Progress Does Not Happen Overnight
When I was 27, sleep wasn’t a priority, and late nights were fueled by alcohol.
These late nights led to poor sleep which would compound into poor wellness decisions.
Thursday through Sunday, you could find me:
Eating pizza at 3 am.
Having subpar sleep outside of a normal circadian rhythm.
Eating Taco Bell the next day to satisfy carb cravings.
Having brain fog from lack of sleep and too much nutrient-deficient food.
My performance would suffer. I would have little energy to hit a hard workout. My energy levels would be a wild roller coaster ride and this would have a snowball effect leading me in the wrong direction.
That all began to change in 2009 when I found triathlon and I began to cut out the late nights and decrease my alcohol consumption.
This article takes you through how I shifted my life to prioritize wellness:
Two Very Different "Happy Hour's"
At 26, my career dictated my life. I worked set hours and I dressed the part.
My schedule was dictated by others and I didn’t really exercise.
I chased money, traded my time for it, and cared deeply about the public perception of success.
I also resorted to excessively drinking alcohol, to achieve a “state change”. I thought this was the way to meet people, to be vulnerable, and to have fun.
But as I found triathlon I began to consume alcohol less and less because of how it would impact my training and performance the next day. Eventually, I cut it out of my life altogether.
For the last 14 years, I’ve resorted to other activities to yield that state change:
These all allow me to feel good, with no downside.
Sharing these experiences with others has created many of my closest friendships. The bonds I have built through this shared, self-imposed suffering do not compare to the relationships I “built” by taking tequila shots in the bar at 1 am.
Something I often think about: there is no such thing as a free lunch; when a massive dopamine hit comes with very little effort, you will pay for it the next day. When you put in the effort to achieve the dopamine spike, it comes without the consequences.
No One Defining Moment
At 43, my life dictates my career. I define how I want to spend my hours and I take most meetings shirtless.
I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want, where I want, and with whom I want.
I choose relationships over transactions and chase fulfillment over making more money.
A lot of people think there was one moment where my life changed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is never “one defining moment” when all of a sudden you snap your fingers and your life changes overnight.
Change is a slow process that happens over time as you begin to reprioritize what you want out of life.
As I found triathlon in 2009, I naturally began to gravitate towards early mornings of exercise that fueled all-day energy and mental clarity. I began to notice:
My attitude was always positive after exercise.
My stress and anxiety were tamed by exercise.
That high energy and feelings of high mental clarity became what I wanted to continually chase. I naturally stopped going out and:
My bedtimes got earlier, more in line with a circadian rhythm.
My friend group and the environments I placed myself in started to change.
As these changes started to happen in my life, I no longer had pressure to party or over consume alcohol.
I think this is a natural part of life. As you age, your priorities will change which is a natural by-product of growth.
Something I often think about: As you find new habits to replace the ones that no longer serve you, your environments and friend groups will likely change, leading to a new lifestyle.
Eating for Success
At 27, I had no understanding of how nutrition affects my energy, mental clarity, sleep, or recovery.
I ate out every meal for years.
I ate Subway every day for lunch because I thought this was my healthiest option. At this point in my life, I was selling property and casualty insurance to campgrounds in upstate New York; I put in more than 50,000 miles a year on my car for five years.
I would work out (maybe) 3x per week, but never longer than 30 minutes. Workouts mainly consisted of bench press and bicep curls–never any anaerobic intervals or aerobic conditioning.
For dinner, I liked the taste of pasta, and the satiated (bloated) feeling I received from eating it, so I ate pasta as often as I could.
At 43, I focus on food that nourishes me, provides energy, mental clarity, and aids in building/maintaining lean muscle mass.
I now hate feeling super full or bloated, which is how I used to feel after every meal.
I cook almost every meal at home and prioritize getting in more than 200g of protein every day.
Most days I don’t eat until around 12:00 pm, after my first training session of the day, typically a high-intensity CrossFit style workout:
Meal 1: 12:00 p.m.
1 Daves Killer Bread Everything Bagel with Kerrygold Butter and Natural Grocery Almond Butter
3 Applegate Turkey Sausage
64 Ounces Water with Bub’s Electrolytes
Dinner: Some kind of meat + carb for dinner
Steak and rice
Smashburgers + Goodles
*If you haven’t tried Goodles, these will change your life-HA!
I prioritize eating mainly single-ingredient foods and my energy levels are the highest they’ve ever been.
*Here is a link to my daily routine, diet, supplements, and training here. I put the movement at the top of the “food pyramid” because it is what I prioritize most. Specifically lifting heavy weights, anaerobic intercals, and aerobic conditioning. These are a huge factor in my current aesthetic. However, I train for performance – physical, mental, and emotional. Sleep is what I prioritize next, then diet, then recovery protocols (sauna/ ice), and then supplementation.
Something I often think about: I know this is excessive and not necessary unless you’re looking to compete at a high level in CrossFit or endurance sports. 45-60 minutes a day of strength training and/or anaerobic cardio along with eating mainly single-ingredient foods is a recipe for general well-being and a great aesthetic.
These are some of the things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me to design my dream life.
Protein plays an integral role in the creation and maintenance of every cell in our bodies; it fuels all of our essential functions. I use protein powder multiple times a day every single day, so it is vital to have one that not only tastes great but makes me feel great, and Human Improvement is a 10/10 on both counts.
Human Improvement is essential for my recovery and helping build and maintain lean muscle. The reason I am able to train at such a high volume is because of the fuel I put in my body. This week Human Improvement is offering Movement Memo subscribers a deal: 15% off your entire order using code “ERIC15”
Complete as a 36-minute EMOM (6 rounds)
- Minute 1: 5 BB Bench Press (185/125)
- Minute 2: 10 DB Single Box Step (50/30lbs)
- Minute 3: 5 DB Devil Press (50/30lbs)
- Minute 4: 10 KB Swing (53/35lbs)
- Minute 5: 50 Double Unders or 100 Single Unders
- Minute 6: Max Cals — Assault Bike