4 Common Excuses That You Must Wage War With to Master Your Health

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” — Benjamin Franklin

4 Common Excuses That You Must Wage War With to Master Your Health — wage war with your excuses

Exercising consistently, eating balanced and healthy meals, getting high-quality sleep, and managing stress was a breeze as a 21-year-old kid.

Fast forward a decade later, exercising consistently isn’t as simple due to growing a company. I’m sometimes too tired from the day to cook a healthy and nutrient-rich meal. And I’m either too anxious about life or too excited about life to get quality sleep.

These are all logical and rational reasons why I would fall short of my nutrition, training, and sleep goals. After all, if I told someone that I’m busy working (or “hustling” as the people call it), too tired to cook, and on an emotional roller coaster—the person would likely nod and say “me too”.

And we would feel better about the situation.

And that’s the problem.

It’s way too easy to justify our behaviors. Months down the line, we end up wondering “what the hell happened” to our health?

This was me. Whereas most people binge eat when stressed, I actually stop eating and lose weight (and some muscle, unfortunately).

Well damn, sign me up for this is what you may be thinking. But not so fast, rapidly losing weight (and muscle) or gaining excess weight are both detrimental to our metabolism, mood, hormones, and most importantly—our self-esteem.

As I had to learn though, “YOU MUST WAGE WAR WITH YOUR EXCUSES, EGO, & JUSTIFICATIONS” daily.

Here’s the raw truth…We have enough time, resources, and ability to make it happen.

However, before we go any further, I didn’t craft this article to berate you, guilt you into eating more broccoli, or pressure you into more lunges.

Instead, I crafted this article to remind you that health & fitness is tough for all of us—even the “fitness professionals”.

With Instagram and other social platforms, it’s easy to fall into the illusion that everyone has their shit together and are “crushing life”. But that isn’t reality at all. Myself, top performers I coach, and fellow fitness peers know that it’s a daily battle to maintain healthy habits with a demanding lifestyle.

It’s easy to slide into rationale reasons for not doing behaviors we know benefit us in the long term.

With that said, it’s time to wage war with your excuses starting with these four sneaky ones.

Sneaky excuse #1: “I don’t think it’s that bad…I’m doing alright”

The downside of being well-read and semi-intelligent (most of the time) is that I can easily manipulate my reasoning to justify my actions.

How about this?

What do stubborn people, addicts, and self-sabotagers have in common?

They’re full of denial and delusion.

One day, you want to change your body, your life, and your mental approach toward life. As soon as you feel a little bit of resistance, discomfort, awkwardness, or insecurity—it’s all hands off deck. You tell yourself, “maybe I was just overreacting—it’s not that bad”.

Lies…lies…and more lies. Wage war against this!

tank- wage war with your excuses
Bring in the heavy artillery against denial and delusion.

The topic of point wouldn’t have been brought up if you at some level didn’t think there was a need for improvement or some dissatisfaction with yourself.

Admit there’s room for improvement and move forward. It’s okay to admit the need for improvement.

Sneaky excuse #2: “I don’t know enough yet, I need some more time to “plan”

I gotcha, I used this excuse a lot. I remember using this excuse in Portugal when I was at a cafe with a friend and I saw this beautiful girl who was “magnetizing”. I wanted to talk to her. I was thinking of some lines to say in my broken Portuguese.

After enough time of mentally wasting away, I told myself “I’m going to be here for 5 more weeks, I’ll talk to her next time I’m here. Or, I’ll talk to the next girl who strikes my interest because I’ll have a plan.”

Oh dear—this actually made total sense to me at the time. And when you procrastinate on your health because you don’t know everything nor how it will pan out, it sounds logical.

But just like me in this case, the reality of the situation is telling another story.

You can buy more fitness books. Listen to more podcast. Search the depths of the internet for more biohacks. Or, you can just do something—anything really. Planning, planning,…and more planning is procrastination in disguise.

You’ll never feel 100% ready about anything you’re going after. The unknown doesn’t vanish, you just learn to accept it as it is.

You don’t need another fitness book. You don’t need to precisely get your macros right. You don’t need to listen to another podcast—unless it’s mine in the near future;).

Focus on moving more often, eating foods that weren’t made in a chemistry lab, sleeping more, and prioritizing key relationships.

You learn by doing, not by spectating and philosophizing.

Sneaky excuse #3: “I don’t know what to eat and I’m too busy to cook daily”

I told myself this at one point in time and it led me to eat a big breakfast and then maybe a handful of proteins bars throughout the day. And not surprisingly, I had crazy digestive discomfort and poor energy.

Before even attempting to solve the nutritional riddle, the first priority is to formulate a “nutritional playbook’.

Solving your dietary situation starts by exposing yourself to reality.

For example, if you don’t know how to cook, either learn to cook some basic things or use a meal delivery service to alleviate this situation.

Next, if you’re crazy busy, use meal delivery to help or batch your meals by preparing them in advance. When batching your meals, include an even dose of carbs, proteins, and fats. Perhaps breakfast is your power shake and lunch and dinner will be two meals that are simple, tasty, and efficient.

marinated beef -wage war with your excuses
Simple and effective ideas will get the job done!

On a weekly basis, I have 3-4 meals and snacks I rely on. If I’m feeling fancy, then I’ll extend outside my playbook.

Sneaky excuse #4: “I’m going to start focusing on my health more, but not this week…I’ll start fresh on Monday”

“After this weekend, I’m going to get after it”.

“I would start this week, but I have too many things to do”.

“This week is almost over; I’ll tighten up my diet starting on Monday”.

What is it with people associating Monday as a default day to kickstart new initiatives.

If I had a kid (which I don’t) and I wanted to start being a better parent, I wouldn’t say “I’m going to start prioritizing and being there for my kid, but not this week…I’ll start on Monday”

If you’re an entrepreneur and wanted to grow your business and make more of an impact, you wouldn’t say “I’m going to start prioritizing and growing my business to make more money & create a bigger impact, but not this week…I’ll start fresh on Monday.”

If you wait until tomorrow or the next week, you most likely get pleasure (small hits of dopamine) out of making commitments and planning. If you want something, and it’s within your power—you’ll start as soon as possible.

It’s not important that you execute gracefully at first—it’s important that you take action. Taking action is the precursor to momentum which is the precursor to a body that looks and performs well.

As Apollo Creed told Rocky, “there is no tomorrow…there is no tomorrow” (play this before your next training session). Act with aggression and have an unapologetic bias toward action.

50 Cent and The Art of Mental Domination

“The key to possessing supreme power is to assume the active mode in dealing with your fears. This means entering arenas you normally shy away from: making the very hard decisions you have been avoiding, confronting the people who are playing power games with you, thinking of yourself and what you need instead of pleasing others, making yourself change the direction of your life even though such change is the very thing you dread.” — 50 Cent & Robert Greene

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/96240757

It’s 2002 and on a cold winter afternoon, friends message me to check out this rapper who roasted Ja Rule (who at the time was at the top of the hip-hop market).

I played the song recommended to me before getting ready for basketball practice. It’s an infectious beat that you can’t help but nod your head to.

This song was Wanksta. In January, ‘In da Club’ is released and that immediately becomes my go-to song. A month later, his album is released, and the rest is history.

I know what you’re thinking, this is a health and performance site—not rolling stone or some other entertainment site.

The thing is, 50 Cent can teach you effective mindset principles that are transferable to your health and professional life. 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson III) is much more than a rapper. At 12 years old, I was crushing everyone at Madden and first-person shooter games. And 12 years old, was selling drugs during the 1980s crack epidemic.

A typical person would turn a blind eye and think nothing can be learned from a rapper. But you’re not anyone because you’re down with the AFL and you understand that gold can be extracted from the most unexpected places.

Fast forward the story, Jackson gets shot nine times and bounces back to become this wildly successful entrepreneur crossing over into multiple industries.

With that said, last year I read his book that he co-authored with Robert Greene titled ‘The 50th Law‘. I’ve read hundreds of books, but this is currently my favorite as of right now.

Often times, in fitness and business, we’ll seek surface levels tactics in hopes of alleviating our problems. But, all the “hacks”, strategies, and tactics mean very little if your mindset isn’t where it needs to be at.

With that said, I’m going to share five of the top lessons that I received from this book. If you’re trying to develop the art of mental domination and adopt a fearless attitude toward your goals, ingrain these five principles into your head.

1. See things for what they are

This lesson is about intense realism. Often times (myself included), we fail to see the current picture because it’s either too painful or we feel embarrassed about it. Think about people who avoid looking in the mirror because of their current physical shape. Think about people who avoid logging into their online banking due to the disappointment of their current finances. Think about people who avoid looking in their partner’s eyes because they don’t like what they see anymore. In all of these situations, they feel disappointment, hurt, sadness, and a host of other feelings.

Don’t avoid these feelings. Avoidance will suffocate your potential and the chances of being a top performer. Avoidance doesn’t accomplish anything other than increasing your stress levels and making you anxious. Face your current reality for what it is and use it to grow.

You look in the mirror and don’t like what you see. So what, what are you going to do about it?

Once you know your current reality and have sat with that pain, you’ll be able to more effectively move forward because you have urgency and emotional resonance with improving the situation.

As 50 states, “If you have a long-term goal for yourself, one that you have imagined in detail, then you are better able to make the proper decisions in the present. You know which battles or positions to avoid because they don’t advance you towards your goal.”

Assess your daily habits and decipher if they will lead to a better future or keep you existing in your current reality.

2. Things that come easy and fast will leave you just as fast

“The only way to gain self-reliance or any power is through great effort and practice. And this effort should not be seen as something ugly or dull; it is the prices of gaining power over yourself that is the most satisfying of all, knowing that step-by-step you are elevating yourself above the dependent masses.” — 50 Cent & Robert Greene

In relationships, the intense flings are fun but they also dissipate just as quick. Make a lot of money & you aren’t ready for it, it somehow disappears (I know this story). Rapidly lose loads of tummy fat on a gimmicky diet but didn’t learn how to properly eat and take care of yourself, the weight returns often with more pounds than before.

chopped vegetables- art of mental domination
If you don’t learn the fundamentals of nutrition, expect all your weight and illness to return.

Nothing and I repeat nothing comes easy in fitness, business, nor life in general. The only way to achieve anything worthwhile is through intelligently placing your effort on important things and deliberately practicing it. Embrace the hell out of boredom and consistent, but meticulous action. Operate with surgeon-like precision, be calculated, and aggressively patient.

3. Keep moving forward no matter what

“Don’t see change and chaotic moments in life as something to fear, but rather as a source of excitement and opportunity. Often what seems like chaos to us is merely a series of events that are new and hard to figure out.”— 50 Cent & Robert Greene

1% daily improvement is my goal and anything extra is icing on the cake. When you keep moving forward, the past can’t stop you because you’re too focused on growth.

Miles Davis continually reinvented himself and his music to stay fresh and relevant. When people were trying to emulate Miles, he was literally ‘Miles Ahead (shout to those who get the reference)’ of the competition and industry. Today is the perfect day to write those first 200 words toward your book, make that healthy morning shake to kickstart that summer body, start saying “no” more often to guard your energy.

Every day is a new day to start anew and create momentum no matter what happened yesterday.

4. Master your craft and embrace boredom

“Most people cant handle boredom. That means they can’t stay on one thing until they get good at it. And they wonder why they’re unhappy” states 50.

An example of this is someone whose impatient with their nutrition plan and jump from plan to plan. Instead of hopping from plan-to-plan, the focus should be on mastery of core nutritional behaviors that are universal in principle. Practicing habits such as eating slower, consistently eating the proper amounts of food daily, making that morning smoothie, and other simple behaviors should be prioritized.

animal-bear-bored — art of mental domination
Seek boredom out just as this bear does.

Accept that learning and transforming any aspect of your life requires a process that is often times ugly and disjointed at times. But, displaying patience and the ability to endure is what will separate you from the masses and get results unlike everyone else.

When it comes to the process, use these quick tips to help:

  1. Continue to plow ahead through trial and error
  2. Master simple habits before attempting mastery of advanced concepts
  3. Learn the basic rules before customizing
  4. Ruthlessly pay attention to the details
  5. Remind yourself of the mission daily to help stay persistent

5. Push yourself beyond your limits

The hustler’s ambition:

“Your sense of who you are will determine your actions and what you end up getting in life. If you see your reach as limited, that you are mostly helpless in the face of so many difficulties, that it is best to keep your ambitions low, then you will receive the little that you expect. Knowing this dynamic, you must train yourself for the opposite—ask for more, aim high, and believe that you are destined for something great. Your sense of self-worth comes from you alone—never the opinion of others. With a rising confidence in your abilities, you will take risks that will increase your chances of success. People follow those who know where they are going, so cultivate an air of certainty and boldness.” — 50 Cent & Robert Greene

That quote is absolute fire and something I read on a daily basis.

Be mindful of the language and way you treat yourself because how you do this is ultimately how the universe will treat you along with the results you get from life. Your opinion of yourself becomes your reality.

“If you have all these doubts, then no one will believe in you and everything will go wrong. If you think the opposite, the opposite will happen. It’s that simple” states 50.

When it comes to expanding your limits and forging a new paradigm:

  1. Don’t let people box you into an old and stagnate identity
  2. Strive to move faster pace in life
  3. Be unapologetically contrarian
  4. Make the mission bigger than you
  5. Always bet on yourself

Sleep 101: How Sleep Affects Your Daily Energy Levels

Sleep 101: How Sleep Affects Your Daily Energy Levels

What if I told you that there was a miracle drug that helps you live longer, improves your memory, boosts your creativity, and makes you more attractive. This miracle drug also keeps you lean while lowering those annoying food cravings.

It gets even better.

This miracle drug lowers the chances of getting the flu, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Using this drug effectively will lower the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes. You’ll feel less depressed and anxious which creates room for more happiness in your life.

As icing on the cake, this miracle drug helps you create more energy so you can move and evolve at a faster pace in life.

What’s this miracle drug that is free of charge that I speak of?

Sleep.

Here’s the bad news, society isn’t taking advantage of this miracle drug.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 100 years ago, less than two percent of the population in the U.S. slept six hours or less a night. Now, in today’s society, 30 percent of adults are sleeping six hours or less a night. Sleep not only affects you mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially—it also greatly affects you physically.

It’s not a coincidence that as society has slept less and less, obesity, stress, and chronic illnesses have become more prevalent.

When you routinely short-change your sleep, your immune system suffers. Blood sugar levels get disrupted after a mere week of insufficient sleep. Sleep also helps with maintaining a flourishing microbiome within your gut.

With that said, we live in a hustle-centric society where we celebrate people who exhaust themselves into the ground. These people are called high performers (at least according to the internet).

I merely call these people disillusioned and unorganized.

A true high performer realizes that to achieve peak performance requires rest and recovery so you can be ready to fire on all cylinders the next day. Before I start ranting,  let’s define how sleep affects your daily energy levels and what it is.

What is sleep?

Besides being the “universal health care provider”, sleep is nutrition for your brain. High quality sleep in the proper amounts engineers a high performing body.

At night, your body is restocking itself with the right amount of hormones, processing and ridding itself of significant toxins, repairing damaged tissues, generating vital white blood cells for immunity, building defense walls against various illnesses, eliminating the effects of stress, and processing heavy emotions (and we all have tons of that).

Safe to say, sleep is complex and this doesn’t even get into the aspects of how it affects your weight and performance.

I repeatedly emphasize with clients in my coaching program that without optimizing sleep, the nutritional and training aspects won’t be as effective. With all of this said, sleep is a complex subject in which science is slowly learning more about its complex intricacies.

Why do we sleep?

Shockingly, science doesn’t have a definitive answer for this. However, there are a handful of theories with these four being the most common:

  1. The inactivity theory — This is an adaptive method which is better suited for animals (including us humans) that states it’s better for us to be quiet during the time when we’re most at risk.
  2. The energy conservative theory — Sleeping decreases a persons energy metabolism and conserves it for when it’s most needed.
  3. The restorative theory — Sleeping allows the body time to heal and grow. Research has shown that tissue repair, muscle growth, and the release of Growth Hormone occurs abundantly during sleep.
  4. The brain plasticity theory — Brain remodeling occurs during sleep which is why you hear the emphasis on sleep and children’s brain development.

In summary, think of sleep being a priority so your brain and body can do its necessary housekeeping and maintenance work. For example, I don’t find it by chance that Alzheimer’s (some call it diabetes of the brain) is on the rise because the average person is sleeping less.

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that is associated with the buildup of a toxic form of proteins called beta-amyloid, which aggregates in sticky clumps (i.e. plaques) within your brain. These places are poisonous to neurons since they kill the surrounding brain cells (in particular, they stick mostly around the middle part of the frontal lobe).

How Sleep Affects Your Daily Energy Levels - brain

However, while we sleep, and only while we sleep, our brains are flushed with fluid to help remove waste products (i.e. plaques) that accumulate throughout the day. Other poisonous elements that are associated with Alzheimer’s are removed during the cleaning process which includes a protein called ‘tau’. Think of this as a stress molecule produced by neurons while combusting energy and oxygen throughout the day.

Your brain operates like a computer program that needs to be turned off and shut down for updates.

2 factors that govern sleep

We are hardwired and dependent on sleep through two big drivers.

1.Circadian rhythm — This is a biological process that typically operates over a 24-hour cycle. As you go through the day, you’ll experience fluctuations in appetite, blood pressure, body temperature, concentration levels, and fatigue levels. With that said, your circadian rhythm mostly operates and take its cue from light exposure.

biological clock - How Sleep Affects Your Daily Energy Levels

Image originally appears on Wikipedia

The controlling clock the generates the 24-hour rhythm is the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) which sits in the middle of your brain located in the hypothalamus.

The SCN “samples” the light signal being sent from each eye along the optic nerves as they head toward the back of the brain for visual processing. The SCN then uses this information to produce a signal to keep the rest of the body on an approximate 24-hour schedule.

Your SCN is composed of 20,000 brain cells (or neurons) and is super tiny compared to the brain being composed of approximately 100 billion neurons. With that said, this clock is the central conductor of life’s biological rhythm and thus controls a plethora of behaviors.

Your SCN communicates night and day to your brain and body using a messenger called melatonin.

2. Homeostatic drive — Think of this as your checks and balances with areas such as sleep, blood and tissue metabolism, body temperature, and blood pressure being affected.

Ever wondered why you get tired?

You owe this to the sleep pressure accumulating in the form of adenosine.

Picture your homeostatic drive as an hourglass with sand that slowly withers away to the bottom from the moment you wake up. As time gets closer to running out (i.e. sand accumulating at the bottom), your body receives stronger signals that it needs to sleep. Every hour that passes, the urge to sleep increases (i.e.sleep pressure builds up).

The 5 stages of sleep (or Sleep Architecture)

While there are five phases of sleep, they are classified into two distinct types: Non-Rem (around 75-80% of your sleep) and REM (around 20-25% of your sleep). Throughout the night, you’ll go through several sleep cycles with Stages 1-4 consisting of Non-Rem and Stage 5 being your REM cycle. The typical sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes.

I make it a goal for clients to get at minimum five full cycles nightly (7.5 hours of sleep). With each successive sleep cycle, you’ll experience longer periods of REM sleep.

Think of Non-Rem as your muscles being relaxed while gradually shifting into a deeper sleep. In REM, your brain will return to near waking levels while also increasing blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. With that said, let’s further break down the stages.

1. Stage 1 (drowsy/light sleep) — In this stage, you’re awake but gradually transitioning to completely falling asleep. Your brain is producing slow brain waves called theta waves. Some people in this stage aren’t even aware that they have fallen asleep. This stage is easily interrupted.

2.Stage 2 (light sleep) —You’re disengaging from the environment and other outside stimuli. This stage of Non-Rem comprises the most of your nightly sleep. Eye movement slows, breathing and heart rate decreases along with temperature. Your brain is now producing two brain waves: sleep spindles and K-complexes which are unique to stage 2.

Think of sleep spindles as sharp, narrow brain waves that help you block out external noise. Your K-complexes are believed to help support the consolidation of memories.

3. Stage 3 (slow wave/start of deep sleep) — Your brain starts producing deeper, higher amplitude, and slower waves called delta waves. This stage is the mark from light to deep sleep.

4. Stage 4 (deep sleep) — You’re in a much deeper sleep with your delta waves building up. Your muscles are relaxed and are receiving an increased supply of blood. More importantly, many hormones that carry out important functions in your body are being released. One, in particular, is Growth Hormone, which plays a role in muscle development, overall body growth and development.

Your body is able to undergo healing, repair of tissue and joints, restoration, and refilling your energy levels for tomorrow. Unfortunately, interruption of this stage can inhibit the secretion of this hormone.

5. Stage 5 (REM—the most popular). A full cycle normally repeats about 4-6 times per night. REM cycles are shorter at the beginning of sleep and pick up in duration in the later cycles. Brain waves during this stage can be higher than those seen while awake. Beyond energy restoration of your body, dreaming along with various high-level mental activity occurs here. Your brain is going into overdrive during this stage.

sleep-cycle-infographic

2 big causes for you being tired

There will be more articles and resources down the road that goes into the specificities of fatigue. But for now, a general introduction is all that’s needed.

1. Sleep desynchronization — As mentioned earlier, our body has a natural circadian rhythm and homeostatic mechanism that it needs to stay on track with. However, when you force your body to stay awake (or asleep) at times that are out of synch with your normal rhythm and homeostatic mechanism, fatigue builds up. Examples of this are overnight shift work, pulling all-nighters, or jet lag to name a few.

2. Sleep deprivation — This is the most popular and familiar cause. This is simply not getting enough sleep usually due to a lack of self-control and discipline. Example: Jane is sleeping 6 hours instead of the recommended 7.5-9 hours. In this situation, let’s say that Jane needs 7.5 hours to feel fully rested but is only getting six. Therefore, each week she has a sleep debt of 10.5 hours due to losing 90 minutes each night.

Every facet of life in some form or fashion is highly dependent upon sleep. With that said, here’s a chart created years ago listing the various effects of sleep deprivation.

sleep-deprivation-infographic