Energy!

In one of my last articles we talked about creating a Masterpiece Day. An integral part of that process involved focusing on three important areas in our life: Energy, Work, and Love. Here I want to go a little deeper into the area of Energy.

I spoke in the last email about our mission of helping you close the gap between where you are now and your greatest potential. When you really think about it, anything we do requires energy. We don’t have an unlimited supply of energy. Certain things we do will deplete our energy and other things can help us create energy.  Energy is an area where Alliance can help you create a greater supply. 

The five critical areas that we speak of that are fundamentals for Life Optimization are:
1. Mental
2. Physical
3. Nutrition
4. Sleep/Recovery
5. Spiritual
If we examine those areas, we see that physical movement, sleep, and nutrition are all intimately linked to your energy.   

You could say energy runs the show. It literally means the capacity to do work. We need both physical and mental energy. Energy is also linked to health and vitality. Without it could be said we have nothing.

So, what can we do to increase our Energy? 

Physical Movement
This is one area that can help us increase our energy. Exercise including resistance training, anaerobic, and aerobic is part of this equation. Exercise is important but movement beyond structured exercise is also important. If you exercise for an hour and then sit for the rest of the day you will not optimize your energy. It is important to get up and move throughout the day. If you are stuck at a desk, try to get up and move around every ninety minutes at a minimum. 

Nutrition
Obviously, we need food for energy. How and what we eat can have a huge impact on our energy. A good place to start is to focus on eating real whole food. This includes eating adequate protein, vegetables, and healthy fats to fuel our body with adequate micronutrients and calories. We want adequate   clean fuel without excess calories and carbohydrates which can actually make us feel sluggish. Avoiding sugar, flour and vegetable oils are other things to consider for optimizing energy.

Sleep
Insuring you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night can be huge for increasing energy and helping you be your best each day. It said that you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be one of the few that can operate at their best with less than 7 hours of sleep. Make sure that you are not so accustomed to operating at less than your best that you have lowered your standard. In other words because you are so used to a lack of sleep that you have allowed that less than best version of yourself become your current identity. I noticed this in myself. I am in a much better mood, recover, and feel I am generally a better person when I am sleeping well.

Breathing
How you breathe both during exercise and in normal daily activities can have a huge impact on your energy. In general, you should be focusing on breathing through your nose except during very intense exercise. We have been emphasizing this in our training as of late. If you incorporate a regular breath practice into your daily routine you may find yourself feeling even more energized. 

The powerhouse of our cells are the mitochondria. We have a quadrillion of them in our body and they make up 10% of our bodyweight. When it comes to energy, it is the mitochondria which can be considered the cornerstone. All of the things mentioned above can help improve your mitochondria. A hard training session can be a great way to get energized but there are other ways to recover and become energized also.Three other things which can help with energy, recovery, and mitochondrial health are:
1. Sauna
2. Cold Water Immersion
3. NAD+
We have all of these tools available for you at Alliance, as well. I’ve written about some of these tools in the past but if you have questions about how to better implement them into your regimen please don’t hesitate to ask. 

 

Better Than Just Happy!

I received an email from Scott Sonnon, founder of RMAX and Tacfit , last week that was very thought provoking. I wanted to share my thoughts after reading the email, as well as share the entire email which you can read on our blog.

As you know, the training at Alliance is much more than just physical training. Although the physiological adaptations are important and a big part of what we want to help you achieve, I truly believe the mental, spiritual, and personal growth, which can come from the training far outweigh the physical benefits alone.

When I sit down with a new client, one of the first things I ask them is why are they here and what is their true reason for training. Whether you are just starting training or if you have been training for years it is always a good question to come back to and connect with. If you are lacking in motivation connecting your why for training to your bigger purpose and why in life can be the thing that motivates you. We are working on this very thing in our Optimize Coach program. Brian refers to this as creating “Soul Goals”. What I alluded to in my last email about energy was that it doesn’t matter how great a goal you have if you don’t have the energy and physical vitality to pursue it.

So, in my own searching and realization of some of my flaws, failures, and fears I realize their are many things I avoid because they are uncomfortable. I also realize that success ,which on the surface and to others may seem great, can also lead to stagnation in personal growth. Success can also lead to fear of change or loss.  It is probably a lot harder to leave a job you hate to pursue something you are really passionate about when you make a lot of money at that job you hate. When I opened my first gym I very naive but I also had nothing to lose except the bea tup Nissan Sentra I drove nicknamed the “deerslayer” because I didn’t have money to get it repaired after running into a deer.

I see this in my own training, especially in Jiujitsu, partly because Rafa being the great coach he is pointed int out to me. I sometimes rely too much own my physical strength which may be to my own detriment and personal growth. Why do I do this? Because it is comfortable and I fear losing a position or worse getting tapped out. Nobody wants to say uncle and it is that very reason many people won’t even get on the mat for fear of risking being dominated physically by another.

So, what are some things that you may be avoiding than are uncomfortable and in the short term may make you unhappy but in the long term make you better? It is certainly not a requirement  to do 6 x ten minute rolls in Jiujitsu to get better in Jiujitsu. It is also not necessary to go to absolute failure in exercise or to the point of feeling like you are going to throw up to get physically better. However, it is our goal to truly challenge you and if you are willing to go to your absolute best you may uncover a latent potential you didn’t know existed. By doing so, you may as Mark Divine say” “Meet your true self for the first time”. If you do, don’t be afraid of the power that you truly possess.

Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon, Become Your Best Self,

Billy

“Be Better than Just Happy”

Hello Friends,

Have you ever heard the comment about relationships that “it’s better to be happy than be right”? It sounds plausible, but in application it’s a problematic fantasy. Asking two quarrelsome parties to forfeit trying to prove their point and just acquiesce to the other is like asking wolves to wear sheepskins and bleat. They pretend to be happy, as if they’re on a stage… with as much authenticity as a Hollywood film set.

Pretending to be happy, submitting to the will of another who intends to prove their righteousness, slowly cannibalizes your self-worth, and leads to a life of silently seething resentment, passive aggressiveness and randomly explosive releases of pressurized emotions.

If you wear happiness like a heavy blanket, you’ll avoid conflict and confrontation… as a result, you’ll prevent growth and development. Rather than risk an argument, you’ll suck it in and deny the injustices you see or feel. You’ll waste your very short life trying to find a way to be happy, when there is no way to be happy. Happiness is the way. Being happy is a by-product of loving the challenge, of recognizing discomfort as catalyst to growth.

But intending to be “right” is just as stifling. Proving your point is like a blathering child – if they’re talking, they’re not learning anything new. Growth is predicated on failure. Development depends upon mistakes, on being “wrong.” If you’re always “right” – you’re never growing.

If you attempt to prove that you’re right, you’ll be completely missing the potential transformation which could be happening if you realized that… you’re always and already wrong. We’re imperfect and under-developed. No one’s brain is done cooking. So, at any point in time, you’re poorly informed. If you approach life with that humility, you’ll never stop developing.

Look at exercise as an example. You see two predominant types of people: those that want to be comfortable and those that want to be successful. Those who want to be comfortable avoid the specific exercises which make them feel uncoordinated, and the exact training stress which will allow them to grow; and those who want to be successful will avoid the exact exercises that they’re not good at, and the intensity levels that challenge them too greatly.

In exercise, you need to be uncomfortable and you need to go beyond where you’ve been successful… that is, if you want to develop your fitness. If you just want to pretend that you’re exercising, or prove that you’re strong, keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll appear to be happy and successful (albeit incapable of getting better.)

I’d rather be better than be happy (or be right.)

In my past, people wanted to pretend that there was nothing “wrong” with me, and advised me that I should be “happy” with what I got because things could be so much worse. Yes, that’s true: things could always be worse, but that doesn’t mean you should be content with injustice. And it’s an injustice that you should pretend to be happy.

And of course, many have tried to prove that their way of acting, performing or thinking was right and that mine was faulty, or wrong. I realized that I needed to be embrace being wrong, and find an alternative, to learn… in athletics, in academics, in relationships and in my companies.

The people intending to be “right” all the time, one by one began to fade away, stuck in the picture frame of their successful definitions. I just kept evolving… never content with accepting my condition, comfortable with my endless mistakes. Only the desire to “be better” allows you to grow.

The pain of transformation is fleetingly sublime contrasted with a lifetime of suffering. Like one of my yoga teachers used to say, would you prefer 90 minutes of pain or 90 years of suffering, either way – you choose.

Love the challenges rather than coveting the results. Love your failures as the steps to your success. Love the discomfort of growth as the way to true fulfillment. And you’ll always be better and better and better…

Very Respectfully,

Scott B. Sonnon

Optimize Your Masterpiece Day!

What has become more crystal clear to me in regards to my personal mission, as well as, the mission of Alliance as a whole is to help people to truly become their best.. As I have been working through Brian Johnson’s Optimize Coach program I have begun to realize just how powerful this mission can be.

It is my opinion that very few of us have reached our true potential. Most of us are certainly not at our best on a consistent moment to moment basis. I don’t want to make that seem negative but rather frame it as a positive. What I really see is an incredible opportunity for growth!! If you tell me that I have reached my ultimate potential as a human being and that I can do nothing more to become better then I would hope I would be at the end of my life. At that point, I could move on to the afterlife knowing I had lived my life well. I hope I am far from the end and if you tell me there is no more room for growth I might be a little depressed.

What I want to share in this article is some of what we have been working on in the Optimize coach program to help in the journey towards optimization. We are in the process of developing a Carpe Diem Journal. The cornerstone of that journal is creating what we are calling a  Masterpiece Day. The goal of the journal is to seize each day by organizing it in a way where you are working on becoming a little better in a systematic fashion.

One of the first things we worked on is creating AM/Pm bookends which could also be considered morning and evening rituals.These are the times of day when you are less likely to be distracted.

We actually start with the PM bookend by getting to bed early enough to get a good nights sleep. Part of that ritual includes planning for the next day focusing on three main areas :

1. Energy
2, Work
3, Love

In each of these areas you:

  1. Create you specific identity
  2. Express the virtues you wish to embody
  3. Identify the one thing you will focus on in each area

    Another part of the morning and evening ritual is a meditation practice. I have strived to incorporate box breathing into a daily practice for some time but I have never been consistent with meditation. This particular Optimus meditation incorporates several things which I have found helpful in being consistent.
    1. breathing is simply inhale and exhale
    2. it incorporates affirmations focusing on certain virtues that may resonate with you
    3. It focuses on the three main areas of Energy, Work, and Love where you contemplate your identity, virtues, and one thing to focus on in each of those areas for the day.

    Here is the guided version of the meditation.
    Optimus Meditation.

    I hope you find some of these practices helpful in your own journey.

Alliance Warrior Code: Kaizen

In this discussion of the Alliance Warrior Code, I introduce one may favorite philosophies, Kaizen.Kaizen is a Japanese word or philosophy which means continuous improvement or progress.  The term was originally used to describe the philosophy which many Japanese businesses used to rebuild after World War II.  The idea is to focus on getting a little better everyday.  Small incremental change accumulated over time will render an extraordinary transformation.

In this age of quick fixes, the value of this philosophy is often overlooked.  This philosophy can be incorporated into many areas of our lives but one where it can be helpful in particular is with fat loss.

When asked what is a good goal for fat loss, my reply is typically about one to two pounds per week.  Yet more often than not ,when a person starts a new nutrition plan and they only lose one pound the first week, they become discouraged and often begin to stray from the plan shortly thereafter.  If they were to stay on this path they would lose 4 pounds in the first month.  This may not be that impressive but at three months this would lead to 12 pounds, at six months 26 pounds, and in a year, this same one pound loss per week, would lead to a 52 pound fat loss.

Sometimes, we see people unhappy with the one pound loss decide to use more drastic approaches to fat loss and as result lose weight much faster.  This faster approach can also be effective and while some are able to maintain and keep the weight off, many end up putting a lot of the weight back on.

Precision Nutrition is a company which has been  a resource I have used for years for nutritional information.  It is the basis from which we derived the habits we teach as third phase of our four phase approach to nutrition.  Precision Nutrition teaches a program called Lean Eating from which many have gotten remarkable results.  The Lean Eating program utilizes the Kaizen philosophy.  The program is twelve months long and the gist of the program is that you change one habit every couple of weeks.  This leads to monumental change over the course of a year.

What is interesting is that in the first two weeks of the program all you do is to eat slow and until 80% full. When I purchased the program several years ago I remember thinking, “Is this all there is?”  Yet by changing one small thing at a time, building a new habit and gaining confidence as you do, you create momentum and belief.  I have made this same recommendation on many occasions through emails about nutrition, nutrition workshops, and individual consultations. I am curious to know how many people I have made this recommendation to have continued to do so on a consistent basis.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, nutrition is only one place you can you can apply the Kaizen principle.  In your physical training it might be setting a new PR (personal record) by one rep, one pound, or five seconds. This may not seem like much but again the small incremental changes add up.  In jiujitsu these changes are sometimes harder to quantify.  Moving to the next belt level or doing well in competition or the easiest ways to see improvement. Some progress faster than others but I have  never seen anyone who consistently shows up to train  with a focused mindset who does not improve. What are some areas where you can apply this principle?  Remember it is not always about making rapid change but sometimes more about making small changes consistently.  I believe this is the most effective way to have long lasting results.

To your success on the Warrior Path,

Billy

Alliance Warrior Code Revisited: Honesty

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 are revisiting the code for Alliance which helps 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 Kokoro Camp, 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.

To your success!

 

Billy

Future Me Visualization

This is another exercise I learned from Mark Divine.  The “Future Self” exercise is a visualization practice to help you see yourself as you would like to be.  As the saying goes, “If your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, then you can achieve it.”

This visualization can also be thought of as creating or altering your identity. Of course, this exercise assumes that you want to change, evolve, or be a better version of yourself. In the book “Atomic Habits”, James Clear discusses the importance of identity and how it relates to creating new habits or breaking old ones. He says there are three layers of behavior change.

1. The first layer is changing your outcomes.
2. The second layer is changing your process.
3. The third and deepest level is changing your identity.

In the book, he says the problem is not that one layer is more important than the other but rather the direction of change. Many people begin by focusing on what they want to achieve. An alternative approach is to focus on who you want to become.

In his book, “I Forgot to Die”,  Khalil Rafati, has a transformative moment when his sponsor finally asks him a simple question, “Who would you be without your story?” Khalil was a recovering drug addict who had come from an abusive home, dropped out of high school, and now at nearly 40 years of age was challenged by his sponsor to let go of the past and focus on the future. Kahlil is now owner of Malibu BeachYoga and Sunlife Organics a popular juice and smoothie bar with over 10 locations throughout California which making millions of dollars a year.

The “Future Self” visualization is designed to help you become your best optimized self.

Start this exercise by finding a quiet place to sit and meditate.  Then begin by box breathing taking deep breaths in the following manner.  Breathe in for five seconds, hold five seconds, exhale for five seconds, hold for five and repeat.  While doing this method of deep breathing begin to visualize yourself as if you are the person you want to be.  How do you feel?  How do you look?  How do you act?  Continue to visualize yourself as this person until it becomes very real to you.

Once you have created your future self, begin to act “as if” you are that person.  If you, at anytime, are having difficulty seeing yourself as being successful, you can come back to this exercise to recreate your “future self” again and again.  The more you practice the more real it will become and the greater your chance of turning your goal into reality.

This exercise is one that is great to start the new year. It works best if integrated with the other exercises that are part of the spiritual challenge such as eliminating the negative stories and beliefs (BOO), positively believing you can achieve it (What Wolf Are You Feeding), and of course, massive action.