The Shell Diet: Active- The Best Thing to Do with Your Butt is to Move It

Find a practical way to be physically active every day.

1) Exercise the equivalent of walking no less than two miles every day. We’re so accustomed to driving that we forget that we hardly even walk on a daily basis.  Let me clear about something: I do not have a gym membership, and I do not endorse going to the gym. Because that would be setting standards too high for my schedule.  Honestly, I don’t have time for the gym.  Nor do I have the money to blow on that.

So here’s what I do for my daily exercise.  I take a 15 minute break during work and walk around the building with a coworker.  In addition to “walking on purpose”, I ride my mountain bike during my lunch break.  Or I run errands during lunch on my bike- going to the bank, the mall, buying a Turkey on Rye from Honey Baked Ham.

So you don’t have a mountain bike or access to a good place to ride it during your lunch break?  Fine.  Do like I did. Find a way to exercise without a gym.  And if all else fails, join a gym.  But I think it’s important to have an exercise habit that is truly practical– I just think that going to the gym, if nothing else, is too much trouble.  Set yourself up for consistency, not a zealous exercise fad.

*But wait, there’s more…Go back to the main page of the The Shell Diet by clicking right here.

The Endangered Tradition of Taking a Walk

You can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, or you can actually walk with them instead.

To “go take a walk” used to mean something.  On the surface, it could seem that walking without a necessary destination may seem pointless.  But when you’re physically moving, the gears in your head tend to move as well.  (I get most of my ideas to write about while moving in some way, not sitting still and just trying to think stuff up: The ideas just appear in my head as long as I’m moving somehow.)  When walking alone, you will more likely be able to think more clearly and creatively.  When walking with another person, you’re more likely to engage in clear and creative conversations.  But in a culture where we do a lot of scurrying around, then we get home, and we are often so exhausted from the day’s stress that we just want to chill out on the couch, the tradition of taking a walk has become endangered.  And therefore; less thinking, less talking.

Taking walks is a tradition I am making a point to bring back in my own life.  Every day at work, my friend Chris and I take a fifteen minute walk around the buildings near us.  He’s nearly Asperger’s when it comes to World History and Geography, so I learn a lot from him.  And I’m able to bounce ideas off of him as I am in the midst of writing about them, like about capital punishment.  If it weren’t for our daily tradition of walking together, he would just be another guy I work with.  But instead, he is a friend to me, not simply a “work friend”- because there’s definitely a difference.

And if you’ve live in a townhouse development or newer apartment complex in a decent sized city, you’re aware of your Korean neighbor ladies who walk around the neighborhood every evening after dinner.  They are always an inspiration to me.  But of course it’s not just about necessary daily exercise; it’s about putting yourself in a position to where you can simply think (if you’re alone) or to strengthen relationships with people in your life.

Being a Handsome Man Vs. Being a Hot Guy

And why it ultimately doesn’t matter anyway thanks to a little something called “charm”.

Recently I asked my facebook friends via my status update, this question:

Females, I need your input for something I’m writing: What is the difference between a guy who is “handsome” and a guy who is “hot, sexy, etc.”?

To summarize the similarities of the responses, with a man who is “hot” there is an attraction (mostly physical), whereas  with a man who is “handsome” is someone who simply is a good-looking guy, though there is not necessarily any kind of attraction there.  Of course the ironic thing about this can best be summed up by what my friend Holly Arnesen said:

“if i refer to a guy as handsome, it usually means that physically speaking he’s nicely put together, but doesn’t necessarily mean i’m attracted. hot and sexy usually has to do with more than what a guy looks like. like some women think intelligence is sexy so, they’ll go for a smart guy over one that they think is nicer to look at.  i once heard someone say, ‘men fall in love with women they are attracted to, and women are attracted to the men they fall in love with.’ i’m not a guy, but i’m pretty sure this tends to be way things go.”

On the right, Bronson Pinchot, who played "Balki" on Perfect Strangers.

What enticed me to walk up to my future wife on October 5, 2006 and talk to her the very first time I saw her from across a large crowded room was her appearance.  Though it wasn’t until four months later to the day, on our first date (I knew it was a date but she didn’t until it was over), that she actually thought of me in any kind of romantic way.  My physical looks were irrelevant to the equation up until the point I made it clear I was interested in her, given that I’d shared with her my personality and character prior to day that we crossed the line from being friends to dating.

Until we started dating, I was just another average-looking dude.  A forgettable face.  Perhaps the most memorable physical trait would have been my dark hair.  Based on the celebrities that people have told me I look like in the last couple of years (“Cory Matthews” from Boy Meets World, “Balki” from Perfect Strangers, “Ross” from Friends, as well as David Arquette and Paul Rudd), I evidently have the looks of a Jewish-American comedian, which all of those Nick Shell look-alikes are.  Men that are remembered not for their looks, but for their personalities and talent.  Are those men handsome?  Sure, why not.  It’s irrelevant either way.

Ben Savage, who played "Corey Matthews" on Boy Meets World.

Speaking of David Schwimmer, I don’t believe anyone could have played the part of Ross better.  But to be part of one of the most popular romantic American TV couples ever, he was a very ordinary looking guy.  Fans of Friends always think of Ross and Rachel fondly, though never once have I ever heard anyone comment good or bad on David Schwimmer’s looks.  But regarding Jennifer Aniston, it’s not that way at all. Her looks were so relevant she actually started a hairstyle craze in 1995 called “The Rachel”.

When my wife and I reminisce on when we first started dating, she always says, “You always had interesting stuff to say so I knew we’d never run out of things to talk about.”  It’s possible that’s what won her over.  My quirkiness.  Some people would call it my ability to “think some crazy crap up”.  Others more reverently refer to it as “thinking deeply”.   My lifelong habit of daydreaming during math and science class definitely paid off.  I charmed her.

So if a guy is simply average-looking, how can he improve his situation?  The “Makeover Week” on the TV show The Biggest Loser would tell us he would need to slim down, get his hair cut shorter, shave off his beard, and wear nicer clothes.  But I know my wife always prefers me to wear jeans, t-shirt, and a ball cap, and she never notices or cares whether I have a beard or not.  There’s really no official way for a schlub or average Joe to gain “handsomeness” or “sexiness” since that’s up to the girl they’re trying to attract.

The more colorful and eye-catching cockatiel bird is on the right. The female is on the left.

And I think that’s why it’s a guy thing to not care as much about our appearance as females do.  Because unlike male birds (which are always more attractive and attention-grabbing than the females they attract), male humans know they can attract a woman who is out of their league looks-wise as long as they are funny enough, smart enough, rich enough, strong enough, sensitive enough, or whatever else it takes to charm their love interest.  From Doug Heffernan to Barney Rubble, charm certainly has its advantages.

Blue Skies Eventually Become Outer Space: From the Real World to the Heavenly Spiritual Realm

“Is there a God?  Why is He waiting? Don’t you think of it odd when He knows my address?  And look at the stars- don’t they remind you of just how feeble we are? Well it used to, I guess.” –John Mayer, “New Deep”

Though it may be difficult to grasp, neither the Wild West (in the past) nor Outer Space (in the future) in fictional entertainment have ever really interested me.  In fact, they have actually turned me off from certain franchises.  Back to the Future, Part III was a Wild Western, as was American Tail: Fievel Goes West.  And though it was before my time and marketed to the opposite gender, before being cancelled, the Saturday morning cartoon Josie and the Pussycats went to Outer Space for their final season.  Going into the Wild West or Outer Space both come across as “jump the shark” moments to me.  (Star Wars is an exception because it happened a long, long time ago, which is weird to think about.)

Here in the year 2010, the Wild West has been replaced as modern-day Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Dallas have more trouble with violent gangs than they do misbehaving cowboys or Indians.  However, no matter what year we survive to, there is still an unseen future- and an unexplored Outer Space will always be something we remain fascinated by.  Even if we can shake off the possibility of other life forms out there (see Do Aliens Really Exist?), the scientific fact remains that there is no end to the Universe.  Space never stops; it literally can’t.  The ultimate great wide open.

A cliché idea is that when you look up at the stars you realize just how small you really are.  It’s true.  Even right now if I look up at the sky, I think how if only I could see far enough, I would see Outer Space.  And part of the whole “you realize how small you really are” doesn’t just account for physical size, but also for our spiritual relation to this Universe.

I am not convinced that Heaven is millions of light years away from us, way out there past Outer Space, like I have always unquestionably assumed.  God doesn’t fear that we humans will become so smart and efficient with our space travel programs that we will physically be able to fly to Heaven and therefore force our way in, despite our spiritual condition and relationship with Him.

For all I know, Heaven is actually so physically close we could throw a rock to it.  But our inability to see the spiritual realm prevents us from seeing it now.  Even when it somehow becomes easy to forget the relevance of God and eternity and how everything really is spiritual, Heaven isn’t that far away.  We definitely don’t have to travel past the blue skies into Outer Space to find the place.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on outer space, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one

The Nickbob Ability Test

In the spring of 1992 in 5th grade, I decided to make recess more interesting during our “free play” days outside on the playground by inventing a secret society.  I would recruit 1 to 4 of my friends to take the Nickbob Ability Test during each P.E. class.  It was a combination of physical skill, physical agility, and artistic effort:

Physical Skill: With hula hoops laid out flat strategically on the asphalt, the recruits had to throw rocks from a certain distance and land them in the hula hoops.  There were five levels of difficulty they had to complete to make it to the Physical Agility portion.

Physical Agility: Using my friend Michael Brooks’s stopwatch, I would time the recruits as they ran through the playground.  They had to make it through the “obstacle course” within a minute and 45 seconds.  Then they could finish the last portion of the Nickbob Ability Test, the Artistic Effort portion.

The Artistic Effort portion simply meant the recruits had to draw and color a picture of themselves and give it to me.  I kept them as a collection of those who passed the Nickbob Ability Test.

All together there were about 30 of my classmates who participated.  I know for a fact that the following people took and passed it:  Brian Winkles, Amanda Duckett, Meg Guice, Susan Johnson, Alex Igou, Jenny McElroy, Michael Brooks, and Jonathan Grupp.

The few.  The proud.  The… Nickbob Ability Test Takers?…