“To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” ~ William Londen
Most of us already have a set of virtues that we live by but yet when it comes down to making decisions or deciding to do something we rarely consult ourselves or look to those virtues as guidance. Instead we let others tell us what the right or wrong thing to do is or we ask permission if what we would like to do is ok. From the day you’re born until the day you die there is a traditional life course that you will be expected to take and certain sacrifices you will be expected to make. Way to many of us allow this to happen, we let someone else decide the path of our life instead of deciding for ourselves how it will play out.
I’m confident in saying that the secret to life is allowing yourself to constantly be evolving and having the ability to adapt to change. This holds true for your physical and mental health, career/purpose, wealth, relationships, spirituality, and emotions. There is a good chance that what you believe to be true today and want for your life will be different tomorrow, a few months, and certainly a few years from today. Guess what, this is totally ok and I’d argue the best thing for you. Sebastian Marshall addressed this issue perfectly in his book Ikigai:
“…Bouncing around is normal. In the process of bouncing around, try to pick up skills, assets, resources, connections, habits, experiences that you think are likely to make you successful later…”
This is the first of a few Limitless Living Guides. They are in no way intended to tell you how you should live your life, I have my own personal biases that I would hope and expect some of you agree and disagree with. I’m assuming that if you’re here reading this you’re looking for a place to start because as we all know getting started is often the most difficult part.
There will only be three Limitless Living Guides:
- Health and wellbeing
- Personal relationships/connecting & communicating with others
For me it all starts with my health, if I can’t get out of bed in the morning it’s going to be hard as hell to tackle any one of those other things. Along with those 6 guides you’ll find some common themes being discussed, things like; self-esteem/confidence, courage, fear, love, happiness, willpower, habits, motivation, creativity, autonomy, mastering emotions, and persistence. I feel that these topics are all relevant when it comes to succeeding in each of the categories mentioned above.
Each guide will be rational, real world related, and contain practical advice that is easy to apply. Simple, straight forward, and to the point.
Before jumping into this first guide or any of the others I would like for you to constantly be asking yourself one question:
What does the best version of myself look like in each of those 3 categories?
More importantly take actual time to answer that questions. Way to many of us never actually participate in our lives. Commit today to doing so.
THE STATE OF OUR HEALTH
Right now health and healthcare in our society is extremely reactive, I’m starting to see some positive changes but in general the majority still seems to be reactive in nature. What I mean by this is that too much of the population is only motivated to improve themselves, to create change, or to get healthy when in a critical state. It’s only when we’re told that we are on the verge of having diabetes, losing our job, having a baby, or some other life altering experience that we get motivated to make the necessary changes it takes to improve our lives. This is called death-bed syndrome.
There’s a pill now that you can take to help “manage” everything. I say manage because nothing is cured, what is really happening is a bandaid is being placed over a flood. Some of these pills help to manage physical pain like disease, ailments, or aches and pains. Then there’s other “pills” like drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and other self-destructive behaviors that help to manage emotional pain like unhappiness, discomfort, and uncertainty.
The truth is none of us needs a pill to help us get better at being human. Each of us is the real cure to everything that ailes us. Right now we have too many outs that make it easy for us to do the bad stuff. The question is are you willing to get genuine with yourself and take full responsibility for the who, what, and where you are in your life.
- Become obese – have this surgery to fix it
- High cholesterol – take these pills to help alleviate it
- Not happy – buy these things and make it all better
- Need more money – Take on another job so you work 80 hours per week
- Hate your job – Look for another one you’ll hate instead of creating one you’ll love
It’s simply a matter of crowding out the sh*t that causes us pain, sickness, and discomfort by doing more of the stuff that helps to promote pleasure, success, and happiness. Imagine for a second if you were given zero options, you either did it or you didn’t, that was that. How motivated and how hard would you work to make sure the good stuff happened for you?
The first step to becoming a healthier individual is to answer this question for yourself: What does being healthy actually mean to you?
What does it look like, feel like, what are some things you are able to do, what is your mindset, get detailed and as specific as possible. The answer to this question should be unique to you, avoid the temptation to Google it, all that will get you is someone else’s definition and that won’t do you a ton of good.
Avoid judging your own answer, it’s not shallow to say that six-pack abs, a tight butt, or some other aesthetic feature is apart of what being healthy means to you. Remember this is your definition, but I do invite you to explore the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of health as well. I don’t expect you to be able to define this in the next few minutes, hours, or even days. Take as much time as you need to get clear on it, find a nice quiet place to brain-storm, take your time and think, visualize, and constantly review your definition of it. Chances are what you consider to be healthy today, tomorrow, a year from now, and five years from now will be completely different.
The benefits of eating right, exercising, and proper sleep are too massive to list here and besides that you’re smart, you already know these are things you should be doing right now, you don’t need me trying to convince you. But I would like you to take into account that studies show that appearance, being healthy, physically fit, and being well-groomed translate to:
- More money
- Likely hood of being promoted
- Being trusted more
- Receiving more attention
- More respect
Long story short, being healthy matters whether you like it or not. We’ve talked about the trap of validation before here and while I don’t think you should make decisions based solely on the opinions or to please others I strongly believe that if you want to increase the likely hood of being successful you should place high importance on taking good care of your health.
Success in all avenues of life sometimes involves doing stuff you don’t like – essentially the path to success sucks sometimes but it’s that ability to overcome some of that suck that makes it all worth while. And you can’t half ass it either, you can’t exercise and have a poor diet and expect great results, but you also can’t eat right and sit on your tush all day and expect miracles either.
HOW TO GET HEALTHY
There’s really good news when it comes to getting healthy, there is a one size fits all approach and It contains four ingredients.
- Eat right
- Move often
- Be free
I know that sounds so simple and way to easy to be true but I’m being completely honest with you, that’s it, if you want to get healthy that’s all you need to do. The problem often lies in that its way to easy to get wrapped up in the minuet details of those four core concepts. To much focus is placed on tiny details that play little to no significant impact on results and the big ideas that lead to dramatic change are often overlooked and never practiced.
For example I recently exchanged a few emails back and forth with my friend and a respected nutrition coach, Brian St. Pierre.
“…While it may be ideal to eat mostly pesticide-free produce, the fact of the matter is that the benefits of increasing produce consumption, whether it has pesticides or not, FAR outweigh the potential downsides of pesticide exposure. You also have to factor in things like personal preference and convenience…”
To sum it up, get the most bang for your buck and forget about minor details until you have established life long habits first.
EAT RIGHT… OR A LITTLE BIT BETTER
I dare you to google how to eat right, seriously, do it. You’ll get so many different thoughts and opinions – it will truly blow your mind and not because of all the awesome information but mostly because all of the information you get will confuse the hell out of you and probably keep you from taking any action what-so-ever towards improving your health.
Everyone is so sure that their way is the best way – don’t get caught up in the bullish*t – do what’s right for you, respect others opinions, and try not to judge. If you’ve been visiting Limitless for a while now you’re well aware that I talk about a Paleo approach to nutrition. But you’ll also notice that I don’t make it a religion, it just makes sense to me. My goal in talking about this approach to eating is not to convince you but to share knowledge for those that are interested in learning more about it. You can decide for yourself if it works best for you and your lifestyle.
Take a few minutes right now to declare why eating better is important to you. I could list all of the health benefits right here but that’s not going to do you any good, I’m sure you already know them. Why do you want to eat healthier? Is it to look good naked, to have more energy to play with your kids, to have more confidence, to get that dude or dudette you have a crush on? Remember, the only wrong answer here is if you don’t answer this question truthfully.
To help you figure out why this eating right is important to you try the 5 why’s test that I learned from my time with Precision Nutrition. The idea is to break down a goal or why you want to do something into the REAL reason it is important to you.
Goal: I want to lose fat
- Why do I want to lose fat?
- Because I want to fit into a smaller size of jeans.
- But why do I want to fit into a smaller size of jeans?
- Because when I’m wearing smaller jeans, I think I’ll look better.
- But why do I want to look better?
- Because when I look good, I feel good about myself.
- But why do I want to feel good about myself?
- Because when I feel good about myself, I’m more assertive and confident.
- But why do I want to be more assertive and confident?
- Because when I’m more assertive and confident, I’m in control and better able to get what I want out of life.
Go ahead, take a few moments to get to the heart of the matter and really discover why eating right is important to you.
I’m a firm believer that the best way to make significant and long-lasting change is by breaking down a skill or goal you may have down into its most significant parts and then focusing on mastering those components one at a time until you are consistently able to display the skill or have achieved your goal. The idea is not to be perfect, that will only bring you frustration and stress, the idea is to be consistent and turn the skill or goal into a habit that becomes automatic, like tying your shoe or the route you take to work every day, you just don’t think about it anymore – you only react.
COMPONENTS OF HEALTHY EATING
Through working with a variety of clients and personal experimentation I have found that establishing the following habits or skills, when it comes to healthy eating leads to dramatic results that are easy to maintain. I suggest practicing each one for a week, if you are able to comply with the habit for 7 days straight with no slip ups move on to the next habit while still practicing the one you just completed. Keep going until all habits have been established (if this did not make any sense please give me a shout and I can better explain it).
Before we jump in let me preface by saying this, these habits are what work for the majority of people who want to lose body fat, add a little lean muscle, and increase their energy and self-confidence.
The most important thing you can do before you get started:
- Perform a kitchen makeover. Truth be told if it’s in your house it will get eaten. The best thing you can do is to make the bad stuff hard to do and the good stuff easy. You’ll probably notice that the cabinets, cupboards, and fridge look quite naked. Use the Real Food Chart and hit your local grocery store to stock back up with the good stuff.
Now don’t you go making this all sorts of complicated, that’s when your noodle starts getting confused and reverting back to what is comfortable and what it already knows. Should I buy grass-fed, organic, free range, cage free, this water or that water, etc… Don’t worry about those things just yet, if you’re not consistently choosing the right foods already none of that matters so first focus on eating the right things more often.
THE 4 HABITS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL EATERS
WEEK 1: Drink ZERO calorie beverages only – Eliminate all caloric beverages from your diet. This means anything that includes calories or that you typically add calories to.
- NO: Milk, fruit juices, smoothies, coffee or tea with added sweeteners, cream, or any other calorie containing item.
- YES: Water, black coffee, or unsweetened tea
What about protein shakes? I get this all the time, I’m not a big fan. While they can be beneficial, eating real food has too many physical and psychological benefits. The fact that you are actually chewing and eating food sends signals throughout the body that induce satiety and make you feel full.
There are some very beneficial beverages like kombucha that offer amazing health benefits that should not be ignored but for the meantime take them out of your nutrition plan.
Recommended reading: Be like Aquaman, never drink your calories.
WEEK 2: Include veggies at every meal and swap those grains for greens – Every time you eat a meal or snack include a vegetable source like broccoli, carrot, celery, cucumber, salad greens, kale, or refer to the Real Food Chart for specifics on which vegetables to include.
Society as a whole is just not active enough to support such high carbohydrate intakes, plus they just are not necessary in the quantities that most of the population consumes them in, healthy fats provide a much better and more efficient energy source.
You’ll also want to swap out any grains for greens. If you’re use to having oatmeal for breakfast think about 86-ing that and taking in some spinach and bell pepper with an omelet. If you typically go with a sandwich or pasta for lunch, swap in a big ass salad instead, rice for dinner? How about some steamed mixed veggies?
- NO: Rice, bread, pasta, bagels, cakes, muffins, pastries, etc…
- YES: Broccoli, spinach, kale, carrot, cucumber, artichoke, cauliflower, green leafy veggies, etc…
How much veggies is enough? Just fill your plate. Yup, include as much as you need to feel full. How cool is that?
Recommended reading: Understand your carbs. They’re a food group too.
WEEK 3: Include a protein source with every meal – I’m not a huge fan of eating every couple of hours, It’s not very realistic for most of us, our jobs, and other lifestyle commitments. I’m sure you all have heard the notion that eating every couple of hours keeps your metabolism humming but that’s just not true. What keeps it rolling is more lean muscle and less body fat. I recommend three meals per day with 1-2 snacks if it is really needed.
To build this habit you’ll want to include a protein source with every meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One important thing to remember is that your body doesn’t know the difference between the three. Try salmon or steak for breakfast, an omelet for lunch or dinner. It may take some getting used to but trust me when I say your body will respond unbelievably to the change.
- Protein helps build and repair almost every tissue in our bodies — including our muscles and bones. (That’s important for building a superhero body.)
- Protein helps synthesize important hormones, including hormones that make us happy and relaxed.
- Protein supports our immune system.
- Protein boosts our metabolism; it helps us lose fat and stay lean for life.
What should I include? Again, use the Real Food Chart for some of the best choices and get creative with how you prepare them. Stir-fry’s, chili’s, baked, bun-less burgers, kabobs, or toppers for salad.
What if I’m a vegetarian? Totally cool, I have been vegetarian myself for a brief period and have many friends that are as well. Will you be “Paleo?” No, but you can still provide yourself with some healthy protein rich alternatives. Your best bets will be from tempeh, tofu, and hemp or pea protein powder. Nuts and seeds like almonds will also provide you with some decent protein but these are very easy to overeat so be careful.
How much? The perfect size is about the size of your palm. No need to weigh and measure, and if you are very active or a larger male think about trying the size of your entire hand.
Recommended reading: Paleo and why no grains, legumes, and dairy?
WEEK 4: Slow down and eat more mindfully – Most of us devour a meal faster than you can say, devour a meal. I know you’re busy, I know you’ve got more important stuff to do, I know you’re starving… but just for this week slow down a bit.
Nutrition scientists at the University of Rhode Island had 30 normal-weight, college-age women come into a laboratory twice for lunch. Each time, the women were offered a huge plate of pasta with tomato-vegetable sauce and grated Parmigiana cheese, plus a glass of water.
They were asked to eat until the point of comfortable fullness.
At one visit, the women were told to eat as quickly as they could; during the other visit, they ate slowly and put down their spoons between bites.
The women didn’t know that researchers weighed the food and water before and after the meal to determine the amount consumed. Sneaky!
Here’s what the study found:
- When eating quickly, the women consumed around 646 calories in about 9 minutes.
- When eating more slowly, they consumed around 579 calories in about 29 minutes.
They ate 67 more calories in 9 minutes than they did in 29 minutes! Add that up over three meals per day and you can see why that’s a problem.
And get this: an hour after the meal, the women reported being hungrier after eating quickly, even though they consumed more total calories.
Slowing down will also improve digestion, reduce stress, make the meal more enjoyable, and actually allow your body to feel full. It takes roughly 20 minutes for your tummy to break down enzymes and nutrients and to send signals to your brain that you have actually had enough to eat.
How the heck can I slow down?
- Set aside time to eat: Take a look at your schedule and decide when you can take a good 20-30 minutes to enjoy a meal without feeling rushed.
- Put em’down: Put your utensils down after each bite or try using chopsticks to slow you down.
- Just chew: Chew, chew, and chew some more. No more acting like a python and swallowing your food whole. Chew until it feels like baby food in your mouth.
More recommending resources: Limitless Living FREE Nutrition Resources
HOW TO MOVE MORE OFTEN
I know, I know… that how to eat right section was a bit long but the nutrition piece for most of us is the tough part, moving more often is usually an easier pill to swallow.
Just a few quick notes on daily movement and exercise:
- It’s more powerful than prescription medication (Zoloft for example) for treating depression, anxiety, and stress. My friend James details this here.
- Participate in all kinds & a little goes a long way. Aerobic, flexibility, and strength training are all necessary and beneficial for your body. Try yoga, run fast, lift weights, and play. As little as 20-30 minutes per day of moderate to intense exercise can create dramatic psychological and physiological changes in your body.
- Every once in a while it should be uncomfortable. You’re body is smart, like really really smart. It will do it’s best to be as lazy as possible and to put in as little effort as it can to conserve energy. When you train really hard you’re telling your body that you really want this and it will respond by overcompensation to the changes and good stress so that you can handle it the next time.
Make moving a habit: Find ways to incorporate more activity into your every day life. Sitting is arguably the leading cause of many of our modern diseases including obesity, see just how dangerous here.
- Work at a standup desk
- Take the stairs as often as possible and avoid elevators, escalators, etc…
- Park a little further away from work, the grocery store, your house if you need too 🙂
- Take that dog for a walk, take that husband for a walk :)…
- Do it even if you don’t feel like doing it
- Mix it in randomly, 10 push ups in your cubicle, 20 squats while cooking, take 5 while studying to do some jumping jacks.
Make it an appointment with yourself: Health and wellness should not be your life it should compliment it, take a look at your schedule and see when you can fit in 5, 10, 15, 30, or an hour of exercise a minimum of three days per week, better if you can at least perform some sort of physical activity even if it is only 5 minutes of movement every day. Hop out of bed and do a 5 minute circuit of burpees and sit-ups if you have to.
Make exercise an appointment with yourself that can not be broken, I suggest doing it as early in the day as possible, as the day unwinds your willpower and motivation to exercise may dwindle. Whether you’re taking a Crossfit class, heading to a traditional gym, or working out at home results are possible as long as you stay consistent. AGAIN…CONSISTENT.
All of us have the same 24 hours in a day so the “I don’t have time excuse” is a weak one at best for me. All that means is that you’re not making it a priority. Spend a few days tracking how you spend the hours of your day, it can be a real eye opener. Cut that TV watching, pick a single day to run errands and perform chores instead of dedicating multiple days to them, (cough) Facebook, email, and surfing the web can wait (cough).
Make it fun: Should you weight train? YES! Should you run fast? YES! But stay active by doing things you enjoy and try new things that you’re interested in but just not sure about that promote some serious physical activity; yoga, tango, tai-chi, mud runs, Crossfit, boot camps, whatever floats your boat just make it enjoyable for yourself and experiment until you find what works for you.
HOW TO SLEEP
I’m not a big fan of sleeping and I like to get up early but man oh man a lack of sleep can really “F” with you. Just a few hours of sleep deprivation can seriously affect:
- Sex drive
- Weight gain
- Heart function
- Physical performance
- Cognitive ability
It’s going to get real hard to live a limitless life if you’re exhausted, sick, and can’t think straight. I’ve been doing the following to help me get my Z’s on for quite some time now.
- Cut the television off. The light and noise from it interferes with the deep and rejuvenating level of sleep required for ultimate health and energy. Cavemen didn’t have TVs. They had dark caves. How lucky they were! No joke, I’ve even slept in my closet before. Scouts honor.
- Make use of dark curtains or blinds if street lamps or outside light tends to illuminate your bedroom at night.
- Shut down the computer, cut off the monitors, and even cover up the alarm clock. You want your room pitch black.
- Cool as the North Pole You ever wonder why we love air conditioners when the weather gets warm? Probably not. Well, the fact is when our bodies become too warm or even hot, it’s difficult for us to relax or focus. If excess warmth and heat causes us a bit of discomfort during the day, just think about what’s happening when we’re sleeping.
Your sleep is terribly disrupted when you’re too warm or hot. In fact, many people complain about the inability to sleep when it’s too warm. Although you don’t need your room as cool as the North Pole, you do want a cool room in order to maximize sleep. You can do a few things to combat this problem:
- Take a cool bath or shower before going to sleep. Some people actually recommend taking a 5 to 10 minute ice bath. It’s up to you, but either method has received rave reviews from many people.
- If you don’t have central heating and air, then be sure to set your room’s thermostat to a comfortable temperate an hour or two before going to bed. During the winter or fall months, it’s easy to overheat the house and your bedroom. Warmth is good, but it’s not so good for sleep.
A few other things I started recently doing in order to help me get out of bed with a head full of steam:
1. Plan something you love to do the minute you get up: Kiss your wife or husband, read a book, do a crossword puzzle, or maybe check out some of the other tips below. You may just love some of those. Make the first 5 minutes of jumping out of bed your time. Spend 5 minutes doing something that you love.
2. Go to bed when you’re tired: I got this from Steve Pavlina. I use to try to force myself to go to bed at a certain time each night so that I get a full 8 hours of sleep. Instead of actually sleeping I’d end up staring at the ceiling frustrated or laying there with my eyes closed thinking to damn much. If it takes you more than 5 minutes to knock out, you aren’t tired enough.
I pretty much get up at the same time everyday. 5AM is the typical eye opener. Sometimes on Saturday I let myself just sleep but most often I’m up by 5. I don’t go to bed at a specific time. I just hit the hay when I’m tired. I usually read a little bit while laying down. If I start to nod off a bit then it’s time to knock out.
On a side note. To increase my sleep quality I use noise and black out sheets. You can also just use black felt over your windows to eliminate any light that comes in and to dull noise. I do use an APP called sleepy pillow. It’s just white noise like rain falling, fire crackling, the beach, as well as some others.
It may take you a week or two to get into the habit of this and feel fully energized but stay with it. It’s well worth it down the line.
3. Get that dang alarm clock away from me: If you wake up to one, keep it way from you. Like far away. Make yourself get up out of bed to turn it off. Nothing more annoying than an alarm clock going off. On a side note, don’t use a standard alarm. Instead, pick a song, sound, or voice that puts you in a good mood. Something that will automatically make you smile when you hear it.
4. Make it consistent: Get up at the same time everyday for 30 days regardless of what you have going on. You’ll set your bodies sleep cycle to get accustomed to it and soon won’t need an alarm. You’ll also most likely feel refreshed and alert immediately upon waking.
5. After you establish the habit, give yourself a little wiggle room: Practice jumping out of bed everyday for 30 straight days. Once you’ve established the habit and it feels like second nature give yourself a chance once a month, every two weeks, or even once a week to sleep in. There’s a good chance you’ll wake up at your new waking time anyhow but it’s nice to give yourself this little treat every so often.
Being free or living free to me is bridging that gap between what you are capable of and what you currently do and not just in your actions but in your mindset as well. It’s about making decisions and creating results based upon YOUR virtues, spending more time playing to your strengths, and to welcome challenge and change because over the course of your lifetime challenge and change will show up at your door step more than any neighbor, friend, or foe.
The basics of healthy living are rooted in eating well, frequent movement and exercise, and proper rest and recovery but I also don’t think it’s possible to be truly healthy and well if you’re not living a life that is true to the person you currently are, are evolving to be, or wish to become. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve made decisions based on others opinions or because of fears of what others may think of me.
Being free both physically and mentally as well as in other areas of life will be touched on later in the upcoming guides that were mentioned at the beginning of this post but I wanted to introduce the concept here briefly in order to express just how important I think it is to be healthy mentally as well.
Living free to me is rooted in the following:
- Courage/Addressing fears
- Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable
- Welcoming change
- Self-discipline & Willpower
- Honesty with yourself and with others
The one thing I hope you pull from these guides is this: We are all unique and experience things in different ways, your results will very, and so too will your interpretation. Way too many of us give up before ever tasting the nectar of our magnificence. How long should you pursue the life you have always dreamed for yourself……..
For as long as it takes.
These guides will be left up permanently, separate from other blog posts so that you can easily access them when needed. Please, don’t just read them and do nothing; read the links, practice the concepts, and start living the limitless life that you deserve.
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Finally make yourself a priority, lose fat, and get fit in 8 weeks no matter how busy you are.