Decades 1 and 2: you typically learn how to be a so-called ‘individual’ and ‘find yourself’ and are told to “follow your dreams”…
…but at the same time are also advised to “play it safe” because if you steer too far off course you could “end up broke” or “homeless” and are hence smacked down into a safe zone of “reality” (most often by parents, teachers, & guidance counselors).
Bad habits (i.e. junk food, alcohol abuse, lack of sleep, too much partying, stimulant abuse, anxiety, stress, etc) often set the stage for what is to come.
The third and fourth decades: typically spent trying to acquire as much material wealth as possible (often at the expense of your own health). Serious health disorders acquired in this phase often include: obesity, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, cardiovascular issues, autoimmune disorders, and cancers.
The 5th and 6th decades: typically spent cramming yourself full of pharmaceutical drugs in a delusional attempt to cure yourself of the self-inflicted damage from decades 3 and 4. The material wealth acquired in decades 3 and 4 is often spent trying to regain health and/or to support maintenance/remission of chronic disease.
The 7th and 8th decades: for the few that are lucky enough to make it this far, you are typically sent out to pasture and removed from the tribe. Your last days are often spent contemplating what you could have done or changed earlier in life to avoid this nightmare & escape the pain.
The 9th and 10th decades: lol who are we kidding; Americans never live this long anymore.
While the scenario painted above may sound a bit drastic and extreme, it happens a lot more than we think…
…but the good news is that this depressing scenario is preventable in most cases as most of the common factors that contribute to the vast majority of diseases we face to day in modern society (stress, not getting enough sleep, lack of exercise, poor diet, abuse of prescription and over the counter drugs) are things we can control.
Your risk of deteriorating health and/or early death (and avoidance of the scenario above) can be mitigated in my opinion by focusing on the following 5 categories: Training, Diet, Health, Mental, & Emotional. I like to call these ‘The 5 Pillars of Strength’.
I believe we need to be strong in all 5 categories if we want to live a long, healthy, prosperous life that’s full of strength, vitality, energy, and fun – and all 5 of these components should work together to help us achieve maximum strength, optimal health and help prevent the all too common scenario portrayed above.
So with that said…
Here’s my Manifesto of Health & Strength (Updated for 2014):
Start Lifting Heavy Asymmetric Objects – I can’t stress how important it is to progressively build up your strength and constantly push yourself to lift heavier weights – however, you may eventually reach a point of diminishing returns if you only train using conventional techniques (i.e. barbell & dumbbell).
This is why I strongly recommend my advanced readers to incorporate ‘underground lifts’ like sandbags, kegs, and atlas stones into their training regimen. These types of lifts/movements will help you get stronger in ways dumbbells and barbells can’t…and can help transform you into an absolute beast of strength.
Lifting, carrying, throwing and loading stones are the original tests of strength dating back thousands of years – the original ‘beastmode’ lifts you could say. Use these old school techniques to your advantage to get stronger, more explosive, and more powerful. To learn more about this style of underground strength training click HERE.
Always Train To Get Stronger – There was a time when men still trained like men and people moved heavy weights to gain size and strength. A time when dudes used to walk or run on off days to maintain their conditioning and bodyfat levels. Nobody did four weekly 30 minute circuits of swings, burpees and snatches. You know why? Because that shit makes you small and weak, pumps you full of cortisol, destroys your joints, and negatively affects your strength training.
Just like my dude Jason Ferruggia says, “It ain’t strength training unless you’re gettin’ strong.” It’s time to quit doing the pretty boy “fat loss” circuits and load up the bar with some heavy ass weight. Training with heavier weights will not only help you increase your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and increase muscle size and strength, but also help you accomplish incredible feats of strength like effortlessly tearing off your shirt off at the pool.
So if you want to get stronger you don’t need to get cute, just stick to the basics. A mix of heavy compound lifts like (military presses, squats, deadlifts, pullups, rows, etc), bodyweight exercises, olympic lifts, and strongman exercises is your best bet.
Start Doing Cardio (i.e. Sprint More Often) – Sprint training is arguably the purest, most powerful training tool to help you lose fat, build muscle, and become stronger + more explosive. It can also help improve cardiovascular and lung health, improve conditioning and insulin sensitivity, boost metabolism, and also improve total body composition.
Don’t get me wrong, cardio sucks. It’s boring and I hate it. Jogging on a treadmill is one of the most boring things you can ever do in life. It’s also one of the most un-athletic things you can do. Did I mention it’s also boring?
Sprinting also sucks, it’s hard and nobody really likes to do it…but cardio (especially sprinting) is good for cardiovascular health…it helps you lose fat (to get six pack abs), and it can also increase your aerobic capacity and conditioning. Sprinting can be of tremendous benefit (when done correctly) and should definitely be included in your workout plan.
Start Running Backwards – I was first introduced to backwards running in college when my coaches used to make our team run the backwards mile for time and backwards hill sprints. When you run backwards, your muscles fire differently as backwards running requires nearly 30% more energy than running forward at the same speed.
Backwards running is also a great way to burn calories (it burns more than running forward) – it can also improve muscular balance & coordination, help you maintain a more upright posture, and also lessens the pounding on your knees and joints.
Use Dynamic Stretching – This form of stretching gets the body ready for action by using motions that simulate real athletic situations. It is believed to increase blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues prior to physical activity as well as improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Start Trampoline Jumping – Poor lymph flow is common in sedentary folks and people who have poor diets, causing toxins to accumulate in the body and disease to take hold as the lymphatic system is a major dumping ground for waste products and toxins.
However, trampoline jumping (it’s actually called rebounding) is a little used technique that’s believed to help kick a sluggish lymph system into high gear to help the fluid start moving in order to flush out toxins and debris from your body. It’s believed to strengthen the immune system, improve circulation, and help release toxins.
Train Like A Prisoner – Inmates have a remarkable ability to get jacked using minimal equipment, eating terrible food, and without using expensive whey protein or supplements. So if you’re looking for a simple way to get bigger, stronger, and more jacked than you ever thought possible, start doing this prison workout once or twice a week.
Use Your Brain When You’re Injured – There’s nothing more annoying than a nagging injury that keeps you from training as hard as you want to. So if you’re battling an injury, here are a few tips that will help you train through it so that you won’t miss significant time away from the gym. The last thing you want to do is have a minor injury turn into a chronic injury by being a stubborn meathead.
Keep A Training Journal – Keeping track of your progress will help you measure results and track your progress to see if whatever you’re doing (or not doing) is working. It’s important to note that if you want to make consistent progress, you’ve got to stick with one workout or diet plan long enough to make it work. Don’t be a serial program jumper. There’s no “world’s greatest” program that’s going to magically increase your gains. So give that new program a legit shot for 4-8 weeks and track the hell out of it to see if it actually produces legit results.
Train For The Right Reasons – Don’t be one of the lame clowns you see all over Facebook and Instagram these days who only trains for personal vanity, glory, compliments, and likes. Instead, train for fun. Train because you love the process. Train because you love the battle. Train to express yourself. Train because that’s what the human body was built to do.
Have A Strong Work Ethic – If you’ve ever wondered why many people you meet these days remain average (in the gym, at work, in relationships, etc) for most of their lives it’s usually because they simply don’t work hard enough and/or never completely apply themselves. Hard work, diligence, and consistency will take you further in life than you can even imagine.
Keep Things In Perspective – Yes, you’ve got to put in work if you want to achieve success but keep in mind that hard work does not always equal success. You’re going to win some, and you’re going to lose some. You train hard to hit your goals, but training hard alone isn’t necessarily enough to get the job done every time.
Of course hard work definitely increases the probability of success, but the false notion that putting in work always results in amazing success can destroy your motivation and leave you frustrated if you train hard and then fail.
With that said, I recommend you stop making “results” a training priority. When you train with a result-oriented mindset, you may achieve your goals but sometimes the results you achieve are not as satisfying as you hoped. When this happens, your success may feel like more of a relief than a feeling of excitement.
If you fall in this category you may often feel relieved after a win, and winning is never truly fulfilling for you. Wins usually bring feelings of relief rather than excitement. Competition creates fear and anxiety because the thought of losing is simply too big of a threat. Plateaus, losses, and setbacks bring discouragement, anxiety, stress, and depression. This happens when you train with what I like to call an ‘Outside In‘ approach.
Focus On Health First And Physique Second – The primary goal of your nutrition plan should be to promote optimal health. Only after you have truly focused on health will you start to see faster progress made on the secondary goals such as getting ripped, building muscle, and looking awesome naked.
With that said, the first thing you need to do is to stop following the traditional “bodybuilder style” diet where you eat 6 or 7 meals a day that that consists of only saltless, boiled chicken breast, lectin loaded cereal grains, rice, and various veggies. In my opinion, this is one of the most unhealthy diet approaches you can follow (not to mention it’s boring and drives you nuts).
Sure, traditional bodybuilding diets can definitely get you “jacked” but they can also create vitamin & mineral deficiencies, allergies, gastrointestinal issues, and severe hormonal imbalances. Eating 6 meals a day also places a ton of digestive stress on the human body. I’ve also found that the traditional bodybuilding diet can create a ton of inflammation, which is arguably the number one thing we need to control if we want to sustain long-term health.
Reduce Inflammation – Inflammation kills us all, so one of your top priorities should be to reduce/eliminate inflammation by any means necessary. From a dietary perspective, this means not excessively consuming grains (especially processed, hybrid, or GMO grains), and eliminating wheat, sugar, dairy, soy, and all processed foods from your diet.
Practice Intermittent Fasting – Periodic fasting allows the liver to detox, replenishes your body’s enzyme pool, and reduces much of the stress digestion places upon the human body.
Focus On Gut Health – Improve your digestive health by taking a probiotic and digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes help your body break food down so it can be absorbed and used by every cell in your body. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that reside within the gastrointestinal tract that are essential for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. They help replenish the good bacteria in your gut which is often destroyed by eating crappy food and using antibiotics.
Like I mentioned above, I do not advise abusing your digestive system consistently using prehistoric nutrition practices (i.e. eating six meals per day), as this practice can place unnecessary stress on the body. Humans were not designed to digest food every two or three hours.
Eat High Quality Food – In order for your body to stay healthy and function at its peak, you’ve got to provide it with the highest quality fuel. I try to buy my groceries at local farmers markets as much as I can, but I also hit up Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Sprouts, etc as well and only buy foods (especially meats) that are of the highest quality.
I know it can be difficult (the prices are higher and these types of stores aren’t always close to your home) but try your best to purchase organic meat and produce that’s hormone and antibiotic free, wild caught fish (avoid farm raised fish), and pesticide free fruits and veggies.
Eat Real Food – This one is a no-brainer but I need to point it out anyway as it’s critically important for success: you’ve got to eat high quality food if you want to stay healthy, get stronger, and increase performance. If you aren’t sure what ‘eat real food’ truly means, here is a surefire way to test it out. Just look at the ingredients. If the item has more than three ingredients…or if there are a few ingredients that you can’t pronounce or have no idea what they are, chances are that “food” isn’t real.
For example, if you’re buying chicken from the grocery store and you look at the packaging and the ingredients say something like this: Chicken breast with rib meat, water, seasoning salt, sugar, food starch-modified, maltodextrin, spices, dextrose, autolyzed yeast extract, garlic powder, paprika, chicken fat, hydrolyzed corn gluten, soy, wheat gluten, proteins, caramel color, polysorbate 80, xanthan gum, onion powder, chicken broth, natural flavors (plant and animal source), extractives of paprika, modified potato starch, sodium phosphates, etc… chances are that food fails the eye test.
Use Greens Powder – Most of the top greens supplements out there are loaded with a ton of helpful vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and superfoods that will also help boost performance as well as strengthen your immune system. Supplementing with a high quality greens supplement can also give you more energy and help you recover faster.
Cheat Occasionally – I’m sure you’ve heard a ton of people on Facebook & Twitter say corny crap like “Team No Days Off” or “Team Eat Clean 24/7” bla bla. Yawn. Health and fitness are great. Sure it’s a lifestyle, but don’t let the lifestyle consume you and make your life miserable. Have an occasional cheat meal every now and then. Your body will thank you and so will your friends.
Skip Breakfast – Breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day, sorry broscience dudes. Listen, regardless of what these guys may tell you about the importance of breakfast on Facebook or in the Bodybuilding Forums, there’s a ton of research out that tell us just the opposite. Breakfast IS NOT as important as we all once thought it was. We can all afford to push breakfast back an hour or two, go longer between meals, and eat a ton of calories at night.
I don’t think there is one single “most important meal of the day” actually. I think that every meal you eat should work synergistically with the other meals to help you achieve your goals. Dumb broscience quotes really annoy me. Trust the science, not the bros.
Eat More Fruit – Although many broscience dudes will disagree, sudies have shown that eating fruit can help you lose more fat. I recommend eating 3-5 servings of fresh fruit per day. Some of my favorites include: tangerines, raspberries, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, plantains, and passion fruit.
Drink More Water – Since your body is 60-70% water, it’s a no-brainer that you should drink a ton of it every day to promote optimal health. I usually try to drink at least 80-100 ounces of water daily depending how hot it is & how much I lose during my workout.
Eat Plenty Of Fiber – If you’re one of those people who skips out on fiber because you think “I don’t need it” or “that’s for old people” or “it’s embarrassing to take a fiber supplement” stop kidding yourself right now. Not only will fiber keep your bad cholesterol levels down and provide satiety to keep you from snacking between meals but it also drastically improves GI function and digestion.
Fiber also helps you reach optimal daily bowel movement frequency which promotes gut health and keeps your healthy gut flora levels high. Again, I can’t stress enough how important good digestion is when it comes to maintaining overall health – so be sure to include plenty of fiber with each meal (good sources include: apples, pears, raspberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, and almonds, etc).
PRO TIP: I recommend eating between 20-25 grams of fiber daily. I know it can be difficult to get all of the fiber you need from foods sometimes so I highly recommend using a fiber supplement to help the cause.
Avoid Tribalism – When it comes to nutrition, always try to find a plan that works for you personally instead of clinging to a dogma or following the crowd. Question your assumptions. Things are not always as they appear.
As an example, I’ve been doing a ton of research & personally testing out different types of rice for the past few months (brown, black, red, pink, white, basmati, jasmine, etc) to see which type was a good fit for me based on my goals/health/etc. (I recently cut down and eliminated many “health foods” that contain gluten, lectin and gliadin as they can be very inflammatory, especially in the gut lining).
Surprisingly, the clear winner from my self-testing is white jasmine rice, which has replaced brown rice as my every day go to starch. Contrary to popular belief about white rice being bad & unhealthy, I didn’t “lose my abs” or “get some disease from eating processed empty calories” but rather I have a lot more energy and my digestion has improved tremendously.
Also, I’ve been skipping breakfast and eating the majority of my carbs at night…which is also a deadly sin according to most of the ‘nutrition gurus’ out there. Look I may be a sinner (don’t judge me) but I’m feeling stronger and healthier than ever, and that’s all that matters my friends.
Here’s a ‘selfie’ from last week, just to show some physical proof I didn’t get fat 🙂
Maintain Optimal Hormonal Balance – One of the most important things you need to do in order to remain healthy and strong is to naturally keep your testosterone levels moderately high, estrogen levels reasonably low, and cortisol levels balanced. Your success in the gym and health outside of the gym is largely dependent on maintaining normal hormonal ranges.
So make your hormones a priority this year and start using a nutrition plan that is designed to optimally manipulate your body’s hormonal output so annoying problems like low testosterone levels, low strength, lack of stamina and virility, and stubborn fat storage do not hit you hard.
Avoid Soy & Soy Products – Soy (aka edamame) has been hyped up as a “health food” for YEARS but I refuse to eat it. The reason I avoid it is simple: Soy acts as a phytoestrogen, so it is recognized in the body as estrogen. I see no reason to give my body a hormonal surge of estrogen…and I definitely don’t want to disrupt my natural hormone levels (see above). Why risk the man boobs & mood swings? Just saying…
Don’t Overwork Your Liver – While processed foods and prescription/otc drugs may not be harmful in infrequent small amounts, consistent abuse of these substances can destroy the human body from the inside out.
You see, processed foods are generally very toxic, and they are almost instantly stored as fat. Also, your body can often mistake substances like bleaching agents, alcohol, many over the counter & prescription drugs, food additives, preservatives, and chemicals as foreign invaders – and processing these items can put an intense burden on your liver.
The liver has several metabolic functions (including glucose metabolism, protein metabolism, waste metabolism, fat metabolism, detoxification, bile production, and more) so if your liver is slowed down due to an overabundance of ingested toxins…your health and strength efforts will suffer. Be sure to avoid abusing foods/drugs that put additional stress on the liver so it can function at its peak and keep you healthy, strong, and lean.
Note: This does not mean you should stop taking your prescription medications. NEVER do that without consulting with your doctor first. This tip is just something to think about to as many of these drugs often do more harm than good.
Avoid Deadly Omega-6 Fats – There’s a ton of confusion out there regarding healthy vs unhealthy oils. To make things even more confusing, the mainstream media (and even Whole Foods Market) continue to hype up canola oil as some sort of glorified “healthy option”.
Fact is, vegetable oils (i.e. canola, corn, soybean, safflower, etc) are horrible for your health. They can rack the body with inflammation, cause you to gain weight, and even cause diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s (the Alzheimer’s risk has been linked to oxidation, heavy processing, and toxic by-products like trans-4-hydroxy-2-hexenal (HNE) that is often found in omega-6 oils).
We discussed the dangers of chronic inflammation earlier in this article (it’s linked to heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and more), and studies have shown that the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower (which are found in many processed foods) also put you at high risk for disease (most notably cardiovascular disease).
You see, even though omega-6’s are essential fats, they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s. If you consume excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that can directly cause inflammation.
Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats and most of the data show many Americans have imbalances ranging from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. This causes severe inflammation and an increased risk in all inflammatory diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and even the accumulation of unwanted body fat. Experts recommend a 3:1 ratio for optimal health and wellness.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that one tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6. One tablespoon of soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use virgin coconut oil (very stable at med-high temps and healthy fats), olive oil (only for low temp cooking – see next tip below for my reason) or butter from grass-fed beef (yes grass fed butter is actually healthy & contains several beneficial nutrients like Vitamin K2, Omega-3, and an anti-inflammatory fatty acid called Butyrate).
Note: if you are confused as to why butter is good for you and/or why saturated fats aren’t the devil, keep in mind that science tells us that saturated fats can actually improve the blood lipid profile. They raise levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and they change the LDL from small, dense (bad) to Large LDL – which is benign and not associated with heart disease. Saturated fat is actually a healthy source of energy for the human body and not a legit reason to avoid butter. To learn more about which oils and fats are healthy and which ones are deadly click HERE.
Avoid Cooking Oils Using High Heat – Like I pointed out in the tip above, there is a ton of confusion out there regarding healthy oils and their use. People often get fooled into thinking low quality oils are good for them, but they also use healthy oils improperly as well, which can lead to disease. Olive oil is a prime example of this.
Yes, olive oil is a healthy oil, but cooking any food using high heat (especially heated oils like olive) can be dangerous as it makes the food difficult to digest and has also been shown to be a contributing factor to heart disease, hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol, and even certain cancers.
There is a great book detailing the pros and cons of oils called Fats That Heal Fats That Kill by Udo Erasmus. Inside, Dr. Erasmus discusses that manufacturing processes that can turn “healthy fats” into deadly fats…and goes into great detail about the effects these fats can have on your health. This book was a real eye opener for me and I highly recommend it.
Stop Taking So Many Showers – Many people aren’t going to want to hear this one because we are so culturally conditioned to believe we need to bathe once or twice per day, but studies have shown that the skin contains beneficial bacteria (just like the gut) to help it run more efficiently. These good bacteria help your skin cells produce antibiotics that kill off bad bacteria. Over-bathing is believed to wash these good bacteria away…thus making us more prone to infection and disease.
Over-bathing can also remove the lipids and oils on your skin, making it drier and prone to flare-ups on skin conditions like eczema. I don’t think we should totally give up showering (I’m a once a day dude myself), but I think it’s important we start to recognize the importance and role of good bacteria on our skin and do our best to maintain a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria, lipids, and oils when it comes to skin.
Cut Down On Supplement Use – Stop throwing your hard earned money away on expensive, overrated, bullshit supplements. Not only does science tell us that 99% of supplements out there don’t work at all, but many of them may also do more harm than good.
Sure, some studies have suggested that certain supplements can have SOME positive effects on strength, fat loss, and performance under specific conditions – but the experimental evidence or efficacy of most of the popular supplements you see on the shelves and in the magazines these days just isn’t substantial enough to say “yes this particular supplement works”. In my opinion, most of them just flat out suck.
Avoid Taking Multi-Vitamins – I believe vitamins can be helpful when used appropriately (i.e. Folic Acid in developing fetuses, Vitamin D in breastfeeding babies, Vitamin K in newborns, Vitamin B12 in Crohn’s Disease & anemia, etc), but indiscriminate use of vitamins (especially multivitamins) probably does more harm than good.
As we should trust scientific evidence to guide our health decisions and not marketing, we need to let go of the belief that “primary prevention” and indiscriminate multivitamin supplementation is in any way beneficial to our overall health. The science behind it has never been established.
A paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine contents that “with respect to multivitamins, the studies published in this issue and previous trials indicate no substantial health benefit” and “supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention.”
With the abundance of scientific evidence out there advising against routine multivitamin supplementation, and no clear evidence that they prevent disease, I see no compelling reason for anyone to take regular multivitamin supplement. At best multivitamins are an expensive placebo. At worst, they may be harmful.
Vaccinations (Yes or N0?) – I’ve heard solid arguments on both sides of the controversial vaccine issue and there are a trillion ways to compile, quantify, manipulate, and/or present data & stats to prove or disprove just about ANY theory you want (or scientific hypothesis in certain cases) – but these guys present a very compelling argument.
Some studies have shown that main factor in the increased prevalence of autoimmune disorders over the past 30 years is the reduction in the incidence of infectious diseases. In Layman’s terms: when infectious diseases go down, autoimmune disorders go up.
The graph/data shows this to be true with roughly a 92% correlation coefficient. Could vaccinations POSSIBLY be contributing to the current increase in autoimmune and allergic diseases? There are possibly hundreds of things that play a role, but I think the math here is pretty strong.
Of course, depending on how you pull/analyze the data you can get a variety of outcomes & theories but if we assigned a weight to any of the variables here we may have to put vaccines toward the top of the ‘risk’ list. I’m definitely not an anti-vaccine guy by any means, but the data shown here is definitely interesting.
Limit Sunscreen Use – Recent studies have raised concerns about the safety of common sunscreen ingredients (i.e. Retinyl palmitate, Oxybenzone, and Octyl-methacinnamate) and various other common sunscreen ingredients, including: octyl-dimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA), 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC), octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC), bensopenone-3 (BP3), and homosalate (HMS), which were all found to have estrogenic effects and increase the risk of cancer, specifically breast cancer.
On the flip side, ultraviolet (UV) radiation is still the major environmental risk factor for nonmelanoma skin cancer and is a suspected risk factor for melanoma – and sunscreens DO prevent sunburn. Sunscreens have also been proven to be somewhat effective in preventing squamous cell carcinoma.
However, both the most numerous (basal cell carcinoma) and the most deadly (melanoma) skin cancers have little evidence for efficacy of sunscreens. Therefore, using sunscreens as an approach to skin cancer prevention for basal cell carcinoma or cutaneous malignant melanoma at this point in time is unsupported.
My advice is to just avoid sun overexposure and limit the use of sunscreens as much as possible since many of them have been reported to contain dangerous ingredients and offer basically no protection against the damaging effects of the sun at all.
Go Camping – Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder found that if you live by the sun’s schedule, you are more likely to go to bed at least an hour earlier, wake up an hour earlier and be less groggy – because your internal clock and external reality are more in sync.
Getting away from artificial light is believed to recalibrate your sleep cycles so that they are more similar to those of our ancestors. The research, published in the journal of Current Biology, also suggests camping could help you reset an internal clock gone haywire from modern living as the sun adjusts your clock back to what may be its natural state, undoing the influence of light bulbs.
Get 7 Hours Of Sleep A Night – Good sleep is one of the cornerstones of health & strength, without it you will remain small and weak…and your overall health will suffer.
It isn’t really new news to hear that a lack of sleep can negatively affect your health, but new studies have shown that your risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke are significantly increased if you sleep MORE or FEWER than seven hours a day, including naps. The study also found that sleeping less than five hours a day more than DOUBLES your risk of angina, coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
Note: sleeping more than nine hours was shown to increase your risk of cardiovascular disease by 50%.
Sleep In More Often – There are many people out there who truly believe that if you sleep in you’re “slacking” or “being lazy” — you may have even heard these same people say something like “by the time you wake up the day is gone”. I call these people crazy and completely disagree with this rationale – interestingly enough, so does science. Sometimes you need to quit trying to act so tough and just give your body a chance to rest, heal, and recover.
Studies have shown that sleeping in after a few days of lost sleep can help you recover better and help get rid of mental fuzziness and fatigue. (The amount of sleep you need to recharge depends on how much sleep you’ve lost). For example, in the study, volunteers were deprived of about three hours of sleep a night for five nights – but they felt completely recharged and clear headed after ten hours of sleep.
Pro Tip: To help you get the optimal amount of sleep each night, try removing all electronic media devices (TV, cellphone, computer, etc) from the room. The screens on these devices can over stimulate your pineal gland and cause sleep disturbances. Also, always try to sleep in as dark a room as possible.
Have Sex Three Times Per Week Minimum – I’m sure you’ve seen the articles and scientific research out there hyping up the health benefits of sex (i.e. sex can burn calories, boost immunity, ease depression, relieve pain, reduce the risk of cancer and heart attacks, reduce stress, improve sleep, reduce your risk of dying, boost libido, and even reduce the frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women).
The more you read, the more sex starts to sound sort of like a miracle drug or magic supplement. Honestly though, having sex because it provides some sort of medical or health benefit kind of takes all of the fun out of it.
None of the studies I’ve read on sexual health though strike me as top-shelf medical research as many of them were full of controversy and bias – the evidence I saw was weak and anecdotal for the most part.
So I say, have sex because it’s fun. Do it because it’s awesome. Do it because it makes your day better. Do it because it makes you a happier person. If there are associated health benefits that come as a result of it, even better. Hopefully some day researchers will prove without a doubt that sexual healing is scientifically possible.
Find Your Zen – Meditate and/or pray daily. This practice can help improve your overall health significantly and add years to your life. In fact, doctors & researchers are finally starting to acknowledge and promote the long-term health benefits of meditation.
Maximize Your Utility – There are several common reasons certain people become successful, even when the odds aren’t in their favor and the so-called deck is stacked against them. Here are a few basic tips to help you make it to the top:
(1) Seize total control of your life and get rid of haters & doubters who spread negative energy & drag you down.
(2) Set a written purpose & plan for success.
(3) Put your plan into action.
(4) Stay committed to your goals even during tough times.
(5) Constantly visualize success and never stop believing in yourself and your dream.
(6) Eliminate bullshit excuses & victimism.
(7) Leave your comfort zone and make the investment of time and pain.
(8) Keep your inner circle tight.
(9) Hang in there long enough to see the fruits of your labor.
(10) Use the success formula.
Focus on Personal Development – It can be tough to do, but sometimes we need to be selfish & focus on ourselves. Here are a few of my best tips:
(1) Practice self-acceptance. You can only be the best at being yourself.
(2) Find happiness. Spend a few minutes each day thinking about the things that make you happy (family, friends, kids, football, ice cream, etc). Doing this will give you the opportunity to focus on the positive things in your life and will lead to continued happiness.
(3) Spend quality time with loved ones. Surround yourself with positive, forward thinking winners (friends, family, mentors, etc), and be sure to tell the people you love that you love them.
(4) Enjoy life. Most Americans are stressed out spazzes that do nothing but work, eat, shit, and then work some more. What’s the point of that? Go do something fun. Take time each week to do a few things you enjoy. That’s what life is all about.
(5) Help others. There is no greater feeling than helping others. Try it, you’ll find your life to be a lot less stressed and you will feel completely enriched.
(6) Be a student of change. Our world is constantly evolving and old ways of thought & process now die faster than ever. Change is difficult, but leave your comfort zone and adapt to stay ahead of the curve.
(7) Conquer yourself. Let’s face it, Murphy’s Law sucks. Bad things are going to happen and there’s nothing we can really do about it, but the one thing we can control is how we react to it. Sometimes we get in the way of our own greatness. Conquer yourself and you’ll never let a self-imposed obstacle destroy your dreams.
(8) Be happy in your own skin. You are unique and beautiful just the way you are. Never compare yourself with others, instead, try to set an example for others to follow.
(9) Laugh more. This video may help.
(10) Be thankful. When you wake up each day, take a minute or so to say “thank you” for what you have.
Avoid Toxic People – Toxic people and negative energy can bring you down faster than an elevator with a snapped cord. You may not know it but you eventually become just like the people you choose to hang around the most, and if these people are jealous haters who spread negativity you will probably end up just like them. Their negativity will eventually consume you, you’ll change the way you look at things, you’ll become bitter, constantly stressed, easily agitated, and your health (and relationships) could take a serious hit.
If you want to be healthy and happy I suggest eliminating all negative people from your inner circle and replace them with intelligent, positive thinking winners who never throw hate, jealousy, or bitterness your way.
Get rid of the deadbeats and surround yourself with people you want to be like. Hang with people who are going places. People who have achieved goals you want to reach. People with uplifting, positive attitudes. People who work hard. These are always the best people to have in your inner circle, especially when times get tough. These people will help mentor and give you the support you to help you succeed.
Stay On Your Grind – Your mind will always tell you to settle. It will tell you that it’s OK to be average. It will tell you it’s OK to be mediocre. It will tell you that it’s too hard. Or that you aren’t smart enough. Or that you don’t have time. Don’t listen. Stay the course. Build on your success, never get complacent, and always continue working towards improvement.
Have Perseverance – Don’t tap out due to a minor hardship or plateau. Keep fighting. Love the battle. Life is an ongoing journey with lots of ups and downs. Live, love, learn, and grow. Every day of your life will require commitment, discipline, dedication, good energy, good judgment, and the feeling that you can always improve. Whatever happens, just keep fighting. The greatest warriors and athletes in history all had the remarkable ability to do one thing better than everyone else…they were able to persevere and sustain the durability of commitment.
Stop Stressing – I think Dr. Wayne Dyer put it best when he said “There is no stress in the world, only people thinking stressful thoughts.”
When you sit down and really think about what this quote means, it starts to make a ton of sense. Sure, there are awful situations that come up in life (hunger, illness, unemployment, homelessness, death of a loved one, your favorite NFL team losing a playoff game, etc), but how we react to these situations internally is often a matter of choice.
Is the quote an oversimplification of reality? Sure, but is it also a logical way of telling us that many of the “stresses” we have in life are created by us and we can eliminate many of them simply by shifting our paradigm or perception. You see, I believe “stress” exists, but it’s only manifested by human thought.
Stress can’t really be measured or quantified, but it can be a byproduct of the negative energy and fear created by issues like poverty, illness, suffering and hardship. Stress in itself does not exist, rather, we create it in our own heads. Of course there are life’s stressors, but what matters is how we handle them – and how we handle them largely depends on which perspective we choose to view the problem from.
Loss, disappointment, hardship, etc are circumstances that may (or may not) create anxiety and stress, but we need to learn to live courageously and victoriously despite the circumstances. We can’t avoid fear and pain entering our consciousness, but we can respond with courage, and with a clear head without reacting in a stress charged manner.
I believe we all have the power to shift our attitudes and perceptions in any situation. The widely held belief that we all need to constantly be stressed out and that there is no other way is a weak minded way of thinking.
From a health & fitness perspective, stress is mentally and emotionally draining – it can also increase cortisol which can lead to weight gain and disease. Not exactly a great way to remain healthy and strong. So what can you do to chill out and relax?
If you are prone to stress, here are a few things you can try to help you take the load off and reset:
1. Make a to do list to help simplify and make your day more manageable.
2. Learn to say no. When you don’t have the capacity to take on an extra task, saying no can be a huge stress reliever.
3. Do something you love (Take a nap. Have a hot bath. Get a massage. Hit the gym).
4. Listen to music.
5. Play video games.
6. Get some peace and quiet.
7. Bask in the sun or hit the beach.
8. Hang out with friends.
9. Plant plants.
10. Go for a walk.
12. Pick berries.
13. Watch comedy.
14. Give free hugs.
15. Smile 🙂
Final Thoughts – There are a ton of factors both known and unknown that can break down the human body and contribute to weakness and disease. Most of them (not including genetics and bad luck) can for the most part be controlled & contained.
Stress, not getting enough sleep, lack of exercise, poor diet, abuse of prescription and over the counter drugs are what I believe contribute to the vast majority of diseases we face today…
The tips shared here today are meant to help you reduce your risk of preventable disease and premature death. Of course, these tips are what I hold to be true based on my own experiences and studies; so I encourage you to always do your own research and use the best science available to you at the time to help form your own opinion. Humans will never get to a point when all knowledge is attained and understood so always thirst for knowledge and never stop learning.
I know this post was a bit long…so to simplify everything you read here today, just remember this: it’s your life, live it your way on your terms. Just be smart about it. Do the research and come up with a plan that fits you best.
If you want to live a long, healthy, prosperous life where you’re healthy and strong well into your 80’s and 90’s, it’s important to focus on the following 5 things: (1) Be a nice person & help others; (2) Have fun & enjoy life; (3) Reduce inflammation & stress; (4) Lift heavy & eat healthy; (5) Read this blog daily.
Thanks for reading. Please pound the LIKE button if you enjoyed this post and be sure to Tweet this article to your followers and share it with your friends on Facebook. Also, if you have any tips of your own to add to this list (or thoughts in general) feel free to leave them in a comment below.