Friday 141121

Everyday Warrior Battle Series Workout #3

10 Minute Clock (6 Attempts Allowed)
1 Rep Max OH Squat from the Rack

Post load to comments or BTW

 

IMG 0552 475x316 Friday 141121

Kaplan, Kiley, and Meredith remembering all of Annas funny jokes while strengthening those hamstrings! There are so many, so it was tough.

MOBILITY SERIES:  THE HIPS (last hip post)

The bring our hip mobility series home, we will now employ a foam roller to loosen those bad boys.  Before we get into that, I want to discuss some MISTAKES of foam rolling, no matter what the body part:

-You foam roll TOO FAST!  You need to give your brain enough time to tell your muscles to relax.  SLOW DOWN and spend at least 2 minutes per area.
-You spend TOO MUCH TIME on the area that hurts! If you find an extra spicy spot, spend 20 seconds on that area, go to some other areas, then return to that area for another 20 seconds.
– NEVER ROLL OUT YOUR LOWER BACK! This will actually tighten your spinal erectors and surrounding muscles as a form of protection.  Just stick to you thoracic spine when rolling out your back.

Now that you know what not to do, let’s get into the good stuff.

#1 – Simply foam rolling the hips and surrounding structures.  The best take-away from this video is propping up the foam roller on a bench so you can place more bodyweight on the area. PS – You’re welcome for his awesome accent!

#2 – This video shows the opening up the hip flexors using a foam roller.  Please heed my warning about not rolling on your lower back.
Note: this mobility would be best kept for post-wod or on rest days.

 VERVE UPDATES:

Come and check out the many Verver’s competing this weekend at the MBS Turkey Challenge!! We have several Individual and Teams competing.  Heat times will be posted at this website or the competition will be from 9am – 5pm each day.

 

 

Thursday 141120

Split Jerk
2-2-2-2-2-2-2

Then, every minute on the minute x 7 minutes:
20 Double unders
1 Behind the neck split jerk @ 75% of 2RM split jerk

Post loads to comments and BTWB

IMG 1630 475x356 Thursday 141120

Just hanging out. Doing a little recovery in the middle of my Paramedic refresher class. Totally not awkward.

 

Now that’s my kind of recovery. . .  By Courtney Shepherd, with the a-sis-tance of Boxlife Magazine

With special thanks to fellow trainer and WOD partner extraordinaire Miss Anna Mattson, I walked away from my workout yesterday with legs feeling like Jello. There was no doubt in my mind I would need to do some sort of mobility if I had an aspirations of getting out of bed and traversing stairs the next day. I found the nice big, blue mat, plopped myself down and started stretching. While recovering, a fellow Verve athlete sat down beside me and made a similar comment about having to do some recovery herself so she too could have use of her legs tomorrow.  While I nodded in agreement I watched this person lay down and put her legs up against the wall, feet towards the ceiling. In my mind I half laughed because I thought, “sure you’re doing recovery”. How could laying down on your back, legs up be anything other than just laying down on your back legs up? Well folks, I have to eat my words and half laugh. Turns out what this athlete was doing was in fact leg recovery. 

I got home last night, did my usual Facebook browse to get caught up on life’s current events, and came across an article with the front pictured of a man doing the exact move I saw this other athlete doing earlier in the day. The title of the article is “Improve Recovery: Legs Up The Wall” by Kat Buechel of Boxlife Magazine (click here for full article). Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Turns out this legs up the wall move, or as it is known in yoga as Viparaita Karani, is a great restorative and recovery pose for our legs 24 hours after a WOD. 

To begin:
“Find a wall and take a seat next to it sideways. Your shoulder and leg will be touching the wall on one side. Start to come onto the wall by swinging the legs up and laying your torso (back) on the ground. You may need to slide your buttocks closer to the wall to allow your sitting bones to be supported by the wall. Release your belly down by dropping the tailbone, allowing the pelvis to come to a neutral position. Place your arms to the side, allowing the shoulders to draw away from the spine, and rest your hands at your sides. . . . Stay here anywhere from 5-20 minutes to allow the body to feel the benefits of the pose. Focus on breathing and allow the mind to be calm.

Allowing our legs to find the rest they need is important to building long term strength and muscle adaptation. Many athletes complain of feeling like their legs are heavy or their lower backs are hurting, and this pose will help alleviate common soreness experienced by the intensity of WODs.”

The benefits of this pose include:

  • Helps regulate blood pressure
  • Relieves tired legs, lymph collection in the feet
  • Provides an excellent stretch for the hamstrings, the front torso, and back of the neck
  • Improves digestion and aides with mild depression, anxiety, arthritis, headaches, and insomnia
  • Allows the mind to find a calm, meditative state 

There is also listed several ways to vary the pose for more recovery in the lower back, shoulders, head and neck:

  • If you suffer from low back pain or just grueling soreness from WODs, consider placing an ab mat, or if you are at home, pillow or blanket, underneath the lower back. This will elevate the hips, but will allow for less pressure to be placed on the back allowing for additional relief.
  • If shoulders feel tight, put your hands behind your head into a shoulder opener. Grab your elbows with the opposite hands allowing the arms to rest behind you on the ground.
  • To relieve any additional pressure or fatigue in the head and neck, you can place a rolled up sweatshirt or towel underneath the back of the neck.

So there you have it. Lay down, kick up your legs, and let the healing begin. In all seriousness, mobility and recovery should be an important part of our routine as athletes. Mobility and recovery are how we can help prevent soreness and injury. Spend a few moments before and after WODs to stretch, roll out, stick your legs up in the air, and recover, your body will thank you. 

 

Wednesday 141119

Complete 3 rounds for time:

30 Kettlebell swings, 24kg (16kg)
20 GHD sit-ups
10 Snatch, 135# (95#)

Post time to comments and BTW.

IMG 0477 475x712 Wednesday 141119

Howard on his way to the top last week! For multiple reps, proving age is just a number.

Well it’s that time of year folks….I saw the holiday decorations out in stores prior to Halloween, and now we are only 36 days out from Christmas.  It seems the world around us reminds us earlier and earlier in hopes of gaining business.  I do love the holiday season, but sometimes it’s hard not to get a little stressed out.  All the shopping, the parties, the sugary treats galore at every turn, it’s all very tempting and easy to get off track of our normal routines.  As much as I love gift-giving, shopping in December is possibly one of my least favorite things to do….even the grocery store is crazy and overwhelming at times.  

As stores open earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving and Black Friday looms–which is a whole other blog of opinion for me–I always try to have my couple of gifts bought or made prior to the holidays to keep my stress levels to a minimum.  In fact I read that the best day to get many deals is actually the Monday before Thanksgiving…this year that is this coming Monday, November 24th.  So in hopes of your holiday stress giving way to enjoying the season of love, I figured let’s put it out there that we can not only stay local but we can also support some of our fellow athletes.  

Our Verve family is a great place to find not only committed athletes but also great artists and talented professionals.  From finding referrals to doctors, to finding friends to volunteer with this season, to a favorite paleo restaurant, you can check out our Verve Social Facebook group.  Whether you are looking to get a haircut, or commission an art piece what better than sharing the love with other people who know the value of hard work.  

The Community Resources page provides a listing of businesses affiliated with our Verve family of athletes.  Great resources for projects, presents, or perks!  In addition to it being on the right side of our blog, you can check it out here.  If you are a current Verve athlete and would like to add your business, please fill out the contact form with the necessary information and logos.  We would love to help support you outside of the gym as much as we love training you inside our walls.  

Also, for fellow Crossfitters you can always check out some great websites such as Rogue, Reebok, etc for more CrossFit-centric gear.  Who doesn’t need a new set of knee sleeves or a pink weight belt to help bring on the PR’s?  What are some of your favorite websites for gear?  What are you asking Santa for this year?

Tuesday 141118

Complete as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes of:
Row 250 meters
25 Push-ups

Compare to 131115 and post to BTWB.

IMG 0531 475x316 Tuesday 141118

Schultz getting low under the watchful eyes of Dakota and Colby.

The best thing about this time of year is clearly not the weather.  Don’t get me wrong, I love snow, but I prefer it in the mountains versus in my kitchen where my dog thinks it belongs.  No, the best thing about this time of year is all the delicious treats you get to look forward to at Thanksgiving.  Now most of us follow a pretty strict diet from time to time, but certain exceptions are sometimes needed.  

Here are a few ideas if you’re looking to stay on the healthy side as well as my take on the dishes.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  In my opinion these things have come a long way.  As a kid I went through multiple napkins and sneaky moves to hide these things in an attempt to convince people I ate them, now I actually really like them.

Green Bean Casserole.  Made the traditional way this dish can be anything but healthy, but following the idea in the substitute option will make this bad boy healthier and if done correctly, nobody should be able to tell.

Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins.  These aren’t exactly healthy, but I love cheese, goes great on everything.  Also I bought a muffin tin a while back and cooking muffins is easy.

Apple Cider Margaritas.  It’s a margarita recipe, no additional details needed.

Add a main dish to the above and you have yourself a pretty good meal.  Post any links or ideas in comments that are some of your favorites.

Check out a full list of ideas at TheGreatist.com.  

Monday 141117

Back squat
5-5-5-5-5

Then, 3×10 2″ deficit deadlift @ 50% 1RM deadlift

Post score to BTW.

IMG 0526 475x395 Monday 141117

Mike going #HAM on some shoulder to overhead.

3 Coffee Recipes That Will Kick You In The Face And Help You Crush Your Workout

Check out the original article here.

Modified Bulletproof Coffee

The paleo movement has ignited momentum in the world of coffee with the birth of Bulletproof coffee. The original way of making Bulletproof coffee falls into more of a primal category, since it includes dairy. I prefer a modified version, using ghee instead of butter. Here’s how I make it:

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon of MCT oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of ghee
  • 18oz of fresh brewed coffee
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of turmeric

Method

Blend it all together and enjoy!

*** Traditional bulletproof coffee would not use the cinnamon and turmeric.

Homemade Cold Brew

Cold brew is another craze in the coffee world, especially here in Los Angeles. I love an afternoon cold brew like nothing else. At my favorite local spot I mentioned how much I enjoy a good cold brew and also that I write for Breaking Muscle, and the gentleman behind the counter was happy to tell me how to make my own. Delighted, I ran home and immediately got started. Here’s how to do it:

Ingredients

  • 16oz of cold filtered water
  • 3/4 cup freshly ground coffee

Method

  1. Combine both ingredients in a Mason jar and stir.
  2. Cover and let sit for 16 hours.
  3. Strain through a coffee filter into a new container and refrigerate until chilled. 
  4. Enjoy a delicious homemade, simple cold brew!

“Hello” Cup of Coffee

Since the beginning of my health-conscious life, I crave a little kick now and again with my food and drinks. That desire, coupled with a strong love of chocolate, inspired this cup of deliciousness. Basically my two cravings got married and they now exist in a cup of coffee that excites from the first sip to the last. I call it my “Hello” cup of coffee.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of freshly brewed coffee
  • Dash of cinnamon, turmeric & cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of cacao powder

Method

Mix all ingredients together and stir with a spoon. Take your first sip and say hello!

Sunday 141116

For time:
9-7-5
Front Squat 155#(105#)
Strict Handstand push ups

Post time to comments or BTW

stew Sunday 141116

Stew, Stew, and more Stew!

Since we have barely broken into the double digits in temperature, here is another delicious crock pot soup recipe from Ali Nichols.

Spicy Italian Chicken Stew

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 bell peppers (2CHO)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion (1CHO)
  • 1 medium cauliflower (3CHO)
  • 2 Tblsp tomato paste (1CHO)
  • 5 Italian chicken sausages (Mild or Spicy) -10P
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 sweet potato (3CHO)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water

 

 

Directions:

  • Chop up sweet potato, onion, cauliflower, and bell pepper and place in crockpot.
  • Add 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups of water to crockpot. Place 5 chicken sausages on top.
  • Add 2 Tblsp. Tomato paste and 2 tsp dried basil, 2 tsp garlic powder (I may have done more garlic…I am not sure cause I don’t measure) and salt and pepper to taste to crockpot and stir.  Additionally, I added 3 small Bay leaves to the stew.  Don’t forget to remove when soup is done.
  • Cook on high for 6 hours.
  • Once cooked remove chicken sausages and cut up into bite sized pieces. Place back in crockpot mixture.
  • Enjoy!

Makes approximately 10 cups.  1 cup = 1P, 1CHO, 0F

**to add some fat, you could garnish with diced avocado, pumpkin seeds, or any other delicious fat of your choosing!!**

If you have any great Zone or Zone/Paleo recipes, especially width the holidays coming up, that you would like to share on the blog, email them to annam@crossfitverve.com.

Saturday 141115

“RJ”

Five rounds for time of:
Run 800 meters
15 ft Rope Climb, 5 ascents
50 Push-ups

Compare to http://www.crossfitverve.com/?s=140310

Post time to BTW.

IMG 0487 475x371 Saturday 141115

That is one MEAN Air Guitar.

Do you have friends or family who are interested in trying CrossFit?

Bring them to our Free Community Workout on TODAY at 8:00 am – register online here.

The class will run for 45 minutes and includes a dynamic warm up, skill work and instruction, plus a great workout.

Our next Foundations program starts this Monday at 7 pm!

This is a great opportunity to get started on your health and fitness goals before the holidays start! Stop in the gym anytime or give us a call at 720-238-7783 to get signed up!

The MBS Turkey Challenge is coming up next weekend.

Mark your calendar to come out and support your fellow athletes – Nov 22nd and 23rd at MBS CrossFit.

CURRENT ATHLETES: Be sure to check our schedule during the week of Thanksgiving, lots of changes due to the Holiday.

We will have a modified schedule the weekend of November 29th/30th as we are hosting a Level 1 seminar that weekend. Check the blog for updates!

Have a safe and wonderful weekend everyone!

 

Friday 141114

Everyday Warrior Battle Series #2

12 Minute AMRAP
RX:

30 Double Unders

15 Wall Ball 20#(14#)

10 Deadlift 185#(135#)

Post reps to comments or BTW

 

IMG 0381 475x316 Friday 141114

Danielle showing her brother some sisterly love by burpee-ing over him!

MOBILITY SERIES – THE HIPS CONTINUED!!

Last week we discussed mobilizing the hips using just your self as a mobilization tool.  This week we will cover mobilizing the hips with the assistance of a band.  The hip muscles and hip capsule are very strong; using a band to get them into an ideal position is sometimes necessary.

#1 – Sitting all day can lead to tightened hip flexors and we need to lengthen those things out!!  The following video is mobilization that you may have seen before; if you have seen or done this before, try using a stronger band.


#2 – Now that our hip flexors are loosey goosey, let’s work on that internal rotation (that’s right, I said internal rotation).  If your toes have a tendency to flare out as you squat, you could be missing internal rotation of the femur; this leads to the toes flaring out so you can get to depth in the squat.  The following video will help you recapture that necessary rotation in the femur to keep tension in the system.


#3 - After working on that internal rotation, let’s hit the all-important external rotation in the groin area.  Getting into this next stretch may be the hardest part, but you WILL NOT regret it.  The groin is a very difficult area to stretch or roll-out, so this is a great way to attack it.


Have fun trying these out! Next week we will utilize a foam roller / green trigger point roller to hit up those hips!

Thursday 141113

Power Snatch
5-3-3-1-1-1-1

Then, 3 x 5 muscle snatch at 60%-70% of 1 RM power snatch

Post loads to comments and BTWB

IMG 0504 475x316 Thursday 141113

Ali and Sarah jumping for joy over dumbbells and burpees.

 

Pros and cons of a weightlifting belt, By (in small part) Courtney Shepherd and (in large part) BoxLife Magazine

I know not all of you partake in the wearing of the weight belt. That could be because you find them silly, you do not have one, and/ or you simply do not know why, when, or how to wear them. I will first direct you to previous articles that go into more depth then I will here and now, about how a weight belt works, and how to wear one:

The weight belt, unlike our favorite pair of jeans, does not come in “low rise”, #whatsupwiththat
By Courtney Shepherd

Weight belts: What’s up with that? Through the beautiful eyes of Courtney Shepherd

Between the two previous articles and the one I will be quoting in this blog, there is a bit of overlapping information. People can agree that the weightlifting belt has it’s place as a useful tool in weightlifting training. But the weightlifting belt has made it’s way beyond the powerlifting and strongman arenas and become a common place accessory for CrossFitters. The question becomes, is it a good tool for everyone? Does the average CrossFitter, the person who comes to the gym to enjoy sweating, lifting weights, and maintaining health, need to have this as a standard piece of equipment? Taking highlights from a recent article written William Imbo of BoxLife Magazine (click here for full article), let’s talk about The Pros and Cons of a Weightlifting Belt.

Pro:

1) The weightlifting belt can help stabilize and reduce stress on the spine. 

“The benefit to wearing a weight belt is that they increase intra-abdominal pressure. Intra-abdominal pressure is the pressure within your abdomen. . . when you increase intra-abdominal pressure (as weightlifting belts do), the pressure inside the abdominal cavity pushes on the spine to support it internally, while your core muscles (such as your obliques and abs) and lower back push on the spine from the outside. Your body responds to the increased intra-abdominal pressure delivered by a weightlifting belt by creating a more rigid core, stabilizing your spine and reducing the stress it receives when under heavy loads.”

A weight belt does not replace having core muscles, it can not create stability where there is none to begin with. A weight belt works in conjunction with your core muscles to create circumferential midline stability. 

Cons:

1) Wearing a weight belt can effect motor learning.

“. . .argues that belts affect an athlete’s experience of ‘learning’ how to squeeze and contract their abs—particularly in the case of novice lifters. Instead, the belt acts as a crutch—given that it increases pressure in the abdominal area.”

Those newer to CrossFit, weightlifting, etc. may attempt to use the belt to falsely create midline stability rather than take time to build a strong core and learn proper technique. If we take time to practice perfect form, we build on the technique as well as build a strong midline allowing us to lift heavier loads over time without the need of a weight belt. 

2) A weight belt may mask and/ or aggravate existing injuries.

“Say you’re a lifter that’s experiencing some serious back pain during your deadlifts. You’re hyper-extending your back in order to crank out more reps and heavier weight, but instead of checking your ego and dropping the weight, you decide to invest in a weightlifting belt. So the belt takes away some of the pain, but your form is still atrocious and you are still hyper-extending your back. Eventually (and inevitably), the pain returns, but this time it’s much worse and you have to go and see a PT or a doctor, who diagnoses you with a hernia. Simply put, weightlifting belts are no substitute for proper form and appropriate weight. Just because you’re wearing one that allows you to move 10lbs more than your PR doesn’t mean you should completely forgo the mechanics of the movement. That’s how injuries come about.”

3) A weight belt may actually weaken our lower back.

“Much as a belt acts as a crutch to the detriment of the development of the core, it can also have the same effect on your lower back—particularly if you wear a belt for high rep/low weight workouts. Belts will take stress off of the lower back, which is a bad thing because stress (i.e. the weight) is what drives adaptation and development in the body.”

Weight belts were designed to aid in heavy lifting. If the workout is Fran, 45 total thrusters at a very light weight, wearing a weight belt is counter productive to our body adapting to moving light weight for more reps. That goes for items other than weight belts. How about those wrist wraps we all love so much. My wrists can absolutely be a limiting factor in overhead work, but the more I bound them up in support, the less adaptive they become to supporting weight on their own. Yes, wrist wraps help in the moment but over time I will always have to rely on them rather than building strength and tolerance in my wrists.

That is more cons than pros. So does that mean no weight belt? No. It means know when and when not to incorporate a weight belt into your training. The average CrossFitter may never need to. Simply coming to the gym consistently, working on good mechanics, and practicing lifts can build the strength and competence the average CrossFitter seeks to simply enjoy doing things outside of CrossFit. 

“The cons that I have listed above reveal the instances where you should NOT use a belt—to mask an injury, during high repetition workouts, or during lifts where the load is to light (under 80% of your 1 rep max), thereby negatively affecting the development of your core musculature and increasing the risk of injury.”

If you are some one who finds themselves gravitating towards the weight belts for every workout that involves lifting a barbell, perhaps now is the time to re-evaluate how you use a weight belt, and is it doing for you what you are wanting it to do? May be it is an even better time to leave the weight belt, the oly shoes, the knee sleeves, the gloves, and all the other fancy accessories, at home. Walk into the gym free of all things excess and just get your WOD on. 

“While I do agree that proper execution of movement mechanics and focus on accessory work can be more beneficial to your development as a lifter than a belt can ever be, it doesn’t mean that a belt can’t come in handy—especially when you are attempting to hit those monster weights for a PR. You should think of a belt as a tool. It can enhance your performance in certain instances (i.e. when you need extra support during heavy lifts), but don’t rely on it to the extent that it starts to take away from developing into a strong athlete who is confident as a ‘raw lifter’—no knee straps, no OLY shoes, and no weight belt.”

 

Wednesday 141112

As many rounds as possible in 18 minutes:

Row 15 calories
12 Shoulder to overhead, 115#(75#)
9 Strict toes-to-bar

IMG 0461 475x475 Wednesday 141112

Ben meditating before a successful, big sumo deadlift.   Here’s to a strong & happy 30’s Ben!

Some people close to me are having birthdays and it got me thinking about this decade I’m in currently, my thirties.  Lots of big life changes have happened and what would be some advice to give my younger self starting this decade….hmmm.  I found this article by Mark Manson, an author who crowdsourced that question to over 600 people ages 37 or older and compiled their most common responses to a list below.  I really enjoyed the read, you can check the whole article here.   I definitely have some favorites, what are yours?

10 Life Lessons to Excel in Your 30’s

1. START SAVING FOR RETIREMENT NOW, NOT LATER

The most common piece of advice — so common that almost every single email said at least something about it — was to start getting your financial house in order and to start saving for retirement… today.

The point was clear: save early and save as much as possible. One woman emailed me saying that she had worked low-wage jobs with two kids in her 30s and still managed to sock away some money in a retirement fund each year. Because she started early and invested wisely, she is now in her 50s and financially stable for the first time in her life. Her point: it’s always possible. You just have to do it.

2. START TAKING CARE OF YOUR HEALTH NOW, NOT LATER

“Your mind’s acceptance of age is 10 to 15 years behind your body’s aging. Your health will go faster than you think but it will be very hard to notice, not the least because you don’t want it to happen.” (Tom, 55)

We all know to take care of our health. We all know to eat better and sleep better and exercise more and blah, blah, blah. But just as with the retirement savings, the response from the older readers was loud and unanimous: get healthy and stay healthy now.

So many people said it that I’m not even going to bother quoting anybody else. Their points were pretty much all the same: the way you treat your body has a cumulative effect; it’s not that your body suddenly breaks down one year, it’s been breaking down all along without you noticing. This is the decade to slow down that breakage.

And this wasn’t just your typical motherly advice to eat your veggies. These were emails from cancer survivors, heart attack survivors, stroke survivors, people with diabetes and blood pressure problems, joint issues and chronic pain. They all said the same thing: “If I could go back, I would start eating better and exercising and I would not stop. I made excuses then. But I had no idea.”

3. DON’T SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE WHO DON’T TREAT YOU WELL

“Learn how to say “no” to people, activities and obligations that don’t bring value to your life.” (Hayley, 37)

After calls to take care of your health and your finances, the most common piece of advice from people looking back at their 30-year-old selves was an interesting one: they would go back and enforce stronger boundaries in their lives and dedicate their time to better people. “Setting healthy boundaries is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself or another person.” (Kristen, 43)

What does that mean specifically?

“Surround yourself and only date people that make you a better version of yourself, that bring out your best parts, love and accept you.” (Xochie)

People typically struggle with boundaries because they find it difficult to hurt someone else’s feelings, or they get caught up in the desire to change the other person or make them treat them the way they want to be treated. This never works. And in fact, it often makes it worse. As one reader wisely said, “Selfishness and self-interest are two different things. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.”

When we’re in our 20s, the world is so open to opportunity and we’re so short on experience that we cling to the people we meet, even if they’ve done nothing to earn our clingage. But by our 30s we’ve learned that good relationships are hard to come by, that there’s no shortage of people to meet and friends to be made, and that there’s no reason to waste our time with people who don’t help us on our life’s path.

4. BE GOOD TO THE PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT

Conversely, while enforcing stricter boundaries on who we let into our lives, many readers advised to make the time for those friends and family that we do decide to keep close.

“I think sometimes I may have taken some relationships for granted, and when that person is gone, they’re gone. Unfortunately, the older you get, well, things start to happen, and it will affect those closest to you.” (Ed, 45)

“Appreciate those close to you. You can get money back and jobs back, but you can never get time back.” (Anne, 41)

“Tragedy happens in everyone’s life, everyone’s circle of family and friends. Be the person that others can count on when it does. I think that between 30 and 40 is the decade when a lot of shit finally starts to happen that you might have thought never would happen to you or those you love. Parents die, spouses die, babies are still-born, friends get divorced, spouses cheat… the list goes on and on. Helping someone through these times by simply being there, listening and not judging is an honor and will deepen your relationships in ways you probably can’t yet imagine.” (Rebecca, 40)

5. YOU CAN’T HAVE EVERYTHING; FOCUS ON DOING A FEW THINGS REALLY WELL

“Everything in life is a trade-off. You give up one thing to get another and you can’t have it all. Accept that.” (Eldri, 60)

In our 20s we have a lot of dreams. We believe that we have all of the time in the world. I myself remember having illusions that my website would be my first career of many. Little did I know that it took the better part of a decade to even get competent at this. And now that I’m competent and have a major advantage and love what I do, why would I ever trade that in for another career?

“In a word: focus. You can simply get more done in life if you focus on one thing and do it really well. Focus more.” (Ericson, 49)

Another reader: “I would tell myself to focus on one or two goals/aspirations/dreams and really work towards them. Don’t get distracted.” And another: “You have to accept that you cannot do everything. It takes a lot of sacrifice to achieve anything special in life.”

A few readers noted that most people arbitrarily choose their careers in their late teens or early 20s, and as with many of our choices at those ages, they are often wrong choices. It takes years to figure out what we’re good at and what we enjoy doing. But it’s better to focus on our primary strengths and maximize them over the course of lifetime than to half-ass something else.

For some people, this will mean taking big risks, even in their 30s and beyond. It may mean ditching a career they spent a decade building and giving up money they worked hard for and became accustomed to. Which brings us to…

6. DON’T BE AFRAID OF TAKING RISKS, YOU CAN STILL CHANGE

“While by age 30 most feel they should have their career dialed in, it is never too late to reset. The individuals that I have seen with the biggest regrets during this decade are those that stay in something that they know is not right. It is such an easy decade to have the days turn to weeks to years, only to wake up at 40 with a mid-life crisis for not taking action on a problem they were aware of 10 years prior but failed to act.” (Richard, 41)

Many readers commented on how society tells us that by 30 we should have things “figured out” — our career situation, our dating/marriage situation, our financial situation and so on. But this isn’t true. And, in fact, dozens and dozens of readers implored to not let these social expectations of “being an adult” deter you from taking some major risks and starting over. As someone on my Facebook page responded: “All adults are winging it.”

“I am about to turn 41 and would tell my 30 year old self that you do not have to conform your life to an ideal that you do not believe in. Live your life, don’t let it live you. Don’t be afraid of tearing it all down if you have to, you have the power to build it all back up again.” (Lisa, 41)

Multiple readers related making major career changes in their 30s and being better off for doing so. One left a lucrative job as a military engineer to become a teacher. Twenty years later, he called it one of the best decisions of his life. When I asked my mom this question, her answer was, “I wish I had been willing to think outside the box a bit more. Your dad and I kind of figured we had to do thing A, thing B, thing C, but looking back I realize we didn’t have to at all; we were very narrow in our thinking and our lifestyles and I kind of regret that.”

7. YOU MUST CONTINUE TO GROW AND DEVELOP YOURSELF

“You have two assets that you can never get back once you’ve lost them: your body and your mind. Most people stop growing and working on themselves in their 20s. Most people in their 30s are too busy to worry about self-improvement. But if you’re one of the few who continues to educate themselves, evolve their thinking and take care of their mental and physical health, you will be light-years ahead of the pack by 40.” (Stan, 48)

It follows that if one can still change in their 30s — and should continue to change in their 30s — then one must continue to work to improve and grow. Many readers related the choice of going back to school and getting their degrees in their 30s as one of the most useful things they had ever done. Others talked of taking extra seminars and courses to get a leg up. Others started their first businesses or moved to new countries. Others checked themselves into therapy or began a meditation practice.

As Warren Buffett once said, the greatest investment a young person can make is in their own education, in their own mind. Because money comes and goes. Relationships come and go. But what you learn once stays with you forever.

8. NOBODY (STILL) KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING, GET USED TO IT

“Most of what you think is important now will seem unimportant in 10 or 20 years and that’s OK. That’s called growth. Just try to remember to not take yourself so seriously all the time and be open to it.” (Simon, 57)

“I’m 44. I would remind my 30 year old self that at 40, my 30s would be equally filled with dumb stuff, different stuff, but still dumb stuff… So, 30 year old self, don’t go getting on your high horse. You STILL don’t know it all. And that’s a good thing.” (Shirley, 44)

9. INVEST IN YOUR FAMILY; IT’S WORTH IT

I was overwhelmed with amount of responses about family and the power of those responses. Family is the big new relevant topic for this decade for me, because you get it on both ends. Your parents are old and you need to start considering how your relationship with them is going to function as a self-sufficient adult. And then you also need to contemplate creating a family of your own.

Pretty much everybody agreed to get over whatever problems you have with your parents and find a way to make it work with them. 

The consensus about marriage seemed to be that it was worth it, assuming you had a healthy relationship with the right person. If not, you should run the other way (see #3).

Conclusion: It seems that while family is not absolutely necessary to have a happy and fulfilling life, the majority of people have found that family is always worth the investment, assuming the relationships are healthy and not toxic and/or abusive.

10. BE KIND TO YOURSELF, RESPECT YOURSELF

This one was rarely the central focus of any email, but it was present in some capacity in almost all of them: treat yourself better. Almost everybody said this in one form or another. “There is no one who cares about or thinks about your life a fraction of what you do,” one reader began, and, “life is hard, so learn to love yourself now, it’s harder to learn later,” another reader finished.

Or as Renee, 40, succinctly put it: “Be kind to yourself.”

Many readers included the old cliche: “Don’t sweat the small stuff; and it’s almost all small stuff.” Eldri, 60, wisely said, “When confronted with a perceived problem, ask yourself, ‘Is this going to matter in five years, ten years?’ If not, dwell on it for a few minutes, then let it go.” It seems many readers have focused on the subtle life lesson of simply accepting life as is, warts and all.

Which brings me to the last quote from Martin, age 58:

“When I turned forty my father told me that I’d enjoy my forties because in your twenties you think you know what’s going on, in your thirties you realize you probably don’t, and in your forties you can relax and just accept things. I’m 58 and he was right.”