actual experiences

convert new year resolution into a habit

Forget Resolutions, That’s How You Stay Ahead of 99% of People!

Hhm.. How many times did I make new year resolutions and promises to myself, only to break them in a few weeks.

As you probably know, gym membership skyrockets by 100% each January only to crash back the next month.

new year go to gym resolution grapgh
New Year Resolution Trends

So at least I wasn’t alone in this crap. 

But good news, there are proven ways to break that cycle and convert the initial motivation into a long term success. 

And it doesn’t apply to gym ONLY, but to any self improvement habit from weight loss to learning how to play an accordion. 

We are going to talk mostly about exercise here, because that is what I have successfully tried myself and have some insights into, but the principles are universal. From exponential returns to KISSing your way through and from pleasure stacking to hijacking your dopamine systems. It is a science with a prescription.

So, back to New Year’s Resolution Syndrome. Up until 2 years ago I was repeating exactly the same saw pattern, signing up, going all out, dropping out. 

Basically, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

new year resolutions are insanity

The mistake I was making – I was trying to run on MOTIVATION alone.

But you see..

MOTIVATION only gets you to the foot of the mountain.
To get all the way up – you need DISCIPLINE. 

So what I really needed was a Game PLAN. I had to outsmart my monkeys. Everyone has those, physiologists call them fast and slow thinking systems. But after my meditation adventures I like to give them some personalities, it makes life a little more fun.

And Unfortunately My “main ” or at least the noisiest monkey, who’s in charge of the default network of the brain,  most of the time is extremely lazy, emotional and hates any change.

So, to stop the insanity I had to convince her/him/they to try something NEW this time. Get away from making resolutions and start working on good habit building.

Sources on Habit Building

When I’m not saving the world, one blog at a time, and have to waste the valuable time to pay the bills, I write code.

And because in my opinion, all good programmers are lazy, when I run into a coding problem, the first thing I do – I go to stackoverflow.com and in 90% of the cases somebody has already figured out the solution.

When I write the script for my life and run into a problem, the first thing I do – I check the library and in 99% of the cases somebody has already written the book with the solution.

My top books for the deep dive into discipline and setting yourself up for a success are:

So let me outline the main tips I’ve pulled from these books to get consistent resistance training into my life and how I apply it nowadays to running . It is work in progress as of today, but at least now I know that success is possible and how long it takes.

Know your  WHY, but focus on the PROCESS.

Everyone wants to be healthy, but there is a  difference between everyone and successful people. Successful people have the process and routines dialed in. 

So, I’m not  training for a 10K run, instead I just go for a jog every other morning. But the key here – is to have it on a schedule, so that lazy monkey knows ahead what’s going on.

I used to have TODO lists, until I realized – that they are just graveyards of my good intentions.
Nowadays, if I want something done – I put it on a schedule. It removes the wiggling room from the monkey.

Schedule can be amplified or in some cases replaced by 

Habit Stacking

That’s when you pair a new habit with an existing one, so it gets triggered automatically and doesn’t require processing power. 

In my case: I already have a lifetime routine: I  wake up, greet the sun, have a glass of water, do a few “secret soviet” breathing moves, and then I stick a run on top of it, a then jump into a shower and only after that have a coffee and check my phone.
So you see there is a mixture here of the things I already do, which is a trigger,  with new additions and a small reward in the end. No run – no coffee. 

No training – no breakfast.

Change your self perception.

Be the person you want to be, before you really become it.  

So from this day forward, if you also decide to work on running, let’s say,  you are not a person who tries to run, because that person defaults to not running. Instead, you call yourself in your head a RUNNER, that new you defaults to getting out, even if the total run is going to be a 100 steps.  

Social Responsibility 

We can double on self-perception. Your brain doesn’t like cognitive dissonance, it’s too taxing. It wants to be consistent with what you think, what you say, and what you do.
When I think “I’m a RUNNER”, when I say to you “I’m a RUNNER”  my emotional monkey doesn’t want to be caught lying and for a run we go.

Here’s a simple exercise you can do right now.
Think about one thing you want to improve the most, share this article and write alongside “I’m a … that thing”   Put the pressure of the social responsibility on your monkey and it will cooperate much better.


You can spike your dopamine by binding your new activity with something pleasant like listening to music or a podcast. But don’t do it every time. When you are already out, flip a coin. And either enjoy the music or enjoy the clean pure effort.

Embrace the Effort

But that effort – you have to fully Embrace. That is where the change happens.

Think about it like a game,  when you feel the resistance, but get through,  all that experience makes you so much better. In a way you absorb that energy which you conquer. 
It applies both to mental resistance – get up, put the shoes on and to physical resistance – run another ten steps. And then maybe another ten.

Exponential Return

The only way forward – are small, but consistent improvements.  Don’t try to kill yourself with big efforts, because the goal, right now at least,  is to make a sustainable habit.
So KISS – keep it simple, slow or short.  If it’s too hard – run slower, right.

Again, Small efforts, but consistent. At this stage of the game, we are not after the massive gains, but after making the new groove and retraining that monkey.  If you put too much on her back, it will crumble. 

I’ve tried once to get into lifting weights, running and waking up early all at the same time..
Sounded so great on paper, but you know the monkey had a breakdown

If you need extra boost, I have a special T-shirt, just for the bad days to remind myself about the 8th wonder of the world.

Consistency Compound Interest Motivational T-Shirt Gym Resolution to Habit transformation

Track and Reward

So reward yourself mentally for the smallest effort – don’t think I could’ve done more, instead think, yeah I did more than nothing! And keep that winning streak with a journal. Or there is a great website called habitica, which helps to gamify your efforts and provides in-game rewards.


Don’t forget to sleep. Did you know that sleep quality affects how both motivated you are and how hard you can push yourself?
Think about your will power as a  limited resource, which gets used throughout the day and then get replenished when you eat and sleep.

Don’t overtax your battery and keep it charged. Good news, all this process, if you follow it, grows the battery as well.  

More on my sleep adventures: Perfect Sleep Mattress Quest

Self Love

Ok, the last point is not from the books. It’s from me personally.
Whatever you do –  Start with Love.  If you like yourself, or even better – love yourself and want to improve something – you will succeed, because love always wins the day. 

If you don’t like yourself, or worse, hate yourself –  you will sabotage yourself.
So put love before the horse, if you decide to skip a day, or have an extra cookie, whatever, always say to yourself: “It’s the best thing I can do for myself now”. This is what stops the bad binges in their tracks.

How Long it Takes

And I’ve been applying all of the above for a couple years now to my own life. And what I can say,  it takes about 6 months until YOU yourself notice some improvements. About 2 years for your friends to notice and start commenting on (which is kinda funny, because you post regular updates that you now exercise, and in 2 years they are like Oh, you exercise now!  DUH!!) 

About 3 to 5 years to actually go from impostering to a full tilt – yes, that’s who I’m now. That’s when your lazy monkey switches to the new tracks. 

And don’t get me wrong, hard things – they are still  very hard, but how should I put it, trying and doing these hard things is a habit in itself. And the more you do it, the more doable and satisfactory it gets. 

It doesn’t get easier, but you learn to enjoy doing the hard things. And that’s, I hope we can agree, is a worthy goal in itself. 

running resolution is now getting converted to a habit
lentils legumes longevity

How to Cook Amazing Lentils (#1 Longevity Dish)

Watch How I Cook Lentils

What Lentils are doing on the Longevity Blog?
From the studies of the Blue Zones to meta analysis, consumption of legumes in dose dependant manner is associated with healthy aging:

The only downside of the legumes – you can’t eat them raw. And even cooked they might have a questionable taste. 
So, to get more health and legumes into your life we need an easy way to cook them and make them palatable at the same time.

After some research and experimentation I’m happy to report that it’s possible!  In fact it tastes so good that people will come for the second and third serving!

Lentils are a perfect legume in that regard, they are easily digestible, have a good amino acid profile (especially when sprouted), plenty of fiber and ready to absorb all the flavors you are adding in the process.

What we will need for this curry lentils recipe:
Step by Step Instructions:
  1. Mince garlic and ginger and than fry them on the stove in a deep pan with some curry powder, using oil of your choice
  2. Cut the onion, add it to the pan and let it golden
  3. Add water, lentils and tomato sauce. Salt & pepper to the taste. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile cut the greens: Collard, kale, spinach or whatever leftovers you have in the fridge
  5. After 15 minutes have passed, mix in the greens and coconut milk.  Let simmer for another 5-10 minutes. 
  6. Enjoy with the rice, protein of your choice or as is!
curry lentils ready to eat
Brown Lentils with Extra Greens

What this site is about. Please read if you want to invest into your future self:

Back Pain Solution. The Permanent One.

There are multiple reasons why I hate back and shoulder pain. And it’s not just the PAIN, which prevents me to enjoy the life.

It’s also the constant reminder, that my body is getting older and I’m going to die soon. Of course I have a plan how to prevent that, but lets talk about backpain.

that's how I spend meetings now to prevent the back pain from ever coming back
Watch This Story on YouTube

Ergonomic Mouse and Shoulder Pain

It all has started in 2017. I’ve been working behind the desk for 20 some years and started to notice, that nothing in my back and shoulders feels right. And so I decide to take the first step and buy myself a fancy ergonomic mouse, which they say helps with posture and should resolve all my problems.

$27 dollars and 2 days later, the new mouse is in my hands, and it feels pretty cool. But is it helping? It almost feels like it does…

But then a few month later, I realize that nope, it doesn’t and we are back at square zero.

Can Chair Help with Back Pain?

The struggle continues and in 2018 I decide to make a slightly bigger investment. After a bit of research I locate the most advance and adjustable chair of them all. Herman Miler Aeron.

One problem, it’s freaking expensive… but for some reason a lot of people sell it on Facebook marketplace for the fraction of the cost. All right, I’ll take it!
$400 later I’m a happy owner of an almost brand new chair! Still have it to this day. Great chair. Not a smidge of improvement in the shoulder or back pain department.

Perfect Mattress

November 2019. Finally I decide to make the ULTIMATE investment, which should work for sure this time!

Everyone knows that backpain is driven by the quality of the mattress you sleep on and how good the sleep is. It took me some time to arrive here, but finally I’m ready to upgrade.

But I’m already on my anti aging and longevity journey by that time, so I’m also into sleeping in a dark cold environment.. Well I’d like to, except that my wife disagrees to sleep “in a freezer”.

Good news  – technology can already make it happen, cold for me, hot for her, kinda expensive though. 2 grands like.
But then I start to think..  I spend almost a 3rd of my life in the bedroom. Significantly more then in my car for example and car doesn’t revert the daily damage of life, like a good sleep does.

So I do some mental gymnastic, adjust for the cooling and heating savings, find a coupon and pull a trigger!

mattress can improve your sleep, but won't help with back pain

In a few days I’m a happy owner of the most cool (pun intended) health and sleep gadget on the planet.
My sleep quality, which I measure every day,  with an Oura ring, skyrockets! My deep and restorative sleep improves, I feel rested and  energetic.

My back pain.. Uh, my back pain, doesn’t improve a single bit.

COVlD to The Rescue

 Welcome to 2020! What a Year.. If you know what I mean.

Bad news – pandemic, god news – I work from home and have some extra time on my hands. So I spend it on educating myself on physiology of the human body and evolution. As it happens I read the book by Dr. John Kirsch about benefits of simple hanging, which is one of the most fundamental primate movements. Every single review says that it helped tremendously with the shoulder pain and improved back pain symptoms. What’s better – it all make sense!

And so – that’s what I start to practice every single day! (and even create a channel called Smart Monkey)

fixing back pain and shoulder pain by dead hanging

But also this time I decide to not spend any more money, so I just get an old shovel to hang on. Later I got some rings too, but that’s a separate story.

And I find another another primal position, which we are all missing in our modern lives – the deep squat. Evolution has never intended us to sit like we do in chairs. But guess what you can sit in a chair in a deep squat. Honestly.

Remember Rule #6? Never take yourself too seriously. So start practicing deep squat anywhere and anytime you can. From a few minutes to an hour. It puts a very nice stretch to the lower spine, which your body going to love.

Anyway – total money investment: $0  total time opportunity cost: 2 minutes a day, results: no pain in less then 6 month and improved overall mobility.

Bottom Line

If you want to improve your sleep: go buy this mattress.
If you want to improve your back or shoulder pain: do the work! Hang, deep squat (and then progress to glute bridges)

Perfect Eight Sleep Mattress

Windy Road to a Perfect Sleep Mattress

The Mattress of Old

My journey to the perfect mattress started when I was 16 years old.

It was the year 1994, well before the war, when I moved from Ukraine to Russia to study in the top technical college: MIPT. Like MIT, or some say even better, but with cockroaches, mice and its share of the most soggiest beds and mattresses you can imagine. The “repressed memory” without any foam you may say.

It wasn’t me who set our old dorm on fire, but I can’t help but smile when I remember that day.

old burned mattresses

The Futons & Springs

Shortly after that, in early 2000, I moved to the states with a total of $260 dollars in my pockets. And the first $40 I spent on the firmest futon I could find on a yard sale and put it right on the floor. It was such an upgrade! Hard as a plank. The only downside, which I have found quite soon – not very girlified friendly (girlfriendly?)

futon mattress on a floor

So a few years later, when I got engaged and married, the futon was the first thing to leave the bedroom. Instead I’ve endowed a more traditional spring mattress and sleep setup. It wasn’t bad, just a bed. And it has served us well, until I’ve started to actually care about my sleep quality.

Why Sleep Matters

If you take a step away and look at the bigger picture, sleep is fundamental to everything in our life:

  • Mood and Energy
  • Creativity and Productivity
  • Memory and Strength
  • Health and Graceful Aging

Before you try to improve anything in your life, first you need to look at your sleep quality. And you might try to ignore it in your 20s and get by, but at some point you just realize that it’s better to work smart, not hard.

If you haven’t read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker – I highly recommend you do so, or listen to Peter’s Attia The Drive episode on Sleep

Latex and Memory Foam Beds

With that in mind I went shopping… Memory foam mattresses were all the rage at the moment, but I wanted something even “bedder”. So I ended up with an organic multi-layered Talalay Latex mattress from SleepEZ . It was a serious upgrade. But something wasn’t quite right. Even with the wool topping, I would wake up sometimes all in sweat. But my wife was quite happy. Apparently I sleep ‘hot’ and she sleeps ‘cold’.

latex mattress on a bed

I wasn’t sure what to do. Definitely not ready to sleep in different beds, but not ready to sacrifice the deep restorative sleep either. Lucky for me at that time I was already entrenched in the longevity and anti-aging communities.
So when I’ve asked, everyone was like:
“Dude, where have you been, go get 8 Sleep Smart Mattress and your sleep won’t be the same. It will adjusts the temperature for you!”

Ultimate Sleeping Machine

optimal sleep performance measure by Oura Ring

Apparently all this time I was “sleeping” on the sleep technology. Which is quite ironic, because my water-cooling computer is using the same principles. I even use the same quiet Noctua fans. And that’s important, because I’ve also tried OOLER chiliPad and it was way too loud for my comfort (and it required two units for each side, if you have a partner)

Usually to improve deep sleep naturally and have better sleep in general, you have to work on it. Exercise, meditate, not eat before going to the bed, wind down etc. This is the very rare case, when you can outsource one critical aspect of a good sleep to a technology.

Today marks an anniversary. It has been 3 years since I have become a happy owner of Eight Sleep Mattress.
And What can I say… it is whisper quiet, sets different temperatures for me and my wife, and, what was unexpected, saves a lot on heating and cooling bills.
My Oura Ring, which I use to track sleep quality, has never been so happy.

And every night, when it texts me that the bed has been adjusted and is waiting for me, my heart skips a beat.

I’ve talked to Eight Sleep support and they have created SMARTMONKEY discount code, just for the readers of this blog.
Give it a try and let me know, if it worked!

smart eight sleep mattress

I don’t understand why mattresses aren’t talked about more.
Seems like people are really sleeping on them.

eliminate sugar from you life

How to quit sugar for good

How hard is it to eliminate extra sugar from your life? 

This is based on my personal experience of quitting  sugar, common sense and an amazing book on influencing self and others:  Influence by R. Cialdini

(Smart Monkey is supported by the readers. When you purchase through the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission)

Why should I? 

small sugar

Why is sugar even bad for us
Don’t we need sugar  for energy?
Well, yes and no.

Lets talk through the science. No worries it’s not too complicated. But it is important to understand the basics.

What is a Natural Dose ? 

Our body is wired to run primarily both on Fat (beta oxidation) and Sugar (glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation).

So in some amounts sugar is great. But as Paracelsus would say “Dose makes the poison” 
flying bullet

Sugar is not that abundant in  its pure form in nature and our body can only use that much at a time. It’s not only about amount of sugar, but also about velocity of absorption before it becomes toxic.  (hence the major difference between a fruit and a juice)

Average peak in healthy people is not expected to go above 140 mg/dL  and different longevity experts recommend to keep it under 120 mg/dL after meals and below 100 mg/dL as a daily average. 

What If I Overdose ?

When the sugar level rises above the normal levels our body has to quickly dispose of it. The main way to do it is to utilize it in muscle. 
Which is good, but as the result of the repeated assaults,  the sugar utilization is upregulated and fat burning is downregulated. That’s what body does – it adapts.   

Without diving deep into insulin resistance of the muscle and liver, the body ends up with a doubled amount of sugar to upkeep the energy, doubled amount of insulin to push it into the cells and doubled amount of now underutilized fats (fatty acids).

What you get is a mildly insulin toxic and sugar abrasive syrup.

The blood must flow. But the cardiovascular system is designed for a particular and quite low viscosity to reach all the microcapillaries. 
As the viscosity rises, so goes up the blood pressure.

Welcome to the four horses of metabolic syndrome: high blood sugar, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and increasing body fat.
And underlining high insulin and growing inflammation.  The perfect environment for every modern disease. 

But despair not, this process can be reverted. 

Influence Thyself  

Get your why’s together

we start with why stickyWhatever your reasons  are, and you should have more then one by now, condensate them into a few words. Then write these words on a sticky note and put that note on a visible place in your kitchen. 

1) Writing things down creates new neural pathways and helps to integrate these reasons into yourself.

2) Putting the note in the kitchen will work as a reminder for the moments of weakness. 

3) Having that note in a visible place will announce to friends and family what you are doing.
That by itself will create a social pressure to help you stick to the announced path, by leveraging the internal consistency principle. 

Bonus tip:
Give a $100 to a friend and ask him to donate it to a political party you hate in case you fail.


It’s much harder to eat a cake, which you don’t have. 

Reduce the temptations and will power drag by throwing off all the offenders from your kitchen and pantries.
Maybe one day, you’ll reintroduce some of that back, but not today. Today trash can is your best friend.

Close the gap

Sugar is not just a food, it’s a comfort food. If you just eliminate the emotional support it provides, it will create a void, which better be filled with something else.

alluloseYou can try to meditate, each time you feel a craving, but that might not work for everyone.
What works much better is having a bag of a good sugar substitute ready (I prefer Allulose, Erythritol or Monk’s fruit) and/or sugar free chocolate bars like Lily’s Variety Pack .
Get some for yourself and some for social events you plan to attend! 

Bonus tip:
Avoid calorie deficit during the first month(s). Hungry mind craves quick carby fixes.
So whatever calories were taken away by excluding sweets, they should be replaced by something a tad healthier. 


Under certain angle everything which happens to us can be treated with humor. Even if you lose a round, you can learn from your mistakes and restart the level.

Mark your progress on calendar, journal or create a free account at Habitica.com and slay dragons with the power of sugar free days.  

Level Up

Table sugar might be one of the worst offenders, but how do you know for sure that other foods are not triggering high blood glucose? Or, what if you exercise a lot, maybe you can eat some dessert after that and be ok?

Thanks to modern technology it is possible to test blood sugar without too much hassle with continuous glucose monitor devices like Abbott Freestyle. They are quite inexpensive, so I highly recommend you talk to your doctor about test driving one for a month. 

Final Words 

Even if you have a sweet tooth you don’t have to be dependent on sugar any more.
Modern world makes it easy to screw up our health. But it also provides a lot of ways to stay on top of things.

Remember – it all comes in a package. Investing a little bit of time and effort into your health now will make it back to you tenfold over your life.

Share this article with anyone who you think might benefit as well. 

And you are always welcome to join any of our communities through #resources page. It’s so much easier and more fun to level up as a team!

Watch all these tips in action on our Youtube Page!

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