Podcast with James Clear - Atomic Habits

I’m super stoked about this interview.

I had the incredible opportunity of meeting James at a fitness conference a couple years ago. I had read so much of his work so I was fan-boying so hard my hand gestures were all over the place LOL (you can see that here). Anway, in that brief interaction I learned a lot which is why I’m so happy I got to have a longer chat with James.

James does an awesome job of breaking down the science of habits in an interesting and very applicable manner.

I learned a lot from this podcast and I'm sure you'll pick up some very useful bits of info to help you with any habit you want to build.

If you like what you heard, give it a like on YouTube and share it with a friend to help them build good habits.

Toronto Star: Is money an effective weight-loss incentive?

For some, the joy of exercise is enough to inspire early morning runs in the park.

Others can easily decline a second helping of chocolate cake, knowing moderation today may one day lead to better health.

But many of us need extra motivation to reach for our running shoes or forgo that second treat. And there is growing consensus that when it comes to losing weight, a big-time motivator can be cold hard cash.

But there is a HUGE caveat.  

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10 Ingredients For Living The Good Life

This list is a collection of activities and food times I’ve incorporated into my life over very recent years to help with my anxiety, to sleep better, and to reduce general muscle achiness.

I’m a work in progress and will always be that way. I’m continuously researching and trying out different things to see what works. I encourage you to do the same after reading this book.

As of the date of writing this (December 2016) - at the age of 26 - I’ve found incorporating the ten items listed here to have helped me tremendously.

I posted this list on Instagram a few weeks ago. In this blog I'll go over each point and why it's a part of my day. 

 

Dark Chocolate (85% and above)

Dark chocolate became a staple in my life after my short stint of binge eating. I needed something to kill my cravings and to stop me from going all Cookie Monster on the pantry. Dark chocolate helped.

A lot of people - including myself - experience a blunting of sweet tooth cravings and hunger with just one or two squares of dark chocolate. There is research to back this up.  When compared to milk chocolate - promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something sweet, and suppresses energy intake.

But you might be wondering why I’m big on 85% dark chocolate. Is 70% bad? No.It’s just that I can’t tell any difference in the taste of 70% versus 85% dark chocolate. So for me, it’s a no-brainer to go with the darker chocolate and get more cacao with less added sugar.

My favorite right now is 99% dark chocolate from Lindt. What’s yours?

 

Coffee

I go to bed each night excited because sleep is a time machine to morning. The sooner morning comes around the corner the sooner I get to turn on my espresso machine.

Fact: coffee makes everything in life seem excellent. Coffee appears to be nothing short of a wonder drug. Study after study shows relationships between coffee consumption and positive health outcomes like lowered risk of colorectal cancer, better liver health, better brain health in seniors, enhanced memory, and it even helps keep ears from ringing. 

Remember that too much of anything isn’t good. So find a reasonable amount of coffee that makes you feel super, without making you anxious and messing with your sleep.

Because I’m sensitive to caffeine, I have a personal rule of not consuming any after 11 am. I typically have an espresso at 4:30 am and another one sometime before 11 am.

 

Short Workouts (in 'n out in 60 minutes)

When you’re forced to keep your workouts under 60 minutes, you make better use of your time instead of your texting muscles. Setting a time limit makes your workouts intense which leave you sweaty and breathing heavy.
 

I also believe in fitting fitness into your life, not the other way around. So I find setting aside 60 minutes to live a long healthy life in a body you’re proud of seems reasonable. The 6o minutes includes the time spent changing in and out of clothes, by the way. Realistically, all-in, your workout will take up to 45 minutes. They’re short enough to allow for quick day-to-day recovery and long enough to get you results.

The main reason I try to workout every day is the post-workout euphoria. That’s what gets me out of bed and into to gym at that ungodly hour. It’s not my unconditional love for the dumbbells or elliptical machine.

Ever after being on SSRIs, I’ve come to realize there is no better antidepressant than an energizing workout that gets your heart racing.

If you ever want to see what working out at 4:30 am is like and how good you’ll feel after, I can show you. You just have to show up :)


Sex (with yourself or others)

Just do it. It doesn't matter if you’re doing it to yourself or doing it with someone.

For guys, research shows an inverse relationship between ejaculation and risk of prostate cancer. As of yet, I’m not aware of any research on the relationship between orgasm frequency and physical health outcomes for women. What we know is that more sex and masturbation is good. Frequent orgasms highly correlate with an increased quality of life.

 

Stretch (three to five minutes, preferably pre-sleep)

Stretch (three to five minutes, preferably pre-sleep)

Self-care isn’t just manicures, pedicures, and shiatsu massages. Stretching is up there. And it’s free. Stretching helps reduce anxiety, bodily pain and exhaustion, and boosts vitality and mental health. It’s awesome for winding down gets you in a relaxed state ready for sleep.

I’ve tried to develop some stretching a habit a bunch of times but failed miserably. I gave the 20 to 30 minutes-a-day thing a shot a couple of occasions. I couldn’t do it. It took too long, and I didn’t have the patience for it. Same reason I can’t do an hour long yoga class. Find me a 20-minute yoga class, and I’m in.

Plus, three to five minutes is a lot more manageable than 20-30 minutes, and it’s so short that it makes for an easy add-on to your existing sleep routine.

Possible options - among many:

  1. Brush your teeth, then stretch.

  2. A warm glass of milk, then stretch.

  3. Watch cat videos on YouTube, while stretching.

  4. Sex, then stretch (or vice-versa as a warm-up).
     

Sleep (7-8 hours)

No amount of coffee or will make up for piss poor sleep. Eight cups of coffee are not the same as eight hours of sleep. One of them makes might you a heart attack while the other one decreases the chance of it.

I guard my sleep routine with my life. It’s one of, if not the single most effective change I’ve made to my life that has paid huge dividends.

Enough quality sleep will make you less anxious, irritable and bitchy. It also helps you to have better control over your appetite, and accomplish more in a day because you have more energy than when you have a crappy sleep.

Lack of quality sleep can cause:

  • Insulin resistance

  • Increased risk of diabetes

  • Impaired cognitive function

  • Higher fat mass

  • Increased hunger

  • Slowed fat loss


Alcohol (a couple drinks a week)

You might have heard that moderate alcohol intake (one to two drinks per day) can have benefits like decreased risk of heart disease and stroke. I used to think that until I started researching for this book.

But a behemoth of a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that the scientific evidence backing such claims is “shaky at best.”  If that’s your concern, diet and exercise will have a way bigger bang for your buck. Plus, the research on those isn’t equivocal like it is with alcohol intake.The researchers said there was no benefit regarding longevity with moderate alcohol consumption and no risk with the occasional drinks. That’s why alcohol is still on this list

And because I just discovered mezcal cocktails.

 

Nuts (handful a day)

This one has to be the easiest thing on this list to implement. (Unless you’re allergic to nuts).

20 grams or a handful of nuts a day can cut our risk of coronary heart disease by nearly 30 per cent, cancer by 15 per cent, and premature death by 22 percent. Doesn’t matter what kind. They all work.

 

Fruit (couple a day)

Nature’s dessert. Cliche but it’s true.

Fruits like pineapple, mango, banana, peach, and kiwi are awesome substitutes for a high-calorie snack. The research on diets higher in fruit and decreased risk every cause of death. The reason Kenny keeps dying in every South Park episode is that he never ate a single fruit.What’s your favourite fruit? I’m all about pears and pineapples right now.

 

Being early

I had a chronic problem with being on time for ages. I set my watches and clocks ahead yet I still managed to be late. Because I like getting the most out of every day, I plan every appointment and action item in my calendar close to one another. Too close.

I thought having a calendar would decrease my anxiety, but it backfired because it made me more anxious. I was either just on-time or five to ten minute late for everything.  Now I’m getting to my appointments early - as in 10 to 15 minutes early. Being early is tied with my sleep routine as adding tremendous benefits to my life.

If you want to live a more relaxed life, be early.

 

Gratitude

Do you ever wonder how, out of the seven billion people on this earth, you were lucky enough to be born into a family that fed, raised, and took care of you so that you can read this blog on your futuristic device?

Life can get shitty sometimes. I’ve been in and sometimes still go to some dark places. But all it to come back to the good life is to zoom out - way out - and realize:

  • You don’t have to worry about drinking water or dying from a fever.

  • You don’t have to run from bombs, gunfire, or wild animals.

  • You have access to the internet so you can learn whatever you want, whenever you want.

If you have any doubt that you’ve won the lotto by being alive you need to watch this.

 

 

References for the nerds:

Sørensen, L. B., & Astrup, A. (2011). Eating dark and milk chocolate: a randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and energy intake. Nutrition & diabetes, 1(12), e21.

http://qualitycounts.com/fpcoffee.html

Rider, J. R., Wilson, K. M., Sinnott, J. A., Kelly, R. S., Mucci, L. A., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2016). Ejaculation frequency and risk of prostate cancer: updated results with an additional decade of follow-up. European urology.

As a female, does orgasm affect my health? (2012). Retrieved December 09, 2016, from https://examine.com/nutrition/as-a-female-does-orgasm-affect-my-health/

Montero-Marin, J., Asún, S., Estrada-Marcen, N., Romero, R., & Asun, R. (2012). [Effectiveness of a stretching program on anxiety levels of workers in a logistic platform: a randomized controlled study]. Atencion primaria/Sociedad Española de Medicina de Familia y Comunitaria, 5(7), 376-383.

How important is sleep? (2015). Retrieved December 09, 2016, from https://examine.com/nutrition/how-important-is-sleep/

Stockwell T, Zhao J, Panwar S, Roemer A, Naimi T, Chikritzhs T. Do “Moderate” Drinkers Have Reduced Mortality Risk? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of alcohol Consumption and all-Cause Mortality. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2016.

Aune, D., Keum, N., Giovannucci, E., Fadnes, L. T., Boffetta, P., Greenwood, D. C., ... & Norat, T. (2016). Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMC medicine, 14(1), 207

 

Article Image: Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_lineartestpilot'>lineartestpilot / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Make Your Form Great Again: Cable Glute Kickback

This week I'm continuing my mission of making your form great again by going over an exercise that is a very popular exercise, especially among women. 

The Exercise

This cable glute kickback can be either a glute builder or a back destroyer, depending on how you go about performing it. 

The most common mistakes I see with the cable glute kickback are:

  • "Bad girl booty syndrome" where the low back is arched like a MF and butt sticks out. I mean, I'm not a real doctor, but that shit ain't good for your back.
  • Using momentum to drive the leg back and not controlling the negative portion.
  • Standing upright and DECREASING the range of motion. 


How To Make It Great Again: 

Stef demonstrates what NOT to do, followed by how I like to coach it. 

  • Brace your abs and maintain that tension throughout the set. This will keep your back from overarching and prevent Bad Girl Syndrome.
  • Bend your knees SLIGHTLY and bend at the hips.
  • Make your glute do all the work. Start the motion with your glute squeezing hard, instead of just kicking your leg back like you're kicking something off your leg. 


Give it a try with great form and let me know if this helped.

3 Exercises To Help Your Push-up

Bodyweight exercises have gotten a bad rap for being ‘easy’ and not challenging enough. That’s far from the truth. The push-up is more than just a great exercise for building upper body strength and sculpting the arms and shoulders. It’s a full-body exercise that embodies true physical strength and endurance.

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