trigger with imperfect information
  4. They execute – some people have the first three but not the 4th, which makes them relatively useless to the organization “Winning is about results.”
  5. They have passion – They really care about everyone winning

If hiring a leader, all of the above PLUS:

  1. They have to have authenticity, likeability, and emotional intelligence. “Leaders cannot have an iota of fakeness.”
  2. They have to be able to see around corners – having a sixth sense about the future and the best decisions to make
  3. They surround themselves with people who are smarter and better than they are
  4. They must be resilient – getting up quickly after falling, using mistakes as stepping stones

“Just remember, every hiring mistake is yours.”

Jack’s top hiring question: “What was it that caused you to leave your last job and the one before that?” Dig deep on this. “Why a person has left a job tells you more about them than almost any other data.”

“Friendship and experience are never enough.”

People management

Companies are people, so managing people well is the most important thing.

  1. ELEVATE HR to a position of power and primacy. “The head of HR should be the second most important person in the organization.” They are there to help managers manage well.
  2. Use a vigorous evaluation system. It should be clear and simple. It should have regular face to face evaluations and should be constantly monitored for effectiveness.
  3. Use money, recognition, and training to motivate and retain. Employees should be rewarded in the wallet and the soul. Help the right people want to stay.
  4. Face straight into charged relationships. Principles first. Unions can divide. Stars can become monsters. No one person should ever become bigger than the company. Everyone should always be replaceable and you should be ready to replace anyone within 8 hours. You should always have a slate full of people ready to move up. Evaluate people based on who they are now, not who they were then. Don’t let anybody coast. Don’t let disruptors poison the organization.
  5. Fight gravity and treat the middle 70 like the heart and soul of the organization. DO NOT take them for granted. Be proactive about coaching, rewarding, training, etc. Don’t treat everyone in the middle 70 the same, either. Within that group there is a top 20 and a bottom 10. Failing to recognize the top performers only encourages them to seek employment elsewhere.
  6. Design the organization chart to be as flat as possible, with blindingly clear reporting relationships and responsibilities. Everyone should know where they stand, who they report to, and what’s expected of them. Who is responsible for what results? Every layer in an organization adds cost, complexity, and confusion. It slows everything down. “Make your company 50% flatter than you feel comfortable with.”

Firing people

Two principles are important. The first is no surprises. The second is minimal humiliation.

Fire for lack of integrity right away and make sure everyone knows why that person was let go so that their bad behavior is clearly communicated to be unacceptable in the organization.

Three typical firing mistakes:

  1. Moving too fast – the person should never be surprised when they’re being let go. There should be ample warning and clear performance benchmarks.
  2. Not using enough candor – you have to have the courage to be honest
  3. Taking too long – the dead man walking effect. If everyone knows it’s inevitable, what are you waiting for?

“Every employee who leaves is a spokesperson for the company.”

Try to help them land their next job if possible; somewhere that is a better for who they are. Your goal should be to give them a soft landing and an easy, expected exit.

Change: mountains do move

“You do need to change, preferably before you have to.”

  1. Attach every change initiative to a clear purpose or goal. Don’t change for change’s sake.
  2. Hire and promote only true believers and “get on with it” types. A lot of people talk change but few actually embrace it.
  3. Ferret out and get rid of resistors, even if their performance is satisfactory. “They foster an underground resistance and lower the morale of the people who support change. They are change killers. Cut them off early.”
  4. Look at car wrecks. Take advantage of the inevitable misfortunes of others. Seize every opportunity.

Do these and change will become business as usual. “Change should be a relatively orderly process.”

Crisis management

  1. Assume the problem is worse than it appears. Assume it will only get worse, not better. Assume it’s up to you to own it and fix it.
  2. Assume that everyone will eventually find out everything. Communicate first and clearly to avoid the telephone game / information degradation effect. “The more openly you speak about the problem, its causes, and its solutions, the more trust you earn from everyone watching – inside the organization and out.”
  3. Assume you and your organization’s handling of the crisis will be portrayed in the worst possible light. If you don’t own up and speak out, your silence will be taken as an admission of guilt.
  4. Assume there will be changes in processes and people. Almost no crisis ends without blood on the floor. You’ve got to make to changes to fix the root issues and clean up your mistakes.
  5. Assume your organization will survive and ultimately be stronger for what happened.

Preventing crises:

  1. Have tight controls to ensure everything is done the right way.
  2. Have good internal processes like hiring, reviews, and training.
  3. Create a culture of integrity.

Crises are often like snowballs. They start small, pick up speed, get bigger, and eventually end.

Don’t forget about the lessons that the crisis taught you. Use it as a kind of immunity going forward.

The Competition

You need a big AHA in order to win. It is a significant and meaningful insight about how to win.

  1. What does the playing field look like now?
  2. What has the competition been up to?
  3. What have you been up to?
  4. What scares you most? How could you lose? You have to assume that your competitors are better than you and getting better.
  5. What’s your winning move?

You have to have the right people in the right places with iterative best practices for your winning strategy to work. Best practices can come from any industry, not just your own.

Budgeting

A flexible operating plan based on winning is better than an inflexible budget based on bonuses.

Making organic growth possible for new ventures

Spend plenty upfront and put the best, hungriest, and most passionate people in leadership roles. Act as if it’s going to win big. Startups need support and cheerleading. Promote it like it’s the next big thing. Be willing to fail. You doom it from the start if you don’t go all in. Err on the side of freedom. Lengthen the leash as much as you can do wisely. Let it be autonomous instead of part of your mothership.

Mergers and acquisitions

They can be difficult, but also hugely rewarding. They are a way to grow fast. 1+1=3.

Pitfalls: 1) believing a merger it equals can actually occur 2) failing to address cultural fit. 3) becoming hostage to the demands of the other 4) integrating too timidly (once the deal is made, it should take 90 days or less) 5) one side dominating the other 6) paying too much – beware of deal heat, the pressure to overspend. There will be other deal opportunities down the road 7) resistance

Six Sigma

“Six sigma is a quality program that improves your customer’s experience, lowers your cost, and builds better leaders by reducing waste and inefficiency and designing a company’s products and internal processes so that customers get what they want, when they want it, and when you promised it.” It’s about delivering consistent results. “Variation is evil.”

Finding the right job

You find it through trial and error, not some predefined career path. The better you are, the easier it is to find it. And yes, money matters.

Signals of a good fit: you like the people you work with, there are shared values and sensibilities, you have the freedom to be yourself, you have opportunities to grow and learn and get promoted, the business itself is going somewhere good, the job is a natural fit for your passions and talents and the work feels meaningful, the money is right.

Getting promoted

You have to want it. Deliver great performance beyond what is asked. Be the obvious candidate for moving up. Make everyone around you better, including your boss. No bad surprises. Participate in and exemplify the best parts of the company culture. You should be bigger than the role and it should be obvious. Be likeable. Be great to the people under you, stay positive and spread it around. Find good mentors. Serve people instead of using people. Volunteer for new initiatives. Stay upbeat in the face of setbacks.

Don’t make your boss use political capital to champion you or defend you. Your boss should never need to apologise for you. Don’t be cagey and guarded with your boss.

What to do with a bad boss

Key thing: don’t let yourself be a victim.

Questions to ask:

  1. Why is my boss acting like a jerk? Are they that way to everyone, or just me? Am I the problem? Most people have a better view of themselves than others do. Do you have authority issues?
  2. What’s the endgame for my boss? Are they most likely on their way out? What are they actually about?
  3. Are the trade-offs I’m making to work with this boss worth it? If yes, stay. If no, go.

Work-life balance

The better you are, the longer your leash. Most bosses care more about the bottom line than your work-life balance but will give you room to roam if you consistently get results.

The greater your results, the greater your flexibility.

The more you earn, the easier it is to have work life balance because you can buy a lot of it.

Work-life balance is ultimately your responsibility, not your bosses.

Best practices:

  1. Keep your head in whatever game you’re at. When you’re at work, be fully at work. When you’re at home, be fully at home.
  2. Have the mettle to say no to things outside of your work-life plan.
  3. Make sure your work-life balance plan doesn’t leave you out. Make time for rest and self-care so you can sustain yourself over the long haul and not burn out.