Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Diet Trumps Exercise

In the past, I've shared how I lost 50 pounds in 6 months. The techniques there have served me well.

However, this last year, I've gotten a bit lax in the diet department, and noticed that I'd put some of the weight back on. I was no longer following a specific plan, and wasn't logging my meals any more. When I initially got serious about getting back in shape again, I tried to compensate by exercising more. After several months of this approach, I really wasn't making any progress on getting the weight off again.

I decided to go back to what I know (as explained in the post linked above), with some basic goals:

  • exercise at least 3 times per week.
  • consume calories at or below my daily target to maintain my goal weight
  • lose at least a pound a week until I reach "steady state" at this new calorie level

Sure enough, I started noticing progress pretty quickly. I'm not on track to get my weight back to where I want it in the next few weeks. It is clear, from my experience, that diet and exercise together can help you meet your fitness goals (duh, right?)

However, if you can only do one of those things, you'll probably see the most benefit from paying attention to your diet. In my opinion, this is because I might skip a day or two of exercise, but I never skip a day or two of eating - and slow & steady wins the race, for sure.

Exercise here, there, and everywhere

For the last couple of months, I've been working to get back into a more regimented exercise routine. With the winter in full force in the Portland, Oregon area I have not been out riding my road bike and didn't want to get totally out of shape. Here are some things I've done, in hopes that you might get some ideas from them.

Exercise anywhere - no equipment required

As I've mentioned here, I travel fairly often and I have found the gym selections at hotels to be very unpredictable. While I take advantage of some of the weights, machines, and cardio stations at hotels sometimes it just doesn't work out.


When that happens, body weight exercises are a great alternative. The challenge I have is knowing what to do when I attempt this path. Recently, I came across a great site called "Man vs. Weight" that has some helpful resources for this - a huge number of calisthenics and other similar exercises that require little to nothing in the way of additional equipment.

In particular, I like the post called "113 Killer Push Up Variations," which gives you a customizable set of choices to find the right kind of pushup workout for you (and, yes, knee pushups are included to help you when you first get started with this kind of exercise). I grabbed a clipping from this article to give you a sense for what the options are when you're selecting exercises (at right, click to enlarge).

Take it inside

One of the changes I made was to buy a Peloton indoor fitness cycle. I love it, as it is like going to a class but I can do all my riding in a spare room. There are different types of classes available and you can attend either live or on-demand (I tend to use the on-demand classes because I can do them on the spur of the moment, and select a class length, goal, and level of difficulty to match what I need).

I am confident that this will help me transition to my road riding much more easily than last year.

By the way, if you're interested in purchasing a Peloton, use this link and we'll both get two months free on our Peloton class memberships (thanks in advance!)

Put them together

I am a big fan of putting these two together - the Peloton routines I use are more focused on legs and cardio, and adding in some variations of pushups can help me get a more comprehensive workout, as well as work on my core strength.

After all, mixing things up is good to keep your body from getting too "bored" with a workout, and the more tools in the toolbox to add variety, the better.

What about you? What resources, routines, tricks, etc. do you use to make it more likely you'll workout year round (and in any kind of location)? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Fight depression and low energy in your office (with Infographic)

I was just reading through a great article from the "OmniPapers" blog about using the chemistry of our emotions for fighting depression at work. I live in Portland, Oregon and this time of year, natural light is scarce which affects moods, motivation, and happiness for a lot of people.

OmniPapers' Emily Johnson has provided the comprehensive infographic below to help people work through improvements in the workplace (whether in a corporate or a home office environment). I've been experimenting with introducing more light into my workspace the past several weeks, and I have definitely noticed a difference.

I hope you enjoy this infographic! Be sure and check out OmniPapers for a lot of other good content, as well (click on the graphic below to go to the original article).

Career Contentment: Key Factors to Help You Find a Job That You Love

When we were children, it sounded so simple. Just come up with an answer to the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and voila, there's your dream job. But as an adult, you realized it's hardly that simple. In fact, finding a fulfilling career is a lifelong quest for many people.

Don't Expect to Get It Right on the First Try

While you should consider yourself supremely fortunate if you happen to find career contentment at your first job out of school, this is not the reality that most people experience (and if you're reading this article, it's unlikely that you feel your job is perfect). More often, you need to try out a few different jobs before finding one that brings you career contentment and job satisfaction.

There is no magic number of jobs that you need to try before finding the one that suits you best. The key is to be flexible and willing to put yourself out there to try something new. It's also crucial to maintain a high level of self-awareness, so you can identify what qualities you like and don't like about your position. Over time, a clear understanding of your likes and dislikes in a career will help make it easier to identify the best opportunities that suit your needs.

Don't Stick with a Job If You Don't Find It Fulfilling

Don't be afraid to start looking for a new opportunity at the first sign of discontent with a job. There is no reason to stay at a job for an arbitrary period if you are miserable. Life is too short to spend 40-plus hours a week doing something that makes you unhappy.

Rather than quitting right away, wait until you have another opportunity to move on to, so you can avoid financial stress. If you can't find the perfect job within a few months, take matters into your own hands by exploring entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial opportunities. For instance, you could start your own business with a direct sales company like Amway or open an Etsy shop selling handmade goods if you are particularly creative.

Qualities to Look For

When exploring the topic of career contentment, a few common themes present themselves. Things like work-life balance, a minimal commute and a fun work environment are commonly identified by people who have found career contentment in their current jobs. U.K.-based recruitment firm Reed recently conducted a formal survey and identified the following factors are the top qualities that contribute to career satisfaction:

  • Simple commute: 31 percent of respondents noted that an easy, stress-free commute help make a job more enjoyable.
  • Great workspace: A well-designed workspace that is tailored to create a fun environment scored as a top quality by 29 percent of those surveyed.
  • Work-life balance: This is a hot topic in the HR world for a good reason, over 20 percent of people surveyed noted work-life balance as a top contributor to their career contentment.
  • Good salary: Surprisingly, career contentment isn't all about the money. Salary was only noted by 18 percent of survey respondents as a factor leading to career fulfillment.
  • Social events: 16 percent of respondents said that opportunities to socialize with co-workers at company-sponsored social events were important to them.

Cyber Monday Shopping Tips


The Monday following the "Black Friday" shopping day has been declared as "Cyber Monday" and millions of people around the world are expected to do much of their holiday shopping online on that day.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you shop more safely, this holiday season - whether you shop on Cyber Monday or not:

1. Be careful when clicking on email links

This time of year, people are especially vulnerable to "Click now for this amazing offer!" phishing emails. When you receive an enticing email offer, be careful when clicking on that link - what you see on the screen may not match the underlying link. Often, you can hover over the link to see where you're actually being sent but this can sometimes show you a long and confusing link, due to embedded tracking information.

If the sender is one you recognize, and the email is from a vendor to which you've "opted in" to receive email offers, you're probably OK. However, if you have any concerns about the validity of the link, it's better to be safe by typing in the address of the website directly rather than clicking on the link.

Which brings me to tip #2...

2. Use https:// instead of http://

When you're typing the address, you can ensure you get a secure connection by using the "https://" prefix on your web address. The 's' stands for secure, and it encrypts the connection between your browser and the site you're browsing.

More and more websites are offering (or even defaulting to) https: connections, but you can force it by typing the address in yourself. If your site doesn't support https: it is generally OK to browse there, but avoid using insecure sites for shopping, since your payment information  is not secure when you transmit it to the site.

Also, your browser can help you - it will often show a lock icon or other indicator, signifying that you have a secure connection to the website.

Clicking on the website address will show you the full path, which should start with https: as shown above.

3. Shop using official apps

If you shop from your mobile device and the site you're shopping with has an official app, use it. This can help you avoid spoofed sites (i.e. sites masquerading as a legitimate site, but in place to harvest your personal and/or financial information. If you go this route, you're best off going to the main shopping site from your browser, clicking on the app store link from their site, and letting that link redirect you to the correct app on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, or whatever app store is used by your device.

4. don't Shop on Public WiFi networks

If you're shopping from a public WiFi network in a coffee shop, airport, library, etc. chances are, your traffic is being transmitted unencrypted (aka "in the clear"), which means an attacker could observe and capture this information. Unfortunately, in some scenarios, this can even expose your information when connected to an https: site due to something known as a "man in the middle" attack.

In general, you're best off not shopping on public, unsecured WiFi networks. If you really want to shop on these networks, and wish to do so in a secure fashion, you can use a VPN (Virtual Private Network service) to encrypt your device's traffic. There are some easy-to-use services that help you do this, such as Cloak (Mac and iOS only); TunnelBear (multi-platform), and WiTopia to name a few.

If you're not using a VPN, avoid sending sensitive information (such as your payment card data) over a public WiFi network.

5. Use a good, up-to-date security solution on your computer

Modern anti-virus and anti-malware technology can help protect you while shopping. Many of them not only scan your computer for malicious programs, they also have add-ins for your browser that are aware of know, malicious web sites and can warn you when you're in a dangerous spot.

Paid software is available for this, as well as free options. If you're using Windows and don't want to pay, the built-in Windows Defender is a good option. Companies like AVG, Avast, and Avira also offer free antivirus solutions for Windows and Mac computers.

Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) also offer free anti-virus or anti-malware licenses to their customers - check with your internet provider to see what is available.

Bottom line, have something in place and keep it up-to-date with current malware and virus definitions.

6. Consider Using Apple Pay or Google Wallet 

Whether you're shopping online or in a store, if Apple Pay or Google Wallet payments are available, they offer a safe way to pay. Due to the way the security model on these systems works, your individual payment card details are never transmitted to the merchant.

Instead a one-time transaction credential is shared to enable the payment and a new one is generated each time you pay. That means that even if an attacker gains access to the transaction information they will be unable to use that information for a second transaction.

I hope you find these tips helpful, and I hope you find some great bargains on Cyber Monday!