Blake’s flight to Ukraine

Blake and me have traveled quite a bit together. In just one year of life, this dog has seen more that some people did in the lifetime. All our travels has been done by car. We explored every corner on the West Coast in US, we lived on the back of my truck for more than a week, we drove cross-country through 8 states from Arizona to Toronto. He is a trooper! I cannot express how good he is in car. I am really proud of him as he never vines or causes any issues, he sits still for 7-8 hours of straight driving.

It’s time to expand our scope of travel and begin exploring Europe. We are heading to Kiev, Ukraine 🇺🇦

Unfortunately it would be quite a challenge to drive my truck across the ocean, so I need to make sure he is ready for a long plane flight. I don’t want to have him shipped in the cargo section, and looking to have him travel with me in the main cabin.

Choose the airlines wisely

First of all you need to make sure you choose the airlines that allow pets on board. Every airline have specific requirement regards weight of the pet, breed, size etc. Study all those requirements to prevent make sure there will be no surprises at the airport.

Ukrainian airlines FlyUIA had a direct flight from Toronto to Kiev that allowed pets onboard. In our case, maximum weight of an animal including a container for carriage in cabin should not exceed 8kg and size of container must not exceed 3 linear dimensions 115cm (55х40х20 сm). Otherwise your pet should be transported as animal in hold. I’ve got the pet carrier strictly due to the requirements, however Pooch seem to be a bit overweight for this trip. To be exact, 2 kg (4.5 lbs). I was really worried that after they weight him at the check in, he will be sent to travel in cargo section of the plane. Thank God! Besides the rabies certificate they haven’t requested any additional documentation or put him on scale. Lucky you – chubby boy!

Don’t hesitate to contact the airline customer support with any questions prior to the flight.

Prepare to pay extra

The cost of flying one way in this direction in the cabin is 100 EUR / 153 CAD. Respectively round trip for Blake costed me extra CAD 306.00. However at the check in I mentioned that he is an emotional support animal with proper documents, which saved me $306. Service animals travel for free.

Get your pet comfy

Traveling by plane is a new experience for my boy and I want to make sure he’s ready and comfortable. First of all you need to get a pet carrier.

The one I bought is made by Sherpa. It costed me $125 at PetSmart. It has 4 wheels underneath and plenty of ventilation.

Now you need to introduce your pet to his new travel vehicle. You have to familiarize him with bag and make sure he’s not afraid of it and is comfortable to spend extended periods of time inside. Like the astronauts are being trained to go out of space, I began training Blake with familiarizing him with his new spacecraft. After he got comfortable being a passenger in it, I moved forward and closed him inside in for 10-15-20 minutes at the time, so he is being ok spending prolonged periods of time inside. The final stage of training was the command to “hide”. Shit happens and in case of emergency 🚨, he hides inside and waits until I say it’s clear to stick his nose back outside. Every day, for about a month, I would spend some time training him, playing with his carrier. He now feels more than comfortable with the carrier, which will help us both to have less stressful flight. I think he’s ready! 

Vaccinations & Paperwork

Study on required vaccinations and documents your pet need to enter the country you’re flying to. It’s really important your buddy is up to date on his shots and papers. My experience was really stressful and it took me almost two weeks to have everything ready. Don’t keep it for the last minute, as some of the vaccines has to be given 21 days or earlier before the flight.

Ukrainian requirements:

1. Ukraine does not impose any restrictions or quarantines on the importation of pets.

2. I need to obtain the “International Health Certificate” issued by local government of Canada for exportations of pets. It needs to be completed by a local vet within seven days of travel and endorsed by the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA). If traveling from the USA then endorsement is by APHIS)

3) Ukraine requires a current rabies vaccination. Keep in mind that they don’t recognize the 3-year rabies vaccine.

The costs to take your pet to Ukraine will include the following:

  • Pet carrier – $125
  • Checkup and completion of health certificate by local Veterinary – $110
  • Rabies Vaccination – $140
  • Endorsement by CFIA – $20
    (APHIS in the USA – $38)
  • Pet on board fee from FlyUIA Airlines – $306
  • Import fee in Ukraine – none
  • Import fee in Canada – $35

Total: $736

Last tip

The flight is almost 10 hours long. It’s hard for me and I can’t imagine for painful it cauldron be to an animal. As my friend suggested, I gave Blake a small dose of Benadryl to help him fall and stay asleep through the flight. 30 minutes before departure I gave him half the pill (1 mg per pound). If you’re going to try Benadryl with your pet, I suggest trying it at home first and see how he reacts to it, just to test it out.

Overall the trip went so much better that I expected. I am really proud of Blake as he behaved exceptionally well. I don’t know any other dog that will have so muck patience and trust in his owner as he does. All the trainings I’ve done with him well payed off, making this flight a breeze for both of us.

Type “A”

We are all broken in one or another way. Every single person has an early age trauma, the event that had unfixable effect on his entire life. 

In my young age I’ve achieved quite a bit, but none of those achievements brought me happiness, the sense of stillness and calm. I was constantly running throughout my past life, experiencing anxiety, sense of urgency and hight stress. I keep on setting the plank higher and higher, making it unreachable and reach it. I realized that no matter what I do, I never truly enjoyed the prize at the finish line, the end result. 

Am I a “type A”? If so, what made me that type person? Is being an overachiever a norm or disorder? The answer to this and many other questions must be in my childhood.

I grew up in the house where I never heard the words “I love you”. I am sorry mom and dad, but I honestly can’t recall a single time of my memory. My parents fought frequently, going through a serious crisis, screaming and yelling at each other. My father was always extremely strict with me, as as my mother. The only time I would get a hug from my mom is when my dad would beat me up so bad, that even her heart would melt and she would stick up for me. Unfortunately even those rare bursts of love would fade away in the history as I got older. There was never praise for doing good at school. The plank of being best in class was set by default and anything lesser than “A” in class was perceived as a personal failure. I learned pretty fast that the absence of punishment IS a praise. I got really good at hiding my failures by forging documents, scratching off the “B’s” or simply lying when asked what’s up in school. I never really shared my successes. Why bother, whey won’t get my parents excited as they were perceived the way it had always be by default. 

Lack of love. The absence of love plants the type A seeds. It sets the individual to a constant running, the achievement mode. The sad part is that the person don’t even enjoy those wins, those achievements. He simply doesn’t know how to. He doesn’t know how celebrate success, how praise himself for the hard work. He can’t just sit down and relax after a serious achievement. I’m compensating for the love I didn’t get as a kid. Unconsciously I accomplish things just so my parents finally recognize the greatness in me. That little boy in me waits for his dad to tap on his shoulder and say “Good Job, Son! I am really proud of you!” That little boy waits on his mother to hold him and say “I’m proud of you son! I love you son.”  That boy will never get older, he will never grow up and will always live in me. 

I don’t feel bad for myself, I don’t brag for attention, I don’t seek for compassion. Especially I am not blaming anyone for anything. I simply observe and learn. I am beyond grateful for my parents, for the way I’ve been raised. I am so thankful for everything that has happened for me in my life up to this point. I won’t be myself without it all. It wouldn’t be a better Sasha or worse Sasha, it would be a totally different one. I am far from perfect, just like anyone on this planet. Let’s learn to accept ourselves the way we are, without conditions.

5 Years Away from Home 🇺🇦

Before the Storm

This trip back home is a complete social, emotional and physical detox. This is a reset of me. It’s stress-test of all the labels I’ve put on myself, of what I made myself to believe I am, of what I made myself to think is important to me. This is the time to meet myself again. This trip is the mirror of me.

Suitcase is packed, everything is ready. I sit at my desk, trying to gather my thoughts around. Only a few hours are in between me and my family. It’s been 5 years and 2 months since I left home. It’s been 62 months since I’ve seen my family. It’s been so longs since I’ve touched my mother, felt her smell and a tight hug. Gosh it feels like forever…

Throughout the darkest moments of my life, the only thing I was wishing for is to be next to my family, just for a moment, just to catch a breath. They only way we could get together, was in my dreams. I would close my eyes and fly back into the happy moments of my careless childhood at the parent house. I open my eyes and still they weren’t there, I wasn’t there for them. I started to hate Christmas and New Years. I was jealous to see all the happy families at the malls Christmas shopping.

Suffering is a resistance to pain. Suffering is optional.

It took me about 3 years away from home to understand it. I didn’t stop missing everyone, I didn’t stop carrying, but I did stop to suffer. Distance between us became just a convention. Since I left home, I never stopped being a son, a brother or a grandkid. Understanding of it allowed me to open up to other people that cared about me. Karp’s and Hackett’s families accepted me as their own, giving me the support and care they could. I stopped resisting and stepped towards them. I didn’t feel anymore that I cheat on my family by accepting help from others. I still struggle with it, but I am better than before.

After all the years spent apart, all the family holidays and birthdays that I missed I am given a chance to reunite. But why am I hesitant? Boy, what do you wait for? Isn’t it what you wanted for so long? Here is a ticket, take it! Timidly I reach out with my hand and take it. Now I just wait to depart, surprisingly calm and relaxed.

It’s not the way I imagined coming home. One of my biggest dreams was to come home with the one I loved. She would meet my family and see the place I grew up in. She would get to know me better, understand me better. She will… but it will be a different person and at the different time. Today my travel partner is Blake, a Scottish terrier of one year old. This dog has been my copilot for the past year. He has seen and traveled to so many different places that a lot of people haven’t in their lifetimes. As it’s important to give your child good education, it’s equally important to train and tech your pet some good behavior. Realizing that I invest a lot of time, putting an effort to train him be well in the car, on the plane, with kids, other people and other animals. Having him by my side adds more to the experience of travel. Whenever we go, I feel like a rockstar, attracting all the looks and attention from people of all ages, genders and colors. It’s a hell of a trip not just for me, but for both of us.


On Top of Tsunami

The closer my plane gets to Ukraine the stronger emotional wind starts to blow.

As expected, meeting my parents and brother at the airport was total shock. I thought my mom would squeeze all the tears out of me in the tight hug. She is so pretty!

Stepan! You’re soooo freaking tall and big. My brother now taller than me, shaking my hand with gorillas size claw. Damn you’re big!

Dad quietly hugs me over the shoulders, saying such short and powerful: We missed you, Son.

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Impressions of the Country

Prices!

Prices are ridiculously high. If not the same, they are higher than in US or Canada. Living and working in America I rarely limited myself while shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables, picking what’s good, not what’s left , without breaking a budget. Now, in Ukraine, I felt myself broke. Every time leaving grocery store I had a strong sense that I’ve been ripped off. Even my higher salary, compared to money people make in Ukraine, didn’t always allow me to feed myself with healthy foods I’m used to. Healthy food selection is limited, unwillingly turning people’s heads towards highly processed and packaged alternatives. It became clear, that fresh and healthy foods are not in great demand here. However I must admit that the quality of local vegetables is outstanding. Cutting and smelling simple vegetables like tomatoes or cucumbers gave me the culinary orgasm. There is so much taste to them compared to American options. Rather than that it was an every day struggle for me, trying to eat balanced, clean diet. By the end of my vacation I lost 4 kg (9 lbs), in three weeks.

Three digit prices spread not only for groceries, but also gas and utilities. I began to ask how the hell people can afford to even survive here? I began to ask different people how they manage to survive with such crazy prices. Few conversations with locals gave me an insight into what’s going on. Listen to this: an average/typical salary in my hometown is about $200-250 /month and utilities eat up approximately $125-$150 /month!!! a half of it. Half of your lifetime, you work just to pay you utility bills to keep the water running and not freezing to death in your apartment during the cold months. What’s left is $125 which you should distribute on food, commute and other basic monthly expenses. I don’t even speak about going on vacations, eating out, buying clothing and for God’s sake, putting some money aside. Impossible! Now more questions were running in my head than ever before.

What totally blew my mind and created a cognitive dissonance is the picture I’ve been observing around. Mercedeses, BMWs, Range Rovers, Porshes were frequently passing my bus. At the restaurants, on the public transportation, at the grocery stores – everyone seemed to be holding iPhones of the latest models. Everyone dressed nice, in a good looking and not always cheap clothings. I frequently spot meat, fruits and alcohol in people’s carts at the cashier’s register. WTF?! I don’t understand how can they afford all of that? Someone please explain, because I am really confused at this point. I hear one thing, but I see completely opposite. Who’s lying here?

About two weeks later I opened my eyes. At the exit of big shopping mall I saw a very sick, poor looking grandma. She was holding a curled bunch of dill in her wrinkly hand, offering it for sale. Standing right in front of the door, she was trying to catch people’s eyes, hoping to make a sale that would bring her some few pennies. What do you think she will spend that money on? Alcohol? Drugs? Maybe gambling? I highly doubt. She will trade it for a piece of the cheapest bread or some sort of sugar, that will keep her alive for the next few days. Ughhhh I’m so mad! I went back inside to get few loafs of bread, buckwheat, and some sugars in form of cookies and fruits. She began crying, taking a bag of food off my hand…

One morning, running through the neighborhood I learned another horrific story that curbed in my memory. A lady standing on the side of the road, greeting me as I rapidly approach her. “- Good morning young man! May I ask you for a favor? – Sure, I said, what’s up? There is a grandma in the house. She fell to the floor and can’t get up, even with my assistance. Please, help me lift her up. I promise it won’t take long and I don’t have anyone else to call for help. – Of course! I agreed”. Following her into the house I got shocked of the condition the house was in. Hangout for the homeless would seem as a 5-star hotel, compare to the house of this grandma. Entering the room I saw a lady approximately 80 years old, in her underwear laying helplessly on the cold floor, next to her “bed”. She fell when she was trying to go to the restroom – a metal bucket placed in the corner of the same room. I picked her up and left as fast as I could. I couldn’t feel the ground under my legs from what I have just seen. I realized that for her, something as simple as catching a flu meant death. Breaking a leg – death. Just because she can afford any type of healthcare or drugs. I got scared.

I began to realize that there is something seriously wrong. There is no middle class. There is a huge gap in between people that are balancing between life and death, trying to simply survive and people driving Porshe, living in mansions behind tall fences. You either poor or rich.

Bars & Pharmacies

Every time I travel to a new country, new city or neighborhood I pay attention to the billboards and advertisements around me. Seeing what is being advertised and what kind of audience is being targeted gives you a really good understanding of what kind of people live here, what their lifestyles and average incomes in a given region.

Sitting on the kitchen the other day, I turned the TV on to see what Ukrainians are being fed with these days. What’s in demand and what’s being advertised? Back when I was a kid, there were alcohol and cigarets commercials everywhere. Now that they seem to be banned from television, drug commercials have taken control of advertisement time. There were 6 commercials in about 2 minutes of time and 5 of them were promoting either some drugs or medical services. 5 out of 6! Exploring the town I confirmed that the number of pharmacies and drug stores have dramatically increased since I left 5 years ago. What I’m seeing now are bars, cheap grocery stores and pharmacies along the streets. You either drink or drug yourself to death, or both.

Girls

Ukrainian girls are the prettiest. Seriously, don’t just take my word for it and go see yourself. If you’re looking to merry a model for cheap, Ukraine is the place to go. Local women might not always offer higher levels of intelligence and won’t always share your excitement about the book you read and spiritual experience you’ve had, but who cares when she’s so beautiful. Cashier registers, waitresses, bus drivers, nurses – seemed like they all were hired straight from the model agencies. I couldn’t stop enjoying to just watching the pretty faces around me.

Leaving Ukraine

Knowing the importance of planning, I’ve made a list of the things to do, places to see and people to meet wile in Ukraine. I have met with everyone I wanted and even more. I also found time for everyone who expressed the interest in meeting and chatting with me. The list of places to visit was almost covered, leaving Chernobyl and mountains of Karpaty unchecked. Considering the time and countries I’ve been to in the past few days I am ok with that. I am leaving it for my next trip to Ukraine. Head to toe health check; Ice swimming and Family photography is marked done on my to do list. The only thing that’s missing is to “Try Escargot”. Should’ve stopped at the French restaurant for the piece of exotic meat. Overall I feel pretty happy and accomplished as I achieved almost everything I planned for myself.

I am not sad that I’m leaving. I hold no hard feeling to anyone or anything. I don’t regret of anything I’ve done or said during these three weeks. I’ve said everything I wanted, I hugged everyone I wanted…I am leaving again, as I did 5 years ago. Same airport, same terminal, but with a different cargo this time. Heavy emotional backpack is resting on my shoulders.

Backpack

The same melody from the turbines plays in my ears. Three weeks later, me and Blake are on the plane back home. His head is resting on my feet, while I try to make any sense of my feelings and thoughts.

A huge invisible backpack is resting of my shoulders. It feels so heavy. Solid emotional piece of concrete with two handles I carry with me on this plane. I need to brake it into smaller digestible pieces so I can start making any sense of the feelings and thoughts it represent.

I am grateful for my body that handled so much physical and emotional stress. I am grateful for my mind for staying as clear as possible during the times of hardship. I am grateful for all the nice people I’ve met during this journey and the people that supported and believed in me, often even more than I did.

Father. I am grateful for my father and his family for their help with Blake and supporting me so much. I am so happy to see him and his wife living in piece, understanding and mutual respect. You know, when coming into someone’s house you can instantly feel the energy of the people that live there, you sense the “vibes”. Entering and staying at my father’s house, I instantly felt welcomed and warm. I felt so much piece inside of me. I could finally relax and take off my armor, even just for a few hours. I am grateful for my dad taking such a great care of me physically and mentally. I needed that warmth and care.

Mom. I am grateful for my mother, no matter what, supporting me. Even knowing she doesn’t show her love as much as I would liked, I know that she wants all the best for me and will always accept me. I feel that only by the end of my trip, we started opening up more towards each other. She went through some difficult times in her life and I respect the way she handled those situations. I am endlessly thankful for everything she’d given me and Stepan as her kids. I can not imagine how hard it was to raise two boys single handily in Ukraine, working as a military nurse. So much strength and power lives inside such a tiny body, a lady. I am admired by her courage and strength. She is a one though cookie. I am also grateful for the Universe connecting her with Dmitriy – her boyfriend. To be honest, as long as he loves and makes her happy, I don’t care about the appearances, what he does for a living, social status, amount of money on the bank account etc. From what I’ve seen – he does care about her and this is the thing that matters to me most.

Brother. I am really proud of my little brother. He is a one handsome, smart, companionate, empathetic young man. He has the biggest, kindest heart. I am grateful for him being by my side and sharing my experiences with me. He was really supportive during some of really tough times I was going through. He was quiet when necessary and cheerful at the times of happiness. Our Eurotour together will always stay in my memory as one of the greatest times I’ve even had.

What it all worth?

Right before leaving Ukraine I’ve been asked a really tough question. Does it really worth to sacrifice your family and friends, living in foreign country, far far from home? – My aunt asked.

I am glad she asked that question, after I’ve spent three weeks there. I’ve been asking same question myself many-many times, and finally I’ve got the answer. YES! It worth. That magic word – opportunities. Living in developed country gives me the opportunity to grow and develop physically, mentally, spiritually. Living in Ukraine will make it nearly impossible to train for triathlons and participate in meaningful competitions agains best of the best. It would be extremely difficult to follow my training and nutrition regimen, as well as affording necessary training equipment. Access to a clean, nutritiously rich foods is limited by crazy prices, which would force me to search for cheaper alternatives and will directly impact my health. To freely grow spiritually you should at least cover your basic needs for food, shelter and security. Living in Ukraine will shut the door to the spiritual development, as like a hamster in a wheel, you need to constantly be chasing money. I love my job, working on self-driving cars, and I realize how lucky I am to be doing what I’m doing for a living. “Find the job you like and you won’t have to work a day in your life” – that is so true, and I am really grateful to be able to understand this quote from my own experience. Entrepreneurship is another passion of mine. So many easy accessible courses, conferences, meetups that help people to implement their passion and dreams into reality. So many more opportunities to develop as an entrepreneur. These opportunities allow me not only grow in those dimensions, but essentially they give me a chance to bring something good into the world. By becoming better I can help and improve the lives of people around me. I can create something great, something better, bigger than me, that will serve others.

Unfortunately I don’t see the same back in my home country. It hurts to realize that the country I was born in, couldn’t provide me and other bright, smart young people with the opportunities for growth. I hurts to be separated from your family and friends, while in search for a better life. Of course I want to be able to just jump in my car and drive to see my mom or dad, whenever I feel like. Of course I want to spend Christmas, New Years, Easter, Independence Day holidays with the ones I love. Of course! But at this point I don’t see how this dilemma can be resolved.

Close your eyes and imagine 2019 is over.

New Year gives us a chance to start from the “blank page”. It gives hope that things will magically change, making all the dreams come true. In the new year we are all billionaires, fit, and happy. New Year is just another version of magical “tomorrow”, where we start eating healthy, exercise, and live meaningful lives. I share with you a goal setting approach that will help you define and prioritize your goals for the next year.

Build the Value Tree

I believe that every human has to live a balanced life. Therefore all the goals you set for yourself have to be in balance with one other.

Imagine you life, yourself as a big tree. Tree branches represent different venues of your life. The roots represent our family and friends connections, childhood experiences, memories, genes and the environment we grew up in.

What are the main areas of your life? What is important to you? (it can be your work or business, family, hobbies or sports you participate in) What hats are you wearing in those areas? What roles do you play? (you are an engineer at work, son and brother, runner or cyclist in your sport)

Build up your tree. Put tangible, material things on the left side and non-tangible to the right. The most important ones go to the tree trunk and the least important hang on the crown of the tree.

How does your materialistic side of tree look like, what’s on the other side? Is your tree well balanced or it will fall with the first strong wind? What’s on the bottom if it? Does it have strong roots? What’s in the core of it?

What happens to the tree when it stops growing?

It dies.

Now that you have a well balanced tree, you get a better idea of the things that truly matter for you, so you can start to think about how can you grow each branch of your tree. Growth has to be done equally on each side, keeping the tree balanced. This is a continuous process and it never stops, which is great as we’re not striving for the end result, but we enjoy the process, remember?

Think about how can you grow spiritually? How can you improve your mind and body? How much of do you wish to have? What things do you want to own? What experiences do you want to have? How can you improve or maintain a good health? By answering those questions, you essentially form your goals to strive for.

Health

“WHEN HEALTH IS ABSENT, WISDOM CANNOT REVEAL ITSELF, ART CANNOT MANIFEST, STRENGTH CANNOT FIGHT, WEALTH BECOMES USELESS, AND INTELLIGENCE CANNOT BE APPLIED

HEROPHILUS

What does good health mean to you? Why do you want to be healthy? How long do you want to live for? Why do you need to live for this long?

Example:

I will live 114 years (1 million hours) so I can bring as much good into the World as I could. 

To get you started, below I provide a few examples of how you could grow within health and relationships dimensions.

Mind

How can develop and grow your mind? Why do you need a strong mind? You could develop sharp and clear mind by:

  • Staying curious
  • Asking questions
  • Reading daily
  • Learning new skills
  • Eliminating negative self-talking
  • Testing stereotypes

Body

What type of body do you want to have? Why? What will it give you? How can you get it? For example, you may want to maintain a strong, ill-free body. You could do it by:

  • Exercising daily
  • Eating clean, nutritiously rich foods
  • Resting enough
  • Hydrating

Spirit

How do you want to grow spiritually? What do you want to accomplish in this area of your life? As an example, you could foster a strong, free spirit by:

  • Helping selflessly
  • Inspiring others
  • Meditating daily
  • Practicing breathing techniques
  • Accepting and loving yourself
  • Carrying for others
  • Giving back
  • Living with purpose
  • Getting outside in nature
  • Grounding yourself

Relationships

How do you see yourself inn relation to others? What role do you play in other people’s lives? Below are some examples of what the answers could be:

A happy and lovely father that serves as a role model for his kids. In a relationship with women, where you share strong love, respect and affection for each other. Strong, wise and powerful leader of your family. Supportive, carrying and loving son to your parents providing them with all they need. Role model for your family, friends and people around, providing them with mentorship, support and inspiration.

Enjoy the journey

Some people just enjoy checking boxes. They feel accomplished getting the end result, getting things done. The end result is usually clearly defined so they know exactly when they’ve arrived to it. It is important to get to the destination as fast as possible, utilizing all the resources necessary along the way. They are sprinters, running fast, keeping the eyes on the prise.

Other people careless about the actual result or reward, they enjoy the journey. They like the process of getting to the destination. They are marathoners, going slower but more mindful. They consistently put work day in, day out. Arriving to the finish line, they often feel empty and lost as the journey is over.

By my nature, I am a marathoner and I choose to focus on the journey. The goal, or the end result is nothing more than just a pin dropped on the map. It’s a North Star for your tiny boat in the ocean of life. The exciting part is figuring out how to get there.

Fruits and Feelings

Now that you’ve got the draft of your goals, imagine you have achieved each one of them. How do you want to feel when you get there? Accomplishing a goal does not always make us feel the way we assumed it would. Therefore ask yourself: How do I want to feel crossing the finish line? How will I feel accomplishing this goal of mine? Will I be proud of myself? Will I feel satisfied and accomplished? Or I’ll feel exhausted and empty? Write down, next to every goal of yours, how achieving it will make you feel. It is an important step, which will synchronize the mind with heart, feelings with your ambitions and will bring more clarity to the vision of your future.

You’re not a robot to move from task to task, and it’s very important to keep yourself motivated. You need to put some fruits, the treats on the branches of your tree. Pick the biggest, the hardest goals from your list and answer the question: How will I treat myself when achieving this goal? You need to praise yourself for the work that you’ve done to keep going, maintaining enthusiasm and positive outlook. You could praise yourself by buying that new iPhone that you wanted, or going onto the fishing tour with your buddies, or maybe simply going out to the nice restaurant. The only requirement here is that it has to bring you joy and happiness.

Make things happen

Setting yourself the goals is energy demanding process. I suggest you do it in quiet place, completely relaxed and well rested. Keep your mind clear and your spirit free. It takes time, so don’t rush. Don’t plan to finish it in a few hours or one day. It can take weeks and a lot of thinking with writing. But once you finished, you will have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish and where you going. Believe in yourself and stop wishing. Some people wish things to happen, some people want them to happen. Be the person that MAKE things happen. You are the only one who’ve got the power to turn whats on your paper to reality.

How much does it cost to eat healthy in Canada?

For the past 5 years that I spent living in USA, I got accustomed to its cost of living at different cities and pricing politics at the grocery stores. I love shopping at the farmers markets and would always give preference towards fresh, organic produce over it’s cheaper alternatives. Moving to Canada made me reassess my spending behaviors, as the cost of healthy foods seemed to be more expensive, compared to where I’m coming from. Out of curiosity and the will to save some money I made a little experiment. I was wondering of how much do I have to spend to continue eat as clean and healthy as I’m used to. Particularly I was interested to see the costs of meats, as they tend to be the most expensive item on the receipt.  

While doing my calculations I also converted prices from CAD (canadian dollars) to ukrainian hryvnia for my Ukrainian friends. 

According to Dr. Google ₴1 = $21


With my level of physical activity I stick around with 1 gram of protein per pound of lean weight, or approximately 2 grams per 1 kg of body weight. When it comes to the source of protein, I typically give preference to fish, chicken and beef. I stay away from eggs, dairy or “engineered” sources, aka protein bars etc. From time to time I would supplement with organ meats and protein shakes, but only as an addition to my daily meals. Based on my meat preferences, and the fact that I’m pretty lean, I calculated weekly protein requirements off my weight of 68-70 kg:

One week (7 days) worth of protein: 150 g/day (1 g * 1 lb of lean body mass).

If we translate it into the cooked foods, it will look like this:

Cooked:

Wild Salmon: 4.5 kg (10 lb) * 150 = 600 g/day

Chicken Breast: 3.3 kg (7.3 lb) * 150 = 500 g/day

Angus Beef: 5 kg (11 lb) * 150 = 700 g/day


Raw:

Different factors can play a role in how much your meat shrinks. The cut of meat and cooking methods are the main factors. Dry-cooking methods like roasting yield the most shrinkage. 

Using 25% shrinkage as the guideline I calculated the amount of raw product I will need to buy in order to get the needed amount of protein after cooking.

Wild Salmon: (4.5 kg (10 lb) * 25%) + 4.5 kg (10 lb) = 5.6 kg (12.3 lb)

Chicken Breast: (3.3 kg (7.3 lb) * 25%) +3.3 kg (7.3 lb) = 4.1 kg (9 lb)

Angus Beef: (5 kg (11 lb) * 25%) + 5 kg (11 lb) = 6.3 kg (14 lb)

With these numbers in mind I went to the grocery store…


Wild Atlantic Salmon

12.49 lb (5.66 kg) = $82.31 (₴1728.5)

$82.31 / 7 days = $11.7 /day (₴245.7)

Cooked in the oven at 425 F for 20-30 minutes, with no oils. 

Raw: 12.49 lb (5.66 kg)

Cooked: 10.4 lb (4.7 kg)

I LOVE SALMON. This is my most favorite source of protein, but unfortunately the most expensive among three. It’s a great source of Omega-3 fats that are so essential to counterbalance the Omega-6 ones that are so prevalent in modern foods. Too much of this fish may cause bloating and gas.  


Chicken Breast

9.33 lb (4.2 kg) = $37.05 (₴778.05)

$37.05 / 7 days = $5.30 /day (₴111.3)

Raw: 8.7 lb (3.95 kg) (after removing from packaging and re-weighting myself. Delta: 0.63 lb (300g))

Grilled: 2.85 kg. Delta: 2.42 lb (1.1 kg) lost in cooking.

My preference towards chicken is somewhere between fish and beef. It’s still a bit hard on digestive system, but I like it because of it’s price accessibility  and “purity” of protein.


Angus Beef

10.78 lb (4.9 kg) = $53.82 (₴1130.2)

$53.82 / 7 days = $7.7 /day (₴161.7)

Raw: 10.78 lb (4.9 kg)

Grilled: 6.72 lb (3.05 kg)

Delta is minimal.

Beef is not my favorite among three meats for the following reasons: it’s hard on digestion system; cooking of it takes more time and leaves a lot of mess to clean; it’s hard to chew on and it always stuck in your teeth. The main reason why I still implement beef into my diet is because of its fats. I never shy away from buying the fattest pieces of meat, as the animal fat it contains is essential for hormonal productions in our bodies.


Conclusions:

As expected, salmon is the most expensive source of protein. It costs about $12 (₴252) a day to cover my protein needs with fish. Choosing chicken instead would drop price by half, only $5.30 (₴111.3) a day. Beef lays in between, with its moderate price of $7.7 (₴161.7) a day, and on the last place due to my personal preference. 

Eating only salmon for a month would cost me about $329.2 (₴6913.2). Chicken: $148.2 (₴3112.2). Beef: $215.3 (₴4521.3).

I can save money the following ways:

  • Alternate fish and chicken on a weekly or bi-weekly basis
  • Eat just the chicken
  • Supplement with protein shakes
  • Find and shop at the cheaper places
  • Buy in bulk and freeze it
  • Eat less

Icing or Mental Training

I am a strong believer in the power of mind. Strong mind is what makes elite the elite, either in sport, business or life in general. To achieve great results, to brake out of the comfort zone requires at least 101% of effort. Nothing great in the world were achieved without struggle, paint, tears and sweat. Dare to struggle, dare to win.

I will share with you the simple technique that will improve your mental toughness, will make you healthier and will boost you with the energy so you rock your day.

Few facts about your body:

  • Your body is tuned to optimally operate within 20-21°C (68-71°F)
  • 125,000 km (77,671 mi) of blood vessels running through your body. It’s enough to go around the world 3 times! Just think about that for a sec. 
  • There are two types of fat in your body: White fat and Brown fat. Brown fat is keeping your body warm by utilizing glucose and fat. Newborn babies don’t shiver as they have a lot of brown fat to keep them warm. People who live in the colder climates have more brown fat than those that are not. By exposing to cold, overweight people loose weight by fueling brown fat with the white one.

When I take ice baths:

My body closes blood flow to less important parts of my body to remain in homeostasis by keeping the core temperature above 35°C  (95°F). Blood rushes from the skin and muscles into the organs to keep the body temperature within healthy range. The more cold your body gets, the more blood vessels in my my arms and legs contract to ensure that the heart, liver, kidneys get enough blood to continue working. This is why you may feel burning or tingling sensations in your toes and fingers. By taking a cold shower or ice bath you essentially train your blood vessels to open and close, just like training your muscles. 

Known health benefits from exposing your body to cold:

  • Improves blood circulation
  • Activates brown fat 
  • Trains you heart and cardiovascular system
  • Improves immune system by increasing the amount of leukocytes, which helps fighting against viruses, parasites, bacteria and foreign substances
  • Clears your skin and making it soft 
  • Charges you with energy. Adrenaline and dopamine levels rise instantly, giving you the “energy boost” 
  • Improves your mood

What do I get from it? 

Besides the health benefits outlines above, there are additional reasons I personally found for myself:

  • Its a good mental training
  • It raises my self-confidence and gives me the sense of accomplishment. A mini-win over my mind
  • Speeds up the recovery after training session
  • It helps me to clear the mind and fight negative feelings
  • I get the sense of stillness and connection of my mind and body

It’s not all just about the cold!

There are two parts of the exercise: breathing and cold. The breathing part is not intended to relax you. It is there to enable you to control your mind and body.

It’s not all just about getting cold!

Ice bath, or cold shower is only the tool that allows you train your mind. Think of it as a mental gym. Just as if I would go to the gym to train my body, I dive into the ice to train my mind.

Step 1. Take contrast showers:

contrast shower is simple. You just alternate between hot and cold water. The hot water opens your blood vessels and increases blood circulation, and the cold water contracts your blood vessels and decreases blood flow. While on the beginning you wont be able to stay long under the cold water, with time you will get more used to it and will even start to like it. When you open up the cold water, naturally you will start breathing fast. The trick here is to calm your breath by breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly. Control your breathing. Week by week slowly increase the time under the cold shower, and remember the main thing – breathe slowly and deeply. With time the ratio between hot:cold will decrease and you will be able to stay under the cold shower much longer and it won’t shock you as much as it did on the beginning. Practice it in the morning or first part of the day. 

Step 2. Take ONLY cold showers:

Now that you’ve been playing with contrast showers for a while, cold water doesn’t feel as cold and you significantly increased the time you spend in the blue zone. It’s time to level up. In the morning, right after you woke up, jump into the cold shower right away. Remember: the trick here is to calm your breath – breathe slowly and deeply. Begin from 60-90 seconds, then step out of the shower and dry your body with a towel as fast as you can. Day by day slowly increase the time under the cold water.

Step 3. Superman Level: 

Fill your tub with a cold water. Add the ice. Don’t think, just jump in! The more you think, the less likely you will do it. When you’re in, focus on your breath. As I already mentioned before, deep breathing is the key. If your breathing is fast and shallow, you will start panicking and your reflexes will take over, forcing you out of the ice water.  Breathe slowly and deeply, watch your breath. The second you noticed your mind started wandering, come back to your breathing. Don’t sit in the ice for too long. I would say a minute would be a good start, and then slowly progress.

Your breathing is the link between the physical, material world and the spiritual, non-tangible world.

It’s all Good Mental Training

It’s been almost a year since I started taking cold showers. There wasn’t a single day that I missed a cold shower or an ice bath. When people hear that I dive into the ice they usually say: It’s just not so cold for you anymore, or, You’re from Ukraine, You’re used to it. It brings up the smile on my face to hear those excuses people find for themselves why not to do it. I took the cold shower approximately 365 time and let me tell you, there wasn’t a single time that I felt like taking it. Every time I left my warm bed and came up to the shower, my mind would give me million legitimate reasons why I shouldn’t do it. 365 time I forced myself to open the cold water. 365 times I won the internal battle between ME and MY MIND. 365 times I stepped out of the shower as a winner. 365 times I trained my mental muscle and strengthen it. The cold showers are still as cold for me as they were a year ago, but now my mind is much stronger. The ability to control the mind doesn’t stop in the tub of ice, it impacts all the areas of my life. I put the reins on the crazy “monkey mind” of mine. It allows me to step back and take control over the impulsive behaviors, I wasn’t even aware of before. It allows me to do the right things when I don’t want to, when I’m being lazy or tired. It allows me to push through discomfort and pain. It opens up the whole new, previously unreachable world.  

A few useful tips:

  • Don’t think about taking the cold shower. Don’t think how cold and uncomfortable it will get. Don’t let your mind talk you out of it.
  • Focus just on stepping into the shower. Period. Just step in, the rest will follow.
  • When in cold, focus on what follows. Think of how good the warm water will feel afterwards and how good you will feel about yourself.
  • Remember, the cold shower won’t lats forever, but the mental strength will.