22 Simple Rules for Better Health, Better Movement, and a Better Body

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22 Rules for Better BodyI’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.

Enjoy!

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.

Paleo Food Pyramid

The REAL food pyramid you need to follow. [Source]

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).

Drink tea

Drink tea often. [Source]

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.

Bloom to Fit Squat

This is how I do my squats.

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.

Bloom to Fit Hiking

This is what happens when we go hiking.

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.

Bloom to Fit Hobby

I enjoy writing with, yes, a cup of tea (sea #4).

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.

Bloom to Fit Evolution

We need to get back to the middle. [Source]

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.

Cheers!

#Srdjan

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Comments

  1. Rinat Tagirov says:

    This list is damn good. Number 18 is, to my opinion, the absolute champion. Soooooooooooooo true. The unsung (well, thanks to this list, not anymore) and indispensable for success ability, and incidentally, highly intertwined with the last “commandment” which is a unquestionable verity as well but one should be careful with it and use it wisely. I, for one, have been known to “abuse” it. I would then also highly agree with numbers 15 and 19. The 15 is on a par with the absolute champion, which makes me contradict myself but since they are Yin and Yang in the land of achieved goals I’m gonna let it slide. Actually two origins is not enough, cuz the last precept along with 15 and 18 forms the trifecta of getting things done…so screw it, I’d say those three are in line and then number 19 serves as the topping to the foundation, otherwise personally my brain turns into a jumbled mess of dead neurons [which don't get recovered as we all know =)]. And just like it’s “somewhat tricky” to erect a steadfast building without a foundation it would be plenty hard, if not impossible, to succeed in anything worthwhile (like following the rest 18 principles, for instance) without these “foursome”. So, well done to you Srdjan! I’d consider myself Jor-El if I was managing to follow this list presently. But not to worry, I’m working on it =). Still got several items to strike off in the lifting/training department…and couple of others as well. There are truckloads of thanks, mental high-fives, imaginary shoulder-taps as well as airborne handshakes and hugs, emanating from the fibers of my being and having your location as the destination of their space-time continuum travel…

  2. This is a great list! I’d say I agree with and also try to do 90% of these same things. I would add spend quality time with your loved ones who live in your house every day (turn off the electronics), a couple times a week with those who live within an hour, and as much time as possible with those far away (phone call, visits, Skype…texts and emails and Facebook are better than nothing but not good enough and shouldn’t be used majority of the time IMO).
    I also completely believe in prayer/spending time with God, and I guess that’s what I would do along with or in place of meditation. :)

    • Thanks for your input Jenn. I completely agree with the importance of spending quality time with those you love. That’s a lesson, fortunately, my girlfriend has taught me well. I just need to execute better :)

  3. Srdjan,

    Love this list. I try to practice a lot of these daily as well. I’m glad you mentioned the last one. I tend to shoot for the 80/20 rule on a lot of things. It makes life way more enjoyable.

    Alykhan

  4. Srdjan,
    Thank you for writing such inspiring articles/blog. Finally, I found my fitness idol!
    I don’t regret reading your articles and downloading your e book. Keep writing!

    Cris
    Philippines

  5. Naveen Kumar Rajanala says:

    Dear Serje,

    This is a fab list. I have never come across such a holistic list that covers health in so many different facets. The beauty of the article is it’s simple, very real and extremely inspiring. Keep up the good work . You are awesome. Thank you very much.

    Naveen

  6. Great post as always! I agree with Rinat that #18 is one of my favorites! I’m with Srdjan for a long time now and his call to get out of comfort zone more and more often is something I live by. We’ve got only one life and quite a short one. It’s better to stop living like we have 500 years, let’s make most of it. Also what I’ve learned from Srdjan is to strictly control everything you put in your mouth and get flexible – that helps a lot and already puts me into better position than most of people I meet.

  7. Is there, or can there be a PDF file of this list? Would be great to print.

    Thanks

  8. Legendary post, Srdj.

    What kind of tea do you drink? I drink coffee almost everyday twice a day: once before morning workout and again before afternoon/evening workout, and I would like to cut that down a bit.

    Also, regarding rules #8 and #9, I am guessing you do the heavy lift and the conditioning workout on consecutive days sometimes? What is your opinion of doing the heavy lift first, then to immediately follow it with the conditioning workout (which my brother does and calls the finisher)? I ask because I am training for soccer, and I would like to do sprinting/cardio at least every other day, but I also want to get my strength training in. I suppose I could so some strength and sprinting on the same day as well, huh?

    Love your posts man, really cuts down on the BS and puts getting fit into simple terms. The hard part for me is just knowing when to rest and not overdo it!

    • Thanks Eric.

      I typically stick to green tea and, on weekends, a combination of alfalfa tea with some other ingredients (dad’s recipe). I, like yourself, drink 1-2 coffees (typically espressos) on most days of the week. I love the stuff.

      My workouts are typically composed of both components: heavy lifting (i.e. strength training) followed by metabolic conditioning. See my latest post for more details. You always want to keep the conditioning portion after your strength training as studies show cardio prior to strength training can severely blunt growth hormone response. So if you’re going to combine the two, try to follow this structure: dynamic warm-up, strength training, conditioning, cool-down/stretch. Again, see this post for more details.

      If in doubt, rest. It does wonders.

      • Thanks for the reply! Wow, your latest post really covered that exact question, sorry I was not up to date. Do you drink water, coffee, and tea during your fasts? I do the 16 hour intermittent fast as well, but at the 12 or 13 hour mark I like to drink water and coffee before a morning workout and then break the fast after that.

        • Yeah, I drink water, tea, and coffee during my fast. It sounds like you have a great approach to it: wake up, have a tea/coffee, do your workout, and then break the fast with your post-workout meal. This strategy is a little harder for those who start work early and can’t work out until the evening (like me).

  9. Rinat Tagirov says:

    if in doubt – rest. I like this thought. However, I deem just like the rule number 22 this wisdom should be applied with caution.

  10. heey i was wondering why grains are so bad? are you only talking about seeds or are you referring to quinoa, oats etc.
    Also it would mean a lot if you checked out my blog!
    http://www.clemfreshh.wordpress.com
    its brand new!!

    • I would consider them ‘bad’ because our bodies are not designed to digest grains. And yes I’m also referring to quinoa and oats because they have a structure that is similar to that of grains. I’ll be discussing this more in the coming weeks/months on the blog.

      PS – Nice blog man. Loving the great pictures.

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