The Art of Body Hacking

The Art of Body Hacking

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“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
John F. Kennedy

Lose weight, drink less, sleep more, exercise more! Every fitness or health guru talks of self discipline and devoting endless hours to your own personal zen.

A fit, well rested, well-fed entrepreneur can perform far more productively than one who isn’t. But how the hell do you find the time to achieve such perfection? When 100% focused on a business, most people struggle to find the time to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Yet if it helps our performance at work, how can we effectively achieve this ideal without ordaining ourselves in the ‘healthy’ cause?

This is where the emerging Art of Body Hacking comes in.

These are brief, high impact techniques that could improve your health. However, please consult a doctor before making any radical changes to your exercise, sleep or nutrition routines, especially if you have any health conditions.

Hack Your Diet

What are the smallest changes to my diet I can make, to deliver the biggest health impact?

We are told that weight control depends on the ‘calories out equals calories in’ equation, but how much calorie-counting went on before the last century? There were very few obese people, then. Is modern thinking wrong on this subject?

Try two things for a month:

  • Eat 30 grammes of protein within 30 minutes of waking up
  • Drink 3 litres of water per day.

Do everything else as you did before. Most people will lose weight this way. With virtually no effort, you will be lighter than you were before.

This is an experiment rather than a permanent solution or way of life. It shows that protein in the morning kick-starts your metabolism, and drinking plenty of water flushes toxins – and fat – out of your system. No change in calorie intake, but a change in your body’s efficiency and performance. Use this holistic knowledge rather than the one-dimensional aspect of starving yourself or calorie-counting. Make small, simple lifestyle changes that take very little time and effort for the biggest results.

Hack Your Fitness
Why exercise for 4 hours a week to get fit? Instead, train like an Olympic athlete for just 1 hour a week! They may train for 30 hours weekly, but you’re not preparing for international competition, so training like them for just 1 hour will make you fitter than the average person. The important thing is to research and learn their techniques, then use them to maximise the exercises that you do!

High Intensity Training – going ‘flat-out’ for a few seconds, taking a breather, then repeating – is proven to be effective. As before, seek medical advice before any radical change in your regime. You may need to build up or warm up if you’re thinking of going from flat-out on the sofa for six years to flat-out on the exercise bike for six minutes. Believe it or not, one incredible workout can be better than 4 average ones. A few short bursts of intense exercise, totalling a few minutes per week, deliver health and fitness benefits equal to hours of conventional, less intense exercise. How can you build a simple, high-impact, low-time fitness regime into your life? If you don’t have the motivation to do it yourself, work with a personal trainer.

Hack Your Sleep
We spend a great deal of our time asleep, so if there are any personal incremental gains to be made, sleep is an area to target. Getting a good night’s sleep is a key to personal productivity. Research shows that the performance of the brain rapidly deteriorates with sleep loss.

A routine in the evening is one of the key components to consistently getting a good night’s sleep and waking up feeling great. Experiment with whatever works best for your sleep, and improves how you feel during the day. Build those effective elements into a regular routine so that you sleep better and rise brighter – every day. If you know that a bath relaxes you, take one before bed. Read a book (but not one that overstimulates your mind!), drink cocoa, meditate, visualise, listen to music. Do whatever works for you. Build in your own rituals that signal to your mind and body that it’s time to wind down, rest and sleep. Why leave such an important factor to chance? Let the routine become automatic.

Here are some ideas for things that you can try. No doubt, there are many others. Work out a system that works best for you.

  • Have your evening meal as early as possible
  • Do some exercise after your evening meal
  • Keep your room cool
  • Find the perfect time for you to go to bed, and stick to it
  • Leave your work at work
  • Prepare for bed well in advance of actually going to bed
  • Use blackout blinds and remove any light from your room
  • Stop doing anything involving a screen 2 hours before going to sleep
  • Don’t do anything mentally stimulating for 2 hours before going to sleep
  • Exercise more in general
  • Wake up naturally, rather than using an alarm clock
  • Use a natural light alarm clock which imitates sunrise, if you need to get up at specific time

Research has shown that humans are not designed to sleep in one 8 hour shift, which is a modern western phenomenon. There are many cultures that employ biphasic (twice per day) or polyphasic (many times per day) sleep patterns. Siestas are normal!

The advantage of adopting biphasic and polyphasic sleep schedules is that you need less total sleep, the more often you sleep during the day. It is possible to survive on only 2 hours’ sleep per day using the Uberman schedule of napping for 20 mins every 4 hours. This is used by solo round-the-world sailors, the military and even new parents. I don’t suggest you try this extreme solution as a way of life, but there are very real productivity advantages to an afternoon power nap. Not only do you need less total sleep, but your brain performs at a higher level for more of the time.

How can you incorporate a nap to give you more waking time and make you more effective – to perform at a higher level?

Sleep Pattern Total Sleep Time Method
Monophasic ~8.0 hrs 8 hours major sleep episode
Biphasic ~6.3 hrs 6 hours major sleep episode and one 20 minute power nap Biphasic (90 min nap) ~6.0 hrs 4.5 hours major sleep episode and one 90 minute nap Everyman (2 naps) 5.3 hrs 4.5 hours major sleep episode and two 20-minute power naps Everyman (3 naps) 4.0 hrs 3 hours major sleep episode and three 20-minute power naps Everyman (4-5 naps) ~3.0 hrs 1.5 hours major sleep episode and four to five twenty-minute power naps Dymaxion 2.0 hrs Four 30-minute naps (every 6 hours) Uberman 2.0 hrs Six 20-minute naps (every 4 hours)

How can you sleep your way to success?

Hack Your Brain
Diet, sleep and exercise all have a positive impact on the brain and your ability to function productively. How much do you do, to keep your brain in shape?

There are two simple things that will make a significant difference to your cognition in a short period of time.

Firstly, drink lots of water. One of the simplest ways to get through the afternoon slump is to drink two glasses of cool, pure water. Dehydration impedes brain performance, and can induce fatigue, headaches and lack of focus. So keep going to that water cooler, to keep your brain in top working order.

The second simple brain hack is to consume plenty of omega 3 fatty acids in your diet; either by eating fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and sardines, or in foods like walnuts, flaxseed and soybeans. Or take a daily supplement! Either way, within a week of daily intake you should start to notice a considerable difference in your cognition.

So don’t let your greatest asset perform below par. Make these simple changes to work smarter and to a higher level of intensity.

Sugar, Caffeine and Alcohol. Three favourite items that get many people through life! Sadly, all three have negative impacts on productivity. Significantly reducing your consumption will noticeably increase your performance. There may be a reduction in short term happiness, but life is a long road. Be aware of their negative impact and use them for an occasional treat rather than as a daily staple.

Many of the other ideas I have suggested can be applied to your own health and wellbeing. There is no one-size fits all solution, so find a system that works for you. If you understand these principles, you understand thinking outside the box and searching for low-time, high-impact solutions to deliver the life that you want.

Work should never compromise your health. Especially when managing your health in simple ways can deliver such a great return on your own productivity! Health gives you a competitive advantage. Being healthy in order to work smarter doesn’t have to take huge amounts of time. It’s doesn’t have to be a long haul, or a longer term goal that requires a great deal of work and commitment. Think of the short term advantages, and the quick, effective changes you can make, right now. They are essential!

Think smart. Be creative. Don’t compromise on your health, and look for the win-win solution.

You can be both healthy and wealthy, when you get wise to the minimal changes that give you maximum benefits, improving your performance and productivity. How incredible is that?

Further Reading:

The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferris (Amazon Link UK, US)

Why Are We Fat by Gary Taubes (Amazon Link UK, US)

If the above topic, or indeed any of my blogs are of interest to you, then contact me and let’s talk! Drop me an email at getintouch@marcwinn.com.

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