Sleeping in the Digital Age: 7 Habits to Immediately Improve Your Sleep

woman sleeping in the digital age

“I know I should do it, but I just don’t.”

Sound familiar?

Of course, it does. Each and every one of us most likely blurts this out at least once a day.

“I should eat healthier, but {insert excuse}.”

“I should start saving my money, but {insert excuse}.”

“I should clean the house, but {insert excuse}.”

“I should start my dream business, but {insert excuse}.”

“I should start writing daily and that will help develop the book I’ve been dying to write, but [insert excuse}.”

“I should ask that cute girl out who I have a crush on, but {insert excuse}.”

“I should do this.” “I should do that.”

And here’s the biggie—“I should sleep more, but {insert excuse}.”

We all know that sleep is vital to living a rich life and building a world class body, yet we turn a blind-eye.

Realizing the importance of sleep goes in one ear and out the other just as a 10-year old child neglects to listen to his parents about cleaning the room and not being so messy (ok, I’m talking about myself here).

This is the most technological age ever known to man. Never in time have we had the wealth of information available at our fingertips—yet, we’re getting worse at the simplest of habits (ahem, ahem…going to sleep).

This sleep epidemic is only getting worse. The average adult is getting one and a half hours less sleep per night than the average adult did 100 years ago.

But, 100 years ago, we didn’t have the internet, the influence and expectations to hustle our asses off, random lights throwing our natural circadian rhythms off, and distraction after distraction keeping us from hitting the sheets.

Life was much simpler to sleep 100 years ago.

There are gazillions of sleep articles in existence that discuss the effects and problems of sleep. We know that lack of sleep leads to foggy brain syndrome, mood swings that make you unpleasant to be around, skin that is far from glowing, an appetite that skyrockets (this doesn’t lead to good results), a metabolism that is a train wreck due to your hormones being off their normal cycle, and lastly—damaging your heart.

Ok, lack of sleep is bad (just in case you needed a friendly reminder).

Our distractions aren’t going anywhere and life isn’t going to quiet down just to let us sleep.

Does this mean we should just throw our hands up in the air and just accept that our quantity and quality of sleep is just going to plummet down the toilet?

Absolutely not.

You’re going need to instill some discipline and focus while adapting to the surroundings that life has dealt you. Here are seven habits to improve your sleeping in the digital age.

1. Develop a bedtime ritual

No matter how good your intentions are, distractions will inevitably arise and steer you off course. With that said, the first step to fail-proof your sleep is to develop a ritual.

NBA players specifically roll the ball around their fingers a certain number of times before attempting a free throw; baseball players spit then kick some dirt while rotating their bat a random amount of times before being ready for the pitch; bowlers even have some weird routines before attempting their roll; the rock band Van Halen wouldn’t allow brown M & M’s backstage of their shows.

Besides being random facts, these are examples of people using specific actions and routines to accomplish their desired habit. Your sleep isn’t any different.

A routine isn’t the actual activity (sleeping), it’s the series of steps taken & initiated to lead to that activity. For Twyla Tharp, the ritual wasn’t her practicing and working out early each and every morning, it was instead the ringing of the alarm clock and hailing of the taxi cab en route to the gym.

When thinking of your sleep routine, pick a couple of actions that will be a signal that’s it’s time for sleep. This could be brewing a nice cup of Chamomile tea (non-caffeine is key here), doing your face wash and other person hygiene task. The specific activities don’t matter, just find a sequence of activities that gets you in the mindset for sleep and nothing else.

2. Turn off electronics 60-90 minutes before bed

In the age that we live in, shutting off our electronics can seem next-too-impossible. We’re attached to our phones, our computer screens, and our television screens.

This might seem trivial, but all of these electronics have an artificial blue light emitting, which throws our hormones off their normal biological cycle (hence the lower quality of sleep).

electronics sleeping in the digital age
There’s a time & place for our electronics.

 

In certain cases, this isn’t going to be possible because of important work assignments and other miscellaneous tasks.

When that’s the case, I recommend you download the free software program Flux (actually you should download it regardless). It’s a program that automatically adjusts the lighting and brightness of your screen based on the time of the day.

3. Put your coffee in timeout

I love coffee and I’m sure it loves me back. It’s become a ritual in my daily life. I’ll have a cup within a few hours of waking. However, I had to learn a lesson the hard way—coffee can’t be consumed like water.

While coffee can help boost our workouts, increase our productivity, and even fight cancer—too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.

Here’s the big idea to keep in mind: just because you drink coffee at 8am doesn’t mean it’s gone by 10 am. Coffee has a half-life of around 6 hours. If you’re constantly drinking coffee throughout the day, there’s always going to be caffeine within your system.

The quality of your sleep will be disrupted with a steady late night intake of coffee. Cut off your coffee around 2-3 pm if your normal bedtime is around 10pm. This is hard, as I sometimes break this rule, but for the most part, try to abide by this.

4. Exercise

This is the captain obvious of the group.

Exercise plays a pivotal role in keeping us young and healthy looking, but that’s not where your body transformation is taking place. Exercising is merely tearing your body down while you’re working out and creating micro tears within your muscle fibers.

While sleeping, this is when messages are being sent out within your body while releasing large amounts of hormones to build your body up for next time.

While exercise is key and helps with sleep, it’s also important to exercise at your most optimal time. If you want to get your most ideal sleep, it’s better to exercise earlier in the day.

One of the key reminders about working out before bed is the temporary increase in your body temperature from your workout session. This cool down back to your normal default state is going to last four to six hours.

If you sleep around 10:30 pm, get a workout in around 4:30pm to take advantage of this benefit.

On a random mini rant, the random 2am or late night workout needs to stop.

Why?

Because you’re getting off your normal hormonal cycle. Cortisol (your stress hormone) naturally comes in a big wave in the morning, hence why exercise is beneficial in the morning. Not only does it improve your sleep, but exercising earlier forces a normal release of cortisol to flow in its natural cycle. As the day goes along, cortisol drops and your other normal nighttime hormones take precedence.

5. Spend time with your significant other (i.e. have some more sexy time)

We’re busy with work, useless news, or some other trivial matters which takes us away from the present with our loved ones. Even when we’re with our friends, family, and significant others—we’re not really there. Physically we’re there, but mentally and emotionally, we’re MIA (missing in action).

A few hours before bed is the perfect time to be fully present with your loved ones and friends—not working on work projects. For those of you in a relationship or married, an orgasm is one of the best things to help with your sleep.

Having an orgasm leads to men and women releasing many hormones and chemicals. Oxytocin (aka the cuddle hormone) in a 2003 study in the journal of regulatory peptides was showed to help with sleep due to its calming effects while subsequently countering the effects of cortisol (our stress hormone).

Besides oxytocin, other hormones and chemicals such as norepinephrine, vasopressin, serotonin, and prolactin play a key role in an orgasm.

step into the bedroom- sleeping in the digital age
Once you walk into here, there are only 2 options (everything else must go).

 

I don’t want to leave empty-handednded, here’s a favorite that everyone will love.

6. Read a physical copy of a book

Reading is a great activity to unwind from the day, however, the purpose is defeated if you’re still using a brightly lit iPad or kindle. If that’s all you got, so be it—look into getting some Swannies to block out those blue lights from our devices.

For those with a very busy brain, I suggest going with a fiction book or some type of autobiography for late night reading (try this book if you’re feeling a little sentimental, plus it’s one of my all-time favorites).

Reading business books or any other creative type of book filled with ideas might lead to the opposite objective being met (relaxation). Instead, it’s 3 am and you’re working on your new idea that came from your readings.

7. Meditate

We all have thoughts (it’s been reported that’s it’s close to 50,000 on a daily basis).

Add these 50,000 thoughts plus living in the age of information overload with a hyper-connected society that’s highly stressed out and you have a next-to-none chance of relaxing your monkey brain.

To get some quality sleep, you need to quiet down the chatter going on inside your brain. The best, most practical way that’s healthy for your body is to develop a meditation practice.

Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t have to subscribe to weird beliefs, adopt a code name,  join a cult, nor sit cross-legged.

Meditation is simply taking a few moments out of your day to quiet your brain, slow down from the busyness of the world, and get back into the present moment.

While I recommend taking time first thing in the morning to meditate before doing anything else—you can meditate while strolling through the park counting each step, washing dishes, taking a shower, or trying some of these techniques right before bed.

The key to meditation is consistency. The more you meditate, the more likely your life will be calmer. Frequency is more important than any specific duration.

I started with ten minutes of meditation using the app, Calm first thing in the morning. I currently meditate for twenty minutes per day (sometimes I split into ten-minute sessions). If ten seems too difficult, try three minutes.


Lastly, here’s a free download of the 7 habits to stick somewhere when you need to remind yourself what to do.

sleep infographic- sleeping in the digital age

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).

A Quick & Breezy Guide to Reinvention in Life & Fitness in Ten Simple Steps

reinvention in Life & Fitness

Why place our happiness and self-worth on hold until we reach a particular fitness goal?

Why let our work determine whether we’re valuable or not?

Why let media, the guru down the street, your co-workers, or peers determine what’s good and what isn’t?

Whatever happened to living our own truth?

In 2015, my fragile psyche caught up to me. I quit writing. I quit working out. I quit eating healthy. I lost my identity. I was searching and clinging for something, but I didn’t know what that something was. I began to question if I made the right decision to leave school (along with many other things).

Just as a phoenix goes through a re-birth, I needed to experience the same. I was emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically depleted.

Reinvention is not easy, nor is it pretty. A reinvention isn’t going to happen overnight, it’s a daily practice that requires consistency and dedication. A reinvention starts with getting your internal world in order and building from the inside out.

Here are ten actions I implemented to slowly get myself off the floor and begin to get back into my fitness routine and changing my life for the better.

Steps to a reinvention in life & fitness

1. Stare at the man or woman in the mirror

Michael Jackson reminded us to stare at ourselves in the mirror and that’s how we were going to make a change.

In the art of reinventing yourself, the same logic applies. Reinvention starts with taking a trip into our internal world.

If you want to lose weight, it’s up to you to make it happen. You can read plenty of books (including my upcoming one) and health magazines while psyching yourself up with fitness inspiration quotes, but at the end of the day, it’s about you taking action to make it happen.

Talking about it isn’t enough (that’s merely pretending, something I was an expert at).

I talked about trying to learn how to salsa dance for years and secretly envied dancers for years. I envied friends and peers who wrote books and shared their ideas through speaking.

After enough time, you realize that it’s no one’s fault that these events aren’t manifesting—the onus is on you.

It’s freeing and scary to realize that everything you do and don’t is 100% your fault and in your control. Realize that you and only you are the captain of your operation.

2. What do you love doing?

Take a second and brainstorm at least ten things you love doing. Yes, I know you want to level up your fitness, but there is more to life than macros and squats.

An unbalanced life where everything dictates around fitness isn’t ideal and eventually leads to burnout (trust me on this one).

Seek a balanced lifestyle; thus ensuring yourself that you’re mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually addressing your components for a world class body and life.

After you wrote your list of ten things, pick two or three of them and start to pursue them.

3. Commit to movement every day

It’s not about the quantity or duration of your session, it’s about the quality and intensity of the session. It’s better to do a little every day than to do an astronomical amount a couple days out of the week.

Incorporating daily movement into your life programs your brain to become accustomed to exercise and rely less on willpower.

Daily movement doesn’t mean going to the gym every day and strength training. Daily movement on off days could be salsa dancing, learning how to tango, walking for 30-60 minutes, yoga, hiking, or riding your bike. Your only objective is to get moving each-and-every-single-day.

reinvention in Life & Fitness -dancing
Warning….dancing in public may get some weird looks

4. Write down 5 things that scare the living hell out of you

I love people, but yet they equally terrify me. I’ve wanted to speak for a great deal of time, but fear has cemented me in asphalt and kept me in neutral.

Nevertheless, when it comes to your new goals and aspirations, you must attack your fears with aggression. Realize that those moments of feeling uncomfortable, uncertain, and nervous are positive signs that you’re heading in the right direction of growing in fitness and within your life.

Change isn’t going to happen inside your safe bubble of comfort and familiarity.

5. Pick two or three of those scary things and start doing them

I choose public speaking, asking for help, and a dream project that can’t be announced yet (I’m very superstitious).

What about you?

You can accomplish anything you set your mind to, but not all at once. Pick only a couple new things that scare you and put your focus on those.

As with any new habit, do a little each day. Don’t place unbearable expectations on yourself. Keep it small, consistent, and over time, these seemingly insignificantly actions magically add up into an impressive body of work.

6. Write down how you envision yourself in three months, six months, and 12 months

This is about you making a declaration for your fitness and your life.

Without a vision, you’re walking aimlessly into the forest without a compass or the stars to guide you.

The odds of succeeding without a vision isn’t likely. How will you know what succeeding in fitness looks and feels like if you haven’t determined it?

Without establishing what your goals and success metrics are, you run the risk of letting the external world determine if you’re a success or not.

People often over-estimate what can be accomplished in the short term, but under-estimate what can be accomplished over the long haul.

Establishing a vision provides a “why” to justify the actions that you’re taking on a daily basis.

7. Find a Yoda, form a team, or find a partner in crime

Nothing is accomplished in this world by yourself. I learned this the hard way. I’m slowly starting to build an accountability network and support team for my fitness, writing, speaking, relationships, and general well-being.

Everyone needs someone that they can lean their shoulders on or fall back into during hard times.

Whether it’s finding a workout partner or joining a community of like-minded individuals—find some form of accountability and support along your fitness journey.

If it’s in your day-to-day life, seek out a mentor or someone who has been through what you’re going through and is currently at a level you desire.

Layout challenges for each other and clearly state what you want and let them help you form a blueprint for succeeding.

8. Take a 30-day challenge

No, not the kind that forces you to follow unbearable and restrictive dietary guidelines. This actionable challenge is focused on improving your habits, behaviors and quality of life.

Here are a couple 30-day challenges which could be implemented depending on your most pressing need at the moment.

Emotionally: Say no to something you don’t want to do each day or to a task or person that isn’t that important but you feel obligated to say “yes” to. I decreased my social media time & made a concerted effort to speak with one good friend each day (even for as little as ten minutes).

Spiritually: Give gratitude each day for two to three new things. You could even try meditating for as little as five minutes each day.

Mentally: Read every day and become aware of the information you’re consuming. As you’re watching TV or reading gossip columns, take a pause to notice how you’re feeling. Does this piece bring you joy and provide a benefit or is it mindless entertainment serving as a procrastination tool from important work?

reinvention in life & fitness
books > gossip columns

Physically: How can you improve by 1% each day and make it feel effortless?

Simple. Pick an exercise and aim for small incremental progressions.

Perform a plank every day, adding one second each day. Start at a number you feel comfortable with. You can do this with push-ups or squats. OR, even better, commit to walking each day for as little as 20-30 minutes.

9. Feed your brain with only premium information

Junk food in, junk food out. You are literally what you consume. If you’re on a heavy binge of bad reality TV, obsessing over the latest celebrity news, and vicariously living through Instagram photos (newsflash, that isn’t the real world)—then expect your life to be a manifestation of your consuming habits.

Is the majority of your information making you a better person, smarter, benefiting your job, improving your relationships, and making you healthier. Or is it just serving as a distraction to occupy you at night, prevent you from facing your true feelings and emotions about life, or are you just bored?

Figure out your ratio of consumption and tilt the barometer in the favor of benefiting the life and health you desire.

The worst thing about junk information is that it clouds and distorts your thoughts, which is the first step toward getting you to take action on your goals.

As I mentioned numerous times, thoughts lead to feelings which lead to your actions and behaviors. Without being mindful of this, you’re going to be circling in a negative feedback loop and spinning your wheels.

10. Track your results and hold yourself accountable

As you’re trying to make an 180 in your life, tracking your results and habits is essential. Accountability is essential and necessary for change.

Pick a couple daily habits and behaviors to focus on. Here are a couple of resources and ideas.

  • Track your chosen habits and behaviors
  • Make an excel spreadsheet to track your results
  • Use Chronometer to track your food intake (yes, the foods aren’t exact in numbers, but they’re close enough)
  • Find an accountability buddy or group and chart your results, wins, and difficulties weekly with each other. Definitely, share what’s been holding you back and get some input and needed help.

Try these ten things out. As with most things worthwhile in life, change and results aren’t going to happen overnight or with the flick of the wrist. But, if you do the work, put your hard hat on each and every day while trusting the process—a new you will magically appear before you even realize it.