There are few things that I enjoy in this world, some of them include pumping iron, watching football and my favorite, reading books. I have read a ton of great books this year but have managed to cut my favorites down to 10. Hope you enjoy!
10. War Room by Michael Holley. I am a big fan of what goes on behind-the-scenes in the NFL. This one writes about Bill Belichick and his ability to create a championship environment in New England. It talks of his upbringing in football, how he has given young guys the opportunity to learn (names like Scott Pioli, Thomas Dimitroff, Josh McDaniels, etc) and just has some great football stories.
9. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. A "classic" book. I picked it up not knowing what it was about. After the first chapter, I knew that this was going to be a interesting book. It details the 1959 murders of a farm family in a small Kansas town. Capote spent 6 years writing this book and it shows. It has tremendous detail and includes insight from the murderers.
8. Tuesday's with Morrie by Mitch Albom. When I bought this I thought it was a work of fiction. I was familiar with Mitch Albom's work as a sports reporter but not an author. This book tells the story of his college professor Morrie who is slowly breaking down to ALS. Morrie never stops teaching Mitch and puts life into perspective. Great writing, great story, and great lessons.
7. Inferno by Dan Brown. I do not read a ton of fiction but am a fan of Dan Brown. The amount of research that goes into his stories is impressive. I was not all that familiar with Dante's poem Inferno (now I intend on reading it) but in typically Brown fashion, professor Robert Langdon is taken on a whirlwind journey trying to prevent a plague from striking down civilization.
6. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. A book about destiny, and a young shepherds quest to find his. It is a quck read but gets your mind going in directions that you've never thought it would.
5. Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. This is the real story (not what you saw in the 300 movies) of the Spartan soldiers who fought at Thermopylae. It was told through the eyes of an adopted Spartan who witnessed the events. Is any of it valid? No one has a damn clue but it gives great insight on the mindset of the Spartans, the importance of family, and the importance of believing in the greater good and fighting for your brother next to you.
4. The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. This book was crazy. The author runs a high profile security company. Fear is a gift. It is an instinct you feel fear for a reason, trust it. Gavin de Becker outlines a few examples that he has come across in his line of work. It tells stories of women who have become victim but also of those who were able to "fight back" and resist, all because of trusting that instinct of fear.
3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This was great. Every action has a cue, a routine, and a reward. In regards to behavior change, you need to first understand your habit, and then manipulate the habit loop so that changing the routine will still reward you. For example, an alcoholic goes to bars for the social gathering. Replace the bar with an AA meeting and you still feel that "reward" as you spend time with others in a social setting.
2. Quiet by Susan Cain. This book is number two because it taught me that it is ok to spend time by yourself. That I am not the only person in the whole world who is uncomfortable in large social settings. That public speaking will always be a struggle. And many, many more. It gave me some good insight on how people are wired differently and most importantly, that introversion is not a character flaw.
1. The One Thing by Jay Papason & Gary W. Keller. This one was my top pick because it made me understand the importance of figuring what your "one thing" is and to do everything in your power to achieve it. It led me to quit my job, take some time off to figure things out, and then take a huge chance on opening up a business. It is a great book for those looking for a little push in the right direction.
So as I sit here watching the Oregon Ducks route the defending champs, I realize my Florida State pick may not have been the best. I am not letting that get me down! Lets hope my NFL picks do better this weekend.
Ravens vs Steelers: Like I wrote last week, the Steelers are hot. They just handled a playoff team in the Bengals and the offense was rolling. Unfortunately, Le'Veon Bell went down with a hyperextension of the knee. He has not tested it yet. He anticipates suiting up for the Saturday's game. My pick depends on the health of Bell. I am going to assume he is going to play. Give me the killer B's (Bell, Ben, & Brown) in this game.
Bengals vs Colts: My main man Eric Grida loves the Bengals. I have spent the past few seasons watching many of Bengals games over at his place. I believe in what they do defensively. What I don't believe in is Marvin Lewis and I definitely don't believe in Andy Dalton. BUT, I will go out on a limb and say they get the win this week. The Colts defense is awful. They have no run game. They have the superior quarterback but I just can't get over that defeat to the Cowboys. They were awful. My confidence level on the Bengals pick: 2 out of 10. Lets win one for Grida!
Cardinals vs Panthers: As I was watching Carolina dismantle Atlanta, I was thinking to myself: this team is going to win in the first round. When I saw they were playing Arizona, it confirmed my initial thoughts. The Panthers defense is playing great. There offense is productive and they run a good amount of gadget plays last week. But my favorite part: Cam Newton on the quarterback power off the zone read fake. They are starting to run Cam more and it has been productive. Look for them to continue that this week!
Lions vs Cowboys: Just like the Steelers, Dallas is on fire. Dez is playing off the charts, Murray is doing his thing, and Romo is playing at an elite level. I honestly don't know if there is anyone playing better than him. When Romo is throwing the ball, he is making it count. He is leading the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and quarterback rating. That is exactly how I would define efficiency! Give me the Cowboys to get off the playoff schneid this week.
Oregon vs Florida State: Now I intended on writing something in depth for the college football playoff but the first game was ugly. A few things that stood out:
Alabama vs Ohio State:
I have spent 29 years on this earth and there is one thing that I have never done: cook fresh and tasty meals. But now, things are beginning to change (thanks primarily to my girlfriend). Every recipe that I will write about comes from her. Now, she can eat anything... as long as it does not contain corn, soy, gluten, or dairy. I have gotten on board with this diet and have not felt better. I have dropped a few pounds, I have been sleeping like a baby, and I walk around with a little more pep in my step (and not in a carbohydrate induced haze). The first recipe: Chocolate Chip Pancakes. This was my first attempt making this dish. It took about 20-25 minutes and the results were good!
Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
One and two-thirds cup of Gluten Free Oat Flour
One teaspoon baking powder
One-half teaspoon baking soda
One-half teaspoon sea salt
Six teaspoons of coconut palm sugar
One cup almond milk
One tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
One-half cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips
Chris is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and member of the National Strength & Conditioning Association. He has recently served as a high school football and wrestling coach. Chris loves swinging kettlebells around, watching football and reading books!