Swimming is hard

A happy man riding a bike during a triathlon
(Not me.)

I completed a sprint triathlon yesterday morning with my best friend.

A quarter-mile swim. A 12-mile bike. Then a 5k run.

I didn’t prepare for it nearly as much as I should have. Prior to the event, I only swam three times and ran two. Not ideal.

The swim was the toughest part by far. My arms were exhausted during the last few laps. Once I got out of the pool, it felt like I won the entire event…despite being like 200 people behind.

We went into the pool one by one, swimming through each lane down and back, then under the rope and into the next lane. We went in based on our swim times. Naturally, I went in with the last group because I assumed I would need to take a few breaks. I made friends in line and we bonded over our lack of ability.

My buddy went in way ahead of me….He had prepared properly. I got into the pool 15 minutes after he got out. Our plan to complete the triathlon together went out the window.

I was feeling insecure coming in because of my lack of training. I feared being surrounded by a bunch of super-athletes judging me for not taking this as seriously as I should’ve. But I learned something powerful yesterday.

There were folks of all kinds of shapes, sizes, ages, and capabilities competing. Here’s the lesson I gathered from seeing all these wonderful people do their thang:

There will always be a shit ton of people who are way better than we are at something. There will always be a shit ton of people who are way worse than we are at that same thing. It doesn’t make sense for us to compare ourselves to either group.

We should learn from and be inspired by those ahead of us and help and teach those behind us. We need only compare ourselves to who we were in the past. Am I better than I was last month? Last week? Yesterday?

When I was in line for the swim, I met an 82-year old who has done a ton of these events. I’ll leave you the advice he left me.

If you’re not having fun, you might as well stay home.

82-year old badass

Triathlon prep

I’m doing a triathlon tomorrow.

I’m woefully unprepared for the swim portion, but I’ll make it happen.

The date seemed to pop up out of nowhere.

It was a lovely example of the importance of being proactive so our future selves can be happier. There were several days where I decided not to go swim laps because I simply didn’t feel like it. It truly felt like I had all the time in the world to prepare.

“Not today. Next week though…I’ll definitely do the work later.”

But later never comes.

The best time to do the work is always right now.

First day back

The past month has been the best month I’ve ever had financially. It’s also been the worst month I’ve had mentally in 2021.

I’ve felt unorganized, my habits have slipped, and I’ve just been uncharacteristically not taking care of myself as well as I tend to.

But this week, I feel like myself again. I’ve had several ‘first day back’s. What the hell does that mean? (And is that grammatically correct? Probably not.)

Well, when we step away from something—a habit or routine—coming back to it, getting back on the horse, is always uncomfortable and full of Resistance.

When I skip the gym for a week, my first day back is always a sluggish, difficult workout. The same is true for my morning routine, reading, running, jiujitsu, chess, and any other activity that’s important to me.

The problem many of us face on our first day back? We forget that there’s something beautiful on the other side of Resistance. Better skills. More confidence. Improved health.

The crazy thing is that we once knew what these things felt like, but now they feel like distant memories.

When I was in high school, I could dribble and juggle a soccer ball with ease. I could shoot on goal for hours and place the ball where I wanted at times. Now, when I shoot a soccer ball almost a decade later, I have no idea where the ball will go. I’ve lost my touch.

There was a thing I once knew but have lost because I’m out of practice. Now, I’m not saying I’m going to start training to be a soccer player again…but if I truly wanted to, I could get it all back.

I’d just have to show up on my first day back, deal with the fact that I have to earn back my skills and flow, and keep practicing.

Quitting coffee (part 2)

Holy fuck.

Turns out I have a caffeine addiction. Three mornings into quitting coffee cold turkey and I feel like I’m genuinely drained and slightly depressed.

I’m stealing some of my roommate’s coffee today because I simply have too much work to do to be feeling this way. I was clearly over-ambitious and seriously underestimated how physically attached my brain was to drinking a cup during my morning routine.

Slow and steady.

Today is bittersweet because I feel like a person again, but it sucks to know that that’s only true because I’ve sipped on a substance.

It is what it is.

Quitting coffee

A few days ago, I noticed that my coffee was about to run out. So I did something I haven’t done since I started drinking coffee…I didn’t buy anymore.

This is the first morning I have willingly not drank the morning brown. And I’m fucking tired.

It’s crazy to think about caffeine addiction. We often don’t realize we have one because we never actually cut it out of our routine and therefore are unaware of the effects of its absence.

My goal is to be just as energetic and motivated in the mornings by simply drinking cold water. Hydration seems like a much more sustainable method for getting the engine moving.

But like all meaningful changes, it won’t happen on the first day. I imagine this being a gradual process.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Nothing’s wrong

One plus one equals three
A real photo of my senior thesis.

I got coached by a friend yesterday. I came into the session with the past two weeks containing more stress and anxiety than I’ve felt in years. Here’s what happened.

It went well. She’s a great coach. But often times we go into a coaching session thinking we’ll leave with total relief and clarity. We believe if we come in with negative emotions, we’ll talk out our feelings and reach the insight that we don’t need to feel them at all.

But that’s not always true.

When she asked what was going on, I told her that in the past two weeks:

• my biggest possible client pulled out
• I have a big presentation coming up, and
• I’ve been falling off with my habits

Talking this shit out is always powerful. Talking it out with a coach who knows what she’s doing is always 50 times more powerful. These were my three biggest takeaways:

1) Nothing’s wrong.

Feeling discomfort—stress, anxiety, uncertainty, doubt, fear—is a natural part of the human condition. Why then do alarms go off when we feel these ever-occurring emotions? Our fight or flight response is activated and our bodies tell us in one way or another that something’s wrong.

I had to remind myself that I’m constantly stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m running my own business, I’m new at it. Rather than thinking I don’t need to feel stressed, I came to the realization: Of course I feel stress! And that’s okay. Who wouldn’t?

In other words, nothing’s wrong.

2) Three magic questions.

Be it with my coaching, my hobbies, or anything else I want to pursue in life…I basically boiled down my life purpose into three questions:

• Am I having fun?
• Are other people having fun?
• Is this helpful?

The answers to those three questions tell me whether or not I’m in the right space.

3) I always figure it out.

I have flunked out of college, tried to kill myself, and been in $80,000 worth of debt with no job. And I’m still here…typing out this blog.

We often feel like if we don’t “figure it out” (whatever the hell ‘it’ is), we’ll fall into a black hole. But no, we just wake up the next morning. We adapt. We figure it out.

The important thing is to continue to be vigilant about figuring it out. Ask questions. Get a coach. Share thoughts and feelings.

When we do all of these things consistently, we come to understand that no matter how we’re feeling…nothing’s wrong.

2nd vaccine

I got my second vaccine yesterday. I slept in an extra hour and a half this morning—something I never do.

My body aches and I’m exhausted. But I have a long day of work today so I won’t be taking it super easy.

As shitty as it feel physically, it feels nice to have habits and systems in place which help me take care of the things I want to get done.

One of my favorite phrases comes to mind today:

No hurry; no pause.

Meaning, I don’t have to rush anything, so long as I show up every day and do the work.

Why people don’t exercise

A pug laying down on the sidewalk

Last year, I made a vlog every day for two months straight. I was certain I’d be the next Casey Neistat. I had cheesy dreams of having thousands of subscribers and making a living off YouTube. I was ready to die chasing this dream.

Until I wasn’t.

After about 60 days of waking up at 5am, editing for three or four hours a day, and trying to film my life and make it seem more interesting than it actually was….I quit.

Why?

The same reason that:

• people don’t exercise even though they would love to look and feel better.
• we stay constantly stimulated even though we know we’re addicted to our phones and apps.
• folks are passive aggressive and mean even though they know everything is better when they are patient and respectful…

Because we so often love the idea of something more than we enjoy the process of actually making it happen.

I loved the image of being a successful YouTuber. But when it came to actually doing the work necessary to step in that direction, my mind and body said fuck that.

I’ve said in the past that we can never force or make anybody do, think, or believe anything; they have to get there on their own.

In other words, we have no control over peoples’ (or even our own) priorities. If someone is overweight, but doesn’t truly care to work it off, they won’t do anything about it until something shifts in their mind. The same is true for anyone who wants to pursue anything.

If someone can talk us out of a dream then it was never really a dream to begin with.

What’s something you’ve been talked out of in the past? What’s something no one can talk you out of now?

Slipping up

Today is one of those days where I wake up and realize that my habits have been off track.

I’m looking at my phone past 10pm.

I haven’t been doing my weekly review on Mondays.

I haven’t even been working out as much as I normally do.

Perhaps it’s because of stress. Whatever it is, the shitty feeling of not taking care of myself as well as I normally do packs on even more stress.

This is natural. It happens every so often. No need to freak out. Just have to readjust and get back on the horse.

Funny enough, I’m riding horses today with my mom for the first time. Pretty perfect.

The first day back at the gym after taking a break always sucks. But it’s a necessary suck. It’s like paying my dues for slacking. That’s okay.

“Too often, we fall into an all-or-nothing cycle with our habits. The problem is not slipping up; the problem is thinking that if you can’t do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do it at all.”

James Clear

Remembering

We know how to live better lives.

We know that:

• being fitter will make us look and feel better
• more time on social media will make us more anxious
• staying up super late will make us exhausted the next day
• more time with loved ones and with our passions will make us more fulfilled
• expanding our comfort zones will provide us more opportunities….

So why do we struggle with all these things we know to be true?

Because in a sense, the day to day hustle and bustle of life clouds our vision. We get distracted. We forget.

When I’ve had a long ass day, my brain’s not thinking about how to optimize my wellbeing before bed; it’s craving the dopamine of watching another YouTube video as I slide under the covers.

I’m thinking: Yes, I know that in the past staying up late watching YouTube makes me more tired when I wake up and it makes the day harder…but this time, I really need to stay up and watch YouTube.

I forget.

Then, like clockwork, I wake up the next day and remember…usually with some self-loathing.

But what if I was able to remember before suffering the consequences?

One strategy I use to remember is by reinforcing the fact that I tell myself lies.

“I won’t regret: staying up late…eating a sixth donut…skipping the gym…blowing my friend off…”

Lies. All of them.

One of my best friends once said:

“Resistance always comes in reasonable forms.”

Our forgetting what is good for us always seems rational in the moment. It’s only after the fact that we see what’s really going on.

Let’s get in the habit of remembering what we already know.

Work and play

A little boy playing in a pile of leaves

After a week-long vacation, I’m back in my home office itching to get back to work.

I’m grateful to love what I do.

People talk about work/life balance. I have no idea what the perfect formula for that is or if it even exists.

My typical process is this:

Spend a few weeks working → Crave a vacation → Take a vacation → Crave getting back to work → Get back to work → Repeat

It works for me (get it?).

What I love about this process is how much better I get at my work by taking intentional breaks. Like letting our muscles recover after a workout, we counterintuitively get better results the more we set aside time for fun and relaxation.

I can’t stand when people say they sleep less so they can get more done in a day. That’s ludicrous.

You get more done in a day when you’re well-rested and full of mental energy. If that weren’t the case, insomniacs would be the most successful people on earth.

Sleep. Rest. Fun. Play time.

These are essential to our productivity and our well-being.

Take that trip. Go on vacation.

Then get the fuck back to work.

This is progress

This morning will be the first organized public event I attend since everything shut down in March of 2020.

I’m pumped.

My sister cheers for her local high school. Their football team is playing the high school I went to.

Not only am I grateful to get to see her compete and do something she’s interested in…but going to an event makes me smile.

Progress is insuing.

People are getting vaccinated.

Things are opening up.

There’s much work to be done and people have certainly suffered unnecessarily, but we are taking steps to get back to “normal.”

At some point, you’ll be able to walk into a crowded concert hall and no one will be wearing masks and it’ll be totally natural.

That’s called progress (or Florida). And it should be celebrated.

Super simple sleep hacks

A cat getting some sleep

I preach on and on about the importance of sleep. And it’s still the thing that most gets me in trouble.

Good or bad quality sleep is the difference between all other habits or tasks being much easier or much harder.

Here are some actionable tips.

Falling asleep:

• As it gets closer to bed time, make your environment darker. Turn the big lights off. Light some candles. This activates melatonin, the chemical in your brain which tells you it’s time for bed, making you more sleepy.

• For the love of God, set boundaries on screen time. Blue light is damaging to your eyes and it diminishes sleep quality. Turn the TV off before bed. Put the phone away. Read or listen to an audiobook or a podcast. My rule: No matter what, my phone goes on airplane mode at 10pm. I listen to an audiobook until I’m bored to death and then fall asleep.

• Get an eye mask. I didn’t like having something on my face at first; it felt claustrophobic. But I quickly got used to it. Like the first bullet, this keeps everything dark which helps you sleep through the night without waking as the sun rises and lights up the room.

Waking up:

• Before you do anything, drink cold water. A glass or two is ideal. Coffee is lovely, but the first thing your body needs is hydration. It just went seven to ten hours without water and is totally dehydrated. I’m stunned every time I feel like death in the morning and then feel instantly better after chugging half my water bottle.

• An inverse of the “Falling asleep” tip—Make your environment bright. This lets the brain know that it’s time to be awake and alert. Keeping things dark confuses the mind and makes it think we should still be asleep.

• If you have time (and most people do), do something you enjoy right when you wake up. Listen to upbeat music. Go for a walk. Do some stretches. Having a productive morning is necessary for setting the stage for the day, but you can make things easier on yourself by throwing in some fun, too.

• Avoid passive activities like scrolling on your phone or watching TV until after you’ve pursued some active activities. Things like: Reading, cooking, walking, stretching, exercise of some kind, writing, etc. Wake your brain up first and take charge. You’ll also find you probably won’t feel like doing something passive after being more active.

Conclusion

Of course, getting consistently high-quality sleep takes a bit of time and intention. Going to bed and waking up at the same times every day is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

It takes discipline, which makes it difficult.

Things come up. We want to have fun. Some nights we simply can’t fall asleep.

There will be ups and downs and that’s okay. So long as you keep being mindful of the importance sleep has on the things you care about in life, you’ll be able to keep making adjustments.

Hope this was helpful in some way.

Get some sleep.

From strangers to family

Carlos Catania Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Last night was my first day back to the jiujitsu gym in four months.

I took time off because I had a bunch of family events for the holidays and trips and flights I didn’t want to miss out on. I didn’t want to increase my chances of getting COVID.

Spoiler alert: I got it anyway.

There are a number of life lessons I could write about (and have written about) from my short time doing jiujitsu. But today, I want to talk about something you can apply to any type of practice or community.

Being a n00b

Last winter, I remember hopping into class for the first time. It was fucking terrifying.

The thing was, I wasn’t really scared to get my ass beat—though that would happen each and every night. I was aware that that was simply part of the process going in.

No, what intimidated me was jumping into something with a group of people who already knew each other for years.

My thoughts: They are a family. I am an outsider.

I felt the same way when I started acting in the theatre program in college. They are a family. I am an outsider.

It’s tough when everyone:

• tells stories you were never a part of
• knows everyone’s names and facts about them
• is constantly talking and laughing with everyone else besides you

How to change things

To be clear, by no means was I ever excluded or belittled at my gym. There’s just a noticeable difference between feeling truly close with the people you practice with and not.

The lesson here: That closeness doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s analogous to building trust with someone. It’s an organic and slow process.

Slowly but surely, I would talk more, tell more jokes, and get enough time in with my gym peoples to tell stories of my own.

One day, I was talking to a classmate before class, and I said something like, “People should feel lucky to come in and join your guys’ gym.”

She raised an eyebrow and unironically retorted, “You mean, join our gym.”

Holy fuck. I’m in.

Conclusion

I got lucky to become closer with an amazing group of people. Not every group of coworkers, athletes, or neighbors will come together in such a way and that’s okay.

The point here is: When you enter a new community, the feeling of being the outsider can be daunting and often discouraging.

You may think, They already have their group. They don’t need me.

But if you keep showing up, keep listening, keep caring, and the group is a good bunch…then after a bit of patience and consistency, you’ll find you have another family.

My old thoughts: They are a family. I am an outsider.

My thoughts now: We are a family. Outsiders welcome.

The PERMAH Wheel

A plant growing out of a dead tree

One exercise I do with my coaching clients is work through the PERMAH Wheel.

Simply write down each letter and declare, on a scale from 1-10, how satisfied you are with each category. Then, explain why you gave that answer.

P: Positive emotions

How positive or optimistic are you with your environment or routines?

How often do you approach things with excitement, gratitude, or light-heartedness?

Do you feel like life is happening to you or for you?

E: Engagement

How engaged do you feel with the world around you: your relationships, your work, your free time?

How are you utilizing your strengths?

How present and focused are you in your day to day?

R: Relationships

What are the quality of your connections with your friends and family?

How much value are you getting from them? How much value are you giving in return?

How strong is your support system and how much energy does it provide you?

M: Meaning

Do you know why you do what you do? How strongly do your actions align with your deeply-seeded values?

Do you have a sense of being connected to something larger than yourself? (This doesn’t have to be anything religious.)

A: Achievement

How strongly do you feel you can say you’re going to do something and then do it? How often do you take action toward the things that matter to you?

This is less about, “How much money do you have,” and more about, “How consistently do you pursue things?”

H: Health

How are your eating habits? How consistently are you getting 7-9 hours of sleep? How often are you exercising?

Also, how much time do you spend being intentionally mindful: meditating, spending time in nature, taking a pause?

Your answers to these questions can unpack areas you may want to direct more of your energy. I hope you find it helpful in some way.

Corpse

Two nights ago, I celebrated a birthday with a small group of close friends.

It was absolutely lovely.

The only issue? My buddy and I stayed up crazy late after everyone else left to continue drinking and play chess.

I spent the night on the bathroom floor.

My college self came out and I spent the whole day yesterday in bed as a breathing corpse.

Did it suck?

Yes.

Was it worth it?

Yes.

Zzz

I’ve written and erased these words about four times.

The truth is, I didn’t sleep well at all and I’m exhausted.

Good sleep is the keystone to everything else in your life.

Prioritize it.

It’s free energy, creativity, and clarity.

Even typing out these simple words feels strenuous.

A nap is in order.

Embarrassing moment at the gym

Yesterday at the gym, this guy was benching without a spotter.

I was on the elliptical when I heard a loud boom as his weights came crashing to the floor.

Someone rushed to help him and he looked violently embarrassed.

I’ve been there. We all have.

I could only imagine what was going through his head. I tried to put myself in his shoes.

“Everyone thinks I’m an idiot or I’m weak or I’m a loser…”

But my immediate reaction to seeing this:

Oh shit, that guy dropped the bar. Hope he’s all good.

Then I went right back to focusing on my cardio.

That’s when I was reminded that when something embarrassing happens to you, it’s highly likely that no one else really cares. They definitely don’t care as much as you do in the moment.

Don’t believe me?

What are some cringe memories you have? You know, the ones that make you contort your face or audibly groan.

Now, think about an embarrassing memory someone else has.

Much harder, right? That’s because we’re almost always focused on ourselves and what others think about us.

I spent half a second thinking about that dude who dropped his weights. Then I went right back to looking at myself in the mirror to make sure I looked okay.

Rules are good

Not too many, of course, but we all need structure.

Principles. Boundaries. Limits.

Play around with them.

I did the keto diet for two years. Quite restrictive. In the end, it wasn’t what I wanted. But I still need rules. I can’t just eat whatever the fuck I want whenever I want.

You don’t have to shame yourself if you break the rules you set. Just readjust them until you find a harmony between healthy and doable.

Two cheat meals in a week? Sure.

Seven cheat meals? No.

You have to know where the line is by trying to draw it.

Whatever pulls you away from the life you want to live: porn, procrastination, social media…

Set some rules, stick to them, and see how you respond to following them.

It sounds restricting (and it is, by definition), but just like a budget is a rule for your money, rules for anything else are designed to give you the freedom to live healthily.

And freedom rules (get it?).

Way more

You don’t appreciate having both arms work until you break one.

You don’t fully appreciate someone until they are gone.

You don’t appreciate your health until you’re laying in bed sick for days.

Take intentional time to reflect all the things you have going for you.

It’s way more than you think.

Working through the fog

A field full of fog in the morning

I found out this weekend that I have Covid.
(Ever heard of it?)

To start, my symptoms are mild(ish) and I’m fine. By no means am I suffering at the level of others I have known. I’m lucky and grateful.

Having said that, everything is harder.

It is taking significantly more effort and to do the things I want to do: read, play chess, have conversations, get work done…

Naturally, I’m going easy on myself. I’m not holding myself to the same productivity standards as usual. I’m taking breaks and resting.

BUT…it still comes back to one simple mindset:

I am a professional.

According to Steven Pressfield, an amateur is someone who does the work when they feel like it; a professional is someone who puts in the time no matter what.

Working out when you don’t feel like it. Getting things done when you’re sick. Practicing your passion/hobby when you don’t feel motivated.

This is all very familiar to the professional.

An amateur would hear this and go, It’s okay to take days off.

Yes and no.

Yes in the fact that rest is necessary to refresh your mind and body.

No in the fact that most amateurs say this and really mean, It’s okay to take a lot of days off.

The people who tell me it’s okay to skip the gym are usually people who aren’t in great shape.

The people who tell me I don’t have to worry about being productive are typically people who don’t run their own businesses.

The people who tell me I don’t need to spend so much time on the things that interest me tend to have no real passions of their own.

I’m aware that this is sounding a little mean. I don’t mean to insult anyone. I’m just pointing out the patterns I’ve noticed over the years.

My point is: Being a professional is not about killing yourself to optimize every second of every day. It’s about working on the things that are important to you even when you don’t feel like it.

I’m sick. Everything is foggy, but I can still see.

I’m grateful to not be in a hospital. I’m grateful to have access to food and internet. I’m grateful to have a bed to take naps in.

I’ll take advantage of all of that when I need to. But until then…

It’s back to work.

Rest up

For the last two years, I have scheduled nearly every hour of every day.

To some, this might sound robotic and insane. To me, it has provided a structure that allows me to get everything done that’s important to me.

I’ve been pretty sick the past few days, so I’ve said fuck it to my usual scheduling routine.

At first, this made me feel insecure and uneasy. The uncertainty of how I would spend my time was not fun.

Then, when I didn’t die, I realized everything would be okay.

When I recover, I’ll continue with my normal system. But this is teaching me the value of unstructured days off. It’s actually more fun to get things done on free days—because I don’t have to do anything. Everything I do is simply because I want to.

Rest up.

Shitty things

I was supposed to get on a plane today and spend a long weekend visiting friends.

Waking up with a severely sore throat and a fever, I cancelled my flight. On top of that, my roommate had to cancel her plans to join her friends for a weekend getaway.

Shitty.

It feels awful to be the reason someone else can’t have a good time…even though I didn’t choose any of this.

Sometimes we needs reminders that things don’t always go our way.

We have an idea of how things are going to go, but it never really happens as expected.

The only thing you can do is roll with the punches and focus entirely on what can be controlled.

In this case that’s: Isolating myself, getting tested, and resting.

Don’t wish for shitty things to never happen.

Wish for the skills to maneuver around them when they inevitably do.

A hangover without being hungover

Man with a hangover holding his face under cold water

This weekend, I stayed up late to watch the Conor McGregor fight.

Afraid I wouldn’t be able to stay awake (I’m in bed at 10pm and the fight started around 1am), I drank a cup of coffee before the fights started.

I didn’t fall asleep until about 5 in the morning.

When my body naturally woke up at 9, I felt violently hungover. The thing was, I haven’t had a sip of alcohol in weeks.

That’s when I realized:

• how much of our hangovers are also just sleep deprivation

• if you think you can be at the same level with less than 7 hours of sleep, you’re fooling yourself

• sleep is a keystone: it affects every other aspect of your health—eating, cravings, energy, creativity, decision making…

Get some God damn sleep.

Dry January

Half way in.

No booze, drugs, or sugar.

Life hack: If you eat well, get 7+ hours of sleep each night, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and limit alcohol use…

You feel like a damn God.

Obsessions vs. Addictions

Addiction.

Humans are designed to be obsessed with things.

It’s like an energy which needs to manifest in some way. The trick is to point that energy toward productive and sustainable activities.

To be clear, none of this is meant to belittle the experience of addicts. Nothing can replace professional help when it comes to hardcore addiction, but it can be helpful to identify where we see addiction in our lives.

I have been addicted to drugs and alcohol in the past without even knowing it. My cycle?

  1. Take an Adderall in the morning to get a bunch of shit done
  2. Get said shit done
  3. Feel crash symptoms around 4 or 5pm
  4. Drink booze to avoid the crash
  5. Take an Adderall the next morning to beat the hangover

When it did this a few times, it felt harmless. But one day I woke up and realized I had done it every day for four months.

That was last summer, and I haven’t done it since.

Oddly enough, that wasn’t my most damaging habit.

Compared to heroin or alcohol, it sounds laughable, but this addiction took hours away from my life. I skipped school, failed classes, squandered countless opportunities…all because I couldn’t cut out this one thing…

Video games.

When I tell people I had a severe video game addiction, they either get it immediately, or they look at me like I’m a child.

What people don’t understand is that it wasn’t a matter of creating a strong system: Giving myself certain hours of play or only turning on the console after my work is done.

When I’m into a game, it’s all I want to do or think about. Simple as that.

Since that’s the case, I didn’t spend a single second to think about how much I could sell my Xbox or Playstation for. I threw them both in the garbage.

That was five years ago now.

Again, while both of these addictions did serious damage to my wellbeing, I’m lucky to still be able to drink a beer or experiment with drugs responsibly and enjoy myself.

Anyone in the world of recovery will tell you that for almost any addictive habit, it must be replaced with another habit. That energy doesn’t simply vanish.

This is where obsessions come in.

Obsessions.

Obsessions (for the purpose of this post) are opportunities for directing your addictive energy into something that has a positive effect on your wellbeing.

So I stopped playing video games and drinking booze every day. Now what? What am I going to do with all of these freed-up hours?

Well, in the last three years, I’ve accumulated a number of obsessions:

• Coaching
• Learning/improving skills
• Chess
• Having fruitful conversations with friends
• Brazilian Jiujitsu
• Intense workouts
• Building businesses

I would argue that all of my addictive energy has been allocated and spread into all of these new obsessions.

This has been my experience. Everyone is different.

Where do you see addiction in your life? For most people I know, the most damaging addictions are the ones they are totally unaware of.

Smart phones. Gossip. Junk food. News.

Identify where you see addictive energy. Then think about which obsessions you would prefer to direct that same energy.

Are you a statistic?

I was on the phone with one of my best friends this weekend. He told me he started reading a new book.

Knowing he hadn’t read a full book since high school, I was shocked.

“What made you decide to start reading,” I asked. He responded:

“Well, I saw online the other day that 80% of Americans don’t read books. That pissed me off. But then I realized that I’m one of that 80%. Which pissed me off even more. I don’t want to be part of a shitty statistic.”

I’ve never thought about it like that. What statistics annoy you that YOU are a part of?

More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

40% of adults are sleep deprived (regularly get fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night).

79% of American children and adults don’t get enough exercise for optimal health.

So my question to you is…

Are you a statistic?

Are marshmallows ruining your life?

A cup of marshmallows on a table

Give your future self some God damn marshmallows. Let me explain.

The age-old battle of self improvement is that of immediate pleasure vs. delayed gratification.

Many have heard of the marshmallow experiment given to children. A kid is given one marshmallow and are told that if they just wait 10 minutes, they will receive another. When the experimenter leaves the room, they observe the kids as they almost always squirm in their chairs and naturally devour their tasty treat.

We run experiments like this on ourselves every single day. Usually they are more significant than getting an extra marshmallow, but each “experiment” begs the same question:

Will doing this thing I want to do right now be a favor to my future self, or am I fucking that person over?

Answering this question in hindsight is easy. Answering it in the moment almost always feels impossible.

Should I have another drink before driving home?

Should I order fast food?

Should I go exercise?

In these immediate moments, the answers seem clear:

It’s just one more beer. I’ll be fine.

I’m starving and a Crunchwrap Supreme sounds divine.

I’m exhausted and the gym can fuck off.

Having to disregard your emotions and desires right now is incredibly difficult. That’s why so many of us don’t do it. It requires thinking about something as if from another person’s point of view. You have to play the part of a responsible third party.

You’ll regret getting pulled over way more than not having another beer.

You always feel like shit when you eat fast food.

You have never regretted getting a workout in.

When you do this, it can feel boring, lame, unadventurous…And hey, live your life. Say fuck it on occasion. But it’s incredibly useful to get in the habit of asking this question.

Will doing this thing I want to do right now help my future self or hurt them?

Or…

Two girls eating marshmallows

Am I okay with settling for one marshmallow, or can I hold out for something better?

Remember Your Training

You’ve been training your entire life for today.

Every single decision you’ve ever made has led you to where you are right now.

Your bank account is the grand total of all the times you’ve earned money and purchased something.

Your body is the grand total of all the times you did (or didn’t) work out or eat well.

Your relationships are the grand total of all the conversations and experiences you’ve had with others.

Remember your training.

My Favorite Drug

Here are all the drugs I’ve ever done:

•Adderall
•Alcohol
•Caffeine
•Cocaine
•Ecstasy
•LSD
•MDMA
•Nicotine
•Nitrous Oxide
•Oxycodone
•Psilocybin
•“Shroom” pills
•THC
•Vyvanse

My favorite?

Clean health.

I’ve had amazing and god-awful times doing each one of these. The one drug which has never failed me has been when I’ve been clean, well-rested, and fit.

You might be rolling your eyes right now. That’s okay.

Getting a full-night’s sleep. Exercising regularly. Eating well.

All of these combine to create a high that is sustainable–which leads to incredible results.

Clean health is a drug I feel safe prescribing anyone. Try it.