SPIRE part 2

The Specifics: Here’s exactly what I do on a daily basis. It has evolved over the last two years or so into this current incarnation. I encourage you to find something that works for you and would note that this is a baseline and not the final word.

Spiritual: mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is one of the best-studied versions of meditation and has many benefits. Mostly it reduces stress and pain signals and helps you to use the parts of the brain that make us human–the prefrontal cortex.

Physical: HFT and foam rolling.

Match what you are doing, physically, with both where you are now and what your goals are. Be sensible. If you weigh 300lbs, start with a daily 20 minute walk. The most important workout is tomorrow’s workout, and you won’t do tomorrow’s workout if you destroy yourself today. Even daily walking has a ton of benefits. For me, I need the muscle maintenance of the HFT as well as working out the kinks mobility-wise.

Intellectual: 10 ideas

Some people have very logical, rational thinking in their daily work or jobs. These people would benefit from more creativity. Artists, musicians, and other people might benefit more from a logical SPIRE practice. Alternately, you could learn or hone a skill.

Resources: Morning Pages from “The Artist’s Way”

Relationships are your relationships with other people, resources are your internal resources and environment. If you are an extrovert, working on your relationships is natural, but developing internal resources may be difficult. The opposite is the case for an introvert. An ambivert (both intro- and extroverted) could alternate or do both. I think that working against your natural grain will bear fruit in this area.

Daily journaling has been studied by science, too.  Journaling is like a cheap version of therapy: it can help you manage stress, anxiety, and improve your mood. I learned about Morning Pages from Oliver Burkeman (who wrote the tremendous book The Antidote: happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking) and Tim Ferriss.

Emotional: A simple gratitude practice.

I write down at least three things that I’m grateful for. I try to write new things every day, going beyond the usual things like “family”. I’ve written “sunshine” and “coffee” more than once though. Gratitude has been studied quite a bit and has tons of benefits.

Bonus: A focusing exercise from Mel Robbins.

Write down two things you will accomplish today that relate back to your main goal, then write down one reason why you will achieve those two things.

All in all, this morning routine takes less than 90 minutes to complete (although it would be faster if I did a briefer workout). I believe it’s adaptable to anyone in nearly any situation. It gives you a way to win the morning and hopefully win the day.

 

SPIRE part 1

Abstinence Education

For some people, building some flexibility into their diets, such as the classic “free day” or “diet break” can help. Other people are better served by strictness. Gretchen Rubin calls these differences in personalities “Moderators” vs. “Abstainers” in her book Better Than Before. Moderators do best when they can have a small treat every day. Abstainers will eat the treat and then eat the remaining week’s treats before running out to the store to get a box of cookies or some ice cream. Moderators can also smoke “socially”. Other people will smoke one cigarette and be back to a pack-a-day habit.

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Backing Off

As we talked about in the last post, there has to be a balance of work and breaks, or you will burn out.  In training, too, you can’t go full-throttle all the time. One way to look at this is to think that the most important workout is the next one. If you beat yourself up to the point where you don’t want to return, sooner or later, you won’t come back. It’s better to intentionally taper for a week than wait for burnout or injury. To that end, the template that I’ve been using for the last month is a simple way to build in back-off weeks. I got it from Josh Hillis, but since it’s been published by Dan John here  I don’t mind sharing my experience with it.

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100 Days YouTube series

Just finished watching a great YouTube series called 100 days.

The series follows two guys who are trying to “have a healthy midlife crisis” by eating healthier, meditating, and exercising. It’s somewhat artificial in that they have hired a support crew of psychologists, nutritionists, doctors, and maybe a dozen personal trainers to help them in the process, but this is part of making it a show instead of their life. They tried activities as common as  tennis, bowling, and golf, as well as more obscure activities like obstacle courses, rock climbing, roller derby, and even aerial circus training — filming the whole mess along with reflections on their progress, photos of their food, and frequent check-ins to see how some basic metrics are going (e.g. number of pushups in a minute, heart rate both before and distance from their toes in a forward fold).

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How to get Ripped in Six Months

I’m finally going to do it: I’m going to get in shape. A friend of mine — let’s call him “Billy” — offers to work with me at his gym. He was a competitive powerlifter in high school and today we’re going to squat. So we squat front and back squats, do some other assistance work: hack squats, hamstring curls, quad extensions. I feel good. My legs feel like they might explode. I wobble home, somehow managing to operate the pedals of my car.

The next morning I wake up, kick my legs over the side of the bed and try to stand up. I collapse in a heap next to the bed. I yell “Billy!” at the top of my lungs and I hear my housemate burst into laughter in the next room over. He proceeds to yell “Billy!” at me every time he sees me gimping around that day.

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Building a Home Gym

I was going to write a post on how to build a home gym, but I realized that Jocko Willink basically put together a nearly identical list to purchase.

Here are the places where I’ve moved from his recommendations:

  1. Instead of the Concept 2 rower I went with an AirDyne AD6. These are in the same family: the crucial thing is the whole-body movement with fan-driven resistance.
  2. I don’t have medicine balls in my current gym: I have in the past. Right now I’m focused on the “Loaded Carry” family that Dan John talks about so I have farmer’s bars and a Rep-Fitness sled (prowler-like) in the backyard.

The basics are the basics for a reason – and if you want to build effective workouts, stick with the basics.