1424

Yerba Mate – The Wonder Drink?

The resurgence of tea in North America has been trending since the early 2000s. The health benefits of all its shades (green, white, black) are irrefutable and its subtle caffeine is adopted by many as a welcome substitute to the afternoon coffee. However, when it comes to mornings, few are willing to part with the full caffeine punch that coffee provides, despite the imminent crash to follow a few hours later.

Enter: Yerba Mate

Hailed as the answer to all your morning tribulations: caffeine levels closer to coffee, but without the acidity; whilst also boasting the feel-good antioxidants and vitamins & minerals of tea.

A quick rundown of caffeine levels in your morning beverages (per 250mL)*:
  1. Brewed Coffee = 163mg
  2. Bulletproof Coffee = 145mg
  3. Yerba Mate = 85mg
  4. Matcha Tea = 70mg
  5. Black Tea = 42mg
  6. Oolong Tea = 37mg
  7. White Tea = 28mg
  8. Green Tea = 25mg

*according to www.caffeineinformer.com

Health Canada suggests a maximum of 400mg of caffeine per day, equivalent to 3 cups (250mL) of brewed coffee (or only one 5-hour energy shot).

Back to Yerba Mate, here is it’s overview as per WebMd:

Mate is used as a stimulant to relieve mental and physical tiredness (fatigue), as well as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It is also used for heart-related complaints including heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and low blood pressure.

Some people use mate to improve mood and depression; to relieve headache and joint pains; to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), and bladder and kidney stones; for weight loss; and as a laxative.

Yerba Mate may seem new to North Americans, but folks in South America (namely Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina) have been drinking it for generations. I first heard of the beverage a couple years ago,  but just this month it’s been mentioned on both the Jay & Dan Podcast and Tim Ferriss’ Reddit AMA.

For myself, I’ve been a religious green tea-drinker since undergrad. The working life, however, presented new challenges of longer hours, monotonous work, and the dreaded “structured” work-week. I dabbled in coffee (still enjoy it once or twice a week), but the crash, sweats, and acidity deter it from a daily ritual. This week, I’ve decided to give Yerba Mate a try; as per Tim Ferriss’ recommended method:

  • 1 cup of brewed Yerba Mate (start with 5 mins, work up to a max 10mins steep time)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil (similar to the “Bulletproof” concept & much cleaner than creme & sugar)

I picked up a pack of Guayaki, but if you’re feeling really fancy, I’ve heard good things about Cruz de Malta, both available on Amazon.

So far, it’s been quite pleasant. A much needed kick in the morning that other teas can’t quite provide; but no jitters or emphatic crash. I usually round it off with a mellow cup of green after lunch and stay true to my 2pm caffeine curfew to ensure a quality night’s rest.

What’s you take on morning beverages? Would love to hear your recipes and rituals, send me a Tweet @BearJohal!

 

Charlies Little Italian-9

Episode 3: Andrew Hall

Starting a non-profit, leaving the corporate game, and designing your own life.

The third episode of the Extraordinary Living Series, features Andrew Hall, UVic BComm graduate and co-Founder of the non-profit Mealshare. After landing a solid consulting job at Deloitte following undergrad, Andrew had the burning desire to do more and gathered the courage to leave a secure job and start a non-profit with Jeremy Bryant and Derek Juno. After only 2 years, Mealshare is currently in over 150 restaurants in Canada and continues to expand across the country.

Show Highlights:

  • What is Mealshare and how did start?
  • Gathering the courage to leave a secure job for a passion project
  • Social entrepreneurship: challenges & rewards

 

Andrew’s Recommendations

Book: Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo
Article: Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy
Article: Lessons From my 20s

 

Check out MealShare on the social channels:

Website: http://www.mealshare.ca
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mealshareteam

 

IMG_1862

THREE Ways to Increase Performance Now

This post is inspired by my most recent read, an excellent and concise book on our most vital organ, the brain. Brain Rules by John Medina is a guide to understanding your brain and striving towards using it better in work, school, and life; based on a set of 12 principles:

  1. Survival
  2. Exercise
  3. Sleep
  4. Stress
  5. Wiring
  6. Attention
  7. Memory
  8. Sensory Integration
  9. Vision
  10. Music
  11. Gender
  12. Exploration

Although every rule is worth delving into, I would like to share my three biggest takeaways. Having put these into practice myself, I can attest to these tips, which will almost certainly increase your performance immediately.

1. EXERCISE – make time to get active!

In my opinion the most salient of Medina’s Brain Rules: Exercise Boosts Brain Power.

The science is sound, thousands of published and peer reviewed studies all supporting the claim. Proteins called BDNF are created during exercise and essentially supercharge your brain–who doesn’t want that?

FACT: Exercise aids ALL areas of Executive Function

  • concentration
  • impulse control
  • foresight
  • problem solving

I’m fortunate enough to be able to exercise during my lunchbreak, the mid-day pump provides me with an excellent boost to power through the afternoon. Making time whenever you can to get moving daily will pay dividends, whether it’s a morning jog,  evening sports, a standing desk–or all of the above.

 

2. SLEEP – proper sleep schedule and the magic of naps

We all know sleep is important, but it is still incredibly unknown in the grand scheme of things. As Medina points out; despite centuries of research, we still do not conclusively know why we do it.

We spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping and studies show that the time isn’t so much for recovery, as most people assume, but rather to review events from the day and imprint them onto our memory.  This new research makes the concept of pulling an all-nighter before a big exam rather counter-intuitive. Get those 8 hours in every night.

FACT: A 26-minute nap improved a pilot’s performance by more than 34% (NASA Study)

The findings behind the effectiveness of naps are staggering; there literally isn’t a stimulant on the market that can come close to boosting cognitive performance by 34%. Unfortunately, most companies aren’t quite ready to let employees nap for 20 minutes at 2:00pm, despite the proven benefits in productivity. If you can’t nap in a bed, try finding a quiet space like a car or boardroom and laying back for 20 minutes. Your brain wants to nap, so it’s better to embrace the lethargy than continually fight it, it will reward you with increased performance.

Also, check out this article coffee naps which are taking the silicon valley by storm.

 

3. Attention – multi-tasking is a myth

Your brain is not capable of multi-tasking, you are literally switching between tasks and in doing so, depleting brain power and reducing productivity. Medina presents several case studies pointing to the same conclusion: you will be more productive by setting 10 minutes of focused time on a task, then you will by multi-tasking on that task for an hour. Use this to your advantage; there are plentiful programs (like TimeDoser for Chrome) which will allot work time and break time, allowing you to dedicate your focus to one task.
Hint: try spurts of going offline to get things done!

FACT: Our attention span is 10-minutes

This is extremely relevant for professors, instructors, or anyone giving a presentation. Simply put, you need to do something emotionally relevant every 10 minutes to maintain your audiences attention. Yes, it is more work, but it’s far better than speaking for an hour and only having the introduction remembered.

We don’t pay attention to boring things–we pay attention to things like emotions, threats, and sex.

 

A nice infographic (check out brainrules.net for more information):

dmc-atlanta-12-brain-rules

unnamed

Episode 2: Connor Meakin

Ultramarathons, optimal performance, and meditation.

The second episode of the Extraordinary Living Series, delves into the world of ultra-distance running and spiritual health with Connor Meakin. Meaks is a stoic dude, of whom I first crossed paths with in our undergraduate days at UVic. After successfully balancing varsity sports and a social life at university; Meaks landed a role with the iconic BC tech firm Hootsuite and now acts as their Community Manager of North America, while still finding time to punish his body through Ultramarathons of over 85 km.

Show Highlights:

  • SXSW in Austin, Texas
  • Getting started with distance running
  • Mental stamina and performance
  • Born to Run and minimalist shoes
  • Meditation, getting into it; daily routines
  • Books & nutritional supplements

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

-Zen Proverb

 

Connor’s Top Books

1. Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts (also one of my personal favourites!)

2. The Snow Leopard – Peter Matthiessen

3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion - Robert Cialdini


Connor’s Supplements of Choice

1. Ginger

2. Turmeric

Guided Meditation Links

1. Meditation Society of Australia [Bear: The one I use]

2. Chopra Guided Meditation

3. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centre

4. Binaural Beats

 

Check out Meaks on the social channels:

Blog/Website: http://www.connormeaks.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ConnorMeaks
Instagram: https://instagram.com/connormeaks/

 

10527445_777997268931707_5499477705512575903_n

Episode 1: Ryker Gamble

YouTube success, constant travel, and building a business with your best friends.

The premiere episode of the Extraordinary Living series! Graced with the presence of an old university pal, Ryker Gamble, who has gained success both as an esteemed DJ in Vancouver, as well as a social entrepreneur with the lifestyle brand High On Life. What started as a dance video gone viral, has now grown into a wildly popular YouTube channel, exceeding 100K subscribers and taking the trio across the globe.

For more on High On Life, check out the following links:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/sundayfundayz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sundayfundayz

Media Kit: http://sundayfundayz.com/HighOnLifeMediaKit.pdf

IMG_2273

The Books of 2014

First and foremost, a massive thank-you goes out to all the friends who continually provide recommendations of books to read; this past year’s reading list in entirely composed of either your suggestions, or recommendations from other bloggers. The main reason for this post is to pass these books on, there’s not a single one I do not endorse as a fantastic read.

For the year of 2014 I set the goal of reading 25 books (5 more than 2013’s 20) and, thanks to a 6 hour binge on the 31st of December, was able to polish off number 25. Here is the complete list, in chronological order, with the top FIVE life-changing reads highlighted at the end.

  1. Andre Agassi – Open
  2. Jordan Belfort – The Wolf of Wall Street
  3. Christopher MacDougall – Born to Run
  4. David Shenk – The Genius in All of Us
  5. Piers Paul Read – Alive
  6. Joe Simpson – Touching the Void
  7. Josh Waitzken – The Art of Learning
  8. Richard Bach – Illusions
  9. Gregory David Roberts – Shantaram
  10. Josh Kaufman – The Personal MBA
  11. Jeremy Roenick – J.R.
  12. Tom Wrath – Strengths Finder 2.0
  13. Gary Vaynerchuk – Crush It!
  14. Jon Krakauer – Into the Wild
  15. Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People
  16. Jordin Tootoo – All The Way
  17. George Samuel Clason – The Richest Man in Babylon
  18. Cal Newport – So Good They Can’t Ignore You
  19. Chris Hadfield – An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
  20. David Epstein – The Sports Gene
  21. Charles Duhigg – The Power of Habit
  22. Malcolm Gladwell – David and Goliath
  23. Malcolm Gladwell – Tipping Point
  24. Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning
  25. James Allen – As a Man Thinketh

The Top FIVE:

5. David Epstein – The Sports Gene

9781591845119_custom-759e08f6cb64f394ca7c101cbc736d5d8b21611a-s6-c30

A must read for not only sports fans, but anyone with a curious mind. I know many people enjoyed Born to Run, this book is similar, but with a much stronger scientific base, as well as touches on several aspects of extraordinary athletic performance, not just running. Simply could not put it down, some jaw dropping facts and explanations, organized into neat story-based chapters.

 

4.  Jordin Tootoo – All The Way

518x09L7kML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Admittedly, this one’s a little biased, I’m a sucker for both hockey books and, more so,  a thrilling biography. If you’re the same way, you’ll love this book. Tootoo’s story, as the first Inuk-born player (from Rankin Inlet, Nunavat, no less!), is truly one that defies the odds. It’s concise and features commentaries from famed sportswriter Stephen Brunt.

 

3. Cal Newport – So Good They Can’t Ignore You

51IjORMFLkL

I’ve been vehemently recommending this book to all my friends, especially those caught in the mid/late twenties rut. This book is the only one on the list I would deem as ground-breaking, it shatters all the previous conceptions of what a career should be by dispelling the passion principle and instead introducing the craftsman principle. Want to love what you do? Don’t chase your “passion”, instead become VERY good at something through consistent, dedicated practice.

2. Viktor E. Frankl- Man’s Search for Meaning

61633LFpDXL

Ok, I lied, if you want to talk ground-breaking, this book is it. Rightfully in the list of the “Ten Most Influential Books in America,” it was written by Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl during his imprisonment at the Auschwitz concentration camp and published in 1946. The first half is a staggering first-hand account of life in the concentration camp, while the second gives way to “logotherapy,” the type of psychology coined by Frankl, in which he delves into identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about. The odds of an inmate surviving Auschwitz were 1 in 26; those who couldn’t find purpose in their suffering, simply could not summon the strength to survive. The book is concise, but incredible powerful. An absolute must read.

1. Gregory David Roberts – Shantaram

33600

Action, drama, suffering, romance, despair, triumph–pretty much everything you could want out of a book, all loosely based on true events. This book is often hyped, but never underwhelming, although it did take me a few years to get through, as it’s a little slow at the beginning. Once you’re into it, be warned, you’re entranced. Roberts’ writing style really tugs at your heart strings and imagination, taking you on a truly wild ride.

IMG_2293

Episode 4: Nicaragua

The last instalment of 2014 is also the first episode shot outside of Canada. Episode 4 is set in the tropical wonderland of Nicaragua, Central America. A two-week spontaneous trip included travel throughout Granada, Ometepe, San Juan Del Sur, and Popoyo. This country was truly amazing, some of the most beautiful beaches and a completely refreshing outlook on life.

 

DCIM100GOPRO

Episode 3: Summer in Beautiful BC

Simply put, the place I call home is my favourite place in the world. British Columbia is a marvel to behold year round, especially coming to fruition in the summer. This year, I strapped on my GoPro for the majority of the adventures, in an effort to remember the good times and share them with the world.

DCIM100GOPRO

Episode 2: The Yukon

I finally made it up to the Yukon earlier this month to experience the coveted Northern Canadian Summer. I tried to document as much as I could, but frankly, one cannot capture the sublime, quintessential beauty of such a place. I sincerely urge everyone to put this destination near the top of their list. Cheers to the ladies & gents, the Yukon Gold, and the Land of the Midnight Sun!

552057_859633501636_1189709476_n

Vertical Jump

I’ve always loved to jump.

As someone with an inherent fear of heights, cliff jumping or anything of the sort was never my favourite. The ability to propel oneself through the air solely using one’s own body as propulsion, however, has always been far more appealing.

As I grew older, I became better at jumping and as is human nature, once we recognize we are good at something, we take far more enjoyment in practicing it. Box jumps became my favourite lower body workout and now I’m hard pressed to find a box at a gym which really challenges me. Nevertheless, at my 5’9 stature, dunking a basketball seemed like an impossible dream, but a dream nonetheless.

If there’s one driving theme behind Unlocking Human Potential, it is dreams and the rejection of any doubt that may surround them. The greatest obstacle we present ourselves is our own mental barrier, once we deem something as impossible in our minds, it becomes exactly that, impossible. History has done well to highlight this point, nothing more poignantly than the 4-minute mile. For centuries, the human body was deemed “incapable” of running a mile under 4 minutes. The record of 4:01 lasted throughout the entire 1940s until a man named Roger Bannister came about in 1954 and ran a mile in 3:59.4. Several runners followed this mark and now it’s almost routine for seasoned runners to run the sub 4-minute mile.

This principle of belief can be applied to any aspect in life, especially those of the performance realm. Enter Brandon Todd, the shortest dunker in the world.

I came across Brandon Todd’s story serendipitously by typing “short dunker” into Google. His achievement is staggering; a 5’5 individual who can soar through the air and dunk a basketball on a 10 foot hope. Needless to say, I immediately bought his app (Flytright), tweeted him, and have begun the conquest to also slam dunk by year’s end. Impossible? Never.

Here is Brandon Todd’s story as featured in the Five/Five documentary series

Unlocking Human Potential