New-trition in 2022

I recently realized that I need to prioritize my nutrition. I have reached a weight of about 210 lbs. while exercising. At 6’0″, I am technically obese or overweight. So far, my BMI is 28.3, which is high but not very high. However, my fat percentage is 24.5% which is normal. And my muscle mass is extremely high. So all things considered, my health metrics are fine. But that’s no reason to ignore my health.

But the more I can slim down, the better I can reach my goals; the more my muscles can propel me over the same distance. So, I consulted an expert nutritionist from Allina Health, a clinic local to my area, to learn more,

Here’s what I learned: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” This means that just because part of something is bad, doesn’t mean that I should remove it completely. Because I may be losing something valuable by throwing it out. For example, eating meat often causes higher health risks. But, this case isn’t a universal reason to stop eating meat, because meat has other benefits that would be lost.

Nutrition is highly personal. Don’t take the advice for me as advice for you. You, the reader, have your own body and goals and quirks. Here are my lessons:

  1. I need to consume about 150 grams of protein per day. That means keeping meat in my diet to make this easier. I can increase the percentage of legumes I eat, but I cannot lose the protein that I need to maintain my lifestyle and goals. The best practice calculation is 1.4-2 grams of protein per weight in kilograms.
  2. I should add lentils, beans, or similar protein- and fiber-rich legumes to every meal. Recently, I have been adding a salad to nearly every meal as an add-on. I should do the same thing with lentils and beans to boost my protein and fiber intake. Protein gets me to my goal of 150 grams per day. And fiber fills me up quicker, so I can eat less and get full quicker.
  3. I can eat all kinds of legumes. Different vegetables contain different nutrients depending on whether they are raw, cooked, or roasted. I thought raw veggies always have more nutrients. However, sometimes cooking veggies can bring in new nutrients! I should eat a variety of colors of veggies, prepared in different styles.
  4. I should continue reducing sweetened foods with added sugar. But, I don’t need to throw out all sugar completely. I get benefits from the other nutrients in sugary foods.
  5. Soy milk is generally better than almond milk because it has more protein.
  6. I should buy more frozen fruit when we run out of fresh fruit. Typically, we go shopping every three weeks or so. But our fresh fruit goes bad by the second week. So, we should get frozen fruit to eat after the second week.
  7. I should eat without distraction: focus on eating the meal rather than multi-tasking. This gives me a better indicator of how much to eat until I’m done. So, I am less likely to overeat.
  8. I should eat when I’m hungry. Intermittent fasting has some benefits, such as maintaining stable blood sugar levels. However, it’s not a universal solution to weight loss or health. I lose valuable opportunities to take in nutrients while fasting.
  9. Below is a visual I can follow for each meal. Then depending on my goals, I can adjust the portions and sizes from this starting point. For example, in the morning, I should take in more protein. Whereas in the evening, I should take in more carbohydrates.
Source from Allina Health

The next thing…

I’m onto my next adventure. I realize now that physical races are something special for me. They incorporate body, mind, and spirit in a way that is engaging and empowering. I rise to the occasion because I have to. These challenges force me to be better.

My next long-term goal, as of now, will be an ultramarathon running race. Or a running/hiking/walking race. It feels right. I ran the marathon slowly during my Ironman marathon, and I want to know that I can run longer. So, I’m looking into 50K and 50M races next year. I bought a new pair of shoes. I’m seeing a chiropractor. I’m changing my walking and running gait. I got a book. I’m listening to experienced ultra runners.

The odds are stacked against me: I’m heavy (more than 200 lbs / 94 kg). I am stocky and not built like a runner. I don’t have a coach. I hate the 3 Hs: Heat, Humidity, and Hills. I never really learned how to run: I just ran.

So, it’s a perfect challenge.

There’s something special about an Ultra that has a time cut-off. For a first-timer like me, I’m just hoping to finish. I don’t care what position I finish. I’ll be happy to arrive in last place, as long as I’m within the time limit. There’s something special about showing up to a race and not knowing whether you can finish it. Either I’m within the time cut-off or they drag me out on a stretcher.

So, my next challenge will be finishing a long distance within a certain time limit; but it’s not finishing under a specific time or pace (other than the time limit). Ultra time limits have some buffer. You don’t have to run fast to finish within the time limit. Some Ultras can be finished at the pace of a fast walk. But they’re so damn long and difficult that some races have more DNFs than finishers. So to me, the challenge is making the distance, not the time. I actually don’t know if I can physically make that distance at all.

There’s another thing I looked for in this next challenge. I want to do something big in an area in which I can do something smaller. For example, I can run a mile. So, why not run 30 miles? 50? 100? Maybe the next challenge after this will be an entirely new sport. Who knows.

I have to train more to get there. Specifically, I need to train my mind to invest all-in on this challenge. I need to prove some things to myself. I’ve run two full marathons already. Both times, I’ve hit the wall that broke me and I slowed to a walk. My best time is more than 4 hours. My next goal is training to run a sub-4 hour marathon. That pace is exactly 9:09 minute per mile pace for 26.2 miles including rest stops. I’m aiming to run under 9:00 minutes per mile to buy myself time for rest stops.

After a couple weeks of training in October, I spontaneously tried to do it. But I failed after 19 miles. I analyzed what went wrong and set a new date. Below is my After Action Report.

Anyway, I’m going to spend the winter running either way.

Now I’ve just got to decide for which race to sign up.

19 miles out of 26.2 Miler: After Action Report on 2021-10-10

The Final Tweaks before Game Day

These past few weeks after the half Ironman Triathlon, I have been making some final tweaks to my training. I addressed the issues that came up during the half Ironman triathlon a few weeks ago.

To boost my swim confidence, I swam 3,000m at Ironman pace for 1:15 hrs. It felt long and a bit tedious, but I made it. It was my longest swim ever. And this is about 3/4 of the distance of the Ironman swim. If I can do 3/4, I can do the last 1/4.

To reinforce my confidence on long bike rides, I finished a group century 100 mile ride, two weeks after the triathlon. We went faster than I would while solo and took longer breaks. But this gave me confidence that my body can handle 100+ miles.

To address my gastrointestinal issues on the bike, I fed myself on a long ride by eating first and drinking my performance mix later. I think drinking the performance mix first gave me those issues during the triathlon. I got my body used to eating solid foods on the ride before drinking that energy mix. And ultimately I felt better by ordering the nutrition in this way. I’m sure there’s a science to this, but I’m going off of my own experience and what works best for me.

On that same solo ride and other longer rides, I forced myself to sit without standing in the saddle. That put a lot of pressure onto my butt bones. This seat discomfort was another big issue from my previous race. I began seeking out more pain in the saddle. Hopefully I have raised my pain tolerance as a result. For a long 112 mile ride, I’ll need to stand up to rest my seat muscles and take longer breaks. But now I’ll be able to stay locked in position for longer as a baseline.

To increase my leg strength, I incorporated hill workouts into my runs. I even did hill repeats as the singular focus of that run.

I also added some mile-long pick-ups in other runs to jolt the legs. During those, I would keep my heartrate at threshold or tempo pace, which means I’m not overexerting myself. Then for the last repetition, I would go all-out since I’m competitive and like to go fast. Doing this helped me adapt to the higher active heart rate during the Ironman triathlon, because my heart will be tired from the swim and bike before.

Lastly, I have visualized every step of race day. I see myself waking up, preparing well, swimming, transitioning, biking, and running. I see myself grinding across the finish line, no matter how late I arrive, and hearing my name over the loudspeaker.

All in all, I’m ready. I know what gear I need and how to use it. I have a better race day nutrition plan. I know my body can finish each individual discipline. On race day, I’ll have all the support from family, friends, aid stations, and fellow competitors.

I know that I’m ready because if you told me that the Ironman was suddenly scheduled for tomorrow morning, I would be excited, not scared.

My Ironman Triathlon Journey (T-minus 3 months)

There’s a lot I’ve been doing for myself recently. I’ve been focusing on consuming positive content. I’ve been reading more. But I’ve been writing less.

Over the past two years, I have been spending much more time building an obsession on completing an Ironman Triathlon: 2.4 Mile Swim, 112 Mile Bike, 26.2 Mile Run.

Grant, circa 2020

I’ll post more about this in the upcoming weeks. But today is simply an announcement of accountability. To practice, I have a half distance Ironman triathlon on July 25, 2021 in Delaware, Ohio. Then I have the full Ironman distance triathlon on September 12, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin.

This has been a challenge I’ve been obsessing over since August, 2019. At that time, I decided I would complete an Ironman as a way of challenging and guiding my life. In September, 2019, I began training. But by March, 2020, everything was closing and events were canceled that summer. It was brutal to wait another year due to COVID restrictions. I’m sure many people gave up on their dreams after what 2020 dealt to them.

But I’m back, and I began training again in January, 2021.

Yesterday, I went for a 45-minute bike ride at Ironman race pace. Then I ran for 1.5 hours at Ironman race pace (maybe a little faster). On Tuesday, I have my 2nd swim lesson to refine my technique for endurance. Yesterday was the first day when I knew that I could do it.

I will complete the Ironman on September 12, 2021; there are no “unlesses.” I’m asking you to hold me accountable. Blogging, social media, and producing something into the world is as good for the producer as it is for the consumers. They are accountability tools.

Until then, I will continue the grinding.

Network Effects and Virality are not the same – Re: Platforms

I’m reading the book Platform Revolution to better understand how platforms change markets. For the longest time, I thought that network effects and virality were the same thing. However, according to the authors:

“Virality is about attracting people who are off the platform and enticing them to join it, while network effects are about increasing value among people on-platform.” (23)

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
Listen to this blog post here! Network Effects and Virality

I had assumed that what attracts people into a network is the value they get from the network. But in fact, this oversimplifies the interaction between user and platform. The reason for joining could be the same as sticking around. But often, it isn’t.

Suppose a marketing initiative gives users $10 to refer a friend to join. Or, registering could require the user to input their contact list to the platform, to be used for more invites. These examples show virality to grow a network, but not value creation within a network. Just because a platform has a network and goes viral, does not mean that it adds value to users upon joining. Virality used to get more hype, with value coming from how fast you could grow. But now, the value of platforms comes from how they retain users just as much as obtaining users.

Network effects depend a lot on the platform itself. For YouTube, virality could be sharing a video link. But network effect benefits would be the improvement to the video recommendation algorithm coming from more behavioral data from more users. This recommendation keeps users coming back.

It’s possible that a platform has both virality and network effects, such as Facebook: people joined Facebook because of the viral effect of “Fear of Missing Out.” Our friends were connected, so we wanted in as well. Once online, people stayed on for additional features like Facebook Groups and Facebook Marketplace, which grew more valuable as more people joined. Now, the long-term value of Facebook is “active” users, not just “new” users. And activity comes from those valuing the service and going back for the network effects.

As I continue learning about platforms, I’ll pay more attention to the difference between why to join a network vs. why to stay on it.

The four people riding with us on this Gamestop rollercoaster

There’s something happening in the markets.

Note: these are my views and not anyone else’s: not my employer nor future employers nor past employers nor anyone else other than myself. And these names are made-up.

Click here to listen to this post!

We are in the middle of something big. There’s been a lot of volatility around Gamestop and other stocks. Sometime soon, movies and blog posts and open letters will emerge summarizing this cultural movement and institutional reactions and the yet unknown end result.

We’re all struggling to explain it. But maybe we just need to not jump to conclusions too quickly. Pay attention to the details. What are the human ambitions behind each action? What connections are bursting at the seams- indicating their fragility to begin with? As we spiral down Poe’s maelstrom, let’s ride it out together and pick the most important things to carry forward and what to leave behind.

I grouped some reactions from the public into a few types for fun.

Today in the market we have:

  1. Rip-it Rocky
  2. Break-it Brad
  3. New-world Ned
  4. Cautious Cameron
Photo by Matt Bowden on Unsplash
  1. Rip-it Rocky: “I fucking love it.” Let’s stick it to the billionaires who do this every day. I’m YOLOing it all. I’m aping it to the moon for my bananas and tendies. This is the first real opportunity to beat the house that always wins. Props to the heroes who donated to charity, bought their parents a home, and paid off student debt. Let’s ride the wave, pump the dip, dump the rip.
  2. Break-it Brad: “They deserve it.” This is a ground-breaking momentum change in our markets, and there’s no going back. The financial and government world were too slow to react, and now the retail investor has broken the system. Already, we’ve seen hedge funds lose significant capital. Institutional investors are running scared. And they should be, because they’ve been able to game the system unhindered for a long time. And now when the tables have turned against them, now they want to change the rules? No way. This is going to be a complete catastrophe for the markets. And it’s about time. It’s time to move forward toward regulation for big investors and decentralization of financial institutions.
  3. New-world Ned: “It’s odd that this hasn’t happened before.” This seems like the first time that retail investors have banded together with so much volume and focus. No longer do fundamentals play a role in the valuation of stocks. In this new environment, the dynamics have changed. The fact that a stock is overly shorted could be the reason to run up the value. Or, some other reason could cause people to buy. With endless information at their disposal, the smartest retail investors predicted the rally. With lightning-fast communication over the internet, investors grouped around a common purpose and became powerful. Now, who can predict the next time this could happen. The group may appear in a different place with a different focus. It seems that big investors can be outsmarted by non-big investors. They’ll need to respect this risk much more now.
  4. Cautious Cameron: “I’m worried about the bubble bursting.” Desperate retail investors are the most at-risk to put more money in than they can afford to lose. Hawkish investors will take advantage of them like prey. And the desperate investor will lose. I’m afraid for my family and friends who bought GME stock just because there was a speculative run-up on the value. The stock price is bound to go back down because the inherent value of Gamestop hasn’t changed even thought the stock price has. As a result of this, there will be loss. And there will be regulation, but I’m not sure that will accomplish anything about what people are looking for since there are already many regulations in place. If anything, we need to prevent this bubble from happening again and affecting so many unknowing people.

We’ve seen holders holding and buyers buying and sellers selling. Who knows what the price of GME will be in two weeks. And who knows what we’ll be talking about then.

One thing is clear: no one can predict what happens next.

The Cavalry: the values of serving

If you’re interested in occasionally volunteering in a group for those in need in the Twin Cities while staying safe from COVID-19, then contact me.


If you built an army of volunteers, what values would you instill in them to keep the culture together? Kevin asked just that. How would we answer Kevin?

  1. Humble Service
  2. Community
  3. Reality
  4. Respect For Others

Humble Service: This is the meaning of life for us. It is in our blood. It gives us energy. It aligns how we view ourselves and the world. We don’t get so full of ourselves to think that we are above any other person. We know that giving creates more giving, which creates a better world for all. Humility gives us a hunger to always be open and learning. We serve others because that’s how we orient our lives toward good in the world and away from distractions.

Community: We build a community of doers. We volunteer and serve with each other. We create bonds through shared experiences. We lean on each other for support. We empower each other to try new things. We push each other to increase our service impact. It’s a group of individuals formed by a common goal and purpose. It’s about We.

Reality: Do you feel out of touch? Come see what the real world is like. Your daily life is nothing like what others experience. Come see what real people are living through. In particular, let’s expose ourselves to others going through difficult situations. They could be just like you. The reality is, this could be you. So, the ones who have it easier are responsible to help others who need help. Understanding the full breadth of human experience will enrich your life and give gratitude for the little blessings.

Respect For Others: This dose of reality gives us respect for others, no matter who they are. Understanding how difficult circumstances affect normal people enables us to see that people are just people. But some are going through harder circumstances than others, and they need our help. They deserve our respect. We do not believe that any people are less deserving of respect because of their lifestyle, choices, or circumstances.

The cavalry’s mission to serve is clear.

What I tell new graduates now that I’ve been working for six years

My brother just graduated from university to join the working world. As a typical older brother does, I decided to offer my unsolicited advice.

No, we don’t know what’s going on with COVID-19. No, we don’t know exactly how companies should address social issues. But we are figuring it out. It’s a work in progress. Companies, like people, are always changing.

Employment is a transaction. The company treats it as such. Look at the job description and pay. Your employment is an exchange of value: delivering the stated items on the job description in return for value.

In response to their expectations, you can prepare. Be clear about what you want to get out of your employment. List out three things that you’ve learned at every stage in your life. Then come up with three things during this transaction (thank you to Dave Kerwar for this suggestion!).

For example, at your previous employment you learned:

  1. Work-life balance
  2. How to work as an individual contributor as a team
  3. Technical knowledge of data integration

Then at your next stage in life, you can learn through:

  1. Ownership of projects, work-streams, projects, or services
  2. Experience of how different business units work together
  3. Management of a team of people

The company will pay you for the value you give them. But state a few non-monetary things you want out of the experience, and the smart company will be happy to give you more of it. You work more on the things you enjoy, which gives the smart company more value. It’s a win-win.

To do this, you’ve got to be honest about what three things you want out of the employment transaction. The smart company will be doing the same.

Using a rubber band to fight racism

Whenever I do something, I do it small.

Every month, I make one significant change of my life to add a new beneficial habit or to undo an unhealthy habit. These healthy habits stay with me after the month ends, and I’m onto the next one.

This month of June, 2020, I am putting in effort to notice when I perpetuate racism. And when I notice it, I am taking responsibility to stop it.

I am wearing a rubber band when I go out. Whenever I judge someone unfairly based on their race, then I will snap the rubber band against my wrist. The pain associated with the previous action trains me to not do the previous thing. I am training myself to not be racist.

When I make this judgment on race, I restrict the opportunity for others to prove their character. This is unfair. If many people do this a few times every day, then this is systemic racism.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Human behavior is complex. There are many other factors that contribute to differences in outcomes, such as wealth or attractiveness. Wealthier people and more attractive people have more opportunities and are more successful. But these topics are beside the present issue, which is race: the color of your skin should not dictate your opportunity because that’s how our country is supposed to work.

We cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater; to say that we cannot solve all injustices and so we shouldn’t solve any. Rather, we can start with one: race.

It is constitutionally unfair that our country is designed to give all Americans equal opportunity, but in practice, this doesn’t happen to different races. If black Americans face more barriers to opportunities for justice and education and competition based on their race, whereas I am privileged to get the most opportunities because I am white, then our system is not working as designed and it needs to change.

There’s a difference between unfair outcomes and unfair opportunities. If two students take the same test in the same school and get different scores on a test, this is a difference in outcome. But if possession of drugs is a crime in one zip code and therapy in another zip code, this difference of outcome is likely pointing to a difference in opportunity.

Furthermore, if there has been overt racism in policies that restrict opportunities by race, then getting rid of a racist policy doesn’t mean the racism is gone forever. It could be written into our inner lives from our past. For example, historical Minneapolis housing covenants specifically restricted housing opportunities by race. The neighborhoods that formed as a result have not instantly changed in less than a century. Thus, this injustice could be playing out in individual interactions (or lack of) on a daily basis.

I am a vehicle of cultural systems. The ideas from culture flow through me. Most ideas are positive. But many are negative, such as racism. Even if I am not a racist (which is not guaranteed) and thus I do not come up with my own racist thoughts, it’s still my responsibility to stop systemic racism from flowing through me into my thoughts and behaviors.

George Floyd’s story is different

Source

George Floyd was killed unfairly. Why is this so significant?

Before diving in, please note: I am not black and I live in a position of privilege, and so George Floyd’s death as well as other similar deaths have not affected me as directly as they’ve done my black colleagues. But I see and empathize with this pain and fear, so I must speak out.

Also, police officers have one of the most difficult jobs in the world; often making quick judgment calls in stressful situations. I trust our police force and know that occurrences of unfair brutality are rare; but they must stop.

What’s different about George Floyd?

Why was this event unique? 1. The events moved slowly, and 2. We saw enough on video.

In many videos in which police use excessive force, the situation typically moves fast and thus it’s not clear whether the result was justified. Any small action or movement push the officer to pull the trigger and shoot in a split second. It’s impossible to see that same action or movement in the video that caused the officer to pull the trigger. So, we cannot have full certainty whether the officer acted unjustly.

George Floyd’s death was different. We see the video clearly. Derek Chauvin and the other 3 officers had 9 minutes of slow bleeding while George was handcuffed, face down in the street, and calling for his mom for help. Once the clock started ticking and Derek put his knee on the neck, there was no need for a quick judgment call. George was already apprehended and the officer was in a position of power. Even if Derek felt in danger, Derek had 3 officers as backup to reposition George from a fatal hold into a non-fatal hold. In fact, this is actually how good officers are supposed to apprehend suspects: hand-cuff the suspect and then reposition them.

But not this time. Every second that Derek held his knee on George’s neck was a second he chose to actively continue murdering George. Officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd.

George did not face a fair trial for his alleged crime. He was arrested, which we trust our police force to decide when to do. But George was not treated according to just practices given the opportunity to face a trial. Instead, the officer carried out a slow murder on the street in full awareness while others in power watched. Maybe George was guilty. But our country has a justice system that is promised as “innocent until proven guilty” to all. With countless evidence showing how black people are treated over-proportionately as criminals, the justice that is promised is not provided to all.

I identify as someone that has not felt the pain of black issues from systemic racism; however today I woke up to see this as a human issue. No human deserves a knee to the neck in the street by anyone for 9 minutes until they suffocate on their own blood.

A whole lot of Maybes

It’s currently unknown why Derek and the officers carried out the execution for 9 minutes. The reason could occur at any level. Maybe the ethical imbalance of how to treat certain humans was in Derek as an individual. Maybe as a group of 4 officers, their morality was off. Maybe it was racism in the police precinct, or maybe institutionalized systemic racism. Maybe none of that. Maybe a bit of everything.

Maybe the result of how the officers face charges will expose systemic racism, institutional racism, or some other form of injustice. Maybe they were all having a bad day and George was really unlucky.

What’s clear is that this cannot happen again to any human being.

So, we need something to police the police. We design similar systems for other groups with power and privilege like banks and government branches. We need a review board of how law & order treats crimes and criminals.

We’ve seen this too many times before

This was not the first time that an unarmed black civilian has been killed. Eric Garner. Trayvon Martin. Philando Castille. Tamir Rice. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd.

In the past, I would defer to authority. I didn’t know the whole story, so I’d let the experts and the system carry out justice. But the evidence in this case is undeniable that Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd. Now, this makes me question whether past events were judged fairly and why police trials for civilian killings are so rare.

There is something going on and it is not new. Minorities and underprivileged people, but especially African-Americans, have been treated unfairly for centuries in this country from the very beginning. And there is still imbalance of treatment today. We thought we solved it before. But we are seeing the unresolved injustice more often now, because people are filming and sharing events. I was in willful ignorance a few years ago.

Those on the receiving end of imbalance are used to feeling this pain and fear from systems meant to protect or support us. But those who have rarely experienced this imbalance of opportunity need to wake up and see how fairness that is promised does not always equal fairness given.

What do we do?

The right thing to do is to identify areas of imbalance of opportunity; why a drug crime in one neighborhood is a sickness, while the same crime in another neighborhood is a felony. Why? If the crime is the same, then why is our justice given out differently? Why are unarmed black people killed at higher rates? Then we address them. Then we change them.

We as people with privilege have a responsibility to make change, share our opinion, and address these issues. Let’s educate ourselves to have wisdom and empathy for those experiencing systemic imbalance.

Where as a country have promised one thing, but practiced another? Suppose that George Floyd was killed because he was black or poor or suspicious within a country that accepts institutionalized racism. Then we can talk and think about why other unfair imbalances occur, like why the iPhone facial recognition has more trouble recognizing black faces than white. The product designers didn’t intend to be racist, but nevertheless we see an unfair imbalance. A black person spends the same money on the same product but receives different value. This is not fair. Then we can talk about how we would design the next iPhone differently to enable a fairer result.

I believe in good. I believe hierarchies are good. Institutions are good. Change is good. Let’s use what we have.

George Floyd’s death is a universal issue. His life mattered because all lives matter. If you are in the hospital for a broken leg, your broken leg matters because, of course, your whole body matters. But the issue here is that your broken leg needs the treatment. Black lives have not mattered enough in the US, and we must finally follow through to make “fair and balanced” in policy to be “fair and balanced” in practice.