More on Sleep and Human Nature
Last month, April, was our sleep challenge month. I am happy to report that I have had several people tell me that they made an extra effort to get more sleep. I also know from my experience that this means that many people didn’t make the attempt to get more sleep. This could be because they really don’t believe it makes a difference, don’t care to make a change, or haven’t found a way to make that change. That is a normal part of human nature. Change is not easy. If you don’t have a big “Why” to ignite the will to change or don’t have the tools to make the change, then it probably won’t happen. In this last email on sleep, I want to give you a few more “Whys”, which may ignite the fire to change.
In a recent podcast with Joe Rogan, neuroscientist Matthew Walker covers the importance of sleep. He discusses many of the same things I have mentioned in earlier emails but I wanted to emphasize a few more. Specifically, he talks about the correlation between all cause mortality and lack of sleep. In other words, those who don’t get adequate sleep (between 7 and 9 hours each night) tend to die at an earlier age. He also talks about the correlation between lack of sleep and cognitive decline, cancer, and Alzheimers disease. Here are a few other ideas he discusses related to lack of sleep:
1. 30% decrease in physical performance
2. Negative Effect on emotional well being
3. Reduced cognitive development
4. Reduced skill acquisition
5. Increase in injuries
The second part of the email regarding human nature was sparked by a conversation I had regarding the above podcast. I was told about the podcast on sleep from a student who mentioned how he was amazed by how important sleep was. I jokingly said, ‘Have you not been reading any of the info I have been sending out this month?”. This reminded me of when Donnie Thompson first came to Alliance for a workshop several years ago. We had a turnout of about 30 people. Donnie was very happy with the turnout and said he would never have gotten that many people for a workshop in Columbia, which is where he lives. I then deemed this type of human nature the “Donnie Thompson Effect”. The moral of this story and what I consider to be part of human nature is that we sometimes overlook the advice from those we are the most familiar with but instead hold in higher regard those far removed. For those with kids or spouses, you have experienced this phenomena. Have you ever offered advise in an area where others consider you an expert but can’t get your loved ones to listen. This is not a judgment but simply an observation of human nature. Last year, I was trying to get my son to listen to me about training when he was talking about going to the “Y” to workout. I told him we had a new coach coming to the gym and some of his credentials were as follows:
Athletic Accomplishment and sports background;
Football – all conference lineman
Track- 4:46 mile, 2:05 800 meters
Bodybuilding competition 3 events
Powerlifting: Competition- 320# bench, 500# deadlift
Bench Press- 350
Squat 315 x 20
Deadlift 365 x 20 touch and go
Trap bar Deadlift 367 x 20 for 3 sets
Kipping Pullups 1x 50
1,000 pushup in 45 minutes
Endurance and Crucible Events:
Completed 24 Hour Walk
Aikido – purple belt
Tae Kwon Do
Jeet Kune Do
Brazilian Jiujitsu- Black Belt
Pan Am Gold Medalist at Black Belt
Medalist at blue, purple, and brown at Pan Ams
Atlanta Open Gold Medalist
Arnolds Gold Medalist
NAGA Gold Medalist
AFAA personal training certification
Nautilus Training Certification
Super Slow Level 1, Level 2, Master Instructor
Cossfit Level 1 Certification
Crossfit Kettlebell certification
World Kettlebell Club Fitness Trainer certification
Crossfit Endurance Certification
Crossfit Kid’s Certification
Training for Warriors level 1 and 2
Bioforce Conditiioing Coach
Sealfit Basic Certification
Personal Defense Readiness Certified Coach
Parisi Coach certification
Circular Strength Training certification
Precision Nutrition Coach
Primal Health Coach
Functional Movement Screen
Boris Sheiko Seminar
When hearing the credentials, he said, “Yes.”, he would listen to the new guy. I had to then inform him that the “new guy” was me. I have often caught myself doing the same thing. This is just another interesting example of human nature. As humans, we are certainly not always logical. If we are aware of this it can help empower us in making better decisions. If we are unaware of this or ignore it, we will sometimes be left with making decisions that, unfortunately, we will have to learn from the hard way.
I consider part of my job as a coach is to be an option facilitator. In my mind, an option facilitator is someone who can give a different perspective or reframe of a particular situation or problem in order to enable the person to see a different path to a solution. Lately I have taken on a different perspective of what that means and how being a good option facilitator is of value.
I certainly have my own ideas and opinions and I realize those come with my own biases. These biases are created from my life experiences. In the pas,t when offering options, I would have a tendency to look at those options in a very black and white manner. With a “this is the way” mentality came judgment on what is “right” vs. “wrong” . For instance, we are currently in the midst of a nutrition challenge which we started near the the first of February. In the past, I may have approached this as the “best” plan for everyone. What I am working hard on is trying to convey with this particular challenge is that it is only one of many different nutritional approaches. There are many different approaches that can help you to improve the quality of your health, mental and physical performance, and ultimately your life in general. The goal is to experiment for yourself to see if it is something that works for you.
If you choose to experiment,then it is my job to assist you along the way and hopefully provide some new perspectives on how to make a successful go of it. We all will have barriers that get in our way. Sometimes we just can’t see a way around or through those barriers. What I hope to bring to the table is the fact that exercise, nutrition, training, and life optimization is my job and what I think about almost all day everyday. Using the nutrition challenge as a example of option facilitation process here are few barriers that I’ve encountered and a few options to address them.
1. How will i have enough energy to train when I’m not eating carbs?
With the exception of Jiujitsu all of our traiing at Alliance is an hour or less. Most training sessions are designed to be intense but short in duration. If you are eating up to 150 grams of carbs a day, you will have enough carbohydrate to replenish your glycogen stores. Once your body becomes more accustomed to burning fat for fuel ,it will be even easier for most. I have found that it may take some time to adjust. It may take 21 days for most and longer for some others. However, the fear of not having enough carbs typically comes from prior information and beliefs which may actually not hold true for us.
2. I like bread, pasta, alcohol, etc. and “can’t” give them up.
The key word here is “can’t”. If you really mean, “I don’t want to or “It’s not that important to me” then that is a different story. If you truly believe you can’t then I would argue differently. One of my favorite quotes I have seen recently related to this is from Gary Taubes. In his book “ Good Calories, Bad Calories”.Gary says that “Sloth and gluttony are not the reason for being over fat but that they are a symptom.” When your diet consist of consuming a lot of sugar you are setting up a perfect storm of hormones to wire your brain to want more of the same. By breaking the cycle you will find your true self.
3. It’s too complicated.
It can be if you make it so but it does not have to be. There are plenty of good and simple recipes in Marks book. Some people like to cook and experiment with new things and that great. I on the other hand am more of a creature of habit and prefer to keep it simple.
Sample day for me:
5:00 am Bullet proof coffee
6:30am 4 scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon
Before training- amino acid and ketone supplement
Lunch- Big salad with either chicken or hamburger
Dinner-Chicken, beef, and vegetables
Nighttime bio coffee with collagen and Heavy cream.
If you choose not to pursue this challenge, then that is fine and no judgment on that decision.This part is not always easy for me. I have a tendancy to get tunnel vision and as I mentioned earlier see things in black and white. However, I am working on reframing how I facilitate options and trying to open my eyes to see even more possibilities.
Another example of option facilitation is how I offer explanation and correction of exercise performance. I am trying to avoid telling someone they are doing something wrong but rather trying to give an option of how to do it better. I like to also think of this as planting seeds. You may not be ready for certain options when I offer them but hopefully the seed will be planted so that those options are still in your mind when or if the need for them arises. For instance, you may have heard these recommendations regarding the performance of the deadlift.
1. Warmup adequately before performing deadllifts
2. Take time to get the setup. This includes getting in the right position with hip hinge and neutral spine.
3. Create maximal tension on the bar and take a breath into your belly before actually starting the pull.
4. Push through the mid foot while maintaining tension through the core (including lats) in order to stabilize the spine and transfer the power from your hips and hamstrings.
5. Reset between each rep to insure you have proper position and tension.
Sometimes you can perform well and not have any injuries or issues without doing all of the above. However, if you do have a problem then my hope is that you will have a process to go back to to correct it when you need to.
So, what in the world does this have to do with David Goggins. David Goggins is a retired Navy Seal and among his many seemingly impossible feats are performing over 4,000 Pullups in 17 hours and running 205 miles in 39 hours. Although he is never named in the book, he was the SEAL that Jesse Itzler lived with in his book called, Living With A Seal. David was recently on a podcast with Joe Rogan. His story was very inspiring especially, from a mental toughness and transformational standpoint. (Just as a warning the language on the podcast is of the rated R variety. )A few of the takeaways for me were:
1. Most of the limits we place on ourselves are based on our genetics or our environment but our mindset.
2. The person we believe we are to be is most often dictated by what others told us we could be and is often not a true reflection of our best self
3. To become your best self you have to face your fears and be willing to fail.
4. Take responsibility. Jocko Willink calls it “extreme ownership”. It’s not that you have to do everything by yourself or can’t accept help but realize you can’t blame others for your result.
5. Ask questions to yourself. As Tony Robbins has said, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask.” David said he used the question of “What if?” What would my life look like if I did this. Another question you can ask is “How is that working for me?”.
In summary, what I often hear from people when I am presented with a problem is that it is hard or that they can’t. In some cases there may be an easier way and to choose the harder path is not necessarily the best. However, sometimes it is just hard. When it comes to can’t, there are probably somethings we actually can’t do. However, in my experience most of the time it is simply a matter of priorities, values, and beliefs. To use myself as an example and how David planted a seed and facilitated a different option for me relates to mobility and stretching. When David says that a doctor told him that he was the tightest person he had ever seen and that he would need 50,000 hours of stretching to correct himself, I thought of myself. I have thought of myself as being “naturally” tight and although I have spent a great deal of time working on finding the problem and trying to correct it, David gave me a different perspective when he says that he spends two hours a day stretching and that he has only missed two days in the last 5 years.
Lastly, I want to facilitate an option or another way of approaching your training. If you look at some of the amazing physical and mental achievements David put himself through you will see that he paid a price physically to accomplish those feats. When we have done crucible training and events in the past such as Kokoro, 20X, 12 Hours of Jiujitsu, the Crucible Challenge, or the 24 Hour Walk, they have all, in my opinion, been focused on survival. In other words you just have to get through and don’t quit. They definitely teach that you are capable of much more than you thought. The seed I want to plant is “what if” you put that same mental energy and focus on the internal aspect of training and tried to do everything better. Just maybe your training would be even better and your body, mind, and spirit would benefit just as much or more.
Biohacking is a term I came across a few years ago that I have become more and more intrigued with. It seems more experts in the field of peak human performance such as, Dave Asprey, Ben Greenfield, Tim Ferris, etc. are into biohacking. So, what is biohacking? Wikipedia defines biohacking as “managing one’s own biology using a combination of medical, nutritional and electronic techniques. This may include the use of nootropics, non-toxic substances, and/or cybernetic devices for recording biometric data. My interpretation of biohacking is that it is anything you utilize to dupe your body and/or mind into better performance. It can also mean utilizing methods and technology to speed up these changes or improvements. If you use my definition, and are training at Alliance, you are already a biohacker. It is just a matter of to what degree. The first steps in biohacking are maximizing the effects of the fundamentals.
4. Stress mitigation
5. Mental work
I have decided to take my own biohacking to another level in 2017. I realize I am not getting any younger but what I do have, at this time in my life, is more knowledge and experience than ever before. I also have access to more information and technology than ever before. If you are a member of Alliance, you have access to me which means you have access to everything I do. I will keep you abreast of what I am doing for my own personal biohacking and what the results are.
The process works like this:
1. Decide what it is you want to work on
2. Measure what you want to improve
3. Implement and track your new strategy
4. Track your progress my measuring at regular intervals
5. Make a decision about the efficacy of the strategy based on the results. If you are getting positive results, continue or tweak in order to continue progress. If you are not getting results, first, insure you were implementing the strategy consistently and correctly, then either discontinue strategy or tweak and test again.
Our online nutrition coaching program demonstrates how this process works. The program consist of:
1. 12 months of daily nutrition lessons
2. Specific daily habits to be implementing and integrating every 2 weeks
3. Daily accountability ( did you study the lesson/ did you do the habit for the day)
4. Periodic measurement (body composition, weight, pictures)
The program has a proven track record of results, in terms of body and health transformation. If you are following the program with at least 90% compliance you can expect results. If you are not compliant, then you simply need to get on track with the plan. If you are 90% or more compliant but are not getting expected results then there can be tweaks or hacks to the plan.
Looking forward to making 2018 extraordinary!
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon,
With it being the beginning of a new year, everyone’s motivation should be high, but what is motivation? One rather vague definition is that motivation is the general desire or willingness to do something. Let’s take a look at what three different sources have to say about motivation and discipline.
First, lets look at what personal development guru, Anthony Robbins, has to say about motivation. Tony says that everything is motivated by one of two things either pain or pleasure. We will always move away from pain and towards pleasure. For most, the avoidance of pain is a more powerful motivator than seeking of pleasure. This is a simple concept but I have never seen it not hold true. The true power of this statement is that you can choose to frame things a certain way to enhance motivation. For instance, if you focus on the immediate physical discomfort (pain) of a hard intense training session you will be less motivated. Vice versa, if you focus on the benefits (pleasure) of the training, you will have greater motivation. For some, they are able to even derive pleasure from the discomfort. We use the saying “Embrace the Grind” all the time. This can have two meanings. First, it can simply mean that you need to realize that true success requires hard work and that to reach that success you need to embrace that fact. It can also take on a slightly different meaning in that you embrace, as part of your identity, a willingness to continuously strive to give uncommon effort which in turn gives you a sense of satisfaction. So, your motivation really boils down to what you value and what you choose to focus on.
One of the lessons that are part of our online nutrition coaching program includes the “10 Motivation Secrets”. One of those secrets is that “Discipline” is a myth. Famed strength coach, Charles Poloquin, explains motivation like this. ” There is no such thing as discipline. There is only love. Love is the most powerful creative force in the universe. What do you really love? Because you are the result of what you love most. You either love finely etched muscular abs more than donuts or you love donuts more than washboard abs you could do laundry on. It’s as simple as that”.
You can read the full article here. Read More Here
Former Navy Seal, Brazilian Jiujitsu black belt, and author of “Extreme Ownership”, Jocko Willink, has a different take on motivation and discipline. Jocko states that discipline dupes motivation. When asked,”How do you stay so motivated ?”, he states that No one stays motivated all the time and that discipline is about doing what you know you have to do even when you don’t feel motivated to do so. Here is a link to a full podcast where Jocko discusses this among other things. Hear Podcast Here
I hope you find this info helpful in better understanding how your mind works. We will be digging deeper into these and many other topics as part of our upcoming training with Thom Shea on the “Unbreakable Path”. I encourage you to use it to help achieve the goals you desire and deserve.
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon,
The question “why” is one we all asked as kids and one that, If you are a parent, have been asked many times by your kids. This question and its answer can have many powerful implications. With it being the beginning of a new year and a time many people set goals, I though it would be a great time to revisit that question. Any time I meet with a new potential client I always start by asking the question, “Why are your here?” I then encourage them to take a deeper look beyond there initial answer and ask the same question of why at least 4 more times. The purpose of this exercise is to help them connect their goal to a deeper purpose, thereby uncovering the true reason for their goal in the first place. To take full advantage of this exercise requires some careful introspection but it is well worth the effort. This exercise can be applied to any of your goals to uncover their true nature and help light a fire to help you achieve them.
I have made a concerted effort as of late to make sure I try to communicate the “why” behind each of our training sessions. I want you to understand the purpose of each training session. It is my goal to provide a training system, coaching, environment, and culture where you can reach your goals. It is important for me to know, that you know how the training fits into you reaching goals. If you don’t understand this and apply the training as intended then we are not being as efficient in our work together as possible. Again it is my goal to provide training not entertainment. That will be the focus of a future article.
The question of “WHY” can also be applied to the big picture of your actual purpose in life. The following link from a Forbes article discusses this Read More Here. I first remember making the connection to the power of knowing my “why” was during my training at SealFit headquarters and going through the Kokoro experience. We discussed the importance of finding your “WHY” during the academy the week prior to Kokoro but going through Kokoro I got to experience its importance viscerally. I refer to this “WHY” as your big why.
I gained a new perspective on the question of why during our “12 Hours of Unbreakable Jiujitsu”. During one of our discussions, Thom Shea said the question of “why” will kill your performance. What he was referring to is what I will call the little “why”. In the midst of struggle, if you ask the question why and you can’t answer with a big “WHY,” then you are done. This is similar to what I have referred to before as “burning the questions”. If you ask the question, you will get an answer. If you have not established a strong purpose ahead of time you may find that during the struggle the answer is conveniently the one that supports your desire to give up in the midst of the struggle.
If you haven’t made a strong connection to your why of training I encourage you to do so. If you haven’t discovered your big “WHY”, I encourage you to do so in 2017. Part of our goal here at Alliance is to help you do both.
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon,
ALLIANCE WARRIOR CODE
|Warrior creeds have been around for many years and act as a code of conduct and inspiration. The Warrior Ethos help define these warriors, although different words have been used by the Samurai, Spartans, Marines, and other Special Operation forces around the world.
The Navy SEALs have a code which is as follows:
The SEAL Code
Loyalty to Country, Team, and Teammate
Serve with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield
Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit
Take Responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates
Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation
Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation’s Innovation
Earn your Trident everyday
We have our own code for Alliance which will help define our core values.
The first value of the Alliance Code is honesty. This applies to being honest with others but, just as importantly, being honest with yourself. In the past, you may have heard me quote Bruce Lee saying, “Being truthful with yourself is one of the hardest things to do.”. I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment.
What I have begun to realize is that we all rationalize why we do what we do. This rationalizing is just part of human nature, hard wired in our DNA. It is very critical for our personal growth that we are aware of this desire to rationalize. It is also a reason setting goals and having a strong “Why” are important. Without the direction derived from having meaningful goals and a strong “Why”, we can fall into the trap of making excuses to ourselves and others for our actions.
I am guilty of self-deception, as much as anyone.
For example, during the Kokoro Camp last year, I went through a period of time when I began to rationalize why I should quit. My hips were killing me and I was barely able to pick my feet up when trying to run. I felt that that I was slowing everyone else down on the runs. While going through this self-dialogue, I would never admit that I was considering quitting because it was too hard, but rather that I may need to pull out because I was diminishing the experience for others! How was that for self-rationalization. And, if my “Why” had not been strong enough, I would have given into this rationalization for quitting.
We make these rationalizations on a daily basis. They can sound something like this,” it won’t hurt me to eat that desert, have that drink, skip that workout, or take it easy today.”. Sometimes these statements can be true. However, what is important, is that we are aware of this tendency and that we critically look as this potential self deception to insure that we continue to move towards our goals and continue to become the person we want to be.
My challenge to you is to take a look at what you are doing on a daily basis and be honest with yourself about the decisions you make. Ask yourself the simple question, ” Are my actions congruent with my goals and the person I want to be?”. If your answer is consistently yes, then you know you are headed in the right direction.
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon,