ALN4: How Do You Unblock Yourself?

Greetings my fellow Life Alchemists!

Here are 9 things I thought were worthy* to share:
*worthy defined as having the potential to alchemize/transform your life in some positive way if you take action on it.

1. Three Simple & Powerful Tools To Create Breakthroughs In Your Life

  • Morning Pages: This is 3-pages of unfiltered stream-of-consciousness hand-written (with pen or pencil) within 30-minutes of waking.
  • Artist's Date: This is a date by yourself (alone) for yourself (aka your inner child). Anything goes. The guiding rule is "fun!"
  • Walking or Moving Meditation: Take your problem, challenge, life-blocker on a walk (or bike-ride, swim, run, etc). Any repetitive movement will work.

For a more in-depth explanation of these powerful tools watch my video-blog:
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2. YOUR ALCHEMICAL OPPORTUNITY โšก๏ธ
Try out the tools above. I use them daily/weekly to move through blockers in my own life & to continuously improve upon my commitment to living a life worth living for!

Creative work is play. It is free speculation using the materials of oneโ€™s chosen form.
— Stephen Nachmanovitch

3. TOOLS & TECH โš’
Apple Airpods. I would not quite call myself an audiophile but I am pretty adamant about listening to super high quality sound. I've been a longtime Bose user so I wasn't expecting the Apple Airpods to beat out both my wireless & wired Bose headphones on sound quality. In fact, I was kind of shocked.

Another amazing feature of the Airpods is they actually cancel out much of the wind-noise for the person you are talking to when you use them as a phone-headset. This is a game-changer for me because I have a rule that anytime I can take a phone call while walking I do. I was constantly apologizing for wind. No longer the case thanks to the genius of the Airpods!

4. WOD (Workout Of The Day) ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ
A lot of people have been asking for my daily workouts so I decided to start sharing them on my Instagram Stories. This is version one of me attempting to share my workouts. Let me know what you think! And if you have ideas for ways that I can better share, shoot me a note via emailInstagram or twitter with suggestions!

5. BOOK ๐Ÿ“•
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. This book unleashed me in so many ways. The tools that open this newsletter are from Julia. I dreamed of being a blogger for over 10-years even though I had never written for myself. In other words if it wasn't for class or work I had never actually written creatively on my own. I read this book and started a blog within a month or so. It's that powerful.

6. RUN FREE: The Paradox Of Cultivating True Freedom
A recent blog article about freedom & cultivating it in our daily life.

Run Free:

The Paradox of Cultivating True Freedom

7. HOMAGE ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ
If it isn't obvious by now this ALN's homage goes to Julia Cameron. She transformed my life. And she has transformed the lives of creators across all major life categories (not just artists) including business professionals, entrepreneurs, athletes, spiritual leaders & more.

She's published 40+ books in addition to her other creative work--plays, music, scripts, & more. Start with The Artist's Way. It's a powerful reminder that we are all Artists and it will create major movement in many areas of your life.

I recently had the privilege to learn from her in-person at her workshop at 1440 Multiversity. It truly was a transcendental experience. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop with her or visit 1440 do not miss it! Both are goldmines of life empowerment!

8. LEARNING ๐Ÿค“
The only person or thing that is blocking us is our self. The ego wants us to blame some "other" person or thing for holding us back or holding us down, but really that is just an illusion designed to keep us stuck. The truth is that the only person that can un-block us is the one who looks back at us in the mirror.

9. READER REQUEST ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ
I am always looking for new ways to unblock myself. Got some good tools? Please send them my way! One of my greatest joys from my work with Alchemize Life is how much I personally learn & grow from interaction with my brilliant audience. 

Thanks for reading! If you liked this newsletter and want to support it please forward it to a friend!

If you're seeing the newsletter for the first time, you can signup here.

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl ๐ŸŒ’

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SPECIAL NOTE: Readers often comment that ALN (Alchemize Life Newsletter) is "dense." To graciously clarify: it is designed that way so that you can come back to it again & again whenever you need some empowering energy for your life (until the next issue arrives). I do NOT recommend trying to read & do everything in one day. Take what grabs your attention first and bookmark the html version and pop it open whenever you need some more creative fuel!

Photos by


Run Free: The Paradox of Cultivating True Freedom

Run free.

I've been thinking about freedom & liberation a lot lately.

It's a dense & complex subject. In yogic philosophy it is referred to as Moksha, or freedom from ignorance.

Freedom is one of my highest personal values. In all its infinite forms. Freedom to choose the people we spend our time & energy with. Freedom to choose our work -- what we put our physical, mental, emotional & spiritual energy into. Freedom to express ourselves with power & authenticity.

Ultimately, what I want & choose daily is freedom to live a life that has heart & meaning.

But how can we have this freedom & liberation if we do not know ourselves?

Self-knowledge is the key to liberation. Without it we are lost to ourselves and lost to the world.

And in both cases we are left useless. Useless to ourselves because we are chained to a life that doesn't reflect our true inner desires & values. And in turn we are useless to others because if we cannot serve & lead our Self then how can we ever do that with lasting impact for others?

The answer is we cannot.

Nonetheless, self-knowledge is an ever unfolding lifelong process. It is not something you achieve and then you never have to work on it again. It is an integral part of our daily quest.

And here is the kicker:

If we truly want to cultivate self-knowledge & self-actualization. If we truly want to be free. Then we must create & hold ourselves to empowering boundaries & restraints. This is the paradox of true freedom.

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It seems so paradoxical that we must have boundaries & restraints to achieve true freedom & liberation. But that is the lay of life. It is constantly brimming with paradox.

We must choose physical activity & emotional development over sloth & hatred. Laziness & unchecked darker emotions are easy. Choosing & cultivating physical & emotional fitness requires restraint from the easy path & boundaries that call forth our highest selves.

How easy is it to lash back in anger when someone says or does something that doesn't sit well with us?

How much easier is it so sit on the couch and watch some TV versus getting out of the house to take a hike, hit the gym or even take a walk around the neighborhood?

Furthermore, it takes powerful boundaries to choose health-affirming substances to put into our bodies & minds in a world that is constantly programming & encouraging us through all media channels to poison ourselves with information, food, alcohol & drugs.

Over-consuming is not freedom when you are left with a body that is too heavy & lacking energy, a mind that is screaming in anxiety, a fearful heart & a dwindling spirit.

We must actively pursue self-study, meditation & prayer. For these to occur we must create containers in which they can flourish. This takes vigilant effort in a world addicted to information & convenience.

It requires a powerful stand to turn within when we live in a world that is constantly pulling for our outward focus. Yet we must do it if we are to grow our mental & spiritual capacity.

Powerful boundaries & restraints that are consciously & proactively built into our life to foster ever deepening self-knowledge will set us free.

Self-dominion is the true path to freedom, liberation & self-actualization.

As we find our Self. We find our place in the world. As we serve our Self. We serve the world & its people.

And that is freedom running at full speed.


Some of my current constraints, restraints & boundaries that empower my true freedom:

  • Food Journaling: I log my food every day for everything I consume and have been doing so since September of 2013. How it empowers my freedom:

    • It encourages me to be mindful of what and how much I am eating while still allowing me to enjoy all foods (including ice cream, cookies, pizza, etc.)

    • This practice has lead me to be in the best shape of my life year-round. Being able to take my shirt off and feel good in body is one of the most liberating feelings.

    • This constraint frees me from using food like a drug (which I did for most of my life) and it keeps me from abusing my body with over-consumption.

    • Feel free to add me as a friend on MyFitnessPal if you want to see what I eat (my food diary is public).

  • Meditation: I have been meditating every day and have been since April of 2015 without missing single a day. How it empowers my freedom:

    • Meditation has been used throughout all time and all civilizations to cultivate self-knowledge. It is one of the tried & true paths to Self liberation. More on meditation here.

    • My meditation practice is the foundation & platform upon which I build my entire life. Each day of meditation makes the foundation a little wider and a little deeper.  You can't build a skyscraper that reaches the stars without an incredibly strong foundation. In truth, you can't even build a solid & reliable 1-story house without a foundation.

  • Sobriety: I have been sober from marijuana & other harder drugs since February of 2013 and sober from alcohol since September of 2014. How it empowers my freedom:

    • For over a decade I was a slave to alcohol. My entire life revolved around the consumption of it. This led to even deeper enslavement to marijuana, adderrall & worse for over 5-years. During my addiction I thought I was free, but in truth I was chained to a life that required substances for me to be even be remotely happy or excited about life.

    • It took me a few years to remember how to have fun without drugs & alcohol but I finally woke up! And I feel like a kid again! As a child everything was magical and I had so much fun living life with a sense of wonder and I didn't need any drugs to get into that blissful state. I've rediscovered that super-power and I'm literally constantly high on life! This is ultimate freedom to me!

    • Vibing with my sobriety & high on life existence...? Here's a live video I filmed recently about it!

  • Physical Training: I am predominantly a bodybuilder & yogi but I also walk, hike, bike, rollerblade & trampoline weekly along with other forms of movement (swimming, frisbee, fitness classes, massage, etc.). How this empowers my freedom:

    • This is self-knowledge at the primal level. Knowing your body is knowing your Self. This daily practice removes ignorance & encourages connection to Self.

    • Training my body trains my mind, emotions and even my spirit. Being fit in all major life areas is a high form of liberation.

  • Reading/Listening: Every day I read & listen to empowering knowledge. How this empowers my freedom:

    • You are what you consume. If you consume empowering material you become empowered. If you consume garbage your life becomes garbage.

    • This practice is one of my major keys that keeps me constantly healing, growing & transforming.

  • Creating/Sharing In Service: Everyday I try to create something that will empower another life. Whether it's a blog post, a video, Facebook update, Instagram or creating an experience in-person with someone I always try to live from the guiding question: "Is what I am doing empowering & of service to others?" How this empowers my freedom:

    • Being of service in a way that I am authentically & personally passionate about is easily one of the best ways to get high on life for me. Each time I do it I am filled with an incredible energy & sense of satisfaction that I cannot seem to get any other way.

Alchemical Opportunity For The Reader:

What are the constraints, restraints & boundaries that you can proactively create & cultivate in your life now to truly give you the life of freedom you desire & deserve?

Leave me a comment below, send me an email or tweet me with your answer!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl ๐ŸŒ’


END NOTES:

  1. Originally this was an Instagram post that ended up being too long so I only posted part of it. It was inspired by one of my amazing yoga teachers, Hana Raftery, after receiving her class/teaching focused on Moksha on Independence Day (July 4th).
  2. Photos by Noelle Johnson.

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    ALN3: How Do You Scale Yourself?

    โ€œIf you want to go fast, go alone.
    If you want to go far, go together.โ€
    — African Proverb

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    Greetings my fellow Life Alchemists!

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    Here are 7 things I thought were worthy* to share:

    *worthy defined as having the potential to alchemize/transform your life in some positive way if you take action on it.

    1. SCALING YOURSELF ๐Ÿ“ˆ

    I've been thinking a ton about how to scale both myself & others in all areas of life and the biggest conclusion that I've come to on this aspiration is that the best way to do this is by building an awesome & dynamic team around oneself--one that includes business/creative partners, mentors, coaches, life-affirming family/friends & communities that empower the life we truly desire. In my mind it is the only way to truly become bigger in this world and really be of service.

    We often see these pinnacles of powerful people (Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, etc.) doing really big things in the world, but we often forget or don't even realize they have massive teams they consciously & proactively built around them that empower them to do what they do.

    So how can we do this in our own life . . . ?
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    Here's my simple approach to scaling every important area of your life:

    Get a formal or informal coach for each life-area you want to empower.

    I have a creative coach, a fitness coach, an executive business/leadership coach, a tribal/wisdom coach, a family coach and I'm actively looking for a relationship coach & personal finance coach!

    **If you know a good relationship coach and/or personal finance coach please send them my way!

    2. YOUR ALCHEMICAL OPPORTUNITY โšก๏ธ

    Find & formalize a coaching engagement for one area of your life you want to EMPOWER. This can be going out a getting a professional coach or creating an agreement with a friend/colleague who is really good at the area of life you want to transform.

    3. TOOLS & TECH โš’

    What gets measured... gets managed, empowered & manifested! This holds true in all areas of life, but especially fitness. Probably the biggest reason I am in such awesome shape year-round for 4-years and running is that I track both my body-weight & body-fat daily.

    For almost 4 years I used a scale and fat-loss monitor by Omron. It was a good machine and reliable, but one huge caveat: I had to manually enter those data-points into MyFitnessPal, aka MFP (where I track my body-weight, body-fat & keep my food-log).

    Thanks to my awesome friend Ramji I discovered the Withings Body Cardio which not only measures weight, body-fat percentage, muscle-mass & more... it also seamlessly & wirelessly syncs with MyFitnessPal!

    This saves me 1-2 minutes per day. Not much but compound that over a year or a lifetime and that is a lot of time!

    More importantlh: I've learned that by making tracking/measuring as automatic as possible it saves a lot of mental/emotional energy that is hard to quantify. Tracking/monitoring is super powerful but you can only track so many metrics in your life so get super smart & efficient about what you track and how you track it!

    **Special note: Feel free to add me as a friend on MyFitnessPal if you would like to follow along and learn how I eat daily to empower my fitness year-round.

    3. INSTAGRAM ๐ŸŽž

    My most popular Instagram post since the last ALN -- a micro-blog on how to find your twin flame!  And here is the full blog article on how to find your twin flame! ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

    4. BOOK ๐Ÿ“š

    I'm currently reading The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz. Super powerful. It's all about the importance of oscillation, intervals & intermittent everything! Potent premise & book. Highly recommend!

    5. LIVE VIDEO  ๐ŸŽฅ

    Ever since my VisionQuest I've been filming Live Videos on both Instagram & Facebook almost daily. Here is an awesome one I did during an epic road trip about the super powerful concept of "BE. DO. HAVE." 

    Please follow along on IG & FB and tune-in live! I love interacting with my audience in real-time! 

    6. HOMAGE ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

    Every issue of ALN I like to acknowledge someone who has had a huge positive impact upon me, my life & the life of many others.

    This issue of ALN I would like to recognize Rich Roll (IG: @RichRoll & Twitter)-- ultra athlete, vegan evangelist, top podcaster, all around positive empowerer, and so much more!

    Rich went to Stanford ๐ŸŒฒ like I did so there is the alma mater love. However, what is most poignant to me is his life-story and healing journey with alcoholism and food abuse (I share radically similar life-challenges).

    His book Finding Ultra was life-changing for me and my sobriety.

    His podcast is seriously awesome and is a constant fuel for positive growth & transformation for me personally.

    I'm not a vegan (yet), but because of Rich I definitely eat way healthier and think much deeper about my food choices in all aspects (sourcing, world/environment impact, nutritional value, etc.).

    Definitely check out his podcast at the bare minimum!

    His wife (Julie Piatt) often co-hosting on his podcast, is also super awesome! She always speaks in communion with my inner #SpiritualHipster!

    And the two of them together are powerful relationship role-models for me and my fiancรฉ! 

    7. LEARNING ๐Ÿ’ก

    My biggest recent learning... To scale yourself you must build a team around you.

    The ego wants to try to convince you to do it alone.  He/she is whispering that if you can't do it alone you are not strong enough, good enough, worthy enough, not enough...

    This is an illusion of the ego! Don't fall for it!  

    We are all of so much more service to each other when we consciously & proactively enroll the support of others in our lives! This is why we are born into families! If we didn't have a family (blood or adopted) we would die within days. This fact doesn't change as we get older.

    Build your family, build your team, build your tribe!

    Together we heal, grow, transform & alchemize so much faster!!!  

    Plus it's way more fun when you are alchemizing with people you love & enjoy spending time & energy with!


    Thanks for reading! If you liked this newsletter and want to support it please forward it to a friend!

    If you're seeing the newsletter for first time, you can signup here (or below).

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl ๐ŸŒ’

    P.S. If there was one thing I could write, podcast, or make a video about what would it be? Leave a comment below (very bottom), email me or send me a tweet with your suggestions! Use hashtag #ALN (Alchemize Life Newsletter) for any tweets or Facebook posts!

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    Title Photo by Avni @ Glass Locket Film
    Suit by Vesey Exclusive

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    How To Find Your Twin Flame ๐Ÿ”ฅ ๐Ÿ”ฅ

    Want to transform your life & find "the one"?

    You know which one. The one you think will make your life complete. The one you dream of spending the rest of your life with.

    Before you can truly find & deeply know "the one" you must . . .

    FIRST: learn to love, approve of & accept yourself.

    This is a practice you will have to build & invest in throughout your entire life.

    It is not something you get to do once & then it magically continues to work on its own.

    That would be like working out at the gym & eating healthfully for one day and expecting to be fit & healthy for the rest of the year.

    Anything worth having takes continuous energetic investment.

    Once you have a healthy level of self love, approval & acceptance open yourself to a partner that calls forth the highest vision that lives deep within your heart & Spirit.

    This is a secret to radically hypergrowth your own apotheosis.

    Alone we can be strong, grow, heal & transform.

    But together we get to do it at an even faster clip.

    And with another we get to be VULNERABLE.

    This is where true power to transform lies.

    It is the magical dark & scary cavern that holds the greatest of treasures.

    And if we have the courage to face & embrace our inner darkness...

    Truly profound & permanent healing, positive change & transformation becomes available.

    Rarely can this journey be done alone.

    We live, grow, heal & transform through the PEOPLE in our lives.

    It is through #vulnerability with others that we get to access our deepest capacity to self-heal.

    Plus, we get to learn how to powerfully be there for another even when it isn't easy & convenient.

    This alone builds incredible character and reinforces our own ability to love & accept ourself even when it is incredibly difficult.

    By being vulnerable you give others PERMISSION to do the same.

    And in that shared safe-space the fire of transformation is lovingly ablaze.

    This is who I share my Spirit-Fire with.

    I call her my Priestess & my Phoenix.

    She is both my heart-fire & the Goddess who beckons me powerfully forth along my HIGHEST PATH in life.

    I had to learn to love myself before I could truly SEE her.

    But when I did she blossomed in my life like lighting & I've been radically transformed for the better ever since.

    For HER. I am forever & deeply grateful.

    Have you learned to love, approve of & accept yourself?

    If not, do not expect to find lasting solace in another.


    Alchemical Resources:

    • "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L. Hay. This is the book that I used as a guide to learn how to truly love myself. It changed my life. Get the gift edition with colorful pictures -- I swear they heal your inner child as you view them.
    • Here is a video-blog where I get vulnerable and go deep into how I discovered my Twin Flame by learning to love myself:

    Alchemical Opportunity for the Reader:

    1. Develop your own daily practice of self-love. Make it easy. And make it the first thing you do upon waking. Here is what I do:
      1. Stand in front of the mirror.
      2. Look myself in the eye.
      3. And say: "I love myself. I approve of myself. I accept myself. I am grateful for myself."
      4. Special note: This simple self-love practice seems easy enough, but don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling ashamed, stupid, foolish, crying & other darker emotions. I had to persistently say these affirmations daily for several months & work through a lot of self-hate & self-cruelty before I could powerfully make these statements and actually believe them without crying or wanting to ridicule myself. In short, be prepared for your "stuff" to come up as you do these standing in-the-mirror affirmations.
    2. Have some other awesome self-love practices, rituals, & habits? Share them in the comments below so others can benefit from the powerful work you have done in your life! ๐Ÿ’“ Together we heal & alchemize so much faster! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

    We must love ourselves first before we can TRULY love another.

    Start with your own heart.

    Then the Universe will deliver another that beats in synchronicity with your own creating the most beautiful harmony that is so much greater than the sum of the two parts.

    This is how you DISCOVER your #TwinFlame.๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl ๐ŸŒ’

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    Photo by Noelle | Socks & Briefs byย Related Garments

    Photo by Noelle | Socks & Briefs by Related Garments

    ALN2: What's Your Vision?

    When the communication & contact between self & the Creator become pure, then this we call Vision.
    — Stalking Wolf ๐Ÿบ

    Greetings my dear Life Alchemists! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

    Here are 10 things I thought were worthy* to share:
    *worthy defined as having the potential to alchemize/transform your life in some positive way if you take action on it.

    SPECIAL NOTE: Several readers brought up the point that my last newsletter was very "dense." To graciously clarify: it is designed that way so that you can go back to it again & again throughout the month whenever you need some empowering energy for your life. I do NOT recommend trying to read & do everything in one day. Just bookmark the html version and pop it open whenever you need some creative fuel.


    1. For my 35th birthday last month I went on a Vision Quest. I wanted to kick-off a new phase in my life & this was the most powerful way I could think of. This experience included an entire week spent in the wilderness. For 4 of those days I was FASTING (water only) in complete solitude & silence. This is an ancient form of experiential transformation. And oh my God! It was the most powerful experience I've ever undergone! Curious? Send me a message with any questions. I am compiling my thoughts on Vision Quests and would love to cover any common questions/concerns. Also, I would be happy to refer you to where & with who I did my Quest if you feel the call. I highly recommend going on a Vision Quest if you feel lost or stuck in life.  They are designed to make you remember why you came here (to Earth). If you want to do your own research here is an awesome book on Vision Quests (opening quote is from the book).

    2. I finally started vlogging (video blogging) and I am loving doing it "Live" on Instagram & Facebook (please follow me to see my "Live Stories" -- always full of empowering content!). Here is one episode I saved & posted on embracing fearmistakesfailure & creating empowering meaning in your life:



    3. My most popular Instagram post in the last month. A short snippet about "choosing your possibility." 

    4. My current favorite tool/toy... a fat-loss monitor! I use this to track trends in my body-fat levels. They say "what gets measured gets managed" & I can attest to this! By tracking & logging my body-fat daily I've managed to stay well under 10% body-fat (visible 6-pack) for over 2 years.

    5. Why it is so empowering to have people that are HONEST with you (aka Why I Was Killing My Relationship & My Life). Especially when you are in a rut (yes, I am human and fall into slumps as well).

    6. Monthly homage: Shout-out to my dear friend & fellow blogger Kevin Gao (also serial entrepreneur). He was absolutely pivotal in my personal unfolding as a blogger. He is brilliant, funny, a very deep thinker & is always sharing life-enhancing material. Check out his creative work at kevinhabits.com!

    7. Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins - book I'm re-reading for awesome personal growth & development. ๐Ÿ”ฅ Yup, still re-reading this! Old me used to rip through books as if speed was the only way to read. I still consume massive amounts of books but lately I have added slow & deliberate re-reading into my personal growth repertoire. I was inspired by Kevin (above) to do this. I will read 1-3 pages and deeply think, write & talk about what I read and learned. I personally discovered that this facilitates deep learning (meaning I actually use the ideas/concepts in my real life AND they stick with me).

    8. Speaking of books I finally put together my personal list of Books That Have Radically Transformed My Life! ๐Ÿ“š Do you have any life-changing books that are NOT on this list? If so, please share with me! I am looking for the next epically life-impacting book(s)!

    9. Here is an awesome & brilliant short read about The 6 Human Needs. Two of them are: (1) Certainty & (2) Uncertainty... LOL! No wonder we always feel so conflicted in life!

    10. My biggest recent learning: Experiment, test & play with everything that you think may even have a slight chance of empowering & enhancing your life. You never know what will really "work" for you until you try it. This has been a game-changer for me! It unlocked me from only writing & creating on my blog. My sense of creative freedom jumped ten fold. I have been testing (and playing) with every publishing platform I can get my hands on. I've completely fallen in love with Quora and still learning how to best use Medium LinkedIn. And yes, totally obsessing over Instagram & Facebook stories (Live & otherwise)

    Your alchemical opportunityDo something today or this month that SCARES you! Explore those edges! That is where all the awesome growth & transformation happens! ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿผ

    Thanks for reading! If you liked this newsletter and want to support it please forward it to a friend! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

    If you're seeing the newsletter for first time, you can signup here.

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl ๐ŸŒ’

    P.S. If there was one thing I could write, podcast, or make a video about what would it be? Email me or send me a tweet with your suggestions! Use hashtag #ALN (Alchemize Life Newsletter) for any tweets or Facebook & LinkedIn posts!

    P.P.S. If you missed the April edition of my Newsletter please check it out here! Plenty more awesome material to EMPOWER YOUR LIFE! ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿผ

    Books That Radically Transformed My Life

    Reading is one of the things that brings me the most joy in life.

    Reading also happens to be one of the most transformational growth-inducing activities I do daily.

    I've been thinking about putting together a list of books that have radically transformed my life for the better for a long time.

    I finally realized that I may as well start because I will never be done. And I can always come back & update this as I see fit.

    Special note: This is a living-resource that I will continuously curate so don't feel the need to go through all of these as fast as possible. Just pick one book that catches your mind's-eye, take your time with it and come back here for the next one when you're ready!

    So, without further ado, here are...

    Books That Have Radically Alchemized (Transformed) My Life:

    Creativity

    The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

    Julia Cameron is one of my biggest mentors. This book was groundbreaking & truly life-changing. It unleashed me as an artist, creative & writer. It taught me to fall in love with journaling--one of the most empowering transformational tools I have in my repertoire. It also linked creativity as a pathway for spiritual communion. This paradigm radically alchemized my life in infinite ways.

    The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Goden

    Seth Goden is a brilliant writer & thinker. This book unbound me from own creative suppression. It gave me permission to create & share and naturally allow an audience to form around my creative work.

    Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life by Anne Lamott

    Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. This book makes me laugh, cry, reel with delight, soar in intellectual & emotional brilliance & so much more. Her writing makes me desperately want to write. Inspiring and great life advice even if one has no interest in writing.

    Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

    Mason Currey showed me that art & creativity and the work that goes into producing it comes in all shapes, forms, sizes, colors, shades & walks-of-life. There is no one right way. There is a way that works for you. Our job is to find & harness our unique ways that empower our personal creative process.

    Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things No One Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

    This book gave me permission to "steal" the work of others, combine it with other works in all fields & topics, and alchemize it all together to make it my own. Short. Fun. Powerful. Read this.

    Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

    Austin Kleon taught me that it is not only okay but actually an integral part of the creative process to show your work even as your are developing it (aka before it's "done"). He empowered me to stop hiding my vulnerability & instead use it as a strength & pathway forward.


    Human Potential, Personal Development & Money

    Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

    First read this as a teenager. Radically transformed my life for the better. Went from loaner & playground bully to powerful social force for achievement as well as leader in all areas of life (school, sports, family, etc). It truly unlocked my potential. Aided me getting to Stanford University & beyond. Re-reading again in my 30s and diligently studying & applying. Having same effect it did when I was teenager.

    Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins

    Same case as above with Awaken The Giant Within.

    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

    Foundational. We are our habits. Everyone should read. Also recommend the teenager version written by the author's son.

    Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierney

    This book gave me an obsession with habits. Game-changer. Amazing parenting advice as well. 

    Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

    One of my favorite books on habits & optimal conscious habit-design for your unique temperament. 

    Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

    Probably one of the most timeless & popular success books ever written. There is a reason it's on so many incredibly successful people's must-read book-lists.

    The Master-Key To Riches by Napoleon Hill

    This is a lesser known gem by Napoleon Hill. Short & straightforward, yet you could study it daily for the rest of your life.

    The Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman

    Dan Millman and this book made me realize & finally "see" the woman of my dreams. For this I will be forever deeply grateful. It also happens to be a life-changing book in many other ways.

    The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere & Join The New Rich by Tim Ferriss

    I read this when it first came out in 2007. I instantly thought to myself "Finally! I understand who I want to become!" My vision was similar to Tim Ferriss with the human potential & positive transformation leadership, but with my own alchemical fashion-forward spiritual-hipster twist! Ten years later I am finally living that vision. Forever my deepest gratitude to you, Tim Ferriss for helping me understand, see & live my own personal vision.

    Psycho-Cybernetics Maxwell Waltz

    Read this at a super young age (thanks Dad!). Awesome book about harnessing your subconscious & building self-esteem.

    The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    Incredibly dense book. I don't agree with everything in it (in the sense of actually using the power to my advantage), but I can see how some people operate from some of these more questionable power-paradigms. That said, I strongly believe that having knowledge & awareness around power-dynamics is paramount to creating & protecting the life you do want to live.

    Creating Money: Attracting Abundance by Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer

    This book finally gave me the spiritual-connection to money that I had been seeking for so long.

    How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

    Classic. Another book that is on many super-performers must-read lists. No matter what field of business you are in this will be of the utmost service to your life-journey.

    Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success by Carol S. Dweck

    For a "recovering-perfectionist" like myself this book was life-transforming. I recommend this book to all students (those in formal schooling like high-school & college as well a life-students) and anyone who has kids or ever wants to have kids. This book teaches you how to learn & grow. It teaches you how to cultivate a learning/growth-mindset in your children. Powerful stuff.

    Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

    This book gifted me with one of my core-values: grit (defined as passion & perseverance). A great companion to Mindset (above).

    The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

    Ryan Holiday taught me to "follow the process, not the prize." This led me to fall in love with the journey of writing, blogging, business-building, etc. It is also an essential book to pick-up & re-read whenever one is feeling blocked by an obstacle.


    Healing, Intuition & Spiritual

    You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

    If I could only give others one book for the rest of my life this would probably be it. It taught me to truly love myself. Get the gift addition (I swear the artistic & colorful pictures empower the healing process).

    The Four-Fold Way: Walking The Paths Of The Warrior, Teacher, Healer & Visionary by Angeles Arrien

    Life-changing tools & easy-to-read guidebook on harnessing & building within these four aspects (warrior, teacher, healer & visionary). I grew up with this book thanks to my Mom. It holds a special place in my heart.

    The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele

    Incredibly applicable way to live the philosophy of Yoga in modern-life. Super easy & fun read too.

    Voyager Tarot: Way of The Great Oracle by James Wanless (plus Voyager Tarot Deck)

    I've been practicing Tarot for over 7-years to cultivate my own intuition & build deep self-knowledge. This is my favorite Tarot Deck & it's in-depth companion guide.

    The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien (plus Thoth Tarot Deck)

    This is my favorite book on Tarot which is based on Aleister Crowley's Thoth Deck.

    Animal Spirit Guides: An Easy-to-Use Handbook For Identifying & Understanding Your Power Animals & Animal Spirit Helpers by Steven D. Farmer Ph.D.

    Spiritual Hipster incarnate. Yes I am! I traverse this magical world with my pack of Power Animals by my side. Want to discover your own power animal and/or develop your own totem animal pack? Read this book.

    The Book Of Stones: Who They Are & What They Teach by Robert Simmons & Naisha Ashian

    A key part of being Spiritual Hipster is working with gemstones. I've studied this book in-depth for years and know I will constantly go back to it for the rest of my life. Check it out if you've ever felt the energetic call of the enigmatic crystal-allies.

    Women Food & God: An Unexpected Path To Almost Anything by Geneen Roth

    For much of my life I abused food like a drug. As a result I had an incredibly damaging relationship with both food & body. This book was an integral part of the healing process. It was written for women, but if you have any food-issues this book will hit-home.

    Awakening Spirits: A Native American Path To Inner Peace, Healing & Spiritual Growth by Tom Brown, Jr.

    This book inspired me to go on a Vision Quest -- one of the most powerful transformational experiences I've ever undergone. The experience of the quest still continues to unfold it's awesome power in my life every day. Book also includes the teaching of a very powerful & easy-to-do meditation.


    Fiction, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

    The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

    My favorite Fantasy series of all time. Bar none.

    The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

    My favorite Dragon-themed fantasy series. Dragon is my main power animal so this series holds a special place in my heart. There are also Elves. Another magical soft-spot of mine.

    The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

    Probably my second favorite fantasy series. It's not finished yet (only two books so far).

    Redwall by Brian Jacques

    This was the fantasy book that started my lifelong love-affair with fantasy (my favorite form of pleasure reading). I still vividly remember reading this during a childhood multi-day river-rafting/camping trip.

    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

    This book taught me to trust the journey and process even when what I am currently doing in life doesn't seem to be leading me where I am supposed to go. It is, it's just in disguise patiently waiting for me to understand, become aware & embrace the journey.

    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

    My favorite Sci-Fi book and the book that caused me to fall in love with Sci-Fi. Ender's Shadow is just as good. I like most whichever I've most recently read.

    Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

    I made fun of my mom & younger brother for about a year for reading "children's books" (how I ignorantly categorized the Harry Potter books). Then I finally began one and I was hooked. Read the first 3-4 books in about a week. That's how good it was. It also happens to be one of the few fiction series I've read in entirety more than once.


    And that's it!  For now... ๐Ÿค“ ๐Ÿ“š ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

    Do you have any books that radically changed your life that are not on this list? If so, please share! Leave me a comment (scroll all the way down), email me, or send me a tweet with your suggestion! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

    I am always on the look-out for life-alchemizing books and I would love to add your favorite to this list after falling in love with it myself!

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl ๐ŸŒ’

    Habit-Stacking: How To Get More Life Out Of Good & Bad Habits

    I'm obsessed with habits.

    Ever since I read the book Willpower almost 4 years ago I have been studying them diligently.

    I've been studying them in my own life, both the good ones & the bad ones.  I've also been studying the habits of people I admire & aspire to be like - both living & dead.

    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
    — Will Durant

    This quote (often mistakenly attributed to Aristotle) sums up the "why" behind my obsession with habits.

    Habits can be a vast subject when you get into all the nitty-gritty, but in this article I want to cover just one strategy. Something I like to call Habit-Stacking.

    Habit-Stacking: Combining two or more habits together to build, support & reinforce each other and/or to negate the effects of potentially negative or undesirable habits.

    In its simplest form habit-stacking is combining two or more habits together.  This empowers you to do more in the same amount of time.  It also empowers you to reinforce good habits as well as use a bad habit to encourage good behavior.

    There are two major themes of habit-stacking in my mind:

    Plus/Plus (+/+) Habit-Stacking

    This is using two or more positive habits to build, support, & reinforce each other.  Some personal examples in my life are:

    • Listening to audio books & educational programs while commuting (driving, flying, train, subway, biking, walking, etc). This one habit-stack radically increased the rate at which I get through books & high-quality personal development programs
    • Flossing with a floss-pick while driving, biking, walking, etc. Basically, anytime I am commuting where I don't feel too self-conscious flossing. Combine this with the habit-stack above & you have a mรฉnage ร  trois habit-stack!
    • Reading on a cardio machine. This includes paper & electronic books as well as online articles. I save as much of my online reading (with the Pocket app) for the cardio machines.
    • Work email on a cardio machine--elliptical, stationary biking, treadmill on incline, etc. I've trained myself to get through massive amounts of email on my iPhone while moving. I even do it while walking outdoors in low-traffic, safe areas where I don't need to worry about walking into dangerous things like cars. Work email will be there every week guaranteed. Make it work for your fitness.
    • Anytime I can take a phone call while walking outdoors I seize the opportunity. This simple habit-stack adds up huge over time (5-10+ hours of walking per week). I use a headset and take notes on my iPhone when needed.
    • Exercising outdoors while getting sunlight (see title picture). There is a ton of published research that supports the mental/emotional/physical benefits of exercise (movement) & spending time in nature. Why not combine the two together and maximize your life?! I also claim there is a huge spiritual benefit as many of my most divine moments happen while moving in nature. ๐ŸŒฒ๐Ÿ˜‡โ›ฐ

    Plus/Minus (+/-) Habit-Stacking

    This is taking a potentially negative, mindless, or undesirable habit and using it to reinforce positive life-enhancing habits. Here are some of mine:

    • Combining social media with some form of cardio (stationary cardio machine or walking). I have a personal rule that I spend at least 80% of my social media time moving in some form. Like many people I can freely admit social media is addicting and I easily lose track of time. It's pretty awesome to come up for air from the black-hole of social media and realize you just did over 30 minutes of cardio.
    • Audio books, podcasts & other personal development auditory material while cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, yardwork, & other weekly chores. For some, these habits/tasks, such as cooking, are pleasurable. For me they are undesirable, but necessary in life. When I throw on a positive & transformative audio program suddenly these mundane tasks become awesome to me.

    My current favorite habit-stack:

    Doing everything I can think of on my FitDesk - brushing my teeth, flossing, email, writing/blogging, social media, talking on the phone, reading books & online articles, watching videos, etc. Over a week this adds up. I easily get in 5-10+ hours of additional low impact exercise each week because of this. This leads to greater weekly calorie burn & supports optimal year-round fitness (more strategies like this in my free Fitness Guide: How To Be An Ultra Fit Entrepreneur).

    Here I am on my FitDesk doing the final edits of this article. ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿšด๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’ป #habitstacking Shoes by Android Homme | Painting by Carly Lyn Wise

    Here I am on my FitDesk doing the final edits of this article. ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿšด๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’ป #habitstacking

    Shoes by Android Homme | Painting by Carly Lyn Wise

    Habit-Stack Every Area Of Your Life

    The beautiful thing about habits is that once you have them built you do not have to burn precious willpower trying to do them. They become second-nature.  And then you can apply that freed up resource of willpower to tackle more difficult projects (or build new awesome habits).

    There are an infinite number of habit-stacks you can create. Chances are that you already have some awesome ones in place.  As part of my never-ending quest to optimize my life I am always looking for new habit-stacks so if you have any that you would like to share please email me, tweet me with #habitstacking, or leave a comment below.

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl ๐ŸŒ’

    P.S. The 3 best books I've read on habits so far are: Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierny, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin & The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Got any other good books/resources on habits? Please share! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ’“

    ย 

    ย 

    ALN1: Do or do not. There is no try.

    Greetings my fellow Alchemists!

    Here are 9 things I thought were worthy* to share:

    *worthy defined as having the potential to alchemize/transform your life in some positive way if you take action on it.
     

    1. Spring is here & summer is around the corner. Here is my free fitness guide with all the strategies I use to stay in amazing shape year round. ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

    2. Want more energy & confidence? Read this.

    3. The key to getting things done is knowing how your particular personality is motivated & handles external & internal expectations. I discovered a simple personality quiz that takes less than 5 minutes that helped me deeply understand why I resist everything (good & bad).

    4. My most popular Instagram post in the last month. Fair warning. Not everyone is ready for it. 

    5. My current favorite tool/toy... a foot-roller & porcupine ball! I use these in the morning to roll out my feet & it seems to magically put me in the best mood ever!

    6. Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. A book I'm re-reading for awesome personal growth & development. I first read this as a teenager. Reading just a few pages in the morning lights me on fire! ๐Ÿ”ฅ

    7. Why there is so much more than just seated meditation.

    8. An awesome & hilarious short read about improving your public speaking skills by one of my favorite bloggers/podcasters--James Altucher.

    9. My biggest recent learning: Give others what you want. I've been wanting my creative work recognized & shared. I finally started doing that with the authors/bloggers/podcasters I love & admire and lo & behold... My blog is suddenly getting massive traction! I am a slow learner sometimes. On that note these three people are my mentors & catalysts to finally starting a newsletter: Tim FerrissNoah Kagan & Austin Kleon! Thanks guys! I basically stole like an artist your newsletter format & alchemized it into my own...๐Ÿ˜œ


    Thanks for reading! If you liked this newsletter and want to support it please forward it to a friend!

    If you're seeing the newsletter for the first time, you can signup here.

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl ๐ŸŒ’

    P.S. If there was one thing I could write, podcast, or make a video about that would be useful & empowering to you (the reader) what would it be? Email me, send me a tweet or leave me a comment below with your suggestions! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

    >>originally posted here.

    How To Be An Ultra Fit Entrepreneur

    I am in the best shape of my life and for the past few years I have worked in the heart of startup-land (Silicon Valley).

    When I first jumped into this wild world of fast-paced entrepreneurism I promised myself that I would stand for the possibility of being in incredible shape while also being an awesome entrepreneur & businessman.

    What follows is my real-life approach, practice & strategies that empower me to stay in incredible shape year-round while building a successful business.

    A few notes before we begin:

    * All of these strategies work no matter your profession, career, or place in life. In other words: you do not need to be an entrepreneur.

    * I am all natural - NO steroids, drugs, crazy supplements, or extreme diet.

    * I am NOT a professional athlete or a competitive bodybuilder. I do occasionally model for fun, but it is NOT how I make my living.

    TLDR: skip to the bottom & read the "Key-Takeaway"

     + + +

    My secret strategies for being in incredible shape while working as an Entrepreneur in Silicon Valley:

    Get a fitness coach. There are many reasons the top entrepreneurs, athletes & artists have coaches for various areas of life. Two main reasons: accountability & modeling. Accountability is key to follow-through. Modeling what has already been proven successful leads to rapid learning & growth. It wasn't until I got a fitness coach that I finally learned the last missing piece (my eating strategy) that unleashed the body I have now. Special note: if your fitness coach isn't personally demonstrating the level of fitness you desire or does not have clients demonstrating it you are wasting your time & money.

    Do as much work, work-email & work-chat as possible on a cardio machine or while walking outside. This is low-intensity and should be at a speed that allows you to easily read, type & work. Walk outside or on a treadmill with the incline cranked up, master the stairmaster, gyrate on an elliptical machine, or pedal along on a stationary bike while you work away on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. It may seem difficult at first, but stick with it for a few days and it will become second nature.

    Take as many phone calls as possible while walking. Invest in a headset and you can take notes on your phone as you walk. I can't stand people who talk on the phone at the gym on the cardio machines so unless you have home equipment be kind and do this outside. It's an easy way to make sure you get some actual daylight too.

    Take as many in-person meetings as possible while walking. Most people meet & eat (or drink). I meet & move. Ideas and solutions to problems seem to flow much better this way as well. Plus it's a great excuse to get outside of the office and get some fresh air with colleagues, friends, family & mentors.

    My trusty steed, always ready-to-ride & get work done!

    My trusty steed, always ready-to-ride & get work done!

    Optimize your work-space environment for movement. Invest in a FitDesk with the desk extensions. This transformed my home-office. Once you get used to it you can literally crush work and crush your daily calorie burn. I even find I think and work much more optimally while using this amazing machine. Something about moving your body moves your mind. It looks nerdy as hell, but your body & health will thank you (your intimate partner will likely thank your FitDesk as well ๐Ÿ˜œ). Also, doing video conferences on this is hilarious. Fellow participants will wonder why you are bobbing away as you're speaking & listening.

    Get your office (home & professional) a pull-up bar. It's an awesome break to rep out a few of these and charge up your body/mind. Or go crazy and see how many you can do in a workday (my current record is 400 pull-ups in a day--done during a 2-3 hour work conference call). Pull-up challenges with colleagues are fun too! [Get some fitness bands if you need assistance doing pull-ups.]

    Have a physical training practice or hobby that you LOVE & invest in it 3-5 times per week. Seriously. Do something physical that you actually love that fills you with joy. This is the key to sustainability. If you hate your physical training its only a matter of time before your willpower wears out & you quit. Play a favorite sport, partake in fun group exercise classes that excite you, workout with a partner who motivates you, etc. Whatever genuiniely empowers YOU! I happen to love bodybuilding & yoga. Those are my main two go-to weekly physical disciplines. I also do a fair amount of hiking and rollerblading. But anything that moves your body & lights you up works.

    If you don't get a big goofy grin on your face because you love your go-to form of physical training then you are doing the wrong thing...

    If you don't get a big goofy grin on your face because you love your go-to form of physical training then you are doing the wrong thing...

    Always prioritize your physical practice. Do it first thing in the day or schedule it in your calendar like a meeting you cannot miss. It doesn't matter your preferred form of exercise. What matters is doing it regularly. Most entrepreneurs (and most people in general) have an endless amount of work that will continue to pile up. Don't kid yourself into thinking that you will have energy or time to exercise when you "finish" your work.

    Logging my calories, body-weight & body-fat daily has empowered me to stay well under 10% body-fat (i.e. six-pack) year round.

    Logging my calories, body-weight & body-fat daily has empowered me to stay well under 10% body-fat (i.e. six-pack) year round.

    Weigh yourself daily & log it. First thing upon rising immediately after using the restroom. Just like in business: "What gets measured, gets managed." Whether it's revenue targets or your fitness just by the simple act of monitoring you will stay fit. I log my weight in MyFitnessPal (MFP) along with my body-fat every single day (here is my weight scale & fat-monitor which syncs with MFP wirelessly). Over time this simple daily habit will empower you to intimately know what behavior increases your fitness & what behavior doesn't.

    Mindful eating practice. Log what you eat. Also known as food journaling. Do this every day. Every meal. Every snack & beverage. I use MyFitnessPal to log all my food--follow my profile here if you want to know what I eat every day. I estimate when eating out and measure on a food scale at home. Same principle as above. What gets measured gets attention. Most people over-eat. And it does not matter how healthy you are eating if you are eating too much.  When you are working in a fast-paced environment it is easy to not even notice how much you are actually eating. Overeating is the number one reason people don't look they way they want to. If you are out of shape your eating strategy should be your main focus. Many people foolishly believe they can outwork their eating. This is not possible. For over a decade I thought I could out-exercise my eating (and I ate pretty damn healthy). Then when I finally started tracking my food I lost ~30lbs, got a six-pack, and have stayed in epic shape for over 3.5 years to date. This sounds more difficult than it is. At first it's annoying, then it becomes easy like brushing your teeth. If I could only recommend one fitness strategy this is it. It's the master-key to my personal fitness. I have one other master-key to fitness, but most people aren't ready for it.

    Eat your calories. Do not drink anything with calories in it. Calorie dense beverage consumption is one of the most common forms of over-eating, but most people aren't even aware of it. Many beverages have the equivalent calories of an entire meal. Only drink beverages that are calorie free. Don't take protein powder or have protein drinks unless you actually have trouble eating enough real food to get your protein. Your hunger levels will vastly decrease by only eating (chewing) your calories.

    Eat at home as much as possible and bring your own food to work. This is a tough one for most people. Like many Silicon Valley companies I get free meals and snacks at work. When I empower myself to eat food I've brought or personally prepared the chances of over-eating & over-snacking go down dramatically. I also get invited to eat out frequently. I almost always counter-offer with a walk & talk or hike. I do my best to save my eating out for rare & special events (this also saves a ton of money).

    Do whatever you can to make sure your company has the healthiest snacks, beverages & catering (this is what my company actually does as a business service). If the strategy above is unrealistic for you this is the next best approach. We are all products of our environment. You will eat what is around you. This same principle applies to the food you have at home. Design your spaces for optimal wellness. Save your willpower for your work & other worthy endeavors.

    Follow the 80/20 food rule. 80% or more of your food (calories) should be as healthy as possible (organic, lots of veggies, etc.). Consciously design each plate this way. My favorite way is to load the entire surface of the plate with greens and then put meats/grains/starch/etc. on top. This empowers me to eat a lot of volume without overeating. A basket-ball size worth of salad is literally only ~100 calories. 20% of your food-calories can be whatever your little heart desires. I personally believe in sweets & desserts in moderation to avoid binging.

    Watch the sauce & dressings. Most sauces & salad dressings are packed full of an incredible amount of calories. You're only fooling yourself and your fitness if you are eating a ton of veggies, salad, lean meats, etc and then drenching it in a high calorie sauce. I make my own dressing with stevia & apple cider vinegar. I also use reduced sugar ketchup and/or mustard, both only have ~5kcal/serving. Also, most grocery stores now have an amazing selection of ultra low calorie & incredible tasting sauces & dressings if you take the time to look.

    Fill up on fiber. Both soluble & insoluble. I aim to get 45g/day or more. This keeps me feeling full and is great for your intestinal health. Easy sources include most greens, bran (if you are not gluten-free), oatmeal, & more.

    Drink plenty of water. Keeps you feeling full which minimizes overeating. Plus good hydration does wonders for your overall health & feelings of well-being.

    Give up the cheat-day. For years I followed the cheat-day paradigm thinking that if I ate super healthy 6 out 7 days then on day 7 I could go wild. If you are anything like me you can completely destroy all your good eating for the week and negate any exercise with one cheat day. I can easily eat 5,000-10,000+ calories in one day. I didn't discover this until I started logging my food and then I instantly knew why I could never seem to get those elusive abs despite literally eating chicken & vegetables only for 85%+ of my weekly meals. Unless you are severely dieting & restricting your calories it's probably better to forego a weekly cheat-day. My experience is that these food binges naturally happen without any planning (Thanksgiving & other holidays, birthdays, emotional-breakdowns, etc.). The less overall times food-binges happen per year the more fit you will be year-round.

    Be a fitness food nomad. If you drive & travel a lot for business meetings like I do invest in some ice-packs and a cooler tote and bring your food, snacks & drinks with you. This minimizes the chances of having to stop someplace to eat/drink unhealthy stuff and reduces the possibility of over-eating because you got too hungry.

    Get proper sleep. This is different for everyone, but you will know when you are well-slept versus under-slept. Well-slept equals stable moods, solid energy to work & exercise, good health, etc. Under-slept equals emotional roller-coaster, constant tiredness, regular over-eating, sickness, etc. Know how many hours you personally need & make sure you get it.

    Make your social media & app addiction feed your fitness. I have a rule that I have to spend at least 80% of my social media & app time while moving (stationary cardio machine or walking). Most of us are addicted to social media & our apps--it's designed to be; so why not use the leverage of a bad habit to empower your fitness?

    The app I am addicted to, MyFitnessPal, displaying body-weight log since September 2013 & body-fat log since June 2015.

    The app I am addicted to, MyFitnessPal, displaying body-weight log since September 2013 & body-fat log since June 2015.

    + + +

    KEY TAKE-AWAY:

    Abs are made in the kitchen. In other words, 80% or more of your aesthetic physical fitness (aka how your body โ€œlooksโ€) is based on how you eat. 

    On the left is me 30lbs heavier working out 7-days a week 2-3 hours per day . . . Then I learned how to use food to empower my fitness & the guy on the right finally appeared.

    On the left is me 30lbs heavier working out 7-days a week 2-3 hours per day . . . Then I learned how to use food to empower my fitness & the guy on the right finally appeared.

    I am somewhat beating a dead horse here as I eluded to this above under mindful eating. Nonetheless, Iโ€™ve found I cannot harp on this enough. 

    I am most often asked what my exercise routine is (especially what I do for abs/core).

    Or I am asked what supplements (magic pills) I take to get ripped & shredded. 

    Up until about 3.5 years ago I used to be one of the people who thought they could just workout a ton & take some supplements and achieve the body I always dreamed of. 

    For over 10 years I worked out 7-days a week for 2โ€“3 hours a day. I tried taking every workout supplement known to man. And still I never achieved the body I wanted . . .

    3BB4834F-FD92-408B-B549-B75CF425E888.JPG

    Then I learned how to optimize my eating and by god I got the body I always wished for!

    Even more awesome, it only took ~3-months once I learned how to eat! 

    Now I spend way less time working out and way less money on supplements. 

    Truly looking like you are in amazing shape is almost always & predominantly due to oneโ€™s overall eating habits. 

    Having a 6-pack & visible abs is a function of having low body-fat. 

    It doesnโ€™t matter how awesome your ab muscles are if you canโ€™t see them under the belly-fat. 

    Managing body-fat levels is something you do through food, not exercise. 

    You donโ€™t have to be on a crazy extreme diet but you do need to have an eating strategy that actually works for you personally (meaning you enjoy it) & gives you the body you desire.

    + + +

    I truly believe everybody & every "body" can be in amazing physical shape year-round. It is just a matter of strategically designing your daily life & work habits to support & empower this possibility.

    These are my fitness strategies. Give them a shot and see which ones work well for you!

    If you have any other awesome fitness strategies & habits that others could benefit from please leave them in the comments! I love learning from my brilliant readers & will add them here after vetting them personally!

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl ๐ŸŒ’