I’m fascinated by the techniques high-performers use to maintain their impressive lives. So whenever I encounter someone who really impresses me, I ask them about their approach: Astronauts and Navy SEALs; Olympic champion athletes and particle physicists. “How do you maintain your edge?” I asked them in various ways.
Their answers reflected the way disparate areas of life—health, job performance, physical fitness, and mental acuity—tie together. What I’ve learned from them has changed my life. Now, I’ve written down the best of their advice in a book—one that I hope will change your life as well.
It’s called Eat Move Think, and the approach stems from a conversation I had with Dr. Michael Parkinson as I was researching the book. Dr. Parkinson is an MD, retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and former president of the American College of Preventive Medicine.
“Eat, move, and think,” he told me. “What I eat, how I move and what I think are the greatest determinants of how long and how well we live.”
I like Dr. Parkinson’s approach because of its simplicity. Everybody has lots of demands on his or her time. Each one of us needs to focus on the areas of our life where our effort will make the most difference to our wellness.
To me, Dr. Parkinson nailed the three most important factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle: diet and nutrition (eat), physical activity (move), and mental health (think).
As part of the research for this book, I asked my team to speak to the world’s experts. We conducted interviews with scores of fascinating figures, everyone from the exercise-is-medicine guru, Dr. Jordan Metzl, to the CEO of TD Ameritrade, Tim Hockey, whose cycling group, Les Domestiques, combines the dual health-fulfilling tasks of fitness and social connection. Olympic performance coach Peter Jensen told us how to stay calm in a crisis. Mayo Clinic professor Mike Joyner provided the best way to get in shape, fast.
Sometimes these experts contradicted each other. When that happened, we gathered together teams and distilled the research into a cohesive set of easy-to-understand pillars to health:
We don’t buy into fads or single-nutrient diets. Instead, we believe that arming yourself with knowledge will assist you to make better food choices. The best diet involves eating wholesome, minimally processed foods, mostly plant based, in reasonable quantities.
The decision to engage in regular physical activity is the most important lifestyle change you can make to increase your likelihood of living a long and active life. The best training plan involves a personalized mix of strength training, cardio, and flexibility training—with specific fitness goals and actionable plans to achieve them.
Your brain is the most powerful tool you have. A fit mind is exercised regularly, using tactics such as positive self-talk, focus, visualization, proper sleep hygiene, and mindfulness.
These are the general precepts that can guide all of us to long and healthy lives. In my book, I’ve used my own experience and the guidance of the world’s experts to tackle some of the most important questions, providing short, easy-to-read answers that provide clear guidance.
Writing and researching this book has changed my life. I learned that willpower is a mental muscle, and that the more choices you make, the more willpower you use up. I learned that it’s possible to teach yourself how to be optimistic, and that one type of optimism is better than another. And I learned how to mitigate the harm to your body that comes from sitting all day. (The answer to that one’s pretty easy: Stretch!) As a result of this book, I’ve cut down on the diet soda, which can disturb the body’s microbiome. I’ve also quit worrying about having a second and even third cup of coffee in the morning, because research has shown that those beans can actually decrease the chance of developing certain types of cancer.
We all want to live well and live long. I hope you’ll consider using this book as your roadmap for the journey ahead.
To be released on May 8, Eat Move Think: The Path to a Healthier, Stronger, Happier You is available from Indigo, Amazon and better bookstores everywhere.