Thanks for checking out the Monthly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, monthly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this month. It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming month. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

How to make the 4-day workweek work: An interview with “Rest” author Alex Pang by Jory MacKay (RescueTime)

Some of my best ideas for work actually come when I’m not working and engaging in relaxing, “unproductive” activity like reading, walking, or exercising. The author provides a compelling case about how we should be prioritizing “rest” just as much as we are work in our day-to-day.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes that I enjoyed this month —

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss makes another apperance on my blog this time as a self-experimenter extraordinaire with the human body. Tim shares his research – both academic and personal – on key areas such as fat loss, muscle gain, sleep, optimal performance, and more. It’s a really well researched book and he provides the content in simple, understandable, and most importantly, executable language. His “Slow Carb Diet” has gained a large following and it’s no surprise. I’ve used this book so far for guidance around muscle gain – see more below about how that’s going for me.

Quotes that are inspiring me —

Philosophy isn’t a palor trick or made for show. It’s not concerned with words, but with facts. It’s not employed for some pleasure before the day is spent, or to relieve the uneasiness of our leisure. It shapes and builds up the soul, it gives order to life, guides action, shows what should and shouldn’t be done — it sits at the rudder steering our course as we vacillate in uncertainties. Without it, no one can live without fear or free from care. Countless things happen every hour that require advice, and such advice is to be sought out in philosophy.

— Seneca, Moral Letters, 16.3

Behaviour change of the month —

A journey to gain 10 pounds of lean mass

This month, I began a process of transforming my twig-like body into Arnold Schwarzenegger circa Terminator 2. (Okay, maybe that’s a stretch). I set myself a goal this quarter – August to October – to gain 10 pounds of lean mass. I’ve been working with a personal trainer with olympic lifting since February but didn’t see much improvement in muscle growth – maybe adding ~1 pound of lean mass during that time.

The problem? I wasn’t eating nearly enough calories or protein to stimulate muscle growth. Borrowing key concepts from Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body, I began to implement his guidelines to muscle gain. I didn’t realize that eating so much could be so hard. Here’s what my meal schedule has looked like over the past 3 weeks or so:

6:00 A.M. – Protein Shake (40g)
9:00 A.M. – Protein Bar (30g)
11:30 A.M. – Lunch (30g)
2:00 P.M. – Protein Bar (30g)
6:30 P.M. – Dinner (30g)
9:00 P.M. – Protein Shake (30g)
Total protein intake = 190g
So far from July 30th to today (August 25th) I’ve gained 7.2 lbs of lean mass. This is based off of data collected from my Fitbit Aria scale which uses bioimpedence analysis to measure lean mass and body fat. I’ll report back next month with an update on how this lean mass gaining experiment has gone for me. My goal this quarter – August to October – is to gain and maintain 10 lbs of new lean mass.

“ah-ha!” thought of the month —

Upgrade your skills faster with a coach or specialist

Recently I’ve been a bit more aggressive in the uptake of hiring of a coach or specialist to support my growth. In the past 12 months, I’ve hired a personal trainer (specializing in Olympic lifting), a naturopathic doctor, and a psychotherapist to support me with certain goals and challenges that I have. And I’m blown away at how quickly I’ve been able to make progress in areas that they support – Physical & Mental Health. They instilled in me knowledge that would’ve easily taken years of experience to gain (if ever at all) in a matter of weeks and months.

Yes, it’s expensive to hire a coach or a specialist there’s no denying that but imagine the cost of time & money that it’ll take you to come remotely close to acquiring the knowledge that a specialist might have. Not to mention the sense of accountability they provide by being in your corner as you embark on your change process.

If you’re like me and don’t have a six figure salary or a massive savings bank to draw on, there are ways to make this happen. Here are a few possible ideas:

  • Save enough money for at least the first three sessions and keep saving to stay ahead of the expenditure.
    • Note: This will help make the financial budgeting a bit easier if you decide to continue on with the coaching.
  • See if the coach or specialist would be open to starting with a staggered schedule (e.g. bi-weekly vs. weekly or quarterly vs. monthly).
    • Note: If they are resistant, ask them why. There might be a very good reason that starting with a weekly cadence, for example, would be much more effective than a bi-weekly or monthly. Remember that you’re ultimately looking for results here and not something that fits your budget the best.
  • Ask them if they have suggested resources – especially books or online courses – that they would highly recommend.
    • Note: Don’t mix this up with actually doing the sessions. This might be one way to help you gain the knowledge you need faster and picking things up on your own.

Finally, when selecting a coach or specialist, avoid going with the first, second, or third person you find. Look at at least five options to give you a breadth backgrounds and experiences. Preferably, you can ask a friend or colleague for a referral for someone they’ve had a great experience with. Make sure, though, that they’ve seen results from working with them.

Product or service I’m loving —

The Division Pack by Timbuk2

Timbuk2 makes great bags. I’ve owned one of their messenger bags for years until I was told by my naturopath that a switch to a backpack would be a better option for my body alignment and not cause extra stress on one side over another. So when I started searching with options, I started with Timbuk2. The Division Pack is great. It’s well constructed and doesn’t lose its shape as you’re walking around or putting it on the ground. What I love the most about their bags is their attention to detail around organization. The bag has multiple pockets of different sizes and it makes it really easy to organize everything. There’s enough room with the bag to pack my laptop, notebooks, and a lunch – everything I need for a day’s work.

Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels

As always, thanks for checking out this Monthly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see all the articles that I share on a daily basis.