Author

Marc

Browsing

A day-by-day account of what it’s like to do a 5 day water fast with exercise

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest fasting is important in increasing longevity. Dr Valter Longo’s excellent book The Longevity Diet and Dr Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore’s book The Complete Guide to Fasting both explore how fasting promotes autophagy.

Autophagy is a regular process where your cells are broken down and recycled, starting with the damaged parts first. There are many other benefits to fasting too including increased body fat loss, increased insulin sensitivity, lower blood cholesterol and more.

With all these benefits I decided to try a 5 day water fast. Before we get any further, let’s not mince words: fasting for five days was quite difficult. It wasn’t intense like lifting a very heavy weight or getting through a 3-minute sparring round, but it was a monotonous, unpleasurable and hazy five days.

By the end of the fast I definitely saw the bright side: I’m now much more grateful for the food I shovel down my mouth each day.

Table of contents

Before you do your own fast: Do plenty of research from trusted sources and speak to a health professional if unsure. I’ve included a list of videos, books and podcasts at the bottom of this page to help. Note that according to The Complete Guide to Fasting, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, children under 18, those who are severely malnourished or underweight, and people suffering from some conditions should not fast. I’m not a health professional and this is just a recount of my own experience.

Before and after results from my 5 day water fast

  • Bodyweight went from 77.4kg to 72.4 kg
  • Ketones went from 0.1mM to 3.6mM
  • Strength and endurance stayed the same
  • Mental clarity decreased during the fast
  • Mood dropped significantly during the fast

5 day water fast before and after: weight

5 day water fast before and after: ketones

How I structured my 5 day water fast

  • 5 days of zero calories
  • Unlimited water including sparkling water
  • No food or supplements including coffee, tea and bone broth
  • Zero-calorie unflavoured electrolyte sachets containing sodium, potassium and magnesium were allowed to help with workouts (I used unflavoured LMNT sachets)
  • To preserve muscle, I would attempt to workout as normal (2x weight sessions and 1x 45 minute street run)
  • Photos and weigh-in each morning after waking, ketones taken throughout the day
  • Fast started at Sunday 4pm and ended Friday 4pm

Day 0 – Pre-fast – Sunday

My pre-fast day started with some bodyweight and ketone measurements to get a control to compare against during the fast.

I ate normally until my fast began at 4pm and by 9pm I was already feeling a little hungry. Doubt started to gnaw at me and I wondered how I would fare during the crucial first 48 hours where hunger hormones rise and then plateau according to Dr Fung.

  • Morning mood: 7.5/10 – Excited, a bit anxious, and a little hungry (already!), but ready to rise to the challenge.
  • Weight: 77.4kg (170.6lbs)
  • Ketones: 0.1mM

Day 1 – Monday

I woke feeling refreshed after a great night of sleep. I’m not usually hungry in the mornings so I couldn’t tell a major difference yet.

By mid-morning the reality of the fast kicked in: time goes by slowly when you have no food or coffee to look forward to!

My coffee break was instead replaced with a morning walk watching people around the city devour fresh pastries and hot drinks. My sense of smell had already started picking out food from what seemed like a mile away.

Later in the day I started to feel a little less sharp in my reactions and a bit more sleepy, but chalked it up to the lack of caffeine.

At 4pm I realised I had completed the first 24 hour period of fasting. It was funny seeing my colleagues’ reactions to my fast, with reactions generally being supportive and amused.

By the end of the day I started to feel more tired and mentally foggy. I was easily distracted and sleepier than usual. I decided to pass on my regular Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class to see how I would feel the next day.

  • Morning mood: 5/10 – Tired and unfocused, and not bothered for intense exercise.
  • Weight: 75.6kg (166.6lbs)
  • Ketones: 0.6mM

Day 2 – Tuesday

I woke up again feeling good. My morning weigh-in showed that I had lost a little more weight and my ketone levels were steadily rising.

I was already sick of only drinking water. I got some slight taste relief by drinking my morning sachet of electrolytes though.

My trusty water bottle and electrolytes.

Today was my first fasted workout. I was anxious to see if I would be able to squat or if I would just buckle. My workout went surprisingly well, and I hit my target weight and rep range. I did feel a little dull during the workout, but the results were better than I expected.

According to The Complete Guide to Fasting, growth hormone rises during a fast, which helps to preserve muscle and help with workouts.

After the workout my mood and energy improved somewhat. I felt a little bit more energised and less hungry.

The biggest realisation I had on day two was how much pleasure I derive from eating. I enjoy eating a big meal after training, buying a hot coffee on a cold winter morning, and coming home after work to cook a fresh dinner. We take these rituals for granted and this fast was reminding me of that.

  • Morning mood: 6.5/10 – Not feeling hungry, but generally feeling unsatisfied. The weights workout improved mood and energy.
  • Weight: 75.1kg (165.5lbs)
  • Ketones: 0.8mM

Day 3 – Wednesday

Today I woke up feeling drained after yesterday’s workout. My sleep was also low quality and full of tossing and turning.

On the plus side my ketone levels jumped to 2.2 millimolars (mM), which is expected on day three of a fast. This fast had put me squarely in ketosis for the first time in my life. My body had run out of fuel from the glycogen (sugar) stored in my liver and was now using my fat.

Apart from this I felt slow, mentally unfocused, dull, and more sleepy than usual. I also had a slight headache all day.

At lunch I left the office and picked probably the worst place to do some writing: a nearby food court. My mood plummeted and my feelings of weakness were made worse by the smells, sights and sounds of people eating.

My sense of gratitude for being able to eat food continued to rise. My free thoughts turned to food, especially what I was going to eat once I broke my fast!

  • Morning mood: 5/10 Almost gave up at lunch as I felt weak and cloudy.
  • Weight: 74.2kg (163.5lbs)
  • Ketones: 2.2mM

Day 4 – Thursday

I woke up on day four with even more muscle soreness from my Tuesday workout. It was interesting to see how my recovery was lagging without food.

My bodyweight had fallen by another kilogram. I now weighed 73.3kg, 4kgs lighter than what I started. My ketone levels hadn’t moved.

Today was deadlift day and I was unsure I could do it feeling so tired and dull. Surprisingly, as with Tuesday, my workout didn’t really suffer. I lifted roughly the same amount of weights for the same number of reps as usual. I felt quite slow and clumsy throughout the workout though.

After the workout my mood and energy levels improved as was the case on Tuesday.

I ended the day relieved that I’d come this far. All that was separating me from completing my fast was one night’s sleep, a full day of work and my normal morning run.

  • Morning mood: 6.5/10 My mood is lifting now that I’m almost done! But still feeling very tired.
  • Weight: 73.3kg (161.5lbs)
  • Ketones: 2.2mM

Day 5 – End of fast day! – Friday

I woke up feeling somewhat energised and fresh with the promise of food later.

My morning weigh-in showed that I’d now lost 5kg (11lbs) since starting the fast five days ago. My ketone levels had also jumped higher to 3.6mM. Overall though I was feeling tired and sluggish. I had never walked so slowly in my life.

My final weigh-in

I reluctantly started my usual friday morning run. It was more difficult than usual and I had to mentally push myself to even finish it. Somehow I only ended up being a minute or so slower than usual.

At about lunchtime I was painfully close to throwing in the towel early. The office lunch of burritos looked amazing and I still had another four hours to go!

30 minutes before I reached the 4pm finish line I prepared my first meal. Taking the instructions in The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr Fung and Jimmy Moore on board, I chose a small bag of plain macadamia nuts to break my fast. I put the bag on my desk as I waited for the time to tick by. The book also recommends drinking a tall glass of water before you eat, so I also got this ready.

I mentally limped through to the 4pm finish line. I drunk my water and thrust my hand into the bag of nuts and greedily munched down a handful with a huge grin. The book says to chew thoroughly, which I tried at first but quickly forgot. The macadamias tasted so great.

Following the instructions in the book, I waited 30 minutes to make sure my stomach was feeling okay and then basically ran to get a sashimi salad.

The delicious sashimi salad

It was one of the best tasting meals I’d ever eaten in my life. Every little texture and flavour was magnified, from the bursting roe to the crunch of toasted shallots.

I felt so happy to finally be eating again. Once again this fast drove home the importance of food in my life and the gratitude I have to be able to eat whenever I want to.

By the end of the night after a huge tapas dinner I was already feeling like myself again.

  • Morning mood: 7/10Feeling happier since I’m on the home stretch, but quite tired
  • Weight: 72.4kg (159.6lbs)
  • Ketones: 3.6mM

What would I do differently next?

For my next fast I will:

  • Be more careful with my transition back to normal eating. I will follow Valter Longo’s suggestions of eating predominately complex carbs and minimal fats and proteins – I was visiting the bathroom numerous times after breaking my fast!
  • Get into nutritional ketosis prior to beginning a fast to help reduce the brain clouding effects
  • Try a fasting mimicking diet (FMD), which allows you to eat a small amount of food each day for five days, getting you many of the benefits of a 5 day water fast but without the strain of not being able to eat. This also means I can drink coffee!
  • Collect more data (unfortunately my replacement Oura ring was still in transit at the time of this fast) including:
    • Sleep
    • HRV
    • Resting heart rate
    • Blood pressure
    • Blood glucose
    • Body fat percentage before and after the fast
  • Think about ways to maximise the effects of my fast. Leading UK biohacker Tim Gray offered me the advice of consuming proteolytic enzymes, and there are also other foods and fluids like apple cider vinegar which may help lower blood sugar.

5 day water fast resources and information

I did a lot of reading and listening to podcasts before I fasted. Here are some great resources which you should work your way through before attempting your own water fast:

Books

Videos / Podcasts

Closing thoughts: My 5 day water fast results

Measuring autophagy is impossible, so I can only hope and assume this fast got me the benefits that come with this cell cleaning process.

I didn’t realise I would lose so much weight during my 5 day water fast, but my worries decreased after I saw my weight steadily rising each day after.

The fast was a rewarding experience and something I will definitely do again, albeit with either a period of ketosis prior to fasting or using a fasting mimicking diet.

Have you done a 5 day (or even longer) water fast yourself? Tell me about your experience below!

Luck has played a major role in some of the biggest successes in history

Luck is a key ingredient in success which we’ve already delved into deeply on this blog. There are also some experts such as Professor Richard Wiseman who believe you can even increase your luck in four steps. Regardless, luck is a force that’s behind much of our success.

Here are a few high profile examples of luck to ponder. They’re mostly based on information from three great books about luck: The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman, Success and Luck by Robert H. Frank and The Success Equation by Michael J. Mauboussin.

Bill Gates and Microsoft

Bill Gates’ benefited from a healthy dose of luck in his early years.

First off, he went to a private school which gave students access to computer programming terminals where you could build computer programs and get them running in real time. Others had to go through convoluted processes which added days and weeks to what could take Gates hours to complete. Gates himself estimated that there might have been 50 other students in the world who could have done the same thing at that time.

Gates’ mugshot after allegedly running a stop sign in his early 20s

Next, Gates and his partner Paul Allen were able to acquire the precursor to MS-DOS for $50,000 and then organise a rare and lucky deal to get paid royalties for every IBM computer MS-DOS was installed on.

At the time IBM had a pessimistic forecast for PC sales, which helped Gates seal this lucrative deal. Because Microsoft retained rights to their new operating system, when IBM’s huge success selling their PC caused other companies to start selling PCs, Gates was able to sell even more software.

The Mona Lisa

Another example from Success and Luck is the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci. This was a relatively obscure and ignored Da Vinci painting until an Italian maintenance worker stole it from the Louvre in 1911 and tried to sell it to an Italian art gallery.

The resulting global news outrage included countless reproductions of the painting, catapulting it to fame.

Al Pacino

One of my favourite examples of the impact of luck is the good fortune Al Pacino had early in his career.

When The Godfather was being made, director Francis Ford Coppola was adamant that the actor who played Michael Corleone should be unknown and look Sicilian. The executives had other plans and wanted to hire someone like Robert Redford. Coppola threatened to leave the project unless the executives followed his request and Al Pacino was cast as Michael.

This was a good turn of events for Pacino, who was a relatively new actor with only two small roles under his belt.

Adding to Pacino’s luck was the fact that Coppola’s adaptation of the Godfather book by Mario Puzo focused on Michael Corleone’s story instead of his brother Sonny Corleone.

The film was a huge success and this pushed the obviously talented Pacino into the spotlight.

Bryan Cranston

I loved Bryan Cranston in Malcolm in the Middle, but it was his role as Walter White in Breaking Bad which catapulted him into the spotlight. Cranston’s story is also told by Frank in Success and Luck, and was the definition of a lucky break.

Cranston was originally suggested to play the part of Walter White by the producer of the show, Vince Gilligan. His idea was rejected by studio executives in favour of John Cusack and Matthew Broderick who in turn both rejected the role. Cranston was subsequently accepted and the rest is history.  

Scott Adams / Dilbert

The success of the hit comic strip Dilbert is a testament to the power of luck. According to its creator Scott Adams, the comic strip was extraordinarily lucky to be picked up and syndicated across the USA and the world. Some examples of luck include:

  • Adams’ first comics editor was married to an engineer who was a “real life Dilbert” so she instantly connected with the comic and pushed hard for it within her company against heavy objections from colleagues.
  • One day an employee at the Boston Globe went on a road trip holiday with her husband. She was driving and her husband was bored, so he picked Dilbert up from the sales packet she had left in her car. He thought it was funny, and because of her husband’s response the Boston Globe picked it up.
  • The Dilbert comic came to prominence during the mid-1990s when news was dominated with stories of corporate downsizing, technology and the dot com bubble. Dilbert happened to be about the same subject matter which resonated with audiences.
How to fail at almost anything and still win big Book Cover

This story is from Adam’s excellent book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big which delves into his story, and includes some simple but effective tips for success.

Penicillin

Another great story from The Luck Factor is the origin story behind penicillin. Sir Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin in the 1920s after coming back from holidays and noticing a petri dish of bacteria he was testing was accidentally left uncovered.

Sir Alexander Fleming immortalised in stamp form.

A specific type of mould called Penicillium notatum had fallen into the dish and killed the bacteria, leading to the eventual discovery of the antibiotic which has saved millions of lives.

Warren Buffett

Buffett was famously rejected from Harvard, which led him to consider other education options, one of which was Columbia. At Colombia he was able to study under Benjamin Graham, one of the fathers of value investing and the person who taught Buffett the famous two rules of investing.

Warren Buffett has a great short interview on Forbes alongside Jay-Z about the role luck has played in his life.

Jay-Z

Jay-Z was gifted in music during his formative years, which led to him travelling to London to help his mentor Jaz-O record an album. During the two month trip, Jay-Z’s close friend was caught in a sting operation and jailed for 13 years, and Jay-Z says the only reason he wasn’t with this friend was because he was in London at the time.

Lost

The show Lost was originally pitched as a cross between the reality TV series Survivor and the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks. Michael Eisner, the CEO of Disney at the time rated the pitch for Lost at a 2 out of 10 and later called it terrible. But because it was already in production Lost was still released, and was a surprising hit which spanned six series.

Joseph Pulitzer

The famous reporter, newspaper owner, congressman and namesake of the Pulitzer Prize came to the USA from Hungary in 1864 at the age of 17. He had no money, bad eyesight and no job prospects.

To pass the time he played chess at a local library in St Louis, until one day he met the editor of a local German-language newspaper. The editor gave him his first job , and Pulitzer eventually ended up owning part of the newspaper.

Evelyn Marie Williams and Donald Smith

What list about luck would be complete without some incredible lottery stories?

Evelyn Marie Williams won $4 million in 1985 in the New Jersey Lottery, and then four months later won another $1.5 million.

Donald Smith was even luckier and won the Wisconsin State Lottery three times! He won it in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and won a total of $750,000.

Both of these stories are also from Richard Wiseman’s book The Luck Factor.

John Woods

While not a success story, a great story from The Luck Factor is that of John Woods. Woods was a senior partner at the Thacher, Proffitt & Woods legal firm. He survived not one but three potentially deadly occurrences.

He was originally booked on the ill-fated Pan Am flight that was bombed over Lockerbie, but cancelled his ticket shortly before the flight so he could attend a Christmas party.

Next, he was working on the 39th floor in the World Trade Centre in New York during the 1993 bombing and escaped unharmed through the fire escape.

Finally in 2001 he narrowly avoided being in the second World Trade Centre tower during the September 11 attack. He left the tower seconds before it was attacked.

Leicester City winning the 2016 Premier League Championship

In 2016, English Premier League football team Leicester City had 5000-1 odds of winning the championship. The team was underfunded compared to many of the other teams, and the closest it had come to ever winning was coming second in the 1928-29 season. Even with these odds, Leicester City somehow won the championship in what the BBC called “One of the greatest sporting stories of all time”.

As Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh explain in the book How Luck Happens, after the championship many pundits suddenly had various explanations for why the team won. These included coaching and the analytics used to find players, the poor performance of the top four teams and more.

Closing thoughts about good luck in history

Luck is an interesting and important feature in our daily lives. It’s had a measurable impact on some of the biggest success stories in the 100 or so years this article has covered, and undoubtedly much further back. If you’re interested in learning more about how luck actually works read the following two guides we have:

Do you have a good story about how luck has had a big impact on your own life? Share it below!

Luck can be the deciding factor in success, even if it only plays a tiny role

Luck is one of the most important ingredients in success in addition to hard work and talent. It’s had a hand in the meteoric success of Bill Gates, Al Pacino, Warren Buffett, Jay-Z and countless others.

It’s also resulted in life changing discoveries such as penicillin, and has been blamed in the spectacular failures of objectively good products like the Sony MiniDisc.

We have a complex relationship with this mysterious force that often creeps into superstition. Many of us will question other beliefs we take for granted such as religion, but research shows 70% of people crossing a street would still rather walk around a ladder rather than under it.

The main ideas in this article

Luck is important for success when combined with ability and effort

Experts have varying opinions about just how important luck is for success. The consensus is that luck plays an important role in success when combined with hard work and talent. You need all three components.

As we’ll discuss below, luck isn’t equally as important for success in every activity. It’s also not static. In some activities, luck’s role in success is actually getting bigger with time.

At the base level, luck dictates what country you’re born in, the environment you grow up in, who your parents are and what their incomes are. According to various studies, these factors have significant bearings on the opportunities you’ll receive when growing up and as an adult. Research has even shown that the strength of the economy when you graduate can have an impact on your income up to 15 years in the future!

In the book The Luck Factor, author Richard Wiseman suggests a startling 95% of success is the result of luck and 5% is the result of ability.

This may sound staggeringly high, but a recent 2018 simulation backed this idea up when it suggested that a large ingredient to success was randomness. The study went on to say that according to their simulation “…almost never the most talented people reach the highest peaks of success, being overtaken by mediocre but sensibly luckier individuals.”

Luck plays a role in everything from the success of art to sports and business

As mentioned above, luck can have a huge impact on our basic opportunities. It also has an impact on a large range of specific activities from the popularity of a song to picking stocks. We’ve delved into real-life examples of luck helping some well known people to attain crazy levels of success in another article, but here are a few more.

The Music Lab experiment is one such example talked about in many books and articles about luck. The experiment allowed people to download and leave a rating for 48 indie songs from a website. Some of the participants were put into an independent group where the songs were presented randomly with no ratings, and other participants were presented with the songs along with ratings, and in some cases the download numbers for each song.

The experiment showed that in the groups where ratings and download numbers were displayed, the highest quality songs didn’t necessarily become hits. Instead, the most popular song in this group was actually the same song the other group ranked number 26. The experiment showed that luck plays a big role in the success of a song regardless of whether or not it was the highest quality song.

Luck also has a big impact on the performance of businesses. In The Success Equation by Michael J. Mauboussin, a study by Michael Raynor, Mumtaz Ahmed and Andrew Henderson is described where 288 companies regularly referenced in 13 books about high performance were analysed to see how skill and luck contributed to their success.

The researchers found only 25% of the 288 companies mentioned in these books could be confidently called high performers, and that the rest might have benefited from luck and could be “random walkers”.

Mauboussin also shows an excellent illustration of just how much of a role luck can play in investing. In 2006 TradingMarkets asked ten Playboy Playmates to choose five stocks to try and beat the market. The highest gain was 43.4% by Deanna Brooks, during a time period where the S&P 500 only rose 13.4%. This beat 90% of the money managers actively trying to do the same thing during the time.

Luck isn’t equally as important in every type of activity

Luck’s role can be bigger or smaller depending on the activity. The more skill-based an activity is, the less of a role it plays.

In The Success Equation this is illustrated using the luck-skill continuum. The continuum categorises activities from those based totally on luck on the left to those based totally on skill to the right, with many activities falling somewhere in the middle.

Based on The Success Equation by Michael J. Mauboussin

Using the continuum above you can see just how much of a role luck plays in certain activities. For example, luck plays a larger role in baseball versus basketball and tennis where there are plenty of scoring opportunities in a game. Roulette is totally luck based while running is completely skill-based.

Entertainment-based outcomes including the success of a song or movie have a huge luck component because of the social influences we have on each other as we saw in the Music Lab experiment above. The phenomenon of cumulative advantage also plays a role in the success of entertainment-based activities or products. This is where two songs of similar quality can sell radically different to one another if one is a bit more popular than the other.

There are different ways to assign activities to different places on the continuum, and it can get complex. In The Success Equation, Mauboussin gives three steps for deciding where to place an activity on the continuum:

  1. Is there a clear cause and effect relationship? This usually means an activity is more skill-based.
  2. How quickly do results return to the average? If they return quickly to the average the activity is likely luck-based and vice versa.
  3. Where are experts useful? If predictions among experts about the outcome of the activity are similar this usually indicates the activity is skill-based.

Different aspects of the same activity might even exist in different parts of the continuum. For example the interaction between a pitcher and hitter in a baseball game is based more on skill compared to the overall performance of the whole baseball team where there are more aspects that can influence the outcome.

In activities which are based more on skill, history and the past can be a good teacher. In luck-based activities, history doesn’t help us much.

Knowing if your activity is more skill or luck-based can give you better results

The way you improve your results in an activity depends on how much skill is involved versus how much luck is involved.

According to The Success Equation, skill-based activities require deliberate practice to improve. Deliberate practice is the difficult and time-consuming process of intentionally practicing to improve weaknesses. You can read a quick summary of it in our book review of the book Grit by Angela Duckworth.

To improve in luck based activities you should focus on the process you’re using. A good process has three ingredients:

  1. Analysis – Identify the causes of success in your activity and find a competitive edge
  2. Psychological – Be aware of common psychological biases that may be impacting your process. For example, we tend to give extra weight to recent activities when making a prediction.
  3. Constraints and influences – Be aware of the constraints you’re working within. In your job these might be the influences of your company and industry, and in sports it might be the rules

You’ll also need to realise that even if you have a good process you still might lose in the beginning until you gain expertise.

The larger a “competition” is, the more of a role luck plays

In the book Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy author Robert H. Frank shows that as a “competition” (e.g business, financial, sports or employment) draws more and more “contestants”, luck plays a bigger role in success.

He gives the example of a competition where 98% of contestants’ performance is caused by talent and effort, and 2% is caused by luck. In this competition, all of the top competitors will likely be as talented and hardworking as each other, so the winner will likely be the luckiest of these.

This phenomenon is known in The Success Equation as the paradox of skill, which basically states that as the skill level of participants in a given activity rises, performance becomes more consistent and the importance of luck also rises.

Luck’s role is getting bigger in some activities

The paradox of skill also means that as more and more people take part in an activity, the average skill level is also raised, and therefore luck becomes a more important deciding factor.

Not every activity works this way. In the NBA the average height has risen, and this has the side effect of having the opposite effect because the pool of athletes tall enough to play is shrinking.

The effects of luck are also more magnified today due to technology. In Success and Luck, Frank calls these “winner takes all markets”. In a winner takes all market technology extends the reach of the lucky top performers. Examples of this include tax returns, which are now mostly dominated by one software program: TurboTax when in the past they were completed by local accountants.

We tend to minimise the role of luck in success

As humans we downplay the role of luck in success and celebrate the role of skill mostly because of our own cognitive biases.

In The Success Equation this is blamed on our desire as humans to link cause and effect. Once an event takes place we create a story to explain it which almost acts as if the outcome was a sure thing. Statistics unfortunately don’t have much of a place in these stories.

According to Frank in Success and Luck, other reasons why we downplay luck include:

  • Successful people are frequently confronted with the reality of hard work every day, but only infrequently reminded of the luck and fortune they’ve had
  • Removing the emphasis on luck might encourage you to put and submit the effort that is also required to be successful
  • Emphasising skill over luck strengthens your claim to the results of your successes e.g money

There are also inherent issues in how we study success in the first place. The Success Equation explores how authors and experts study successful businesses to find out how other businesses can apply the same strategies.

This is flawed because unsuccessful companies aren’t included in these studies by definition. To truly see which companies are skilful and which are just lucky, Mauboussin says we should really be asking how many of the companies using a particular strategy were successful. This concept is known as the under sampling of failure.

Closing thoughts about luck and success

The purpose of this article isn’t to say you should stop working hard towards your goals. In fact, it should reiterate that hard work and ability are still essential in success. My hope instead is that this article simply makes you aware of the role luck and randomness could play.

There are two additional reasons why it matters if luck plays a role in success.

Firstly, if successful people acknowledge the role of luck in their success they might be more willing to give back to the institutions and people who helped create that luck. This is one of the main ideas Robert Frank talks about in Success and Luck.

Finally, if you’re better able to account for luck when forecasting or making predictions, you may be able to better plan for the outcome. This is one of the main ideas in The Success Equation.

How to become luckier

Luck is an underestimated ingredient in success. It has a role in the outcomes of the average person all the way up to the most spectacular success stories in history.

It was a crucial success factor in Bill Gates’ and Microsoft’s meteoric rise in the software space and it helped launch the acting careers of Al Pacino and Bryan Cranston. It made Dilbert one of the most popular comics of our time, and it was responsible for the discovery of penicillin.

Luck is important in success, so we should look for ways to increase our good luck and minimise our bad luck.

Some experts think we can actually increase our good luck

Professor Richard Wiseman’s book The Luck Factor explores the idea that we can improve our luck. His research found that good luck is largely a result of your behaviour. It’s a state of mind rather than the result of magic or divine power.

He conducted research on lucky and unlucky people and found that lucky people were creating their good luck in four key ways which he called the “four principles of luck”.

The crux of his book is centered around these four differences or principles, and the 12 sub-principles underneath each of them.

How to improve your luck with Richard Wiseman’s “four principles of luck”

1. Create, notice and act on the chance opportunities in life

Lucky people consistently seem to meet people who can help them in life. They build strong lasting networks with friends and colleagues, and because of this are more likely to receive lucky breaks compared to unlucky people. Unlucky people on the other hand are more likely to meet people who negatively influence their lives.

Lucky people are more relaxed towards life and so notice more opportunities. They also try new experiences regularly which exposes them to unpredictable outcomes.

This principle is all about maximising your basic opportunities, and it’s something we can all do. Imagine the following two people:

Person 1

  • Age 35 with 10 years of work experience in a professional role
  • Makes a strong effort to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues e.g goes for coffee, makes weekly calls etc
  • Strikes up conversations everywhere they go: their favourite cafe, their regular supermarket etc
  • Frequently tries new activities, hobbies and places to eat

Person 2

  • Age 35 with 10 years of work experience in a professional role
  • Doesn’t make much of an effort to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues
  • Keeps to themselves in public
  • Has the same routine and places to eat

Now imagine both of our hypothetical people were out of a job. Who do you think would find a new job quicker? Which of the two would encounter new opportunities for jobs generally? Person two is my bet. They would have a larger pool of possibilities from their own network and activities.

How to work on this luck principle:

  • Call one a friend, family member or acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in a while and speak to them for 10 minutes. Find a new person to call each week.
  • Strike up a conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to before each week e.g a work colleague, sports acquaintance, someone in a cafe or supermarket queue
  • Have open body language when in public e.g smile and don’t cross your arms
  • Make a conscious effort to try new things e.g pick six new experiences you want to try and roll a die to decide which you will do.

Note: Go into this being genuinely interested and curious in what your friends, family and colleagues are up to. This principle was a good reminder for me that I actually enjoy touching base with the people around me and seeing if I can help them in anyway.

2. Improve and listen to your intuition and gut feelings

Lucky people tend to make great decisions by following their hunches. Their business and personal decisions tend to work out great for them, whereas for unlucky people the opposite tends to happen.

How to increase this luck principle:

  • Meditation
  • Returning to a problem after some time and reflection
  • Finding a quiet place to relax and calm your mind before making a decision

3. Expect good luck

Lucky people usually have good expectations about the future and this helps them to reach their goals. They’re more likely to work harder and deal with setbacks when trying to achieve a goal compared to unlucky people, who tend to give up more easily on their goals. Lucky people will try to reach a goal even if the chances are slim.

How to increase this luck principle:

  • Visualise yourself being lucky
  • Write and repeat a luck affirmation e.g “I am a lucky person and my luck will continue today”
  • Write a cost/benefits analysis of any goals you have to motivate you when you encounter a setback
  • Set short, medium and long term goals

4. Bounce back from bad luck more effectively

Wiseman noticed that lucky people tend to move past bad luck events better than unlucky people. He found that unlucky people feel ruined by bad luck, whereas lucky people have a habit of seeing bad luck as opportunity. Lucky people don’t dwell on bad luck events and make efforts to avoid similar experiences in the future.

How to increase this luck principle:

  • Think about how any bad luck you’ve encountered could’ve been worse
  • Question the importance of a bad luck event in the long term. It’s usually not as bad as you think and you may learn something from it
  • Compare yourself to unluckier people you know. Don’t compare yourself to luckier people you know
  • Think about how bad luck events can actually positively benefit you in the future
  • Distract yourself when bad luck happens by exercising, watching a comedy, seeing friends etc
  • When bad luck comes your way, create a plan to address it and execute it right away

I strongly recommend reading The Luck Factor to get the nuts and bolts of Wiseman’s ideas. The book also includes a 12-part questionnaire which identifies which of the four principles you’re lacking in the most.

I found that I was most lacking in the first principle. I needed to genuinely work on maintaining my extended social circle. I also wasn’t smiling enough, my body language was closed, and I was sometimes a bit closed off when meeting new people. These were things I’ve wanted to improve about myself for a while, so having another reason to address this has made me feel more connected to the people around me.

5. Zig when others zag (Bonus tip)

In the book How Luck Happens by Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh, one way to increase your luck is to pursue ideas outside the regular. By aiming for an alternative route to success you reduce the competition you face, and therefore make it easier to reach success. This is similar to the blue ocean strategy, where you create a product so unique and valuable to customers that you enter a class of your own.

How to work on this luck principle:

  • What is the regular route people aiming for success in your chosen field usually take? How can you get there differently?

6. Have multiple eggs in multiple baskets (Bonus tip)

Another great idea from How Luck Happens is that of diversification. When aiming for success you should throw yourself fully into your primary plan, but also have a number of backup plans. By spending some time preparing these backup plans you can switch quickly if your primary plan doesn’t work out. Having more options gives you more chances of success.

How to work on this luck principle:

  • Think about one or two other jobs, sports or business pursuits you could do if you had to stop working on your primary plan tomorrow.

Can introverts follow these principles?

Wiseman’s research found that lucky people were generally more extroverted than unlucky people. You can mostly see this in the first principle, which includes plenty of “lucky” behaviours which some extroverts do naturally.

I myself am naturally introverted. As I mentioned above I was most lacking in the first luck principle, which mainly centers around maintaining a larger network, striking up conversations and having more open body language.

My solution was “fake it till you make it”. I thought of the most sociable people I knew, and wondered how they would approach certain social situations. Then I just started acting on these thoughts before my inner introvert could stop me.

On a recent business trip I struck up an hour long conversation with my seat buddy and we learned about each other and the flight went by much faster. I got off the plane a little bit more mentally fatigued than normal but also felt charged up from the conversation.

Final thoughts: Can you actually improve your own luck?

Some luck experts such as Michael J. Mauboussin, the author of The Success Equation, disagree with Wiseman’s ideas. Mauboussin’s rebuttal is that you can’t technically improve luck because it’s not a skill. Any effort you spend supposedly improving your luck in the way above is actually just improving your skills.

According to Mauboussin we should approach luck with equanimity regardless of the possibilities. We should realise that any outcome is made up of an element of skill which we can control, and an element of luck which we can’t. If we have approached an activity in the correct way but have still lost due to luck, we should shrug it off and try again. Good or bad luck says nothing about us personally.

Regardless, I’ve still found the four luck principles useful in creating positive opportunities for myself, and maybe this is all that matters in the end anyway.

Learn more about luck with the following resources

Many of us worship competitiveness in business and sports, but according to research, we may need to rethink our love of this trait.

I’m not a very competitive person. I’ve never been one to obsess over competitive sports, video game multiplayer matches or cut-throat board games. And while I’m fascinated by challenge and high stakes performers in sports and business, I’m not the type to rush out and compete. I was comfortable with my level of competitiveness until a recent experience in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class.

During the class I was wrestling someone who was the same level and weight as me but much more competitive. He seemed to want to win a whole lot more than me, and it felt like this desire helped him to eventually beat me.

After the round I started wondering if my lack of competitive nature was hurting my performance. If I were more competitive would I have held on, pushed further and tried every trick in the book to win? More broadly, if I were more competitive would I have a better career or earn more money? Armed with these questions I dug into the science, and what I found was fascinating.

Sports and business is littered with stories of highly competitive individuals and companies who did great things. Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are legendarily competitive and two of the best in basketball and golf respectively. Goldman Sachs has been known to have a highly competitive culture and has had its share of successes.

There are also the infamous stories too. Enron was a company known for its ultra-competitive company culture which was one of the ingredients behind its spectacular bankruptcy in 2001.

Table of contents

Science finds that competition has no direct impact on performance

An interesting meta-analysis (a study merging the results of numerous individual studies on the same topic) of competition research from 2012 showed that competition had no direct impact on performance.

This finding was true regardless of whether the studies were measuring individual competitiveness, perceived environmental competition (e.g the perceived competitiveness of the classroom or office) or structural competition (e.g an actual contest or competition).

According to the meta-analysis, competition produces two substantial direct effects which actually do impact performance. But because these two effects cancel each other out competition has no direct impact on performance. The study called this the “opposing processes model”.

On the positive side, competition causes you to set performance approach goals. This is when you set a goal to outperform others. Performance approach goals are associated with behaviours positive to your performance such as eagerness, task-absorption and persistence.

On the negative side, competition causes you to set performance avoidance goals. This is when you set goals to avoid performing more poorly than others in a competition. Performance avoidance goals are associated with behaviours which can negatively affect your performance such as worry, task-distraction and self-handicapping.

Being too competitive can be detrimental

All this research points to the conclusion that being extra competitive won’t give you a performance boost, and lacking competitiveness won’t hurt performance. But what if you’re already highly competitive? The research shows that this can come with a range of detrimental effects.

A great roundup of research in this study about the ethical implications of competitiveness showed that competition is more likely than cooperation to cause conflict and damaged relationships in small groups. In team settings, highly competitive people struggle to collaborate, are liked less and also don’t contribute much. Being hypercompetitive was also shown to be associated with poor ethics.

Echoing what the meta-analysis above mentioned, the study also showed that being highly competitive also doesn’t necessarily equate to being more successful. Highly competitive people are “rarely high performers” in jobs, tasks and in school. Even highly competitive nations generally have poorer GDP and national wealth. One study of elite tennis players found that their competitiveness didn’t have a bearing on their rankings.

Competitiveness in business

The difference between healthy and unhealthy competitiveness

But the above findings miss one crucial point: sometimes competition is unavoidable. Going for a promotion, playing a team sport or putting extra effort into a school or university assignment are forms of competition that many of us are expected to take part in. It makes sense to want to tackle these forms of competition in a healthy way.

There are two ways to be competitive. On the one hand there’s hypercompetitiveness, and on the other hand there’s the personal development competitiveness attitude (PDCA), otherwise known as the self-developmental competitive orientation.

Hypercompetitive people try to compete and beat you in everything, even seemingly trivial activities. They try everything to avoid losing and to make others lose. Research suggests that for a hypercompetitive person, winning might enhance their feelings of self worth.

Those with a PDCA or a self-developmental competitive orientation don’t compete solely to win. Instead they compete because it encourages self-development and enhances mastery and enjoyment of the task being completed.

People with a PDCA tend to avoid comparing themselves with others, and they respect their competitors. In fact they see their opponents as valuable partners in their self-growth.

As you can see, being competitive can be healthy and contribute to your growth if you have the right type of mindset.

How to build a healthy attitude to competition

The first step is to recognise that the objective of competition is actually personal growth. The reason why you’re competing is to further your skills, learn something and have fun. Winning is still important but it’s not the primary aim.

If we deconstruct the ingredients of a PDCA or self-developmental competitive orientation we can see that it’s a mindset shift. Someone with a healthy attitude to competition will think the following compared to a hypercompetitive person:


Personal development competitiveness attitude (PDCA)Hypercompetitive mindset
Aim of competitionTo beat my previous performancesTo beat others and win
Outcome of competitionPersonal growth and increased mastery and enjoyment of the activityIncrease of self-worth by winning and demonstration of superiority
“If I win…”I have learned something valuable and enjoyed the dayI have proved I am superior and dominant in my field
“If I lose…”I have learned something valuable and still enjoyed the day. I will apply these learnings and improve my performance next timeI am worthless and embarrassed
“My opponents and training partners are…”Teachers who are providing me with important lessons both in my chosen field and personallyRivals who need to be beaten, not befriended

What to do if you’re too competitive

Author and coach Brett Ledbetter gave a great TEDx talk in 2016 which helps answer this.

Similar to what has been mentioned above, he thinks that highly competitive people can benefit from changing their mindset. Instead of seeing competition as a rivalry between yourself and other competitors, you can instead view it as a healthy way to improve yourself.

His idea is that we should stop viewing competition as “me vs you” and instead view it as “me with you”. We need our training partners and opponents in order to push us further to reach our own achievements, so we should push each other in a healthy way as opposed to an unhealthy rivalry.

What to do if you’re not interested in competing or you actively dislike competition

Join the club! My personal interest in competition ranges from “not bothered” to sometimes actively avoiding it.

According to a recent study called The Four Faces of Competition: The Development of the Multidimensional Competitive Orientation Inventory there are actually two other categories you can fall into in addition to hypercompetitiveness and a PDCA / self-developmental competitive orientation.

These two attitudes are anxiety-driven competition avoidance, and lack of interest toward competition.

Those with anxiety-driven competition avoidance feel that winning or losing in a competition could cause rejection or dislike from their peers, so they avoid it.

If you lack interest toward competition you don’t necessarily avoid it, but you don’t seek it or put additional effort into winning any competitions.

Based on
The Four Faces of Competition: The Development of the Multidimensional Competitive Orientation Inventory

It’s important to note that if you don’t like competition, you can still be incredibly successful. There are business strategies like the blue ocean strategy below which are built on non-competition.

If you’re not interested in competition or actively avoid it, the mindset shift table above might help. I personally feel more motivated to compete when I remove the aim to win and instead focus on the personal growth that will come out of competing.

Can you be non-competitive and still be successful?

Some of the most successful people and businesses have used non-competitive strategies. Warren Buffet was reportedly delighted to buy the Buffalo Evening News newspaper because it was the only newspaper in town. In the past he has also spoken about avoiding competition by building a protective “moat” around a business.

There are whole books devoted to the strategy of avoiding competition. Blue Ocean Strategy is one such example. It explains how businesses can unlock huge profits and more customers by creating a product which provides so much value for users that it leapfrogs competition and lands you in your own market altogether.

Non-competitiveness in business

One successful example of the blue ocean strategy is Cirque Du Soleil, which is now an immensely popular hybrid circus-theatre show. Cirque Du Soleil avoided competition in the relatively small and crowded circus market and created a show where there were stories, acrobatics and artistic performances. It charged higher ticket prices and reduced costs by removing animal shows and “circus celebrities” which didn’t fit with the new concept.

Rather then become a circus competitor, Cirque Du Soleil became an alternative activity. It appealed not just to those who might be interested in going to the circus, but for those who might usually go to a theatre or comedy show.

Curves, iTunes and Lexus are other examples of successful products which sidestepped head-on competition to create products with immense value for consumers. Each of these products resulted in new markets being created for women’s only gyms, high quality legally downloadable music and affordable luxury cars respectively.


Do you have any thoughts or experiences with competition and competitiveness? Share them below!


Sources

The current science behind sports recovery explained for athletes and average joes

My key takeaways from Good to Go:

  1. Many sports recovery methods don’t have solid science behind them
  2. The human body is made to move and therefore has all the means to help you recover from exercise without needing outside help
  3. If a recovery modality doesn’t have strong scientific evidence behind it, but makes you feel better and doesn’t harm you, it might be positive anyway

Good to Go explores the latest trend of “recovery” in sports and fitness and asks which recovery modalities actually work according to science. It’s written by Christie Aschwanden, an elite athlete and FiveThirtyEight science writer, and evaluates the current research behind many of the sacred cows in the sports recovery industry.

Table of contents

I found Good to Go to be a refreshing take on the huge number of sports recovery products and therapies available today. Every day seems to bring another gadget or product to get better athletic performance or recovery, and Good to Go is a sobering look at the science, or lack thereof, behind many of these products.

Good to Go puts most recovery methods under the microscope including hydration, supplements, massages, infrared saunas, compression, meditation and floating, cold therapy and icing, sleep and post-recovery nutrition.

Aschwanden uses many of these recovery modalities herself and interviews many scientific experts, industry leaders and athletes throughout the course of the book. If you’re interested in getting more out of your sports recovery, I highly recommend Good to Go.

Throughout Good to Go, Aschwanden explores the methodology behind some of the scientific studies supporting various recovery methods. In some cases she raises the point that rigorous testing may never be possible. For example it’s hard to create a placebo when testing the effectiveness of cold therapy because you can’t convincingly recreate the sensation of cold.

Other problems stem from the design of the studies themselves. Studies on supplement effectiveness for example often have small sample sizes or test the supplement on a non-athletic population type.

The importance of placebo in sports recovery

According to Aschwanden’s research, not every recovery method actually stands up to scientific scrutiny and there’s a whole lot that is “promising but unproven”. Before I delve into my summary of Good to Go there’s an important takeaway regarding the placebo effect that I took from this book.

Aschwanden interviews David Martin, the Director of Performance Research and Development with the Philadelphia 76ers and a former sports scientist at the Australian Institute of Sport about his thoughts on the current recovery modalities. He thinks most of the popular recovery methods we use work through the placebo effect, but that this isn’t negative because of the powerful body response this effect can encourage. He says “It doesn’t matter if there’s science to back it up. If an athlete strongly believes that something works, the belief effect can overwhelm the real effect”

Good to Go makes the point that even if many recovery modalities don’t have robust scientific evidence, maybe the fact that they force you to stop working out or training is still a positive for some. Also, if a recovery method gives an athlete more confidence, maybe it’s still worth it. With all that being said, here’s my summary of the key parts of Good to Go, starting with what doesn’t necessarily work or requires more research.

What doesn’t help with sports recovery?

Icing

For many years icing has been seen as a way to heal sports injuries, and in recent years cold exposure has been glorified by the cryosauna craze. According to Aschwanden’s research, icing might actually delay the healing process by suppressing our natural inflammation and immune response.

According to Gary Reinl, a reporter and author Aschwanden interviews in the book, icing just slows blood flow down rather than stopping it completely. Once the ice is removed, the blood flow just continues as normal.

Good to Go also explores the cryosauna craze. It mentions a study that showed that while the cryosauna itself was cold (in this case -180°C), the decrease in skin temperature was only between -4°C and -14°C, and muscle temperature only decreased by -1.1°C. It also mentions a 2015 review of the scientific literature surrounding cryotherapy which found that the existing studies were of low quality.

Supplements

Supplements are promoted for a huge variety of reasons, from sports recovery and performance to health and longevity. I myself take a good five or so different tablets each day. Good to Go explains that few supplements have evidence to support them from a recovery perspective, and that FOMO between athletes is actually the key reason why many take them.

The book also explores the scientific studies underpinning supplements and uncovers some shady practices. One is the practice of publishing supplement studies in what are called “predatory publishers”. These are journals with a much lower bar for publishing studies than trusted big-name journals. Then there’s also the aforementioned small sample sizes used in some studies, and the use of study participants that don’t actually represent athletes.

Aschwanden includes an interview with International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) CEO and co-founder Jose Antoine who makes an interesting counter-claim about the lack of science supporting many of the positive recovery claims of food. It’s an interesting topic I’d like to research further myself. Still, this chapter made me re-examine why I’m taking supplements and if I could get by without them.

Post-workout drinks and meals

When I was a teenager I would often hear that the key to maximising muscle growth after a workout was to drink a protein shake within 30 – 45 minutes of the workout. Aschwanden explains that the post-exercise anabolic window has not really been supported by scientific evidence, and that by eating a regular breakfast, lunch and dinner it’s impossible not to put that food to good recovery work.

I stopped drinking protein shakes many years ago, and it’s reassuring that according to Good to Go, recent science has shown there’s no evidence that protein shakes have better effects on recovery than regular food.

It’s a confusing topic but the book does a good job at presenting current scientific evidence and expert interviews to show that unless you’re at the highest levels of competition and are competing a number of times with hours between each competition, your body is more than capable of handling your recovery with enough calories nutrients and an overall good diet.

Infrared saunas

Aschwanden examines the common research behind infrared saunas and the purported benefits that they have in flushing toxins from the body. She found that the claims are built on very small studies, some of which are animal studies.

Massage

Massage is near and dear to my heart, so it was hard to hear that according to Good to Go there’s little evidence that it helps with recovery or performance, unless you only have up to 10 minutes to recover between bouts or rounds of a sport. There’s also no evidence that massage clears lactate, and even if it did, lactic acid might not cause muscle soreness anyway.

What does help with sports recovery?

Float tanks and meditation

Some of my favourite relaxation methods are floating and meditation. Thankfully, Good to Go provides some positive thoughts about floating and its effects on sports performance and recovery.

Aschwanden mentions the US Air Force’s STRONG program and its positive findings after using the float tank, such as a 25% reduction in blood cortisol levels before and after a float. She also points to a 2016 study that showed floating reduced muscle soreness and improved moods for 60 elite athletes from 9 different sports. Floating also has positive benefits for improving an athlete’s mental focus, and can help relax both overstimulated and exhausted users.

Sleep

After reading Matthew Walker’s exceptional book Why We Sleep, I already knew how important sleep was for performance and recovery. Good to Go reaffirms this point, labelling sleep as “hands-down the most powerful recovery tool known to science” for its benefits in releasing testosterone and growth hormone to kickstart tissue repair.

The book also shows that lack of quality sleep has a large impact on performance and recovery. The book refers to studies showing that sleeping for only 5 hours per night can cause a 10 – 15% drop in testosterone in men, and that sleeping for only 6 hours per night can double and even triple your reaction times.

Overtraining and measuring recovery

Good to Go also includes great chapters about overtraining and our obsession with measuring recovery. Aschwanden ends the chapter on overtraining by showing that there’s not yet a “cure” for overtraining, so research is mostly centered on prevention and measuring recovery.

I found these chapters very interesting, as I’m obsessed with tracking my recovery through my Oura ring. Aschwanden explores how different experts are trying to measure and quantify overtraining and recovery in athletes and the challenges associated with this.

She also explores the user of blood markers, heart rate and heart rate variability and its use in sports recovery and performance.

An interesting take away I got from this chapter is that exercise actually protects against injuries, but that evidence shows the greatest risk of injuries comes from training spikes when you usually have a very low training load or a very high training load. She gives the example of someone taking time off of training because of an illness, coming back and then jumping back into intensive training only to injure themselves. Consistency with training loads seems to be an effective preventative method.

The second take away from these chapters is that your morning mood can be a great indicator of how recovered you are. I’ve noticed that when I feel stressed and physically exhausted my mood dives, so this makes sense to me.

Good to Go is an engaging and understandable digest of the current science behind sports recovery in 2019. It’s refreshing and simplifies the concept. It’s a great reminder to trust your body and mind when it comes to training rather than the latest wearable or supplement. On the bright side, this also means you’ll have to spend much less time and money on recovery.

I got so much out of Good to Go. Two of the other game changing takeaways I got were:

  1. Stretching does not reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or reduce injury risk
  2. Lactic acid is probably not responsible for the burn you feel during exercise or muscle soreness after exercise, and may actually be a fuel source

Eat well when you’re out with our list of cafes and restaurants in Melbourne

Melbourne has some great cafes and restaurants to eat healthily. Whether you’re eating paleo or primal, low sugar, keto or just don’t want highly processed food, there are plenty of options. Below is a list of cafes and restaurants you might want to consider when you’re next looking for a decent meal.

This list is made up of cafes and restaurants which I have eaten at in the past or would eat at myself. This means they mostly offer wholefood meals, with grain-free options and minimal or low sugar. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope you’ll find it useful. If you live in Sydney or travel there regularly, I’ve also written a similar list.

Help me make this list better by suggesting your own favourite healthy cafes and restaurants in Melbourne. Leave a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll add it in.

There’s also a map of all the locations in this guide at the bottom of this page.

Patch Cafe, Richmond

Located close to the CBD in Richmond, Patch Cafe is paleo-inspired and has a mostly gluten free menu in addition to a big list of delicious meals.

Some of our picks for breakfast include the chilli eggs with bacon, chives, avocado and red onion jam; and the Planet of The Crepes, a coconut crepe with hazelnut butter, fresh berries and banana.

Lunch also has a number of great options including the Don’t Gnocc-It ‘Til You Try It, which is a sweet potato gnocchi dish with chorizo, kale, cherry tomato and goat’s cheese. There’s also the “Caveman II” which is a Moroccan-style chicken thigh with chorizo, pan-fried tomatoes and your choice of eggs.

The sweet potato gnocchi

Patch Cafe also has a range of speciality drinks including kombucha, cold pressed juices and even Bulletproof coffee.

  • Location: 1/32 Bendigo Street Richmond
  • Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Serotonin Eatery, Burnley

Serotonin Eatery is part of Serotonin, an exercise and education centre in Burnley. The cafe has a number of awesome choices for breakfast, lunch and to drink.

Some of our favourite options include the Nutrition Bomb, which is a colourful plate with a poached egg, broccoli, kale, hummus, sauerkraut and more. If you’re after something sweeter to start the day, the Galaxy Acai Bowl has a fruit and nut toasted granola, mixed berries and a house-made peanut butter, banana and coconut ice cream.

The Nutrition Bomb

There’s also a large number of smoothies such as the Green Hemp smoothie with kale, spinach, dates, hemp seeds, chia seeds and almond milk. Add to this a range of diary and gluten-free hot drinks such as the golden latte with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and organic coconut milk.

  • Location: 52 Madden Grove, Burnley 3121
  • Open: Weds – Fri 8am – 3pm, Sat – Sun 8.30am – 4pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Seedling Cafe, Melbourne CBD

There are two Seedling Cafes in Melbourne CBD, one in Flinders Lane and one on Little Collins Street, and they are both gluten free and paleo inspired.

The menu includes breakfast options like the Seedling Signature Baked Eggs and the Goji Granola which is homemade, paleo and gluten free. Lunch options include the Seedling Lunch Set which allows you to choose a protein such as grass-fed beef meatloaf and then two salads.

There’s also a large list of hot and cold drinks including turmeric and beetroot lattes, juices and smoothies, and Bulletproof coffee.

  • Location:
    • 275 Flinders Lane
    • 349 Little Collins St
  • Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Terror Twilight, Collingwood

There’s a lot to love about Terror Twilight in Collingwood. We were won over by the customisable bowls. You start with your base such as cauliflower and broccoli rice; add sides like roasted sweet potato, kimchi, sumac avocado, red cabbage sauerkraut or jalapeno and lime hummus; pick a dressing; and then add your protein from choices including soft boiled egg, poached chicken or coffee-glazed smoked pork belly.

Terror Twilight also offers similar options for broths, with bases including chicken and lemongrass or miso and kombu.

The final reason why you should check out Terror Twilight is for its awesome selection of beverages. It offers a range of mushroom coffees including the Body, which is a mixture of chaga and cordyceps mushrooms with MCT oil, recommended to be added to black coffee. There’s also kombucha, smoothies and cold pressed juices.

  • Location: 11-13 Johnston Street, Collingwood
  • Open: Mon – Fri 8am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Market on Malvern (MOM) cafe, Prahran

The menu at MOM cafe has been built to cater to those with dietary and digestive needs.

Good options include the Super Green Breakky which is loaded with asparagus, kale, broccolini, steamed green beans, avocado, halloumi and a poached egg. There’s also the Raw Zucchini Pasta in a basil-cashew pesto with sun-dried tomatoes, and the Fennel and Cured Salmon Salad with poached egg.

To drink, MOM offers a number of smoothies made using almond or coconut milk, cold pressed juices, kombucha and a large organic tea list. There are also speciality hot drinks including turmeric, beetroot and taro lattes.

  • Location: 388 Malvern Road, Prahran
  • Open: Mon – Fri 7:30am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Hunters Harvest, Seddon

Hunters Harvest focuses on wholefoods and superfoods to create a menu that is both delicious and guilt-free. It’s centered around bowls with a large range of smoothies and cold drinks for the parched.

Our favourite bowls are the Yogi Bowl which has roasted vegetables, salad greens, hummus, sauerkraut, sprouts, avocado and toasted nuts and seeds. The Lean Green and Protein is also a worthy choice, with a mountain of greens plus a poached egg. If grains are part of your diet you can also try the delicious Chipotle Chicken which has Mexican-spiced chicken breast, brown rice, salsa, avocado, black beans and more.

The smoothies list is also diverse and includes sweeter options like the Cheeky Choc with cacao, banana and avocado or green options like the Green Dream with kale, spinach and cucumber.

In the hot drinks department Hunters Harvest also doesn’t disappoint, with choices like golden lattes, vanilla matcha lattes and Bulletproof coffee.

  • Location: 1/92 Charles Street Seddon
  • Open: Mon – Sun 11:00am – 8:00pm
  • Other details: Instagram

The beatt, Armadale

Like some of the other cafes on this list, The beatt is actually part of a larger wellness centre offering yoga and meditation classes as well as other therapies. This kernel of holistic health flows through to the cafe too, with the menu featuring locally sourced organic produce where possible.

Standout dishes include the Organic Ben and Breakfast Salad with kale, organic quinoa, peas, mint, broccoli, avocado, mixed organic nuts and biodynamic poached eggs; and the Green Omelette with biodynamic eggs, spinach and goats feta.

There’s also the Salmon Poke Bowl with wild salmon, organic quinoa, turmeric sour cream, pickled cucumber, fermented carrot and more.

The beatt also serves a number of fresh smoothies and juices such as the Mean Green, with kale, spinach, bananas, dates, almonds, spirulina, coconut water and more.

  • Location: 24-25 Beatty Avenue Armadale
  • Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 3:30pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Laneway Greens, Melbourne CBD and Richmond

Laneway Greens focuses on utilising locally sourced sustainable produce, and its menu of bowls, pots and smoothies reflects this. Some great choices for those looking for healthy meals include the Grilled Free-Range Chicken with celery, grapes, spinach, quinoa, parsley, spring onions and more. There’s also the Roasted Salmon with spinach, apple, carrot; and the Braised Cape-Grim Beef and Seasonal Greens.

If you’re after a smoothie Laneway Greens has a great selection. A good option is the Kale & Kiwi smoothie with celery, cucumber, avocado, spinach, ginger and coconut water.

The other great thing about Laneway Greens is that it has two CBD locations and a Richmond location, so it’s perfect for work lunches as well as weekend jaunts.

  • Locations:
    • 2/242 Flinders Lane
    • 89a Swan Street Richmond
    • 67-69 Collins Place Melbourne
  • Open: Trading hours vary depending on day and location
  • Other details: Instagram

Healthy Self Co, Yarraville

Healthy Self Co has a mostly plant-based menu built on foundations of free range, organic and sustainable produce. If you’re not after plant-based meals there’s still some good options, including the Bright bowl with pulled beef brisket, sweet potato glass noodles, capsicum, zucchini, edamame and more. If you’re after something even more green, the Magic bowl has sauteed greens, broccolini, green beans, mushrooms, avocado smash and poached egg.

There’s a good lineup of drinks for the health conscious too, including a big list of smoothies, smoothie bowls, cold pressed juices, kombucha, matcha lattes and golden lattes.

  • Location: 26 Ballarat Street Yarraville
  • Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 3:30pm, Sat 7:30am – 4pm, Sunday 8am – 3:30pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Hunters Roots, Melbourne CBD

Hunters Roots caters to the health-focused who like to build their own bowls from locally sourced and fresh produce delivered daily.

First you choose a base with options like rice medley, leafy greens or soba noodles. Then you select a protein from choices like grilled salmon and poached chicken. Next you add up to four ingredients such as avocado, beetroot kraut, egg omelette, spiced broccoli, roasted eggplant and more. Then you choose a dressing and toppings.

There’s also a number of great smoothies like the Green Fields with spinach, kale, matcha, banana, mango, kiwi, ginger and coconut water.

  • Location: 26 Katherine Place Melbourne
  • Open: Mon – Fri 7:30am – 3:30pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Superbowl, Ripponlea

Superbowl is another great spot with customisable bowls. You can start with a green slaw, or brown rice if you’d prefer grains, and then choose a protein from options such as sashimi salmon, grilled yakitori chicken or beef tataki. Next you choose toppings such as cucumber, beetroot, avocado, broccoli, carrot and more. Finally you pick a dressing and any extras you’d like.

There’s also a number of smoothies such as the Popeye Popper with spinach, avocado, kale, white mulberries, banana, hemp seeds, almond butter and almond milk.

  • Location: 54 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea
  • Open: Mon – Sun (closed Fri) 5pm – 9pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Bendigo Wholefoods

Okay you caught us, Bendigo Wholefoods isn’t exactly *close* to Melbourne, but it’s very much worth checking out if you’re in Bendigo. The menu is built around Bendigo Wholefoods’ values of seasonal, local and organic produce where possible, and as the name suggests, a focus on wholefoods.

Some of our favourites include the Brocc Bowl with steamed broccoli, poached eggs, spinach, raw almonds, avocado, dukkha and a tamari and ginger dressing; and the West African Chicken cooked in a ginger and peanut broth with green salad and “raw slaw” salad.

There are other great dishes too like the lemon and sumac Israeli Lamb with tabouli, green salads and labneh.

Bendigo Wholefoods also makes Bulletproof coffee and a range of smoothies and fresh juices.

  • Location: 314 Lyttleton Terrace Bendigo
  • Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat 7am – 3pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Meatmaiden, Melbourne CBD

Steakhouses can be a great choice when looking for a healthy restaurant. Most will offer various greens and vegetables sides alongside your chosen meats.

Meatmaiden is a great example of this, and celebrates all things meat with some good side dish options including charred greens, green leaves with shaved radish and citrus dressing, and the mushroom with caramelised onion and spinach. There are also interesting starter options like kangaroo pastrami.

The mains are focused around the wood-burning smoker the Meatmaiden crew have imported from the United States. Options include barramundi with steamed clams, 20-hour smoked black brisket and saltbush lamb shoulder.

  • Location: 195 Little Collins St, Melbourne
  • Open: Mon – Sat 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – Late
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

San Telmo, Melbourne CBD

Continuing with the theme of meat-centric restaurants is the Argentinian steakhouse San Telmo.

San Telmo serves pasture-fed Hereford beef in a range of steak cuts and cooked on a traditional Argentinian charcoal grill. There’s also a range of sides that fit our list, including the seasonal leaves with herbs, salt-baked beetroot, charcoal roasted sweet potato, heirloom tomato and burnt carrots.

  • Location: 14 Meyers Place, Melbourne
  • Open: Mon – Sun 12pm – Late
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Gazi

As long as you avoid piles of pita bread and chips, Greek cuisine can be a good option for a healthy dinner. Gazi is a great example of Greek street food in the Melbourne CBD.

It offers a number of traditional protein-centric dishes, such as the lamb shoulder, chicken off the spit and pork belly. You can then pair these with vegetables from the sides menu including options like the sauteed greens, beetroot salad or grilled broccolini.

  • Location: 2 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
  • Open: Mon – Thurs and Sun 12pm – 9:30pm, Fri – Sat 12pm – 10pm
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Hellenic Republic

Hellenic Republic is part of the same family of restaurants as Gazi, and focuses on traditional Greek family food. Much like Gazi, you can easily eat a delicious and healthy meal if you focus on proteins and vegetables and forgo the bread and fries.

Main options include king prawns with chilli butter, baby octopus, barramundi with burst tomato and olive oil, chicken from the spit, pork belly and the delicious slow-roasted shoulder of lamb. Then pair it with sides or salads such as the lahanosalata (cabbage salad).

  • Locations:
    • 25/27 Church Street, Brighton
    • 434 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
    • 26 Cotham Road, Kew
    • 28 Ferguson Street, Williamstown
  • Open: Hours vary based on location
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Hunky Dory, multiple locations

The humble fish and chips shop can also be an easy healthy meal if you once again avoid fries and fried fish. Hunky Dory has a great range of grilled fish choices, plus you can combine your fish with one of the super salads like the kale, spinach, broccoli salad.

The beauty of Hunky Dory is that it has plenty of locations around Melbourne and is open seven days a week from lunch until late.

  • Location: Over 10 locations
  • Open: Mon – Sun 11am – Late
  • Other details: Facebook, Instagram

Grill’d

Grill’d is one of the few burger restaurants that cater to those trying to eat healthier. The low carb bun is a good option if you’re trying to go grain-free, and is a thin pita-style bun made from egg, almond meal, coconut cream, tapioca flour, psyllium husk, honey and salt. There’s also sweet potato, zucchini and even avocado fries, although these are deep fried.

Grill’d also serves a range of salads such as the Superpower Salad with grilled chicken breast, cos lettuce, avocado, beetroot, nuts, cherry tomatoes and more with an extra virgin olive oil dressing.

There’s a big emphasis on quality ingredients at Grill’d, evident in the use of 100% grass fed beef and lamb, free range pork and RSPCA-approved chicken.


Map of healthy cafes and restaurants in Melbourne

You can view the full map here

Got another suggestion to add to the list? Leave a comment below.

The value of consistency and determination

Key takeaways from Grit

  • Grit (determination, resilience and a sense of direction) can be learned and improved
  • Effort counts twice as much as base level talent does
  • The four pillars of building Grit are passion, practice, purpose and hope
  • The “easy” way to build grit is by joining a team or group that is gritty

Consistency and perseverance are my two favourite concepts in self improvement. Starting something new is relatively easy, but sticking to that thing for a number of years to start seeing some results is a different story.

We all have sports, languages, musical instruments and entrepreneurial pursuits we started enthusiastically but later gave up on, even though we liked them. Imagine where you would be now if you just kept working on one of these pursuits for another year or two.

Choosing a path and sticking to it for a number of years isn’t something that has come easy to me in the past. I had never persevered with anything apart from weights training when growing up, so I decided to make a concerted effort to pick something and stick with it for at least a few years.

My test case for this was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). I’ve now been training in BJJ for three years. During this time I’ve witnessed a number of highly talented training partners start and then abruptly stop for various reasons. Even though my own level of talent was quite low when I started, I now finally feel less terrible at BJJ and more capable of winning matches. I wonder how I would now fare against these more talented individuals who stopped prematurely. I also wondered what I could do to ensure I stuck with BJJ for the long term and kept my interest levels up.

This is why I picked up Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth in the first place. It confirmed the idea that there’s value in sticking to things and explored the other ingredients present in a determined and resilient high achiever. If you’re still wondering, I think this book is excellent and deserves a spot on your bookshelf or Kindle. Read on for a summary of what the book explores.

What is grit?

The central idea of Grit by Angela Duckworth is that “grit” can help you achieve your goals. Grit is basically determination and resilience combined with a strong sense of direction when achieving something. The other key ideas in this book is that grittiness can be learned and improved, and that effort counts twice as much as natural talent.

The four ways to build grit

The book is a treasure trove of learnings about how you can build and sustain your own grittiness through passion, practice, purpose and hope. It also then includes an insightful section on parenting and mentoring kids and teams to be grittier.

These are some of the major learnings I took from each section:

1. Passion

Passion is one of the major ingredients of grit, so Duckworth includes plenty of tips for finding and growing interests into passions.

The biggest takeaway from this chapter is the fact that passions and interests aren’t the result of childhood epiphanies, but rather the result of experimentation with many different activities. When coupled with encouragement and autonomy these interests can flourish into passions.

A central ingredient of a passion is sustaining interest over the long term. Duckworth gives great suggestions for sustaining interest in an activity, including:

  • Continuing to ask questions as you learn
  • Digging deeper into different facets of your interests
  • Finding a mentor
  • Finding like-minded friends

And if you’re an intermediate or expert in a given activity you can sustain interests by looking into the nuances of your chosen domain and digging into these. I’d say much of this matches my own experience in BJJ. Once the basic techniques are learned, many of the higher level individuals at my gym tend to specialise in specific techniques and hone them. I myself have sustained interest by learning new techniques and guard types and experimenting with them.

2. Practice

According to Duckworth, grittiness is also built through continuous improvement and practice. Not just random practice, but the concept of deliberate practice popularised by Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson.

The concept of deliberate practice is one I want to explore in future articles, but basically refers to intentionally practicing to improve your weaknesses. At its core it involves:

  • Picking a stretch goal / weakness to address in your chosen interest
  • Focusing your practice efforts on reaching these stretch goals
  • Seeking feedback on how to improve
  • Repeating this practice with reflection and refinement

This contrasts with how most of us practice in an unstructured way.

3. Purpose

Some of the grittiest people combine their passions and deliberate practice with a sense of purpose. This makes sense, as we should have a good reason why we’re focusing our time on something. This section was particularly useful as it helped me tie my daily work back to helping others.

Duckworth includes a number of ways to find purpose in what you’re doing. My favourite of these tips is to simply think about how what you’re doing connects to your core values. For me, my pursuit of BJJ connects with my core values of doing difficult activities and self-reliance in self defence situations.

4. Hope

The grittiest people Duckworth observed and researched had a strong resolve that tomorrow will be better than today. Duckworth points out this isn’t just a belief in blind luck, but instead is about having a growth mindset, a concept popularised by Carol Dweck in her book Mindset.

A growth mindset is a belief that your basic level of intelligence and ability is just a starting point which can be improved over time through practice. A fixed mindset on the other hand is the belief that you’re stuck with the level of intelligence and ability that you’re born with, and no amount of practice or new knowledge can change this.

The “easy” way to build grit

Duckworth finally caps off the book by explaining that you don’t necessarily need to build grit on your own. An easier way is to join a group known for its grit and simply learn by example. The book include stories about teams and groups like the Seattle Seahawks or West Point and the culture of grit built within these organisations.

A key learning I took from this section is that parents, coaches and mentors should strive to be both demanding and supportive of their children or pupils to foster grit in them.

The final great piece of advice I took from Duckworth’s information on parenting is what she calls “The Hard Thing Rule”. Basically everyone in the family (parents included) must do a “hard thing” such as a sport, instrument, language etc and can only quit during a natural ending point e.g the end of the season rather than after a particularly difficult day. Finally, everyone must pick their own hard thing, it’s not decided by parents. This is an awesome strategy for those trying to foster grit in their kids.


I would highly recommend Grit by Angela Duckworth. It’s full of science explaining the ingredients of grit and how they can impact success in one’s life.

The best intensive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) training camps to consider in 2019

If you’re interested in furthering your jiu jitsu and having a holiday at the same time, a training camp could be a good idea.

Below are some great camps from a variety of gyms in a variety of locations around the world. Not only do you get to immerse yourself in improving your jiu jitsu, but you can also explore the location the camp is in. Some camps also include extras like daily surf lessons, yoga classes and meditation sessions.

Below is a list of camps still available at the time of writing for 2019. There are a some camps which have already passed or are sold out, such as Rollin’ in Costa Rica, Henry Akins’ Hidden Jiu Jitsu camp in Costa Rica and BJJ in Paradise.

If there’s a good camp you think should be on this list let me know!

April 2019 update: Added BJJ Globetrotters’ Arizona and Winter Camp, Jiu Jitsu Escapes Bali Camp and Origin Immersion Camp

BJJ Globetrotters Austria

  • Where: Wagrain, Austria
  • When: July 28 – July 2
  • Confirmed instructors: Christian Graugart, Aaron Ross, Priit Mihkelson, Nelson Puentes, Hillary Witt, Jack Clover, Stevie Antoniou
  • How much: €499 (adults), €299 (children 8 – 15 years), €199 (children 1 – 3 years)
  • What’s included: Accommodation, training, 3x daily meals, 24-hour free fruit and beverages, free laundry service for your training gear, photography and yoga workshops, free entry to the Wasserwelt Amadé waterpark nextdoor
  • Gym/club affiliation: None
  • Who is welcome: Anyone including individuals and academies

BJJ Globetrotters host open politics-free camps with world class instructors throughout each year. The Austria camp for 2019 is being held in the mountain village of Wagrain near Salzburg airport. In addition to the jiu jitsu training sessions each day, the camp is conveniently located next to Austria’s largest national park, and also a waterpark which you have free access to.

No-gi and gi training is available, and there’s also regular open mat sessions scheduled, plus access to the mats 24 hours a day.

Also included are meals, laundry for your gear, and yoga and photography workshops from some of the instructors.

BJJ Globetrotters has a number of camps in 2019, many of which have already sold out including its “Castle Camps” in Italy and Portugal where you train in medieval castles.

Check out BJJ Globetrotters’ Austria Camp 2019

BJJ Globetrotters Germany – Sold out

  • Where: Heidelberg, Germany
  • When: July 29 – August 3
  • Confirmed instructors: Christian Graugart, Aaron Ross, Priit Mihkelson, Charles Harriott, Jack Clover, Sven Groten, Wim Deputter, Fran Vanderstukken, Brad Wolfson, Jochem Branderhorst, Chris Ulbricht, Mike Hartmann, Kenny Polmans, Stevie Antoniou, René Becker and Jorgen Matsi.
  • How much: €249; +€150 for optional breakfast, lunch and dinner; +€249 for accommodation
  • What’s included: Training, workshop and camp t-shirt (accommodation and meals not included unless optional packages are paid for)
  • Gym/club affiliation: None
  • Who is welcome: Everyone

BJJ Globetrotters’ biggest camp of 2019 is being held in the University town of Heidelberg which is one hour’s drive from Frankfurt.

There are six days of training in both gi and no-gi included in this camp, in addition to daily workshops, lectures and yoga sessions. There are also extras such as a free professional photographer service, and after the final open mat there’ll even be free tap beer!

There are already 16 instructors confirmed for this event, with numerous high level championship results shared amongst them.

Like many of the camps on this list, there are also opportunities for socialising. This camp has a pub crawl plus opportunities to see the sights around Heidelberg.

Check out the BJJ Globetrotters Germany Camp 2019

BJJ Globetrotters Zen Camp (Poland)

  • Where: Stara Wieś, Poland
  • When: 16 – 20 October
  • Confirmed instructors: Christian Graugart, Priit Mihkelson, Stevie Antoniou, and Bjarni Baldursson.
  • How much: €699, + €150 for private room, + €200 for a VIP house for four people
  • What’s included: Training, daily meals and drinks (coffee and tea included), accomodation, 2x complimentary traditional/minimalist white gis
  • Gym/club affiliation: None
  • Who is welcome: Everyone

The BJJ Globetrotters Zen Camp is being held in a traditional Japanese-style village in a remote national park a number of hours south of Warsaw.

Training is held from the morning to night, with a combination of technique and open mat sessions. This is both a gi and no-gi camp, with two large mat spaces to service all participants.

The remote location means this camp is a great way to connect with your training in a distraction-free environment, and there are opportunities to relax in the surrounding rivers and woods.

As with many of BJJ Globetrotters camps, there are also opportunities for yoga, meditation and even free access to a sauna and sauna therapy to help your body cope with the high amount of training.

Check out BJJ Globetrotters’ Zen Camp 2019

BJJ Globetrotters Arizona Camp

  • Where: Arizona, USA
  • When: 23 – 27 October
  • Confirmed instructors: Christian Graugart, Jay J. Pages, Charles Harriott, Stevie Antoniou, Ben Westrich, Paul Elliott, Aaron Ross, Rich Sab, Nelson Puentes, Hillary Witt, Eric Bydairk and Joey Zente
  • How much: $249 USD (accommodation is not included in this price)
  • What’s included: Training, gym BBQs, yoga classes and open mat time
  • Gym/club affiliation: None
  • Who is welcome: Everyone

BJJ Globetrotters’ Arizona Camp is being held in Tempe, a college town only 30 minutes drive from Phoenix.

The camp is being held at Jay Pages Jiu-Jitsu Academy, a large and modern gym led by
Jay Pages, a Caio Terra 3rd degree black belt and champion BJJ competitor.

This is a five day camp with both gi and no-gi training, open mat opportunities and yoga classes. There are also outdoor BBQs planned at the gym, workshops, and you’re under four hours from the Grand Canyon if you want to do some sightseeing before or after the camp!

Check out BJJ Globetrotters’ Arizona Camp 2019

BJJ Globetrotters Caribbean Island Camp

  • Where: Saint Barthélemy
  • When: 25 November – 1 December
  • Confirmed instructors: Christian Graugart, Nicolas Harmange, Chris Vangu, Priit Mihkelson, Bjarni Baldursson, Chris Ruiz, Koon Lau, Stevie Antoniou and Matthieu Granier (surfing instructor)
  • How much: $1399 USD
  • What’s included: Training, accommodation, dinner at local restaurants, catamaran boat trip, daily surf lessons and board rental, fresh bread every morning, rental cars, laundry service
  • Gym/club affiliation: None
  • Who is welcome: Everyone

The Carribean Island Camp by BJJ Globetrotters is an opportunity to enjoy an intensive training camp and learn how to surf at the same time.

Located on the small volcanic island of Saint Barthélemy (240 km east of Puerto Rico), it’s surrounded by beautiful beaches.

As always, the training portion of this camp is intensive, with classes from morning to night, and a mix of gi and no-gi relevant sessions. There’s also the possibility of an outdoor cliff-side open mat session if weather permits!

In addition to the daily surf lessons, there are also opportunities for hiking, beach visits and scuba diving.

Note that airfares are not included in this price.

Check out BJJ Globetrotters’ Caribbean Island Camp 2019

BJJ Competition Camp

  • Where: Wagrain, Austria
  • When: 15 – 18 March
  • Confirmed instructors: Prof. Renato Migliaccio, Prof. Martin Guggi, Prof. Hans Hutton, Prof. Richard Andrs, Coach Markus Miedel, Coach Wolfgang Michor
  • How much: €430 (regular price dorm room)
  • What’s included: Training sessions, accomodation, daily meals, 24 hour non-alcoholic beverages and fruit

The BJJ Competition Camp is also in the Austrian Alps in the same facility as the BJJ Globetrotters camp in July. The camp is a gi and no-gi competition preparation camp with sessions in BJJ, judo, wrestling and ginastica natural.

This camp has plenty of competition specific drilling, sparring and takedowns, and is also open 24 hours for open mats and private lessons.

Check out BJJ Competition Camp

BJJ Winter Week

  • Where: Bansko, Bulgaria
  • When: 13 – 18 March
  • Confirmed instructors: Nick Brooks, Lyubo Kumbarov, Dejan ‘Jabbao’ Mihanovic, Samir ‘Samouel’ Krvavac, Iskren Ivanov
  • How much: €350
  • What’s included: Training, accomodation in a double room, 3x daily meals, hot spring excursion

BJJ Winter Week is a camp set on the ski slopes of Bansko, a two hour drive from the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. The camp is given in English, and instructors include 3rd degree black belt under Roger Gracie black belt Nick Brooks and Roger Gracie wrestling coach Lyubo Kumbarov.

This camp is convenient and well-designed, with the training facility being inside the hotel. The other great thing about being located in Bansko is that you can hit the ski slopes when you’re not training.

While laundry is not included like some other camps, there are still laundry facilities at the hotel.

Check out BJJ Winter Week

BJJ Camp Tenerife

  • Where: Tenerife, Spain
  • When: 6 – 10 May and 13 – 17 May
  • Confirmed instructors: Bob Poppleton
  • How much: £300
  • What’s included: Training, surf lessons, yoga, camp t-shirt
  • Who is welcome: Everyone

This camp is headed by Bob Poppleton, a 3rd degree black belt under Carlos Gracie Jr with 20 years of training experience.

Bob’s training program for the camp is focused around a systematic approach to BJJ rather than an assortment of techniques, and there are two training sessions per day plus sparring opportunities.

There are also beginner’s surfing lessons and daily yoga activities.

Check out BJJ Camp Tenerife

Gracie Adventure Camp

  • Where: Miami Beach, Florida, USA
  • When: 21 – 24 November
  • Confirmed instructors: Renzo Gracie, Rillion Gracie, Roger Gracie, Kyra Gracie, Rolles Gracie, Igor Gracie, Gregor Gracie
  • How much: $1,650 USD (Solo room early bird, regular price $1750 USD), $1,250 (Double room early bird regular price $1350 USD)
  • What’s included: Training, accomodation, free gi with early bird tickets
  • Gym/club affiliation: Gracie
  • Who is welcome: Anyone with any skill level or affiliation

The Gracie Adventure Camp has an instructor list that reads like a who’s-who of BJJ, with Renzo, Rillion and Roger Gracie all present and teaching sessions.

The camp is at the beachfront Confidante Hotel with a total of 15 hours of training if you stay for the full four days. There’s also unlimited access to the training facility if you want to train after the sessions are done.

Training sessions include a mix of techniques, specifics training, live sparring and open mat.

Check out Gracie Adventure Camp for 2019

Australian Girls in Gi Melbourne Camp

  • Where: Melbourne
  • When: July/August
  • Confirmed instructors: Jess Fraser
  • How much: TBD
  • What’s included: Accommodation (4-8 person dorms), daily meals, training
  • Gym/club affiliation: None
  • Who is welcome: Females of all skill levels and affiliations over 16 years of age

Australian Girls in Gi hosts a number of female-only camps in Australia, as well as a mixed camp in Bali.

The Melbourne camp is located in the Melbourne CBD at Urban Camps near the Melbourne Zoo. It includes five 2 hour seminars and five open mat sessions taught by Jess Fraser, one of the first 12 women in Australia to receive a black belt and the founder of Australian Girls in Gi.

Check out the Australian Girls in Gi site for more camp information

Australian Girls in Gi Bali Camp

  • Where: Bali
  • When: April
  • Confirmed instructors: Jess Fraser
  • How much: TBD
  • What’s included: Training
  • Gym/club affiliation: None
  • Who is welcome: All skill levels and affiliations over 16 years of age

In addition to its camps in Sydney and Melbourne, Australian Girls in Gi is also running a Bali camp in 2019.

The camp is led by Jess Fraser, the founder of Australian Girls in Gi and a respected competitor and Australian black belt, and includes 5x 2 hour seminars along with unlimited access to training.

Those attending this camp will need to book their own accommodation and source their daily meals.

Check out the Australian Girls in Gi site for more camp information

BJJ Summer Week

  • Where: Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
  • When: 18- 23 September
  • Confirmed instructors: Nick Brooks, Zé Radiola, Luca Anacoreta, Max Carvalho have been confirmed so far
  • How much: €410 (Hostel with dorms from 3 – 6 people), €510 (Hotel with double shared beds), €300 (non-participant), €210 seminar only
  • What’s included: Accommodation, breakfast and dinner, training, 3x tourist excursions in Cagliari, 1x excursion in Sardinia
  • Who is welcome: All belts and levels

The BJJ Summer Week camp is held in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, known for its medieval monuments and beautiful beaches.

The training camp is comprised of three technical seminars and two open mat sessions per day along with other activities such as yoga, osteopathy and massage.

There are also cultural excursions in the city to enjoy in your downtime.

All lessons are held in English, and private lessons with the instructors are available too.

Check out BJJ Summer Week

Roger Gracie Camp

  • Where: Costa del Sol, Malaga, Spain
  • When: 29 Aug – 1 Sep
  • Confirmed instructors: Roger Gracie and Mauricio Gomes
  • How much: €250
  • What’s included: Training
  • Gym/club affiliation: Roger Gracie Jiu Jitsu

This camp is taught by the legendary BJJ competitor Roger Gracie and his father and “famous five” 8th degree white and red belt Mauricio Gomes.

The Roger Gracie camp is held in sunny Malaga in Spain, at the Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena, a large sports arena five minutes from the airport.

Each day features two training sessions.

Check out the Roger Gracie 2019 camp

Origin Jiu-Jitsu Immersion Camp Summer 2019

  • Where: Mount Vernon, Maine, USA
  • When: 25 – 28 August and 29 August – 1 September
  • Confirmed instructors: André “Dedeco” Almeida, Alexey Cruz, Jocko Willink, Dean Lister, Rafael Rebello and more
  • How much: $995 USD or $1695 USD for both (discounts available when paying in full)
  • What’s included: Training, accommodation, meals, camp activities, laundry
  • Who is welcome: All belts and gyms

The Origin Immersion Camp is being held in the picturesque Echo Lake in Maine over two sessions.

It features training from BJJ greats like André “Dedeco” Almeida, Dean Lister and well-known retired Navy Seal Officer and black belt Jocko Willink.

The camp is all inclusive, with meals, accommodation, laundry and even lobster bake part of the price!

Check out the Origin Immersion Camp

BJJ Revolution in Rio De Janeiro

  • Where: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
  • When: 30 June – 6 July
  • How much: $849 USD (before 1 March), $999 USD (1 March until 1 April), $1099 USD (after 1 April)
  • What’s included: Training and Rio de Janeiro tours
  • Gym/club affiliation: BJJ Revolution
  • Who is welcome: All schools and belts

This seven-day training camp takes place in one of the birthplaces of BJJ, Rio De Janeiro. It has daily training sessions with sparring and technique portions and also conditioning sessions.

In addition to the training, there are visits to Leblon beach, Cristo Redentor, Sugarloaf Mountain, acai lunches and more.

Check out BJJ Revolution Rio Camp

Jiu Jitsu Escapes Bali Camp

  • Where: Bali, Indonesia
  • When: 29 October – 3 November OR 3 November – 8 November
  • How much: $2590 USD early bird price, $2890 USD standard price ($500 USD holding deposit can be paid first and the balance can be paid within 60 days)
  • What’s included: Training, accommodation, daily meals, yoga and surf lessons
  • Gym/club affiliation: None
  • Who is welcome: All schools, affiliations and belts are welcome

Jiu Jitsu Escapes is a close-knit BJJ camp hosted by black belt world champions Gezary Matuda and Bruno Malfacine.

Each of the two announced six-day camps for 2019 are limited to 36 spaces and take place in Uluwatu, a world-class beach and surfing location in Bali.

There are 1.5 – 3 hours of gi and no-gi jiu jitsu training each day plus open mat opportunities. There’s also a daily yoga session and professional surf lessons.

The camp is held at Uluwatu Surf Villas and includes daily breakfast, lunch and dinner with a variety of Brazilian, Balinese and other international cuisines on offer.

Check out the Jiu Jitsu Escapes Bali Camp 2019


Did I miss any good camps? Let me know below and I’ll add them to the list.

The podcasts you need to listen to in 2019 if you’re serious about improving your life

Podcasts are great, but it’s easy to use them as a replacement for TV and mindless radio chatter. The real value of a podcast is to make use of time you would usually spend doing activities like chopping vegetables, driving or stretching to learn and improve your life.

Self-improvement is a broad topic, so for the purposes of this article I’ve included podcasts from categories including health and fitness, meditation, mindset, biohacking, brain health and general podcasts which cover a combination of these categories.

Without further ado, here are the best self-help podcasts to listen to in 2019:

Happier with Gretchin Rubin

Happier with Gretchin Rubin Cover

Topics covered: Happiness, habits, mindset

Seeking happiness is the reason we pursue self-help in the first place. The Happier with Gretchin Rubin podcast is full of sage advice to be happier in our daily lives. Regular episodes are 40 – 50 minutes long, and there are also “Little Happier” episodes which are much shorter nuggets of wisdom.

It’s hosted by Gretchin Rubin, a best-selling author; and her sister Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer. Their banter and conversation is warm, genuine and honest, and the episodes are filled with the right mix of practical tips and humour.

Great episodes to start with:

The Jordan Harbinger Show

The Jordan Harbinger Show

Topics covered: Human behaviour, relationships, life, business, mindset, success

Jordan Harbinger was a lawyer before he became a successful podcast host, and this shows in his great ability to talk to guests and to get to the point during conversations. Jordan adds a relaxed and humorous atmosphere to his conversations, and relates the messages his guests share to his own life to make it easier for the audience to understand.

His podcast episodes are generally interviews with well known guests, with the aim being to share their strategies and tactics for success. He also regularly publishes Feedback Friday episodes, which are listener-led AMAs with Jordan and his producer Jason DeFillippo. Topics in these episodes can cover relationships, travel, learning languages and everything in between.

Great episodes to start with:

The Art of Manliness

The Art of Manliness Podcast

Topics covered: History, mindset, health and fitness, famous men, sports, personal finance

The Art of Manliness is a great general self-help podcast which delves into fitness, historical figures, human performance, personal finance and even smaller topics like conversation skills. There’s also a large number of general interest episodes where you’ll be sure to learn something. These can include episodes about famous US presidents and well known personalities.

Each episode is usually structured as an interview between Art of Manliness founder and host Brett McKay and a guest, with guests usually being well known authors.

Great episodes to start with:

Kwik Brain

Kwik Brain

Topics covered: Brain health, memory, mental performance

If you want to improve your memory, focus and everything else relating to your mental performance, Jim Kwik’s podcast Kwik Brain is for you.

Kwik explores concepts such as improving your learning abilities, recalling numbers more easily, foods for brain health and how to read faster. Episodes are short at 10 – 20 minutes, so it’s perfect for a short drive or run.

Great episodes to start with:

The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss Show

Topics covered: Business, entrepreneurship, startups, learning, performance, health and fitness, biohacking, technology

What list of self-help podcasts wouldn’t be complete without a tip of the hat to the Tim Ferriss show? Tim Ferriss is the best-selling author of The Four Hour Workweek, which is one of the best selling self-help books of all time. The book and podcast centers on improving your life in many ways, including health, wealth, performance, learning, optimisation, business and much more.

Most of Tim’s episodes include a guest, all of whom are world-class performers in their fields. Past guests have included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, retired SEAL Jocko Willink, marketing-guru Seth Godin, chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin and self-help stalwart Tony Robbins.

He also has a number of solo episodes where he deep dives into a specific topic and answers it using a combination of his own knowledge, advice from friends or mentors, useful books and more.

Great episodes to start with:

The School of Greatness

The School Of Greatness Podcast

Topics covered: Mindset, happiness, business, entrepreneurship, success

Lewis Howes was a pro-athlete whose dreams of playing in the NFL were dashed by a broken wrist. Since then he’s built and sold a number of businesses, is a New York Times bestselling author and runs the successful School of Greatness podcast. Howes is committed to helping 100 million people to realise their dreams and earn a full time income while making an impact.

The School of Greatness podcast focuses on general self-improvement including topics as diverse as the abundance mindset, nutrition, building a business, masculinity, success habits, meditation and more.

There’s a good variety of episodes, from shorter “5 Minute Friday” episodes to longer episodes with Howes talking at length on a topic. There are also interviews and in depth conversations with big names including Kobe Bryant, LeAnn Rimes, Ben Shapiro, Charlamagne The God, Jordan Peterson and Aubrey Marcus.

Good episodes to start with include:

Tony Robbins Podcast

Tony Robbins Podcast

Topics covered: Business, careers, mindset, health and fitness, finance

Tony Robbins doesn’t need much of an introduction in the self-help world. His best selling books, world renowned coaching, and life changing live events are some of the reasons why he’s so synonymous with self-improvement. His advice covers many topics including business, happiness, mindset, performance and more.

Robbins’ podcast is a great source of self-help content, and episodes vary from interviews to recordings from live events, usually running an hour long. Guests have included Russell Brand and Pitbull.

Great episodes to start with:

London Real

London Real

Topics covered: Health and fitness, mindset, business

London Real is a video show and podcast hosted by Brian Rose, a mechanical engineer turned investment banker turned podcast host.

This podcast has a higher production value than many others, and has minimal fluff and filler. Rose’s interview style is to ask the very best questions and to let the guest do the talking, so you’ll really get a lot of value from each episode. The lineup of guests on this show is amazing, with singer Wyclef Jean, doctor and author Gabor Mate, ex-bodybuilder Dorian Yates and author and psychologist Jordan Peterson to name a few.

Note that early access to episodes of London Real plus extra content from guests are available for those who are members of the London Real Tribe. This requires a monthly/annual subscription.

Great episodes to start with:

The Minimalists

The Minimalists

Topics covered: Minimalism, decluttering (both mentally and physically), consumerism, entrepreneurship, life, relationships

The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, rose to fame with their website and later their documentary Minimalism. Their philosophy and podcast focuses on living a simple but meaningful life, and as a result there are episodes about most aspects of life. Episode topics include discussing minimalism with your parents, creating a side hustle, minimalism and its impact on a healthy diet and budgeting and wealth to name a few.

Many of the episodes are in a Q&A format where the Josh and Ryan play questions submitted from listeners around a specific topic and then answer them. There are also many interview episodes with well known personalities, podcasters and authors such as Jordan Harbinger.

Great episodes to start with:

10% Happier Podcast

10% Happier Podcast

Topics covered: Meditation, mental health, mindset, mindfulness

10% Happier is a podcast hosted by Dan Harris, an ABC news anchor and journalist, author and skeptical meditator. Like most of the podcasts on this list, 10% Happier is an interview style show.

Dan has lengthy conversations with authors and leaders in the meditation and mindfulness space, including big names like Michael Kabat-Zinn, one of the fathers of mindfulness; and Sam Harris, a well known neuroscientist and author.

Each episode also includes listener questions, so when combined with the big picture ideas in the interviews, there’s lots of mental health wisdom on offer.

Great episodes to start with:

Ben Greenfield Fitness

BenGreenfield Fitness

Topics covered: anti-aging, biohacking, health and fitness, nutrition, lifestyle

If you’re trying to improve your health and performance, Ben Greenfield’s podcast is full of tips and tricks to help you. Ben is a biohacker, blogger, triathlete, personal trainer, author and CEO of Kion, a company that sells everything from coffee to skin care and supplements.

Ben’s podcast delves into a huge variety of issues to help you improve your health and performance, from different diets including the carnivore and ketogenic diets, to anti-aging, fitness trackers and blood and genetic testing.

Great episodes to start with:

Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn

Smart Passive Income Podcast

Topics covered: entrepreneurship, startups, business, marketing, branding, side hustles

Smart Passive Income is a high quality blog by Pat Flynn around the topic of making a passive income largely from online businesses.

The Smart Passive Income podcast is an extension of this blog, with a mix of solo episodes where Pat explains a topic in depth, and interview episodes where Pat talks with a guest about a case study or to tap their expertise. Topics range from building a profitable blog, to nurturing a YouTube channel and tend to be 45 – 60 minutes long.

Great episodes to start with:

The Art of Charm

The Art of Charm

Topics covered: Relationships, happiness, goal setting, habits, mindset

The Art of Charm is a self-improvement podcast focusing on building confidence, conversation skills and worthwhile relationships. Other topics include happiness, building habits, setting goals and building a strong mindset.

The podcast is hosted by Art of Charm co-founders AJ Harbinger and Johnny Dzubak, and is a great combination of Johnny’s down-to-earth personality and AJ’s more scientific focus. Some episodes feature AJ and Johnny talking about a topic in-depth, and others include interviews with authors and other guests.

Great episodes to start with:

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

Topics covered: Mindset, health and fitness, nutrition, relationships

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu is similar to London Real in that it’s actually a video show, but differs in that it usually has an audience watching the conversation. Tom Bilyeu is an entrepreneur and one of the co-founders of Quest Nutrition, makers of the delicious Quest protein bar and one of America’s fastest growing companies in 2014.

Impact Theory episodes are generally interviews between Tom and his guests, who can range from Ketogenic diet experts like Dom D’Agostino to mindset masters like David Goggins.

There are also more intimate AMA episodes where Tom answers listener questions, and these can provide a wealth of self-improvement wisdom too.

Great episodes to start with:

Bulletproof Radio

Bulletproof Radio

Topics covered: Anti-aging, health and fitness, nutrition, mindset, success

Bulletproof Radio is a podcast hosted by Dave Asprey, one of the fathers of biohacking and the CEO of Bulletproof.

Bulletproof Radio is mostly an interview show, with Dave selecting guests known for their ideas in health, fitness, anti-aging and performance. He also speaks to leaders in many other fields, including well known business leaders like Peter Diamandis, and military leaders like Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.The podcast is a trove of good self-help ideas from a wide range of areas of study.

Great episodes to start with:

The Joe Rogan Experience

Joe Rogan Experience

Topics covered: Comedy, anti-aging, martial arts, health and fitness, science, culture

The Joe Rogan Experience is not a self-help podcast, but features so many varied guests, many who provide great tips for improving your life. It’s hosted by Joe Rogan, a successful stand up comedian, UFC commentator and martial artist.

Joe has guests from varied backgrounds such as Dom D’Agostino talking about the ketogenic diet, David Sinclair talking about cutting edge anti-aging research, astrophysicists such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and famous sports people and musicians including Mike Tyson and Steven Tyler. He also has many authors on his podcast, including Jordan Peterson, Dan Harris and Sam Harris, so there’s plenty to choose from.

Another reason why this podcast is useful for anyone trying to improve their life is because Joe practises what he preaches and actively follows suggestions from guests. He believes in other useful practices such as embracing extreme challenge and struggle to grow, and is fairly balanced when he has a guest he doesn’t necessarily agree with. The improvements I’ve made to my own life after listening to the podcast for a few years now have been immeasurable.

Great episodes to start with:


What’s your favourite self-help podcast? Let me know below and I’ll add it to the list.