66 Habits for a Lean, Healthy and Muscular Body for Life

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Be, Do, Have. 

Be the person you want to become.  

Do the things they do (habits). 

Have the things you want. 

Create a time sensitive measurable objective. 

You must live objectively if you’re going to succeed at anything. 

Set an objective, and start to reverse engineer the strategy, actions steps, and habits to make it reality in a set amount of time. Have a short term goal with a hard timeline. 

Determine the 3 habits you currently have that are holding you back
Ruthlessly eliminate them. (Example/ I committed to no longer eating peanut butter because I know it is something I tend to over eat, and it’s very easy to put back 2000 calories in under 10 minutes). Once I’m at my goal, I can reexamine whether I have this a few times a year.

Become aware of your environment. 

Environmental triggers will have a big impact on your mental state and what you default to when you lose conscious awareness. What in the environment will either support or hinder your success (this includes people). 

Don’t negotiate your goals. 

1% divergence now will set your way off course. 

It’s very easy to rationalize little slip ups and easing up on your standards. Do not negotiate. 

Create rules. 

I don’t drink. I don’t eat sugar. I don’t eat dairy. I don’t eat peanut butter. 

This will make it much easier when your friends, family and colleagues ask you to continue your previous social activities that don’t contribute to your goal. 

Choose your tribe. 

Find a community of people to support your goals and dreams. Plan social time with this community. Humans need social time and if you don’t plan it, you’ll take it from whomever will give it to you. This often means less time with people that dont support your goals. People that love you for you, support and encourage your goals and dreams. 

Schedule your workouts. 

Decide on a time and do not negotiate. This includes the time workouts must end. You get 90 minutes max. Get it done. When we don’t have goals, and don’t schedule it becomes very easy for other things to overtake that time and before you know it, the time is gone.  

Accept who you are and what you’ve done.  

Everything you have done to this point in your life is exactly what you needed to do to get to through life. Whatever decisions you have made, at that exact moment it was what you needed. Say thank you for every single one, and to yourself for making that decision.

If you have negative attachments in your past, remember, pain is our friend because it teaches us to pay attention and take action. Don’t ignore your pain and fear. Be grateful for it. 

Align your values with your goals. 

If your goal is sub 10% body fat, but you value social eating and the comfort of eating junk food in front of the TV, you will have a much harder time achieving your goal. If this is the case, make sure your goals are in alignment or you will always feel like you’re failing but in reality you’re choosing these comforts. 

Drink 1 liter of filtered water first thing in the morning. 

Thirst and hunger are often confused. Hydration and satiety will prevent cravings. 

Workout in early in the day. 
Mentally and physically it is vastly superior to train early in the day. Your body and mind will feel better, you will crave less food, and be less likely to eat poorly. 

Move or exercise before eating anything every day. 

Exercise is our best signal to increase the absorption and utilization of the foods we consume. It prepares your body to increase uptake and utilization. Think of it like wringing a a sponge, before you wet it (eat). Commit to moving for a minimum of 10 mins before you eat anything in the morning.

Watch the sunrise. 

Sun is the most impactful signal on our biology. It will improve glucose utilization, decrease inflammation, and set our circadian rhythm. Get sunshine on your body daily (or minimum 10 mins of InfraRed light).

Meditate daily. 

I could write a book on the endless reasons why this is here. JUST DO IT.

Meditation is like placing a wedge in between the things that happen to us, and the way we respond. It helps to remove the reactionary mind (amygdala), and gives us the time to think about best possible response rather than senselessly reacting (prefrontal cortex). 

Breath. Slowly, consciously, expansively. 

Does it sometimes feel hard to focus? Or do cardio? Or to breathe when exercising? Do you get anxious? Have a racing mind? Yes, so does everyone else. Breathing well will shift all of these away from victim living, to feeling confident and empowered.

Start with a 4-4-4-4 box breath.

Spend time outdoors in natural environments. 

Breathing outdoors is a big part of establishing a healthy and diverse microbiome, which we know is correlated with being lean. 

Prioritize animal protein. 

Animal protein is vastly superior. 

Find the highest quality you can (based on the food it ate, and environment it was raised in). Eat it with every meal. Vary your sources. Animal protein is best for muscle building and maintenance which we know is correlated with being lean. 

Eat 1g/lb protein. 

This is a starting point for maintaining muscle and optimizing recovery. Some people might need more, others can get away with less. 

Chew more. Eat slowly. 

 Absorption of all food starts with chewing. Exposing more of the foods surface area to the enzymes in the stomach will greatly increase absorption. 

Take 2 mins to become present, slow your breath, and be grateful before every meal.

People have prayed before meals for thousands of years. This calming practice of gratitude prepares the body to receive food. Do not eat in a rush. Wait, breathe, relax, chew. This creates a parasympathetic state in the body which is conducive to improved digestion.

Choose high quality, fresh foods.
You become what you eat. The food you eat literally becomes your tissues. Think about that. 

Just like the food you eat has become what it eats. The quality of your food is of utmost importance. 

Eat vegetables as immediately as possible after they’ve been picked. 

Prioritize omega 3 from wild fish and omega 9 from olive oil and avocado. 
Types of fats matter.

Think of the ratios of fats you eat as forming the outer layer of every cell in your body. Poor fat choices will affect the functioning of every cell. 

Minimize or eliminate artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners. 

No one needs these things. They have zero benefit.  

They are known to cause Gi disturbances and increase inflammation at a base level. 

Are they “okay”? Occasional sweeteners wont hurt but it is a gateway to more cravings. I suggest you tear off the bandage cold turkey. 

Remove artificial colours and flavors completely. 

Minimize stimulants (coffee/pre workouts). 

This boils down to the Sympathetic/ParaSympathetic balance. If you’re over stimulated (high sympathetic), you won’t burn fat. Most people are over stimulated and that can contribute to poor health, metabolic dysfunction, stress, anxiety, cravings. 

Some coffee is great, too much can cause issues for some people.

Always eat at a table. 

This is metaphor for taking time to eat, being relaxed, and ideally with your tribe. 

Meal frequency only matters at a high level.

Timing of meals only matters when youre aiming for exceptional results. 

If youre simply looking to lose some fat, meal timing is of little consequence. 

1 hour per day minimum of movement. Ideally 2

It doesn’t have to be complex or even challenging. Simply move and progress. Make it part of who you are. 

Do challenging aerobic workouts 3x/week.

Aerobic means staying sub VO2 max for an extended period. A good way to gauge that is whether or not you can maintain nasal breathing as a high level.  

Move for minimum 10 mins after every meal. 

Walk, pushups, play, yoga, balls, bike, squat, lunge, dance. Just move. 

Train weights 4-6x/week. 

Challenging muscles offers a huge advantage to transforming your body due to the metabolic properties of muscles and myokines released during exercise (signalling molecules). It’s not simply about doing it, however. Apply the intelligence training principles and double your gains. 

Learn to make weight workouts more effective. 

Learn to maximally challenge muscles, not simply “lift weights”. Completing reps and sets is not the goal. The goal is to challenge muscles. 

This is the foundation of all physique progress that is overlooked in all programming. 

Aim to do better. Not just do more. 

This is the premise of training with Intelligence and applies to all aspects of health, fitness and life. 

Most people think they need to work harder, do more, rest less etc. In reality they have a massive opportunity to progress without ever having to work harder. 

While those do matter, what makes a much bigger difference is first learning how to do things correctly. 

Train multiple body parts each day. 

One body part a day bro splits only work for top professionals. 

I can hear a million guys out there chiming in with “Works for me, bro!”. 

No, you simply haven’t learned anything better… yet. 

Train each body part every 2-5 days depending on skill, effort, and volume. 

Macros matter. 

Counting them will become an important objective at some point. Start to familiarize yourself with this so it becomes second nature. 

Change your relationship with hunger. 

Spend time with it. Become comfortable and aware that it’s your best friend for fat loss. 

Start looking for ways to cut unnecessary calories. 

Sauces, oils, alcohol, cream in coffee etc. 

Minimize fruit. 

Fruit doesn’t have to be avoided, but should not be a primary source of carbohydrates. 

Earn your carbohydrates. 

Movement makes the body more receptive to carbs (Glut-1).

The more you do, the more you are able to utilize.

Keep trigger foods out of the house. 

If you know you can’t control your ability to eat certain foods, or stop eating a food.

Don’t bring them in the house. 

Choose calorie free condiments, spices, side dishes. 

Use condiments like mustard, vinegars, horseradish, sauerkraut, spices, and herbs. 

Remove alcohol (or max one per day). 

Sorry, but yes. Alcohol destroys sleep, disrupts the gut, and drives up inflammation. 

Prioritize diversity of vegetables.  

Vegetables can be very helpful for increasing gut diversity which we know is correlated with being lean. 

Sauna 3-4x a week. 

Sweating is vital to health, detoxification. The more often the better. 

If you have body odours, or if you don’t sweat, saunas should be used often. 

Measure HRV. Take action to increase it. 

Deliberately increasing heart rate variability is one of the biggest levers in changing your body. Not only will it allow you to train harder with less perceived effort, recovery faster between sets and between workouts, it will also allow you to burn more fat during exercise.

Higher HRV is correlated with greater preparedness for exercise, better sleep, better focus, better endurance, and better digestion. 

Remove or minimize plastics. 

Plastics enter the body and are endocrine disruptors (ruin your hormones). They are stored in fat cells and can increase stress and inflammation in the body. 

No food is universally good or bad. Pay attention to your body. 
Chicken is not better than beef. Fish is not better than eggs. Beef is not less healthy than fish. Vegetables are not universally good for you. When you eat a steak and kale, it will create a very different result than if I eat steak and kale.

Why?

Our bodies are different genetically, our hormones are different, our microbiome is different, our stress and inflammation is different, our ability to synthesize protein is different, our training needs are different. 

Food is a signal. A signal will affect different systems in different ways depending on the existing state of that system.

Commit 100%. 

99% commitment will almost always ensure you fall short. 1% divergence will lead to rationalization of things you shouldnt do, and create bad habits. Set a timeline, stick to it 100%, then reward yourself. 

Food isn’t a reward. 

Reward yourself with things that matter to you, not food. Especially “garbage” food. 

Create a sense of urgency by having a concrete deadline and consequences. 

It’s too easy to rationalize things that don’t support your goal when you don’t have a deadline with consequences. 

No mindless eating.  

Habitually eating when you’re not hungry is very common. It’s vital that you create a substitute for mindless eating. If you find yourself headed there, go for a walk, call a friend, put on your favourite Rocky song and dance. 

Go deeper into every set. 

GO. DEEPER. INTO. EVERY. SET. 

This means moving further and further toward your discomfort. 

Growth in the gym happens outside of your comfort zone. 

Greatness lies outside the walls we set in our minds. 

Start each workout with this 10 minute breath protocol .

5 minutes slow expansive breath. (30 seconds in, 30 seconds out). 

5 mins of maintaining 3 seconds in-3 seconds out while increasing the effort on cardio every 30 seconds. 

Ask: is this moving me closer to my goal, or further away. 

Every single thing you do is either moving you closer, or moving you away from your goal. Never retreat. 

Identify your triggers to eat. 

Make note of the places, people, things that trigger mindless eating, and remove them. 

Where are you? What were you doing for 2-3 hours prior? Pay attention to your stress. Pay attention to how much caffeine you’ve had. Pay attention to what you did earlier that day? 

When the desire to eat poorly arises, commit to 5 mins of movement instead. 

Change your belief. Being lean is not hard. It’s simply different
Being 6% body fat is no harder than being 15% body fat. 

I’ve been at each of them many times. 

It’s simply the habits you have, the standard you set for yourself, and your belief about why you should or shouldn’t have it. If 6% becomes your standard, you will maintain it. 

Create a higher standard. 

You are the standard to which you hold yourself. 

Some people won’t allow themselves to go above 10% body fat. That’s simply the standard they hold themselves to. Create a new standard in every area of your life. What will you accept for yourself? 

Know your why. 

What is your deepest pain point that pushes you to start? 

Remember this feeling. 

Once it starts to fade, motivation can sometimes go with it. 

Always remember why you started. 

Set rules for yourself. 

Ex/I don’t eat after 7. I exercise before every meal. I drink 500ml of water 20 mins before every meal. I always eat at home. I always eat at a table. I do 60 minutes of exercise every day.

Spend more time naked. 

Nothing can make things more real than looking at yourself when naked. 

No fun house mirrors either. Get real, bright light, and look at the worst of it. Get disturbed and feel the pain. Use that to say that “I will never allow that again”.

Identify people & physiques that inspire you. 

Cut out a photo. Place it in an easy to view spot. 

Identify your 2-3 barriers to change and their appropriate lean habit substitute. 

Examples:

When do you have most energy? Train then.

When are you most likely to cheat on your diet? Plan a walk right before that. 

Who tends to trigger bad behaviours in you? Create a standard reason to avoid them. 

Where have you gone in the past that leads to non constructive behaviour? Avoid it.

What about your environment triggers mindless habits? 

What excuse do you make in the gym? Create a new avatar. 

What excuses do you use to not train? Write 5 reasons why they are BS. 

Write them down, and place them in a place you see multiple times a day. 

Remember ABC (BJ Fogg).

Choose foods that require more work to eat.

Steak vs ground. 

Chicken vs ground.

Whole nuts vs nut butters.

Whole fruit vs purees. 

Al dente vs Overcooked.

Steel cut oats vs Quick oats. 

Raw carrots, pickles, sauerkraut, radishes. Celery, cucumbers, are all freebies. 

Create more dense workouts. 

Progressing the amount of time between sets is one of the most useful tools to change the stimulus on the body. More dense (less rest between sets) workouts will increase the demand on the body to produce more energy (ATP) in shorter times. This will increase the efficacy of this system making you more effective at training harder and ultimately using more calories. 

Follow a plan. 

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”.

A plan is vital. 

Aim for 100% adherence. 

If you fall short or see yourself going off track, do not assume it’s done and give up. Failure does not exist except if you quit. Your goal is attainable if you follow through and stick with it through obstacles.

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Ben Pakulski

Ben Pakulski

Since first lifting weights as a teenager, Ben has been on a mission to do whatever it takes… …to become the most muscular man on the planet! On the eve of The Arnold Classic, he confronts the dark realities of bodybuilding… And his own future! Follow him on his journey…

Leave a Comment

About the Podcast

Formerly the Muscle Expert Podcast. The world’s top authority on intelligent muscle building and fat loss gives us a simple to understand deep dive into the complex world of building a body you love, and living your greatness. Weekly interviews with leading experts in a vast number of scientific fields focusing on health optimization (nutrition, sleep, hormones, mindfulness and mind set), strength, (both physical and mental), and muscle hypertrophy. Learn proven strategies for optimum life performance, whether it be in the gym, the board room or the bedroom; this is the blueprint for becoming the upgraded modern man. Ladies, this podcast is for you too. The topics, tips, and life hacks covered are essential for every individual who wants to upgrade themselves mentally and physically.

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Join the Smartest Muscle Building Community Online

​Build Twice the Muscl​​​​e in H​alf the Time...