Aside from this blog, there are many things I am doing behind the scenes related to the goals that I’ve put in place. Whenever I am not at my job, I am usually researching or writing. Health, fitness, and motivation are all topics I find extremely interesting and I find value in learning and sharing what I find. Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve been invested in educational podcasts and books on these topics and just can’t get enough.
If you’re wondering what keeps me motivated, I would say it boils down to three things:
1. Inspiring People
There is a reason there are so many people like Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, and Tony Robbins that have such a huge following. Not only do these people have inspiring backgrounds themselves, but they’ve also inspired thousands (if not millions) to start their own businesses or passion projects.
Twelve Paths revolves around researching experts, which opens my eyes to just how many people like this there are out there. Health and fitness experts like those that I have researched have worked extremely hard for the past 10+ years to get where they are and now many of them have 6 or even 8-figure companies. The fact that their inspiration comes from helping people and the amount of knowledge that they share keeps me wanting to learn more and to research more experts.
2. Learning New Things
When I was in elementary and middle school, I loved reading. Through high school and college, I dropped this hobby, likely because all of my time was focused on either school or my friends. Although, the amount of work I had in college reinforced my love for learning and I feel like I proved to myself that hard work does pay off. Towards the end of college, I got turned to motivational people like Eric Thomas and Jocko Willink. Both of these icons share an incredible amount of knowledge that revolves around working hard to achieve your goals. Then, Jocko turned me to a world I never researched deeply before but always found interesting, health and fitness, referencing experts featured on the Joe Rogan podcast like Peter Attia.
From there, I found a topic I could dig my heels into and I’ve rediscovered my love for reading. I mainly focus on health and fitness but I also educate myself on business, motivation, and writing so that I can develop new skills and achieve my goals. I also learn through podcasts and articles – the amount of resources you can find on any topic nowadays is endless. If you searched, you can find experts you enjoy learning from about topics that interest you in whatever form of media you prefer – my forms are books and podcasts but if you prefer documentaries and audiobooks, then all you have to do is search the topic that interests you and go from there.
3. Constantly Improving and Achieving Goals
I’ve learned that time spent watching TV and playing video games is mostly wasted. There are definitely times that we all need to just get away and de-stress. I love spending time with family, spending time outdoors, and playing video games but I also feel like I need to work hard while I’m young and I can say I feel like I’m making good use of my time overall. By setting goals and working towards them, I feel like every year for the past 4 years has been better than the last when it comes to feeling accomplished.
The health and fitness experts that I follow often share valuable information on creating new habits, setting goals, and other motivational tips but I also look to people like James Clear, Michael Hyatt, Eric Thomas, and Jocko WIllink for that information as well.
If you are inspired simply by reading this post, I highly suggest you do the following… Start. Find a topic that interests you and do your research. Find books, podcasts, documentaries, or whichever media you enjoy most and start digging in. You’ll come to find out there is an endless spiral. There will be experts you do not care for and experts that you respect and enjoy listening to. It could be music, art, business, writing, history… Whatever you enjoy or want to improve your knowledge in. You can tell yourself, “I don’t have the time for that,” but most media you can listen to while you are driving. I bet you will start to enjoy it and rather than spending time watching your favorite show or playing your favorite game, you’ll choose to educate yourself through reading or watching a documentary.
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I've used pre-workout supplements for a long time and regularly before each workout (4-5x per week) for the past year. The first pre-workouts that I tried were rather intense. When you take certain pre-workouts, you experience an itchy/bug-crawly feeling as you start to feel a big burst of energy. My gut feeling after taking these a handful of times was that these supplements can't be good for you to regularly take. After I started researching health/fitness experts, I learned that they may not be as harmful as I thought and that their main components are ingredients like caffeine, which is well-researched and generally known not to be harmful.
Just last week, I worked out at a gym that served me pre-workout - it was a brand that I never tried before and I was pleasantly surprised with it. The trainer also told me that this was a "healthier" option that would not give me the odd itchy feeling and still give me great energy throughout my workout. This got me intrigued to do a deep dive into different products and their ingredients. The 4 products shown in the picture above are the ingredients lists that I looked at and I evaluated their ingredients by using Examine.com, which is a well-known source for credible "science-based nutrition & supplement information."
The common ingredients each of these products had were:
By "common" I mean at least 2/4 of these products contained each of these ingredients. The first 3 were in all 4 products and creatine was in 2, but is typical when looking at other brands. Let's take a look at each of these ingredients...
Caffeine is wildly popular and known for its attributes as a stimulant and nootropic, allowing you to stay awake and alert. This is definitely the main component of a pre-workout, ranging from 150-350mg/serving. I will not go deep into the caffeine research, what health experts have to say, and the controversy of if it is detrimental to your health - I went over this in a previous post so if you'd like to learn more on that, you can check out that out here: All About the Caffeine.
Cellucor's C4 - 150 mg/serving
Beyond Raw's Lit - 250 mg/serving
Redcon1's Total War - 250 mg/serving
Legion's Pulse - 350 mg/serving
To put it into perspective, an average cup (8oz) of coffee has about 100mg of caffeine.
Beta-alanine appears to have a wide variety of benefits including:
Cellucor's C4 - 1.6 g/serving
Beyond Raw's Lit - 3.2 mg/serving
Redcon1's Total War - 3.2 mg/serving
Legion's Pulse - 3.6 mg/serving
L-Citrulline is an amino acid that turns into Arganine, and therefore is said to be more effective than Arganine. Some of these products contain L-Citrulline and some contain Arganine. Either way, these ingredients have very limited evidence for their believed benefits of increasing blood flow and reducing fatigue.
Cellucor's C4 - 1g Arganine/serving
Beyond Raw's Lit - 3g L-Citrulline, 1.5g Arganine/serving
Redcon1's Total War - 6g (L-Citrulline Mixture)/serving
Legion's Pulse - 8g (L-Citrulline Mixture)/serving
Creatine is another popular supplement that is well-researched and proven to have muscle-building benefits with no harmful effects except possible GI discomfort. If you do have GI discomfort, I suggest trying a different brand/type.
Some experts say that creatine is actually more beneficial to take after the workout, which goes against the first bullet. Either way, most people get their creatine from a separate supplement and have specific doses so I would not say it is essential to have in a pre-workout supplement.
Cellucor's C4 - 1g/serving
Beyond Raw's Lit - 1.5g/serving
Redcon1's Total War - 0g/serving
Legion's Pulse - 0g/serving
Overall, nothing in the ingredients lists for these products showed any sort of red flag when I researched them at Examine.com. They are also all very flavorful but extremely low in calories, carbohydrates, and sugars. I researched the full list of ingredients for all of these products.
Here is a look at the products overall...
To match the other products' creatine and beta-alanine, you may want two servings to get similar effects. Experiment with 1 serving first and if it doesn't feel like enough, don't worry about taking another half or full scoop.
The only ingredients outside of what was already talked about is mainly essential vitamins, specifically B and C. These vitamins are good for your general health. They also may improve your cardiovascular health, blood flow, and brain function but there isn't a whole lot of research backing those claims. N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine has some scary symptoms but only in doses that are at least 30x greater than what is in a serving of C4. This ingredient has been shown to reduce stress from acute stressors.
This costs $1/serving on Amazon.com and can be found at just about any place that sells pre-workouts including Walmart, GNC, and popular gyms.
Beyond Raw's Lit
Redcon1's Total War
This costs $1/serving on Amazon.com and is sold at most places that have pre-workout supplements including GNC and popular gyms.
It is pretty incredible how much variety you get with pre-workouts. Face-value, you would think all these brands are the same except for the flavors. Personally, I do not feel much of a difference when taking these products - they all do the job, getting me pumped up for my workout and keeping me energized as I get through it without crashing. I'm glad I took this deep dive, really got to know the ingredients, and saw that there were really no red flags in any of these products revealing them as harmful. I feel as long as I monitor my caffeine and limit myself to 1-2 coffees for the rest of the day after taking my pre-workout, I am not doing any harm to my body and I feel fantastic after taking pre-workout. Many times, I workout very early in the morning, around 5:00AM so I need that extra boost.
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I, personally, have no interest in using steroids to build muscle/strength but I do find the conversation interesting. Media has set such a negative eye on steroid use that any association with professional athletes and steroids completely ruins their public image. People immediately forget the amount of work that it took to get to where they are and that genetics play a significant role. Obviously, some people do abuse steroids, like with any drug, but media has made us forget what steroids really do, why people take them, and that athletes can use them responsibly.
I highly suggest watching the video above with Joe Rogan & Ronnie Coleman (professional bodybuilder, 8-time Mr. Olympia Champion) to learn a bit about what steroids do and why the decision to take steroids can be a respectable one.
Greg Nuckols' View & Research on Steroids
Greg is a record-breaking raw (meaning no "special equipment," which includes being drug-free) powerlifter who is pretty darn close to a 2000lb combined total in the big three (squat, deadlift, and bench press). That being said, he shows a lot of respect to those who take steroids, shares a lot of information on steroids in his books and on his website, StrongerByScience.com, and even talks (half-jokingly) about possibly taking steroids in the future just for the sake of getting even bigger and stronger.
To share some of Greg's insight on steroids, here is a summary of what I learned from reading one of his articles, How Much More Muscle Can You Build With Steroids. This article looks at multiple scientific articles comparing non-users and users, which include competitive athletes with at least 6-7 years of lifting experience. What is obvious is that the users did indeed have an advantage, averaging about 35lb more of lean muscle mass and a significantly larger fat-free mass index (which factors in lean muscle mass and height) on average as well. "Over the course of a training career, it seems like steroids allow you to build about twice as much muscle as you'd be able to drug-free."
Another thing he makes clear is that steroid effects taper off. Just as gains are highest at the start of your lifting career and they decrease over time as a natural weightlifter, they also do when taking steroids if your dose remains the same. As you increase the dose, gains increase as well.
One interesting point that Greg makes is how steroids were likely being used by lifters in the 1950's and 60's but drug testing did not occur until 1968, so if drugs were a key component to muscle/strength gains, we would not expect to see records continuously being broken so quickly after.
As beneficial as steroids are in building muscle, we shouldn't forget what role genetics have to play and that they can be taken responsibly. Also, most bodybuilders/powerlifters simply love the competition and are not receiving much money for winning competitions. It is important to know there is a line to draw when it comes to steroids: who is abusing them or encouraging others to abuse them and who is simply taking them for the reason we are interested in sports, the competition. Let's respect regulations but also respect these athletes' decisions knowing the fact that they can be smart about it with continuous supervision by their doctors.
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