The Da Vinci Health Code: 1 Powerful Principle to Living an Optimized Life

On April 15th, 1452, there was a gentleman born named Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci.

We know him as Leonardo da Vinci.

Da Vinci appeared on my childhood radar due to him combining the arts with sciences along with being the original renaissance man.

His influence has struck a chord across many areas and disciplines. In fact, Nat King Cole recorded a song named ‘Mona Lisa’ in dedication to the portrait.

In case you care, that song also won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1950.

Ok, let’s refocus.

Da Vinci was involved with inventing, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, paleontology, and cartography.

The point of this article isn’t to rehash da Vinci’s accomplishments nor turn this into a greatest hits compilation.

Instead, what sparked me to write this article was a timeless lesson stumbled upon that eloquently describes what it takes to live an optimized life.

I like to think of it as the da Vinci health code.

And this quote below from da Vinci is the origin for it:

“Experience does not ever err. It is only your judgment that errs in promising itself results which are not caused by your experiments. Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.”

I reread this a few times to let the idea marinate. Afterward, I came up with three magic words that can sum up the da Vinci health code.

Execute. Experience. Review.

There's a trap that many individuals attempting to pursue new endeavors encounter.

This trap is overestimating the value of your results with little action and proof for justification.

When I first started writing around six years ago, it wasn’t very good (and that's me being generous). My grammar, sentence construction, confidence, and everything else you can think about were lacking.

In this instance, it was easy to draw the conclusion that becoming an author was as likely as walking on water (i.e. overestimating the value of my initial results).

Now, let’s look at a common fitness example.

Someone wants to lose 15 pounds and live an optimized lifestyle. The habits, behaviors, and mindset are foreign to this person.

The initial attempts will most likely involve a healthy amount of misfires and frustrations. It’s one step forward, and four steps back—at least according to the way this person is perceiving and experiencing the world.

With all this said, how can you get off the proverbial negative self-talk along with overestimating the value of your initial results?

It's conceptually simple, but difficult in the application.

It comes down to three words.

Execute. Experience. Review.

Let's break each of these sections down.

Execute

The antidote to low-self esteem and taking the reins on your emotions (and life in general) is to have a bias for action.

The more action you take, the more you level up.

It's not magic, it's simply that the specific outcomes begin to emotionally weigh less and less. You become less attached to the outcome and more committed to the process.

Think of yourself as a baseball player. The more at-bats, the increasing likelihood the next swing will be a base hit (or even better, a home run).

baseball -- Da Vinci Health Code

Constructing a six-pack, slimming your stomach, restoring your thyroid, building a strong relationship, writing a book, getting a column in that prestigious magazine, improving as a photographer, and becoming a magnetic public speaker all require deliberate and repeated at-bats.

It’s imperative to keep stepping into the batter's box and taking your swings.

Experience

I remember sitting in my Psych 101 class as a freshman and overhearing these girls gossiping about a breakup one of them had.

She was heavily catastrophizing her recent breakup from a 2-month relationship. She thought there was no tomorrow (this mindset is only useful if you're training to fight Clubber Lane).

I remember having a strong crush on this girl in college and my dashing looks weren’t close to arriving on the scene yet. Even more important, my conversation skills were a negative one-hundred.

And to no surprise, a date never happened. I fell into the negative self-talk cycle and began to catastrophize.

I would assume the girl, much like myself, began to put things into perspective a little more logically over the years.

Not only because of age, but also due to repeated action. Her, through continually dating. Me, through continual refining of communication skills.

When it came to approaching and striking up a conversation, the outcome had less power over me because I had more opportunities to step up to the plate and see what happens.

As a result, my sweaty palms, social awkwardness, and sometimes overwhelm subsided due to experience.

And this is what will happen on your health optimization journey. Optimal health has no endpoint, it’s a continual journey in which you become better and better through the experiences you continue to embark upon.

Navigating healthy eating becomes easier with experience. Salsa dancing becomes easier with experience. Lifting weights becomes easier with experience.

With experience comes wisdom and certainty.

Review

Any top flight organization will debrief to analyze what went well and more importantly, identify opportunities for improvement.

Sticking with early adulthood Julian, conversations with women and people, in general, became much easier due to my ever-growing exposure.

While exposure was important, even more, important was reviewing my at-bats.

I had an intense fear of looking bad to people or appearing incompetent in public.

Yet, after a few at-bats, I realized that the world (unfortunately) doesn’t revolve around me. People don’t care as much as I think when it comes to my goals.

People have their own lives to worry about and are insecure as well. We’re all trying to project an idealized version of ourselves with the hopes people don’t see the chinks in our armor.

In my early days of nutrition, I fell off the dietary wagon mid-afternoons.

After reviewing, these were the times that were the most stressful times of the day. I was eating my feelings away just as a lot of my clients initially do.

As you go about living your optimized life, take the mistakes, setbacks, blunders, and embarrassing moments in stride.

Don’t see it as the world ending, see it as the world providing opportunity and clues to leveling up.

The version that you conjure up in your head, the one you think about when your head hits the pillow, and the one you strongly long for is possible.

But only if you execute, experience, and review.

It bears repeating the da Vinci health code:

“Experience does not ever err. It is only your judgment that errs in promising itself results which are not caused by your experiments. Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.”

Execute. Experience. Review.

And listen to some Nat King Cole while you’re at it (here are 20 songs to get you started).

1 Crazy Simple Mental Model For High-Performance Health

Recently, I order some lab tests to look at my blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and insulin levels.

After analyzing and interpreting my genetic report, I happen to be in the highest category for insulin resistance.

My dad, grandfather, grandmother, and numerous aunts and uncles have experienced blood sugar issues, which have led to various illnesses and complications in the past.

Before moving forth, what exactly is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is where the body begins to require increasing amounts of insulin in order to drive blood sugar levels. With increased insulin resistance, besides difficulty losing weight, aging at a much more rapid rate can occur.

As I remind clients who show a high propensity in this category or another area, it’s imperative to keep in mind that its probability and propensity.

As I look at it, I simply have a lower margin for error when it comes to this particular issue. Just as others will have a higher propensity for neurological issues or something else.

Being able to dial into specific areas of health is where the power of precision wellness and bio-individuality truly shines. When you know your unique blueprint, you’re gaining knowledge. But, more importantly, you’re gaining control over your destiny.

Years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to order my own tests. To possess in-depth knowledge of my hormones and which style of eating is ideal for me, and much more.

This leads me to the bigger issue when it comes to managing your health—your decisions.

The best information and health strategies are all for naught if the decision making is sub-par.

A big reason for the decline of health from an overall population point of view comes down to decision making.

Specifically, operating with a tertiary strategic approach instead of a primary strategic approach.

Tertiary thinking vs. Primary thinking

Let’s use an example of lung cancer (harsh, but it’ll make the point crystal clear).

The majority of people wouldn’t propose a campaign to reduce lung cancer that focused only on treatment (i.e. a tertiary strategy) since better treatment wouldn’t reduce lung cancer rates. Helping individuals stop smoking (i.e. a secondary strategy) is good. However, even better, preventing and educating people from the beginning to not smoke (i.e. a primary strategy) is ideal.

In the western model of health, the majority of solutions are tertiary strategies.

Getting care and attention for your well being doesn’t start until you become “sick”.

Striving for optimization and morphing into the most enhanced version of yourself is practically a foreign language within this model.

The emphasis is on illness and disease, not preventative care and optimization.

Stripping this down even further, it’s operating with a reactive mentality instead of a proactive mentality. Waiting for something to happen instead of attempting to stay ahead of the situations.

For my business peeps out there, look no further than Blockbuster. Of the many reasons for their collapse, was not keeping up with trends and looking into the future.

It’s no surprise that the U.S. was ranked 35th out of 169 countries in the 2019 edition of Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index.

mental model for high performance health

Being reactive and operating with tertiary strategies is how the majority of individuals approach their health and energy on a daily basis.

They wait until they feel rundown, are 15lbs overweight, and hit rock bottom in their relationships. Only then, will they search for a solution (i.e. tertiary thinking).

Don't let this be you.

No need to wait until things hit rock bottom. 

Reshape your mental model into one of primary thinking.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until tomorrow to take action. Or wait until something breaks or aches. I must take full control of my health and life starting right this very moment.

And you must as well.

A mental model for high-performance health entails operating with a sense of urgency.

It’s time to get on the offense and dictate how things will go. Primary thinking starts with this mental model for high-performance health:

Front-load your work

Here is a scenario: Your financial advisor advises you to set aside multiple accounts. There's investments, unforeseen accidents, and dumb mistakes (ok maybe that’s just me).

They're helping you front-load your work. By front-loading your work, you're attempting to predict future events that could prevent you from accomplishing your goals.

This mental model for high-performance health won't predict all future events. However, you'll certainly forecast a couple of the more high-probable scenarios that could derail your health optimization goals.

If healthy eating with your busy schedule is a problem, effectively front-loading your work will be a gamechanger. With awareness, you can meal prep in advance or elect to invest in meal delivery services to stay on track. 

Before setting foot in the gym, purging your fridge, or swearing off any foods—pause, take a step back, and front load your work.

We live in a golden age of information with an excess of resources. But all of this is a moot point without shifting your mental model for high-performance health.

Do you want results?

Living a demanding and unique lifestyle requires a unique approach to having you at your best each and every day.

What I’ve learned is that to achieve this, you need a comprehensive holistic plan that seamlessly connects every single facet of your life perfectly.

This starts with taking a deep dive into what makes you uniquely you by gathering data on your genetics along with a plethora of other precision-based assessments. Then, and only then, can you start to organize the puzzle pieces to fit together.

That’s what I do inside my N of 1 boutique practice. If you’d like my help, you can let me know by emailing the address below where we’ll start with a health optimization call.

Start taking control by emailing julian@theartoffitnessandlife.com

I don't operate in shallow waters. Therefore, expect this to be an impactful session that can range from 45mins to 2 hours.

What The Symphony Orchestra Can Teach You About High Performance and Health Optimization

Recently at the symphony on an artist date, I found myself falling into a trance for two reasons:

  1. There was a beautiful woman sitting diagonally from me with a group of girls (not the ideal opportunity to run some game).
  2. Watching the maestro direct the orchestra and witnessing each member seamlessly play and integrate to form a flawless cohesive performance.

Since there's not much to expand upon concerning reason one, let's further explore reason two.

Experiencing the symphony orchestra comes with strong atmospheric effects along with conjuring up strong emotional responses—both of which inspire lofty thoughts while boosting my mood.

Moving forward, I believe there are life lessons around every corner we look at. In fact, when I wrote my first book ‘Body Architect’, nearly every principle shared in that book came from a life principle I've either lived or observed.

Attending the symphony is littered with lessons. Especially, when it comes to high performance and health optimization.

During my walk back from the performance, I jotted down five high performance and health optimization lessons that you can learn from the symphony orchestra.

1.Pay attention to your grip

One of the first keys to a successful performance lies in the hands of the maestro. Specifically, the manner in which he holds the baton. There’s power, energy, and of course, specific instructions in the baton.

Safe to say, it’s all about the grip.

Something as minor as the conductor gripping the baton too tightly or even too loosely could affect the entire performance.

If he holds it too tightly, there’s a danger that the musical score will become rigid—devoid of energy and any sort of creativity (with boredom soon to follow).

However, hold it freely with no regard and you’ll have a sloppy musical score (with terrible reviews soon to follow).

With all of this said, the key is to find balance. Not too tight, but also, not too loose. Once you strike the perfect accord, the maestro and accompanying musicians are flowing seamlessly; thus leading to a masterful performance.

What does this have to do with high performance and health optimization?

Everything.

In today’s world, it’s easy to fall into an echo chamber and cling to your ideas, methods, philosophies, and become dogmatic in your ways.

Early on in my fitness days, I trained clients one specific way and thought it was best because it had worked for me. All other ideas, methods, and philosophies were wrong because I was clinging onto my baton too tightly,

Social media has keto circles, carnivore circles, vegan circles, Paleo circles, and numerous others.

When it comes to health optimization, each of us is 99.9 percent identical, but that 0.1 percent is huge and is ultimately the deciding factor on what makes us uniquely us.

Just as the maestro has to find the right balance with his baton for that night's performance, you must find the right balance with the 0.1 percent that makes you uniquely you.

The conductor knows the right grip has arrived when there's no friction and cohesion within the team and its sound. You'll know it's the right grip when there's little-to-no friction between your daily health habits and day-to-day life.

As you look to optimize and enhance your health, ask yourself this key question:

  • Where in life am I being too rigid?
  • Also, where in life am I being too sloppy?

2.Everything has a role, responsibility, and purpose to it

There are four main families of instruments: the strings, the woodwinds, the brass, and the percussion. Even the setup of an orchestra has a purpose too it.

Everything matters. You can’t create an unmistakable listening experience if a role isn’t filled or clearly defined. If the flutes were not existing or there wasn’t appropriate time given to the cellos, the performance could be flat.

In the optimal health spectrum, everything has a role, purpose, and responsibility to it. Sleep, nutrition, exercise, breathing, relationships, work, stress mitigation—all have a role.

And within these big categories are further components that can be broken down just as the string family is further broken down into the violin, the viola, the cello, and the double (string) bass.

When all systems are addressed and taken into account, optimal health can flourish. As you look to create a thriving and flourishing human system, ask yourself some key questions:

  • Do you have the right combination of roles, knowledge, skills, ability, and experience around to help you create a thriving human system?
  • Is each component of your human system addressed, playing, and operating to the best of its ability?

3.Precision is a necessity

From the layout of the orchestra to the precise information needed to perform each of their parts, precision is a necessity for a world-class performance.

Each specific instrument and member have its very own unique personal road map to focus on. Besides that, as I've learned, there are specific times as when to play (speak up), to be quiet (listen), to move quickly (allegro) and to slow down (largo).

Optimal health and living a limitless life isn’t something that happens through guesswork or by accident. Intentionality and careful consideration are necessary.

From the way you sleep to the way you speak, train, supplement and eat—precision is needed.

What inputs will you add to your life and body? Before that, what specifically does your body need to perform at its highest level?

Knowing what makes you uniquely you (i.e. your genetic code) is step one of the process.

As you look to bring more precision to your life and health, ask yourself this question:

  • Am I clear and in alignment with my health and life goals (aka am I being congruent on a day-to-day basis with what I say I want long term)?

4.Continuous learning and practicing is a must

Being apart of the orchestra requires sacrifice and commitment.

Weekly rehearsals as a team along with individual rehearsal times are part of the equation. There is no winging it or sight-reading your parts. Or slowing down after a few years of experience.

The best musicians and composers understand that mastery doesn't happen by accident nor has an end game. It’s simply a continuous progression to the next destination.

As I remind clients along our journey of working together, their health is a continuous progression with no endpoint in sight.

There's no “that's it” or “I'll just maintain what I have.” There's only “what's next” and “how good can I get.”

Continuously learning and practicing is a must because you're either moving forward or heading backward.

As you look to adopt this mentality, ask yourself:

  • What can I do to take my health and life to the next level?
  • Alternatively, what can I remove to take my health and life to the next level?
  • What’s working well and what’s not working so well right now?

5.Celebrate and give gratitude

After the last arrangement was completed, the conductor bowed. But not to hog the spotlight, he immediately turned and invited the rest of the orchestra to stand and share the spotlight. The team celebrated their accolades together along with giving thanks to each other.

Celebrating yourself and operating from a state of gratitude is a valuable tool for optimal mental, emotional, and physical health.

Regularly expressing gratitude can change the molecular structure of your brain, keep the gray matter functioning, and make you healthier and happier.

In 2008, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, scientists began to use fMRI to study gratitude. In the study, researchers measured the brain activity of participants experiencing different emotions. They found that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions along with lighting up parts of the brain’s reward pathways and hypothalamus.

In short, gratitude can boost the valuable neurotransmitter serotonin while activating the brain stem to produce dopamine.

In addition to that, gratitude helps with sleep, longevity, empathy, decision making, and resiliency.

To begin to incorporate this into your life, here are some suggestions:

  • Establish some key milestones and measures of success that you'll celebrate
  • Take some time in the day to identify two to five things good in your life.

A symphony orchestra might look to see if they’re playing in harmony or if they're slightly out of tune? While you most likely aren’t conducting a symphony, your everyday life and body is its own symphony.

Is your human ecosystem playing in harmony or is it slightly out of tune?

If it’s the latter and you’re looking to create a majestic and high performing cascade of music (or at least in this case—optimal health while living the good life)—let's talk.

Send an email to julian@theartoffitnessandlife.com for a free health optimization strategy session. I don't operate in shallow waters. Therefore, expect this to be an impactful session that can range from 45min to 2 hours.

Regardless of if we decide to work together, you'll leave this call with supreme clarity and a plan to becoming superhuman.