The best of Nutrition, Healthy Living, Biohacking and Fitness of 2018.
Make your 2019 — the healthiest, the fittest — your most impactful year yet!
As 2018 continues slowly slipping through my fingers, I’m thinking about what I want to write about in this last post of 2018.
No surprises here — I want to bring this year to a closure, repeat and share what I’ve learned this year in the areas of health and fitness, together with you, my dear reader.
This year seems like a hell of a long year. I kept learning, kept improving, kept asking myself — what’s more out there? When you learn every day, even just one simple thing, but each and every day of the year — it’s a hell of a lot you learn by the end of it. That’s the beauty of life lived on purpose, lived with passion — every day is an adventure, even though sometimes you feel like you are tired of it, you want to quit — if it’s truly your passion, your mission — you just need a good night rest and it starts haunting you again, you want to dive deeper, you want to continue, you want to start again.
It seems, like I’ve lived a whole other life this past year. I started 2018 in NYC — finishing it in Siberia with my family, with many lessons learned — can’t wait for a new adventure!
In this post I want to share what I’ve learned, tried, explored myself and with my followers, with my clients, talked about, thought about, lived through, read through, watched through, I want to share practical stuff, that I know will make your life, healthier, fitter, sexier, more exciting — of course, if you do it consistently. I’ve been asked this week, “If I do intermittent fasting for a while and then stop, is it like yo-yo, the results will stop after a while?” — Like anything you do that improves you, unfortunately, you got to keep working on it, if you want to keep seeing the results. Most things in life are like bathing, only have an effect, when you keep doing it. You can’t brush your teeth and expect the results to stay forever. That’s why you don’t want to complicate your life with a bunch of meaningless sh*t all the time — otherwise you will have time for nothing else in life. Try things, keep what works and adds quality to your life, throw away the rest. Life is too short to drown in your unnecessary and badly managed routines. We are here to make a difference! And these routines, these habits, these actions applied daily have a real chance to help you do just that — be more of you, do more of what matters, making a difference, making this world a better place.
Guys, get one thing right about sleep — you got to sleep, good quality 7–9 hours of sleep on a regular schedule is not negotiable for a human being, it’s a part of our “design”. Did you know, that shift work, that compromises our sleep cycle and circadian rhythm the most, is considered by the World Health Organization a carcinogen? Just like your French fries or air pollution?
It’s not just the amount that matters, it’s also the quality, your sleep schedule, how often you wake up, blue light exposure (all the screens), room temperature when you sleep, darkness of the room, noise — “Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams”, written by Matthew Walker, PhD, is the best book on the subject with a lot of practical takeaways. I highly recommend the book, and a few of my blogs.
How much of natural light you get, when you get it, what light exposure you get daily where you work or study, what kind of light you are exposed to at night — all that matters for your energy levels, your immune system, vitamin D levels, bone density, how well you sleep.
You need to expose yourself to the sunlight first thing in the morning, spend at least an hour a day in the sun, avoid blue light at night to prevent sleep disruption, get as much as possible full spectrum natural and artificial light, where you work or spend a lot of time for a great energy boost. Infrared light can also boost your energy production and there is a whole industry diving into the science and healing powers of light.
The science of circadian rhythms, when to do everything and specifically, when to eat for the most health, energy, longevity, mental health, great gut and brain health — it’s really evolved this year, becoming a true field of science, that brings to all of us today real benefits, when applied consistently in the right way. In short — it’s important to abstain from food for periods of time daily or weekly, depending on what protocol you choose to practice. It’s even more important, than, what you eat for your digestive and metabolic, your cellular health. More on this in “The Circadian Code: Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Transform Your Health from Morning to Midnight” and “The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended” books, my blogs:
Learn to manage stress.
Yeah guys, stress management is a huge thing! If you feel like you are always under a lot of stress — forget about vibrant health, total fitness and great energy levels, not even talking about well-being here — they kind of cancel each other out.
Meditation in some form every morning.
Focus on opportunities and good things in life daily.
Focus on what you can control, be proactive, take actions to avoid potential stressors, let go off what you can’t control.
Express gratitude, say thank you.
Connect with people you love.
Practice 6-deep-breaths exercise, whenever feeling overwhelmed. It’s actually simple.
It’s like teeth brushing. But for the brain — removes the garbage, prevents mind “rotting and cavities”.
It’s simple. It’s about being present, paying attention to what’s happening right now right here.
Try Headspace or Calm apps, that are loved by so many. This “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book” is an amazing book to start with.
Applied daily will boost your energy, expand your capacity to cope with stress and live through uncomfortable and challenging situations, plus will boost your immunity and the amount of good brown fat you carry. AND — it might lead to enlightenment.
Great stress-relieving, relaxation and recovery tool, that is very cheap, requires almost no skills, here is a short YouTube video to master the skill — foam rolling has tremendous benefits for your body, mind, fat loss, recovery from exercise and heavy lifts, sleep quality.
This exercise mode you can not skip because we are designed to lift heavy things, to handle our own body weight, to make sure we have healthy bones, that prevent us from falling and dying of it in old age, but also weight training has proven cognitive benefits — you think faster, make better decisions, have better memory and build more neurons that stick. You build muscles, that increase your insulin sensitivity and make you metabolically healthy, muscles, that burn more calories while you do nothing. Muscles will make your life exponentially better. Don’t overdo it though to cancel the benefits, it can be short workouts, a couple of times a week with just a few compound (engaging many muscle groups like squats or deadlifts) movements.
Walk an hour a day.
Walking is still one of the best exercises, that we, human beings, evolved doing — the more you walk the healthier you are. Not so about running — running often wears off your body — walking adds health. Whatever exercise program you do — add an hour of daily walking to it in any case. You can also make it fun — hiking in locations with breath-taking views, doing some intermittent walking, doing walking meetings, that are gaining more popularity among all sorts of CEOs. Even Steve Jobs loved those walking meetings — walking is proven to increase creativity. Einstein was a famous walker too, so was Leonardo Da Vinci.
Do fit breaks every 20–30 minutes.
Proven by Nasa scientists — sitting is slowly killing us, if not interrupted with short strolls, stretching, what I like to call, fit breaks — sitting increases inflammation, decreases insulin sensitivity, our brain gets less nutrients and oxygen, our cardio vascular fitness starts suffering, we make more fat, burn less energy, lose our bone density — stop sitting, standing is not the answer either, movement is. A couple of interesting works on the subject:
Drink enough water, especially in the morning.
Yes guys, we are 70% water and we need to drink it, especially after overnight water fast. Staying dehydrated is one of the worst things you can do to your health and performance. If you want to train and recover worse, have less energy and perform worse mentally, almost instantly — get dehydrated and you’ll get there in no time!
Make sure you drink plenty of good quality water daily, not some drinks and coffee.
Don’t drink sweetened drinks and juices.
Those liquid calories, especially Starbucks-like drinks, but also juices of all sorts are probably the most unnecessary calories you can consume, and in the case of Starbucks — also harmful. Seriously there is NO benefit in consuming juices over whole foods, but tons of negative effects, like problems with blood sugar, highly processed calories (yes, juice is a highly processed product, you remove all the fiber and oxidize what’s left) — liquid calories are the one,s that contribute to the expansion of your waist line the most.
Eliminate 100% processed sugar, processed grains, dairy, foods with toxic additives.
You might not agree with me right now — how dare I to take from you your favorite yogurts, treats, pastries and commercial breads of all sorts, cookies and cakes — so many things that make your life exciting and… intoxicating.
More and more studies done this year or discussed this year and brought back to light confirm, that processed sugar and grains are the culprit of most metabolic and degenerative diseases. And dairy, well, it’s made for cows and for most people, dairy makes health, especially digestive health, and allergic reactions, inflammation in the body worse. No matter what kind of dairy. Some foods sold are just not meant to be eaten, especially not of that quality. Especially not in those amounts. Especially not with added sugars, additives and preservatives.
Eliminate vegetable oils.
When I tell people to get rid of sunflower oil here in Russia, from soybean oil in US, from all the industrial oils, oils made by some sort of high heating process, oils and fats, that are not made by nature, chemically changed oils, highly inflammatory oils, that human beings were not designed to handle in big amounts (like sunflower oil, due to high content of omega-6s, that are pro-inflammatory) — people look at me like I’m crazy and imagine stuff, or they think they don’t consume any (forgetting to check the ingredient lists on most of the processed foods).
Read this and stop killing your health and energy.
Eat healthy fats.
Especially Omega-3s, DHA and EPA, from marine sources, algae and fatty fish, but also all sort of fats, that come from whole foods of plant (especially) and animal origins — olives and olive oil (cold-pressed, well-preserved), avocados and avocado oil, cacao butter, coconut oil, nuts and seeds stored properly, grass-fed butter and ghee, fats from whole eggs, wild game, poultry and grass fed beef.
Don’t make fat your only food for sure — but don’t eliminate them, especially Omega — 3s, that your brain and every cell need for healthy functioning, fats, that improve your mental and physical performance and so many aspects of your hormonal and metabolic health.
Seriously guys. Eat your sardines, wild salmon (farm-raised has none of Omega-es), seaweed, get your good quality fish oil. You’ll live longer and happier — your stress management skills will improve too. So will your happy feelings.
Learn how to cook your food.
Either find a REALLY good company, that will supply you with great quality food cooked in a way, that preserves and enhances nutritional value, and doesn’t add some harmful ingredients, like low quality animal products or vegetable oils. By the way, the more your food is stored — the less nutrition it has. Getting delivered meals, that are cooked a week or two or MORE ago? Besides calories there is very little nutrition left. Details matter. Get the best ingredients. Do simple prep to make it easy to cook and eat fresh simple meals.
Don’t add harmful ingredients and you’ll have better health than most of the people on the planet right now.
How you cook matters just as much as what you cook.
Don’t buy some badass wild salmon just to burn them at high temperature with all the fragile Omega-3s!
Go 100% whole foods for 99% of the time.
Eat foods in a state, that it was grown in or raised, cooked in a healthy minimalistic way.
Without counting anything — that one rule will change your health.
Go organic food and also body care.
Did you know that what your food ate ends up in your body? Hormones and anti-biotics in chickens or cows? Mercure in farmed and big-mouthed fish? Pesticides on your non-organic veggies? All will end up in you, when eaten.
Did you know your skin is your largest organ and you absorb stuff into your body through skin?
That lotion with a bunch of toxins?
Yeah, all in you. Might be the cause of your migraine.
Choose with care. Self care.
Add vegetables and fiber.
A lot of them.
They might not be on the list of essential nutrients, but you’d better eat lots of various colorful veggies, if you want to stay healthy for life. That what all centenarians eat — no exception. Even though some of them smoke and drink alcohol in moderation.
Vegetables and fiber, guys. Vegetables and fiber — THE big secret of robust health, that no BIG FOOD company will tell you about — very little profit in it.
*French fries and ketchup, with a pickle on your burger are not considered vegetables.
Here you go — 19 habits for the best ever 2019!
I did put them in the order of importance. But start with veggies at your next meal, will you?
I’m not saying you have to do any of that.
The beauty of this world is you don’t have to do anything. Like literally nothing! You can lie down right now and never get up. There are consequences of every action, of course — positive or negative. Depends on your actions.
My suggestions are something, that will definitely pay off with some amazing and life-changing, life-charging dividends— you’ll feel better, you’ll look better, you’ll live and accomplish more.
I would give each one an honest try for 3 weeks, simplifying it and fitting it into your life — make it yours without compromising the essence of it, like trying to fit in 30 minutes of meditation every single day, stressing out about it each time you fail to do so, cancelling all the benefits and the purpose of meditation practice.
Make It work for you.
Keep what works and is needed at this stage in your life. Throw away the rest. Remember, that trying ANYTHING new at first takes more energy, time and effort, but after a while it becomes automatic, and you stop thinking about it — just like about brushing your teeth.
Besides the suggestions above, check out my health/nutrition/fitness marathon on my FOOD SCHOOL: Smarter Stronger Leaner podcast and my YouTube channel — life skills, nutrition concepts, habit building skills — lots of useful life-practical lessons to make 2019 the healthiest, the fittest, the most impactful year of your life.
AND subscribe for my NEWSLETTER to be the first to experience my first 10-day short e-mail course delivered to your email — to make sure, that starting January 1st, you’ll have more health, energy and fitness to start 2019 the right way, crushing all of your New Year resolutions ahead of time!