Health and science journalist Max Lugavere is also the host of the #1 iTunes health podcast The Genius Life. He interviews guests on topics that include diet and mental health, secrets to a longer and healthier life, and genius foods. Lugavere strongly believes in the strong connection between diet, longevity, and mental health.
Studies have proven that the brain uses more than 20% of caloric intake, therefore, eating healthy foods that are essential for memory, mood and focus can be a huge game-changer.
Foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood and lean meats, eggs, beans, and legumes along with nuts are loaded with beneficial nutrients. With this consumption, you are providing fuel for your brain in order to stay healthy and active while functioning at its best.
Lugavere discusses the need to make things easier for yourself when creating healthy choices. He also shares his movement and diet routine, which is partially inspired by getting outside! Continue reading to learn more about him and the steps you can start taking in order to live a full life.
Recess: Has fitness always been an important part of your life? If not, why is it important now more than ever?
Max Lugavere (ML): It’s been a huge part of my life since mid-high school! I began high school with an interest in programming and design, but when I discovered fitness at around age 16 I saw it as an opportunity to program and design my own biology. I remember walking into an independent supplement shop next to my high school in New York and being awe-inspired by the promises of the myriad potions and powders, which inspired me to start working out. When I saw what training did for my mental health and confidence, I was hooked. In a time where depression affects more than 300 million people and is a leading cause of disability worldwide—a true pandemic—exercise needs to be discussed as an effective treatment and vaccine.
Recess: What does your week-to-week workout routine look like?
(ML): I eat a lower carbohydrate, high protein, moderate-fat diet that prioritizes grass-fed beef, salmon, chicken, pork, and eggs. I eat 0-2 servings of whole fruit daily, enjoy the occasional fat-free Greek yogurt for protein, and do whey protein shakes. Every day I also eat 1-2 cups of dark leafy greens. Macros aside, I primarily focus on eating minimally processed foods, with a focus on protein. Training-wise I primarily resistance train 3-4x a week and box with a private trainer 1-2x a week.
Recess: If someone was just starting on their fitness journey (and needed a pick-me-up!), what would you say?
(ML): I will use any excuse to get out of my house and walk. I walk to the local supermarket almost every day and usually will go out to get a decaf coffee in the afternoon, mostly to get my steps in, which can be difficult to do in Los Angeles.
Routine stack. Make it as easy for yourself as you can to create new healthy habits. Maybe it’s laying out your gym clothes the night before. Maybe it’s keeping a yoga mat by your bed. Find a time of day that works for you and stick to it. Also, keep in mind that done is better than perfect and that even a shitty workout is better than no workout. When it comes to diet, try to get a little better every day. And if you fall off, remember that you’re always just one meal away from getting right back on track.
Recess: What do you do when you’re feeling burnout coming on?
(ML): I take a rest day! Rest is so important. And if I need the movement from a mental health standpoint, I’ll work on mobility and flexibility by doing some stretching. Always something. I also recently began meditating which is very helpful. It really pays to learn how to meditate which can help you with mental flexibility so that when a thought arises that you’d rather not have, you can pivot off of it with grace.
Recess: Why is destigmatizing mental health personally important to you?
(ML): In life, there will inevitably come a time where you struggle. There’s no shame in it. It’s human. We need to talk about these struggles and spread awareness of the tools that exist to bolster mental resilience. Exercise, saunas, cold water immersion, talk therapy; are all incredibly powerful tools and are increasingly accessible, in one way or another. I started seeing a therapist last year and haven’t missed a session. It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself, next to my fitness and nutrition.