Warning: include_once(/home/newstasis/newstasis.com/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-support/wordpress-support.php): failed to open stream: Permission denied in /home/newstasis/newstasis.com/wp-settings.php on line 190

Warning: include_once(): Failed opening '/home/newstasis/newstasis.com/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-support/wordpress-support.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/lib/php:/usr/local/php5/lib/pear') in /home/newstasis/newstasis.com/wp-settings.php on line 190
newstasis :: a blog about improving wellness » Making Muscle

Archive for the 'Making Muscle' Category

“The Fog Of War” - Eleven Lessons Applied To Personal Training

Robert McNamara was the Secretary of Defense under JFK and LBJ during the escalation of the war in Vietnam. He had an interesting life with many jobs, but as he got older he opened-up a lot about Vietnam. He had no lust for war and had reservations about it while he was in a position of influence. When he left office in 1968 he had already suggested that the sunk cost of the Vietnam war was too high and that the US should transition their direct fighting role to the South Vietnamese. These suggestions were not accepted and the fighting continued.

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a 2003 documentary film about Robert McNamara. What is interesting is that he admitted to his mistakes and expressed that he had done some very wrong things while Secretary Of Defense. He learned from his actions and tried to move forward applying these lessons.

From the movie, the 11 lessons are:

    1. Empathize with your enemy
    2. Rationality will not save us
    3. There’s something beyond one’s self
    4. Maximize efficiency
    5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war
    6. Get the data
    7. Belief and seeing are often both wrong
    8. Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning
    9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
    10. Never say never
    11. You can’t change human nature

    When I read the list, I considered how these lessons would apply to personal training. This is possible if we regard war as a partnership between two countries / groups to fight; in a fashion similar to the partnership between client and trainer. Maybe it’s more of a thought exercise and that I have defined the players in a way that allows me to apply the lessons to something that they were never intended to cover. And that is fine, what matters is if something is useful, not that it is right.

    1) If a client wants to change, you’ll benefit from gaining an understanding about how they are suffering and what is motivating them to change their course. While you may not know what it is like to be in chronic pain or how unsatisfying seeing your reflection can be, a moment or two spend considering these things can soften the most dogmatic trainer enough to actually connect with a client to establish the trust needed to guide them towards a more fulfilling path.

    2) Burning more calories than we consume is, for the most part, how people lower their body weight. That is a logical and rational thought. People know this yet it does not help them achieve their fat loss goals. Their choices are based on something less rational so the solution is likely going to flow out of uncovering or addressing the illogical something that is making life unfold as it is.

    3) Often, people will only change for other people. Having enough energy to be an fantastic mother is one of the biggest motivators for a women to begin to exercise and improve her cardiovascular health. Being told that you are 6 months away dying from a heart attack moves people to make the changes they need to in order to enjoy eventually seeing their children graduate, get married and start their own families.

    4) Busy people do not have ample time to do all the things that are needed to quickly achieve optimal health. If they are able to create 3 hours a week to dedicate to to improving it, these three hours need to pack in as much of the most effective movements as possible. Stretching, while important, is not going to improve strength or boost energy as much as lifting weights and increasing movement intensity to elevate heart rate. In this case, there is an enormous opportunity cost to stretching or low intensity exercise.

    5) If your goal represents a 5% change in your body / fitness, you need to dedicate a small amount of time to it. If the goal is a 50% change, proportionately more effort is needed. Both the client and the trainer will spend a lot more time and effort at the beginning that then will towards the end simply because there is less to achieve towards the end.

    6) Great trainers, like great people, make great decisions when they have all the information they need to make a great decision. Without the information to guide your decisions, your solutions will be incomplete and maybe even geared towards solving a problem that doesn’t exist. Listening without judgment is critical for collecting the highest quality data. You’ll remain open to what is actually occurring and this will shape your counsel.

    7) Cognitive biases impact our perceptions in such a way that we see what we believe we see and we find the evidence we need in order to support our beliefs.
    The things we see may not exist at all and the real world is likely somewhat different from how we perceive the real world. Effective personal trainers are always aware that they have the capacity to see things that aren’t there and to believe things that are not true. These keep the trainer open to the world and bring them closer to seeing the truth as it unfolds in front of them.

    8) Progress is a state of constant change and each change may impact the next action. Effective coaches re-examine their clients course regularly and select different actions when they are called for. They know the reason for doing particular things and will not continue coaching something if a better action exists.

    9) Doing good work for your clients is going to mean that you engage the worst parts of their behavior. You may not track in completely on their reason for over eating chips and under eating veggies, but to do the good work as a trainer, you are going to have to engage your clients evil and self destructive actions.

    10) Everything that is possible IS possible and will come to be with the correct strategy and enough hard work. If the possible remains impossible it is simply because the strategy is incorrect or the work has not been done. “Never” is something that is said at the end of life or in the event that someone quits working towards their goal.

    11) You cannot change human nature and as a personal trainer, you need to be aware of your clients nature. In some cases you can just tell someone to stop eating candy and they will stop eating candy - it’s not these peoples nature to eat candy. Regardless, you will need to work with a persons nature to help move them towards their goal. Someone who loves eating candy will probably always love to eat candy so they need to be allowed to eat candy every now and then because their nature will be expressed if repressed for too long, and these unplanned expressions tend to be over the top and extreme. You can work with their nature by asking them to eat good quality food 80% of the time, and have some candy once a week.

    It’s probably fair to say that any good lesson can be applied somewhat to any other area in life. The Fog Of War does present some lessons and growth opportunities for personal trainers.

How I Have Been Wrong

There is this thing people do that used to annoy me but that I now use as a vetting tool and that is a persons ability to admit that they were wrong. Regardless of their motivation, if someone isn’t able to say that they were wrong they are not a scientist, so their inflated opinion of what they know is tainted by an unmentioned emotional need and biased by something that isn’t an objective truth or reality.

I have been wrong a lot, even if it was well intentioned and based on everything that I knew at the time. And it is important to be wrong and to admit it because only the divine and the foolish do not change.

Here is a list of some of the ways that I have been wrong and changed over the last 15 years in the realm of the fitness industry:

Believing that nutrition is more important than food. This mistake, like a number of the ones I have made while in the fitness industry, was based on the need to make statements that sounded correct, were thought provoking, and that were sticky. But it is nonsense. Human beings NEED to eat food to get nutrients, they cannot thrive consuming the nutrients alone. Whole food is a natural concoction of 1000’s of chemicals that work in a synergistic way inside the body. When these chemicals are taken in one at a time, they have a different impact on the body and there is no certainty that this is going to be a health promoting.

Believing that the program is more important than consistency. I used to believe a lot of the hype and I would dispense this advice as though it was scientific fact. The fact that my clients were getting good results I interpreted as proof that the programing was effective. But over time I started to notice that the clients of some other trainers who programed using the same methods were not experiencing the same results. Furthermore, I noticed that clients who were using extraordinarily simple programs were experiencing great results. What I had missed was the fact that doing small things consistently will generate better results than a perfectly crafted program that is done occasionally.

Believing that by creating an emotional response a transformation has occurred. This one is false, completely false. While there may be times when an emotional response indicates a readiness for change or that a person has started their transformation, setting out to make a client cry is not helpful and will usually permanently damage the relationship. This is not to say that there is no useful information revealed when a client has a spontaneous and organic emotional response, there is just very little useful information to be gained by setting out to create an emotional response. It’s a sales tool that is used to breakdown defenses so someone can sell their services. It’s unforgivable and anyone who sets out to do it is trying to help their own bottom line and doesn’t care about the well-being of the person they are trying to take money from.

Believing that EVERYONE should workout and become more healthy. Morally I struggled with this one for a while. I believe that everyone is entitled to live an amazing life, rich in health and vitality BUT they must choose to live this life. Any coercion or pressure that forces them to choose it will usually result in more suffering as they fail to achieve success and feel worse than they would have had they not tried. I am always enthusiastic and possibility driven with anyone who is suffering the effects of poor health choices, but I’m only at their service when they choose to transform their life. Everyone CAN be more healthy but people shouldn’t be pressured into it.

Believing that what gurus said was more useful than what I knew. Within the fitness industry the gurus have a field day selling their wisdom to anyone who is looking for a shortcut. These people in turn make money dispensing this wisdom to the people they convinced would benefit from it. The problem with believing the gurus is that they rarely have any scientific basis for supporting their claims, and given that they have a financial motive for stating anything, there is a conflict of interest that motivates them to lie. Their well of wisdom in poisoned and unless science supports their claims, you shouldn’t buy into them. After 15 years in the industry, the formula for success is very simple, consistent intense work through a full range of motion, moderate amounts of good quality food (mostly vegetables), adequate rest and recovery, and a positive outlook on life in general. This isn’t flashy and it won’t make me millions of dollars, but it works for everyone and it is based on science.

Fitness Assessments At Gyms - They’ll Find Faults

When someone approaches me inquiring about training, I skip the whole fitness assessment and will instead focus on their goals, their behaviors, their thoughts and their definitions of success, failure, and health. I do this because fitness assessments, as performed outside of a medical setting, are pointless, useless and geared towards selling what the trainer has to sell. EVERYONE can fail some aspect of a fitness assessment therefore everyone needs to buy training.

Bull crap!

Most people do NOT need training. While almost everyone will benefit from working with a personal trainer, people can and have been creating amazing results while training on their own for as long as people have been training. If you workout in an intense and pain-free way 4 times a week and eat sensible amounts of good quality food you’ll become fit and any imbalances that you have will correct themselves. Evolution ensures this.

Working with clients is about helping them achieve what THEY want regardless of what I think. Just because a girl is an amazing squatter, can move extremely quickly and would be an outstanding Olympic lifter doesn’t mean that her goal of having a flat stomach and becoming a better road cyclist gets ignored. The opposite is almost true - whatever potential she has in an undesired goal will only be leveraged to help her achieve her stated goal. The world is full of people who do amazing things in areas where they have no particular innate talent.

Very often a fitness assessment will be set-up to measure athletic indicators that are then used as reasons to justify huge training investments. Failing a Klatt test is meaningless if your goal is to look good naked because your glutes, VMO and adductor muscles will be trained during the course of your body composition training. The fact is, most people will never need to perform at the highest physical level and will enjoy an amazing life simply by moving more. It won’t matter that they are quad dominant, slightly internally rotated, or whatever the test reveals.

There is another reason why fitness test performed by fitness professionals are not appropriate and that is because they are used to make a diagnosis; which most fitness professionals are NOT qualified to do. It sure does feel great to have someone look at you and say “wow, you know what’s going on with my body just by looking at the way I move” but that’s ego stroking or salesmanship. The trainer may be correct but they are not in a position to say what is going on. They are in a position only to create and administer programs. When they make a diagnosis and set out to fix it they are failing their clients in a very fundamental, and arguably, an unethical way.

That is why, if someone is going to work with me, we’ll just train the entire body including all of the smaller muscles. The methods and principles that are used will depend upon their goals, but that is it. The client isn’t broken so we don’t need to fix anything, they just need to consistently move their bodies more and reap the benefits associated with improving their health.

Things Trainers Think But Should Probably Say To Their Clients - Part 2

The continuation of Things Trainers Think But Should Probably Say To Their Clients.

Ever notice how the things you talk about not wanting end up being the things that you get?” The reticular activating system (RAS) is a mental process that directs attention onto the things that are considered important to a person. Our experiences and thoughts serve to populate the RAS with these items. IF someone spends a lot of time thinking about they don’t want to gain body fat, their attention will be directed towards all of the things that will cause them to gain it. As a consequence, they’ll probably over eat and gain body fat simply because they are focusing on NOT getting fat.

You think eating good quality food and exercising is hard? Try living with diabetes, recovering from a heart attack or a stroke or beating cancer, THOSE things are hard.” People do not identify the consequences of their actions as the initial symptoms of their impending illness, so they just assume everything is fine. But gaining body fat, losing mobility or muscle mass, or becoming lethargic ARE the initial symptoms of disease promoters of disease. It’s irrefutable, people who eat sensible amounts of good quality whole food and exercise moderate amounts are at the lowest risk of death. You have a choice though, do a little hard work now to promote recovery or compress that hard work into a few months in an attempt to survive.

When you say I’m just a little fat you’re ignoring the fact that you have damaged your ability to process sugar.” Telling yourself that you’re just a little fat is a softer story than the blunt truth - you are wrecking your body because by eating too much sugar you are impairing your bodies ability to handle insulin. This is hurting your body and it will eventually cause disease and an early death.

“Not everyone’s metabolism slows down as they age, it only happens to those who choose to let it happen.” While it is true that a person will burn fewer and fewer calories as they get older, making the decision to use this fact as a justification for gaining weight vs. a reason for engaging in intense physical movement is what makes it true. NOT everyone gains weight as they get older BECAUSE they remain active and move a lot. Hearing someone reference an inevitable metabolic slow down reveals a belief that needs to be addressed and updated.

“Stress isn’t a part of everyone’s work.” Accepting that stress is a necessary part of work is an excuse for accepting this damaging aspect of life and letting it continue to destroy and shorten life. Work can be a challenge, placing unnatural demands on a person, keeping it in perspective will go a long way in helping someone strike a more healthy balance. By assuming that work should be stressful, it give you permission to change priorities and move proper diet, exercise and relaxation down and move work responsibilities up. The negative outcome of reversed priorities is eventual ill-health and disease.

8 Things Really Successful People Do

Great article about the habits / realizations successful people by Kevin Daum. Pretty straight forward list which is part of its beauty.

The key thing is to be very clear on what you want to do and not on the outcome your successes. Success is a mental game at first (getting into the right mind set, setting the right goals, creating the right habits), followed by the physical game (persistent hard work).

What I found interesting is the inclusion of being clear on spirituality because, for me, that has been a late player to the field. It boils down to being at one with the universe or God, accepting something bigger than just you and engage the world in a way that pays tribute to that relationship.

  • Make Materialism Irrelevant - be successful to be successful, not because you get to buy expensive things. If it is about buying expensive things, you aren’t seeking success BUT expensive things, go straight to them.
  • Enhance Knowledge - keep learning, from beginning to end. There is no substitute for a brain that is crammed full of wisdom.
  • Manage Relationship Expectations - relationships should be given an appropriate amount of time and finding the balance between the right amount of time and what other people want from you is a necessary endeavor. Creating the boundaries to enforce YOUR expectations is critical.
  • Practice Emotional Self-Awareness - emotions are not thoughts. They are types of information, but they are often not as valuable as logical thoughts. Make sure you know when your emotional system is ramped up and when you are functioning with a purely logically mind.
  • Commit to a Physical Ideal - creating a goal for how you want to look in the future will move your mind forward and give you a purpose to make it happen. Exercise tells your body that actions matter and looking and feeling great tells the world that “I am worth working hard for.”
  • Gain Clarity About Spirituality - understand your relationship with the universe so you can always stay true to it.
  • Adhere to a Code of Ethics - acting effectively can sometimes mean you need to have a list of actions to take for when you don’t feel like acting at all. Not knowing what you stand for will delay or impede action when action is needed most critically. A code of ethics will allow you to advance with consistency and it will free you from thoughts about your past actions because you will know you acted with integrity.
  • Focus on Time Efficiency - time moves on, even if you do nothing with it. Use it wisely and get the most out of every second. You won’t be getting any of the moments back.

Working At It For Years - Disease Or Health

We are born as perfect as we will ever be. With rare exception, we have our greatest potential the instant we arrive into the world. From there, our environment begins to chip away at our possibilities and over time we suffer from the outcome of our decisions or the decisions that were made on our behalf. With each breath, we either maintain our potential or it is reduced slightly.

I have trained a couple of people who had suffered heart attacks and then subsequently made the decision to correct as many of their bad habits as they could. They eat better, exercise more, reduce their stress and stop over indulging in alcohol. They, like many people who have suffered a heart attack, make reference to their heart attack as both an ending point and a place of new beginnings; “my health was fine up until that day” is something that I have heard which reflects their understanding of what was going on. But it doesn’t reflect what actually happened. Their health had been suffering for years BEFORE the heart attack and the heart attack was only the latest in a series of escalating symptoms; even if it was the first symptom that registered that there was a problem.

You have been making yourself sick for years - everyone has been. At best, you are doing everything you can to achieve your potential - eating appropriate amounts of whole food, getting an appropriate amount of sleep and exercise, etc…. but in a world as polluted as ours, the chances of you not consuming toxins is very low. The clean life that you may be living likely isn’t as pure as is needed to reach the highest level of health. In all probability you aren’t getting enough exercise, eating the right amounts of food or getting sufficient rest to recover your vitality and enhance your constitution for health.

This doesn’t mean that you are going to die of a heart attack at 50 or cancer at 55. But it does mean that you are damaging you body and diminishing your ability to recover from this damage with each non-ideal choice you make. It also means that if you do end-up with a disease, there is a very good chance that you have been working at it for the last 20-50 years and not just during the few weeks preceding the diagnosis.

The human body has a remarkable ability to recover. There is ample redundancy so a lot of stuff can break down before their is critical malfunction. But there are limits and one needs to be mindful of them as they move through life. With each less than ideal decision that is made, you move one step closer to the cumulative consequences of these choices.

It’s About Changing State

In talking to more than a 1000 people over the last 10 years a few facts about nutrition have become clear.

First off, the education system is doing a good job at teaching people what they should be eating. I’ll fill-in some blanks about how the remarkably adaptive way the body operates, but I’ve yet to talk to someone who doesn’t know that eating more vegetables, less sugar, fewer processed products and drinking more water and less pop is a more effective way to eat. People know what they should be eating in order to improve their health and functioning so they suffer from obesity and reduced vitality for reasons other than education.

Next, many people comment that it is hard to eat correctly. On one level this is true, given that living things benefit from eating unprocessed food that rots quickly. Shopping twice a week is a necessity if you are going to eat real food because you will not have the “luxury” of buying food that doesn’t spoil because it is loaded with preservatives. And you need to prepare that food which is going to take time - peeling vegetables, cutting meat and removing bones or fat/skin and then cooking the meal requires time. But this only seems like it takes more time when compared with opening a box and heating something in a microwave or ordering a meal and waiting for it to arrive.

The other comment I hear consistently after an optimal nutrition conversation is that eating for health and vitality is boring. My thoughts about this one is that this is the biggest reason why people do not live optimal lives with an abundance of energy, clarity of thought and emotional contentment. Good quality food doesn’t provide the instant state-changing experience that the high sugar, high fat, high chemical food-like stuff delivers. Good quality food doesn’t do very much to your immediate state; it really shouldn’t because there isn’t anything in it that will have a quick impact on the brain or body. Real food impacts the body slowly, over time and in many ways by doing nothing at all.

People like or become addicted to food-like stuff because it has a very quick impact on the brain - it changes their state almost immediately and in a predictable way. Feeling sad? Eat some sugar, get a release of dopamine and feel better. Feeling some pain somewhere? Eat some ice cream and get a release of opioids to numb the pain. Eat fat and sugar together and feel good immediately. The happy / feel-good  chemicals will be released and you will get a little high from it.

You don’t get this state change from eating salad, beef, chicken or fish. Eating these things may not even make you feel full. They have been shown to be better for you, but their immediate impact is low and almost perceivable, and given the distance from the consequences of a poor diet the instant reward is what many choose.

But as time passes, and the consequences begin to take hold on a person - addiction, obesity, disease, loss of energy, loss of circulation, impaired thinking, etc…. the state change is all that remains in terms of any conceivable positives. But then it’s too late to do very much about it. A 40 year sugar habit is tough to break. Dropping 100 lbs is close to impossible and only successfully undertaken by the most remarkable of individuals. Once cancer takes hold, the body has a very tough time fighting it without medical intervention. Clogged blood vessels don’t suddenly clear-up simply because the person stops eating crappy food. Make no mistake about it, the consequences arrive and they usually stay forever.

Real food does very little to our immediate state and it does very little to our bodies; which is what one should look for in their food because the body has a remarkable way of repairing itself.

Who Are You Feeding?

Having been in the fitness industry for well over a decade, I have heard the following conversation countless times with the same usual outcome:

“I want lower my body fat, and look and feel better.”

“Outstanding, we can help you with all of those things. When was the last time you looked and felt the way you want to look and feel?”

“Oh, it has been a long time, when I was much younger. When I could eat whatever I wanted and didn’t have to worry about weight.”

“Okay, so this is a new journey for you and you’re aware that you’ll need to do a bunch of new things to achieve new results?”

“Yeah, I’m fully committed to doing whatever it takes to reach my goal.”

“Fantastic, this is going to be a lot of hard work, but once you make real this desire to look and feel amazing you’ll be grateful for all of the effort you put into it.”

So far, so good, someone has a desire for something they have never achieved. Given that they have never achieved it, they connect with the experts to learn how to make it possible. For a few weeks they follow the nutrition advice, reduce their stress, train with a trainer 3-4 times per week and independently 1-3 times per week and their transformation has a fantastic beginning.

But this great start is often stopped dead in its tracks when the body and brain begin to make real the story the people tell about themselves. Suddenly and quickly, the person begins to act in a way that isn’t conducive to achieving their goal. Most often the breakdown will be about food - they start to eat food that they know isn’t going to move them towards their goal or they eat in a way that isn’t recommended and that doesn’t help get them them any closer. Other times they stop training with the intensity or frequency that is needed to keep momentum and progress going.

Unbeknownst to them, they are paying service to a version of themselves that didn’t believe that achieving the goal was possible. They are, in essence, feeding their old self and making sure it continue to exist as opposed to altering their actions to become the new possibility.

Call it self-sabotage, the expression of their belief of self-worth, whatever, the end result is the same, corrective thoughts, feeling and behaviors do not get traction and the individual remains the same – overweight, lacking vitality and living an uninspired physical life. It’s an avoidable shame and tends to be the outcome of an incomplete conversation during the initial conversation about training.

What is missing is the needed conversation to get answered the “how did you do it?” questions about your life and how you ended-up straying away from the life you wanted to live. These questions need to be asked because human beings pay service to their uncommunicated habits and because each individual is the expert in how they came to be how they are. They don’t need to get into the “why” questions because the answers to these questions do little to shed light on the new way of being that is needed to achieve results that have never been achieved.

What this does that is so important for transformation is help someone see their past as a series of behaviors so they are then able to see their progress as a series of different behaviors. Their present stops being the past and starts to become their future – it is only through different thoughts, feelings and actions that someone will be able to become transformed.

This needs to happen because human beings are complex and require more than a coat of new paint to become something physically, emotionally and spiritually different. Critical to transformation is the wisdom gained from understanding what was occurring to keep things the same because if these behaviors remain unknown they will repeated.

To do the job correctly a trainer / coach does not just to show people the way to make the lasting change but to also show them how they found their way to needing the change in the first place.

So, how do you feed the more energetic and goal achieving you? It’s very simple, you eat frequent servings for plants and small amounts of meat that haven’t been processed, flavored or “enriched”. You eat things that will rot quickly without refrigeration, things that have not been manipulated extensively to change their form or state. You eat chicken and not chicken nuggets, beef not hamburgers, fish not fish sticks. You eat green leafy vegetables and not just green powders or vitamin pills. You eat small amounts of fruit and not fruit bars. You drink water and not sugar water solutions. Basically, we foods that are high in nutrients and low in energy.

You make and take the time to buy good quality whole foods and prepare it with care, creating meals that don’t look that much different from the foods you bought. You remain open to the possibility for a new you and embrace the reality that this different version needs different things. Then you do these things over and over and over again until they become automatic and  part of your new identity.

100 Tips To Have An Extraordinary Life

I found this list of 100 tips to live an extraordinary life by Dr. Sukhi and felt it was worth sharing.

4. Develop a Routine and Rituals.

5. Exercise Everyday.

6. Start Your Day With Visualization.

7. Laugh and Play.

8. Create Short and Long Term Goals.

18. See Challenges as Opportunities.

19. Get a Mentor.

20. Know What You Value.

21. Be Somebody Others Respect.

29. Be Enthusiastic.

30. Plan Your Days, Weeks and Months.

31. Create Extraordinary Experiences for Those You Love.

32. Cultivate the Kid in You.

54. Always Tell the Truth.

55. Be Persistent and Patient.

56. Don’t Judge Others.

There are a number of things on the list that have been posted on this blog before, some that are part of the common experience of our culture and others that are new, uncomfortable and outside the normal way of being. But always keep in mind that an extraordinary life requires extraordinary actions so don’t count on remaining comfortable as being one of those things.

6 Ways To Create A Better Life

Ever see one of those people who is always happy and wonder what they are doing different that seems to bring everything they want into their life? The people will the big smile, the positive energy and a willingness to go along with whatever seems to come their way, as though it was exactly what was supposed to happen? If you ever sit down and talk to them, you’ll uncover some very surprising things about how they engage the world that seem to open closed doors and create a better life at every moment.

Having a great life is simply a matter of finding out and doing what they do so this greatness is within the realm of possibility for most of us. Below are 6 things that you can start doing today that will improve your experience this summer and beyond.

1) Create goals and look at them every morning when you wake-up and every night before you go to bed. You need to know where you are going in order to get there and your goals are the best predictor of your future, if you focus on achieving them. “Book ending” your day with a quick review of your goals primes your brain to work on them while you are awake and while you sleep. In fact, without priming your brain with problems to solve, you cannot expect to achieve anything that you haven’t already experienced. Take 10 minutes to read your goals at the beginning and end of your day to think and feel what it will be like to achieve them. Creating the emotional sense of accomplishment can alter how your process the world and this can present the pathway to everything that you want.

2) Do 4 hours of intense exercise per week. 4 hours is a critical amount, and having your heart rate elevated is key. This minimum amount of exercise will help improve body composition, improve blood circulation and get your body functioning more efficiently. It’s going to reduce stress, improve sleep and help you look and feel great. Good health is often considered one of the top 3 things needed to have a happy life, so dedicating 4 hours out of 168 that are available per week to move you towards a better life is a small time investment.

3) Eat food that you can identify as food and that will rot in a few days without refrigeration. Food is the only thing that actually becomes you. Every cell that you are is made-up of participles that were outside your body until you ate them. Higher quality food is going to supply more and higher quality nutrient so buy the best quality food that you can afford. The food you eat should be identifiable – that is, you should have some idea from where on the farm it came– and when left at room temperature, it should spoil fairly quickly. Things that have an indefinite shelf life or come from a factory tend to be much lower or void of nutrition. Eat as little of these food-like products as you can in favor of whole foods.

4) Be grateful. It is impossible to be unhappy when you are grateful. You may feel many emotions, but sadness will not be one of them. Being grateful creates a sense of connectedness to others that can eliminate feelings of isolation. It will also alter the way you view the entire world as gratitude tends to have a cascading effect on perception – if you process things from a place of gratitude, you will see more and more things in the world to be grateful for, which will make you happier.

5) Surround yourself with people who are living a great life and get their help in making your life better. This is a matter of doing what they do to achieve what they have achieved. Copy those who have blazed the trail and get the same outcome. Ask them for help and follow their advice. They’ll save you a lot of trial and error and boost the chances of you achieving your goal.

6) Remain open or childlike! Very often life is not going to go the way you want or plan. Embrace this fact and realize that the things that are unfamiliar actually create more joy in the long run than the things that are predictable. Accept that every lesson grew out of something you didn’t know before. Being wrong is the best way we have of eventually being right, but only when we accept and remain open to making mistakes. If you want to make an extraordinary life for yourself, you need to learn some extraordinary things thought the making of some extraordinary mistakes. Be childlike with your mistakes, be open to making them, learn from them and discard any sense of shame they created.

That’s it, 6 simple things you can start doing that will being to transform your experience of life into the realm of greatness. Begin to do one a week until all 6 of them are a habit and be curious and pleased to see the impact they have on your life!