There is a never-ending wealth of knowledge the pages of books. Generations of wisdom transcribed and saved for us to unlock at will.
Sometimes the immensity of information and books available to us can be overwhelming making it difficult to pick what to spend our valuable time and energy in.
Here's a list of reads I highly recommend, each book having influenced me greatly during different parts of my life.
1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (translation by Gregory Hays)
Many of us have heard the name of this famous Roman emperor, but few of us have probably heard of this culmination of his insights, wisdom, and practical guidance. It remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written.
"Nothing that goes on in anyone else's mind can harm you.
2. The Element by Ken Robinson
As a newly acclaimed entrepenur, this book was recommended to me by a mentor, and wow is it a game changer. It retells the stories of ordinary humans who have done extraordinary things and empowers the reader to unleash their own potential for growth and development by finding their element, i.e. what you were meant to do with your life.
"When we connect with our own energy, we're more open to the energy of other people. The more alive we feel, the more we can contribute to the lives of others."
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
If you haven't heard of the other two books, you may have heard of this one. Topping the charts as a #1 National Bestseller, it's sold 25 million copies since it's publication in 1988. Covey passed away in 2012, but his works continue to give a principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems.
"Our problems and pain are universal and increasing, and the solutions to the problems are and always will be based upon universal, timeless, self-evident principles common to every enduring, prospering society throughout history."
4. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, author, and Holocaust survivor. This book recounts his experiences from his time in a concentration camp in quite possibly the most logical first person narrative ever written on unimaginable suffering. It is humbling, perspective-changing, inspiring, and all together a must read, particularly if you are going through a difficult time in your life.
"In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
5. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
This biography written about former Olympic track athlete Louis Zamperini, is one of the most incredible stories on human resilience and toughness. A troubled child, Louis' brother helps him get his life on track by channeling his extra energy into running.
He qualifies to compete in the Olympics, and then World War II breaks out and he is enlisted in the military as part of a B27 bomber flight crew. His plane goes down, and he survives not only floating on a raft in the Pacific for well over a month, but the cruelty of a Japanese war camp as well.
If you don't feel like flipping the pages, you could watch the major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie, with the sequel coming out in 2018.
“I think the hardest thing in life is to forgive. Hate is self destructive. If you hate somebody, you're not hurting the person you hate, you're hurting yourself. It's a healing, actually, it's a real healing...forgiveness.”
6. Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone
As the title so fervently describes, this book will help you break out of mediocrity and achieve your dreams by channeling the obsession for what you are passionate about and turn it into the fuel that propels you to success.
"...obsession is the critical component of success - senior to strategy, pricing, timing, competition, or people; it offers the method for living in true freedom and total control of your life-personally financially, and emotionally."
7. Strength's Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
The beauty of this book is that it's interactive. After reading the first few chapters you are prompted to take a 30 minute online test developed to identify your top 5 strengths.
This book was also recommended to me by a very successful entrepreneur, so it was an automatic order and read when it arrived. Not only does it break down your strengths, but it identifies what strengths you should look for in other people to compliment yours.
“What's more, we had discovered that people have several times more potential for growth, when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.”
8. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This is a change up from the other books listed, as it is historical fiction. It is a tale of two young French sisters during the time of World War II whose personalities are drastically different from one another, as are the struggles they endure during the war. This book will keep you turning pages, and helps you remember that while our problems may seem big, they probably aren't.
"'I love you,' she said, but the words that always seemed so big felt small now. What was love when put up against war?"
9. Adversity Advantage: Turning everyday struggles into everyday greatness by Paul Stoltz & Erik Weihenmayer
Erik Weihenmayer became blind at age 13, but refused to let this control his life. Instead, he ultimately became the first blind person to climb the 7 Summits (the tallest peaks on all 7 continents).
His book, co-authored by Paul Stoltz, is an inspirational read about overcoming life's many adversities and using them to your advantage. If a legally blind man can climb Everest, do our excuses that hold us back carry that much weight anymore?
"Even minor setbacks provide powerful opportunities for elevating behavior. If you eliminate adversity, you miss out on life's deepest riches, highest gifts, and most potent lessons."
10. Mind Gym: An athlete's guide to inner excellence by Gary Mack
This book was my bible as a collegiate and professional basketball player. Written by sports psychologist, Gary Mack, who interviews multiple athletes and eloquently uses their stories and his extensive knowledge to help the reader develop strategies to overcome mental barriers that hold them back in their sport. This is not only a read for the athlete, but coaches and parents as would benefit as well!
"The desire to succeed needs to be stronger than the fear of failure."
This recipe is so many things: delicious, effortless, nutritious, colorful, and great for any meal. I made a big batch of these to have with grilled chicken for dinner, and then used the left overs with eggs and spinach the next morning.
When I opened up my pantry the other day, I remembered the lonely and giant bag of sweet potatoes I had bought from Costco.
It sat there unopened, all of them staring at me saying "Eat us now before we sprout and die ugly!" I thought, what on earth am I going to do with all of these?! I love you but sheesh, there is a small army of sweet potatoes here.
Then the answer became obvious, abandon all of them into a slow cooker (that was literally sitting on the next shelf up)!
I mean c'mon, there is nothing better than coming home after a long day and knowing your food is just sitting there, ready to get in your tummy after cooking all day.
The downfall of course, is it requires a little extra thought and prep time before you head out the door, so a recipe as simple as possible is always appreciated. Thus, the following:
Set aside ~10-15 minutes before you start your day to prep this.
The human body is a complex and incredible machine. From our brain to our bones, it is amazing how our body system work synergistically together so that we can function on a daily basis.
Paying attention to how we feel is important, but also knowing why and when we should do certain things within our normal day is equally important to finding and keeping your daily awesomeness on high day after day.
Since the beginning of our lives, the human body has loved routine. Ask any parent and they will tell you babies tend to be much better natured when on a schedule, or any elite athlete and why they stick to meticulous sleeping and eating patterns.
I know we’ve all been there with the dialogue of excuses we will tell ourselves: “I don’t feel like hitting the gym today”, “I’m not feeling energized enough for this workout”, “Why have I been sore for 3 days?”, and so on.
Well, there are a lot of things we can do to help make a healthy lifestyle something enjoyable instead of an obligation, and in result, transform our mind and body into unstoppable machines!
Find Your Chronotype
Take the following mini quiz written by Amy Ashmore of the American Council on Exercise. Disclaimer: I have no stake in the promotion of this quiz.
This will help you recognize your chronotype, or natural sleep-wake cycle and how understanding this can allow you to establish an effective routine that maximizes your training.
Add your scores together to get your total and compare your score with the table below to identify your chronotype. Your chronotype suggests your best time of day to train where overall fitness and pleasure are your primary goals.
This may have just affirmed something you already knew or suspected about yourself, as in yeah this is for sure why I need that morning cup of coffee, or why you get a boost of energy in the evening time that makes you feel like you could take on the world.
Establish a set workout time
This is good for everyone to do, but especially if you are an athlete and wanting to maximize your training time.
Here's why: with repetition our muscles can actually start to anticipate an upcoming workout based on the time of day. Within each of your 600 muscles, there is a little biological clock, each of which are paying close attention to your eating and sleeping patterns.
When they get accustomed to a time of day for training, they will start to make little molecular adjustments in anticipation for training, kind of like your own miniature muscular NASCAR crew, thereby enhancing your performance during the workout. Pretty cool!
Find How to Make Your Routine Stick
Everyone is different, so what works for someone else may not work for you. Don’t force a workout in the morning if it doesn't fit your chronotype. Try changing it up and working out after work instead, or fitting it in on your lunch break.
The same holds true for the opposite, maybe your optimal time is in the morning and it’s time to stop hitting snooze and skipping your workout. If you can, enlist a workout partner, trainer, or group class to join.
Another motivated person is the best way to keep you accountable. I can almost guarantee that if you took 5 minutes to brainstorm a list of these kinds of people, you would come up with several names you could contact.
All changes will require some sort of sacrifice, so it's important you are ready to make permanent changes. Here are several other self-care strategies to make your routine stick!
Develop an Unstoppable Mindset
From supplement companies to diet programs and (some) workout plans and programs, we are being taken advantage of as consumers.
I personally distrust many people and organizations in the fitness industry, as they have found a way to make money off of our basic human weakness.
Think about it, do the contents of your refrigerator match the last fad diet you tried? You probably got tired of buying just raw foods or lemon and cayenne.
There is simply just no easy fix, and don't believe anyone who tells you there is.
This is where you need to reprogram your mindset to cut through the BS and start filtering out all the health misinformation that has bombarded our society.
If you are totally lost, it may be time to enlist the help of a trainer, dietitian, or consult with your doctor to get you on the right track.
Also, please don't hesitate to leave me a question or comment below! I am more than happy to start a conversation with you.
"Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions, your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values, your values become your destiny." - Gandhi
Schroder, Elizabeth A., and Karyn A. Esser. “Circadian Rhythms, skeletal muscle molecular clocks and exercise.” Exercise and sport sciences reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866019/.