For about the last year or so I’ve followed the 5:2 Diet.

This diet basically has you eating “normally” five days out of the week, but two days a week, limiting your eating to 600 calories (if you’re a man) for the “fast days”.

Beyond the 5:2 Diet, I did a 21-day cleanse/purification in February.  But the last couple of days I’ve fallen off a bit with my consumption.  And I’ve also found myself in a funk I need to shake loose.

So today I’m taking this fast day a step further, and not going to eat anything.  Drink a lot of water, yes.  But in effort to reset my “system” and my attitude, I’m on the fast today.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to shake things up  a bit.  I find this is particularly useful if you find you’re not quite feeling yourself normal, a little off kilter, etc.  Fasting can be a good way to do this, since you leave yourself with more time for other things (since you’re not eating) , and it heightens your senses and self-awareness.

Stay tuned for the results.

Oh yes, and if you’re interested in learning more about the 5:2 Diet, a good resource can be found here.




Friday Faves, Issue #32

Happy World Sleep Day! Hopefully these tidbits won’t put you to sleep, but will give you sweet dreams when you do fall into slumber, maybe a little earlier tonight.

Destination of the Week: Chelmsford. Where, you ask?  Essex, of course.  Not enough?  Never is.  Here.

Quote of the Week: “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.” -James Joyce

Band of the Week:  Great example of 80’s rock n’ roll…lots of leather, big, stringy hair, and thick guitar licks.  Dokken. Here’s one of their hits.

Meal of the Week:  Steak!  The “perfect supplement”, according to Jocko Willink. Half in jest, but clear on motivation.  Don’t hate red meat. All things in moderation probably applies here. Grass-fed. A piece about a big as the palm of your hand. GOOD.

Website of the Week:  Want to open your mind? Open your body to GOOD mobility, #worthit


REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome.  Love to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Off Your Butt. UP. Go!


In May I’ll hit the one-year mark since I started tracking my sleep and day-time movement/activity in a formal manner.  How?  I’ll tell you.

Don’t remember how I found Jawbone UP, but one of their devices (the UP Move) is the one I have.  I bought one last spring, and have been tracking myself since then.  In keeping with the project, I’ve thought increasingly about how to integrate being “active” into my every day.

At it’s most basic level, it’s clear to me that if I’m going to be as healthy as I can be, I’ve got to remember the fundamental importance of MOVEMENT — in increasing amounts, and frequently. Not just daily but many times EACH day.  It’s about getting UP, staying active throughout the day.

Part of the motivation was from my not being very active since my wife and I started having kids five years back.  We had run a handful of half-marathons, my running had progressed nicely, and then BOOM:  kid #1 arrived.  A MASSIVE blessing for sure (as is #2 and #3 we added over the next three years).  But my running all but stopped.  I got hurt. Then it stopped completely.

So MOVEMENT.  MOTION.  MOBILITY.  For me, it’s about feeling better physically.  And mentally.  About the body.  How it feels, how it works for you.  One of the keys?  No surprise really:  Work to get to and stay around your ideal body weight.  Make your body (and mind) stronger.  Two main factors are at play here:  Good Diet, and Good Activity Level. Regularly.  Every day.

What does that effect?  For one thing, “metabolism”. Your own.  Revving it up. Get it going.  Using the energy you’re consuming.  Get the body doing more of what is suppose to be doing.  Performing well, propelling you forward. Want a little science?  Here.

What else?  Being active gets the blood flowing, gets that heart rate up a bit. Get’s the body warm, and loose, and operating more efficiently and effectly.  A bi-product? You burn more calories.  What’s the result?   At least for me (but I think research backs this up), I feel more ENERGIZED.  And my body physically feels better.  My joints, my back, my whole physical self feels healthier.

There are a few catchy phrases that come to mind to spur motivation.

Here’s one:  “Motion is Lotion.”  I heard a therapist say that once.  Love it.  So true.

Here’s another:  “Move It or Lose It.” Lose your mobility, lose your skill, lose your independence, lose your…mind.  After all, we’re built for MOVEMENT.

USE your body as it was intended. Reference back to our evolutionary ancestors.  200,000 years of motion, activity, chasing, finding our food.  We’ve come a long way since then.  And NOT to our advantage.  Want the Cliff Notes?  Here.

All this is even more important as we get older.  We’ve got to keep trying, keep after it, keep being open to new stuff to stay active as long as possible.

Here’s one more phrase, maybe not so catchy, but direct and to the point:

“Off Your Butt.” GO.  Being more active will result in more happiness.  That’s the best reason to get UP and move. NOW.  You’ll be glad you did.

Friday Faves, Issue #31

Down and dirty list without the usual preamble, still #worthit ~

Destination of the Week: Ramadi, Iraq

Quote of the Week: “Take command, reassert your will to achieve your objective, and go on the attack.”

Band of the Week: Black Flag.

Meal of the Week: Blackened Salmon

Website of the Week:


REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome.  Love to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

“It Could Be Worse…”

“…it could be raining.”  The character Igor makes this off-hand comment while he and Dr. Frankenstein are standing neck-deep in a grave, filthy, digging up a coffin in the 1980’s comedy, “Young Frankenstein.”   A moment after the comment, a torrent of rain pours down on them, adding to the duo’s struggling, midnight efforts in the graveyard.
What’s the takeaway, besides the humor of the scene?
In the face of misery, obstacle, or set-back, it’s up to you to turn your attitude to good.  No matter how bad the circumstance, things could always be worse (in addition to being better).  Things are always relative, but if we give into the vacuum of despair and woe that’s on each of us.  So don’t do it.  It’s that simple.  It’s within your power as to how you’ll respond to any given situation.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Yea, but what about if things are really, REALLY bad…?  Then you have to be justified in feeling down,  hopeless, etc…, right?”
This perspective brings up an important insight.  It’s not about what is “justified”, it’s about what is the best way to cope when things aren’t going your way, or in the extreme, when things are really awful.  It’s not about “justice”, it’s about your psychological/emotional well-being, and having the ability to get through difficult times.
Need an example of “really awful”…?  Pick up a copy of the story, the “Forgotten Highlander“. In this true story from World War II, Alistair Urquhart shares in graphic and mind-bending form the story of his 750 days as a POW and slave laborer for the Japanese in the Pacific theater.   It’s a truly harrowing tale of struggle, brutality, misery, revulsion, and perseverance.
One of Urquhart’s remarks near the end of the story ring most true to the theme of choosing how you respond to difficulty in your life:  “Life is worth living and no matter what it throws at you it is important to keep your eyes on the prize of the happiness that will come.”
One of the key reasons that causes people to struggle is pretty simple, in my view.  We often get muddled in “why” of the situation, of the perceived injustice of the circumstance.  This trap is simple, obvious, and potentially devestating to our ego, our psyche, especially when we’re in crisis.
Rather than focus on how to cope, how to overcome a given difficult scenario, we focus on the high-minded view of what’s “fair.”  Or not.  I allowed myself to make this bad mistake just the other night.  I was having a tough go with my little kids around bedtime, I wasn’t feeling very well, and I let the difficulty get the better of me.
I focused on “Why me?” rather than “How can I change my approach to improve the situation?”  Thinking back, it is clear that I should have left the “why” for later, and focused on what I could do to make the situation better.
The “Could be worse…” phrase can be a simple mantra  you adopt as a little trigger in your mind to pause, detach from the emotion of the moment, and focus on how to cope, improve, or at least survive the difficulty you face.  That is the matter at hand.  The one who benefits first and foremost from this practical, pragmatic approach is you.
And if you can find a little humor for yourself (and even others) in the negative situation, all the better.  After all, it “could be raining.”

International Women’s Day 2016

800px-Frauentag_1914_Heraus_mit_dem_FrauenwahlrechtIt was probably destiny.

I come from a family of two boys, me and my brother.  Our mother was outnumbered.  It was just mom and the three boys (dad included).  So we heard from time to time, especially during our adolescent years, how we needed to respect women, and in particular mom.  She wasn’t about to let us roll over her.  And we didn’t.

Then when I got to college, there were a group of very intelligent, independent, stand-up-for-yourself young ladies I became friends with.  I called them the the “power women of Santa Clara University”, because they were all about leadership, speaking up about things that concerned them (and everyone), and making a difference in the world.  Lots more respect for women came out of those years.

So as a result, I think I’ve always been comfortable with girls, women, ladies.  Though that trait didn’t always translate to being readily successful on the dating scene, I’ve always had women friends.  I get along with them and seem to empathize effectively.  Yep, all in all, I can understand and relate to women pretty well I think (however, my wife might say different, at least some of the time).

Now I find myself with two daughters of my own.  It all seems to have fallen into place.  The next chapter is well underway in my life now.

I can say this for sure:  Though I know gender equality has a long way to go, it’s a lot better than it was even fifty years ago (at least in the U.S.).  I’m glad my girls will grow up here.

They’ll have great opportunities with women’s sports in school.  Professionally they’ll have a chance to work in a much broader array of disciplines and fields than girls had even just a generation ago (and further back too, of course).  Sure, glass ceilings still exist, but it’s getting better.  The awareness certainly is much greater.

There are more women in leadership, both in public life, and in industry.

There are fine organizations like He for She that are doing amazing work to further women’s issues and rights AROUND THE WORLD.

There’s the work of people like Yassmin Abdel-Magied ~ a young women bending stereotypes from start to finish and inspiring young people (and many others!) to make a difference in the way they think and act and DO.

Closer to my home, there are the Silicon Valley Roller Girls.  This organization is grass-roots, runs several flat track roller derby teams for ladies (part of a national movement of teams and leagues around the US) , and is all about empowering women, especially as they come of age from adolescence.

Yep, with my two girls now to the fore of my mind every day, my lifetime orientation to women is at a whole new level.  I’m glad to know there’s so much awareness and effort and action behind moving the world toward gender equality.

A lot more good stuff on this topic found here:



On Maneuvers


Often it’s important to circle back to things you’ve walked away from to have another look.  You get fresh, valuable insights from this practice.  Here’s the latest example I’ve come across.

I was 75% along the way to joining the US Navy out of high school.  I was going to use an NROTC scholarship to pay for college.  I wanted to be a Marine.

Ultimately I made the decision not to proceed along the military path.  Over the many years since that time, I’ve come across lessons time and again that stem from military practices and history.  I’ve taken to heart a lot of those lessons.

The concept of “maneuver warfare” came up most recently that has me thinking about the parallels to how we approach our lives, getting things done, being busy, juggling personal affairs, work, and family.  Some basic principles stand out.  Applied regularly (daily) you’ll find these five tips quite helpful.  At least I have.

[Note:  These are my paraphrases, not necessarily direct quotes.]

  1. Be ready for the unexpected.
  2. Be able to adapt your plan while keeping focused on the same goal(s).
  3. Don’t just give orders.  Empower your squad.
  4. Take calculated risks with the knowledge you and your team can recover if necessary.
  5. Maintain a Positive Attitude and Esprit De Corp.

I boiled these five “hacks” down from  Jocko Willink’s fast-growing, fast-moving, often insightful podcast.  He focused on H. John Poole  during one early podcast, a veteran of Vietnam who studied, wrote, and trained thousands of soldiers on small unit tactics.

Funny where you can find lessons if you’re open.  In the daily maneuvers through your life, remembering that might be the most important thing of all.