I’ve been feeling exceptionally great lately – I’ve been thinking more clearly, I feel alert all day and I have tons of energy. It’s awesome, but the problem is that I don’t know which of my lifestyle changes to attribute it to! I’m always trying new health products, exercises and body hacking experiments and in the past couple of months I’ve changed quite a few things.
- Started taking a pre-workout shake consisting of dextrose and hemp protein
- Drinking high-quality coffee with MCT oil
- Mobility stretching and foam rolling before workouts
- Changing up my workout routine
- Cold showers
- Taking Aniracetam w/ choline every morning
- Getting more sleep
Why I Do The Things I Do
Pre-Workout Shake – I started doing this after reading an article from Mike Roussell, Ph.D. titled “Ask The Macro Manager: Should I Drink Protein Before Or After A Workout?” I’ve always had a post-workout shake, but after reading this, I learned that a pre-workout shake has a ton of benefits – it can fuel your muscles, it can jump start protein synthesis and it can help you burn more calories.
Coffee and MCT Oil – I’ve learned about the many great benefits of drinking coffee from the Bulletproof Executive blog and at the age of 30, I finally decided to start drinking it. Coffee can improve your memory, it’s an excellent source of antioxidants and it can improve athletic performance if taken before a workout. Like coffee, MCT oil is thermogenic, which converts to energy quickly. MCT oil has also been shown to improve nutrient absorption of some nutrients and provide better immune protection. I add it to my coffee and blend it in a bullet blender or shake it up like crazy in a blender bottle.
Mobility Stretching and Foam Rolling – Ever since doing P90X for the first time several years ago, I’ve known first-hand about the benefits of warming up before a workout. I didn’t warm up as often as I should have after finishing P90X, but then I read this article a couple months ago about warming up with mobility and foam rolling exercises. I do this routine before every workout now and I love it. After finishing the mobility exercises, they recommend foam rolling these areas: plantar fascia, calves, quads, IT band, hips, glutes, pecs and lumbar and thoracic spine.
Changing Up My Workout Routine – I try to not to switch up my routine too often because that’s a big reason people never see progress in the gym. People tend to switch up routines before seeing if the routine really works. This was my problem in my beginning years of working out, but I finally wised up and created a routine based on big compound lifts and I’ve continued to see progress ever since. I do still like to switch things up though, especially if I start to plateau or if I get bored. Instead of completely changing routines, I’ll instead rotate lifts or I do a totally new routine for one or two weeks and jump back into my regular routine after that. I haven’t modified my routine at all in about seven months and I started to get bored, so I decided to do a week of Crossfit and then a week of a random routine I pulled out of a Muscle & Fitness magazine. It was exactly what I needed to prevent myself from getting burned out on my routine. I hope to do something like this every couple of months from now on.
Cold Showers – I first learned about the health benefits of cold exposure after reading Tim Ferris’ book, “The 4-Hour Body.” Tim Ferris noted several reasons why someone should take a cold 30 minute shower; increased lean muscle gain, improved immunity, effective treatment of depression and increased fat-loss. I didn’t start taking cold showers after reading his book though. More recently I read an article from Dave Asprey about cold thermogenesis and then Ben Greenfield did a podcast on cold thermogenesis with Dr. Jack Kruse. It was finally starting to sink in. Then I read a free Kindle book called The Flinch by Julien Smith which had “homework” at the end of one of the chapters that suggested taking cold showers for a week. I did it and I stuck with it for three months. I just recently started taking warm showers again, but I plan to experiment with cold showers again in the future.
Aniracetam w/ Choline – The benefits of taking smart drugs like aniracetam is something else I’ve learned about from reading the Bulletproof Executive blog. Aniracetam has been shown to sharpen memory and learning abilities and it also optimizes the use of oxygen in the brain. It also heightens the effects of caffeine. Most people take choline supplements with racetam drugs (Aniracetam, Piracetam) because racetams lower choline levels in the body, but if you’re in the small percentage of people who are choline dominant you need to be careful about overwhelming your choline system. If you get headaches or clenched jaw you probably shouldn’t supplement with choline. I haven’t really noticed a difference after taking Aniracetam in 750mg capsules, but perhaps the amount I’m taking makes the effects too subtle. I plan to experiment with higher dosages soon.
Getting More Sleep – I think we all know that sleep is important. It helps your entire body recover. It clears your mind and heals your body, which is especially important for people who exercise. One of the vegan athletes I follow is DurianRider, a raw food fruitarian, who is always talking about the importance of going to sleep really early in order to get as much sleep as his body needs, so I decided I’d try to do the same.
I’m always learning new things (which you can see by reading the weekly update post that I publish every Friday here on MixedFitness.com) and I’ve been testing and “upgrading” myself for years. I wish I would’ve tracked everything I do to see what works and what doesn’t, but I definitely plan to track things from now on.
What I Have Planned For the Future
- Sprinting exercises
- Adventures and fun activities (hiking, trampolines, repelling, paintball, indoor skydiving, go karts)
- Brew Kombucha
- Remove wheat from my diet
- Do a one-week juice fast
- Learn to roast my own coffee
- Start doing mobility exercises
Meditation – Meditation is a topic that comes up in my daily reading all the time. I always read about the benefits but I never do it. Did you know that meditation can strengthen the brain? It’s also a great way to clear your mind and reduce stress levels. You only need to meditate for a couple of minutes per day to see a benefit, so that’s how I want to get started. Setting aside two minutes a day should be easy enough.
Sprinting Exercise – Since February of this year I’ve had “add sprinting to routine” in my fitness notes, and I never got around to doing it. I’ve read all about the benefits of sprinting over the years, but I didn’t write that note down until reading “The 6-Week Sprinting Solution from T-Nation. Now there’s snow on the ground and I most likely won’t be doing sprints anytime soon. This one will have to wait until the spring season.
Adventures and Fun Activities – I read an article a couple of months ago from PsychologyToday.com about how spending time with friends can increase happiness, health and longevity. I can’t find the article anymore so you’re just going have to believe me that it’s true 😉 Anyway, I often skip going out with friends because I’ve convinced myself that I’m too busy, but since reading that article I’ve started saying yes every time someone invites me out and I’ve noticed that I’ve been much happier. I think planning more activities and adventures will help me get away from my computer and work and will let me enjoy life with friends and the people I love.
Brewing Kombucha – Kombucha tea is a fermented drink that is a probiotic, like yogurt for example. It introduces helpful bacteria into the body and heals the gut. I’ve actually just started brewing my own Kombucha so this is a goal already mostly accomplished. I’ve brewed one batch so far and it came out great. I didn’t get enough out of it to drink daily and feel the benefits, but I’ve got two batches going now and when those are done I’ll do four batches. That should be enough to drink at least one tea per day. I bought an extremely over-priced kit from Kombucha Brooklyn, but you can get everything you need for much cheaper if you buy everything from your local department store. All you need is a scoby, which you can get from a friend, buy online or from Craigslist. Here are directions on brewing your own Kombucha tea
Removing Wheat From My Diet – By now you’ve probably read about the drawbacks of consuming gluten, and wheat in general, especially if you’re paying any attention to the growing Paleo movement. The claims are that wheat makes us fat and it causes inflammation in the body that can last up to six months. Dr. William Davis wrote the book “Wheat Belly” which really got the ball rolling on this idea. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’ve read many other reports on the subject. I’m not totally convinced, but I want to experiment with removing wheat from my diet to see if I notice a difference.
Juice Fasting – I’ve been wanting to try a juice fast (not green smoothies) ever since watching the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. That movie is how I discovered raw-food vegan vloggers like John Kohler and Dan “The Man” McDonald (the Life Regenerator). Dan McDonald has covered several of his own fasts (juice and water) on his YouTube channel and talks about the healing powers of fasting all the time. I know it fasting sounds crazy, but studies have shown fasting to protect against brain diseases. And raw-foodists are always talking about how juicing is great for detoxing because it gives you the calories and nutrients you need, without putting strain on the digestive system because there is no fiber to digest. I’ve also been following popular Redditor Israel Torres as he juice fasts his way to health. He has lost a ton of weight and is currently doing his fourth 60-day juice fast right now. I don’t want to do a juice fast to lose weight, but I still find it interesting.
Roasting My Own Coffee – I’ve really been into drinking coffee lately and I think I may be on my way to becoming a coffee snob 😉 I would love to seek out high quality green coffee beans and roast my own to see how they come out. I’ve watched several videos on YouTube showing how to roast beans in a cheap popcorn popper, so that’s probably what I’ll try first.
More Mobility Exercises – The mobility exercises I mentioned above are designed more for doing as a warm-up before working out, but I’d like to work on specific body-part mobility exercises, such as the ones mentioned on MobilityWOD.com (mobility workout-of-the-day). I want to do mobility work to improve my lifts, especially the shoulder press. I’m seriously lacking in shoulder mobility.
What About You?
Are there any changes that you’ve made in your life that makes you feel great? Any goals or experiments that you have for yourself in the future? I’d really like to hear about them in the comments section!