While I have 10 minutes to spare, I wanted to write a follow-up to my Voice Notes // 02 recording from yesterday – simply because I feel the topic is so important. And, because I think that so many people ignore the advice, I did for over a decade.
On Jan 1st of this year I elected to put my health first.
Both physical and mental.
I had the epiphany… that at age 28, I should be in peak physical condition. I should be in the best shape I’ve ever been in – right now. And growing old, rather disappointingly, will mean the physique I can achieve now will be ever fleeting.
So with it being January, it was relatively easy to jump on the dry January bandwagon – giving up alcohol would net me some quick wins. Alcohol is known to cause brain, heart, and liver damage as well as impact your immune system and make you more susceptible to various forms of cancer. Plus the calories in a pint are the equivalent to eating a Mars Bar!
Okay alcohol done, what next?
I reduced the amount of red meat in my diet. Admittedly this wasn’t too difficult as I was increasingly eating a pescatarian diet anyway – following suit with my wife and the rest of my family.
Now you only eat fish and vegetables, what next?
I was going to start going to the gym.
And I was determined not to become one of those January resolution people who go for a month, then disappeared. Consistently, at a minimum, going every other day.
And finally (until I think of something else), I was going to sleep more.
I knew I needed to listen to my body. Having spent the last decade going to bed around midnight or 1am, only to be waking up again at 5am – it wasn’t enough sleep. The fact that ‘sleep’ became trendy last year with a plethora of books and articles being released on the topic, brought it even more to my attention.
So what’s happened in the 9 or so weeks thus far?
And the good thing is, I’ve measured most of it. I’m a data nerd, and need to see actual data showing me improvements in quantifiable areas.
I actually wish I went for a more thorough MOT / analysis at a doctors, so that I could measure the impact to my body internally (e.g. stuff that can be ascertained from blood samples etc.). But I didn’t, so anyway – I use my Apple Watch to measure most stuff. That, mixed with a smart weighing scale.
Once I’ve got more time, I’ll put in the graphs here so that you can see my journey so far. I will take a moment to list some of the apps that I’ve found particularly good:
- Apple’s native ‘Activity’ app – very good, especially at recording personal bests and achievements
- 7 minute workout – somewhat of a veteran app, but still good for a warm up and to mix things up
- HeartWatch – I’ve been monitoring my resting heart beat, as after some research apparently it is the best indicator of overall health (I’ve moved mine from mid-70s, to high-50s)
- Happy Scale – good for measuring weight each day
In summary, it’s really what you’d expect, and what you read from every single other blog post that details someone’s journey to a more healthy way of life.
I’m sleeping better – I now don’t wake up with an alarm clock, rather my body clock is in sync. That, combined with the natural light of the morning means I’m pretty much up within 5 minutes either side of 6am. I’m should also note that I’m going to bed earlier – clocking off all work at around 9:30pm, giving myself an hour or so to binge on Netflix, read a book or listen to a podcast.
I can see my stamina increasing – before I started I could barely run a mile without getting out of breath. I used to look at those people who did marathons; heck, even the 10k charity runs like they were some sort of mythical beast – and that it was unattainable for me. But no, having been running every other day for the past 9 weeks means I can now run around 8 miles in 40 minutes – crazy!! Each and every week at the gym I add on a little to whatever I’m doing – that’s true in both cardio and the weights. That too shows me actual progress – lifting up the much heavier weights now for my sessions compared to what I started with.
I’ve lost weight – so overall I’ve lost about 4kg of weight. My clothes are better fitting and everything is getting more ‘tight’. I think I’d have lost more weight if I wasn’t focusing on building muscle mass. I can see my arms getting larger pretty much each week. It does have diminishing returns however – so I expect I’m getting all of the quick wins now and at some point over the next couple of months the increments will be harder to achieve.
I’m more creative – I even bought myself an easel and paints. Can you believe it? I’m writing more (just look at this site, plus Dissection, plus a bunch of other stuff I haven’t written about publicly yet).
All-in-all, I’m back to feeling myself. Back to feeling on top of the world. And back to being able to take on any challenge. And execute upon that mission of putting a positive dent on the universe.
So back to the original point, I always gave myself the excuse.. saying that I had too much work to do. Once I don’t have to be living, breathing and sleeping my startup, I’d give time to my body and make back the time.
Don’t do what I did.
Carve out an hour a day to focus on your body, and go to the gym.
Your company will still operate, very little will change on that front. But you will be better able to manage stresses and challenging times much better.
Finally, go give up alcohol. It costs you money, takes your time, and takes control of your mind. You do not need it to cope with every day stresses. Trust me.