What would you have to do to discover the best version of yourself? Not just the fittest, the smartest, or the most socially responsible you – I’m talking about the total package… The best YOU. All-around. To unleash your fullest potential, you would need to design an incredibly healthy lifestyle prioritizing just the right amount of happiness, fitness, success, and freedom.
Over the last decade, I’ve been experimenting with different routines and philosophies to do just that – design a healthy lifestyle to unleash the best me
But those losses all lead to positive results – eventually.
Over those years, I had the opportunity to experiment with many different routines and philosophies in pursuit of my best me. Some were great and some were a complete waste of time. So I’ve distilled 23 of the best that allow me to live my healthiest life and included them below.
My hope is that you’ll be able to implement at least a few of these routines and philosophies in pursuit of your best you. Good luck!
(Photo courtsey of Joyce & Randy Monfredi)
Philosophies to consider for your best healthy lifestyle
1- Know your true values and design your life around them
What gets you out of bed in the morning? When you’re making a life-altering decision, what factors or beliefs are you considering while making that decision? Are you a ‘Family First’ person or do you have some combination of unique values and morals that define you?
Probably the latter.
But the important thing is to identify what those values and morals are for you and keep them at the forefront of your mind in all aspects of your life. When they’re writing your obituary, how would you prefer those words describe you?
Once you know your destination, now you can start to map out your journey.
2- Excel when you’re <100%
Waking up with less than the optimal amount of sleep (6.5-7 hours for me) does not give you a hall pass for the day. I don’t care if you were burning the midnight oil cranking out a big project, smashing a workout, or binging Netflix. Whatever the case – you made that decision, and now – you feel how you feel because of that choice.
You’re tired? I bet that if you polled your coworkers or the other folks in line at that coffee shop you’re standing in, the majority feel the same way. That’s all well and good but my progress ain’t got time for those excuses. I still need to get my $hit done.
That’s why I train my sick and twisted brain to love days like those because they provide more of a challenge.
“I was up working on this article until 11:30 last night and my brain isn’t operating at full capacity today… OK – not irrelevant, but I’m going to set my timer for 30 minutes and just write until that alarm goes off.”
(My personal favorite) – “I was up in the middle of the night with my sick child last night so I’m irritable today… BS. I’m going to be hyper-aware of my mood and the way I interact with my family today to make sure that lack of sleep doesn’t negatively affect our interactions today. I’ll meditate or detach more if needed, but we’re going to have a good day.”
There’s an old story in competitive football (that I’m about to butcher) that has a scout saying, “I don’t care what he plays like at 100% health. Show me a player at 100% anytime after Game-1 and I’ll show you a backup. I care how guys perform after they’ve been beaten down over the course of 3 months, have 2 fingers that bend at right angles…sideways, and have a slight limp. If they’re playmakers then – those are the guys I’ll build my franchise around.”
Strive to be more durable.
3- Early to bed, early to rise
You know how to avoid the need to fight through the tiredness and exhaustion that I mentioned above? Go to bed on time! Don’t worry – I yell at myself to do the same thing.
Let’s skip over the medical fact that those of us who regularly sleep 6 hours each night or less are at a 200% higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack in our lifetime, and we’ll focus on the actual important stuff… Increasing our productivity.
Yes, 7-8 hours of sleep each night is a great target for most. But! When those 7-8 hours of sleep take place is also critically important. Personally, I know that getting to bed at 10:00pm and waking up at 5:00am yields a significantly better day for me as compared with turning in at 11:00pm until 6:00am.
Why does when you sleep matter?
Oh – it’s science. (I’m a formally trained scientist – no Holiday Inn Express here but 15 years of research and practical experience… Damn that seems like a long time – back to the point) Circadian rhythms and optimal sleep times have been studied extensively and the data continually show the importance of a solid sleep schedule at the optimal time.
Waking up early has been touted by Navy SEALs, Benjamin Franklin, and the vast majority of successful friends I have as the main driver to their success.
4- Request & give optimal support and communication with your partner
I have much more to say on the topic of mating (keeping the science theme going here) and will get to that in time, but a successful relationship doesn’t stop once the perfect person is found. That relationship needs to be continually cultivated and nourished.
Don’t we all desire a partner who supports our dreams and who communicates with us in the ways we need it most (i.e. with encouragement, as a sounding board, or just as a best friend to joke around with)?
Of course, we do! And they should expect the same back from us!
In my decade of experience with my wife, I’ve seen that by trying to always give that support and communication to her before asking for anything in return produces the best benefits. “Lead from the front!” I always say (to myself in my head… a problem for a different day), and I’ve seen that by supporting my wife and communicating with her has been the most mutually beneficial approach (we’ve both) taken.
Without the foundational support from your Teammate or if you have difficulty communicating, all of the goals you have set for yourself will be that much harder to realize.
Cultivate a solid foundation for your home – then add all the layers above.
5- Moderation with most things
One piece of cheesecake is not going to banish you to a life of obesity and a lack of fulfillment. But one piece of cheesecake every day might…
Many of us have difficulty eliminating amazing things like cheesecake (alcohol, doughnuts, Netflix binging, or insert your vice of choice here) from our lives completely, but that may not be the worst thing in the world.
I’ve taken the approach of earning that cheesecake with discipline and a series of great workouts throughout the week. If I’ve checked those boxes of not mindlessly grabbing sweets M-F and I’ve gotten my swoll on multiple times, then I’m good with the cheesecake reward on Saturday.
The same discussion can be had with normally great things. Exercising daily can be a great thing. However, if you’re exercising the same muscle groups every day for many days in a row, you’re not giving those muscles an opportunity to rebuild and recover, and ultimately – you’ll end up with an injury.
So have a glass of wine, eat that piece of cheesecake, and by God lift those biceps. Just don’t do it for 5 days in a row…
6- Preparation is key
what do job interviews, business plans, workouts, upcoming workdays, and good blog posts all have in common? For me, they’re always better versions in the end if I’ve done the appropriate amount of research and planning on the front end.
But preparation doesn’t have to be reserved for big events like your end of the year review at work, exercising preparation in your day-to-day can have massive impacts on your overall health and wellness.
For example, our workweek lunches are planned out multiple steps in advance. On Friday night/Saturday morning we’ll make our grocery list. Saturday will find us shopping at our local Aldi buying more great groceries for less. And then Sunday after church, we’ll cook 1-3 large meals that fill our lunchboxes and sit atop our dinner tables for a good portion of the week ahead.
(Here comes another ‘but’) But (told you) preparation doesn’t have to be that large-scale. If you’re taking the kids to the park this afternoon, it can be as simple as packing water bottles and some snacks in lieu of spending your hard-earned cash on vending machines (the convenient but more expensive alternative).
Think ahead to get ahead.
7- Never miss a Monday workout
This should probably be #1… I wrote about never missing a Monday workout 3 years ago and adopted that mantra ever since. Here’s an excerpt from that post:
“What’s so great about Monday? A couple things. Monday carries such a negative connotation, is the traditional start of the workweek, and – depending on your ability to quote movies – is the only day I know of that you can have a terrible case of. Not too many people look at Monday on the calendar and smile. My thought: what better stigma to kick in the teeth? I look at Mondays and say, “This is the day I use to start my workout week off strong.” For me, Monday is the day where I know I’m going to burn some calories and work toward fitness.
Another thing: If you’re on some type of workout program that prescribes some number of sweat days per week, you only have so many days. Working out is so much a mental game that you cannot afford to put yourself behind the 8-ball. What do I mean? Say you ‘need’ to exercise 3 days each week. You only have 7 days to get in those 3 workouts – 3 in 7 doesn’t sound terrible, right? Say you skip Monday… 3 in 6. It’s not the end of the world but the mountain just got a bit steeper.”
Plan ahead, pack your workout gear, and crush your Monday to start the week off strong.
8- Walk when you could drive and take the stairs when you could use the elevator
Falling in line with being more durable (above) and challenging your mental and physical norms (below), I go out of my way to take the hard road in life’s little challenges.
For example, my day job puts me on the third floor of an office building, and while many others prefer the elevator for its ease of use – I have taken the steps every day for 7.5 years except for once… I severely sprained my ankle playing volleyball, got a blood clot, and almost died – but that’s a story for a different day. (This is why I’ll only play on the sand, baby!! It’s the purest form of volleyball anyhow)
Taking the stairs, in combination with walking (or biking) to our local parks, splash pads, and to meetings I have with folks at our local downtown area (1.5 miles away) represents a series of micro-decisions designed to output a macro result.
The human body is made to move. Let yours earn its keep.
9- Care less but don’t be careless
The mental change I get after meditating is the feeling that external stimuli seem to pass through my brain with less friction. What do I mean? I’m able to detach and see the stressors for what they are, as passing inputs from the world around me. This detachment allows me to have some perspective and thus not react in a ‘from-the-hip’ manner 100% of the time.
I am then able to easily evaluate whether something should require immediate attention or if it can be shuffled off to tomorrow with my ‘Do Later’ button. Even better – some things just get ignored altogether. The truth is that not every input requires your full mental capacity. For some things, you should just care less.
By detaching and evaluating every-day stimuli for what they are, I can care less without being entirely careless.
10- I don’t hate on any workout type – cardio, strength, yoga, pilates (yep),… , I’ll use ‘em all
By getting out of my normal, go to the gym, lift heavy weights, run on the treadmill – cycle, I reopened my eyes to new possibilities. And frankly, it reinvigorated my desire to go workout. I’m not saying that Zumba is most assuredly your jam… But a team Bootcamp may be.
The point is to expand your workout horizons and try new things. Or as my buddy, Tony Horton always says, “Keep the body guessing!”
11- Don’t waste time on things/people that cause you anxiety
When my wife and I first got together, we would spend time with some friends who didn’t really bring much to the table… We didn’t really know any better and we all had a ton of time on our hands, but for whatever reason – we’d leave those hangouts frustrated that we had spent our time in that way.
As we’ve grown up a bit, had 2 kids now, started our business, and started doing more adulting, the total free time available has reduced dramatically. And rather than be upset with interactions and phone calls that would lead to nowhere, and keep an otherwise blah relationship alive, we’ve consciously decided to “keep crazy off our bus” (as my wife describes it).
In the grand scheme of the universe, there’s only a short amount of time we have on this earth in our present situations, don’t add stress to your life by spending those precious moments with people to don’t enrich your life or in situations that don’t bring you joy unless you absolutely have to. And if you do ‘absolutely have to’ start a plan to make it so that you won’t need that person/situation in the long term.
Life is short, have more fun.
12- Challenge your mental and physical norms… often
Too cold to go for a run today, too tired to work on your side hustle for 30 minutes, or too engrossed with Birdbox (the new Netflix drama/horror film) to get some work done today…?
Reset your mind for positive momentum. Decide with every ounce of your soul that you’re not going to be held back by these minor physical issues or by your current mental state. Thrive at <100% and go make some magic happen today!
Every week I try to accomplish something that I had once thought unattainable. When I decided to lose 65 pounds forever, I vowed to run a half marathon (my previous max distance was 3.5 miles). I ran 4 half marathons in 13 months. Just last month I volunteered for a position as a public speaker because I have some slight anxiety about getting up in front of 100 people and saying words coherently. Wish me luck…
But I say all of this to ask you, “What can you not do today that you will be able to do tomorrow?”
Don’t be held back by your own mind. Set a ‘reach goal’, put steps in place for progress, and go achieve it.
Routines to consider for your best healthy lifestyle
13- 50 daily push-ups
For a guy who would like to exercise every day… who also keeps pretty busy, finding time to get in a great workout can be quite difficult. So, about 7 months ago I implemented a daily mandate (not goal) of 50 total push-ups. I included this in my 2019 goals, dreams, and aspirations post for added effect.
And I love this for 2 main reasons:
On days (other than Monday) when I don’t make time to workout, I at least got my 50 push-ups in after my morning shower. 1 minute is the price I pay for a small mental victory to start my day
I have improved in my upper body strength by implementing this mandate and that improvement only helps me achieve more ‘gainz’ during the workouts I do make time for throughout the week.
14- 3 liters of water during the workday
In preparation for my 3-week trip around Costa Rica’s last wildland frontier – the Osa Peninsula and the incredibly diverse rainforest that inhabits it – I made preparations. I bought a hiking bag and a backpack (carried on my chest) that I would use to haul all my gear. There were sampling nets, rulers, a GPS unit, my machete and titanium dive knife, a bottle of rum, and rice… so much rice.
But the most important thing we’d need on this journey through the near 100-degree temperatures with 99% humidity was an ample amount of water. And In order to collect, store, and carry my drinking water I bought 3 1-liter Nalgene water bottles:
Those bottles (in addition to 2 other’s we’ve purchased since) are the bottles I use to bring my drinking water to work every day – almost 10 years later. So yeah – I’m loyal to the brand.
Back to the point. Science (via the Mayo Clinic) recommends 3.7 daily liters of water for men and 2.7 daily liters for women, but they also contend that results will vary dramatically depending on a number of factors.
Why do I make sure to drink 3 liters of water during the workday?
Dehydration makes you tired and less productive – and I’m in favor of increased productivity. Additionally, drinking enough water keeps your temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints, and protects sensitive tissues – among other things.
It’s the #2 basic need behind air – utilize.
15- Krill oil and a daily multivitamin
I’m not big on daily medicines… But there are 2 supplements I take every day.
The former to ensure I’m receiving my daily dose of necessary vitamins and minerals, and the latter to keep my joints in tip top shape. If there’s one thing that my 30s are teaching me, it’s that body maintenance is increasingly necessary if you plan to jack heavy steel (lift weights) or get a good sweat on (cardio) regularly.
I’ve taken both for over a year and the benefits have been present and 100% appreciated.
16- No food after 7:30pm
Have you heard the phrase, “Nothing good happens after midnight”?
Our football coaches and my parents had that one drilled into my head. Well, Simon Cowell would be happy because I’ve taken that phrase and made it my own.
“No good food enters my mouth after 7:30” – so I just avoid the calories altogether.
At that point, I’m not eating because I need to – I’m eating because I want to…
17- A glass of lemon water every morning (first thing)
My health teacher in 8th grade reinforced the idea of downing an entire glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning to, “Jumpstart the system and to make sure to stay hydrated.” (This does not count into my 3 daily liters at work).
Recently, I’ve heard the same idea – with a twist ???? (c’mon – that was a great pun. 100% intended)
Some of the
most commonly touted benefits of drinking lemon water daily are that:
Your immune system gets a boost
Maintains digestive health
Increases your metabolic rate
Improves skin quality
Promotes hydration (with electrolytes from the lemon juice)
And the icing on the cake – our Aldi has a bag of lemons commonly on sale for $1.50… Bag of lemons… $1.50.
18- Make time for Meditation / prayer / quiet time
I’ve wanted to start many of these 23 off with, “This is probably the most important point.” This one is no exception ????.
I had heard of the benefits of meditation many times via Tim Ferriss’ podcast but I wrote it off as something that “wasn’t for me.” Honestly, I didn’t even know the mechanics of how to meditate. So I ignored the activity altogether.
When my therapist explained how simple it was to try, and urged me to do so, I gave in. The result can be explained with an analogy:
If water boils at 212º Fahrenheit, then I, with my constantly high-stress level would hover near 175º throughout the day. It didn’t take much to send me up over 212º. After meditating for a month or so, my normal temp is back to about 70º – room temp – and the daily stressors have much less of an effect.
Here is a great article to help you get started. And another – focus on their Step 4. I chose 12 minutes because I haven’t yet found time for 15 and I’ve read that you need between 7-8 to actually change brain pathways.
Meditation has quietly crept up on my list of daily ‘must do items’. The benefits earned and the improvement in mental clarity cannot be overstated.
19- Sweets on Sunday
I’ll be honest – this is one that I have difficulty with (especially right after the holidays and with our string of birthdays at the start of the year – all 4 in three months).
But you know Jenny. She loves to bring her home-baked cookies into the office so they don’t, “live at my house!” Or Tim with his go-to Oreo ball recipe… So good.
Well, I hate to break it to myself but those, “I’ll just do one” moments add up to big calorie differences when you extrapolate over weeks and months.
That’s why I’ve chosen to not let the calorie creep take hold during my workweek. Ain’t nobody got time to burn off all those tasty but so unnecessary calories…
Earning a sweet treat after a week’s worth of discipline does wonders for your mental toughness.
20- Keep your written goals in a place you’ll see them daily
I wrote out goals for 2018, kept a spreadsheet, and had some good success with that method. This year, I’ve ratcheted it up a notch by writing my 2019 goals out on a piece of paper and taping it onto my bathroom mirror.
Do I read them every single day? Mostly yes. But the point is that they’re there in my subconscious because of that paper. A subtle reminder of what I am to achieve during the year.
The point is to color my attitude, outlook, and daily decisions in constant support of those goals. Without the daily visual reminder (in 2018), it was easy to ‘conveniently forget’ about my goals.
Within sight – within mind.
21- Home cookin’ and batch meal preppin’
I love eating out. There’s the lack of cooking required, no dishes to wash, and (depending on many factors) there can be better taste when you’re foraging at the local Mexican restaurant.
But that unique flavor often comes at a cost… in the form of increased calories and a step away from your fitness goals, rather than progress toward. While terms like, “Fried, creamy, cheesy, and sweet” do wonders for the mental pathways in your brain and the salivary glands in your mouth – make no mistake – they are your enemies.
Those ‘oh so tasty’ grubilicious eats will add pounds to the scale and inches to your measurements. Fight back with good ol’ home cookin’ and batch meal preppin’.
Not only are these great frugal tips that will save you money, but by making your own food and packing your lunches, you will be hyper-aware of the ingredients you ingest on a daily basis.
Know thy food – pursue thy goals.
22- Write down your greatest weaknesses – then work toward improvement
“Know thyself”… – (Commonly attributed to the ancient Greeks and then Socrates)
This is one of the most important pieces of information you can hold. It should inform your decisions, the goals you set for yourself, and the manner in which you aim to achieve them.
Without a firm understanding of what makes you ’tick’, you might as well be swinging at a piñata blindfolded. “Cross your fingers and swing hard!”
Know thyself. But in order to know thyself, you need to learn thyself. For me, that took a little while. You want to know how I did it?
Learn what makes your heart flutter – then do more of that.
23- No screens at the dinner table
We needed a stock answer when our daughter would ask 435 times during dinner if she could watch her tablet, because “No” wasn’t getting it done.
I’m not sure who it was, but either my wife or I blurted out, “New family rule – No screens at the dinner table!”
I’m disappointed it wasn’t a rule from Day 1, but as they say: “Better late than never.”
The absence of screens from our family meals has fostered great conversations, tons of jokes, and board games during meal time.
The transformation has been amazing and only helped with our family bonding.
Have you tried many of the routines and philosophies above and if so, how did it work out? I also want to know what works well for you? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll keep this discussion going!
Thanks for reading!
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