This is a comprehensive overview of my personal approach to staying physically active, eating the right foods and achieving fullness as a person.

It was important for me to create a dynamic, but workable plan – separated into three distinct and logical sections – that would provide me with baselines against which I can hold myself accountable and on which I can further build, as my knowledge and experience evolves through my day-to-day practice.

Far from being something I am about to initiate, this three-piece plan contains activities and mindsets I have already been undertaking and developing over many years. If anything, this plan represents refinements of the methods I have already employed to great success.

11. Physical Activity

Cardiovascular Fitness
How I Keep My Heart and Lungs in Tip Top Condition

Cardio training is exercise that increases muscular endurance by improving the performance of the lungs and heart so they can distribute oxygen to the muscles more efficiently. It greatly improves cardiac health, assists in gaining lean muscle mass and boosts your metabolism’s fat burning ability.

Cardio is typically associated with developing aerobic fitness, which is the ability to perform light activities that you can sustain for long periods of time, such as with jogging or cycling.

However, I have designed my cardio training program to also develop my anaerobic fitness, which is the ability to perform high intensity bursts of activity for short periods of time, such as with sprinting or weightlifting.

See my Cardio Training routine

 

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is an anaerobic focused cardiovascular exercise strategy that alternates short periods of intense exercise with less intense recovery periods.

 

HIIT Maintenance – Fast Exercise

Frequency 3 sessions a week, minimum

  • Ideally combined with gym training sessions, see my musculoskeletal training
Goal(s)  

Maintaining…

  • A high level of aerobic and anaerobic fitness and endurance
  • An optimum level of long-term health, e.g. reduced body fat and improved insulin sensitivity
  • High energy levels

 

Duration 11-minute sessions with…

  • 3 x 1 minute bursts of high intensity exercise interspersed amongst…
  • 8 minutes of recovery with moderate effort
Focus on
  • Control of breathing
  • Correct posture
  • Mindfulness
Equipment Rowing machine, elliptical, spin cycle

  • Ideally alternate between these for each new session, i.e. One session on rowing machine, one session on elliptical, one session on spin cycle
Tracking Monitor with Google Fit on my smartwatch

 

HIIT Endurance – Dynamic Running

  • 1 session a week
  • See Dynamic Running below

 

 

Running

Dynamic Running

Goal(s) Develop and maintain…

  • A dynamic range of endurance for optimum aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • A dynamic range of motion for improved flexibility, balance and strength
  • Effective running and back posture (keep that chin up)
  • Vitamin D levels
Frequency 1 outdoor session a week
Distance 3 to 10 miles
Focus on Comprehensive endurance…

  • High intensity interval training
  • Combination of sprinting, jogging, walking and freerunning
  • Combination of terrain and gradient
  • Breathing control exercises
Equipment Barefoot running shoes, running clothes, hydration backpack (if needed), smart watch, smart phone
Tracking Monitor with Google Fit on smartwatch and smartphone

 

 

Cycling and Walking

General Commuting and Getting About

Goal(s) Maintain a good level of daily movement, flexibility and balance…

  • Get as many daily Google Fit move minutes and heart points from it
  • Great if you hit 10,000 steps a day, but not essential
Frequency Daily
Distance Various
Focus on
  • Mindfulness
  • Mindlessness – Letting my mind do whatever it wants to do
Equipment Bicycle, Shoes
Tracking Monitor with Google Fit on smartwatch and smartphone

 

 

Breathing Exercises

Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga, General Working Out and Spontaneous Guided Breathing

Goal(s) Mastering breath control. If you can control your breath, you can control….

  • Your heart rate
  • Your emotional and physiological response to all environmental stresses
  • Your mental and physical performance during exercise
Frequency Daily.

Depending on the day’s routine, my breath control exercises can done as a…

  • Mindfulness meditation session
  • HIIT Maintenance session
  • Dynamic Running session
  • Yoga session, see musculoskeletal training
  • Bodybuilding session, see musculoskeletal training
  • Spontaneous guided breathing session, using the app on my smartwatch
Duration 10 minutes a day, minimum
Focus on
  • Mindfulness
  • Mental focus
Equipment Smartwatch
Tracking Monitor my heart rate with Google Fit on my smartwatch

 

 

 

Musculoskeletal Fitness
How I Keep my Muscles, Bones and Connective Tissues Functional and Dynamically Strong 

Musculoskeletal training is physical exercise focused on strengthening bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments for improved bodily balance and functional fitness that greatly decreases the potential for injury.

The training of the musculoskeletal system can take many forms, but my personal focus is on achieving a high level of dynamic functional fitness with a component of bodybuilding to develop and maintain my ideal physique.

My musculoskeletal program uses high-intensity resistance training to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of my skeletal muscles; as well as low-intensity flexibility and posture training to increase my body’s core stability and the range of motion of my joints.

See my Musculoskeletal Training routine

 

Strength and Resistance Training

Strength Maintenance – Calisthenic Exercises for Functional Fitness

Goal(s) Develop and maintain…

  • A foundationally strong and dynamic musculoskeletal system
  • Indomitable core stability
  • Bodyweight knowledge and precision
Frequency 3 sessions a week, minimum
Duration 1 hour per session
Focus on
  • Maintaining all muscle groups
  • Precision, posture and form
  • Correct breathing
  • Mindfulness
Guidance Workout Trainer app, YouTube
Equipment Exercise Mat, Foam Rollers, Resistance Bands, Dumbbells, Kettlebells
Tracking Monitor with Workout Trainer app and Google Fit on smartwatch and smartphone

 

Weight Training – Bodybuilding to be Bigger Leaner Stronger

Goal(s) Develop and maintain…

  • My ideal body composition
  • Weightlifting knowledge and precision
Frequency 4 sessions a week

  1. Upper Body A – Chest & Shoulders
  2. Mid-Section – Abs & Core
  3. Upper Body B – Arms & Back
  4. Lower Body – Legs & Core
Duration 1 – 2 hours per session
Focus on
  • Progressive overload principle
  • Shocking the muscle technique
  • Precision, posture and form
  • Breathing
  • Mindfulness
Guidance YouTube, Bigger Leaner Stronger book
Equipment Gym, Weightlifting Studio, Crossbars, Weight Plates, Dumbbells, Kettlebells
Tracking Monitor with Google Fit on smartwatch and smartphone

For my strength and resistance training, I originally began with a program of just functional fitness strength maintenance. I kept this going steadily for about two years and then I transitioned into more so focusing on becoming bigger leaner and stronger via my bodybuilding training (and yoga).

Now, as part of the 1-Year Challenge component of this final project, I am going to build a revised program that has a balanced and comprehensive training regime of functional fitness and bodybuilding.

 

Flexibility and Posture Training

Flexibility Maintenance and Posture Tuning – Yoga

Goal(s) Develop and maintain…

  • Core stability
  • Joint strength and flexibility
  • Muscular range and endurance for good posture
  • Muscular tone
  • Mindfulness
  • Controlled breathing
Frequency 3 sessions a week, minimum

  • If time allows, combine with gym sessions to double as warm up
Duration 15 – 30 minutes per session
Focus on
  • Form precision
  • Mindfulness
  • Breathing
Guidance Daily Yoga app
Equipment Yoga mat, yoga blocks, yoga strap
Tracking Monitor with Google Fit on smartphone and smartwatch

 

Posture Maintenance – Standing Desk

Goal(s) Develop and maintain…

  • Good back posture (no slouching)
  • Good back posture that can be applied to standing and sitting
Frequency Daily
Duration 1 hour, minimum. More dependent on workload
Focus on Keeping my upper back straight and engaged (no hump slouching forward)
Equipment Standing desk
Tracking N/A

 

22. Diet & Nutrition

Diet
How I Eat

When it comes to how I eat, I follow the blue zones and a science-based diet.

The blue zones are regions in the world where people live much longer than average with a greater sense of life fulfillment. Research into these areas has identified diet – and commonalities of the diets across the regions – as one of the primarily causes for this greater longevity and life satisfaction.

The five blue zones are Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Icaria (Greece), Nicoya (Costa Rica), and Loma Linda, California. Residents of these areas produce a high rate of centenarians, suffer a fraction of the diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world, and enjoy more years of good health.

The research has identified the fundamentals of blue zone dietary practice as being…

  • Primarily plant-based whole foods
  • Moderate caloric intake
  • Moderate alcohol intake, especially wine
  • Moderate dairy intake
  • Limited sugar intake

With this blue zone thinking in mind, I have constructed my own dietary regime.

See my dietary regime

 

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

As it is one of the best guides for eating a diet that adheres to the principles of the blue zones and is interchangeable with cuisines of each zone and beyond, I have designed my eating pattern to primarily follow the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.

The pyramid summarizes the Mediterranean Diet pattern of eating – based on the eating habits of Greece and Italy – that indicates the types and frequency of foods that should be consumed every day.

Numerous research studies indicate that the Mediterranean Diet (and blue zone orientation) has benefits that include…

  • Prevention of heart disease and strokes thanks to diet being high in Omega-3s and antioxidants
  • Increased gut health and immune system function due to the higher amounts of good gut bacteria from the varied foods of the diet
  • Reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and halving the risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • Reduction in the risk of cancer due to the absence of many processed foods that exasperate the development of various cancers
  • Protection against Type 2 Diabetes by stabilising your blood sugar levels
  • Reduction in anxiety and depression due to the high proportion of carotenoids (healthy guy bacteria that positively influences your mood) found in many of the foods of the diet

Overall, implementing the Mediterranean Pyramid in my lifestyle has proven extremely successful. I have found it easy to prepare and cook for and I immensely enjoy the varied and colourful meals it encourages me to eat.

Furthermore, as the pyramid orientation places a strong emphasis on using healthy high protein whole foods wherever possible, it is has proved easy for me to satisfy the short-term calory demands of my physical activity program; while also allowing me to maintain a high level of long-term health at the same time.

 

16:8 Intermittent Fasting 

Intermittent fasting (extended periods of calorie restriction) also forms a key component of my diet.

I am currently on my own personalised form of the popular 16:8 intermittent fasting variant which involves…

6 days of fasting 16 hours a day with an 8-hour feeding window

1 day superfast that ranges from 18 to 24 hours of fasting.

The studies into intermittent fasting are very promising and the benefits include…

  • Reducing body fat weight due to the body burning fat for energy when in a fasting state.
  • Lowering the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by reducing the body’s insulin resistance
  • Fighting premature aging and chronic diseases by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
  • Increasing heart health by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Increasing the blood levels of growth hormone which in turn lead to greater muscle gain
  • Inducing various cellular repair processes
  • Increasing longevity in a similar way to continuous calorie restriction

I was originally on the 5:2 fasting orientation which I started in 2012 and which involved 5 days of eating normally with 2 days of fasting. I experienced a transformative success with 5:2, hence why I stuck with it so long, but I wanted a fasting regime that would more greatly benefit my physical activity program I developed for this final project.

I have switched to the 16:8 orientation because it allows me to exploit the muscular gain and cellular repair processes that you get from daily fasting.

I was also keen to switch to an everyday fast because it would enable me to keep a tighter rein on my daily eating habits. When I was on the 5:2, I found that I would increasingly drop the ball and eat crap on my non-fasting days.

Now that I am fasting daily, it not only keeps me on my toes with adhering to my fasting orientation, but it keeps me consciously aware of adhering to the requirements of the Mediterranean Pyramid.

I have retained a one-day superfast, like I had with the two fasting days of my 5:2 period, because on some days I find that I can struggle to meet 16 hours of fasting and that one-day superfast gives me an opportunity to make up for it.

Overall, I continue to experience great success with intermittent fasting and already I have started to see the improved physical performance brought about by my 16:8 orientation.

 

Periodic Prolonged Fasting

At the time of bringing all of the elements of this final project together, I undertook my very first prolonged 3-day fast. I had a very nasty viral infection one week and I had read about how fasting for 3-days or more has the effect of completely rebooting your immune system, so I wanted to see if a 3-day fast would kill off my viral infection.

It did. Amazingly so. Two days into my fast, I was already feeling back to normal and by the time I had complete the full three days, I felt beyond incredible.

Periodic prolonged 3-4-day fast every 2-3 months.

 

Hara Hachi Bu – 80% Full Rule

Hara hachi bu is an ancient Japanese concept, that is a part of today’s Okinawa Diet, and it’s very simple to follow… when you notice you are nearly full, but could have a little more, stop eating.

The point is to finish a meal when your stomach is 80 percent full and to leave yourself feeling a little bit hungry.

The 80 percent rule is a hugely beneficial component of a diet because it is a form of calorie restriction that has similar benefits to intermittent fasting.

It seems counter-intuitive for me to perform calorie restriction considering I only have an 8-hour feeding window in which to satisfy the high calorie demands of my physical activity program, but I am not convinced that consuming large amounts of calories all in one go is the best thing for your body’s long-term health… even with the restorative effects I get from daily intermittent fasting.

It’s a personal choice, but I would rather eat smaller separate and spread out portions that give my body the time and space to thoroughly digest and process what I have already consumed, before I give it more work to do. I’m not interested in gorging myself during my feeding window, I absolutely hate being bloated and feeling half dead in a food coma!

The way I look at it is that the 80 percent rule allows your body to pace itself, builds and maintains your self-discipline and makes you less of a slave to your hunger cravings.

 

Blood Sugar Balance

Limited sugar intake is a key component of blue zone dietary practice and the reason why low blood sugar levels is highly beneficial for your health is because it prevents the development of Type-2 Diabetes.

If blood sugar levels become too high, the body responds by producing insulin which brings blood sugar levels down by helping energy-hungry cells to absorb the excess sugar. The problem arises when your body becomes insulin resistant – from continual blood sugar level spikes – and all of a sudden the body can not naturally bring down the sugar levels, which in turn leads to all the negative symptoms of diabetes.

Even before I adopted the full blue zone approach for my diet, I was becoming increasingly conscious of the possibility that I would end up developing diabetes due to the high sugar content of the standard western diet that I was consuming on a daily basis.

This was one of the incentives that convinced me to start fasting on a 5:2 basis, because fasting is great at bringing down and regulating blood sugar levels. However, I did not just want to rely on the fasting to keep my blood sugar levels balanced, I wanted to get into the habit of making a conscious effort to limit my sugar intake, even when I was not fasting.

What should be stressed is that not all sugar is bad, your body does actually need sugar to function properly, whether it is the glycogen that powers your muscles or the glucose that powers your brain.

Healthy blood sugar levels just have to be balanced and to achieve this, there are four food types I make a conscious effort to limit on a daily and weekly basis…

  • Carbs, starchy and easily digestible ones – Bread, pasta, white rice, etc.
  • Processed foods – Almost all processed foods have added sugar
  • Sugary treats – Cakes, chocolate bars, biscuits, sweets, etc. 
  • Sugary tropical fruits – Bananas, melons, pineapples, mangos, etc.

I am not obsessive about counting my sugar intake, but, if on one day I have already had some heavy starchy carbs, I might think twice about having a sugary treat as well.

 

Microbiome Maintenance

The microbiome – the population of bacteria that resides in the gut – plays a huge role in the body’s overall health and the foods that the body consumes determines the makeup and maintenance of that gut bacteria.

Like my sugar intake, I make a conscious effort to develop and maintain a healthy and thriving microbiome by considering the impact of my food consumption choices.

Unsurprisingly, following blue zone dietary practice is actually a really good way to develop and maintain a healthy microbiome. However, by adding in greater variety of foods, such as eating a broad range of herbs, spices and plant foods from all over the planet, you can cause your microbiome to positively flourish even more so.

I always try to include as many variety in my food choices and not just from the blue zones, I look for foods and food ideas beyond them as well.

I also limit my sugar intake because sugar wipes out gut bacteria like the plague.

Beyond that, I do not obsess about my microbiome too much.

 

2 to 5 Meals with Snacks and Supplements

Most days I can manage to consume all my calories in 2 meals with a few snacks and supplements within my 8-hour feeding window and by finishing each meal with a stomach that is only 80% full. It’s not always perfect and not always completely spot on, but I manage.

However, in addition to my snacks and supplements, some days I need to have more than 3 meals.

My daily calorie requirements range anywhere from 3000 to 5000 calories and my fitness tracking apps automatically readjusts my calorie requirements depending on my bodyweight and how much physical activity I do in single day.

As such, a day with lots of running or bulking will have a much higher demand for calories than day in which I have just done 10-minutes of HIIT with yoga.

So, while I do stick to a feeding plan, I still need to be a little flexible and spontaneous with meal count.

 

Tracking and Training My Feeding and My Fasting

There are four apps on my smartphone and smartwatch that I use to coordinate and enhance my daily diet regime…

 

Lifesum – Feeding Tracker

Lifesum is a compressive calorie tracker that includes a range of different diet plans to orientate your calorie requirements and personal goals; the app also factors in your exercise workout data and a has library of healthy recipes to help you meet your dietary requirements.

In many ways, Lifesum is a digital nutritionist and personal trainer.

Lifesum is not perfect and it does take a while to get used to, but it is conveniently accessible on my smart devices and I can easily enter in the foods I have consumed either manually or by scanning the barcodes with my smartphone’s camera.

I have an annual Lifesum subscription that allows me to access the app’s advanced features, including its dietary plans. I use the Food for Strength plan, which is the Lifesum plan that is best suited for my daily physical activity demands, and the app automatically calculates my calorie demands, based on my height and bodyweight.

Furthermore, it automatically recalculates my daily calorie requirements depending on how my bodyweight changes and how much physical activity I have done in a single day; this is calculated from my step count and exercise workout data which it automatically imports from my Google Fit app.

Overall, Lifesum is a handy feeding assistant and a massive time saver. The only thing it can’t do is cook my meals for me!

 

Zero – Fasting Tracker

Zero is basically just a timer that keeps track of when I start and finish my fasting window (if Lifesum had this feature it would be even more useful)

My fasting and feeding windows can shift backwards and forwards from day-to-day, and the zero app allows me to keep myself orientated.

Ultimately, the Zero app gives my brain one less thing to do on a daily basis.

 

Google Fit – Physical Activity Tracker

All my physical activity workouts and biometric data is collected in my Google Fit app and this data automatically syncs into my Lifesum app, which then automatically readjusts my daily calorie requirements.

I would actually be lost without Google Fit! Like Lifesum, it is a handy and time saving fitness assistant.

 

Headspace – Mindful Eating Guide

My mindfulness meditation is something I am very good at and I find that even when I am not meditating, I can be very mindful during a range of daily activities, not to mention the contents of my physical activity program.

However, I really suck when it comes to eating mindfully and I will almost always watch a YouTube video when I am eating.  At the moment, because I am not really paying attention to what I am eating, I eat my meals too quickly and it is not something I am really comfortable with, not to mention it can cause digestive problems.

I want to become a stronger mindful eater because it will force me to slow down my eating and enjoy what I am eating that much more so.

So every so often, not every time I sit down to eat, I will put on the mindful eating session in my mindfulness meditation app and let it play and guide me in the background as I make a conscious effort to eat mindfully.

 

 

Nutrition
What I Eat

When it comes to my nutrition and my dietary regime design, there are three fundamentals I always have to consider…

  • Blue Zone – Does it adhere to the long-term health promoting directives of the Mediterranean Pyramid?
  • Macronutrients – Does it have the correct balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates that will satisfy the demands of my daily physical activity program, BUT without compromising the long-term health promoting directives of the Mediterranean Pyramid?
  • Microbiome – Does it maintain and cultivate a wide and varied population of good bacteria in my gut AND not introduce and cultivate bad bacteria that would compromise the long-term health promoting directives of the Mediterranean Pyramid and my daily physical activity program?

I have yet to get my blue zone, macronutrients, microbiome considerations one hundred percent balanced, but that was one of the incentives for me to create this final project and dietary regime.

Laying all my dietary concerns out here allows me to better orientates the different elements alongside one-another and build on making them more holistically and logistically workable in my life.

See the foods, drinks and supplements that make up my dietary regime

 

Foods

The Mediterranean Pyramid encourages the consumption of mostly wholefood plant-based nutrition with minimal quantities of animal-based products and even less processed foods.

I aim for an 80:20 split, with 80% being plant-based and 20% being animal-based.

The blue zone eating pattern actually encourages a 95:5 split, but I have opted for an 80:20 split simply because transitioning off of animal-based foods is hard work, so for the time being I following an 80:20 split, but I would eventually like to get that up to a 90:10 split.

I have also incorporated Dr Michael Greger’s How Not To Die Daily Dozen guide into my daily eating regime.

I always try to ensure that I am getting the recommended servings across my daily food intake.

I also try to ensure that I am consuming the best quality wholefoods I can get my hands on.

What is especially great about the Mediterranean Pyramid – and the reason why I selected it as my diet guide – is that you can apply the principles of Mediterranean-style eating to the cuisines of the blue zones and beyond.

While I do always try to introduce and try out new dishes and foods, it is only an occasional indulgence as lack of time and money often prevents me from doing so.

However, I have now established healthy and blue zone adherent meal orientations thar are regular staples of my daily and weekly eating regime.

I should also stress that these foods are not mealtime specific, meaning I alternate what I have for breakfast, lunch and dinner depending on what I feel like having/what is readily available. And I (mostly) always try to avoid having the same meal more than once a day to insure I am hitting all of the serving requirements of the Daily Dozen guide and keeping my microbiome well-nourished.

 

Greek Style Yogurt or Coconut Yogurt Power Bowl

I eat this daily.

Load a bowl up with some Greek Yogurt or Coconut Yogurt and add in some berries (blueberries are my favourite), some walnuts, roasted nuts, plenty of mixed seeds and sometimes some natural honey too. Perfection.

I have recently started to alternate with coconut yogurt because I need to cut down on my weekly dairy intake.

This is an easy bowl to make and is a very good calorie consumption catch-up If I am running short on calories on an especially physically active and busy day.

 

Wholegrain Power Salad or Wholegrain Salad Wraps

I eat this daily.

I make this in lots of different variations.

It always has at least one wholegrain in it (couscous, quinoa and bulgur wheat happen quite often), loads of greens, plenty of beans, sometimes some chickpeas, almost always avocado, plenty of herbs and spices, nuts and seeds too.

I’ll either have it as a salad or put it in a tortilla wrap.

Sometimes I might add some meat to it.

If it’s a salad, I keep it stored in a large bamboo container in my fridge, that way I can make last a few days and its handy if I am running short on calories.

 

Vegetable Stir Fry with Fish or Meat

Not every day and not always with fish or meat, but if I am going to add fish or meat to a meal, this is usually the one.

Again, this one comes in many variations.

It always has one cruciferous vegetable in it with other vegetables besides, beans, plenty of herbs and spices.

 

Home-Made Vegetable Soups

Almost everyday.

I make this in many varieties and sometimes I might add some meat into it.

I just chop up whatever vegetables I have, add in some beans, maybe some bean sprouts, sometimes some noodles, herbs and spices, and let it bubble away.

 

Omelet or Scrambled Eggs

Occasionally.

The omelet I usually make with some feta cheese and anything else that is going spare in the fridge.

Scrambled eggs I usually have with salmon, sundried tomatoes, jalapenos and some herbs and spices.

 

Plenty of Fruit and Nuts

These are a daily staple.

I also aim to have at least three pieces of fruit on their own each day. Usually I have one pear, one apple and one banana.

I have a jar of unsalted mixed nuts that I keep stocked in my food cupboard and that I snack on if I am feeling peckish.

 

Unhealthy Snacks

As a rule, I don’t keep unhealthy snacks in the house.

I mostly have these when I am out-and-about and grab something quick from the shop.

Guilty pleasures tend to be freshly baked cookies, sausage rolls, pork pies, crisps, chocolate bars and sometimes sweets.

Already, I have massively cut back on these, so I don’t feel all that bad when I do have them.

As hard as you can try, you just can’t fully escape the temptation of sugar in the western world!

 

Drinks

I keep my sources of hydration as simple and as natural as possible.

I almost never consume alcohol and I avoid cow’s milk, soda drinks, caffeine infused drinks and heavily processed energy drinks as much as I can.

And, unlike most people, I am also not a coffee person, so let’s not go there.

Here’s what I do drink…

 

Herbal Tea

By a long shot, this is the drink I consume the most!

I absolutely love herbal tea and it has the added bonus of being able to be consumed even when I am fasting, due to herbal teas basically having no calories in them.

It helps that herbal tea is one of my comfort foods, I find them very satiating and soothing, so they can be invaluable at curing the hunger cravings I can get during a fasting periods.

I am always changing the herbal teas I drink, I love trying new ones and I am a huge fan of the varied Pukka Herbs tea range.

Plus constantly switching herbal teas and trying new ones is another way to ensure that my good gut bacteria are wide, varied and nourished.

 

Water

I mostly drink plain water when I am out running and very occasionally at home. Sometimes I might add a bit of naturally squeezed fruit juice to flavour it up a bit.

 

Iskiate / Chia Fresca

Made famous in the best-selling Born to Run, this is a natural energy drink cultivated in Mexico by the Tarahumara Indians – the world’s greatest distance runners.

And it really does work! You can keep your Lucazade because Iskiate keeps me going for hours and hours and hours.

I have at least one of these on a daily basis. I always have one before I go for a run or when I hit the gym, and it’s also useful when I have to do a long slog of mentally demanding work.

It’s also super-simple to make, you just add 1 – 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to a glass of water and mix in some natural lime juice and honey or syrup.

 

Raw Cacao Hot Chocolate or Raw Cacao Almond Milkshake

I drink this very occasionally. Although, it was more of a daily staple back when I was studying.

To make the hot chocolate I add 1 tablespoon of cacao to some warm water and mix in some almond milk and a bit of honey or syrup. Maybe also a pinch of salt for a more dynamic taste.

For the milkshake, I mix 1 tablespoon together with some almond milk and a bit of honey or syrup.

 

Protein Powder Shake

I blend this with water and drink it after a long run or a heavy gym session. Sometimes I have some to sooth the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) I get after my heavier workout days; I find that a glass of this gives muscles an extra burst of protein that stops them from complaining as much.

I avoid having it everyday because it costs me too much to keep replenishing the powder every couple of weeks, I always try to make a single tub last about two months.

I mix the powder together with some water in a blender and leave it in the fridge to cool. Room temperature shake is horrible!

 

Yanga Water

This is a purified and enhanced water drink I get free with my PureGym membership that dispensed from a Yanga machine at each of my gyms. I use Yanga Water to keep me hydrated when I am working out at the gym and it has the added bonus of being cooled and available in a number of fruit flavours, and it is rather enjoyable to drink!

It’s not really an energy drink, it is just an upgraded form of pure water. It boasts not having any added sugar and it is enhanced with B Vitamins, so it is a really good source of hydration for your body.

However, Yanga Water does use artificial sweeteners and, while Yanga does say the sweeteners are FDA and UFSA approved, I am still slightly skeptical. At the end of the day, though, it probably won’t cause any long-term damage. After all, a glass of Yanga water is hardly a glass of Diet Coke.

 

Supplements

Supplements are typically what you think of when you think of a Biohacker, the image of someone taking an endless stream of pills on a daily basis.

I, however, avoid taking supplements as much as I can. they can end up costing you a fair bit.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the supplements I could take, and certainly there are a few more I am thinking about adding to my daily intake, but the ones listed here are the supplements I currently take on a daily basis.

 

Protein Powder Shake

My favourite protein shake is the USN All-In-One Muscle Fuel Anabolic Powder, because it is a good price and it is an all-round source of protein to maximize gains from all the physical activity I do.

 

Turmeric and Curcumin

Curcumin is a compound that is extracted from Turmeric root (which is more commonly known as the spice used in curries), but both Turmeric , and especially its most active compound curcumin, have many scientifically proven health benefits that have lead to them being touted as a miracle cures in the field of biohacking…

  • Anti-inflammatory effects that combats chronic, low-level inflammation that plays a major role in diseases like heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions
  • Increases the body’s antioxidant capacity by illuminating free radicals that lead to premature aging and chronic diseases
  • Stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor which initiates the growth of new neurons, improves brain function and combats the development of degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s
  • Can help to treat depression by boosting the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine

Overall, consuming both turmeric and curcumin on a daily basis is a very good thing for your long-term health and general wellbeing.

It’s very easy for me to consume turmeric, because its present in many of my herbal teas and I can add it to many of the things I cook.

However, to ensure I always getting a daily intake of both turmeric and curcumin, I take daily supplement pills that contain both substances and a little black pepper that assist the curcumin’s absorption into my blood stream.

 

Vitamin D

Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, because our bodies primarily produce it when exposed to direct sunlight, Vitamin D supplementation should be a dietary staple for anyone who lives in a sun deprived country.

The benefits of Vitamin D include…

  • Maintaining the health of bones and teeth due its high level of calcium
  • Supporting the health of the immune system, nervous system and brain
  • Helping to regulate insulin levels and aids in the prevention of diabetes
  • Supporting overall cardiovascular health
  • Influencing the expression of genes involved in cancer development and can fight other chronic diseases
  • Helping to reduce depression has the research suggest it may play a role in regulating mood
  • Boosting weight loss due Vitamin D’s extra calcium which acts as an appetite suppressor

I take Vitamin D supplement pills to make up for the lack of sunlight we get in the UK, especially during the Autumn and Winter months. Plus, I work nights anyway, so even during the Spring and Summer months I get less sunlight exposure.

However, I do not only rely on my supplement pills to pick up my Vitamin D and calcium levels, as the body’s Vitamin D and calcium can also be sourced from a range of foods; some of my favourites being: kale, spinach, salmon, mackerel, tuna, oatmeal, oranges, cheese and eggs – so I try to make these common occurrences in my weekly diet.

Furthermore, I try to get as much daylight exposure as I can on weekly basis and this is one of the advantages commuting around my city on a bicycle and having a weekly run.

 

Magnesium

Even with a very healthy diet, the human body is often still lacking magnesium which is the fourth most common mineral in the body.

I have started to take magnesium supplements because magnesium is great getting rid of muscular cramps and delayed onset muscle soreness, which is something I was really struggling with as a result of my increased weekly training from all the running, weightlifting and bodyweight work I do. Some days my muscle cramps were so bad, the pain would put me in an exceedingly black and grouchy mood!

So, thank sanity, these supplements work!

 

Cheats and Treats 

With my fasting, my 6-day 16:8 fast and 1-day superfast are not always water fasts, meaning that during my fasting window I don’t always just consume fluids. Sometimes I’ll be having a really shit day and I will switch to a calorie-restriction fast, whereby I let myself have a small number of calories as a pick-me-up. It might be a glass of Iskate, some nuts or sometimes something a little bigger, but I try not to go over six-hundred calories.

At the moment, most of my unhealthy treats are consumed when I am out-and-about, sometimes I will get a takeaway at home, pizzas or subways tend to be quite popular. I have been toying with having a weekly treat day on which, aside from ensuring that I am consuming the correct number of calories my body needs, I do not worry too much about what foods and drinks those calories are coming from, but we’ll see.

 

33. Psychological Wellbeing

Psychological Wellbeing Maintenance
How I Keep My Mind in Good Shape and Develop it for All-Round Greater Gains

Psychological wellbeing – being mental health that is comprised of balanced emotions, constructive interpersonal relations and proactive mental faculties – is a state of living that requires just as much time and investment (if not more so) than your physical upkeep.

The mind is the brain and the brain is a part of the body… and, in my mind, neglecting to properly care for your mental faculties and emotional states will cause great damage to your overall psychological health, that will ultimately manifest itself in the decline of your physical health.

Psychological wellbeing is physical wellbeing and this is why the upkeep of my own mental health forms a key piece of my personal fitness plan.

Maintaining a high level of psychological wellbeing is one of the best biohacks you can implement in your life and I believe that it all boils down to habitually and healthily basing our lives around the concerns that make us feel fulfilled as individual human beings.

While I would never attempt to lay down a universal conception of happiness, which is an impossible task, because happiness is subjective to each and every human being, I can lay down the things that make up my own happiness and sense of fulfillment as a person.

My subjective conception of happiness – and the mindsets and activities I need to do to maintain it – are most prominently drawn from the thinking of Positive Psychology, Seligman’s PERMA Model of Wellbeing, Carol Ryff’s Six-factor Model of Psychological Well-being, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the Japanese concept of Ikigai and the three-decade experience of living my life thus far… with all of its breakdowns and breakthroughs.

My psychological wellbeing maintenance also includes my psychological training, which refers to how I develop my overall metal focus, sensory awareness and self-discipline.

The greater my mental focus, sensory awareness and self-discipline then the more able I am to complete any task to a high standard and the more self-aware I am of myself and of my surroundings, which increases the applications of my emotional and social intelligences.

See the supports and exercises that make up my psychological wellbeing maintenance

 

Psychological Maintenance Supports Some Examples of How I Exercise Them Each Day (More or Less)
Delayed Gratification I do my washing up. Seriously, this one is super-simple and it adds to you daily list of accomplishments. Then, once you have washed up, you can reward yourself with something nide to eat or drink! This daily skill of delaying pleasure is something try to apply in as many other areas of my daily life as well, because it builds your self-discipline and gives you a tremendous sense of achievement when you succeed.
Mindfulness I do 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation a day. At least, I always try too, I am working on it! But I always try to be mindful in whatever I am doing, especially when I working out. However, this one needs serious improvement because when I am doing a 10-minute session a day, I really do feel the benefit. I should also know better because I completed a 365-day cycle of meditating everyday last year!
Flow (Flow State a.k.a. In the zone) Similar to mindfulness, but I would describe those more so as highly enjoyable mindlessness. Quite often I get it when I am writing, which is hugely useful when you have to write content for highly time-consuming websites such as this! I can also fall into it when I am running, cooking or playing ping pong.
Movement I use my standing desk. Again, seems like nothing, but actually standing up to work engages me in my work, especially writing, much more so. It’s a bit like dancing, I can’t really explain it. I don’t like staying still for too long, I like to remind my body that it is still alive and fully capable of doing a whole range of things.
Curiosity I love learning things. I’m always reading, always watching and always listening. Everyday I make an effort to take in new knowledge and discover new things. I’m always daydreaming too, that is very important. A curious mind is an open mind and that is a very healthy thing to have.
Creativity I’m very creative in all the things I do, the way I think and how I say things. My sense of humour is a big outlet of my creativity and I tend to be witty. If I am being creative, I am always growing, always expanding and always building solutions to problems. And if I not being creative in the physical world, I am always being creative in my head.
Gratitude I always say, “Please,” and I always say, “Thank you.” I love it when others do the same as well! It very important for me to express my gratitude to others because I don’t really feel complete or fulfilled until I do.
Connection I try to have one meaning conversation with at least one person each day, even if it is over text message and even if it is actually about complete nonsense. It is important for me to stay connected to the people I respect and I like to inject a bit of positivity into the lives of others.
Disconnection Technology and people are two things I have to disconnect from at some point of daily basis. With both my brain just gets completely overloaded at a certain point and I have to back away. With technology I will either meditate or read a book. With people, I’ll hide in my room or I’ll go for a walk or just read a book in a quiet corner.
Altruism (Doing good for others) Not going to lie, I find other people to be incredibly hard work! So I am never perfect here. But I do like to flash people a smile or crack a joke or help them out where I can. If I have change on me, I will give it to a homeless person. I think the biggest way in which I do good for others is through my role as a life coaching and through the snippets of positivity and encouragement I give to the people I converse with. Ultimately, helping others benefits me because I feel like I am giving something back to the world around me.
Play Kind of related to being in flow state, but I try to get some play into my life everyday, whether it is having a game of ping pong, doodling or just have a highly enjoyable nonsensical conversation with someone (people who struggle to take a joke I really struggle with).
Sleep Kind of self-explanatory, but if I have not had enough sleep, it drags everything else down. So I always aim for 6-8 hours and some days, screw it, I let myself have a lot more, just because I know my body needs it.
Tea Love my herbal tea. It tastes super soothing and it tastes bloody nice. I drink it religiously!
Reading I read a HELL OF A LOT, so I always have unfinished books lying around and I am always poking my head into them on a daily basis. Reading is important to me because it expands my mind and is also something that my brain finds highly relaxing to do, there is just something very soothing about reading text that ignites your imagination.
Nature Its just good to be in. It’s not always easy to be in because I live in city, but it is Bristol, so it is a very green city (even if it does have shit air pollution). When I go running, I always make an effort to run through and around areas that have lots of nature, Ashton Court Estate is one key example. But on a daily basis, even if I am walking or cycling, at some point I pass through one of Bristol’s more nature heavy areas. In the spring and summer, I spend lots of time in nature heavy areas reading.
Fasting Very important. Not just because it keeps my body in great condition, but because when I am in a fasting state, all the right chemicals are flowing in my body and I feel VERY GOOD about myself. I can see why fasting is a part of so many religions because there is something highly spiritual about it. It also takes away the guilt of what eating crap does to your body, because you’re not eating it.
Feeding I do love good food. I am a fan of eating out and I do enjoy making my own food. I wouldn’t eat something if I didn’t enjoy eating it.
Productivity Everyday I try to get at least one productive thing done, even if it just the washing up. Again, it develops your self-discipline and ensures you actually get shit done in life, which is especially important for me because I have a lot going on! Generally, though, I will keep myself very busy on a daily basis and get as much done as I can. I used to stress out a lot and beat myself up quite a bit if I didn’t get enough things done. I don’t anymore, I’m old enough and creative enough now to know that if something didn’t work out today, you can always a get yourself a good night’s sleep and try again tomorrow – that’s actually proved to be more productive.
Reflection (without ruminating) Sometimes I write, sometimes I just think and sometimes I talk. This isn’t hard for me to do on a daily basis, because it is something I have always done on a daily basis and at several points throughout a day. The real trick is to do it without falling down a never-ending spiral of rumination and over-thinking. I try to get other people to reflect as well; especially when they have done something that has had a negative impact on me.
Visualisation Building the image of something and playing out a scenario before it happens is very important to me, because it allows me to gain understanding and confidence in performing a future task. I find that just lying down or sitting quietly or even walking around somewhere for a while provides me with an ideal opportunity to visualize a future task or goal. Having strong visualizations of the things I want to achieve builds my overall focus and resolve as a person, it is great for strengthening my self-discipline and ability to get shit done.
Challenges Embracing challenges is what gets me out of my comfort zone and that’s how I grow as a person.