Small Changes Make a Difference, Part III

We are continuing our journey towards changing a habit that gets in our way, one small step at a time. 

Now that you've identified a habit or regular action that creates challenges for you, let's create a better awareness about it. 

Ask yourself and honestly, deeply answer:

Why do you do that habit?

What emotions or circumstances lead up to you doing that thing?

Small Changes Make a Difference, Part II.

We are continuing our journey towards changing a habit that gets in our way, one small step at a time. 

Now that you've identified a habit or regular action that creates challenges for you, the next step is create a better awareness about it. 

Ask yourself and honestly, deeply answer:

Why is it something you want to stop?

What benefits and what detriments are there to stopping doing that thing?

Small changes can make a big difference, Part I.

This blog is part of a series called “Small changes can make a big difference” in which I explore research, ideas and examples of how small changes in our lives - in our health, habits, thinking or feeling - creates a feeling of being more whole and alive.  The underlying idea here is about taking big ideas, tasks or goals and breaking them into smaller, manageable steps.  

I started to dive into this theme in two different blogs a few weeks, with how to make someone’s day in five different and easy ways and how to improve your pushups by up to fifteen in month.  The goals we addressed there are a) giving to the people around us, and b) improving our fitness. 

So here’s one way to make a difference in our lives with a small change:

***Identify one thing that gets in your way, one thing that you do that makes you unhappy or a thing that you know is keeping you back from doing something you would love.***

That’s it.  Next time, we’ll talk about what to do with that one thing.  


5 Reasons Why Slow Strength Training is Awesome


Slow strength training is AWESOME. 

And it requires different implementation, frequency and recovery than regular training does, as it taxes your body VERY differently, especially the muscles and nerves.  I learned these lessons firsthand and have used them to benefit several clients, from a 26-year old who put on 14 POUNDS OF MUSCLE (naturally and supplement-free) to a man over 70 years old to manage his joint replacements and pain so much better than his traditional strength training regimen that he has no pain in his usual suspects. 

 Also, just like regular tempo strength training, there are wrong and right ways to do it. 

What is it?  

low strength training i generally considered to be completing strength movements with 8 seconds or more per repetition.  Super slow strength training sits at 20 seconds per up.  That’s dramatically different than the two to four seconds of traditional strength training.  Typically done with eight or less repetitions per movement per workout, often just one or two sets.  That’s only eight to sixteen repetitions total per movement per workout.  

ho is it for?

Athletes.  People with injuries.  The aging population. Folks looking to improve strength. Basically, anyone.  

Why is it awesome?

1) It’s minimizes joint wear and tear.  

With less repetitions compared to traditional strength training (which averages around 30 reps per movement per workout), you SIGNIFICANTLY lower your risk of damaging cartilage, bursas and joint connectors that wear down the more you use them.  

2) It minimizes risk for injury while working out. 

With slower speed, you necessarily control your movement more, giving you an opportunity to control not only the weight you’re lifting (or your body if you’re doing a body weight exercise) but also how your body works to accomplish the movement.  With eight to twenty seconds to perform a squat, deadlift, pull-up, row, pushup,’ll have ample time to keep great form/technique and know when to stop and how your body feels at all aspects of the movement.  

Your ability to stabilize and really control the weight you’re moving improves significantly compared to traditional tempos because you’re going much slower.  

3) Less injuries while performing/playing.

Better stability and control in strength movements can lead to less injuries in everyday life and especially in athletic performance.

4) It can lead to muscle growth 

Tim Ferris, in his book the 4-Hour Body, discusses how he grew muscle doing one set of slow strength training during his workouts (he was also on a ton of supplements).  

5) It’s a nice departure from traditional training tempos and can help you break through plateaus


ow, there are articles out there like this one from T-nation that argue against slow strength training. But the argument relies on certain assumptions that are variable among slow strength protocols and methods, and it doesn't explore in depth the essential components of safety while lifting and long term joint wear and tear.  

f you have questions about how to incorporate low strength trainin into your training regime or how it might be beneficial for yo, eel free to call me. Seriously.  I'd love to talk about it.  I'm at 415.828.2440. Or leave our questions in the comments section below!

Also, please leave comments if you’ve tried slow strength training before and have some tips and feedback!

ther resources:

2 Minutes to Improve Your Pushups By up to 15 In One Month

Alright, crew, here's a quick two-step, two minute way to improve how many pushups you can do.  Using this method, I've seen folks improve on average six to ten pushups and even up to fifteen, in one month.

1) Pick your pushup type (elevated on a table, on a bench, or on the floor).  Choose a version of which you can do at least ten.

2) After warming up you shoulders and upper body with some gentle, dynamic stretches and movements...

Do one set a day until failure, five times a week

(failure = when you can't keep good form or complete a pushup)

That's it.  One set a day.  Are you up for it? 

(Practical question: what time of day makes the most sense for you to do it? )

I'll check in with you after a month, and you're welcome to post your results!

Burger Review: The Manly Burger from Umami Burger

Overall Rating and Value

WOW.  What a surprise.  Absolutely worth it. 4.5 stars, or A-.  

Summary of the Burger

This burger - and the next one I’ll review from Umami - blew our expectations away.  I wanted to eat another one right after I finished half of one, and I’ve been thinking about everyday it since we had it (a week).  I highly recommend this burger and would be excited to have one again.  

(Note: this review was 95% written the day after the burger so that I could remember and remark on every detail as accurately as possible).

My Gut Feedback

During: I would easily order this burger again.

After:  I want to tell more people about this burger and recommend that those who have had a lackluster experience at Umami Burger to give it another try.  It was so good that I will order a double version of this burger, or a second burger, next time.  And there will be a next time.


The situation

My friend Tom and I were hanging out last Sunday night and were getting hungry.  I had been doing some research earlier that day on burgers to try in the city, so burgers were on my mind.  I brought up getting burgers, and he mentioned that he and his girlfriend had ordered from the SOMA location of Umami Burger through Caviar a few weeks ago and that they were good.  I had been to Umami Burger two times about seven years ago and thought they were good then, so why not tonight?  We couldn’t decide on just two burgers, and I was hungry.  So I proposed that we get four different burgers for a fun burger adventure.  So we did just that, and we ordered the Manly, the Truffle, the Cali and the Umami, having a half of each burger, totalling two burgers per person, through Caviar.  Would the burgers be good from Umami?  Especially through delivery?  

Read on, friend...



Price and Preparation: 

$14, ordered medium rare, no extra accompaniments.

Portion size

The size of this burger patty is 6oz, which is a decent size.  The bun is a decent size as well, and the toppings portions are reasonable. I’m often hungry enough to eat at least two burgers at Umami (and most places).  


This burger smelled wonderful and definitely got the digestive juices going.  The salty beer cheese and the bacon lardons led the charge, followed by the meat.  

The bun

Overall: Satisfactory.

Presentation: it looks pretty.

Texture: A little chewy. No crunch on top or textural contrast.  But it holds together as the accompaniments and juices from the meat start to soak it, and provides a nice balance to the burger texture with each bite.  

Taste: Satisfactory.  Nothing that makes me want to have it again, and there are others that I’d prefer to this one.  If the top bun were less thick, if the whole bun had more flavor, and perhaps if it were toasted on top, I’d like it more.  I remember liking their buns more six years ago than I do now, though...were they different?  Was it the delivery that affected the bun, or did the recipe change?

Temperature: room temp, and I think it would be better if it were warm.  

Preparation: Fully cooked.  Satisfactory.

Proportion:  The bun matches the width of the burger nicely so that it didn’t overwhelm the burger in its length and width, and the toppings pretty much stayed in tact between the buns.  

I’m not a fan of how tall the bun is, though.  I always find myself cutting off half of the top bun because the top half seems too big, over-sufficient.  And since the bun is a little chewy, I would appreciate the top half being 50% smaller.  My gut tells me that if the bun were less chewy and lighter, I wouldn’t feel like cutting off half of the top.  

Now, let’s get to the REALLY GOOD stuff.  


Overall: Impressive. It smacked of very high quality, and I could have enjoyed several more of these patties.  

Taste:  Right. On.  The freshness and flavor of the meat came through wonderfully at medium rare.  The outside cooked portion of the patty had the saltiness of some of the accompaniments, and the interior, more-rare section tasted incredibly clean.  

Texture: Each bite was so soft and wonderfully succuluent, Tom and I wondered where they get their meat.  We researched and discovered that they use American wagyu.  No wonder.  

You know that chewiness or gristle that you get in burgers sometimes, especially when they’re medium rate or rare in the middle?  There was none of that, and that’s superb, especially considering that they coarsely grind their meat.  The coarse grind is unusual but was nice to enjoy, given the quality and preparation of the meat.

Temperature: Excellent.  It was a great temperature to enjoy the flavors and textures, especially considering that we had the burger delivered.  Serious kudos to the Caviar delivery guy!

Preparation: the patty was cooked perfect to order, a nice medium rare.

Presentation: the meat looked delicious and ready to eat.  Purplish pink on the inside, gray and black on the top and bottom.

The accompaniments / toppings on the burger

Taste, temperature and texture:  Excellent.  The beer cheese was so savory and wonderfully melted and warm, and it accentuated and enhanced the flavor and texture of the meat.  The taste was distinct and a nice surprise.

The crispy smoked salt onion strings were warm and crispy, with enough flavor to be noticed. 

The bacon lardons came in small chopped, ¼” squares and added an additional texture of more well-cooked meat, which was a nice counter to the onion strings, chewy bun, soft meat, and melted cheese.  The lardons didn’t make the burger too salty for me.   

There seemed to be something like an extra sauce on the bottom bun, perhaps it was the mustard spread, and it gave the bun additional flavor.  

Presentation: definitely made me want to dive in and bite the burger.  The melted cheese dripping off the edges of the meat and bun was hella inviting, and the bacon lardons and onion strings made it the stuff of food porn.  


I would gladly fork over $14 for this burger again.  $14 is about the average for a burger in the city, and what this burger delivered .  I would even consider adding a second patty and be happy to spend that much on it ($5 more or so), the meat and flavor was that good.

Ambience and atmosphere

We weren't at the locaation, so this doesn't really apply, but Tom's apartment was a good place to enjoy a burger adventure.


5 Ways to Make Someone's Day

Making someone's day is a great way to give to others and feel fulfilled, right?  For me, giving and fulfillment has become a core component of how I view overall health and wellness, and making someone's day is one my daily goals and tasks.  Here are 5 ways I do that every day in five-minutes-or-less:

  1. Tell someone you see frequently that you notice and appreciate something they do well
  2. Send a nice text or voice note to a friend or family member you haven't talked with in a while 
  3. Compliment someone on their positive energy, attitude or smile!
  4. Write and mail a thoughtful handwritten letter to someone you care about
  5. Do something - an act of service - for someone you see struggling

Let me know if you've tried any of these and if you have any ideas that you've tried and found make people's days :)

In the spirit of giving, 



First. Blog. 2018.

I’m four days into 2018 and it’s been an eventful year already.  And I take the firm position that it’s been a good four days :)

1) Recovering from my surgery (septoplasty and turbinate reduction)

Ah, I can finally breathe through my nose a little bit since the surgery on 12/29.  Two nights ago, I slept twelve hours because I had barely slept the four previous nights (but was surprisingly functional and motivated throughout those four days, which was a really nice surprise).  Dr. Tang at Kaiser took out the packing that was in my nose.  That was a strange feeling.  But not being able to breathe through my nose made it incredibly difficult to eat, drink and talk...and sleep.  Hella dry mouth and gasping for air throughout the night was very uncomfortable - not to mention blood and music were dipping down my nasal passage into my throat.  I am glad that portion of the recovery is over, and I am looking forward to seeing what the removal of the stints next week will do.

2) As part of the surgery recovery, I am forbidden from working out for two weeks after the surgery, and I’m allowed to resume activity gradually thereafter.  And you know what?  I’m at peace with it and haven’t struggled with it much.  A year ago I would have trouble with it.  I accept it because I did the surgery for my health, to improve my formerly awful ability to breathe through my nose, which affected my ability to breathe while I slept and therefore recovery and therefore daily energy (I had to sleep at least eight and a half hours a night to feel human).  If the surgery helps with my energy and sleep needs, then great.  If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.  But I have to honor the recovery process and honor my intentions and body.  To put my recovery at risk for a few workouts is silly.  Those workouts aren’t important enough.  Also, not working out has opened up quite a bit of time for me to work on new projects and tasks that I’m excited about, like the workshops (next section below).  

Side note: I hadn’t had my heart rate or blood pressure taken in a while.  The morning of the surgery, my heart rate was averaging 45/bpm.  Blood pressure was 106/72.  That was cool to learn, haha.  I guess I’m staying healthy in at least two physiological measurements...  

3) I’m really excited to put together some workshops this year.  I’ve wanted to offer more opportunities for learning and development to my current group of clients for a while, and I’ve wanted to be able to offer helpful the same opportunities to other folks at a more affordable level than what I currently charge for individual coaching sessions.  I’ve also learned the value of community and the impact it has on success for many people.   

Right now, I’m working on two workshops: Back to Basics, with health coach Babette Dunkelgrun, which offers simple and manageable strategies more finding joy, energy, and purpose; and 100 Pushups, which details how simple and manageable it is to be able to do 100 Pushups in about a year’s time while reviewing proper technique and myths about strength.  Simplicity and manageability are themes here because I’ve learned that most people succeed less when the path is complex and often therefore less manageable.  I’m planning on partaking in the 100 pushup challenge to show that it works, as soon as I’m cleared by Dr. Zemo (the awesome head and neck surgeon from Kaiser) to exercise.  

4) With a lot of personal work, thanks to my awesome therapist Derron Santin and to my family and friends who listen and share, I am better approaching each day with the perspective that

  • I will give something to people I meet and make their day better
  • I approach each day and person (including myself) with a warm, non-judging, compassionate and empathic heart, mind, and spirit, and a smile
  • I have a choice of what I do each day - I don’t need to fall to habit
  • I chose to be present in the moment
  • I consider how I’m feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually and act accordingly
  • Each moment has something wonderful
  • My attitude and perspective determine how I enjoy each day and how I impact others 

These might seem like hippie/new-agey/touchy-feely things for me to say, and a few years ago, I would have totally agreed.  But I was pretty depressed and in a really bad place just two years ago.  I’m at a point where I value and understand and really FEEL what it means to listen and give to others, and to listen and give to myself.  I didn’t have that self-awareness before, and it’s been transformational and the launching point for being more aware of - and truly and deeply concerned for - others.  Not that I wasn’t aware and concerned about you and other people before, but the level of that awareness and feeling is so much greater and more powerful now.  

And that’s an awesome, freeing feeling. 

And that’s what’s up so far in 2018.