To transform your life, you have to stay physically healthy. It’s not an option. We only get one body, and we need to take care of it. Moreover, our physical health affects our brain activity, which impacts our emotional wellbeing and problem-solving abilities.
You Can’t Afford to Lose Your Physical Health
In previous posts, I’ve talked about my first mentor, Steve Myrick. He was an amazing entrepreneur who made a lot of money and accomplished a lot of things. Yet I’ll never forget an encounter I had with him towards the end of his life. Steve was sick and in the hospital, and my father and I decided to pay him a visit. When we walked into his room, we saw him wearing an oxygen mask with tubes sticking out from all over him.
When my dad saw Steve, he started crying. Then he started gushing over all of the things that Steve had done – the houses he’d built, the teams he’d led, the businesses he’d started and grown, etc. That’s when Steve took off his oxygen mask and motioned both of us to come closer. When he spoke, his voice was a weak echo of the hearty, cheerful intonation I knew him for. “What good is it to have all that success,” he whispered, “if I have no health?”
Then Steve said something I’ll never forget:
“Take care of the machine that takes care of your heart and mind. Pursue it just as hard as you pursue success and never take your youth for granted.”
Physical Health and Decline Both Happen Over Time
The damage that we do to ourselves with fried foods, sugar, lack of exercise, etc. happens in the background. Nevertheless, it’s as real as the damage of poison or physical trauma. It just happens more slowly. As a result, our stamina is depleted. Our creativity drops off because our brain chemistry is tainted. Pervasive mental health issues like depression become several times more likely. Etc.
I don’t care who you are. You can’t afford this.
Fortunately, the opposite is also true. Feeding our body well, moving around, and getting proper rest carry long-term benefits that are impossible to put a price on. We can each make the daily decisions that lead to a prosperous body. When we do, we get energy and have a much easier time staying focused. Here are 8 principles I follow to stay physically healthy and in optimal performance.
1. Be Intentional
You can’t take your physical health and wellness for granted. No matter how young you are or how tough you believe yourself to be, staying healthy requires discipline and focus. Health demands commitment to the daily decisions that you know are the right ones. If it helps, think of your body as a machine and your brain as the CPU. The CPU will only be able to make the proper decisions as long as the operating system is healthy on the whole.
I’ve known people who achieved exceptional wealth and yet died in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. I believe it’s because they burned out. They focused all of their energy on their external goals and completely neglected their bodies’ needs for sleep, healthy foods, and exercise. Do not do this. Slow and steady wins the race, and every choice you make matters. No amount of monetary gain is worth your life.
2. Drink Water
“No duh, Stephen,” you may be saying. “We all know we need water.” Well if that’s true, then why aren’t we drinking enough of it?
The recommended amount of water is at least 8 cups per day, but 43% of adults drink less than half that. Meanwhile, we can’t seem to get enough coffee, soda, and liquor to satisfy us. In other words, we avoid the main substance we need for health and wellness and replace it with toxic and addictive substances.
Water strengthens your joints and muscles. It keeps your body the proper temperature and even keeps your skin fresh to reduce aging. Water also helps remove toxins and regulates your cardiovascular system. In other words, it helps with everything. So do the opposite of the majority. Replace your typical beverages with water and watch your health improve. My personal recommendation is Fiji spring water, which my buddy KC Craichy put me onto.
3. Remove Sugar
The standard American diet has almost 400 grams of sugar in it a day. That is appallingly bad and may be the reason why obesity in America is so much worse than the rest of the world. Our manufacturers put sugar into almost every product we consume, regardless of whether it’s a dessert: pizza, ketchup, potato chips, etc. Even things we think would be healthy like protein bars and protein powders have added sugar. Exchange sugar with monk fruit and stevia to reset your insulin levels and keep the sweet taste that you’re probably craving.
4. Reduce or Remove Fried Foods
I added “reduce” in front of fried foods because the chances are that sugar is a bigger threat to you personally than fried foods. Nevertheless, fried foods are still really bad for you. That’s why the next step after eliminating sugar is eliminating fried foods. Fried foods increase your chances of diabetes and heart disease, the latter of which is the number one cause of death for men in our country. Your cardiovascular health is crucial to maintaining healthy blood flow to your brain. This keeps your energy and focus at healthy levels, so getting rid of threats like fried foods is huge. If you do this, you’ll find yourself feeling less lethargic and more empowered.
5. Reduce or Remove Toxins
The most deadly and common toxins we see in our society today are in dopamine intensifiers like tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drugs. These are savage to your physical health. Take nicotine for example. When you smoke or dip, your brain starts to create additional dopamine receptors to accommodate the large doses of nicotine. In other words, the more you take, the more you need. This can happen with any number of substances, and stopping is so much harder than never starting.
Here are just some of the problems that can arise from dependency on dopamine receptors:
- Premature ageing
- Deterioration of vision
- Hearing loss
- Premature death
- Brain damage
- Early memory loss
Your body was meant to function on water, healthy proteins, and greens. That’s it. Most of the man-made things we consume are contrary to this design, and some are even meant to get us addicted. So limit your toxins. Get rid of nicotine and alcohol and consider moving away from prescription meds towards natural remedies.
6. Exercise Daily
Folks, nothing beats exercise. Aside from losing weight and gaining muscle, exercise helps you sweat out those toxins we just talked about. It also releases endorphins that make you feel better. In fact, studies show that exercise has a bigger impact on our mood than anti-depression medication. You don’t have to work out at the gym or swim a mile every morning. Just moving around does wonders. In fact, going for a walk or doing jumping jacks and stretches as a habit during your work break can deeply benefit you. It increases your metabolism and gets your brain firing on all cylinders.
There are two types of exercise for you to focus on:
- Cardiovascular – Running, walking, swimming, and biking are all examples of cardio. These workouts get your heart pumping healthily, helping you detox and breathe. These exercises also burn fat.
- Muscle Building – Aside from making you look good, building muscle increases your overall energy and stamina. Doing some strength training alongside cardio is the best way to help your body stay balanced and healthy.
If you’re like me, sitting still does not come naturally. I’m very activity-driven and love staying busy. However, too much work can kill you just as well as anything else. In the short term, refusing to rest can weaken your immune system and get you sick. Long term rest-deprivation can lead to much worse, like emotional burnout or a mental breakdown.
We need to rest to manage stress, replenish our bodies, and help our brains process information effectively. Part of this involves getting plenty of sleep (6-8 hours, depending on your chronotype). The other part of this involves more general self-care, such as taking a day off every week and getting outside more often.
8. Eat Superfoods
Superfoods are foods that add higher-than-normal value to our cardiovascular, cognitive, and digestive systems. These can do wonders for your physical health. Superfoods that I eat every day are:
- Living Fuel Supergreens & SuperBerry Ultimate
- Apple Cider Vinegar
It’s Time to Protect Your Health Now
Don’t put this stuff off. Build the habits now to protect and improve your health so that you can live your life to the fullest. Remember, no one is above the basics. Anyone can get sick. You need exercise, healthy foods, and rest. Your health is priceless, so treasure it.
For more from The Journey Principles Institute, check out our free E books.