The following is a list of approved resources that I’ve used to rapidly achieve goals and enhance my life:
- Health – Supplements
- Body – Self-Tracking
- Brain – Nootropics
- Mind – Books
- Lifestyle – Starting a Website
- Travel – Gear
Health – Supplements
- Vitamin D3 5000 IU – Fairly straightforward – we don’t get enough sunlight, and thus have low vitamin D. Even windows block the beneficial effects of sunlight. And why is it important? Because it’s not really a vitamin – it’s actually a hormone which improves mood, cognitive performance, bone health, immunity, testosterone and affects over 1000 genes. Take it daily but be sure to check your vitamin D levels regularly to tailor the dose to your lifestyle.
- Fish Oil for omega 3s – The most popular supplement for a good reason. It prevents multiple diseases, is anti-inflammatory, improves heart health, mood, sleep, muscle growth, brain growth, vision and tucks you in at night to read you bedtime stories. It’s good stuff – I take a few of these a day. Note on fish oil brands: You get what you pay for always but this is the best value option overall. There are cheaper brands but they have low omega 3 content and aren’t mercury, GMO and soy free. There are also more expensive alternatives such as krill oil and eating wild caught fish, but I think a high-quality fish oil supplement is a good middle ground for most people.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine – Underrated and highly beneficial amino acid. We need NAC to produce glutathione, which is our body’s most powerful antioxidant and is far more effective than antioxidant supplements like vitamin C and E. Glutathione prevents oxidative stress to our cells – which thus stops cancer, Alzheimer’s, inflammation, depression, heart failure, insulin resistance, DNA damage and much more. Some researchers have now even gone so far as to ask whether ageing is just cysteine deficiency syndrome since it decreases as we get older. Take NAC for healthy insides, and outsides (prevents skin ageing too).
- Brazil Nuts for selenium – One of the essential minerals (that we usually don’t get enough of). Protects against numerous diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration and thyroid dysfunction, and is a component of many internal antioxidants. You only need a 2-4 of these a day, and be warned that eating loads of them everyday, for days on end can cause toxic side effects.
- Lugol’s Iodine – An essential mineral which has a strong relationship with selenium. It’s vital for your thyroid – an organ which removes toxins from your blood, prevents cancers, stabilises hormonal balance and metabolism. When supplementing with Lugol’s, people report boosts in energy, mood, cleared brain fog and fat loss. Also be aware that you may go through a temporary detox stage if your body contains a heavy amount of toxins in it.
- Creatine Monohydrate – Pretty popular supplement amongst the gym crowd for it’s huge endurance boosting effects, but it has health benefits such as neuroprotection and cardioprotection too. Plus there’s some evidence it increases IQ and even income. Given this, the fact that it’s a cheap supplement and long-term use being proven to have no side effects makes it an essential in my supplement stack.
- Kefir – Delicious traditional probiotic drink. People usually only take probiotics after a course of antibiotics but they’re also beneficial when consumed regularly. Your gut bacteria are highly influential on your mood, cognition and fat loss, and taking probiotics ensures you have more good bacteria than bad ones present. You can either buy ready-made bottles or add a bacterial culture (called kefir grains) to your milk or water.
- Kombucha – Another probiotic drink I adore. Like kefir you can either get them in bottles or just the bacterial culture (called a SCOBY). It’s a tea-based probiotic, and mine is usually brewed with green tea and honey for additional health benefits.
Body – Self-Tracking
Thanks to the Quantified Self movement, we now have a whole hoard of health wearables and apps to help track and improve our health. Here are my favourites:
- Zeo Personal Sleep Manager for sleep – The gold standard of sleep tracking devices, which unfortunately stopped being produced several years ago so there’s very few left. It’s one of the few devices which tracks sleep using EEG (brain waves), whilst most other devices just measure actigraphy (body movement) and thus are unable to measure how long you actually spend in each sleep stage (which means you can’t tell just how good your sleep quality actually is). You’ll also need replacement sensors (I use these electrodes and adhesive gel for very accurate results) and to download software to view the data.
- Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor for heart rate and heart rate variability – Great tool for measuring heart rate (for athletic performance) and heart rate variability (one of the most important biomarkers – low HRV is correlated with stress, inflammation and many diseases like coronary heart disease and diabetes). I mainly use the HRV measurement during meditation sessions to track my stress regulation ability and improve it via biofeedback. Pair it with SweetBeat HRV for iOS or Elite HRV for Android.
- Omron Blood Pressure Monitor for blood pressure – An important biomarker for health in multiple domains. It’s a good indicator of cardiovascular fitness and predicts many health disorders e.g. heart, endocrine, vision, kidney, neurological etc. Test regularly and at different times of the day.
- ACCU-CHEK Aviva Blood Glucose Meter for blood sugar – Not the most fun measurement to take, but this is a vital biomarker for getting insights into your overall health. If your body is struggling with maintaining balanced glucose levels then this can predict a whole range of illnesses, with some of the most notable being cancer, metabolic dysfunction and organ disease. Stuff you’d want to know about way ahead of time. So yeah, important to self-track this.
BodyMedia FIT Armbandfor calorie burning – The only way to find out how many calories you actually burn is by wearing a device, not doing some stupid one-size-fits-all guessworkcalculations. Unfortunately most activity trackers aren’t accurate at this because they only measure movement. This device however has supreme accuracy as it has sensors for galvanic skin response, skin temperature and heat flux, which have enabled it to have accuracy over 90% when compared to the gold standard £25,000 calorie measurement device. UPDATE: Another great tool now discontinued, this time because Jawbone bought BodyMedia just to patent troll Fitbit. Sigh. Good news though is that there is another device called the Basis Peak which has sensors for GSR and temperature too, and it also has an optical heart-rate monitor, automatic activity tracking (for sleep, walking, running etc), silent alarms, a gamified app and more.
- CRON-O-Meter for nutrition – I love this web app because it’s simple to learn how to use, but it also offers lots of extras for analytical guys like me. For those that just want to track their food intake daily or look up certain foods, you can view macros, calories etc with their clear interface. For the health nerds you can learn the amount of every micronutrient in a food, set custom daily nutrient targets, add custom foods or meals, analyse trends and Ask the Oracle – a tool which will tell you the best source for any particular nutrient deficiency you have. Fantastic for learning more about food nutrition and makes eating healthy much easier.
Brain – Nootropics
Mental steroids exist and people from all walks of life are already taking them. These cognitive enhancers are known as ‘nootropics’.
Note: The single best nootropic is good health. Get your diet, sleep and health supplement routines down before adding these extras.
- Smart Caffeine – Caffeine is the most widely-used stimulant in the world for a good reason – it helps you stay alert and get stuff done. Problem is that you can get all sorts of nasty side effects such as jitteryness, anxiety, nausea, heart palpitations etc. Not anymore. Combining it with the amino acid L-Theanine in the ideal ratio completely eliminates the negative sides. Brilliant way for a beginner to get into nootropics with an awesome short-term productivity enhancer.
- Modafinil – The most infamous nootropic and one most similar to NZT-48 in the movie ‘Limitless’. Your focus becomes superhuman and energy skyrockets, even if you are already sleepy. Often used by students pulling all-nighters as it reduces the amount of recovery sleep necessary, rather than crashing hard for 12 hours after pounding energy drinks and coffee all night. The king of all productivity enhancers and highly favoured by executives, entrepreneurs, astronauts and the military forces.
- Pramiracetam – The most popular classic nootropics are the racetam family, known for being proven to increase IQ even in healthy individuals. You can expect sharper memory, learning, problem-solving, verbal fluency and visual perception. The strongest available and most effective one for me in terms of focus, IQ gains and creativity has been pramiracetam.
- Choline – Racetams cause you to use up more of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, so you need to increase your choline intake to get the greatest performance boost. The most bioavailable sources are CDP Choline (which also boosts uridine for IQ) and Alpha GPC (also enhances growth hormone release).
- Omega 3 Fish Oil – Also discussed in the Supplements section above, fish oil is essential for your brain as it improves IQ and prevents cognitive decline.
- Cognitive Testing – I use the free intelligence tests on Cambridge Brain Sciences and Quantified Mind to measure my baseline mental performance and compare the results whilst taking a nootropic.
Mind – Books
These are the books which have had the greatest impact on me.
- The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss – How to become uber productive, start a business and design your ideal lifestyle. Mandatory reading for anyone desiring a more satisfying, free life.
- The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco – Essential book for anyone who wants to become wealthy. The math and science behind creating a successful, scalable business.
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber – Taught me one of the most important skills for saving time – systemisation. Highly recommended, especially for people who delegate to others (in any form).
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – How to crush procrastination and and live the life you were born to.
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – The grandfather of all self-help books. How to use positive thinking to achieve any goal you desire.
Lifestyle – Starting a Website
In today’s world having your own website is a key growth accelerator – for creating your own brand, as an accountability journal or just as a tool to hone your thoughts or writing skills.
And creating a website is much easier than you think.
- Namecheap – Choose your domain name here.
- Hostgator – Get hosting for your website. Also comes with one-click WordPress installation.
- WordPress – This is the simplest (and free) software to manage your website. Runs millions of blogs including The New York Times, CNN, Forbes etc.
- StudioPress – Make your website look professional with a premium theme.
What’s next? Start writing, tweak your design and build the web presence you desire.
Travel – Gear
I’ve travelled to over 30 countries now and never have I wished I brought more stuff. Travelling light is much better than being overburdened. It allows greater mobility to have new experiences, makes travel cheaper and it’s just less of an annoyance compared to carrying multiple huge bags.
That’s not to say stuff is bad, it’s just that we need to optimise what we actually bring so that’s it lightweight and small enough whilst fulfilling all the functions that we need.
Here’s some of my favourite travelling gear:
- Design Go luggage clip pouch – The name they chose is not very descriptive, I prefer hidden card wallet. You can fit 10+ cards in this wallet and wear it on the inside of the top of your trousers comfortably. Less cumbersome than carrying a standard wallet and can be paired with a decoy wallet (with a few bank notes and expired cards) to minimise the effects of robbery or pickpocketing.
- Carbon fiber money clip – In some countries coins are rarely used and you have to carry a stack of paper cash to even buy a bottle of water. In these situations it makes more sense to use a money clip over a wallet. It also makes you look like a baller and as a bonus it won’t ping off metal detectors, so one less thing to have to take out when you go through an airport.
- EasyAcc 10000mAh power bank – Running out of battery whilst you’re spending the whole day out sucks, especially if you’re relying on a mobile app to navigate. I always bring this in my daypack to eliminate these headaches, and this power bank also allows you to charge two devices simultaneously.
- Samsung Galaxy S5 – Not to start a whole Android vs iPhone debate, but last year I switched to Android and I’m glad I did. More features and better specs for a lower price. But anyway, this is the phone I’m currently using and it’s great for travel. 16MP camera, 2GB RAM, waterproof, removable battery, has NFC and other interesting bits. Also paired with a tempered glass screen protector, a microSD card and a spare battery (left in my wallet – this comes in handy so I don’t have to bring a power bank with me when going out for a shorter period like a night out with friends).
- Kindle Paperwhite – Although I love reading from physical books when settled in one location, a Kindle is necessary for travelling light. The Paperwhite model is backlit which allows you to read it at any time of day or in any environment too.
- Transcend 1TB exernal hard drive – Military drop-tested, this device can take some real punishment. People too often regret their decision to not back up their data, which is silly when it’s so simple to do nowadays. This will allow you to quickly restore a few files in case it accidentally gets deleted or if you need to restore your whole PC.
- SanDisk Cruzer Edge keychain USB – There always seems to come a moment where it’s much faster to transfer the file via USB than any of the other cloud-based methods. I also keep some of my essential files on here in an encrypted format, which is helpful in the event that my laptop died or got stolen.
- Xero Shoes barefoot sandals – Barefoot or minimalist shoes are gaining popularity as the negative effects of conventional footwear on foot development, posture and risk of injury is becoming more widely known. These are my favourite minimalist sandals as they’re really customisable and can be compacted into your bag easily.
- Microfibre towel – The idea of bringing a normal towel gives me nightmares. The sheer bulk is just insane. Thankfully we have newer materials like this which fulfils the same function in a much smaller package.
- ExOfficio underwear – Anti-microbial, moisture-wicking and super comfortable. It also dries fast, which means you can easily handwash them and have them ready by the next day, meaning you need to pack less underwear.
- Eagle Creek compression sac set – This has been essential for much of my recent travelling and you’ll find it useful if you’re like me and bring lots of clothes. Allows you to compact your clothes into a much smaller space by putting force on the bag to press the air out (no need for any fancy vacuum compression machine).
- ALOKSAK dry bags – These are great for keeping your valuables dry and were invaluable for me a few times during monsoon season. You can also put your wallet and phone inside it in your pocket and go swimming without any worry if you’re leaving your stuff alone on the beach.
- Go Travel foldaway backpack – Handy little backpack that can fold up into a small pouch. Durable thing too, I’ve been using mine for a few years now primarily as a gym bag.
- Sleep mask – Often accommodation doesn’t leave the room completely dark, thus harming sleep quality. This is an easy fix, plus it’s useful for long flights or whenever you need some sleep and your sleeping rhythm is off.
- Howard Leight Laser Lite earplugs – Comfortable, cheap and has great sound blocking.