Fortitude, Personal Development

2021 Team Quadzilla Book List

How People Change – Allen Wheelis

As one with special interest in mental fitness and human behavior, I expected this book to be right up my alley, based on the title alone. But when I saw it was written in the 70’s, I half expected some really outdated counsel on the topic. Instead the saying, “there is nothing new under the sun” rang true. Many of the thoughts and strategies that we know to be true today about mental fitness, overcoming bad habits, changing behavior, and  achieving goals were written long ago. The author says things like, “…we are what we do, if we want to change what we are we must begin by changing what we do.” (pg101) And one of my favorite ideas on mental fitness is discussed just a paragraph later where Wheelis writes, “Change will occur only if such action is maintained over a long period of time.” This is a short book and easy to read. The sad story about his childhood will make you happy about yours.

Men Who Love Fierce Women – LeRoy & Kim Wagner

Are you a married man? Read this book. Regardless of your wife’s personality, this is a must read. LeRoy is gut-honest about his failures and frustrations as a husband, and in this book he shares realizations that saved his marriage. Be encouraged how to love and lead your wife well even if you are a more quiet and reserved type of guy. This goes on the re-read list for me.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes – Dan Egan

I found this book fascinating. My son had to read this for AP English and write papers on it, so I thought I’d read it with him. We talked about this one often. It’s US history, politics, agriculture, business, environmental science, and biology all wrapped in one witty and entertaining narrative. Trust me, you have no idea how important or valuable the Great Lakes is to humanity. Or how many times humanity has tried to destroy it. Highly recommend.

The Dichotomy of Leadership – Jocko Willink

Leadership insights from a guy who spent his career leading men in war? Sign me up. I gained more respect for those who lay their lives on the line to protect mine. These guys have relentless pursuit of doing the right things right, communicating clearly, working as a team, leaning on one another, etc. because if they don’t, they die. Jocko shares from his mistakes about what leadership is not. He explains “extreme ownership,” when to act fast and when to pause, and how to care for the people you lead by serving them with humility. Good stuff here.

When Night Comes – Dan Walsh

A winter diversion from my typical “educational” books is this novel about a man with very strange dreams. There’s WWII story to it that is fun to read and Walsh makes you feel like you were there.

Remembering Dresden – Dan Walsh

Another novel because the first one went well for me. This one is also good. Digging deeper into some WWII stuff, Walsh spins a fun mystery with plenty of twists I didn’t expect.

Change Your World – John Maxwell

My friend and John Maxwell Team member Nick gave me this book which is the latest in the John C Maxwell library. Especially in these pandemic times we live in, Maxwell emphasizes the importance of relating to people. We need one another for encouragement, accountability, mentoring, laughing, and helping each other whether in person or not. You and I can change our world when we make the effort to get together. Maxwell shows us how.

The Screwtape Letters – CS Lewis

A classic must read. And re-read. This is a compelling book about the psychology of temptation from the point of view of the devil. So witty and brilliant how Lewis gives us an inside look at conversations the devils must have with one another about how to get humanity off track and keep us from knowing and loving God.

The Lazarus Life – Stephen Smith

My dear friend Jay gave me this book several years ago because it encouraged him. This is my third time through it. If you have (or are currently) endured pain, suffering, and waiting and have wondered where God is in all of it, this book is for you. If you are ready for a real, lasting change – a transformation, then the story of Lazarus is one worth becoming intimately familiar. Smith helps us to “unwrap the grave clothes” of the things that are dead in us and experience the life and freedom for which Jesus has set us free. Experience the love Jesus has for you in and through your pains, your past, your present. This is a book of hope.

Prayers to Start Your Day – Criswell Freeman

One hundred prayers. Each on a single page. A scripture reference for each. A word of encouragement for everyday life. Takes 2 minutes to read, but it can really help you through the day. This belongs on repeat. Think Oswald Chambers and “My Utmost for His Highest” but easier to read and not quite so heavy.

Extremely Loud Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer

I’m not sure why this book is so popular. It’s dumb. My son had to read it for AP English and write papers on it, so I wanted to read it with him. Honestly, I’m kind of upset that this book is fine for students to read while other “classics” are now cancelled because of their “offensive” content. This book has more offensive content than any classic I’ve ever read. Ugh. I digress. Don’t waste your time on this one.

A Love Worth Giving – Max Lucado

Based on the “love” passage in 1 Corinthians 13, Lucado takes us verse at a time to explain how we should love. It’s a task we can’t do well on our own. Thankfully, God gives us what we need to love well by the power of his Holy Spirit who lives in every believer. Lucado explains that even with the Spirit in us, we will still struggle to love well until we fully understand the amazing love that God has shown to us first.

The Great Divorce – CS Lewis

Like all CS Lewis books, this requires some focus when reading as every word is thick with meaning. This is a story filled with allegory about a bus ride from Hell to heaven. Lewis puts us in the minds of the passengers as they talk about the thoughts we have about both places. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say, reading it once likely won’t be enough. This will need read multiple times to get all that Lewis means to share with us.

What is a Healthy Church – Mark Dever

A small book that my missionary friend Peter McMillan gave me on his visit this summer. It takes a detailed look at the characteristics of a healthy church. For those who are looking for a church or wondering if they are in the “right” church, this guide can bring clarity. And since the church is made up of people, one could look in the mirror as he reads this book to evaluate how well he’s doing his part as a follower of Jesus and active participant in his church.

Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

This is really 2 books in one. The first half or so is the author sharing his experience in the German concentration camps during WWII. It’s awful to read how people treated each other there, yet also inspiring to hear of the power of the human spirit to endure such hardship. The rest of the book reviews the science of Frankl’s philosophy of psychiatric care in what he calls logotherapy. Where traditional psychotherapy delves into your past and focuses on introspection, logotherapy looks to your future and helps one to focus on a personal meaning to life to drive healing from the mental hurts and hang-ups that keep us from being our best.

I won’t spoil the details, because I think you should read it for yourself, but be prepared to be encouraged and inspired about what you are made of and the future you can have when you live on purpose.

The COACH Model for Christian Leaders – Keith E. Webb

This book is an eye opener for me. Leadership, mentoring, coaching looks very different than I thought, and certainly different from any coaching I’ve received. The leadership skills required to really help people are centered around listening and asking great questions. It’s not at all about having good answers, or any answers for that matter. A well trained coach can help anyone with virtually any problem because the solutions come from the person. The COACH model shows how anyone can connect, relate, and help others with their questions and problems. This inspires me to pursue training in coaching skills so I can be of better help to others.

Fortitude, Personal Development

My 2020 Book List

I’ll not waste precious ink to tell you how important it is to read. You already know that feeding your mind positive inputs is key to your healthy living journey. If you read a book that knocked your socks off this year, I’d like to hear about it.

Made For His Pleasure – Alistair Begg

To be honest, this was not my favorite book, but maybe that’s because I wasn’t ready for the central message. I firmly believe we can only receive instruction or be convicted to the point of making change in our life when we are ready for it. God is good like that. This book challenges our human nature to live for self and look for pleasure in all the wrong places when it is living fully for God and his purposes that answers our deepest needs. Thought provoking, convicting, and entertaining when you read it in Alistair’s Irish accent.

Leadership & Self-deception- Arbinger Institute

I first read this book about 10 years ago as an assignment for work. It blows your mind to realize that the reason for most of our problems in life are our own fault. We are all deceived, seeing the world and other people from a narrow and skewed perspective that sabotages our relationships and personal productivity. Written in a story format, it’s engaging and thought provoking. I often put the book down mid-paragraph to think about what just happened and how spot on it is to my own experience. Read this.

The Self-Propelled Island – Jules Verne

A diversion into classic fiction, which I don’t do very often. Verne has many famous stories like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in 80 Days, so I took a chance on a lesser known story he wrote 100 years ago. His vision of technology is fascinating and the way he describes the adventures in the middle of the ocean makes you believe you were actually there. It’s pretty fun.

Kingdom Man – Tony Evans

As chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Evans has endorsements from NFL stars like Tony Romo, Tony Dungy, Jon Kitna, and Joe Gibbs for this amazing playbook for life. He tells it like it is, and sometimes it hits you like a linebacker. This is a valuable resource worth reading on the regular to give men the encouragement and inspiration to live, lead, and love in ways that will change our corner of the world.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People- Stephen R. Covey

Everyone needs to read this book. Period. It’s a little wordy in spots, but the principles discussed here are timeless. I’ve written about it before, and even had my article on the 7 Habits published in a magazine. This is another book that needs to be in regular rotation for anyone who strives to be their best – no matter your role.

The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren

This is the most impactful book I read this year. Like some of my other books, this one should be in regular rotation. It is so rich with insight taken directly from the best instruction manual for life – the Bible. There are over 1,000 Bible verses referenced in this book which is broken down into 40 short chapters. While it could be read in a “40 Days of Purpose Challenge,” I took much longer as the concepts to absorb were more than I can manage in one day. Warren doesn’t mince words, but rather it seems as if every word has importance. I’ve nearly highlighted the whole thing! Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and read this book.

Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

My 11th grader was assigned this book for summer reading in prep for his AP English class. I thought I’d read it with him to give us something else to talk about. Glad I did. It’s a good one. Entertaining and thought provoking about what successful people look like. It’s not at all what you think. His observations and scientific research turn what we thought we knew about what makes a person successful on its head. Just when you thought all you had to do was try harder and maybe you’ll get lucky…

Believe Become Be – Robert Noland

What we believe about ourselves is important. If you are like me, or at all human, it’s likely you believe some lies about yourself. These lies are holding us back from being all we were made to be. Noland helps us unravel some of these lies and shows us the truth about who we are and who we are meant to be.

Daring Greatly – Brene Brown

Daring greatly is to be vulnerable. To let your guard down and not be so afraid of what we think other people believe about us. To be your authentic self, to be brave, take a chance, and see what is on the other side of going for it. It’s a call for those of us who are hiding behind walls of fear and doubt to say, “I am enough, and I am tired of being imprisoned by the lies I tell myself.” Brown compels us to believe that the safety we perceive behind our walls is no safety at all, but rather a prison keeping us from being all we were meant to be. How liberating it would be if we lived with even just a wee bit of raw vulnerability. We might find some incredible blessing. I recommend this book for teens and up.

The Road Less Traveled – M. Scott Peck, MD

An old friend recommended this book to me many years ago. This is my 3rd time through it. It’s as deep and heavy as you are ready to receive the message Dr. Peck has about how to live and love well. Like other books in my list this year, there is strong emphasis on personal responsibility and the power of our choices. Choosing well and owning our life is hard. So hard at times that it’s easy to see why most people won’t travel this road. But since we want to live life to the full and be our very best, we will choose the road less traveled. This book shows you how.

Compound Effect – Darren Hardy

The message in this little book is simple. Doing the simple and mundane things (healthy habits, personal/ professional productivity habits, etc.) consistently over time will compound results no matter the venture. The trouble is that we give up too early, or we see no point in doing the mundane. Hardy shares stories and illustrations that are easily relatable to help inspire us to be patient and stick with it. I have begun to see some fruit to some simple and mundane newer habits I’ve adopted – things I’ve tried before but given up too early. The compound effect is real.

Jesus is___. – Judah Smith

This is among the most impactful books I’ve ever read. My 3rd time around, and I still find new things to knock my socks off. The writing style is very conversational as it seems like Pastor Judah is in the room talking directly to me. He brings Jesus to life in unconventional ways, using familiar Bible stories and looking at them from a unique perspective. Who is Jesus? You fill in the blank for yourself, but not until you read this book.

Fitness

5 Terrible ( Yet Common) Healthy Living Habits

Most people would agree that to make healthy eating and fitness into a lifestyle, you will need healthy habits. Helping people create healthy habits that stick long term is a key purpose of Team Quadzilla. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and examine if your healthy habits are as healthy as you think. Read on to see if you relate to any of these common habits that do more harm than good.

1. RUSHING TO THE GYM

Everyone is busy. Probably too busy, but that’s a topic for another time. Stressing, speeding, and leaving no time to shift your mind and body from work mode to exercise mode is not healthy. Give yourself time to warm up and mentally focus in order to prevent injury and get the most out of your workout.

Better yet, skip the gym altogether. There are fantastic options for all fitness interests and abilities streamed to your enabled devices at Beachbody On Demand – my go-to for efficient workouts at home. No frantic drive through traffic, no crowds, lunks, or gawkers, no sweaty machines, you get the idea. Ask me how to try BOD for free. You’ll save time and money and very likely get better results.

2. LOUSY GOAL SETTING

In a moment of inspiration, or desperation, you sign up for next month’s Tough Mudder, or half marathon, even though you haven’t exercised in a few years. Or maybe you realize a wedding or class reunion snuck up on you and you must shed 20 pounds, so you spring for a 30 day gym membership, or adopt the latest fad diet.

But that’s just part of getting motivated, right? Not exactly.

There is nothing wrong with setting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, but you need plan. Work backward from the event date to create incremental baby steps to help you get to your goal. Start small and slow, as going all gung-ho the first few days will likely end in injury, frustration, or burnout and you will fail to meet your goal. I am happy to help you come up with a plan that suits you.

3. IGNORING RECOVERY

Especially if you are feeling good and are highly focused and motivated to reach your goal, it sounds crazy to take a break. However, taking a day off can make your next workout more effective. Research suggests that planned recovery can improve performance and also help you boost intensity. Your body needs to rest and recover. It takes a lot of energy for your body to build and repair sore muscles, and you mind will appreciate the break as well. Recovery day can be complete rest or easy activities like stretch and relax yoga, or an easy cruise on your bike.

It’s not macho or impressive to workout hard every day, it’s foolish. Overtraining is a thing, and it will set you back. Plan rest days and work hard on the exercise days. Your body will thank you with excellent results.

4. WORKOUTS ON REPEAT

“I’m going to run a half marathon, so shouldn’t I just run?” Fair question. The answer is absolutely not. No matter the specific event you are training for, it’s best to mix up your workouts so you’re not overtaxing the same muscle groups. Supporting muscles need attention as well. Without a well-rounded plan, imbalances in the body will crop up eventually lead to injury. A running plan, for example, should include stretching/ yoga type workouts and total body strength training to optimize your results.

Further, you may stop seeing results if you’re doing the same workout every day. Your body gets used to certain exercises quickly, so changing it up can keep you on track to build muscle and endurance. By the way, the Beachbody On Demand programs are designed to incorporate necessary “muscle confusion” expedite total body fitness in minimal time.

5. LAZY NUTRITION

“I exercise every day so I can eat whatever I want.” False. Exercise makes up maybe an hour or so a day, but what you eat over the other 23 hours makes all the difference in your results. And I’m not just talking about weight loss or gain. Eating well has innumerable benefits to your overall human performance including more energy, increasing athletic performance, boosting your immune system, decreasing inflammation, improved mental clarity, etc.

You will never be able to out work a poor diet. Focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods — think healthy fats, lean protein, plenty of vegetables — and being aware of how and when you’re eating. Generally speaking, its helpful to maintain an even blood glucose level in your system which means eating smaller meals more often. Eating when you are bored or stressed is usually a bad idea.

Healthy eating habits are best done in baby steps. Change one thing at a time. I recommend to replace foods vs. cutting them. Instead of saying, “I’m going to quit diet soda cold turkey,” try “I’ll replace diet soda with a naturally flavored water.” Once that is normal for you, move on to the next item. Research shows that small, easy changes done over time create more consistency and long-term results.

Fitness, Nutrition

Have A Snack – But Avoid These 5 Mistakes

Everyone loves a good snack. At its best, a snack can be the ideal pick-me-up after a really tough workout or a well-deserved mid-afternoon break at the office. But healthy snacking isn’t a slam dunk. At its worst, snacks can derail your healthy eating goals and ultimately sabotage your weight-loss. Here’s 5 common mistakes to avoid in your snack game.

Mistake #1 Skipping Snacks

One of the big problems I have with diets is they are always cutting something out. Whether it’s calorie counting, food restrictions, or obnoxious fasting rules, popular diets make us feel guilty for needing a snack. We don’t like being told we can’t have this or do that, especially when it comes to food. So dieters eventually cave for the thing they can’t have, get depressed that they failed, and quit.

I’m telling you right now – have snacks. In fact, eat like a Hobbit. At least target 3 meals a day with a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. Snacking helps you avoid getting hangry, keeps your energy up, and eating 4–5 smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day is a proven strategy for increased weight loss.

veggies-and-dip-1d96c27db1244efeab577ead84f3698aThe fix: Instead of snacking on rabbit food or some pre-packaged “low-cal” crackers or cookies that won’t satisfy you, try adding hummus or peanut butter to carrots or celery sticks. I eat an apple with peanut butter almost every day around 3 pm. Target a mix of protein and carbs in your snack choice. This more filling option won’t break the calorie bank and should help keep you from overeating later.

Mistake #2 Snacking When You’re Not Hungry

If you’ve ever reached for something sweet or salty out of pure boredom you’re definitely not alone. Such mindless eating can add up fast and prevent you from reaching your goals.

The fix: Before reaching for a snack, do a hunger check. Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry, or just bored, tired, stressed?” If you aren’t actually hungry, go for a big glass of water, take a short walk, or find something else to do. Being mindful about your food intake is key to reaching your goals. Remember your reasons why you want to eat healthy and let that drive you to make good choices.

Mistake #3 Incorrect Portion Sizes

Nuts, seeds and dried fruit are excellent, nutrient-dense snacks, but they can be easy to overeat if you’re not careful. Beware of portion sizes for such foods. Usually a handful is all you really need. Portion sizes are made easy when you choose whole fruits like apples, bananas, pears. Once you are used to using portion control containers, you won’t need to measure anything.

The fix: Instead of eating right out of a bag of nuts and seeds, serve yourself the appropriate portion size.

Mistake #4 Not Planning

Failing to plan is a plan to fail in your snack game. If you are serious about eating right, you need a plan. It includes bringing healthy food to work with you, and keeping the junk out of your kitchen at home.

apples-peanut-butter-cashew-butter-butter-snack-1296x728-header-1296x728The fix: Make snack prep a part of your regular routine. Keep some whole wheat crackers and real cheese or healthy homemade trail mix at the office. You can bring hard cooked eggs, egg cups, a small jar of peanut butter to go with your apple or banana, etc.

Mistake #5 Not Having The Right Macros

Both protein and fat are essential macronutrients that help keep you feeling full and satisfied. An ideal snack should contain a mix of both carbohydrates and protein/ fat. Your brain and central nervous system run exclusively on carbs (sugar) found in foods such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, milk and yogurt. You need protein such as meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, and seeds to sustain energy and fullness longer.

imageThe fix: Choose snacks that incorporate both a healthy fat or protein, like almonds for example, with your fruit. This will help you stay fuller longer and avoid extra servings at lunch or dinner because you’re starving.

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Fitness

7 Healthy Habits for Your Second Half

Everyone knows one key to long term healthy living is to stay active. But many aged in their 40’s or 50’s find their body doesn’t behave like it used to — joints hurt, muscles are stiff and stamina is very different than when they were 20 or 30.

Thankfully, taking action right now can help prevent, and certainly delay those ailments so you keep doing your favorite sports and activities into your golden years. Let’s look at 7 things you can do now that your future self will thank you for.

1 REMEMBER: FOOD IS FUEL

Eating the right kinds of food helps you maintain a healthy body weight, gives your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs and keeps your immune system in tip-top shape. Eating the wrong kinds of food, however, can lead to weight gain and chronic inflammation, which could worsen aches and pains and impact your recovery. Your body is a finely tuned machine that requires premium fuel to function optimally. Focus on eating whole foods — lean meats, lots of veggies and fruit and good sources of carbs — and drinking plenty of water.

2 REST EASY

Many people struggle to get the necessary amount of sleep and ultimately rely on caffeinated drinks to help them get through the day. If you’re pushing your body week after week, year after year, then you need to make sure you improve your sleep quantity and quality. That’s because deep sleep is when your body repairs and rebuilds itself from all your training and exercise. Read How To Sleep for more specific tips. 

3 GET QUIET

Stress from work, family, finances, etc., adds up fast. Stress puts a lot of strain on your autonomic nervous system, increases your stress hormones and negatively affects your health. This makes it to harder to recover from exercise, limits the results you’ll see and may even contribute to injuries and health problems.

To prevent this, take at least 10 minutes every day to decompress. Turn off your phone, close your computer, put in some earplugs or headphones, close your eyes and focus on breathing from your belly. I prefer to have some quiet time first thing every morning, before the demands of the day hit me. Prayer, reading for personal development, and journaling are all great exercises to help you calm your mind and set your intention for the day. Mental health is super important, so don’t neglect this one.

4 “LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY”

If you are active and pushing hard, you will likely get hurt or injured at some point. Although it’s tempting — or even a badge of honor — to “push through the pain,” for long-term results, this is a bad idea.

Don’t just think about today’s game or today’s workout. Think about the long game. Your healthy living journey lasts for life. If you tweak something in the gym or on the court, shut it down for the day. Rest, repair, recover and come back healthy and strong.

5 MIX WORKOUT INTENSITY

Workouts like sprints intervals, heavy weights and intense circuits are great, but they can also be stressful on your body. Everything from your joints to your nervous system needs time to rest and recover after hard-hitting training. But if you do them all the time, it will lead to fatigue and potentially cause injuries.

Instead, add at least 1–2 low-intensity workouts every week. For 20–40 minutes, do easy aerobic work to get the blood flowing, (which helps your muscles recover and improves your cardiovascular health), and finish with some gentle foam rolling, stretching and breathing. Find a way to get some yoga into your routine. It doesn’t have to be all weird and spiritual, but the movements and stretches are literally the fountain of youth.

6 BE CREATIVE

The more you specialize in only one sport or one style of training, the more likely you’ll develop overuse injuries and muscle imbalances because of all the repetition. Instead, incorporate new sports, movements and skills into your life. For example, if you ski, try martial arts. If you’re a runner, then add swimming to your routine. If you love to lift weights, take do some yoga once a week.

7 STAY MOBILE

As we age, our mobility and flexibility naturally declines, which can increase the risk of injuries and make it harder to do the activities we love. To enjoy plenty of exercise — no matter your age — take the time now to improve the range-of-motion in your body. Take care of your hips. Before every workout, do a dynamic warmup where you open your body and move properly. On your off-days, take a few minutes to stretch to help your body stay loose and mobile.

Thanks to Anthony Jeung from My Fitness Pal for doing some heavy lifting on this article.