Modern life is as suffocating as it is convenient. Though it’s a miracle that you can have your shopping delivered to your door, your romantic life sorted by an app and your clothes shopping done from the comfort of your own home, this ease of everything has come with a generous dolloping of anxiety, stress and depression all around the globe. So how can we switch things up? DMARGE asked some experts for their top tips; this is what they said.
The Liver King may have been a fraud, but he was right about one thing: modern life is too easy.
Although Liver King lying about his steroid use is wrong, and although his extreme advocation of a technology-free life where you eschew sleeping on beds and slurp down raw organ meats is a bit out there (to say the least), the huge following he built suggests that his philosophy spoke to a popular need. The popularity of the likes of Wim Hof, Joe Rogan, David Goggins and Laird Hamilton also speaks to this.
Morning coffee— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 5, 2021
Exposure to acute stressors daily will make you infinitely stronger!
Acute Stressors – coffee. Sunshine. Exercise. Sauna. Ice water immersion. Fasting.
Sprinkle some of this into your life and voila! – you are now @McGregorFast! pic.twitter.com/xaZaMqBW9L
In order to figure out why this mission of inspiring depressed, downtrodden modern humans and making them feel like ’special’ super strong ‘primals’ is so successful (not that all the above characters are the same), and in order to get some expert tips on reducing your mental stress and increasing your (good kinds of) physical stress, DMARGE spoke to numerous health and fitness business owners to pick their brains on this topic. This is what they had to say.
We’ll explain in more detail below, but summed up, here are the best 13 strategies we heard for keeping your head in check in this modern world: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, hiking in nature, taking ice baths, going in the sauna, meditating, doing breathwork, cleaning your own house (legit), journaling, putting your phone away at 8pm, setting goals every 3 months, spending time with your kids, and doing mini ‘mindfulness’ walks around your neighbourhood.
Alex Thomas, founder of the Sports Nutrition Association, told DMARGE, though the Liver King type figures’ advice should be taken with a generous pinch of salt (and cynicism), their popularity speaks to a deep truth which is that our modern lives are not supplying many of us with lifestyles that are making us happy.
He says things are too physically easy and too mentally stressful, explaining that we are busier than ever and “people can reach us at anytime, we are always ‘on.’ Many of us have work on our mind for longer than 9-5 which is not great.”
He added: “We also are often lacking in incidental exercise. Everything is very ‘convenient’ these days. We get our food and groceries delivered, we drive everywhere, many of us sit all day at a desk. It’s not uncommon for people to say that once they have finished high school and move into a desk job that they struggle to keep weight off, it often comes down to having less breaks, playing less sport and being less active.”
“Lacking incidental exercise is a big reason why a lot of people struggle to lose weight or maintain their weight.”Alex Thomas
“A lot of it comes down to a lack of education and understanding about nutrition. You see someone with a point of difference who posts some very thought-provoking content, he also has 1.7 million followers which can make people curious. Someone who wants to look like him and who doesn’t have a great understanding of nutrition and how their own body works could be intrigued. That is how people fall for these types of figures.”
“The Liver King was very clearly always abusing steroids. A lot of his claims at BS with a mix of basic concepts such as prioritising recovery and eating well. He also most likely has serious body image issues and an eating disorder. He would be in really good shape (not the same, but still really good shape) regardless of the steroid abuse because he trains intensity twice a day, six days a week.”
“And then when he doesn’t train he ‘has to’ (in his own words) walk 11 miles per day, and make the day physically active. That combined with the fact that he is wealthy to the point where he can train so hard that he is so exhausted and needs a nap, and has the luxury to then take a rest/ nap to help him recover as needed, highlights a degree of privilege he has that most of his followers wouldn’t have, which is another reason why he is not a role model and shouldn’t be given airtime he has been receiving.”
“That is why it is important to choose a coach, trainer or nutrition expert who is accredited. For example, someone who is accredited by the Sports Nutrition Association, which is an organisation that operates worldwide, would have appropriate education, they are made sure and audited every year about the best practices in nutrition, including sitting examination every year in these audits to stay accredited. It is an organisation that exists to stamp out the misinformation and dangerous advice that has so often been shared. They educate, accredit, regulate the profession, while also having a publicly available Sports Nutritionist database where clients can find their best sports nutritionist fit.”
As for how to introduce some ‘good’ physical stress to your life, Alex says: “Exercise is a good physical stress to have in your life. Make sure you are moving every day. If you are looking to lose weight, 10-12K steps a day and 4-5 resistance training sessions per week and prioritise getting in plants and lean protein sources in at every meal (including snacks if you snack) before you have the more ‘yummy’ foods.”
“If you are looking to maintain weight, you would probably be looking at around 8K steps per day and 3 resistance training sessions per week with the plants and protein remaining consistent.”
Luke McLeod, founder of Soul Alive added to this point, telling DMARGE about his favourite ways he recommends for people to reduce the mental stress in their lives. He said: “A lot of people wait until they are extremely burnt out to do anything about their mental health. A simple way that we can reduce mental stress in our lives would be to have a plan around it and implement practises into our week that keep our mind healthy.”
“You may want to do 2-4 meditation sessions per week. They don’t have to be that long either. Just 10 – 15 minutes of meditation a couple of times a week can measurably reduce the amount of mental stress you experience in your life.”
Beyond that, Luke added: “Box Breathing and breath work exercises are also a great way to relieve stress and reduce cortisol in the body and a great addition to make meditation even more effective as a way of relieving stress.”
“Lastly, I love going for a walk out in nature too. I like to do ‘mindful walks’ where I try to notice 5 things that I have never seen before on my walk. This pulls the mind into the present moment where it can rest and recharge.”
DMARGE also spoke to Ben Lucas from Flow Athletic, who agreed that modern life is a recipe for ~unhealth~ if you’re not careful. He told us: “Many people now drive to work, sit at a desk, go to the gym for one hour and then sit in front of the TV. Most of us move less than people did in the generations before us.”
“Getting a workout in is great, but incidental exercise is also important. Now people may order their food and groceries rather than walking around the shops and walking around the store to shop. They may also online shop for other items that would have gotten them outdoors previously.”
“They may have a cleaner so they are not moving around to clean the house. They may be eating their lunch at their desk rather than going out for a half hour break.”
To keep himself in a good place, Ben told DMARGE he runs 5km everyday, exercises, journals and puts his phone away by 8pm so he is not distracted by all the noise in the news and in the media. He also told us: “I do goal setting every 3 months and when I do that it gives me a good chance to reset and readjust my habits.”
Ben says he recommends people exercise, hike in nature and get into the gym if they want to increase the “good” physical stress in their lives. He also says spending time with your kids is a good one if you have kids (“that can be stressful, but in a good way mostly”).
There you have it. Have a crack and see how you feel. Ice baths and saunas are other alternatives too, if you feel so inclined. And bonus points if you go on an off-grid holiday. As a DMARGE correspondent discovered, these can do wonders for your state of mind too.