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30 years and 30 lessons

This Friday on the 3rd of May, 2013, I turn 30. Yep, I do turn that old, sigh!! As I enter a new decade of my life, I cannot help but think of all times when I thought about turning 30. Its something about the number 30, that will make you feel really grown up, even if you have been partying and avoiding responsibilities all throughout your 20’s. You know that you are now definitely expected to act "mature". However, you do not want to end up being and looking so mature, that people mistake you to be 2 or 3 decades older!

To be honest, if you were ask me, then as probably most people turning 30 I would also tell you that I wish I could have done a few more things in my 20’s. I wish I had achieved a bit more while I was in my 20’s, but hey, no point dwelling on what is done. Its important to move on and look ahead. So before this post turns into a sob story, let me share with you some vital lessons that I have learned in the 30 years of my life. Not that I am a big intelligent guy with tons of life's experiences, but enough to make some good points that I believe will benefit others. These are lessons involving various aspects of life like training, nutrition, lifestyle, etc. And yes, I do not claim to always successfully follow all the lessons that I have learnt in life, but when I do, life is so much better for me. Thus I can safely say that using some of these lessons I have learnt will definitely help you too:

1. Good health and fitness cannot be taken for grantedif you thought that you were going to be unbreakable forever, then you are in for a rude surprise. Just because someone was an athlete when they were in their teens, it does not mean that they are going to be healthy and fit for the rest of their lives. Once you cross 25, your health can go downhill very soon, if you do not take care of yourself. So get ready to make exercise and good nutrition your life long best friends.

2. Strength training does more than make you look good- so, you want to lift weights to look like Arnold, or maybe the women's magazine said that lifting weights helps women get a better figure. Guess what, it does a lot more good for your body than just making you happy everytime you see the mirror. Lifting weights has been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve glucose metabolism, improve mood, prevent Osteoporosis, etc, etc. So dont ignore weight training just because you love yourself "just the way you are". Even if you do not want to reshape your body, you still have enough reasons to be strength training.

3. Make sure to train your whole body- if you love your body, then train it fully! Yes, there were days when all I trained was my arms, and would ignore the rest. But I can tell you honestly, whenever I train my whole body, I get much better results. You do not have to train your whole body in a single session, but make sure to do so over the course of a week. Plus, unequal development really does not look good. 

4. A proper warm up is more important that what you may think- lets be honest, most of us really hate warming up, and would much rather get straight away into the main activity. But, as someone who has often made this mistake, I can assure you that I have often paid the price for doing so. And even now when I skip my warm up, I feel the negative consequences very soon. Besides being important for avoiding injuries, a good warm up will actually improve your performance. A good warm up will make you feel "in the groove" when your approach your heavy and intense work, and help get better results. Also, try to do some warm up sets before your first heavy lift, instead of straight away going for your working poundage. 

5. Variety in training is healthier and more sustainable- while I do believe that one must get really good at the basic exercises, and stick with them, I have found that variety is also important in the long run. Instead of just doing a few barbell exercises, include some bodyweight, dumbbell, and other equipment for training too. Similarly if you only do cardio, then include some strength work too and vice versa. And dont stay stuck with the same program forever, atleast change it once in a while if nothing else. Maintaining some amount of variety in your training will go a long way in keeping you interested in your workout in the long run, and will be much more sustainable. 

6. Variety in nutrition is healthier and more sustainable- just like in training, variety in nutrition is also very important. Every food, atleast the ones that are healthy, have something different to offer. A variety of choices gives you a better chance of having a balanced diet and getting all the essential nutrients that your body needs. For eg, instead of relying on chicken for your protein everytime, rotate chicken with fish, red meat, etc over the course of the week. Similarly dont just eat the same fruit everyday, rotate the fruits that you eat over the week. This way your diet will be not become boring and leave you with any deficiencies. 

7. Dietary fat is not as bad as you may think- when I first started reading about fitness sometime in the late 90's, the one thing that I was told repeatedly was that dietary fat is the major cause for most health problems, and that one should eat minimal of it in their diet. Fast forward to the "internet age", and now you have books that prescribe a high fat diet to lose fat and get healthier. While I do not believe in diets that ask you to eat more than 50% of your calories from fat, I do believe that dietary fat is good for you, and that includes saturated fat too. Dietary fat is essential for our well being, and can help you to lose fat too! Try to get about 25-35% of your daily calories from fat, no matter what your goal. Just be sure to stay away from the trans fat.

8. Carbs are essential to perform well and be healthy- ok, so I admit the media has been successful in making me follow very low carb diet plans at various points of my life in the past. However, the results were not what the media predicted. Instead of feeling great, here is what I felt- weak, dehydrated, dizzy, unable to concentrate properly, irritable, and just hungry! And from what I have found out, I am not the only one to feel so. Dietary carbs are an important part of energy production and are required for other purposes in our body. If you want to feel good and be healthy then include some amount of carbs in your diet. You do not need to eat tons of carbs, but dont let your carb consumption go below 40% of your total calories for a very long time. 

9. Live for the moment- ok, so this is the first life lesson that I will share with you. As master Oogway, the knowledgeable turtle in the movie Kung Fu panda said: 

"Yesterday is history, 
tomorrow's a mystery, 
but today is a gift! 
That is why it is called the present!"

It is one of the toughest things to do in life, but if you can learn to live in the present, then you will be much more successful and happy in life. Often we waste a lot of our energy thinking about the past or the future, when we should be living in the present. Remember, a better tomorrow starts today. Dont dwell too much on what has happened, or worry too much about the future. Enjoy the good things you have in the present and fulfill your responsibilities. You will be a much happier and successful person in life.

10. If you never try, you can never succeed or get what you want- the easiest thing to do when in doubt is not to not take any chances, right? Yes, that is if you are happy with what you have. But if you want to have what you dont have now, then be ready to take chances in life! Getting scared and shying away from taking a chance at your dream business/profession, or asking out someone, etc will likely leave you with many regrets later in life. Do you really wish to be one of those people who in their old age often say "if only I had taken a chance...."? If you really love something/someone and would be miserable without it/them, then its definitely worth taking a chance for. 

Hope you found these 10 lessons that I have learned to be of use. Stay tuned for part 2 where I share more valuable lessons that will benefit you in your training, nutrition and life.

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