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Preparing for a Successful Lifestyle Change: Part 2

Habits and Affirmations

If a ship does not have a clear sense of direction, it will go around in circles. Making a healthy lifestyle change and a new, younger me is much like a ship traveling from point A to point B; one needs a clear direction! Because of this, and to help guide my new healthy lifestyle, I’ve focused on cultivating solid habits and affirmations.

I’ve done a lot of research on reversing the aging process, but the resource that best sums up my goal is Deepak Chopra’s book Grow Younger, Live Longer. In it, Chopra outlines various steps we can take to actually grow younger through nutrition, exercise, proper rest, etc.

Inspired by this idea, I have set my year-end biostat (biological statistic) goal to become 39 years old. I know I am 47 years old, but biologically I want to finish this year at an age of 39. To lay a foundation for lifestyle change that will help me accomplish my goal, I’ve incorporated habits and affirmations into my daily life.

My Daily Affirmation

My affirmation sums up all the areas in which I want to invest making a successful lifestyle change, in elegant Chopra style. I read it every morning and check in to review if my ship is moving into the right direction toward age reversal. 39 is a bit ambitious but I believe it is feasible. This summer I am planning to conduct further bio tests — a bit difficult to conduct in Malawi — and hopefully I will arrive at this number.

Here is my affirmation:

“Every day in every way I am increasing my mental and physical capacity. My biostat is set at a healthy 39 years of age. I look and feel like a healthy 39 year old. To reverse my biological age, I will begin by changing my perception of my body, its aging, and time. I do this through the following:

  • Two kinds of rest (restful awareness and restful sleep)
  • By nurturing my body through healthy foods,
  • By using nutritional compliments wisely
  • By enhancing mind/body integration
  • Through exercise
  • By eliminating toxins from my life
  • By cultivating flexibility and creativity and consciousness
  • Through love and by maintaining a youthful mind.”

I translated this affirmation into a 6-pillar development plan in this post to put this lifestyle change into practice. And if you haven’t read the first blog post on preparing for a healthy lifestyle change and crucial time management in order to do so, read it here. Like time management, habits and affirmations are an important part of building a foundation for lifestyle change.

Conscious vs. Subconscious mind

To achieve my goal I have incorporated a lot of different routines. It’s a little bit like driving on autopilot. When you start driving a car, you don’t start by thinking, “Let me put by hand onto the steering wheel, let me start the car, shift the gear, press the break, look trough the window.” You do these things almost automatically. Your brain is trained to do them effortlessly.

But remember your first driving lesson, how nervous you were and how challenging driving was at that time?

To me all these new routines are similar, and once I moved these habits (through the use of my affirmation) into my subconscious mind, they become effortless. They are now an automatic part of my day. I am happy when I realize later that I am on track and moving forward.

On the other hand, my conscious mind is busy focusing on the main goals I have set for my day, the challenges I am trying to solve, and the results I am trying to achieve.

It is an elegant balance between moving forward in my growth and being able to accomplish everything scheduled in my day. They are not conflicting but rather they are complementary in moving towards growth.


One of the hardest things to establish are habits. You might say, ” I don’t have time to do that,” or “My day is already busy,” or “I don’t have the energy or motivation for a new routine.”

Trust me, I was the same way!

But then I came across Andy Ramage and his One Year No Beer (OYNB) program. When I joined OYNB in 2017 the only thing I did was listen to Andy’s thoughts on establishing goals and habits. I listened with disbelief because everything sounded so unrealistic and so far removed from my life. It sounded great, wonderful, but how the hell can I (little me) achieve this?

But then something changed. I took little, tiny steps into the direction he suggested. I started with a few minutes, reflected on the results and then started to expand on new habits and new routines.

Life is a daily journey, and it is about realizing and welcoming every single moment and appreciating what we have. When you grow a habit like you would grow a seed into a plant, you are building a strong foundation, and therefore something that has the chance to be sustainable and to be with you for a long time.

Habits are not doing the same thing every day in the exact same way. A habit (like a plant) needs to be adjusted, pruned, changed up. It is that flexibility, the openness to drop a habit and try a new thing which makes a habit powerful and eternal.

Now I probably have about 50 habits I am focusing on every day and I love it. I love the fact that I am investing in my future and health while having fun in the present and that I am on track of achieving my goals.

Pinterest Sized Graphic

How to Translate The Taste Of Fine Water

The natural substance water per se tends to be tasteless” wrote Aristotle and many people around the world share this view.

I respect Aristotle but I do not agree. As a sommelier my taste buds became sensitive to everything that they experience and that includes water. Water contains minerals and these minerals influence the way we experience this lifesaving liquid. Water is an essential component of our food.

How to you describe the taste of water?

When I ask friends, I normally get the response: “Water tastes like water” or “Water tastes like nothing, it has no taste”.

Deep inside of my sommelier heart, I feel challenged, I see an opportunity to bring more clarity. Actually when you watch videos of Martin Riese or Michael Masha, you get a good sense of how to describe water tastes and we learned about that a great deal during the studies with the Fine Water academy.

What can I add to this conversation?

My starting point as always is my experience as a tea sommelier. Describing tea is both an art and a science. During my tea studies I used a tasting wheel, which has different categories and sub categories on describing the different tastes of tea.

This is a well-established tool and it got me thinking:

How about a Water tasting wheel?

Would people be interested in such a tool? Would it help the water industry to make the taste of water more visible? I thought about this many times and here are my initial thoughts. It’s a fun process so come along with me on this ride.

The first challenge is how to break down the taste of water into different sections on the wheel. I first started with the obvious. Water with bubbles and water without bubbles. There is clearly a taste bud distinction in these two areas. We experience still water differently than sparkling water. But how to integrate with the different level of TDS? Normally there are sparkling waters which also have a high TDS, but there are also sparkling waters with low TDS. What to do?

Some of the initial words on water taste came to my mind:clean, fresh, energizing, vibrant, delicate, soft and dull.


The normal taste categories like sweet, sour, salty, bitter,even umami would be a good option. In my tea studies with the World Tea Academy I learned not to use generic words to describe tastes (such as “This tea tastes sweet”, my teacher always reminded me to be more descriptive, such as “This tea tastes like a dandelion flower or sweet as maple honey”. So the tastes of the water should be very descriptive beyond the standard taste categories.

I like the take, Nestle has taken in their water taste glossary:   It’s a good starting point to get some ideas for terms on how to best describe waters.

Somehow we also need to take into consideration the categories which the fine water society has outlined :

The trick will be to combine all these elements onto a flavor wheel.

Stay away from ‘pure’

A big no-no is the word ‘pure’. The fine water industry is clearly separating itself from the concept of ‘pure’ water and that is good so. Pure water is not desired, purified water is not fine water. The most extreme, distilled water is actually damaging to the human body as it is missing crucial minerals which the body needs. I still remember the water module during my tea studies, when I was living in Italy.

We were asked to brew tea in distilled water to describe the difference to regular water or spring water (more on this you can find in the final project in the fine water academy). Distilled water in Italy is sold in Pharmacies. When I mentioned to the Pharmacists that I am planning to drink the distilled water, his look turned very concerned and heal most did not sell me the distilled water. He said : Don’t drink the water it is dangerous, not good for human body!”. When I needed a second bottle, I actually had to go to another pharmacy to avoid this crazy discussion. Yet in the US, distilled water is marketed as healthy water in the supermarket.


When we describe a taste we link it normally to a memory of another tasting experience. I do this with tea. Once I take a sip of a tea I close my eyes and reflect on what that taste reminds me of. It would be a flower, a fruit I have tasted in a market or something familiar from where I used to live.

Another perspective on water taste description comes from one of my idols in the tea industry, Master Tseng from the tea house La Maison de trois tes. I love her vibrant tasting notes, which bring pictures of water to life. It is an interesting concept.

Here are her tasting notes of Aqua Panna:

With a hint of wet granite. It is like discovering a clear stream. It has a light, almost silky, texture. Its balanced taste combines salty, bitter and sweet elements and conjures up wet white pebbles”.


I just love the concept of reflecting tastes based on elements we find in nature. This is what tasting is all about. It is vibrantly describing for your audience how you experience a taste and making it as appetizing and romantic as possible so we can connect to that experience.

I hope I did inspire you a bit and when you taste your next sip of water, try to describe how you experience this taste.

I think I just touched on the tip of a wonderful iceberg and will continue exploring this subject.

Stay Thirsty!

Restarting the Man With a Mug Blog -80 Pounds Lighter!

It has been a while since my last blog post, which has mainly to do with my emergency response job at the World Food Programme here in Myanmar. Our response to battling hunger in this country is complex and requires dedicated effort and lots of time in remote locations.

In the back of my mind I continued to think about the blog and how it can add value to the tea community. And when I saw an article in a local paper, that a German tea company has placed a large order for Myanmar tea… I knew I had to start sharing my stories about this wonderful tea country again.

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A Trip to a Yangon Supermarket – A Closer Look at the Tea Aisle

A few weeks ago, while on vacation in the US, I went to an ordinary supermarket, curious what the regular consumer can expect when in the mood for tea.

I was a bit disappointed to see convenience ruling over quality. Rows of teabags of all sorts, not that there is something wrong with it, but it would be nice to give the regular consumer some choice; an avenue to explore towards new heights and infinite better quality.

In all fairness it is getting a bit better when compared to years ago as some loose leaf tea has found their way to the shelves. However it’s still a far cry away from the wonderful complexity and taste wonderland that is the loose leaf tea world.

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