Of all the posts in The Karma Sense Eating Plan (KSEP), My personal favorite is the description of the Plan component. That post provides a process and offers tools to manage your destiny as it relates to your health and happiness. While the other posts in The Karma Sense Eating Plan contain plenty of useful information (interrupted by the occasional poopy joke), the Plan component’s description ties it all together without compromising on the poopy jokes in any way.
So it comes as no surprise that it’s the most read post in the KSEP series. What does surprise me is who is reading it. According to the statistics that come off my WordPress database, that post is read by more in France than any other country on a per capita basis. The map below is a sample of a typical week. The “orangey-ness” of the U.S. and France means a relatively high readership. So this begs the question, if I’m more popular in France (per capita) than anywhere else, am I to health-happiness-and-world-saving what Jerry Lewis is to comedy?
I went on location to do some research. This post briefly describes that research talks about the next steps in developing my own Karma Sense Eating Plan, provides some supplemental commentary on dietary supplements and summarizes my progress with The Karma Sense Eating Plan book.
For research purposes, my wife and I headed to France to see if there was anything to the Jerry Lewis hypothesis. After many miles and meters traipsing through the streets of Paris, I can attest that my popularity among scruffily dressed Parisians selling Eiffel Tower key-chains and selfie-sticks is through the roof. This was not the demographic I was expecting. Upon further analysis of my website statistics, I found the following phenomenon:
The above map shows the distribution of web activity to the L4 site by region in France. Dark blue regions represent more hits than lighter blue. Paris is indeed the lead region but on a per capita basis, Lorraine (home of quiche), Burgundy (home of Ron), and the Rhone Valley are all hotbeds. You Provence slackers have to step it up! Unfortunately, this recent trip that was obviously taken purely for business reasons remains inconclusive and additional visits to other areas of France will be required. (NOTE to IRS: I’m only jokin’.)
Step 3 – Define Goals
Over the course of the last few posts, you’ve eavesdropped while I’ve developed a Karma Sense Eating Plan to match my own goals for health and happiness. We started off with Step 1 – Define Destination. We next moved onto Step 2 – Define Constraints. Normally these two steps are something you do only once. You revisit them often and you may refine them along the way, but they usually stay pretty static.
Your goals tend to change much more frequently. Changes to goals are usually driven by one of the following reasons:
- You’ve achieved them and you’re looking ahead to the next challenge.
- Real life happened and subsequently changed your priorities.
- A hybrid of the first two in which your priorities change as you move towards your goal because you now envision a healthier happier version of you that did not seem realistic before.
I defined my destination and inventoried my constraints months ago and that is what I presented in the first two installments of this series. I also previously implemented Karma Sense Eating Plans that suited goals I’ve had in the past. But this time I have new goals. They are:
- Improve my body composition by dropping my body fat percentage by 5%.
- Improve my knowledge as a coach by trying a nutrition protocol that is used by many body builders and may be safer for women than the 24-hour IF that I usually do.
- Demonstrate the efficacy of the Karma Sense Eating Plan.
- Be happier, healthier and save the world.
With these goals, I need to do a few things. I need to validate that they support the destination I laid out for myself. If they don’t, they’re a waste of time. I also need to identify their level of specificity. Understanding specificity helps me understand how I will track progress towards a goal and what support I may need to reach it.
Validating That Goals Support Destination
I cover the vision, values, and focus that define my destination in a previous post. The goal to improve my body composition supports my vision of maintaining my current good health for as long as I can and it honors one of my values, vitality. Improving my knowledge as a coach honors my values of competence and making a contribution. Demonstrating the efficacy of KSEP is another nod to competence as a value.
Of all of these goals, perhaps the only outlier is “Be happier, healthier and save the world.” This certainly supports my vision, values and focus but a goal that is so non-specific is likely to apply to just about anyone’s vision, values and focus. If it applies to everyone, why bother to include it? I mostly included it in this plan because I want to make sure that I am ever mindful of the Karma component of KSEP. I want my plan, which we’ll discuss in a future post to include an intentional good deed that I don’t usually do. So I put the last goal there as a placeholder.
Identify Level of Specificity
To analyze the specificity of each of these goals, I need to use the SMART approach and focus on whether I can make these goals Measurable and Time-bound. Adjusting my body composition by 5% has the measurement criteria built-in. I can easily put a time-frame around this. I classify this as a High Specificity goal.
Improving my knowledge as a coach is a lot more “squishy”. If I build in the tracking mechanisms and keep good notes on my progress, this should be achieved but putting any kind of measurements against this could be a challenge. This is a Medium specificity goal.
Demonstrating the efficacy of KSEP is really a by-product of the body composition goal. If it moves me in the right direction and better yet gets me to my goal, then the efficacy is demonstrated. It is important to note that the body composition goal is very specific and subject to many variables outside of my control (e.g., genetics, physiology). So if it seems like I am hedging when I say it simply has to move me in the right direction, that is why. The “A” in SMART stands for “Achievable.” For a man in his mid-fifties to make this kind of change is pretty difficult. The 5% change is a stretch goal. For me, any progress is fine. This may not be the case for your goals and that is something KSEP has to acknowledge.
We previously learned that being happier, healthier, and saving the world is a Low Specificity goal. But since I know it was a placeholder, I’ll be able to further refine it to be a High Specificity goal by the time I get to building my plan.
At this point, I have a series of complementary goals, each with a different level of specificity. Will I need help achieving these goals?
Step 4 – Determine Support Needs
I have multiple goals at different specificity. I need to examine each to decide if I need help before I develop my plan. If a goal requires a skill I don’t have or if I know I’ll need motivation to reach it, I should get help.
Improving body composition while maintaining or gaining muscle mass is a very technical process. It requires tight monitoring of exercise, diet and recovery. I know the nutrition aspects very well. But I have less experience applying exercise and recovery skills for muscle building. I could choose to go it alone and see what progress I make before seeking for outside support, but I don’t want to waste any time on this. I have a health coach with the right experience, I’ll engage her.
Improving my knowledge by exploring a new nutrition protocol is all on me. I won’t be seeking outside help. I also won’t look outside to prove the efficacy of KSEP. Sure I could get people to run double blind test or to create quizzes to test my new knowledge but that just sound too silly and time-consuming; even for me.
Normally being healthier, happier and saving the world would be too vague to achieve without refining the goal. If you’re stuck and can’t figure out how to refine a goal, it’s a great application for outside support. I already know how to refine this so no outside support will be necessary.
I now know everything I need to select the mantras I’ll honor as part of this plan and can start digging into specifics. We’ll do that next time. I just want to close this section with a reminder that what I am trying to do here is present a very specific and complex set of health and happiness goals and discuss how to make them a reality. I am doing this by showing how the tools and building blocks of The Karma Sense Eating Plan are suited for any goal and lifestyle.
Your first pass through a Karma Sense Eating Plan can and should be much simpler. The point of this description is that these tools scale to the most complex health, happiness and world saving challenges.
Supplementary Information on Supplements
Long time readers of the L4 blog know that I have strong opinions about nutritional supplements. Recently this topic became more relevant as:
- National Basketball Association star Lamar Odom falls into a coma after taking nutritional supplements touted as “herbal viagra.”
- The New England Journal of Medicine releases results of a study that blames adverse effects of nutritional supplements for over 23,000 emergency room visits each year.
These events are perfect headline fodder that actually reveal very little about supplements. Let’s skip Lamar Odom for now and look at the study. On the surface, 23,000 adverse events is an alarming figure. But when expressed in relative terms this equates to a better than 99.9% safety record. It also represents about 0.0001687% of all emergency room visits. This is one of the tricks researchers and the media like to play on us. Report in absolute terms when the relative number is actually low. Report in relative terms when the absolute number is actually low.
I could poke more holes in this study but I don’t want to do the job of the supplements industry. Instead I’d prefer if you took less supplements; not more. So let me repeat the rules I previously expressed for taking supplements and let me supplement those rules with one more.
- Always aim to meet your nutritional requirements by eating real food. Food created by nature is perfectly packaged to optimize the benefits of any specific nutrient and minimize the risks.
- Only supplement if you know you are deficient in a particular nutrient. Your doctor can test you for a full battery of nutritional deficiencies. There are online resources as well.
- If you do need to supplement, identify well-known sources that are transparent about their manufacturing processes. The regulation of this pseudo-medical industry is embarrassingly low. You need to be your own advocate.
- Always alert your doctor when you are taking supplements. If your doctor’s office asks you to list current medications, be sure to include supplements in that list. If your doctor doesn’t know about your supplement intake, he or she may recommend other medications or procedures that have contraindications with the supplements you are taking.
- And the new rule brought to you by the Lamar Odom experience (which as Dave Barry would say, is an excellent name for a rock and roll band), if a supplement says it will help you lose weight, build muscle or have better sex, it is at best a scam and at worst a toxin. The best way to achieve any of those goals is to eat better, move more, and manage stress. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.
Update on The Karma Sense Eating Plan Book
As of this writing, there are a little more than 20 days left in the crowdsourcing campaign for The Karma Sense Eating Plan book. For those of you have contributed thus far, I thank you again for your support. In formulating the campaign, I envisioned three tiers that define success and I’ve reached the first and most important. Besides producing the book, your funding allows me to work with real people to help them be healthier, be happier, and save the world.
The next tier allows me to dig deeper into some of the direct costs of producing the book. I’ve contracted with an editor who is either deep into the muck and mire of my writing or deep into a depression after being given the assignment to fix the unfixable. She’s been a little quiet lately and I’ve been reluctant to disturb her.
As far as the cover art is concerned, I expect to have a few mockups from the artist by the end of this week. He is a nationally recognized designer of covers in the book and magazine industry. The good news for the book budget is that we agreed to a great deal because he recognizes the importance of the KSEP cause this puts us that much closer to making charitable donations.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll make a few more pleas for help. I appreciate your patience during that period. Until then, au revoir.