Health like a Physicist

Health sciences are too often reactive practices.

They could probably improve with some first principles thinking.

Like our Physicist friends do.

Take a rocket ship, how well would it fly if a Physicist forgot about incorporating gravity into the design?

“But that would be silly, they’d never forget gravity!”

You’re right.

A launch wouldn’t be very impressive if they did.

Just as gravity is a pillar force in getting rockets off the ground, if you want to improve or maintain your health, there are pillar forces you should pay attention to.

A rocket needs good fuel. So does your body. Whole foods, mostly plants, not too much.

A rocket that doesn’t move isn’t very helpful. Neither is a body that hasn’t moved in a while. Bend so you don’t break, every day.

And a rocket can’t (yet) operate at full capacity mission after mission without rest and repair. Neither can you function without adequate sleep and recovery. Quantity, 9-7 hours and quality, dark room, no caffeine after within 8-hours of sleep.

Food, movement, sleep. If a Physicist designed a healthcare protocol for themselves, these would be as important as gravity is for rocket design.

Just like gravity is crucial to rocket design, food, movement and sleep are crucial to health.

Just like gravity is crucial to rocket design, food, movement and sleep are crucial to health.

The man in the arena

My heart was pumping.

I tried to slow it down with my breathing.

In for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds. I read somewhere this is how Navy Seals breathe to keep themselves calm. If it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me.

It worked.

My vision got clearer and my heart rate slowed down.

But the voice in my head was still there. The one who says, 'you're not ready for this.'

Still there. It always is in the big moments. Even if you've been getting prepared for months. The voice always shows up.

I knew it was coming. And I knew what it was going to say.

Samurai's thought it was best to fight with an empty mind. So I cleared out the house in my head where my thoughts live and locked the door.

There I was standing at the edge of the mat, staring at a guardrail across the hall. But how did I know I was staring at the guardrail? Was that a thought? Dammit. My mind wasn't clear.

The voice started to come back. Maybe I hadn't done enough training. Maybe the other guy was better than me.


These thoughts aren't helpful but they're always there.

'Don't forget to breathe,' one guy told me. He was right. Breathing is important.

The fight started and the crowd cheered. I had some supporters and the other guy had some too. Everyone was there for the show. People love to be entertained.

It went on for a few minutes, he had control for the most part and ended up winning on points.

My first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament match, a loss.

'That wasn't so bad,' I thought. And the voice was gone.

What was the point of it showing up?

No one else was against me except it. Our harshest critique lives in our heads.

But you can silence it with your actions. The critiques opinion doesn't matter to the man in the arena. Because the critique isn't the one going to battle.

The critique isn't the one putting themselves out there.

The critique isn't the one showing up and trying something which might not work.

The critique feeds on attention and loses her power when the man in the arena decides to ignore her.

Today was good fun. I finished the day with 2 losses by points, 1 win by armbar submission and 9.5/10 fingernails.

Six weeks into this sport and I'm already in love. There are plenty more rolls to come. And that gets me excited.

If you haven't tried Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before, you should. I highly recommend it.

Even if it's not Jiu Jitsu, and you're thinking about trying something else. Something new. But you've been paying too much attention to your harshest critique and it's holding you back. Silence the critique with your actions. I highly recommend it.


Changing your mind is free

Someone came up to me today and said they wanted to get healthier.

‘I’ve got a pack with my friend to sign up to the police force,’ he said, ‘and we’ve both let ourselves go a bit.’

‘And you look like the type of guy who knows what he’s doing, and I’ve decided it’s time to do something.’ 

‘Yeah, of course, I can help,’ I said, ‘ask me anything.’

What he did takes guts.

It’s hard to look at the world and say, ‘I’m going to make a change.’

It’s sometimes even harder to look at yourself and do the same thing.

Changing your mind is free but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard.

On another note, these kind of situations are why I stay fit.

My body is my product. It’s skin in the game. If I’m going to write, talk about and spread the message of being healthy, I have to first be healthy myself.

You are what you repeatedly do. That’s your personal brand.

The same principle applies. If your personal brand is what you repeatedly do, you can change it like your mind. It’ll be free but no one said it’ll be easy.

Health inheritance

Everyone is familiar with the concept of DNA.

One generation passes theirs onto the next.

Evolution slowly but surely worked out the best way to transfer information across generations.

Now we’ve got different methods; books, video, photos. But when it comes to replicating the population, DNA is still King (and Queen).

Chances are if you’ve heard of DNA, you’ve heard of genes.

“How does she look so good?”

“She must have got good some genes!”

But what are ‘good genes’?

From the sounds of things, most people would think you get your genes, they’re good or bad and that’s that.

Well, that’s partly true. You are born with specific genes but they won’t stay 100% the same throughout your life.

Much like how your bank account fluctuates depending on your spending habits and earnings, your genes with fluctuate with your health.


Let’s say you want your kids to get a big inheritance. You work hard and control your spendings.

Eventually, little Johnny gets a good deal of cash after you pass.

Whether this is good or bad is up for debate.

But the other side of the coin to wealth inheritance is health inheritance.

Just like years of poor spending habits will put a dent in anyones bank account, years of poor health habits will damage your genes.

Now you may not notice the effects immediately. Once formed, the human body is a resilient beast.

But your offspring may not be as lucky.

You know you shouldn’t smoke or drink during pregnancy as it can lead to a deformed baby.

But what about eating a diet lacking Vitamin K2, which is crucial to jaw development?

Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin which means it’s found in fatty foods (especially eggs).

During the past few decades there has been a trend to go against fatty foods.

Which may explain why so many dentists are driving around in BMW’s. The braces business is booming.

Causation or correlation?

More work has to be done but this is just one example of how food can influence future generations.

Eating well and taking care of your health won’t only mean you’ll look good, it’ll give your future offspring the best chance of growing up attractive and healthy.

Inheriting health is far more important than inheriting wealth.


PS If you’re looking to learn more about nutrition and health, I’ve been loving the book Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan, 11/10.


Your most important asset

Whatever your goals are.

Whatever your ambitions are.

It doesn’t matter.

You can all the drive in the world but you still need gas.

Energy is the most valuable resource you have.

And energy comes from taking care of your health. Mental, physical, spiritual.

Recent advancements in modern medicine have been exciting but they’re still no match for the most established health technology of all time.

Mother Nature.

Don’t overcomplicate it.

Eat food, real food. If it comes in a packet or through a window, you probably don’t need it.

Sleep long and well. 17+ hours without sleep and your cognitive abilities are the equivalent of a drunk driver.

Move. Often. Ever noticed what happens to a body of water when it stays still? It becomes stagnant.

Mental and spiritual health often come second to physical health. But they’re just as important. Check in with yourself. Check in with others.

We’re all looking to answer the same thing. ‘Where do I fit in this world?’

There’s no right or wrong answer. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to find. You’ll need energy to keep looking.

Take care of your health. It’s your most important asset.


When the difficulty switches

Since being back from the US (October 8), I’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu almost every day (except Sundays).

And it’s hard.

I’ve never been so sore.

But I remember back to when I started in the gym. Or when I started programming. Or when I started writing.

In the beginning it’s a battle. You’re hurting, your brain’s exhausted and there’s still so much to learn.

Then you start to pick up a few things.

You reach little milestones. And set new ones for yourself.

After a while the difficulty starts to switch.

Eating well all the time still isn’t the easiest habit to maintain.

Writing a great article is a still a challenge.

And working out every day is still hard.

But it’s harder if you don’t do it.

You know how good it feels to finish a hard session and how proud you are when someone enjoys a piece of your work.

All of a sudden, it’s easier to work out than not. It’s easier to eat well than not. And the words start writing themselves.

I have to keep reminding myself of this. Especially when I’m tired, sore and not really feeling like going to Jiu Jitsu training. Or when I’m stuck on a programming problem.

Eventually the difficulty switches. And getting better is inevitable.

It’s 9:10 pm. Training is at 6:00 am tomorrow. I can’t wait.

Better get to sleep.

Staying Fit While Travelling | Whole Body Hostel Workout

The healthiest cultures in the world don't have gym memberships.

Instead, they embrace movement.

They get up and down often. Some eat their meals on the ground and therefore are constantly getting up and down. And others tend the gardens where they grow their own food.

They walk around. Transport is available but then so are their feet. And they use them often.

Instead of slowing down their movement patterns as they get older, they keep them going.

You'll often find them in groups hosting a yoga session or Tai Chi practice.

All forms of life move. If you don't move you die.

I wasn't close to dying but I knew I'd feel better if I got moving.

I'd just come off the back of a few days worth of travel with a lack of proper sleep or nutrition. And my system was feeling sluggish.

I didn't have access to a gym but that wasn't a problem. I had a body and I had gravity (I still have those).

Workouts don't need to be long and taxing all the time. There are times to lay it all on the line but for the most part, getting a sweat on and your heart rate up for a few minutes is enough.

The title of this article says how to stay fit whilst travelling but you can do this one anytime. Find some floor space and you’re set.

You could complete this in under 25-minutes if you wanted. I did it in closer to 30 with some filming in between.

Part 1 — Upper and Lower Body

  1. 20 pushups

  2. 20 squats

  3. 45-seconds rest

  4. Repeat 5 times

Don't take any rest in between the pushups and squats. For a level up, you could shorten the rest time to 30-seconds.

Part 2 — Upper and Lower Body

  1. 20 lunges (10 each leg)

  2. 20 knees to hands -- stick your hands out 90-degrees from your elbows and raise one leg at a time to meet your hand with your knee

  3. 10 tricep dips -- I used the edge of a car for these

  4. 45-seconds rest

  5. Repeat 5 times

Do the lunges, knees to hands and tricep dips back to back with no rest in between. This helps to keep the heart rate high.

Part 3 — Core

  1. 30-seconds hollow hold (back to the floor)

  2. 30-seconds reverse hollow hold (stomach to the floor)

  3. 10 side plank twists (5 each side)

  4. 20-seconds rest

  5. Repeat for a total of 6-minutes

No rest in between each of the different movements. 20-seconds rest after completing a round of each. Continue until 6-minutes is over.

The sweat started dripping after the 3rd or 4th set of Part 1 for me. It'll be hard until it happens.

Once your body starts to sweat, it'll start to help you move. That's what you're aiming for. 15-20-minutes of sweat and hard work for a whole day of feeling good.

PS Don't forget to stay hydrated when travelling (and like, all the rest of the time). Jet lag is made worse by a lack of hydration. Combat it fast by flooding your body with water and endorphins. This workout offers half the deal.

One of the most misunderstood things about gaining muscle

Gaining muscle is easy.

Here’s how.

You go to the gym. You pick up weights. Weights which are fairly difficult to pick up in your current state. You repeat the picking up and putting down for 30–45 minutes. Then you leave. When you get home you eat a good meal and get some good rest. Then repeat.


Doing this process consistently will result in substantial gains. Especially in the beginning.

But. Muscle grows much faster than connective tissue grows.

‘Yeah, so what, I’ve got sick gains bruh?’

You’re right. You do. But how can you move?

Can you do a bodyweight squat (ass to grass) without falling over? Keep those heels on the ground.

How far can you raise your shoulders above your head? Now rotate them. When does it start to pinch?

These are two basic movement patterns which can be used to test how good your mobility is.

I used these two movements as examples because they use the two major joint systems in the body — the shoulder and the hip.

Our joints are built to last 120-years.

However, why do some the people who seem to go to the gym most often, have sore shoulders and tight hips?

It’s because the way most current muscle building protocols you find involve repeated 90-degree, up and down in a straight line, movements.

You may have gained some good muscle from performing movements such as the bench press, the shoulder press, the squat, the deadlift. And they’re all great, however they don’t account for one thing.

Our two major joint systems are ball joints.And surrounding these ball joints is plenty of connective tissue which isn’t as quick to board the gain train as your muscles.

‘Alright, I tried to squat to the ground but I fell over, how can I fix it?’

You can fix it by remembering everything in the body is connected. And just because you’ve built some good muscle, doesn’t mean you don’t have to take care of other parts of your body.

Poor squat form can come from tight calves.

Poor shoulder mobility can come from tight biceps and lats.

A sore knee can be from your tendon taking the weight because your quads don’t activate well enough when squatting heavier weights.

If your trainer has given you a muscle building protocol or you’re following one you’ve found online and it doens’t incorporate some kind of mobility work, add it in yourself.

Ronnie Coleman built some of the most impressive muscles the world has ever seen, but now he’s paying for it. Was it worth it? To him, of course it was. I bet he would do it all over again.

Coleman at his peak and in hospital preparing for surgery. 

Coleman at his peak and in hospital preparing for surgery. 

Build an epic chest. Get those guns pumping for summer. But don’t forget to bend before you break.Practice some movements outside of the 90-degree plane of motion and get those ball joints and connective tissues doing what they were meant to do.

A few of my favourites:

  • Yoga — great for all different kinds of movement patterns, also shows you where you’re weak.
  • Animal movements — lizard crawl, gorilla crawl, bear crawl, all of these involve using parts together which aren’t usually used together.
  • Deep squat hold — lookup ‘Asian farmer’ on Google, this is your goal, hold this position for a few minutes every session. Hold onto a pole if you can’t.
  • Hanging — grab a bar and just hang there for a period of time. This will help build those muscles which stabilise the shoulder.
  • Rotations — you can do this whilst hanging but it’s a little more advanced, ease into it. Start by hanging on a bar, then move your head backwards whilst bringing your feet to come through your arms, your knees should come close to your head. Then bring your feet as close as possible back to the floor.

More mobility means less injuries means better training means better muscles.


3 reasons to start hanging out more often

If you want to step up your shoulder game, increase your grip strength or give your spine a break from gravity you should be hanging.

And by hanging, I mean holding on to something with your hands, with your feet dangling off the ground. 

Last session, I did 8 rounds of 30-seconds on, 30-seconds off.

By the end, my forearms were on fire.


1. Grip Strength

This one’s obvious. Hanging off something requires grip strength.

And grip #strength is usually the first thing to fail whenever you’re trying to hold onto something, a person, a barbell, a cliff face, the side of a helicopter.

A strong grip is a pillar of a #strong body.

Maybe if Rose worked on her grip strength more, Jack would still be here.

2. Shoulder & Scapula Stabilisation

Hanging won’t build big cannonball delts but it will help those little muscles inside the shoulder get stronger.

The ones which often cause those annoying niggles.

When you first start, hanging dead still will probably be a challenge.

But after a while, you’ll start to be able to manipulate your scapula and control your shoulder positioning.

This finite control will transfer to other movements.

3. Spine Decompression

Think of an accordion. Lifting weights and normal day to day activities are the squeezing of the accordion.

But how good does an accordion sound when it’s only ever closed?

Hanging is the pulling apart action of the accordion.

With gravity off your back (literally), pressure in between the vertebrae is released.

This release of pressure opens the flood gates for fluids and other nutrients to flow.

What happens to water if it doesn’t move for a while?

It becomes stagnant.

Same thing with the spine.

Where’s the science?

I don’t have any studies to back up the above.

Only experience.

My shoulder pain went away when I started focusing on movements like hanging (and rotating).

My grip still has a long way to go though.

Causation or correlation? Probably a little of both. Plus, this is an easy trick.

If you’ve got shoulder pain or a mangled spine, try it out.

All you need is a bar.

Jump. Grab on. Hold on. Let go. Repeat.




Nutrition and Investing

8-week plans are like get rich quick schemes.

They might work in the short term but fall apart soon after.

Diets are like different kinds of investing.

Vegan, paleo, keto, vegetarian. Stock investing, real estate, education.

They all work. But for some better than others.

I have no interest in real estate but I love stocks and learning. So I devote my time there.

And I like eggs for breakfast so a vegan diet is off the cards.

Treat your nutrition plan like your investment plan. Long-term.

You may lose 10kg in 8-weeks but how long will you keep it off for?

That 5-year stretch of binge eating is like that 5-year car loan you can’t afford — unnecessary.

When it comes to buying quality food, put your money your mouth is.

Trade wealth for health but never the other way round.

This post first appeared on LinkedIn, I post there quite often too.