How to Look Better, Live Longer & Be Healthier: 5 Life-Enhancing Tips

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Tim just graduated. He’s fired up about entering the work force. Soon after the several days of celebrating with his friends about the fact that they got through four years of following directions, he realizes it’s time to take a shot at some interviews.

Tim has no problem finding companies that are looking for people with a piece of paper that indicates they passed a series of tests – maybe even wrote a few papers.

The interviews were standard. Vanilla. All the expected questions were asked and Tim gave the scripted answers.

Soon, Tim landed a position. But it wasn’t long before he realized the position he took had him fulfilling duties that could be automated by Excel script.

Long hours of drudgery, he discovered, could be done by a feature called macros which essentially would take the several hours of manual entry he was assigned to do and complete within minutes.

The process that typically would take him a full-work day was now replaced with the click of mouse.

When it comes to health and fitness, you want Tim’s story to be applicable. You’ve been assigned a responsibility to take care of yourself physically – you know that eating well and exercising should be a part of the equation.

However, you also know that this takes effort. It takes work – lots of work.

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I admit, the journey of keeping yourself fit is laborious. At times, it can be as fun as sitting in the waiting room at the dentist office.

And because of this reality, you’ve probably attempted to imitate what Tim did. Faced with manually intensive work in order to produce a result, he sought a quicker, faster way to do it.

In accounting, this happen to work for Tim. The Excel feature produced the same result in less time.

But when it comes to health and fitness, nobody can do the push-ups for you. You can’t automate the foods that gets put into your own mouth. The only person that can manage your own stress is you.

It’s seems obvious doesn’t it?

Admit it. You battle with this. You wrestle with the illusion that maybe, just maybe, there is a way to get results with a click of a button per se.

When you’re done spinning your wheels trying to find that button, you can come back to this article. On the other hand, if you’re done chasing a finish line that doesn’t exist, welcome home.

You want to be healthier and look better without a shirt on. Both honorable and worthy pursuits.

But it’s time to tighten your game-plan.

These foods, workouts, habits and supplements will help you live healthier and look better shirtless.

How to Look Better, Live Longer & Be Healthier

1. Great work first, reactive work second

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“How you doin’?”

“I’m super busy.”

That narrative bleeds into every corner of America it seems like. At home and at work, we’re all busy. But how did we get here?

It turns out, busyness does not necessarily mean you’re getting things done.

Researchers are finding that distraction is more lethal than we write it off to be. Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California Irvine, found that workers were only able to focus for 11 minutes on project at at time before being sucked into distraction.

The collateral damage is arguably more disturbing.

It took these same workers 25 minutes to return to the task they were distracted from. Over the course of day, this cycle adds up.

It provides an illusion of productivity. On the back-side of your day, it jams everything up. You get stressed out because it takes you a long time to finish tasks. This can build up to chronically elevated cortisol which can disrupt sleep quality and makes your body more efficient at storing belly-fat.

And, it leaves little margin in your day to go to the gym or meal prep. Fortunately, there’s a practical fix.

Schedule your days to knock out your great work first. And then, and only then, do you tend to reactive work.

Blocking the first two to four hours of your day for great work is ideal. If this is too ambitious, start with 30-45 minutes.

You need to draw the line between the world’s demands and your own ambitions. Facebook can wait. Emails can wait. Laundry can wait. Amazon prime isn’t going anywhere. The world won’t break if you don’t check into Instagram.

2. Drink coffee

I grew up thinking that coffee was bad for me. Somewhere along the lined, I adopted the idea that it would stunt my growth. Maybe it was because my Pa didn’t drink coffee?

Whatever.

Fast-forward a few decades, and the bean-juice is now a part of my life. I love my cupped lightning. I have to admit, when the golden juice touches my lips, I feel like I can take on the world. Creativity shoots through the roof and shouldering laborious tasks become bearable (like cranking out a 10 sets of 10 on the front squat).

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However, I’ve also discovered that coffee has some advantages that extend past the usual benefits:

Live longer

Coffee has shown that it can reduce your chances of dying. Meaning, you can live longer. A study in The American Journal of Epidemiology, studies showed that four cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of death by 16 percent and three cups a day reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 21 percent.

Protection against prostate cancer

Nearly 50,000 Americans were involved in study between coffee drinking and the correlation it had on risk of prostate cancer.

Men who consumed the most coffee, showed a 20% lower risk of developing any form of prostate cancer. One possible reasons for this outcome is due to the level of antioxidant polyphenols found in coffee.

Previous research has shown that increased polyphenol intake from coffee (and green tea) have shown to prevent the onset of prostate cancer.

Coffee keeps you lean

Caffeine is found in nearly every fat-burner supplement on the market.

The reason?

Caffeine is one of the few, legal substances that have actually been proven to help you stay lean and burn fat. It has been shown to boost your metabolic rate up to 11% each day. That means, more calories burn at rest which equals better body composition.

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3. Do sprints

Next to gymnasts, track and field atheltes (sprinters particularly) have some of the best looking physiques in the world.

The lay man, would be lying through his teeth if he said he wouldn’t appreciate having the body of a sprinter.

If you’ve never laid eyes on the display of physical excellence, google the Harry Leslie Aikines-Aryeetey. It probably doesn’t hurt that he front squats 420 either.

The takeaway is this: Sprints make you look awesome and they’re good for your health.

Sprinting increases post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). In other words, you burn calories long after your workout which helps you burn more fat and keeps you looking good without a shirt on.

Also, sprinting enhances mitochondria function. Mitochondria are cellular organelles that function as power plants within a cell. So, the higher the number and the better the quality of your mitochondria the better and healthier you become.

Work capacity in the gym is enhanced because you generate energy more efficiently. And, when mitochondria is abundant and in good-shape, your heart gets healthier too. This is because the largest concentration of mitochondria is found in your heart.

As you age, mitochondria wears out. This loss of mitochondrial function is associated to heart disease and related disorders, including some of the most dreaded neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Adding sprints to your life is a good look. Do it now.

4. Tumeric

Curcumin is the compound found in the popular Indian spice tumeric (which happens to be a part of the ginger-family).

Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory. In fact, curcuminoids (sub-particles extracted from tumeric) have been shown to be strong COX2 inhibitors without having the negative impacts on the gut like ibuprofen.

The leading benefit here is that curcumin is used as a natural recovery agent. Meaning, it helps you recover faster, which helps your train more often at higher intensities. That means more gains.

But the benefits of curcuming transcend recovery. Curcumin has shown:

  • To increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It helps build new neurons in the brain and fights off degenerative processes in the brain. Meaning, it makes you smarter.
    To lower heart disease.
  • To have incredible benefits against depression.
  • When you decide to supplement with curcuim, be sure the compound has piperine in it (alkaloid responsible for the pungency of black pepper). This increases absorption of curcumin and ensures you get the maximum benefit.

5. Meditate

In strength sports, the mind-muscle connection isn’t a secret. But, making the mind-body connection is just as important.

The demands of life and daily stress (including training) can lead to low testosterone levels and a dip n GH (growth hormone).

The result is lack-luster workout and recovery time as slow as molasses.

Doing a daily stress-reducing activity like mindfulness meditation will allow you regulate your hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis to reduce stress and lower baseline cortisol levels.

This isn’t anything spiritual or religious either. Think of it as reps for your brain. A tool to manage your stress levels.

A simple practice to start would be five to ten minutes a day. Sit down in a place where you can find some space – away from the hum of all things.

Then, with your eyes closed watch your thoughts drive by. The goal of the practice is to train yourself in a way that you no longer feel like you have to “react” or “solve” every thought that comes into your mind.

Think of it this way:

You’re driving along the highway, and then you pull over and sit down on the shoulder. You look at all the cars passing by. You don’t have to chase any of the cars. You don’t have to keep up. You simply watch the cars go by without having an urge to stop, or jump in any of them.

Watch your thoughts drive by just like the cars.

The practice has profound impact on managing your daily stress levels. Try it.

Wrapping Up

Take these five strategies and plug them into your game-plan. You’ll feel better and you’ll look better without a shirt on. It’s a win-win.

Or don’t. It’s your choice.

References

“Antidepressant Activity of Curcumin: Involvement of Serotonin and Dopamine System – Springer.” Home – Springer. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
“Association of Coffee Consumption With Overall and Cause-Specific Mortality in a Large US Prospective Cohort Study.” Oxford Journals | Medicine & Health | American Jnl of Epidemiology. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
“Coffee Consumption and Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer: a Dose-response Meta-analysis. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
“Coffee Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk and Progression in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
“Dietary Antioxidants and Prostate Cancer: A Review.” PubMed Central (PMC). N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
“Four or More Cups of Coffee a Day May Keep Prostate Cancer Recurrence and Progression Away.” ScienceDaily. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
“Meet the Life Hackers – NYTimes.com.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
“Mitochondria’s Effect on Your Heart Health.” Human Events. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
“Normal Caffeine Consumption: Influence on Thermogenesis and Daily Energy Expenditure in Lean and Postobese Human Volunteers.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
“Effects of the Transcendental Meditation Program on Adaptive Mechanisms: Changes in Hormone Levels and Responses to Stress After 4 Months of Practice. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

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Name: Brian McFadden

Bio: Brian teaches motivated but overwhelmed active individuals the importance of adopting an integrative approach to their health and fitness, so they can finally make the gains they want in the gym, but also live a healthy life outside of it.