30 Lessons (i.e. Random Musings) Learned About Life And Fitness

“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning…Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” – Miles Davis

30 Lessons (i.e. Random Musings) Learned About Life & Fitness- lessons learned about life and fitness

A few weeks ago, I turned 30. My first initial reaction was, “Where the hell has time went?”

I remember being a small child listening to Marvin Gaye, along with many other music legends, and immediately becoming enamored with their melodies and positive influence on people.

I remember being the little kid who was always the “unique” one and never meshed perfectly with the other kids.

I remember being the kid who was into comics and the arts but was afraid to show that because it wasn’t cool—so instead I tried to become a suburban thug who wore oversized clothing (that didn’t last too long).

suburban thug-lessons learned about life & fitness
This guy wasn’t fooling anyone…especially when he started to talk!

I remember being the college kid who arrived at 165 pounds and full of insecurities. I also remember being the college kid who left at 205 pounds and full of insecurities.

I remember being the young adult and receiving my acceptance letter to go to school in New York and embark upon a medical school education (the rest of that particular evening was a blur…blame it on the booze).

I remember being the young adult who arrived in New York and was punch drunk in love even though I immediately got cussed out by a feisty old lady.

I remember going to happy hours and eventually meeting the strangers who would eventually make the whispers that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing even more apparent.

I remember completing my first year of medical school courses and everyone was looking forward to the next year and deep down I knew there would be no next year.

I remember returning home and telling the world that I wanted to be a writer and eventually have a book, speak and spread my knowledge of health and fitness by working with individuals (this ended up in laughs and many other snarky remarks).

Throughout those years, I also remember being unsure of this thing called life. I remember writing in my college journal that I wasn’t going to be here much longer. Thirty wasn’t in the plans.

I remember throughout my late teens secretly feeling this eternal hollowness. I remember being in a world surrounded by people, but yet, never felt more alone.

I remember being at a coffee shop on a brisk and cool Saturday night and contemplating calling it a quits with life.

I remember going through 6 months of therapy and finally facing my demons. I remember losing almost everything and nearly ruining my business and life.

I also remember being at my lowest and using writing as a therapeutic tool. That tool eventually carved out my debut book ‘Body Architect’.

What’s all these random facts mean: life is a roller coaster and there will be plenty of bad, but there will also be plenty of good.

Here are 30 lessons (i.e. random musings) learned about life and fitness in my 30 uneven years.

1.Your health is the foundation to your life (never forget this)

It’s easy to get caught in the world of hustling our asses off for our jobs. It’s easy to procrastinate going to the gym. It’s tempting to place everyone before ourselves.

But a rich and remarkable life starts by placing your health at the core center.

Pretend your health is the head of an octopus and all the other facets of your life are the tentacles. Without that head operating, those tentacles aren’t doing anything.

No matter if you want a girlfriend, escape to a new city, new job, or more money—it starts with an emphasis placed on your health.

2. Sleep is the best drug to transforming your health

We live in a 24/7 world where hustling gets us a pat on the back. Working yourself into the ground is viewed as a necessity in order to make it in your particular industry.

Many people attempting to lose weight will go “beastmode” at the gym and train intensely five-six days a week and eat clean but will drop the ball on their sleep.

Sleep is where your body recovers from those intense workouts leading to lower body fat percentages. Before you start training intensely and complicating your nutrition, master your sleep practice.

3. Nearly every type of diet works

Paleo, intermittent fasting, carb backloading, vegan, and the other gazillion diets floating around—they all work.

Huh??

At the base of any diet is one that preaches eating whole foods, limiting processed foods, and not drinking your calories.

The confusion happens when certain ones start using fear mongering tactics to help sell their type of diet. Pay the fear messages no attention and pick a diet based off what is comfortable to you and complements your physique goals.

4. It’s never an issue of time, it’s an issue of priorities

Many people desire to change, but many people also don’t want, nor are they willing to take the necessary steps required for change.

These necessary steps often require a shift in one’s priorities, sacrifices and discomfort. It’s easier to play the role of a victim than to actually do something about your situation.

Next time you recite “I don’t have enough time” or “I can’t do something”—pause and think about that. Is it really time or that particular thing or are you just making an excuse, being lazy and unwilling to give up certain things.

Either avenue is fine, just don’t use time or other external tools as your shield for excuses.

5. Fitness has 4 pillars: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual

The majority of the world views fitness just from a physical standpoint. It’s all about the aesthetics and the amount of weight lifted. However, that’s only a fourth of the pie.

Fitness has a mental aspect that includes being a lifelong learner which encompasses focus and discipline, not just in the gym but throughout your life.

There’s a spiritual component which isn’t about religion but instead is about being in a positive and healthy state. It’s being able to give gratitude even if you want more.

Lastly, there’s an emotional state which encompasses the people that you hang around with and allow into your inner circle.

These may seem like separate entities, but in actuality, they play and feed off of each other. How can you perform your best physically if your emotions are filled with negativity and scattered?

6. Compound exercises trump isolation movements

Squats, deadlifts, and chin-ups will always trump leg extensions, hamstring curls, and bicep curls in terms of developing your body in the most efficient and effective manner.

The biggest benefit of compound movements is their capacity to transform your body in the shortest amount of time compared to the isolation movements. This happens because compound movements work multiple muscles per movement compared to isolation which focuses on one per movement.

7. Before you seek an external transformation, you must begin with your internal world

Many people put their hopes and dreams in gurus who promise to help them make six figures one month. Many people, unfortunately, fall prey to fitness charlatans who create fancy Facebook ads and promise rapid results with minimal sacrifices in record time.

While those results may happen (doubtful), they have a zero percent chance of manifesting until you venture into your internal world.

Getting your emotions and mental thought processes under control has to take place before you can even think about that six pack or six-figure payday.

Before you become a fitness superstar or millionaire, you must adopt the mindset and character traits of that type of person.

8. Loneliness is a quiet and underrated disease

Mother Teresa was once quoted as saying, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.”

Woman-of-Inspiration-Mother-Teresa1

In the world of health and fitness, macros and debating over the optimal workout split take precedence over deeper issues, but at the core of most people’s struggles is an issue of feeling disconnected.

Lonely people are nearly as twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer from feelings of isolation.

Loneliness leads to decision making that is often times not in our best interest. Loneliness can lead to depression and other emotional issues (food, etc).

9. Pull more and push less

We live in a sedentary world where the majority of our jobs revolve around a computer screen. The motion that the majority of us are doing is extending forward which is a pushing motion.

Combine this with people’s love for working chest and muscles they can see in the mirror and you instantly create an imbalance.

Many of our muscular issues result from postural imbalances and neglecting to strengthen our back muscles.

As you approach your weekly workout volume, perform pulling exercises in a 3:2 ratio compared to pushing exercises.

10. Don’t be afraid nor have any shame in being a beginner

Everyone at one point in time was a beginner who lacked the skill set and confidence for whatever task they were doing (I’m just learning how to communicate both personally and professionally).

Before I was 200 pounds and proficient with my lifts, I was a 165-pound freshman in college who didn’t even know how to properly squat.

Before I was an author, I was just a dude who wrote daily and most of that material wasn’t any good. In salsa dancing, before I could even think about spinning or leading someone through a cross body lead, I needed to learn the basic steps (and I still have a longgggg ways to go).

11. Fitness can catapult you to success in many other facets of your life

Accomplishing a fitness goal for some means that anything else is possible because fitness has often been this nagging thorn in their lives. Accomplishing a fitness goal possess the power to chase after goals that were previously viewed as unattainable.

12. Everyone should read for at least 30 minutes daily

You’re either growing as a person and evolving to a higher consciousness or stagnating and letting times pass you by. Going back to the mental fitness component, books can serve as the driving force to enhancing your intelligence.

Books feed your brain. Books serve as a way for you to gain access to many experts for a fraction of what it would cost to meet them in person or hire them. By reading so many books, I have many mentors. What took them years to learn, will only take me a week to get the big takeaway points from their book (need some book recommendations, here’s my Goodreads profile).

13. It’s never too late to rewrite the script on your life

It’s only over when you stay down for the ten count. This game of life only draws to its conclusion when you wave the white flag.

No matter how crappy or dire your circumstances, you can always pull a reinvention and make a comeback for the ages.

This rewriting of the script starts with you believing that it’s possible to set a recourse for the direction of your life.

14. Food’s purpose goes beyond aesthetics

We live in a world where food is mostly showed as a way to perk someone’s ass up and give them abs and big biceps. Yet, food is way more than a tool to enhance your appearance.

Food is a social tool that can unite us, heal our sicknesses, and be used as a way to communicate across generations and cultures.

persian food
Not only was this Persian food good for my internal & external health, but it was also shared with my friends from different cultures & walks of life.

15. You’ll never be 100% ready

No matter how many business books you read or podcast you listen to—you’re still going to mess up. You can read a gazillion fitness books, but that doesn’t get you in shape.

You can read dozens of books on the craft of writing and how to beat writer’s block, but that doesn’t create your novel.

At the end of the day, wanting isn’t enough. 

Action will always remain undefeated compared to the alternative of “planning & planning”.

16. Your environment is vital to your success

Your environment either helps or prevents you from thriving. Who you hang out with and who you choose to give your attention and energy to is pivotal to determining who you’re becoming.

Do they have a fixed or a growth mentality?

Everyone doesn’t deserve a seat at the table for version 2.0 of yourself. Keep your inner circle small and only include people who add value to your life.

Your perspective is key and if your friends live in negativity and scarcity, don’t expect yourself to be much different. Just get the hell away from people who are consistently miserable, drain your energy or aren’t doing anything with their lives and don’t plan on changing.

17. Less consuming, more creating

Many of us (myself included) fall into the comparison trap and feel as if we’re not enough or our lives aren’t as compelling as others.

Facebook shows us that more people are having more fun on vacations, going on more dates, and generally living more exciting lives compared to ourselves. Celebrities are so much better than us and other people within our specific work industry are much more successful than we are—at least that what the internet tells us.

It’s all bullshit!

When we get caught up in other people’s lives, we lose track of our own and forget to live ours.

Doing this makes us depressed, resentful, and hopeless about our situations. Pay attention to your own life and focus on what you can control (and only that).

18. We’re capable of much more than we think we are

The way we treat and talk to ourselves at times would never be recited to our friends nor anyone else. You’re better, smarter, and more capable than you give yourself credit for. Show yourself some compassion.

19. Happiness and peace will never come from the outside

Marvin Gaye eloquently stated: “If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else.”

If you’re like me, you’ve probably said this at one point in time: “If only I’d had more money”, “If only I could lose these 10 pounds”, “If only I had more time”, and “If only I could find someone who loves me”…”I’d”…{fill in the blank}.

People (myself included) fixate about what they don’t have and never allow themselves to be content with what they currently have in life. Always having a mindset of “more and more” will eliminate any chances you have of happiness.

If you can’t find joy and contentment for what you have now, it doesn’t matter how hot your partner is, how much weight you lose, nor how much money you have—you’ll always feel empty and hollow.

20. Don’t be afraid to challenge old beliefs and ideas about the world

Most of what we believe, think, and perceive about the world isn’t necessarily what we truly believe in. Instead, it’s what society has engineered into us along with our friends and family.

Challenge yourself and think long and hard about some common beliefs that you never truly questioned. Are these your beliefs or are they your family, friends, or societies beliefs?

21. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

The ego is a dangerous weapon that possesses the ability to fracture relationships and block potential ones from happening. The ego has the ability to handicap your business and your health because you’re afraid to ask for help (mainly talking to myself here).

Be the bigger and better person and ask for help or advice.

22. Your breakdowns & struggles can lead to your breakthroughs

Sometimes you have to lose it all to realize what’s important. Sometimes you need total chaos and despair to gain the utmost perspective on what truly matters.

Repeat after me: “You are not your struggles”.

Repeat it every day if you have to, “You. Are. Not. Your. Struggles.”

Bad moments, sad situations, or mistakes may arise in your life but this doesn’t define your identity. Recovering from breakdowns and low moments aren’t instantaneous, but they also aren’t life defining moments set in stone which will direct the rest of your life.

23. Stop lending your self-worth card out to the world

Your self-worth comes from the inside, not the outside.

How can someone treat you like the superstar you’re meant to be when you’re treating yourself like a 3rd-string player?

Comparing yourself and measuring yourself to others only devalues yourself and your accomplishments. Don’t be fooled into comparing someone’s outside world (their highlight reel) with your internal world.

24. Develop a gratitude practice

One of the best things in the last year I’ve implemented is to practice giving gratitude each and every day. It’s easy to take for granted what we have, become obsessed with getting the next achievement, and checking the next item on the list.

I recommend using a journal or using the five-minute journal app (that’s what I currently use: app or journal).

25. Reinventing yourself won’t be pretty the majority of the time

Creating change is hard, uncomfortable, and downright lonely at times.

You’re going to lose some friends and outgrow others. You’re going to ruffle some people’s feathers. Not because of what you’re doing, but because of what you represent by deciding to take action on something you want.

When you take action and prove otherwise to your friends, you end their excuses and put the focus 100% on them for why they can’t do whatever it is that they want. You changing will scare them because now what’s their excuse.

While you may lose some friends, outgrow others, and cause discomfort in a few, you’re going to meet some cool ass people along your new journey as you construct version 2.0 of yourself.

26. If you feel lost about what to do with your life, explore your childhood to unlock the potential mystery

Music, superheroes, creativity, and the arts were always appealing to me as a child and it’s no surprise that I ended up as an adult incorporating all those into my work.

I tried to ignore what was always calling me, but pursuing a medical career, advertising and marketing never felt like home. If you feel you just aren’t in the right career, take a trip back in time and explore what ignited your fire as a child.

going back to childhood
Go back to your younger & more imaginative self for the answers to today’s mysteries.

27. I hate today’s (especially online) dating culture

App after app promises love and convenience. Yet, instead, I believe they’re merely making us more distant from each other. Sure, there are some benefits such as being able to meet someone that you would have never had the opportunity to meet without the internet.

However, we’re also tempted with the allure of something better with the next swipe. If you find one mistake with the person you’re with, maybe the next person won’t have that problem and will be perfect.

Welcome to ‘The Age of FOMO (fear of missing out)’ culture (I’m guilty as well at times).

This is how we date and it’s super confusing.

Let’s start saying “no” to the ‘Netflix & chill‘ dating culture. Let’s start saying “no” to playing games and be open to how we really feel.

28. If you believe in your dreams, that’s enough—let no one take that from you

Often times, we have a vision or something that exists in our heads but this vision isn’t seen by anyone else. Sometimes, this vision and dream we have are so far out there that it seems ludicrous to the average person and that’s ok.

If you believe in something deeply, that’s more than enough of a reason for you to give it a try—no matter the result or chatter surrounding you.

If you fall short with your dreams, then at least these shortcomings are on your terms (not someone else’s).

It’s better to try and maybe fail than to look back 10 years later and wonder “what if I’d given that dream a try”.

29. I still believe in people (no matter how bad things seem)

If I relied on the news as the sole barometer for the human condition, then I would’ve given up on them a long time ago.

Despite how much violence and hatred it seems that is going on—I still believe in people. Despite how cruel people can treat each other at times in relationships and so forth—I still believe in people.

There’s a lot more good than bad going on. There’s a lot more light than there is darkness. There’s a lot more love than there is hate (Let love rule…sing it with me).

When people mistreat you, let you down, or show their true colors(which isn’t so bright)—forgive, but never forget. Most importantly, never stoop to their level.

If you lower yourself, then you’re just as bad as they are. Be better than that and take the high road.

30. Music has many superpowers

Music was the sibling I never had. Many nights while playing video games, I had the radio playing and rotated many CDs’ which would serve as the soundtrack to my life in the coming years and still to this day.

If you’re sad, lonely, ecstatic with joy or filled with love—there’s a song out there that perfectly depicts how you feel and understands you.

Music has the power to heal and unify groups of people just from a simple four-minute song.

Because this article is all over the place, let’s end with my theme song before I go out and dance or any social setting (Marvin Gaye- Got to Give it Up..the extended version of course).

Cardio or Weights? Which Comes First? And How to Use Them Effectively

Cardio or Weights-Which Comes First-And How to Use Them Effectively

In the latest installment of my short video series I’m slowly getting up to speed, I’m answering a question from the community. If you have a question that you would like answered or covered in a longer post, feel free to shoot me an email at julian@theartoffitnessandlife.com.

You just arrived at the gym and now comes the big decision: should you do cardio or weights first? Both cardio and weights are valuable and deserved a spot in your fitness regimen. Listen to this short video to get the recommended order and how to effectively implement both into a workout while reducing your gym time.