My Theme For 2015

Man, it is so easy to get comfortable in our safe ways.

We are creatures of habit. A big part of our life is routine and staying sheltered.

And at times it is needed.

When we were young, our parents, teachers, and coaches made sure we were safe. We were not prepared to protect ourselves, so others helped us through that stage. The environment we were put in was often not chosen by us.

Growing up, we are taught to get safe jobs through school. If you’re like me, you were easily influenced during these years and listened to this advice. We then find ourselves in those steady, corporate jobs and become scared of other options. I almost hear “Hey, it’s not as always greener on the other side” more now than the alternative. That is Fear poking it’s head.

But if there is one thing I know, it’s that change will happen whether we like it or not. It’s the basic principle of nature.

Your environment will change – sometimes it’s a new school, a new jobs, a new house, a new city…

Those you spend time with will change. People will come into your life. Others will leave…at times unexpectedly.

The way I look at it is we only have control of our response to change if it occurs externally. We must look out for ourselves and those we care about. We have to overcome change at times, while other times it comes as a pleasant surprise.

But often, the problem is our resistance to this inevitable change that occurs. We think we’re the center of the universe during these times. We try to fight this force because it is disturbing our safe environment that we are finally comfortable in.

But here’s the thing – Mother Nature doesn’t care about your plans. She has plans of her own.

So taking all of this into consideration, I was trying to decide on a new approach, and at first I thought – Embrace Change

This isn’t too far off from where my theme ended up. Embrace Change is definitely part of my theme. I really like the idea of being open to change because a part of me is often scared of what is to come. But that lead me to the issue that is even more at the heart of what I want to accomplish – Fighting My Resistance to Change

It’s a slight frame shift. I felt this to be more empowering because it puts more of the accountability on me to do the work.

Resistance is a big part of this personal battle. Embracing change is more of a passive concept. To me, it implies staying open to the external change that will occur in my life. I want to focus more on the self-created change. Noticing my natural defenses to this change and fighting/rewiring those faulty impulses is more of what I’m after.

So that is my 2015 Theme – Fight My Resistance to Change so I can eventually embrace both change that is forced on me, as well as create the necessary change I desire.

Change isn’t good. Change isn’t bad. Change just is.

My 1st 24-Hour Fast

So I recently completed my first 24-hour fast.

Here’s how it went down –

I finished my last meal at 6:45 p.m. on 2/11/15. It was a large dinner, so I decided not to eat anything the rest of the night. I was planning on fasting in the morning until lunch, which is part of an Intermittent Fasting plan that I do every once and a while.

The day before this I listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast at work, where he mentioned doing a 7-Day Distilled Water Fast. I found that to be pretty incredible. So he planted a seed in my mind for me to try something to test my discipline and improve myself.

At about 10 a.m., I realized that I still wasn’t very hungry. I had my daily checklist next to me – which is a new habit I’ve been working on – and I wrote down “Fast until Dinner”. It was settled then.

I got off work at 4:30 pm. and went to the gym on a pretty empty stomach for a light workout and some time in the Sauna.

By 6:30 p.m., I was finally cooking up some Bacon and Eggs, with Sweet Potatoes and a Salad. That’s how you “break a fast”.

Success!

Some notes:
  • I didn’t stick to a total fast. I created my own version. When I do Intermittent Fasting, I usually have a Bulletproof Coffee (Grass Fed Butter and Coconut Oil), which can help put your body in fat-burning mode. On this day I had a coffee with about a tablespoon of Coconut Oil in it. I also ate 1 serving of vegetables (a few carrots and broccoli) with Olive Oil over it. Again, went with good fats. I also allowed myself to have 5 Almonds in the afternoon. I had a Green Tea as well.
  • In the afternoon, I felt amazing. My energy levels never went down. The only time it affected me was my workout, which was obviously much more of a struggle. I had incredible focus throughout the day and my mind was extremely clear. I felt pure…and at times, euphoric. I couldn’t have been happier with those results.
  • I’m not going to say I wasn’t tempted. Going down to my work lobby where everyone was eating may not have been the best move. However, breaking away from my normal routine was probably the most difficult part. But honestly, I had very little food cravings. The afternoon was also not too difficult.
  • I’d attribute the lack of food cravings throughout the day to having no sugar or carbohydrates. This process once again re-affirmed my stance that having sugar or bad carbs in the morning will lead to unhealthy cravings. I try to stick to slow-carbs, protein, or good fats. This process helps differentiate food cravings and the feelings of actual hunger.
  • I lost ~4 lbs during the 24 hours.
  • A note from a week later – I am still down about 3 lbs without adjusting my diet. Also, the sugar cravings – and food cravings in general – are noticeably lacking. I’d guess this is related to the fast cleaning out my gut, which is my best guess to being the culprit of the cravings.

If you’re interested in trying this, I’d check out Mark’s Daily Apple for more info on Fasting. There is a lot of good stuff from him.

I will definitely be doing this again.

2/13 Note To Self – On External Events, Adapting, and Making Time

2/13 – A personal note written quickly on Friday afternoon 

Don’t let external events or other people determine your view of the world. Don’t let them distract you. Or let them set limits on you. Don’t let them decide where you’re going. Don’t let them determine your impact in this world.

We humans are great at adapting. It is the reason we are still alive and kickin. We would be the prey of a predator or the victims of famine. Adapting is a great advantage. But with that, there is also a downside. We adapt to what others have done before us because it works. We adapt to similar behaviors that are often destructive. We adapt to what our friends and acquaintances see as a right. It’s ying and yang.

The problem is there is no time-out in our society to take time and evaluate what is really going on. We are chess pieces on a board that is often already deciding our next move. That is, unless we step back. Unless we see things from a different angle. A different point of view. Some quit their jobs, travel, and find themselves. Others can’t because of the dependencies in their life, whether those be self-induced or forced upon them.

Some may argue they don’t have time. But there is time. Eliminate the unnecessary and find the time because it is essential for you. Gather your energy and create your own version of this life. You have the power to do that. You can choose where to focus your attention. You can choose who to surround yourself with. You can adapt in the best way you see fit. Make the time to see through all of the mess and your mind and vision will become clearer. Then comes action.

Accomplished at 26

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So this week I turned 26. To gain a little perspective, I decided to look up what others have accomplished during their 26th year in this world. It is humbling to say the least.

  • Steve Jobs is fresh off of Apple becoming a public company. Job’s net worth grows from a few million to over $200 million.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte is named Commander-in-Chief of French Army. Napoleon wins a few major battles, the Battle of Lodi and the Battle of Arcole, that eventually leads to a victory over Italy.
  • Ken Kesey publishes his first novel, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
  • Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin, revolutionizing the economies of the United States and Britain.
  • Mark Zuckerberg gets a movie made about him and his creation of Facebook – The Social Network.
  • Eminem releases his breakthrough album, The Slim Shady LP.
  • Albert Einstein has his best year of his life, that he will later describe as his “Annus Mirabilis” – his miraculous year – Albert Einstein publishes four major theoretical papers in the prestigious German academic journal Annalen Der Physik. These four papers include a groundbreaking new interpretation of the photoelectric effect (for which Einstein will eventually win the Nobel Prize) as well as the first published exploration of the theory of Special Relativity and the first formulation of the famous equation e=mc2.
  • Soviet cosmonaut, Valentina Chereshkova, became the first woman to travel in space.
  • Jay Z releases his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, which was included in the Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time.
  • John D. Rockefeller buys out his partners and becomes majority owner of Rockefeller and Andrews, Cleveland’s largest refinery.

It’s easy to look at these examples and think to yourself – well not everyone is Steve Jobs or Jay Z. Yes, that’s true. But it is important to remember these people were all just getting started on their own personal journey. At one point in time, they were the same age as I am right now. We know we have some time ahead of us, but just how long is a mystery. So the most important step to make towards a fulfilled, accomplished life is to focus on what is in front of you right now. It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be successful, seeking happiness, or striving to be famous. But we need to be smarter than that. Take the words of Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor,

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.

Success and happiness must ensue. It cannot be pursued.

So you must stay on your grind. Keep your head down. Remove distractions. Push forward a little bit daily. Fight your way through the obstacles. Think bigger than yourself.

Only then will you come closer to the life you seek. Maybe it will start to show its face at 26. Maybe in a few years. Maybe never.

But you must try.

Lessons Learned in 2014

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I wrote about my lessons learned last year around this time, so I figured I would reflect back on this year as well.

  • Knowledge vs. Understanding – Finally recognizing the difference between these two. I used to think I was smart because I’ve learned a lot of things on my own. But it was not until this year that I finally understood this vital difference. Knowledge is something you can acquire and accumulate, but true understanding only comes through experience. Only then can can you connect the dots between knowledge and your environment. Wisdom may soon follow.
  • Exhaustion is real, and while I like to push myself, I have also seen its limitations. Rest and fun are necessary for well-being when working hard towards something, but there must be a balance. Also, it’s okay to take a break to recover and come back stronger.
  • The significance of getting enough quality sleep and designing a personal sleep routine
  • Not-To-Do Lists can be effective. I plan to continue experimenting with these next year. Some things I’ve previously added to mine:
    • No long, hot showers in the winter.
    • No sugar or caffeine before bed.
    • No soda (except for an occasional mixed drink on the weekend)
    • Limiting Distractions (more than 1 hour of TV a day, limiting social media)
  • That I feel more alive when I get out in nature on a daily basis. Not only do we get the benefits of more sun, but we also can learn to connect with nature as humans are intended to do. When’s the last time you ran on the grass barefoot?
  • Which brings me to – The benefits of a daily walk. Every day I attempt to at least take one walk (a little tougher in the winter, so I may substitute with the gym). I prefer to do this for the mental benefits – clarity, brainstorming – even more than the physical benefits. It’s also a great way to connect with friends and take meetings (learned this one from Steve Jobs).
  • Laughter is a powerful healer.
  • The power of constructing your reality and deciding what is played on your Movie Screen. I want to build myself from the inside out – not search my external world for temporary fillers.
  • The importance of energy, environment, and the people you associate yourself with. These are extremely interrelated, such as noticing energy levels when in different settings or around different people. Understanding each of these within the scope of my immediate environment has been eye-opening and self-empowering.

I hope 2015 has more quality lessons in store for me.

My Sleep Cycle Experiment and What to Limit Before Bed

These modern-day alarm clocks can really be a pain sometimes…rudely waking me up when my dream finally starts to get exciting. Then I’ll usually hit the snooze – probably multiple times – but the damage is done. I’d wake up feeling a little off for a while and the tone was then set for the rest of my morning.

So as you may know, I’ve been working on improving my Night-Time Routine. I came across this Sleep Cycle app in a couple different articles from blogs I follow in the health field. I was interested in the topic of how our sleep cycles affect our quality of sleep, so I went on to buy the $2.99 iPhone app and gave it a shot. I started using this app in September 2013 and just reached the 150 day mark. I figured this was a good samples size for showing my results.

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I figured this would be just an alarm clock that wakes you up when you have completed a sleep cycle. But surprisingly, there was another feature that really caught my interest. You can add different variables to track every night and see how they affect your sleep. This is purely correlation, but still adds an interesting dynamic.

Sleep Cycle Portion

Sleep cycles are usually ~90 minute periods, so you may have 4-6 in a night. Ideally, you want to wake up at the end of the cycle. So how this app works is you choose a range of when you want to wake up. Mine is set on a 30 minute range – so for example wake up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. The alarm will sound when you are in your lightest sleep in that period. I hoped that this new alarm would help with some common morning symptoms of grogginess and cloudy-headedness.

The Sleep Cycle app determines how well you slept that night based on a percentage. Your sleep quality percentage is calculated based on movements and vibrations throughout the night when you are in different states of sleep.

Testing Variables

As for the variable testing, I could track the relationship between the variables I’m testing to my overall quality of sleep. I decided to remove all of the standard variables on this app and create my own. These are based on either advice I’ve heard or some personal hunches. There are probably many factors I am missing, but here are the variables I decided to track:

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  • Worked Out – If I worked out at all that day
  • Stressful Day – This was a judgement call
  • Drank Alcohol – Usually more than 3 drinks
  • Complex Carbohydrates Before Bed – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.
  • 1 Glass of Whiskey – If I had one drink before bed
  • Melatonin – If I took a melatonin pill before bed
  • Late Caffeine
  • Prayed/Read/Meditated – any form of relaxation before bed that extended over ~10 minutes
  • Nap – If I took a nap that day
  • Glass of Water Before Bed – Only if I had a full glass, not just a few sips
  • Light meal – This was a judgement call – usually light meal and light snacking
  • Shower Before Bed
  • 8 Hours of Computer or TV
  • Computer or TV and Hour Before Bed – testing the lighting factor before sleeping
  • Honey – about a tablespoon usually in tea
  • Tea
  • Magnesium Pill – only if before bed
  • Nootropic – this is a pill to help brain function. I only checked this if it was taken within 6 hours before sleeping

 My Results

Lets start by looking at my best night sleep.

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This was on the night of Sunday Feb 23. I reached deep sleep on 3 different occasions and woke up a few times throughout the night. Also, my time in bed – 7:56 hours – was above my average over the 150 days – 7:34 hours. As you will see, many of these variables in the sleep notes are linked to a more favorable night sleep.

Now, here shows the variables and their individual effect on my quality of sleep. This is over the course of the 150 days, with some variables being added in later. Graph 2 has a little overlap in the wording.

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As you can see, about a handful of these variables are correlated with a good/bad night sleep. The highlights are:

  • Drinking alcohol was linked to a 6% decrease in quality of sleep.
  • Shower before bed was linked to a 4% increase in quality of sleep.
  • Relaxing before bed via reading/praying/meditation was linked to a 4% increase in quality of sleep.
  • Taking a melatonin pill before bed was linked to a 6% increase in quality of sleep.
  • Late caffeine was linked to a 5% decrease in quality of sleep

I pretty much agree with all of these. I anticipated that melatonin and quality relaxation would positively affect my sleep. I also figured alcohol and caffeine would have negative effects.

Here are a few results that I question the legitimacy of:

  • Computer an hour before bed having a positive impact on quality of sleep
  • 8 hour of computer and TV having a positive impact on quality of sleep
  • A Nootropic pill having a negative impact on quality of sleep

These don’t seem to make sense to me. But then again, these variables are not isolated so not much weight can be put on these findings.

Lastly, see below for my quality sleep per day of the week. Friday and Saturday are the days I am most prone to having more than one cocktail. This shows the significance of some lack of sleep and alcohol.

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According to these results of the individual testing, my ideal night sleep would include computer/tv an hour prior to bed, tea, a magnesium pill, a light meal, a shower before bed, read/prayed/meditated, complex carbohydrates before bed, 1 glass of whiskey, a melatonin pill, honey, 8+ hours of comptuter/tv, and a glass of water before bed.

What can be improved with this app

There are a few issues I have with this app. First, there is no way to track variables when you wake up – only before you set your alarm. I would like to track a few variables such as temperature, lighting (sun through windows), initial energy, and mood upon waking. Also, the only way to record your quality of sleep (besides the sleep quality % calculated by the app) is to choose between the 3 smiley faces (good/moderate/poor). I didn’t find this to be useful at all. Ideally, this app would allow you to take notes when you wake up.

Some take-aways from this 150 day experiment is confirmation of what I anticipated going in. Late alcohol and caffeine should be avoided if you need a good night sleep. It is often easier – and more effective – to remove or limit factors than to add them in. Also, occasionally take a melatonin pill before you sleep (I often take one if I am exposed to a lot of light prior to bed). Also, try to find a way to get into a relaxed state before bed. You can find many ways to accomplish this. Ideally, TV would not be in the mix however because the artificial light may throw off your body’s natural melatonin response.

I just recently discovered a new free alarm clock app called Dream:On that claims to help influence your dreams. It plays light music during the night to influence your subconscious mind and ultimately play a factor in your dreaming. Sounds interesting enough to give it a shot.

I’m also moving on to improving my morning routine.

I’m often in a rush in the morning so this many be a little more difficult…

A Fresh Perspective on Happiness

We live in a time and place where people still strive for the American dream and living a happy life. Our society is continuously pushing for more happiness, and we seek it in different forms – more clothes, bigger houses, more experiences, more money. We think these things will improve our lives…and they very well may.

There’s only one problem – we, as a society, love immediate gratification more than anything. Everything you see is promoting some sort of temporary benefit. Take for instance this ad:

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We see these ads all the time. Buy this car, guys, because you will get the girl of your dreams. As obvious as this is, and as much as we believe we can see through it, we are still prone to these persuasive ads. Many times we believe buying something will add to this internal view of yourself – I own a Cadillac so I am of higher class and will attract higher class potential partners.

Now, I just used this example because it is so common. Happiness, as we perceive it, can be found in many different forms.

I’m not a big advocate of pursuing happiness as an end. I don’t see pursuing happiness as a useful way to live a well-balanced, quality life…unless you define it properly. But even this may not be the most effective approach. This way of thinking leads you to always wanting more because we continue to only see temporary results. Remember, happiness is an emotion and it comes and goes. Unless you have created a strong personal system of emotional intelligence, you will find yourself in the happy-sad cycle too often for your own liking.

I recently watched a TED talk from Daniel Kahneman relating to this topic. He won a Nobel Prize and is known as the founder of behavioral economics. In this talk, Kahneman broke down happiness as being perceived by our 2 Selves. He also said that we pretty much have no idea how to understand our own happiness based on cognitive traps.

Kahneman breaks down the 2 selves as follows:

Experiencing Selves – your moment-to-moment happiness as you experience it.

Remembering Selves – how you think about your happiness based on your memories.

This was eye-opening for me to say the least. I really like the micro and macro way of how we view our experiences.

The key aspect to this is that the Experiencing Self and Remembering Self often have very different ways of perceiving happiness.

This conflict is one of the reasons why the continuous pursuit of happiness is not an effective approach.

Let’s use the example by Kahneman:

A man went to a symphony with wonderful music that he really enjoyed. However, at the very end there was a dreadful screeching sound. The man claimed it ruined the whole experience. But it hadn’t. The screeching sound only ruined the memory of the experience, not the experience in itself.

This is a great lesson and shows how the 2 Selves may differ in perceptions.

What can we take away from this?

First off, let’s acknowledge we are not good at determining what makes us happy.

Many of our everyday decisions are to make us happier in some way. When we buy that nice shirt, we are often doing so because it improves the view we have of our self and hopefully how others view us. 

So should we focus on pleasing the Experiencing Self or the Remembering Self when making decisions?

I would say both. It is all about a certain balance. The purpose would be to make decisions to make you happier on a random Tuesday at 8:00 – moment-to-moment happiness. I think this is a reason a lot of people have pets. You also want to make decisions that will make you happiest looking back. The example Kahneman used was comparing and equally satisfying 1 week vacation and 2 week vacation. The second week doesn’t provide much additional value in the big picture, so it does not add much to the Remembering Self. The Experiencing Self may have had additional benefits though. Considering these factors going into a decision can be helpful – if you’re after more day-to-day happiness and positive memories.

This is all food for thought. We now know these 2 Selves may not always agree. Hopefully we can make an effort to create a quality balance between our two views of happiness.

 

Exposing Faulty Studies – On Causation vs. Correlation

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I am always stumbling across new studies with these outlandish headings.

Let’s take for instance the following article:

Diets high in meat, eggs and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking

Wow. That’s really making a claim! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone make a persuasive statement or share an article based on one of these types of studies – with only reading the headline. This frustrates me. And take a look at this subheading:

People under 65 who eat a lot of meat, eggs and dairy are four times as likely to die from cancer or diabetes, study suggests

Let’s break down what’s going on here.

Based on this headline, I expect tests with meat, eggs, and dairy being the only isolated variable in the controlled group of people. I want to know details about the group tested (age/health/history) and I want it to be a controlled study. I want to see detailed evidence on how the quantity and quality of these variables affect a human’s health. I expect conclusive evidence that people under 65 are more likely to die based on the animal proteins they are consuming. I also want to see the studies about smoking they have performed to make this comparison.

The test group:

  • 6,381 Adults all over the age of 50
  • Broken up into high protein group (over 20% of diet protein), moderate group (10-19%), and low group (less than 10%)

The claimed results:

  • High protein intake is linked to increased cancer, diabetes, and overall mortality
  • Higher protein consumption may be protective for older adults (over 65)
  • Plant-derived proteins are associated with lower mortality than animal-derived proteins

These results make me cringe. So the claim is that high protein is linked to these types of mortality. Out of this whole group of 6,381 people over an 18 year period, there were only 6 deaths. Of these 6 deaths, more came from the range of 50-65 than from over 65. This activated my bullshit detector almost as much as reading the headline of this article. It just doesn’t make sense. The study found that animal proteins (meat, eggs, and dairy) were associated with these deaths and not protein in general (it claims they used both animal proteins and other natural types of proteins in the study). Based on how I understood the study, I don’t see how they can truly link animal proteins in the association with these deaths.

Also, this study never explains the reasoning behind comparing animal proteins with smoking. It appears the creator of the study just added in smoking because people associate it with ill-health. There is no other reason I could find for this to be in the study, let alone the headline.

Here is a quote from the creator of the study:

“People need to switch to a diet where only around nine or ten percent of their calories come from protein, and the ideal sources are plant-based,” Longo told the Guardian. “We are not saying go and do some crazy diet we came up with. If we are wrong, there is no harm done, but if we are right you are looking at an incredible effect that in general is about as bad as smoking.”

This is an illogical recommendation, even based on his study’s findings. The study says that eating animal proteins over the age of 65 is good, but from the range of 50-65 is bad. The creator of the study is telling everyone to consume an amount of protein on the lower end of their test. This, again, makes absolutely no sense to me.

Let’s get into talking about the topic of a controlled study. This does not come across as a controlled study, but more of an observational study. A true controlled study would have all static variables and only change one variable and see the results. It is extremely difficult to perform this on humans with so many factors coming into play. This makes it difficult to trust almost any study on humans. Rats are much easier to control, which is one reason we see so many studies on these animals.

Most studies are either observational studies or controlled studies gone wrong.

Another factor is the age of the control group. Why are you testing only people over 50 years old? Why are you only focused on deaths instead of nutritional data? How are you not taking into effect the additional exposure older people have to sicknesses and other negative-effecting variables? Questionable.

My take-away:

I find this study to be extremely irresponsible. To me. the author is looking only for page-views with this title. This article could have easily been called ” There is no association between protein intake and mortality.” Instead, he chose this current title. Ultimately, my take-away is disregard everything in this article.

Let’s clear it up once and for all

Correlation shows relationships between 2 variables. Ex: how many bathrooms a house has vs. the price of the house. There will be a relationship here – maybe every extra bathroom the house has, the house is worth $4,000 more. However, this does not imply causation. If you add an extra bathroom, your house’s value will not jump $4,000.

Causation is much more difficult to prove in a study. There needs to be isolated variables in a controlled group. Causation is when (A) actually causes (B) to occur.

I’m breaking this down because I see too many people jump to the conclusion that a study proves causation. This is very often not the case. I want people to be wary the next time they see a similar headline.

I always try to check my sources, check the background of the study, and check the data. I also try to make sure the founders of the study have no vested interest in the outcome.

  • Ex: A Coca-Cola study about how Aspartame (sugar substitute) is not harmful to our health.

It is often more dangerous to be misinformed than to not be knowledgeable about a certain topic.

The goal of this process is to at least briefly question information you come across and eliminate being easily fooled. Previously, I was greatly influenced by anything that came from a position of authority. After being proven wrong too many times, I decided to make a change. I have made an effort to self-experiment for a while now, finding my own results instead of relying these types of studies. I find this to be more effective, as everyone is different and there is more poor advice floating around with the recent rise of technology. However, the truth is being exposed as well…you just have to find it.

So even if you decide not to test things out yourself, be wary of the studies you come across.

A better system of evaluation will help you weed through the BS out there.

 “If you see fraud and don’t shout fraud, you are a fraud”. – Nassim Taleb

Always Tired? Let’s Attack This Naturally

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This couldn’t have been written a year ago.

Growing up, I don’t remember ever having any issues with my energy levels. I was always running around doing different things, having recess at school, sleeping 10 hours a night. But while in college I started noticing I had some issues – well maybe I just consciously realized it.

I was staying active. I was getting enough sleep usually. I began eating a little healthier. But still no significant improvement.

So what was the issue? I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Well it took some time and a lot of trial and error, but I finally made some breakthroughs.

Some were surprising.

Over the past few months, my energy has been at an all-time high. The factors included a few small changes, and others that took some time to develop. I want to break variables down as I currently see them. Some may be common knowledge, but they are still important factors so I don’t want to discount them.

Here we go.

It starts with managing your energy levels. You have to pay attention to your body. Is your body giving you signs of fatigue and that it’s time for a break? Then take one. Don’t keep trying to push forward when you have a bad headache or are physically exhausted. It’s better to let you body repair itself now than try to run at 50% and make the recovery period longer. I was in a vicious cycle of making this mistake.

Along with this, you must also pay attention to your mental energy. Reducing the mental clutter and negative thoughts will bring about more physical energy. At times, I turn into a very compulsive thinker, so it is important that I channel this effectively and quite my mind at times throughout the day. We think way too much throughout the day. Take some time to slow it all down. An exhausted mind often equals and exhausted body.

If you are looking for a quick fix, look no further than the amount and type of fats you are consuming. I’ve covered this before, but I continue to run into people who are misinformed. We’ve been tricked. This ‘fats are bad’ thing has gone on long enough. First, not all fats are treated equal. I often hear people say avocados are healthy, but when they come across anything else high in fat, they are not convinced. Lets learn a little more…Not only do good fats provide some instant energy, but they also provide many long-term health benefits (heart/brain). Did you know our brains are made up of primarily water, fat, and cholesterol? Makes you re-think fat and cholesterol right? Eat some quality fats in the morning and notice the difference. You could start by eating 2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil or MCT Oil. Cook with some grass-fed butter. Even try snacking on some fats – bacon and eggs, peanut butter, nuts, avocados. I would estimate that my diet now consists of around 50-60% fats. This has provided not only more energy, but weight loss. Big factor.

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I also have reduced my carbohydrate intake. I try to limit the carbs I have at breakfast and lunch. I usually stick with sweet potatoes and other slow-carbs. I’ve also been working on reducing my sugar intake. Both carbohydrates and sugar break down into glucose. You don’t want too much of this if you want consistent energy…unless you enjoy that afternoon crash (Insert 5 hour energy here). This also goes for artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame. If you need a sweetener, Stevia appears to be the best option.

Another quick fix is some exercise. I have been in a good flow recently, doing strength/core training about 4-5 days a week. Maybe running/yoga/stretching works for you. You need to get that blood pumping! Any physical activity helps. Need proof? Check this out…

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I also take a few supplements to aid my energy levels among other things. I always try and get these vitamins and minerals through foods first. But these include 500 mg of Magnesium, B Complex, Vitamin C, and 1,000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 among others. Potassium is also important. If you have an indoor job, I recommend these – especially in the winter. Obviously, I’m not a doctor. But I do take advice from an M.D. focused on health – see Peter Attia.

Can’t forget caffeine – I have a few cups of coffee a day, as well as an afternoon green tea. Try to keep the sources natural with little sugar – coffee, tea, dark chocolate.

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Also, try to get 8 hours of sleep. This is simple, but it is one of the most crucial factors. Make it a quality sleep while you’re at it.

The occasional power nap also is beneficial. I’ve even tried caffeine naps (espresso/caffeine pill then set your alarm for 25 min) every once in a while and found them to be effective. Even a 5-10 minute nap can make a world of difference.

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These are all easy things you can incorporate into your life today. Many may show immediate results. However, they are not the only factors.

Let’s look into some other variables that have helped me get to this point. These take work and are far from perfect.

I noticed a significant difference when I decided to change my outlook. By just framing my approach towards my personal life and work differently, everything shifted for the better. I’m taking the little issues in life much less seriously. And I’m having more fun. Less stress is always a good thing

I have really paid attention to my self-talk. Here is a recent TED Talk  I watched that hits on what I’m talking about. If you consciously pay attention to what you are telling yourself, you may not like what you see. I’ve been making an effort stop the escalation of any negative talk. I am often just too hard on myself. A good exercise is to just ask yourself – would you say these things to another person? No? Then why make them part of your story. Instead turn to conscious positive talk. This change has resulted in less physical stress, a less-worried mind, and a better self-image. That’s 2 birds with 1 stone – more positivity, MORE ENERGY.

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This probably won’t happen overnight. But by adopting a few of these techniques, you may see some positive results.

I plan to test to keep testing these out. I hope you do as well.

Let me know how it goes.

Step Into The Ring

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I really enjoy thinking of things in terms of metaphors. This outside the box thinking can be quite helpful. It often aids in helping me change my approach towards the many challenges in life.

One of my favorite metaphors I got from The Fighter’s Mind by Sam Sheridan (highly recommended by the way).

I will paraphrase in the way I tell myself:

Be confident as fuck in the ring. Be equally as humble outside of it.

I love this mentality.

This is how a Warriors thinks. I want to be a Warrior…

Think of the ring as whatever is in front of you – a big project, your at-bat , a speech, meeting an important deadline – any time when you are in the middle of achieving something. It is best you seek out these times instead of letting them come to you.

Let’s start with humbleness.

Out of The Ring

This period is just as crucial – if not more – than when you are in the heat of the battle. You’ve heard practice makes perfect. I believe in this 100%. The situations when I have been extremely nervous were often a result of a lack of preparation. I did not plan my attack correctly. I was overlooking some important information/data/sign/hint – whatever it may be. What I find fascinating is that not many people want to put in work in this part of the game because it includes more tedious work and many hours. In our ADD world, time and attention to details are precious. Many of us have become soft.

We all need reminders every once and a while. We need to put in the necessary work.

This is the time when you should be working your ass off.

You need to be hungry.

Learning.

Studying.

Practicing.

Reflecting.

Seeing things from an outside perspective.

Taking new angles.

Doubt will be in play when you’re out of the ring. You can use this as fuel.

In The Ring

There will be times when you find yourself in the ring when the event is planned. You obviously have the most control over these types of situations. You can plan your attack. You can scope out your competition. You can evaluate your environment. Hopefully you will increase your chance of success by your Out of The Ring preparation.

However, there are times when you will find yourself in the heat of the battle unexpectedly. These situations can be common – whether it be a random confrontation, a call into the bosses office, or an unanticipated attack by a stranger. Times like these are when your true training comes out. What have you been studying? Have you prepared for this situation? How developed are you? Many of these questions will likely be answered quickly.

This also brings up a good point – you need to be able to shift from Out of The Ring mode to In The Ring mode as effortlessly as possible. I think of this as being in the zone. This more effortless and timely this shift is will put you in a state that will increase your chance of success.

Lets get back to what needs to be done In The Ring:

This is when you should be out of your head.

This is when you should have total confidence in your training. There is no use for doubt now.

100% attention on what is in front of you.

You’re going to win – at least that’s what you need to tell yourself

I obviously apply this differently than how others would. There has never been a day where I physically stepped in a ring and was ready to throw down. This day may come sometime…

Despite not having the physical punches thrown at me, I – like everyone else – still have many everyday obstacles in my way. Even if you run from these, life will continue to throw more your way until you learn how to handle them. I find this mentality as a great way to overcome these difficulties.

The genius of the ring metaphor is there is a feedback loop. You start by preparation. You are gearing up for this big event. You work to overcome all the possible obstacles that may be thrown your way when the time comes. Then you find yourself in the moment. This is when you have to put your training aside and trust that it has prepared you for this moment. You then go all-in with supreme confidence.

You may win or you may lose, but if you treat it correctly you will always come out a winner.

If you win, you can move forward with similar practices and prepare for your next fight. But don’t become overconfident. You must treat your success as a one-time thing. These previous successes will not guarantee success in the future. Remember this.

If you lose, you must reflect and learn some lessons. There is a reason you lost. You may not have prepared enough. You may have miscalculated the opposition. Maybe you’re just not good enough right now. But you will be better next time. No matter how good you think you are, eventually someone will come along and knock you off your course. This is needed for your growth. Embrace it and invest in your failures.

Humbleness -> Confidence -> Humbleness

Preparation -> In the fight -> More Preparation

This is your feedback loop.

The more you test yourself early, the better – as long as you are learning lessons. Don’t fall for the same trick twice. Don’t let Einstein call you insane…

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So next time you step in the ring, go in with all you have. Make the adjustments in the ring and remember to learn those lessons afterwards.

Adapt to what is in front of you and stay humble. Learn from those better than you and apply it to your life. Experiment with new ideas. Test new approaches.

This mix of confidence and humbleness will eventually bring you the results you seek.

See Mike Tyson’s approach.

Understand life in general is your ring. You’re already all-in. Continue to discover your personal direction and show this world what’s up.

I wanted to wish you luck with your future battles, but you don’t need luck. You just need to step in the ring…