Having an improvement mindset means enjoying that idea that there is always more to improve.
To illustrate this, I’ll talk mainly about my health goals. It has been said that “if you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything.” Plus what we know from research is that when people become more fit and healthy it tends to knock-on to improve other areas of their life.
So, here are my goals:
1. Reach 82 kg while eating healthy.
Progress: 12 months ago I weighed 72 kg and looked pretty freaking skinny. Current weight: 79 kg and steadily gaining.
2. Reach 12-13% body fat.
Progress: 12 months ago I was at 9.2%. Currently at 10.7% and it seems to vary pretty wildly. At one point I was up to 11.4% but only for one month.
(Go ahead and hate me, water off a duck’s back! Practice not comparing yourself more often.)
3. Do a handstand; handstand push ups; walk on my hands.
Progress: My trainer Larissa is systematically building me up to doing this cleanly and safely. Right now we’re doing wall-walks and building shoulder stability > strength. This kind of movement is much more about control and balance than raw power. Being an ex-gymnast, Larissa is well-qualified to get me there.
4. Prepare for ACL ligament reconstruction surgery.
This should happen in the next couple of months. The idea is to prepare for the rehabilitation process so that I can speed the recovery and more quickly get myself back to what I love doing – rock climbing, surfing, dancing, and generally bouncing around like an idiot.
I’ve come across a great supplement called PeptiPro which specifically supports the body’s ability to grow connective tissues, and it’s working great — the crinkling sound in my knees when I push with my legs is beginning to diminish.
Caffeine and/or alcohol only one day per week. (As a result, I find that I enjoy both much more.)
Currently, I go to the gym twice a week – once with Larissa and once on my own. When I’m on my own I perform a very short workout popularised by Tim Ferris called “Occam’s Protocol.” Along with a high-calorie diet, this has been responsible for most of my healthy weight gain.
Every day my target is 3,600 kCal. I make a ~2,000 kCal smoothie most days I’m at the clinic, and have ideally two more hi-carb meals either side of that.
I have a high-calorie diet largely because I bike *everywhere*. I probably cover about 200km per week. Thus, in order to gain any weight, I eat like it’s my job. I just now polished off two full bowls of beans and rice with two eggs mixed in.
Into the smoothie go the PeptiPro, some Healthy Origins Sun Fibre (a prebiotic to feed the beneficial bacteria in my gut), 2-3 magnesium citrate tablets, and for two weeks of the month I add a dose of creatine monohydrate to support the workouts.
Additionally, in the mornings, I take curcumin capsules and 4,000mg of high-quality fish oil. If I need to concentrate on something important that day I’ll also take a couple of L-theanine capsules for mental focus.
I aim for 2L of extra water per day. This is partly because I have a high protein intake, and plenty of water is needed to help the kidneys to process it.
Finally, the secret sauce: Sleep.
I use a sleep monitor to keep me focused on getting an average of 8.5 hours of sleep every night. Often I don’t get anywhere near that, but I keep a running average and do everything I can to catch up. I also regularise the time when I *go* to sleep, so my brain is ready and can fall asleep more easily. When this happens, all sorts of magic takes place – memory retention and recall improves, mood and mental clarity improve, and hormone production and balance improve (oestrogen for females, testosterone for males).
I write out a checklist before bed of all the things I want or need to do the following day. That way my head is clear when I go to bed.
I also track my basic income and expenses (thanks, Alexis Harvey) in order to control spending and also to practice an abundance mindset. This supports my overall goal of helping more people and being a more active advocate by attaining financial security.
Finally, I write down three things or people for which or to whom I’m grateful. This is a great habit and I find I go to bed and wake up feeling very happy, most of the time.
Still in progress:
The next habit I’m building is meditating for 20 minutes each morning. This means I’ll probably axe the Facebook time before work – and I’m okay with that…!
Also I am calling my family more often. Living in Melbourne with family in Christchurch and elsewhere makes this an important connection to maintain.
Overall, I have an improvement mindset. Life is amazing! And there is always more I can improve.
Shouts goin’ out to my homies
These people have been instrumental in getting me to the level of physical fitness and knowledge that I have today, and also have been instrumental in supporting my improvement mindset:
Larissa Watt, club manager and personal trainer at Snap Fitness South Yarra.
Dara Simkin, Mindset Coach and all-round badass.
Jabe Brown, Naturopath and so much more, at Melbourne Functional Medicine
My circles of friends and family who similarly strive to make life better for themselves and everyone around them.
I love you all.