500 Words. Day 16.

Well, what a terrible day for goals that was, haha. In fact, the whole week will be, so I’m attempting to scale back my expectations. I really only have tonight, due to other commitments for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights, then Saturday is St. Patrick’s day, so I’ll be impressed if I get anything substantial accomplished this week. I’m betting for the entire week, it’ll just be the Minted Art submissions and the prototype for helpmefind.com, with a few smaller errands mixed in.

We have a large deadline coming up at work that will involve touching multiple core systems that the e-commerce flow depends on, and we were understandably nervous about changing all of those at once. So we decided to push up one system to launch earlier, which means feature-complete by the end of day today. I ended up having to work a 12 hour day yesterday to make sure everything was going to make it in by the code freeze. So that meant I made it back to my apartment just in time to barely fail at my last goal, which was to start reading in bed by midnight. Oh well. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

In fun news, I’m officially starting a “Startup Book Club”! I’ve been talking about it with Jimmy Kittyachavalit (VP Eng at Causes) for a couple weeks now, and it’s beginning to solidify. I really like the idea. The key points are this:

  • Non-fiction focus; especially productivity, psychology focused books (Think Blink, Predictably Irrational, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People…)
  • Emphasis on very low reading time. We’re all super busy, so we won’t ready many books per year. The emphasis is on interesting conversation with thoughtful people.
  • Extremely small group. Maybe 4-8 people total.

We’re starting with Now, Discover Your Strengths, which is a book I loved 3 years ago. The idea is that “strengths” are defined as ways in which your brain thinks, without you having to make it. You take an online quiz that forces you to choose between two seemingly unrelated things in rapid succession (eg. “I think everyone should be treated fairly” vs. “the future excites me.”) They gave similar quizzes to millions of people over many years and discovered a finite number of ‘strengths’ that were most common in people. Then they use your answers to rank how well your unconscious tendencies fit into each, and give you your top five. Then you can read in more detail about each one, and think about how to focus more of your life on your strengths. I think it’ll be a really good ‘ice-breaker’ type book for a book club, and I personally already wanted to go back and revisit my strengths, so I can’t wait.

In other news, Friday is Minted Engineering Team Steak Night! I’m getting excited. Still a bit nervous in that I don’t know where I’m going to store all the steak overnight for a few nights, as I need some equipment for that first… but all in due time. I got some tips from the host of our last one, found some great-sounding recipes for marinades, and have some good ideas for the setup. Now it’s just a matter of acquiring the steaks and starting the dry-rub process!

Monday goals:

  • Minted Art Submissions. Made 0 forward progress.
  • Plan for steak night got some details. still a few to work out.
  • Send “Startup Book Club” invites
Tuesday:
  • Minted Art Submissions. Make forward progress.
  • Plan for steak night. Buy steaks after work?
  • Lunch with the Causes guys

Healthy Protein Shake Breakfast

My friend Chris Keller introduced me to the concept of having breakfasts with high protein, medium fat, no carbs/sugars. I think I’ve settled on a really good recipe. Since it’s low in carbs/sugars, it won’t spike (and then drop) your blood sugar, so you won’t get hungry as fast. Plus it’s fast, it’s healthy, and most importantly: it’s delicious.

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake with garnish, inspired by the book The Perfect Health Diet

What you’ll need:

  • Organic milk [link]
    Organic means a lot of things, but you want to avoid preservatives, and from cows given hormones, antibiotics, etc. The closer to whole milk, the better, as most of the nutrients in milk are fat-soluble. To get the same nutrients in skim milk, they’d have to start adding workarounds at the factory. I’ve been using this half-gallon of milk with Omega-3 added, which is in pretty much every Safeway here.
  • Organic protein powder [link]
    I was using Gold Standard Whey Protein, which is fine, but this powder seems to dissolve better, has no artificial additives, includes a flavorless option, and has Branched Chain Amino Acids (benefits described in the Amazon description).
  • Coconut oil [link]
    The coconut oil in the link has one ingredient: unprocessed coconut oil. Nice. This is good for healthy fatty acids and medium chain tryglicerides.
  • Fruit 
    Whatever you want here really. I put in a banana, and either a few strawberries, or a handful of blueberries. Be aware that the more fruit you add, the more sugar you’re adding, which will raise your blood sugar faster; make your body respond with insulin, which will drop your blood sugar; and make you hungry faster. For this reason, prefer strawberries, blueberries, acai, etc. over bananas, which have more starch and fructose. But hey, a little fruit never hurt anybody.
  • Ice 
    Crushed, if you think your blender can’t handle full ice cubes.
  • A blender

Recipe:

  • Put a tablespoon or so of coconut oil into a microwavable dish (I use a shot glass) and microwave the coconut oil until it melts. This is especially important if you (like me) don’t like the taste of coconut! Leaving it unmelted will result in lots of little bits of coconut flavor floating around. Melted though: no coconut flavor at all!
  • Combine all the ingredients except the protein powder and coconut oil. Now add the protein powder last. This is just to keep the powder from sticking to the side.
  • Blend ‘em up!
  • If it’s thinner than you’d like, you can add more ice, or use less milk next time. Careful using too little liquid though, as the liquids are what lets the blender suck solids into the blades, and it might not blend well.
  • Last, dump in the melted coconut oil and blend one last time. Doing this last just makes sure that the coconut oil doesn’t have time to cool before it gets blended up. Once it’s blended, it doesn’t seem to re-congeal.

Bonus

To stick even closer to The Perfect Health Diet, you’d substitute a non-dairy milk, and tend toward less fruit.

More info

Chris introduced me to this concept first with this article analyzing the history of what we now think of as breakfast foods (donut, bagel, croissant, cereals, …). Later, he recommended this book: The Perfect Health Diet, which goes deeper into the science behind preferring this kind of diet.

The Perfect Health Diet