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Today’s Health Upgrade
It’s not the oatmeal
The 20-minute rule
Editor’s Correction: Yesterday, we had an item, “Are you Underfuled.” When providing the calculation, we said, “Take your weight, multiply it by your body fat percentage, and that is your fat-free mass.” We should have said, “Take your weight, multiply it by your body fat percentage, subtract that number from your weight, and that is your fat-free mass.” We always want to be accurate, so thanks to all of you for pointing this out.
Adam’s Corner: It’s Not The Oatmeal
How much do you focus on adding superfoods to your diet? What about counting the hours you fast? Do you choose your workouts by obsessing over the “best” exercises?
The best plans are not a one-size-fits-all model that easily falls apart under the stress and pressure of your typical day.
They say the devil is in the details. But, in fitness and nutrition, sometimes the smallest details act like the devil. They trick you into stressing about minor decisions that don’t lead to major results.
Influencers have debated whether oatmeal is bad for you for the past month. Yes, oatmeal. Some claim it’s “peasant food” and toxic. Others claim it’s healthy. For the record, it’s your choice whether or not you choose to eat oatmeal. But research strongly suggests you’re not putting your body in danger if you do.
Every month, another hot take on food or nutrition causes you to worry. And next month, it’ll be something new. That’s the real poison — information that pushes you to extremes, creates confusion, and causes you to buy in to behaviors that leave you worse off than you started.
If you want to change for the better, you can’t stress every decision. That’s psychological warfare that is one of the least healthy things you can do for your body.
Instead, you need to focus on habits and routines. And if you’re going to build an unbreakable habit, it helps to shift your self-perspective and create a deeper why. When there’s purpose behind your action, it’s much harder to fall apart.
And, when you create these new habits, take the time to ask yourself, what do I want my life to look like?
Do you want to judge yourself for everything you eat? Or do you want a good idea of what’s good to eat, and then you can choose which foods will serve you best?
Fiber is good. Oatmeal is a great option for fiber. If you don’t want to eat the oatmeal, by all means, pick another food. But don’t stress about oatmeal. It’s not the problem. Plans that are driven by fear and negativity create a dangerous feedback loop that make it feel nearly impossible to build healthier behaviors. If you want to leave the vicious cycle, I recommend you play a completely different game.
Too many people follow the plans of others without considering how it will affect their lives.
Because before you build a foundation, you need to make sure the blueprint looks like the house you want to live in.
If you’ve learned anything by reading this newsletter, we hope you realize many things work. You can eat carbs or cut them out. You can train for hours or do shorter, intense workouts. You can eat an animal- or a plant-based diet. There are some significant missteps (like not prioritizing sleep), but there are so many healthy behaviors that you don’t need to feel forced into actions that don’t feel right for you.
Many plans fail not because they are wrong but because you didn’t consider the most important variable: you.
When you start with what you want your life to look like, focus on healthy behaviors, such as sleep, movement, connection, self-compassion, and nutrition. Put your effort into building habits around them, and that’s when life changes for the better.
What 20 Minutes Can Do For You
It takes you 30 minutes to watch the average sitcom. And it takes you even less time to build significant strength. A recent review found that you can gain strength and muscle in only 20 minutes of training per week.
The scientists reviewed data from nearly 15,000 people over seven years. They assessed changes to strength on three exercises (chest press, lat pulldown, and leg press) and found that strength increased from 30 to 50 percent over the first two years of training. After that, there was a significant dropoff.
So, if you’re starting a new workout or trying to build consistency, the amount of time you need to dedicate to the gym is relatively small if you want to keep progressing. But, after the first 1 to 2 years, you must invest more time.
Other research suggests that performing approximately 4 to 6 sets per muscle group per week is enough to help you gain significant strength and muscle. That might mean spending more than 20 minutes per week training. But, if you’re having a difficult week or miss a few workouts, it’s another reminder that a little intense effort can take you a long way. The path to health is not paved in extremes; it’s built by consistent behaviors, good routines, and progressively challenging yourself to improve over time.
This weekend's challenge comes from our friend Ramit Sethi. He posed a simple question to us: Are you living your rich life? We loved it so much that we wanted to share it with the rest of you.
Some research suggests that living authentically (living your life according to your values and goals instead of other people’s) can improve your well-being. It’s been linked to higher levels of satisfaction, positive relationships, personal growth, self-acceptance, and reductions in stress and anxiety.
One way to live authentically is what I like to call living your “Rich Life.” A Rich Life is your ideal life — you look at your personal relationships, finances, and ordinary days and say, “Wow, I love this!”
Here are some examples of how you can live a Rich Life:
Grocery shopping without considering the price
Spontaneously extending your vacation by a day
Buying popcorn at the movies
Having a rule for unlimited health spending
Buying a $100k car that you love every time you sit in it
Remember, your Rich Life is yours. So this weekend’s challenge is for you to take the time and answer the question, what’s your Rich Life?
So often, when I ask people this question, they say, “I just want to be able to do what I want, when I want.” I ask, “Okay…what do you want?”
Look, we all want freedom to do the things we want. But getting really specific about what that looks like is a different story.
It’s critical to do this. Why? Because if you don’t know what your Rich Life truly is, it’s easy to overspend — with time or money — on things you don’t even care about…without even realizing it. That’s time and money that could be spent on something you love.
So, I have a challenge for you: Spend an hour tonight creating a crisp, detailed vision of your Rich Life…one you can take action on and make it happen.
If you need help designing your Rich Life, use my prompts and questions to design your perfect day, create your Rich Life bucket list, and make a plan to make those dreams a reality.
Don’t keep putting off the life you want to live.
Once again, thank you for joining all of us for another week. It’s our honor to be in your inbox. We hope you have a fantastic weekend!
-Arnold, Adam, and Daniel
Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger