This is in an approximate order of what I’ve tried and I’ve found has helped, and has become part of my routine that has stuck.
Exercise helps, but hasn’t stuck, so its not included. Usually what I stick best at in terms of exercise is something called the 7 minute workout.
Many things seem obvious, but that’s the point – they can seem so obvious we think we’re ok.
Living in Scotland this is recommended. I’m not conscious of having Seasonal Affective Disorder, but to eliminate the impact of less sunlight/daylight this seems to be a thing to do. I went for a dose I saw recommended online, which was higher than the NHS guidance (although they recently increased their guidance level), as I hoped to see an effect more clearly.
I noticed it was subtlety easier to get up in the mornings. I.e. I felt was waking up a little more alert. This benefit went away when I forgot to take the vitamin D. I felt like I had to remember for 4-5 days or forget for 4-5 days to start noticing a change for better/worse.
Nutritious drinkable breakfasts
I struggled to eat good breakfasts. Getting up in the morning was always a struggle so I had little time for eating and didn’t feel like I could consume very much. I used to consider eating a banana a good breakfast because it was more than nothing and easy to grab.
I trialed a European alternative to Soylent called Joylent (since renamed as Jimmy Joy). It was expensive (about £2-3 per breakfast) and pretty heavy due to 50g of protein per serving.
I then moved onto Wheatabix in a bottle with a shaker ball with extra milk to make it drinkable. I can slowly drink this through my commute so I manage to get a lot down as I take my time.
I’ve significantly more morning energy and if I add a tiny spoon of protein powder I don’t get hungry until about lunch time so I don’t crave snacks. I also don’t ever miss any breakfasts any more, since I feel the benefit and make sure I have it.
More expensive multivitamin specifically for men
It’s hard to test for deficiencies, but to reduce the potential impact of them I decided to take a wide ranging higher quality multivitamin.
When I first switched to using a standing desk at work I felt an energy boost that I suspected was due to a slight testosterone boost, so I thought I should try to ensure I had what was needed to support testosterone. I tried Brazil nuts for selenium but it’s hassle so I decided to look at a multivitamin specifically for men.
Within 2 weeks I noticed a significant energy boost. I don’t think it was 100% that, but I feel like I’ve crossed a tipping point where the combination of helps has aggregated to more than their individual benefits.
One new thing that may point to a hormonal change, is that for the first time in my life I’ve started to feel like strength work is physically enjoyable. Press-ups with elevated legs feel fun, and I actually want to be more physically active.
Increased water intake
I started measuring how much I drank, as I saw people talking about benefits of drinking 2-3l a day and how they felt when they increased water intake.
I was surprised at how little I was really drinking and how often I have to drink to achieve what’s needed. I drank water with sugar and salt at first, to be palatable and hydrating, but soon switched to water with a squirt of lemon juice.
More energy. Better concentration. I’m much more self-aware of when I’m thirsty and I’m suddenly conscious of being thirsty quite a lot. I didn’t notice drier lips or a drier mouth before. I’ve less acne, which I assume is due to drinking more water.
Less sugar: richer lunches and savoury afternoon snacks
I started keeping crackers and cheese at work to have mid-afternoon, and sometimes also fruit but that’s just a bonus and not the core snack.
Having them there made it an easy option so I didn’t just grab chocolate so I could keep working.
My default lunch option is also more substantial, such as avocado on rolls
I watched a video where Simon Sinek talked about dopamine deficiency, which made me wonder how much I was fuelling myself with dopamine via sugar and caffeine. That made me more self aware about how I felt when I ate sugar and crucially how I felt afterwards when the sugar wore off.
Increased energy – it keeps me going until dinner much better. It doesn’t trigger me to crave more sugar like a chocolate based snack would. It’s actually disappointing how much benefit I’ve got from reducing sugar intake as I like sugar, but I’m hopeful I can become more thoughtful and intentional in eating sugar rather than using it. It seems funny / obvious given my first YouTube series is called “Sugar Addict”.
I avoided fluid after 9pm so I wouldn’t need to go to the toilet during the night. When I tried measuring my fluid intake and I realised how little I was drinking, I started drinking more. If I do wake up to pee, which is rare, I use that as an opportunity to drink even more water from the bottle next to my bed.
I noticed I was waking up much more naturally with much more alertness. i even notice that I’m dreaming in the morning, which I am not normally conscious of so I think my sleep phases are better. I’ll even drink some water before getting out of bed in the morning. I’m now very frequently waking up naturally just a little before my alarm, despite alarms being set for different times each day.
Other items of daily routine:
- I avoid caffeine after 4pm.
- I use a homemade standing desk at work between 4 and 8 hours per day. I can definitely concentrate better and longer. I was always known to be a bit of a fidget and can never get comfortable sitting so it helps.
- water intake
- phone in other room
- avoiding screens before bed
- quiet – I sleep with ear defenders
- I wear a hat, both to be cosy and to pull over my eyes and act as a sleep mask. Once I’m asleep I must get too hot as I pull it off together with the ear defenders.
- A memory foam pillow with leading edge hump, to change the angle of my head both opening my airways and helping my day-time posture. Having my arms splayed wide also opens up ny chest more so I can breathe more easily and deeply.
- 4-7-8 breathing method for physical relaxation
- Conscious identification, acknowledgement and shutting down of thoughts/anxieties.
- Improving posture, especially shoulder position, to expand lung capacity and the body’s ability to oxgenate. I suspect for the next level of improvement I need to use deadlifts or similar to get the correct muscles and alignment to strengthen.
- An exercise plan that includes strength, stamina, and flexibility.
- Wim Hof iceman method.
Things that haven’t stuck:
- Ways of getting light in the morning to try to wake myself up. Now that I’m not dehydrated in the morning it might help.