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Monthly Learnings

Monthly Learnings Roundup (October, 2017)

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 —

What I learned about productivity while reinventing Google Calendar by David Kadavy

David has some great actionable insights on how we can become a bit more sustainably productive. The keys? Awareness, tiny habits, and weekly routines.

Cultivating the Skill of Figuring Things Out by Scott H. Young

I was taught in school from a young age that there is a correct answer to each question. In school it might make sense, but in reality? “Figuring things out” is an important skill and Scott walks through why some people are better at it than others — and it’s not innate talent.

How to Make Friends When You Don’t Have Play Dates by Miriam Kirmayer

Friendships become even more important during adulthood as we don’t have the built in opportunities to spend time with friends we had earlier in our lives. Here are some great suggestions on how you can still make new friends into adulthood.

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

Philosphize This!

One of my favourite new podcasts. The host’s love of philosophy and practical applications from the diverse school’s of philosophy makes this podcast entertaining and actionable.

The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey

Don’t let the title fool you. This is a fantastic book on how to manage your inner self in all situations. If you feel you might be holding yourself back in some way, this is a great read for you.

Quotes that are inspiring me —

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

— Michelangelo

It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Looking at things from other people’s point of view is practically the secret of success.

— Paul Graham

Behaviour change of the month —

Shifting my internal mindset (Part 2)

Last month, I shared my behaviour change goal which was to read myself a personal commerical every morning. I’m happy to say that I was able to accomplish that daily habit 88% of the time in October.

In terms of impact, I felt like there was a subtle shift in my behaviour. Specifically around the topic of fear, my thinking process shifted to lean more into situations that make me feel fear, or at least recognize moments that I felt scared about something. Once I recognized it, I was able to decide how to take action on it. That thought process is a small win for me there.

I also felt really good every time I read “Peter, you’ve got enthusiasm and positivity. So let that shine through to others.” I felt like I was bringing out a better version of myself and could make a small difference for others. This is worth me thinking about on a daily basis and perhaps expanding upon in future versions of the daily commerical.

I’m continuing to read my daily commercial in November so I’ll report back in a few weeks time with more progress.

“ah-ha!” thought of the month —

Aim for bigger goals.

I’m generally a pretty conservative person when I’m setting new goals. If we look at SMART goals, aside from “measurable” I’m the biggest fan of “realistic”. It’s not that I consciously set goals that are unambitious. It’s that I like to have some sort of control over the outcomes.

When you look at some of the greatest achievements in history, however, we can quickly see that impactful achievements didn’t come with any semblance of control for those pursuing them. Consider JFK’s push to get a man on the moon – there was absolutely no certainty that could happen. There had to be a lot of “figuring things out” to even know if it was possible or not.

The beauty of the goal JFK laid out is that even if we didn’t end up landing someone on the moon, we still would’ve learned so much from that process. Those lessons learned can contribute to future missions or maybe even have valuable insights into fields totally unrelated to space exploration. Even getting to 70% of the goal would’ve been a success for all the learning.

When we set goals, are we setting up goals that excite us, scare us, and sound like a lot of fun? I sometimes get stuck in this step-by-step, measurable process in goal setting that I don’t set these big, shiny, exciting goals that make me want to keep going even when I’m tired, exhausted, and discouraged. If we can all set bigger goals and stop holding ourselves back, we might make the world a better place.

Featured image by Fancycrave.

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.

Categories
Monthly Learnings

Monthly Learnings Roundup (September, 2017)

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 —

Bestselling Author and Investor James Altucher on Choosing Yourself and Stoic Minimalism by The Daily Stoic

One of the biggest challenges we have as human beings is managing the gray area between what we can control and what we can’t. I love James’s perspective on handling criticism or rejection for work that we produce and deeply care about.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Smart Decisions by Farnam Street

Making decisions is difficult. Multiple variables, lack of information, and the influence of emotions can all affect the decision making process. We can, however, decide to make decisions based on principles and models that, if consistently applied, can lead us to the best decision available.

Antifragile Planning: Optimizing for Optionality (Without Chasing Shiny Objects) by Taylor Pearson

This is a meaty read but well worth it. Taylor goes into details about how he uses well planned, 90-day sprints to achieve his goals.

Books that I enjoyed last month —

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

Every young graduate and professional should read this book. It turns the “follow your passion” career advice upside down in a convincing fashion.

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

Written by one of the most well-respected thinkers on relationships today this book goes into how to create and maintain intimacy. I also recommend checking out Perel’s new Audible podcast series Where Should We Begin? 

Quotes that are inspiring me —

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

— Lao-Tzu

We are caught in the trance of fear when the emotion of fear becomes the core of our identity and constricts our capacity to live fully.

— Tara Brach

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

— Jack Canfield

Behaviour change of the month —

Shifting my internal mindset.

In September, I started to read to myself a personal commercial to shift my internal mindset. Drawing inspiration from the book, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, I wrote myself a motivational commercial to read everyday.

I was a little skeptical about doing this at first but as I began to make this part of my daily routine, I started to believe the words that I was saying to myself. I walked around smiling more often at people and managing fears in my life a little better. It’s almost as if neural networks in my brain were getting re-wired in new ways.

All this to be said, it takes time to change one’s mindset and reading my personal commercial has only planted the seeds that have yet to grow. I’ll be continuing on with this behaviour change goal into October and will report back with progress.

“ah-ha!” thoughts of the month —

Expertise > Passion

Is “follow your passion” good advice for your career? Author, Cal Newport, argues that the popular advice may be lead us to choosing the wrong career. Newport suggests that we should think about how to develop rare skills that people value as the key to having a fulfilling career of impact and passion.

Quarterly Focus

We’ve all got a ton on our plate. Whether it be with our relationships, career, finances, or health. It’s a lot of balls to juggle in the air. And it’s no surprise that we sometimes fall short of our goals. Instead of trying everything at once, why not try to focus on ONE area over the course of a quarter and see how much progress you can make?

It’s something I’m interested in trying out – having ONE main focus per quarter. Of course, I’ll make sure that the other areas of my life get enough attention but how much more can I get done if I focus on one area? How much more can I get done if I concentrate my resources (i.e. money, time, and energy) into one area?

Product I’m loving —

Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate

Adding this hydrolyzed collagen to my supplements has been a game changer for me. I’ve dealt for years with inflammation and pain from my osteoarthritis in my left knee but adding collagen has almost completely removed all pain from day-to-day activities. There is robust research available around the effectiveness of collagen with improving knee joint comfort including this double-blind study from 2009 from the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. With this being said, there doesn’t seem to be a long-term restorative effects of collagen on joints. So if you’re planning on adding collagen to your supplements, just be aware that this isn’t going to “fix” your knee to what it was like before.

Please make sure to check with your doctor if this is the right step for you first.

Featured image by imagesthai.com

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.

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Book Summaries

Actionable Book Summary: “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz

The basic principles and concepts supporting ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’ come from the highest-pedigree sources… minds such as Emerson, who said, ‘Great men are those who see that thoughts rule the world.’ … Amazingly perceptive minds like Shakespeare, who observed, ‘There is nothing either good or bad except that thinking makes it so.’

The Magic of Thinking Big, page 3

The Magic of Thinking Big, by motivational coach and professor Dr. David J. Schwartz, is filled with lessons that illustrate how a subtle shift in thinking can help ordinary people achieve big success in life. Although the book was first published in 1959, there is growing scientific evidence now that having a positive outlook has a myriad of benefits.

This book has plenty of actionable advice on how we can shift our thinking. I found the lessons around using action to cure fear and a “sell-yourself-to-yourself” commercial to be very practical. I write about these in more detail below.

As Emerson’s and Shakespeare’s quotes show, our thoughts have a significant influence on our behavior. If you’re looking for ways to elevate your thinking or perhaps get out of a bit of a rut, this book can be a great place to start.

Continue reading the summary here.


This summary was written for the Actionable Book Club – a book club where members read a business/leadership/self-help book every month and summarize their biggest takeaways. If you’re interested in learning more about the Actionable Book Club check us out here.

To see the full collection of over 1000 book summaries – available for free – visit http://www.actionablebooks.com/en-ca/summaries/.

Categories
Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 27, 2017)

Update:

Thanks for following the Weekly Learnings Roundup over the past year. I’ve had a great time curating some of the most interesting learnings and articles from the interwebs for you.

Starting September, I’ll be shifting this weekly feature to a monthly feature for two reasons:

  1. To set aside more time to write high quality, long-form articles that I think you’ll enjoy.
  2. To provide you with a synthesis of the interesting articles and learnings in one meaningful hit.

I still plan on sharing interesting articles through Twitter @peternakamura. And if you’re looking for my favourite articles, just keep an eye out for the hastag #mustread.

I appreciate your continued support for my blog and I’m looking forward to producing some more interesting content!

And without further ado, your roundup…


Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Eating To Break 100: Longevity Diet Tips From The Blue Zones by Eliza Barclay

Want to live to 100? Well, check out what folks in the “Blue Zones” (i.e. regions in the world with the highest concentration of centenarians) are eating. In a way, it’s the best science that we can find around diets that actually work.

Here’s what they do:

  • Eat until you’re 80% full.
  • Make your largest meal of the day either breakfast or lunch.
  • Eat mostly plants and eat meat rarely (i.e. once a week)
  • Drink alcohol moderately (i.e. 1-2 glasses a day)

Props to my friend Janice Sousa for sharing this article!

Podcast episode I’m enjoying —

Running a Family and a Business (Season 5, Episode 4) on the StartUp Podcast

Startup founder, Diana Lovett, opens up about her challenges with balancing the life of a founder and a mother. It’s an honest, emotional conversation between her and executive coach Jerry Colona as they talk through what’s really at the heart of her challenge with the balancing act.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

We often think that insecurity comes from a weak ego, but in my experience it is the result of an inflexible ego that has mistaken itself as the center of the universe, which keeps contradicting it on this key point.

— Shozan Jack Haubner

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Start with fun.

Having fun makes a lot of things easier. I remember as a kid that I hated taking piano lessons because my teacher was a horrible stickler. I think I ended up crying for most of the lessons that I took.

Even as adults, knowing the benefits of activities like exercise, we still have a hard time getting out and going to the gym. What’s the missing ingredient? I think it’s fun.

Fun can come in many shapes and forms. You might enjoy team sports over lifting weights. Or being a part of a community of people who enjoy the same type of exercise.

Whatever it is, start with fun and find ways to look forward to the activity. Do something that gets you excited and don’t make it a chore by thinking you need to go; rather, think that you want to go. This also means not over pacing yourself especially when you’re getting started.

Go out there – find ways to make your exercising, reading, cooking, etc. for the next 30 days. See how that works out for you.

Featured image by Matthew Henry.

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

Categories
Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 20, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

How to Be Better at Stress by Tara Parker-Pope via The New York Times

In a 2012 study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 28,000 people were asked about their stress level and compared them to premature death. The study found that having more stress didn’t necessarily lead to premature death but having a lot of stress and believing it was taking a toll resulted in a 43% higher risk of premature death.

This is an important and actionable finding. If we know we’re stressed but decide to do something about it, we increase the likelihood for disease prevention and long-term health. The article has some great tips on how you can go about reducing stress in your life.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

The Magic of Thinking Big by Davd J. Schwartz

I first learned about this book through Tim Ferriss who said that this book helped him overcome the fear in launching his business and writing his first bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek. I picked it up and I was not disappointed. Although the book was written over 50 years ago, many of the lessons and actionable advice are highly applicable. I’ll be writing up a summary of this book on www.actionablebooks.com but I recommend picking up a copy and diving right into how you can transform your life by thinking big.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Empathy suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d enter another country, through immigration and custons, border-crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?

— Leslie Jamison

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

A little reshuffling goes a long way.

Earlier this week, I spent about an hour playing around with my home office configuration. I’d had the same layout for the past 2 years and felt that a bit of change would do wonders. And to my surprise… it did.

Instead of having my sit-down desk in the centre of the room, I now have it next to the window (natural light is key) and my standing next right next to it. This configuration also makes the layout a lot cleaner and open.

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If you’ve had the same home or office layout for the past little while, experiment with a little reshuffling. You’d be surprised at how even a small shift can make a big difference!

Featured image by Scott Web.

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

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Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 14, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals by Shane Parrish

This is a stark reminder about how professionals take their work, competence, and processes to another level. I realized I’ve been operating at an amateur level on many facets in life; it’s a great reminder of what’s needed expected from pros.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

The Founder

The fascinating story of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. Michael Keaton does a great job playing the ever ambitious founder and the winding road that McDonald’s took to get to where it is today. On one hand it’s a rewarding story of one man’s persistence and on the other a disturbing look at what he’s willing to do for success.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.

— Elizabeth Gilbert

Product I’m loving —

15 Minute Timer (Hour Glass) from The School of Life

With so much our lives happening through screens these days it’s really nice to have something that’s completely analog. This “hour” glass tracks 15-minutes for you to focus on doing something offline. It’s beautiful and elegant. I use it to track a quick workout while the maker of the hour glass has a number of other great suggestions like writing a letter to a good friend or contemplating an important question in your life.

Featured image by Medhat Ayad.

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

Categories
Personal Growth

Pilot: Behaviour Change with One Book, One Summary, and 30-Days of Tracking

Behaviour change is difficult. It’s the reason why I’ve been doing the same habits for years and years. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve tried to change my behaviour on certain things – but the deeply ingrained thinking just can’t get rooted out.

So, I have a proposal. Let’s try a new strategy for changing our behaviour. One that requires a little bit of planning, learning, and execution. But it won’t be too painful.

The idea is simple: I’m going to read one personal or professional development book per month and write a summary for it on ActionableBooks.com.

If you haven’t heard of ActionableBooks.com before, it’s a website that hosts over 1000 business book summaries collected over 10+ years. It’s amazing resource for those looking for a quick hit of learning and insight.

After writing the summary, I’ll decide on one behaviour change that I want to make. Over the course of the next 30 days I’ll track my progress of a scale of 1 to 4 to see how well I did on it.

By the end of the 30 days, I’ll do a post-mortem and see if and how that behaviour change took place. I’ll debrief with a third party who’ll give me honest feedback on my progress.

The plan is to read and summarize my first book this month and begin my 30-days of behaviour tracking in September.

If you’d be interested in joining me on this quest, add a comment below along with your book choice and we can keep track of each other’s progress! I can also help you get setup with the ActionableBooks.com team so you can get started with your first summary.

Categories
Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 7, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

The Four-Letter Code to Selling Just About Anything by Derek Thompson

A fascinating piece on how to sell people on ideas and products. The key? If it’s something new and suprising, make it feel familiar. If it’s something familiar, add something that’d suprising. Great examples in this article from Spotify’s Discover Weekly to movie sequels that illustrate this point.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different than the things we do.

— Albert Camus

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Reorganize your phone screen.

In last week’s learnings roundup, I wrote about the value of using tools for their intended purpose. In particular, I talked about how our smart phones are sapping our ability to focus due to their multifuctionality.

In an effort to put this into action, I’ve reorganized my iPhone screen into three main sections.

  1. Communication (its primary purpose)
  2. On-demand information (it’s secondary purpose)
  3. Time Wasters (non priority)

I’ve also cleared up a lot of apps that I don’t use and kept my main screen simple with less than 12 apps. The key communication apps – Phone, Inbox, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Messages – were preserved on this screen along with Google Calendar.

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On my second screen, I added some of my valuable but non essential apps. This includes Audible, Instapaper, TTCWatch (transit), Google Maps, and Weather; apps that provide on-demand information.

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On my third screen, I group the embedded Apple apps, some additional navigation apps, and other apps that I don’t use on a frequent basis.

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Finally, on my fourth screen, I put what I call my “Time Wasters”. Apps that usually lead to distraction. The two main culprits for me are Instagram and Safari. I’ve relegated these two to iPhone “Siberia” so it’s less likely that I spend time here. Plus, I’ll feel kind of guilty spending time in either of these apps.

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Just a caveat here that my way of organizing things may not be the optimal way for you. And, of course, your apps will be very different from mine. The key here is that you’re using your smart phone as a tool that works for you and your intended purpose – not the other way around.

Featured image by Tranmautritam.

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

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Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (August 4, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup.

This week I was in London, UK, for a friend’s wedding and to visit my sister. London is a beautiful city with so many interesting boroughs that you can easily spend a full day in. I was also blown away by how well they’ve integrated green spaces and parks into the city – something cities (like Toronto) can learn from.

I also had a chance to visit the London branch of The School of Life. I love their focus on developing emotionally intelligence and their store was full of interesting personal development resources.

It’s another motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

What Do You Want to Create and Why Haven’t You Done It? by Neil Strauss

We’re at our best when we can create something to share with the world. Overcoming the fear and status quo has many benefits; Neil reminds us to forget about the outcome and experience the process of creating something you believe in.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

The man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.

— Seneca

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Use tools for their intended purpose.

We hear more these days about the negative impacts of tools like our smart phones. They distract us, reduce our ability to focus, and even impact the quality of the relationships with people around us.

Paradoxically, one of the reasons why tools like the smart phone is reducing our ability to focus is because of how versatile it is. On the surface it’s nice to have a device that can do many different things. But when you start adding things like news, music, podcasts, the web, email, messaging, etc. etc. you can easily get lost in this labyrinth of stuff.

This can’t be good for our (easily distracted) brains.

I suggest that we shift our thinking with each device that we own and use it for its intended purpose. A phone is a communication device so it should strictly be used for that purpose – calling, texting, and emailing. For entertainment or informational purposes, use your computer, tv, or some other device. Just don’t mix up the intended purpose; our brains love distraction and the dopamine hit – prevent it from being a click away by keeping your phone clear from these non-essentials.

App that I’m loving —

Moves for iPhone and Android

Moves is an app that shows you all the places you visited during the day along with a step and distance count.

I found it really interesting while I’ve been traveling over the past couple of weeks to see where I’ve been. It’s a nice little recap of my travels and helpful for orienting myself especially in a foreign country.

The bad news is that it uses up quite a bit of battery. My iPhone SE barely made it through the day with Moves running in the background.

Featured image via Gratisography.

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

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Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 23, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Top 10 Strategies for Learning New Skills by Farheen Gani via Zapier

Really nice piece outlining key strategies for learning. I love their suggestions around improving the quality of practice, leveraging the “diffused” brain mode for learning, and putting something on the line by testing yourself.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When you don’t know what habor you’re aiming for, no wind is the right wind.

— Seneca

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Ask your doctor for your health data.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to my doctor for my yearly physical and got my blood work done. As part of the process, I also made sure I also got a copy of the test results from Life Labs and put the data points into a Google Sheet for future reference.

More labs are providing test results directly to the patient and this is great news. As patients, we get to take greater control of our own health and monitor them. Especially since many MDs are often short on time, nutritional knowledge, and resources to provide sustainable advice for lifestyle changes.

So being able to track your data, at a minimum, will help inform you on where your health is headed. If you’re looking to take your health to the next level, this data can be extremely handy in improving your health with a naturopath or a nutritionist in the future (which is something I’m doing currently).

Product I’m loving —

Fitbit Aria

Speaking of tracking my health, I just recently purchased the Fitbit Aria smart scale and I’ve been loving it. I’ve been using an analog scale for the last few years and it was useful, but the Aria takes it to another level. It tracks weight, body fat, lean mass, and your BMI. As someone who wants to reduce body fat but maintain lean mass through nutrition and fitness, having a tool like this is extremely valuable.

Aside from the Aria, there are some great options out like the Withings scale that measure more things like bone mass and water. I liked the Aria option as it connects natively with my Fitbit app.

Featured image by Nirzar Pangarkar.

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