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Mise en place

Oct 4, 2019

According to Merriam Webster: a culinary process in which ingredients are prepared and organized (as in a restaurant kitchen) before cooking.

As many of you know I was a professional chef for about a decade before I became a coach and an organizer. I learned many of the foundational principles of organizing while I was a chef. Actually, that learning process began while I was at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA.) They are serious about being organized and prepared. Mise en place is actually the school motto. For me it was a survival strategy. I need to be organized to be successful. But that doesn't just apply to the kitchen, but to my whole life. Here are some organizational principles that I used in the kitchen that in one way or another translate.
  1. Keep the things you use most closest. 
  2. If you can achieve the same end goal with fewer steps, do that!
  3. Get rid of stuff you don't use/need.
  4. Clean up after yourself constantly so there isn't big project clean up at the end. 
  5. Be 100% prepared with everything you need before starting a larger project. It will save you time and completion will be more likely.
That's off the top of my head. I'll post more if I think of them. Next week I'm going to discuss "mental mise en place."

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ADHD life hack: Flossers

Sep 26, 2019

I've always been underwhelmed by "sliced bread." I have a knife. I can slice bread. But you want to talk about inventions that blow my ADHD mind. Let's talk about individual flossers. These things are the best invention ever. I never flossed before these Bad Larry's. Now I've flossed mostly every night for year. I don't even keep them in the bathroom. I have them in my bedside table so I can floss while hanging out and watching TV with my wife. Tedious task made easy. Boring task made quick and able to be done while doing something else. Win. Win. 

I suggest the store brand of the Plaquers brand. I suggest the actual floss, not the "slides." Great for kids too. Wish I had these in my teens and twenties. I'd have less dental work.
ADHD life hack: Flossers

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Scheduling 101

Sep 20, 2019

I am going away this weekend. My wife's friend is getting married in Chicago and we have found fabulous souls to take our children for 4 days, I got a sweet boutique hotel 100% with credit card points, and my wife got the airfare 100% with her credit card points. That's all good news. 

The other (though I won't call it "bad") news is how much planing this it taking. Next week I'll post a redacted copy of the schedule and meds schedule that I wrote for both my kids to confirm all of their movements this weekend. Today I'm going to start really simple. We fly out on Friday at 11:29. I want to get my workout in before that, because sitting still in and Uber, at the airport, on a plane, in an Uber goes much better for me when the exercise happens first. We also need to drop off the kids bags at the houses of the families they are going home with on Friday. Oh... and we need to get the kids to school! 

I don't know about anyone else, but I can't possibly know if I have time to do all that unless I write it down. So, I did:

@5:40: Alarm for pills
@6:00: Wife gets up to work out
@6:30: I get up and do my morning stuff
@7:00: I get kids up and get them showered
-> 8:30: the rest of our normal morning routine
@8:40: Drop kids off at school
-> 9:45: I work out. My wife closes up the house, drops off the kids bags and does any final packing
@9:45: She calls the Uber & checks in online
@9:55: We depart the homestead
10:20 - 10:30 we arrive at the airport with an hour to get through security for our flight.

It's tight but it works. If I hadn't done this, there is no way that I would have had enough time to get it all done. By planning ahead and by being intentional that morning, I will make it all happen.

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Why don't we treat ADHD all the time?

Sep 13, 2019

I've probably written a similar post in the past, but I've recently had a thought that makes me feel it is worth revisiting. Can anyone think of a medical condition that doctors only treat sometimes? Is there anyone with diabetes who only monitors their blood sugar during the work day? Is there anyone who is epileptic who only takes their medication during the school week? Is there anyone with high blood pressure who takes a break from treatment over the summer. Is there anyone who wears glasses or contacts who doesn't wear them on the weekends? Anyone with depression who stops dealing with that after 5pm?

I'm better the answer is NO to all of those questions. So, why is that our societal approach to ADHD? Now, I understand that ADHD meds are complicated and some people can't take them all the time. But what I see is that many doctors don't even consider medicating kids and adults in the evening or in the morning before work. And many doctors give up way to easily when side effects get in the way. Again, I'm not saying that there is a 16 hour solution for everyone, but don't prescribing doctors owe it to their patients to be aggressive in at least trying to find one before giving up?

I have ADHD all the time. It has been my experience that other who have it, have it all the time too. We need to get past the notion of medicating for school or work only. I'm raising two kids and can tell you that parenting time and household time is just as demanding, if not more so than my work day. Keeping the house clean, getting dinner ready, staying on top of everyone's schedules and activities, getting the oil changed, finding the time and energy to exercise and practice other self care... All that stuff takes attention. 

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The benefits of exercise for ADHD and anxiety

Aug 22, 2019

So I started to write last week about exercise and ended up writing more about patience. Let's get back to the exercise! 

Here's what I noticed when I had to stop doing any cardio:
  • I wasn't falling asleep as well or staying asleep as well.
  • I was more on edge and generally cranky.
  • I was far less patient with the kids.
  • I struggled to muster the motivation and attention to do more administrative work.

But I realized even more when I was able to work out again. There was a definite point in my slow work back up to my previous exercise when I crossed the 30 minute threshold of sprinting on the spin bike when things changed. It was like the clouds parted and sun began shining. All of the above things got almost instantly better. Though some of those things are somewhat nebulous, my sleep improved in a concrete manner and so did my anxiety. I don't think I've take an ativan during the day more than once or twice in the last three weeks.

One other really interesting thing that happened related to my learning the drums. I'm a late bloomer. I started taking lessons last year at 39. I am very much a novice. But I enjoy it and focus on getting a little better every week... which I usually think I do. But there was a time about 6 weeks ago when I actually contemplated quitting. I wasn't making any progress and felt like I was actually regressing. I was struggling very simple counting exercises and basic rudiments. I realized that my attention was the main culprit. But I didn't realize that it had to do with exercise. 

My lesson 3 weeks ago, right before I hit my "feel good point" in my rehab was probably the worst that I had ever had. I couldn't get anything right and was really anxious and self conscious in front of my teacher. (And he's a really nice guy who doesn't put any pressure on me.) Then I hit that point in my rehab and all of a sudden I could pay attention better, enjoy my practice time, and had a great lesson last week that didn't stress me out at all. I think the drum situation is particularly important to think about. Many people only think about controlling their attention in regards to work or school. But attention is key to every aspect of life. 

I've had enough experience with how important exercise is for me that I'm not going to forget that I need it. But it was really powerful to have such a black and white, before and after situation to reinforce what I already know. Exercise is not the whole solution. My medication is a much larger part of the solution. But the exercise is also an important piece of the puzzle.

Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.

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The power of exercise in my life & learning to be patient

Aug 15, 2019

If you know me or read my blog regularly, you'll know that I'm a huge proponent of exercise as an important part of the overall treatment plan for ADHD, anxiety, and depression. (All of which I deal with.) And, you would know that since I got myself back on the exercise wagon after a late 20's/ early 30th that were taken up by illness, injury, and a brutal lifestyle in the restaurant industry, I have worked out pretty much every day for at least three or four years, since my last surgery on my left knee. I rely on that exercise to keep me focused, even, and as mellow as I ever get.

About three or four months ago I started having pain in my right heel. To make a long story short, the pain got worse to the point that walking was hard the day after I ran. Then it got so that I couldn't run without pain. Then I couldn't ride the spin bike. I'm not a total idiot. I'd been experimenting with short periods of rest in terms of cardio and doing more lifting. I iced, toke ibuprofen. I went to PT. I did my exercises. I even had my PT "dry needle" my heel twice. It was worth a shot... but still the most excruciating pain I've ever felt in my life and didn't fix the issue. 

Eventually, my PT said that I probably needed a cortisone shot so I got a referral for a foot doctor. I met with him and he gave me the shot on July 12th. It was like a miracle. Sure the shot hurt, but after that I've had no pain at all. I guess my first takeaway is that being in pain was affecting my mental state, my attention, and my overall functioning. So, there's that right off the top. I was also feeling pretty down about not being able to work out with no real end in sight, before the shot. 

Of course, once I had the shot I had to face down my ADHD kryptonite. I had to be patient. Even though I had no pain at all, I wasn't allowed to to any weight-bearing cardio for a fell three weeks, no matter what. I could still lift every other day. But no bike, no running, no jumping, no trampoline park with the kids. It was brutal. But I guess I've learned to delay gratification and think about doing what is best on a much longer timeline. So I made it through those three weeks as well as could have been expected. 

Then I saw the doc again and he explained to me how slowly I had to get back into cardio. I had to start with the bike. No more than 15 minutes, sitting down the whole first session and standing no more than half of the session after that. I was allowed to start doing the elliptical machine a week after that, also starting at no more than 15 minutes. I hate the elliptical. But apparently it is an intermediate step to running again. And, I'm not allowed to do the same exercise on consecutive days at first.

So far, in six minute increments, I've worked my way up 54 minutes on the bike doing my pre-injury interval sprinting that's almost all standing or sprinting. NO PAIN! And, on alternate days, I've worked my way up to 30 minutes on the elliptical. NO PAIN! One more week and I can start jogging on the treadmill for 15 minutes, alternating jog/walk each minute. It is a far cry from the 5 miles I used to do three times a week at around a 7:20 mile. But apparently slow and steady keeps me pain free. 

Not overdoing it or pushing myself to hard, not listening to that voice in my head that says, "you feel fine, just do another 10 minutes," not convincing myself that I know better than my doctor, as all part of these amazing things called patience and perspective that seem to finally be sticking now that I've turned 40.  My advice to my fellow ADHDers is to start by admitting how difficult it is to 'play the long game.' We have to work much harder to hold the long term goals in our mind than a 'normal person' does. It is so tempting to find a way to justify our instant gratification need so that we can do the thing we want to do now. But, with work and mindfulness, it is possible to win that internal battle and hold out for the thing we really want in the end.

I even had to make some compromises I didn't want to make. I have always been a guy who doesn't wear running shoes as a regular everyday shoe. No offense to anyone who does that, but I've always been a punk rock kid and done more of a skate shoe/ fashion shoe. But no more. Check out the new Asics I'm rocking. They're okay... and MY FEET DON'T HURT. I hate how much life is a compromise!

I think I'm actually going to split the into two entries. I didn't realize I had so much about the rehab process to write about. So, I'll leave it here and pick up next week with the amazing benefits of exercise.

Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.

The power of exercise in my life & learning to be patient

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