Health Cheat Secrets I Know at 31 That I Wish I Knew at 21

Health Cheat Secrets I Know at 31 That I Wish I Knew at 21

Date: June 25th, 2024

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In my early 20’s I thought I knew health.

In fact, I was often the person family and friends came to for advice when it came to fitness and nutrition.

Looking back, I cringe at the advice I used to give.

And I can also see how arrogant I was.

I thought I knew everything.

I barely scratched the surface.

Even with a glittering array of fitness certifications and ample time training and helping others in their fitness, I was ignorant.

It’s easy to think you know everything when you have a closed mind.

If I could go back and speak with my younger self 10 years ago, I’d gently remind myself to have a beginner’s mind.

To stay humble.

And be coachable.

Going into my mid 30’s, I acknowledge I still don’t know everything.

But I also acknowledge my growth the past 10 years.

Here’s my top 7 health cheat secrets I know at 31 that I wish I knew at 21:

#1 Environment > Willpower

I used to think discipline meant living a painful life doing things that were uncomfortable.

I disagree now.

While disciplining ourselves and training our mind (ego) to obey our command IS important - that process can take years.

The best way to shortcut your results almost overnight?

Change your environment.

Create an environment built for success.

Create an environment that’s made for health and fitness.

Remove obstacles to your health.

Take away the foods/tv/people who drain your life.

Add in the foods/books/people who give you energy.

Berardi’s Law states that food that is around us, we’ll eventually eat.

If you have junk food in your house… you’ll eventually eat it.

If you have whole foods and fruits and veg near you… you’ll eventually eat it.

Environment will always defeat even the most disciplined person on the planet.

Create an environment that supports your goals.

This will make willpower even easier to generate.

Speaking of food, the next secret is equally as important.

#2 Quality of food

If you asked me 10 years ago, I would have said macros were the most important nutritional component.

They aren’t.

They’re just a piece of the nutrition puzzle.

Yes, eating within a caloric deficit is fundamental for fat-loss.

Yes, eating in a surplus is how you gain weight and muscle.

And yes, most of us have dysregulated eating patterns with food.

But eating the right foods is a core pillar of the nutrition pyramid.

The quality of what you eat will change your body more than nearly anything else in nutrition.

If 80-90% of what you eat consists of:

  • Fruits (all of them)
  • Vegetables (same)
  • Potatoes (white or sweet)
  • Lentils
  • Legumes (bean family)
  • Avocado
  • Whole grains
  • Organic tofu/tempeh/soybean

Then, your body and health would radically improve.

Yet, the average person eats processed foods, foods laden with chemicals, foods that destroy our health, and foods that invite disease.

Similar to secret #1 - if you create an internal environment that’s built for health, then disease will never have a place in your body.

Create a terrain that supports health - not illness.

The better you eat, the better you’ll feel.

*Bonus: eat organic, non GMO, when possible since many of the whole food options above are silently being poisoned as well.

There’s never been a better time to have your own garden and protect your family’s health.

#3 Hydration is a performance booster

Our bodies are 60% water.

Our muscles are 80% water.

The more you hydrate, the better your health.

As a rule of thumb ½ to ⅔ of your bodyweight in ounces is a good aim to have especially during fat-loss phases or muscle building cycles.

Even being dehydrated by 1-2% can cut back your strength by 10% or more.

A simple way to boost your hydration efforts?

Start your day with lemon water.

I’ve been doing this for 3+ years and the benefits are phenomenal.

Here’s why:

Most of us walk around chronically dehydrated.

And most water from a tap or a bottle no longer has its vitality or living structure.

When you add freshly squeezed lemon juice, you wake up the water and bring it back to life.

This will allow it to travel more deeply into your tissues and cells and carry essential nutrients and compounds you need to thrive.

Lemon water contains:

  • Vitamins C and B
  • Minerals such as calcium and magnesium

Create an early morning ritual of squeezing half a lemon into 16oz (or more) of your best quality purified water upon waking.

How do you make lemon water?


  • ½ freshly squeezed lemon
  • 16 ounces of clean filtered water

*I personally get 32 oz and full lemon for the added hydration and health benefits.

(hat tip to Anthony William for this health tip).

#4 A calm mind supports fat-loss and muscle-building

Stress is an inevitable part of life.

Some of us have more.

Some of us have less.

Most of us don’t know how to work with stress.

How you feel directly impacts what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, if you workout, if you don’t move, etc.

Emotions. Thoughts. Environment. Stress.

All these and more play a significant role in the outcomes and behaviors you’re working towards.

If you aren’t converting your stress into relaxation, fat-loss and muscle-building progress will be hijacked.

A simple deep breathing practice is what we teach our students inside VFR to start with.

Start by relaxing your eyes.

Focus on breathing into your belly slowly from your nose.

Then, slowly release it from your nose.

Repeat for 2 minutes.

Notice how you feel.

Then, keep practicing.

Ego training is what makes us masters of our life.

#5 Eat less and move more

One of the simplest principles I’ve learned the past 10 years has been eating less and moving more.

When you eat less than 100% fullness, you automatically create a slight deficit.

When you move more, you ensure your metabolism is amped up all day.

Combine both of these together and you have a potent health combo.

To be clear, eating less isn’t about undereating.

It’s about paying close attention to your hunger and fullness signals.

It’s noticing - ‘Do I feel full or overly full?’

Or ‘Am I hungry or should I eat more?’

Most of us are disconnected from our bodies due to trauma and conditioning.

The more we can reconnect with our bodies and the signals we’re receiving, the easier it is to understand the messages coming through.

We have built in systems to keep our body weight and health stable.

However, when we ignore these signals or eat foods that turn off these signals (like most processed foods do), then problems occur.

Listen to your body.

Move more and stand more.

Increase your steps.

Eat when you’re hungry.

Stop before you’re 100% full.

Repeat for life.

#6 Lift heavy weights 3-4x a week

Strength training is anti-ageing medicine.

If you want to live longer, better, and enjoy a higher quality of life, then lift weights.

Strength training is a meta habit.

What that means is that it amplifies multiple areas of your life.

Sleep. Digestion. Strength. Muscle. Body composition. Mobility. Confidence. And more.

All of these improve from lifting weights consistently each week.

You also strengthen your skeletal system.

Your joints and ligaments.

Quite literally, you can restructure and strengthen nearly every bone in your body.

It’s medicine that’s meant to be taken.

If you’re one of the few that workouts out consistently every week, year after year, you know exactly what I mean.

Exercise and lifting weights are medicine.

It can change your life.

It changed mine.

Do the same for yours.

#7 Protein retains lean muscle

Protein is the most discussed macro.


Personally, I believe for nefarious purposes.

For health and longevity, we don’t need that much protein.

Read Dr. Gregor’s or McDougall’s work on health.

Anthony William is another great resource for health and healing.

Yet, for fitness, protein becomes more important.

While we don’t need that much protein for health, when it comes to building or retaining muscle and dropping body fat, protein needs become more important.

The reason why I believe protein is overly marketed towards us is because of the powers that be.

Dairy, meat, and even new ‘vegan’ companies are profiting over the protein frenzy that has seized most of society.

Many of these options create illness and support disease since they’re high in protein AND fat.

So be mindful of which campaign is lobbying for more protein.

There’s always an agenda when there’s big money involved.

Back to protein - when retaining lean muscle, 0.8 - 1.0 grams of protein per bodyweight has been found to be effective for keeping muscle tone while dropping body fat.

If you want to tone up and sculpt your body while getting in the best shape possible, the range above will take you to your dream physique.

It’s the same range I used to drop down to 4% body fat and compete in my last men’s physique show.

It’s the same range we teach our students to hit when dropping fat and toning up.

It works.

Take it and use it.

I’ve learned a lot the past 10 years.

And I’m still learning.

I’m excited to see what the next 10 years will teach me.

If you want help applying any of these health cheat secrets, I’m opening the doors this July to help 6 new busy plant fueled or plant-curious leaders.

If that’s you, drop VFR below and I’ll message you with more details for our next cohort starting on July 15th.

To your best health,

- Gabriel

Whenever you're ready, there are three ways I can help you:

#1 Join our free high-performance fitness FB group to get access to dozens of free live trainings recorded, plus a tight-knit group of leaders who want to become healthy role models.

#2 Are you a high achiever who wants to be lean, strong, and lead by example? Apply for private 1:1 coaching and get in the best shape of your life (2-week waiting list).

#3 Want to fuel your fitness curiosity and follow along with the latest findings, insights, and evidence-based practices? Let's be friends on Facebook and Instagram. :)

(feel free to DM me anytime - I love connecting with new friends worldwide).

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