All round fitness and happiness is about more than exercise, particularly at middle age. In order to make the gains you want (when starting from a poorish position) you have to work at your hormone balance in concert with the physical activity, which is relatively easy, but produces almost unbelievable results.
You may remember in your 20’s you could do some fitness and everything would take care of itself, you would see virtually immediate gains without too much effort, but now everything is harder. That is because our hormone profile gets worse with age, resulting in that flat and/or stressed out feeling, it is usually because of 2 factors – we have developed ingrained negative thought processes and fat percentage increases, both of which hammer the hormone profile. Luckily, both of these are reversible, no matter what your age or condition.
I will mostly just tell you what to do in this program, as explaining it takes way too long, so you must research each area, gradually, as you complete the program. Knowledge of why something works reinforces belief. Belief is incredibly important. I must stress though, that you must not engage in researching anything negative. If you happen across websites that warn you what will happen to you if you get this or that, or don’t do this or that, then stop reading and switch to a more positive website or page, which explains why you are doing the things you are doing, and lists the benefits of doing it.
It is important to understand that individual fitness gurus almost always focus on one or two areas, usually because that just so happens to be the thing they stumbled upon first, or because it made them feel great when they did it, and almost all the fitness gurus out there are correct about the area they focus on, but for most people, sorting one or two areas out will not help them, as you need balance, and each area knocks on to the other. Also, many times, too much focus on one area or carrying out some of the crazy shit some of the fitness or diet gurus recommend, will do damage to another area and just make things worse. Above all, most programs cannot be tolerated long term, which is pointless.
The program i have given you might disappoint you at first read, because there is nothing particularly crazy in it, and the emphasis is on you sorting yourself out, and looking to yourself to work out your issue, diagnose and treat. It will never sell a million copies, because it just focuses on what the body has been programmed to do over 300 million years of evolution. It is not exciting to read, and is sometimes counter intuitive – like eating a lot of saturated fat for example, which i will explain, just as an example:
You might think this would put on weight or raise cholesterol, well it does tend to raise cholesterol by a fraction, but it raises HDL as well as LDL cholesterol, and HDL actively clears your arteries and dissolves fatty deposits, which is well known but it is not handy for the low cholesterol yoghurt industry etc. And as for putting on weight, it doesn’t, it is sugar and too many simple carbs that are the culprits for weight gain, and you may have seen recently on the news reports that official government advice to reduce fat in the seventies was bad advice. That advice changed the way a nation ate, and it went away from fat and towards sugar – now most people are overweight or clinically obese.
Saturated animal fat significantly raises testosterone in males, which makes you more energised, more alert, twice as likely to exercise, put on muscle, increases libido and another 100 positive things. Why? I could explain the biological process, but basically put, animal meat and fat, along with vegetation, nuts and seeds, is what we have been programmed to eat over those 300 million years of evolution. We have spent just 200 years eating refined grains, sugar and pesticides and the mutations necessary to adapt positively to those foods takes thousands of years.
The reason i spent some time explaining one of the counter intuitive things in this program is to show you that actually it is based on common sense, science, and practical, obvious, human experience, so believe in what i tell you and commit to all areas of it, if you receive nothing beneficial from it (not possible) then just quit after 3 months, no harm done.
You’re going to completely change your life now, it is as simple as that, and you will be amazed at how great you feel afterwards. You must pay attention to all 4 areas, and I don’t mean that you should follow them perfectly straightaway, because that is impossible. Build gradually until you start perfecting each area, but make a start on all areas immediately. It may be that you are already perfect in one or more of the areas below, and if so great, then ignore that area and carry on with the other ones, however take care to not just think “No, that’s not me, I’m fine” because the overriding odds are that you have work to do in each area, but sometimes it takes a lot of honesty to admit to yourself that something’s wrong.
It is important to do this program with a relaxed but positive approach – don’t let it stress you out, if it does, then relax off it a bit and start building up again when the different elements start to hit home. Remember that any new thing we try elicits excitement and/or stress. As the days and weeks go by stress will fade as your new regime becomes part of your new life and you no longer have to remember to eat like that or do this or that….
Finally, before you read on, some of this might sound weird, but actually what is weird is the macho way of some professions that mostly lead to burned out, overweight stressed out guys that are ready to drop at the 30 year point. To live a happy middle age, we must open our minds to the things in life that are killing us and the ways in which to get out of the habit. It is not healthy or normal to feel worse as we get older, when we’re 80 yes, until then, it is not. That is a myth we just choose to believe because life and certain jobs funnel most of us down that route.
SOUL – Your life in General.
This one can be tough, if you are fundamentally unhappy with a large structural part of your life, then you simply have to change that otherwise all the fitness and meds etc. in the world won’t ultimately help you, which is why I wrote this bit first. To fully understand this process read “Mind over medicine” by Lisa Rankin, a medical doctor.
If you know that all the big bits in your life are fundamentally sound – Work, wife, sex life, friends, family, location, hobby etc. then simply start doing stuff to make those areas better, much better. Free your mind and start making those areas brilliant and exciting or interesting, drop any pettiness with the missus. Book her a long weekend and make her feel special, which is what every female wants, and don’t expect anything back from her either. Immediately afterwards, book another one again, this tells her things are different now. You don’t expect her to “retaliate” with her own return present to you etc.
If you don’t already, text your kids in the day telling them you love them, or leave nice notes to them in their lunch boxes (these are just examples of what you can do) What I am saying is change things, flip them, reverse them and be creative, or nothing will change.
There is so much I could write about in this whole area, but really, you need to read that book which lists study after study, case after case of people with weight/fitness/hormone/health complaints who go from states of deep unhappiness and poor health to pictures of health and vitality almost overnight, simply by honestly overviewing their whole life, and taking action. There are endless examples of people no longer needing what doctors thought was life sustaining medication. It is truly incredible and it opens your mind to what you can achieve.
It is all about initiating the “relaxation response” and doing so triggers your body to repair itself and also to create the positive hormones that make you feel fucking great, rather than fucking shite. People who’s bodies and minds are in the relaxation response the most, are happy and are optimally healthy. They can put on muscle if they want and they can lose weight easily at will and when they fancy achieving something, they know they will, and they do, because they are awesome, and they know it.
More than that, those people actually cure themselves of seemingly incurable diseases. One of many notable and proven documented examples in the book is of a man (i think it was in the 60’s) who believed totally in his doctor, and had cancerous, terminal tumours all over his body. His doctor prescribed him an experimental drug and the patient believed it would cure him, months later his tumours had almost completely receded, to the astonishment of his doctor (who had already found out since that the drug did in fact not work at all) But the doctor didn’t tell the patient that. The patient remained 100% well until the day he happened to stumble across the reported results of the medical trial using the drug he had taken, and his belief evaporated. Within weeks he was unwell and his tumours had returned. But the story does not end there. Incredibly, the man’s doctor – who must have been some kind of visionary back then – realised his patient was reacting to what we now know as the placebo affect (AKA “belief”) and so he said to the patient “No problem, luckily a new drug has come through that cures your condition 100% of the time” The doctor prescribed the patient a harmless unbranded drug (i can’t recall which, but it was paracetamol or some similar substance)
The patient was overjoyed, and within weeks was again cured of his tumours!
This is the relaxation response in action. It can cure big things, and it will always cure small things.
MIND – Believe You Can
This area is kinda similar to area one, but instead focuses on how to change harmful thought processes that will have come about from poor conditions in some parts of your life which we have briefly covered in area 1. So you change some structural stuff in area one, then start reclaiming the relaxation response by doing this stuff:
What you think, consciously and sub consciously greatly affects your hormone balance, and hormones regulate not just muscle mass, skin, bones, hair etc, but also how you feel, and how you feel leads to how you act. How you feel and act is who you are. If you are currently not 100% happy with who you are, you must change how you think, to a greater or lesser degree.
The chances are that life has knocked you a bit, and in response you have developed some negative beliefs about a variety of things that could range from Health, looks, intelligence, wife, family, body image, etc. etc. that you repeat to yourself either consciously or unconsciously that just make your life a bit sadder and flatter than it should be.
Here’s what you need to do:
• Belief: Everything you are, positive and negative, has arisen from what you have come to believe in, but – and this is a big thing to comprehend – no event or occurrence, big or small, has ever had any intrinsic meaning or value until you and/or others labelled it as such. Hence, logically – and in reality – you can change any negative, harmful beliefs about both yourself and others that you may have which are damaging to your health. The first thing to realise is that just because you believe it, doesn’t make it so, no matter how much you believe it. You can literally believe whatever you want to about what something means, about how you are, or how you view yourself. Understanding this should create a “aha” moment within you and can literally change how you view everything overnight. You might need to re-read this paragraph a few times to gain a true understanding of the concept.
• Mantras: If you don’t have hang ups about how you look or who you are or where you are in life, then you are either not human or you are already perfectly happy. So have an honest chat with yourself and find the areas about yourself or the way you are that you use to beat yourself up about within your internal thoughts.
Study after study has shown that both your unconscious and conscious mind is changed by the repetitive use of positive mantras. It creates new positive neuron pathways in the brain which then – in time – are used in preference automatically over the old negative ones. Insomniacs who know they are shite at sleeping can actually change their belief systems simply by repeating “I am a fantastic sleeper, the best I know” and suddenly, they start to sleep. It works for every negative belief that you or others have installed in your head over many years, but it is about repetition, repetition, repetition.
Get a few mantras which must be positive, so “I will be less negative” is no good at all. Your mantra must be written in the positive, something like “I am very healthy” or “I am the boss” or whatever you decide that best reverses the issue at hand.
Whenever you find yourself dwelling on an issue of personal negativity (reliance on meds for example) simply start repeating the most relevant mantra (in your head) “I am recovering naturally every day” “I am healthy now” whatever. When you do so, visualise the key words in bold, or getting bigger, reinforcing the new positive belief.
Mantras are repeated in your thoughts, so you can do it anywhere.
If you don’t believe this works, then consider for a moment how effective you have been in installing negative beliefs into your head. How bugged and harassed are you by the most negative thoughts in your life. Ask yourself: How did they get there? How did they get there in a way that they keep cropping up in my head? Answer: Obviously, because you kept repeating those negative thoughts in the first place, for fucking months probably! You might have stopped it but those thoughts got real ingrained didn’t they? OK, so the exact same happens with positive thoughts too. Your sub conscious is very gullable and it literally believes everything it is told if told often enough. The simple sad thing is that when things go wrong we tend to think a load of negative stuff, which then creates a spiral. What we are doing by using mantras is simply reversing the damaging stuff, the negative bullshit you’ve downloaded into your brain. The result will be a happier you, and a better hormone balance
• Deep Breathing, This helped me no end when I was at my worst. Deep breathing engages the Vagus Nerve and in doing so elicits the relaxation response which cascades into great hormone profiles. The repetition of mantras should be done during deep breathing, as the sub conscious takes in what you are repeating in your head more effectively when you are relaxed. Personally i do this in the car, at my desk, and other such situations
• This is optional, but I highly recommend you sign up to the first 4 months of Holosync, by Centrepoint – You should google it and read up on it etc. It is very powerful stuff and it creates the relaxation response which naturally optimises hormone balance, without any effort whatsoever. If you like it then you can continue to the next level etc. Note: this is not a normal meditation CD, it has been researched to death over a period of 30 years and has been shown to be 8 times more effective than the meditation of even a zen monk.
• Become more positive. Being more positive creates in itself a better hormone profile, stop saying negative stuff to people, simply by rephrasing to the positive, you can say the same thing but in a positive way, and that in itself creates positivity around you and people respond differently to you
BODY – Diet & Exercise…
This is probably the only bit you thought I would write you!!
The following might sound like 4 to 6 sessions a week in only 7 days, but actually, you can do the weights part in as little as 10 minutes and the cardio in 20 minutes (which is already 2 sessions in 30 minutes), so it will not exhaust you once you start getting used to it.
• 2 to 3 cardio sessions a week, so riding to work, jogging, whatever, it is not important what you do as long as you are very out of breathe for 20 minutes or more.
• 2 to 3 weight sessions a week (can be as little as 10 minutes a time for the shortened version). Lift heavy weight, with low reps. Lift as much as you can, so you can only just lift it 7/8 times and for 3 sets on each body part. Work the main muscle groups: Quads (thighs) with squats, Chest (chest press), Back, Abdominals, triceps and biceps. Rest for 90 seconds between sets on each body part, which optimises hormone output. You can do 3 different exercises all straight after the other, which should leave about 90 seconds before you get to the next set for each body part.
The best exercises you can do rely on bodyweight (sometimes with additional weights attached) so squats, pull ups and tricep dips are excellent for all sorts of reasons, but you might need to increase strength and lose some fat before doing these – pull ups in particular.
Ensure you do tricep dips, as these will make your arms look great and balance your increasing biceps, you can also easily do these exercises from home, even before you go to work or whatever- simply by using a chair or low bench.
As you get stronger and fitter, research the 5×5 weightlifting method and move onto that.
It is better to do a quick 10 minutes of heavy lifting than none at all. If you only have 10 minutes on a day that you feel strong and ready to train, then simply do the exercises that rely on bodyweight, like pull ups and tricep dips, as they work many muscle groups – minor ones too – so you get a lot of bang for your buck.
• Rest – It is extremely important to rest adequately between workouts. If you feel drained and wiped out, then skip the next planned workout until you feel energised again. Don’t skip sessions if you just can’t be bothered – that is lazy, and totally different from being wiped out. If you feel wiped out, it is because hormones take a temporary dip after a heavy workout, before spiking again once you are rested. If you over train you will continually pound your hormones into the ground and get nowhere. To get over this issue it is good to rotate body parts, so on Monday you might do chest and arms, and Wednesday you might do legs and back. This way each body part gets at least 3 or 4 days rest a week.
• Diet – eat lots of high quality animal meat and their saturated fats, so whenever you get the chance to eat chicken skin that no-one else wants, eat it. Protein and animal fat is extremely good for raising testosterone, which in turn makes you feel better and gain muscle easier. Also eat lots of eggs, fruit, veg and nuts but avoid simple carbohydrates – without going mental about it – like white potato, bread, white rice, and all processed carbs, like crisps etc. Avoid all candy bars and sweats in the day, and instead treat yourself with a desert in the evening (after your main meal) every 2nd day or so.
Personally when I feel desperate for something sweet, I have a mug of hot chocolate made with cocoa powder (not the hot chocolate powder you buy) sweetened with some honey, which is far better than processed white sugar, and if you want to be super good, then you can buy whole milk minus the lactose, which most humans struggle to digest. They sell it at Tescos.
Simple sugars and carbohydrates kill testosterone. Saturated animal fats, protein and complex carbs via vegetables raise it. This is almost certainly down to the fact that humans have evolved over 300 million years to eat that kind of stuff and react well to it, not the processed and refined sugars and milk of the last 100 years or so.
If you can afford it, start replacing your old foods with organic. You might not know this but many fruit and veg from the supermarket have literally half the nutrients and vitamins versus their organic counterparts, + none of the harmful pesticides that build up in your liver and batter your good hormones. An easy way of doing this is signing up to “riverfood foods” who deliver all organic meat and veg to your door.
Note: Weirdly, too much fibre is very bad for testosterone, so don’t go overboard with things like oats, which are good in moderation only. Definitely cut out refined grains full of gluten, which is very bad for you despite tasting great. Gluten free or almost free is ideal and easy to do
Note: Ensure you get enough carbs. It is worse to have a carb deficiency through over-avoidance of potatoes etc. so just replace simple carbs with complex carbs where you can, and if it is impracticable to do so a few times a week, don’t worry about it, like I say, you cannot be perfect and inducing stress is counterproductive
• Carb Backloading – Once you are a couple of weeks into your program, start carb backloading, which is simply eating all your food on training days within the final 6 hours of the day, so fast – other than water – all day until evening meal time, then you can go crazy and eat a big meal and desert and basically eat all your 2,000 daily calorie intake in one go. This manipulates hormones – particularly insulin – so that you burn fat and don’t store fat again via the normal insulin response.
For carb backloading it is best to train in the evening/late afternoon, so that you start eating within an hour or two afterwards. This maximises the insulin issue.
• Stop Drinking – I recommend you stop drinking completely for 2 months at least. Alcohol is highly estrogenic by stopping the normal metabolism of estrogen and also via the conversion of alcohol to sugar and fat, which in turn creates more estrogen. More estrogen creates more fat and water retention, zaps libido and loads more. It is bad for men of a certain BMI and age. Once you have lost some belly fat, start drinking socially again, but absolutely no more than 10 units a week on a regular basis.
• Supplements – I don’t recommend you take anything apart from maybe some whey protein just to boost protein intake up a bit as meat is expensive and this helps offset the amount of meat you need to eat. Put a spoon full in a yoghurt or a glass of milk. (drink whole milk by the way) You can get whey protein cheaply from amazon.
If you get really into it, there are a number of supplements out there that naturally manipulate hormones, particularly testosterone and estrogen, but that stuff should be avoided if you can achieve your goals without them, which you will do.
Don’t start on any other supplements without further advice, as some can achieve what you want in one area but be extremely damaging in another