Lifestyle Design

The Joy of Purposeful Work

Whether it’s putting in solid work for my company Oh My Green, working on closing a new exciting deal, or working on a creative project for Alchemize Life there is just so much joy & satisfaction to be found in the journey & process backed by an authentic purpose.

Old me used to be purposeless & so focused on reaching some self-centered specific goal that I would be completely unaware of all the awesomeness that was abundantly surrounding me throughout the entire process of reaching the goal. This purely self-centered focus on the end goal sabotaged my happiness. I had a limiting belief that until I reached the goal I wasn’t good enough & I could not be happy. Even after goal completion, happiness was fleeting as a new goal arose.

Now I realize two important factors: (1) we must have a purpose greater than ourselves & (2) when we have a strong personal mission the process becomes the prize. Putting in good work is a gift. There is boundless fruit in the labor when we approach it with the right mindset.

Once I developed my personal mission of “empowering people to transform” I finally had a mindset that made all work joyful & gratifying as long as it was in line with my mission.

With a strong purpose, all work becomes similar to a super amped sweaty physical workout. You know it’s hard, but going hard is fun, exhilarating & damn satisfying!

With that in mind, I strive for all my work to be purposeful & filled with meaning. And when you live a life on purpose filled with meaning... happiness & satisfaction is a natural byproduct!

So if you find yourself dreading work, unhappy & unfulfilled it may be time to develop a personal mission. If you don’t know what your personal mission is then YOUR MISSION IS TO DISCOVER & DEVELOP YOUR MISSION! This is truly one of the most awesome missions as it empowers you to use everything & all work to explore & refine your purpose. If you accept this mission you will embark on one of the greatest adventures of your life—self-discovery!

And if you already have a strong mission then I’m preaching to the choir. Like me, you probably love putting in the work just as much, if not more, than crushing the goals!

If you have a mission & feel like sharing it in the comments please do so! It is always inspiring for myself & others to hear all the awesomeness people are up to in this world!

END NOTES:

  1. This post was originally an Instagram Post last week, but I thought it was quite fitting to republish on LinkedIn. Give me a follow on IG @justindavidcarl if you would like to be inspired with daily stories of #mindset #motivation #entrepreneurship #fitness & much more!

  2. Some good resources for developing a personal mission: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Living Forward by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy, The Fire Starter Conversations by Danielle LaPorte.



More empowering creative work from my Instagram:


Optimizing Life: A Foolproof System For Continuous Improvement

At some level, everyone wants a better & more optimized life. Yet, it is so easy to get lost in the hustle & bustle. Many of us find ourselves just trying to survive the work-week (traditional or entrepreneurial). I know this has often been the case for me.

Instead of overly worrying about my life improvement process I focus on a simple system that consistently moves me in the direction of a life that is continuously improving. 

My life optimization system is composed of three related principles:

  1. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
  2. You are a product of your environment.
  3. You are what you consume.

 

1. You Are The Average Of The 5 People You Spend The Most Time With

This is a quote by Jim Rohn, a pioneer in the field of personal development. Tony Robbins got his start working under him as well.

They've done studies that show our fitness level & net worth is highly correlated to those we spend the most time with. If we take a deep look at our own life we will realize that this principle applies to just about every area of our life. Regular weekly activities are highly informed by those we spend the most time with. We tend to pick up all sorts of behaviors of those we spend time with. Ultimately, good & bad habits are built & reinforced by those we are around.

This is awesome & scary at the same time. 

How many of the life-enhancing activities & habits that you regularly participate in are related to those you hang out with often?

On the flip side, how many of the destructive things you do are accepted & encouraged by the people you spend the most time with?

Seriously, take a few minutes and deeply think about this.

 

2. You Are A Product Of Your Environment

Again, massive research has been done on this. Our environments are a huge influence on our product of being. 

Different environments attract & produce different types of people. The environments in which we spend the most time almost always include the people that we actually spend the most time with (work, home, community, extracurricular activities, etc).

Our environments also dictate our activity & behavior. People who spend time at the gym tend to exercise, those who attend church pray, those who go to the library read, those who go to the bar drink, so on & so forth.

Take a moment and think about what kind of behavior your regular environments encourage.

 

3. You Are What You Consume

This one is really powerful. And can be really disturbing when we look at it in a detailed manner. 

Our consumption includes food & information. This includes all types of media--books, blogs, news, television, movies, music, auditory programs, video games, etc. Furthermore, information is picked up through conversations, environments & all types of experiences.

At some level, everything we ingest into our body and mind is programming us for better or worse. This holds true no matter which of our physical senses it enters into our domain of existence. Taste, touch, sight, sound & smell are all viable access points for consumption programming.

Think about this. What are you consuming on a regular basis?

Now that we've taken a moment to analyze these three related fundamentals let's look at...

 

How To Implement These Life Optimization Principles

  1. Self-checking: Regularly ask yourself how you are doing in each area.
    • Are the people I am spending the most time with calling forth the highest best version of myself?
    • Do the places I spend the most time encourage continuous growth & improvement?
    • Does the food & information I consume naturally lead me to grow in positive ways or am I slowly poisoning my body & mind?
  2. Work: Optimize your income generating field of endeavor.
    • Typically we spend the most time with the people we work with. We spend the largest majority of our time in our work environment. And we consume a majority of our weekly intake of food & information at and around work. 
  3. People: Pick your life-partner & friends wisely.
    • Tons of ultra-successful people credit their good fortune to picking an amazing significant other.
    • Same goes for friends. Successful, smart, happy, inspired & growth-minded people choose to spend time with people who facilitate these qualities naturally.
  4. Communities, Environments, Personal Interests & Hobbies: Choose groups, people, places & activities that foster growth.
    • Humans are built for connection & community. A lot of what we think, say & do come from the communities, personal interests & hobbies we are involved in (both online & in real life).

 

How To Hack The System

What if you're reading this and you realize that the 5 people you spend the most time with are showing a strong indication of actually being detrimental to your personal growth, health & fitness, personal finances, etc? In other words, what if the people you spend the most time with are ensuring a shitty life?!

Or what if after pondering these related principles you realize that your work environment & other environments you regularly frequent are contributing to a path to nowhere? Or worse, are leading to a steady decline?!

And what if your consumption (food, information, & otherwise) is killing your life?!

Here are a few ways to quickly hack the system:

 

Lifehack #1

Focus on what you are consuming. The easiest hack for this system is to immediately up the quality of content you are ingesting on a regular basis. It is a crucial step you can take & the first key to transforming your life at any time.

When you are commuting to & from work what are you doing? Are you listening to the fear-inducing news? Or maybe radio & music that is telling you to spend money to achieve happiness, buy more shit, do more drugs, sleep around, etc?

Instead of poisoning your mind you can listen to life-empowering audiobooks, audio programs & podcasts during your work commute.

This same thought-thread can be applied to all types of commutes and mindless activities where you can add in auditory learning/programming without negatively affecting your performance. This includes things like chores (cleaning, laundry, yard work, going to the grocery store, etc) and certain types of repetitive activities & exercise where you don't require music for motivation or have to keep track of performance metrics (reps, sets, times, etc).

During your free time you should definitely be reading books & blogs that empower & transform your life. Additionally, it pays to think this through with your viewing habits. What you regularly view informs your programming just as much as what you read & listen to. TV, movies, internet videos, public performances, etc.

Wise-minds actively curate their social media feeds so the content actually enhances their life. [here are my socials in case you need some instant reprogramming: Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter]

Even the experiences we consume program us.

Seriously! Think hard about what you are putting into your consciousness at all times.

Life-enhancing curated reading, listening, viewing, & experiencing is one of the most powerful habits you can cultivate in your life!

In disguise, this is a radical hack to create a virtual powerhouse group of people you spend the most time with. Want better friends to hang out with? Find the people you admire (or envy) and consume their content. Get inside their head & hang out with them virtually every day. Go to their workshops in person & consume experiences that can literally transform your life.

You can consciously & proactively manufacture a virtual group of friends that truly empower you to live a life worth living on your own terms.

This hack can be done quickly & easily without suddenly cutting people out of your life, quitting your job, or doing any major re-hauling of your day-to-day life.

This habit will then lead you to naturally seek out and connect with other people in your physical environment that are on similar growth paths.

 

Lifehack #2

Proactively manage how, where & with whom you spend your free time. After you have consciously redirected what you are regularly consuming the next step is to take a deep look at what exactly you do in your free time.

Even at work we have free time. What do you during your lunch break or other downtime periods at work? Are you having life-enhancing conversations, starting a personal finance interest group, learning from a colleague who is further along in a particular area of life, sharing articles that act as catalysts for positive transformation?

Or are you staying comfortable?

Proactively seek out interactions & experiences with people at work who will encourage you to grow. Even the worst workplaces have diamonds to be mined. Career development programs, training programs, etc. In the least there are at leas few colleagues who are kick-ass in some endeavor if you dig. Explore the edges at work. 

Outside of work how do you spend your time? If you're not consuming empowering content you better be spending the time doing something that is actually improving your life. This means getting involved in activities and communities that are aligned with your goals & values (current or aspirational). Proactively seek out experiences that will force you to grow whether you are ready to or not.

Find people who are interested in or working on things that you know you're into. Having trouble finding those people? Join a local Meetup group that is aligned with a life-enhancing interest. Other ideas include a local yoga studio, Crossfit community, dance crew, book club or any group that fosters growth. This can include a place of worship or anything else that brings together people with common interests, goals & aspirations.

Want to really supercharge your transformation? Do something wild like a weeklong Vision Quest or attend a weekend workshop like the Landmark Forum. Both of those can be pretty intense, but there are loads of workshops out there covering all avenues of life. 1440 Multiversity has a ton of them throughout the year and it can be just the personal investment you need to make a major shift in your life.

When you consciously spend your free time doing life-enhancing activities & hanging with empowering groups your life will optimize itself. And when you program these into your daily/weekly/monthly/yearly life you will naturally develop friends that reinforce the habits & behavior you want to build, hypergrowth your learning & you will be consistently challenged to grow in positive ways.

 

Lifehack #3

Change your everyday environment. This can include where you live and/or where you work. This can seem dramatic and challenging but it works.

When I was stuck in life & lost working in Hollywood Nightlife I had no idea what to do next but I knew if I went back to Stanford University I would be in a place that would force me to figure it out.

Was the transition easy? Hell no! It was godawful scary! Not to mention I was addicted to the money, social power, & the lifestyle of a career in nightlife. However, when I got honest with myself I knew it was not leading me towards the life I wanted. It was fun while it lasted, but deep down I felt I had more to give to this world. So, I took action in the face of fear. This is the definition of courage. And wow! Did it pay-off!

This major leap of faith led to my current career in wellness/tech and a work environment that has countless benefits such as a strong emphasis on all aspects of wellness--healthy eating, regular meditation, exercise, learning & personal development, and more.

Again, most of us spend more of our life energy with the people at work than with anyone else in our life, including our family. We also consume a majority of our daily life's food, information & experiences at and around work. This is why I cannot emphasize enough just how paramount it is to consciously choose the best possible place to live & work. Then double-down and proactively lobby & take action to make your community & company culture as life-enhancing as possible.

 

Conclusion: Build The System & Then Let It Do Heavy Lifting

In the beginning, it can take a bit of effort to redesign your life to optimize your growth. You may need to change daily habits, discover new activities, find new friends, find another career/company or even move to a new home. Nonetheless, I guarantee you it will be worth it! I know from personal experience.

Once you've proactively designed your life to automatically create positive change, transformation & ongoing growth it becomes a simple matter of minor maintenance. It's like you have this mini magical optimization machine tucked into your pocket & it's constantly pulling forth your highest best most authentic Self. And all it needs is the occasional winding to stay on track.

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

P.S. This article encompasses one of the major systems of my personal life optimization program, but as a lifelong Seeker I am always looking for additional tools, systems, ideas, etc. Got anything to add? Please shoot me a message or leave me a comment below (at the very bottom)!

Related: Books That Have Radically Transformed My Life




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 ménage à 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. 🌲😇⛰

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.   🤓🚴🏼💻  #habitstacking    Shoes by  Android Homme  | Painting by  Carly Lyn Wise

Here I am on my FitDesk doing the final edits of this article. 🤓🚴🏼💻 #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 🌒

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! 🙏🏼😄💓

 

 

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 😜). 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 “looks”) 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, I’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 2–3 hours a day. I tried taking every workout supplement known to man. And still I never achieved the body I wanted . . .

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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 one’s overall eating habits. 

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

It doesn’t matter how awesome your ab muscles are if you can’t see them under the belly-fat. 

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

You don’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.

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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 🌒