All posts by Jerry Scarlato

Jerry Scarlato is a Personal Trainer and Entrepreneur who lives in Northern Kentucky. He runs 2 businesses related to health and wellness: Thrive Fitness and Thrive Online. Jerry has been involved in the fitness for his entire adult life, including playing sports through college. Along with being an Entrepreneur, Jerry is a content creator,

How to Spend Your Time Wisely

As early as they can, our parents start to ingrain in us the importance of making a living, saving money and bringing in the doe so that we can pay the bills and live a somewhat satisfying life along the way. And while their intentions are good, money isn’t the resource that we should really be focusing on.

 

So much of our time is wasted pursuing goals or tasks that aren’t our own. But we have a hard time seeing that because our beliefs about what is important are ingrained in us from a very early age. Noticing these beliefs and making a shift to focus on the things that really matter to YOU is what will determine if you lead a fulfilled life or not. And today I want to focus on the resource that all of us use on a regular basis but is much less appreciated than it should be. But before we get to that, let’s talk a little more about resources.

 

What is a Resource Exactly?

 

Any time we run into a problem when trying to complete a project or make a decision, it’s typically because of a lack of resources. A resource is simply something or someone you can utilize in order to help you achieve whatever you’re after (this isn’t Websters definitely, but I imagine it’s pretty darn close).

 

For instance, if you’re trying to lose 20lbs, you’ll need a few things to help you along the way. On a basic level, some general knowledge about what it takes to lose 20lbs is a great place to start. That is a resource. On the next level, having a gym to go to in order to get your fitness on will be imperative. Yet another resource. And finally, at the highest level, having a persona fitness coach tell you what to do, how to do, and when to do it would get you to you 20lb goal efficiently and effectively. Yup, you coach is a resource.

 

The resource that is most adored in our society is money. Money is adored because of the things it can buy and the (perceived) ease of life it brings. And money is certainly an important resource to have. The level of which you have money and should pursue it depends on what you expect out of life and of yourself (but this is another story for another day).

 

Here is where it is important for me to make another distinction. Within the resources of life, we have renewable resources and non-renewable resources. Renewable resources are, well, renewable. They are able to be replenished. Food is a renewable resource. Your coach is a renewable resource (only if their mediocre. A great coach should be non-renewable).

 

I bring this point up because money is a renewable resource, but most of us don’t treat it as such. Most of us treat money as non-renewable. We make career decisions based on this thought process. We make family decisions based on this thought process. And when you start to make decisions because you believe that money is non-renewable, then happiness goes down and misery goes up.

 

Focus on the Ultimate Non-Renewable Resource

 

Now I don’t make this point because I believe that money is evil and that you should purely focused on happiness and fulfillment through nature. I enjoy money and I want more of it. Money should be used as a tool. You should be using money, not letting money use you.

 

But, more importantly, focusing on money brings you away from a non-renewable resource that should be ultimately dear to you…and that is your TIME.

 

Yes, believe it or not, time is a non-renewable resource. Many of us want to overlook that fact because we are in denial that our time will come to an end on this planet at some point. But we also overlook it because we are more focused on other things, such as making money.

 

What you spend your time on should be held to the highest priority. Every time you decide to binge watch a TV show on Netflix, you’re deciding to not spend time with your family or to build your side-hustle business or to enrich your relationship with your friends. Any time you’re making a decision to do one thing, you’re also making a decision to NOT do a thousand other things.

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking, if there are thousands upon thousands of things I could be doing, then how in world do I decide what to do? Well, that’s a simple answer. All you have to do is answer a few questions…

 

How to Know What to Spend Your Time On

 

Like I said, the answer to the above question is pretty simple. Getting to that answer may not be as easy. There are 3 questions that you can ask yourself in order to know if what you’re spending your time on is actually getting you to where you want to go in life. Answering these 3 questions requires some thinking. Actually, it requires more than thinking. It requires some serious introspection.

 

Here are the 3 questions that you can answer to figure out what decisions you need to start to make or continue to make to improve your life:

 

#1) What’s You Purpose?

 

This seems like a simple question because it’s so short. But don’t let it fool you. Understanding your purpose will help guide every decision that you make. Your purpose is the reason that you believe you are on this planet. My purpose is to help as many people as I can become as healthy and vital as they can be.

Every decision that I make is based on this purpose. If someone comes to be and wants to open a candy store, I’m not in because it doesn’t follow my purpose.

 

#2) What Are Your Values?

 

We’ve all heard about company or corporate values (most of which are just lip service, but, again, another story). Company values are imperative to holding structure and making sure that everyone is on the same page when working with customers.

You should have your set of values as well. This doesn’t have to be an extensive list, maybe 5-7 values. These are simply traits that you believe are important in life. A couple of mine, for instance, are constant-never-ending improvement, honesty & integrity, and authenticity.

A good way to figure out your values is to write down 10 characteristics that bother you the most, then find the opposite of those characteristics.

 

#3) What Are Your Passions?

 

No, I don’t mean sexual passions. Get your head out of the gutter. What are you truly passionate about? If you love video games, the world might tell you (and by world I mean friends and family) that there is no future in video games. But if this is you and you’re working as a bank teller because of outside pressure, your life is miserable.

Maybe you don’t know what your passionate about yet, and that’s okay. Keep trying things until you find something. A passion isn’t necessarily something you’re meant to do. Believing that there’s something that you’re meant to do (play violin, be an accountant, be a veterinarian) is like believing in soul mates. Statistically speaking, neither one makes sense.

If you know your purpose (helping people, being creative, saving animals) then you have an abundance of ways to achieve that purpose.

 

Now, I don’t give you this list of questions so you can read them and ponder them briefly. I expect you to sit down and write out the answers to all 3 of the questions. Take time to think through your answers. Be introspective, not just surface level. And when you’re finished or if you’re stuck, feel free to email me at jerry@thrive4strength.com. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

 

If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.

The Easiest Way to Improve Sleep Quality

Sleep quality has been a hot topic as of late. The more and more you pay attention to the media, the more you will see recommendations to help improve your sleep. Many of these tactics probably work to varying degrees. After all, we’re all different.

 

Although there are so many different strategies you can use to improve your sleep quality, there is one in particular that is the easiest to implement. And, even better, it doesn’t cost you a thing (it will actually save you money). But, before we get to that, let’s look at the difference between sleep quality and quantity. Because understanding the difference is going to be imperative as we move forward.

 

 

Sleep Quality VS Sleep Quantity

 

As I mentioned above, what I want to talk about today will help you improve your sleep quality. I say this specifically because there is a difference between having better sleep and having more sleep.

 

On the surface, this makes intuitive sense. If you sleep better for the same amount of time VS sleeping crappy for a longer period of time, it stands to reason that you would rather want to sleep better than sleep more (at least in my head since I’m trying to maximize every minute of every day).

 

But, what if we look at this a little deeper. How does sleeping more compare to sleeping better when it comes to the impact it has on your body? That’s a great question. And any time I have a question, I look to research for the answer. Because (as long as the study was done effectively, which is a big IF) it’s harder to argue with science.

 

A recent analysis of 10 studies showed the relative risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Relative risk was determined by studying over 100,000 people (high number are typically good instudies) starting at a certain age and following up with them at least 4 years later. There were a couple of interesting findings.

 

First, the study found that you were less likely to develop diabetes if you got less than 6 hours of sleep on average than if you got more than 9 hours of sleep on average. So sleeping more than 9 hours on average is more detrimental to your body than sleeping less than 6 hours on average.

 

Second, sleeping less than 6 hours on average was the least impacted of the studied groups. The highest impacted group? Those who reported the highest difficulty of maintaining sleep.

 

Okay, so that’s one study. What’s the big deal, right? One study doesn’t prove anything. Well, maybe. So if you need more convincing, let’s look at another study. And one that’s not so specific to one disease.

 

A study done in 1997 followed college students around for 7 days (okay, they didn’t follow them, cause that might be a creepy). During that time researchers measured the average amount of sleep, sleep quality, as well as a host of other measurements such as depression, anxiety, hunger, anger, fatigue and life satisfaction.

 

The study showed that, among those students who slept on average 7 hours a night, sleep quality had a bigger impact on things like depression, anxiety, hunger, anger, fatigue and life satisfaction, than did sleep quantity. In other words, the fact that they slept for 7 hours (an average recommended amount of sleep) wasn’t enough. If they slept 7 hours, but slept awful, then they were more likely to be cranky and angry. On the other hand, if they slept 7 hours and slept great, they were more likely to be happy and charming.

 

 

The Easiest Way to Improve Your Sleep Quality

 

Now that I have you convinced that sleep quality is more important than sleep quantity, let’s get back to the whole reason we’re here in the first place. And, in order for you to understand the easiest way to improve your sleep quality, we’re going to look at…you guessed it…a study!

 

Last year (yes, this study is that new) researchers did a study on 959 school teachers to see what effect television had on their sleeping patterns. Now, I know what you’re thinking…” of course he’s going to tell me to not watch TV before I go to bed”. And you would be mostly wrong if you thought that (I would always recommend not watching TV before bed. That’s just not what I’m going to say HERE).

 

The study found that teachers who watched on average 120 minutes of television or higher had significantly less quality sleep (and of getting fired, because when in the world do you have time to grade tests and homework if you’re watching more than 2 hours of TV?!?!) than did those who watched up to 60 minutes of TV.

 

So, the good news is, if you watch greater than 2 hours of TV (whether you’re a school teacher or not) and you want to improve your sleep quality, simply cut your 2 hours down to one hour. If you REALLY want to improve your sleep quality, shut down that one hour of TV watching at least one hour before you go to bed.

 

See, I told you I was going to save you money by the end of this article. All you simply have to do is cut back on your screen time and your quality of sleep will start to rise. Don’t underestimate the importance of this little insight. Quality sleep will go a long way in keeping you at your peak health (as we observed in the previous section. And one of your goals in life should be to be the best version of yourself that you can be!

 

If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.

How to do a Bodyweight Workout

Being in the fitness industry for about 10 years now, I’ve heard just about every reason why someone isn’t able to start working out. Sometimes it’s a money issue, or their boyfriend didn’t say it was Okay, or your dog ate your workout shoes. One of the more prominent excuses that I hear is not having enough time.

 

Luckily enough for you, you don’t know 2 hours to get a fantastic workout in. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need 60 minutes (understand, I’m not talking about maximum effectiveness here). You can get an awesome workout in about 20 minutes and not need a single piece of equipment. But before we get to the specifics of our topic, let’s talk a little bit about making time, even for just a 20 minutes workout.

 

 

How to Build in 20 Minutes a Day to Workout

 

For the most part, the excuses that people come up with for not working out can be overcome by a few simple steps. If you don’t have enough money, start making more or set aside “X” amount a week that’s strictly workout money. If your dog ate your workout shoes, go but more. However, you can’t exactly create more time. At least, you can’t create it in a literal sense.

 

There are ways for you to make time during the day to do the things that you need to do in order to live an ultimately healthy and vital life. And that includes exercise. Here’s a short of things that you can do to free up 20 minutes a day in order to complete the bodyweight workout we’ll be going over in a second:

 

#1) Wake up 20 minutes early – Yes, I know you love your sleep. And I believe that quality sleep is imperative for optimal health. However, waking up 20 minutes early to get a workout in is going to be much more beneficial than it is harmful.

 

#2) Watch 1 less episode of Game of Thrones – Okay, this doesn’t have to be Game of Thrones. You can enter whatever TV show it is you watch on Netflix for hours at a time. Instead of watching 3 reruns, just watch 2. There’s your 20 minutes.

 

#3) Set your phone down for 20 minutes – The average person spends close to 3 hours a day on their phone. That’s a staggering number. 3 HOURS!!! Do your eyes a favor and cut 20 minutes out for your workout

 

 

How to do a Great 20 Minute Bodyweight Workout

 

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Bodyweight exercises are the greatest. They’re so great because…well, sadly the average person doesn’t use their body the way they should. And the best way to burn calories is to do exercise that your body is not used to doing.

 

The workout we’re going to go over has 2 groups to it: Group A and Group B. You’ll do each of these groups for 3 sets, doing each exercise in consecutive order to finish one set. Take 60 seconds to rest at the end of each set. So here we go:

 

 

Group A:

#1) Pushups                       8

#2) Split Squat                  8 Each Leg

#3) Plank                           30 Seconds

 

 

Group B:

#1) Reverse Burpee          8

#2) Squat Jump                   8

#3) Bear Crawl                  30 Seconds

 

 

The first group won’t get your heart rate up terribly high. Make sure your form is perfect for your pushups and your split squats. This is where we want to focus on form.

 

Group B, on the other hand, will send your heart rate through the roof. So make sure your pace yourself. If you feel yourself getting too tired, take longer than the recommended 60 seconds of rest.

 

This is only one combination of hundreds of bodyweight combinations that you can utilize to get an awesome workout. Learn how to use your bodyweight so that you can have ab impact on your health even if you’re not able to go to the gym regarly.

 

If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.

How Exercise Makes You More Smart (Get It?)

Many of us spend most of our days in the gym trying to lose weight or put on muscle. Many a person has wasted countless hours walking on a treadmill or pedaling away on a recumbent bike in hopes of developing those ever evasive 6-pack abs. 

 

However, there is an underlying effect that exercise has on us that most of us don’t appreciate. Actually, I would imagine most people don’t even stop to think about this effect because they are too focused on trying to get through the final 10 minutes on the elliptical. 

 

But, before we talk more about that, let’s talk a little more about different types of exercise. 

 

What, Exactly, is Exercise Again? 

 

In a previous article, I talked about the difference between Non-Exercise Activity and Exercise. In short, Non-Exercise Activity is, well, non-exercise in nature. Where as exercise is defined as activity for the purpose of increasing your health and fitness, non-exercise activity might be defined as every other activity you do throughout the day. 

 

Now, I make this distinction because it’s going to play a part in our understanding of what else exercise can do for us besides get us ripped. First, because exercise is purposeful in nature, it takes some form of cognitive function to decide to do it in the first place. Sitting on the couch and vegging out is a decision, but not inherently difficult. Exercising is also a decision, but requires more cognitive effort than the former. So we’re already starting to develop an understanding of this new effect of exercise, that being improving your cognitive function. 

 

The above example is a bit of a stretch. I can’t say that studies have been done to prove the deciding to exercise verses deciding to sit and watch Netflix actually improves cognitive function. However, because of the general qualities that each activity holds (exercise is harder to DECIDE to do than watching Netflix), I’m going to make the connection that your cognitive function increases because of the decision 

 

How Does Exercise ACTUALLY Make You Smarter? 

 

Let’s take it a step further, though. Although there haven’t been studies proving the deciding to exercise makes you smarter, there have been studies on what types of exercise make you smarter. Case in point, a recent study of 20 subjects was done on the topic. The 20 subjects were volleyball players training to improve their overall abilities and volleyball skills. Training interventions included specific volleyball training, resistance training and sub-maximal aerobics training (running). 

 

The study measured the working memory of the subjects before and after exercise. The results were pretty clear cut, showing the memory significantly improved after exercise on all accounts. But the activity that improved memory the most was specific volleyball training. 

 

So why does it matter what type of exercise you’re doing when it comes to making you smarter? The answer can be linked back to the idea of purposeful practice. Have you ever heard the saying “practice makes perfect”? Well, that’s a lie. Practice doesn’t make perfect because perfect doesn’t exist. However, practice does make permanent. But it can’t just be any kind of practice. It has to be purposeful practice. You can’t practice passively to make yourself better. You have to pay attention. You have to push your limits. 

 

And this is the connection between smart exercise and dumb exercise. Dumb exercise is okay. Getting on the treadmill is dumb exercise because it doesn’t require much thought. Doing a dumbbell curl is dumb exercise because it’s easy to perform. Doing a Turkish getup, on the other hand, requires your attention. And if you don’t give it the attention it deserves, it’ll let you know about it by dropping the weight on your head (not sure what a turkish getup is? Check it out HERE). 

 

By the way, this same theory can be said for exercise and fat loss (but in a different kind of way). Fat loss happens most effectively when you make your body do something that it is not good at. When you throw something new at your body, it takes more energy to do it than if you do the same thing over and over again. In short, inefficient exercise is the most efficient way to burn fat. 

 

Let your exercise do more for you than just get you bigger shoulders or a shredded 6-pack. These are great things to have, for sure. But if you’re going to put in the effort, you might as well get as much as you can out of it. Take some time to figure out what you can add into your training routine to make yourself think (remember the turkish getup I mentioned?), and slowly you might notice other parts of your life becoming more effortless, as well.

 

If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.

Eat More to Help You Eat Less

Ever since the 1950s and 1960s dietary fat scare, American society has been conned into believing that anything that has fat in it should be eliminated from your diet. And, thanks to constant propaganda, many people and companies have taken full advantage of our psyches to maximize on this message. During the last 50 or 60 years, we’ve seen diets like the Adkins Diet, the Grape Fruit Diet, the Zone diet, Weight Watchers, the Potato Diet, and a number of other systems that promise health and longevity.

 

When you look at it, though, there’s a reason why there are so many different avenues to pursue, so many different diets to available to try. And as restrictive as diets are, is it truly helping you reach or ultimate goal? Or are these options just pushing you to jump from diet to diet because of chronic failure?

 

There may a solution to the problem of chronic dieting, and it’s most likely not what you think it is. But, until we get to that point, let’s find out a little more about how chronic dieting has an impact on more than just our physical health.

 

The Underlying Cause of Weight Gain

 

Stress eating is something that has been talked about a lot in the past few years. And many of you may label yourself as stress eaters. In fact, we are all stress eaters to some extent. It’s just a matter if you have a tendency to overeat when you’re stressed, or if you have a tendency to under eat when you stress.

 

The technical term for under eating is hypophagia. For most dieters, they are in a constant state of hypophagia. Because they’re jumping from diet to diet, constantly restricting the things that they’re eating, they are rarely getting the nutrients their body needs in order to function properly (and certainly not enough to allow itself to shed the excess weight).

 

Hyperphagia, on the other hand, is the technical term for overeating. Most people would blame hyperphagia for the obesity epidemic we have on our hands in America (when I say epidemic, I don’t think that our society truly grasps the impact that obesity is having on our health and the growing number of people, and especially adolescents, that have chronic diseases due to obesity. I’ll talk more about this in another article>). And they would be mostly right. Hyperphagia is the primary cause of weight gain (coupled with inactivity).

 

The underlying cause that no one is really looking at, though, is slightly less obvious. Let’s get back to the topic of stress eating. Like I said, many people blame their weight gain (or lack of weight loss) to stress eating. Stress eating to most people is hyperphagia, over eating. And those people would be right. If you are “eating healthy” most of the time, and over eating when you’re stressed, it’s less likely that you’re going to be able to achieve your health and vitality goals.

 

But, what really causes someone to overeat when they’re stressed verse someone who under eats when they’re stressed? I imagine you’ve never really thought about this. The answer is dieting.

 

Why Dieting Causes You to Overeat

 

Like I mentioned earlier in this article, people who are dieters or in a constant state of hypophagia. They’re always restricting what they eat because they’re constantly jumping from diet to diet. Restriction is something that is naturally associated with dieting (this is partly why people fail on diets. Because they believe they cannot eat the things that they want to eat. And us humans hate when people tell us when can’t do something. Try telling a toddler that they can’t have their toy back and see what kind of reaction you get). And when your body is in a constant state of restriction, suddenly when you add stress to the mix, your body’s chemical processes are going to start to take over.

 

So when you are a constant dieter, and you are confronted with a time of constant stress, your body will start to yell out for foods that make you happy and satiated. If, on the other hand, you over eat on a regular basis and enter a state of over stress, your body will tell you to slow down on the food intake. The actual response that your body is giving you in these stressful times is simply its natural survival response. It wants more food in stressful times IF you are typically under eating, and it wants less food in stressful times IF you are over eating.

 

What You Can Do To Eliminate the Stress Response

 

As you can see, stress eating has a very biological driver to it. We think that we just naturally crave sweets when we’re stressed, when really it’s your body telling you to give it something full of calories to help it survive. Reducing the likelihood of falling into this trap is easy enough if you follow a few simple steps.

 

Understand, it’s not what you only do in those times of stress. It’s what you do leading up to those times of stress that’s important. You have to practice in order to prepared for game time. So here are 3 things that you can do to keep your body happy and be prepared when stress pops up in your life:

 

#1) Eat Enough Calories for Your Level of Activity

 

Have you ever heard the saying “calories in verse calories out” when it comes to weight gain and weight loss. Well, eliminate that saying from your vocabulary. This thought process leads too many people to under eat and not achieve the goals that they want to achieve. I can’t tell you the number of times I have members tell me that they have a stick of celery for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and a couple of handfuls of nuts for dinner, and wonder why they’re not losing weight. Your body needs energy, so don’t be afraid to give it. Especially if you’re starting to exercise or work a job where you’re moving constantly.

 

The simplest thing you can do (and what I see most lacking when I talk to members) is increasing you dietary protein intake. Yes, veggies are the grandmaster of nutrients, and I will never take that away. But you need substance, and a great way to increase your substance is by increasing dietary protein.

 

#2) Quit Dieting and Start Building a Lifestyle

 

Dieting has some very distinct connotations. For instance, dieting to most people means temporary. And when you’re doing something temporarily, it doesn’t become part of your life. Quality nutrition is something that should be a part of your life constantly. I regularly hear people tell me that, if they were an athlete, then they would eat right and train hard, because then they would have something to work towards. This makes no sense to me. What do you think life is?!?! Life is your game. Life is what you’re training for. Life is you ONE chance to do what you can to make an impact on this world. So why would you not build the best body you can and achieve ultimate vitality so that you can help as many people as you can while you’re around?!?!?! (Stepping off soapbox)

 

#3) Remember Pareto’s Law

 

Pareto’s Law tells us that 80% of our results come from 20% for our efforts. We can twist this around a bit and apply it to nutrition as well. In nutrition, you should eat 100% clean, 80% of the time. The other 20% is up to you. Don’t go off the deep end with your 20%. But this will allow you to build in a meal or 2 where you can eat what you want and not feel guilty about it. And that’s okay. We just had my Mom’s birthday and my sister made butter cake (yes…butter cake). Do you think I sat there and watched everybody eat it? Not likely. Allow yourself to indulge every once and while so that you don’t have that huge break down when stress comes along.

 

Stress and eating will continue to be a hot topic in the coming years. Our understanding on how stress impacts our food choices and food intake will constantly change and adapt over time. For now, you can adapt these 3 simple tools to help eradicate to possibility of over eating from stress.

 

If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.

The 3 Things You Can Change to Become Fulfilled

At the beginning of our journey to understand the Pyramid of Vitality, we started by talking about the seemingly unrelated topics of purpose and values. On the surface, it doesn’t make sense why purpose and values has anything to do with your physical fitness or your lifestyle decisions. At least until you dig into it.

 

The last of the 3 characteristics of vitality (if you missed the other articles on the previous 2, you can see them HERE and HERE) will almost assuredly fit into this “unrelated” category as well. We talked about it briefly in the last article, which gave us an understanding of what happiness and fulfillment truly are and how we change and adapt to our situations over time.

 

The reason that I include fulfillment, the 3rd characteristic of vitality, in the Pyramid is simple. When people come to Thrive, they come because they want to lose weight or look better naked or get rid of their bingo arms. This is all surface level stuff (which is still important to a degree). But what we slowly find out about many people is that they aren’t satisfied with their life and are hoping to use fitness to help fill some sort of void and pull them out of the funk that they’re in. And even though fitness and lifestyle development are wonderful ways to do that to attain happiness in the physical part of your life, I want our members to be able to be happy with every part of their lives. And without that, without truly being happy (not content, that’s dangerous) in all aspects of your life, then simply losing weight will not be what pulls you out of the rat race.

 

What Are Aspects That Impact Our Fulfillment

 

Last time I quoted Tony Robbins in saying, “success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure”. In my opinion, coaching someone on how to be successful in losing weight or how to coach someone on how to build a 300lb deadlift is easy. There are certain strategies that pertain to everybody, and then you may have to fine some a few things here and there to the individual. Overall, though, the strategies that you need to lose 20lbs or to deadlift 300lbs are consistent from person to person.

 

When it comes to fulfillment, there’s a whole other ballgame. What fulfills me will not fulfill you (or maybe it will because we share similar ideologies or hobbies or passions). So teaching someone how to be fulfilled is much more technical than showing someone how to lose weight. None the less, there are only 3 things that have an impact on whether or not you are fulfilled with your life:

 

#1) How You Think

 

This is #1 for a reason. How you think drives #2 and #3 on this list. Your mindset is the most important thing that you can develop to help you be fulfilled. Just to break it down a little more. Genereall speaking, there are 2 dominant mindsets in this world: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that they have no control over their circumstances. They believe that they were dealt this hand and that’s all the cards they have to play with. A growth mindset, on the other hand, lets you understand that you are control of your destiny. No matter what happens, you have the opportunity to either learn from a given situation or let it eat you alive. This is my basic belief on my mindset is so important.

 

#2) How You Feel

 

Feeling follows thinking. First you decide what something means. If you lose your job, you may decide that that means your incompetent. Once you’ve decided that, then you will decide how you’re going to feel about that meaning. So if you decide you’re incompetent because you lost your job, you may decide to feel angry or depressed or resentful. This is the basis of how you feel. And you can decide how you feel at any given moment.

 

#3) What You Do

 

The last function of fulfillment is what you do. Once you’ve decided that you’re incompetent for losing your job, and then you decided that you’re angry about losing your, the next step would be to decide what you’re going to to about it. For a lot of people in this situation, they may sit at home for a couple of months collecting unemployment while feeling sorry for themselves. This is a strategy of sorts, but probably not a strategy that will get you anywhere fast. None the last, the last thing you do is decide what to do.

 

How to Improve Your Fulfillment

 

Now that you have a basic understanding of the 3 functions of fulfillment, let’s see what we can do to help improve each one. Like I said before, fulfillment is an art, not a science. These strategies are very much on the surface of things that you could (and probably should) be doing to improve the overall happiness and fulfillment you have with your life.

 

#1) How You Think

 

Your mindset is above and beyond the most important part of your mental wellbeing that you should work on on a regular basis. Your mindset allows you to either grow beyond your potential, or stay in the rat race. Developing the mindset that you need in order to sustain you on a regular basis takes time and effort. It’s something that you have to do every day, day-in and day-out.

I would start by reading the book, Mindset, by Carol Dweck. In the book you will develop a better understanding of what I mean by growth and fixed mindset. Along with reading the book, I suggest you start a regular meditation practice. Meditation is one of the most underutilized practices that can help with so many different aspects of your life. And it doesn’t take much to do…and it’s free. Meditate first thing in the morning. This will put your brain into an alpha wave state, which means you relaxed and non-judgmental of your thoughts and the day ahead. Start with just 5 minutes. Once that’s easy, add 1 minute. Continue to add 1 minutes a week until you find the right spot for you.

 

#2) How You Feel

 

Emotions are wonderful things. No matter if you’re angry or happy or resentful, your emotions can help in in some form or fashion. The goal with emotions, though, is to make sense of them and why you’re feeling them in the first place. Which is why I suggest that you start to journal. Your journaling doesn’t have to be anything intricate. Again, this may only take 5-10 minutes each morning or evening (or both).

 

The goal with your journaling should be to make sense of the thoughts and feelings you had during the day, especially during big events throughout the day. For instance, if you went to the gym and had a bad workout, maybe that made you feel inadequate. Why did you feel inadequate? Is it because you think that every workout should be a record breaker? Or because you think that the rest of the world is going to judge you because you didn’t go as hard as you could? Take 5-10 minutes to figure out these emotions. And once you do, you’ll start to see that you can control your emotions, and your emotions don’t have to control you.

 

#3) What You Do

 

Okay, there are a lot of avenues I can pursue on this one. For the sake of consistency, we’ll continue with our sequence of events that we’ve gone through so far. However, if you’d like to learn a little more about what to do as far as time management goes, read THIS ARTICLE. 

 

What you do in a given situation has a lot to do with how you feel (and how you think), especially in that moment. One of the best ways to understand what your feeling in a particular moment is to be mindful, or, more directly, build mindful awareness.

 

Mindful awareness is the ability to notice exactly what’s happening and how you’re feeling and thinking in a given moment. It’s being able stop when you feel your judgements rushing over you and deciding to take a different path. Being mindful is something you have to work on every day. A great way to help build mindful awareness is to do a 5 second pause. Let’s say you’re in an argument with your spouse. They’re not happy with the clothes you’re wearing to a party, and you think that they are being ridiculous. In this moment, most people’s gut reaction is to argue and argue and argue, thinking that, eventually, they’ll get their point across. But for those of us who have been in arguments with our spouses before (everybody raise your hand), it rarely turns out that the other person stops and goes “you know, you’re right”. So next time you’re in this situation and you feel yourself start to argue, pause for 5 seconds. During that 5 seconds, think about what you’re actually trying to accomplish in that situation. Are you trying to argue or are you trying to make it to a party? Decide what it is you really want, and you may change your course pretty quickly.

 

Now that we’ve covered every characteristic of the Pyramid of Vitality, you have a better understanding of some of the steps you can take to start to become the best version of yourself that you can be. Every single one of these characteristics is an ongoing process. Your fitness and lifestyle and fulfillment should all be attended to on a regular basis. If you want to be truly vital in your life, you will take this to heart. Remember, always choose to live with passion.

 

If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.

Understanding the Art of Fulfillment

We’re entering the home stretch of our journey. If you’ve been with me through all of this, let’s quickly review what we’ve covered (if you haven’t read the previous articles, I strongly recommend you do so in order to get a full understanding of this topic):

 

#1) We covered the basics of the Pyramid of Vitality and how it can have an impact on your life.

#2) Understanding that your Values and your Purpose drive the Pyramid is imperative to making the decisions you need to make in order to lead the life you want to lead.

#3) How you move, how often you move, and how you rest and recover are the only 3 things you can change in order to develop better fitness.

#4) In order to have a Lifestyle you want, the 3 functions you need to pay attention to are how you behave, how you eat, and how you rest and recover.

 

Which brings us to the final characteristic of the Pyramid of Vitality. Because this final characteristic is so important, I want to break it up into 2 articles. This first article will give us basis of understanding for what makes us happy. The second article will go into the 3 functions of Fulfillment, the final characteristic, and give you actionable steps in order to become more fulfilled in your life.

 

The Science of Achievement and the Art of Fulfillment

 

Tony Robbins says that there are 2 skills in life that we all must master. The first skill in the science of achievement. Notice I say “science” of achievement. These are the tactics, strategies and steps that you can take in order to attain a result. We’ve talked about some strategies to moving better and feeling better and eating better. These are strategies fit into the science of achievement.

 

The second skill that we all need to master in life is the art of fulfillment. This time I referred to fulfillment as an “art” and not as a “science”. Fulfillment is an art because it is different from person to person. While eating whole foods and moderate carbs is a strategy to help anybody to become a healthier version of themselves, it’s not so simply to point out one strategy to that will make anybody fulfilled. What fulfills me will not necessarily fulfill you. My purpose in life is to help as many people as I can become as healthy and vital as they can be. You might read that and think that it sounds like the most boring thing you could possibly do.

 

The problem is, even though many people achieve ultimate vitality or become rich beyond their means, most of us don’t understand what is going to make us happy. And, as Tony Robbins says, success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. So let’s see what we can do to buck this trend.

 

The Paradox of Happiness: Why We Don’t Know What Makes Us Happy

 

Happiness is a hot topic nowadays. Even though we should much happier now than we were 10, 20, 50, 100 years ago, it seems to be slipping the other way. Take happiness per GDP for instance. Although GDP per capita has gone up significantly over the last 30 years, the average American’s happiness in that same amount of time has stayed the same or declined. So why are we getting more sad even though we are wealthier overall?

 

Plenty of research has been done in order to answer this question. There is one particular study that I find intriguing that may help you understand why we struggle to be fulfilled in such an abundant age. In 1978, a group of recent lottery winners and a group of recent accident victims turned paraplegics or quadriplegics  were interviewed. The researchers asked the groups a handful of questions, one of which was to rate their average current happiness. The lottery winners, on average, rated their happiness at a level of 3.33 out of 5. Not bad, but maybe you expected it to be higher. The accident victims, on the other hand, rated their happiness at a level of 3.48 out of 5. Yup, you read that right. The accident victims, on average, had a higher rate of happiness than lottery winners.

 

What Does This Study Tell Us About Happiness?

 

So how does it even make sense that someone who has become a paraplegic is happier in their life than someone who has recently become a millionaire? After all, if you asked a group of people to rate their assumed happiness after such events, they would certainly say that they would be much happier as lottery winners than they would be as paraplegics.

 

What we don’t see, and often overlook as the consumer society we’ve become, is what happens after an event happens. Although we may assume that winning the lottery would make us filfilled, just like we assume that having a jelly donut or buying a Michael Kors purse will make us fulfilled, what we don’t understand is the principle of adaptation.

 

What is the Principle of Adaptation?

 

As a consumer society, we pride ourselves on the things that we have and believe that having those things will make us happy and fulfilled. And once we have one thing, and aren’t fulfilled, we buy another thing, assuming that THAT thing will make us happy. And once that doesn’t work, we buy more and more and more, until we just convince ourselves that we can’t be happy no matter what.

 

The problem isn’t that we can’t be happy. The problem is that we’re pursuing the wrong THING to make us happy. You see, we adapt to having things. People think that having more money or a jelly donut or a Michael Kors purse will make them happy. And that would be right, for a while. Your mind has this funny way of adapting to the things you have. And unless you constantly reflect and give gratitude to those things (which most of us don’t), your mind will adapt to them and look for the next thing that will make it instantly happy.

 

This is the dangerous feedback loop we put ourselves through on a constant basis. If you don’t take the time to correct it, I.E. figure out what it is that truly makes you fulfilled, then you will constantly be seeking the one thing that makes you happy (with very little likelihood of actually finding it).

 

Achieving Happiness and Fulfillment

 

As you see, fulfillment is not a short term proposition. In fact, fulfillment is something that you are constantly working on and figuring out as you go through life. What makes you happy and fulfilled in your 20s is going to be different than what makes you happy and fulfilled in your 50s. The key is building the foundation to be able to adapt to those changes so that you’re not blown completely of course when something steps in your way.

 

We will all have periods in our lives where something unforeseen will happen. No matter what it is, it is going to change your life forever. For now, it’s up to you to build the resilience that you need in order to take on these events and attach them head on. In our next article, we’ll cover the 3 functions of fulfillment, which will give you some insight on what you need to do to build resilience within yourself. This resilience will not only lead to fulfillment, but also allow you to take on the surprises in life that we don’t see coming.

Improving Your Lifestyle to Improve Your Vitality

Welcome back everybody. This is the forth article in a 5 article series that I’m putting together to help you understand how to improve your health and vitality by improving each characteristic in the Pyramid of Vitality. If you’ve missed what we’ve talked about so far, I suggest you look back at the previous 3 articles, which you can find HERE, HERE, and HERE.

 

The last article covered the first characteristic of vitality, and that would be fitness. This one makes a lot of sense. I imagine you can’t make a trip to the doctor without them telling you that you need to get in better shape or lose weight or take off a couple of inches around your waste. So, if fitness is one aspect of vitality, it would make sense, then, that nutrition would be included, as well. And if you assumed this, you would be partly right…but also mostly wrong.

 

You see, over the course of the last few decades, our concept of how to change our nutrition has been messed up, to say the least. Nutrition is part of a much bigger picture. The reason why fad diets and cleanses don’t work in the long run is because they don’t fit into this bigger picture. There is much more to nutrition than simply following a meal plan and getting results (at least for the average person). That’s why I’m going to ask you to suspend your normal thinking of nutrition for the time being. I want to show you how nutrition is really lumped into something much bigger, and that’s called lifestyle.

 

The 3 Functions of Lifestyle

 

Recently, there has been a shift in how we see our health and vitality. The 80s and 90s were ravaged by infomercials, products, trainers and gyms that were selling you on this simple idea of getting fit. To go along with that, there were fad diets, pills, and surgeries that could help you lose weight and look fabulous. Some of this hasn’t changed, and I imagine a level of this will be around forever. But it really wasn’t until the turn of the new millennia until we started to understand this idea of a healthy lifestyle.

 

On the surface, it’s easy enough to understand what lifestyle is. Lifestyle simply is the culmination of certain decisions we make on a regular basis that leads us to achieve the results we have, physically, financially, personally, or otherwise. When it comes to your health, there are really only 3 things that have an impact on your lifestyle:

 

#1) How You Behave

 

No, I don’t mean whether you’re naughty or nice. Although, I also don’t not mean that (you get that double negative?). What I mean by how you behave is, what you do a regular basis. That could mean your job, how often you go out to bars, how often you get together with family, how many much vacation time you take in a year, or how long you work. There are a lot of things that fit into this category. I just want you to understand that you’re choosing to do on a regular basis (your behavior) is having an impact on your health.

 

#2) What You Eat

 

Yes, what you eat is second on the characteristics list, after behavior. Why is that? Simple. Most of our nutritional habits can be linked back to our behavior in some form or fashion. Yes, what you eat is absolutely important. But, being in the fitness industry for almost a decade now, I’ve seen that it’s not as easy as simply telling someone to stop eating ice cream at night. There is a behavior pattern that is getting them to that point. For some people, that’s sitting down on the couch and turning on the TV. For others, it’s simply the act of opening the fridge hoping to find a little snack to eat.

 

#3) How You Rest and Recover

 

If you read the last article about the 3 functions of fitness (if you didn’t, go read it HERE), you know that this is also the third function of fitness. And although they say the same thing, rest and recovery here is not the same as rest and recovery for fitness sake. For the purposes of lifestyle, I’m talking about how much you sleep, how much vacation you take, how many times a week you meditate, how often you go for a leisurely bike ride (or a downhill mountain bike ride if that is what relaxes you). The important thing is this category is doing the things that you enjoy doing and that keep you even and relaxed.

How to Improve Each Function of Lifestyle

 

So you see, although lifestyle only has these 3 functions, there are many, many things that fit into each one of these categories. Making a change in one or all of these categories can be daunting. After all, when most people are told that they need to lose weight, their first reaction isn’t to stop going to bars, stop eating ice cream at night, and start sleeping more. The first action step for most in this scenario is to join a gym. Which isn’t necessarily the wrong thing. It’s just the easiest thing. Because it doesn’t require that you possibly cut out some of your social group or, goodness forbid, not watch your fifth episode of House of Cards on Netflix at night.

 

Yes, making changes in this category is going to be a challenge. But challenges are what ultimately make us stronger. And if we’re not willing to work through them, we’ll continue to get the life we’re earning. A smarter man than me once said that you’re always getting what you ask out of life, even though your SAY you want more. With that being said, let’s check out some actions steps that can move us forward in our lifestyle:

 

#1) How You Behave

 

Like I said, this is a BIG category, so I’m not going to tackle every bit of behavior. I will, however, share with you this wonderful tool that has helped me better understand the decisions that I’m making that are impacting my health. Like I said, behavior has an impact on a lot of things in our life, including food. So becoming aware of what the behaviors are that are leading you to make certain decisions is imperative. That’s why I started practicing Mindful Awareness. Mindful Awareness is simply being aware of your thoughts and actions as they are happening, especially in times that may be having a negative impact on your physical or mental health.

 

For instance, quitting smoking is a big decision for people. One of my best friends recently told me his quitting story. Luckily, his company pays for them to work with a Quit Coach if you choose to quit smoking. And one of the first questions his Quit Coach asked him was when he had his first cigarette of the day. His answer was that he would grab a Starbucks iced coffee out of the fridge, go out on the balcony, and have a smoke. So the Quit Coach suggested that, instead of grabbing the iced coffee, he grab a glass of water. Seems simple, right? Well, for most of us, we don’t look at the behavior BEFORE the action. We just look at the action and try to fix that. So, use Mindful Awareness to understand what behaviors you have that may be leading to unwanted actions.

 

#2) What You Eat

 

Okay, this topic has been beaten to death over and over again. I’m not going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat. I’m not going to tell you that you’re a bad person if you eat ice cream (yes, I had cookies and ice cream this past weekend, and I enjoyed every minute of it!). I’m only going to give you some guidelines to follow to improve your nutritional prowess.

 

First, 90% of the time, only eat meals made with whole foods. What does that mean? That means anything that has more than one ingredient doesn’t count. A whole food is the food itself, in whole form. Think chicken breast, eggs, kale, apples, berries, walnuts, pecans. Those are whole foods.

 

Next, drink at least a liter of water a day, and better yet, 2 liters of water. This will help eliminate some of the unwanted calories you get from other drinks (no, I’m sorry, your orange juice in the morning is not health and nutritious. It is pure sugar…with a bit of vitamin C).

 

Lastly, the other 10% of the time, do what you want. Yes, this includes having some ice cream or double stuffs or a couple of twinkies. Now, don’t overestimate your 10%. This is where people get thrown off. The 10% is much smaller than you think. And when I say 10%, I mean 10% of the week, now 10% of the day.

 

#3) How You Rest and Recover

 

The biggest topic I want to cover here is sleep. The majority of people do not get enough sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation does a whole bunch of things to your body, the least of which is makes you fat (at least fatter than you would be if you slept regularly). Sleep is where your body replenishes and restores itself from the day before. So having inadequate amounts of sleep means not letting your body fully restore itself naturally.

 

A couple of tips to get more high quality sleep: first, turn off all blue lights at least 60 minutes before bed. Yes, that means phones, tablets, and even TV. I know, TV helps you to go to sleep. Maybe. But it’s also not letting you stay asleep. Blue light suppresses your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone the puts you to sleep and keeps you asleep.

 

Second, make your room dark, but not too dark. There are lot of fitness experts that will tell you that your bedroom should be pitch black to get adequate sleep. I personally always put things to the evolutionary test. If it doesn’t make sense on an evolutionary basis, then why should I do it? Our body’s run on their circadian rhythm. And that rhythm is controlled by the sun/moon cycle. So blocking out the moon light at night is taking away an important aspect of our body understanding when it’s time to wake up. So let the moon light in, and shut the rest off.

 

Lastly, the bedroom is for 2 things and 2 things only. The first one is sleep, and the second one is sex. The bedroom is not for doing work or watching TV or even reading (admittedly, I’m a bit of a hypocrite on this last one. Although I may only read 1 or 2 nights a week total). Always remember, your body is an adaptation machine. And if it’s used to doing work before bed, then it will stay up expecting work.

 

Article 4 is almost finished. We’ve made a ton of progress so far. I’m impressed that you’ve made it this far if you’ve stuck with it up to this point. I know this is a lot of information. Make sure you’re putting these things into action so that they are making change in your life. Remember, knowledge is not power. Knowledge is potential power. Execution beats knowledge any day of the week.

 

If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.