Daily Habits of High Achievers - 3 Key Morning Rituals
Research shows that those who consistently perform at high levels commonly do things as daily practices or rituals that other don’t. Here’s a few.
Connect with the Morning Sun
High performers intrinsically understand that our optimum human performance clock is synced to the cycles of Mother Nature. As understood by the ancients, the master regulator of all our internal health and optimal performance cycles is the cycle of the sun. Traditional cultures throughout history have started their day greeting the sun through an ancient ritual called ‘sun gazing’. Hgh performers make sure they get outside (out of their artificially lit homes and office places) to experience the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of morning sunlight through the eyes.
Benefits of morning sunlight exposure include;
- regulation of immune function
- stimulation of healthy brain chemistry
- regulation our internal body clock
- promotes balanced weight through its effects on metabolic and thyroid function
- uplifting mood (anti-depressant) and strengthening emotional health.
What do Hugh Jackman, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, Katy Perry, Ray Dalio (Head of the world’s largest hedge fund), Ariana Huffington, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen Degeneres and countless other world class performers have in common? They start their day with 20 minutes of TM or Transcendental Meditation (other high performers use other forms of meditation).
According to Tim Ferriss, author of New York Times Best-seller ‘Tools of Titans’, meditation is by far the most common habit or daily ritual amongst the world’s highest performing individuals. Don’t have time to meditate? Almost universally everyone who meditates, specifically transcending-based meditation like TM, remarks that they get far more done when they meditate and couldn’t imagine life or work without it. We can’t build a 100 storey skyscraper without first digging deep into the ground. Likewise, we can’t sustain high level, dynamic outward activity without first (and regularly) going within and enlivening our deepest (inner) source of energy, creativity and intelligence. Transcending does this which is why such a high percentage of high performers do it as their most important daily habit.
As the latest neuroscience and brain mapping research clearly demonstrates, such meditation produces more global brainwave activity and peak brain coherence. Do less achieve more.
Another hallmark of high achievers is that a very high percentage start their day with physical activity. Research shows that those that make a habit of exercising early morning have a compliance rate of 75%. Those who leave it until later in the day (after work) have a compliance of around 25%.
Again, the research suggests that the time devoted to physical movement or exercise in the early hours is more than returned in terms of improved efficiency, brain performance, decision-making and all around productivity for the rest of the day. (Early morning is also the best time for exercise according the understanding of Ayurveda and our daily body clock.)
* Richard Branson has been quoted as saying daily exercise gives him 4 hours of improved productivity.
Connect to the morning sun, transcend to develop your most precious resource – consciousness - and get your body moving early to help maximize your work and life success.
* These are just three of the practices discussed in Mark’s highly popular ‘Daily Habits of High Achievers’.
Making Changes – How to Create Lasting Health and Well-being Changes in your Life?
One of the most common difficulties we encounter when trying to make more health promoting changes in our lives is actually getting started. I’ve always been thinking that I should write an article on this super important topic, but have never seem to be able to get started! LOL! Fortunately, I recently met a fantastic bloke – Luke McLean (not coincidentally he is a Hawk One supporter!). He has written a fantastic blog of his own on this topic. As such, I thought I would direct you to it here.
Exercise – how to get more exercise or activity into your day
While we always hear that 20-30 minutes of ‘continuous’ exercise, is needed for exercise (aerobic) benefits, don’t think shorter portions are a waste of time. They are still highly beneficial.
As it’s not always possible to get an hour or two to get to the gym/play a team sport etc, we look at a few tips to get more activity into your everyday life. Like the old chestnut of taking the stairs instead of the lift, there are plenty of ways to be a little more active. Pick 1-2 and make it part of your daily/weekly routine.
Standing Desks – The Latest Buzz in Office Health
About three months ago I bought myself a standing desk. What’s a standing desk you might ask? It’s an electronically controlled desk, that is height adjustable. You can put it down low to work sitting down, or you can raise it up so that you can stand upright while working.
Why would you want to do this? Because it’s been shown to be one of the best things you can do for your health (and productivity). Research suggests that office workers who spend most of their day sitting down have significantly poorer health, including problems with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and musculoskeletal injuries due to poor posture/ergonomics.
Spring Allergies – How to Avoid or Reduce Them
Like to reduce your chances of suffering from any allergies, hay fever etc this spring or just want to re-energise & trim up after a heavy winter?
Spring will soon be sprung so now is the time to eliminate the causes of these imbalances.
Should you Exercise or Not? A simple tool to let you know
Here’s a good little tip for knowing how much exercise/activity to do on any given day. Ideally, we should be so in tune with our body (from being ‘self-referral’ / listening to our body), that we ‘just know’ when & how much to exercise. However, a good objective way to guide you is through your ‘waking’ heart rate.
I had a pizza while out with some friends some time ago …yes, I said a pizza!!! “oh my God, the health guy eats pizza”!!!
It’s true, but don’t tell me you too have been brainwashed into thinking pizza’s are necessarily ‘bad’ or too heavy for dinner.
If you get a gourmet vegetarian pizza and take off the excess cheese (easier if you get cheese cubes not melted), what do you have??…toasted bread & vegetables.
Barefoot Running/Walking – Are Your Runners Killing You? Why You Should ‘Go Natural’!
The more expensive your runners …the more likely you are to get leg injuries!
* Even if you do not jog or run, read on.
“When you run on the earth, and run with the earth, you can run forever ”
- Tarahumara Indians
The more you pay for runners …the more likely you are to get injured!
It’s true, the multimillion dollar industry around the technology and science of creating running shoes is a farce. About a year ago, I had this intuitive feeling to start walking and running on soft grass. Instead of pounding the pavement in my runners and gradually sensing that my knees and joints were getting sorer, I started to take my shoes and socks off and start jogging on a grass oval near where I live. It was absolutely wonderful. Occasionally there would be some overnight rain, so the grass was slightly damp. I can’t begin to tell you how much more invigorating, energising and rejuvenating the whole experience was. More importantly, running bare foot actually felt more natural, and somehow more efficient and ‘less’ jarring on my body. After some ‘early-days’ testing I’m sure I’m running faster with less effort too.
After writing about the Tarahumara Indians in my first book, I came to know that they used to run in excess of 100 miles through the mountainous Copper Canyons of Mexico with nothing more than thin rubber-soled, home-made sandals. And I used to laugh watching videotapes of them shuffling along while beating some of the best elite ultramarathon runners from North America.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I have just recently finished reading one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s called ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher MacDougall(1). He is a US journalist with quite a high profile as a contributing editor for Men’s Health magazine and writing for prominent publications such as Esquire and the New York Times. The book outlines in detail how the human body was designed for running, and how to a large extent, the huge number of running related injuries we see in the modern world are not because running is bad for us. They are almost entirely on the incorrect way we run and most significantly …… modern running shoes.
McDougall cites a multitude of scientific research studies, biomechanical analysis and expert opinions, to show that the more high-tech, expensive and ‘supportive’ our running shoes are, the more likely we are to get injured. This is due to the basic myth, that having running shoes or expensive orthotics, artificially supporting or propping up our feet is a good thing. Like anything where we artificially ‘prop up’ the body, and stop it from doing what it is designed to do naturally, the structures involved actually become ‘weaker’. Overtime, as the strength in the surrounding bones, ligaments and muscles become weaker, they are more likely to get injured. This is why about 75% of serious runners have some sort of leg injury each year.
A Glimpse of ‘Born to Run’
Here are some quotes and wisdoms from McDougall’s great book (though you’ll want to get it yourself if you like or have ever wanted to jog/run).
For millions of years, humans ran without arch support, pronation control or gel filled pads under their heels.” McDougall
Leonardo da Vinci considered the human foot, with its fantastic weight suspension system comprising one quarter of all the bones in the human body, ‘a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art’.
Abebe Bikila – an Ethiopian Marathoner ran barefoot over the cobblestones of Rome to win the 1960 Olympic marathon.
“Shoes block pain, not impact. Pain teaches us to run comfortably. From the moment you go barefoot you will change the way you run”. Barefoot Ken Bob
“Covering your feet with cushioned shoes is like turning off your smoke alarms” – Barefoot Ted
“Bricolage – the concept of ‘less is more’ or that the best solution is also the most elegant. Why add something if you’re born with everything you need?” Barefoot Ted
“A lot of foot and knee injuries that are currently playing us are actually caused by people running in shoes that make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate, and give us knee problems.
In 1992 when the modern athletic shoe was invented by Nike, people had very strong feet and a much lower incidence of knee injuries.” Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University.
“I believe that when my runners train barefoot, they run faster and suffer fewer injuries.” Stanford University head coach Vin Lananna
“There is no evidence that running shoes are any help at all in injury prevention.” – McDougall
In 2008 research paper for the British Journal of sports medicine, Dr. Craig Richards, a researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia, revealed that there are no evidence-based studies – not one – that demonstrate that running shoes make you less prone to injury.
“No stonemason worth his trowl would ever stick a support under an arch; push up from underneath, and you weaken the whole structure.” Gerard Hartman, Physical therapist for many of the world’s greatest distance runners.
“The foot is supposed to pronate.” Hartman (i.e. it’s perfectly natural!)
“Putting your feet in shoes is similar to putting them in a plaster cast” Hartman
“Painful truth No1. – The Best Shoes are the Worst” – McDougall
In the early 2000, Nike did their own research on barefoot running, and were astounded by the results. They quickly and subsequently shifted into finding a way to make money out of running barefoot. Two years later they launched worldwide TV ads showing barefoot athletes – from Kenyan marathon runners to Brazilian dancers, rock climbers and karate masters. The messages flashing across the screen were “Your feet are your foundation. Wake them up! Make them strong! Connect with the ground … Natural technology allows natural motion … Power to your feet.” Across the sole of a barefoot is the written, ‘Performance Starts Here’. And it all ends with the final slogan … ‘Run barefoot’.
And my two favourite quotes of all …
“The best runner leaves no tracks.” – Tao Te Ching
“You don’t stop running because you get older, you get old because you stop running.”
In a Nutshell
Interestingly, primitive cultures that haven’t had any type of modern running shoes, and instead have relied on the infinite wisdom of Mother Nature in designing the human foot, can run for many miles every day for their whole lives, and never, ever have one injury.
Why? Because our feet are exquisitely designed by the master creator herself. Over a quarter of the bones in our bodies are in our feet. When we land on our mid-foot (rather than that heel), which we tend to do when we wear ‘cushioned’ runners – because we know that the running shoes are going to cushion us – the weight of the body and the force it generates on the lower legs gets displaced.
Without the cushioning of expensive running shoes, instead of thrusting our front leg too far in front of us and thus impacting our lower body with a force of 12 times our body weight, we actually start running in a more ‘natural’ manner. The feet tend to skim closer to the ground, landing softer and on the middle and/or the balls of the foot. This utilises the unique design of the foot to displace the force more efficiently, taking the stress off the feet and lower legs.
Not only that, but this way of running also strengthens one’s feet, ankles and legs, thus minimising the risk of injury long-term. It is also far more efficient. If you start doing it for a few weeks, you will likely find that you can run just as quick as you previously did but with much less effort. *
What if you can’t run on grass?
No problem. Many people don’t have a nice lush, safe patch of grass to run on. Basically, there’s two options.
Option 1: What MacDougall and I recommend, is that you just purchase yourself a basic (and cheap) pair of runners. The cheaper, and the less shock absorption and support they have, the better. They will make you run more naturally, make your feet work as they were designed, and over time strengthen your feet, ankles and legs.* While the famous ‘Dunlop volleys’ are a bit of a source of derision and laughter these days, they are actually a great pair of runners to purchase. I bought a pair myself a few months ago for $17 at Target. They’re fantastic … and what a fashion accessory! I get some great looks at the gym from both guys & girls!
Option 2: The other option is to buy yourself a pair of ‘barefoot runners’. Yes, even the biggest manufacturers of running shoes in the world, including Nike, now admit that their most expensive runners are often the key cause of injuries. There are many brands of barefoot runners out there these days. I bought myself a pair of ‘Vibram five fingers’ (see left). These are probably the best known but you could Google ‘barefoot running’ or ‘barefoot running shoes’ and be able to get a cheaper pair somewhere.
* IMPORTANT NOTE: This should be done very gradually to avoid injury, see suggestions below.
Suggestions for YOU:
1. Even if you just like to walk walk, rather than jogging or running, wherever possible, take your shoes and socks off and go barefoot (obviously, only if it is 100% safe to do so). Doing so on slightly wet grass is even better. (You get the benefits of the ancient practice of ‘earthing’ yourself also).
2. If you are a jogger or runner, especially if you usually jog on a gymnasium treadmill or on hard services, look to purchase yourself some ‘barefoot runners’ or some cheap runners (e.g. Dunlop volleys) with minimal support/shock absorption. Once done, gradually progress from walking, to a very slow shuffle to jogging over a period of ‘WEEKS’. Once again, this should be done very gradually and with the correct running technique (see 3.) to avoid injury! *
3. Although I am suggesting it is better long-term to walk or jog either barefoot on soft surfaces, or with minimal support on harder surfaces, this. You MUST run biomechanically correctly. This includes having your body upright, back straight, head up, and hips aligned. Your feet skim close to the ground, your stride length should be much shorter (quicker is ok) and you should have a softish foot landing around the mid-foot. As your body will be unused to this way of moving, you MUST start off very slowly and build up very gradually. I would suggest just walking for a week or two, then doing short five-minute shuffles for another week. Then just build-up 5 or 10 minutes per week. I.e. this is a very gradual transition to a different form of jogging/running.
Please do not just rush out and start running around barefoot, as you will more likely do yourself injury or harm.
4. Jog on soft (dewy) grass – without prickles or bindies! Arghh! – where possible. This is beautiful!
5. Generally, try to avoid this (or any type of running) on really hard surfaces such as concrete. If running on such surfaces you might still want to use some more ‘cushioned’ support, make 100% sure you are running with the proper technique (landing ‘lightly’) or just try and avoid it altogether.
Note; When running on hard surfaces such as concrete or pavement, I usually wear ‘normal’ running shoes (nothing high-tech, but something with a bit of padding). Whenever I run on grass, I run barefoot and whenever I am on a gym treadmill, dirt track, running or walking track etc, I’ll generally wear my Vibram five fingers. Regardless of the surface however, I try to run with the technique described above so that even on hard surfaces it doesn’t exacerbate potential problems (having some slightly dodgy/arthritic knees due to my years of football and heavy leg weights etc, I’m conscious of not trying to aggravate these further – but this may not apply to you).
6. For further information on all the scientific evidence, world leading expert opinions, and anecdotes of the world’s greatest runners who don’t wear modern running shoes and never get injured, or if you are just really into running, get yourself a copy of ‘Born to Run'(1). It’s a great read.
7. Get back to nature, and experience how walking and running were designed to be. It could truly revolutionise the way you think about jogging and exercise. You might even find it enjoyable, if not exhilarating. Seriously! Enjoy.
1. MacDougall, Christopher. ‘Born to Run’. 2010. Profile Books (UK)
What’s stopping you from ZZZZZZZZZZsleeping?
Here are ten tips for more settled, blissful sleep:
1. Eat three meals during the day – breakfast, lunch around noon and an early dinner.
2. Do regular balanced exercise – modern research also confirms that moderate exercise can help improve sleep.
3. Try to go to bed by 10 p.m., during the drowsy (Ayurvedic Kapha) time of night, so that your mind can settle down faster.
4. Eliminate or restrict severely the intake of stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol.
5. Wear comfortable clothing to bed — organic cotton is highly recommended .
6. Avoid hot, spicy foods at dinner.
7. Do not bring work-related material into the bedroom.
8. Keep your bedroom dark or very dimly lit.
9. A gentle massage of hands, feet and neck before bed can aid relaxation.
10. In bed, take long, deep, easy breaths, letting your mind and body relax.
Spring Clean – not only your house but your body too !!!
Spring is the best time of year not only for cleaning your brick house but also for your more important house – your body.
So we have some tips for some ‘internal’ spring cleaning to help you feel great inside & out.
This is just a simple reminder for anyone looking to lose weight.The most important thing in losing weight is to…..NOT TO FOCUS ON LOSING WEIGHT.
Focusing solely on ‘what we weigh’ is a recipe for disaster and often results in compromising our health.
Everyone of us is different, and you have a healthy (ideal) weight range for your particular body type – pre-determined genetically.Some people are naturally slim – these are the people with a ‘high metabolism – commonly known in scientific/technical terminology as ………….’BASTARDS’.Others are NATURALLY of a bigger build (the ‘cuddlies’). This is perfectly normal & healthy for them.
Metabolism is one of the popular buzzwords these days. Like to make sure your metabolism – basically the process of converting food into energy and using that energy (calories) to run your body – is at its peak? If you are having trouble shifting a few kilograms, feeling a little sluggish or just want to stay energised and feeling great, try these.
Here are a few key stretching tips for keeping your muscles & joints flexible & free.
1. Stretch ‘After’ Exercise / Activity:
When aiming to increase your suppleness/flexibility, it’s always best to do so at the end of some exercise or activity session. This is when your body temperature is higher and muscles etc are naturally able to stretch more comfortably and it is actually an important part of a good cool-down anyway – to reduce post-exercise muscle tightening & waste products etc.
Emotional or Physical Health – which one is more important??
Do you think that there are 10 things, far more important for your health than eating the right food or exercising regularly etc?
Backed up by both modern & ancient health science research and based on the now irrefutable truth that, your ’emotional health’ is far more important long-term than physically ‘being healthy’- having the ideal diet etc (that is still good), we have devised a special list of ’10 more important things for a healthy, happy life than proper food & exercise’. We will send out one of these regularly, starting today. We hope you enjoy.
Total Weekly Activity Time – how do you rate?
Take a minute to add up your ‘Total Activity Time’ for last week – or a typical week. Include any activity over 3 minutes in duration – do not worry about intensity – just that you are moving, e.g. any walking – to bus stop, to office, to church, to the ice-cream shop!! Any structured exercise – gym, jogging, ‘real’ sports (lawn bowls only counts for 25% – no offense!). Other activities – chasing/playing with your kids, chasing/playing with spouse!!
Weight Loss – Is High or Low Intensity Exercise Best?
If exercising for weight loss/weight management, don’t make the mistake that you have to exercise at high intensity. It’s commonly prescribed that the higher intensity, the greater the calories we burn. While this is true (during exercise), the calories burned in one high intensity workout is insignificant in comparison to the calories from one decent meal.
What’s most critical for weight management is our ‘basal or ‘resting’ metabolism, which is best stimulated by regular, consistent activity. We have to give the message to our subtle/non-physical body (the INTELLIGENCE running our cells) that we are an ‘active person’. This makes our body efficiently burn calories morning, noon & night…not just during exercise.
So when exercising for health, feel okay about keeping the intensity low/moderate and FOCUS ON INCREASING YOUR DURATION & REGULARITY (daily best).
You’ll be a more efficient fat burner …even while you sleep! And keeping exercise at a moderate level will protect you from injury & illness, help you maintain ongoing motivation and most importantly keep it enjoyable…the way exercise is meant to be.
Ayurveda & Ayurvedic Wisdom of Dr Raju – Pt 2
4. Make Diet/Lifestyle Changes Gradually
In contrast to our modern Western way of wanting to go ‘cold turkey’ or change bad habits ‘overnight’, in Ayurveda, it is recommended that any behavioural change is done gradually. Doctor Raju even mentioned that this applies when wanting to give up or change some ‘unwholesome’ or ‘health compromising’ behaviour. E.g. smoking, weaning off drugs or eating yoghurt at night.
Good afternoon wisdom of health seeker.
A few people who have read my first book, which talks about the Ayurvedic (and yoga) wisdom of nasal breathing during exercise, have asked about nasal breathing while swimming. It’s a great question, so I thought I would post a quick answer here.