Everyone’s got their own version of busy. Michael Callahan has been a client since we first opened in Singapore, and in this guest post he talks about how he’s been able to apply and build upon the concepts learnt at Ritual to create his own unique version of healthy living and ass kicking. The article is less of a prescription of exactly what to do, and more of an example of how you can create your own version of a sustainable healthy lifestyle with the right knowledge, attention to detail, and a little bit of creativity. Whether you’re looking for fresh ideas or just a little bit of inspiration, Michael’s story will not disappoint. If you’ve got some cool tips that help you ‘optimize’, please let us know, we’d love to hear what you do!
Most likely I drink more in a year than you will in your entire adult life, at least I hope so, otherwise you should be very concerned with your lifestyle choices. This is just one of the many components that make the industry that I live and work in far from ideal in encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
Perhaps you also find yourself locked into a career that in order to find success involves 60hr+ work weeks, the constant swilling of sugar-heavy booze-laden libations, non-stop client entertaining – and/or being entertained that often reaches into the ungodly hours of any given night, early morning international skype calls, multiple daily meetings / site visits / lab-sessions, and all too frequent back-to-back flights to random corners of the world? Or perhaps you’re a parent, which is way more demanding than all of the above. Either way, life is a brutal, intense, and unforgiving schedule that often comes with a little extra softness around the belly, many missed sessions at the gym, and longer recovery times when a workout does occur.
I love what I do and wouldn’t have it any other way. We do what we can to maintain a decent physique but it’s a losing battle, especially as we get older. I just didn’t have time to have a six-pack core and lean mature muscle structure. I had to choose – career or “Abercrombie abs”.
… Except that I didn’t. Turns out it’s all about choices, and it’s way easier than I ever thought to have my proverbial “cake and eat it, too” (Disclaimer: there is no cake involved in this journey, nor are there pretzels).
Despite how impossible the following may sound, this year alone I have traveled more for work, put in far longer hours, and dramatically increased high-quality work output compared to any previous year in my professional life. Much of this is an added benefit of the lifestyle adjustments made for my physique that bleed into my work life as well. More on this later. Oh, and I am in my best shape ever. Resting heart rate is averaged at 55bpm, weight is 70.5kg on a 180cm frame, and I have veins showing on my abs, (ok, veins are in remission after trip to Hawaii but they will be back). I am 37 years old and I have less aches and pains than I did when I was 20.
So what the hell, right? How did I overcome such an unhealthy lifestyle to achieve my fitness goals? In a word, Ritual.
To some degree I am referring to the gym Ritual that we have grown to love, the community that drives it forward, and the trainers that should really be called mentors. But what we are really talking about here is “Ritual” as a lifestyle choice, because despite all your best intentions (and no matter how revolutionary a gym concept may be), only you can choose to make the change you want to see.
“When you change the way you see things you change the things you see.”
The good news is that with the right planning, commitment to your goals, and a little help from the people at Ritual, you will not only succeed in your endeavors, you will quickly surprise yourself at how easy it was to get there and how simple it is to maintain the path. So let’s break it down into 4 pillars: Feeding, Resting, Sweating, Ritualizing.
[Note: Each of these pillars are listed in greater detail at end of this post, as a working example of the system that has benefited me]
Feeding – BE STRICT!
· Eat the right stuff, on an optimized schedule, and don’t cheat.
· For more details read blog posts, or just consult one of the coaches.
· Chew s-l-o-w-l-y. Learn to enjoy food again.
· Eat the rainbow. Truck loads of veggies, avoiding almost anything “white”.
· Don’t be a slave to cravings. Keep healthy snacks in case of emergency.
· Buy the best quality food you can afford. Like gas for your car; go for the
higher grade whenever you can. Your engine will last longer!
· Pro-tip: keep hard boiled eggs and almonds stocked.
Resting – I can’t stress how important 8 hours of sleep is.
· Prioritize your time. Trade that hour of TV at night for an extra hour of shut-
eye. Turn off Facebook, don’t get sucked into YouTube, etc. Every minute
you save you can add to sleep. WIN!
· Follow a tight routine so that you are more efficient with your time.
· Honestly, I work 60+hours on average. If I can find ways to squeeze 8
hours in so can you.
Sweating – Sweat Daily!
· Walk often and walk hard.
· Take the stairs.
· Work out smarter and harder; focus on movements, learn to activate the
right things (nobody has time for wasted movements).
· Set alarm(s) to remind you to get physical throughout the day – do push-
ups, sit-ups, etc.
· Keep fitness “in your face”. Have a pull-up bar in a doorway you
pass often, and use it!
· Replace your office chair with a Swiss-ball; do a core exercise on it every
hour (don’t break form!).
· Travel with suspension trainers, or buy a travel kit from the gym.
· Keep track of your output and try to make it fun. Use fitness apps to keep it
interesting. I love the Withings Products and App.
Ritualizing – Make it stick.
· Once you have a feeding plan that works for you, a workout program that
you can enjoy / commit to, and a sleep regime that maximizes your
recovery time, it’s now time to lock it all in.
· Try your best to arrange your day so that each of the above pillars are
performed at the same time each day.
An outline of my daily schedule is attached below.
· It’s scientifically proven that if you do something 7 times in a row it
becomes instinctually a habit.
· This goes for good and bad practices equally!
· If you miss 7 workouts you will quickly slide out of routine.
[Pro-Tip: even if you can’t be bothered to do a full workout, put your clothes on, go to the gym, or just do some air-squats and push-ups for 5 minutes during your scheduled workout time – it will reinforce the ritual. Oh, and pop in and get a Shake at the Fuel Bar!]
· Plan your world around these simple principles. Now stay the course and
make it happen. Commitment is key.
Start with one or two points on each pillar and expand from there. Or go full turkey and own it. Every tiny change WILL make a difference. Instating structured routines will not only yield impressive results but they will also add clarity to your work-flow, and personal relationships. To be honest I really wish I learned all this when I was in my 20’s, but I’m glad I learned to live this way when I did as it’s never too late to start the journey to a healthy and happy work/life balance.
Best of luck and I leave you with Shrek’s word of wisdom, “AROO!”
For the geeks:
MICHAEL’S DAILY SCHEDULE (Mon-Sat)
· 8:00am – Wake. Immediately take Resting Heart Rate (using Withings
Bluetooth BPM). Input in Withings App.
· 9:00am – Workout (At Ritual and/or at home)
· 10:00am – “Break-Fast”: Ritual Fuel Bar Shake, 2 hard-boiled eggs.
· 10:30am – Office day begins
· 1:00pm – Lunch: Hawaiian Poke with Salad (no dressing)
· 3:00pm – Snack: More Eggs, maybe some almonds
· 4:00-5:00pm – Dinner (big ass plate of veggies and shredded chicken or
grassfed steak with roasted sweet potato and steamed veg.)
· 6:00pm – Fast begins. No food, drink lots of water, tea, etc.
· 6:00-12:00pm – Work; market visits / guest appearances / hosting
· 12:00am – Sleep
Hosting will mess this schedule up with required eat/drink through the night. After all, you can’t be a boring stick in the mud. I choose to pick one day a week and get all the hosting done in that block if I can help it. I have found Saturday to be the best choice as Sunday is my cheat day and rest day from working out allowing 6 solid days of clean eating during the week.
THE DETAILED OUTLINE OF THE FOUR PILLARS
Feeding (aka Diet) – I prefer to not call it a “diet” as honestly I eat more than almost anyone I know but what I eat and more importantly when I eat is the focus.
– Feeding time – “Intermittent fasting”
– Allows my body to digest and fully absorb daily nutrient intake and has had a pronounced effect on my ability to stay lean and strong.
– Plan meals around work blocks; for example from 6:00pm-12:00am I am very busy hosting clients or working events. So I end my feeding window before 6:00pm.
– After work, no late night snacks, dinners, or drinks (except tea or water) until 11:00am or noon the next day. This 17-18hr fasting period is hard at first but becomes second nature in a few weeks time.
– BONUS: Productivity – during the fasting block I am not eating and thus not taking dinner or snack breaks. This has the added benefit of increasing daily work output, and while of course fortifying and encouraging better digestive health. Triple Win!
When you first start this program you will get bored of “bland” foods until your body adjusts to the removal of food additives and sugars. Suddenly everything will taste so much more vibrant! Roasted Sweet Potato is like candy to me these days, it’s great.
– Feeding Content – “Grub Guide”. Read the Ritual Grub Guides!!! Now implement that sh*t!
– During the feeding window I will eat 3-4 meals depending on if training for an event or just maintaining.
– Lots of clean protein, truck loads of veggies, appropriate amount of clean carbs, and no crap food AT ALL; no sugars, no sodas, and no processed carbs. Eating very clean on the regular means your body will not freak out as much when you have a weekend bender eating Pizza three days in a row (totally did that recently, it was amazing!).
– PRO-TIP: always be the one to make suggestions for restaurant work meetings. You can ensure the restaurant has something “safe” for you to eat. Added benefit is you become the “go-getter” in the office. If you take this role don’t be a dick and make sure the choice has unhealthy tasty stuff for the guys in your office who just can’t handle greens.
– CHEW SLOWLY. I can’t stress this enough. Put your phone down, take your meal to a park bench and chew 20+ times per bite. Think about what you’re eating, how it tastes, your environment, etc. Allow yourself to enjoy your meal.
Resting – Yes, it’s really that important
– Try your damndest to get 8 hours of sleep. Wear a sleep monitor and try to make it a game. Track your sleep and fight for those shuteye moments. Your body truly needs it.
– Trim all the unneeded moments out of the day to add that time to sleep allocation. Basically kill any and all TV viewing and you save a good hour+ a day.
– As I don’t eat after 6:00pm and generally sleep 8hrs after work each night I am already 14hours into daily fast and will be able to smash my first meal right after my morning workout.
Sweating – Do it daily
– Ritual workouts are the best for busy professionals but don’t just rely on the gym to be there for you. Get a set of suspension trainers, kettlebells, pull-up bar, medicine ball, and dumbbells for your house.
– I have pull-up bar in doorway to kitchen, every time I think I want a snack or just pass through I do 5-10 pull-ups.
– Walk when you have the choice, and walk hard. The spike in metabolism is great for continued burning of fat and helps with circulation. Also take the steps whenever you can. Every little bit adds up.
– Make sure to break a sweat every day. Even just a little one from walking hard. I work out for 30 minutes between 9:00am-11:00am every day. If I’m in Singapore it’s at Ritual, if not it’s with home equipment, at the hotel gym, or even in the hotel room. Somedays I just work out for ten minutes, just enough to get a little sweat.
– The key is to DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY. MAKE IT A RITUAL, HABITUAL, SACRED, AND INVIOLATE.
Ritualizing – making it a habit
– Once your feeding, resting, and sweating program is optimized it’s time to lock it in. Set your schedule and build your life around those items.
– By eating, sweating, and resting at approximately the same time every day your bio-rhythms become tightly tuned and your hormones will adjust accordingly. The more strict you are with the schedule the more impactful your system becomes. Your body is primed to work out as it’s expecting to be stressed during sweat time. Your hunger will subside if your I.F. schedule is consistent, and your body will shut down more completely giving your more restful sleep if you have a tighter schedule.
– Added Benefit: Your co-workers and clients will actually find your transparent schedule helpful as they know exactly when and where you will be available for meetings.