Following the second anniversary of Bar 40, I sat down with my publisher for an interview. What follows is the abridged version of that interview. You can listen to the entire audio interview at bar40book.com/faq.
Note to Reader: This chapter is essential an interview transcription, so please forgive us for any grammatical errors.
Welcome to the BAR40 Frequently Asked Questions interview with Wise Media publisher Brian Schwartz and Eric Bartosz, Founder of BAR40 and author of BAR40 - Achieving Personal Excellence: Your Ultimate 52 Week Training Resource for Reaching Peak Potential.
Brian: I know Bar 40 has helped a lot of people live their best life, but sometimes it's tough to know where to start. What do you say to someone who's not happy with where they're at right now? Maybe stuck in a rut and wanting to make some changes?
Eric: First off, thanks for hosting this Q&A, Brian. I appreciate the opportunity!
This is such a common challenge and often it's a case of analysis paralysis. It's easy to feel overwhelmed with what you see as the enormity of the challenge and think, where do I even begin? The good news is that virtually every goal we have can be broken down into these micro goals and checkpoints. We can think of Mount Everest as an example. Looking up at the top of it, it seems impossible that you would ever reach the summit, but along the way to the summit, there's all these checkpoints and each one is a victory into itself. So in that Everest example there's a Sherpa that helps us reach the top, they help us navigate the best routes. They give us strategies and tips. BAR40 is kind of like a Sherpa in your journey to the best year ever.
So my advice in, in order to not boil the ocean, and to bring it down into more of a manageable thing, is to start by thinking of three really important changes that you'll be most proud of accomplishing a year from now and let those be your focal points. Each one of those goals can be broken down into mini-goals. So for example, if you wanted to lose 20 pounds, you don't necessarily have to think about it as just all or nothing, right? A goal of losing 20 pounds would essentially be four mini-checkpoints of five pounds each.
Recognizing those small successes on the way to the ultimate success of that goal is a way that continuously builds your confidence and keeps your motivation going. Often, we get stuck in our heads thinking about, well, this has gone wrong in the past, or, "I haven't been able to do this historically", but that's where we have to realize that history is not destiny and every day we start with that blank page where we get to write ore of our life story.
Brian: I love that! Okay. Next question; developing a relationship with your future self is theme in your book. What's the significance of that?
Eric: So the deal with the idea of developing that relationship with your future self comes from this super common and relatable mindset that so many of us have, where we want to mentally time travel, and unfortunately that mental time travel is often going backwards, right? We look back and say, I wish I did this differently, or only if I did this differently.
But that does us no good! Don't look back. That's not where we're going. But we can still satisfy that urge to mentally time travel. We just have to adjust the timeline so we're mentally going forward. When we develop that relationship with our future self, we're basing our ideas and our choices on what's going to do the greatest good for our future self, we're able to still satisfy that urge to say, I wish I did this differently, but when you're in your future-self perspective and giving thought to how you wish things turned out, you still have time to make those changes in real time. Like when Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning after seeing the ghost of the future and realizes he still has time to change things up in his life.
It's really just a shift of that mindset. But when we're looking through the lens of our future self, it tends to point us in the right direction and that can act as our North star. The choices may not be the easiest or simplest ones, but they tend to be the right ones. It's like advice coming from an older and wiser relative.
Related to that, there's this great theory of today-man, and tomorrow-man. Basically the deal with that is today-man, if you are fit and healthy and thinking at peak performance levels, you're doing everything in your power to help pave the way for tomorrow-man, to make his (or her) life better. The idea is that every day today-man goes to bed and dies. Tomorrow-man is born every morning. So the success of Tomorrow-man is, is largely dependent on what we do today.
So if you're if you're eating right, getting proper sleep, adopting a healthy mindset, focusing on growth and goals, you're really doing everything possible to make tomorrow man's day a little bit better. Conversely, if you're living each day eating poorly, cutting sleep short, indulging too much in bad habits, and doing all these things that bring you down every day, that's basically living without consideration for the big picture. In doing that Tomorrow-man is born with a real disadvantage. They're really behind the eight ball and the cycle always continues because tomorrow-man never gets to meet yesterday-man and tell him to knock it off! So it's just basically living each day to try to make life as great as possible for, for tomorrow-man.
That's a mindset habit that you can develop where it pays enormous dividends.
Brian: Tomorrow-man pays the price for today's man's actions.
Eric: Every time, no matter what...or reaps the benefits if today-man has his act together! It doesn't mean that every day is going to be perfect, but just having that mindset goes a long way to influence your decisions today, for tomorrow.
Brian: And I think weighing the cost, like, do I want to have another beer? Because I know tomorrow-man's going to pay the price. Is it worth the pay? You know, is it worth it? I don't think we, consider the implications of tomorrow-man, because we live for today. So that's such a common thread in our culture.
Eric: It sure is. You know, it's sometimes it's hard to hear tomorrow-man, because he's shouting from so far away. But we can hear today-man because it's loud and clear. So it's being able to turn up the volume on the voice of tomorrow-man, basically.
Brian: Covid has had, of course, a huge impact on all of our lives and there's been lots of data that's showing that anxiety levels are higher, stress levels are higher, and people are just generally feeling a little bit out of sorts. How is BAR40 helping them sort all this out?
Eric: Yeah, it's the real deal, right? And perception is reality, and our mindset is a huge factor in the way we function every day. So you can think about BAR40 like a daily operating system that's always running in the background. Just the simple act of self-awareness and self- management as focus areas are habits that become amazingly effective tools that enable us to be able to deal with basically anything that life throws our way. I talk about emotional intelligence quite a bit with individuals as well as group talks. A foundation skill of EQ is self- awareness, which is the ability to perceive and assess your own feelings and emotions and look at them objectively.
Essentially, we can recognize our emotions without reacting to them, and that's a skill that that takes some practice, especially considering the way that we as a species are wired up. If we look at our factory settings, all of our senses enter as signals into our body that than travel through our spinal cord into our brain. Their first stop is the limbic system, our emotional nerve center, before they reach the rational part of our brain, way up in the frontal lobe. That's the process and the way it always happens. If you think about that, we have an emotional reaction to things before we have a chance to logically think them through. So if we just go with our default settings, we will always be having an emotional reaction to all the stimulus that enters into our body.
Everything that we encounter, all of our waking moments enter our body first as emotions before we have a chance to rationally process them. So developing these self-awareness skills that allow us to have that mindfulness where we're objectively recognizing these feelings and emotions without reacting to them, we have a much better chance of managing these thoughts and having our actions match our intentions. It gives us the tools to be able to help navigate through that. Continuing on with the idea of increasing our self-management, there's so many different improvements that we can make that are not disruptive to our life and with practice, easy to implement, but they pay huge dividends.
One of them is simply more sleep. We, as a nation, are chronically sleep deprived which is really, really detrimental to our overall health.
Physical and mental sleep deprivation is linked to all sorts of health problems including heart disease and even cancer. So much so that there is even talk about an overnight work shift being classified as a hazardous work condition by OSHA.
Sleep plays a vital role in our bodies health our brain's cognitive functionality. So if we want to show up as our best selves every day, it's extremely tough to do that if we're constantly underpowered. Our brain and body simply cannot function at 100% if we're robbing it of the time it takes to restore ourselves every night. If we think about it as a racetrack scenario, sleep is like the pit crew that makes all the necessary repairs to keep the car in working order. A driver could think that they would have an advantage if they just skipped the pit stop and kept doing laps, but the car simply wouldn't be able to make it for the entire race without having mechanical failures.
I know of what I speak because this is something that I've always struggled with, but having a consistent sleep schedule is an enormous help. One of the books that was really game changer for me was 'Why We Sleep' by Matthew Walker (PhD).
And also another one that's kind of low hanging fruit for most of us is social media.
The data is in, and social media generally speaking, does us very few favors! So, like any other potentially dangerous activity, we just need to be mindful of how much time we spend with it. On average, here in the US at least, it's multiple hours every day that people are spending on social media. Even though it was a tool that was originally designed to bring us joy and happiness in our life, it doesn't often do that. Actually, it often does the opposite of that where we have this chronic FOMO and envy when we see lives that look better than ours, even though they're curated versions of other people lives that don't match up with their reality.
Our brain constantly interprets all these things, this input, and it can really bring us down. So we need to be just as careful with this as what we would consume in our diet. We need to be equally concerned about what we consume for our mental food, right? BAR40 helps as part of our operating system as we move though each day, with that mindfulness of "is what I'm doing in alignment with what I want to be doing and where I'm going?". If you can identify in real time behaviors and habits and traits that are detracting from what your ultimate goals are, then you need to act as the CEO of your own life and make these tough decisions to alter the behavior.
By making those conscious choices to live your life in a different way, all these small changes like increasing our sleep, getting rid of extra social media time, being more mindful of our emotions in real time. They add up to big life improvement results.
These are all things that will inherently lower our stress and anxiety levels and kind of get our brain back to where it really wants to be.
Brian: Yeah, and I think it's safe to say that we've developed some bad habits during covid that we need to get ourselves unattached from, you know, the hours of watching streaming video and basically just the amount of sedentary lifestyle. And the diet! We gave ourselves kind of a free pass because this was Covid and sort of justified a lot of short term decisions that without Covid wouldn't seem like really the right choice to make. That's the justification for it. But Covid was an easy excuse, right? Everyone was able to use it and now we're digging out of a lot of bad habits that we've all established have become the norm, which is not in our best interests, including many of the things you just spoke about.
Eric: Right, right. We've got to get back to sharpening the saw and get back to, if nothing else, how we were (pre-Covid) and make improvements from there.
Brian: Right! And it seems like no matter how much the world continues to change and the changes we go through, that half the population is continuing to struggle with this weight factor. This was one of the reasons behind BAR40 from the start of it, right?
Eric:: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, weight loss always seems to at the top of the list for goals. I think that the stat here in the US tends to be that about 50% of Americans would like to lose weight or actively trying to lose weight at any given time. Here in the US the deck is really stacked against us with the proliferation of processed foods and the portion sizes that have ballooned up to multiple times the amount of food or drink that any of us should be having at any given sitting time.
And just like the diet industry gets bigger every year, so do Americans as we can see by percentage of overweight and obese people. That trend shows no sign of slowing. There are dozens of diet plans that are out there and a common problem with all of them is they really aren't sustainable.
There's a bunch of these, you know, they used to be called fad diets. Maybe they still are called fad diets, but you can lose weight but statistically the weight often returns. Here's the one two punch: oftentimes it's even more weight than what was originally lost. So why the BAR40 plan is different and tends to be highly effective at permanent weight loss, is because it's substitution and habit based.
You know, we all have our preferences of what we like to eat, right? That's why restaurants have menus: different people like different things. The BAR40 approach is that essentially you get to keep eating what you like. You just make these small changes that over time, result in significant changes. So generally speaking, if you were to list out everything you normally like to eat on one side of a pad, on the other side of that pad, you could easily find ways to improve virtually everything: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks.
Easy examples are, if you're using mayonnaise, switch to mustard. If you're having a sandwich on a roll, switch to a wrap or bread. If you're eating ice cream, switch to frozen yogurt. If you love cookies, start baking your own cookies and getting rid of the sugar.
There's a tremendous number of ways to substitute, but the main takeaway is that you're not having that trap door effect of a diet where you do it for a little while and then you just throw in the towel because you're miserable. Any diet that makes you miserable is not likely to stand the test of time and be sustainable.
Being able to continue to eat the foods that you actually enjoy eating but doing it differently and slightly better over time. It's like Warren Buffet and his examples of compounding. The interest grows on the interest, the small benefits that you gain from all of these tiny substitutions end up paying huge dividends.
Once we get into habit of eating these improved versions of the food that we like, we tend to stay in that habit.
And another piece of low hanging fruit as far as weight loss goes is sugar. We are inundated in the US with added sugars, and they're difficult to avoid.
We have to be mindful about watching our sugar. Some of it can certainly be easy if you're drinking seven Mountain Dews a day. You know...lots of room for improvement there, that's 320 grams of sugar a day or whatever it is. For people that consume a lot of sugar, they will be the quickest see the results by starting to cut that down, but almost everyone can find ways to reduce their sugar intake and see results. Here's the secret about diet changes in sugar specifically. We train our palate to have this high expectation of sweetness in our diet but that's not necessarily the way we were born, so we can break the habit and get back to normal.
For example when you look in other parts of the world that don't have the same situation as we do in the US with so much added sugar, it's not like all of these nations are sugar starved because they never had this national dependency. When we start eliminating sugar, our palate resets to how it once was, and we won't have that need for all the extra sweetness. Things won't forever taste bland without the sugar.
And I'm certainly proof of that. I grew up in Massachusetts, land of Dunkin, where if you just get a coffee 'regular', it's cream and sugar. That's just the way it goes. So that's how I always had coffee, cream and sugar. And then when I first switched to skim milk and no sugar it was a really radical taste departure. It was like...what is this!?
And then over a short time, you like it. It's the new normal. if I were to have a cream and sugar coffee now, I can guarantee you that it would not be appealing to me. Every once in a while, I get a coffee where they accidentally put sugar in it and it's not like, "oh, finally sugar, I've missed you so much!" It just, it no longer has the appeal that it once did.
Brian: Yeah. Personally, I've found that by eliminating sugar as best I can, what I thought was hunger drops dramatically. Because what I'm actually doing when I go to the kitchen is trying to get my sugar fix. I'm not actually hungry, I walk into the kitchen and all of a sudden everything that appeals to me has sugar. So if, if I'm saying I'm not doing sugar today, then when I walk into the kitchen, nothing in there really appeals to me because I wasn't actually hungry, I was just trying to get my sugar fix.
Eric: Absolutely, right on. Sugar is a very addictive substance. We don't always think about it that way, but it is very addictive, so our body craves it.
Brian: That's good, low hanging fruit and an easy change for someone to make so they can feel good. The room for improvement there is significant. So let's shift gears to exercise because I know this is one huge. I enjoy yoga, I enjoy cycling. I'm fortunate that I have time to do it during the day. So how can the BAR40 program help people adapt a habit of exercise?
Eric: Well, you hit the nail on the head with that one, Brian, with the enjoyment part. I think with a lot of people where they run into trouble is when they think exercise, they think torture. "This is going to be miserable, and I really don't want to do it". So when you enter into something with that mindset of this is going be awful and how do I do as little of this as possible, then that makes it a really uphill battle, right? So to boil it down to the simplest thing, think of something that you would actually enjoy doing that's physical activity, and do more of that.
Life gets too busy, we get older, and we get away from doing these activities that we once used to love, whether it was roller skating or walking or jumping rope, swimming, you name it. Think of something that you enjoyed doing when you were a kid, or anytime earlier in life than now, and if you're still physically able to do it, that's your starting point.
Like the expression goes "one day you will not be able to work out: today is not that day". And the other part of this that we can all relate to, and we've all said it: (I try to say it as little as possible because it grinds my gears) "I'm too busy" or "life's crazy busy" or "there's just no time".
Where our passion goes, our energy flows. We all get that same 168 hours a week and tend to make time for our priorities. We need to schedule that exercise time with ourselves just like we would schedule a doctor's appointment or a dentist appointment. We need to make that time on our calendar. Literally put it in your calendar, whether it's on your phone or if you still go analog, write it down. Schedule that time with yourself and make that a can't miss appointment because what we're trying to do is create the routine and the consistency that will lead to a habit.
Everything is habit. So when we have that time scheduled in our calendar and we treat it as sacred ground in our schedule, that we cannot miss it, and it's actually something, hopefully that we look forward to doing, then we're much more likely to actually do it. When we start doing it consistently, then it's self-perpetuating because exercise is addictive in its own sense. It releases these brain chemicals, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin, that make us feel good. Even 20 minutes of exercise has these lingering positive effects of brain chemicals that last for two to three hours. And then we develop a healthy addiction and crave that feeling, right? Because the brain is like "more, more, more!".
when we start incorporating exercise into our routine on a regular basis, the brain will compel us to do more. Our unconscious will be driving us to do more of it, and then we're off to the races. Never have I met someone who has done BAR40 for a year and had exercises as a regular part of it, say at the end "Thank goodness this 52 week torture is over because I'm never exercising again!". It doesn't work that way. The starting is the challenge, and the continuing becomes much, much easier. So to sum it up, think about something you would actually enjoy doing. And then do more of it by scheduling that time in your calendar and sticking with it.
And if you really have a hard time honoring that commitment to yourself starting off, then try to enlist the help of a friend or a family member or a neighbor that you think would be into it as well and get them to join you, because we're much less likely to cancel on someone else than we are to cancel on ourselves. This is an extra accountability device until you get to the point where you have this heightened personal accountability that will ensure that you stick with it.
Brian: Yeah, I think community aspect is huge and it has to be a non-negotiable aspect of your life, and for me it's even a cornerstone appointment for the day. With my yoga studio, I will pick one of my classes and I will schedule my day around that class. Now, if it's a 6:00 AM class, I have to decide the night before that I'm going to bed early enough so that I can get up and not feel miserable. But the community is key and I, I also love what my studio does, that if you don't show up for a class, you get charged $10.There's a financial penalty because these are high demand classes and the only way to curb the issue with people registering and not showing up is to start charging them a penalty.
Eric: What an effective way to get people to pony and show up when they need to!
Brian: But also the community for me is huge. I show up for other people in the class as well. My teachers notice when I'm not there, I'm not just showing up for myself. It's just a positive group of people to be around and I'm really just very grateful...same with cycling. While it can be a solo sport for me, it's also a community sport because I have friends that cycle. And I will say I always ride further with others than I do by myself. I'll come back after an hour or two, or don't go as hard, but when I go out with others, I go further and faster and I feel more rewarded as a result. So it's, I think others is one of the key aspects. If you can work that into a community aspect for a lot of us who may not have that through work or other aspects of lives, I think sport is a good way to get it.
Eric: Yeah, no question about it. There's a huge benefit to being able to enjoy these things with others for all the reasons you mentioned. It keeps us motivated; it pushes us further than we often would by ourselves, and it keeps us committed to it. And, related to accountability, one thing too about the BAR40 book is the daily journal that's included.
It's a great way to also keep a record of successes and when you're looking back on that and you see your progress and these milestones, these daily checkpoints, it really helps. Because we do become accountable to ourselves as well as that group of people.
When we see all these things in our journal, we want to keep that momentum going and that becomes self-perpetuating. We don't want to go backwards; we see the foundation and want to keep it rolling.
Brian: Excellent. One of the more controversial aspects of BAR40 is the sober challenge, which I never made it the full year. I would make a few months. Alcohol is a big part of our culture. I'd say it's as big as sugar, if not bigger as in "if you're going to be social, alcohol helps in so many ways". And there's that great book you did turn me on to, 'Alcohol Explained' that talks a lot about what's happening at a much deeper level, probably more than you'll ever want to know about what's actually happening with your body. And in fact, I will admit that I even put that book down saying, okay, I don't want to know anymore! It's kind of like the sausage that we eat. We don't want to see how it's made; we just want to enjoy the sausage.
Eric: Yeah. You can't put that toothpaste back into tube once you. It's like the Wizard of Oz, once you look behind the curtain, what's seen can't be unseen, the magic is over! And yes, I agree the sober challenge is probably one of the more polarizing aspects of the BAR40 methodology. Some people are super into it, it's one of the reasons they want to do BAR40 and other people are "No way...out my cold dead hand will this bottle come!" So the fast answer is no, it is not mandatory to stop drinking during BAR40. What I do in the book is, or at least attempt to do, is provide some context of why drinking is going to be detrimental to your efforts at living your best year ever from the physical and the mental side.
You really nailed it with regards to alcohol being such an accepted form of socialization in our country, in other parts of the world too, but here in the US it's entrenched in everything. It's really just a remarkably successful marketing effort by the beer and liquor industry for a long, long time at, at creating this acceptance of what is essentially, a carcinogen and a toxin.
Alcohol, put simply, is a poisonous substance. For starters, it's linked to dozens of cancers, heart disease, stroke, lowered immunity, dementia and will take years off your life. Yet we readily accept it as a part of how we celebrate and how basically we do everything in life. So that marketing drum has been beaten very well over the years by the alcohol industry. It's all good times on the billboards, no vomit and divorce to be seen!
If you think about it, it's a recreational mood altering drug that you have to explain why you're not doing. As I wrote in the book, if you were at a party and someone offered you a hit of airplane glue out of a paper bag, you would probably say no, and you wouldn't have to give any real explanation why you don't want to, versus alcohol and the standard "why aren't you drinking". So much so, that a main reason people say they have a hard time stopping drinking is because of the pressure from other people.
It's pretty crazy that we have to explain why we're not ingesting a drug that's proven to be both highly destructive and addictive, but that's the reality of society's relationship with alcohol and we just need to get comfortable with the fact that we will be making a sober choice while people around us aren't. Although, aside from a spike in drinking during the pandemic, the tides seem to be turning with more people being 'sober-curious' and just trying to live healthier lives. So who knows, maybe that will change the default expectation that drinking is the normal thing to be doing whenever a crowd gathers in America.
I don't eat drive fast food burgers or drink soda either, but if someone else is doing that around me I certainly have no issue with that, same as drinking...I really don't care what other people are doing "you do you and I'll be me". But when it comes to trying to live your best life, first of all, drinking really does hijack our sleep, so right out of the gate in the morning we're starting at a
low point. It's very difficult, if not impossible to get a proper night's sleep after we're consuming alcohol as our sleep cycle is disrupted.
It doesn't take much, a couple glasses of wine or beers you'll wake up and say, "I feel hungover, but I only had two glasses of wine". It's not necessarily a traditional hardcore hangover, it's just because your sleep was interrupted after you put a poisonous substance in your body!
Also worth a mention, a lot of people, like we talked about earlier, are trying to lose weight consistently. It's very difficult to try and lose weight if alcohol is a regular part of your routine. There's a couple reasons for that, but one of them is when we wake up tired after a night of sleeping poorly, our body misinterprets that low energy as low calories.
So the body is saying, listen, I'm tired. Get more fuel on this fire. That fatigue stimulates our appetite. So we when wake up tired, it often translates to extra appetite...unless we're so hungover we can't imagine eating anything! So we end up eating more food, even though we don't need to.
And when we're drinking and eating, that's another really slippery slope too, because basically our 'full' switch is deactivated, right? So if you've ever gone to get pizza at one o'clock in the morning after hitting the bars and you have two slices, and you're like, I'm still starving! Then you have 5 slices because your body isn't registering the fact that you're full because our appetite regulation, that 'tank is full gauge' has been blocked from the alcohol.
Alcohol does a real number on our body from head to toe, but also from the mental standpoint. Our brain is always trying to create this balance, right? This homeostasis of super effective chemistry that keeps all of our brain chemicals at the exact levels they're supposed to be. So when we're adding alcohol as a depressant, our brain is trying to regulate and counterbalance that. But it's very difficult to do and doesn't always work that well depending on how much and often we're drinking. So if we're trying to have a consistent mood and have the mental head space that we want, when you're adding alcohol into the mix on a regular basis, it's almost impossible to get the results we want.
This is one of the ways alcohol is an addictive substance. When we're frequently drinking, the alcohol triggers a dopamine release, basically artificial feel good sensations. Over time our brain says "looks like there's plenty of feel good chemicals around this place, I guess I don't have to worry about making those anymore...one less thing on the list to do!"
So then our brain starts relying on external factors like drinking to release the feel good chemicals, like dopamine, to create the feeling of happiness. So then when we don't drink, we literally are not as happy because our brain has laid off most of the workers in the dopamine department and we have less natural feel good chemicals being released than we would have normally in our pre-dinking lifestyle state. So it's a very real and endless cycle of you've got to drink to feel good. All that said, the amazing human brain goes back to normal 'feel good chemical' production after we remove the booze from the equation. Our normal factory settings do not require external substances for happiness, you can see easy examples anywhere kids are having a great time playing and laughing...no party favors required. It's only when we get older and start introducing new things to our brain chemistry that we change it and start to think you need to have a drink to have fun. So anyway, the BAR40 sober challenge is saying, listen, this isn't a forever scenario, but just give it a try.
I can't recommend it enough, even if it's not the full year. I think what a lot of people do is what you did, Brian, just take a break, pump the brakes for a while just to kind of hit the factory reset button and see how you feel. I will say that plenty of people do that and then they come to the realization that drinking really no longer holds any real enjoyment for them after they get away from it for a little while, they just don't want to reintroduce it to their life after seeing how awesome they felt everyday without it. It's weird but if you think about it, once we start drinking in life, whatever age that was, it becomes a normal part of our routine and we rarely, if ever take a long break from it. So in that respect, the BAR40 sober challenge may be the first time in adult life that someone breaks that habit of including drinking in whatever scenario they normally include it in...happy, sad, stress, celebration. Let's face facts, if you're into drinking it's not hard to find a reason no matter what day or occasion!
So my recommendation, not a requirement obviously, is that people at least give it a try and see what life is like without alcohol. And if you decide you want to go back to it after a while, rest assured, you're not missing anything. Nothing is going to be different. Drinking is like a paperback with a bookmark in it. You leave it on an end-table, it's going to be the same exact thing whenever you pick it up again, the same place in time....the story did not advance without you.
Brian: It's worth the attempt to see what you think of it. The sleep, like you said, was key. I find that the alcohol hijacks my sleep. I wake up and because I'm sleep deprived, my body craves sugar. So now I'm eating sugar and overall my quality of life, my energy, my vitality, my clearness of mind, is just taxed as a result of that one drink, which seemed pretty innocent.
Eric: Right on, it's like you said. It hijacks your sleep up and your body is trying to make up for that. And it's sort of this vicious cycle. Especially because a lot people drink with the understanding it helps them fall asleep but then they wake up in the middle of the night.
We put this depressant into our body which acts like a tranquilizer. The brain is always trying to maintain that chemical balance, so when we introduce the depressant, which is alcohol, the brain counters by releasing extra stimulants, always trying to create that equilibrium.
So then the alcohol wears off but now we've got all these stimulants that were released to balance the depressant. So then we pop awake at 3 in the morning because the alcohol is metabolized and the depressant effect has diminished, but we're wired because all these stimulants were released, so now we're awake. So this is how the vicious cycle of sleep disruption happens.
In the morning you get up and of course you're tired and often feeling hungover. Your cognitive functions are really diminished because of the lack of sleep. And, if you magnify this as a nightly thing then it's always dirty windshield syndrome. You don't even realize how dirty the windshield is because you've been looking through it too long. You don't even recognize that you're functioning at half power every day because it's now become your normal state.
This makes it extremely difficult to make great choices every day when your thought processes are thrown way off. Over time your subconscious makes the connection that the cure to feeling better is to start drinking again. And this is how daily drinking habits start to happen, and then you're really off to the races with a cycle of only being able to feel normal by drinking. And there we have the birth of a drinking problem, right?
And that's, that's chronic sleep deprivation right there. It's virtually impossible to good night's sleep after drinking and it's pretty cool now with technology like a Fitbit or Apple watch where you can see these graphical interpretations of a night's sleep, what a night of drinking does to your light, deep and REM sleep patterns. How it really just, you know, sends it right off a cliff. It's pretty crazy.
Brian: Yeah, that technology is great. So the BAR40 methods, been out there for over five years at this point and you've heard lots of feedback from folks who've put this into action. Can you share some of the, the benefits that you've heard back from people?
Eric:: For sure, so you know, people obviously like the results that they get from from achieving their goals, and part of the BAR40 approach is that you choose these three priorities, these three bucket list items that for whatever reason have not yet happened in your life.
And part of the journey is to achieve those three goals over the course of the BAR40 year. So generally speaking, people are thrilled that they were able to finally check off those things in their life, those bucket list items. But I think, more importantly, is the fundamental shift in the approach to how people look at personal accountability and self-management.
That change in mindset that has people looking at all these small choices that pop-up every day through the lens of 'what is the right and best way to do this'? It's developing that mindset of getting comfortable being uncomfortable and gaining that perseverance and grit. It's the mental shift to always being on the lookout of how do I make my future self, "tomorrow man" proud?
It's that habit that becomes infinitely easier once it's part of our life. But it's way different than how most people in our lives will be operating. It's like that old expression, go the extra mile because it's never crowded. So when people talk about BAR40, one of the things that that really stands out is that how they start functioning and flying at a higher altitude than probably most of the people around them that are just kind of on cruise control through life. Then you really start to notice that part of BAR40 is becoming okay with the fact that you're going be doing things a little bit differently and holding yourself to a higher standard in order to become the full potential version of yourself that you always envisioned.
I think one thing BAR40 is great for is developing our skills at long term gratification versus short term. If we think about all the technology that's in our lives right now, there are very few things that we can't have instant gratification on.
If we want something delivered, if we want to watch something. If we want to eat something, it's all at the touch of an app button. Over time, this changes our mindset in the way that we think about everything in life. We tend to want everything right now. We want results without effort. It's just becomes these ambient, "want it now, get it now" expectations and we need to be mindful to resist those expectations and adopt a long term mentality. There's no finish line to this thing, personal development is a lifetime pursuit.
That is just the modern day world that we live in though. So being able to focus on these long term goals and to be able to use BAR40 to recalibrate the lens that we see everything through to prioritize long lasting results. All the technology is great of course but it doesn't change the fact that great results take time and effort. We need to work that mental muscle of grit and delayed gratification, the 52-weeks of BAR40 build those habits that stay with you long after
BAR40 is done and that's a major benefit. The habit gift that keeps giving for a lifetime. It does not get depleted with use, only stronger.
Brian: Yes! I would say that was something I sensed. I agree hundred percent that when you start applying BAR40, living this lifestyle that it's going to be different than the lifestyle of the various people that have been around you. So you will notice a difference. There's a great book I'm going to suggest you add to your reading list, 'The Courage to be Disliked'. I just discovered it, and it's all about the fact that it's okay that people aren't going to necessarily envy or respect or show the same level of appreciation maybe because you're sort of living a life that they wish that they may be had for themselves.
And it's hard to swallow that bitter pill when someone you love is doing so. Even if it's a close friend who's very successful. One of my other clients wrote a book called The Tall Poppy Syndrome that talks all about this, that we can have a hard time, accepting others' success, especially when we sort of know and love them as someone different.
Eric: Right, right. You never want to think misery loves company or anything like that but there is an element where your success and upward trajectory can create a perception with the other person where it widens this gap and highlights what they may not like about their own life and maybe don't have the discipline to create the changes they want. I've seen enough examples where it almost creates a kind of low key resentment. Even though most often the case is no one is trying to one-up anyone else, you're just trying to live your best life and be the best version of yourself. Really, it's got nothing to do with the other person, but it can be mistakenly interpreted like a "wow. Leaving us behind?" kind of thing.
Brian: Yeah. What makes you think you're better than us? Right.
Eric: Right, right. And that's where it's so important to just, again, get a little bit comfortable being uncomfortable and turn the volume down on FOPO, (fear of other people opinions), and get acclimated to the idea that you're going to be living a different life with different self- management choices than a lot of people around you are. You're not dragging them into what you're doing necessarily, you're on your own journey. You're walking your own path. And I do think that mentality by other people is short term because what they'll ultimately see are the improvements that you're making are to everyone's benefit.
For example, you'll be more mindful, you'll have better emotional control, you're going to be a better person to be around as a result. But there's this initial hurdle that they have to get beyond that "you're someone different" reaction.
Brian: For sure. I one-hundred percent agree.
Eric: It's funny, the one thing that never seems to go away is food stuff. Like, I'll be with the same people over the years, and they'll be, whatever, having a big cheeseburger or a piece of cake, and it's always "oh, you can't eat this, right? You're the healthy guy, right? I mean, it doesn't matter to me, but it seems to never get old their perspective. Gotta laugh.
Brian: So, wrapping things up, what's on the horizon for BAR40, as I mentioned before, you're coming up to BAR50! What's up next for Eric and BAR40?
Eric: HA! That does have a good ring to it. One thing that that Covid has certainly done is brought mental health and the broader topic of overall wellness more of our collective awareness and conversations. From that, more companies and organizations are trying to determine the best ways to provide the tools and resources to their teams to help them stay healthy, both mentally and physically. So from that feedback, I introduced the BAR40 workplace wellness sessions that cover a lot of the topics from the book in a one hour format. These come with tools that attendees can immediately start putting into use in their own lives and start getting the results that they're looking for in all aspects of life, personal and professional.
I've also been doing talks that are focused on developing emotional intelligence skillsets and those have been very well received as well. So there's a workplace version of that, and also one or college students as well, developing these four key components of self-awareness, self- management, social awareness and relationship management and infusing EQ with the BAR40 methodologies. So all good things ahead in the BAR40 world.
Brian: Awesome, sounds great. Thanks for covering some of these FAQ's, good talking!
Eric: Thanks for your time Brian, it was a pleasure...have the best day ever!