Preliminary Schedule

This schedule is extra preliminary (and weekday only, currently). I will need to adjust as I go. I realize that there are some places where I don’t give myself enough time between activities and may not get enough sleep (I currently get 6-7 hours).

Weekday Schedule (Daycare)

5:00 am — Quick breakfast (including protein and carbs).
5:30-5:45 am — Start Strenuous exercise (Tae Bo, etc)
6:00-6:15 am — Finish strenuous exercise
7:00 am — Shower (at the latest)
7:45 am — Drop Off Kid(s)
8:15 am — At Work

4:45 pm — Leave Work
5:30 pm — Arrive home (with kid(s))
6:00 pm — Dinner
until 8:00 pm — Family and/or Study time
8:00-10:00 pm — Activity Practice / Thesis
10:00 pm — Begin light exercise (Weights, Tai Chi, etc)
–> Minimum of 3 times per week
10:30 pm — Head to bed

Weekday Schedule (no Daycare)

5:00 am — Quick breakfast (including protein and carbs).
5:30-5:45 am — Start Strenuous exercise (Tae Bo, etc)
6:00-6:15 am — Finish strenuous exercise
6:15 am — Shower
6:40 am — Leave for Work
7:00 am — At Work

3:30 pm — Leave (no OT)
5:00 pm — Leave (OT)

(pre-dinner is Family time)

6:00 pm — Dinner
until 8:00 pm — Family and/or Study time
8:00-10:00 pm — Activity Practice / Thesis
10:00 pm — Begin light exercise (Weights, Tai Chi, etc)
–> Minimum of 3 times per week
10:30 pm — Head to bed

The Plan: Mastering Personal Health

I realize that my previous post may not be the best process for everyone. Leonard talks about how the process of mastery, the journey, is what we should revel in. I don’t think this process can be the same for everyone. We all think differently; I, as an engineer, think in terms of processes and protocols. I hope that I’m using this method of thinking to enter into the best process possible.

Plan feedback loopMany people like to talk about a change in lifestyle. The book seems to propose the ultimate lifestyle change. One’s lifestyle isn’t static, however, and by being able to regulate it, I hope to avoid resistance to change.

This means that my Plan must be flexible enough to change, yet still rigid enough to work well. A simple plan is best.

For overall health and weight loss, I formulated my initial Plan:

  1. A set Calorie intake range. From my own past results and what I’ve heard from professionals, this range must be regardless of calorie expenditure through exercise. When maintenance is desired, calorie expenditure should be taken into account.
  2. Required, scheduled exercise. This exercise should be of high quality and of varying intensity. The Schedule will handle much of the exercise regimen.
  3. Blacklisted Foods & Required Foods. Some foods should be avoided while others are necessary for a good diet, weight loss, and hunger management. For example, Trans Fats, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and Unnatural Sweeteners should be avoided. Unground, whole grains are a requirement (unground grains keep me sated for hours).

The following metrics will be recorded:

  • Daily / Weekly Calorie intake
  • Calorie Expenditure through Exercise
  • Weekly Weight (Mondays)
  • Deviations from Plan (Unless recorded in Calories).

This will allow me to compare

(Calories (Week) – CalExpended(Exercise, Week) – CalExpended(Metabolism, Week)) / 3500 Calories / Pound of weight

with my Weekly ΔWeight. This will allow me to adjust CalExpended(Metabolism) to equate the above with my change in weight. It will also allow me to adjust the caloric intake range in the Plan.

My goal is to ramp up to the Plan tomorrow, with a full start on Monday (First weigh-in).

Top Priorities and Ground Rules

This is the beginning priority list I’ve come up with for my endeavor. Other interests will become more important after my thesis is complete.


  1. Get in shape
    (Generically, the “Plan”)

    This is nothing trivial! I need a daily fitness regiment AND a diet plan that is sustainable. This also requires extensive tracking and analysis. Tracking statistics must not become a tool for obsession! Instead, it should be used to help tweak the plan.

    Plan feedback loop
    The feedback loop updates the Plan monthly, which is defined in the Plan itself (this way, if monthly updates don’t work well, the Plan can be changed). –> (System Engineering at its finest). This simple feedback loop may work well for any task or interest.

  2. Complete the Thesis

    There’s nothing here to be afraid of! Mainly I need to spend extra time in my office working. This can be difficult with family upstairs, so a Schedule is required; something the family can sign off on. This also means giving up on (most) TV, but this is a requirement for an overall method of Mastery.

  3. Schedule

    One must be developed to include the above and future tasks while including time for the family.

Ground Rules

  1. The Schedule will not be broken!
    • Extenuating Circumstances may apply.
    • Deviation results in an immediate return to Schedule.
  2. The Plan will not be deviated from!
    • Extenuating Circumstances DO NOT APPLY!
    • Deviations are a metric.
    • Deviation results in an immediate return to Plan.
    • The Plan will be modified only by the Feedback Loop.
  3. Deviations are to be AVOIDED at all cost!

The book

I tracked down my copy of Mastery by George Leonard. It was about halfway down in a box of books that I seldom go through. Along with this book are some remnants of things I’ve started and never finished. Leonard talks about three types of people. I think they’re accurately described as three types of failures one might see (in oneself) on the road to mastery: The Dabbler, Obsessive, and Hacker. My activities, healthy lifestyles, exercise routines have at one time or another been victim to all of these.

Elsewhere in the book, Leonard says that quitting is often due to the body and mind’s natural resistance to change. This I’ve seen recently when last year I stopped working out and eating healthily. Forget that I had some sort of routine going. Ignore the fact that I was feeling more energized than ever!

People say that you shouldn’t do too much too soon. I find that the smaller the change I make, the more quickly I bounce back to poor habits. For me, ground rules are the most important part. A regimented daily routine also helps me. As this routine becomes more ingrained, I may be able to open up more flexibility.

I will take Chapter 11 to heart. A number of tools are presented and I plan to start with Maintain Physical Fitness and Set Your Priorities, along with Make Commitments, Take Action, of course. Therefore, I will come up with a list of tasks and priorities this evening. Atop the list, and most importantly, will be a morning and evening Physical Fitness routine.

The only problem I have with this process is one of Instruction. I understand that finding a good teacher is the most important part, and I agree. Teachers and classes, for most activities, are very expensive. I took Tai Chi until my school closed suddenly (it may have reopened with fewer classes). The entire school didn’t close, but the main branch of it is far away. (In retrospect, I should have continued on with the school). I’d love to restart, but one class per week was something like $50 a month. I’d have loved to take more classes, but now even one class at that price is very expensive for my family (my second child is due in about a month). I would like to see what can be cut from my personal budget (or a big raise would be nice), but I doubt if I could do this anytime in the next year or two. I’m sure there are things to cut, but we don’t live extravagantly.

Over the next few days, my plan will come together. I will discuss it here.


UPDATE: This really isn’t the best way of quantifying any road to mastery. It might not be a bad way to quantify what you’ve done in the past and where you quit along the way. Read the book “Mastery.”  Continue reading

Earning a Masters Degree

I need to finish my Masters’ Thesis with dedication! It is much more difficult to keep the same level of effort in an unstructured setting than in a normal classroom setting. Last semester I took the most difficult class ever, Underwater Acoustics I. Exams were take-home and the worst of the three required 60 hours of work to complete (for an “80” on that one, too)! Yet I did complete the exams, enjoyed the class, and did well in the class (“A,” which means something somewhat different than an undergrad “A”). Now, my drive is waning and I’m obviously searching for new activities to grab my interest.

What prevents me from mastering one activity? Once I have enough skill in something to truly be considered a student, I’m off to something new. At work my primary job has been in network engineering. I work on Cisco routers at a high level and often troubleshoot and design different networks. I can’t say I’ve completely mastered them, and I’m already seeing my interests divert to other types of tasks (I’m currently learning a lot of C# for a special project and for my masters degree in Electrical Engineering).

At home my gratest ability was with the game “Go.” This is an ancient Chinese board game popular in East Asia (some professionals make up to US$500,000). I’m far from my greatest possible strength (which is not even close to those professionals), but I stopped studying and playing. At least this shift made sense as I quit in favor of earning my degree. Now, however, I’m plagued with a number of interests which, while fledgling, are worthy of near-mastery.

I need to complete my degree soon (I plan to graduate Spring 2010) so I can concentrate fully on the learning of one skill or art form.