Friday, July 20, 2012

30 Lessons From 30 Years

Well, today I turn the big three-oh. It's a fairly arbitrary milestone in my life that I honestly don't feel too bad about. It's not like it's the Pilgrim days and living to 30 means anything special. Since most of my friends are younger than me I know I'll get a lot of shit about being old, but you can guess how I feel about that.

In a post popularized by guys like Eric Cressey, Ben Bruno and Tony Gentilcore I'm going to provide you a list with 30 life-tips I've learned in 30 years that I have found to be useful.

1) Lift heavy things and lift them often. I know that coming from me this is going to seem obvious, and it is. That's why it's first. Good things happen when you lift heavy shit; you get stronger, you move better, you gain muscle and lose fat. Your testosterone increases and you get to eat more bacon. This is a completely win-win situation. If I haven't convinced you to lift heavy yet, I've failed.

2) Worry about the quality of your food, not the quantity. People (women especially) seem to really be concerned with the amount of food they are eating. They love counting carbs, protein and calories. People nowadays can often give you a precise amount for their total intake because they just added it all up off the backs of packages. Eat quality whole foods and you don't have to worry about the amounts. You're not going to get fat eating grass-fed beef and organic spinach. You do have to be concerned, however, about the amount of Double-Stuff Oreos you eat.

3) Foam Roll. You can't underestimate the importance of soft tissue quality. It takes 5 minutes and you feel better afterwards. Only reason to not do it is because you can afford weekly massages. Just do it.

4) Sleep more. As someone who doesn't get enough sleep, I can tell you firsthand how much being sleep deprived sucks. Turn off the TV and go to sleep earlier than you are now. Read a book, listen to music, have sex. Do something in bed that isn't being on the computer or watching TV.

5) Keep learning! Learn things for your job, learn about art, learn about cigars. Just keep learning. You'll be a better person for it, and people won't hate having to talk to you.

6) Put it all on the table. If there is something that you want to tell someone, tell them. Good or bad, it doesn't do any good sitting inside of you. If you love someone; tell them. If you're mad at someone, tell them. People will appreciate the honesty and then you can take it from there. Don't keep shit bottled up.

7) Have a good relationship with food. Cook it yourself. Learn what you really like and don't like. Learn how it makes your body feel, see how your mood changes depending on what you eat. Enjoy it and appreciate it.

8) Relax. Seriously, fucking relax. Your body needs to recover, and this doesn't happen in the gym. Cherish your off days. Go to the park and read a book. Get a coffee and take a walk with a friend. Let your body recover so you can see the benefits of all your hard work.

9) Chill out about your diet. Eat the right foods and relax (there's that word again). One cheat meal won't make you fat. If you're gaining weight, eat a little less. If you want to gain more weight, eat a little bit less. It's not exactly rocket science.

10) Appreciate relationships. Every relationship in your life is important: learn from them all. People will come and go, and there's a reason they are all in your life. So make sure you learn something from everybody. Family, friends, significant others, clients. There's always a lesson to be taken.

11) If you're going to love; love hard. There's no sense in doing this half-assed. If you're going to invest your love in someone, do it right. If you don't love someone, don't tell them that you do. On the other hand, if you do love someone make sure you tell them as often as you can.

12) Listen to music. Don't hear it; listen to it. Figure out what the artist wants you to know. I don't mean Taio Cruz. Listen to real music; The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Al Green. Grown folks music; music that tells a story. Stop listening to Britney and Avicii and listen to something worthwhile.

13) If it doesn't feel like exercise, it's not. Zumba is fun, yeah? Yoga is nice and relaxing. Those are all well and good, but don't tell me that is what you do for exercise. Flail around awkwardly and then sit still? Not good components of a training program. Hill sprints, squats and chin-ups? Those feel like exercise: do more.

14) Keep good company. Somebody once said that "you're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with." Well I really learned how true this was in the last year. I changed quite a bit about my social life and I've grown significantly because of it. I wanted to get stronger, so I hung out with people who wanted to do the same. I wanted to get smarter, so I found people who also wanted to learn. I wanted to eat clean and live healthy so I found like-minded people. If you know where you want to go in life, find people who want it as bad as you do.

15) Go barefoot. The downfall of the shoe began in 1964 in Beaverton, Oregon. Before that we had very few options of things to put on our feet and we were doing just fine. Bill Bowerman made us think that we had to have some fancy pants running shoes in order to go fast. Prefontaine was the perfect spokesman and Nike was born. Start slowly: walk around the house barefoot, deadlift in your socks, wear minimalist shoes to walk the dog. Beyond that, go to the park and walk in the grass in your bare feet. Feel what it's like to be in touch with nature a little bit. It won't hurt.

16) Do something you love. Life is too short to waste your time doing a job that makes you miserable. I'm not saying you should quit your job and chase your dream of being a pop star, but do it within reason. If your 9-5 desk job makes you crazy, find an industry that makes you happy. You may have to settle for less money, but your overall happiness will be worth it in the long run. Trust the guy who works in the fitness world (I'm not doing this for the money).

17) Do something you hate. Grow up. You're going to have to do stuff you don't want to do sometimes, fucking deal with it. As Dan John says "if you have to eat a plate of frogs, start with the biggest one." You may not be super happy about having to eat kale and do conditioning workouts, but it's part of being a grownup. Stop talking about it and do it.

18) Read for pleasure. Reading is fun if the subject matter is right. The Something Borrowed series of books doesn't count. Read something that you can talk to other grown-ups about, please.

19) Take a butt-load of fish oil. How much is a butt-load? Scientifically speaking it's less than a shit-load but more than a crap-load. Seriously, though, take a lot of it. It's as close to a magic potion as we are going to get. It fixes just about everything that you need to fix.

20) Be prepared for disappointment. News Flash: Life sucks. Bad shit happens and good people let us down. It's just part of life. Be prepared to deal with it when it happens and you'll be better off. Don't wait for someone or something to disappoint you, but don't be surprised when it happens.

21) Get out of your comfort zone. All the best things happen when you get out of your normal comfy little box. Try something you've never done before: eat something you've always been scared of, talk to a random person at a bar, try an exercise you've never done. This is where all the growth happens that gives us an interesting story. Life is about creating yourself, not finding yourself. Go do something unexpected.

22) Spend some quality alone time. I've been spending a lot of time with clients lately and I realized that it makes me really cherish time by myself. While a lot of people I know don't think my job is hard, I disagree. Every hour I'm with a client I'm "on". I don't get the chance to just interact with a computer screen. I'm social and talkative and attentive...and by the time the weekend gets here I'm fucking smoked. Being alone doesn't make you a loser, it just means you're confident enough to not have to be surrounded by a crew all the time.

23) Make some mistakes. Mistakes are proof that you are trying. You need to go out on a limb and reach for things, and sometimes that results in a mistake. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from the experience and keep going. Don't go doing stupid shit, but don't be afraid to mess up. Remember: "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."

24) Go overboard. Moderation is for the weak, nothing succeeds like excess! If you're going to do something (sometimes) go big. If you're going to show a girl that you are interested in her, do it the right way. Flowers, notes, surprise picnics. If you're going to try a new diet or workout program, go hard! Anything worth doing is worth doing right!

25) Run fast. Specifically, sprint fast. If your goal is a body composition change then there is no more efficient way to burn calories than by doing interval sprint training. My favorite way: find a hill, pick a distance, sprint up the hill, walk back down. Rinse, repeat. Stop just before you feel like puking. If you want to be a real savage go until you puke...and then do a few more.

26) Learn to forgive. You have to learn how to forgive, but you don't have to forget. Holding on to anger towards someone is like drinking poison and hoping that they die. If someone wrongs you in some way, go ahead and be mad about it; it's your right. But be mad and move on, leave that person in your past. That's where some people belong.

27) Go gluten-free for a month. People freak out about this: "Oh no, it's not sustainable, how could I live without bread?" Well, pretty Goddamn easy to be honest. If you don't have a food sensitivity, you don't have to be super strict about it, but take a month and try cutting out the major sources of gluten. Cut out anything made with wheat (bread, pasta, etc) imitation meat (Tofurkey) and most yummy baked goods (cookies, bagels, pizza, etc). Just try it and make some notes about how your body feels while you're doing it. Chances are good that you'll want to make a change.

28) Be you. It's your life, right? Live it how you want to live. Don't pander to people, and don't do shit that doesn't make you happy. The caveat to this, of course, is that you live within the confines of the law. Don't feel like you owe anybody anything, just be you.

29) Never trust a big butt and a smile. It's true and we all know why.

30) Just stop giving a Fuck. Life is going to happen regardless of how much you try and stop it. Good things, bad things and other things are all going to happen and there's really not too much you can do about it. Be happy when things are good, and deal with it when things are bad.

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