It All Starts With Your Health
This blog will eventually cover a lot of different topics. But since I launched Freedom Twenty-Five, much of my focus has been on physical fitness.
Why did I choose to write about improving my health before trying to get rich, build a harem and conquer the world? Partly because I value my health more than money, women and power. But also because optimal health is the foundation upon which everything else rests.
Right now, think about whatever goals are at the front of your mind. How much more progress could you make towards them if you had these advantages?
– More energy
– Greater mental clarity and ease of focus
– A physical appearance that commands respect and admiration, not one that invites pity and contempt
– The raw physical ability to do more with your body (running, jumping, climbing, lifting)
– Fewer colds, illnesses and injuries
– The core confidence that comes from knowing that you are in control of your body, and that you have conquered your earthly desires for mental and physical laziness
I think you would have so much more success that it isn’t worth pursuing anything else until you’ve got your health under control. Which is not to say that you should ignore every other aspect of your life until you look like an underwear model. But until you are on a clear and defined path towards optimal health, all other goals should come second.
Your health is your foundation. The first step to achieving any other goal should be to optimize your health so you’re free to operate at peak performance.
Want to get promoted, get laid, save your marriage, read more, sleep better, or write a novel? Hit the gym. Get healthy. The rest will come easy. Or at least, easier.
So what is health? Plenty of weak, emaciated, inflamed, marathon runners consider themselves healthy. Same with a lot of ripped-to-shreds faux-bodybuilders with 21-inch biceps and the lower-body strength of 14-year old girls. In my own young adulthood, I had always considered myself a very healthy person, even though I was anything but.
In my teens and early twenties, I had always felt very fit. In high school, I was 6’3, 200lbs, and captain of both my football and rugby teams. In my senior year, I was the MVP of each. (Not to brag or anything.) I also discovered the gym and worked out regularly. Though never a serious endurance athlete, I did a fair amount of running in the off-season and completed a few mini-triathlons.
In college, I played rugby and a ton of recreational sports – hockey, basketball, soccer, squash, tennis, volleyball, ultimate frisbee. Basically if there was a ball and a chance to compete, I was there. I continued working out and running a few days a week.
Obviously, I looked good. After many protein shakes and gym hours, I had filled out to a lean 220lbs. Women wanted me, men wanted to be me. It was a glorious life. But then I graduated, and two things happened:
1) I started a grown-up job, with all the unhealthy habits that entails. Eight-plus hours per day in an office chair, less time for physical activity, fast food lunches, lower-quality sleep, and weekend binge drinking all took their toll.
2) I realized that I had developed a variety of radically unhealthy habits in my early twenties, whose effects had been masked by my young and active body. I ate like crap, never stretched, skimped on sleep and drank too much. Most importantly, I was pathetically ignorant – or more accurately, misinformed – on the subject of nutrition and exercise.
The results of this one-two punch weren’t cataclysmic. My story is not a Jared-from-Subway saga of rapidly gaining triple-digit poundage. But with the cover-ups of youth and an extremely active lifestyle peeled away, my health began to decline.
– My lower back became stiff and susceptible to injury
– I realized that I caught colds more often than most
– I pulled and strained muscles frequently when playing stop-and-go sports
– I started gaining 1-2lbs of fat every month
– Hangovers, once a minor annoyance, left me incapacitated for half a day or more.
– My energy level, focus and general mental clarity took a dive. I’m sure I fell within the “average” range, but average was no acceptable to a guy who was used to drinking until 5am, studying from 8-8, going to rugby practice, and still being ready to do it all over again.
It wasn’t the end of the world. Sometimes I thought, “Your body isn’t the same as it was when you were twenty-one. So fucking what? Take it easy during hockey games, accept that you’ll have a beer gut when you’re thirty-five, and have a cup of coffee every now and then. Life goes on.”
Thankfully, I fought the temptation to settle and set off on an intellectual journey to understand everything I could about human health. I discovered Paleolithic nutrition , Primal fitness, and made the aha! connection that an ideal health strategy should consider the human body as the product of natural selection, and attempt to promote optimal gene expression. As a firm believer in the inherent reasonableness of evolutionary psychology, I was an easy convert to the evolutionary approach to human health.
Since then, I’ve started making rapid progress on several of my health and fitness goals. I’ve incrementally changed my body composition, increasing my lean mass and losing a few pounds of fat. I’m sleeping better. I’ve made the transition from self-destructive weekly frat-house binge drinking to a more adult approach to alcohol. I work out less and get better results. I play more. I walk more. I eat organic, grass-fed meats. I stretch and meditate. I’ve started rehabilitating nagging injuries. I look and feel better than I have in my entire life.
Whatever goals are important to you right now, investing a few hours per week learning how to eat and exercise right will have a higher ROI than almost any other action you can take. My favourite beginner’s resources are here, here, and here. Good luck.