Call to Action: To hell with Free Time!

 

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As adults, we say “free time” the way we said “recess” or “play time” when we were younger. All too often, we work 40-50 hours Monday-Friday to get to our “free time,” then sit on the couch for half of the day for one reason or another. We catch up on shows, relax (aka – nap), surf the web (aka – look at Instagram posts), or eat despite the fact that we ate something an hour and a half ago and say, “I might be hungry, but I might not be?”

I was this person, too, you know? When I had roommates, I remember staying in my room until 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. because the longer I stayed in there, the more embarrassing it would look when I finally came out to greet the world. I would say things about getting my resume together or being really sore from that workout I did yesterday (or was it the day before? Or was it last month?). I could spend a whole day in my house, not cook anything and just order food, then put on an Ohio State shirt and watch the 8:00 p.m. game until I went up to bed and lay awake until 3:00 a.m.

 

Free time.

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Thankfully, those days are behind me. I couldn’t sleep in past 8:30 a.m. if I wanted to and if I’ve been in my house for more than four straight hours, I start to go a little crazy (and I like my house!). What happened is my wife and I started making plans. We plan things out a month in advance. We buy concert tickets for shows six months down the road and we share calendars for workouts, happy hours, work schedules, even when we are going to give our dog a bath. We almost have to schedule “free time,” otherwise our days won’t allow us any time to breathe.

And it’s not just on weekends either. We plan time to work on our freelance businesses, schedule meetings with event coordinators for things we want to put into motion six months down the road. Of course, we plan couch time to smother our dog, but there are some nights he has to remind us to get him his walk (he does this by eating a little bathroom waste bin trash or moving our shoes from our closet).

So here’s where I ask you to self-reflect and look at what it is you do on the weekends or when you get off from work. Do you beeline to your couch and order pizza most nights, or do you have plans to do something productive with your free time? As Millennials, it’s easy for us to say that something isn’t worth our time, but we are devaluing our time by wasting it every day. I’m all for “lets do it more efficiently,” but when it comes to going from a computer screen at work to a TV screen at home, we have to change how we are doing things.

So, it’s OK to start small, but at least START. Make “free time” a thing where you get free yourself from what has been comfortable to this point, and challenge yourself to do something new. Who knows, you might start to enjoy it!

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5 Ways to Make yourself a Better Person by Tomorrow

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Betterment is a word I have to verify was actually a word when I came up with this sentence. It is also the act of improving oneself and is something we should all strive for everyday. In order to better yourself, you don’t have to travel to Tibet to build orphanages or send your entire paycheck to the animal shelter and live in poverty. Betterment begins with little changes that might turn into something huge, or they might fizzle out after a moment’s thought. The point is, if our mindset is to get better and we are honest about improving, we can’t help but better ourselves, even as early as tomorrow!

Here are five little things you can do to be a better person tomorrow than you (already) are today.

  1. Do 10 (more) pushups – Doing 10 pushups isn’t going to be the different between a six-pack and beer belly. Doing 10 pushups is like putting the change from your pocket at the end of the day into savings. In itself, it isn’t going to make you rich. But by saving little by little, you’re developing good habits. Likewise, doing 10 pushups today might make you do 10 pushups tomorrow, and maybe 15 the day after that. Improving your health is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself. We only get one body, so take care of it!
  2. Do something unexpected – Maybe it’s start a blog or write someone you haven’t talked to in awhile an email. Whatever it is, mix up your routine and surprise yourself. Too often, we get stuck in ruts and just decide that we are going to grind our way through something and it will magically get better. If we don’t ever try to change something and do things a little differently sometimes, we’re destined for the same tomorrow that we have today.
  3. Be charitable – This doesn’t mean you need to donate money or your time, although if you have the chance to do so, you should. Being charitable means making someone else’s life better in some way. You can tell your mom you love her or help your wife out by cooking dinner instead of asking her to do so.
  4. Use the world “love” – They’ve done studies (“they” being top, top level scientists I’m sure) that prove that if you force yourself to smile, you will improve on your mood. Similarly, if you use the word “love” when talking to someone or writing an email, you will improve your own mood as well as make an impression on the person to whom you’re talking(provided you don’t say something like “I love cheating on homework” or “I love stealing from kids”).
  5. Be thankful – being thankful is one of the best ways to be a better person because it shows humility and will make people want to gravitate toward you. Whether in remedial tasks and life in general, being thankful reminds oneself that there are those in the who don’t have what you have. Just the fact that you can read this post means you have a lot more than some people, and not taking anything for granted is a great perspective to have in life.

5 Things I’m Most Looking forward to in 2016

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I am going to beat everyone else to this by writing it with two full months before 2016 even starts. 2015 was a fun year that featured a new house, new friends, and probably the best year of concerts I’ve ever attended. TOP 5 CONCERTS OF 2015

  1. Taylor Swift
  2. Eric Church and Kenny Chesney
  3. Tallest Man on Earth
  4. ZZ Top
  5. Kip Moore and Michael Ray

I have a new niece, traveled to a few new cities (Hello, Nashville!) and even turned 30 once or twice. I also got to have some fun with a few old standards, like enjoy the sunshine for the Memorial Tournament and Dublin Irish Festival (where Kelly and our friends got videotaped for the city and felt like celebrities for a day. VIDEO HERE), and saw my other blog, Sports Monte, take off (relative term).

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And on top of all that, I still think these next two months will bring even more excitement, as we still have a Christmas trip to Orlando planned and my Wall of Foam list to complete at our favorite restaurant, Local Roots.

But let us look ahead, just for a moment, shall we? As much fun as 2015 has been and continues to be, here are five things I am most looking forward to next year.

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1.) Travel – My wife and I have decided that 2015 was the year of the concerts, and 2016 will be the year of travel. We have saved (52 Week Money Challenge – check it out HERE), planned, and have two big trips lined up. The first one is for my wife’s mom’s 60th birthday. We are going to the Cayman Islands, which will be my second time leaving the country for non-work related travel. I’m looking forward to beachin’ it, renting a scooter, and hopefully finding a cliff to jump into the water (against my wife’s advice. Sorry, babe!). The second place we’re going is to Ireland. You might remember my “Take me to Ireland or Lose me Forever” post. This will be my third time leaving the country for non-work related travel… <– jokes. Ireland is a place I’ve always wanted to go and I am thrilled at the thought of having a Guinness in Dublin and meeting the locals there.

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2.) Finding my Place in Fantasy Sports World – So technically Sports Monte started in 2013 (December). But in 10 months, it’s really become something I am proud of and, while it can be stressful to do every week, proves to myself that this is something I love to do and am good at. I have bigger goals for SM than where it’s at now, and I hope 2016 gets me closer to achieving those goals. Sports Monte has help land me a job at one of the best fantasy football sites in the world, and I love the fact that I am getting to write about something that I love. This is kind of a broad thing to look forward to, but I feel like 2015 was the beginning of something for me, and 2016 will help define a path for both SM and myself.

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3.) Spartan Race AROO! Just kidding. I don’t even like the “O-H” “I-O” thing that Buckeye fans are supposed to love, so I doubt I’ll be that guy at the Spartan race bro’ing out and yelling. What are we, a bunch of heathens or something? But don’t let my lack of vocal enthusiasm fool you, I’m excited! I’ve begun training this year by doing what I call “playground workouts.” Playground workouts are when I find a playground that is empty, and make up a circuit workout around monkey bar pull ups, box jumps, pushups, running around a field, etc. I’ve even taken one of the garden bricks from our flower bed (25 lbs.) and have tried using that in my circuits. I think I am going to start small in the spring and do a Sprint distance Spartan Race, but might get into it and go all out the next year! Only downside is that I might have to start Crossfit to train and then I’ll be one of “those guys.”

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4.) Focusing on the things that make me happy – I think one thing I’ve preached this year has been to do the things that make you happy — it’s kind of the rule that I use when I make a tough decision. Obviously sleeping in and eating more pizza than I should would make me happy in the short term, but that’s taking what I mean a little too literally. Now that I’m 30 and old, I stopped caring what it might look like running around a field carrying a 25 pound brick. It makes me happy and I’m going to do it. I am going to continue with this attitude and I bet it opens a few more doors this year like it did in 2015. And hey, if I give someone else a good story to tell their friend, all the better.

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5.) The Unknown – I’ll leave you, the reader, with a little bit of a cliffhanger because, in truth, I don’t know what all 2016 will bring. But what I can say is that I’m excited for whatever that unknown might be!

Lunch Wars

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I don’t hide the fact that I am a vegetarian. I don’t carry a “Meat is Murder” sign with me everywhere I go either, but that’s neither here nor there. But I do consider myself relatively informed on nutrition. Anyone who decides to adopt a specific diet SHOULD understand what they need to do in order to lead a healthy life.

Every so often, people want to discuss my being a vegetarian and comment on how they could NEVER do it because of X, Y and Z.

“I like meat too much.”

“I can’t get full otherwise.”

“Does chicken count?”

“Bacon.”

I get it. Being a vegetarian isn’t for everyone. But today at lunch, a coworker of mine threw a curveball at me I hadn’t heard before, and I kind of laughed when I heard it.

“I couldn’t be a vegetarian because your food options are so limited and I like food too much.”

Let’s nevermind the fact that this coworker literally eats a turkey sandwich sandwich-841507-m 4 out of 5 days each week, with the same granola bar and processed fruit cup day after day.

What I choose not to eat vs. what I choose to eat is such a teeny tiny piece of the food spectrum. If I choose not to eat candy, soda, or Coco Puffs, does that make my food options THAT much more limited? I mean, sure I could have pizza, but I couldn’t have a Mountain Dew to go along with it. So limiting…

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The point is, when you start to take certain foods out of your diet, you get more creative with the other things you do choose to eat. Just because I can’t eat beef, doesn’t mean I can’t have just above every thing you can make WITH beef. Hell, even hamburgers have 5 or 6 variations of meatless varieties. I could argue I have more things to eat than non-vegetarians who are afraid to try something that isn’t meat.

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So this is my stance: I won’t preach about why I eat what I eat if you don’t try to challenge me on why I’m doing it. If you want to have a conversation, I’m open to it. If you want to tell me that I’m not getting enough protein or that humans have been eating animals for a zillion years and we need it to be healthy, I can point you towards a lot of studies that suggest otherwise.

And for God’s sake, if you’re going to have a turkey sandwich every day, don’t tell me how restricting my diet is to you.