In a Battle With Yourself for Health and Longevity

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Last updated on August 2, 2023

"If I only knew then what I know now things would be different."

”If I only knew then what I know now then things would be different,” are words we have heard before. In my field of movement, strength, conditioning and nutrition I really believe this to be true. We have so much knowledge now on how to train the body safely, and eat for health and longevity, but there’s no denying a lot of confusion and lack of consensus on exactly what to do.

The learning and research keeps giving us all reasons to modify what we do or don’t do, and what behaviours and habits are behind them. Learning how to become a stronger and healthier version of myself motivates and inspires me. A lot of it has to do with prioritizing our time and choices to match the vision we hold for ourselves. As I live and learn to modify my own behaviours I can coach from the experience and the learning combined. I’m just like everyone else trying to figure out what are the best choices. In my case it’s also my career, so there’s added incentive to get it right.

Seventy percent of world global deaths are attributable to modifiable behavioural risk factors like smoking, physical inactivity and diet.

 -Dr. Anna Lembke M.D.

Author: dopamine nation

“We tend to not spend a lot of time talking about age as it’s not a modifiable risk,” says Dr. Peter Attia on the Huberman Lab Podcast.  I agree that age is not a modifiable risk factor as you can’t change the calendar, but you can change how you live each day of it. “Thanks for joining me to change the way you age,” is something I hear myself saying a lot in the classes I coach. We have to give ourselves some high fives for showing up, because small choices add up over time.

The many resources and options available to us on our choices make it confusing and difficult to know what to do and who to trust for valuable and credible information.  Author Of “Stillness Is The Key,” Ryan Holiday says “The CNN Effect is now a problem for everyone. Each of us has access to more information than we could ever reasonably use.” There is a lot to filter through in the strength and conditioning, aging and longevity space. There are many promising plans and programs guaranteed to provide results. It’s somewhat paralyzing to figure out which ones are worthy of your investment. 

Why are we living in the land of unhealthy choices?

Making “feel good” choices over what’s actually good for us seems to be more increasingly linked to the Dopamine effect. Think of dopamine as a kind of universal currency for measuring the addictive potential of any experience, says Dr. Anna Lembke. Her book dopamine nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence gave me a sort of sad but true perspective on addictions of all sorts, including exercise. Fair to say the brain can do some pretty weird things and our behaviours may not all be within our conscious control.

“How to recognize if you are in your own way?” 

Presenting at the National Strength and Conditioning Association's conference Vicki Landers of In Progress Coaching explains that learning how to recognize that the things we tell ourselves might be holding us back from becoming our best selves takes practice. “Self Limiting Beliefs” need to be identified, acknowledged and challenged. 

Feeling like it’s too late to change is what we call a self limiting belief. It goes along with other beliefs such as, “I'm too old,”  “I don’t have enough time,” and “It hasn’t worked for me in the past.” Aging brings another layer to the beliefs that can impose limitations on our health. Have you accepted that mobility, strength and balance decline with age and there’s nothing you can do about it? These assumptions mess with our future says Landers, who follows this up with these thought provoking questions: 

What would you do if you could not fail?

What is holding you back from doing it?

What is your next smallest step?

By When?

“We may think that our decisions are guided purely by logic and rationality, but emotions always play a role in our decision-making process.”

 -Salma Stockdale

Are you letting your emotions affect your health and fitness decisions? Of course it’s a yes, as we are human after all. This can be both helpful and harmful depending on the specifics. 

How much exercise, how often, and what kind? How much food, how often and what kind? What about the sleep and stress management decisions. Thinking about how immediate the results of our decisions will impact our health can highlight the help or harm continuum.  Some of our decisions take longer than others to see results. This could be said for both the help and harm side of our decisions. Are you investing your time and choices for the short term or long term outcomes?

Just how long do you think it will take for your choices to catch up with you?

Do you do resistance training 2x per week? Missing one session without scheduling a make up reduces your training by 50%. How many sessions have you missed?

Are you too tired to go for a walk yet you can stay awake for some binge tv?

Are you choosing apple fritters over apple slices on a regular basis? This can have long term implications. Insulin resistance and inflammation are believed to be the main drivers of cancer therefore what’s on your fork daily is important. Managing what’s on the fork manages your long term disease risks. 

I’m not saying no to Birthday cake but I’m saying no to a lot of foods these days because we don’t need Big Food to control our weight and blood pressure, Big Alcohol to make us feel alright, Big Tobacco to take the edge off, and Big Pharma to manage our symptoms.


In his presentation at the NSCA National Conference Effective Decision-Making in Strength & Conditioning, Dr. Duncan N. French, PhD explains how decisions are made at the UFC Performance Institute. This is a state of the art facility for training MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)  fighters. A 14 million dollar, 30,000 s.f. facility accessible to all UFC fighters for training, nutrition and rehabilitation. Every decision, on every level influences the outcome of these elite athletes with a huge risk/reward, helpful/harmful factor. Dr. French lays out his system for us. Decision making trees leave little room for error in every interconnected realm for his athletes, where choices can literally change lives. (The quote below is from his presentation.)

The risks of our decisions, the immediacy of the outcomes, the consequences and likelihood of results differ very little between what works for Ultimate Fighting Champions and you and I. Decisions we make for lifestyle, training and nutrition, our self health “Sealth,” as I like to call it matter a lot. We’re not MMA fighters but we are in a battle with ourselves to achieve health and longevity. I urge you to be an athlete of any sort or sport and get on the path leading you to the results you desire.

All of us need more help in the decision making process to achieve our outcomes. We have to look at the risks and rewards of our own decisions. So it’s not only what you do and how you do it, or what you eat or don’t eat but what will happen to your outcomes if you don’t do anything and you keep eating everything that has nothing in it. (Overfed and Undernourished.)

Whom do we look to for guidance in the decisions we make for our health? 

I urge you to keep seeking new knowledge. Ask your fitness and health professionals about their lifestyle choices, and for their resources so you can make informed decisions for yourself. I’m challenging myself to change some of my own self limiting beliefs such as “I’m too old to be considered a credible resource in the fitness and health community.” I pledge to break down the barriers of changing the way we age by accepting that I’m aging myself. I continue to practice becoming a stronger version of myself and a trusted health professional; accepting that my age is modifiable on many levels if I prioritize decisions and make time for action. 

No matter where you are in your journey, it’s not too late to keep growing, embrace change and begin again. The only one who can change you is you. You get to decide.

Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright August  2023 

Grow Your Strength, Lift Your Spirits, and Cultivate Your Health with us at the Sheila Hamilton Movement Garden.

Reach out to us:


Effective Decision-Making in Strength & Conditioning

Duncan N. French, PhD, CSCS*D, RSCC*E, FUKSCA

Senior Vice President - Performance

Presentation Slides and personal notes from the NSCA National Conference: Las Vegas July 2023 Credit: Salma Stockdale Quote & Napoleon Bonaparte Quote

What is next in your career path?

How to recognize if you are in your own way.

Vicki D Landers PT DPT ACC

CEO | Coach | In Progress Coaching

Presentation Slides and personal notes from the NSCA National Conference: Las Vegas July 2023 

Stillness Is The Key: Ryan Holiday (p.1, 31) 

dopamine nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence: Anna Lemke M.D. ( p.29) 

Dr. Andrew Huberman & Dr. Peter Attia: Improve Vitality Emotional & Physical Health & Lifespan

A former Registered Nurse turned Personal Trainer, Sheila has dedicated herself to the ongoing learning of being a fitness professional. Making fitness a lifestyle and supporting her clients through the changes needed to reach their goals is her purpose and passion. Certified with many organizations Sheila has a special interest in the practice of kettlebell training.

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