45 for 45:
45 Insights and musings on health, fitness and fulfilment from my 45 Years on this Planet
Today is my 45th birthday.
It actually feels weird to type that.
I’ve been reflecting on some of my thoughts over the past several years and decided to throw some random bits down on a page and see what happens. So here it is – a thought per year of my existence. I hope you get some value out of it.
- Your health has to be part of your values system – your identity. If you don’t identify as someone who strives to be healthy, you will perpetually set yourself up for failure.
- We misdirect our fears when it comes to our health: Things we are taught to fear: Carbs, conventional/GMO food, nutrient deficiencies. Things we should fear: Complacency, inconsistency, apathy.
- The path we have trouble seeing is often the most productive and progressive one.
- Our bodies and our brains take the path of least resistance. Changing your brain wiring takes a consistent and formidable force to counteract. We are pitting the powerful forces of biology and environment against human frailty.
- Develop a keen awareness without the obsession and develop radical personal accountability without the guilt.
- What is the one concept the world’s most renown behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman wishes you knew? Nothing is as important as you think it is… while you are thinking about it… (please think about it).
- Health vulnerability: Getting uncomfortable isn’t just about the physical. One of the hardest things for me, personally is being vulnerable about where we are. It’s ok to not be ok. Maybe things aren’t “fine”? Work very diligently on eroding the walls you are putting up around taking an honest look at your situation. There is safety in never being vulnerable.. It’s natural to not want to confront this, it’s normal to feel some shame around it. You may be surprised by how many others are going through similar emotions.
- Awareness is the boobie prize of progress (paraphrasing from Laurie Gotlieb). Awareness without accountability will keep you stuck in place. Awareness is only one step.. The next step of action must be taken or the awareness is without value.
- Some days are about keeping the momentum going, some days are resets and some days are about preventing that next domino from falling. All should be considered wins.
- Fat loss is a symphonic blend of spreadsheets and storytelling. Data is valuable as is the story of yourself that you are editing for progress.
- Stop seeing happiness as a destination or contingent on externalities. Draw closer to those you love, do things you’re good at, try things you’re interested in and do good for others. It really is all about those things. More money, less weight, a good job, true love, amazing grades: None of those have been clinically shown to make people happier in any permanent way.
- You may feel that you’re not ready for change… but consider you may be FULLY ready for smaller changes.
- There is no magic diet. There are no “superfoods” and there is no superior exercise program. Eat as minimally processed as you can for your circumstances and preferences. Eat adequate protein, veggies and fruits, drink water, lift something heavy and walk with intent. Throw all of your energy into nailing those basics. The rest are details and window dressing.
- What if your “screw it” default changed? Meaning, what if from now on, your response to “screw it” is to work it out with iron or with a nourishing meal? What if whatever you are stressed/upset about, you could say “screw it, I’m going to eat something healthy or workout because dammit I CAN control that”. Stick it to the moment.. Stick it to whatever/whomever is causing this negative emotion by bettering yourself. That is the biggest middle finger I can think of.
- If your highest goal is patient, incremental change and development, and outcome goals are a natural result of the excellence you have attained at these competencies – you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of success.
- Progress is in the next 5 minutes: Take the smallest possible chunks of time and keep building momentum. Of course, have long term goals, of course, have ambitions. But put radical focus on the next few moments.
- As an extension of the above thoughts, you are less than 5 minutes away from turning things around. If you’ve fallen off course, missed workouts, had a crappy week(s) of eating, you can take that first step back to progress by walking, squatting, cutting up a pepper, going grocery shopping or doing a mindfulness exercise.
- Staying on the theme of “5 minutes”, sometimes if we can get through 5 minutes of a strong craving or a negative impulse of any kind (anger, panic) we can ride out the storm. I learned this lesson from relationships and raising children – it’s the end of the world for 5 minutes and if you can stay as calm as possible through a heated argument or tantrums, you will avoid an undesirable spiral.
- Action has to be birthed from a place of freedom, not force. One of the more monumental mindset shifts one can make is reframing healthy habits as ones grounded in freedom. Something you choose, something you feel privileged to pursue.. Rather than “I want this, therefore I must suffer”. Look, this won’t be easy.. But it doesn’t have to be a constant labor or perpetually daunting. Reframe freedom.
- Improving health involves improving relationships: Your relationship with food, your relationship with movement, your relationships with those close to you and most importantly, your relationship with yourself.
- Even positive change for people is hard because with change comes loss. We have to give up comfort and familiarity – even when we know the change is for the best. In the process we do feel we are “losing” something. Even if that something is keeping us from living a better life, it’s the devil we know. Ironically our biological DESIRE for staying comfortable repeatedly coaxes us into decidedly UNDESIRABLE habits. And this discomfort could by physical, mental and emotional – or any combination thereof. ne big problem is our brain perceives change as a threat. Our cravings are a manifestation of our brains desire to stay comfortable – to attain a different state – putting us into a perpetual cycle of chasing pleasure/comfort. We self-medicate with food, shopping, alcohol, mindless social media scrolling – all about feeling different.
- Surrender the outcome: When you surrender the outcome, you are freed up to be at your best, to be in the moment and to trust the process. The one that surrenders the outcome has the greatest chance of success. Those who surrender to the fact that they could fail have the greatest chance of not failing.Until you surrender your outcome, you will always be the greatest enemy of your own success. In order to reach your greatest potential, you must operate with a heart posture of gratitude, commit to the controllables and trust the process.
- Your fat loss journey will require ignoring two kinds of BS: 1. Industry BS. 2. Your own BS. REAL change happens when you get tired of your own BS and you stop trying to get better through BS methods.
- The fact that you eat healthily and workout often even though you don’t “need” to is why you don’t need to. Your habits create your strengths. (stolen from James Clear).
- Expect to struggle, but insist on your own persistence.
- On emotional eating: So much of the process is recognizing that an emotional void is just made up of thoughts and body sensations. When we are attuned to this we can step back, make sure we don’t feed the loop and let the rest take care of itself. Curiosity and mindful awareness are crucial to disrupting the cycle. Curiosity feels inherently good and provides a buffer for the stressful emotions. Relax into your emotions… accept them without trying to fight them. Become interested and curious about your body’s sensations.
- Excellent advice: Control what you can control. Excellent reality: You can control a lot more than you believe you can. Generally, your response to situations. Specifically, the ability to move more, eat more nutritiously, get to bed earlier, the amount of free time you spend on screens.
- Your number 1 predictor of long term success? Being able to weather storms. It’s easy to stay on track during spurts of time when you are motivated and have few obstacles. When crap hits the fan – that’s when you shine and that’s where your sustainable success happens.
- About 43% of the time we do the same things every day in the same context without thinking about it. Forming a new habit can take anywhere from 13 days to over 300 – depending on the stronghold of the existing habit and the complexity of the newer desired habit. Developing new habits depends on how consistent you are in repeating the behavior, how strong the cueing is and how strong the rewards are.
- We are governed by cues and contexts, not willpower and motivation. High self-controllers made more productive decisions through streamlining – not brute force. Self-control is situation control. Control cues, proximity and situations as best you can and great habits will ensue.
- There is value in quitting; We always think we need more: more help, more motivation, more energy. But in our current world the answer is often the exact opposite: we need less. Fewer distractions, fewer goals, fewer responsibilities. We need less of those things so we can go all in on our priorities.
- Analysis paralysis and freeing up cognitive load: The amount of time the average person spends on what to eat, what to watch and what to wear is between 250-275 hours a year. Work diligently on streamlining/shortening these processes and watch your mind free up and your productivity skyrocket.
- When it comes to improving your health and losing fat – seek out the root cause rather than treating the symptoms. Eliminating a long list of foods = treating the symptoms. Working on on your personal narratives, your relationship with food and your mindset about activity, plus designing your life in such a way to help you make better day to day decisions and forgiving yourself when you don’t = addressing the root cause.
- Value self-compassion over self-esteem: Self-esteem is the greatest sickness known to man or woman because it’s conditional. People with self-compassion don’t feel the need to constantly prove themselves, and research shows they are less likely to feel like a “loser.”
- There is a massive difference between taking action and “being in motion”. (h/t James Clear) They sound similar but being “in motion” is planning, contemplating, becoming “aware”, strategizing – all things that are poor proxies for real, tangible, results-oriented action. Taking action involves getting out and taking deliberate steps, showing up at the gym, getting healthy food, cooking healthy food, eating from home, getting to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Insight is the boobie prize of progress: Having insight or knowledge about how or why you are sabotaging your efforts is almost useless. Unless paired with a deliberate, focused and consistent action to disrupt the bad habits, insight on its own is of very little value. I feel like when we gain “awareness” our brain tricks us into thinking we are on our way to making progress when really just prefer to sit on those insights.
- Success lies in the un-sexy. It is the underpinnings, the scaffolding, the little wins. It’s in the frustration, the resilience and the discomfort of change. None of which makes for compelling instagram stories, reels or Tick Tocks.
- “Food Freedom” is a 2-way street; Releasing from the perceived need to consume certain foods whilst exhibiting self-compassion if you do consume said food. A healthy relationship with food is the empowerment of saying “no”more often and the empowerment of saying “yes”with limits.
- Healthy relationships in general can be largely attributable to seeking first to understand before you seek to be understood. Showing love and respect without expecting anything in return is the very essence of true love and respect.
- Thoughts specific to 2020: Society thrives when we put our resources into how we can help rather than finding loopholes in how we can avoid health guidelines.
- A popular battle cry on IG posts/podcasts/self-help books is this theme of battling perfectionism. For 95% of people it’s not about trying to be perfect, it’s about the fear of getting uncomfortable enough to reach the minimal threshold for improvement. Perfectionism then, becomes more of a loophole used as a proxy for doing imperfect things.
- Why we stay stuck: We love comfort. Meaningful change requires getting uncomfortable. This discomfort interferes with this nice, safe homeostasis we’ve created for ourselves. A comfort that our brains will fight like hell to keep intact. And with change comes loss. We have to give up comfort and familiarity – even when we know the change is for the best. In the process we do feel we are “losing” something. Even if that something is keeping us from living a better life, it’s the devil we know. Ironically our biological DESIRE for staying comfortable repeatedly coaxes us into decidedly UNDESIRABLE habits. And this discomfort could by physical, mental and emotional – or any combination thereof.
- A healthy mindset with aging: Older people, despite physical deterioration are overall happier than younger people. Why? According to researcher Dr. Laura Carstensen “As people get older, they’re more aware of mortality, so when they see or experience moments of wonderful things, that often comes with the realization that life is fragile and will come to an end. But that’s a good thing. It’s a signal of strong emotional health and balance.” She also recommends envisioning ways to thoroughly enjoy the years that lie ahead and imagine what it would be like to live a healthy, happy 100 years. “Design your social and physical environments – home, spending habits, eating habits – so that your daily routine reinforces your goals. Diversify your expertise and activities and avoid putting your social investments into only your spouse, children or job”.
- Success is not the result of any one factor. It’s alignment; between who you are and where you choose to be. The right skill in the right role. A good person surrounded by other good people. A story that connects you with the world in a way that keeps you going. When you align your values with the employment of your signature skills in a context that re-enforces these same strengths, you create a powerful and emotionally engaging force for achievement, significance, happiness and legacy.
- Everyone has different missions in life. One framework that resonates with me when it comes to perpetual goals:
- Athletes body
- Entrepreneurs mind
- Artists soul
- Servant’s heart
As we wrap up this wild, tumultuous year I can’t help but feel a sense of hope on the horizon. Keep seeking out those bright spots, keep prioritizing you and keep doing everything you can to stay healthy and of sound mind. I’m always here if you need anything.