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Eight Righteous Practices

For those who might have missed my earlier piece “Five Ways to Move Mountains,” you can check it out HERE.

In a moment I’m going to outline eight more habits I adhere to in order to maintain productivity, staying power, and relationships.

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EIGHT RIGHTEOUS PRACTICES

What follows is another set of simple observations that I consider foundational to my lifestyle and approach to pretty much everything.

These carry across the board for me, and can be applied in any and every situation.

Show up on time. 

If you’ve agreed to be somewhere or do something at a certain agreed on time, be there, or be early. 

There’s nothing that makes someone feel more disrespected as making something a priority and having you show them with your actions that you think your time means more than theirs.

This also goes for your own scheduling- if you’ve painstakingly set a timeframe for yourself to wake up, work out, meditate, whatever it is…then adhere to it.

It takes discipline to hit the mark on this kind of stuff, and its the sort of discipline that breeds more of itself and makes it easier each time to do things correctly.

I’ve dropped countless gym partners over this one, and absolutely refuse to work with anyone who is late more than a few times, no matter how many times their “alarm didn’t go off.”

Be a self starter. 

If you need someone always holding your hand or being an overseer, you’re automatically relinquishing your chance to be given more responsibilities or more trust.

If you need to be babied, don’t be surprised when you’re treated like one.

Individuals who are able to do for themselves, and be sharp enough and pay enough attention to get things going on their own will usually be successful in all areas they apply themselves.

Perhaps the biggest disparity between those who are productive and those who are not is this ability to see what needs to be done and then just…doing it. What a concept.

Maintain a high level of energy and effort.

You’ve heard the phrase “objects which are in motion tend to stay that way?” 

This holds true for people too.

If you’re remaining active, and staying on a roll, it is easy to stay that way. It’s much simpler to keep a heavy rock rolling than it is to get it started again. Just ask Sisyphus.

I’ve seen guys with brands or businesses “take a break” or set them down for a while, and it resulting in their never returning because they were too overwhelmed. Ditto for working out and exercising- plenty of dust on that home gym set-up, there, dad-bod.

You have to maintain conscious, sustained effort in all areas that are important to you. Your fitness, your relationships, your business- everything. 

Keep a good attitude.

This one pretty much goes without saying, but attitude and approach to things, especially the negative things that happen, determines a lot.

If there’s one factor you can control in any situation in life, it’s your attitude.

Keeping a stiff upper lip and handling tough shit with a tougher mentality will take you a long way in life. When everyone else is whimpering over the hard hand they’ve gotten dealt, you’ll be too busy figuring out how best to play the cards you’ve got to join them. 

Which reminds me: Develop staying power.

There’s plenty of people out there who can generate a lot of force one time, like a hail Mary pass, or a quick explosion.

The greats are those who can create energy that doesn’t dissipate rapidly, but begins to become a self sustaining dynamo. Burnout, quitting, “getting sick of things” and so on are all products of a lack of ability to stay at it.

Those who cannot find that calm, deep resonance within themselves that allows them to continue moving forward when others are falling by the wayside will fall themselves as soon as the going gets tough.

The key to this is to know when to push yourself and when to conserve your energy, and to keep a continual forward movement at a steady pace rather than working in cycles of action/inaction.

Be open to correction or teaching.

Often times in Jiu Jitsu, I’ve heard coaches talk about how someone could’ve been great at the sport if they were just “a little more coachable.”

We all like to think we’ve got it all figured out and know everything, but the fact is, there’s always someone who knows more than we do, or who we can learn something from.

This carries over to the idea of being confrontable as well, something I’ve talked about in the past as a critical factor in maintaining groups/tribes/organizations. 

If you refuse to be confronted about potential mistakes or shortcomings, you’ll never learn, and eventually, people will stop even trying to teach you. 

Exceed expectations, always.

Whatever you promised you’d do, do more. Again, this carries over to marriages, friendships, business exchanges, workouts, everything.

Get a reputation as someone who will not only never drop the ball, but will constantly go above and beyond the call of duty every time you undertake something.

It’s good sense, and it sets a precedent for you to continually look to outdo yourself in every arena you enter, which should be one of the points of a powerful existence.

Finally, that boy scout motto comes to mind: always be prepared.

It doesn’t take much to make sure you’ve looked over the information pertinent to the meeting, checked your gear and toolbar before a motorcycle run, or ensured you had what you needed for your gym session.

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and not only will you save yourself a lot of time and frustration this way, you’ll maintain a sharpness and reliability among friends and associates as the guy or gal who is “always ready for anything.”

These are not an exhaustive list, and are in no way some kind of esoteric hidden wisdom, but I remain mildly surprised to see how many do not adhere to these fundamental practices- and find myself, at times, slipping on them.

Regardless, we all could use a reminder sometimes, and I’m no exception. 

I’m pulling for you.

XCII- PW

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No Bullshit Nutrition Guide

No Bullshit Nutrition Guide

Meal planning can seem like an intimidating task, so I’m going to break it down for you as simply as possible- calorie counts, macros, supplements, meal timing, the whole nine yards.

 

It isn’t as difficult as it seems at first, but I know there is a massive amount of information out there that can seem daunting at first, especially to those who are new to the nutrition world.

Like most things, the major difficulty is not in the information gathering but in the application, especially consistently, over long periods of time. None of the info here is going to help you out if you won’t use it to sculpt a better, more fit body and life for yourself.

 

I promise, it’s worth it.

 

Read on.

 

Calories

 

Typically people associate bodybuilding or weightlifting with massive calorie intake, but your actual calorie count will depend on your goal.

Usually someone is trying to accomplish one of two things with a nutrition plan: bulking or cutting, or, put in simpler terms, gaining size or losing it.

-Bulking, in the most basic of terms, will require a calorie intake that exceeds the amount of calories your body is burning up during training and daily activity so that your body has extra nutrients to grow.

 

Protein plays a particularly vital role in this. Your muscles will synthesize it after a workout to repair the microtears they’ve accumulated over the course of your training session and grow larger.

 

The need to maintain a caloric excess not mean that you should set out on a campaign to consume everything in sight regardless of nutritional content – eating 7,500 calories worth of cake will definitely make you larger, but that’s not the type of mass you want to cultivate.

 

The goal is to gain muscle without gaining an excess amount of fat in the process.

Conversely, when you’re cutting, you’re looking to lower your overall body fat percentage while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible.

This is a common need for fighters and competitive athletes preparing for competitions as well as those who’ve succumbed to the temptation of the “dirty bulk” described above, or those who have lived a sedentary lifestyle and become overweight.

 

This is often done by lowering carbohydrate or fat intake while keeping a high protein intake, but at day’s end, it is simply the opposite of massing.

 

You will take in less calories than what your body needs to remain at its current size, and, subsequently, will lose fat as the body burns what is onboard for the energy it isn’t getting through a fuel source.

To get started with either process, you’ll first need to calculate what’s called your “maintainence level” – that is, the daily calorie intake that you would allow you to remain at your current weight, neither gaining nor losing.

 

There are many “maintenance level” calorie calculators online, but the only way to do it correctly, for you and your individual level of intake, activity, and so on, is to log everything that goes in your mouth religiously for a week or two.

 

Many will bail out right here, but for those who actually do it, you will have a perfectly accurate representation of your maintenance level by taking an average of your total calorie count each week to determine a daily maintenance level.

 

Simply tally the total amount of calories you took in during the week and divide by 7. Doing this for two weeks should give you a very accurate maintenance calorie number, assuming that during those two weeks you follow your general eating habits that have you at your current weight.

After establishing your maintainence level, the easy way to start your weight gain or reduction is simply to add or subtract 500 calories a day from your current maintenance number. For example, if you’re currently averaging 1800 calories a day, your new target will be 2300 calories daily in order to mass up.

If you’re looking to cut and you’re not competing in anything that demands you immediately drop a significant amount of weight, I recommend dropping 50-100 calories a day for the first week, then another 50-100 and so on until reaching your target number rather than a drastic adjustment.

 

For bulking, ease in the same way instead of putting 500 extra calories on your plate on day one.

Gradual adjustments will naturally take more time, but it’s far easier to make small changes to your diet over the course of a few weeks than make radical changes overnight, and will give you a better idea where your ideal number will be.

 

I also recommend maintaining a nutrition log book religiously, especially for the first several months to a year, as you will learn a great deal about this process if you pay attention to the small incremental changes made and what happens to your body composition over time.

Macros

As important as the amount of calories you take in, is what those calories consist of.

Your three macronutrients are: protein, carbohydrates and fat – each contains a certain amount of calories per gram:

protein and carbs contain 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9 calories per gram.

 

A proper macronutrient ratio plays a key role in developing an ideal body composition.

Someone training at a moderate to high level of intensity with weights is ideally going to take in 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, with 15-30% of your calories coming from fat, and the rest from carbs.

Let’s say you weight 200 pounds, have a 2500 calorie a day maintenance level, and a desire to put on weight, so you set your target at 3,000 calories a day.

 

At 1.25g of protein per pound, you’ll be eating 250 grams of protein daily, which translates to 1000 calories (remember, each gram is 4 calories).

Now that you’ve got your protein level, it’s time to divide up the rest of your calories between fat and carbohydrates.

 

Start by having 20% of your calories come from fat sources, then make the rest up from carbs.

 

So, if you were our 200lb bulking example above, you’d be taking in:

Protein: 250g (1000 calories)

Fat: 66g (600 calories)

Carbs: 350g (1400 calories)

That’s a ratio of about 33% protein, 20% fat, and 47% carbohydrates. Apply this split with your own calorie count,and observe your body – if you’re gaining too much fat, lower your carb intake.

 

Another, even easier way to go about it, is to take your target calorie count, and make it up from 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat- a classic bodybuilding macro split that worked pretty damn well for guys like Arnold, Franco, and Platz.

 

Supplements

After addressing dietary needs, people usually ask “what about supplements?” There’s a million of them on the market right now, most of which are trash, as the supplement industry is filled with snake oil and garbage, but focus on the three that actually work, and are trusted by some of the biggest and strongest in the world:

Protein Powder:

 

Protein shakes (there are a plethora of different kinds, so some experimentation will be necessary to see what works best for you) are a quick and easy way to increase your protein intake while keeping your overall calorie and macro count in line with your program.

 

One scoop usually contains 25-30 grams of protein.

Creatine

 

Creatine is a naturally occurring chemical compound in the muscle cells that can be taken as a supplement and has been proven to increase strength performance, while helping to encourage muscle growth.

 

Although some people have considered it unsafe, there is no evidence to support this and it is one of the most studied and tested supplements in the world.

Caffeine

 

As long as you don’t take it in excess (avoid high-caffeine pre-workout supplements in favor of black coffee), caffeine will boost your metabolism and fat loss, and generally improve your performance in the gym.

 

I advise against becoming overly reliant on any kind of “supplement,” including protein. It is always best to get your nutrition from good food sources, and I definitely think people shouldn’t have to take caffeine or another kind of stimulant just to have a good work out.

 

Used in moderation, however, they can definitely provide an edge when needed.

Meal Timing

Many people will tell you how often you should eat, what time you should eat, how much you should eat per sitting.

Ignore them. Eat when you want.

It’s all a matter of personal preference. As long as you’re hitting your daily macronutrient goals, then you’re on the right track.

It used to be a common idea that the human body was only capable of absorbing 30 grams of protein at a time, which resulted in people eating numerous small and meticulously scheduled meals throughout the day to hit their goals.

This is absolutely not proven, and you can eat any sized meal at whatever time suits your schedule.

As you adjust to your new diet, experiment with different sized meals at different times and see what works best for you – with some exceptions, as long as you’re hitting your macros, the timing doesn’t matter much.

 

“What foods should I eat?”

I could fill a book’s worth of pages discussing all of the different types of foods that you could effectively incorporate into a healthy muscle building diet, but if you’re just starting out, keep it simple.

The following are all common options among the pros, and those of us who have been at it for a good while, and most of them can be prepared in enough ways to keep you from being getting sick of them too quickly.

Dairy

Eggs, cheese, milk, greek yogurt

Meat

Turkey, chicken, bacon, ground beef (not all beef is created equal – the high fat options will tank your macros quickly, go for the lean beef unless that matches your dietary goals)

Carbs

sweet potatoes, rice, whole grain bread, pasta, fruit & vegetables.

Fish

Tuna is extremely popular for its high protein and low fat content, as well as being relatively inexpensive.

If you have the wallet for it, salmon is an equally solid choice.

Beverages

 

Black coffee (an excellent way to suppress your appetite, especially if you’re cutting), water, protein shakes.

For the most part, this is all common-sense stuff: focus on whole, quality foods, avoid fast-food garbage, takeout and sugary carbohydrate-rich sodas.

All you have to do to get your nutrition in check is:

-Find your maintenance level

 

-Set your ratio

(an easy starting point is 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat)

 

-Watch your body fat, drop your carbs/calories if you’re gaining too much

 

Ultimately, the hardest part is staying consistent and starting now – The most effective meal plan in the world won’t be effective unless you’re sticking to your macros, nor will it help you if you’re perpetually waiting for “next week” or “after the holidays.”

 

Start now. Do the work. Get the results.

I’m pulling for you.