9 Great Brain Games and Brain Training Websites

are abundant. Folks of all many years utilize these games to enhance psychological functioning and mind aging that is counter.

Mind training can help enhance your memory, reaction time, and logic abilities, although studies have shown that the connection between mind training games and enhanced functionality is intellectually complicated. A good work out and have now enjoyable too, decide to try these games and tasks which could boost your psychological focus and physical fitness if you wish to offer your head.

Sudoku

Sudoku is just a real quantity positioning game that utilizes short-term memory. To perform a Sudoku puzzle, you need to look ahead and follow tracks of effects – this one must undoubtedly be an eight and this one a 4, and such like if you place a 6 in this field. This kind of preparation helps enhance memory that is short-term concentration.

You’ll play Sudoku online, for an application, or in writing. Locate a regular Sudoku in your newspaper, obtain a guide with several puzzles, or install free software on your phone or tablet.

Sudoku puzzles can be found in varying quantities of trouble. When you are starting, have fun with the simple games. You learn the guidelines. If you should be playing written down, make use of a pencil!

Lumosity

Lumosity the most mind that is made and psychological fitness programs. You’ll join an account free to play three games each day or pick the registration solution for lots more offerings. In either case, you can keep an eye on your outcomes and enhancement.

Lumosity’s enjoyable mind training and physical fitness are psychological, tests, and tasks supported by technology. You can play them on the internet site or install the apps, which are free iOS and Android. Lumosity also offers a mindfulness and meditation application called Lumosity Mind.

Crosswords

Crosswords are a mind that is classic, accessing not merely verbal language but a memory from numerous measurements of real information. There are lots of how to do crossword puzzles, both online and down. If you are given a daily paper, you will almost always get yourself a crossword here.

Or select a guide up of crosswords, exceedingly worthy of your level of skill and passions.

Additionally, find many choices for crossword puzzles online or via free or apps being affordable. The AARP site supplies a crossword that is day-to-day’s free to everybody else, whether or otherwise not you are a person in the team.

Elevate

You will have to download an application to try out Elevate’s 35 (and counting) different mind training games, which may have a belief is highly academic. It is free (with in-app acquisitions), and both iOS and Android variations have tens and thousands of five-star reviews.

Elevate’s games focus on reading, writing, talking, and mathematics, and you will personalize your training to pay attention to whichever areas you like. Much like almost every other mind game, you can monitor your progress to observe your increasing abilities.

Peak

The peak is another choice that is app-only for iOS and Android that delivers mind games to focus on focus, memory, problem-solving, psychological agility, and much more intellectual functions. If you are competitive, you could be inspired by seeing the way you perform against other users. The application is absolved from making use of, but a membership that is affordable more features.

Happy Neuron

Happy Neuron divides its games and tasks into five crucial: memory, attention, language, executive functions, and visual/spatial. Like Lumosity, it personalizes working out to suit you, tracks your progress, as well as the games depend on medical research.

You need to spend a month-to-month membership to make use of your website, and its simplified application variation can be obtained for Android users just. Pleased Neuron does, but provide a trial offer such as the approach to help you see if you.

Braingle

Claiming to have the earth’s biggest collection of mind teasers, Braingle’s free site provides a lot more than 15,000 puzzles, games, and other mind teasers and an online community of enthusiasts. You may also make your very own puzzles to offer your head a super exercise. Braingle features a variety that is wide, including optical illusions, codes and ciphers, and trivia quizzes

Queendom

Queendom has a considerable number of character tests and studies. It possesses a significant number of “brain tools” including logic, spoken, spatial, and mathematics puzzles; trivia quizzes; and aptitude tests to help you work out and test your mind thoroughly.

If you wish to save yourself outcomes and ratings, you will need a free account. Some recent tests might be written just snapshot outcomes for free and charge a cost for complete reports.

Brain Age Concentration Training

Brain Age Concentration Training is just a mind training and physical fitness psychological for the Nintendo 3DS system. It offers lots that are huge to hone your concentration, memory, calculation, and other mental abilities.

It’s enjoyable, portable, and challenging. Brain Age commonly readily available for the Ninte.

Thriving in Ice — The Extreme Success Story of Wim Hof

Wim Hof is known as “The Iceman” for good reason. He has a peculiar ability to withstand freezing temperatures for long periods of time — whether submerged in freezing water, covered in ice cubes, while running marathons, or while climbing mountains. What’s perhaps most impressive, is he broke his first record at 40.

Already know about this specimen of a human? If so, feel free to skip to the bottom of the article to check out “The Wim Hof Method” — the breathing technique he attributes to his unhuman endurance.

Records

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As mentioned, Wim set his first world record at 40 years old. It happened in 2000, for the fastest swim under ice (that’s right, underneath a frozen section of water). This incredibly dangerous stunt took place at a lake in Finland.

In 2007, Wim ran the fastest half-marathon. Even while barefoot on ice and snow, Wim took only 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 34 seconds. He’s also set the world record for the longest time completely covered in ice, a total of 16 times — the longest and most recent being 1 hour and 53 minutes, back in 2013.

Wim may sound like he’s gone mad, but there’s a method to his madness. He attributes his superhuman tolerance to freezing temperatures to a combination of cold therapy, breathing, and meditation.

Work with Athletes


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Wim has begun working with former UFC heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, who’s also a K1 and MMA legend. The Iceman helps Alistair improve his breathing techniques and implements some of his methodologies into the fighter’s workout routine.

After a long streak of losses, Alistair regained success with a brutal knockout of his first opponent since adopting Wim’s alternative training techniques.

Less Stress, Improved Athleticism, Faster Recovery, Better Sleep, More Creativity, Heightened Focus — How?

As you can see, the benefits are astounding. Now let’s get into the methods to Wim’s madness, the techniques he employs to become superhuman.

Cold Therapy

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To start out easy and dip your toe into cold therapy, start with cold showers.

  • Step into a normal shower. When you’re ready, switch the temperature to the coldest setting. Then just stand there for at least ten seconds, with your head directly underneath the shower.
  • Switch the temperature back to normal.
  • Repeat Step #1.
  • As you get more comfortable, increase the time you spend under the cold water, for up to 90 seconds. Some people go for as long as five-to-ten minutes.

Studies show that switching between hot and cold temperatures reduces inflammation in the body and can reduce fatigue.

As you progress in your ability to tolerate cold, you’ll be able to start submerging yourself into ice baths.

Meditation

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This is the practice of mindfulness.

  • Begin by selecting a serene or atmospheric soundtrack on your phone. Alternatively, enjoy complete silence somewhere peaceful.
  • Now, close your eyes. Allow yourself to clear your mind of all thoughts. If a thought comes, simply observe it, without judgment, and then let it go.
  • Breathe. As you inhale, focus on your being. As you exhale, release any thoughts you may have in your mind.
  • Practice meditating for 10-20 minutes a day.

Research shows that meditating is an effective way to reduce stress and improve overall mental health.

Breathing Exercises — “The Wim Hof Method”


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This technique helps Wim deal with cold temperatures for extended periods of time.

  • Controlled hyperventilation. Take a deep breath in. Fill your lungs with air fully. Then gently exhale. Don’t force your breath out all the way. Repeat this 30 times in succession. Wim cautions that you may get a tingly sensation or feel some light-headedness from this exercise.
  • Exhalation. Now, take another deep breath in, but this time exhale forcefully to empty your lungs of air fully. Now hold that deep exhalation for as long as possible.
  • Breath retention. When you can’t hold the exhalation any longer, take another deep breath in and hold for 15-20 seconds. You may get another bout of light-headedness.

Get Your Hof On

Now don’t go out and swim under a frozen lake. Unless you’re highly trained and under tight supervision, don’t even consider it.

But what you can do, though, is use Wim Hof’s techniques to bring a new spark to your day, or before difficult mental tasks or workouts. Cold showers are a great way to snap you into action in the morning, and meditation is the perfect way to unwind in the evening.

I can personally vouch for The Wim Hof Method. It can sharpen your mind and give you a mental boost all throughout your day, whenever you need it.

5 Easy Ways to Achieve a Calorie Deficit Diet Without Working Out

I call these my Five Awesome Rules for Fat Loss Life.

They have been my guiding anchor for the entirety of my career.

And they haven’t ever let me down yet.

When it comes to the Calorie Deficit Diet there is one guiding principle that you must acknowledge before we go any further.

“A Calorie Deficit is simple, but its not easy”.

I have written on the topic of what a Calorie Deficit is many times before.

And you are welcome to read it…once you have finished with this story first.

I am sure I will write about a Calorie Deficit at least once a month for the rest of my life because it is that complex.

Now I need to cue some irony because I am going to try and make the Calorie Deficit as simple, as accessible, and as easy for you to follow as I possibly can.

But please remember this. When you get to the end of the article, you will be pumped, inspired, and excited to get started.

But this is still difficult to adhere to consistently and patiently to allow yourself the real-time that fat loss needs.

This is an amazing starting point, and this should be your constant solid foundation, your comfort blanket for Fat Loss results.

If you want the video version of this article you can grab that right here:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IPPzBxioqW0
So let’s get started.

These are in no particular order of importance. They all require as much time and attention as the next one, and if you favor one over the other then you are very much cheating yourself out of success.

Awesome Rule For Fat Loss Life #1

You need to be in a Caloric Deficit.

Every rule hereafter will help you be in a Calorie Deficit.

But you cannot lose bodyweight, burn body fat, and try to change that scale number if you are not being adherent to a Calorie Deficit.

So how do you know if you are indeed in said deficit?

The crucial understanding for this is the principle of Energy Balance.

This dictates the following:

  • Energy In = Energy Out = Calorie Maintence
  • Energy In < Energy Out = Weight Loss
  • Energy In > Energy Out = Weight Gain

Therefore by understanding this you can manipulate your Caloric Intake to make sure that you keep your calories where you want to achieve your goals.

Personally, I suggest tracking your calories each day using an App like MyFitness Pal.

However there a few considerations you need to have when using MyFitnessPal.

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  1. The Caloric Goal it will set you is too aggressive for long term sustainable weight loss. So please ignore it. Instead, use the following formula:

Goal Body Weight in LBS x 12 = Caloric Deficit

2. Calories are the most important for your goals.

3. Secondly its Protein, however Protein doesn’t have to be your biggest Macro Nutrient. Yes, Protein is important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the biggest part of your diet. Then your Carbohydrates and your Fats. These are all just targets. Not pass/fail markers. If you don’t manage to hit your targets, don’t worry as long as your Calories are still in the right place.

4. Ignore Calories Burned from exercise. MYFP will take into account the calories you are expending from exercise, and then it will encourage you to add that against your calorie targets. Please do not do this. The whole point of your movement is to help you get into a Caloric Deficit, if you eat it all back…then what are you gaining if you are after Fat Loss? Added to that MYFP pulls in that Data from your smartwatch and these have been proven time and time again not be very accurate at calculating calories burned from aerobic exercise.

5. Remember you will never get it right. It is quite literally your best guess. All the time. Breaking down your homemade meals is a pain and it can become time-consuming and frustrating. Bear in mind you are using it as best guess, that its never going to be perfect will help take the pressure off you.

6. You only have to do it for a month — six weeks. This isn’t, and nor should it be a life long sentence for you to track your calories. All you need is to get yourself more calorie educated in two departments: Portion Control and Calories in your favorite foods. Once you have spent time educating yourself on these things then you will have a much better idea of where your calories are at each day.

7. It will take time out of your day. But don’t forget the big picture. 10 minutes a day for 6 weeks is little time invested compared to years of half arsing it and struggling along because you haven’t taken a moment to get educated and understand the process enough.

Awesome Rule For Fat Loss Life #2

3 Liters of Water A Day

Water has zero calories in it. As does Diet Soda.

The reason I am saying to you to drink more water is not because of the nonexistent calories in there.

It’s because Water will help you with a number of “negatives” that you might get when you start a Calorie Deficit.

Being in a Calorie can and will cause hunger as well as ever so slightly lowered energy levels.
Being hydrated will without a doubt help you curb your hunger, which in turn helps you stay adherent to a Calorie Deficit.

But it will also give you energy. The difference between you being hydrated and not being hydrated will become clear…when you become hydrated. A lot of people think that 3 liters is too much water, and can find it hard, to begin with. I understand that, so build-up to it. Take it steady, and add 500ml of water each day as you build slowly until you hit your 3 liters.

I had a client once who told me she would drown if she drank 3 liters of water a day. She also told me that she would get water intoxication.

I bargained with her. It will feel like a huge change and a large amount of liquid. But you will always look for reasons to not do something. You will always fight drastic measures to a degree. And you are right to do so. But in my 5 years of working with people…I have never had anyone say to me that this is a negative aspect of their work.

I told my client to give it a go, build slowly, and see what happens. She went on to lose 10kgs working with me, and she drank her water.

It’s not a magic number. Everybody is different, and every body is different. But it’s a good baseline. It’s a number that is high enough to make you increase where you are currently at, its a good amount so you can get the benefits from it, and is achievable.

Here are some tips to help you get that water intake up:

  • Start early. Wake up and get 500ml into your system from the off.
  • Get a water bottle you enjoy drinking from and is at least 750ml big.
  • Build slowly.
  • Drink clear water on top of other liquids throughout the day. Don’t include Coffee, Tea, Juice as part of your 3L.

And here is the best bit.

You will be drinking more. Which means you will be going to the loo more.

When this happens and interrupts work etc…

Just remember Elmo.

Awesome Rule For Fat Loss Life #3

Protein and Veggies at every meal

In truth, I don’t care what you eat if you are working on a Calorie Deficit, as long as you are sticking to your numbers.

But…and this is a big wallopping Kim Kardashian “but”.

What you eat will make your life on a Calorie Deficit either a lot easier…or a hell of a lot harder.
There’s a fantastically huge amount of people out there who will set your deficit too low, tell you to eat Mars Bars and Donuts, and still lose weight.

Sell you the perfect dream.

You will lose weight, and they will get some great Work In Process Pictures from you. But they quite simply are not caring for your needs, and if you are willing to submit yourself to such torture, then you aren’t caring for your needs either.

This is why I don’t ever dictate to clients what foods they should be eating…but ask them to stick to some guidelines. And one of these guidelines is the following: Protein and Veggies at every meal.
Build your plate wisely.

I want you to feel the best you can whilst trying to lose weight, both mentally and physically.
This means eating protein because protein is satiating, it will help you preserve muscle and is always a good thing to eat.

There are many theories out there on “how much” protein you need. With this, like everything, do your best.

Whether its 1g per lb of bodyweight. Or 2g per lg of bodyweight.

Don’t lose sleep over it. Just remember, a lot like getting in 3L of water a day, we need you to aim for something more than you are currently doing, and whatever you achieve will be great. The percentage of Protein in your Diet will very rarely be higher than your Carbohydrate intake — that’s ok.

Then let’s add Vegetables. A good solid source of Carbohydrates, they are extremely nutrient-dense and don’t carry with them lots of calories.

From there…I always say that Carbs can come long for the ride. You can sprinkle in some rice, bulgur wheat, couscous, pasta, bread, or whatever. Sprinkle it in once you have your plate built with Protein and Veggies first. This way you will really give yourself a big tick in terms of portion control.

Awesome Rule For Fat Loss Life #4

10,000 steps a day.

Good old FitBit. Good old activity trackers. Good old 10k steps a day.

I’m sure you are starting to see a theme here.

10k steps a day is not a magic number. If all you do right now is 1k steps a day…then getting you to 10x that is wholly unrealistic.

But the benefits of increasing that are still huge.

The technical reason this is in there is known as your NEAT; your Non-Exercise Thermogenesis. This basically means all movement you do which isn’t prescribed training. Which isn’t lifting weights.

This is the part of your Metabolism that you have the most control over…and is part of your Metabolism that many people don’t pay enough attention to.

For more information on your Metabolism and whether or not it is “broken”. Then read this article of mine that has helped 100s of people understand what to do in order to keep their metabolism burning body fat.

I want you to move more. I want you to allow movement to become part of your life. Whether that means doing the gardening, climbing the stairs at work or parking further away at the Grocery Store…if you do all of them then you are well on your way to increasing your NEAT.
Don’t feel defeated if you don’t hit the magic 10k.

As long as you are increasing and building this up from the moment you started your Calorie Deficit from where it was before…you are winning.

Awesome Rule For Fat Loss Life #5

7–8 Hours Sleep A Night

Sleep. The final frontier.

If you fail to make Sleep something you are willing to focus on when trying to lose weight, then you are basically doing the following to your success.

I fully appreciate and understand that sleep is harder to come by for some people due to little children and young families.

And I empathize. I really do.

But if you want to make Fat Loss as easy as possible then you need to understand that making sleep a priority is really really important.

Without the re-charge. Without the deep NREM sleep that you can achieve you aren’t going to wake up with enough energy for the next day.

And that energy isn’t just to workout.

It comes down to your willpower.

A tired person is a hungry person.

A tired person is a caffeine reliant person.

A tired person is a more stressed person.

A tired person is a person who’s calories will increase.

That’s the be-all and end-all.

If you are tired. Your calories will increase.

So how do we manage your tiredness? Like most things, prevention is better than reaction, and improving your Sleep Hygiene will be a huge win in your column.

I am going to write a list of optimal behaviors for your sleep. You don’t have to follow them all…but again, that’s up to you. If you do follow them all you will be in a much more advantageous position than if not. But I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m here to empower you to make the best choices for yourself.

  • Electronics off at least 60mins before bedtime.
  • Dim the lights of an evening
  • No caffeine after midday.
  • Meditate Daily
  • Listen to a Sleep Story
  • Try to get to sleep before midnight
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Exercise during the day
  • Get the sun on the skin

To be able to sleep you need to inspire your body to send Melatonin through your body. This comes from the Pineal Gland and is sent through the bloodstream. Melatonin is released when the body realizes it is indeed bedtime, and there are many cues that can occur for that. Having a pattern of behavior really helps your body sense the signals to release Melatonin into your system.

This is why bedtime habits are really important, and in your day defining the difference between Night and Day really helps.

If you start implementing some better habits around your bedtime then you will start to sleep like a baby.

Conclusion

This is it. Five ways to make your Calorie Deficit Diet easy without working out.

And, just because you can lose weight without working out doesn’t mean you should.

The benefits of looking after yourself physically in this manner are far too plentiful for it to be ignored.

If you want the best results possible, then combine this list of Rules with a very well thought out Strength Programme.

Stick to what I have outlined in this article and you will do really well.

But remember these five rules aren’t really rules.

They’re more like guidelines…

How and Why to Supplement With Magnesium for Health, Fitness, and Performance

Magnesium: The 12th element on the periodic table, the 8th most abundant element in the universe (and 7th most abundant on earth), and a miracle health supplement. I freaking love magnesium.

Why? Well, because for one thing, supplemental magnesium was the first supplement that actually helped me with the rough symptoms of HPA-axis dysregulation.

We’ll get into my story in detail later, but just know that magnesium turned down severe anxiety from a 10 to a 4 — and finally freed me from panic attacks that had forced me to stop working and were bordering on keeping me stuck at home.

The second reason I love magnesium is that it’s one of the easiest things I can recommend for people, no matter what health or performance goal they’re pursuing.

Magnesium works so well because of how important it is for bodily functions, as well as because so many people are deficient in this mineral. Despite being the 7th most abundant element on earth, modern farming practices, as well as other factors, have rendered most people low in this mineral.

Increasing magnesium intake can resolve fitness problems (such as cramping and injury likelihood), prevent or heal heart palpitations and even some arrhythmia, and sooth or erase mood problems ranging from depression and anxiety, and may be a crucial factor in psychosis.
Considering that magnesium has been confirmed to be involved in 300+ enzymatic processes in our biology, and is estimated to be involved in closer to 1000, it’s no wonder that remedying a deficiency could have such a wide breadth of results.

You don’t have to experience panic attacks to get benefits from magnesium.

Common Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Deficiency in this mineral can manifest in a wide variety of symptoms. Here are a few you might experience that could signal that you are low in magnesium:

Now, magnesium isn’t a cure for everyone. There are other factors involved other than magnesium deficiency, especially for difficult problems health problems. However, I’ve personally learned not to underestimate the power of this mineral.

Depending on your level of deficiency, the benefits of magnesium can be massive, and even if you don’t notice any of the symptoms I mentioned, you could still notice an improvement from supplementing.

To highlight the power of magnesium, I’m going to give you the first ever walkthrough of my story with chronic disease and how magnesium played an essential role in healing.

Then we’ll move into a section on understanding the role of magnesium in our modern world, cover how to test for magnesium deficiency, and then discover the best form of supplemental magnesium for your purposes.

So, to start things off, a little about your author.

My Story With Magnesium

In 2017, I suffered a massive panic attack, which I thought was either me losing my mind or my heart stopping (and at the time I actually hoped it was the latter, because it felt like the easier option to deal with).

This happened by a result of factors that had been compounding for close to half a year, so we’ll start there.

I’ve been passionate about health and fitness since I was 13 when I started P90X and mixed martial arts. Many years later, in 2016, I decided to become a professional athlete and I started training to compete in the Crossfit games for the title of Fittest on Earth.

Without access to world-class coaches, extensive blood work, and nutritionists, I dove into textbooks on Olympic weightlifting, and podcasts on nutrition. I began biohacking, and I learned a ton about living one’s best life.

However, I wasn’t training for health, but for performance. I hadn’t yet learned about adrenal-fatigue and chronic disease, which often occur following prolonged periods of massive stress to the body or mind.

Common among athletes who train hard and don’t recover, people will often “crash.” Though there is a multitude of names for these conditions, what’s happening basically is that the body and nervous system are shutting down to stop you from working yourself to death.

In my case, after 6 months of training for 4 to 6 hours a day in what is arguably the most physically taxing exercise that exists (Crossfit style HIIT and Olympic weightlifting), I crashed — hard.

I never received a formal diagnosis, mainly due to the crazy expenses of going to a clinician just to have them tell me my blood work was normal and I’m probably just anxious, but I knew I was sick.

I’ve always been a very laid-back person. If living in the woods for 30 days at age 16 or climbing a 300-foot cliff multi-pitch on my first outdoor climbing trip didn’t make me anxious, I knew I wasn’t “just anxious.”

The point is, my body and mind were rebelling against me for pushing them too hard. I was anxious daily; I had panic attacks randomly and often felt like I was losing touch with reality. Then, I began experiencing hot flashes, heart palpitations, tinnitus, and other physical symptoms.

Throughout this time, I began reading countless articles online on sites such as selhacked.com, bengreenfieldfitness.com, and other places to discover anything that could help me start healing
.
I kept seeing magnesium on these lists, and it was always described as an essential mineral that can help with, well, darn near anything.

Dr. Norman Shealy has said that “every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency,” and that “magnesium is the most critical mineral required for electrical stability of every cell in the body. A magnesium deficiency may be responsible for more diseases than any other nutrient.”

Still, though I believed the mineral was probably essential for long-term healing, I had doubts it would be powerful enough to aid with my immediate problems.

But after having a panic attack in the parking lot of a gas station not a mile from my house, and having to drive home without even going in to buy something, I knew I had to try something.

I ordered a bottle of topical magnesium lotion, and as soon as it touched my skin, I relaxed.

I still wasn’t fully healed, or anywhere near how I felt before I became sick, but a mere lotion dropped my anxiety from a splintering 10 to a manageable 4, and I didn’t suffer a panic attack again for months. I may not have been dying, but I sure as heck felt like it, and this mineral brought me back to a functional baseline on several occasions.

Look, magnesium isn’t always a cure-all, but it is one of the most reliable, affordable, and effective methods you can try for darn near any health or fitness purpose.

The reason for this is because — as we mentioned in the intro — magnesium is one of the most important minerals for our biology that exists. It is important for almost every bodily function, from a well-working brain to a strong heart.

I’d also like to emphasize that you don’t need to have some kind of crazy disease to benefit from magnesium, and that’s actually not the purpose of this guide (I don’t give medical advice).

I’m far more concerned with boosting your performance. Just think: you may be doing just fine in life, but a simple mineral could boost your performance from an 8 to a 9, reduce your risk of heart attack, improve your exercise recovery, and stabilize your mood.

I don’t know what word you would use to describe such a thing, but I lean towards “miraculous.”

Understanding the Causes of Low Magnesium

So, as I’ve mentioned, the big reason why magnesium is so beneficial for so many people is because most people have low magnesium. At a glance, this is actually surprising, as magnesium is one of the most common minerals on the planets and is a key component in plant life.

Why is this? Well, for one thing, our bodies don’t “hold on” to magnesium. The mineral is typically so available in our diets that our biology has adapted to “release” magnesium very easily to avoid ever having too much magnesium.

This actually makes magnesium one of the safest supplements that exists, since your body simply expels any excess. Our bodies don’t store magnesium like they do calcium, which is “hoarded” due to the lower prevalence in the environment.

And calcium actually brings us to the first major component in magnesium deficiency.

Reason 1: Over-consumption of calcium

For the past 20 years or more, calcium has been promoted as an essential mineral. You know the drill, drink your calcium-enriched milk and get stronger bones.

However, this promotion of calcium overlooked something major: calcium and magnesium act cooperatively to provide benefits throughout the body, and if you don’t have enough magnesium, calcium actually becomes a bad thing. You’re supposed to have a ratio of about 2:1 or 1:1 calcium to magnesium in the body.

We’ve essentially flipped the board, and are consuming a steady supply of calcium which gets stored and our ratios of calcium to magnesium get more and more unbalanced.

If this weren’t enough, we no longer have that steady supply of magnesium for our diets.

Reason 2: Low magnesium in our diet

Vegetables and plants in our diet are typically a major source of magnesium. To shed some light on why, check this out: plant chlorophyll is actually identical to the hemoglobin that makes up our blood, except for one atom: chlorophyll has magnesium (instead of iron).

Unfortunately, modern farming practices have rendered much of the soil used to grow food low in magnesium.

Members of developed countries often have sub-par magnesium levels while those in undeveloped countries have fine levels, and this implies that the refining of food in modern society is a key aspect of the problem. For a great journal article on the subject, check out Magnesium deficiency in plants: An urgent problem.

Furthermore, the animals we eat are also consuming low magnesium plants, so even animal products contain less magnesium than in the past. Even if you eat organic, unless you know the exact farming practices of the farm providing your food, there’s really no way to know if your food has enough magnesium or not.

Reason 3: Ineffective testing for magnesium in modern medicine

The standard test for magnesium is a serum blood test. However, it is so rare for serum magnesium tests to show deficiency that many physicians don’t even do the test, and mistakenly believe that magnesium deficiency is extremely rare.

Here’s the problem: magnesium is so absolutely essential for so many bodily functions — and especially heart function — that your body will pull magnesium from the rest of your body to maintain stable serum blood levels.

If you ever actually show low magnesium on a serum blood test, you are probably experiencing such severe deficiency that your body can’t even stabilize your blood magnesium by pulling from other tissues such as skeletal tissue or organs. If this ever occurs, you are likely in serious trouble.

My point is this: the medical industry typically overlooks one of the most important markers for health because they use an ineffective test. Thankfully, reliable tests for magnesium do exist and can be very affordable.

How to Test for Magnesium Deficiency (If You Want To)

OK, because magnesium deficiency is so common, and magnesium is so safe to use as a supplement, you can start supplementing it without testing if you want to.

However, some people are magnesium wasters, and even with intense supplementation, they will remain deficient. Testing is one of the only ways to discover how your magnesium levels are reacting to supplementation. With that in mind, the first thing we’ll learn is how to test for magnesium properly.

To test for magnesium, instead of the standard serum test, we’ll use the Magnesium RBC Test. This blood test involves actually looking inside our red blood cells and analyzing how much magnesium is present there.

Unlike serum magnesium, which simply measures how much free magnesium is floating in our blood, the magnesium RBC test is more accurate by actually looking inside our cells. “Normal” lab ranges for a magnesium RBC test are considered to be between 4.2 and 6.8mg/dL.

However, Dr. Carolyn Dean, Author of The Magnesium Miracle and an expert I trust on the subject, recommends that you aim to be between 6.0 and 6.5mg/dL.

Her logic is that the values set by most labs are based on national averages, but when 80% or more of the population consumes less than the recommended daily values of magnesium (According to World Health Organization statistics), then “average” is probably too low. For this reason, she has her clients aim for the top of the range.

I want to add another note here: if you get your RBC test and you are in the low end of the normal range, but still display symptoms of magnesium deficiency, then you may still be deficient. People have different needs, and many people benefit massively from raising their RBC magnesium levels to the higher ends of the range — even if their starting point was within the confines of what is considered “normal.”

The most affordable way to get a magnesium RBC test is to have your doctor order it for you under your insurance. Some doctors dislike having their patients bring up special testing, and may think you don’t need to be worried about it. However, many are also willing to listen, and more and more practitioners are learning about the importance of proper magnesium testing.

Fortunately, even if your doctor isn’t interested, you can simply bypass them (and look for a better doctor in the meantime) and get the test directly.

In the U.S., you can go to sites like requestatest.com and order a magnesium RBC test for about $60. Then you simply take the forms they send you to a local lab, and they’ll draw your blood and send you the results just like if your doctor ordered it.

I recommend getting a magnesium RBC test within the first 3 months of supplementing magnesium, and immediately if you either:

  • Stop noticing benefits from magnesium, or
  • Notice negative side effects.

The reason I recommend testing is because it greatly speeds up the process of discovering your optimal dose. If you want to get more advanced, the best method is to do a magnesium RBC test before starting supplements.

When you get the results, start supplementing, and then after a period of two weeks or a month of supplementing, test again.

Then, you can increase or decrease your magnesium supplementation based on whether your magnesium levels have reached adequate levels.

For example, if you start at a 3, and you want to get to 6.5mg/dL, a good supplement protocol would show an increase in your RBC magnesium test on the second test.

If your second test shows an increase to a 4 or a 5mg/dL, then you could simply stick with your protocol, knowing you will likely reach optimal levels at a steady pace. If on the other hand, you’re already at a 6mg/dL, you can either maintain your protocol or lower your magnesium supplementation a bit.

If you only raise your levels to a 3.4mg/dL, not at all, or your levels decline despite supplementation, then increase your supplementation or consider trying a different form of magnesium (we’ll get into the best types of magnesium in the next section).

Personally, I started supplementing magnesium long before I ever did an RBC test, mainly out of desperation to calm my health issues. After a few months of supplementing magnesium, my health issues started to resurface.

I couldn’t tell if my returning health problems were due to having too much magnesium, or if I was still not getting enough — so to be safe, I stopped taking magnesium.

However, when I got my RBC blood test a few months later, I found that I was still low! I switched to a more bioavailable magnesium supplement at this point and again saw a massive improvement.

You don’t need to test your magnesium, but it massively aids in getting the most out of the supplement. Typically I try to find ways to help people use supplements without doing medical testing, as medical testing is usually really expensive. Most people aren’t in a position to drop $500 just to find out if they should try a nutritional supplement.

However, $60 is a different story. You can get $60 together by forgoing a few coffee shop visits or putting a few TV subscriptions on hold. It’s really quite convenient.

Magnesium Supplements

Not all magnesium is created equal, and different forms of supplemental magnesium work better for different purposes. We cannot consume pure magnesium — otherwise, you’d be able to get what you need by licking rocks.

Instead, the magnesium we get in our diets or in supplements is always bound to another material, allowing it to be absorbed. The material that magnesium is bound to determines how it will affect us and how efficiently it will be absorbed.

For example, one of the most common forms of supplemental magnesium is magnesium oxide, which you’ll find in many multivitamins or blends like Airborn. Unfortunately, less than 4% of magnesium oxide is bioavailable, so it’s really a bit of a waste of money.

Following are the forms of magnesium I’ve used as well as their benefits and shortcomings. To make things easy, we’ll start with those I like best, and then cover other popular forms just so you can educate yourself.

Magnesium glycinate

Glycine is an amino acid that soothes the brain, and magnesium glycinate is a supplemental form that delivers magnesium to you by binding it to a glycine molecule.

Furthermore, magnesium glycinate is one of the smallest molecular forms of magnesium and is understandably well tolerated and well absorbed.

Magnesium glycinate is one of the most commonly used forms by licensed health professionals, and I heard about it for the first time when working with a functional medicine practitioner. Because it is so bio-available, mag glycinate is one of the two forms of magnesium I specifically recommend using.

Due to the presence of glycine, magnesium glycinate is particularly adept at soothing mood problems such as anxiety, aiding in sleep, and addressing panic. If you are interested in using magnesium in order to calm down and address mental function, I’d recommend using magnesium glycinate.

Most people should supplement with 600mg to 1000mg of magnesium a day. I usually take half at the beginning of the day, and a half at the end right before bed.

Most magnesium supplements are known for having a laxative effect. This is uncommon with magnesium glycinate, which is good. However, if you experience any laxative effect with it, just lower your dose until you no longer experience.

This laxative effect occurs because your body can’t use all the magnesium you’ve supplemented, so it expels the rest.

This is why I don’t recommend magnesium citrate, which is one of the most popular forms on the market. Despite its popularity, it almost always causes a laxative effect for people, and you want to avoid losing minerals as a result.

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Magnesium malate

Another supplement that delivers magnesium by binding it to an amino acid, magnesium malate is also one of the most bioavailable forms.

Bound to malic acid, this form of magnesium is also effective for calming but is more oriented towards physical relaxation. Malic acid is effective at detoxification, particularly in addressing heavy metals, and promotes ATP production, which is the foundational process by which our body uses and creates energy.

Basically, magnesium malate is a powerful choice if you are an athlete or you are trying to increase energy.

Dosing should be the same as with magnesium glycinate, except that I typically use magnesium malate after workouts and then supplemented throughout the day, and in the morning.

The energy boost of malic acid may prevent sleep if taken at night, but personally, I don’t notice any negative effects.

I have shifted from using primarily magnesium glycinate, which was more relevant for my health issues in the past, to using primarily magnesium malate since I’ve returned to using the gym and am looking for energy for writing and focus.

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Magnesium citrate (not recommended)

Magnesium citrate is a form of magnesium I actually do not recommend.

Mag citrate is the most popular form of “health” magnesium, meaning that it actually works for restoring your magnesium levels (unlike the also common magnesium oxide.) This was the first kind of oral magnesium I started using after my experience with topical magnesium lotion.

However, magnesium citrate also is by far the most laxative oral magnesium I’ve ever tried, and I almost always experienced loose stool when using this magnesium.

You might be thinking, “Well, what’s the big deal? It’s super affordable, and so what if your bathroom breaks are a little watery?”

Unfortunately, the reason you experience loose stool is that your body is expelling the magnesium it can’t use, which means that you are not getting full advantage of your supplement. Furthermore, you are also likely losing other minerals when this occurs, as the loose stool is a result of your kidneys flushing water to expel excess magnesium, and this will also expel other electrolytes.

For these reasons, I prefer for people to use malate or glycinate, which are almost always completely absorbed and don’t trigger a laxative effect in people.

I took magnesium citrate in amounts of about 1000mg per day, broken up throughout the day for about 4 months before my health issues started to re-appear. Yet when I got a magnesium RBC test, my levels were still low.

I suspect that this was due to the fact I was losing minerals due to the laxative effect of magnesium citrate.

Feel free to grab some if you’d like to try it. Some people find that magnesium citrate works just fine for them, but in the interest of avoiding both mineral loss and disaster pants, I’d still go with magnesium malate or magnesium glycinate if I were you.

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Topical magnesium, as magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate

Magnesium chloride and magnesium sulfate are forms of magnesium salts and are not typically taken orally.

These magnesiums are instead supplemented in the form of baths (Epsom salts are actually not salts but magnesium sulfate flakes) or as oils or lotions to be applied directly to the skin.

There is a field of thought that believes topical magnesium is particularly good for addressing muscle soreness and relaxation, and I know a guy who was able to immediately stop a severe abdominal cramp by applying magnesium oil directly to the area of the cramp.

Research is still sparse, but magnesium chloride lotion is the product that first lowered my anxiety and stopped my panic attacks. Some people think it might not be well absorbed, but due to my personal experience, I think that it’s actually very effective.

These days I find it far easier to just take an oral supplement, and I like the added mental benefits of magnesium glycinate and malate. However, I’ll still take the occasional magnesium bath using magnesium chloride or sulfate bath flakes.

I’d recommend using this form of magnesium to create relaxing baths before bed, and to relieve muscle soreness or aches.

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Additional Supplements Worth Investigating

The two following forms of magnesium are ones I have not used, but have some cool benefits and could be great tools for specific purposes.

Magnesium taurate

In particular, I’m very excited about magnesium taurate. Magnesium taurate is bound to the amino acid taurine, which is phenomenal for heart function, electrolyte balance, detox, and calmness.

In fact, taurine is a staple supplement of mine, and combined with L-arginine helped me immediately quell heart palpitations and greatly reduce fatigue when I first began taking it.

Furthermore, magnesium taurate is often used as a meditation aid. This compound induces feelings of deep calm and can be used to reach deep states of meditation.

As someone who has done meditation for years, I am very excited to try magnesium taurate for this purpose.

In the past, I used saunas and nootropics to reach deep meditation states, where I often had the experience of powerful visualizations of alignment with the universe, deep love and compassion for humanity. I developed an awesome visualization where I saw myself as a super saiyan, which is a god-like being from the anime Dragon Ball Z.

Meditation is an awesome tool, and I use it daily, but I am rarely able to manifest such powerful experiences anymore as I have avoided saunas since my first panic attack (which started in a sauna session after weight-lifting).

I will be writing an article on meditation in the future, and using magnesium taurate will be part of my research for that article.

Many people get a laxative effect from magnesium taurate when they try to use it to address magnesium deficiency, so I still suggest sticking with malate and glycinate for those purposes, but you can use magnesium taurate to augment meditation, before doing presentations or speeches, or in other scenarios where you’d like to calm down.

I’d also suggest magnesium taurate in particular for heart-related healing, such as addressing palpitations or arrhythmias or to promote heart health longevity. Of course, work with a doctor if any of these conditions are dangerous and/or you are on medication.

  • After comparing many brands, Heart Calm appears to be the best bet for magnesium taurate.

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Magnesium L-Threonate

If you have any interest in nootropics, then magnesium threonate could be of great interest to you.

Use of this form of magnesium is relatively new, but is special in that it crosses the blood-brain barrier and feeds magnesium directly to the brain. Research is still somewhat sparse, but many people enjoy magnesium threonate for use as a “brain vitamin” or “nootropic.”

I don’t use threonate personally, but it has been an ingredient in powerful nootropic blends I’ve used in the past (specifically the Qualia product by Neurohacker Collective.)

Due to the fact that these were blends that included many powerful agents for mental function, I cannot say how much influence magnesium threonate had, but the best I have ever been able to perform was while using these blends.

Unfortunately, when I began having health issues I became very sensitive to caffeine and substances that stimulate mental acuity, so I have not been able to deeply explore this realm since I started writing.

However, like magnesium taurate, I’d feel remiss not to mention magnesium threonate here.

  • After comparing brands and reading reviews, Doublewood Supplements appears to be the best bet for magnesium l-threonate.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, magnesium is one of the most important minerals for biological function that exists.
Confirmed to be involved in 300+ enzymatic processes in the body, and estimated to be involved with close to 1000, magnesium is crucial for bone density, muscle function, recovery, mental acuity, heart function, and much much more.

However, due to the influences of living in modern society, such as the processing that occurs in modern farming, over-consumption of calcium, and ineffective testing for magnesium in standard medicine, many people are deficient in this mineral.

Magnesium was an indispensable tool in my journey with chronic disease, but it is also incredibly powerful for improving your life in a multitude of ways, and I still use it religiously for performance and to protect my health.

To reiterate, I recommend using magnesium glycinate or magnesium malate, as they are the most bioavailable forms I know of that do not trigger a laxative effect.

As always, I wish all of you the best of luck on your personal health and fitness journeys, and I humbly thank you for taking the time to read this article.


This is Your Brain on Sugar

As I stare at this blank word document, I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my head clear as day.

“All that soda will rot your teeth”

“All that candy will give you worms”(yes, that is an actual quote)

Among other crazy Italian grandmother type sayings, she would frequently rattle off.

We hear since childhood that sugar is bad for us, we understand, nod in agreement. But when its someone’s birthday and they break out that fudgy the whale cake, you best believe we’re getting in on that frozen fudgy goodness.

When I was over 300lbs, sugar was a large part of my diet. From 32oz Gatorades to king-sized candy bars, I couldn’t get enough.

I spent so much time in that obesity prison that I knew no other existence. I never cut sugar out for long enough to reap the benefits, blind to its effect on me. You get used to anything after a while, even everyday activities being a winded struggle.

I lost a significant amount of weight around 2016. I spent the year essentially white-knuckling it, depending solely on discipline to get me through. By 2017 I found the low carb way of eating, and progress ramped up tenfold.

This new lifestyle eliminated my sugar and carbohydrate consumption almost entirely. It also removed a bunch of other processed nonsense I frequently enjoyed.

The change left me feeling on top of the world. But because it was so dramatic, eliminating all possible culprits, I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly was making me feel so good.

Years later, once I reached my goal weight, I experienced the other side of the fence. I felt so good for so long I completely forgot that debilitated, sluggish feeling.

All it took was a week or two back in that awful state to instill the fear of God in me. I got a brief peek through that window, a reminder of how it feels to live that 300lb life, and I refuse to go back.

Common Ground in a Conflicting Industry

My interest in nutrition led to a whole bunch of self-learning, research, and eventually even a career shift. It involved a lot of sifting through the bullshit: gimmicks, outrageous claims, skewed studies.

Regardless of different biases and nutritional philosophies, a few points of emphasis remained constant, getting enough sleep, sun/vitamin d, eliminating seed/vegetable oils, and finally, eliminating processed SUGAR.

Sure, there are plenty of health professionals preaching the “everything in moderation” mindset. Whether you believe in that philosophy or not, it still acknowledges sugar’s awful effects on the body. It’s categorized in that once every blue moon, “special treat” type of category.

Unfortunately for me and many others that struggle with food addiction, that “special treat” is often the one wobbly wheel on the train to complete derailment — further strengthening the argument that sugar leans more towards the drug category than it does food.

I have managed to stay virtually sugar-free for the last year or so. Even still, I’ve experimented with “cheat meals” in every form or fashion you can think of, fallen off and gotten back on track more times than I can count.

Fear isn’t the motivation behind this piece; one grain of sugar isn’t going to turn you into an addicted zombie. I have recovered from plenty of “cheats” just fine, no harm, no foul.

BUT

Every binge eating bender I’ve experienced all started with a sugary treat in my hand.

Never in my life have I gone off the rails from eating meat or vegetables.
A Slippery Slope With No Snowboard

Many of us are emotional eaters. When food is comfort for most of your life, it’s natural to reach for that teddy bear when things get tough.

Rough week at work? Relationship troubles? That inner food addict is creatively persuasive. Anything becomes an excuse to get that fix. Everything is proof, “you deserve it.”

This situation was no different. A few months into COVID, that “we’re in this together” attitude faded. Realizing this was going to be way more than just a few months. The uncertainty, coupled with watching my savings deplete, led to a temporary unraveling.

What was supposed to be a one-night cheat meal turned into an entire weekend, quickly extending to a full week, and then two.

Anyone who has struggled with weight gain knows this cycle well.

It’s something I battled with early on in my journey. The psychology behind cheat meals and the all-or-nothing mindset deserves a separate conversation. For now, I’ll stick to the task at hand.

It caught me off guard. That mentality crept back in like an old friend, and I let it run wild for a few days. I assumed I would shake it off like usual. I knew this situation well.

The weekend had passed. By Sunday night, I was already starting to feel like crap and decided to go back to normal tomorrow.

But I didn’t.

The Mental the Bad and the Ugly

The depression I woke up with Monday morning was an old, familiar feeling as well. The self-loathing was so intense; you would think I ballooned back up to 360 pounds, robbed a bank, and slapped an old lady all in one weekend.

I felt helpless. The disciplined voice in my head silenced, replaced by one that made excuses and sought comfort. I gave in, allowing my current misery and erratic headspace to run the show, convincing me to “just enjoy myself” for a few more days.

Just like that, I felt like the old me again. Defeated, miserable, and not in control. For the rest of the week, I was on autopilot. It was like watching myself in 3rd person with someone else behind the wheel.

Only a few days prior, I was genuinely loving life. Now, I thought I was a failure. I didn’t have any business being a health coach or existing in that industry at all. “How the hell am I supposed to help people when I can’t even help myself.”

I went from having virtually zero depression and anxiety in three years to becoming an anxious, depressed wreck in 72 hours.

Irritability was through the roof, with zero interest in associating with friends or family. I ignored calls and completely alienated myself for those two weeks.

My thoughts felt crazy. I knew it was all completely irrational but could do nothing. Even writing about it now seems overly dramatic, but when you’re in that position, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

The Physical the Bad and the Ugly

At the end of the first week, my depleted mental state convinced me to keep the “fun” rolling. By week two, the physical effects became way more apparent.

The first thing I noticed was the night sweats. Night after night, I would wake up in a gross pool of it despite setting the AC to the mid-sixties.

I watched myself swell up like an overfilled balloon animal. It was most visible in my face, hands, and feet. I dealt with a severe case of sausage fingers, chipmunk cheeks, and swollen feet to the point where I had to loosen the laces on my shoes.

I spoke earlier about getting used to feeling a certain way over time. These symptoms are things I dealt with every day of obesity. They ALL disappeared throughout my weight loss journey, and they ALL came back during that second week.

I was always tired and had zero energy, even though those two weeks consisted of absolutely nothing. My day involved waking up, shoving a few bowls of cereal in my face, playing some video games, and passing out. Then repeat.

Reaching the Breaking Point

Eventually, it ran its course on me. I couldn’t imagine another day feeling that way, and I have no idea how I survived those earlier years in such a sorry state.

I white-knuckled that first week back to reality the same way I did early on in my journey.
Perhaps a third week should have been added to this article — many of the side effects amplified during that weeklong detox. Still, that misery was all the motivation I needed to push through.

Similar to the fed-up feeling when I started. Similar to how some of you might be feeling this very moment reading this.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I am a full-fledged food addict, sugar addict, whatever you’d like to call it.

The tendency to lose myself in that all or nothing mentality is what led me down this road in the first place, it is what led me to morbid obesity. So, I understand the perspective that my unique experience has no bearing on others.

I can’t speak to everyone’s psychology or relationship to food, and I can’t argue against any criticisms of how I got into that relapse predicament. What I can speak to is sugar’s effect on me once I got there.

I assumed my mental health issues had everything to do with my past, my weight, and my insecurities. It made sense to me, so I didn’t give it a second thought.

I lost the weight, obviously increasing my confidence, and the rest followed. While I know all of this played a tremendous role, I’m not sure it tells the entire story.

This recent speed bump was a rough one, but I’m incredibly thankful it happened. It opened my eyes to the dangers of sugar and shed even more light on how messed up our food industry, and dietary guidelines are.

We are in Desperate Need of a Change

It’s no wonder we are so unhealthy as a society, physically and mentally. Diet may not be the only cause, but it’s certainly a big one.

I got a sneak peek at the life I used to live, a quick view from the ghost of Christmas past, and I want no part of it.

It’s mind-blowing how heavily these products are pushed daily. It’s impossible to watch tv, surf the internet, or leave your house without having a captain crunch ad shoved in your face. Not advertised as a treat, but as “part of a balanced breakfast.” Safe to eat every day along with your white toast and gallon of orange juice, according to the commercials.

If you still aren’t convinced, I’ve done a two-second Google search of “the dangers of sugar,” and I suggest you do the same. These articles are on the first page. Most of them are in the top few results. Take a look at them for yourself.

With this abundance of data so readily available, the question remains. Why is nothing being done about it? Why are these products still pushed continuously on us? On our children?

Why is half of our population stuck in a prison that is their body? Most importantly, why have the dietary guidelines not changed despite the overwhelming information?

If you are unhappy with your quality of life, experiencing similar symptoms I did, or feel like you need a change, why not try a month without sugar?

See how you feel after that month and decide for yourself if those treats are worth being a part of your daily life.

Top 5 Household Alternatives to Lube

Not only is lube the ultimate solution for vaginal dryness, but it can make sex much more enjoyable and comfortable, too. Talk about stating the obvious.
Although a specialized lube from your local pharmacy (or sex shop) will always be a better option, there may come a time when you can’t get access to one for the life of you. Fortunately, at least one of our top five alternatives should work. And they’re probably just lying around your house!

#1. Aloe Vera

If you’ve ever applied aloe vera to your skin, you know how moisturizing it is. Unlike many other alternatives, especially oils, you can use aloe vera with latex condoms. More than that, it can help prevent several issues, such as fungal infections.

Overall, aloe very just might be the best household lube alternative, but the chances that you have 100% natural aloe gel in your home are quite low. And the ones containing alcohol or other artificial ingredients will most likely cause irritation.

#2. Coconut Oil

Unrefined coconut oil is a popular lube substitute for several reasons. First, it’s tasty, so it’s a great option if sex will include oral play. Second, your skin will absorb it and so there won’t be any greasy residues left on your intimate body parts afterward. It’s also very moisturizing (as any lube should be). 

Now for the cons. Whatever you do, don’t use latex condoms with coconut oil, or any other oil for that matter, because all oils have a tendency to destroy the latex material almost immediately. Additionally — and again this applies to all oils — it has a high pH level, so using it for vaginal sex may lead to yeast infections in your partner.

#3. Avocado Oil

If you don’t want your lube to have a specific taste or smell, using avocado oil might be a good idea, as it’s almost tasteless. However, when it comes to its lubricating function, many people find it less effective than the previous options on this list.

#4. Olive Oil

This one can be found in almost any household. Olive oil is safe to use for both vaginal and anal sex. But it’s very thick and hardly dissolves in skin. So it may clog pores! If you plan to use olive oil for sex, make sure to wash it off as soon as you can afterward.

#5. Cornstarch and Water

This lube will take some time for you to prepare, so it’s better to make it in advance and store it until needed. 

Just put four teaspoons of cornstarch into one cup of boiling water. You can put more or less cornstarch depending on how thick you want that lube to be. Stir the mixture for about 15 minutes. Then let it cool down at room temperature (don’t put it into the fridge, unless you want your lube to be jelly-like, which we highly doubt), and keep in it in a closed bottle until needed. But don’t store it for too long. You’ll have better results if you prepare the lube on the same day or a day before. And this lube is condom-friendly — it won’t destroy them!

Any Other Alternatives?

You could probably do some more research and find other options lying around. But stay away from Vaseline, baby oil, egg whites, refined oils, and shower gels. Yes, they’re great at reducing friction, but they pose several health risks you want to avoid.

6 Simple Habits of Extremely Organized People

I almost broke my neck this morning. I woke up to the lovely sounds of birds during mating season, amplified through a powerful phone speaker. Morning-me is a lazy piece of shit and doesn’t have his snoozing behavior under control. Evening-me knows that and puts the phone out of reach so I have to get up.

I slowly pulled my arm out from under my sleeping girlfriend’s head with the precision of a heart surgeon, then set out to silence the birds advertising their sexual finesse. I didn’t get far, though.

On my second step, I tripped over my girlfriend’s slippers and fell head-first into my cabinet. She didn’t even witness her attempted murder but was sleeping like an angel, quietly drooling on the pillow, her cute snore mocking my misery. I thought about throwing her out the window, but the mountain of paperwork associated with first-degree murder made me change my mind.

Then, I sighed. Just a few years ago, these would’ve been my slippers.

I used to be extremely disorganized. Appointments? Late. Meetings? Unprepared. Important documents? Sure, right under the stack of receipts, coffee cups, and yesterday’s lunch.
Since then, I’ve made a 180° degree turn — and realized something profound:
Being disorganized is sh*t, being organized is “the sh*t.”

Imagine for a second what your life would look like. No more stress being late, panic over a lost document, or apologies because you forgot a meeting (again). Instead, you’ll be organized, productive, and have a lot more fun.

However, most people disregard a core element of being organized. They spring clean, write fancy to-do lists, and get Marie Kondo tattooed on their forehead. But after a few weeks, everything’s back to chaos.

Organizing isn’t hard. Staying organized is.

Any system, your life included, is subject to entropy — an always-increasing measurement of disorder. Like cream spreads in coffee, the thoughts, things, and people you hold dear spread throughout your space. Meetings fill your calendar, Amazon orders your cabinet, and thoughts your cerebrum.

That’s why organization isn’t a one-time thing. It all comes back tomorrow. To keep the chaos at bay, you’ll have to cultivate small, sustainable habits.

What You Can Learn from Beaver Dams

Beavers are fascinating. They build dams transforming entire ecosystems, some of them big enough you can see them from space. Not bad for a mammal not much larger than a rolled-up yoga mat.

Their dams are sophisticated structures, put together from trees, branches, leaves, stones, and mud.

Building these takes great organization. If they just threw everything into the stream and hoped for the best, they couldn’t even clog a bathtub.

Instead, they start with a couple of big trees and build everything around them.

Like beavers, organized people have a solid base they build their days on. They find their unshakable ground in routines and rituals, whether it’s a glass of water and five minutes of stretching in the morning, a short walk at lunchtime, or a bit of reading at night.

Establish a small, achievable routine and stick to it like clockwork. It will become a solid and reliable structure to build your days on.

The Ultimate Weapon for Lazy People

MMA fights are brutal — and so is the training.

Contestants harden their shins by rubbing hardwood over them, again and again. It’s painful, but it’s still better than having their leg snap in half like a twig during a fight.

Preparation is a key element to being organized. Accumulate resources now and draw on them when shit hits the fan.

As Benjamin Franklin said:

An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure.

You don’t have to rub a broomstick over your shins every night in case a brawl breaks out at the office, but a few small tricks go a long way.

  • Prepare food in advance. Cooking takes almost the same time no matter if you make one, two, or five portions. Most foods are easy to freeze and reheat and having emergency provisions for a long day can be a lifesaver.
  • Check your notes before a meeting. It takes five minutes but makes you seem like you spent hours on it. Small effort, huge gain.
  • A perfect morning starts in the evening. Prepare cereal, clothes, and car keys. What takes five minutes in the evening takes about half an hour in the morning, especially if you’re already late. Trust me, it’s science.

Preparation is the ultimate weapon for lazy people in the fight against chaos. It not only saves you time, effort, and stress, but also puts you on top of your shit.

If You Fail To Plan, You’re Planning To Fail.

2 Simple Rules for an Efficient To-Do List

Call me a weirdo, but I like trains. They get you from A to B, they’re reliable and more eco-friendly than cars, and in every country but Germany, they’re on time. I’m waiting for a delayed train in a cold and dreary station as I write this.

Trains are great because they run a specific schedule. You know you’ll arrive at your destination. There’s no risk of taking the wrong highway exit and ending up in Albania instead of Alberta.

But if you want to quickly cover a lot of ground, you can’t stop at every small village or wait for delayed passengers.

Organized people are like trains — their to-do list is their schedule and nothing gets them off track.

However, most people do to-do lists wrong. They write random tasks on a note and tick them off one by one. They get things done, but they don’t make progress.

Here are two quick tips to turn your to-do list into an efficient operating schedule.

  • Set Most Important Tasks (MITs) for the day Your day might start well, but at one point, the fuckery begins. An unexpected meeting, a coworker needing help, or tripping over your girlfriend’s slippers and breaking your foot. Even if everything goes smoothly, you’ve often exhausted most of your cognitive resources by lunchtime. Decide which three tasks move your needle the most and make your day a successful one. These are your MITs — start on them first thing in the morning and don’t touch anything else until you’re done.
  • Batch the small stuff Jumping from task to task kills not only your productivity but also gets you off track, making you less organized. The solution? Do all the small things in one go instead of having them disrupt your flow multiple times a day. Watering plants, bringing out the trash, and answering emails can all be done quickly. Batch them together so you’re less prone to distractions.

Use Electronic Help

Ever since the invention of the wheel in 3,500 B.C., humans have used technology to make their lives easier. The steam engine in 1698, the household fridge in 1913, and the massage chair in 1954.

Today, smartphones can take a ton of liability and cognitive stress off your brain.

I use alarms for all my recurring tasks. I’ve got one to turn off my internet at night, another one for my weekly review session, and a few to check in with my accountability partners. Don’t stress your brain trying to not forget. Just wait for the ring ring.

However, the biggest electronic game changer I’ve encountered is Evernote. To say it’s a note-taking app would be an extreme understatement. From archiving documents and photos over automatically sending meeting notes as emails to tracking your habits, there are very few things Evernote can’t do. They’ve even got a bunch of templates to use free of charge, whether for meetings, project management, or creative writing. Today, I use it as my go-to note-taking and organization tool and it has saved me a ton of headaches and frantic searches for lost notes.

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Outsource as much of your brainpower as you can.

Your Environment Can Make or Break You

People say eyes are the windows to the soul, but I disagree. If you want to know someone’s inner workings, have a look at their room — and if you can, their browser history.

There are two types of people in this world — the ones who put things right away and the ones who let them sit until the pile is too big to be ignored. But this is a two-way street.

Your environment has a huge impact on you and your behavior.

It’s hard to stick to your diet if there are stacks of cookies everywhere and if you’re surrounded by tottery towers of dirty dishes and massive mountains of long-forgotten laundry, your head will start spinning just from looking at them.

But putting thing away before it piles up is easier said than done.

For years, my room looked like a Ninja Warrior training ground, and breaking this habit was no easy feat. But there’s a little trick that has helped me keep my surroundings in order.

Every night, I do a five-minute cleaning session, so every morning I wake up to a clean and organized room instead of facing yesterday’s mess.

We Are What We See. We Are Products Of Our Surroundings.

Your Most Important 10%

I’m too much of a time-optimist. I often assume something will take half an hour when in reality, it takes twice as long.

Things don’t always go as planned, which can turn your days into a stress-fueled game of catching up and always being late. Luckily, there’s a simple solution.

When I set up my work structure for the new year, I included one hour of buffer time every day. This means even if a task takes longer than anticipated, I’m still not running late, which has been a huge contributor to my peace of mind.

Always schedule 10% of extra time, whether you write a report, do the dishes, or have a date.

Best case you’ll have some free time to prepare yourself or relax, worst case you’ll be on time. Both will make you much more organized.

Wrap-Up

Being organized and having your surroundings in order is awesome. Less stress, panic, and apologies. More time, control over your days, and confidence in yourself.

However, getting organized isn’t a one-time thing. Instead, you have to build small, sustainable habits.

  • Use routines and rituals as cornerstones for your days
  • Prepare in advance
  • Use a smart to-do-list
  • Make technology work for you
  • Clean up right away
  • Use buffer times

Choose what you need most, do it for a month, and see how much better you feel.

For Every Minute Spent In Organizing, An Hour Is Earned.

Melatonin Spray Helped Me Sleep

Melatonin spray is a welcoming alternative to melatonin pills, capsules, or powders. A spray feels less medicinal than those other forms. If you’ve been searching for a reliable and effective melatonin spray then maybe my experience will help you.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links that may provide a commission to me at no cost to you if you make a purchase.

Melatonin

Always check with your doctor before you take melatonin or any supplement that is not prescribed by a doctor.

As you probably know, melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body to regulate our sleep-wake cycle, also known as circadian rhythm. Its mainly produced when it’s dark. When I started having trouble sleeping in 2020, I looked into this further.

I was able to find out that melatonin levels can decrease as we age, so I figured maybe because I was getting older, my body wasn’t producing an adequate amount of melatonin to help me have a good and restful sleep.

So, I went on a search for a safe and reliable supplement. One that is beginner friendly because I never consumed melatonin on its own before. And by beginner friendly, I mean a supplement with a relatively lower dosage of melatonin so that I could allow my body time to adjust. This was my train of thought at the time.

Three Melatonin Supplements

The three that I’m going to reveal to you are the three most popular melatonin sprays that usually come up when one searches the internet for more information.

I realize that there are others but since these got my attention and are the most commonly recommended, it made sense to tell you what I found out about them.

I go into a lot more detail in my article Best Melatonin Spray To Help You Sleep in 2021.

Onnit Instant Melatonin Spray

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If you have been searching for more information about melatonin sprays than you may have come across this product at some point. It’s very popular and for good reason.

It comes in a 1 fluid ounce bottle and contains 3mg of melatonin per serving which is six sprays. One bottle will typically last a month if you use it as directed.

Onnit is a brand that strives to help people achieve total human optimization. Their Onnit Instant Melatonin Spray does not disappoint. They offer it in two flavors, lavender and fresh mint. I prefer fresh mint. I feel that this spray is great for beginner to intermediate users of melatonin.

Source Naturals Melatonin Nutraspray

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This brand is definitely more accessible which is why you may have seen it advertised in more places than most. The most common place people buy this product is their Amazon Store.

It comes in a 2 fluid ounce bottle and contains 4.5mg of melatonin per serving which is three sprays. One bottle will typically last a month if you use it as directed.

This melatonin spray is available in one flavor, orange. This is a great spray for medium to intermediate users of melatonin.

Seroyal Melatonin Spray by Genstra Brands

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My impression of this brand is that melatonin should remain medicinal and that melatonin products shouldn’t be a commercial as they have become.

They have a very effective product but accessibility is the issue here. Placing an order from their own website is challenging and while there a few other online stores that you can order it from, they are not very well known so it can hard to find them.

And at $19.50 per 1 fluid ounce bottle, I believe this is on the very highest end of what I would pay. This product would be great for medium to intermediate users of melatonin if price isn’t a concern.

Number 1 Pick

Based on my analysis and experimentation, Onnit’s Instant Melatonin Spray is my favorite. It’s very effective, they offer great customer service and the price is very affordable.

Summary

Prior to researching as to why I was only getting 3–4 hours of sleep per night, I was so exhausted. I was overtired, irritable, low on energy and had no motivation to do anything at all. That has all changed.

I speak a lot about my battles with weight, sleep, low sex drive and more on my website. I’m careful as to what supplements that I use and recommend.

And when I have a great experience with a product that makes me feel good, I’m happy to share the information with you in the hopes it helps you too.

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Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Qigong 101: How to Get Started

As a lifelong student of both Eastern philosophy as well as martial arts, I’ve been curious for some time about the ancient Chinese healing practice of qigong.

When I began this study, I expected much less than what I got.

You see, qigong is far more than just exercise. Although that is its primary medium, qigong is rife with some of the best and most well-supported health methods I already promote.

For example, qigong places a special emphasis on sunlight exposure and practicing barefoot on the naked earth.

These are both well-researched tactics in the health and longevity space. Light is hugely influential on biology. I’ve written a whole article on the subject on Better Humans. 

Earthing, on the flip side, is the practice of walking barefoot on the earth so you are electrically connected to the earth. This has positive effects on heart function and inflammation that are well-backed by research.

There are many cases like these where qigong guidelines correspond to research-backed modern health practices.

Qigong is itself a well-researched practice as a single entity. China includes it in their medicine system alongside more modern approaches.

In keeping with this, my aim here is not to dissect qigong into the parts that I already know to have benefit. Instead, it is to describe qigong as a whole and how I practice it as such.

My reason is this: Qigong was around for hundreds of years before science proved the benefits of sunlight, breathing, meditation, or mobility. I believe there may be parts of this practice that are good for us, even if not yet directly backed by science.

As far as my personal experience goes, in the short time I’ve been practicing, I’ve become calmer but more energetic, and my resting heart rate has dropped below 75 consistently for the first time since I developed adrenal problems in 2017.

Now, it would be crazy to say that this article will teach you how to do qigong. This would be akin to writing an article to teach you kung fu. Qigong is a practice, with attenuate levels of skill and mastery.

What I can teach you is how to start, while also providing you an image of just what qigong is and how it can benefit you over the course of a lifetime.

Health Benefits of Qigong

Before we go any further, I imagine you’d like some proof. Talk of energetic forces and blockages will put off many a skeptic.

With that said, I invite you to contemplate all the very real energies that flow through our bodies. Blood and lymph fluid carry chemical energy in and out of our bodies at every level of physiology. I’m not saying that this, specifically, is qi, but it is at least a metaphor for all of our body’s literal “life force.”

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As far as energy blockages? Consider the Fascia: connective tissue that lines and connects every bone, tissue, and organ to every other bone, tissue, and organ. Tension in the fascia is known to slow blood flow and create mobility restrictions as well as impair organ function in completely different body parts.

When it comes to qigong research, there’s some pretty cool stuff. Research in this area is not well-funded, and some of these studies have small sample sizes. Yet some of the results seem promising.

If you’d like to read research on qigong, the Qigong Institute has collected abstracts of studies on the subject. You can also search for “qigong” in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) databases.

What Is Qigong?

Qi is the Chinese medicine concept of life energy, the animating force which flows through all living things. Gong translates roughly to work, particularly to positive outcomes achieved through practice and perseverance. Qigong, then, is the practice of improving one’s life energy through practice and perseverance.

What qi is specifically? Qi is ineffable, unobservable, at least in any complete way. It is something one can sense, and there are real-life corollaries that hint at its existence, but it is not something that can be fully understood itself, nor is understanding it fully the goal.

A popular Daoist poem describes a snail and a centipede. The snail asks the centipede, “How do you move all those legs?” and in thinking about it, the centipede becomes very confused and is unable to move at all.

Qi is viewed similarly. Improving one’s qi is something that is the goal and aim of qigong, but understanding fully how this occurs or what qi is is not the point. Theory and real-life corollaries can help, but at the end of the day, it is about practice more than theory.

When it comes to qigong practice itself, Chinese medicine divides qi down into multiple categories. These are:

  • Breath qi — from respiration
  • Food qi— from diet
  • Original qi — passed down from parents or universe
  • Internal qi — qi residing inside the body
  • External qi — qiemanating from the body
  • Nutritive qi — qi that flows along the energy meridians
  • Protective qi — qi that forms a protective barrier against pathogens (immunity)

The dan tian

One of the most common terms in qigong is dan tian. The dan tians are energy centers in the body of which there are three. Dan translates to elixir, and tian to field, thus the dan tian are fields (or pools) of the elixir of life and wisdom (qi.)

Each dan tian corresponds to a different body energy. The lower dan tian is considered the most important and is located in the lower abdomen near the navel.

The lower dan tian stores qi and sexual energy called jing. If a qigong practice refers to the dan tian and does not specify which one, it is always the lower dan tian.

The jing energy of the lower dan tian flows downwards through the body towards the earth and is associated with physical and sexual vitality. It is associated with the yin energy of the yin and yang.

The middle dan tian is located at the level of the heart, stores qi, and is related to respiration and the health of the internal organs. It is the balance between yin and yang and flows both upwards and downwards in the body.

Finally, the upper dan tian is located in between the eyebrows at the point known in some cultures as the third eye. The upper dan tian stores shen, which is a term referring to spirit or conscious energy. It flows upwards towards heaven and is associated with yang of the yin and yang.

Qigong views each dan tian like a reservoir. Jing, qi, and shen are used up in dealing with the stressors of life, but the reservoirs are refilled through meditation or qigong techniques, good nutrition, breathing, and time in nature.

Furthermore, each of the three energies—jing, qi, and shen—is associated with different organs and organ pathways as well as functions and movements.

Beyond this, qigong also categorizes based on the five Chinese elements.

You can learn more about the etymology and categorization of qigong by reading a book such as The Way of Qigong by Kenneth S. Cohen, but also simply by practicing.

Just remember this base in the dan tians as well as the jing, qi, and shen forces, as they are the foundation of qigong.

Qigong Fundamentals

Qigong is separated into two categories, active qigong and passive qigong.

Active qigong (dong gong) is that with which the West is most familiar. It involves movement and activity and is associated with yang energy but conceals yin. Externally the body is active and moving, but internally the mind is still, peaceful, and at rest.

Passive qigong associates with yin and conceals the yang. Externally the body is not moving. It is still, yet internally the mind is working actively to cultivate qi.

Basically, active qigong is exercise and qigong flow while passive qigong is meditation.

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Both passive and active qigong share certain elements, namely time of practice, breathing, intentional relaxation, posture, and visualization.

Time and place

The time of day is important in qigong, and it is not recommended one simply practice whenever. Ideally, qigong should be practiced early in the morning at sunrise.

If you practice more than once during the day, the next best time is at sunset to close out the day. Generally, it is recommended that morning practice start slow and build up in intensity, in order to prime your qi for the day you are about to take on.

Sunset practice should instead focus on starting with higher energy movements and steadily becoming less energetic and more calm. This is to close out your day in peace and calm.

As far as location, nature is a huge component of qigong. If it is sunny and warm, qigong should be practiced outdoors and in a park or other beautiful, natural locations if possible. Alternatively, if it is dreary, rainy, or cold then qigong should be performed indoors.

Orientation is also a component. Based on the season, you should face different directions during your practice. In springtime, qigong is best practiced while facing the east. This season and direction are associated with the liver and gallbladder. In summer face the south, and the high qi organs are the heart and the small intestines. In late summer, face any direction, but imagine the qi coming up from the ground. Late summer is associated with the spleen and stomach. In autumn the qi direction is the west, and the associated organs are the lung and large intestine. In the winter, face north, and the organs of focus are the kidney and bladder.

Personally, I think the direction you face may or may not matter so much. I cannot find scientific backing behind these specific directions, but it may have value. Still, I choose to adhere to these guidelines, and I will sometimes pick the direction I face based on the organs I am interested in healing.

If nothing else, the practice of belief and visualization may be the sole benefit from adhering to these goals. Basically, it might be a placebo effect, but every day we learn that placebos are still positives, even if the reason for the benefit is simply our belief rather than from the practice.

Fortunately, the techniques ahead of us have definite grounding in scientific reality. Good posture, breathing, and relaxation are unarguably good for us.

Qigong Posture

“All qigong techniques are based on the qigong stance. Like a musical composition, the stance is the theme, and the other qigong movements are the variations.” 

— Kenneth S. Cohen, “The Way of Qigong”

Posture is the center point of qigong. Your posture either restricts or facilitates your qi, as well as the effectiveness of other components of qigong such as breathing or relaxation.

As stated in the quote above, qigong posture is the theme of qigong. Your posture will vary as you move through active qigong or assume different positions for passive qigong, but adhering to the qigong stance as your foundation should be on your mind.

The theme of qigong is effortless effort. It is relaxed efficiency and nonaction, a concept in Daoism by which you are able to perform life’s activities with the absolute minimum necessary force, so that it may appear you are not acting at all, yet life molds itself around you.

With regard to posture, this results in a feeling of smooth relaxation in everything.

Head and neck

Xu Ling Ding Jing: “Empty the neck, let energy reach the crown.”

  • Release the muscles along the outside of your neck as well as down your spine, lengthening and opening. The head should feel light and balanced atop the spine.
  • Your spine should feel long and open. You should neither slouch nor be rigidly standing tall. Imagine a string is attached to the top of your head from heaven, giving a feeling of being lightly suspended.
  • Lightly touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth, relaxed, with the lips slightly touching. Saliva is considered to be a powerful component of Jing energy and should be swallowed if necessary.

Shoulders and elbows

Chen Jian Zhui Zhou: “Sink the shoulders, drop the elbows.”

  • Shoulder tension creates a cascading chain reaction down the torso, as well as being associated with anxiety. Allow the shoulders to sink down towards the earth without tension.
  • Be careful not to roll the shoulders forward nor to tighten them back. Simply let them naturally sink.
  • Simultaneously, loosen the elbows. The elbows should always be slightly bent during qigong, as should the knees and fingers.

Back and chest

Chen Jian Zhui Zhou: “Central and erect.”

  • The spine acts as a highway for qi. The spinal cord transmits messages from the brain to the rest of the body. If the spine is crooked or bent, this cannot happen as efficiently.
  • With a stable and centered spine, you should feel your bones stacked one on top of the other, requiring less effort.
  • Think of the spine as a rope rather than a stick or pole, attached at one end to your tailbone and stretched slightly to the string at the top of your crown from head and neck exercise.
  • Allow the spine to feel open, with space between each vertebra. Give your vertebrae room to breath.
  • Do not try to wrench your spine into a perfectly straight line, but instead aim for openness and to be mostly straight. Focus instead on the feeling of stability and openness as well as uprightness without effort.
  • Your chest should feel open and slightly sunk, but not concave. It should not be wrenched open nor hunched in. Good chest posture should come naturally from your spinal and shoulder posture.

Hips

Song Kua: “Relax the Kua.”

  • The kua is the area of the hips where the thighs and trunk crease. It includes our hip flexors and psoas.
  • Relaxing the muscles around this area allows qi from the lower dan tian—the most important energy center in the body—to better flow to and vitalize the rest of the body, as well as allowing for healthier movement.

One thing you may notice is that the qigong stance is in itself a powerful exercise. It highlights areas of tension in your body. Merely holding the stance for a few minutes is enough for many to notice the knots in their shoulders, or realize their hips are sore from merely standing with slightly bent knees.

Despite the very relaxed nature of this stance, tension held in your body becomes very obvious. This is good: Now you are more aware of yourself, which is an essential component of qigong.

Qigong Breathing

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Beginning with qigong posture, we can now move on to qigong breathing. There are many breathing techniques and meditations in qigong practice, but we’re just going to cover the basic breathing in this article. I do still recommend picking up a copy of The Way of Qigong or looking up more techniques if you are interested deeply.

Like other parts of qigong, though, the basic techniques can last you a lifetime and yield most of the benefit.

Qigong focuses greatly on effortlessness, and if there were a way to sum up qigong breathing in two words it would be “breathe naturally.” You should not force the breath but merely guide it, and breathing should follow your natural current.

In qigong, we breathe with our stomach first, then the chest. We also breathe through the nose, rather than the mouth. To start building your qigong breathing, begin using these steps:

  • Place your palms on your belly.
  • Inhale through the nose and allow the abdomen to expand as your lungs fill with air.
  • Exhale and allow the abdomen to contract, thinking of your belly button getting closer to your spine.
  • Imagine this process gently massaging the internal organs as well as allowing the lungs to take in more oxygen than shallow chest breathing.
  • Do not tense or restrict the chest. If your chest expands too as you inhale, that is fine. Heed your body’s natural desires and do not restrict them militantly.

Over time, abdominal breathing should allow you to naturally lower your breath rate as you begin to feel more calm and relaxed.

As you breathe, look for the six qigong qualities of the breath:

  • Slow
  • Long
  • Deep
  • Fine
  • Even
  • Tranquil

Keep these in mind as you breathe. Also keep aware of the four stages of the breath:

Inhalation

  • The turning point from inhalation to exhalation
  • Exhalation.
  • The turning point from exhalation to inhalation

Do not force anything, merely observe and gently guide towards deeper more relaxed breath.
Simply practicing this natural breathing during your qigong daily will gradually improve your breathing in general. Also, feel free to practice this any time you can during the day.

That said, don’t feel the need to force this style of breathing if you are doing a workout or an activity that asks for faster or more energetic breathing. There are different natural breathing styles for different activities. The qigong way is actually to allow for these other styles as they are appropriate.

Standing Meditation

Soon we will detail some passive and active qigong techniques, but first I’d like to start with the standing meditation.

China is one of the only places where standing is itself given great thought and contemplation, and Kenneth S. Cohen dedicates a whole section to standing meditation in The Way of Qigong.

This meditation is where I start for every qigong session I do, be it passive or active qigong. You can practice any time of day, with your qigong practice or separately, but Cohen suggests it be early in the morning if possible.

Personally, I think a great way to do qigong is to do 5 minutes of standing meditation upon waking, before anything else in your day.

To practice the standing meditation, assume the qigong stance.

  1. Your feet should be shoulder-width or a little wider, with knees comfortably bent and a relaxed demeanor overall.
  2. Cup the hands in front of the lower dan tian, in front of your navel, with palms facing your abdomen, elbows bent, and fingers slightly bent.
  3. For position two, raise your hands to heart level, the middle dan tian, with palms facing down to the ground, elbows still bent.
  4. For position three, raise the hands to in front of your brow, the upper dan tian, palms facing forward away from you, elbows still bent.
  5. It is recommended to either perform one long session of standing meditation on one of these positions or to split the meditation between all three evenly.

Kenneth’s prescription for the standing meditation is to practice for 5 minutes a day, with the session split between each position, for a week. For week two, increase to 10 minutes, and for week three onward, increase to 20 minutes.

Kenneth suggests practicing for a minimum of 20 minutes a day once you reach week three and a maximum of 40 minutes per day. However, remember to listen to your body. If you are not feeling good while practicing long, it is suggested you shorten your session.

I believe that consistency is better than intensity, and 5 minutes daily is better than 20 minutes once a week.

Passive Qigong

Passive qigong, again, refers to meditation. There are as many passive qigong techniques as there have been masters throughout history, and probably more.

With that said, qigong meditation has two main forms: ru jing (entering tranquility) and cun si (healing visualizations and concentration.)

Basically, ru jing is about being aware without any particular goal. This would be in line with Indian vipassana meditation, where the point is to simply observe one’s internal state without judgement.

Cun si, which I believe is the true hidden gem of qigong meditation, is about visualizing healing or other states so that the body and mind may follow in turn.

I have long been a fan of visualization, from the first time I read Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Malts to now when I’ve added qigong cun si to my practice. I feel that visualization tunes our minds toward better outcomes. I am not sure if there is any metaphysical element to visualization, though I do personally believe that there is.

Inner nourishing qigong (Nei Yang Gong)

Nei Yang Gong, or inner nourishing qigong is the most widely practiced cun si style meditation in China today. It is extremely gentle and focuses on healing the body.

There are two variations for this meditation listed in “The Way of Qigong,” with variation B being slightly more gentle than variation A. The only difference is that in variation A, you inhale, hold the breath, and then exhale, whereas in variation B you inhale, exhale, and then hold the breath.

It is suggested that Variation B be used for those who are weak, ill, or have respiratory problems, whereas Variation A is fine for most people.

Having done both, they are both quite gentle. I do not think there is any harm to choosing one over the other, just a matter of personal preference.

To do the inner nourishing qigong meditation:

  • Begin by sitting comfortably in a chair, lying on your back, or lying on your side. Breathe abdominally through the nose and try to keep your mind focused on the lower dan tian.

Variation A

  1. After a few minutes of breathing, allow the tongue to touch the roof of the mouth and inhale. At the same time think the words, “I Am” in your head.
  2. At the top of the breath, gently hold your breath and think the words, “Calm And.”
  3. Exhale and think the word “Relaxed.”
  4. Repeat this process. You are forming the phrase “I am calm and relaxed” as you inhale, hold the breath, and exhale.
  5. Go through at least one more round, making for at least three rounds. You can do as many as you’d like and should do as many as feels natural, but do at least three.
  6. After a week or so of practice, you can begin adding syllables to the middle portion of the meditation. For example: inhale “I Am,” Hold “sitting calm and,” Exhale “relaxed.” The full phrase is inhale “I Am,” Hold “Sitting calmly, body strong and,” Exhale “Healthy.”
  7. You can also change the phrase based on a need or healing desire. Just do not exceed nine syllables for the breath-hold portion. For example, when having thyroid problems, I have used the phrase, “My thyroid is resilient and healthy.” Split into Inhale “My Thyroid,” Hold “Is resilient and,” Exhale “healthy.”

Variation B

  1. For Variation B, we follow the same structure except that the breath-hold is after the exhale, not the inhale.
  2. For example, Inhale “I Am,” Exhale “Calm And,” Hold “Relaxed.”
  3. As with the first variation, you can increase the middle phrase up to nine syllables and also create your own mantra. Either use “I am sitting calmly, body strong, and healthy,” or create your own phrase.

There are tons more meditations to be found in the qigong art, and I strongly suggest finding some. A word though: Do not over-meditate. I find it best to do no more than two meditations in one session.

I think it is better to use greater energy on one or two meditations and then start your day than it is to do several meditations and end up with a jumble of feelings and thoughts.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I really love Kenneth S. Cohen’s “The Way of Qigong.” It has some 10 meditations that cover everything from mental clarity to very mild astral projection.

Active Qigong

This is where things get kinda fun. It is also where I will hand you the reins in finding your own practice. Thankfully, we have YouTube—which is an easier way to learn movement than by reading.

Active qigong is centered around using movement to guide qi, increase qi, open up the meridians, and also teach you low-level martial arts.

It’s also just straight-up fun.

Unlike yoga where you can end up holding static and muscle-burning positions for minutes at a time, qigong is constantly moving in what many refer to as qigong flow.

The positions are generally light on the body, but if they were to be sped up, many of them could be powerful fighting techniques.

Active qigong is by far my favorite movement practice for achieving both feelings of health, as well as activating the body and starting the day with a powerful calm energy.

I should first say that the best way to practice qigong is in a class. In China, qigong is often practiced by hundreds of people, all gathered in a park or other nature setting, as they follow the graceful movements of a master.

Qigong is intended to be social, which is just another proven health benefit of this ancient art. If you were not already aware, community and social connectedness is beneficial for your health, and one of the most common shared traits of supercenturions—people who live past age 110—is that they have close personal relationships and a community such as church in which they are regularly involved.

However, qigong is not as popular in the West, and finding a class or group may be difficult depending on where you live. You can still benefit massively by getting some DVDs or just hopping on YouTube.

One of the first sequences I did while reading “The Way of Qigong” was a 12-minute sequence on YouTube called the 5 Element Qigong Practice by teacher Mimi Kuo-Deemer.

As mentioned early in this article, there are five Chinese elements which correspond to organ systems in the body. This qigong flow brings health and vitality to these systems with movements that correspond to each of the five elements.

I started by simply doing this 12-minute guided flow every morning at sunrise:

I think you’ll be amazed by the simplicity as well as the feeling this practice evokes in your body.
In the words of a friend, the best way to start qigong is to just get on YouTube and find a teacher you like. It’s really that simple.

There are an infinite number of qigong practices, as there have been many teachers and qigong is not a rigid philosophy.

One that has been around for many hundreds of years and is a great starting place is The 8 Brocades. This is the first active qigong practice in “The Way of Qigong” and can also be learned here, as well as in the following video from Mimi.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3K-0JpiJu-o
Regarding finding more active qigong to do, you can either dive into the video library of a YouTube teacher like Mimi, or search things like “qigong for liver function.”

Another amazing resource is the work of Robert Peng, a qigong master who began practice as a young boy and who has continued to this day. His book The Master Key and his many DVDs are great for learning qigong.

I personally like to learn a new qigong flow at least once a week, while practicing another as my daily flow based on my needs.

This past week I have been using the 8 brocades as my staple practice, but I am going to do a flow called Xi Sui Jing, or Bone Marrow Cleansing, tomorrow. This flow is focused on cleansing toxins and is attributed to the Buddhist sage Bodhidharma, who founded the Shaolin temple, home of some of the greatest martial artists in the world. Here is a video of that practice by the Alliance for Martial and Healing Arts.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/gLF2dlnGfA4
Qigong is an ancient Chinese healing art. Despite seemingly mystical elements, many novel health techniques such as earthing, healing visualization, and nostril breathing were being used in qigong already thousands of years ago.

When it comes to using qigong yourself, this is a daily practice that takes a lifetime to master. However, the most basic techniques are arguably the most important, and you can begin with a few simple meditations and movements to pursue a powerful life of health and wellness.
My recommendation is to make time every morning at sunrise and, if possible, at sunset to practice qigong.

In the morning upon waking, I start by practicing qigong posture and breathing, followed by the qigong walking meditation. After 5 minutes of this I feed my dogs, brush my teeth, and make a cup of bone broth or tea.

Then I meditate using the inner nourishing qigong meditation. This meditation is the most commonly used qigong meditation and is a form of healing mantra. I try to do 20 minutes if I have time, but 5 minutes will suffice.

I fully intend to continue learning qigong for years and even decades to come. The health benefits I’ve already noticed—lower anxiety, easier breathing, and better resting heart rate—are more than enough to keep my interest.

However beyond that, I believe qigong fills a sorely empty hole in the lives of many: a dedicated practice aimed at living in our highest state of health.

We as westerners think too much about reaching goals, which, by definition, means we are “not there yet.” I believe that qigong, whether it is all placebo or not (it’s not) allows us to feel healthy instead of just wanting to be healthy.

Do not underestimate the power of ancient arts simply because they are ancient. On the one hand, their age means they have not been created through the scientific method. On the other hand, it means they have accumulated the wisdom of generations and very likely contain truths and benefits we are still not aware of scientifically.

As always, thank you for reading and good luck on your journeys for optimal health and better living!

Brad Pitt Reveals How to Keep a Shirtless-Ready Body in His Late 50s

It’s hard to believe that Brad Pitt, a movie legend and the Sexiest Man Alive (he’s been nominated twice by People magazine), turns 57 today!

Pitt isn’t just a pretty face, as he’s been recognized as one of the most influential and powerful people in the American entertainment industry. He’s also received multiple awards, including two Golden Globe Awards and an Academy Award as an actor, as well as a Primetime Emmy Award as a producer. 

After the screening of the highly anticipated Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood movie by Quentin Tarantino, the main question remains: How did Pitt manage to get such an awesome fight-ready body in his 50s?

With his extensive experience preparing for fighting roles, Pitt’s got to have a special workout routine and diet. Let’s find out the secret of his ripped body. 

From Tyler Durden in Fight Club to Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

It’s been a few decades since Brad Pitt stunned the world with his role (and lean muscles) in Fight Club, and he still proves his right to be called one of the coolest Hollywood action stars with a perfect body. 

His iconic role as Tyler Durden led to millions of Google searches for “how to get a body like brad pitt fight club”.

Last year, Pitt, playing the character of Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood, showed he still had balls going toe-to-toe with Bruce Lee. 

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Let’s take a look at Brad Pitt’s workout routine for this movie…

Mixing It Up

If you want to look like Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time…In Hollywoodcombine two types of weightlifting exercises (compound and isolation), and add one hour of cardio every day. 

Your daily routine may look like this: 20 minutes of jogging in the morning, a good breakfast, a weightlifting routine with 20 minutes of cardio in the end, and then another 20 minutes of cardio before bed.

The Body Is An Amazing Machine. It Needs To Perform In These Areas. We Feed It With A Proper Fuel. It Needs To Acclimate. It Will Acclimate.

Day 1 — Chest workout:

  • Bench press — 5 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Incline bench press — 6 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Cable crossovers — 6 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Dips — 5 sets, till failure
  • Dumbbell pullovers — 5 sets, 10-12 reps

Day 2 — Back workout:

  • Seated row pulls — 6 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Straight-leg deadlifts — 6 sets, 15 reps
  • Wide-grip chin-ups — 6, till failure
  • T-Bar rows — 5 sets, 6-10 reps

Day 3 — Legs and calves workout:

  • Squats — 6 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Leg press — 6 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Leg extensions — 6 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Barbell lunges — 5 sets, 15 reps
  • Standing calf raises — 10 sets, 10 reps
  • Seated calf raises — 8 sets, 15 reps

Day 4 — Biceps, triceps, and forearms workout:

  • Barbell curls — 6 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Seated dumbbell curls — 6 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Concentration curls — 6 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Close grip bench press — 6 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Tricep pushdowns — 6 sets, 8-10 reps
  • One-arm dumbbell tricep extensions — 6 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Barbell bench press — 6 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Wrist curls — 4 sets, 10 reps
  • Reverse barbell curls — 4 sets, 10 reps
  • Wrist Roller — 4 sets, failure

Day 5 — Shoulders and abs workout:

  • Seated barbell press — 6 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Lateral raises — 6 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Bent-over lateral raises — 6 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Cable lateral raises — 6 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Ab exercises — sit-ups and leg raises for 30-40 minutes

You Make Yourself What You Are. You Have Control Of Your Destiny.

Martial Arts 

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Having prepared for the ex-military stuntman’s role, Pitt was already fairly fit, but he still needed special training in martial arts. So, legendary knife-fighter from Kill Bill Zoe Bell and veteran fighter coordinator Rob Alonzo trained and supervised him during the shooting.

I Didn’t Want Him Just Going Through The Motions. I Knew That If Brad Learned The Principles Of Martial Arts — Like Timing, Special Awareness, And Range — He Would Be Able To Flow In The Scenes Much More Naturally, Like A Real Fighter Would.

Diet

The main principles of Pitt’s diet are simple, and they’ll help you get into amazing shape. That is, if you stick to the plan, of course:

  • Every meal should have protein, whether through supplements or through food (food is ideal). For every kilogram of body weight, aim for 1-1.5 grams of protein a day.
  • Include slow-release protein sources, such as cottage cheese, peanut butter, casein, fish, etc.
  • Keep carb intake below 100 grams a day. This will force your body to run on stored fat rather than get energy from carbs.

Supplements 

Here’s the list of supplements Pitt used to help himself get into perfect shape:

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Summary

Pitt has worked hard to keep his body in top shape all throughout his career. So, if you still blame genetics or age for your physical form, just stop it and try out his routine. 

Obsessing Over Being Perfect Stops You From Growing.

Top 5 Safest Nootropics

Today we’re gonna look at the question: What are the safest nootropics? We’re gonna list the top 5 safest nootropics that are currently available.

But first, we need to look at the definition of nootropic. The term “nootropic” was coined in 1972 by the chemist and psychologist, Corneliu Giurgea. According to Giurgea, in order for any substance to be considered a nootropic, it should:

  • Enhance learning and memory
  • Enhance the resistance of learned behaviors to conditions that disrupt them
  • Protect the brain against chemical and physical injury
  • Increase the efficacy of various brain functions
  • Lack the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic medications
  • Have very few side effects and very low toxicity

Notice the last line: “Have very few side effects and very low toxicity.” Nootropics, by definition, have few side effects and low toxicity.

In other words, all nootropics, by definition, have a high level of safety. That’s why drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are not considered nootropics. Do they improve learning, increase focus, and boost performance? Yes, they absolutely do. But both have tons of possible side-effects, and are neurotoxic at high doses.

In order for a substance to be considered a nootropic, it has to both improve one or more facets of cognitive performance andhave very few side effects and low toxicity. So all nootropics, if they fit Corneliu’s definition of nootropic, are safe.

That being said, some nootropics have been around much longer than others and have endured more rigorous safety testing. That’s what we’re gonna list today. The top 5 safest nootropics, according to clinical studies, case reports, and personal experience.

So, here are the top 5 safest nootropics. They’re not in any particular order. All 5 have been around for decades, have been the subject of numerous scientific studies, and have plenty of case reports to attest to their safety and effectiveness.

The Top 5 Safest Nootropics

1. Piracetam

The first nootropic on our list is widely considered to be the first nootropic ever created: piracetam. This novel substance was first synthesized by Corneliu Giurgea in 1964. Does that name sound familiar? It should because, if you recall, he’s the guy that coined the term “nootropic.”

While unregulated and sold as a dietary supplement in the United States, piracetam is a prescription drug (sold under the brand name Nootropil) in much of Europe, Russia, and South America.

Piracetam has been the subject of well over 100 scientific studies. It has consistently been shown to have an excellent safety profile. And it has been used by thousands of people under the direct care of a licensed physician for more than 50 years.

Side effects from piracetam are rare, and when they do happen, are usually very mild and go away as soon as it’s discontinued. This makes piracetam an excellent choice for people new to the exciting world of nootropics. With so many scientific studies and case reports behind it, we can confidently say that piracetam is a safe and effective nootropic.

You can learn more about piracetam here: Piracetam – The First Nootropic.

2. CDP-Choline (Citicoline)

This is a substance that has several cognition-boosting properties by itself, but is usually taken with other nootropics to boost their effectiveness and reduce side-effects.

CDP-Choline (aka citicoline) is a prodrug for choline and uridine. It influences levels of chemicals in the brain that are known to play a role in learning, memory, and other cognitive functions.

Like piracetam, CDP-Choline has been the subject of more than 100 scientific, peer-reviewed studies. It has consistently been shown to be a safe and effective nootropic.

CDP-Choline is sold in more than 70 countries, under a variety of brand names. It has been found to have a number of positive effects in the body and brain.

You can learn more about CDP-choline here: CDP-Choline For Memory and Motivation .

3. L-Theanine

I’m sure you’ve heard about how good drinking green tea can be for you. One of the major benefits comes from an amino acid that is found naturally in green tea called L-theanine.

L-theanine is an amino acid that is known to have nootropic properties. It increases relaxation without causing sedation. This helps people to think clearly without being overstimulated.

L-theanine is sold in the United States as a dietary supplement. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given L-theanine GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status. This means that there is enough scientific evidence to suggest that it is safe for consumption, and can be sold in stores.
This is an excellent nootropic for first-time users. Its effects are mild, but noticeable, and has an excellent safety profile.

L-theanine stacks especially well with caffeine. Both caffeine and l-theanine have nootropic properties on their own. But when taken together, they have a synergistic effect. This means that they work even better together than they do on their own.

You can learn more about l-theanine here: L-Theanine – A Calming Nootropic.

4. Caffeine

Speaking of caffeine, did you know that it can be considered a nootropic? And not only does it caffeine have nootropic properties, but it’s been studied more than any other nootropic on this list.

I did a quick literature search, and immediately found over 400 scientific papers published on caffeine. There’s probably many more on top of that, but it gives us an idea of how extensively it’s been researched.

People have been using caffeine, in various forms, for thousands and thousands of years. There are a number of plants and herbs that grow naturally around the world that contain caffeine. The most common are coffee and tea, but there are others.

While caffeine may be the most well-known and widely-used nootropic on this list, it’s interestingly also the least safe (Sound familiar? Alcohol is well-known and widely-used, yet it is more dangerous and kills more people than all illegal drugs combined). Don’t get me wrong, at reasonable dosages caffeine is very safe. But it has more potential side-effects than any other nootropic on this list.

Caffeine, at modest dosages, is well-tolerated. But at higher dosages, it can cause a number of side-effects. These include headache, insomnia, hypertension, anxiety, and other side-effects. And stopping caffeine after prolonged use can cause mild withdrawal symptoms.

However, when used responsibly, caffeine can be considered a safe nootropic. It is effective at improving cognitive performance, and has few side-effects when taken at a reasonable dosage.

You can learn more about caffeine here: Nootropics That Stack Well With Caffeine.

5. Noopept

Last on our list of the safest nootropics in Noopept. It’s a nootropic drug that is similar to piracetam and the other racetams, although chemically distinct.

Noopept is sold as a dietary supplement in the United States. In Russia, however, it is sold as a prescription medication. Much like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S., Russia has Roszdravnadzor, an agency that also oversees drug safety.

Most of the research done on Noopept has been done in the past 15 years or so. Of the 45 scientific papers I found on Noopept, all but 7 of them were published after the turn of the century.

Noopept is a very popular nootropic right now. I’ve read through several hundred case reports of people using Noopept by itself or as part of a nootropic stack. Side-effects seem to be rare, and when they happen seem to be mild and easily reversible.

The most common side-effects with Noopept are upset stomach and headaches, and both can be addressed easily. For most people, the upset stomach goes away when they take Noopept with a meal. And the headaches can usually be alleviated by taking a choline source (like CDP-Choline) with Noopept.

Most people that try Noopept experience its nootropic effects without experiencing any side-effects. Taking a choline source with it can increase its benefits while reducing the possibility of side-effects.

You can learn more about Noopept here: The Nootropic Benefits of Noopept.

Conclusion

Nootropics, by definition, are supposed to be very safe. And for most people, most nootropics are just that. But there’s always an element of risk anytime you put anything new into your body.

Whether it’s a new food, a new drug, a new herb, or even a new brand of something you’ve had 1,000 times before, adverse reactions do happen. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to consult a licensed medical professional before starting or stopping any new drug, supplement, food, exercise routine, or lifestyle change.

That being said, most nootropics are very safe. And the list of the 5 safest nootropics that you just read contains the ones that are the best of the best, in terms of safety.

When trying a new nootropic (or anything for that matter, really), you should always do you research beforehand (due diligence), and start with a small dosage and work your way up as needed.

The whole point of using nootropics is to boost cognitive performance. So, use your head. Be smart, be safe, and do your research.

When it comes to nootropics, there’s always more to learn. It’s a (relatively) new area of study, and it’s growing rapidly. The good news is, when you’re taking nootropics, it’s easier to learn! Make sure to sign up for the Nootropics Zone newsletter. You’ll get the free PDF, The Ultimate Nootropics Quick Reference Guide.

10 Sneaky Sources Of Sodium In Your Diet That You Probably Aren’t Aware Of

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 40% of the sodium we eat every day comes from only 10 different types of food: bread, pizza, sandwiches, deli meats, soups, burritos, savory snacks, chicken, cheese, and eggs.

I have to say, as someone who writes articles about nutrition as part of my job, I was surprised at how many items on that list I never would have pegged as being particularly salty foods, let alone so much so that they constitute over 40% of our daily intake for sodium!
So, while I’ve been making a conscious attempt to crack down on the amount of salt I use in the kitchen, it seems my efforts to avoid added sodium were being thwarted all along.

Sodium Is An Important Mineral That Is Essential For Proper Functioning Of The Human Body — However, The American Diet Contains Dangerously High Amounts Of Sodium, Almost 80 Percent Of Which Comes From Processed And Restaurant Foods.

But why avoid added salt in the first place, you might be wondering?

The answer lies in the fact that if Americans were to reduce their sodium intake by only as much as half a teaspoon per day, up to 22% of fatal strokes, and 16% of deaths by heart-attack could be prevented, saving the lives of millions each year.

Safe to say that as a nation we are consuming way too much salt, and it’s literally killing us.
With that said, it’s not as if these sodium-related health issues are on the rise as a result of being too heavy-handed with the salt shaker at the table — I mean, cooking from home is actually one of the best ways to monitor these things — instead, we ought to blame manufacturers that have slowly but surely upped the added sodium in their products, while simultaneously allowing consumers to remain none the wiser.

For this reason, it’s vital to both take personal responsibility for the foods we choose to buy and put into our bodies, as well as continue to pressure the major players in the food industry to reduce the added sodium content of their foods.

10 Sneaky Sources Of Sodium In Your Diet That You Probably Aren’t Aware Of

1. Chicken

Even organic and natural chicken breast is known to contain anywhere between 200 and 500mg of sodium per serving, due to a common practice within the poultry industry known as plumping, whereby raw meat is injected with salt water and phosphate additives to improve the taste as well as raise the price per gram for consumers.

In fact, there are 11 different phosphate salt additives that are allowed to be injected into meat in the United States — all 11 of which are legally banned throughout Europe.
One study found that over 90% of all chicken products contained these levels of added sodium phosphates, with words such as, “flavorings” or “broth” being the only information listed on the label.

2. Bread

Biscuits, bagels, and bread used in pizza are some of the sneakiest offenders when it comes to high sodium content.

One research sampling of products across the United States found that one biscuit (you know, the fluffy southern-style ones you eat for breakfast) averaged between 520mg of sodium all the way up to 840mg of sodium for particular brands of the prepackaged dough.

Not only does this number obviously multiply with every additional biscuit you consume, but according to guidelines from the American Heart Association, this means that eating only 2–3 biscuits would already be enough to put you over the maximum recommended daily intake (RDI) of 1,500mg.

In a similar vein, a single store-bought bagel contains roughly 400mg of sodium, with only one handful of (approximately 15) hard pretzels providing over 320mg. Pizza takes the cake, however, with a single slice of frozen and fresh clocking in at over 765mg and 957mg, respectively.

3. Cold Cuts/Cured Meats

Not unlike poultry products mentioned above, cold cuts and cured or canned versions of meat pack a seriously salty punch whether it might taste like it or not!

Also as a result of the phosphate salts and preservatives added during the processing of these products, a single 2-ounce serving of either cold cut meat or salami will provide between 500mg and 1020mg of sodium — roughly 33-68% of the RDI.

Packaged ham also follows not too far behind, with one 3-ounce serving averaging over 1100mg of sodium, a number calculated to be 14% higher than research reveals it was in previous years, indicating a recent increase in the salt added during manufacturing.

4. Soups

Although the high sodium content of soups is usually just the result of added salt, it’s important to be aware of sodium-rich flavorings such as monosodium glutamate, aka MSG, that might be flying under the labeling radar.

Note that, on average, one cup of canned soup can provide over 700mg of sodium, and while meat and broth-based soups are widely considered to be the worst offenders, even relatively “safe” soups such as tomato or vegetable can account for well over a third of the RDI!

5. Shrimp/Other Seafood

As well as high quantities of salt being used for added flavour, many types of seafood available in the grocery store contain sodium-rich preservatives such as sodium tripolyphosphate.

Additives such as sodium tripolyphosphate are primarily used in order to minimize the amount of moisture that becomes lost during thawing, as well as preserving the appearance of many different animal products.

Shockingly, a 3-ounce serving of plain frozen shrimp can contain as much as 800mg of sodium, with breaded and buttered varieties climbing the scale further.

6. Processed Cheese

In order to create a smooth and consistent product, manufacturing companies rely on high levels of added salt in order to encourage cheese emulsification. Salt also plays a functional role in processed cheese, as its activity as a key preservative helps to prevent the growth of microorganisms and the germination of microbial spores during aging.

As a result, one 1-ounce serving of American cheese will typically have over 350mg of sodium, while the same amount of salt can be found in only 1/2 cup of cottage cheese.

7. Sauces

While soy sauce undoubtedly takes the top spot for saltiest sauces with 1024mg of sodium in a single tablespoon, other popular condiments such as ketchup and barbecue sauce are also ones to look out for if you’re trying to keep an eye on your sodium intake.

Just 3 tablespoons of ketchup has around 320mg of sodium on average, with barbecue providing more than the same amount in just 2.

8. Frozen Meals

According to the Food and Drug Administration, frozen meals can be officially labeled as “healthy,” so long as they contain no more than 600mg of sodium.

However, with this number not too far shy of accounting for almost half of the recommended daily intake, even frozen meals by brands said to be better for promoting health such as Amy’s, Lean Cuisine, and Healthy Choice can be sneaky salt assailants — and ones you would do well to look out for!

With the FDA “health” criteria aside, some frozen meals easily reach over 1000mg of sodium per serving, an amount that if added to any home-cooked meal, would certainly be made apparent.

9. Canned Vegetables

While canned vegetables would otherwise provide a quick and convenient way to get boost your fibre and nutrient intake for the day, the salt-water brine they come prepared in can contribute substantially to the overall sodium content of a meal.

For example, a 1/2 cup serving of canned peas averages over 300mg of sodium, with a 1/2 cup of canned asparagus providing upwards of 340mg, alone.

Also be aware of flavoured varieties of canned vegetables that may come packaged in other types of sauce such as baked beans, which contain over 520mg of sodium per serving, and nearly 25% of the RDI.

10. Tortillas/Tacos

In addition to common toppings such as meat and cheese, the plain tortillas used for quesadillas, tacos, and burritos can provide a significant amount of your daily sodium that very quickly adds up!

The sodium content of tortillas is derived mostly from the leavening agents used in the manufacturing process such as baking soda (technically referred to as sodium bicarbonate).

In this case, an 8-inch white flour tortilla can contain up to 400mg of sodium, with the consumption of 4 tortillas providing you with over two-thirds of the RDI — and that’s holding the cheese, meat, beans, salsa, rice, and guacamole.

Sex Ends Way Too Soon?

How Long Does Sex Need to Last?

Ever wonder how you compare in terms of friends’ sexual performance? Average, above average, or (God forbid) below average? We get it — it’s a weird, probably uncomfortable question. Not too many people muster the courage to seek to ask.a

The Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study in 2001 in which researchers asked a group of sex therapists how long sex (penetrative vaginal sex, specifically) should last. The results? Well, 1-2 minutes was “too short”; 3-7 minutes, “adequate”; and 10-30 minutes, “too long.” The study also pegged the duration of desirable sex between 7 and 13 minutes.

And in case you were wondering, the study didn’t include foreplay.

So now, on to the verdict: Where in that spectrum do you fall? If you’re on the shorter — err, quicker — side and are wondering whether Premature Ejaculation (PE) is something you have to contend with, read on…

What Is Premature Ejaculation?

More often than not, Premature Ejaculation entails ejaculating within the first minute of penetration. It also means you can’t control when you ejaculate, thus leading to distress and unsatisfactory sex.

PE has become one of the most common forms of sexual dysfunction. According to the American Urological Society, one in every three men aged 18 to 59 years lives with the condition.

Incidentally, Premature Ejaculation shouldn’t be confused with Erectile Dysfunction (ED), which involves difficulty having or sustaining an erection. ED is also characterized by a noticeably reduced sex drive. 

What Are the Types of PE?

Premature Ejaculation is broadly divided into two categories: lifelong PE and acquired PE. The former is characterized by premature ejaculation in all or almost all sexual activities — ever since sexual maturity. The latter is exhibited by men who previously had an average ejaculatory duration and control, but then later developed PE.

The two major types of PE differ from another type of PE, called natural variable PE. This is shown in men who usually have an average ejaculation time, but who may experience occasionally PE. The natural variable PE is considered a normal variation of sexual performance, and so is not a sexual dysfunction.

How Can You Determine If You Have PE?

It’s worth mentioning that how long sex “should” last also depends on you. And your dissatisfaction with the length of time you can spend in bed with your partner doesn’t automatically mean that you have clinical PE.

Consider the three factors that the International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) says you should look out for to determine if you have PE:

  • Do you always, or almost always, ejaculate within the first minute of penetration (for individuals with lifelong PE), or three minutes into penetration (for individuals with acquired PE)?
  • Do you suffer from an inability to control or delay ejaculation during sexual activities all or nearly all of the time?
  • Do you feel distressed or frustrated in regard to sexual intimacy, and/or do you avoid it?

Your answers to these questions can determine whether or not you suffer from PE. Of course, for accurate diagnosis, definitely pay your doctor a visit for a physical exam and a proper discussion of your sexual difficulties.

What Are the Causes of Premature Ejaculation?

While PE is undoubtedly a menacing problem, there’s no known, clear-cut explanation for it. A wide range of psychological and biological theories abound.

The following are psychological factors that may contribute to PE:

  • Anxiety, including sexual-performance anxiety
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Depression (caused by a previous incidence of PE)
  • Guilt
  • History of sexual abuse or sexual repression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Phobias (e.g., fear of not measuring up, reaching climax too early)
  • Relationship problems
  • Stress

And as for biological factors, these may contribute to PE:

  • Testosterone imbalance. According to the National Institutes of Health, testosterone is the most important male sex hormone. So, it comes as no surprise why low testosterone levels have been associated with PE.
  • Imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Increased serotonin delays ejaculation, while low levels shorten the time to ejaculation. Anywhere from 2%-5% of cases of lifelong PE is said to be caused by an imbalance in serotonin levels. And while dopamine and oxytocin have been shown to also play a role in ejaculation, they haven’t been as thoroughly studied as serotonin.
  • Prostate gland Inflammation (Prostatitis). While it’s unclear as to how prostatitis causes PE, 26%–77% of men who suffer from Prostatitis also have PE.
  • Imbalances in thyroid hormone. Some patients with thyroid hormone imbalances also display PE. Again, the mechanism isn’t fully understood. 
  • Drug withdrawal. Individuals who rely on recreational and even prescribed medications to improve sexual performance often state that withdrawal from these drugs affect their sexual performance.
  • Hypersensitivity of the head of the penis.

It’s worth noting that age is another factor that can contribute to PE. It’s natural for older men to take longer to get an erection, and erections are harder to maintain. And as for younger men, some might find themselves reaching climax sooner than they’d like.

And one final point of interest is that treating certain underlying medical conditions can improve the duration of ejaculation for some men.

Treatment for Premature Ejaculation

The good news is that according to the American Urological Association, approximately 95% of men who undergo proper treatment will recover from PE. If either you or your partner has PE or even just suspects it, schedule a visit with a healthcare provider for the best treatment plan.

#1. Medical Management

Just as there’s no known definite cause for PE, there’s also no specifically FDA-approved treatment. However, several medications are commonly prescribed:

  • Erectile dysfunction medications. Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PDE5i) like sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil used in treating ED have also been proven to be effective in treating PE. However, the mechanism, again, is unclear. 
  • Antidepressants. Two groups of antidepressants — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) — have been shown to delay ejaculation in some men. SSRIs include paroxetine, sertraline, and dapoxetine; while TCAs include amitriptyline and clomipramine.
  • Pain killers. Pain medication like Tramadol affects serotonin and can delay ejaculation. However, due to the potential of drug addiction and abuse, it should be avoided except when prescribed by a doctor.
  • Numbing creams, sprays, and wipes. Numbing medications like lidocaine, benzocaine, and prilocaine decrease penile sensation.

#2. Natural Remedies

Zinc and magnesium have been shown to play an essential role in male sexual health. In a 2001 study, researchers from Kuwait University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that the men who suffered from PE had lower levels of magnesium in their sperm than their healthier peers.

An easy remedy might be to simply increase dietary intake of zinc and magnesium. Supplements for both minerals are also good options. Note that excess magnesium can be dangerous, however, so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about your diet and mineral needs.

#3. Behavioral Therapy

A behavioral approach to treating PE might involve activities you can practice at home to improve ejaculation time. The stop-start method, the squeeze technique, and pelvic floor exercises are the three most commonly used therapies for PE.

The first two methods are designed to make you feel more aware of mid-range levels of excitement and the sensations leading up to climax. These help you control and delay ejaculation. The last method helps strengthen the muscles activated during ejaculation.

#4. Psychological Therapy

Psychological therapy can involve sex counseling to address performance anxiety and to improve self-confidence in the bedroom. 

Having your partner involved in your treatment plan can be beneficial, as that would allow you to talk about the reasons for your poor performance. And for an even more effective treatment plan, you might consider combining behavioral and psychological therapies. 

In a Nutshell

While premature ejaculation may seem like a severe problem, it’s not the end of the world. PE is a highly treatable condition with an excellent recovery rate. But successful treatment first hinges on having an honest, open discussion regarding your sexual difficulties. So, talk with your partner and schedule that appointment with the doctor. There’s no reason to delay.

Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

The Simple Secret To Being In A “FLOW” State… At All Times

In positive psychology, a “flow state” is where you’re “in the zone,” fully absorbed in whatever activity you’re in. You lose track of time and you’re fully present.

Being in “flow” is crucial to high-performance and creativity. It’s crucial to being happy. It’s crucial to social connection.

And here’s the truth: You can live your entire life in flow. It turns out, being in flow isn’t that big of a mystery.

There are many “flow triggers,” such as being in various types of environments, having short deadlines, having high consequence for failure, etc.

One Outcome At A Time

Wherever You Are, Make Sure You’re There.

But there’s one “flow trigger” that is more important than anything else. And that’s having ONE OUTCOME that you’re seeking at any given time. For example, right now I’m writing this article. The ONE OUTCOME I have, for this moment, is to finish this article. If I stay focused on that ONE OUTCOME, then I’ll stay in flow until this article is done.

The problem for most people is that, while they’re doing one thing, they’re also seeking other outcomes. Say you’re at home with your family but you’re also wanting to see what’s happening on Facebook. You’re now pursuing TWOOUTCOMES… being with family and checking Facebook….Flow gone.

As human-beings, we are driven by outcomes. In philosophy, this is known as Teleology. Every human action is driven by an aim or end. If I go to the grocery store, there is a goal: Buy groceries. If I go to the bathroom, there is an aim or end: Go to the bathroom.

Everything we do is driven by an outcome.

Our brain’s become mentally lazy when we stop being purposeful about what we’re doing. We can become accustomed to never being fully present, and rather than being where we are and accomplishing our ONE OUTCOME, we get sucked into mental addictions.

So, if you’re reading this article right now, then finishing the article may be the ONE OUTCOME you’re currently pursuing.

When you accomplish one thing at a time, you’re giving your best to that thing. You’re not stressed. You’re present and in flow. As a result, you actually accomplish WAY MORE.

Success is increasingly about quality over quantity. Relationships are about quality over quantity. The 80/20 Principle is true. 20% of what you’re doing creates almost all of your positive results. 15 people in your life are the one’s creating the most happiness and success.

Focus on what matters.

Keep it simple.

Do one thing at a time.

One Major Goal

What Is The ONE Thing I Can Do Such That By Doing It, Everything Else Will Be Easier Or Unnecessary?

But there’s more to this idea than simply focusing on ONE OUTCOME at a time. If you want to radically improve your overall results, you want to simplify your daily, weekly, and year goals.

Every day, there should only be ONE OUTCOME you’re trying to produce. Stop trying to do a thousand things. 80% of what you’re doing is a distraction anyways. Focus on “less, but better.” If you focused on one really good and powerful outcome each day, your quality would increase dramatically. Rather than doing 10 things poorly, you’d be doing one thing, the right thing, VERY WELL.

This doesn’t mean you only do one thing per day. But as it relates to work, lets say, you only have one key outcome. Anything above that is gravy. But by doing less, you’ll actually accomplish way more. Because you’ll be doing the right thing, and you’ll be doing it very well.

Productivity is about doing less. Busyness is about doing more.

The most successful people in the world do less. People working paycheck-to-paycheck do more.

Want to become brilliant at what you do? Focus on one key outcome per day in your work. What about weekly? What’s the ONE OUTCOME this week that would make the biggest difference?

Robert Brault has said, “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles, but by a clear path to lesser goals.”

What Brault means is that it is not the challenges or obstacles between ourselves and our ideal future that are stopping us. Instead, it is “clear paths” to “lesser goals.”

Think about this for a second: What is the ONE GOAL you truly want for yourself? I know you probably want many things. But which one is most crucial? Which ONE OUTCOME would make the biggest difference in your life?

The more simplified your future, the more streamlined will be your “path” or “process” to creating that future. This is crucial because motivation depends on simplicity. If you want to be very motivated, you must see a clear and compelling future. But you must also have a “path” for creating that future. If you’re pursuing too many goals, then you won’t have a clear path forward. As a result, you won’t create momentum.

Momentum and confidence involve taking 20 steps in 1 direction, not 1 step in 20 directions.
What’s the ONE GOAL you should really be pursuing?

What would happen if you stopped investing all of your energy into your “lesser goals”?

Want More Flow?

If you’re doing one thing at a time, you’ll be in a flow state. You’ll be immersed in what you’re doing. As a result, you’ll accomplish so much more.

I wrote this blog post in about 20 minutes. I didn’t get distracted once. It was the one outcome I wanted. I was in a beautiful flow state while writing this article. It was very enjoyable for me, and hopefully enjoyable for you.

Wherever you are, that’s where you should be.

What’s the one outcome you’re trying to accomplish, right now? Stop trying to squeeze too much in. Just do that ONE THING. Once you’re done, you can do the next thing.

Being home and present with people is crucial. Connecting with them should be your ONE OUTCOME. Be home. Be present. Be with your people.

When it comes to people, and especially children, it is understandable when you’re “away.” If you’re “gone” for work, that’s fine. But if you’re “there” but only half-present, that’s unacceptable to anyone, especially children.

Either be there or be gone, even if that means being in a different room or outside the house for “work.” Be gone or be there. Create ONE OUTCOME at a time.

If you want flow and extreme productivity (i.e., extreme RESULTS), then seek fewer goals. In other words, stop pursuing “lesser goals.” Go for ONE THING at a time. Making a true decision means “cutting of alternative options.” Commit!

I’ve learned this lesson again and again. When I was an undergrad, my ONE OUTCOME was getting into a high-tier PhD program. That gave me the path I needed. When I wanted to become a professional writer, my ONE OUTCOME was getting a 6-figure book deal with one of the BIG 5 NY Publishers. Now that I’m a professional writer, my ONE OUTCOME is selling millions of copies of Personality Isn’t Permanent.

The more focused you can be on the key outcomes you really want in your life, the more progress you’ll make as a person.

The more flow you’ll live in.

Peace.

Things to Avoid Before Bed

Adulthood appears to be defined by exhaustion. It’s almost as if it’s a requirement at this point in life: you have to yawn “x” a number of times every day to be considered seriously. Obviously, we can counteract weariness by eating well and exercising often. Another thing we can do is make a concerted effort to enhance our sleep! Everyone does it, and everyone requires it, but it is frequently forgotten.

Sleep is critical for our mental and emotional well-being. It also has a significant impact on physical health. Sleep is essential for the “healing and repair” of the heart and blood arteries, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Sleep can also aid in the maintenance of healthy body weight by balancing the hormones that cause you to feel hungry or full.

Take steps toward a really healthy good night’s sleep to guarantee you are taking care of your entire self. To help you achieve that, I’ve compiled a list of four bad behaviors to avoid before going to bed.

Here are four things to avoid before bed for better sleep:

#1. Stop Staring at Screens

Using electronic devices before bed “delays” your circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s internal clock, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The blue light from these gadgets decreases the release of melatonin in your body, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Using these gadgets before bedtime also “delays the commencement of REM sleep,” which reduces the value of the sleep you do receive! To put it another way, unplug before going to bed! Anything goes: read a book, sit outdoors and people-watch, journal, sketch, etc. Just put your phone away and turn off the television!

#2. Cap Your Caffeine

This is most likely a no-brainer. What can we do if we can’t stop yawning all day? Caffeine is a stimulant, therefore we reach for it. In general, you should stop drinking caffeine by late afternoon. You should also keep track of how much you drink on a daily basis. “Three 8 oz. cups of coffee (250 mg of caffeine) a day is considered a moderate dosage of caffeine,” according to the National Sleep Foundation. Just remember to come to a halt before the conclusion of your working day! Caffeine overdose can disrupt sleep patterns, produce anxiety or agitation, a high heart rate, and a brief increase in blood pressure.

It does not mean, however, that you should completely stop drinking coffee.

#3. Move Your Movement

Exercising stimulates your neurological system while increasing your heart rate and body temperature. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “an all-out workout is about as far away from a relaxing night ritual as it gets.” As a result, working out hard before bed might cause sleep disruption or make it difficult to fall asleep. Imagine attempting to fall asleep after experiencing anything similar to a runner’s high! It’s difficult for your body to relax.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “traditionally, specialists have advocated avoiding exercising at night as part of healthy sleep hygiene.” “Now, according to a recent research published in Sports Medicine on Oct. 29, 2018, you can exercise in the evening if you avoid strenuous activity for at least one hour before bedtime.”

If you just have time in the evening for an exercise, try not to do anything too strenuous. Relaxing yoga, Pilates, or a low-impact strength training regimen with stretching are all good options.

#4. Forego Faulty Foods

Eating before going to bed may be a touchy subject. However, it all boils down to the food you consume. According to Healthline, traditional desserts and junk food should be avoided. What is the reason behind this? These temptations are high in fats and sugars that are bad for you. This might lead to cravings and an overabundance of bad foods. Instead of going to the drive-through late at night, go to bed!

Aside from the obvious harmful meals, there are a number of additional components that might disrupt your sleep.

While weariness is a natural part of life, try to remember to take a tech break before going to bed. Instead of ice cream, opt for frozen berries. Rather than working out after work, get up early and work out. Also, don’t get that cup of coffee at 4 p.m. to get you through the last hour of the workday! Try to obtain a better night’s sleep for yourself.

Now that you know what to avoid before bed, I wish you a good sleep always.

The Difference Between Inspiration and Motivation in your Fitness

If you have got this far, I would imagine you haven’t considered whether you are inspired for your fitness journey.

Or that you even should be?

Because all we talk about in Fitness is: Motivation.

Seriously…its all anyone focusses on when it comes to starting their fitness or carrying on with their fitness. The number of people that tell me they are lacking motivation, or they have lost motivation…

In fact… so much so I have produced a full 30min YouTube Video on “How To Keep and Stay Motivated”

So how does Jacquie, who is 46, and that person you always see at the gym, no matter how infrequently you attend, how does she always seem to be there…how does she keep going if we know motivation fails people and shouldn’t be relied upon?

Well, I believe that motivation fails you if you don’t add inspiration to what you do when working on yourself physically.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the great Russian composer said this:

“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”
In this article I want to address the following so that you can go away from here lit up and ready to keep going for the amount of time you need to keep going for to be a success at what it is you want to achieve.

We will cover:

  1. The Difference Between Motivation and Inspiration
  2. What is Inspiration in Fitness?
  3. 6 Ways To Find Your Fitness Inspiration
  4. 4. Conclusion

So let’s get into it…

The Difference Between Motivation and Inspiration

The wonderful Humanitarian Leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar describes it thus:

It has also been described like this:

“Motivation is a push factor,” he explained. “It’s an outside force that is compelling you to take action, even if you don’t necessarily want to. Inspiration, on the other hand, is more of a pull or driving force. It’s something that comes from within that gets us to proactively give our best effort. When someone is inspired, they’re with you for the long haul.”

— Sam Taggart
I find both quotes interesting.

In Fitness the topic of Motivation is a very prevalent one. It’s the go-to word that people use when it comes to describing the state of their fitness.

You fall into two camps:

  1. Motivated
  2. Not Motivated

It is completely linear. The majority of people see that if they fall into Camp 1 (Motivated) they are then taking action and doing the things they need to do to get to their goals.

If you are in Camp 2 there is no point at all. And that’s that.

The much-misunderstood truth is that there is a Third Camp:

3. Motivated and Un-Motivated
Which is what every single human being in the world is. No one ever has perpetual motivation and no one ever has perpetual un-motivation (I’m sure that’s a word…leave me alone!).
The human condition is a blend…like with everything else.

Now we know that the best way to find your Motivation is the following:

You follow this Loop. Start with Action, then you get Results and then you find your Motivation.
Or a simpler way I like to put it is: Do, Track, Repeat

However…if you know Motivation will fail you…how do you bolster that part of the loop? How do you make sure that when you hit Motivation you then are able to restart the Loop with Action again?

As Sam Taggart says in the quote above:

“Motivation is a Push Factor”

“Inspiration is more of a Pull Factor”

Now if you have followed me for a long time you will be very aware that I am a proponent of Balance in your Fitness journey.

I am sure you have seen someone with a Kyphotic Posture in their life? A very over-pronounced upper spine tilting someone’s head forward.

Different postures of the spine
This Kyphosis occurs, presuming there are no other health issues at play, the Kyphosis will occur if someone has spent too much of their life “hunched over”. It could be someone has worked on a laptop for 20+ years, it could be they have hunched over a Games Console for too long, or they just stand that way as they lack strength.

My point is it comes from an imbalance.

To correct this in the Gym we would have to strengthen all of the back muscles using many Pulling Motions and stretch out the shortened chest muscles. We would have to work on counterbalancing the body.

So, if Motivation is a Push…

…and if you all do is Push you create an imbalance in yourself.
We need to create a Pull in your life.

Just like we would create balance in your workouts in the Gym.
And that Pull is your Inspiration.

You need to turn your Motivation Loop into a Success Loop:

The Success Loop — Adam Berry
You must do both: Repeat AND Learn.

You need to find your Pull and your Push in order to be able to stay in perpetual motion towards your Goals.

With my clients in The Fitness, Collective success is always attributed to those who work on their inspiration. Motivation and Inspiration are very close bedfellows and one thing they do have in common is they must both be worked upon.

Neither of them will just appear or turn up, they will require you to work on them in order to allow them to have the correct effect.

What Is Inspiration in Fitness?

Personally, I think I came a little late into the game when it came to Instagram Fitness Inspiration
Or should I say #fitspo

And I am eternally grateful because I had I have joined the industry maybe 4 years previous I might have fallen foul to the bandwagon, but instead I have found clarity and my message which is miles away from the selfie hell that #fitspo truly was and probably still is.

I quick search on the good old Instagram and 70.7million hits of Fitness Inspiration show up and they look like a pile of sick:

#fitspo on Instagram
Please read this next bit really carefully: THIS IS NOT FITNESS INSPIRATION

This is Fitness Self Indulgence. This is a bunch of very fit people trying to make a bunch of unfit people feel very very shit about themselves.

I’m not saying they are doing it intentionally, but that is the effect and the result of this horrible practice and anyone who utters the word “Fitspo”.

70.7million photos of unachievable physiques, highly edited photos, and extremely lucky genetics have caused a failure to you. It has caused many people to think that Inspiration is the perfect body, unachievable results and beauty that can only truly be achieved by Adobe Photoshop.

Looking through all of those photos…I personally do not find a single one of them inspirational. They just make me feel rubbish about myself…and I wonder if you feel the same?
The good news is this: Fitness Inspiration doesn’t exist on Instagram.

Inspiration for Fitness comes from within, not an external source. It comes from your own desires, beliefs and wants from yourself.

Inspiration in Fitness is Learning. It’s the studying. It’s the developing your “fitness brain” and figuring out how it interacts with your life. It’s learning how you manage under heavyweights, it’s feeling your Glutes fire, it’s walking out of the Gym feeling strong.

It’s finding out about how much you are struggling with it and how much the professionals struggle with it. It’s the understanding of your humanity in the field of Fitness.

I know that sounds like a lot…I’m not saying just because you are trying to become fit you need to become a PT…believe me you really do not need to do that.

What I am saying is you need to be a little more immersive in the subject.

6 Ways To Find Your Fitness Inspiration

At Drama School, we had to keep inspired, and just like Motivation, I found the harder I worked the more inspired I became.

When we would get a new script…it was like learning a new language. A script doesn’t come alive until you have read it at least 8 or 9 times…and you need to do that before…well before Day 1 of Rehearsals.

The reason it reveals itself slowly to you is because of all the other research you do around it. You find out the History of the time the Play was set, you find out the stories of the people who lived during those times, you listen to Music and look at Art from the period to try and help make the world believable to you…make the world seem real to you.

Many people dislike Shakespeare because they quite simply “don’t understand it”. When I first pick up a play of his…I don’t either. But the more I work on it, and the more I read it, and view it from different angles…the more it reveals to me.

The difference is that I give Shakespeare an 8th and 9th chance. Most other people don’t give it a second chance.

And Fitness is the exact same. You have to delve deeper sometimes, you have to ask insightful questions and you have to allow it to reveal its work to you.

If you just go to it with a standoffish attitude, then you can expect standoffish results.

So here are six strategies to help you find your Fitness Inspiration…and spoiler alert…

…None of them are “Check Instagram”
They will all help you move towards the Learn aspect of the Success Loop. You don’t have to do all of them, but I do recommend you do as many as you can take on without feeling stressed out about them.

  1. CONNECT TO A HIGHER PURPOSE

When you set your goals, I don’t want you to think too much on topics like:

  • I need to lose 2 stone
  • I need to look good in this top
  • I need to get into those jeans

I think they are quite materialistic goals, but I do know they will let you down eventually and will not fulfill you fully if at all.

What you should look more towards is:

  • I want to be a role model for my family
  • I want to prove to myself I can change
  • I want to feel more alive than I do right now

With the second set of goals, you are looking more “Intrinsically” than “Extrinsically”

Edward Deci in his book Why We Do What We Do says this in relation to Intrinsic Goals:

“…strong aspirations for any of the intrinsic goals — meaningful relationships, personal growth, and community contributions — were positively associated with well-being. People who strongly desired to contribute to their community, for example, had more vitality and higher self-esteem. When people organize their behavior in terms of intrinsic strivings (relative to extrinsic strivings) they seem more content — they feel better about who they are and display more evidence of psychological health.” 

And this in relation to Extrisnisc Goals:

“The researchers found that if any of the three extrinsic aspirations — for money, fame, or beauty — was very high for an individual relative to the three intrinsic aspirations, the individual was also more likely to display poorer mental health. For example, having an unusually strong aspiration for material success was associated with narcissism, anxiety, depression, and poorer social functioning as rated by a trained clinical psychologist…

Here we can see that you can literally inspire yourself…and as a by-product it will make you happier as well.

Think how many times in the past you have used an Extrinsic Goal like “get into that pair of jeans” and you achieved it. Are you now…months or years later still able to get into that pair of jeans?
If they were your sole aspiration…I would give a fair bet that you have gone through cycles of yes and no with that.

If you wanted to get into those Jeans to feel a lot sexier, and it makes you feel more alive and healthy when you do….chances are you are wearing them right now…

Connecting to your intrinsic values will educate you on yourself, it will help you look at what is driving you forward and what and who you really value in your life.

2. FOLLOW INSPIRATIONAL PEOPLE

Don’t follow them on Instagram…i mean you can…but can you actually follow them on more meaningful platforms too?

Do they have a Podcast? Do they have a book? Do they have a blog? Do they have a website? Do they have a YouTube Channel?

All of these longer-form contents will inspire you a lot more than a quick flick and tap on the old IG.

A list of humanoids I find Inspiritational in terms of Fitness and the content I find of their’s most inspirational is the following:

I may have found some of these initially on Social Media, but without a doubt, their longer-form content is what has inspired me the most and actually that is what I will go back to most when I need that inspirational lift. Not their latest post on Twitter.

Some of them are uber famous, some of them aren’t, and that is the beauty of the list. I gravitate towards people who speak my language. Your list could be extremely different.

This is also just my inspiration in terms of my Fitness and part of that is running my business. Your list could have musicians on there, playwrights, artists…

And that brings me to my next point…

3. ENGAGE IN ART

I’m sorry. Coronation Street just doesn’t count. Eastenders is not Art.

In the same way, I think Long-Form content form inspirational people can help you more than their Social Media feeds can, I too think that Art can help you stay connected to your Intrinsic Goals.
Find the things that light a fire up inside you.

For me, it’s the Theatre. For you, it could be Robbie Williams’ “Swing When You’re Winning” or Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets.

Art has a wonderful way of making us understand the human condition. When someone can pluck a phrase or a lyric and sum up exactly how you are feeling at that moment, and finds just about the right words, and puts it in a way that speaks to you like you never knew something could…

That lights you up.

And to be inspired…being lit up is very important.

When I am feeling my lowest I would jump on a train and head to London to do two things.

  1. I would walk past my Drama School and listen to Jackson Brown’s “These Days”
  2. Head to Trafalgar Square to go and stare at paintings in the National Portrait Gallery.

Yup. I’m a rock star.

These were two strategies that have always helped me feel alive. They have made me understand my condition as Adam, they have guided me and connected me with who I believe I truly am.

There’s a lyric in These Days that says:

“Don’t remind me of my failures, I have not forgotten them”

It drives me forward. It teaches me compassion and empathy. It allows me to reconnect to some of the most inspirational times in my life…and I just love it.

Find your song that does that. Watch Movies that aren’t about Superheros beating each other up but that are about real humanity.

Art can and will keep you inspired. Inspiration isn’t linear. If you can get inspired about life that will bleed into your Fitness. It will help you reconnect with your higher purpose.

I was always taught: “You must fall in love each day”

Do that…because it will reconnect you with your Intrinsic Goals and educate you on your own humanity — which is something none of us do enough of.

4. BECOME PART OF YOUR FITNESS COMMUNITY

Being part of a community can improve Mental Health. One very significant reason for that is that you begin to feel connected.

Connections in this day and age are getting more and more lost in the world of WhatsApp and Email. We don’t talk as much.

And when you have a community you communicate.

Communication is one of my big must do’s for a client. I won’t work with someone if they aren’t willing to communicate with me. They must also communicate with others.

Recently I overhauled my Private Facebook Group and I was really surprised that when I messaged people that I would have to revoke their access unless they joined The Fitness Collective for just £20/month how many of them said thank you to me for allowing them to be in the group for the period of time they were.

They said that although they hadn’t commented much they still got great value from it.
I was astonished.

The words Community, Communication have the same Latin Origin: “Communis” and this means: to share.

Ever heard the phrase: “Sharing is Caring”

If you find a Fitness Community, you will find a place where you can communicate, where you can share and where you can care for yourself and for others.

The Gym floor is this place for many people. Online Fitness Communities are that for others. When you see stories from people, whether you personally know them or not, but when you see their stories, and you spend time with them it’s amazing what kind of an effect they can have on you.

You can learn a lot from other people and especially if those people are just like you. They will share your struggles, your beliefs and your energy…and it will keep you inspired when you see them both succeed and learn.

5. LONG BOUTS OF LISS

This is a fancy way of saying “go for a walk”.

LISS means Low-Intensity Steady State Cardiovascular work.

This doesn’t just mean Walking though. It can be a light jog…but stay with me.

You can also do all kinds of things like:

Canoeing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Mountain Biking, Tandem Biking, Mountain Climbing, Hill Walking, Beach Surfing, Rock Climbing, Rafting, Kayaking.

The list can go on, and I appreciate that some of them aren’t that accessible to do regularly.
But they do all have one thing in common.

Nature.

And nature can be so moving it hurts and it can be so much fun!

Nature also teaches us insignificance which is a terribly humbling thing to go through. Have you ever been stood in a Mountain Range and felt like a speck of dust?

When we are humbled by nature it gives us perspective on our lives, and perspective is something that you very much require in Fitness.

Find out more about how Perspective influences your Fitness in this Article: Your Scale Strategy

6. ACTIVE VISUALIZATION

The first thing a Professional Golfer does before hitting aTee Shot is visualise the shot. Where is the ball going? How will it land? How will the swing feel?

Professional Athletes visualize everything they do. They see how their race will go, they see how that pass will look, they use their imagination in this way for two reasons:

  1. To create a consistent outcome
  2. To drive them forward for success

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you have sat there and imagined how it might feel if it would ever happen?

The imaginative version of try before you buy.

Well, when you visualize your ability to create something you also learn to sense what it will feel like. This will teach you control and understanding, this will train you how to react when things won’t go wrong, you are helping increase your hours of practice in what you are doing.

There are very few things that teach us better than practice.

Afterall; practice makes permanent.

Therefore when you spend time in your imagination, thinking about what it is you are working towards you begin to develop sensual and behavioral responses.

These are known as Manifestations.

When you want something, and you think about it, you visualize it, you sense it…you feel it in your body you then will find the behavior change you desire for that outcome a lot easier.
Because you have mentally practiced for it.

CONCLUSION

When you can get Motivation and Inspiration into your Fitness Journey everything will become easier.

Both require action, to be able to get there, but they have slightly different pathways.
Motivation is a Push Factor. Its what drives you to do something.

If all you do is Push in your life, whether that is in Fitness, Business or anything else you will become imbalanced.

To fix that balance you require a Pull.

This is Inspiration.

In order to find inspiration for your Fitness Journey, you need to allow yourself to learn. Learn about the subject of fitness by following inspirational people who will teach you, you need to form an opinion, you need to question why you are doing what you are doing.

It’s almost not enough to just “Do” fitness. You have to allow it to permeate your life…if you want to learn to be ruthlessly consistent and achieve your goals.

I wrote this a few months ago…and I think it sums up this article quite well…

5 Powerful Lessons from Matt Damon

Today is a special day. Matthew Paige Damon, best known as Matt Damon, was born this day, on October 8, 1970. He’s appeared in numerous blockbusters, most of which you’ve probably seen. Collectively, they’ve earned over three billion dollars at the North American box office alone, making Damon the highest-grossing actor of all time.

Having started his acting career with only a single line of dialog in the romantic comedy Mystic Pizza, Damon quickly rose to stardom with Good Will Hunting, which he wrote and produced with his acting buddy Ben Affleck.

Damon has received numerous awards and nominations since then, including an Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards. 

Damon, who’s long been associated with A-List Hollywood stardom, has really made a name for himself. And it’s clear that his success hasn’t been a fluke. He’s worked very hard, sometimes losing or gaining dozens of pounds to fit a role. Damon has refused the help of stuntmen, adhered to strict diet plans, and exercised at least twice a day under rigorous supervision.

While following the timeless fundamentals of working hard, Damon has also made sure to be surrounded by good people with whom he cares to build strong, long-lasting relationships.

Moreover, the acting isn’t where Damon’s work ends. He’s committed to making a difference, willing to invest in himself and others to do so. The actor founded a clean water charity (Water.org), was one of the founders of the Not On Our Watch Project, and supports many other NGOs aimed at fighting AIDS and poverty in third world countries.

In real life, Damon is a humble and laid-back person. He has a positive image of someone and doesn’t take himself very seriously. Let’s see what life principles Damon abides by that’s contributed to his success and helped shape the man he is today.

Work Hard and Take Rough With the Smooth

Big shots in the media and sports tend to unanimously answer questions on what contributed to their success with the simple “hard work.” Inarguably, that’s the most powerful strategy that seldom fails.

Damon is no exception. He’s worked hard throughout his career, taking up challenges and tackling problems along the way. When he was first cast for Bourne, he was just 29 years old. He was 45 when he undertook the latest Bourne film. This is what Damon recalls about taking up the challenge of getting himself back in the shape of a 29-year-old:

One Thing About Working As Much As I Have For The Past 20 Years Is That I’ve Got Better, So It Was Easier To Find The Character. But The Physical Part Was Really Tough. It Was Two Workouts A Day And A Very Specific Diet. And There Are No Shortcuts To Getting In Shape Like That. It’s Kind Of A Full-Time Job.

For ten weeks, Damon had to regularly subject himself to two 90-minutes high-intensity gym training sessions and eat nothing but vegetables and protein for “months on end.” Only then did he get the green light to step back on stage.

In his career, Damon had to undergo several body transformations. For example, he lost 40 pounds in 100 days on a self-prescribed diet and fitness regimen for Courage Under Fire back in 1996, which he had to gain back for The Rainmaker in 1997, and lose again for The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1999. If you don’t think that’s impressive, then we don’t know what is.

And it wasn’t all shiny and smooth for Damon. Some of his films flopped and got criticized by the press, leaving the actor with no job offers for more than six months at a time. But as Damon recalls, when he was offered a role in The Bourne Identity back when he was 29, 

It Had All The Hallmarks Of A Failure. It Was Postponed, It Was Delayed, There Were Reshoots And Everybody Went, ‘Oh This One’s Going To Be A Turkey.’ It Finally Got Released And Everybody Discovered It.

Lesson learned: Take rough with the smooth, persevere, work hard, and believe in what you do.

Turn Toward Problems You See

In June 2016, when Damon addressed the graduating class at MIT with his speech, he shared a few valuable lessons interspersed with amusing stories from his life. One of those anecdotes concerned the piece of advice Damon once received from Bill Clinton, who said, “Turn toward the problems you see.” It wasn’t until later in life that Damon understood what Clinton meant at the time.

That’s What I Want To Urge You To Do Today: Turn Toward The Problems You See. And Don’t Just Turn Toward Them. Engage With Them. Walk Right Up To Them, Look Them In The Eye… Then Look Yourself In The Eye And Decide What You’re Going To Do About Them.

Value People and Make the Best Ones Part of Your Life

Damon has been a friend of Ben Affleck for more than 35 years. He’s also incredibly loyal to his wife, whom he met in 2003. He speaks fondly of both, and it’s obvious that Damon values his relationships and surrounds himself with people he loves and trusts.

It’s Not That I Love Marriage In General; It’s That I Love Being Married To Her. And That’s The Difference.

Celebrate Diversity and Bathe in the Difference

Damon’s mother, a teacher, played a pivotal role in his upbringing. She always wanted him to have a broader perspective on life and the world. That’s why she took her kids to see the world outside Cambridge, where Damon was born.

A Big Problem In America Is That We’re Geographically Isolated, Which Gives Rise To The Donald Trump Thing Where People Think It’s Actually A Good Idea To Build A Wall Between Ourselves And Other People. Hopefully, By Taking My Kids Around The World, They’re Going To Be Open To The World. And That’s Going To Do A Lot For Them.

When addressing the graduating class at MIT in 2016, Damon asserted that there’s no substitute for actually experiencing things firsthand:

On That Trip [To Zambia In 2006 As Part Of Damon’s ONE Campaign], In A Small Community, I Met A Girl And Walked With Her To A Nearby Bore Well Where She Could Get Clean Water. I Asked Her If She Wanted To Stay In Her Village When She Grew Up. She Said, “No! I Want To Go To Lusaka And Become A Nurse!” Clean Water — Something As Basic As That — Had Given This Child The Chance To Dream.

Go One Step at a Time and Believe in Miracles

Instead of tackling a huge problem as a whole, try breaking it into small chunks and address each chunk one at a time. In The Martian, Damon’s character (Watney) says, “Eventually, if you solve enough of them, you get to come back home.” By knocking one piece of a problem after another, you can eventually tackle the whole thing and achieve what you want. 

It’s not what only Watney believes in and achieves in the movie, but also what Damon himself believes.

If you haven’t yet watched The Martian, it’s high time you did. It’s a brilliant movie full of life lessons that Damon himself abides by.

4 Undeniable Truths About Health

It can be very hard to narrow down what your health strategy is going to be.

There are so many trends out there that come and go, leaving us unaware of what’s just a temporary craze and what’s going to become a staple in the health scene.

I’ve tried several “approaches” myself: a vegan diet, a mostly paleo diet, a standard American diet, running multiple times a week, not running at all, etc.

Many people go through the same journey of trying different things only to find that none of them are sustainable or suitable enough for that individual.

It can be very frustrating. You don’t know which information to believe, you don’t know what will work for you, and it often ends in disappointment anyway.

So I thought I would share a few of the undeniable truths I have found through my years of looking into this stuff.

These are by no means things you have to do now, but I like referring back to them sometimes just to remember that a lot of health is just about being congruent with our ancestors. We evolved to be the way we are today because our ancestors lived in such a way that bred certain proclivities, reactions, and needs for us today.

Here are four of the staples I have found:

We Have Eaten Animals for a Long Time

Animal food products were the staple of human diets for a very long time. It is only in more recent years that humans have taken a different approach by incorporating more plant foods into the diet.

According to a study done by Tel Aviv University, humans were hyper-carnivorous for about 2 million years, eating primarily the meat of large animals. The article outlining the study states:

As crazy as it sounds, 85,000 years is only a blip of time when compared to the full timeline of human evolution.

Point being, meat has been and still is a very suitable form of nourishment for us and provides a generous array of nutrition.

The fat, protein, B-vitamins, iron, and many other nutrients found in meat give us an incredible bang for our buck because a little meat goes a long way for our bodies.

You Must Move

Our ancestors used to move constantly. Going way back in time, there were no grocery stores to buy food at the least minute, no furniture to lay around on, and no mobile phones to swipe through for hours a day.

There was a lot of work to be done to create a good, secure life. That included hunting and gathering, building and tearing down camps, and traveling by foot.

Movement was life for people at one point.
This is obviously quite different to how we live today. Obesity is highly prevalent in the abundant Western world. It’s not a coincidence either.

To our ancestors, working out at a gym would’ve been a waste of precious energy. To us, the gym is the only place that many people get any activity in.

We are largely missing the point, however. We’re trying to replace consistency with intensity.
What our ancestors did was move for most of the day, every day, but at a moderate pace. Today, we try to make up for 8 hours at a desk by crushing it at the gym until we’re sore because then it feels like we did something.

To give our bodies what they’re looking for, we need to improve our consistency of movement. Here are some ideas to do this in your everyday life.

Whole Foods are Best

Until recently in the human timeline, we’ve only eaten whole foods. This is all there was up until around the 1910’s when processed food first began to enter the market.

So evolutionarily-speaking, we’re only designed to consume whole foods efficiently. This is due to the very short span we’ve had processed foods available to us.

It’s also common knowledge that the processed foods we find at grocery stores are not the healthiest. Some of them, like wheat flour and table salt, have to have nutrients artificially added back into them because they’ve been stripped down so much.

This is why most table salts are “iodized” (iodine is added back in) and wheat flour has niacin (vitamin B3) added back in among others like vitamins B1 and B2. Check the ingredient list on your pasta box if you don’t believe me.

What does provide the most nutritional value, though, is whole food. These are foods that are completely untampered with, but simply harvested for consumption.

This includes fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, and probably more that I’m forgetting. They’re simple, but effective.

Taking into account allergies and sensitivities, you can hardly go wrong with these options because your body knows exactly how to use them and they feed your body the best.
To maximize your consumption of whole foods and limit temptations of processed food, shop the perimeter of your grocery store. This is my foolproof method for eating healthy, saving money, and keeping it simple.

We Were Never Meant to Consume This Much Sugar

It should be clear at this point that the rampant amount of disease that burdens our population is not right. Heart disease, diabetes, various cancers, and many more plague an astounding number of people in our world today and the numbers are actually getting worse.

There’s more than one reason for this decline in health, despite an abundance of food, is happening.

One thing is for sure though and it a consistent contributor: humans were never meant to eat so much sugar.

Between the amount of different sugars we’ve created, the amount of sugar we put in our foods, and how many foods now have added sugar….we have a problem. Over 60% of food and beverages in American grocery stores contain added sugar.

That’s a crazy fact, being that sugar (especially in large quantities) would be extremely difficult to come by in nature.

This only covers foods that are “processed”, excluding the fruits and vegetables which we have bred to be unnaturally sweet. This makes up most of the produce we consume today.

So we’ve introduced a new, modern staple into our food supply which is an overabundance of sugar and simultaneously, our collective health has suffered tremendously.

I think it’s safe to say that we’d be much better off without all the additional sugar in our diet.

Organ Meats, Why I Eat Them, And How to Enjoy Them Yourself

Meat has been making a powerful comeback. Consider the recent New York Times article: “Eat Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice.”

For an article like this to be published in the Times is a big deal. Even though many health diets promote red meat, many others put it down, and veganism is as popular as ever.

With all of that said, there is a hidden gem even most meat lovers overlook: organs.

Not only have these foods been a prized delicacy throughout much of human history, but they are also some of the most nutritious foods on the planet.

I began eating organ meats, especially beef liver, in early 2018 as a cheaper alternative to beef and also for the powerful health benefits. Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and it is much less expensive than steak.

That said, my experience was anything but smooth. My first tries at preparing liver were difficult. I bought low-quality liver, did not know how to cook it properly, and I was not used to the food.
Since then I’ve become much savvier at preparing organ meats, and my aim is to give you that skill so you can avoid my mistakes.

First, we’ll address the mental stigma of organ meat. I’m going to give you a brief overview of organ meats in the world, and show you these foods are actually pretty normal to eat.
Then we’ll cover more of the health-side of organ meats, such as their bio-availability and powerful nutrient profiles they offer.

Lastly, I’ll talk about my favorite organ meats, how I like to cook and prepare them, and where I buy my meat. This section is where you’ll learn tips and tricks for making these foods more palatable, and will include information on supplements—like desiccated liver pills—that you can take if you don’t want to try eating these foods.

An Offal World

Offal, for the uninitiated, is simply a term that refers to organ meats and various other nontraditional food parts of the animal — such as snout, blood, and skin. In most cultures, even today, offal is still a dietary staple.

In the U.S., offal hasn’t been popular for a long time. Even in the early 1900s, these meats were viewed with some level of disdain, while muscle meat was seen as a sign of wealth. In fact, convincing the American public to even consider organ meats was a big problem during World War II. Red meat quickly became rationed as the war effort created food shortages, while organ meats were sometimes simply being wasted.

A whole committee was formed to get the American people to use this food source, and even included tactics like renaming offal “variety meats” to increase their popularity. For an awesome and fascinating article on the subject, check out this piece by The Atlantic.

Despite how unpopular these foods are in this part of the world, they are still both commonplace and popular pretty much everywhere else.

Pork blood soup has been a staple in China for centuries, and chicken offal is skewered and barbecued throughout Japan.

In South Africa, offal-based dishes are so popular, they are one of the few customs shared by almost all members of their diverse nation. Northern Africa and Israel make great use of chicken hearts, as do Brazil and many South American countries.

Europe is also a hub for offal-based foods. Ever heard of the expression “humble pie”? This term originates from an offal-based pie called humble pie that was popular in medieval Britain, and though offal-based pies are no longer called that, beef and kidney pies are popular enough to be sold frozen at local supermarkets.

Sweden, where my heritage lies, has an adaptation of another British offal food: blood pudding. “Black pudding” is congealed pig blood with oatmeal inside and served like a sausage, often with Lingonberry jam.

Braunschweiger is an amazing German food that is something like gourmet bologna. It is made from liver and onion powder and is great on crackers. This is one I eat regularly.

France has many offal-cuisines, especially using tripe, the stomach lining of an animal. Offal cuisines extend into the Austria-Germany region with different recipes of spaetzle, liverwurst, beuschel, and SemmelKnödel.

Really, the only two places where offal is truly unpopular are North America (specifically the U.S.), and Australia, where the only offal dishes are a small number of liver-based recipes brought from Britain.

What’s So Great About Organ Meats?

Offal offers two powerful benefits when it comes to the nutritional value of food: bio-availability and nutrient content.

Meat, compared to plant food, is more bio-available, meaning its nutrient content is more easily absorbed by our bodies when we consume it.

One of the reasons for this is because many plants contain anti-nutrients, which, as the name implies, block the absorption of other nutrients when you eat them. Though these anti-nutrients may have some benefits, when it comes to nutrients, meat just doesn’t have the same issue.

For example, in one study comparing plant food to meat, high-selenium content broccoli was compared to high-selenium content pork. There was much more un-absorbed selenium in the urine of those who ate the broccoli than those who ate the pork. This is evidence that the selenium in the pork is more bioavailable.

Now, this isn’t a suggestion to run to the hills and start only eating steak. One of the reasons to eat a wide variety of foods is that not all foods have the same nutrient profiles. With that said, you might be able to get away with it if you’re eating organ meats because the amount of nutrients you can get from offal is beyond impressive.

Both Healthline.com and the University of Berkeley’s BerkeleyWellness.com tout liver as perhaps the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, and with a quick look at the numbers, I believe them.
According to SELFNutritionData, 200g (roughly 7oz) of beef liver contains:

  • Vitamin A: 52182 IU or 1044% RDI (recommended daily intake)
  • Riboflavin: 6.8mg or 402% RDI
  • Niacin: 35mg or 174% RDI
  • Folate: 260mcg or 130% RDI
  • Vitamin B12: 166.2mcg or 2772% RDI
  • Pantothenic acid: 13.8mg or 138% RDI
  • Choline: 836mg
  • Iron: 12.4mg or 68% RDI
  • Phosphorous: 970mg or 96% RDI
  • Zinc10.4mg or 70% RDI
  • Copper: 29.2mg or 1460% RDI
  • Selenium: 65.6mcg or 94% RDI

At 350 calories, this makes liver one of the most nutritionally dense per-calorie foods you can find, and though it’s the king of the castle in this regard, the other organ meats are not far behind and offer their own unique nutrient profiles.

Where to Get Organs

You can source your organ meats however you like, but since these meats are usually inexpensive as-it-is, I strongly recommend going high quality.

You see, low-quality sirloin steak is usually at least $7 or $8 a pound. On the flip-side, grass-fed, grass-finished beef liver from top companies is usually $8 a pound.

You can go to a place like Walmart, you can get beef liver for $3 a pound, but I really recommend quality over quantity with organ meats. Many of the organs are in charge of bodily functions like detoxification, especially the liver. I personally worry that if you buy organ meats from low-quality sources, you may be consuming toxins that the liver was filtering, such as the pesticides used in grain-fed cattle’s food supply.

Furthermore, I’ve often noticed a yellowish tint to the liver that is from grain-fed (vs. grass-fed) cows. I’ve heard a few of the health experts I follow mention this tint as well, and the general consensus is that this is likely a form of fatty liver disease.

But there is one, final, major reason why I promote grass-fed sourcing of your organ meats: flavor. If you go lower quality, you will likely run into sharp, bitter-tasting meats, and you’ll want to use workarounds — like soaking in lemon or raw milk — for a day before you cook.

My favorite company is White Oak Pastures, a powerful regenerative agriculture project that provides some of the highest quality and sustainable meat products I have ever seen. Their beef liver is $6.59 a pound, which is absolutely phenomenal considering the quality.

The other company I buy from is U.S. Wellness Meats. This company has similarly high quality and offers some meats (like braunsweiger) that White Oak Pastures doesn’t.

Another option for sourcing your meat is to go to a local beef butcher if you have access to one. These shops seem to be becoming more scarce, and there are only a small handful of grass-fed beef butchers in the Dallas Fort Worth area where I live. I’ve noticed that older cities like Philadelphia are more likely to have butcher shops and grass-fed farms you can buy directly from.

The great thing about a butcher is you can request specialty items and maybe get certain things for extremely cheap or even free—for example, I buy large amounts of beef suet (kidney fat) to use in cooking and for my dogs. Things like suet, beef trimmings, and even sometimes bones can often be procured for pennies on the dollar at a local butcher shop that doesn’t have an active market for them.

Now that we’ve covered sourcing, let’s get into my favorite organ meats and how to prepare them.

How to Prepare Organs: Techniques and Recipes

Below are some specific ways I enjoy preparing and eating organs.

If you enjoy these, you’ll likely want to expand your repertoire and experiment. In general, keep in mind that it’s always important to cook your food thoroughly based on its source. When in doubt, look up the appropriate internal temp or err on the side of over-cooking.

There is one type of organ meat that bears special consideration: brains (and spinal cord tissue) of cattle and game like deer and elk can be a source of prion disease like Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease — the human form of Mad Cow Disease. Cooking does not eliminate the risk of prion disease. Typically, however, brains are difficult to source even if you did want to eat them. And fortunately, this is not a risk with other parts of the animal body—prions have only been found in nervous system tissue.

The essential: Beef liver

Beef liver is the king of the meats in my diet. I try to eat at least 1.5 lbs of beef liver per week, and I usually eat closer to 2 lbs. Again, this cut of meat contains one of the best, if not the best, nutrient profiles in the world.

Where I Buy: — White Oak Pastures Beef Liver, currently $6.59/lbs or as a backup U.S. Wellness Meats Beef Liver, currently $10.30/lbs—or local grass-fed beef butcher
When it comes to preparing liver, the two big factors are cooking time and flavor.

Liver often has a bitter flavor. To mitigate this, soak liver in raw milk, red wine vinegar, or lemon juice for 8 hours or more before cooking. Although the liver I buy from White Oak Pastures is not bitter, I always soak it in lemon for a few hours before cooking if I can anyway—not for the flavor, but because soaking the meat in lemon helps prevent oxidation of thiols in the liver during cooking, which both helps the flavor and also preserves nutrient content.

Liver is usually packaged in thin slices. You may find that it has a spongey or slimy texture when raw or undercooked. It cooks fast, however, and when overdone it gets rather chewy.

The best technique I’ve found for cooking liver is to re-freeze it for 30 minutes before cooking. You want it to be just frozen enough to easily cut but not so frozen that the center is stiff. Then cut it into bite-sized pieces and stir fry it in grass-fed ghee, beef tallow, or butter for 5 minutes.

The result is that the outside (frozen layers) and inside are cooked to the same degree. This results in an even texture throughout the liver.

Personally, I often eat liver solo without anything else, but liver is phenomenal with onions, and this is a very common recipe. If you want to have it with onions, get a yellow, white, or red onion, chop it and dice it, and stir fry it with the liver pieces.

Step-by-step:

  1. Soak in lemon for at least 2 hours if grass-fed, and at least 8 hours if not grass-fed. This stabilizes flavor.
  2. Re-freeze the liver for 30 minutes or until it can be easily cut into pieces but is not frozen all the way through.
  3. Cut into bite-sized pieces and stir-fry in grass-fed butter at high heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Include a chopped onion if you like. Simply stir fry it with your liver pieces for this variation.
  5. Season to taste—I typically only use black pepper.
  6. Move to plate and allow to rest for 2–3 minutes.

Chicken Hearts or Beef Heart

This one has two variations but I cook them pretty much the same way. Beef heart from White Oak Pastures is cut into slivers already, and chicken hearts are small enough that I cook them whole, without any cutting or dicing.

Where I buy: White Oak Pastures Grassfed Beef Heart.

Heart muscle contains high amounts of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) which is great for, you guessed it, your heart. Furthermore, it also contains high amounts of folate and the essential B vitamins which are cardioprotective.

Get it? Eating heart is likely good for your heart. And compared to other organ meats, the heart is more steak-like.

Now, if you’re squeamish, I suggest starting with beef heart rather than cooking chicken hearts. Beef heart looks like slivers of steak and tastes similar when cooked.

As far as how to cook it, just toss it in a cast iron pan with some butter or ghee and stir fry it. It’s really that simple. I like using Himalayan sea salt and black pepper if I cook it in butter. I’ll sometimes add a bit of sage or tarragon as well, but I find that the butter and heart have a lot of flavor on their own. Of course, I encourage you to experiment.

I typically cook beef heart to 135 degrees Fahrenheit and then let it rest. In a stir fry, I’ll cook a little longer, or I’ll move the heart slivers to a plate and cover with foil for 5 minutes.

With chicken hearts, the method is the same, but they need to cook longer. Use a temperature thermometer to ensure that chicken hearts reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or greater.

The technique in detail:

  1. Pat dry and season heart or heart slivers with salt and pepper
  2. Heat cast-iron pan on high heat
  3. Stir-fry heart in grass-fed butter, ghee, or preferred cooking oil for 5 to 10 minutes
  4. If cooking chicken hearts, check the temperature using a meat thermometer to ensure 160 degrees Fahrenheit
  5. Move to plate, season as desired, cover with foil and rest for 3 minutes
  6. Enjoy.

Beef or Lamb Testicles

Yep, we’re talking testies. It might sound insane at first, but I think beef testicles are actually the most palatable of the organ meats I eat. I find the flavor to be very mild, and it’s reminiscent of calamari.

Where I Buy: White Oak Pastures Beef Testicles or Lamb Testicles. My back-up source is U.S. Wellness Meats Lamb Oysters.

I will refer to testicles as oysters henceforth, as this is often how they are packaged and also because the word testicles should only have to be read so many times.

Anyway, I often simply grill beef oysters; however, this is not the optimal way to enjoy them, just the most convenient.

If you really want to witness the potential of oysters, you need to try Rocky Mountain oysters. Rocky Mountain oysters are a delicacy food common in Wyoming & Montana where there is a large livestock industry. This food involves cutting beef oysters into bite-sized pieces and frying them in batter.

The end result is a lot like calamari, and Rocky Mountain oysters are best served with any number of sauces.

The first step with beef oysters is to remove all the skin. The yellow-colored meat inside should be all you have left. It helps greatly to have a sharp knife for this process, as the skin is rather tough.
Once skinned, cut the oysters into bite-sized pieces. If using lamb oysters, simply cut in half or thirds.

Prepare the batter by whisking 4 eggs per oyster in a bowl, and have another bowl set aside filled with tapioca flour. (If you are making beef oysters, you may need more eggs.)
You can deep fry your oysters by heating enough oil in a pan to submerge your oysters. Get the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dip your oyster bits in the egg, then roll them in the tapioca flour and toss into the fryer basket and submerge in the oil for 3 to 5 minutes.

If you don’t want to deep-fry, you can also pan-fry: use a heavy cast-iron skillet and coat with 3 tablespoons of an oil of your choice (I like avocado oil or grass-fed ghee for this recipe in particular.) Batter the oyster pieces with the egg and tapioca flour, and cook on medium-high heat for 2.5 minutes, then flip for another 2.5 minutes.

Regardless of your method, as soon as the oysters are done cooking, garnish with lemon and serve with dipping sauces of your choice.

Step-by-step:

  1. Skin the oysters and cut into bite-sized pieces using a sharp knife
  2. In one bowl, whisk 4–6 eggs. Fill another bowl with tapioca flour
  3. For deep frying with a fryer basket, heat enough oil to submerge the oysters to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For pan-frying, coat a heavy skillet with oil of choice and heat on medium-high heat.
  4. Dip the oyster bits in the egg, roll in the flour until completely coated, and fry. If deep frying, fry for 5 minutes. If pan-frying, fry for 2.5 minutes and then flip the bites for another 2.5 minutes.
  5. Once done, garnish with lemon and immediately serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.

Braunschweiger, Liverwurst, & Head Cheese

I recommend trying the recipes above and cooking organ meats yourself, but there are also a couple of great organ-based foods you don’t even need to prepare, making them very convenient additions to your diet.

Braunschweiger, for example, is a sort-of smoked sausage made from liver and onion powder and served cold with crackers. It also tastes great and is one of the easiest ways to add some liver to your diet.

Liverwurst is very similar to braunschweiger but is cooked and seasoned slightly differently. Head cheese is a smoked sausage made from heart, tongue, and as the name implies, parts of the animal’s head.

I get these from U.S. Wellness Meats, and they are a super convenient way to eat organs that is both palatable and does not require cooking or a recipe.

Make your own bone broth

You probably already know that bone broth, while not technically organ meat, is a phenomenal food. Recently, bone broth has been properly promoted as a top-notch health food by such figures as Tim Ferris of The Four Hour Workweek, America’s top personal trainer Ben Greenfield, and big-name physicians such as Dr. Axe or Dr. Oz.

Good bone broth is a wonderful source of many nutrients, but most notable are hyaluronic acid, glycine, proline, glucosamine, and chondroitin. These amino acids are some of the best for joint health and reducing inflammation that exists, and there have even been studies on bone broth.

Chicken broth has been found to greatly lower inflammation and improves symptoms of osteoporosis, and in this study was shown to reduce inflammation in both the digestive and respiratory system, as well as reduce the symptoms of a cold, meaning that chicken soup really is a great choice when you are sick.

However, high-quality bone broth is not cheap. Kettle & Fire is my go-to brand for pre-made bone broth, but it costs $10 a for 16oz and it’s just not sustainable when you’re using it daily (which is what I recommend.)

You might respond to that by saying low-quality bone broth is cheap. Well, yes, but hear me out. Many low-quality bone broths contain additives or gluten, which is problematic for many people.
Furthermore, toxins and heavy metals tend to accumulate in bone marrow.For this reason, I personally avoid low-quality broths.

So, what’s the solution? Make your own.

Not only is making your own bone broth cheaper, but it yields a much more delicious end-product. So, without further adieu, let’s get into my personal bone broth recipe.

Firstly, you’ll need a few ingredients. I make my bone broth with grass-fed beef bones, apple cider vinegar, powdered ginger, whole black peppercorns, and sometimes with vegetables.
If you haven’t already noticed, I like to keep my cooking simple, and you can make bone broth with just bones and apple cider vinegar in a pinch. However, the addition of pepper and at least one other spice or seasoning is helpful, and ginger adds a great zest in my opinion. Feel free to make your own blends.

Where I buy beef bones: White Oak Pastures Beef Marrow Bones or Grassland Beef Thin Marrow Bones
.
To make bone broth, you’ll need a stockpot, baking pans, and a strainer bowl. It helps if you have two stock pots, but one will work just fine.

First, blanch the bones by submerging them in cold water in the stockpot, and then bringing the water to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, transfer the bones to the strainer basket, and then move the bones to your baking pans. Blanching helps remove bitter elements of the marrow.

If you have vegetables for your broth, such as carrots, onions, or garlic cloves, chop them and leave them aside for now.

Bring your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 30 minutes, tossing the bones every 10 minutes. If you have vegetables, add them after 30 minutes. If you do not have vegetables, just roast for 45 minutes total while tossing the bones every 10 minutes.

Once done, transfer the bones and vegetables back to a clean stockpot (if using the same one you used for blanching, clean it first.) Make sure to transfer everything in the roasting pan to the stockpot, even the leftover juices of bits of marrow.

Add peppercorns and powdered ginger, as well as any other spices, to the stockpot. Fill with enough water to cover the bones. I add 4 tablespoons (or 1 good glug) of apple cider vinegar per 12 cups of water or 5 lbs of bones.

Bring the water to a low boil and simmer for at least 12 hours and ideally 24 hours.
When the bone broth is done, pour through a strainer basket into containers to refrigerate. There will be a large amount of meat left in the stockpots; feel free to eat it or use it for recipes and other meals.

I typically use some of my new bone broth to make a quick soup out of it. The same goes for any vegetables.

Voila, you’ve got bone broth, and probably a lot of it. This will last about 5 days refrigerated, so if you make more than you need in a week’s time, be sure to freeze the extra. A layer of fat will likely form on top of the broth. You can remove it if you want, but I think it’s great — just heat it and it will dissolve back into the broth.

Step-by-step:

  1. Submerge bones in cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes to blanch them.
  2. Chop vegetables, if using any.
  3. Roast bones at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, then add vegetables. Roast for another 15 minutes. Toss every 10 minutes.
  4. Move bones, vegetables, juices, and any bits of meat to a clean stockpot.
  5. Add peppercorns, ginger, or spices of choice, as well as 4 tablespoons (60ml) of apple cider vinegar per 12 cups of water or 5lbs of bones.
  6. Add water until bones are submerged, bring to a low boil, and simmer for 12 hours at least — 24 hours, ideally.
  7. Strain broth, use meats and vegetables for soup or whatever you want. Store broth in the refrigerator if it will be consumed within a week, and in the freezer, if you will use it later.

Desiccated Organ Supplements

Okay, we’re pretty much done, but I did promise a solution for those who just don’t want to eat liver.

Fortunately, desiccated organ supplements are there for you if you just don’t want to bother with new food.

These supplements are made by taking organ meats, curing them and drying them out to make powders, and then putting them in supplement capsules. You don’t have to eat anything.
Even if you followed this guide and are cooking organ meats, there are some cool things you can get out of organ supplements.

Many Native American cultures believed that eating the organ of an animal that corresponded to your own was a way to improve the health and performance of that organ. Obviously this is not a scientific claim, but our organs are made of the same nutrients and tissues as those of animals, for the most part. I think it stands to reason that eating the organ of an animal, if not directly improving your own, is at least giving your body the same building blocks to indirectly improve its own tissues.

I, for example, order a brain supplement. It’s for my brain, but that’s not what I meant…the supplement itself is literally a desiccated brain.

I only use one brand for desiccated organ supplements: Ancestral Supplements. I have no affiliation with these guys at the time of this writing, they are just the best I have found. There are probably other great ones out there, so feel free to do your own research.

Their brain supplement is sourced from New Zealand, where there has never been a case of Mad Cow disease or related prion diseases, and there are strict controls on imports—so I feel that the risk of taking this supplement is negligible for me personally.

If you don’t want to eat organs, I recommend at least taking a desiccated liver supplement from Ancestral Supplements or another source. If you are going to try organs, and just want to add a bit extra to your now-exotic dietary lifestyle, this is a cool way to do it.

Conclusion

Bet you didn’t think you’d be reading about eating beef testicles or taking supplements made out of brain today, did you?

Well, I’m glad you did, and I’m glad you chose to stick around for this article. I really think organ meats are a hidden gem. Many of these meats are highly nutritious as well as very affordable, and while they are not currently popular in the U.S., they are quite common almost everywhere else.

As far as the health benefits, liver may be the most nutrient-dense food on the planet on a calorie-by-calorie basis, and most of the other organ meats have robust and unique nutrient profiles as well.

From beef liver to chicken hearts to lamb oysters, there are a ton of different meats and recipes you can try, and if you’re just not interested, check out desiccated organ supplements like those sold by Ancestral Nutrition.

And that’s it. I think these foods are an awesome way to improve your nutrition without having to spend an arm and a leg. These foods are a major component in my diet, and now you know a few ways to add them to your own.

As always, thank you for reading and good luck with your health & fitness journey.

When Men Get Turned Off Sex

I’ve had a number of clients coming to me to explore the issue of getting turned off of sex. This is both a position that can occur for men and women alike. There are a number of factors that can contribute to an experience like this and this is definitely not a one fix fits all scenario.

Depending on your level of sexual arousal, some of us may experience a real chargedness in our sexuality and in comparison, to others may seem to be very high. In comparison to others who have a normalised sex drive the dilemma of feeling turned off sex may be more in your face than the former type of individual. 

We can all say we have a general sense or feeling for how our sexual rhythm is. If we take a moment and focus on our biorhythms we can identify when we are aroused and with a little bit of work and focus, we can be sure to identify what stimulus arouses us to the point of wanting to either masturbate or engage in sex.

The problem comes in when it feels like a sudden switching off of the power button to either our erection or vagina. We notice it and we can potentially realise the early signs before it happens, but more often than not we don’t address the core of the problem.

Stress within the body is one of the primary causes leading to more inflammation throughout our muscular and nervous system. Inflammation in general is a major cause leading to illness and being unwell. We can see adrenaline as a potentially good thing in some fight or flight situations but when we experience high doses of adrenalin constantly our body’s will try to balance this out by introducing cortisol into the system. This is a steroid hormone which has many functions because our receptors throughout our whole body have some kind of connection with cortisol, but one of the many uses is being anti-inflammatory. So, if we are constantly triggering an adrenal response causing mass inflammation in our body we will inevitably experience problems.

Moreover, if our bodies are producing cortisol in mass scale this will eventually lead to issues such as rapid weight gain, a flushed round face, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, additional mood differences, and ultimately a very decreased sex drive.

As a rule of thumb, when it comes to bodily health we should be mindful of the things in our body producing inflammation and try regulate that intake as best as possible.

If we are constantly introducing anxiety into our lives and conditioning ourselves to see this as a norm, there will inevitably be an impact on our sex drive. This is why I am such an advocate of exploring and understanding the way you are, because a state of living in anxiety is not necessary and is only harmful for your mental and physical function.

On a very basic level our mind and body is so deeply connected that often we overlook this synchronicity. We choose to ignore the signs and then only attend to either when things hit the fan. If our body was going to be functioning without the influence of the mind, we would have our natural arousal cycle and experience an erection and then once the interchange of blood has gone through its cleansing process we come back to normal again.

The system itself would find a way to function and reach a point of equilibrium considering there are no other deeper set bodily issues. 

So, through the process of elimination our bodies and our sexuality will continue to function if we are able to eliminate the mind and thinking in the process. But the problem is that we can just detach our head like a disregarded Ken doll, instead we are deeply connected to our thinking, the script and narrative we use, the manner in which we relate to the world (kinaesthetic, auditory or visual) and then being conscious enough to make the necessary choices to put these thoughts into action. 

As men, our narrative has been dominated by performance. “The alpha is always performing” – so we’ve been modelled on this preconception that we have to always be performing. We cultivate this image of needing to perform on all fronts of our lives, and if we don’t manage this or conform to this type of “success” then our masculinity is scrutinised and we potentially feel inadequate and moreover shameful.

If in discussion a man says to you he can’t get an erection, he is then judged to be half a man. Coming from a very dominant culture being Italian and growing up in South Africa, everything has been about performance. There is no room for losers and there is definitely no room for being emotional or complaining. You are automatically identified as being a sissy boy or mommy’s boy growing up with imposed beliefs that you are not good enough. This was especially difficult because I so deeply connected with the feminine energy in me as well.

Thankfully we are becoming more enlightened as to the role of men in our society and now is a great opportunity for men to be able to find their rhythm in what being a man really means. In this process is time and dedication to understanding our masculine mindset and understanding how we can fine tune our bodies. The difference is that we should be learning more and more about how OUR bodies function, not finding generic manners and ways thinking that a one size fits all solution will work.

The blog post began with the title “When men get turned off sex” and there are so many different potential causes for this, but if we rule out the biological and focus on the psychological we can find answers for ourselves or for our partner.

I get most of the women who have a partner going through this contacting me with the hope that there will be an answer that they can bring back to the table and reinitiate the sexual connectedness they once had. Unfortunately, more often than not this type of man does not find there to be a major problem and begins retreating into their unevolved self and their energy starts spiralling out of control. What I mean by this is that they allow neediness and insecurity to feed into their mind and behaviours which eventually resent the as being very need, overbearing and emotional. It is fine to be like this but only for a short period of time because the feminine energy won’t stand for this state too long.

These are some points that men need to consider when going through this process:

  • How stressed are you and are you actually doing something about your stress?
  • Is your communication in order within your partnership?
  • If you notice a dip in your sexual arousal what have you actually done to try and understand it
  • If there is a lack of desire for your partner have you begun reconditioning yourself to move towards desiring her?
  • If there is a mismatch in sex development with your partner have you taken the steps to firstly discuss this and then try expand on the issue?
  • If there is too much familiarity in the sexual relationship, what have you done to try and cultivate a new style or type of sexual energy?
  • Do you feel inspired in life and in the sexual relationship? If not what have you don’t to reinstate it?
  • Sometimes we become so detached from sex that we begin to fear the actual experience itself but yet maintain a healthy masturbatory life. Face the contradiction and take a step towards your partner and allow your body to feel arousal, rather than letting your mind keep control.
  • Breath work is something everyone should do, but men in specific can benefit largely from learning how to breathe fully. Especially breathing into your base chakra and learning how to create a flow throughout the body.
  • Have we positioned our partner in the Mary, mother, whore category?

There are a lot of questions that need to be asked when dealing with getting turned off sex and if you do not have the courage to speak to your partner about this, then do yourself a favour and actually call a professional to discuss the situation before it becomes too sedimented in the way you relate to one another. The reality is that if you’re noticing it, she most definitely is, so face it and rebalance yourself.

I Woke up Naturally for 1 Month. Here’s What Happened

This morning, as I was peacefully going through my morning routine between my daily ocean swim and healthy, filling breakfast, I heard my neighbor’s alarm clock going on and off.

I thought it was an awful noise.

I have been waking up naturally for over a month now. This is the first time in my life that I don’t interrupt my sleep every day. That I let my body rest the time it needs. And let me tell you something: it’s an incredibly good feeling, and the side effects are just as amazing.

At some point, I realized that it no longer made sense

I am my own boss. My working hours are the ones I decide. No one is waiting for me anywhere. So why deprive my body of the extra sleep it needs?

I used to wake up to the sound of my alarm clock at 7 am every morning. It was like a safety net. I was afraid that if I took it off, I would find myself jumping from bed at 11 o’clock, disoriented, having lost my morning’s work.

But the fact is, I’ve never been a late riser. So I decided to give it a try. I set an alarm at 9 o’clock, just in case, and turned off the 7 o’clock one. Guess what happened? I haven’t heard the 9 o’clock alarm yet. When it rings, I’m already at work, having gone through my nice morning routine. No rush at all.

Of course, it won’t work if you keep going back to sleep again and again. When I open my eyes, I assess how I feel, if I am sufficiently rested, and I get up — or not — accordingly. This morning, for example, I opened my eyes at 5:30 a.m. but I still felt a little tired, so I went back to sleep until 6 a.m.

I tuned into the rhythm of the sun. In Costa Rica, it rises very early. I leave my curtains open so that the sunlight gently wakes me up. I also go to bed early, around 10 am. I cultivate a healthy lifestyle: I eat properly, I don’t drink alcohol, I only drink coffee in the morning and early afternoon, and I move around enough during the day. All this contributes to making me feel more balanced than ever.

I now wake up between 6 and 7 every morning, feeling well-rested, and I deeply appreciate those moments of calm and peace before I start my workday. And these are only a small part of all the positive effects I experienced.

I can count at least 6 of them

It’s only been a month. But here are the side effects I already noticed:

  • I feel more connected to my body and balanced, which helps me in my overall journey to mindfulness and intuitive eating
  • The day is more fluid and carries much less tension. My body flows in harmony with the rhythm of the sun, and I get more and more back in touch with my circadian rhythm
  • I am less tired during the day
  • I have lost fat
  • I feel less rushed, calmer, more present when I wake up but also during the day
  • I am more motivated and concentrated on my work

I don’t make them up. They are in fact natural and scientifically proven consequences that occur when one cultivates a healthy relationship with sleep, as this study by Eachnight shows:

Source: Eachnight

This is what happens to your body when the alarm goes on

“Sound alarm clocks shock our brain and bodies into waking. If you are still in a deep stage of sleep, this will feel even more shocking to your system, to the point that it can increase heart rate and blood pressure, as well as cause your body to secrete adrenaline. This is a very stressful, and not a healthy or good way to start the day”, explains sleep expert Whitney Roban to Bustle.

This is why I feel calmer and more balanced. When I wake up naturally, I open my eyes peacefully and spend a few minutes in bed practicing mindfulness. This is when my mind is clearest. I simply maintain this state of mind as I start my day.

Also, as my body naturally wakes up, it means it has had the sleep it needs. Which is about 8–9 hours:

“The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to eight hours of sleep for people over age 64 and seven to nine hours for ages 18 to 64.” — Health Harvard

As far as the weight loss I’ve noticed, it’s not huge, but I still feel that I’ve shed a few pounds of fat. And it happened without me doing anything: I kept eating as usual, maybe even a little more according to my intuitive eating journey, and I didn’t move more.

“It’s believed to be because sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full) and increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone).” — NHS

Since I respect my body’s sleep cycle, I am more in tune with it. This naturally leads me to be more conscious in all other areas, including eating. I tend to be much more respectful of my hunger and satiety, which allows me to be more fit.

I also feel calmer, more clear-minded. Lack of sleep actually has many troubling consequences, including drowsiness and fatigue during the day, and irritability. According to Healthline, this is because our body needs sleep as much as air, water, and food to function at its best. During sleep, it heals itself and restores its chemical balance, forging new thought connections. This is why not getting enough sleep significantly reduces our quality of life.

“Nearly 50% of us sleep less than these recommendations. That’s worrisome, because the average person has worse health outcomes (including more obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and shorter life) if he or she sleeps less or more than these ranges, on average.” — Healthline

The issues that can occur when a person does not have a good sleep hygiene are serious. This diagram shows the main ones:

Source: Healthline

But the problem is that nowadays, it’s not so simple to live in harmony with one’s body.

The way our society is built makes it difficult to live in accordance with our circadian rhythm

“One of the greatest barriers to getting enough sleep and waking up naturally is the conflict between our body’s natural rhythms, known to researchers as ‘biological time’ and the work and school schedules we’ve created as a society and are obligated to uphold, known as ‘social time’” — CBC

Living out of sync with your biological rhythm is known as “social jetlag”.

“Social jet lag is associated with a higher likelihood of smoking and consuming more caffeine and alcohol. It interferes with the timing of when your body releases hormones related to sleep, stress, hunger and feeling full, potentially impacting your eating habits and physical activity. An hour of social jet lag can increase your risk of being overweight or obese by 33% and the higher your social jet lag, the bigger your risk for type II diabetes, cardiovascular problems, certain types of cancer, depression, and anxiety. — CBC

The way our society is constructed interferes with our circadian rhythm, which is defined by Sleep.org as a set of physical and mental behaviors that respond to the body’s internal clock.

“The circadian rhythm responds to the increase or decrease of various hormones and proteins within our cells that either encourage or discourage sleepiness and wakefulness. Understanding and mapping your circadian rhythms can help you start to wake up without needing an alarm clock.”, they say.

Final Thoughts

The way our society is built does not allow for everyone to wake up naturally as we would like. Some people would wake up at 10 am, others at 5 am, and we have to get everyone together at specific times for work or school.

But we can always work on improving our relationship with sleep and being more respectful of our sleep schedules, by going to bed earlier, listening more to our body’s signals, and avoiding disrupting them. Believe me, it’s well worth the effort.

Working on your sleep hygiene means establishing a consistent routine every night and morning. Mine consists of reading a book, anytime between 10 minutes and 1.5 hours each night, and going to bed when I feel sleep coming on. In the morning, I wake up reading again with a cup of coffee, before getting some exercise before breakfast.

What also helps is to leave your curtains open at night, so you can be awakened by the sunlight. And of course, putting your phone away early enough so the blue light doesn’t trick your brain into thinking it’s still daylight.

All of this involves choices that only you can make. Going out at night, drinking alcohol, looking at a screen late, and not having a proper routine are all obstacles to waking up naturally, and thus getting all these benefits.

I’ve chosen my side.
Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Dopamine Fasting 101

Despite Dopamine Fasting 2.0’s soaring popularity in media outlets all across the globe, misunderstanding about it still abounds. Fortunately, we’ve done all the hard research for you. Look no further to learn the most essential things you need to know.

Let’s get started…

What Is Dopamine Fasting?

There’s been much confusion about what dopamine fasting entails. Some people mistakenly believe you have to reduce dopamine levels, avoid talking or socializing, avoid all stimulants, avoid technology, or even take a vacation.

Real dopamine fasting encourages health-promoting behaviors. But you also have to break your overdependence on technology. So, you can’t binge-listen to Spotify; get lost on YouTube; spend hours scrolling through social media feeds; play internet games from dusk till dawn; eat an entire cake in one sitting; or generally indulge in any other harmful dopamine-related habit.

The Science of Dopamine Fasting 2.0

Dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter — a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. Because dopamine is essential to so many bodily functions, you can’t “fast” from it. What you can do, though, is fast from impulsive behaviors that dopamine enforces.

What does impulsive behavior look like? Well, you might remember the concept of conditioned responses from psychology class years (or decades) ago. For example, you see a notification on your phone (the stimulus), and thenyou grab the phone to read the notification (the reward). Whether or not we admit it, the process is impulsive; it happens without thought. The goal is to break the automatic behavior.

Dopamine Fasting 2.0 and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Dopamine fasting adopts a technique based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The technique is called stimulus control, and its goal is to form new neuropathways. 

It requires lots of willpower to regain flexibility over impulsive, rigid habits. But it’s possible by restricting external stimuli. The process of stimulus control involves the following:

  • Put away the stimulus (like your phone or gaming console), or make them harder than usual to access.
  • When you feel the need to check your social media feed or engage in an online multi-player event, engage in an alternative activity that’s incompatible with the stimulus. For example, you can read a book, listen to a podcast, jog, or even eat.
  • Be accountable to a person or software to avoid cheating. 

It’s natural for your urges to keep returning. However, CBT has an answer for that, too. In the exposure and response prevention technique, you deliberately expose yourself to your trouble stimuli, and then just be a non-judgmental observer of the thoughts and feelings that arise. You remain detached, and eventually the urge will subside. 

Frequent practice of exposure and response prevention weakens classical conditioning, which ultimately restores behavioral flexibility. When both CBT techniques are employed, CBT becomes the benchmark remedy for impulse control disorders.

In a recent study involving more than 1765 students, it was discovered that dopamine-fasting from Facebook for a week helped them regain, on average, 13.3 hours of time. It also significantly reduced depressive symptoms, by 17%. This allowed them to engage in healthier behaviors instead.

The Dopamine Fasting 2.0 Schedule

Dopamine Fasting 2.0 is different from other fasting programs in that it uses time blocks. The program doesn’t enforce total deprivation, but it encourages fasting for gradually longer periods intermittently for greater benefits.

This program is designed to help practitioners regain behavioral flexibility in certain areas. So, you can still indulge in the activity after following the fasting schedule for the day.

The fasting period excludes the time that would normally make it easy for you to comply with the rules.

For example, if you’re fasting from online mobile gaming, you wouldn’t count hours where you are at work, especially if you work in an office with strict rules regarding the use of mobile phones.

So, when should you fast? Here are some options:

  • 1–4 hours (or more) at the end of your day 
  • On Saturday or Sunday
  • 1 entire weekend per quarter (go on a local trip)
  • 1 entire week per year (consider it a holiday)

There’s no fixed amount of required fasting time. You can set your own fasting time based on your current tolerance level. But be determined to slowly increase your scheduled fasting time until you’ve reached your desired result.

The Dopamine Feasting 2.0 Schedule

While there are no stringent rules for when you need to dopamine-fast, there are none for when you can dopamine-“feast” either. So when you’re not fasting, you can indulge in the behavior for 5–30 minutes as often as three times a day. 

If you’re trying to limit your phone usage but are on feast mode, one effective technique, for example, would be to check your phone for notifications immediately after meals and only for a limited amount of time.

The Importance of Dopamine Fasting 2.0

More than ever, researchers have raised concerns about how overly dependent younger generations have become on technology and the internet. With hundreds of social media platforms and online multi-player games, there’s little wonder why so much time is spent on the world wide web.

People derive pleasure from doing different things. And the likelihood of addiction to a particular behavior varies from one person to the next. 

In no particular order, the most common impulsive behaviors that are prone to addiction are:

  • Emotional eating
  • Internet use and gaming
  • Gambling and shopping
  • Porn and masturbation
  • Thrill- and novelty-seeking
  • Recreational drugs

Fortunately, dopamine fasting can be applied to any of these addictions, and more. If you have an impulsive behavior that needs to be checked, consider making a Dopamine Fasting 2.0 schedule.

In a Nutshell

Dopamine fasting differs from intermittent fasting because the program gives you a bit more flexibility. You can still enjoy addictive activities, but you build in checks to prevent disastrous bouts of overindulging. In the long run, you’ll have gained more control without feeling deprived.

And when you’re fasting, you don’t have to be miserable! You can still engage in other fun and exciting activities, and these activities can improve your health at the same time. For example, you could cook a healthy meal, exercise, learn a new skill, read, paint, or hang out with friends!
So go on, try it out and make Dopamine Fasting 2.0 work for you. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

The Best Supplements for Building Muscle

How to Build Muscle

I will look at how to maximize building muscle, which requires a balance between nutrition and training. In your nutrition, you have to consistently eat more calories (energy in food) than you burn daily. You also have to eat more protein than you break down. In training, you must lift weights (ideally heavy) to ensure that you’re maximizing muscle tear for growth.

It is relevant to inform on the basic nutrition foundation to build muscle before the supplementation.

Best Food for Building Muscle

Since you’d be looking to eat in a calorie surplus, it’s common sense to eat food that is high in calories. The macros which are the highest in calories are carbohydrates and fats. It is wise to choose the more nutritious macro options, here’s a list you could add to your diet:

The ratio of how much you should eat of each macro is dependent on your goals, how much you exercise and your body type. The general one is that 45–65% of your calories should come from carbs, 10–25% from protein and 20–35% from fats according ACE Fitness.

There are vegan and vegetarian options to choose from, which I haven’t covered here but you can check them out at Medical News Today.

Training for Muscle Gain

You will not build muscle without having some sort of resistance or weight training that induces muscle tear. Your muscle needs to tear in order for your muscle to grow. When they recover, the muscle fibers fuse causing the increased size in the muscle cells. Hypertrophy is the name of this process.

Hypertrophy training is something that I learned back in high school. It is the use of heavy weights to build muscle, which is the best way to maximize muscle growth. The ideal sets and reps are 3–5 and 6–12, respectively with a maximum of 2 minutes between rest as seen below.

The Best Supplements for Building Muscle

There are a couple supplements that you can use to build muscle. These are ones which I have used recently and in the past which have been effective in no specific order:

#1. Protein Supplements

Protein supplements can be made from animal and plant sources. You must have a high protein intake to gain muscle, consuming more protein than your body breaks down. You can get all the protein you need from high-protein foods like the above, but some people require supplementation for various reasons. If this sounds like you, there are options you can choose from; protein concentrates (whey), protein isolates or protein hydrolysates are common options.

One that I recommend is whey protein concentrate, because it is usually cheaper than the others and still effective. Ensure that the one you choose has at least 20g of protein which is a benchmark amount for a good protein supplement. Be aware that it contains lactose though, which can be difficult to digest for some people and cause bloating.

The most recent whey protein that I have used is My Wellness Superior Whey Protein and have done a review on it, that you can check out here.

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#2. Creatine

Creatine is a natural compound mostly found in our muscles. It is what helps your body produce more ATP, which is another natural compound in our bodies that provides energy to our cells. This in turn provides energy to our muscles during exercise, increasing our performance.

Another great factor about creatine is that it also retains your water content. Our muscles are made out of more than 70% water, therefore when you train to build your muscle, the water retention causes your muscle cells to swell and promote muscle growth.

#3. Mass Gainers

Mass gainers are high calorie and macro supplements that are made to support mass gaining. Most of these mass gainers are made more from carbs and protein.

They can sometimes lead to excess weight gain due to their high calorie content, that in turn results in fat gain. This is why it is recommended that they are used by highly active individuals or people that struggle to eat enough food or make gains.

There are other options out there that can help you build muscle, but I think for starters, these are easy and simple with side effects not hectic. Always read the packaging and take the recommended doses.

Should You Take Supplements to Build Muscle

The best supplement is based on your calorie and macro goals, if you’re looking to build muscle. If you’re someone that struggles eating food for a calorie surplus, having supplements in liquid form can be helpful. If you struggle with time for making muscle building foods, do meal preparation. There is always a way to work in your nutrition to build muscle.

Your calorie and macro goals are what the best supplements for building muscle should be based on to them. The bottom line is supplements cannot replace a well balanced diet as most supplement packages I’ve seen state that too and a training routine that induces hypertrophy is a necessity.

PERSONALIZE YOUR FEED

BEGIN SURVEY

Ryan Reynolds’s Blade & Deadpool Superhero Workout & Diet Plan

Ryan Reynolds, most notably known for his superhero performances in Blade: TrinityX-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Deadpool, was born this day, on October 23, 1976.

It wasn’t until Blade: Trinity, however, that Reynolds had to chisel a blockbuster body and get serious about his workout and diet regimen.

“That time changed my life because it taught me you can actually do things that were previously impossible,” recalls Reynolds.

It’s hardly accidental that after bulking up for Blade, his career took a meteoric trajectory. He acted alongside bigshot stars like Sandra Bullock and Denzel Washington and was offered countless other superhero roles.

“I can say Ryan is in the best shape of his life now,” says Saladino, Reynolds’s personal trainer. “There are better results coming now than he saw years ago.”

On Reynold’s birthday, let’s look closely at how he stays looking awesome.

It’s About the Diet

Diet is one of the most important things in either putting on or losing weight. You can exercise all you want, but without a strict diet regimen, it might take years before you see any results.

For Blade, Ryan obviously ate right. His diet consisted of six-to-eight meals a day every two hours with lots of protein and complex carbs and just protein after 8pm. After his workouts, he immediately munched on more protein and carbs — protein to promote muscle growth and carbs to refuel his body.

Reynolds mainly got his protein from chicken, steak, eggs and, of course, protein shakes. For carbs, plain oatmeal, fruits, and sports bars were his staples.

Let’s see how a typical day for Ryan might have looked like at the time of his transformation for Blade:

  • Breakfast: two eggs, one cup of oatmeal with applesauce, a spoonful of almond butter or a slice of avocado
  • Morning Snack: protein bar
  • Lunch: tuna wrap, or chicken and salad
  • Afternoon snack: a protein shake, protein bar, an apple, and almonds
  • Dinner: fish or chicken, brown rice, and vegs
  • Evening snack: protein shake

Reynolds also takes a few supplements, including creatine, L-glutamine, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and a multivitamin.

It’s About the Gym, Too

If you’re going to eat six-to-eight times a day, you’ll probably turn into a pig unless you exercise on a regular basis.

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For Blade, Reynolds worked out for three hours a day, six days a week. Each day was devoted to a specific muscle: chest on Monday, legs on Tuesday, back on Wednesday, shoulders on Thursday, arms on Friday, and a combination of all on Saturday.

Ryan also exercised his abs religiously, allegedly doing between 500 and 1000 sit-ups to start each workout. If you have time and stamina to do that many, be warned, however, that after you’re able to do 25 sit-ups at a time, more will be a waste of time unless you add weight, such as a 25-lb plate on your chest.

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According to Saladino, Reynolds’s trainer of eight years, everyone judges your physique based on your abs (or lack thereof). Needless to say, Reynold got lots of training in. Here’s his ab routine for Deadpool:

Day 1

  • Hanging Leg Raise: 4 sets, 8 reps/set
  • Cable Crunch: 4 sets, 12 reps/set 
  • Landmine: 4 sets, 10 reps/set
  • Up/Down Carry: 4 sets, 25 meters each

Day 2

  • Reverse Crunch (with lift): 4 sets, 12 reps/set 
  • Ab Roller: 4 sets, 12 reps/set
  • Heavy Loaded Carry: 4 sets, 40 meters each 
  • Short Side Plank: 4 sets, 60 seconds each

But for the best fitness, it’s important to train more than just the abs. Instead of just smashing out thousands of crunches, focus on a few key exercises that will engage the whole body. Among Saladino’s favorites are deadlifts and squats, because you’re forced to recruit a whole lot of muscles.

Reynolds’s primary goal in Blade wasn’t to lose overall weight, but rather to gain muscle weight. That’s why he didn’t specifically concentrate on cardio; instead, he incorporated cardio into his weight training by minimizing downtime between sets.

Which worked out great for Reynolds, who’s not the biggest fan of cardio: “For me, that kind of sustained running is tough, mechanically speaking.”

But cardio is more enjoyable with nature:

“I Love Being Outdoors. I Get To Hike, Mountain Bike… Just Move. I’ll Even Bring The Baby With Me. In A Weird Way, It’s A Great Workout Because You’re Adding 20 Pounds To Your Bodyweight.”

While getting his body Deadpool-ripped, Reynolds had to gain another seven pounds of lean muscle, so it’s unsurprising that he went through a huge bulking phase. Saladino says that while getting Reynolds ready, he focused on building actual strength rather than just making Reynolds look good for the cam. To accomplish that goal, they concentrated on movement training every day before lifting weights. The movement prep consisted of dynamic stretching, three cardio circuits with ten reps of bounding, overhead shovel throws, and Turkish get-ups.

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Saladino, while talking to Men’s Journal, admitted that he allowed for some flexibility in Reynold’s training schedule, and much of it was long-distance because of Reynolds’s crazy work schedule.

“Ryan’s such a hard worker,” says Saladino. “One day he came up to see me, having been working out on his own. And I was like, ‘Holy sh-t!’ He looked like a different person.’”

So in the end, it basically comes down to self-discipline. No matter what star trainers you can get, you need to work your a** off to achieve what you want. Reynolds is no exception.

This Is HRV

This article was written for Dr. Kelly Starrett’s The Ready State Blog. It can be read there for free, alongside many other great and similar works.

Alright guys, grab your propeller hats because this is a deep dive article. Full warning, things are gonna get technical, but I promise you it will be worth it.

Today we’re going to talk about what may be the most important marker for health and fitness we can track: heart-rate variability. Heart-rate variability (HRV,) has become quite popular in the fitness world as a measurement of exercise recovery, but the implications go far, far beyond that.
You see, heart-rate variability isn’t just a measurement of how well you have recovered between workouts. It is a direct reflection of the health of your nervous system. This marker can be used to predict and influence health risks, anxiety, burnout, and sleep quality.

But what, exactly, is heart-rate variability? And how does it measure the health of our whole nervous system? There is much that goes into this, but at the surface level, HRV is a measurement of the variation of time intervals between heartbeats. You see, the heart is not a metronome. It is not intended to simply beat at an exact pace, and if it did, you would not be able to efficiently respond to stressors nor wind down and relax.

While HRV cannot tell you everything, it is definitely one of the most widely-relevant markers of your well-being. However, the world of HRV measurements is complex and often confusing. Different devices offer different data, and there isn’t a widely accepted “norm” for HRV.

This is why my aim is to give you a deep dive. It will get technical, and it will be long, but I believe the effort will be worth it. By going beneath the surface and creating a foundation, you will have more power to use this measurement than almost everyone else sporting a WHOOP wristband or Oura Ring.

So strap in, buckle up, and get ready because this is HRV.

The Autonomic Nervous System

To understand the incredible usefulness of HRV scores, we must understand the role of the autonomic nervous system.

Though the term “autonomic nervous system” may not mean anything to you, you actually know what it is. Ever heard the term “fight-or-flight?” Well, that’s one part of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is made up of the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. These systems are also known as the fight-or-flight response (sympathetic) and the rest and digest response (parasympathetic.)

The Sympathetic, Fight-or-Flight, System

The sympathetic nervous system creates a sympathetic response to the world around you. If you are faced with a threat, you need to turn off unnecessary functions and be ready to face, or flee, from danger. You can remember this by thinking of the literal meaning of the word “sympathetic.”
From the Latin “sympathia,” sympathetic means to react to an external feeling with a similar internal feeling. We most often think of this in terms of emotion, such as when sympathizing with a friend. We are feeling the same feeling that our friend does. In the case of the sympathetic nervous system, you are “sympathizing” with a stressful or potentially dangerous scenario in the world. You are responding to stress with stress, a heightened and alert state that is prepared to fight, flee, freeze, posture, or submit, depending on the scenario.

This system is often referred to as our stress response, and when the sympathetic nervous system becomes active, lower-order functions like digestion and reproduction become diminished, while organs involved with survival such as the heart, muscles, and brain, are bolstered.

You may notice that all these parts are pretty useful during a workout. Yep, when you exercise, you are activating your sympathetic nervous system. This is a good thing. The sympathetic nervous system needs to be strong and ready.

In terms of physical location, the sympathetic nervous system resides in the grey matter of our thoracic and lumbar spine. These cells directly influence our adrenal glands, which are responsible for releasing the neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine, aka adrenaline and nor-adrenaline.

Basically, this system is in charge of rallying all the parts of our physiology most suited for physical action.

The Parasympathetic, Rest & Digest, System

The parasympathetic system balances the sympathetic nervous system by promoting our calm, rested state. This is the state where we are most capable of healthy social interaction, proper digestive function, sexual arousal, and recovery. In essence, the parasympathetic system promotes activities that let us recharge.

Physically, the vagus nerve is the primary component of our parasympathetic nervous system. The vagus nerve uses the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to slow down nerve firing. This nerve connects to many of our internal organs and can easily modulate their activity.

Basically, the parasympathetic nervous system uses inhibitory neurotransmitters to calm or slow down our bodily processes.

Gas Pedals & Brake Pads

One common misconception is that the autonomic nervous system acts as an “either/or” scenario; Either your sympathetic nervous system is on, or your parasympathetic nervous system is on. This isn’t exactly the case. In reality, these two symptoms act more like a car in drive.

As we all know, if you put a car in drive and take your foot off the brake, the car will move forward. Even if you don’t have your foot on the gas, there is always some level of activity from the engine creating forward motion. This is how the sympathetic nervous system behaves; It is always turned on to some extent in case we need to deal with an emergency or threat.

The parasympathetic nervous system is like the brakes in your car. Essentially, the pressure of the parasympathetic system overlays the pressure from the sympathetic nervous system to create a state of calm and stillness.

The sympathetic nervous system has developed a bit of a reputation as the “bad guy” of our biology, but this is simply not the case.

Good nervous system function is not about turning the sympathetic nervous system “off” any more than driving a car is about turning the engine off. You want your sympathetic nervous system to be strong and capable. You just also want it to be available when needed, and you want the “brake pads” of your parasympathetic nervous system to be healthy and able to slow down your sympathetic nervous system when it isn’t needed.

The HRV Link

Here’s where HRV comes in. HRV values reflect the ability of your body to switch between parasympathetic dominance and sympathetic dominance as needed. Generally speaking, higher HRV values mean greater health and resilience of the whole Autonomic Nervous system.

This is where things get interesting: HRV has a bidirectional relationship with many things that improve our stress response. This means that things like high blood pressure or poor sleep will lower our HRV scores, but activities that improve HRV will also improve things like blood pressure and sleep quality.

The reason this is so interesting is that we have known techniques for reliably improving HRV on a daily basis.

Before we can do these things though, we need a way to track our HRV, and in the world of convoluted and inconsistent wearables and devices, it helps massively to understand just what exactly these tools are measuring.

How HRV Is Measured

When it comes to the actual numbers HRV measuring devices will give you, there is no universal system. Companies can develop their own algorithms or scoring systems. However, most of these devices derive their scores from a few clinically metrics. The OURA ring and WHOOP wristband, for example, use a score called RMSSD, whereas hospital ECG devices often measure something called the SDNN.

These metrics are useful for different purposes, but if you don’t understand them, you can end up with unhelpful data.

When it comes to how devices measure your HRV, they will either measure the electrical pattern of your heart or will use infrared light to detect changes in volume.

ECG devices use electrodes placed on your chest to measure your heartrhythm. The advantage of these devices is that they can remove “artifact” beats that falsely increase HRV scores. These beats, such as heart palpitations, cause abnormally long gaps between heartbeats which results in higher HRV scores. However, high numbers of these beats usually mean dysfunction and your HRV is most-likely too low overall.

PPG devices measure HRV via infrared light that is shined into your blood vessels to detect changes in blood volume. This is how the majority of devices measure HRV. Wrist straps, rings, ear clips, etc. all use PPG technology.

Some PPG devices use algorithms to remove artifact beats from their data, but it is more difficult and these devices may be less accurate for 24 hours or other long measurements.

Time Domain Vs. Frequency

In terms of metrics, the two most fundamental ways of measuring HRV are time-domain measurements and frequency-band measurements.

Time Domain Measurements

Time Domain measurements track your HRV by finding an average. A device will measure the amount of time in milliseconds between your heartbeats, and then determine the average variance of those times.

For example, if 2 of my heartbeats are 800 milliseconds apart, then the next beat comes 750 milliseconds after, I have an average HRV of 50 milliseconds.

Simply measuring HRV from only a few heartbeats is not very useful, and different types of time-domain measurements require 5 minutes up to 24 hours for optimal HRV measurements.
When it comes to wearable devices, RMSSD measurements are the most common and useful form of time-domain measurement. This is because of two factors.

For one thing, RMSSD measurements can provide useful data with as little as 10 seconds of measurement (though 5 minutes is optimal,) and RMSSD measurements ignore the effect of respiration on HRV. What this means is that RMSSD measurements are better for understanding your general recovery level independent from activities like conscious breathing or meditation.

This makes RMSSD measurements particularly useful for tracking sleep quality, determining readiness to exercise, and understanding the strength of your parasympathetic nervous system.
The second major time-domain measurement is called SDNN. SDNN measurements track HRV between normal heartbeats while excluding artifact beats like heart palpitations and arrhythmia.

SDNN measurements require at least 5 minutes but are not considered clinically relevant unless tracked for 24 hours. Because of this, SDNN measurements typically come from more invasive ECG equipment like Holter monitors and chest straps.

In general, you won’t find good devices that use SDNN unless they are ECG chest straps, and even if you do use such a device, we need to remember the data isn’t valuable unless we measure for 24 hours.

With that in mind, 24-hour SDNN is considered the gold standard for cardiac health and can be very useful information to have.

24-hour SDNN measurements of less than 50 milliseconds (less than 50 ms average variance between heartbeats) are associated with being unhealthy, 50 to 100 is associated with compromised health, and values greater than 100 are considered healthy.

In heart attack survivors, those with an SDNN over 100ms are 5 times more likely to survive over the course of a 31 month period than those with an SDNN less than 50.

Basically, stick with RMSSD when using PPG devices (wrist straps, rings.) If you have access to an ECG device (chest straps or electrode-based devices) you can measure SDNN but it’s most useful with a 24-hour measurement.

Frequency

The other major classification for HRV measurements is frequency. As opposed to time-domain, which creates a score from the average time between beats, frequency measurements categorize based on the wave structure of our heart rhythm.

Ever heard of brain-waves? It’s the same thing, just for your heart. Neural activity can be classified into brain wave frequencies that all mean different things. The lowest frequency brainwaves are called Delta waves and are associated with sleep, and then higher frequency waves are associated with higher brain activity functions.

With HRV, we have ultra-low, very-low, low, and high-frequency waves. In my opinion, frequency measurements are more confusing than time-domain measurements, but they have been getting much more popular in recent years and they do offer unique information.
With HRV, frequency measurements are kind-of like shining a light through a prism. As the light passes through the prism, it is split into its multiple wavelengths.

Well, HRV can be split into component wavelengths as well, so-to-speak. For any given HRV measurement, there will be heart-activity waves in the ultra-low frequency band, very-low-frequency band, low-frequency band, and/or high-frequency band.

The idea is to determine which of these frequency bands is dominant over the course of a given HRV measurement, though multiple bands may be present. Just like the brain produces more than one kind of brainwave at a time, your heart can produce multiple HRV waves.

Here is a brief description of each frequency band and how to use the info.

Ultra-Low-Frequency Band: .003hz. Only detectable on a 24-hour measurement. Indicates very slow biology processes. Not much is known about this band currently, but it is guessed to be involved with circadian biology.

Very-Low-Frequency Band: .003hz to .04hz. Can be detected with 5 minutes of data but 24 hours is the gold standard. Low power levels of this frequency are the most predictive of poor health outcomes. This is associated with high inflammation, low testosterone, and rhythmic death.
This frequency band is the most relevant clinically at this time. It is likely that parasympathetic activity promotes the power of this band.

Low-Frequency Band: .04hz to .15hz. Can be detected in 2 minutes. This band is the most commonly recorded by phone HRV measurements. High power in this band may represent autonomic balance, and breathing exercises are known to increase the power of this band. Coherence and resonance training programs, methods for improving HRV, are mostly concerned with increasing the strength of your low-frequency waves.

High-Frequency Band: .15hz to .40hz. Can be detected in one minute. High-frequency band strength is associated with anxiety and panic. The power of this band can be lowered with breathing techniques.

Low-Frequency to High-Frequency Ratio: Lastly, one of the ways we can measure our autonomic nervous system balance is by looking at the ratio of low-frequency to high-frequency band strength. By comparing these two figures, we can see if our parasympathetic nervous system is dominant, or our sympathetic, fight-or-flight system is dominant. Low ratios mean parasympathetic dominance and you should feel calm at these times. High ratios mean sympathetic dominance and you may feel edgy. This is best calculated for over 24 hours.

So if you use a fancy app like nature beat or EliteHRV and you see Frequency band scores, now you know what they mean. Different devices may use different systems, but seeing which brand is most powerful can give you insight.

Whoo! Give yourself a pat on the back! You’ve survived the technical jargon. Now we can finally get into devices, and how to use HRV to improve your life!

Wristbands, Rings, Chest-Straps, Oh My!

So, we’ve survived HRV science and now we’re ready to measure. You now know what it means if your HRV device tells you you have a high frequency or low-frequency HRV, as well as how long you should measure depending on if your device uses SDNN or RMSSD.

Once we have our scores, what do they mean? Well, regardless of the scores you get, there is one simple rule you can remember to always make use of them:

You are your baseline.

We’ve talked in detail about what HRV scores mean, but when it comes to actually using them, it is far more important to develop your own personal baseline than to compare yourself with the general population.

You see, many people begin tracking their HRV and start asking “is this a good score?” the very same day. Depending on your age, weight, diet, etc. your HRV scores will vary greatly compared to other people.

It is far better to compare yourself to who you were yesterday than to who others are today. We’ll get into this more in the next section, but it’s good to know before we start talking gear.

Most of the devices I recommend using measure RMSSD because it is useful with as little as 5 minutes of analysis. Some devices measure in SDNN anyway, but unless you are taking a full 24-hour measurement, stick with RMSSD.

The following list contains popular HRV devices and lists what they measure. Mostly these devices give you your exact RMSSD score, but sometimes companies create their own algorithms that will turn this score into a number, say, between 0 and 100. This isn’t a bad thing, it just means you should be aware of the context of the device you’re using.

Here are some of the best and most popular devices for measuring your HRV.

Oura Ring

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The Oura Ring is an HRV measuring ring that uses RMSSD to measure HRV. It gives you the exact RMSSD score in milliseconds. Oura rings are sold as a one time purchase for $300+ depending on the ring material you purchase.

The Oura can be worn at almost all times, but I find it difficult to wear during workouts. I do not want it to get damaged or caught on something while I’m rock climbing or doing barbell work. Still, it’s easy enough to slip back on after, and many find this to be the least invasive quality HRV tracker.

WHOOP Band

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The WHOOP wristband also measures HRV using RMSSD. The WHOOP is purchasable through a subscription and is not available to buy as a one-time purchase. WHOOP provides its band for $30 a month, with a minimum of a $180 prepaid 6-month commitment. You can receive a discounted rate by prepaying for longer commitments.

Like Oura, WHOOP shows you your exact RMSSD score. WHOOP also calculated custom figures it refers to as “strain” based on multiple markers, which can help to guide you if you forget all the technical info in this guide.

Personally I really like WHOOP and I know Kelly and Juliet Starrett are fans, too. They tie your recovery data to a ton of useful tools, like daily questionnaires and fun reminders. Altogether WHOOP creates a very useful system for improving your recovery and creating positive lifestyle changes using your data.

Apple Watch

Normally the apple watch measures HRV data in SDNN, which as we’ve discussed is best measured over the course of 24 hours with an ECG device (which the Apple Watch is not.) However, you can export your apple watch data in RMSSD by using the breath app on your apple watch.

This app automatically exports your HRV to the health app on your phone where it can be viewed in RMSSD.

Though Apple doesn’t always have the most accurate features when it comes to self-quantification, using the breath app to track HRV has been validated. It has been shown to be just as accurate as chest strap ECG devices like the Polar H7.

The big disadvantage compared to something like the polar is the inability to export your data to a third-party app. The apple watch starts at $200.

The Polar H7 Chest Strap

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This is the first device on this list that analyzes ECG data rather than using PPG. Furthermore, this chest strap is $80 on Amazon, making it the least expensive HRV monitoring device so far.
While the H7 does not come with a fancy app for measuring your HRV like the Oura or WHOOP, this is actually an advantage. Unlike the above devices, the polar can be directly paired with third-party apps to analyze your HRV. This means you can use it to get SDNN, RMSSD, or frequency data depending on the app you use.

Many of these apps are far more extensive and offer great detail on all of your HRV scores. What’s more, is that the Polar H7 can accurately remove artifact heartbeats like arrhythmia and heart palpitations since it directly measures your heart’s electrical activity.

In terms of data as well as expense, I recommend using the Polar H7 combined with Naturebeat, a clinical-grade HRV app co-developed by biohacker Ben Greenfield, to start measuring HRV. Another phenomenal app is EliteHRV.

Basically, the Polar H7 gives those who want to nerd-out access to apps like Naturebeat where you can get tons of data such as frequency, SDNN, and RMSSD data, while also being more affordable than other devices on the market.

It is more invasive and may not be ideal for consistent wear compared to an Oura ring or the WHOOP, but it’s really not that bad, and you can easily use it for a daily 5-minute baseline measurement or for the occasional 24-hour measurement.

The Heartmath Institute Emwave or Inner Balance Device

The Heartmath Institute uses frequency measurements of HRV to train people to improve their personal scores. This group is heavily research-based, and their devices guide your breathing patterns to reach a state known as “resonance” where the power of your .1hz low-frequency band is strong.

In the long run, this has been shown to improve HRV as well as many physical and mental health markers.

To use the device, you’ll attach a clip to your ear that monitors your heart rate variability, then the device will prompt you to inhale and exhale on cue. By following the prompts of the device, you will improve your HRV.

These devices do not work for tracking HRV throughout the day, but you can still use them to develop a baseline. By doing your HRV training with these devices at the same time every day, such as in the morning immediately upon waking, you can see how your HRV is improving over time.

I think these devices are phenomenal as a method for improving your HRV but fall short as tracking devices. Regardless, they are still powerful tools. Heartmath devices range from $120 to $200 depending on the device.

Lief Therapeutics Chest Monitor

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The Lief Therapeutics device is the Ku De Graw device for seriously using and improving your HRV. This device involves two electrodes that adhere to the left side of your chest and rib cage.

Where the Lief excels beyond other devices is that it acts as a tracking device and an entrainment device. The Lief is meant to be worn through the day, and it will vibrate slightly when your HRV drops below your personal baseline. It then trains you to use breathing to increase your HRV.

Because it measures electrically, the Lief system is particularly good at removing artifact beats. As far as price? You can get the Lief either via a subscription of $50 or a one time purchase of $299.

This device is one of the best ways to both measure and action-ably improve HRV. Many find that after a few days using the device, they can detect when their HRV is dropping without it. This is a good tool to have for the general improvement of your nervous system function.

Using HRV

The thing that makes HRV such a powerful marker is that it directly reflects the health of your nervous system. HRV is, in essence, a measurement of your resilience. Improving your HRV means improving your ability to adapt to change and stress, whereas declining HRV is an indication that you are burning out.

This section is about how to use HRV measurements from a device like those listed earlier, as well as how to improve your HRV scores over time.

Develop Your Baseline

Like we mentioned in the last section, our goal is to discover our own baseline HRV and then use it to figure out our level of recovery.

HRV fluctuates throughout the day, so the best way to begin developing a baseline is to measure your HRV at the same time every day.

In my opinion, the best time to do this is in the morning immediately upon waking. This lets you get a measurement during a very consistent piece of your day when you are unlikely to be facing unexpected stressors.

Devices like WHOOP and Oura can be particularly useful in that you are likely to end up wearing them consistently. This can provide data about your HRV trends for multiple parts of the day.

However, I still recommend having a dedicated and specific time to do a reading first thing in the morning. I use the Polar H7 and the app Naturebeat for 5 to 20 minutes upon waking.

How long does it take to develop a baseline? I’ve heard recommendations as short as one week and as long as two months. The longer, the better, so I personally think you should get in a habit of consistent readings for at least a month before making assumptions about your baseline.

With that said, you can begin to take action as early as day one. You don’t necessarily need to know your personal “normal” in order to adopt tactics for improving your HRV.

The big reason we develop a baseline is so that we know when we are not normal. We need to know what a “drop” in HRV looks like so we can understand what it means. Start measuring your HRV daily for a month but use the data immediately.

Using HRV To Detect Overtraining

Exercise is one of many things that can improve your HRV over time. However, exercise may lower your HRV in the short term. For example, if you do a workout and your baseline HRV is 70, you may see an HRV of 60 the next day.

This doesn’t mean exercise is bad, it just means you are recovering from your workout. Over time, your HRV should return to 70 and then improve.

What you need to watch out for is an HRV score that is steadily declining. If you are working out regularly, you don’t need to take an off day every time your HRV is below baseline; If your HRV is declining for more than a couple days, it may be time to slow down.

If, for example, I do a hard workout and my HRV drops 10 points for a day, I may still do a hard workout the next day. However, when my HRV drops even lower, then I’ll take a break or do lighter training til’ it recovers.

You can feel things out, but if you HRV is declining in the long run, you are overburdening your nervous system.

Many people have found that using HRV in this way allows them to not-only avoid overtraining, but to also avoid injury. I have found that since I began training based on my HRV scores, I rarely get sick or injured following training.

Furthermore, when I do get injured, it almost always happens when I train during an HRV slump.

HRV and Booze, Food, and Drugs

Another way you can use HRV is to test the effect of chemical intakes like food, supplements, booze, and drugs. Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting you avoid taking prescription medication because it’s lowering your HRV scores, but it’s something you can be aware of.

Booze and certain drugs or medications are known to lower HRV, but one of the more powerful ways you can use HRV is to measure things like supplements and food.

It’s a little rudimentary, but tracking your HRV as you try a new diet can show you whether it is helping you or hurting you. Big plummets in HRV following a meal may indicate a food allergy or sensitivity, and a steady decline over the course of a few days may mean this new diet isn’t the best for you.

In essence, you can use HRV to look at how additions to your life, be they food, new routines, etc. affect your nervous system. You can really get quite creative. Take it with a grain of salt, but I’ve even used HRV to test which room of the house I get the best sleep in. Lower scores might mean poorer airflow, mold, too many electronics, or just bad Feng Shui.

Are you starting to see the value of this measurement? HRV is a constant assessment of your resilience. It tells you how balanced your nervous system is and whether you are improving, or declining, as you go about your life.

Improving HRV

Many things improve HRV, but I want to discuss a select few that are known to be significantly effective. The 3 main things I focus on for improving HRV are exercise and movement, cold therapy, and meditation.

Mindset & Self-Image

Before we talk about the actions you can take, I want to address mindset. Those who perceive themselves as stressed out display lower HRV scores, regardless of their athletic level.

This is super important for all of us to remember: How you see yourself is more important much of the time than what you do. Anyone who has read material like mind-to-matter, psycho-cybernetics, or how to change your brain is already well familiar with this, but for everyone else, your mind-state is highly influential on your biology.

So first and foremost, seeing yourself as a resilient and healthy person may be the most important thing for actually becoming that way.

Exercise & Movement

It is well established that HRV is improved in athletic populations. In terms of kinds of exercise, high-intensity exercise such as CrossFit or powerlifting lowers HRV the most immediately following exercise, but yields improvement one the recovery period of one or two days has passed. Like other changes from high-intensity exercise, the long-term HRV improvements from this type of training may be better than other forms of exercise, if you don’t overtrain.

I believe using high-intensity training is best paired with HRV measurement using a device so you can track overtraining. These kinds of workouts by-far yield the most benefits for our health, but they also offer the greatest risk of overtraining. In a world where many people train in this manner 5 times a week, tracking your HRV to prevent overtraining should be on the mind of every Crossfitter.

Though high-intensity workouts seem to offer the best improvements for HRV if you don’t overtrain, aerobic capacity is more correlated with high HRV. I think this is because many people who do high-intensity training rather than aerobic training, end up overtraining. However, aerobic training like running or cardio does offer unique benefits for the heart that are not offered by other training types.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still overtrain with cardio, but I often wonder if the fitness industry pendulum has swung too far into high-intensity training and away from aerobic training.

I don’t think we need much, but personally I feel the best when doing 1 or 2 high-intensity workouts a week, and doing 2 to 3 low-intensity aerobic workouts such as running or light skill practice (handstand practice, etc.)

Basically, I train aerobically more often then I train anaerobically or at high intensity. The caveat is that I train light. I don’t train like a distance runner or a marathoner, and my aerobic work is rarely “hard.”

Foam Rolling & Mobility

So in the long run, exercise improves HRV as long as you don’t overtrain. As far as improving your HRV scores right here and now, mobility work (especially foam rolling) is the tool of choice.

What is the point of these activities? Nothing is proven, but I believe that activities that improve HRV in the short run can improve HRV in the long run. Furthermore, these activities are useful for improving things like sleep or focus. Anytime you need to lower your fight-or-flight and increase your rest-or-digest, these activities are powerful.

The rest of the techniques in this section are focused on improving HRV right away.

The Ready State is a powerful tool here. Independent from the mobility benefits, foam rolling before bed is well known to improve sleep quality. This may be because, for most people, it improves HRV. One more reason to do 15 minutes of mobility work if you feel stressed.

I always do 15 minutes of mobility in the morning and 10 minutes of foam rolling before bed. I also do spot-checks throughout the day. After every 30 to 45 minutes of writing work, I’ll mobilize for 2 to 5 minutes. The Ready State library is stock full of material for this purpose.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy has become popular in recent years for lowering inflammation and improving recovery from injury. However, outside of extreme cold therapy programs like The Wim Hof Method, there isn’t much data supporting benefits.

At least not officially. Anecdotally, thousands upon thousands of HRV readings show that cold showers massively improve HRV.

I try to regularly use cold showers to improve vagal tone and HRV. Most people choose to do cold showers in the morning, but my favorite time is actually 2 hours before bed.

By boosting my HRV before bed, I am able to massively increase sleep quality. I’m hardly alone in this observation. WHOOP users, Oura wearers, and sleep trackers of all kinds have made the link between cold showers and improved sleep quality.

My only caveat is that these showers can be stimulating. I recommend taking them at least 2 hours before you actually plan on going to sleep, otherwise, the endorphin high from the shower can actually keep you awake.

If you have a hard time taking straight cold showers, you can alternate between hot and cold. I’ve found this method to be far easier but just as effective.

A basic hot-to-cold shower involves starting with hot water for 10 seconds and then switching to the coldest you can bear for 20 seconds. Repeat for 10 rounds and end on cold.

You can change the intervals but always do the cold for twice as long as the hot.

Resonance Breathing & Meditation

Resonance breathing is a pattern of respiration that has been shown to tune HRV with the .1hz frequency. This frequency is part of the low-frequency band and represents the optimal autonomic nervous system balance.

Institutes like Heartmath have found that we all have a specific breathing cadence that results in this resonance. These institutes are focused on training people to breathe in this way in order to lower stress and improve their HRV.

To do resonance breathing and learn your personal rate, you’ll need a training device like the Emwave, inner balance, or the lief therapeutics device mentioned earlier.

The best-case scenario is to use the Emwave or inner balance to practice resonance breathing for 5 to 20 minutes every day or to wear and use the lief system for a day or two.

Over time with these systems, you can learn to recognize how it “feels” to be in resonance, and you won’t need them in order to breathe into this state.

Since not everyone cares to drop $120 for this process, I can also recommend simple meditation.

Having a mindfulness practice is free and highly beneficial. New to meditation? Not to worry. My favorite type of meditation is little more than closing my eyes and breathing.

Every morning, I’ll “box-breath” for 5 to 20 minutes with my eyes closed. To perform box breathing, simply begin a 4 part breathing pattern of inhaling for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 4 seconds, exhaling for 4 seconds, and leaving your lungs empty for 4 seconds.

See? 4 parts, like the 4 sides of a box. You can choose a different cadence based on your comfort and ability. I personally box-breathe with a cadence of 5 seconds for each part. This way I can also track how long I have been practicing.

15 cycles of 5 by 5 box breathing is 5 minutes, 30 in 10 minutes, 45 is 15, and 60 is 20. You can also just set a timer, but I find that counting my cycles adds to the meditation experience.

If you have a resonance training device, I definitely recommend using it daily. You really can’t beat a system that guides you to the optimal breathing pattern. However, I find that box breathing offers other benefits from the meditation experience. Even when I am regularly training in resonance breathing with a device, I still do a 5-minute box-breathing session sometime during the day.

Diet & Other Factors

There are as many diets as the day is long, and what you eat affects your HRV. Heck, pretty much everything in your life can affect your HRV. Remember, this is a measure of your nervous system health.

Optimal human nutrition is a topic for debate, but we should all strive to eat a whole-foods diet and eliminate ultra-processed foods. Whether carnivore or vegan, paleo or Wahls protocol, removing junk food is the first step to eating a better diet.

So if you haven’t already, remove the soda, kick the Doritos, and return to foods you could butcher or garden. If it doesn’t grow in the earth or walk upon it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

Conclusion

Great freaking job you guys! You just survived one of the most technical guides to HRV I’ve ever seen. By the way, sorry about that, but I’m glad you stuck with it.

I could have written a guide that just said “HRV = Nervous System. Track it and optimize your recovery.” But these articles have become a dime a dozen here on the internet, and they leave many readers with unanswered questions.

By going a little deeper, we can understand what HRV actually is, how it’s measured, and how we can use these measurements to improve our own lives. Sure, most of the time it’s as simple as knowing your baseline and then working to improve it, but without knowing where these numbers come from, we miss out on the power to improve with efficiency and accuracy.

So, to re-cap, HRV is a measurement of the variance between your heartbeats over a period of time. This measurement may be the most useful marker you can track, as it reflects the resilience of your autonomic nervous system which governs your ability to face and handle stress.

As you can imagine, HRV scores reflect many health markers, and improved scores are correlated with resilient mood, better heart health, lower risk of early death, and improved recovery from exercise and adaptability to stress.

Good HRV devices use time-domain measurements such as SDNN or RMSSD, or frequency band measurements. Understanding these measurements can give us unique insight we would otherwise not understand. For example, good low-frequency measurements mean good autonomic nervous system function and we can use breathing to increase these values. We also know that SDNN measurements really aren’t useful unless you are measuring with an ECG device for 24 hours.

With this information, we can make an informed decision in picking a device to measure our HRV.

At a minimum, we need something that can measure our RMSSD HRV for 20 minutes every morning upon waking. We can use this consistent information to discover our baseline HRV, and then use this value to see if we are recovering well, or burning ourselves out.

Good lifestyle choices such as exercise and a whole foods diet will affect our HRV in the long run, but our emotional state may matter more. Seeing ourselves as stressed and unhealthy can undermine athleticism, so first we need to learn to see ourselves as healthy and relaxed. Beyond that, we can definitely take action to quickly improve our HRV.

Cold therapy, mobility work, and meditation all directly improve HRV scores. Using these methods before bed can give you a one-two punch of improving your HRV and boosting your sleep quality, which also improves HRV.

If you can afford it, one of the most powerful ways to train your HRV is a resonance training device. The Heartmath Institute has several such gadgets, and the Lief Therapeutics wearable is phenomenal for this as well.

And there we have it! HRV is a big topic, and there is so much more to it than this article, but now you have a foundation of understanding. I know it got pretty technical, but with this information, you can confidently navigate gadgets and techniques for improvement without confusion.

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope this helps you continue improving your Ready State!

5 Simple Tips to Heal Your Gut and Sinuses

Change Happens When The Pain Of Staying The Same Is Greater Than The Pain Of Change.

I use to suffer hay fever every spring and summer for years, reaching its pinnacle of severity in my early 20’s. Being born and raised in Melbourne, one of the hot spots in the world for allergies and hayfever sufferers did not help my situation. In hindsight, I’m actually glad I suffered a fair bit which forced me to adapt and evolve in my health and has led me to pursue this as a career and realize my passion and obsession in health and human performance. I hope what I share can be of value to you or someone you love and avoid going through what I did.

I Tried Everything…

In early 2011 after months of another terrible hayfever season, sneezing my head off my spine and itching my eyes out of its sockets. My doctor recommended all noninvasive solutions first including corticosteroid nasal sprays and antihistamines with very little success and for all I know may have even caused more harm. I made a visit to the doctor’s office to see what else they could do to relieve my symptoms. That’s when I began my Allergen immunotherapy weekly injections in an attempt to deactivate the cause of my hayfever. This treatment is used mainly to the most serious of hayfever sufferers, whose quality of life is dramatically affected by their hayfever, and for whom allergic rhinitis medication is proving ineffective. Which was me at the time!

After months of weekly injections at the doctor’s office and desperate for an effective long term solution no matter the cost, my GP suggested as the last resort, an operation. I discussed with my parents and a visit to one of the top ear, nose and throat surgeons in Melbourne convinced me. I went in for a turbinectomy, rhinoplasty, and septoplasty with the hope this would be my saving grace.

I was wrong.

Only short term relief.

Healing Naturally 

As the symptoms came back I desperately began to seek alternative routes. This is when I came across Integrative Functional Medicine and Alternative Medicine. Switching my mindset to finding the root cause of my hayfever and allergies rather than simply putting a band-aid on it.

These are my 5 best, simple and effective methods that I applied to myself gradually over months and still do to this day to help repair my gut and sinus issues. By no means are you limited to these 5 alone, as there are so many variables in health, I encourage each and every one of you to experiment with what works for you and your body and do your own research.

1. GLUTEN & GRAINS

Eliminating gluten and grains from my diet took several months to implement and had a significant impact on repairing my gut health which in turn contributed to easing my chronic inflammation. Every person is different and may require more or less time.

2. BONE BROTH

Chicken and Beef bone broth is becoming readily available now as we begin to acknowledge the science behind our ancestor’s foods and lifestyle. Simply google bone broth and see how many are popping up.

Quick nutritional facts: Over 19 easy-to-absorb, essential and non-essential amino acids, collagen/gelatin, which help form connective tissue and nutrients that support digestive functions, immunity and brain health. (source)

3. SALINE

Cleaning your sinuses daily with a natural saline spray to remove any pollen and/or dust build up.

4. TURMERIC

Incorporate turmeric into your cooking as a potent anti-inflammatory compound. Either taking it in supplement form as the active compound Curcumin, for those suffering severely or simply adding turmeric powder to your foods.

5. ENVIRONMENT

As I spoke about in my last post, Can You Out-Eat a Bad Environment? Your environment matters! So incorporating the tips on that post and making sure you get consistent quality deep sleep.

Some of the best advice I can give you when it comes to maintaining and optimizing your health is PATIENCE and CONSISTENCY. You cannot simply implement all these and expect to see results instantly. If you have spent years if not decades on disregarding your health, then it may take months or years to repair and see improvements.

Most of all take ACTION!

Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

What To Do If You’re “Fed Up” With Dating

Are you fed up with dating? Perhaps you’re thinking of giving it up and embracing ‘monk mode’ for a while?

I recently received an instant message from a confidence coaching client who was experiencing these thoughts.

It read:

“Yo, do you ever feel like you’ve had enough of chasing and don’t care about getting laid anymore?

“The effort is too much even with a 30% success rate or even more. It’s just too exhausting to flirt and interact with many girls.

“I feel like I’m better off investing in academia, work and finance as well as friends and family time. I’ve had enough of the dating scene to not care anymore.

“Not only chasing but also initiating, even if you’re so good they do the chasing afterwards. Initiating is intensive and every shut down makes me want to puke.”

Strong words indeed, but monk mode is not the answer.

Yes, there is a lot of stress involved with finding a partner. Women can be mean, expose your deepest insecurities or even completely ignore you when you approach them. Even if you hit it off in a bar, there’s every chance she gets dragged away by a friend and never sees you again. Meanwhile, ghosting is becoming increasingly common and who’s surprised? With the advent of Tinder and other similar apps, you’re usually competing with dozens of other guys for her attention. Welcome to modern dating.

It’s also true that not everyone loves socializing. An introvert’s energy supposedly drains when they speak to a lot of strangers.

However, I personally believe the following advice would prevent these problems from ruining your dating life.

Focus on ‘The Thrill of the Chase’

This sender of this message (and anyone else who can relate to him) is struggling because he’s not focusing on the excitement of meeting new people or the rush of chemistry with a new woman. He’s notenjoying the adventure of trying to hook up with a beautiful stranger. He’s just thinking about the RESULTS.

It’s understandable that some men feel this way. We are only human and not getting laid is frustrating. What’s more, a lot of guys base their self-worth on how much sex they have.
That’s why the sender of this message shouldn’t be criticized.

In fact, after being cheated on by the woman who I considered to be ‘my everything’, I felt the same as him. I only cared about the conquest.

The break-up had destroyed my confidence. Every good part of my personality had been drained and replaced with bitterness. I’d still go out and try to meet women, but these interactions were motivated by desperation. This wasn’t about fun. It was about boosting my self-esteem and replacing the woman who broke my heart, so I could forget about this betrayal. So I could stop feeling sad and start feeling purposeful again.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t hook up with one woman while I felt like this.

People aren’t attracted to desperation. We’re repelled by anyone who has a selfish agenda. We push away strangers who need something from us.

Women in nightclubs aren’t interested in healing tortured souls. They just want to have FUN.
Thankfully, I eventually learned how to start enjoying being single and focus on having fun when I was out with my friends.

Once I did that, the results with women started to return.

Why I love meeting women in bars and clubs
I’m a huge advocate of meeting and arranging dates with women during the daytime. For me, it’s the most efficient way to land a date.

But there’s something magical about approaching women at the bar on a Friday or Saturday night.

You’re out with your best mates. Your favorite music is playing. The ladies are dressed to the nines, and there are usually dozens of them to speak to. There’s an added tolerance for obnoxious humor, outrageous behavior and getting physical with your dance partner. Plus, women tend to be more open-minded about the fun continuing all the way to the bedroom. What’s not to love?

The serendipity of it all satisfies my sense of adventure. The more you let go, the more you have fun, the more you express yourself, the more likely you’ll attract an amazing woman. It’s a win-win.

However, a lot of our confidence coaching clients are too afraid of rejection to have fun when meeting women. They’re too shy to show off their full personality, even after a few drinks. It’s ‘hard work’ for them to approach women and express themselves, because they’re so worried about what these women will think.

Every rejection is like a wrecking ball smashing their ego. It can be emotionally exhausting. If they’re having no luck with online dating as most guys do, their frustration could grow even faster. No wonder so many dudes consider giving up on women altogether.

My free e-book How To Conquer Social Anxiety is stacked with ideas for how to turn this situation around.

You can’t hide from this problem

Our client suggested he’d focus on his career, academia and family instead of dating. These pursuits are fantastic, but the fact he wants to have sex (and most likely a loving relationship) with women isn’t going to disappear.

These desires are biological. You can’t run from them.

Let’s say you spent a decade ignoring this problem. What then? You’ll be ten years older still experiencing the same level of success with women you have now. You’ll still be bitter about women and dating. You’ll still be unable to have fun at parties and other social events. You’ll still be reeking of desperation whenever you find yourself in a romantic situation.

It’s best to confront this problem now, first by addressing your self-esteem, then by realizing it’s possible to get better at attracting women. From there, find a friend, hit the bars and have an awesome time. Meet some women and start talking about what you find funny. Focus on amusing yourself rather than impressing her. Have fun and watch as the women get sucked in.

This is surely a better gameplan than giving up on dating altogether.

PERSONALIZE YOUR FEED

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A Comprehensive Guide to Changing Your Life by Getting Better Sleep

If somebody asked you, “what is the most important thing for living a healthy life?” how might you answer? Would you talk about diet? or perhaps, fitness? You might even bring up the importance of lowering stress, and enjoying your time. All of these are good answers, but you might not realize that how you sleep is more important than all of them.

How we sleep has a huge impact on our health, longevity and performance, but few of us prioritize it like we should. Either we sleep too little, like the college student staying up til 2 am partying on Sunday and up until 3am studying on Monday, or we sleep too poorly, sabotaging our sleep quality by watching television late into the night, or disobeying our circadian rhythm by changing our sleep schedule every few days.

But hey, what’s the big deal about sleep anyway? Why does it matter so much in the first place?

What Happens When You Sleep Poorly

Some people take pride in sleeping less, and are convinced that they feel just fine. 99.99 percent of the time, they are lying both to you and to themselves. Though some studies have indeed found genetic variants that allow a person to sleep 6 hours without negative effects, experts believe that only 1–3% of the population can truly perform this way, and even they display elevated inflammation and impaired production of melatonin.

For the rest of us, the results of sleep deprivation are biological havoc. Inflammation rises, cellular regeneration comes to a halt, blood pressure rises and can eventually become heart disease, and mental faculties suffer sharp declines in performance. These effects are amplified if you lead an active lifestyle or regularly engage in periods of intense focus.

Sleep deprivation can even become fatal. A genetic disease known as fatal familial insomnia causes sufferers to die within a few months due to progressively more severe insomnia. Yep, you heard that right, humans will die from lack of sleep in a matter of months.

This is because sleep is the only time when the brain and body repair themselves. When you sleep, the brain washes itself with cerebrospinal fluid, which lowers inflammation and detoxifies the brain. This process, known as the glymphatic system, only occurs while you sleep. Simultaneously, your brain reorganizes its neurological structure and processes information. Without this process, your brain quickly becomes a chaotic mess, and any information that has not been organized into your memories will simply disappear. Merely going 3 or 4 days without sleep will cause hallucinations, and further decline quickly follows.

The second reason lack of sleep can kill you is that it hinders your body’s hormonal recovery. During sleep, growth hormone and testosterone rise, which your body uses to detoxify, repair muscle tissue, repair your adrenal glands which are directly tied to your level of stress, and repair your immune system. Without enough sleep, your brain and muscles whither, your immune system falters, your stress spikes, and your health rapidly declines.

And we don’t even notice! Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of chronic sleep deprivation is that most people can’t even tell it’s happening. People who sleep 5–6 hours a night or less for a week will perform at the level of someone who abstains from sleep completely for two days. However, when surveyed, these same people believe they feel fine, despite performing similarly on tests to someone who has a .1 percent blood alcohol content (aka legally drunk.)

How To Prioritize Sleep Within a Busy Lifestyle

One of the biggest reasons people skimp on sleep is to have more time for a busy lifestyle, but losses in performance and efficiency from a lack of sleep negate the effect of having more time. With that said, how do we optimize and get enough sleep while maintaining an active life? We’ve mentioned that you need 8 to 10 hours of sleep, but we haven’t spent as much time discussing your quality of sleep.

When you get good quality sleep, you should be able to fall asleep quickly, and wake up with energy. If this is happening, you should already be saving time and energy by not laying around in bed, at night because you’re too stressed out, and in the morning because you’re too tired (there goes the two hours you saved be sleeping 6 hours last night.) So we’re going to talk about 10 ways you can maximize your sleep efficiency, and meld a busy lifestyle with a healthy sleep schedule.

  • Take a cold shower, or an alternating hot-cold shower before bed. We’ll return to cold showers later in the environment section, but cold showers and cold exposure trigger a relaxation response in our bodies, as well as increasing endorphins. Dunking your face in cold water is a remedy for panic attacks, and athletes who do a cold exposure before training maintain more stable heart rates during intense exercise. Stemming from this, many have found that a short cold shower helps incredibly for going to sleep at night. If you do not tolerate cold well, or find that the shower wakes you up more than it helps you relax, try alternating between hot and cold water instead. Turn the shower to as hot a temperature as you can bear for one minute, then switch back to cold, and vice versa for up to 10 rounds. Always end on the cold water, not the hot.
  • Take an Epsom Salt Bath. In other articles, I’ve discussed the incredible benefits of magnesium, and improving your sleep quality is definitely one of them. One way to further maximize the benefits of minerals for sleep quality is the epsom salt bath. Taking an epsom salt bath is one of the best ways to relax before bed, release muscle tension, replenish electolytes, and recover from injury or exercise. This can also be a great time to do some meditation and relax if you have such a practice. I recommend the product Ancient Minerals Magnesium Bath Flakes, available on amazon.

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  • Journal before bed. Stray thoughts keep us up at night. We lie awake, wondering about the day coming, analyzing the day past, and worrying about the future. This tip isn’t just a throw away suggestion, a study recently published in the journal of experimental psychology discovered that writing before bed significantly improved participant’s ability to fall asleep quickly. More specifically, writing a to-do list about your tasks for the next day was effective. The more specific the to-do list, the faster participants fell asleep. Start writing about your plan for the next day, or at least journaling, for 5 minutes before bed.
  • Get 8–9 hours of sleep, 10 if you are an athlete. I know, 8 hours is a lot of time to do anything other than work, and this is why sleep deprivation is so common. In a study performed in 2003 by the journal “Sleep,” it was discovered that those who slept 6 hours a night every night for two weeks displayed cognitive decline similar to those who did not sleep at all for two days straight. Furthermore, the 6 hours a night group was completely unaware of their cognitive decline, believed they felt good and well rested, while performing low on tests. This is one of the biggest problems with sleep deprivation: after a couple days of too little sleep, you stop noticing that your performance is declining. Occasional sleep deprivation is inevitable, but don’t let it become chronic. Chronic sleep deprivation leads to major cognitive decline, contributes to cancer, Altzheimer’s and diabetes, and increases inflammation.
  • Sleep Consistency: Sleep at the same times every day, and avoid variance. If you get 8 hours a night, but some days you go to bed at 8, others at 10, and others at midnight, this affects your quality of sleep. Our circadian rhythm is our body’s natural sleep cycle, and everyone has a different natural rhythm. Genetics play a partial role, however, extreme circumstance can “shift” your rhythm. If you change your sleep schedule all the time, however, your rhythm never adapts and you end up with lower quality nights. Whatever your sleep schedule, aim to make it as consistent as possible, including on weekends.
  • Turn off Screens Two Hours Before Bed: Light affects our biology. In particular, light affects our circadian rhythm. In a natural environment, our eyes process sunlight, which lets us know what time of day it is. At the brightest time of the day, the sun releases lots of high frequency blue light, along with red and infrared. As the sun goes down, this blue light dissipates drastically, signaling our bodies to produce melatonin, the hormone responsible for making us feel sleepy. Unfortunately, high fluorescence light bulbs emit blue light frequencies. Same with cell phone screens, televisions, and our computers. The result is that our body doesn’t get the “sleep” light signal on time, when the sun goes down. If possible, begin using low lighting and stop using screens when the sun goes down, or at least two hours before bed. If you must work late, consider investing in a pair of blue light blocking glasses, or simple sunglasses with orange lenses. These do a good job of blocking blue light. You can also install software such as f.lux on certain devices, which will darken the screen into a more amber color which is less abrasive.
  • Keep your room cold and dark:We just mentioned the effect of light on sleep, now we’re going to expand on that an also mention temperature. In short, it is easier to fall asleep in a cold environment than a hot one. In fact, it is believed that evening shifts in temperature from hot to colder are more influential on circadian sleep rhythm than sunlight. In short, keep your sleep environment somewhat cool or cold, and keep it dark. Pitch black darkness is best, and you can make this happen using special window blinds and by covering or unplugging electronics with LED lights. As far as cold, most people find that a room temperature between 62 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit works well.
  • Inversion or Foam Rolling Before Bed: Foam rolling and inversion are two great ways to sleep soundly, while also improving mobility and oxygenation. Inversion refers to hanging upside-down using devices such as the Teeter inversion table, or Gravity boots. Inversion tables allow you to hang upside down, which helps the health of your spine, oxygenates the blood and brain, and strengthens your core. Foam rolling, on the other hand, refers to a method of releasing muscle tension and knots with devices called, you guessed it, foam rollers. Foam rolling is great for you, and is one of the best ways to release body tension that even yoga has a tough time remedying. If you don’t want to spend the money on an inversion table, or learn to use a foam roller (price is not really a factor considering you can use a simple lacrosse or golf ball for the same purpose) then simply stretching for a time before bed works well. The theme here is to release tension before bed, and many top performers such as the investor and author Tim Ferris swear by these techniques.
  • Use a Sleep Supplement: It’s time for the first shameless plug of this book. We are affiliated with the supplement company Vasayo, but this isn’t just about promotion. Many people use pharmaceuticals such as Ambien to address sleep issues. However these drugs are damaging to the brain, and the “sleep” experienced is more akin to a state of unconsciousness than it is to sleep. Few of the processes that heal your body and mind during sleep occur. Alternatively, a good sleep supplement can work wonders to “correct” circadian rhythm problems and address insomnia without side effects. Vasayo’s Sleep Supplement is natural, uses liposomal delivery for increased absorption, and contains natural sleep vitamins to gently help you relax. If you’re skeptical of taking a promoted product, another great option is Dr. Kirk Parsley’s Sleep Remedy. Dr. Parsley is a former Navy Seal who made sleep research his life work after discovering that sleep deprivation is a major component in the health problems of special forces members. I have used both of these, they have similar ingredients, and my experience is that they both elicit feelings of sleepiness, as though you are ready for a good night’s rest. Vasayo Microlife Sleep and Doc Parsley’s Sleep Remedy (click to go to product pages)

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  • The “Siesta,” or Power Nap: This is one of my favorite daily habits, and a great way to deal with needing more sleep but not finding time. Take a midday nap. Just napping for 20 to 60 minutes will refresh you for the rest of your day, and shows evidence to be a more natural way of sleeping. What I mean by this is that our ancient ancestors appear to have slept in “chunks” throughout the day, with a long nightly session, and occasionally daily napping. For my part, this nap left me feeling fresh right up until I went to bed at night, and for every 20 minutes of napping, I felt like I got an extra hour of sleep. As with nightly sleep, keep your nap at the same time every day. Also, if you drink coffee in the morning, this may affect your ability to nap. Try decaf for your morning cup or simply begin having your coffee after your nap.

PERSONALIZE YOUR FEED

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!The Dragon’s Philosophy: Training Principles of Bruce Lee!

Bruce Lee. The Legend. The Dragon. It’s easy to forget that past the glorification of his larger than life persona was simply a man driven by fitness. Underneath the superficiality of his 3-inch punch or one-handed push ups was just a guy whose training helped expand the boundaries of his physical abilities- something we can all strive for and attain in the gym.

Because he was a martial artist, there were many levels to his fitness that made his skill-set well rounded. For now I’ll break down the most apparent form of fitness, resistance training, to reveal some of the principles that developed his iconic physique.

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The essence of fitness is to improve the systems of the body, he knew this and used different types of fitness to improve his performance. He recognized that practicing wing chin on his wooden dummy or practicing the first form for hours wouldn’t produce the adaptation his body needed to develop an edge. He believed this to the point where his training regimen in the last 3 years of his life were unrecognizable to that even 5 years prior.

The man was on a cross-training mission; weight training for strength, running and cycling for cardiovascular efficiency, stretching for flexibility, heavy bags for timing and applied power, etc. He lived out on a macro scale what we should apply to our training on a micro scale: that is as our body’s and goals adapt and evolve, we must change and improve the training modes and techniques necessary to meeting these growing demands.

One of the main main staples of Bruce’s training and above average ability was strength. For any sport or martial art, strength and full range of motion are the basis for success. Lee became convinced of this fact after an encounter with a Chinese martial artist in Oakland California, determined to increase not only his strength of stamina and endurance, but muscular strength as well. As stated in Bruce’s film Enter the Dragon:

Sparta, Rome, The Knights Of Europe, The Samurai…All Shared The Lone Ideal: The Honor Of Strength, Because It Is Strength That Makes All Other Values Possible. Nothing Survives Without It. Who Knows What Delicate Wonders Have Died Out Of The World For Want Of The Strength To Survive?

The movie’s villain Han was speaking philosophically, but the pursuit of strength can also be applied to fitness. Multiple studies verify that strength training and muscular power improve running and cycling times as well as lifting performance in a wide range of athletes. As stated in The Application of Measurement to Health and Physical Education- speed also depends on strength…the stronger the individual the faster he can run… moreover endurance is based on strength. There are a few reasons to explain this:

  • Strength training improves neuromuscular efficiency, meaning it improves the mind-body connection allowing for faster reaction times and reflexive response.
  • Strength training helps develop both slow and fast-twitch muscle fibers, aiding in long distance endurance and many other categories

With strength as the foundation for physical performance, resistance training is the natural option for increasing this area. This type of training offered many benefits; simplicity of movements, adaptability of exercises to all muscle-groups, but for Bruce the fact that his training only took 15–30 minutes to complete 3 times a week really took the cake. Despite his short training time he was still able to achieve outstanding levels of speed, power, muscle development, and physical fitness unlike anything that could be achieved with other forms of training or comparable time.

Bruce Lee’s Early Resistance Training

We have a lot of documentation that give us a glimpse into Bruce’s early resistance and martial arts practices, one of which was well sourced in John Little’s collected notes gathered in the book The Art of Expressing the Human Body.

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As early as 1965 he was recording his workout routines, one in particular was done at the Hak Keung Gymnasium in Hong Kong

Squat: 3 x 10 (95lb)

French Press: 4 x 6 (64lb)

Incline Curl: 4 x 6 (35lb)

French Press (again): 4 x 6 (35lb)

Con Curl: 3 x 10 (70–80lb)

Two Handed Curl: 3 x 8 (70–80lb)

Tricep Stretch: 3 x 8

Dumbbell Curl: 4 x failure (18lb)

Reverse Curl: 4 x 6 (64lb)

Wrist Curl: 4 x failure (64lb)

Wrist Curl: 4 x failure (64lb)

A few interesting things to note is that:

  • Lee would occasionally stop adding weights and ignore repetitions in order to reduce the overall training time of his workouts. To shave time off the clock while still getting some measure of intensity he would perform each rep as quickly as possible which explains the brevity of his workouts.
  • In addition to timing his repetitions he also timed the rest in between sets, making a conscious effort to increase his endurance and stamina by reducing the recovery period between sets
  • He incorporated reps to failure for his biceps and wrists (which I suspect was to improve his punching power and grip strength)

When you think about it this form of speed training would explain at first glance the light weight he used particularly on his squats and dumbbell curls. I believe a reason he was still able to get such stellar results despite his training time is because he still manipulated training variables to get as much intensity out of the workout as possible.

It’s interesting to note that these days when we talk about manipulating variables like tempo, we usually talk about slowing down the negative in an attempt to increase the intensity during the concentric portion, where as Lee increases intensity by speeding everything up, increasing the muscles time under tension by reducing time at the top of the movement.

Bruce Lee’s Full Body Routine

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Over the span of ten years, Bruce would continue to alter and shed aspects of his training into a much simpler program as documented in the book The Art of a Expressing the Human Body.

Clean and Press: 2 x 8–12

Barbell Curls: 2 x 8–12

Behind-the-Neck Presses: 2 x 8–12

Upright Rows: 2 x 8–12

Barbell Squats: 2 x 12–20

Barbell Row: 2 x 8–12

Bench Press: 2 x 8–12

Barbell Pullover: 2 x 8–12

He then further reduced his program to what you see below, repeating it three times a week to achieve his iconic look in The Big Boss (1971) and Way of the Dragon (1972):

Clean and Press: 2 x 8

Squat: 2 x 12

Barbell Pullover: 2 x 8

Bench Press: 2 x 6

Good Morning: 2 x 8

Barbell Curl: 2 x 8

By the later phases of his training evolution, his experience and results led him to a few conclusions that we can learn from and incorporate into our own fitness:

Most of us aren’t training to be fighters, however training our bodies (their kinetic chain) completely with the use of compound movements will develop a proportionate physique and a powerful one that works in unison from our feet to our core and all the way through the upper body.

If Bruce Lee’s training by the end of his life could be summed up in two words, they would be simplicity and efficiency. I honestly believe that his level of self discipline and specific goals afforded him the opportunity to down-size his resistance training to the bare-bone, but this can be true for even the casual gym goer.

Real progress in the gym doesn’t necessarily require an ultra complex program, especially for beginners of weightlifting- simplicity can be advantageous. What is often more essential is having the self mastery to train on a consistent basis and an understanding of how to properly use the foundations of training like compound movements (squats, bench press, etc.).

Bruce Lee’s Resistance Circuit Training

The last form of resistance training of his I will mention is what is rumored to have developed his iconic look for Enter the Dragon, though he was consistently training for years prior.

This growth is credited to his Marcy Circuit Trainer he purchased in 1972. It was essentially the cable machine you find in most gyms today which gave Bruce the variety to perform many different types of exercises from a single station.

This machine went hand-in-hand with his PHA strategy, also known as Peripheral Heart Action. This form of training was reportedly Bruce’s favorite, a method in in which you keep the blood circulating throughout the body instead of gathering in a single muscle group. In a nut-shell it emphasizes full body circuits over working individual muscles via sets and reps of a single exercise.

Over Pull Up: 30 seconds

Seated Leg Press: 30 seconds

Bilateral Alternative Hip/Knee Extensions: 30 seconds

Shoulder Press: 30 seconds

Standing Calf Raise (Using Shoulder Press): 30 seconds (different foot positions)

Alternating Cable Curl: 30 seconds

Bench Press: 30 seconds

Deadlift: 30 seconds

Kneeling Pushdown Behind Neck: 30 seconds

Tricep Pushdown: 30 seconds

Sprint: 1.5 minutes

Standing Wrist Roller: 1 minute

Neck Flexion/ Extension: 1 minute

All of these different types of workouts are a lot to take in, but in my opinion there are a few common threads that unite them that we ourselves can internalize. For one:

The incorporation of full body workouts

He desired to work the body as a whole, unified, vessel through the use of compound movements and full body workouts. In his eyes compartmentalizing the body by over-emphasizing training splits could lead to muscular imbalances that would hinder its fighting potential. By training the entire body in a single workout he was able to train each body part evenly over multiple days of the week.

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Build strength through intensity, the foundations for growth and development

Bruce Lee recognized that one of the only ways of improving his prowess was by strengthening his muscles, which could only be achieved through intense weightlifting.

While he didn’t increase his strength in the conventional way of progressively increasing weight, he manipulated other training variables like rest, reps to failure, and tempo in order to create conditions of intensity that would change his body.

In whatever training program you choose, always be conscious of intensity and how you can progressively increase it to suit your goals. Remember- you can’t grow without it.

His training was specific to his needs

A lot of the exercises he did, for example his over-emphasis of bicep, fore-arm, and lat exercises were necessary adjustments for wrist strength and the transference of punching power that traveled through his body.

When it comes to your own workouts there may be areas that you have to train harder than others to reach your goal. Just like Bruce be mindful of your body as a whole, but also what role each individual part plays towards your goal. If certain areas need more attention, address them.

Bruce didn’t put limitations on his training

This is possibly the most important point because without his persistence to overcome plateaus in his training he never would’ve risen to such profound heights. Look back to his different workouts; they chronicle the ethics of a man who was willing to change and evolve the way he trained to surpass the martial artist and fitness icon he was yesterday.

To grow our bodies it will also require us to expand our minds and our understanding of techniques and to solve the problems we face. My sincere hope is that like Bruce Lee you too will continue to grow into the greatest type of athlete and fitness enthusiast- one without limits.

A Practical Guide to Self-Care for Busy People

When it comes to self-care, sometimes a baby step is all you need. And sometimes what feels like a baby step is actually a monumental, life-changing leap forward.

You might feel as though you just don’t have the time to invest in your well-being. I mean, who has the time to take care of their mind, body, soul, and mental health every day while working, parenting, being a good friend, nurturing a relationship, doing the dishes, and all the other random, daily things we might have to do?

The answer?Well, all of us.

The problem is never that we don’t have the time; the problem is that we don’t think the time we have is sufficient to make a meaningful difference in our lives.

I often feel this too. But I’m wrong.

More and more research is revealing that even small amounts of certain positive practices can have a disproportionateeffect on our health and well-being.

Most times, focusing on time-consuming commitments, such as spending an hour at the gym each day or committing to meditation for 30 minutes every morning, can be difficult to find the time for, and, therefore, difficult to sustain. Shorter commitments are not only easier to sustain, but can sometimes bring us similar results.

Putting our health last on our list of priorities is not just unproductive, but downright dangerous. If we do this, we’ll increase our chances of burning out, and recovering from burnout will take a lot more time than we would have spent taking care of ourselves in the first place.

Committing to a self-care routine, no matter how busy you think you are, is, in the long run, just good time-management.

A Twenty-One Minute Self-Care Routine

When I’m talking about self-care, I’m focusing on science-backed practices that are quick to perform and lead to greater levels of happiness, life satisfaction, and lower levels of stress.
I’ve created this little exercise as a way of showing you the difference you can make in your life with even a negligible amount of time. This 21-minute routine includes four practices that can be performed in any order and either all within the same 21-minute block or sprinkled throughout your day.

Practice #1: Spend just 2 minutes writing a positive message to someone you know.
Happiness researcher Shaun Achor says that social connection is “the greatest predictor of long-term happiness,” and that the connection between the two “is stronger than the connection between smoking and cancer.”

Spending just 2 minutes writing a positive message to someone you know each day can have amazingly positive consequences on your happiness levels. Achor writes,

Start Work By Writing A Two-Minute Positive E-Mail Or Text Praising Or Thanking One Person You Know. And Do It For A Different Person Each Day

Example: ‘Hey friend! I’m thinking about you today. I just wanted to drop you a quick note to tell you I love how positive you are. You really inspire me. Have a great day!’

Practice #2: Spend just 5 minutes communicating what you’re grateful for.

Studies show that being grateful for just 5 minutes a day can make you happier and more resilient in the face of stress and trauma.

I’ve found gratitude to be one of those practices that provides an immediate positive effect. And I’ve found it even more powerful when I stop and recognize that I’m grateful for something or someone when it’s happening or when I’m with them.

Most people choose to journal what they’re grateful for. This is probably the best place to start in order to develop a consistent, daily practice. But some people may find it even more powerful to speak their gratitudes out loud to themselves or to share them with a friend.

Practice #3: Spend just 7 minutes in prayer or meditation.

Meditation is everywhere. It’s one of the most common pieces of self-care advice. Unhappy? Try meditation. Sad? Go meditate. Poor? Close your eyes right now and count your breaths!
Although it’s true that meditation won’t fix all your problems, it can certainly help you find peace of mind and a sense of calm that can create a chain-reaction of positive outcomes.

Meditation is an essential ingredient in this stack because it only takes a few minutes to experience its positive effects. A study at Wharton found that just 7 minutes of mindfulness practice a day improved mental health and could “make students and employees more productive in their work.”

Do you pray?

Research is showing that people who practice prayer experience effects similar to those who practice meditation. Shayla Love writes in Vice:

Dozens Of Studies Have Found Changes Before And After Prayer Or Meditative Activities In The Autonomic Nervous System, Which Controls Relaxation And Arousal, In Parasympathetic Activity, Which Can Decrease Heart Rate And Blood Pressure, Metabolism, Or Respiration. Measurements Of Hormones And Immune Function Have Seen Changes In Cortisol, Noradrenaline, Endorphins, Sex Hormones, And Growth Hormones. Brain Studies Have Implicated Activity Changes In The Frontal And Parietal Lobes, The Thalamus, Limbic System, And Brain Stem, And Show Increases In Grey And White Matter In Certain Areas Of The Brain

Every minute I’ve ‘wasted’ meditating has probably saved me 2 minutes that I would have spent procrastinating or stressing out.

Tool: I’ve found the Waking Up app by Sam Harris to be a great way to start a mindfulness meditation practice. (Not an affiliate link.)

Practice #4: Spend just 7 minutes breaking a sweat.

It turns out you don’t need to hit the gym for an hour to get the benefits of exercise.
Researchers at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida created the popular 7-minute workout. The workout is a type of High-Intensity Circuit Training. HICT is a…

“combination of aerobic and resistance training in a high-intensity, limited-rest design.” Studies show that it “can deliver numerous health benefits in much less time than traditional programs.”

You might not get jacked on this workout, but if you’re busy, it’s a research-backed, timesaving way to take care of your physical health and boost your mental outlook.

Here’s a sample 7-minute workoutfrom the study:

Exercises are performed for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of transition time between bouts. Total time for the entire circuit workout is approximately 7 minutes. 

1. Jumping jacks Total body 
2. Wall sit Lower body 
3. Push-up Upper body 
4. Abdominal crunch Core 
5. Step-up onto chair Total body 
6. Squat Lower body 
7. Triceps dip on chair Upper body 
8. Plank Core 
9. High knees/running in place Total body 
10. Lunge Lower body 
11. Push-up and rotation Upper body 
12. Side plank Core

For image references of the movements, see the photos in the study.

If you have the time and you want more of a challenge, just repeat the circuit 2–3 times.

Got more time? Try these slightly longer, science-based practices.

  • Spend 10 minutes talking with a friend:Althoughit’s beneficial to invest as much time as you can with friends, even small amounts of time can be powerful. According to a recent study, even as little as 10 minutes “of social interaction a day helps improve the wellbeing of people living with dementia in care homes.”
  • Spend 18 minutes walking in nature:Research shows that people who spend 120 minutes/week (or just less than 18 minutes/day) “in nature are far more likely to report being in good health and having higher psychological well-being, as compared to those who don’t embrace nature.”
  • Spend 20 minutes writing in a journal:You may have heard that journaling is beneficial, but a study showed that after three consecutive days of just 20 minutes of journaling, people medically diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder reported significantly lowered depression scores.
  • Spend 45 minutes making art: According to a study in Art Therapy, “45 minutes of creative activity significantly lessens stress in the body, regardless of artistic experience or talent.”

You Can Create More Time

We shouldn’t assume our busyness is only caused by necessary, helpful things. We might be legitimately busy with many important commitments, but chances are, we also have some negative habits that are draining our time and energy.

Track your time

One of the most powerful things you can do to create more time is to find where you’re wasting it. Spend a few days tracking the time you spend on things. Try to notice what you spend your time on when you’re not doing things already written in your calendar. This might show you that you have more time than you think.

Stop unhelpful habits

As you track your time, you may find things that are counterproductive. Here are a few examples of things we can STOP doing that will give us more time for the helpful things we want to do.

  • Spend 15 minutes and 45 seconds less complaining: There’s a 10-year-old article in the UK newspaper, the Daily Mail. It claims that the average adult spends this much time each day complaining about things like the weather, the restaurant service, whatever. Cut this down and you’ll have more time AND you’ll increase your well-being.
  • Spend 20 minutes less sitting: For the average person, “only 20 minutes less sitting per day is enough to maintain good health and muscle mass,” according to Finnish researchers. You could try using this time for your walk outdoors or your workout.

We can create more time by becoming aware of, and stopping, bad habits that drain our time and energy.

The Takeaway

When you’re busy, it can feel next to impossible to make time for your own well-being. We often feel overwhelmed and think we don’t have the time to take care of our mind, body, soul, and mental health.

But this simply is not true. Here’s what is:

1.You have the time, you just don’t think it’s sufficient to make a meaningful difference.

2.But it is. Research reveals that many self-care practices only take minutes to have a positive effect.

3.Here’s my daily, 21-minute self-care regiment: Spend just 2 minutes writing a positive message to someone you know, 5 minutes writing down what you’re grateful for, 7 minutes in prayer or meditation, and 7 minutes breaking a sweat. This can be performed in any order, any time of day, all together, or spaced out. Pushed for time? Try that.

4.Still think you’re too busy? You can create more time by 1) tracking what you’re spending your time on, and cutting out bad, time-wasting habits.
Taking care of yourself is productive and smart. What’s not smart? Drowning in busyness, neglecting yourself, and burning out. Recovery from that burnout will take longer and be much harder than 21-minutes a day.

Vitamins for Optimal Brain Health

It’s no secret that proper vitamin and mineral intake is essential for our bodies and brains to function optimally. If we don’t get enough, we develop deficiencies. If we get too much, some vitamins and minerals can be harmful when taken in excess. Let’s look at the vitamins and minerals that are essential for proper brain function.

What Are Vitamins?

Vitamins are essential nutrients that people need for their bodies and brains to function optimally. Since they are needed in small quantities, vitamins are considered micronutrients. Nutrients that we need a lot of like protein, fat, and carbohydrates are known as macronutrients.

Vitamins have a number of roles in the body. Some are hormones, some are powerful antioxidants, and some assist in cell growth, to name just a few functions. Since our bodies do not produce most of them on their own, we must get them from foods and supplements.

Most vitamins can be found in fruits and vegetables. Some vitamins, however, can be found in other foods, like meat and eggs. There are 13 essential vitamins that our bodies need. 4 of them are fat-soluble and 9 are water-soluble.

Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. These include vitamin C and the B vitamins. When you consume them, your body uses what it needs and your kidneys filter out the rest. Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and are stored in fat in the body. These include vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Vitamins For Optimal Brain Function

Vitamin A

Carrots are a good source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that slow or stop the process of oxidation, which can lead to cellular damage. Vitamin A can be found in a variety of foods including fish, dairy products, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some vitamin-A-containing fruits and veggies include carrots, pumpkins, squash, spinach, and other leafy vegetables.

There are a number of bodily processes that vitamin A is involved in. One of the most important of these is vision. That’s why carrots are considered to be good for your eyes. They contain beta-carotene, which is a provitamin A carotenoid. Provitamins are substances that convert to vitamins in the body.
Vision isn’t the only bodily function that vitamin A plays a role in. It’s also involved in immune function, gene transcription, cellular health, bone metabolism, embryonic development, and skin health. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness, hyperkeratosis (a skin disorder), and keratomalacia (an eye disorder).

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) is a water-soluble vitamin and the first B vitamin to be discovered. It is found in a variety of foods including pork, oatmeal, liver, eggs, brown rice, potatoes, and other vegetables.

Vitamin B1 is involved in several bodily processes including energy production. Your body uses vitamin B1 to transform carbohydrates into energy. Carbs provide energy for the body, brain, and the rest of the nervous system. Vitamin B1 also plays a role in the conduction of nerve signals and in muscle contraction.

Deficiency in Vitamin B1 can result in several disorders and, in severe cases, even death. Disorders that can be caused by Vitamin B1 deficiency include beriberi, optic neuropathy, Leigh’s Malaise, and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. The popular nootropic sulbutiamine is a synthetic version of Vitamin B1 that has much better bioavailability.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Also known as riboflavin, vitamin B2 is another water-soluble vitamin. It is found in a variety of foods including milk, eggs, cheese, liver, lean meats, leafy vegetables, legumes, mushrooms, and almonds.

Vitamin B2 contains two coenzymes, flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), that play a role in several important reactions in the body. FAD is required for the body to produce another B vitamin – B6. Additionally, FAD is also required to convert vitamin A to retinoic acid and to convert tryptophan to niacin.

Vitamin B2 deficiency can result in a number of disorders including ariboflavinosis, glossitis (inflammation of the tongue), and angular stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth and lips). When taken in supplement form, there is some evidence to suggest that vitamin B2 is effective at preventing migraine headaches.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 is found in many foods including meats and mushrooms.

This is another water-soluble B vitamin, also known as niacin or nicotinic acid. Vitamin B3 can be found in a variety of foods including meat, eggs, fish, mushrooms, tree nuts, and several types of vegetables.

Vitamin B3 is involved in a number of bodily functions. It plays a role in digestion, skin health, and maintaining the nervous system. Vitamin B3 also plays an important role in converting carbohydrates into energy for the body and brain to use.

Being deficient in vitamin B3 can result in pellagra, which is a disease characterized by six D’s: dermatitis, dementia, diarrhea, depression, delirium and if left untreated, death. Sometimes, high-dose vitamin B3 is used for its ability to lower cholesterol levels.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Like the other B vitamins, B5 is water-soluble. Also known as pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 can be found in shiitake mushrooms, liver, sunflower seeds, and egg yolks. It’s also found in most fortified cereals and infant formulas.

One of the most important roles of Vitamin B5 is that the body uses it to synthesize coenzyme-A (CoA). CoA is needed to produce the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. Vitamin B5 also helps our bodies to properly use carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It helps to convert carbs to energy for our bodies and brain. And Vitamin B5 is known to play a role in skin health.

Vitamin B5 deficiency is very rare. Since vitamin B5 is used to synthesize coenzyme-A, a deficiency can lead to reduced neurotransmitter levels. This can result in fatigue, apathy, and irritability.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is another water-soluble vitamin. Also known as pyridoxine, pyridoxal, or pyridoxamine, it is found in some meats, vegetables, tree nuts, and bananas.

This B vitamin, like most of the others, has a number of roles in the body and brain. Vitamin B6 is used to make antibodies, which the body uses to fight off disease. It’s also used to maintain normal nervous system functioning, make hemoglobin, break down proteins, and keep glucose (blood sugar) in normal ranges.

Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause a whole variety of symptoms. Some of these symptoms include skin problems, glossitis and other types of mouth inflammation, conjunctivitis (eye inflammation), and neurological problems.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Vitamin B7 deficiency can cause alopecia, aka hair loss. Another water-soluble vitamin, vitamin B7 is involved in a wide variety of biological processes. Also known as biotin, Vitamin B7 helps the body to turn carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids into energy. This B vitamin can be found in egg yolks, liver, leafy green vegetables, and peanuts.

Vitamin B7 affects the way the body uses and makes branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These BCAAs are involved in making tryptophan, serotonin, tyrosine, and phenylalanine. All of these compounds play a crucial role in brain health.

Deficiencies of vitamin B7 are rare. In fact, it’s so rare that severe vitamin B7 deficiency has never been reported in adults who eat a normal diet. Symptoms of vitamin B7 deficiency include alopecia (hair loss), brittle fingernails, conjunctivitis, dermatitis, and neurological problems. These include lethargy, depression, and even hallucinations.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)

Vitamin B9 is yet another water-soluble vitamin. Also known as folate or folic acid, vitamin B9 is involved in a number of biological processes. It’s necessary for the production of new cells, for both DNA and RNA synthesis, and for protecting DNA. Vitamin B9 is also crucial to brain health.
It’s so crucial to brain health that low levels of vitamin B9 have been linked to clinical depression. Researchers have been studying the link between low vitamin B9 levels and depression for years. Some people find that taking vitamin B9 reduces or even eliminates the symptoms of their depression.

Vitamin B9 is found in a variety of foods including pasta, bread, leafy vegetables, liver, and many kinds of cereal. Aside from depression, symptoms of vitamin B9 deficiency include weakness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, heart palpitations, headache, and shortness of breath.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Here we have yet another water-soluble B vitamin. Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 plays a role in the metabolism of every single cell in the human body. It’s involved in DNA synthesis and the metabolism of both fatty and amino acids.

In addition, to vitamin B12’s role in metabolism and DNA synthesis, it’s also indirectly involved in the production of several neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. And vitamin B12 also helps to preserve myelin. This substance protects and insulates neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and throughout the rest of the nervous system.

Vitamin B12 is found in a variety of foods including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk. Deficiency can cause a number of symptoms, some of which are potentially serious and irreversible. These include fatigue, depression, difficulty walking, lethargy, headaches, breathlessness, pale skin, and memory problems.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

This is the last water-soluble vitamin on our list of vitamins for optimal brain function. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is involved in the production of several neurotransmitters and helps the body to repair certain types of tissue. It’s also involved in immune function and is an antioxidant.
Vitamin C is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables including oranges, lemons, plums, papaya, strawberries, and many others. It’s also the most widely taken nutritional supplement. Many people insist that taking high doses (between 5-50 grams) of vitamin C can reduce the duration of colds. However, the studies that have been done show that it is not effective.

Deficiency in vitamin C results in scurvy, a potentially fatal disease if left untreated. Symptoms of scurvy include soft gums, brown spots on the skin, bleeding from mucous membranes, tooth loss, depression, personality changes, and eventually death.

Vitamin D

This is quite possibly the most interesting vitamin on our list. For starters, vitamin D isn’t just one thing. It’s a group of fat-soluble substances that the body uses for a number of different processes. The most important of these substances is cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and ergocalciferol (vitamin D2). Our bodies use sunlight to make vitamin D.

Another thing that makes vitamin D interesting is the way it’s classified. We usually think of it as a vitamin, but it’s not a vitamin at all: it’s a hormone. Since our bodies are able to naturally make vitamin D from sunlight and because of the way it works in the body, vitamin D is technically a hormone and not a vitamin.

Though our bodies can make vitamin D from sunlight, we can also get it from several different foods. These include egg yolks, many types of fish, and several different types of mushrooms. Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb several other vitamins and minerals that are essential for proper brain function including calcium, magnesium, and phosphate.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, problems with bone health, skin problems, depression, and a variety of other disorders. On the other end of the spectrum, too much vitamin D can lead to a condition known as Hypervitaminosis D. Symptoms include dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, fatigue, constipation, anorexia, and muscle weakness.

Vitamin E

Like vitamin D, vitamin E isn’t a single substance – it’s a group of eight fat-soluble compounds that include four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. These substances play a vital role in nerve (brain) function, have antioxidant activity, and help to maintain healthy cells throughout the body.

Vitamin E plays several roles in the body. It’s a potent antioxidant and is involved in gene expression. And vitamin E is known to play a major role in brain health. Studies show that people with the highest levels of vitamin E had the lowest levels of cognitive impairment.

Vitamin E is present in many different fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and in some oils. Deficiency is rare but can result in neurological problems, hemolytic anemia, eye problems, and immune dysfunction.

Vitamin K

The last on our list of vitamins for brain health is vitamin K, abundant in leafy green veggies. It is fat-soluble and comes in two forms: phytomenadione (K1) and menaquinone (K2). Vitamin K plays a role in protein synthesis, healthy blood cells, and brain cell health.

Vitamin K is needed to make certain lipids that contribute to the formation of myelin. If you recall from reading about vitamin B12 above, myelin is a substance that protects cells in the brain and throughout the rest of the nervous system. In addition to helping to form myelin, vitamin K helps nerve cells to communicate with each other.

You can find vitamin K in several foods including leafy green vegetables like spinach and broccoli, egg yolks, and liver. Vitamin K deficiency is rare but can potentially lead to osteoporosis and coronary heart disease.

Conclusion

This has just been a brief overview of the 13 vitamins needed for optimal brain health. As you can see, each of these vitamins has several roles in the healthy functioning of both the body and the brain. Deficiencies, though rare in today’s world, can lead to all sorts of problems.

One easy way to avoid vitamin deficiency is to take a multivitamin every day. I’ve been taking one for years and will continue to do so for years to come. Even though my diet is balanced and includes a lot of fruits and vegetables, taking a daily multivitamin ensures that I maintain healthy levels at all times.

There are plenty of multivitamins on the market and many of them are great. Amazon carries a number of trustworthy brands. I personally take this one since it fits my needs perfectly. But if you’re female, you might want to check out this one which should suit your needs perfectly.

The Best Cardio For Fat Burning

Cardio and fat burning were some of the most talked-about topics in the fitness industry.

What the beginners in losing weight and burning fat really want to hear is:
Is cardio really needed for fat burning?

Which kind of cardio would help you lose the most weight?

HIIT (high-intensity Interval training) or LISS (low-intensity steady-state cardio)?

The positive news is that these questions can be answered by some fairly straightforward analysis.

Let’s start with a definition of cardio and what the various forms do for the body, continue reading to learn more about cardio for fat burning.

Cardio For Fat Burning : Training: Aerobic vs. Anaerobic

Anaerobic exercise and aerobic exercise are two types of physical activity. You need to know what these words mean scientifically and literally to understand how our bodies lose weight through training :

  • Aerobic exercise. The availability of oxygen is needed for aerobic training. It’s a form of exercise that focuses on type I muscle fibers. This improves muscle stamina and capillary size, as well as the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood more effectively. Lower-intensity jogging, walking, or biking is an example of aerobic exercise performed at a speed you can maintain for a prolonged period of time; consider 50 to 70% of VO2max at 120–150 beats per minute.
  • Anaerobic activity is a form of aerobic activity that occurs in the absence of oxygen. This is the polar opposite of aerobic exercise. Exercise that does not involve the presence of oxygen is known as anaerobic preparation. It stimulates type II muscle fibers, resulting in increased muscle size and strength. Anaerobic exercise includes sprinting before you’re out of breath or strength training using heavy weights. When you do anaerobic exercise at 90 percent to well over 100 percent of the VO2 max, oxygen builds up, lactic acid builds up, and you start to experience the pain. You can’t maintain this level of operation for as long as you can with aerobic exercise.

HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, is anaerobic, while LISS, or Low-Intensity Steady State cardio, is aerobic. Why do cardio in the first place, before we tackle the question of which is better?

Important Question #1:

Is Cardio Really Essential for fat burning?

No, is the simple response. To lose weight, you don’t need to do aerobic exercises. You will lose weight by limiting calorie consumption, doing strength exercises, or doing both.

Taking in fewer calories than you expend is the most important factor in losing body fat. Cardio will help you burn more calories, but it is not needed.

The simple approach to fat reduction is to limit your caloric consumption. You will burn and lose more weight if you eat fewer calories. What about strength exercise, though? How does this relate to fat burning?

Since it develops strength, resistance exercise is one of the easiest ways to get lean. When you gain weight, the standing energy consumption (the number of calories you burn while sitting still) increases.

Even at rest, muscle tissue takes more calories than fat tissue to survive. You burn more calories a day if you have more body mass.

Important Question #2:

Which kind of cardio helps you lose the most weight?

Cardio isn’t mandatory for weight loss, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Cardio has a number of other advantages, especially in terms of fitness, and it can help you maintain a calorie deficit. So, is aerobic LISS or anaerobic HIIT better?

A common misconception about exercise and fat loss is that a healthy, long, low-intensity workout done on an empty stomach would result in the fattest loss. Many people’s everyday routine of choice is a fast, steady run first thing in the morning.

However, with evidence to back it up, people’s minds are shifting. In comparison to LISS preparation, recent literature suggests that HIIT is a more effective way to lose weight. When compared to LISS exercises, lower intensity aerobic cardio contributes to less fat loss and can also inhibit muscle development.

One research showed that after six weeks of interval training, fat oxidation (the use of fat molecules for energy) was considerably higher.

Carbohydrate oxidation, or the use of sugar as a source of energy, was reduced. In other words, HIIT led the body to seek calories from fat sources, resulting in greater fat loss.

In another report, researchers compared people who did LISS for several weeks to people who did HIIT for the same amount of time. The HIIT party lost up to nine times the amount of fat as the LISS group.

One explanation for the increased weight loss with HIIT may be that this form of exercise increases EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen intake.

You manage to oxidize fat long after a HIIT workout than after a LISS workout.

Researchers have also discovered that HIIT exercises can boost growth hormone levels in the body, which could help with weight loss.

The Secret to Weight Loss Running

It is always easier to shed the first few pounds when it comes to fat burning. After that, you’re likely to find a snag. The first step toward reaching your target weight is accepting that you won’t achieve it in a matter of weeks. Choosing a safe and reliable method for pursuing the process is one of the most crucial steps in it.

Chris Hinshaw, endurance coach “The greatest error is rushing for instant gratification.” “Many people believe that working out at a greater level is the quickest way to lose weight. Injuries and low motivation are the results of this technique, which cannot be used long-term.

running at an easy-to-moderate pace if you’re only getting started with running to fat burning. As a result, your cardio-respiratory health will be improved, as well as your bones, ligaments, and tendons will not be damaged as effectively. The best thing you can do is to work with an instructor or trainer to figure out what works for you. Stay with your new routine for a couple of weeks before you switch it up if you’re not seeing results.

“Stress and high cortisol levels may prevent some people from fat burning by causing them to feel more stressed and increase cortisol levels.,”.

“When your metabolism is poor, you usually eat more foods for fat-burning. “People lose weight at different rates.”

What to Do in the Event of a Plateau

It has been said that we reach a plateau when we are used to doing the same things over and over again. As a result, the body ceases to change and the muscles are no longer needed to conform to the routine. Running long distances conventionally is not the right cardio for those who are looking to lose weight because of this problem. Generally, running will not be sufficient; the key is to approach it right.

Running workouts and training plans must provide several techniques to allow quality improvement.” “For example, once the body has accustomed to the stimuli, doing the same 30-minute treadmill exercise will ultimately have little benefit. You should know that your body can respond to a training stimulus over time (as long as you eat well and get enough sleep).

You can change your routine when running for weight loss much the same way you would if you were training for an entirely new environment or terrain. If you’ve established a good foundation of fitness, adding intervals, uphill walking, strength-training bursts, and even high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You won’t get the long-term results you want by running the same distance at the same pace every day; you will get them by practicing speed and intervals.

Two Exercises to Try

Runners can combine two styles of run routines, As your cardiovascular health improves, the strength of these exercises will increase, but they will help you get the most out of your exercise.

  • Run at a low pace (55–70% of maximum heart rate): At this pace, the body is more effective at burning fat. Moving at a low pace (as opposed to high intensity) burns about 20% more fat in a 30-minute exercise.
  • Run at a heavy to fast speed (70–90% above maximum heart rate): This consumes more calories overall. Moving at a high pace (as opposed to low intensity) consumes about 30% more calories in a 30-minute session. Excess oxygen consumption after strenuous exercises results in a metabolic gain lasting for hours after the workout, even though strenuous exercises cause oxygen debt.

In order to complete these races, the value of post-workout nutrition. Carbohydrates (often the first thing you are restricted to during a diet) should not be overlooked when trying to lose weight. After a race, muscles require servings of carbohydrates (40–50 grams) in order to replenish their glycogen stores.

The Last Term…

Both forms of exercise, including all types of aerobic, have their time and place. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise has many advantages. For the time being, the conclusive answer is that HIIT is the only way to burn fat.

So, if your primary target is to lose weight, concentrate on HIIT but don’t neglect other forms of exercise. Even, keep in mind that if you are a beginner, HIIT might not be the best teaching tool for you right away. you can need some time to build up your fitness to the point that you are comfortable doing interval workouts. Resistance exercise increases resting energy consumption and muscle mass.

Increased heart muscle density, improved mitochondrial waste disposal, increased use of fat as a fuel instead of sugar, and increased fat oxidation are all advantages of LISS preparation. While LISS does not burn as much fat as HIIT, it is effective and offers health benefits as well as some variety.

You will help prepare an exercise regimen for yourself and your customers now that you have the answers to the most pressing questions about cardio exercises and weight reduction.

There are many reasons why runners participate in the event. No excuse is better than another for lacing up your sneakers and going out the door, whether it’s to get fit, see the city in a different way, or lose weight. If you want to lose weight, you should find an exercise that suits your goals and keep your heart rate elevated. The best cardio for fat burning is running, but many people question this claim. There are more factors involved than simply answering “yes” or “no,” experts say.

“ According to conventional wisdom, “Either ride your cycle or drive your car” is your best option.”. The best cardio for fat burning, according to science, is any type of activity that increases heart rate and that can be modified (by speed, degree, or duration). We make some basic mistakes when running for weight loss that keeps us from losing weight though the solution isn’t as simple as it seems. so that is all you need to hear about getting the best out of your aerobic workouts and running your way to your desired weight.

3 Lessons Every Athlete Should Learn From John Madden

A Super-Bowl-winning coach, a “Boom!”-yelling sportscaster, a name behind the bestselling NFL video game franchise, a fixture in Miller Lite commercials — one way or another, John Madden will be remembered by us all, and his name immortalized.

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And even if football isn’t really your thing, there’s so much to learn from the man. Because motivation, discipline, and inspiration are universal — be it on the field, in the gym, or even at the office. These days, you can get date coaching, financial coaching, and all sorts of other kinds of coaching. But it seems like underlying all of them are some basic, yet incredibly important ideas and insights. 

A good coach doesn’t just teach or train, but instead provides a set of tools you can use to develop, improve, and inspire yourself.

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Madden is without a doubt one of the most creative leaders in the history of modern sports. Behind his grand, larger-than-life, “rumblin’ stumblin’” persona, there’s a genius — an innovative mind responsible for a paradigm shift from the buttoned-down conservative coaching style of the 1960s. 

Madden didn’t scream at his players, nor make demands. Instead, he treated them as human beings, with genuine care and attention to their needs, emotions, and life outside the field. He had only three rules for his players: 

  • Be on time
  • Pay attention
  • Play like hell

The Fewer Rules A Coach Has, The Fewer Rules There Are For Players To Break.

He didn’t care if the players sat on their helmets on the sidelines, fooled and joked around, and cared a little too much about their haircuts and eye black war paint. These three simple rules allowed him and his players to focus on what’s important, and adopting this mindset will help you do the same.

Lesson #1: Be on time

Literally and figuratively. It’s hard to overestimate how important punctuality is in our daily lives. And it’s not just about not being late; you have to be in the right place at the right time. If “showing up is 80% of life,” then showing up on time is awfully close to 100%.

Did you show up at the gym today? Then you’re 80% of the way to a good workout. Did you show up at 5am, after a big hearty meal with lots of protein, and with a determined go-getter mentality? Then you’re virtually already there.

Lesson #2: Pay attention

Pay attention to what the other team is doing, to what your team is doing, and to what your body is doing. Mindfully watching and listening won’t just help you get all the information you need, but also ignore what you don’t need.

Ever wonder why mindfulness meditation is such a great tool for personal growth? It teaches you to sit there, breathe, watch sounds, watch emotions, and watch your thoughts come and go. If you watch long enough, you’ll see through the noise, see what’s important, and see what’s worth your time and effort. 

Then you can apply the Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 rule, whereby 20% of your effort bring in 80% of the results. As long as you can identify that 20% and focus on them, you can get rid of the rest and make your life 80% better.

Lesson #3: Play like hell

Once you’re there on time and focused on what’s important, there’s only one thing left to do: Go and get it. And there’s no reason not to give it your 100%. So either stay still, observe, conserve energy, and wait for your moment to strike — or run, fight, and play like hell, like there’s no tomorrow…

Sort of like a lizard. Ever see how they move? They sit there motionless, like little statues, until it’s time to snatch a bug or evade a bird. When they move, they’re lightning-fast, and then still and peaceful again.

So breathe in, breathe out, and remember: “Be on time, pay attention, play like hell”.

3 Ways To Quickly Turn Anger Into Calmness And Positivity

I was six years old when I first called my teacher a stupid cow, the most insulting words my first-grade brain could cook up in a fit of rage. Seven years when I started punching a sofa in the middle of class. Eight years when I was excluded from a field trip for being too rowdy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

One of my distinct childhood memories is ripping a notebook to shreds and kicking dents in a steel door when my mum locked me in the basement. Ah, good old times!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all these incidents, it’s this:

Being angry sucks.

It makes you miserable. It makes everyone around you miserable, too. When you’re angry, you struggle to find a solution to the problem and make bad decisions, like fighting with people you love and calling them names. There’s really not much good about it.

Yet, it’s easy to give in. One small thing can make you angry and ruin your day, like when someone who’s won his driving license in the local lottery cuts you off on the highway. Anger provides quick relief, an outlet for pent-up pressure. But the negative emotions corrupt you, make you irritated, and turn your good mood sour.

How Much More Harmful Are The Consequences Of Anger And Grief Than The Circumstances That Aroused Them In Us!

Wouldn’t it be better if you could turn the anger into positivity instead?

Over the years, I became much calmer. Tranquility has turned into one of my biggest strengths because it allows me to achieve what I want without being distracted by rage. Anger is weakness, calmness is strength.

I’ve found three ways to cultivate peace of mind. Even if you don’t struggle with regular rage, these techniques will help you keep your calm even in the biggest storm.

Don’t React — Respond Instead
Anger isn’t the same as being angry.

There’s a subtle, but important difference — one is an emotion, the other one a state of being. You can’t control your emotions. You can of course go Kim Jong Un and suppress them into non-existence, but that doesn’t do you any good. Practice acceptance instead.

Emotions are your brain’s feedback mechanism. They tell you to feel angry when you hit your foot on your desk. But you decide if you react and trash it, or if you acknowledge the feeling and respond with calmness. From my personal experience, working on a three-legged desk isn’t a lot of fun, so keep that in mind.

Anger is telling you to pull the trigger on a gun — but no matter how much it screams at you, you can decide if you move your finger or not.

If you react instead of respond, you’re a slave to your emotions.

You lose power over yourself. Others can make you angry and watch you dance like a wind-up monkey. Back in the day, my classmates sure had fun with it.

How can you turn your blind reaction into a rational response?

Emotions are a funny thing. The more you resist, the stronger they come back, and the more pain and suffering they cause.

Instead, experience them without reacting to them. That’s the real superpower.

The next time someone sends you an upsetting mail, cuts you off in traffic, or starts their life story to the cashier when all you want to do is pay for a coffee to go and two bananas, feel into the emotion.

Where does the anger sit? Your chest? Your arms? Your jaw? Don’t resist — but don’t react either. Then, when the wave has washed over you, let it go and choose to stay calm.
Respond instead of react.

Leave Your Mind Behind

If you asked me about the worst thing in the world, I’d have an answer faster than a vegan telling you how nutritional yeast tastes just like cheese.

People walking slowly in front of me.

Ironically, it’s often the people who should hurry the most because they have the least time left (read: seniors). Maybe I’ll understand it when I’m old, but it drives me nuts to have to trudge along a supermarket aisle with the speed of a slug because I can’t overtake and Mr.I shouldn’t even buy green bananas because who knows if I still get to eat them has forgotten his hearing aid at home. However, I’ve turned these gruesome experiences into a humbling practice.

While responding and reacting both happen on the level of the mind, I take it one step further and completely detach myself from it. Sounds weird? Let me explain.

You are not your mind. You are the consciousness behind it.

Like your mouth speaks and your ears hear, your mind thinks and you, the consciousness, listen to the thoughts — and this is where the trouble begins.

Your mind loves to solve problems, which is both its best and worst feature. Like a dog biting a bone, it attaches itself to a problem with no sign of letting go. Your thoughts always come back to the situation causing anger. That’s why you have to stop thinking altogether.

When you interrupt your stream of thoughts, you’re left with a state of bliss and peace and pure Being. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. There are no problems, no time, and no judgments about others’ walking speeds. Everything just is.

This state is what most major spiritual movements strive for — nirvana, enlightenment, or non-duality. When you are 100% present, you detach yourself from your mind and with it, all the anger and problems. This is hard to grasp with your thoughts because it goes beyond them, but here’s how you can experience this state.

  • Observation without judgment. We are quick to form opinions on everything we see. The dress is a beautiful red. This food tastes bland. The price is too high. He walks too slow. Let go and observe instead, without any judgment.
  • Feel into your body. Your awareness rests mostly on your thoughts. Your mind ruminates, decides, worries, and like a TV, creates a lot of captivating, colorful images and noise. It’s hard to pull your consciousness from it, but it gets a lot easier when you give it another program to pay attention to. Focus on your body. Your breath. How your fingers feel. The little veins running over your hands. When your awareness rests on these feelings, it isn’t on your mind. And when you leave your mind, you mute the TV and turn around, leaving all the anger behind you.

Getting into a state of Being instead of thinking completely pulls you out of your anger and any other problems. It isn’t easy to do, but over time and step-by-step, you’ll catch glimpses of it. Every time you interrupt the constant stream of thoughts your mind generates, you step into a state of peace and bliss.

Don’t think. Just be.

Use Your Energy in the Right Way

Anger isn’t all bad — there are two sides to every coin.

It can be a great motivator and drive you to new heights. The liberated energy itself is neither good nor bad — it depends on what you do with it.

Like a pent-up river, it can wreak havoc and destruction if you let the dam break, but it can also bring benefit and prosperity if you use the water to generate electricity or grow crops.

A few weeks ago, I hit my toe on our bathtub. After a few hearty f-words, I tried to flip the script and channel the energy into finding something to be grateful for instead — like not breaking my toe. This reduced the heat and saved my mental pot from overcooking immediately.
Cut off in traffic? Be grateful there wasn’t an accident.

Missed your train? Be grateful there is another one.

Someone says something rude? Be grateful your mouth and ears work and you can communicate in the first place.

When you focus on your blessings, it’s hard to get lost in your curses.
Being grateful forces you to look at what you have instead of what you have not. It’s a much better use of your time and energy and brings your mind peace instead of war.

If you want to change your life for the better, be grateful.

Every Time You Get Angry, You Lose

With all this talk about detaching yourself from your mind and being grateful, you can think I’m a saint. I’m not.

I’m just a dude who has spent a lot of his life being angry and realized that apart from short-term relief, there’s nothing to gain, but all the more to lose.

You make yourself miserable. You destroy your relationships. And you kill your chances of living a happy and fulfilled life, so do yourself a favor, and stop getting angry.

This doesn’t mean you should take shit from people. Stand up for yourself and set clear boundaries. But do so without being angry.

Respond instead of react. Detach yourself from your problem-seeking mind. Turn your energy into gratitude.

Life is better that way.

For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness.

These Gadgets Will Revolutionize Your Sleep Overnight

These days, a good night’s sleep feels like such a rare luxury we all dream of. In fact, more than a third of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep, and that number is on the rise. It’s a dire statistic, because lack of sleep is linked to several chronic ailments, such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, and obesity. 

Fortunately, technology offers some pretty helpful solutions. Although phones and laptops (in a perfect world) have no place in the bedroom, there are still numerous high-tech gadgets you can try to improve sleep quality. To save you from decision paralysis, we did the legwork and selected our five favorites that work sleep miracles without breaking the bank!

#1. Fitbit Activity Tracker

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A fitness tracker is a great tool not just for the gym, but also for the bedroom! It’s a perfect device to track both the patterns and the quality of your sleep. 

As soon as you go to bed and your body stops moving for at least an hour, the device will assume you’re asleep. Then, based on your heart rate and sleep behavior (like rolling over), the tracker records your progression through the various sleep stages. When you wake in the morning, you can see detailed information about your sleep quality; time spent in deep, light, and REM sleep; as well as sleep patterns and potential issues like sleep apnea.

#2. Philips Hue Smart Light Bulbs

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Smart lights are a great investment, and not just because they’re perfect for setting the mood during a party or a romantic dinner. They can also illuminate your room in many shades of white with varying color temperatures.
So, as it gets close to bedtime, you can decrease the color temperature in your room from bright daylight, to calm and cozy warm light. Your body will thank you for the gentle transition, because toward the end of the day, cold blue light can negatively impact your sleeping patterns, while warm light can support melatonin production to promote sleep.

#3. Awair Air Quality Monitor

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Another important factor to optimize the sleep environment is air quality. Research has shown that people living in regions with higher levels of air pollution are more likely to have sleep problems. And other research has shown that better air quality at night has a positive effect on next-day performance

So, for a good night’s rest, it’s paramount that you make sure your bedroom is well-ventilated and clean. A great way to track this is with an air quality monitor, such as Awair. This device measures fine dust and invisible chemicals in the air, as well as carbon dioxide and humidity levels. And the best part is that you’ll get personalized recommendations to improve sleep.

#4. Nest Thermostat

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Speaking of bedroom air, the proper nighttime temperature is crucial for restful sleep. Between 60°F and 67°F is ideal, and above 71°F will likely cause restlessness. To measure the temperature, don’t rely solely on an ordinary thermometer — get a smart thermostat! It’ll cool your room enough to smoothly transition you into sleep at night, and then gradually warm up the room to comfortably ease you out of sleep in the morning.

Nest Learning Thermostat by Google is a perfect tool to automate this process. It studies your habits and manages the temperature in each room accordingly. Oh, and it’s also great for the environment, allowing you to save energy when heating isn’t needed.

#5. Philips Wake-up Light

All good things come to an end, and deep sleep is no exception. On the bright side, a wake-up light can make waking up actually pleasant, even for heavy sleepers. Also known as a sunrise alarm clock, this gadget is, in our opinion, indispensable in the bedroom. It starts to emit a gentle glow around half-an-hour before you have to wake up.

So, say goodbye to jarring alarm clocks that trigger your body to release cortisol (the stress hormone) and put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Being woken up by a gentle light — not a startling sound — feels so good and natural that you’ll never want to rely on your phone as an alarm again!

3 Natural Pre-Workout Foods to Eat Before the Gym

Pre-workout is what athletes use in order to get a boost in energy, endurance and/or adrenaline to get them through training or a game. There is food that can be used and some bodybuilders and gym freaks use pre workout supplements.

I have used pre-workout before and have gotten the itch and rush that comes with it. I don’t enjoy using it myself and never recommend it, because there are natural ones that you can use in getting the same rush that you need before an intense activity.

1. Coffee as a Pre-Workout

Coffee being a caffeine drink that is low in calories and in volume is a great natural pre workout coming from brewed coffee beans. It works by putting caffeine into your bloodstream to provide you with an energy boost. According to ScienceDaily, the maximum concentration of caffeine comes into effect 30–45 minutes after consumption.

This boost in energy will ensure that you can be better with your performance in the gym. Be aware that coffee is a diuretic which leads to water loss, but to combat this, have a bottle of water that you sip on throughout your workout.

Make it black or with milk and sugar, just also be aware that milk can sometimes have uncomfortable effects on your stomach.

2. Bananas as Pre-Workout

Bananas are fruits that are high in carbohydrates providing 27 grams for a medium-sized banana. They are broken down in glucose, which is main source of energy for the body.

Bananas also provide fiber, which helps slow absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Other than make you feel fuller for longer, your body will get a gradual supply of energy, which can improve your performance in the gym.

Bananas are know for their high concentration of potassium, which is an electrolyte, which helps with fluid imbalances in your body. People like to say that the sugar in ripe bananas (most fruits have sugar) can make you fat. You can only get fat if you eat more calories than you burn. No one food makes you fat.

3. Peanut Butter as a Pre-Workout

I know the image doesn’t only show peanut butter, but this looked delicious.

Peanut butter is rich in nutrients and higher in calories than coffee. It is high in unsaturated fat, which is the good plant fats that you should consume. It takes a long time to digest so it’s recommended that you eat it in no less than 60 minutes before you work out.

Peanuts are a food allergy, so be careful and it’s not for everyone. It can leave you feeling heavy at training, but this is why it is important not eat it in less than an hour before your workout.

These are the go-to pre-workout foods because they are natural and quick to get a hold of. They can be bought in bulk at a cost that is less than all pre-workout supplements.

So if at some point during your fitness journey you decide you want something to boost your energy and performance in the gym, try this:

  • 1. A driven mindset (you’re gonna smash the session) before you head to the gym.
  • 2. A banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter for increased energy stores to use throughout the workout 30–60 minutes before your workout.
  • 3. Black or milk coffee for that spur of caffeine that gets your mind and body physically ready to start the workout and focus throughout.
  • 4. #1 one is needed, #2 and #3 can be either or depending on what works for you. All the best and make it through your workout as I hope that these tips help.

PERSONALIZE YOUR FEED

BEGIN SURVEY

I Dove Into An Ice Cold Pool Every Day Last Winter — Here’s What I Learned

Before I dive too deep, let me preface this story with this: I am the personality type which tends to get very engrossed in new activities to almost an extreme degree. So, when I started listening to a variety of podcasters who were big on the newly popularized ‘biohacking’ lifestyle, it was a recipe for a very interesting year.

Some of my readers may not be familiar with the term ‘biohacking’. Healthline defines biohacking as ‘do-it-yourself biology. For many “biohackers,” this consists of making small, incremental diet or lifestyle changes to make small improvements in your health and well-being.’ — Healthline. Seems simple enough, right? This definition falls in line with what I perceive to be a sustainable approach to making long lasting lifestyle changes over time. One problem: a key to this definition that I seem to have missed when I started down this path last year was the part where it says ‘making small, incremental’ changes. Woops… I kind of dove in headfirst (so to speak).

This brings me back to the main subject of this piece… diving into a cold pool all winter long. When I started learning more about these so called ‘biohacks’ one hack that continually arose in the discussion was the various health benefits of ice bathing (also known as cold plunging, cryotherapy, ice-bathing, polar bear plunging). The podcasters, online gurus, and athletic performance coaches all seemed to tout similar benefits such as but not limited to:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Immune support
  • Parasympathetic stimulating (improves your mood)
  • Promotes quality sleep
  • Improves circulation
  • Fat mobilization (non-metabolically active brown fat to metabolically active white fat)

Wow! That’s a lot of very good potential results for the small price of sitting in a freezing cold pool for 5 minutes a day. I’m never one to read or listen to something and blindly trust it, I’m more of the trial by fire (or ice) kind of thinker. And this laundry list of potential benefits piqued my interest enough that I needed to put cold plunging to the test. So, I dove in my 40-degree pool every day in the 2019–2020 winter and here’s what I learned.

Start Small

Remember above when I said I tend to dive headfirst into new things? Well I learned that cold plunging is one of those things you should ease into. You don’t need a 40-degree swimming pool, or a chest freezer filled with water to cold plunge successfully. A simple cold shower while you’re working up to colder temperatures will suffice to get you acclimated. As you develop your tolerance you can add more time in the cold shower or turn the water temperature slightly cooler with each plunge. Once you are comfortable, then work your way up to an ice-cold pool and follow the same principles… stay in for short times initially and work your way up to longer plunges. This will help to make the experience tolerable and one you care to repeat day in and day out… read on to see why repetition matters.

Breathwork is Key

If you think that you are going to dive headfirst into ice cold water with zero preparation and NOT hyperventilate, then you need to rethink your plan. The first time I dove in, I thought I was going to die. My breath went out, I started hyperventilating and I lasted about 30 seconds before I climbed out.

This was a huge lesson for me on day one of this experiment. I had to control my breath. I am a competitive athlete, so I am not unfamiliar with breathwork, but this was a new level for me. For my next attempt at cold plunging, I brought my attention firmly to my breath and focused simply on two phrases the entire time I was in the water: “breathe in” and “breathe out”. This was game changing and made the subsequent cold plunges far more manageable experiences.

Here’s the neat thing that I didn’t even realize was happening as a result. This experience was teaching me to use breathwork in a highly sympathetic (fight or flight) situation in order to stay calm and collected so that I could manage that stress adequately to survive the moment. This has proven to be a highly transferrable skill to many other aspects of my life including work stress, physical stress during athletic competition, family stress, and even random stressors like traffic on the freeway. This experience helped me to simply say and do the following when I need to take a step forward but don’t want to: “breathe in” and “breathe out”.

Mental Toughness

This has become a buzzword in the health and wellness industry, but I think it does hold some weight. Without a good amount of mental toughness, it can be difficult to persevere through challenging situations (like standing in ice cold water for 5 minutes at a time). Cold plunging definitively helped me to develop my ‘mental-toughness’. My initial cold plunge lasted all of 30 seconds (and that was in 50+ degree water in September). By the end of winter, I was consistently staying immersed in 40-degree water for 4–5 minutes at a time.

Like anything, mental toughness, is not something that we just inherently have. It is something that takes practice and commitment to develop. With each passing cold plunge, I would force myself to stay in for just a few seconds longer than the last time. Considering that the water temperature was getting colder as the winter progressed, this was no easy task. It paid off though. The next point will explain why.

Consistency Matters

No one ever got obese by eating one pizza and no one ever got lean by eating one salad. On either side of that scale, the result generally comes from consistent behaviors over time that yield an outcome. Much the same with cold plunging… one ice bath is not going to solve all of your health issues. One must cold plunge consistently over time in order to get long term results.

The first few cold plunges did yield some quick and noticeable results like cooling my core temperature and helping me relax. But the true benefits weren’t really notable until a couple of months into this personal experiment. While subtle, I gradually started to notice:

  • performance improvements in my athletics (I tie this back to the breathwork, and mental toughness mentioned above)
  • better sleep quality (over time consistent cold plunging helped to regulate my parasympathetic nervous system which helps to control sleep cycles)
  • increased fat mobilization (this was actually measured as my body fat reduced from 15% down to 11% during this experiment and the only aspect of my routine changed was the addition of consistent cold plunging)

This is all to say that these changes did not arise overnight from one cold plunge. It took months of building the consistent behavior of diving in that water every evening for me to truly start to see the benefits. I will say that as these benefits became noticeable my desire to dive in that water increased in direct proportion.

Conclusion
You can search ‘cold therapy’ online and find a wide variety of articles that list the benefits of cold plunging. I didn’t want to write just another article listing health benefits. Rather I wanted to offer some actionable advice if cold plunging is something you are considering. That being said, these experiences are anecdotal and not meant to be interpreted as medical advice on any level. If cold plunging is on your list of health hacks to attempt, I hope the advice above helps you get started.

PERSONALIZE YOUR FEED

BEGIN SURVEY

5 Ways to Keep Your Testosterone in Check

According to the latest research, for the past four decades, testosterone levels in men worldwide have been declining. Rapidly. What’s worrisome is that this trend can’t be explained by general health and lifestyle changes alone. Even after accounting for obvious factors such as obesity, smoking, and low physical activity levels — all of which are known to decrease testosterone levels in men, there’s still a substantial age-independent population-level decrease in mean testosterone concentrations.

The good news is that you can prevent this by making some simple adjustments to your routine. You may know the gist of it already: lift weights, sleep more, eat better, cut down on booze, and quit smoking. This alone is generally enough to ensure healthy testosterone levels in most men. 
But there are other external factors that can decrease your testosterone levels. Lately, there’s been a growing amount of evidence that certain chemical compounds — that were considered safe just a few decades ago — can disrupt your hormonal balance. Here’s what you want to do to keep your testosterone at healthy levels:

#1. Stay away from plastics (and not just BPA)

The latest research shows that most kinds of plastics can leach xenoestrogens, a group of compounds that your body reacts to in the same way it reacts to estrogen, a female sex hormone. Water bottles, food containers, and cling wrap are the most serious offenders since they come in direct contact with your food. 

There’s also compelling evidence of widespread contamination of mineral water from compounds leaching from the plastic packaging material. So get a hydro flask, swap your Tupperware for silicone or metal food containers, and try to avoid food and produce that came in contact with any kind of plastic.

Now don’t get too anxious. Completely avoiding plastic in this day and age is practically impossible, unless you live in a cabin in the woods or something. Luckily, it’s the chronic exposure that you should worry about. Nothing bad will happen if you drink from a plastic water bottle a few times here and there. Just do your best.

#2. Wash your hands, wash your produce

In case this isn’t yet already a habit for you, definitely wash your produce before eating it (even if the produce came in a brown paper bag), and wash your hands before meals. This will help rinse out most of the harmful chemical residues that could disrupt your hormonal balance. Just try avoiding fragranced soaps, which could also harbor chemicals you want to avoid.

#3. Read the labels on beauty products

Shampoos, perfumes, lotions, deodorants, and many other products found probably in every bathroom in the world can be a source of parabens, various chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors in humans. Look for simple, organic, hippy-friendly cosmetics and rethink the beauty products you use daily. For example, organic soap is a great alternative for body wash.

#4. Say no to canned foods

Aside from plastic, metal is another substance you don’t want touching your food. Those cans your favorite beans come in don’t just have tin — their insides are lined with BPA or similar compounds as well. Even the cans labeled “BPA-free” aren’t completely safe. These compounds might help prevent the can from corroding, but they can also harm your testosterone levels.

Again, coming in contact with those once in a while is no big deal, but a lifetime of exposure can cause problems. Go for fresh, frozen, or dried foods. But if you have a huge craving for some Skyline chili, don’t feel guilty. Go for it! Just be sure not to heat the food in the can hobo-style.

#5. Avoid phytoestrogens

There’s solid evidence that certain foods naturally contain compounds that affect your body the same way female sex hormones do. These are called phytoestrogens, and there’s scientific evidence that they can decrease testosterone levels. So, it might be a good idea to avoid excessive consumption of phytoestrogen-rich foods, such as soy and soy products, flaxseed, alfalfa, and licorice.

5 Things Men Don’t Need to Feel Guilty About in Marriage

Guilt is what we feel when we look back on our decisions that fell short. Often, guilt realigns us to our priorities when we have gone astray. We feel guilty for watching that football game while our spouse cooks and cleans, we feel guilty for losing our temper when we are impatient, and we feel guilty when we forget to do something our wife asks or if we do it incorrectly.

While guilt can be a tool to dial into self-awareness, there are things you shouldn’t feel guilty about — especially within marriage. Here are 5 of those things.

Keep in mind that an excess of any of these will lead to conflict, so balance these things out and you can embrace them guilt-free.

#1. Hobbies

Hobbies keep us alive by helping us cope with loss, stress, and anxiety. Men need time to be alone with their passions. You don’t have to feel guilty about having hobbies because they support your family by strengthening you. I enjoy playing guitar or shooting hoops from time to time to relieve stress and spark joy. As long as you are not obsessing over your hobbies, you don’t need to feel guilty for having them. You just need to prioritize keeping your marriage alive. If you need to play sports, build model airplanes, or continue your nature photography, keep it going.

#2. Sleep

Lebron James uses 12 hours of his day for rest and I bet he does not feel guilty about that. That is what is required for him to perform. Never feel guilty about your sleep because it increases your energy and productivity. As a husband and a dad, there will be times when you have to sacrifice sleep. Communicate with your wife about how long you can make that sacrifice before you start getting moody. Your wife needs as much sleep as you do, so work together on this, but never feel guilty about desiring sleep.

#3. Exercise

We need daily exercise. You don’t need to feel guilty for getting active because our hearts need to beat for ourselves before they can beat for our loved ones. Exercise is never a time waster. It needs to be embedded into your routine, possibly in a way that doesn’t disturb your family. But if that’s impossible, you should make sure you communicate that to your spouse. Schedule time for a run, hitting up the gym, or soccer with friends on the weekend. Do something positive that gets your heart rate up and don’t feel guilty about it.

#4. Other Friendships

Comedian Seth Meyers jokes that his dad has no friends — only the friends that his mom makes. I have always said that your spouse should be your best friend. But that does not mean you cannot have other friendships. It is healthy to have friends outside of your marriage. You don’t have to feel guilty for pursuing them because friendships allow you to learn from other people, to enhance your communication skills, and to be there for others when they need you. Don’t feel guilty about spending a night out with the guys for poker, a baseball game, or a movie.

#5. Serving the Community

Volunteering in your community is vital because men are much-needed role models for others. Communities are larger versions of families and men must be present in service to show support for others. Service should not get in the way of your relationship but enhance it. Volunteer together. We do not exist as silos in the world. You don’t have to feel guilty for this because we have friends, family, and strangers who rely on us. Serve your church in a local food pantry, volunteer for a ministry, or organize a community event for the whole neighborhood to bond (even if in a socially distanced way). Don’t let volunteering replace your relationship, but never feel guilty about serving.

The Most Important Vitamin That You Have Never Heard Of

We know about the immune-support properties of vitamin D, currently the subject of many studies examining its ability to help our immune system resist Covid19.

We know about the antioxidant effects of vitamin C, and vitamin E, both of which limit the impact of free radicals and reduce chronic inflammation.

(Antioxidants neutralise free radicals which are molecules that cause cellular damage when their levels become too high. Damage caused by free radicals is associated with numerous chronic conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.)

Asparagus ranks as an excellent source of both vitamin E and vitamin C. It is also a good source of a vitamin which you have probably never heard of before — vitamin P.

In fact, vitamin C and vitamin E work synergistically to enhance the antioxidant effects of vitamin P.

What the heck is vitamin P?

Vitamin P is also known as rutin.

It has been used in alternative medicine as an aid to enhance the action of vitamin C, to support blood circulation, as an antioxidant, and to treat allergies, viruses, or arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

What is vitamin P good for?

It is good for a lot of beneficial health outcomes, as it turns out.

​Here is a list of some of its pharmacological properties:

  • Antibacterial
  • Antiprotozoal, i.e. dysentery or malaria
  • Antitumor
  • Antiinflammatory
  • Antiallergic
  • Antiviral
  • Cytoprotective, i.e. protective against ulcers
  • Vasoactive, i.e. affecting the vascular system
  • Hypolipidemic, i.e. lowering fat levels in the blood
  • Antiplatelet, i.e. preventing blood clots
  • Antispasmodic, i.e. reducing muscle spasms
  • Antihypertensive

But that’s not all, this study found that vitamin P enhanced skin elasticity and reduced the length, as well as the area and number of wrinkles (and this one found it reversed baldness). In simple terms, it reduces skin aging.

While vitamin P supplements are available, it is readily available in many everyday foods.

8 foods and drinks rich in vitamin P

Here are some excellent dietary sources of vitamin P (rutin).

  • Buckwheat is the best-known food source of rutin. The rutin content of tea made from buckwheat flowers contains even more rutin than then grain.
  • Amaranth is best known for its edible seeds which are usually eaten much in the same way as rice, buckwheat, and quinoa. As Asian cooks know very well, the leaves make delicious dishes. And, the leaves contain far more vitamin p than the seeds.
  • The white blossoms of the Elder tree can be dried and infused in hot water to make a rutin-rich hot drink.
  • Apples are loaded with flavonoids such as rutin. To reap the maximum benefits, eat your apples with the peel on — most of the flavonoids are in the peel. Apple extract has a high content of rutin (as well as the most significant antioxidant capacity in comparison with other extracts).
  • Unfermented rooibos tea contains high amounts of rutin. However, suppose you’re looking to boost your overall antioxidants. In that case, a cup of regular green or black tea may be a better choice. The total antioxidant activity of unfermented rooibos tea is about 50% lower than that of green or black tea.
  • Figs also contain significant amounts of rutin, comparable to apples according to some research.
  • Asparagus is a good source of rutin and readily accessible.
  • Finally, rutin is found in significant quantities in oranges and other citrus fruits, especially in the skin. The latter is yet another reason to eat the skin of your oranges.​

Vitamin P has neuroprotective properties

The ability of rutin to protect the brain has been the subject of several experiments.

For example, studies report that when rutin is administered to aged rats, they exhibit improved spatial memory and reduced neuron damage in the hippocampus (CA3b region).
The hippocampal CA3b region is very dense in neural connections and is critical for our associative memory and pattern completion tasks. As we age the hippocampus loses some of its acuity, so anything to help is a blessing.

To add to your daily menu

Of course, soba noodles are made from buckwheat (authentic soba noodles are made from 100 percent buckwheat flour). Many brands of organic soba are easily obtainable. If you like noodles, then add more soba in your diet to up your vitamin P consumption.

I add cracked buckwheat into my morning oats mixture, add hot water and let them all soak overnight. In the morning, I add a good quantity of full-cream milk and reheat to near-boiling point in the microwave and let them cool again (this cooling makes the oats prebiotic).

Asparagus is one of my fav vegetables, so adding more is fine by me. I also drink a big glass of green tea and ginger tea first thing every morning, so this is helping my vitamin P intake.

For me, eating oranges and apples daily is routine — both with the skin. I wash them thoroughly first as I don’t trust the pesticides.

It is common to find in many fruits and vegetables that there is a higher concentration of nutrients closer to the skin, or in the skin, then elsewhere. Vitamin P is just another example. Half of the beneficial antioxidants and protective compounds of an orange are in its skin.

But don’t let eating the skin put you off. Just eat the orange flesh to give your vitamin P a boost.

Good luck.

Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

3 Uncommon Tips for Much Better Sleep

Sleep is finally starting to get the respect it deserves.

Being that it is one of the three main pillars of health (exercise, nutrition, and sleep), it is about time we start to take it more seriously. Especially when more than a third of American adults do not get sufficient sleep on a regular basis. This is a major issue.

Luckily, we have experts like Nick Littlehales who have worked with some of the premier athletes and organizations across the globe and can tell us what really works.
What I love about Littlehales is that he provides simple and straightforward answers about what needs to be done.

I also love that his work is almost entirely based on our primal biology, the evolutionary reasons that make us the way we are today. I find this to consistently be the best way to solve our modern health concerns.

His work has been so influential on me that I’ve actually already written another post inspired by him, called Forget Sleeping 8 Hours a Night.

Here are 3 tips, inspired by Nick Littlehales, that can be quite impactful on sleep quality:

Understand Your Chronotype and Work with It, Not Against It

Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

Do you prefer the mornings or the nights?

When are you the most interested in eating a large meal?

These are all important things to know when building your sleep strategy. For me, these are glaringly obvious answers. For some of my peers, I’ve heard them be much more indecisive.
I am a night owl, no doubt about it. I like to go to bed late and wake up late. I am very slow to get up and get moving in any meaningful way. I am not hungry in the slightest during the mornings. I actually don’t even eat a “breakfast” at all, with my first meal being small and coming sometime after 12pm. I don’t like to talk or interact with anyone in the morning either.

When I try to fight this routine by waking up early in the morning and eating early, I will feel physically uncomfortable and sometimes even a bit sick from it.

In the nighttime, however, I am the exact opposite. I’m very much awake and cognizant, getting some of my best physical and mental work done during that time. I eat my biggest meal at night and I’d say more than half the food I consume daily is very late at night. This is what’s comfortable for me.

Understanding whether you are a morning or night person will allow you to plan your day in a much more effective way.

For example, with my nocturnal tendencies, I’m not going to plan anything strenuous in the morning for myself. I can do quiet activities like writing, planning, and working on my website early on.

During the afternoon and night is when I will plan all physical activity, social interactions, errands I have to run, and so on. When I reverse this schedule I sleep poorly and perform like garbage.
Over this past year, I’ve started building my life to suit this lifestyle. I work on blogging in the mornings, exercise in the afternoon or night, and work a job at night so I don’t have to wake up early for anything.

This is why you want to establish this: optimizing for your sleep period will allow you to have peak performance during the day because it’s cyclical and they feed into each other. You can schedule your most important tasks for when you are most alert.

Stop Sleeping-In on Off-Days

As great as it can feel, this is repeatedly throwing off your body clock.

For most people, they work hard to establish a constant time they wake up for work during the week. But if you let it all go on the weekends, you’re essentially throwing away that progress.
Your body wants a constant wake time because it functions best that way. This is because the body thrives off of established routines.

When you give it a consistent routine, it starts to do a lot of the work for you, like waking you up at your chosen time without you having to hear an alarm clock blaring beside you.
The routine should also allow you to sleep easier and wake up feeling more rested as your body becomes more accustomed to that block of time you’ve chosen.
Of course, it’s natural to have the odd day that you needed some extra sleep or you had to get up earlier than usual. This should not be the norm though.

Schedule sleep like you would schedule your day. Your best off establishing a non-negotiable wake time which will by default, set a sleep time for you too.

Embrace the Power of Napping

Napping is unfortunately viewed as something you do when you’re “behind” on sleep as a means to “catch up.”

This is the wrong attitude. Naps are optimal recovery periods. They are excellent breaks from a busy day as a way to recover your body and mind.

This is especially true for people who regularly have their nightly sleep interrupted.

People who live on noisy streets, parents with small children, or workers with irregular hours would all benefit greatly from a period in the day where they completely detached and got a 30-minute to 1-hour nap in. Even people who struggle to stay asleep through the entire night or who have a hard time achieving deep sleep would benefit from this.

Nick Littlehales, encourages everyone to consider adopting a “sleep cycle” approach rather than an “hours slept” approach. The reason why is because so many of us have trouble getting a full 8 hours of sleep each night.

So if you only average about 6 hours of sleep at night, try carving out a 90-minute period to recover yourself fully.

With many people’s working schedules, this can be hard to do. Multiple naps could be the answer to this.

A 30-minute nap at your lunch break and a 30-minute nap upon getting home from work could be the difference between feeling exhausted and feeling alert throughout your day.
This is very much the approach Littlehales uses with his professional athlete clients. He wants them to be recovering from their activities as often as possible. To do this, he adapts their sleep schedules for cycles instead of hours.

Some people may sleep for four 90-minute cycles at night with one more 90-minute during the day (total of 7.5 hours) while others may opt for three 90-minute cycles at night with one more in the early afternoon and another in the early evening (7.5 hours again). It doesn’t really matter as long as you achieve your needed amount of rest.

Nick Littlehales talks much more in depth about how these strategies and more can be applied to your life in his book, Sleep. I found this book to be an incredible perspective-enhancer on the subjects of not only sleep, but also performance and recovery.

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22 of the Best Self-Help Books for Mental Health and Wellbeing

When it comes to self-help for mental health or wellbeing, much of it is about as useful as a porn site asking a teenage boy if he’s over 18. Translated: It’s worse than useless.

That said, when devising this list, I tried to take into account the author’s character — and whether I believe them to be full of shit or not — as much as I did the quality of their book.

Furthermore, one of the biggest problems I find with mental health — especially anxiety which is currently rampant — is that we give the symptom far more weight and power than it deserves. Not only hindering recovery but often making the situation significantly worse.

We don’t place nearly enough emphasis on the actual problem and the many solutions it presents.

Problems vary greatly, ranging from unhealthy relationships, abuse, bullying, narcissistic prick bosses, and everything in between. And so to the solutions. By challenging your current thinking and worldly views as well as tweaking behaviors and habits, you can radically improve your quality of life. And that’s coming from someone who despises the word “radical”.

Despair can turn to hope; anger can turn to love, anxiety to peace, depression to cheerfulness, so on and so forth. But you have to do the work. And, of course, accept that life will still suck from time to time.

To honor this topic’s complexity, I have strived to compel a varied list with something for everyone. A daunting task that actually left me with 24, not 22. If I’ve recommended a book, it’s for no other reason that I found it to be excellent and extremely worthy of a read. That’s pretty much the criteria.

Should you decide to pick one up, I hope it will both move, inspire, and thrust you into action for lasting change to ensure better days lay ahead. And with that said, I’ll shut the hell up.

Here are 22 of the Best Self-Help Books for Mental Health and Wellbeing

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristen Neff Ph.D.

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Kristen Neff is to self-compassion as to what Brene Brown is to shame and vulnerability: A Godsend.

I would go so far as to call this a bible book for your mental health.
Studies show self-compassion is a significant predictor of long term mental wellbeing. And it probably comes as no surprise to learn most struggling excel at being a dick towards themselves, making this book an absolute must to help foster what could eventually be a life-saving skill.

File it under: Your Mental Health Bible.

Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday

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All of Holliday’s books are great. This one just happens to be my favorite.
Easily digestible and packed with ancient wisdom, the stoic master seamlessly encapsulates a significant problem — our inability to be still — that makes us ineffective while offering many remedies drawing from Stoic and Buddhist philosophies.

File it under: Ancient Philosophical Wisdom.

Owning it: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide to Living with Anxiety by Caroline Foran

The first of four Irish authors to make this prestigious list. Who knew I was so patriotic?

As with all story-based books found here, you get genuine raw authenticity without the bullshit and a very welcome splash of humor — all of which Foran provides in spades as she outlines her battle with acute anxiety.

This book is a perfect mesh of storytelling and an extremely well put together practical guide to help you both understand and manage your anxiety.

File it under: Your No Bullshit Anxiety Companion.

Predatory Thinking: A Masterclass in Out-Thinking the Competition by Dave Trott

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Dave Trott is a hard-nosed heavyweight genius in the advertising industry. So what the hell is he doing in this lineup, you ask?

Simple: The best advertisers know how to solve problems and find solutions through creative thinking. And your mental health and wellbeing is likely crying out for better solutions. Unless, of course, you want to be told for the zillionth time to take a breath or step out in nature?

Assuming the answer to that question is “screw you, Nicky,” then you might just benefit from a masterclass in creative thinking. Which is exactly what this book is: A masterclass.

In this instance, you are your own competition. And this book is packed with life lessons you can benefit from today.

File it under: Creative Thinking.

Everything is Fucked: A Book about Hope by Mark Manson

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In a year where everything is fucked, and hope is all but lost, how could this not feature? Manson is extraordinarily gifted at taking complicated or boring topics and making them fun, digestible, easy to understand, and entertaining.

Not one to fuck around, you won’t find a sprinkle of fairy dust here. Drawing on a pool of psychological research and philosophy, you’ll be taken on a wild journey in search of hope that will help you understand why, when everything is technically better than it has been in our history, it all seems, well, fucked.

If you want to face the truth head-on while understanding your mind better to build resilience and greater self-acceptance, this book is an absolute must.

File it under: Retro Philosophy and Psychology.*

*I’m seriously struggling to come up with good themes for the filing cabinet.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown Ph.D.

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It seems everything Brown touches turns to gold. And this book is no different.

Time and again, our shame or reluctance to vulnerability wreaks havoc on our mental health. In Daring Greatly, Brown packs years of research on both shame and vulnerability — what it is, what it isn’t — to help inspire the reader to find the courage to be vulnerable for a happier, lighter, and freer existence.

File it under: Inspirational Feel-good Research.

The Anxiety Epidemic: The Causes of our Modern-Day Anxieties by Graham Davy

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Having had the pleasure of interviewing him twice, I’m a big fan of Davey, who is the Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex. Much of his research extends across mental health problems, specifically anxiety and worry.

What I love about this book is that it doesn’t tiptoe around the topic. It’s hard-hitting research at times and incredibly informative and educational as to what anxiety is, its many disorders, and their symptoms, etc.

If you are looking to understand anxiety better, this book is for you.

File it under: Easy-Reading Academic Research

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

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If we are honest, most of us want to be liked more, to connect more, to succeed more, to do and be better in all aspects of life.

Unfortunately, when life is kicking the shit out of us, we inevitably become preoccupied with ourselves and forget how important it is to form connections with others. We also become lonely which has severe consequences in itself.

This timeless classic is here to help in all facets of life.

File it under: Psychological Life Skills

Bonus Time: A True Story of Surviving the Worst and Discovering the Magic of Every Moment by Brian Pennie

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What can I say? This is an absolute belter of a book.

Unable to escape the pain of anxiety and desperate for relief, Brian turned to heroin, which saw him fall into a 15-year addiction that nearly — and probably should have — took his life. Until one fateful day, he managed to break free from it all.

Bonus Time is his extraordinary account of a life consumed by addiction — a life he managed to break free from to the point he is now a Ph.D. candidate studying the neuroscience of mindfulness.

File it under: Inspirational Storytelling

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson Ph.D.

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Brian Pennie credits this book in Bonus Time for playing an intricate role in his recovery. And for a good reason.

Rick Hanson does a spectacular job presenting cutting-edge neuropsychology and ancient Buddhist wisdom with steps you can take to help rewire your brain for greater levels of happiness and resilience.

All of which will make you bulletproof like the Buddha himself.

File it under: Easy-reading Brain Science

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

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In a nutshell, this is an account of Frankyl’s time in a Nazi death camp. Not necessarily focussed on the horror experienced daily, the emphasis is more on the psychological journey and how he found meaning in his suffering, which ultimately gave him the strength to persevere.

A key takeaway is there will always be suffering, but you get to choose what meaning you assign to it, which is critical when pursuing freedom.

To say he delivers a profoundly powerful message is an understatement. This book is a classic for a very good reason.

File it under: The Classic.

Jump: One Girl’s Search For Meaning by Daniella Moyles

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One word: Exceptional. I just finished it and think it is my favourite read of the year, reaffirming my belief the best books are all story-based accounts, as told by the author.

I saw a quote once that read, “anything but raw authenticity is a fucking waste of time,” and my God, does this book stay true to that. Not only is it exceptionally well written, but it’s also a masterclass in authenticity, which — let’s be honest — is very refreshing with so much fake authenticity out there today.

The first chapter is a good introduction. The second chapter blows the roof off. Moyles then continues this trajectory while documenting her personal account of panic and anxiety and everything that goes along with as she strives to find meaning from it all.

File it under: Inspirational Storytelling.

Healing Your Attachment Wounds: How to Create Deep and Lasting Intimate Relationships by Dianne Pool Heller Ph.D

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Ah, attachment theory. I suspect I’m not the only one who hates it? This shit goes right to the core of you.

If you haven’t heard of attachment theory, you’re probably best remaining blissfully ignorant. But as we are suckers for punishment, it was hypothesized by British psychologist John Bowlby in 1950, and concerns itself with emotional attachment between humans, formed from our early relationship with our parents.

There are four main types of attachment. The only desirable one is secure attachment, and if you are reading this, the likelihood of you being secure, I’m sorry to say, is pretty slim. That means you are either anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, or fearful-avoidant.

As we grow into adults and end up in relationships that don’t seem to pan out as Hollywood predicted, attachment theory will certainly help you understand why.

Trust me, when you find out, you’re going to want to fix it. And praise the lord because all hope is not lost, you can take steps to move towards secure attachment. That’s why you should read this book. Enjoy.

File it under: I Did Not Sign Up For This Shit.

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

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Originally published in 1903, this bad boy is the OG of self-help. Based on the principle you are what you think, Allen explains how our character, identity, ability, and success are all determined by the thoughts in our minds.

It’s not The Secret or some new-age spiritual bullshit where if you want a Ferrari, all you have to do is ask the universe for it, and — abracadabra — there it is in all is glory with a big red bow on it.

The ethos is very much around our ability to shape our thoughts to improve our lives. And it shows you how in a very inspiring way.

This book packs a punch. What I love most is it’s only 61 pages and simple to read. So you can go back and read it often to help keep you on course. Take it with a pinch of salt, and it has the potential to be very powerful, indeed.

File it under: The OG.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

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What a legend Bessel Van Der Kolk is. He comes across as so genuine and sincere. And my God, is he accomplished. This book is incredible. It is also, without a doubt, the toughest read on the list. The subject is trauma, after all.

A must for anyone looking to better understand trauma or for anyone who has experienced trauma and doesn’t fully understand its impact.
Personally, I would be selective in the chapters I read. You do not need to approach it chronologically. Cherry-pick the chapters you believe are going to impact you the most, and take it from there.

File it under: Essential Trauma Reading

Love In, Love Out: A Compassionate Approach to Parenting Your Anxious Child by Dr Malie Coyne

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I must admit, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading this one yet. But I did have the pleasure of interviewing Dr Coyne, and she is amazing. Not to mention the work she does is incredible.
More importantly, the message, wisdom, and tips offered in this book can be a complete gamechanger for so many underserved parents out there who might be struggling with their own anxiety or have an anxious child whom they have no clue how to help.

File it under: Essential Reading for Parents.

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg

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As stated on the cover, much of how we communicate could be considered violent. Obviously, this isn’t great, especially in our relationships, when communicating with those that matter most.
NVC is an extremely practical book that is easy to navigate with lots of strategies to improve your communication for better relationships.

File it under: Your Communication Bible

The Inflamed Mind: A Radical New Approach to Depression by Edward Bullmore

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For such a dense and — you know — depressing subject, this book is a bit of a page-turner. It provides lots of interesting anecdotal stories throughout, all the while examining the link between inflammation and depression and the potential for a new exciting treatment, which is something we haven’t seen since the birth of Prozac.

File it under: Hope for a Brighter Future

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

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No other book on the subject comes close to this bad boy. James Clear is quite simply, the master of habit.

So many of us struggle to break bad habits and routines that are negatively impacting our health. In this book, Clear breaks down all the science in a practical and easy-to-understand manner, ensuring you know exactly what to do to adopt new habits into your life for a healthier, happier future.

File it under: Essential Reading

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor

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The consequences of breathing incorrectly, as it turns out, can be pretty catastrophic. And while there is nothing more essential to our health than air, it seems we’ve lost our ability to breathe correctly somehow somewhere along the way.

Nestor brings you along on a fascinating journey unraveling the science of breath, and ultimately, guiding you to a place where you will be breathing better for a longer, happier, healthier, and more prosperous life.

File it under: The Power of Breath

Get Out of My Head: Inspiration for Overthinkers in an Anxious World by Meredith Arthur

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Currently being translated into many different languages, if you are an overthinker who appreciates the arts, then this little gem of a book is for you.

Packed with beautiful illustrations, Arthur provides you lots of guidance and inspiration, as well as soothing techniques to help you move through the traps of overthinking, all the while maintaining a light and upbeat tone throughout.

File it under: Your Pocket-Sized Buddy

The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins

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I found this book to be excellent. It’s almost too positive for me, but it’s not. If you know what I mean? Of course, you don’t. I don’t know what I mean.

The science behind it is fascinating. And the delivery is uplifting and pleasant. It also inspires you to play with your fears and take action, which can only be a good thing.

I’ll put it this way: I doubt many struggling with anxiety won’t be inspired to take action for having read this. And really, everything we need to do for change is found in action.

File it under: Feelgood Inspiration

Oh my God, I forgot David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds

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To be filed under unbelievable inspirational storytelling. It’s so so good.

Crap, I cannot forget my buddy, Melissa Drake’s heartwarming tale of how she found reprieve from the grips of depression through dance.

File it under: Inspirational Storytelling.

And that’s all he wrote.

How to Implement Daily Cold Showers to Boost Your Immune System and Fight Colds

The Cold Is An Absolute Doorway To The Soul

It all began January 17th 2016 when I first consciously chose to have a cold shower due to the overwhelming information and health benefits I had come across in my continual learning and optimisation for human performance. The simple fact that it is something everyone does everyday and wouldn’t cost me anything extra in time or money in return for massive health benefits that I now reap.

Minimal effort with maximum returns!

My grandma has always preached to my brothers and I how she takes a cold shower everyday for the last 10 or so years, with us laughing it off as crazy nan. My grandpa use to take her to doctors appointments and brag about how she hadn’t caught a cold in years. I never really took much notice of the potential health benefits until I stumbled across Wim Hof aka The Iceman. My curiosity and interest peaked significantly after watching the VICE documentary about him on youtube. I was so motivated by him and his story that I immediately downloaded the Wim Hof Innerfire app and began implementing his practices daily.

Start out small

The key to making this or any habit lasting, is to start out small and consistent. If you go straight to cold too hard and fast without the right mental preparation, you will simply throw in the towel. Begin with having your normal warm shower as usual, at the end slowly turn the hot half off, step out of the water and begin the Wim style breathing before immersing yourself back in. Gradually over months you can build up to where I am (14 months) where I do not need any mental prep or breathing exercises. I can comfortably immerse my entire body and head for a couple of minutes with ease. Again this took me months to build up to!

Track your progress

I started out the first few months tracking my progress using the Wim Hof app, which adopts the simple calendar “don’t break the chain” concept of marking the days you completed, allowing you to see the progress and encouraging you to stay on track. Tracking your habits is absolutely vital in getting them to truly stick. After a few months the habit had successfully formed and I no longer needed to track it.

On average a habit takes around 66 days to form, varying of course on the habit and person. So make sure you stick with it long enough.

Breathing & Incantations

Part of the Wim Hof method is his unique style of breathing used to saturate the body and lungs with oxygen. Using this technique initially, paired with incantations (empowering phrases to engage your physiology and emotions) like “Shit a brick” or “I.. am.. SPARTA!!” can help immensely with getting into the right mindset and eventually tricking the brain that this isn’t danger.

What’s the benefits of cold showers you ask?

  • 1. The immune strengthening effects alone is enough for me to continue and promote cold showers. Since beginning my cold shower habit I have gone an entire year without getting sick let alone a single cold. In the past I would routinely get one or two throughout the year. Correlation or coincidence? I understand it is very difficult to claim cold showers alone was the causation of my strengthening immune system, as throughout the year I have been optimising my health in numerous other ways.
  • 2. Helps with converting white fat into brown fat. When you take a cold shower, brown fat is activated, resulting in an increase in energy and calories burned to keep your body warm.
  • 3. Shifts you into a Parasympathetic state. Very helpful with having showers in the evening to calm and relax the nervous system before sleep.
  • 4. Morning cold showers increases alertness.
  • 5. Builds massive willpower. Especially when you go through those winter months when all you want to do is stay in the warm forever.
  • 6.Improves skin & hair health.
  • 7. Natural and free testosterone booster.
  • 8. Improved circulation.
  • 9. Forces you into present moment awareness. Even if it is just for a minute or two, building toward a mindfulness state.
  • 10. Increased HRV

…The list really goes on!

Having a strong WHY to why you are doing cold showers helps with those difficult days in the beginning. Make sure you keep it consistent and continue to challenge yourself. It is very much a test of mental strength and willpower.

Many of us have become soft. Going from a temperature controlled house, to a temperature controlled car, to a temperature controlled office and back again. We have not evolved to live like that. Reconnecting to the outside environment is imperative for optimal health and if you continue to disregard that on a daily basis, mother nature has something in store for you.

Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Is Nirvana Real?

Meditation certainly isn’t new, but this millennia-old practice is definitely becoming trendier in the Western world. And though some of its benefits are hard or even impossible to measure, researchers keep studying what exactly happens to the brain during meditation. Thanks to these pioneers, today we have a much better understanding of what meditation does, at least on a neurological level.

With the help of modern neuroimaging technologies like fMRI, EEG, and spectral analysis, researchers have been able to study changes in the brain morphologies of meditation practitioners as they meditate.

The main insight? A significant decrease in beta wave activity. This means that the brain calms down a bit and stops processing information as actively as it normally does. That probably comes as no surprise, but if you’re curious about the science and what it could mean for you on a practical level, read on…

What Brain Regions Does Meditation Rewire?

Okay, so what exactly happens to your brain? A meta-analysis of 21 neuroimaging studies has found that at least eight different brain regions are consistently altered by meditation:

  • Frontal lobe. The part of the brain that controls most important cognitive skills, including speaking, problem-solving, and judgment.
  • Temporal lobe. Most of the changes in this region happen to the hippocampus, a structure involved in emotional responses and memory formation.
  • Parietal lobe. This part of the brain slows down significantly during meditation, thereby affecting how sensory information is processed.
  • Thalamus. The thalamus, responsible for selective focus and attention, plays a significant role in sensory perception.
  • Reticular formation. Located in the very center of the brain stem, this structure receives incoming stimuli and plays a central role in a state of alertness and arousal.
  • Sensory cortex and insular cortex. Two areas responsible for processing tactile information and general body awareness.
  • Cingulate cortex. An integral part of the limbic system, involved in emotion-related activity, learning, and memory.

A bit of a mouthful, right? Ultimately, the brain exhibits observed improvements in thickness and cortical surface area fiber density. But what exactly do these changes to the brain and its activity mean? Well, this is the part that can’t really be studied using neuroimaging, but the beneficial effects on day-to-day performance is noticeable…

How Can Meditation Benefit You?

Based on what’s known about the role of affected brain regions, and on various tests performed on meditation practitioners and their experiences, here’s a pretty compelling list of why you might consider taking up your own meditation practice:

#1. Less anxiety

During meditation, certain neural connections are weakened, meaning you won’t react as strongly to certain emotional stimuli. Furthermore, the parts of the brain responsible for reasoning arent influenced as strongly by the fear centers. This makes it easier to respond rationally instead of react explosively to circumstances that would normally trigger an emotional outburst.

#2. Faster learning and better memory

Meditation will help you better filter out distractions. Certain brain wave changes will help you think and learn faster, remember better, and be more productive.

#3. Increased creativity

Human creativity isn’t always easy to study objectively, but meditation is assuredly known to improve this as well. There’s evidence that open-monitoring meditation leads to improvement in creativity as measured by tests that involve innovating with unorthodox ideas.

#4. Improved focus

It’s said that focused attention is akin to a muscle that can be trained and strengthened through exercise. Consciously trying to prevent your focus and attention from drifting away is an important part of meditation. There’s evidence that practicing focused-attention meditation helps improve overall focus, extending the benefits of this practice to our daily lives.

Want to Approach Nirvana? Give Meditation a Try!

Just 20 minutes of meditation can lead to observable changes in how your brain works. And there’s evidence that in long-term meditators, the changes in brain wave patterns might be permanent!

So give it a go — there’s no harm in trying! Numerous meditation techniques exist, such as mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, movement meditation, and much more. Just do some research, try out a few, and see what works for you.

Make This 1 Change To Your Goals — And You’ll 10X Your Results

Success Demands Singleness Of Purpose. You Need To Be Doing Fewer Things For More Effect Instead Of Doing More Things With Side Effects. It Is Those Who Concentrate On But One Thing At A Time Who Advance In This World.

If you want extreme levels of motivation and flow, you need a few key ingredients:

A Clear And Compelling Future

Your Vision Of Where Or Who You Want To Be Is The Greatest Asset You Have. Without Having A Goal It’s Difficult To Score.

Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor summed-it up best: Without having a future to look forward and stretch to, the present becomes meaningless and unbearable.

Your view of your own future directly impacts your physical and emotional health here-and-now. If you have a positive view of your future, then your emotions and behavior will be positive here.
If the future looks uncertain or bleak, then you’ll fall apart emotionally and behaviorally.

Your view of your own future is the single greatest factor in what you do here-and-now.
If you’re distracted or depressed right now, then what that means is that you’ve either lost hope in the future, or you don’t believe in your future.

This is why Dr. Angela Duckworth has found that “cultivating hope” is one of the most important aspects of being “gritty” or resilient.

So what does your future look like?

Many psychologists now believe that “consciousness” is really about imagining different future scenarios. That’s what makes us “human” and not “animal.” We can project the future. We can imagine something totally different. We can commit to something that we have no evidence of.
Dr. Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, has found that very few people spend time imagining their FUTURE SELF. We spend much more time remembering the past. As a result, we fail to predict where our lives will go. This isn’t because we can’t predict where our lives will go, but that we don’t.

Imagination is a skill to be developed. It’s something you can get incredibly good at. It’s something you must get good at if you want to control the direction of your life.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

You can imagine whatever future you want. You also can imagine who you want to be in the future. If you do not do this, then you can’t possibly make conscious decisions in the present.
You must imagine where you want to be so that here-and-now, you can make conscious decisions that will take you there.

How much time do you spend imagining your future self?

What is the future you want?

How much of your present here-and-now experience is driven by your chosen future?

One Very Specific Outcome You’re Seeking

What Man Actually Needs Is Not A Tensionless State But Rather The Striving And Struggling For A Worthwhile Goal, A Freely Chosen Task.

Having a “bigger future” is essential to mental and physical well-being in the present. But in order for your future to be effective, you need to quantify it. You need a specific goal to direct your focus and behavior at.

Viktor Frankl explained that “purpose” is essential. But “purpose,” as his quote above states, is really just a “freely chosen task.” This clarifies what most people have wrong about “purpose.” Most people think you must “discover” your purpose, and that your “purpose” is some big broad thing.

It’s not.

Your purpose is a freely chosen task. You CHOOSE your purpose, and your purpose must be a task you accomplish. For example, if you’re in college, then your purpose is to finish your degree. If you’re writing a book, then your purpose is to finish the book.

Your purpose is an outcome. It’s tangible. It’s something you can measure and accomplish. It’s time-bound.

Your “purpose” right now is different from what your purpose may have been last year. Next year, when your purpose may shift as well.

It’s crucial that your purpose centers around ONE SPECIFIC OUTCOME. The more singular your focus, the more inspired and clear will be your path to achieving it.

This is where it gets tricky for a lot of people. You need to choose ONE GOAL. ONE OUTCOME.

Right now, you’re probably trying to accomplish too many things. You have competing goals that are stretching you thin, stunting your flow and progress.

If you want more flow states and motivation, you need to simplify your future. You need to clarify one single outcome that is “YOUR PURPOSE.”

Making Trade-Offs

Essentialism Is Doing The Right Thing At The Right Time In The Right Way.

Choosing ONE OUTCOME is essential to having clarity and focus. Therefore, you must look at all of the “potential futures” you have in your mind and start making some decisions.
Look at all of your goals.

Which ONE is clearly the most important?

Put another way, which one, if you accomplished it, would change your life the most?

Which one, if you truly focused on it and succeeded, would make the biggest impact on your future?

Robert Brault has said, “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles, but by a clear path to lesser goals.”

All of your goals are important or interesting to you. But some of them are “lesser goals,” even if you really want them. An “essentialist,” someone who focuses on the purely essential is willing to make trade-offs. They’re willing to forego certain things in order to have better ones.

The truth is, you can’t have it “all.” Decisions require removing alternative options. Making a true decision is how you change your life. But it also means you must say no to other things — even great things.

What is the most important OUTCOME you could turn into your purpose?

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your other goals. But maybe, you need to wait on some of the other ones? The order of how you do things matters. If you crush your ESSENTIAL GOAL — the most important one — you’ll probably have 10X more freedom and opportunity than you have now. If you achieve your ESSENTIAL and SINGLE GOAL — then the other things you want right now may become irrelevant.

Your one goal needs to be time-bound. Without a deadline, you have a “dream” not a “goal.” Once you’ve made the bold move and chosen the single goal that will become your current purpose, give yourself a deadline.

Creating A “Process” Of Sub-Goals

Assume The Feeling Of Your Wish Fulfilled.

Once you’ve clarified and committed to your single goal, you need to change your daily schedule. You need to target more and more of your time and attention toward your purpose — the “one goal.”

How much of your day is currently designed around creating this one outcome?

Committing to this purpose takes guts. It will challenge you to the core. Life will start to question your resolve. You’ll need to get help and support from the right people. In the book The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho talks about the “omens” that God leaves on your path, to not only confirm to you that you’re on the path, but to encourage you.

Once you’re truly committed, you’ll start seeing “omens” or having amazing experiences that will build your confidence and resolve. These “omens” are really just peak experiences that solidify to you that you’re serious about this, and that you’re going to achieve this.

The more committed you become, the more clarified will become your process. Yes, you have one single goal. But you need “sub-goals” or “means” to achieve that goal. Sometimes, the “sub-goals” or “process” will be non-linear. Sometimes, you must zig while everyone else is zagging.
The main point here is: You need a “process” to achieve your goals. When the “why” is strong enough, you’ll figure out the “how.” Overtime, the “hows” may change. For example, just yesterday, I recommitted fully to my single goal of selling millions of copies of Personality Isn’t Permanentmy new book. This led me to conversations and experiences that opened me up to an inspired path to making this goal real.

In order to have true hope and motivation — you need a clear outcome that you want, you need the sense of agency or confidence that you can do it, and you need a pathway to getting there. The pathways are your subgoals. And yesterday, I discovered a much better pathway to achieving my single goal than I previously had. This, of course, boosted my motivation and hope.
I would not have discovered or thought of this pathway, though, had I not been committed. It was through seeking help and guidance that I was able to find this new path.

You need a path to achieve your goals.

That path — your “sub-goals” — also needs to be quantified. You need specific milestones or outcomes along the way.

Your sub-goals need to clearly lead to your ONE MAJOR goal.

This is how you create insane motivation. This is how you live your life in a flow state. This is how you live your life “on purpose” and “with purpose” and “through purpose.”

How to Pick Your Next Book

Books are like breakfast cereal. The more choices you have, the harder it is to pick one.

Why do some books go in one ear and out the other? Why is it so hard to make a choice when the choices are endless? What defines “good”?

After 10 years and reading over 700 books, I have an answer (not the answer). My system made me much more comfortable choosing new books to read and understanding the context of each of those books. Books need to be read in a rough order so they can be fully understood and integrated into your personality.

My order isn’t what you’d expect. It’s certainly not what you learned in school, and it contains a lot of “low” art. I’ll explain why that’s bullshit. This is the truest order of reading books to create a good life that I can currently muster. Obviously, it’s incomplete, but it’s the best I can do.
It’s also not a reading list. I will make a lot of specific recommendations, but I believe that the category works. You may read Campbell — I may read Jung — but I think we will mostly come to the same conclusions.

The deep, unconscious motivation for reading needs to be straightened out. When you sit down to read, you need to know the force keeping your eyes on the page. If it is to “seem” well-read, it won’t last. It took most of my 20s to start getting my relationship to reading sorted out. Hopefully, you can skip some of that. At the core, it’s about habits, and plenty of people have written about forming good habits. Get the motivations and the queues right; the rest is automatic.

Let’s dive into the proper order, and I will explain my theories as we go. Depending on where you are on your reading journey, this can be started at the beginning or the middle. It also can, and will, repeat many times over a lifetime.

OK, so you’re completely at a loss as to what to read first out of the endless array of books. Here’s a good place to start:

#1. Fiction (Beginning with True Interest)

Forget what you’re supposed to read. Seriously, just drop it and pick stories that you are drawn to. Movies, short stories, TV, and graphic novels are all valid forms of fiction. All that matters is that you pay attention to how it makes you feel.

In school, we are forced to take tests on books we didn’t read to pass a test and prove that we’re “educated.” It’s entirely backward. I promise that if you allow yourself to follow your Harry Potter obsession to its very core, you will eventually find yourself reading Dostoyevsky (just don’t count on it).

Or, you’ll read trash for the rest of your life — more power to you. Maybe you’re a busy-as-hell CEO doing a lot of good. Don’t let anyone shame you for your choice in literature. I have to say, though — if you truly indulge in the books you really like — and they happen to be shallow, you will eventually get bored with them and ready to move on. Let it happen naturally.

Lots of books that people think are “shallow” only seem shallow on the surface. Look into the archetypes of Harry Potter, for example. J.K. Rowling got it exactly right. Why would we assume it’s an accident that she can fill a stadium to listen to her read a children’s book?

And that brings us to the importance of true interest. Your interest knows a lot more than you in a lot of ways. For example: Have you ever watched children play? They play house, or they play explorers. They give each person roles: “You be the daddy,” or “You be the bad guy.” What are they doing? They are acting out how to behave in the world long before they could explain it out loud.

That doesn’t stop when you get to be an adult. You only lose the will to play if you fear that you’ll do something wrong and embarrass yourself. Still, your interest is to teach you things about yourself that you can’t explain with words.

That’s why fiction is so important. It’s the adult playground. It’s the place where you can explore what sort of person you want to be long before you could articulate it. If you shame yourself out of the fiction you are truly interested in; you miss the only opportunity to grow.

So, if you truly have no idea what you want to read next — pick up a story, no matter how “childish” that calls to you. Don’t read books that you think you should. Find the place in your heart that yearns for an adventure with Dragons or a steamy romance, and follow that to the very bottom.

If you can’t think of a book like this, go to the bookstore. When you walk the aisles, watch for a book to “shine forth” (This actually works). Pick that one. Don’t binge it shamefully; That prevents you from growing. Read it mindfully and proudly.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Harry Potter series (obviously)
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Island by Aldous Huxley
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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#2. Self-Help (Get Your Life in Order First)

Why do people shit on self-help? Because they are afraid to admit that they might not already be perfect.

I love people who love self-help. It says that they don’t care if people see them reading books about getting better. They aren’t afraid to admit that they could improve themselves.

Does some self-help seem obvious and trite to you? Don’t read those books. But don’t forget — that book might save someone else’s life (maybe even you in the future). Besides, it’s nice that self-help is unpretentious and easy to read. I see that as a bonus.

No matter where you are in your life, there is a self-help book that can help you. They usually aren’t great literature, but that’s not what they are trying to be. They are brass tacks. They want to tell you how to do the exact, practical thing you are trying to do.

The reason they come after fiction is that it’s the order people learn naturally. As I said, humans act out what they believe long before they can articulate it. Reading fiction is about acting out values. Self-help is about articulating them.

I read Harry Potter as a boy. At that age, I just loved it — I had no idea why. Later in life, I read a bunch of philosophy, mythology, and self-help. With the new context, Harry Potter suddenly took on a whole new meaning. While other fiction books I loved as a kid fell away, Harry Potter stayed because it got all the deeper elements exactly right.

Right, so, self-help can enrich fiction and vice versa — but that’s not the only reason self-help is high on this list. If you are struggling to pay your bills and maintain professional and personal relationships, you won’t have the luxury of reading. You’ll be too busy trying to survive.

If you get caught in that trap, it’s hard to get out. Reading is essential to life-long success. If you’re too busy to read, you’re never going to learn new ways to exit the struggle. Chaos piles up, and life gets out of hand. It happens to a lot of people.

If you feel the chaos of life piling up on you, the last thing you need is some snob telling you to read Neitzche. You need to read Tony Robbins. You need to get out of the hole so that you have the damn luxury of reading Neitzche someday.

Here are three vital things to read about if you haven’t already mastered them:

  • Money
  • Relationships
  • Health

Here are some of the most life-changing books I’ve come across:

  • 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
  • Unshakeable by Tony Robbins
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle
  • 7 Habit of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

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#3. Mythology (Learn to See What Matters)

About a year ago, Carl Jung turned my world inside out. He helped me see that the world is not only composed of matter but also what matters. In case you didn’t know, this is the primary struggle of modern people. What is the meaning if everything is measured?

Modern thinking has tricked us into thinking that life is subject and object, and they are perfectly separable. Think again, Jung says! You don’t see a chair; you see a sitting-down place. The chair doesn’t exist without your butt to sit in it!

I could go on and on about this topic (my friends will tell you with a deep sigh). The point is: Science is for measurement, stories are for values. As the great Scottish philosopher David Hume said:

“You Can’t Derive An Ought From An Is.”

Science can tell us what there is (roughly), but it can’t tell us what to do. See? This observation really blew my mind — sorry if I stress an obvious point.

Stories are just as important as science. The story of your life matters. What you value matters. What you value determines what you can see. To change your story is to change your life.
Good and bad isn’t something that exists out there. As great Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn put it:

“The Line Dividing Good And Evil Cuts Through The Heart Of Every Human Being.”

That’s why your eyes are so glued to the TV while watching your favorite hero. You’re trying to understand the good and evil in your own heart. You’re trying to understand yourself.
Becoming aware of this process completely changed my life. It started simple, and I never felt like rushing my understanding. In the end, it’s as simple as understanding how to tell a story. Anything more is just gravy.

Even if you’re not a writer, it’s important to understand how stories work. They make human life possible.

Here are my favorites, from easy to difficult:

  • Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
  • Modern Man in Search of Meaning by Carl Jung
  • Maps of Meaning by Jordan Peterson
  • The Origins and History of Consciousness by Erich Neumann

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#4. Pop-Science (Get Your Facts Straight)

“If You Go To Thinking Take Your Heart With You. If You Go To Love, Take Your Head With You. Love Is Empty Without Thinking, Thinking Hollow Without Love.”

Another quote by Carl Jung. Before I read him, I was too much thinking and too little heart. Stories are heart, science is thinking. With all my facts in a neat row and no love, I was hollow.
That’s why mythology was so important to me about a year ago. I discovered a meaning in life that didn’t ask me to believe in wishful thinking (which some overly optimistic self-help writers tend to sell). I needed a more robust version of meaning for the modern mind that wasn’t based on ignoring science. That’s what thinkers like Jung gave me.

I say pop-science because science needs a good storyteller to make it relevant to our lives. Otherwise, it is a phonebook. As Jung would claim, no information is meaning-neutral (despite what some egg-heads might have you believe). Unless you’re a scientist, it’s OK if you don’t wanna read scientific journals.

There are many great scientific storytellers out there. They were my first love, so to speak. When I was a kid, I read Hawking, Dawkins, and Sagan. What makes them great was not only the science but the way they mixed in storytelling. I was obsessed with rationality. I only learned later that it was just a story; A good one, but not the only one.

Read the great science storytellers of our age so that you don’t fall for pseudoscience. Learn to think critically as well as with passion and meaning. You can’t lean too far one way or the other. Strike a balance that makes you comfortable.

While this isn’t an urgent category, it’s important if you want to be a respected and trusted person. Without an ability to see fact from fiction, you are vulnerable to believe things that certain string-pullers would like you to believe. Myths show us what we stand for; facts prevent us from falling for anything.

Do you always avoid science? Dip your toe in the pool. There is more fun here than you think. Here are my favorites:

  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
  • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollen
  • Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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#5. History (Know Where You Come From)

I struggle the most to read history. The way it was taught in school made it seem like memorizing dates and battles for tests.

That’s a shame because I finally realize that we are a historical animal. Reaching about history is reading about yourself. Without knowing about what happened in the 20th century, for example, we might be doomed to repeat the mistakes. That would be a disaster.

In recent years, I have been slowly engaging more and more with history. I’m sure many people could give you much better recommendations — but I can give you the point of view of a convert.
Not interested in history? That’s OK — stay higher on this list. Read long enough, and I promise you’ll come around. Nothing beats the feeling of realizing that someone 2,000 years old was going through the same things are you are.

Here are my favorites:

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Einstein by Walter Isaacson
  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Hariri
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  • Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

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#6. Philosophy (Tie it All Together)

In a lot of ways, I lived this list backward. I suppose that makes me a cautionary tale.
I studied philosophy in college. While I am very thankful that I did, I think a lot of what I learned fell on deaf ears. Only now do I even begin to understand Neitzche, for example. And only barely. I had no business reading him at 21 when I was mostly just trying to get laid.
That being said, philosophy is the ultimate self-help. It’s not as concrete and actionable as “self-help,” but it has the same aim. How does one live? If you want to know deeper truths to help you live a better life, read philosophy.

Philosophy is the highest level of abstraction. It’s thinking about thinking about thinking. It hurts the brain. I have a secret for you…a lot of it is nonsense.

When it’s not, it will knock your socks off. But when it is, it will make you read the same sentence 40 times and get no closer to understanding it. For a lot of the greats, I recommend reading secondary materials. Most of this stuff can be summarized. Only if you are a wild man on a mission should you dive into the source material!

That being said, I love philosophy, and I love philosophizing. It’s a hobby for me — like knitting. It doesn’t have to be a hobby for you.

There are a lot of great YouTube videos about philosophy. I recommend watching a lot of them before picking up any philosophical text. There is no rush, and there is no test. This should be fun. If it’s not, quit.

That being said, nothing will change your world like reading philosophy. Like Plato’s cave, you’ll see the world for the first time, and it will be marvelous. This can happen over and over. It’s truly something.

Here’s a shortlist, starting easy:

  • Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday (concrete and actionable)
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig (Fiction, stunning writing)
  • The Apology by Plato (where we started in the West)
  • Beyond Good and Evil by Fridrich Nietzche (where we ended up)

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#7. Political (If Ever)

I feel intensely bored by politics.

For the most part, I think you can leave the political chatter to the heads on TV. Without deeper understanding gained from the above categories, political talk is powerless and toothless. With a deeper understanding, you see that it’s best to try not to engage on this level, ever.

People usually start with politics because they want to feel like they are doing something important. I’m here to tell you; nothing is more pressing or important than getting yourself in order. Without that inner work, any political change you make is likely to make things worse.

Politics is nothing more than recent history without any perspective or wisdom. Without a little time and distance, you can’t really see the forest for the trees. After a while of tree-gazing, you lose the ability to perceive forests at all.

Occasionally, politics pokes its ugly head into our lives, whether we like it or not. That’s to be expected and dealt with. Treat politics like fighting and reading like karate. A great karate master never goes out looking for a fight — but he will whip your ass if you start one.

Yes, vote. Make sure you engage with your community. But unless you’re passionate about something, there is no reason to be “informed.” Truly informed people know Plato as well as Twitter.

That being said, I have a few books that shaped my point of view:

  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
  • Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell
  • The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison, Jay

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If you read these, you avoid the “he said, she said,” of most political writing. Here’s my basic takeaway (OPINION INCOMING):

The right wants stability. The left warns that stability makes power accumulate into fewer and fewer hands. Both are right. We have to talk to stay in balance. If you’re right or left is mostly due to your personality. The best political action you can make is to learn to talk to people unlike you. I’m a writer, and I live in LA. Of course, I lean left. But my parents are hard-working people from Louisiana. I have learned to speak with them. That feels important.

Reading great books starts with the reader. All books are about you if you’re reading them.

Read to have a good life, not to seem smart. Get smart as a byproduct.

Start easy, keep it fun, and never let it become homework. School is over, and you never have to do homework again.

Read the great books when they call to you. Let books change you from the inside out.

After over 700 books, I believe that nothing is more important.

PERSONALIZE YOUR FEED

SURVEY

14 Self-Care Tips to Prevent Burnout

This is not your mother speaking. However, it has come to my attention you take an awful lot of pride in being extremely busy while flirting dangerously close to the edge of burnout— in spite of all those productivity and mind-hack supplements you might be taking.

Burnout is a serious problem, and the less you take care of yourself, the more likely it is to occur. And seen as you have no intention in slowing down, I thought I would weigh in with a few self-care tips to help ensure you don’t end up a complete mess while you wait for any — or all — of the below to occur:

A) The world to stop and acknowledge just how awesome and hard-working you are

B) Your mother to send out a tweet saying how proud she is of you — which then gets retweeted a few thousand times

C) Landing a guest spot on the Ask Gary Vee Show

D) Actually making the world a better place

E) Finding out who killed Kenny

Seen as Gary Vee might be your best hope, self-care is pretty much essential to maintain a level of sanity in today’s world, so perk up a minute and pay attention if your boy, Gary, ain’t responding to your tweets.

In this day and age, I could write a list the length of the Nile of things you could do to cleanse that precious little soul of yours, but that would piss us both off, so I’ll keep it brief and focus on that which can create the most impact in the shortest time.

FYI: I’m running on the assumption you know that if you eat like crap and overdose on coffee, sugar and other stimulants, you’re going to feel like crap.

Take this stuff a lot more seriously than my intro and hopefully, you’ll never know just how lucky you are to have a healthy body and mind.

This is just a guide and some tips to help change your state, prevent burnout, and keep stress to a minimum. There are no rules here but your own. You do what’s right for you.

#1. Change Your Environment 

I’m not talking about quitting your job, packing your bags and moving to a new city or country. I’m talking about getting away from whatever is causing your stress and doing something that nourishes your mind, body and soul. It can be as simple as going for a walk or anything listed below.

I’m assuming you spend too much time at your computer while losing your mind. Studies carried out by Princeton University found that the brains of those who are sedentary behave differently under stress, and aren’t able to function as well. So stand the fuck up my friend, and take yourself off for a little trot.

The more you do this, the better it works. If things have got out of hand and you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, you’ll need to do more in-depth work, but even still, breaking your environment will always give your mind a much-needed break, so the best practice is to do it often.

#2. Practice Yoga

Realistically, everything listed here is worthy of an article in itself. And yoga might be the longest one. The mind-body connection is real Y’all, and nothing quite taps into it like yoga.
Yoga probably saves a million panic attacks a day. You stand to gain so much from a regular practice. I can’t begin to tell you how much it helped my anxiety. Just make sure to balance your Yin and your Yang. You’re already living your life in Yang, so do yourself a favour and get some fucking Yin!

#3. Stay Hydrated

No shit, Nicky. But seriously, according to a study by CBS, roughly 75% of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration. Considering mild dehydration affects your ability to think clearly—that’s crazy!

Ease off on the caffeine and beer, and make sure you’re getting plenty of h2o. At a minimum, you should be drinking at least 2 liters a day — so drink plenty more and know what you need to accommodate your mind and body based on your lifestyle.

#4. Have Some Fun

If you’re not laughing your way through all the drama life fires at us — what’s the point? You have a duty to enjoy your life and have some fun. The more you honor that and the more fun you have, the more likely all the other stuff you’re stressing over will fall into place.

#5. Stop Drinking

It pains me to write this because I’m drinking a whiskey as I type. Alcohol is a depressant. If you’re going through shit, take a break from it and clear your mind. There’s probably nothing worse for you than alcohol. The clarity you stand to gain from cutting it out of your life — if only for a period is ridiculous.

#6. Listen to Music That Smoothes Your Soul

Music is extremely powerful when it comes to stress-management and relaxation. It can aid in meditation, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and helps decrease stress hormone levels.

Obviously, the type of music matters, but I even find Eminem to be great so this is all on you. If I’m working, I’ll have some classical or relaxing music playing softly in the background which studies confirm help reduce stress levels.

And if I’m working and stressed, it’s usually because I’m not listening to music. So, if you have a Hitler type boss that refuses to allow you to tap into this form of stress reduction when you work — quit!

#7. Indulge in Cold Water Therapy

13-degree water is hardly an indulgent, but whatever. Stress causes inflammation. Inflammation is bad. Cold water therapy helps kick the shit out of inflammation, so get yourself down to your local plunge pool or at the very least, blast that shower on full freezing for a minute every morning.

On top of that, cold water therapy helps boost cognitive function, immunity and your mood by giving you a hit of grade A dopamine, unlike that crap you get from Instagram which barely lasts a minute.

#8. Get in the Sauna

Saunas are magical. I’m only recently starting to learn just how good they are for overall health and longevity. You’ll feel great, relieve stress, flush toxins, cleanse your skin, help induce a deeper sleep, relax your muscles and soothe any aches and pains.

You get all of that from sitting your ass down in a hot room. Fucking magical!

#9. Meditate

Some dude nails this quote:

“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you.”
Surely that’s worthy of a collective amen?

The breath doesn’t just play a role — it plays a major role in controlling emotions and keeping anxiety at bay. Meditation has been shown, through brain scanning imagery, to turn down the amygdala. And for anyone that doesn’t know, your amygdala is the little prick responsible for getting overly aroused and instructing the adrenal glands to flood your system with so much adrenaline — you’ll be reaching for the phone to call an ambulance before your heart bursts from your chest.

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Basically, your amygdala is a dick. Studies confirm you can tame the bastard through meditation. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any more convincing.

#10. Practice Gratitude

“Gratitude Is The Healthiest Of All Human Emotions. The More You Express Gratitude For What You Have, The More Likely You Will Have Even More To Express Gratitude For.”

I’m all in with Ziggy! Challenge yourself to practice gratitude for 30 days, and I guarantee your life will start looking rosier. It really is a glorious bastard!

#11. Sleep Sleep Sleep

A lack of sleep is scientifically proven to be extremely bad for your health. Unfortunately, many struggle a lot with this one. I don’t care what anyone says — unless you’re a robot, you need sleep to function. The good news is that all the above should help.

In addition, you can burn some incense, drink camomile tea, light some candles, take a magnesium supplement, and infuse the shit out of your bedroom with essential oils.
Develop a nighttime routine that works for you and write in a diary all you achieved today and all you plan to achieve tomorrow, so it’s not running around your mind driving you batshit crazy as you try to nod off.

#12. Unplug

Your phone causes havoc on your mind. Get it away from you before you go to bed and don’t even think about reaching for it first thing in the morning unless it’s to turn off your alarm or throw it out the window.

Get in the habit of turning airplane mode on sporadically throughout the day and get out of the habit of playing with it when you are in the company of others. It will make you a better human.

#13. Talk to Someone

Sometimes the best thing you can do is sit opposite someone who’s capable of listening and offload your shit on them. Easier said than done because most people are incapable of listening and offer shit advice because the context they use will be their own.

If you have someone in your life that’s really awesome and supportive in this area, great. If not and you need to vent and process some shit you keep repressing, there’s no shame in paying for it. Change is hard when you do it on your own, but it can be fun working through some shit with someone else. What is it they say? A problem shared is a problem halved? The solutions are there, and sometimes the right ones will pop up quicker when you confide in someone with a neutral stance.

#14. I Didn’t Want to Freak You Out With Just 13 Tips, But That’s All I Got. My Bad!

Remember, all these are good for your body, mind and soul. The more you pull yourself from a stressful environment and indulge in self-care, the better you will feel.

Most of the above listed will instantly improve your mood and stress levels, but like everything else, the real results come with repetition and compound over time, so take this stuff seriously and incorporate what works best for you into your lifestyle.

It shouldn’t be a treat. It should be a priority. There are far too many in this world suffering from anxiety and depression due to the insurmountable stress of everyday life.

Start with you. First and foremost, you’ve got to keep yourself healthy and sane. And if you are suffering from depression, anxiety or just overwhelm, then talk to someone. You’ve got massive blinkers on. There are solutions, and when you sit down with someone that can help you see the reality, you’ll soon realize those solutions are well in your grasp.

How to Hack Your Sweet Tooth

If you’re anything like me, the nighttime rolls around and a very serious matter resurfaces to the forefront of your thoughts:

“What am I having as a treat tonight?”

Maybe it’s not even nighttime yet. Maybe it’s your lunch break, the time between difficult tasks, or a rough day on minimal sleep.

The almighty sweet tooth never sleeps, it simply spares you while you are busy focusing on more important things than eating again.

It’s an everyday battle for me. If it feels like a battle to you too, then good. That means you want things to be different too.

What I am going to share with you is how I realistically manage my sweet tooth.

I don’t ignore it, I don’t pretend that a cup of berries will tide me over (yeah, right), and I don’t believe in using willpower against your cravings.

I have to feed the craving somehow, it’s just about doing it in a way that doesn’t punish me later.

Typically, the punishment is a sick stomach, lots of guilt, or even trips to the bathroom sometimes.

For someone else it might be visible weight gain. For another it might be a dangerous insulin spike.

Whatever your reasoning is, it’s good enough. You’re in the right place to fix it.

Here are my two tips to manage your sweet tooth:

Uninteresting Treats

This is a strategy I’ve been using on my weaker self lately with much success.

You obviously have your preferred treats that always hit the spot for you. For me, those are cookies, cupcakes, sweet pastries, and milkshakes (among many more).

Your favorite treats are going to encourage you to make more excuses though.

“Well, this is my favorite, I have to let myself finish them all.”

“I never get to eat these. I’ll just enjoy them this time.”

These are the treats that get you into dangerous territory. The more bites you take, the further you are dragged into deep waters.

My solution is to intentionally buy yourself treats that will do the job, but aren’t good enough to binge on.

I’ve realized that chocolate is usually the main taste I am going for. So if I can get some chocolate in, while avoiding my favorite treats, I can satisfy my sweet tooth without being sorry for what I’ve eaten.

I now buy these little brownies that are made for kids and that is my first defense against the sweet tooth.

They are small enough that I only get a few bites out of them, they only have 10 grams of sugar each, and they are plain, chocolate brownies with great ingredients.

I couldn’t ask for a bigger win here.

Individually Wrapped Treats

My other tip is to focus on little treats that are individually wrapped.

The reasoning here is because you want something that you can easily only allow yourself to have one of or one bag of.

With my chocolate brownie example, those come in a box of six and they are individually wrapped. So when I have a craving, I know to go and grab one so that I’m held over.

The difference between this technique versus telling yourself you’ll only have [enter arbitrary number here] is that if you open a package of Oreo’s or donut holes, there’s nothing there to stop you from overdoing it except for your willpower.

That is the last thing you want to be using to stop yourself because even if it works, you feel more worn down from having to resist and you walk away feeling unsatisfied that you had to stop earlier than you wanted.

It’s Your Turn

It’s all just a mental game.

Sure, you need to stimulate your tastes buds, but these are simple ways to get around it.
The sweet tooth just wants to feel like it got what it wanted, but that doesn’t mean you have to play it’s game.

Implement these strategies into your days so you know exactly what you’re getting into and you’ll find yourself wondering why this was ever a problem in the first place.

How To Cure Panic And Anxiety With Meditation

Meditation is the practice of focusing on your body rather than your thoughts. The most common form of this practice is to sit still and concentrate on your breathing, either with your eyes open or closed. People who meditate for as little as 20 minutes per day have reported a number of benefits. Among the most well-known effects of this practice are the reduction of stress, anxiety and depression.

Frequent meditators typically find it easier to separate themselves from their thoughts. By taking a few minutes to pause from thinking and focus solely on their bodies, they learn to recognise their thoughts as emotions that live outside of them. As a result, when negative emotions arrive during their everyday lives, they are less affected by them. They also find it easier to connect with the present moment, rather than being distracted by a constant inner monologue.

What’s more, the meditation process itself can also be highly enjoyable. Some people report ecstatic highs during particularly clean sessions.

How meditation improves confidence

This comes back to controlling the ‘inner bitch’.

In moments of panic and anxiety, we often feel so attached to our emotions that they run our behaviour. We run away. We shake uncontrollably. We make excuses that seem so incredibly real. Without meditation, we may be helpless to prevent this from happening.

Yet, meditation trains us to separate ourselves from these thoughts. As such, we can learn to view our inner bitch as a separate entity. He is no longer a part of us. He is a voice which we can choose to embrace or ignore.

What’s more, regular meditation is likely to make you calmer overall. As a result, it may take more to trigger feelings of panic and anxiety. When these feelings do arise, you’ll find it easier to act logically and with emotional intelligence.

How else can meditation improve your life?

Here are some more reported benefits of meditation.

#1. Focus and productivity

Think you’re too busy to meditate for 20 minutes a day? It could be argued that you’re too busy not to do this.

Once you learn how to clear your thoughts during meditation, it becomes easier to do the same during everyday life.

This creates an ability to resist distractions. Often, you’ll end up getting more done by meditating for 20 minutes a day, then you would have done otherwise.

#2. Weight loss

Regular meditation reduces stress, makes it easier to lose weight.

After all, stress triggers the production of cortisol, which causes cravings for carbohydrates, fat and sugar, even if we’re not hungry. It also signals to your body to store calories as fat, making it harder to lose weight even if you’re eating well and exercising.

Without these cortisol spikes, your diet and exercise plan will be more effective.

#3. Better sleep

Poor sleep often arises from being unable to shut your mind off at night, perhaps because of stress or excitement. Either way, by practicing turning off your thoughts for meditation, you may also find it easier to fall asleep.

A good night’s sleep in itself can reduce cortisol, improve focus and help you feel calmer.

#4. Improved sex life

A common cause of erectile dysfunction (if you’re a man) or failure to orgasm (if you’re a woman) is being unable to lose yourself in the moment.

Whether it’s because you’re nervous or desperate to make a good impression, being stuck in your thoughts is the best way to ensure that sex is mediocre at best.

Thankfully, meditation teaches you to escape your thoughts, making it easier to connect with your partner, appreciate every sensation and enjoy mind-blowing orgasms.

If that’s not worth 20 minutes a day, it’s hard to think what is.

How to meditate effectively

Meditation is easier when it’s practiced in a distraction-free room. Set an alarm so you don’t have to worry about checking the time. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably.

From there, take deep breaths and concentrate on how your body feels. If a thought pops into your brain, don’t get frustrated or resist it. Accept it, then avert your concentration back to your breathing.

The more you practice, the easier it will become.

PERSONALIZE YOUR FEED

SURVEY

5 Common Reasons For Low Libido

There will be times when you just don’t feel like having sex. No matter what you do, there is no way of forcing yourself into doing it.

Your libido has taken a nosedive. Before jumping to conclusions and feeling worried that you may not be attracted to your partner anymore, know that there are several factors that influence libido. It’s not just about your feelings.

5 Common Physical Reasons For Low Libido

Physical Illness

Some physical health conditions may affect your sexual function.

Many women and men suffering from the following illnesses report a significant decrease in their libido:

Heart problems — Atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease may result in limited blood flow. This results in a lack of lubrication, less sensations during sex and low sex drive.

High blood pressure — High blood pressure can result in blood vessel damage and decreased blood flow.

Neurological disorders — Any illness that affects the nervous system, the brain, nerves and spinal cord can affect sexual function. Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, meningitis and injury to the brain and spinal cord are among the major types of neurological disorders.

To prevent these health conditions from ruining your sex life, you should maintain optimal overall health.

Medications

Medical conditions require treatment in the form of medications. Sadly, some prescription medications can dampen your sex drive, arousal, and desire.

Antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-seizures particularly benzodiazepines, H2 blockers and diuretics and beta-blockers for high blood pressure are on the list of libido killer medications.
If you are taking one of these medicines, do not stop taking it just because you want to improve your sex life. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. He or she may be able to recommend alternative medicines, or reduce your dosage.

Lifestyle Habits

If alcohol is your go-to after a hard day, which seems like every day, do not be surprised if your sex life takes a plummet. Excessive intake of alcohol regularly can decrease blood flow, which may make it hard for you to be sexually aroused.

Red wine is a popular choice for alcohol due to its reported health benefits. But, you should still stick with a limited amount of intake, which is typically one serving per day.

Diet plays a vital role in your overall health. If your body lacks several important nutrients at once, it decreases you chances of getting aroused because your body may not be “firing on all cylinders”.

All-natural supplements are available that you could take to charge up your sex drive.

Fatigue

Lack of sleep, too much work, looking after the kids and taking care of your family’s needs can leave you physically exhausted.

It’s hard to fantasize about sex and to act it out, if all your body wants is nothing but rest and sleep.

If you don’t want to reject your partner constantly, learn to balance your priorities. If you can afford to hire a babysitter once a week or every two weeks, then find one and go out on a date with you partner. Sex is part of nurturing your relationship, so you must not take it for granted.

Stress

Long working hours, demanding jobs, family issues and the general state of the world can stress you out and make your sex life suffer. Stress affects the libido in many ways. A lot of people are emotional eaters and tend to overeat when stressed, and this could lead to weight gain.
Poor body image makes you less confident in bed. Stress makes you resort to substance abuse, such as the excessive intake of alcohol. Too much alcohol will decrease blood flow, which can lessen sensations and arousal.

Most importantly, stress triggers the release of the hormone, cortisol. Your body needs cortisol, but only in little amounts. Your body will produce high levels of cortisol when stressed. If this happens constantly, cortisol can suppress your sex hormones, and eventually will lead to libido loss.

Summary

A lot of men and women suffer from loss of libido due to many reasons. Before feeling guilty about it, ask your doctor to help you rule out these five physical causes first.
And remember, you are not alone. Sometimes it may feel like you’re the only one in the world that’s not interested in sex, but rest assured, you’re not.

For more life-enhancing articles and products, visit The Vitamin Hippo today!

3 POWERFUL TECHNIQUES I USE TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS

However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Your life and your situation are unique. You need to take various perspectives so you can choose the one that fits best. That’s why I’ve put together the best advice that helped me make better choices from people much smarter than I am.

Climb the Mountain of Inner Clarity and Overcome the Obstacles of the Mind

What do the world’s leading high-performance coach and a Shaolin monk with 30 years of experience have in common?

Both Brendon Burchard and Master Shi Heng Yi say that to make great decisions, you first need inner clarity. Without, you look at the road ahead through a foggy windshield and take wrong turns. But while you can quickly clean the outside with wipers, the inside often stays foggy, making it impossible to see clearly.

Information about your options is usually easy to obtain. You can ask about the requirements and pay of a new job, find out which girl would like to go out with you, or look up how many calories a burger has. Inner clarity, however, is much harder — the “what do I really want?” often isn’t easy to answer, at least not if you want the truth.

By mastering yourself first before you take on the outside world, you’ll free yourself from distractions, bad decisions, and layers of overwhelming uncertainty.

Ancient Shaolin wisdom says obtaining inner clarity is like climbing a mountain. Once you’re at the summit, you can see clearly. But you’ll have to face five obstacles on the way up, representing the states of mind that prevent you from making a clear decision.

Sensual desire

I’ve climbed a ton of mountains in my life and they all had one thing in common. Walking upwards is hard and you quickly get hungry and thirsty.

Now imagine you come past a restaurant with delicious food, cool drinks, and a bunch of people. How tempting is it to leave your path and join them? This desire keeps you from reaching the summit and obtaining inner clarity. Your short-term cravings stand in the way of your long-term decisions, whether you break your diet or decide to move across the country for a girl because you’re lonely and crave love and affection.

Before you make a decision, ask yourself: “Am I distracted by a desire or even addicted to a temptation?”

Ill will

In 2018, the Swiss mountain rescue had to pull 3211 people out of the Alps, many of them due to bad weather conditions. Climbing mountains is no fun when it rains since it’s easy to get lost and off track. When your mind is clouded with negative emotions and rain, you can’t reach the summit of clarity.

Before you make a decision, ask yourself: “Am I feeling a negative emotion?”

Dullness of the mind & heaviness of the body

Any decision you make takes mental energy and willpower. Car salesmen know this and let you decide about the most profitable options in the end when you’re too exhausted to resist. To reach the summit of clarity, you have to be fit.

Before you make a decision, ask yourself: “Am I unmotivated or exhausted?”

Restlessness & worry

When you’re worried, you often zig-zag between thoughts and ideas. “What if A doesn’t work? Maybe B is better. Or how about C?” You’re too worried about the future or stuck in the past to make a clear decision. Focus on the present moment instead.
Before you make a decision, ask yourself: “Am I caught up in the future or the past? Is my mind jumping from thought to thought?”

Doubts of other people

Doubts are normal. They’re healthy. They cause you to challenge your ideas and weed out the bad ones, separating the wheat from the chaff. But too many doubts, especially from other people, will lead you off track.

When you listen to others saying this won’t workyou will fail, and you should do something else instead, you get lost. Their doubts cause you to turn around, choose paths that aren’t your own, and miss the summit altogether.

Before you make a decision, ask yourself: “Am I lost in doubt?”

Inner clarity is key. Only with a clear mind can you make a good decision.

Use the 10–10–10 Rule to Think Long-Term

You base most of your choices on your emotions. The food you crave. The words you say in a fight. The tap on your alarm clock so you can snooze for another ten minutes. Your emotions determine a good deal of your behavior, but there’s an inherent problem to this.

Emotions are short-lived. They demand instant gratification and don’t care about long-term effects. Your decisions are often too focused on what you want right now when the consequences will still be there for years to come.

You need to make the long-term results more apparent so you can give them more weight in your decision-making process. This is where the 10–10–10 rule comes into play.

It’s as simple as effective. Ask yourself how you will feel about something in ten minutes, ten months, and ten years from now. These three timeframes put the long-term consequences into perspective.

Buying an iPad will feel good ten minutes after the purchase — you’ve got a new and shiny device, and you’ll probably spend the first few days glued to it. But what about in ten months? Will it be worth the investment? Will you still use it as much as in the beginning, or will you want something else already?

And when you look into the future ten years from now, you likely won’t be using it at all anymore. Will it have brought enough joy to justify the $600 you spent on it? Or could you’ve done something else with the money, e.g. spent it on a holiday or crazy trip you’ll still remember ten years down the line?

If you want to make a good decision, you have to consider the long-term consequences.

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Face Your Fears and Calculate the Cost of Inaction

What if I told you all your decisions and behaviors are rooted in fear? It would be a shameless exaggeration, but with a germ of truth hidden underneath.

You are prone to negative information, including anything that triggers your fears. This negativity bias is the reason why bad news sells like hotcakes while good news magazines struggle.

Your fears influence your decision-making process to a great extent. When the risks are unknown, unique, or infrequent, you often overestimate them, making mountains out of molehills.

After 9/11, many people avoided flying out of fear of terrorist attacks and traveled by car instead. However, the data shows planes are much safer than cars. This means an unnecessarily large number of people died on the road thinking it was the safer alternative.

How can you put your fears in perspective and make better decisions? With a simple exercise by Tim Ferriss, author of the bestseller The 4-Hour Work Week, and popular TED speaker. Fear setting will help you rationalize your fears instead of giving in to them, helping you to make better, life-changing choices.

When I thought about quitting my Master’s program to build my own business, I went through the simple three-step process to put my worries and fears into perspective. This led not only to a better decision, but also peace of mind and confidence in my choice.

Step #1: Define, prevent, repair.

The unknown and uncertain are a great source of fear. This Xenophobia often causes stock prices to plummet and also compounds many anxiety disorders. Lots of people are afraid of the dark simply because they don’t know what might be lurking in the shadows.

Before I decided to quit my Master’s, I was worried about all sorts of potential outcomes. What if I go broke? What if I’ll have to flip burgers at McDonald’s and get yelled at by angry customers? What if I regret this decision for the rest of my life? What if…?

But the more I defined and examined my fears, the calmer I became. Once I explored all the possibilities, I felt a sense of peace — nothing could surprise me anymore. The fear of the unknown was gone.

After you defined your fears, ask yourself how you can prevent the worst-case — and if there’s anything that helps you sort out the mess if shit hits the fan.

Sure, my business might fail. But I could prepare amply, get a mentor, and put away a financial buffer so I wouldn’t starve to death. And even if everything went belly-up, I’d still have my Bachelor’s degree and could score an entry-level job, so there wasn’t that much to fear in the first place.

Define your fears. Think about how you can prevent your worst nightmare from happening and if there’s anything you can do to repair the worst-case damage.

Step #2: Ask yourself, “What can go right?”

When you face a decision, you often focus on what can go wrong. Again, it’s natural — negativity bias and all. But what if you asked yourself “what can go right?”

Assume for a second everything went splendid without any hiccups or dead bodies in your basement. Just a smooth homerun without mistakes — putting you on top of the high score list.

In my case, that meant I’d be my own boss, make more money than I ever would’ve in the corporate world, and actually enjoy what I do for a living. It would be a dream come true.

Step #3: Calculate the cost of inaction.

Newton’s first law of motion states that if no outside force acts on an object at rest, it will stay at rest. In simpler words: If you don’t do something, nothing will change.

However, inaction comes with a hidden cost. Keeping your job will make you slightly miserable every day. Your apartment’s high rent will keep you from saving every month. Your toxic relationship will take a toll on your emotional well-being.

Once I considered these costs, I realized doing my Master’s was a pretty bad idea. I’d be miserable in my job, stuck in corporate life, and have a lot less time and energy to follow my dreams.

Calculate the costs of inaction. Write down what it costs you to keep everything as it is — in half a year, a year, and three years from now.

For your final decision, compare the scenarios from steps one and two. What if the worst-case happened — considering your measures for preventing and repairing the damage caused? What if your dream came true — considering all the good things that could come of it?

Rank these scenarios on a scale from -10 to +10 according to the long-term impact they can have on your life. In my case, I found myself comparing a -3 to a +9 — and that doesn’t even take into account the cost of inaction. To me, that’s a clear decision.

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