31 for 31
As you may have guessed,
our recent posts on the effect of aging on sleep,
And the effect of aging on the brain,
Indicate that I must have a birthday coming up.
Well, it’s here.
And I figured it would be fun to throw down another list of lessons I learned from the year that was.
It’s so crazy how fast these years go by,
And I know Meg’s sick of me saying this,
But, man…that’s why you need to make every moment count!
For me, that means be totally focused and present with Meg and the pups,
Putting everything I have into our business,
And taking care of my body as best I can.
But, I digress….
Here are my 31 lessons from this year.
Health, nutrition, and exercise
1. Eating slowly and mindfully makes it really difficult to gain weight
I tried to gain some weight this year, but I failed because I got too good at eating slowly and mindfully.
Cultivate these skills if you want to lose fat and keep it off.
2. Walking your dogs for 30 minutes every day also makes it hard to gain weight
We talked a little about this here.
A little movement done consistently will have a huge impact on your health.
3. Garlic, onions, herbs, and spices make things taste way better
The meals I cooked from 2003 to 2018 consisted of plain chicken breasts,
Plain rice, quinoa or noodles,
Or plain steel-cut oats,
And then I got a roommate that liked flavour….
A Ukrainian roommate that liked flavour.
And then I realized that I was missing out on a whole world of taste.
Eating should be enjoyable.
And despite what you hear elsewhere,
Food is more than fuel for your body,
It’s an opportunity to connect with others,
It’s a chance to experience new flavours,
So, eat minimally-processed whole foods that taste good.
And add some flavor to them.
4. Sometimes you need to put a little cheese on your veggies to make them go down smoother
And it makes you feel fuller for longer,
Thus, making you less likely to eat something you may regret later on.
5. Cake and ice-cream are amazing
As a person with Orthorexic tendencies,
Cake and ice cream were never fun to eat.
It wasn’t until I learned to eat slowly and mindfully,
That I was able to bring myself to eat these foods,
And eventually, really enjoy them.
Life isn’t always going to be perfect.
People will have birthdays,
There will be going-away parties at work,
There will be dessert at get-togethers.
Learn to eat slowly and mindfully in these situations and you’ll not only enjoy the benefit of eating these foods,
But you’ll also enjoy not feeling disgustingly bloated after over-eating,
And you’ll also maintain your weight…or lose some fat if you want.
6. Cardio doesn’t have to crush you
A major priority for my coaching this year was to enhance my understanding of energy systems development.
Which is basically just cardio.
I learned a ton.
One of the biggest things being that effective cardio is often not the hardest,
Crushing workouts you can stomach.
For long-term sustainability in the game,
And for seeing continued progress,
The majority of your cardio should be very high intensity with really long rest periods,
And really low intensity for extended durations.
7. 30% vs 85% loading produces the same result in beginners
This was a big breakthrough.
The load used for beginner exercisers will produce the same results if it’s really heavy (85%) or really light (30%),
So you might as well keep things light,
Work on the form,
And then gradually build your loads over time.
8. Sometimes you don’t need to add load, you can make lifting way harder by bringing on as much muscle as possible
We talked to our athletes a lot about total body integration in our sessions this year.
As in, bringing on as much muscle as possible to an exercise.
So, instead of adding weight to a movement,
Sometimes it’s awesome to develop the tension from within.
So, activating your lats by squeezing a tennis ball in your armpits,
Taking a punch in the belly to activate your core,
Or activating your glutes and hip rotators by ripping the floor apart.
These things not only add a challenge to the movement,
But, they also make the movement safer,
And more effective for performance.
9. Sleep is amazing
One of my major priorities this year was to clean up my sleep.
I was not sleeping enough.
And the sleep I did get was of pretty poor quality.
So, I read some books,
Asked for some blue-blocker glasses for Christmas,
Got a SAD light,
Implemented a sleep ritual,
Aimed for 7 hours per night,
and got to work.
And although I am nowhere near perfect on this, The results have been great.
I have more energy,
I get more from my workouts,
My head is less foggy,
I am less irritable,
I am more productive during the day,
And I am more effective in social situations.
10. Control what you can
I love control.
It is a pretty central tenant of my life.
But, there are some things that are just outside your jurisdiction.
You cannot control everything.
Weather will change,
People will get sick,
Menus will get swapped around,
And unfortunately, people die,
You need to control what you can.
One of those major things is how you respond.
You could choose to be a quitter and give up,
You could choose to see things as black or white and eat an entire cake when you can’t eat your veggies,
Or you can look at things on a continuum,
Or see obstacles as opportunities,
Or choose to practice patience.
The choice is under your control.
11. Action beats anxiety
Sitting around and stewing on an issue was not working for me.
It actually made the anxiety worse.
So now, when anxiety hits,
I choose a task that helps remedy the issue,
And I get to work!
It works great!
Thanks, Craig Ballantyne!
12. There is very little separating you from people that get cancer and other terrible ailments
There is obviously plenty you can do to decrease your risk of cancer,
But, sometimes you take such good care of yourself and you’ll still get these things.
My mom lost her best friend to cancer this year,
And she took such good care of herself.
You never know when your time will come.
That’s why you need to make everyday count.
And you need to find ways to be happy regardless of your external environment.
Like we always tell our athletes on bad-weather days…
You need to find the sunshine from within.
13. The obstacle is still the way
The shittiest things that happen to you
Can be your greatest opportunities for growth and development.
Learn to recognize the MESSage within the MESS.
14. Have a growth mindset
We talked about this here.
But, the importance of seeing traits as finite (fixed mindset) compared to seeing traits as infinite (growth mindset) will open you up to opportunities for career advancement,
Better sport performance,
And so much more.
15. The more you do something, the more it becomes ingrained
I think we all know this,
But this really stuck after reading “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle.
And this goes both ways…
For good habits like working out,
For bad habits like eating when stressed
And for neutral habits like soaping yourself the same way every time you’re in the shower.
The more you do something,
The easier it gets to do it again (LINK to article)
16. Your environment determines what you become more so than your willpower
I was not hanging with the right people for a spell from November to February and it showed.
My motivation to work went way down.
No matter how hard I tried to will myself to get motivated I just couldn’t.
It wasn’t until I got around some rock-stars that my motivation shot back up.
17. Use systems to carry you through the hard times
Despite this low-motivation time,
I still got my stuff done.
I had developed systems to get work completed.
And this allowed me to continue to reach my targets each quarter.
If I didn’t have these systems in place,
Our business would have likely stalled.
18. The people that are most successful at anything are the ones that stuck it out the longest
I used to think that successful folks had some magic formula to make things happen…
And they do, it’s called patience.
Plus a commitment to mastery.
The people that are winning in life,
Are the ones that kept waking up and kicking ass when everyone else quit…
one day they looked around and realized they were the only ones left.
19. To create new habits, stack them on top of old ones
I eat from a bowl every day,
That’s a habit.
I go into the cupboard and grab said bowl.
So, I put our fish oil next to the bowls.
That way, when I go to eat,
I am reminded to take fish oil.
We apply this “habit-stacking” method every time we have something new we need to practice.
20. Spring out of bed
Bedros Keulian talks about “hitting the snooze button on your goals” when you don’t wake up right away.
Plus, Ed Mylettt talks about building self-confidence by keeping the promises you make to yourself.
If you set your alarm for 7 am, get up at 7 am.
Don’t program procrastination into your mind,
And don’t degrade your self-confidence by telling yourself you’ll wake up and then not following through.
Get your feet on the ground ASAP!
21. Do something in the morning that contributes to your vision
I used to have these crazy rituals that I followed in the morning.
I would take a cold shower,
Do some exercise,
Then Craig Ballantyne told me to get up and start working on your most important task right away.
Now I do that.
And don’t get me wrong,
I still do the other stuff,
Just at other times in the day.
The mornings are for cranking out work that counts.
I always feel great after knocking off a task that takes me closer to my vision for my life.
22. How much money do you need to do what truly makes you happy?
A big realization for me this year was what truly makes me happy.
These things include being outside with our dogs,
Going for walks with meg,
Watching Marvel movies,
Eating delicious food with our families,
And hanging at the cabin.
But, when you add these things up it isn’t really money that’s going to get me these things.
So, my new goals in life don’t include mounds of money,
And private leer jets,
But having control of my schedule.
And there is a cost to this,
But it’s not the billions of dollars that I once aspired to accumulate.
23. Reality is subjective
We could write an entire article on this one,
And we might….
But, regardless of whether or not you think someone should be experiencing some emotion,
The other person still feels it.
And the physiological response in their body is the same.
Reality is very dependent on our perception of it.
But, this can work in your favour.
Choose to see things in a different way,
And you change your reality.
24. Focus on one thing
You may pride yourself on being a multi-tasker,
Or able to watch TV as you do something that requires focus,
But have you tried the alternative?
I used to waste so much time writing workout programs as I watched movies.
Now, I remove all distractions,
Go into the basement,
And write programs in 1/3 of the time.
Funny how that works.
So, if you have things that require focus and productivity,
plan distraction-free time for them,
Block them off in your schedule.
And then plan your distraction time ie. dicking around on the computer or watching a show on Netflix.
25. Think about your vows every day
I am going to sound like a snob on this one.
Pretending to be some sort of superior being…
But, I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about some of these words that I promised to Meg:
“On this journey, we are about to embark upon;
I promise to wake up every morning and make the choice to love you
to treat love as a verb that I will act on every moment
to be forever as grateful for you as I am today
and to be faithful in body and in spirit
I promise to fight for what is right, not who is right
to never give up on our love
to battle through all that is difficult
because on the other side of every obstacle is an opportunity to grow
I promise to be the father to our kids that you would be proud of
to work with you in making them good people
to put the interests of our family ahead of my own
and to leave a legacy of love in our family
I promise to love
I promise to grow
I promise to live by the words I am committing to today
Forever and always”
26. Do something every day to make your partner feel loved
On our first date, I laid all my cards out on the table and told Meg about the book “The Five Love Languages”.
It outlines the different ways that people feel and express love.
These ways include:
Words of affirmation,
Acts of kindness,
And physical touch.
Knowing how others feel loved makes it so much easier to do this one.
27. Combing your hair and making yourself look nice when at home does more for you than it does for your partner
I hate to admit it, but I kind of gave up on looking super sharp,
Dressing a certain way,
And having my hair all nice at home.
But, this year I tried to make a point of combing my hair,
Putting on some nice jeans,
And a presentable shirt when hanging out at our house.
I think when you are in a relationship for a while and you stop doing these things,
It takes away some of the magic.
And hey, maybe your partner is totally fine with this,
But, I think it programs relational apathy into your subconscious mind.
So, I ditched that little habit this year.
28. The people that do you wrong and make you angry all have you in common
How is your behaviour causing others to treat you the way they do?
29. Listen deeper, talk less
One of the things I really take notice of these days is how people interact.
People are often just waiting for others to finish talking so they can pipe in and say what they want to say.
It just appears as if no one is actually listening to each other.
This year, I tried really hard to hold back in conversations and instead listened intently,
And even refrained from telling others about me.
I would instead ask them more about the thing they were talking about.
It’s amazing how much you can learn when you listen more than you speak.
30. Impact can be with a lot of people and quite shallow or it can be with a few people and really deep
I have always wanted to create a huge business,
With lots of athletes,
Lots of coaches,
And a gym with lots of square footage,
But this year,
I came to the realization that I actually like having a smaller group of people
That you can develop close bonds with,
And really go deep with on their health and fitness journey.
Impact can happen on many levels.
31. Superiority sucks
A feeling of superiority above others decreases your ability to express empathy.
Decreased empathy results in decreased connection.
Find similarities in everyone you deal with.
Try to imagine life from their vantage point.
32. Under-promise, over-deliver
I have this friend who means well,
But he often commits to things and then doesn’t show up.
He also says he’ll be at some place in 10 minutes and then gets there in 45.
He wants to please people in the moment,
And he does,
But then disappoints people in the long run.
A big realization for me this year was that people get way more upset when you over-promise something and then don’t deliver,
Versus under-promising and over-delivering.
In fact, people are actually pleasantly surprised when you under-promise and then exceed those expectations….
Kind of like promising 31 lessons in an article,
And then delivering 32…. 😉