Building A Strong Foundation: Make it fit your unique needs and desires
You are a unique person with a very unique life. Sure, you may share a lot of the same characteristics like careers, hobbies, and interests. But beyond that, when you factor in all of your beliefs, values, lifestyles, body types, habits, likes, and dislikes, you are as unique as a snowflake. Face it, there is no one else quite like you. So when it comes to building a healthy mind and body there is no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to build a practice foundation that fits your needs and desires.
For years I have followed some of the top experts in fitness, nutrition, meditation, and human performance. I am a bit of a nut when it comes to learning and hacking my brain and body to get the most out of life. Learning from the best and brightest is the fastest way to improve any aspect of your life because these luminaries have already done the hard work of figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
But one thing I have found is that you can’t copy what the experts teach and expect to get the same results. Why? Because they have built a life around their expertise. They are not working with the same constraints as you and me. Most of the experts do what they do full time and often have resources most people don’t have access to.
For years I have followed Dave Asprey, the founder of The Bulletproof Diet. He is the father of modern biohacking and has spent most of his adult life working with top experts, testing everything from Ozon therapy to Cryogenics. He has access to equipment costing thousands. He flies around the world to work with top researchers in their laboratories. This is not a person whose methods I can totally replicate.
Another of my favorite fitness exemplars is Ben Greenfield. Ben started out as a competitive bodybuilder, then became a top competitor in Iron Man Triathlon racing before embarking on his current profession as a writer and trainer. His full-time job is to work out, eat the most nutritious foods, and talk to the top experts in the field of health and longevity. Like Dave Asprey, he travels around to test out new bio-hacking treatments. Ben and Dave are not people whose routines you can simply put into practice on day one. Instead, you can learn a great deal from their expertise, then try out different things and see what works best for you.
Every time I learn a new method for biohacking my body or improving my mind I have to figure out where I am going to fit it into my busy day, and often what I will be replacing it with. It can be maddening at times. Keeping up with the Dave’s and Ben’s is not easy.
Don’t get me wrong. I use several practices I have learned from my fitness Yoda’s. But instead of trying in vain to replicate their specific recipe for awesome exactly as they do, I created my own version that works best for me. And that is the point of this article. You have to build your own practice foundation based on your needs and what works best for you.
Honestly, not all of the techniques work for me. I don’t always get great results. I make room in my weekly schedule to test out something new to see if it gives me better results. If it does I fit it into my routines, often replacing a less effective routine, or rotating between routines. This has allowed me to build a daily practice that is ideal for me and continues to evolve as I improve and as I discover new methods.
One thing I find interesting is that the field of nutrition and fitness is still evolving. I recently read an estimate that while medical science is in a very mature stage after hundreds of years in the making, the science of nutrition is still in its’ infancy stage. This field of research into how to extend the length and quality of life is accelerating rapidly. In just the last decade we are finding out that eating high-quality fats is actually good for you, laying to rest the decades-old belief that eating fat made you fat. Bye-bye low fat, no fat, unhealthy “frankenfood”! So long high-carb diets! Oh how much we have learned. And there is so much more we don’t know.
I like to think of building my mental and physical health practice the same as building a skyscraper. If you want to know how tall a building will be built just look at how deep they dig the foundation. In other words, if you want a strong body and mind you have to start with a solid foundation and then build up from there. Here are a few tips to get you started building your practice foundation:
1. Start from where you are now. Be honest with yourself but be gentle. If you don’t have the health you want there is no benefit in getting down on yourself for what you have done in the past. You are where you are. The important point is that you now have the awareness to know what you want and the desire to change.
2. Take one step at a time. I use to be one of those people who, on January 1, would kick off the new year with a dozen new commitments. I would jump into a crazy exercise routine, start a crazy writing blitz, crack open my latest uber-healthy cookbook to cook up a banquet of new foods. It was madness. Within a few days, I would fall apart, dropping everything, only to slowly put things back in place slowly, the way I should have started. Get one solid new routine under your belt before starting another.
3. Know your constraints. Like Ben Greenfield or Dave Asprey, we would all like to build our lives around our passions. But for most of us, that is not an option. Most of us have jobs or other obligations that restrict the time we have and the resources to use. I have a full-time job. So I know that if I want to get in my exercise, meditation, and writing time I have to get up early and get it done before my workday starts. I also have to make sure to prep all of my cooking for the week on the weekends to keep my daily meal prep time to a minimum. Knowing my constraints allows me to build my routines around the immovable parts of my life.
4. Start with the highest value routine. For me, this means what I call my “morning mile.” I have found this the best way to kick-start my body and mind. I do one-mile minimum. If I’m feeling strong I go for 2 or 3 miles, but I keep the goal to do the minimum so that I get it done no matter what. For you, it may be a quick 10-minute yoga practice, a cold shower, or a 5-minute meditation.
5. Use pre-commitments. Pre commitments set you up for success. They are the little things you do to make sure you follow through on your daily routines. For me, I put my cell phone in the bathroom so that when I wake up I am already in the room where I start my morning routine, which is to rinse my face in cold water, brush my teeth, then head out for my morning mile. Some people put their running shoes in front of their bedroom door or their meditation cushion in the middle of the floor so they have to walk around it to leave the room. Getting to bed early is a pre-commitment to getting up early. Be creative and see how hard you can make it to not do your daily routine.
Pro Tip #1: Buy your willpower at the grocery store. If you don’t buy the frankenfood you won’t have it around the house tempting you to eat it. See pro tip #2.
Pro Tip #2: Go grocery shopping after a meal. It is much easier to stick to your shopping list when you are fully satiated after a meal. This goes hand in hand with pro tip #1.
As you put in the time to build or rebuild your practice foundation keep in mind that you are biohacking. Yup, you are building your practice by trial and error, ‘win or learn’ style. You will fail from time to time. You will fall short, slip up, give in to cravings. Knowing this in advance allows you the benefit of foresight. Build a fortress of pre-commitments to ensure success.
Author and Optimize Coach
David is a writer and coach specialing in awakening human potential. David likes to think of himself as a conscious creator, student of life, Super Dad, chef, Spartan Athlete, and Optimize Performance Coach. Writing for Dr. Kusher and the CFL community is just one of his many joys.