Consume vs. Create

My time spent consuming vs. creating content has been 99:1 for the last few years. One of my goals for 2017 was to change the balance and create more. I’m late getting started.

My friend Clay has started old-school blogging again – no list posts, no single theme – just his thoughts and creations. I love it. He inspired me to do some website clean-up. I’ve collapsed a bunch of categories and added SSL to the site. I deleted numerous websites from my blogroll. So many of my favorite writers have stopped making new content, or are exclusively posting on Facebook. I’ve noticed myself doing the same, for quick thoughts on single ideas or moments. I miss having the old-school blog archive of those moments in time.

Thematically my consumption has been largely focused on Fitness & FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early).

I completely fell down the FIRE rabbit hole. If FIRE interests you, I’ve been reading through the archives from:

Retirement savings in the USA are terrible. Side note: major financial crisis coming – look at the median savings! I’m better than average, but not where I should be for a nice comfortable retirement. I’m playing catch up! I’ve maxed my 401k and IRA for this year, and automated a savings plan. At this rate, I may only need to work full time until I’m about 70 or so. Good thing I like working. If you have favorite writers on this topic please let me know. I’m still soaking it all in.

In terms of Fitness, there are just a few resources I consistently consume.

  • Precision Nutrition (my go to for the last decade) – numerous PhD’s, peer reviewed research, coaching, works with world class athletes
  • Renaissance Periodization – again numerous PhDs, coaching, templates for training and nutrition, works with world class athletes
  • physiqonomics (humorous but accurate)

I still love Precision Nutrition. I am L1 certified. I’ll be starting my L2 certification next month – it’s a year long program. I’m a few months into my second year receiving coaching. My fitness goal for this year was largely to “automate” my fitness and get a bit leaner and stronger. I’m getting closer. I’ll do a more formal fitness update at the end of the 12 week cutting cycle I’m on. I feel like finally internalizing the habits that will make this sustainable in the long term.

Speaking of habits – watch this:

And read his post:  Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.
I’ve been working towards this for the last few years without consciously realizing it. He says it out loud and writes it down.

Let me sum up: Habits/Practice >>> Goals/Motivation

I discovered Renaissance Periodization last year as I was looking to lean up more. Their programming is magic if you love Microsoft Excel (I do). All of the templates are Excel based. I have cutting (nutrition) & physique for women (strength training). I started with their women’s book, and may at some point do a full on 12 week cycle with both their nutrition and training plans. For now, I am using some of their recommendations to tweak what I’m doing with Precision Nutrition. I also joined their members only section (RP+) of the website to watch scientific lectures (seriously) on emerging research on fitness and performance nutrition/training. Gloriously geeky.

I think all things fitness/nutrition/performance are fun and interesting. And while I don’t remember how I found Aadam or got signed up for his newsletter, I am so glad that he’s contributing his perspective, humor, and drawings to the field. If you read nothing else that I’ve linked here, read his post – The Best Fat Loss Article on the Motherfuckin’ Internet. It’s a great tough love summary.

Posted in Fitness, Personal Development

A Year of Precision Nutrition (PN) Coaching

My year of Precision Nutrition (PN) Coaching (coaching FAQ) ends on June 30, 2017.

I first started my fitness journey back in 2004, with Body for Life, doing back to back 12 week “competitions.” The program worked well, but I did not have a good transition strategy for maintenance. I got into running, then marathon training, and completely got out of the habit of strength training, for years. Body for Life did however start me on a path of exercising at least 6 days a week, with ever improving daily nutrition.

When I started PN last year, I was exercising 6 or 7 days a week, but exclusively cardio (run, walk, elliptical, and hot yoga). My nutrition was already aligned with PN guidelines and my weight was stable. My health and fitness were good, but my body fat percentage was increasing a bit each year (same weight, tighter clothes).

I knew what needed to change: less wine, more strength training, and better sleep. I just was not doing it, even though I specifically listed these three things as part of my annual fitness goals for several years in a row. They say insanity is doing the same thing again and again but expecting a different result. I knew something needed to change. I decided I needed a guide, a coach, for my fitness journey to hold me accountable. I still hate admitting that I needed help. I needed help.

I signed up for PN Coaching in large part because I’d been following their program, business model and growth as a company for a decade (see timeline). PN was founded by PhD researchers who also used to be fitness competitors. Everything in the program is scientifically validated. No quick fixes. No fads. I had recently completed their certification program where they train people to coach others using their program. Knowledge however is not action. I knew what to do, but I just wasn’t doing it.

PN Timeline

My investment in all things Precision Nutrition

The year long PN Coaching program opens twice a year – January and July. There is an online platform where lessons (why yes, there is homework), workouts, and habits are posted each day. Every workout has full gym or limited equipment options. And, there are more than a dozen workout plans depending on your specific goals. You can customize how difficult each individual exercise is, complete with video tutorials on how to do each movement correctly. I love this feature. Finally, every 4 weeks, a new workout series is delivered so that the specific exercises and energy systems targeted are changed. In addition to the program on the platform – I had a dedicated coach, a private Facebook group for the women in my cohort, weekly group calls (zoom meetings), biweekly calls with my coach, peer mentors and an assistant coach. A new healthy habit to focus on rolled out every two weeks. I’ll admit that I found the pacing at times to be frustratingly S-L-O-W (especially because I knew what was coming). However, two weeks is about the right amount of time to internalize a new habit and it keeps the changes from being overwhelming. So, in the grand scheme of things, not much happens on the outside during the first few weeks and months – learning habits, doing the workouts, doing the navel gazing lessons, but never really starting a “diet.” With time, one of the “side effects” of PN might be leanness.  There are ways to tweak the principles (cost of getting lean), but they are not core to the overall coaching program which is designed to foster a long-term healthy lifestyle.

Does it work?

I’m down about 14 pounds and 12 inches. I can finally do real pull-ups and push-ups. I have serious abs for the first time in my life! I had a DEXA done this week, and my abdomen is now 8% body fat. Like many women, I carry my fat in my hips and thighs. Total body fat is down to 20%, which apparently for a 49-year-old female is amazing. I’m still working to find muscle definition in my legs, so would like to bring this down another percent or two. But overall, I’m happy with my progress, and how sustainable this feels.

PN Before After

Precision Nutrition: Before & After

I will confess that for the last 9 weeks, I adjusted my nutritional macros and food timing to align with a similar, but more goal oriented (food scale required), program called Renaissance Periodization.  I discussed this experiment with my PN coach (the amazing coach Jen) before embarking on it. She enthusiastically supported my efforts. She’s a rock star athlete who has challenged her own body in many ways – Ironman, figure competitions, & now competitive power lifting. Like PN, Renaissance Periodization (or RP) has an army of PhD scientists building their nutritional guidelines and programming, more for specific competitive training goals than day to day living (though they did just release new templates with that target audience in mind). My goal was to lock things down and get leaner; and RP is amazingly effective, but somewhat challenging to follow. I may do another few weeks of cutting using RP before relaxing (nutrition) into a 12-week maintenance phase. From there, I’ll either cut some more to lean out my thighs a bit more or try to add some mass to my back and shoulders.

But I’m going to do it all from the safety net of another year of PN coaching which will start mid-July. My real goal is to make all of my fitness efforts as effortless as remembering to brush and floss each day. One more year should lock it all down.

Additional Resources:

Precision Nutrition 

Body Fat Testing in Denver, CO

  • Body Fat USA: DEXA, VO2 MAX, RMR Testing in Denver, CO. I did all of these tests – the office is clean, professional and private. Highly recommend. 

Renaissance Periodization

Posted in Fitness, Research & Science

We’re Hiring: Operations Assistant/Inside Sales Rep

We’ve created a new position at the Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA) to support the growth of our organization. The position reports to me, but will largely support our Sales & Marketing team. If you know of anyone who’d be a great fit, please let me know.

PDF Job Description

Title: Operations Assistant/Inside Sales Representative

Reports to: Chief Operating Officer

Summary of Position: 

The Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA) provides e-Government solutions to more than 425 state and local governments across Colorado. SIPA is seeking a conscientious, detail-oriented Operations Assistant/Inside Sales Representative who will support the activities of the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Sales and Marketing team.

The Operations Assistant/Inside Sales Representative will be a crucial member of SIPA’s team with a variety of diverse responsibilities including: preparing quotes for customers for new services and renewals, keeping accounts and opportunities updated in Salesforce, generating reports, helping to onboard new customers, answering customer questions about products and services, scheduling meetings, supporting events including SIPA’s annual User Conference, supporting SIPA’s annual micro-grant program, reviewing and updating SIPA’s policies and procedures, maintaining and expanding SIPA’s Operations Manual, reviewing SIPA’s Vendor partner performance on specific projects, monitoring contracts, conducting surveys and customer feedback focus groups.

Due to the breadth of activity, the successful candidate will be eager to learn and willing to take on any challenges that come his/her way, and able to apply existing skills and aptitudes in unfamiliar areas. We expect adaptability, hard work, and general analytic ability that can be applied to new challenges. This is a great position for an ambitious individual who enjoys a small-company-feel, who is adept at building relationships.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Assist the COO and Sales & Marketing Team with keeping Salesforce up to date
    • Learn how to use SIPA’s Salesforce platform and related applications
    • Create and update Accounts, Quotes, Opportunities, Contacts, Products, and Contracts in Salesforce
    • Prepare quotes for new service offerings
    • Prepare renewal quotes
    • Fix duplicates and follow internal procedures for using Salesforce
    • Make recommendations to improve processes and workflows
    • Track project and contract status to support COO, Bookkeeper, and Sales & Marketing team
    • Generate reports as needed
  • Assist the Sales & Marketing team with on-boarding new clients
    • Monitor and process inquiries, requests for service and project paperwork on a continual basis
    • Conduct phone conversations to answer questions, respond to concerns, and facilitate strong working relationships with new and existing customers
    • Process and electronically file paperwork in Salesforce
    • Monitor project status and customer satisfaction throughout the project lifecycle
    • Ensure customer records are always up-to-date in Salesforce
  • Assist the Sales & Marketing team with outreach efforts with new and existing customers
    • Answer customer questions and resolve customer issues
    • Take direction from other staff members on outreach efforts
    • Attend meetings with partners and new and existing customers to provide information, as needed
    • Consistently log and record every outreach made, in Salesforce, producing activity reports as requested
  • Assist with organizing internal and external events such as meetings and strategy sessions
    • Support the Executive Director and other staff with scheduling, travel plans and other tasks as needed
    • Assist with all aspects of SIPA’s annual micro-grant program
    • Assist with all aspects of SIPA’s annual User Conference
    • Assist with other in-person and online events that SIPA sponsors
    • Assist with the preparation of meeting materials for onsite and external events
    • Setup and teardown meeting rooms and facilities as needed
  • Other duties as assigned

 

Position Type/Expected Hours of Work
This is a full-time professional position. Days and hours of work are Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 5:00 p.m. Additionally, this position may at times require hours beyond the operational hours stated above.

Skills/Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Ability to comprehend SIPA’s product line and to communicate our value proposition to customers
  • Highly organized, analytic, and attentive to detail without losing sight of the big picture
  • Must be adaptable, professional, courteous and motivated, and must work well individually or as a member of a team
  • Excellent interpersonal, written and verbal communication skills
  • Positive attitude, creative, conscientious and reliable team member
  • Must be comfortable learning to use and manage new software
  • Experience with Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs is preferred
  • Experience with Salesforce.com CRM is preferred

Salary Range: Commensurate with Experience

Benefits: Health, Dental, PERA Retirement, PERA 401(k), Paid Time Off.

How to Apply: Complete our online application.

You will need to submit a resume and cover letter outlining your qualifications for the position, please include your salary requirements.

A pre-employment criminal background check will be conducted as part of the selection process. Felony convictions, conviction of crimes of moral turpitude, or convictions of misdemeanors related to job duties may disqualify you from being considered for this position.

Contact catherine@cosipa.gov with any questions.

Posted in Opportunities

Internship Opportunity

We’re looking for a Sales & Marketing Intern in Denver, CO. The ideal candidate would be someone about to complete an undergraduate marketing or business degree. Twelve to sixteen weeks for approximately 20 hours a week @ $15 per hour. 2017 Intern Job Description (PDF).

Summary of Position:

The Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA) provides e-Government solutions to more than 400 state and local governments across the state of Colorado. SIPA is seeking a creative, detail-oriented Intern who is dedicated to high standards and achieving excellence in customer support, client relations and client care. This is a great opportunity for an individual who enjoys a small-company-feel, who is adept at building relationships. Outstanding communication skills are essential for this role. The Sales & Marketing Intern will support the activities of the Sales and Marketing Manager and help customers in a courteous, knowledgeable, and genuinely interested manner. The Sales & Marketing Intern will survey existing customers and convene a customer service feedback panel of current customers to review and improve SIPA’s customer service.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Assist the Sales and Marketing Manager with:

+ Customer Outreach/Customer Surveys

  • Schedule Customer visits & calls
  • Survey Existing Customers (phone, email, in person)
  • Log and Report on Survey Results
  • Obtain Customer testimonials
  • Prioritize Customers for follow-up with the Sales & Marketing Manager
  • Ensure Customer records are up-to-date in SIPA’s CRM system

+ Customer Service Feedback Panel

  • Organize a panel of current customers to review and improve SIPA’s customer service
  • Support Customer Service Panel with scheduling, travel plans and other tasks as needed
  • Prepare meeting materials for on-site and external meetings
  • Setup and tear down meeting rooms and facilities as needed

+ Other duties as assigned

Exemplify the SIPA Culture

  • Internalize the vision, mission, goals, and objectives of the organization.
  • Understand the policies and procedures of the organization.
  • Be respectful of all SIPA staff, Board members, customers, colleagues, and strategic partners.
  • Maintain working hours consistent with normal business hours Monday through Friday.
  • Maintain working relationships with everyone necessary to advance SIPA’s mission and objectives.
  • Demonstrate a high level of ethical standards at all times.

Position Type/Expected Hours of Work:

This is a part-time professional position for 16 to 20 hours per week during normal SIPA office hours. SIPA operates 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m between Monday through Friday.

This position is based in Denver, CO and may require up to 15 percent travel throughout Colorado, primarily in the Denver metropolitan region. Access to a vehicle and a clean driving record preferred.

Skills/Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree earned or expected by 2018
  • Excellent interpersonal, written and verbal communication skills
  • Positive attitude, creative, conscientious and reliable team member
  • Experience with Gmail, Google Drive, & Google Docs is preferred
  • Experience with Salesforce.com CRM tool is preferred.

Salary Range: $15 per hour

How to Apply: Complete our online application at http://www.tfaforms.com/374489

You will need to submit a resume and cover letter outlining your qualifications for the position.

A pre-employment criminal background check will be conducted as part of the selection process. Felony convictions, conviction of crimes of moral turpitude, or convictions of misdemeanors related to job duties may disqualify you from being considered for this position.

Contact catherine@cosipa.gov with any questions.

 

Posted in Opportunities

Go Code Colorado Needs Your Help

One of the most fun things that I do for my job is serve on the Advisory Council for the Colorado Business Intelligence Center (pdf) that among other things runs the annual Go Code Colorado challenge which awards cash prizes to award winning business ideas and applications using public data.

Go Code Colorado kicks off on February 1, 2017 at Galvanize in Denver. This year the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is seeking public input for how government data can create business insights. You can submit your idea online. You don’t need to have the answer or a plan to implement it, just an idea. Even if you are not in Colorado, many states are implementing plans to put more government data online. How would you use it to make businesses more successful? Please let us know.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Opportunities

Remembrance

A friend recently reminded me of my post from 2013 – Caught between Pandering and Bridge Burning – and it made me wish that I wrote more, even if I could not remember the specific memory that triggered it. It was clearly very important in that moment.

I have a few favorite blogs, that I am late to discover:

Mr. Money Mustache – he’s here in Colorado. After a brief post-PhD stint with debt beyond my comprehension (in the 1990s), I have been a saver. He’s upped my game and given me new targets. But I’m not giving up my automobile for a bicycle in winter. There are limits. Also I did not retire in my 30s, so maybe I am just stubborn.

But he’s also pointed out the Wealthy Accountant who generally writes about things that don’t pertain to people in my tax bracket. But his holiday post, Silent Night, was raw, real, heartbreaking. And if he’s like me, in a few years he won’t remember what triggered the words but they will still have power.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Personal Development

A Review of 2016

I started my annual holiday card with “2016 was much like 2015 – same job, same man, same house. Dare I say stable?”

And while I like being on a schedule, this sounded boring even to me. So I dug through my calendar to figure out, beyond heading to the office, how I spent my time this year. There were several major themes: Fitness, Education, Entrepreneurship & Travel.

Christmas Card

Fitness

Each year, I set health & fitness goals. I started a year of Precision Nutrition Coaching at the end of July. As part of that program, I started lifting weights, in addition to walking, running and going to hot yoga.

2016 by the numbers:

  • Distance Walked and Run: 3,630,642 steps or 1,617.24 miles. Average: 4.4 miles per day.
  • Hot Yoga Classes at Tula Hot Yoga Denver:  157 classes (235.5 hours!). Average about 3x a week.
  • Weight Lifting Sessions (since August 2016): 80. Average about 3x a week.
  • Inches Lost: 8.25
  • Pounds Lost: 8.8

Education

I like learning new things. And some of the certificates I’ve picked up require extensive continuing education.

  • Precision Nutrition Certification:  January – PN Certification
  • Kauffman Venture Deals Course: April to June – Certificate
  • Project Management Professional (PMP): I completed my 60 hours of continuing education to renew my PMP Certification through April of 2019.
  • Certified Salesforce Administrator. Every new release there is an exam. This year I’ve completed:
    • Salesforce Certified Administrator – Winter ’16 Release Exam (May)
    • Salesforce Certified Administrator – Spring ’16 Release Exam (September)
    • Salesforce Certified Administrator – Summer ’16 Release Exam (September)
    • I may just knock out the Winter ’17 Release Exam before the new year.

Entrepreneurship

I’ve become pretty disconnected from the local entrepreneurial community, but I still got invited to do some fun things.

  • The University of Denver MBA program launched a new course where the students were building business plans. I was invited to serve on a panel reviewing their pitches along the way (October & November). Great fun.
  • I also reviewed Cade Museum Prize Applications (February). I love this Florida based competition that awards $50,000 each year to emerging innovations and inventions. It’s a great opportunity for early stage companies, and I love seeing what is submitted.

Random

  • June: I attended my first Rockies game. They lost.

    At a Rockies Game with the office

  • October: I went back to the University of Denver for the Grand Opening of the Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging. My former post-doc mentor, David Patterson, has a new laboratory in the institute and was just made a fellow of AAAS. There were at least 3 poster presentations from his laboratory. The one he’s standing with was crowd-funded by families interested in his specific research. Awesome!

    The research in this poster was crowd-funded!

Travel

I set travel goals each year. Typically my goals are (1) to keep my United Mileage Plus Silver benefit which generally means that my carry-on bag will have a space on the plane, and (2) to plan one big trip to someplace I’ve never been. This year was New Zealand.

Work Travel

San Francisco, California

  • April – DocuSign Advisory Council, DocuSign Momentum, even a VIP event at CEO’s home! I still don’t know how I made that invitation list.
  • October – Dreamforce & DocuSign Advisory Council Meeting
April 2016 San Francisco

I never get tired of this view

San Diego, California

  • June – Esri User Conference. Fantastic conference, in a terrific location. I it was great to catch up with some friends such as Irene Morton and her husband Michael; my old college study buddy Brad Cohen & his wife Robyn. Great to reconnect.

Pueblo, Colorado

Breckenridge, Colorado

  • October – Board Retreat

Fun Travel

Los Angeles, California

400 Year Anniversary Sake

At Totoraku

Camden & Bar Harbor, Maine

Camden, Maine

  • August – Dinner with friends, looked at some boats. This was my first time in Maine, and everything, except for abysmal cell phone connectivity was exactly as I imaged it. Pretty place.

New Zealand

Queenstown

Essex, Connecticut

  • December – to check on a boat, a Hallberg-Rassy 31 that’s getting some work done.  Not mine. But she is pretty and I hope I get invited to sail on her one day. Even in small towns, a great wine bar can be found, in this case at the Griswold Inn where a 1998 Chateau Mouton Rothschild was enjoyed. They also have amazing truffle fries. This was not a Precision Nutrition approved outing!

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1998

Atlanta, Georgia

  • December – 25 Year Anniversary Celebration of the Discovery of Fragile X Syndrome (link to PDF original article). This was a last-minute event to honor my Ph.D. thesis advisor Stephen T. Warren. A former post-doc of his (now faculty at Emory), and some of his staff arranged for all of us who were in the lab in 1991, along with many of his life long collaborators, to come to Emory for a celebration & day of science. I was 20 when I first met Steve Warren, and there are few people who’ve had more impact on the type of person I grew up to be, the type of scientist I became. I affectionately refer to him as my “scientific father” – but never to his face! We hadn’t spoken in more than a decade, the last time one of his staff sprung a reunion on him, but his influence is still huge.

  • It was great to reconnect with people I had not seen in 20+ years. A big scientific family reunion. I was only in Atlanta for about 24 hours; I wish I’d planned more time. A big thank you to Peng Jin and Janelle Clark and others for making this happen. I was so happy to see Jane (my former roommate) and Heiner her husband, and so many others! I could double the size of this post gushing about the people, where they are now, etc. But I won’t. It was a spectacular way to close out 2016.

From Left to Right: David Nelson, Heinrich Iber, Harry Orr, Jim Sutcliffe, Janelle Clark, Yue Feng, Terry Hassold, Fuping Zhang, Tom Glover, Catherine Kunst, Steve Warren, Karen Warren, Tom Warren, Tom’s Girlfriend (?), Stephanie Sherman, Chris Gunter, Greg Riggins, Jane Chastain Iber, Peng Jin

  • I was also able to reconnect with my friends Ken Walker and his former assistant Brian (Toby) Hage (now a big time consultant). It was good to catch up with them. Ken is an incredible person, still practicing medicine at 80, and working tirelessly to revamp medical education in Soviet Georgia. Emory put together a great short video of the history of his career (below). Inimitable.

Lunch with Ken Walker & Brian (Toby) Hage.

While it’s not quite finished, 2016 was a good year.

Not so boring after all!

 

 

Posted in Education, Entrepreneurship, Extraordinary People, Personal Development, Research & Science, Travel

New Zealand – Days 8 to 14

South Island – Days 8 to 14, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Te Anua

Travel: Flew New Zealand Airlines from Wellington to Queenstown

Initially my South Island tour was to include a few nights in Marlborough, and stops in Christchurch & Dunedin before making my way to Queenstown. Because of the earthquake, I rerouted, and headed directly to Queenstown.

Lodging: Doubletree Hilton, where I would spend the next four nights, is part of a brand new Hilton complex on the Kelvin Heights Peninsula  – separated from the airport and the main part of Queenstown by a single lane bridge. Apparently the bridge used to be a dam, became a bridge, and they are finally constructing a new bridge with 2 lanes. For now, traffic jams are common as this bridge is the primary route from Queenstown to Milford Sound and the Remarkables Ski area. Continuing with the New Zealand hotel theme, my room had a separate kitchen and living room. The property had every flavor of Hilton from the Doubletree, to high end hotel & separate Hilton apartments. There were at least four restaurants that were part of the campus. I ate at Me & Mee, traditional Chinese menu, on my arrival. Good not great. It’s also the only place I’ve ever been where the wine glasses had a line demarking where the pour should stop.

Touristy things:

  • Queenstown Gondola. On my first day, I drove to downtown Queenstown (the Hilton had a free shuttle which I should have used). There was crazy traffic like a Colorado mountain town in high season, complete with expensive parking garage. I took the gondola tour. Half the people were doing tours and half the people were lugging mountain bikes up to race down.
    Queenstown Gondola Post Card

    Queenstown Gondola Post Card

    Great Views

View from the top

View from the top

  • Arrowtown. I thought I’d escape the humanity by driving to Arrowtown, which was recommended by the hotel concierge in Hawkes Bay, and most tour books. It was a tourist adventure complete with expensive shops, crowded parking and historic sites. I am fascinated by the garments made locally from merino wool, silk, and possum fur but otherwise this was a short visit.
  • Lake Wakatipu. I loved staying on Lake Wakatipu  with the trails that go around it. It’s quieter on the Kelvin Peninsula side. I could walk an hour plus and the trails just kept going.
    Kelvin Peninsula Trail

    Kelvin Peninsula Trail

    Mansions in the hillsides overlooked the water, and their boat docks.

    Spring in Queenstown

    Spring in Queenstown

    Flowers were blooming everywhere. Spring is pretty in New Zealand, even if it rains most days.

    Wildflowers everywhere

    Wildflowers everywhere

  • Glacier Helicopter Tour. I used one sunny day to take a glacier tour by helicopter. It was too windy to land on the glacier proper but we got close.
    Alpine Landing

    Alpine Landing

    View from the sky - perfect clear day

    View from the sky – perfect clear day

  • Spa! My days at the Hilton were spent quietly – cooking in, sleeping lots, making use of the very good fitness center, walking the trails on the peninsula, even taking advantage of the spa summer special at the Eforea spa – a full body exfoliation, massage & facial. The spa was one of the best I’ve been to. Side note: this hotel had the worst internet of the entire trip – (3kb upload & download speeds were frequent – yes kb). Upside – I mostly disconnected for these four days.
  • Te Anau. One very rainy day, I drove to Te Anau. I started heading that way because there is a glowworm cave that’s promoted, but I didn’t make it there. As it kept raining harder, I really didn’t want to get out of the car. I also did not make it to Milford Sound. New Zealand traffic is a strange thing. Most roads at best are one way each direction. There are frequent signs that encourage slow drivers to allow those cars stuck behind them to pass, but most drivers don’t allow it. And there are very few real passing lanes – occasionally on long hills. The maximum speed I saw was 100 kph (about 62 mph), and in general people seem to target the speed limit or just below. On this rainy day I got caught behind many drivers who maxed out at 65 kph (about 40 mph) in a 100 kph zone which, when you have planned a few hundred kilometers to drive (each way), makes for a very long day. The lone ultra-aggressive driver that caught my attention this trip was pulled over by police not long after passing me.

    Even Rainy Days are Spectacular - Devils Staircase

    Even Rainy Days are Spectacular – Devils Staircase (near Queenstown)

So much like driving the North Island, South Island has many sheep, goats, cows, green pastures, rolling hills. But they also have fields of deer (fenced), and nice alpine peaks. Apparently there are no natural predators in New Zealand (no snakes, wolves, lions, tigers, bears, crocodiles, etc.) except man – so they cull the wild deer by helicopter hunting.

Lodging: St. Moritz. I spent my last two nights at the St. Moritz this was a beautiful, more historic hotel, in Queenstown proper. I dropped the car with the valet and didn’t need it until I left for the airport. This was a very comfortable hotel – dark woods, rich tones, fireplaces. Good fitness center. Full suite – kitchen, living, dining, bedroom. Compared to the Hilton, the internet was zooming. Good onsite restaurant, the Lombardi, (pdf menu). I liked it so much, especially the views, I ate there twice.

Lombardi Restaurant View

Lombardi Restaurant View

More Touristy things: 

  • Window Shopping. I did some proper tourist window shopping and almost succumbed to some beautiful blue pearl & diamond earrings. Apparently blue pearls are unique to New Zealand. This one jewelry shop, Waka Gallery, made everything onsite. They had beautiful, one of a kind designs.  But  after 14 days of indulging, I just couldn’t justify it.

New Zealand Days 1 & 2

New Zealand Days 3 & 4

New Zealand Days 5 to 7

Posted in Travel

A quick Precision Nutrition Coaching Update

Today, Precision Nutrition posted links to the presale lists for women’s and men’s coaching (if you sign up for the presale you can get a discount; and these sell out). I think the next cycle starts in January. My cohort started in July and we have an opportunity to speak with the women in the January group in early December.

So we’re 18 weeks into my year long experiment. The hard data: I was down 10 pounds and 7.75 inches before my New Zealand Adventure started. I haven’t had access to a scale but I brought a tape measure and the loss of inches seems to be holding up. Hooray!

Note: I care much more about inches and body fat percentage vs. the number on the scale. My goal for this holiday. Don’t lose ground.

Precision Nutrition Progress - 18 weeks

Precision Nutrition Progress – 18 weeks

You weigh & measure every 2 weeks. You take photos every 4 weeks. And yes, if the progress keeps up like this, I’ll share the before and week 52 photos. I may just have defined abs before I turn 50! Re: speed of program, this is a marathon not a sprint. It’s a slog. And it’s forever. Make better choices 90% of the time. Simple. Some of the women in my group (we have a private facebook group as well) were/are really frustrated by this. I was normal weight to start with, but wanted to lose body fat. For my height I have about 10 more pounds to work with before becoming clinically under weight, which seems pretty laughable but that’s the math. So I’m more focused on body composition. How can I improve muscle tone, leanness?  There were a lot of questionnaires early on that determined what workouts I receive each day. I don’t know all that goes into them, I’m just DOING them and since progress is happening (slowly), I’m sticking with it. I’m the tortoise not the hare in this experiment.

They have also gamified program compliance by awarding “badges” for lessons done, habits (new every 2 weeks) done, & workouts done. Basically if you do 5 each week in a category you get a badge. I’m showing you “habits” since I do not always succeed there. Sometimes these are easy – did I eat protein with every meal, you bet I did. Ooh did I eat until 80% full? Ha ha ha ha. Did I eat slowly? Why no, I did not. I don’t remember what week 12 was, but clearly I could not do it, at all. I don’t really care about the “badges” but you do need to check in each day – did you workout? did you do your habit? did you do the lesson? I think the accountability helps, at least me.

Precision Nutrition Habits

Precision Nutrition Habits

And I’m keeping up with the workouts as the hotel gyms permit. And yes, I traveled with fitness bands, just in case. And have used them. I have these – bargain (I left the yellow and green bands at home). Reality, I could have left them at home, but it comforted me to have a back up plan.

So here’s the real question…do you need to sign up? As far as I can tell, and I’ve done the certification program, 100% of the program info is available free online in the blog posts and infographics. Or you could buy the binder and do the program solo for 1/20 of the cost. I think the real value add is the pacing of the roll out so it’s achievable and the built in accountability system. If you can do all that solo, you’re good to go.

I like that the workout of the day is assigned so I just need to do it and not think about it. I like that the workout density increases gradually so I never have that workout where I can’t move for the next 3 days and just stop altogether. I like that there is a coach checking in with me regularly to get at a my real fitness issues (e.g. it’s the Pinot Noir this holiday) and who will give me workout strategies while traveling. But that’s me. I still appreciate the science behind the program. That’s what sucked me in initially and keeps me at it, day by day.

Posted in Fitness, Personal Development

New Zealand – Days 5 to 7

North Island Days 5 – 7, Hawkes Bay & Wellington

Travel: Drive 2 hours – Huka Falls to Napier (Hawkes Bay)

Rainbow over Hawkes Bay

Rainbow over Hawkes Bay – view from my hotel room

More rain, cows, sheep, goats, rolling hills, roundabouts, & lush green pastures.

Lodging: Pebble Beach Motor Inn. Good location, great views, friendly staff, clean, full kitchen in room, enormous Jacuzzi spa in the bedroom, free parking, strong free wifi, and the most rock hard bed I’ve ever slept in.

Pebble Beach Motor Inn - Yes the Jacuzzi is almost as large as the king sized bed.

Pebble Beach Motor Inn – Yes the Jacuzzi is almost as large as the king sized bed.

I hit the grocery – most meals were roasted chicken & rocket (arugula) +/- a corn tortilla +/- some cheese. Almost everything in the supermarket was free range and/or organic. Country of origin was noted on most meat, fish and produce.

There were extensive foot paths with fitness stations interspersed along Hawkes Bay. These seem to go on for miles and miles. Napier was sunnier and warmer than my first two stops. It was great to walk around in just jeans and a t-shirt.

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Touristy things:

  • Wine Tour: The clerk at the hotel recommended a multi hour drive and about a dozen vineyards worth stopping at. I did the drive but only stopped at Craggy Range for a wine tasting. Good choice. One bottle procured. I’ve been sticking to the Central Otago Pinot Noirs.

    Craggy Range Pinot Noir

    Craggy Range Pinot Noir

  • Ocean Spa: I stopped at Ocean spa as it’s in all of the guidebooks. It’s a big indoor water park. I was more interested in their fitness center, but access to fitness equipment was expensive, especially with the trails, and fitness stations available for free. If you have kids that like water activities this seems to be the place to go.

Travel: Drive 3  hours – Napier to Martinborough

The drive was like the others with more cows, sheep, goats, rolling hills, lush green pastures, and rain.

Lunch in Martinborough: Café Medici – Asian Slaw with Grilled Calamari & an espresso. Good food. It was a very nice place to stop driving. Apparently there was a wine festival starting that evening.

Travel: Drive 1  hours – Martinborough to Wellington

The drive started the same with more cows, sheep, goats, rolling hills, lush green pastures, rain, and there was a new twist – literally – crazy twisting roadways up and down a hillside cliff. You know those roads that motorcyclists love to lean into the turns on? Well these had signs warning motorcyclists that the road was too dangerous! So pretty.

Lodging in Wellington: Bolton Hotel – Nice place, not part of a chain. I booked it using Chase Sapphire points, like they do on those TV commercials. I had a suite, with multiple rooms including a full eat-in kitchen, living room, bedroom, & bath. Good fitness center. Good location with an easy walk to museums, a major shopping area & the water front.

Wellington was the first place I saw earthquake damage. Wellington was hit fairly hard with damage to numerous buildings, several newly constructed after the last big earthquake. There were many news headlines about the new buildings, which should have been able to hold up to this earthquake, failing to perform as expected. Construction & detours were extensive. Many areas were cordoned off.

Dinner: Artisan Restaurant  (at the Bolton) – Market fish, pan fried on saffron risotto with chorizo stuffed baby squid and piquant sauce; roasted beetroot with balsamic, almonds, feta and rocket, & a glass of Wooing Tree Pinot Noir (Central Otago Region of course). It seemed like they were trying too hard to be creative with this mix of textures and flavors on the entree. The salad was very good, the fish fresh was perfectly cooked, but the rest was a bit strange as combined.

Breakfast: Astoria –  I walked around Lambton Quay looking for a restaurant that had a big queue of people. This was the only one I could find that had a wait. The food wasn’t fancy, but the portions were generous and satisfying – scrambled eggs, bacon, gluten free toast, & thick coffee. They call it a “tall dark” here – I am not sure about the tall, as all coffees are small or smaller, but they are strong. Side note: the bacon in New Zealand is amazing. Thick cut, lots of lean. I’ve been eating bacon almost every day.

After this brief visit in Wellington it was time to head to the airport to return the rental car, and fly to Queenstown.

End of North Island tour. Heading south, but now skipping Marlborough, Christchurch & Dunedin due to earthquake damage.

New Zealand Days 1 & 2

New Zealand Days 3 & 4

Posted in Travel