I’ve been thinking a lot lately.
About life. Career. Future. Past. My glass of red wine.
I’ve also been thinking about my philosophies. What exactly do I believe in? What are some interesting things I’ve incorporated in my life over the years that have helped me build a better body and live the life that I want.
What is it exactly that I live by?
While I am nowhere near reaching all my own goals and aspirations, I strongly believe that the philosophies and beliefs I have mapped out and chosen to follow will help me get there.
And today I want to show you that map.
The following is a list of 22 simple rules I follow that have helped me on my journey to a better body. These are things that I live by and do day in and day out.
I can’t promise that each and every one of them will work for you (it is possible), but I hope that you’ll at least be able to pick out a few and positively incorporate them into your own journey.
1. Eat real food. Absolutely everything starts with the food you choose to put in your body. Nothing else matters if you don’t nourish your body with the right ingredients. Good amounts of protein and fat from animal sources. Lots of fresh, high-in-nutrition vegetables. Fruits that are in-season. A handful of nuts every now and then. Experiment with a variety of spices for taste. Rinse and repeat.
2. Stop eating sugar. Particularly processed sugar. It’s making you fat and sick. Stop eating (and drinking) it.
3. Eliminate grains from your diet. Our bodies are not designed to digest grains. They can cause some serious damage to your digestive system, your endocrine system, and will leave you feeling like a warn-out sack of potatoes. Oh yea, it will also make you fat and sick. If you’re going to eat carbs, stick to tubers like sweet potatoes and only have them immediately after your workout.
4. Drink nothing but water, tea, and coffee. Mostly water and tea, some coffee if you’d like (black only). Red wine every now and then is also OK, but try to avoid alcohol as much as possible (refer to #2).
5. Learn to cook. Learning how to prepare 2-3 healthy meals is really not that difficult, yet it can have a tremendous impact on the way you live your life. Having the ability to decide on the exact ingredients that you put in your body develops a sense of awareness about your food that will help you make better decisions for your health. You can start learning how to cook by going here.
6. Prepare your own lunch. Don’t be lazy. Taking 15 minutes each night to prepare your lunch for the next day is a lifelong habit that you need to develop. It will eliminate at least 50% of your poor food decisions.
7. Fast intermittently. Whether it be a 24 hour fast once a week (like Brad Pilon proposes) or, as I do, a 16 hour fast a few times throughout the week, intermittent fasting can do wonders for your body. It optimizes your hormones, puts your body in fat burning mode, initiates the growth of new brain cells, and makes you burst with energy. Read more about fasting protocols.
8. Lift something heavy 1-2 times per week. Pick one or two compound exercises and perform a half dozen sets of low volume work (2-5 reps). Allow a good amount of rest between sets. Make sure you use a weight that, by the 5th rep, won’t make you go to failure. Lifting in this manner helps build dense, functional muscle, improves bone health, and builds strength that you can actually use.
9. Up the intensity a few times a week. Two to three high intensity, metabolic conditioning workouts a week will boost aerobic capacity, up your energy levels, regulate hormones, and stress your systems just enough to allow them to recover and grow stronger. Do NOT overdo this. More is not better. Click here to see an example of a metabolic conditioning workout.
10. Learn to use functional training tools. Kettlebells and jump ropes are my favorite. Barbells are incredible, but require a bit more space. Learn how to use tools that allow you to train your body like it’s designed to move. This is vital.
11. Move often. The bulk of your training should be composed of ‘light aerobic exercise’. Go for long walks. Go hiking. Sell your snowblower. Get into gardening. Do whatever it takes to keep your body moving as often as possible.
12. Stretch and massage often. Lack of flexibility (combined with poor training methods) is one of the leading causes of injury and pain. Both suck. Stretch as often as you possibly can. Mobility work and corrective stretching before workouts. Static stretching after workouts. Also, regularly use self-myofascial release tools like foam rollers and lacrosse balls to improve tissue health. This is particularly important if you train a lot or sit a lot.
13. Take your shoes off. It’s OK if your feet smell. Training (and moving) barefoot keeps your kinematic chain in proper alignment, allowing you to maintain good posture and strengthen your weak little feet. If you’re looking for shoe options, Vibrams are a great choice.
14. Get a good night’s sleep every single night. This alone can change your life. Aim for 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep every night. It’s worth sacrificing a few extra hours of awake time if, in exchange, you get more productive and healthier hours during the rest of the day.
15. Find your purpose. Having something greater to aspire to is essential if living a better life is what you want. Think about why you want to build a better body and let that deep-rooted purpose motivate you to take action day in and day out. Start by taking a look at my list of aspirations, then go ahead and create your own.
16. Find a hobby. Find something to do that will help you unplug yourself from the world. Write. Sew. Carve pumpkins. Read. Do something you really enjoy. Fact is, boredom often leads to poor decisions.
17. Change your environment. If you’re immersed in a temptation-filled environment, you will make it easy for yourself to make poor decisions. Don’t change the game. Change the setting. Eliminate temptations and distractions from your environment and you will eliminate the option of making poor decisions. Start here.
18. Get uncomfortable. Learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It will make you stronger.
19. Do nothing. No, it’s not what you’ve been doing for the past month. Doing nothing is an act of meditation designed to have you unplug from the world and simply focus on the present moment. Read more about doing nothing here.
20. Get out of your chair. If you work in an office and spend a large part of your day sitting, get up. Move. Stretch. And do it on the hour every hour. If you’re a sitter, read and follow these steps.
21. Find accountability. You can have the best training program in the world and the most effective nutrition strategy in hand, but if you’re not motivated to take action, nothing will ever change. Find someone to keep you accountable for your actions. Someone who you would never want to disappoint.
22. Break your own rules (sometimes). Understand that it’s OK to break the rules sometimes. In fact, it’s encouraged. Aiming for perfection has its own set of negative implications. My suggestion is to follow the rules I’ve outlined above at least 80% of the time. Never less.
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed that list.
If you’d like a PDF version of this list, simply use one of the buttons below to share this post and you’ll unlock a PDF download link.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the items I’ve outlined. I’d also be curious to see what philosophies you follow in your own life. Please take a second to share them in the comments below.
Finally, if you think others could benefit from reading this post, please do me a favor and share it with them. I’d really appreciate the love and support.