The difference between ‘bad’ to ‘good’ is in doing a few key things that you struggle to do routinely, and to cut our a few key things that you struggle to kick. When it comes to health, for instance, this may look like watching less T.V., reducing or eliminating late-night snacking, and making a more significant commitment to exercise and getting to the gym. If you are making these considerations, you will achieve good health.
But what does it take to achieve excellent health? The answer will have a certain level of individuality to it, but in general, the road to greatness is filled with routine tasks that 99.9% of other people will never take on.
Here is a list of some of my ‘good to great’ routines.
*these are not panaceas. These are not the ‘thing you’ve been missing. Chances are you need to work on the basics I mentioned in the opening paragraph, and if you have not mastered the basics in your own life, most of these actions will be a waste of your time.
1. I take cold showers
Unless I am run down, I am taking a cold shower. 5-10 minutes of the lowest temperature I can tolerate. Sometimes I’ll do this in the morning, and sometimes I’ll do it after a workout. If you read about the benefits of cold showers, you will find many appealing yet exaggerated claims. I don’t take cold showers for these reasons. I take cold showers for one reason: it is something I can do every day, that I would prefer not to do, that my mind begs me not to do. Breaking through that barrier makes other difficult decisions easier to make. In a world of comfort and temptation, this is an essential skill.
2. I time restrict my eating
Most days (but not all days), I don’t eat until after 5:00 PM. I train fasted, I don’t slam post-workout recovery shakes, and it has benefited my life. But again, not for the reasons that you will find in a google search. Intermittent fasting ‘may’ help with fat loss. It ‘may’ help with cellular cleansing and other health parameters. But it may also cause you to crash eat at the end of the day and be a miserable bag of dicks all day long. I intermittent fast because it makes me productive during my working hours. I don’t have to prepare food, or slow down and digest a meal in the middle of the day. I have increased mental clarity when I need to be at my most creative. And most importantly, when I have my first meal of the day, I am HUNGRY. I don’t recall who said it, but ‘hunger is the best condiment’ is the most accurate food-based phrase I have ever heard. When I have been without food for 16-20 hours before eating, I can eat a whole food meal without anything on it, and it will taste better than the most expensive meal I’ve had at a Michelin star restaurant. Most people don’t even know what it feels like to be hungry, and this is a problem for countless reasons.
3. I don’t take days off
Like, none. Every day of my life, unless I am sick as a dog, I am exercising. Sometimes I am doing two-a-days. Sometimes I am just walking and stretching. The variance is always changing to match my daily energy levels and ability to recover, but I am consistently exercising. My drive to exercise has little to do with burning calories, and everything to do with discipline. When you move, you think about all of your other habits a little differently. I call this the ‘activity anchor.’ On days when you exercise you are going to snack less, watch less T.V., make better meal choices, and likely go to bed a bit earlier. On days when you don’t exercise, you’re much more likely to say ‘fuck it’ and be a gluttonous sloth (terrible combo). Exercise is a simple way to enhance your decision making elsewhere in your life. This is critical for success.
4. I go to bed before 10:00 PM
Sometimes even before 9:00 PM, and with very few exceptions. What are you doing after 10:00 PM? I’ll answer that for you: eating, sitting, and wasting your time and trying to squeeze out a little cognitive satisfaction from another dull, routine, purposeless day. That may come off as harsh, but it’s true. The only reason we stay up late is to attempt to squeeze more out of an unsatisfactory day. Do you know what nobody ever says? ‘I regret not staying up, watching that show, and eating three bags of chips last night.’ It is well documented that lack of sleep causes both direct and indirect physiological consequences. You become insulin resistant, you eat more, and you have increased cravings for problematic foods. What is the most natural solution to this problem? Go to bed before 10:00 PM
5. I don’t budge on my principles for anyone or anything, ever
Is it your birthday? I don’t care. Is it Christmas? I don’t care. Every week there is a reason to justify drinking too much, eating like shit, and moving in the opposite direction of where you want to be. To make matters worse, your friends and family members will do everything in their power to pull you away from what you are trying to accomplish. ‘Are you sure you don’t want another drink? Why don’t you try a little of the dessert? You don’t want to eat any of the (insert highly appealing food that is on the road to fatness here)? No. No. No. Do you not understand what the word ‘no’ means? I am an adult. When I say one time that I am not interested in consuming something, that is the actual answer to your question. Let me be clear: indulging is fine. There are a time and a place for indulgence in everyone’s life. In my experience, however, indulgence happens on my terms and my terms alone. When the wine doesn’t taste as good as the first sip, I’m done. If a food comes out that is alright, but not top-notch, I am not eating it. I don’t even like desserts, so why the fuck would I ever eat some to make you feel better? People mean well, but they aren’t helping you, and you aren’t helping yourself by giving in to their pressure. I refuse to do this under any circumstances. I don’t care who it is or how offended s/he gets. That’s his or her problem, not mine. I have a trajectory. I want to stay there.
So now you know a little more about me (and why I am perhaps not the most fun to be around). I’m not sure what inspired me to write this post, but the vital thing to understand is that if you want to be healthier, you need to make some simple, routine changes that deliver high impact. If you’re going to be doing 80 push-ups on your 80th birthday, you might need to take things further. You decide who you want to be and what sacrifices are worth the outcome you shooting for. But if greatness is what you’re after, you will need to get familiar with discomfort- and so will those around you.