Own the Day, Own Your Life

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Own the Day, Own Your Life: Optimized Practices for Waking, Working, Learning, Eating, Training, Playing, Sleeping, and Sex (2018) by Aubrey Marcus is a self-help book that features diet, exercise, mindfulness, and productivity tips designed to help people tweak their health and performance. By walking through a hypothetical perfect day from morning till night, Marcus shares a wealth of knowledge shaped by his professional experience and informed by medical science.


The first 20 minutes of anybody’s morning is critical to how the rest of the day will unfold. There are three main tasks one must accomplish in this short time: hydration, light exercise, and exposure to sunlight. A morning cocktail of room temperature spring water, sea salt, and lemon juice is the perfect form of hydration. A quick walk in the sun takes care of the second two requirements, setting the circadian rhythm and getting the body moving.

The morning might also include two treatments to combat chronic stress: deep breathing and cold immersion therapy. The former can be accomplished by a series of deep breaths, and the latter might involve a cold shower. These techniques help battle inflammation in the body. Another important means of battling inflammation is abstaining from refined sugars.

The Western diet is less rich in vitamins than it used to be, a problem that’s exacerbated by chronic stress. The human gut, also known as the biome, is compromised by pesticides and other modern additives. One’s diet can’t be optimized through supplements alone, but vitamins support health and performance. Magnesium and probiotics are also good choices for supplements.

Busy people often think of time dedicated to mundane tasks like commutes as boring and unpleasant. In the natural lags that occur throughout the day, one should be mindful of one’s surroundings. One could also use this time to escape into an intellectual pursuit, for example by listening to a podcast.

At work, one should fully commit to a given task. Productivity naturally benefits from physical supports like ergonomic furniture and good posture as well as a streamlined workflow. Distractions should be minimized as much as possible.

Lunch is an opportunity to try unusual, interesting foods. Fast food or other fattening choices can compromise one’s productivity for the rest of the day. Instead, fruits and vegetables should be on the menu in as diverse an array as possible.

Exercise is nothing short of a miracle drug, and should be used accordingly. Use of training equipment like kettlebells, sandbags, battle ropes, and steel clubs is ideal. The perfect 50-minute workout mixes different types of exercise, including cardio and strength training.

When it’s time to stop working for the day, one must find a way to transition between work and home. People have a tendency to overcommit to work, and their relationships with friends and family suffer as a consequence.

Food choices at dinner should be thoughtful, but indulgent. Raw milk cheeses and treats like sourdough bread and chocolate are permissible. One should avoid any foods that may impede digestion and support the process by eating slowly, chewing well, and avoiding cold beverages with dinner.

Regular sex is important for well being, in part because it relieves stress and helps regulate hormones. Good communication, a willingness to try new things, and abstaining from pornography are all helpful in maintaining a healthy sex life.

When it’s nearly time to go to sleep, it’s imperative to create a relaxing atmosphere. Cell phones should be turned off, and activities should be low-energy, like writing in a journal or watching TV. To promote restful sleep, one must let go of the idea of an eight-hour quota per night. It’s more useful to think of sleep in terms of 90-minute REM cycles, with 35 cycles being the goal for the week. Naps are helpful, and they count towards this goal.

Lifestyle changes can challenge, and even the most healthful, committed person may encounter some resistance along the way. No one’s perfect. Everyone should strive for accountability while forgiving the inevitable bump in the road.

The main key insights for this book are:

  1. One good habit leads to another.
  2. Deep-breathing techniques are effective in managing stress.
  3. Articulating a personal mission helps people experience more satisfaction on the job.
  4. Instead of counting calories, one should focus on whole foods, especially plants.
  5. It’s important for people to take responsibility for their own choices.
  6. Nutritional supplementation is vital to a healthful lifestyle.
  7. Hydration is critical to well being.
  8. Refined sugars are ubiquitous in processed foods, but it’s important to avoid them.

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