Chapter 32

Deal Killers and the Main Machine

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The Main Machine is you. You’re a primary system, an enclosed entity made up of numerous spinning wheels, all contributing to the singular purpose of that entity, this is, to accomplish a goal.

You’re precisely engineered, perfectly equipped to choose objectives and then adjust your output in order to reach them.

And whatever your goals might be, of course it makes sense to drop any behavior that hinders their attainment. This chapter is about deal killers: the things you might be doing or might not be doing that could erase the accomplishments you’ve managed to secure (or are about to secure). I also list some routines for maintaining and strengthening your “main machine.”

Here’s a pragmatic overview—the problems and their solutions—of three common deal killers. It’s a numbers game, and it’s my guess there’s at least one that is relevant to you. (And if not, then certainly to someone you know.)

First, there’s chemical addiction. If you have one, you must find a way to defeat it. There is help out there, and a quick Google search will tell you where to find it. Interesting that at Centratel, where we relentlessly drug test, it has become increasingly hard to find job applicants who are not drug users. It’s become worse in the last year as marijuana has become legal in Oregon and therefore socially legitimized. So, over the last several years, as we’ve watched the accelerated acceptance of chemical state-of-mind “adjusters,” we’ve informally worked with alcohol and drug recovery groups in our Central Oregon region in order to find “clean” job applicants. These are people who have been to hell and back and don’t care to return. (See workthesystem.com/clean for more specific information.) This isn’t a complicated or nuanced recommendation: If you’re searching for true freedom, you must defeat any addiction to drugs or alcohol. I challenge you to live your life cold turkey.

And, second, there’s sleep deprivation. How boring to hear yet again that most of us don’t get enough sleep. But it’s true. The human body requires a certain amount of sleep in each twenty-four-hour cycle. Getting enough of it is not something you do only when you have the time. It has to happen or things will go bad. Obsess about it, fight for it, and do whatever it is you have to do to get enough. And please don’t be one of those people who wears their sleep deficiency as a badge of courage.

Cut back your caffeine intake, and you’ll find yourself naturally getting more shut-eye. Generally speaking, chemical sleeping aides are a bad idea. And go for the dreams, because when you dream hard—it usually happens at the end of your sleep cycle—you’re experiencing delta sleep, which is the deepest and most rejuvenating phase of the cycle. Here’s my favorite book on the topic: The Promise of Sleep by William C. Dement. It’s an older book and a classic.

Third, coddle and challenge your physical body, your “main machine.” It’s the ultimate primary system of your existence—the vehicle that carries you around—your special endowment. Incredibly complex, it wants to perform well for you, so do what you have to do to keep it strong and resilient. I’ll spare you the lecture about how the body affects the mind and vice-versa, because of course you already know that.

Taking proper care of the body is a moment-to-moment quest. Following are details of my personal stay-well master system. The commonality among the various segments is that they are all “mandatory preventive maintenance” efforts, the moves I have to make whether I want to make those moves or not.

Cardio. With only a few brief pauses, I’ve been at it since I was twelve. The prolonged stress of cardio keeps all the systems of the body strong. Each week, I do one high-intensity interval workout, plus an additional two or three that are moderately stressful. My preferences are road and mountain biking, mountaineering, and cross-country skiing. I mix it up, though, depending on the season, with a fallback to the StairMaster if no other options are available.

Resistance Training. In the gym, once a week with my coach, I work with heavy weights in an intense twenty- to thirty-minute session, taking each muscle group to failure, and then a bit beyond. It’s an anaerobic/aerobic ordeal that renders me useless for two hours, and then requires three to four days for full recovery. It took twelve weeks to adjust to the stress of it, but now these sessions are the cornerstone of my week. In just a few months I added ten pounds of muscle. Google or ask around about High Intensity Training (HIT). Consider employing a hard-ass trainer, one who won’t treat you like a delicate buttercup. If you live in Central Oregon, you’ll want to use my coach, Scott. Email us at info@systemsmindset.com and we’ll give you his contact information.

Yoga. Through the years, our muscles and tendons contract. Yoga counteracts this incessant tightening. I like Bikram Yoga, which conforms exactly to the Systems Mindset Methodology: The standard routine of twenty-six postures is precisely choreographed, so you know what you’re going to get in each ninety-minute class, no matter what studio you attend. And, the postures are exactly sequenced from easy to hard, so you won’t get hurt and you get maximum benefit. I’ve been doing yoga for seventeen years and attend a session every three to four days. This is an essential routine if I am to be injury free. Go to workthesystem.com/bikram to read a post I published about it. There’s one authorized Bikram studio here where I live, operated by my friend Susie. You’ll find it easily enough. If you live elsewhere, Google “Bikram Yoga.” Per Wikipedia, there are about six hundred studios worldwide.

Chiropractic. I like a solid tweaking, where I can feel my bones realign. After the adjustment, I always feel looser, more relaxed. I schedule one adjustment per month. Dr. Michael Toby is very good, and he happens to be a commercial tenant in our building in Bend, Oregon.

Meditation. Read the classic Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It’s a great place to start. Like my yoga practice, I’ve been meditating for seventeen years, and I began with a six-class course, spread over six weeks. The best part of meditation is that you get a break from the incessant mental noise, giving your problem-solving mind a break. At first it’s a challenge to slow the surging freight train of thought, so be patient. I meditate off and on through the day, in bits and pieces, sometimes for just a minute or two at a time. I also do it every night before I sleep, and with my own homegrown routine, counting my slow exhales from one to five, I fall asleep within twenty seconds. Google, “Mindfulness Meditation.”

Deep-Tissue Massage. I need it on a weekly basis because of my intense exercise routines combined with long hours on the computer keyboard. Here in Bend, I employ Kirsten, who is expert at going deep to find emerging problems. Search “relaxation deep-tissue” and/or “integrative/therapeutic massage.” If you’re local, contact us at info@systemsmindset.com, and we’ll put you in touch with Kirsten.

Diet and Overall Health. Not too long ago, I completed the Unicity Transformation program. It’s a semi-intense, coaching-based three-month course focusing on proper nutrition, but also it’s about lifestyle, including exercise and stress reduction. There’s careful customization for the individual. The client is held accountable, and there is detailed results tracking. It revolves around a weekly one-half-hour telephone training session with a Unicity coach. With my dietary and exercise routines tweaked to fit, I know exactly what my body needs. Now at 170 pounds, I’m not a big guy, but over the twelve weeks of the program I lost twenty-five pounds of fat. Combined with the simultaneous gain of muscle due to my HIT gym workouts, I dropped my body fat from 22 to 10 percent. The Unicity program is systematic, perfectly aligned with the Systems Mindset Methodology. You can find an overview of the program at defineyoury.com. For more information or to enroll, contact my office at info@systemsmindset.com.

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