Circadian Sleep – Maximize Your Body’s Rest, Repair, and Recovery

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The way that your body cycles levels of activity throughout the day is called your circadian rhythm.  Various brain centers have internal rhythms that affect your body, and in turn are affected by personal habits such as your sleep patterns, activity level, and light exposure.  Since these lifestyle choices play such a large role in how your body functions, it is important to maximize your personal lifestyle habits to reflect how circadian rhythms are innately programmed.

Many activities inside your body vary based upon the time of day.  Body temperature, wakefulness, digestion, even cell division are all affected by circadian rhythms.  Nearly all of your bone growth as a child occurs at night!

Lack of a Healthy Rhythm
It is well known that those who don’t sleep on a healthy cycle suffer from health problems due to their schedule.  For example, those who work the night shift have a greater percentage of most of the major chronic diseases relative to those with a daytime work schedule.  Also, not sleeping enough is a powerful negative influence on your body.  For example, sleep deprivation is a strong promoter of obesity and weight gain.

Circadian Rhythms Also Effect Your Hormonal State
The hormone cortisol is emitted in a cycle throughout the day.  Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases primarily in times of energy usage.  In terms of your body’s circadian rhythm, cortisol reaches a peak output first thing in the morning.  On the other hand, the output of cortisol is lowest in the late evening.  The greatest output is around 5 a.m., while it is at its lowest point in a 24-hour period around midnight.  This is one reason why getting to bed before 11 p.m. helps your body sync up with your natural circadian rhythm.  And this helps to maximize repair during sleep. More

Negative Influences – Comparisons, Social Cues and the Herd

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We hear it often from the Bonfire experts, “If the herd was happier and healthier, we would follow them,” but as Dr. Jesse Davis put it, “Unfortunately, doing things that fit in has become increasingly dangerous.

The herd moves in fear. Movement with the herd often results in irrational decisions by way of the absence of comprehensive understanding and reasoning, also known as: groupthink. The herd’s movements, though keeping individuals from being singled out, seldom provide optimum benefit for any within, as is certainly the case in modern culture. Running with the crowd today may help us survive society, but will not help us thrive as individuals.

Many of society’s accepted norms dress the harmful up as helpful, present disease as desirable, proclaim the hurtful as healthful, and promote sickness as status. We are exposed repeatedly to messages that detract from our attention to our wellness. The vast majority of the inputs we are surrounded by emphasize momentary enjoyment, instant gratification, or both without regard to long-term effects of those indulgences on our own or others’ lives.

Along our Bonfire journey, we must continually ask ourselves what around us is influencing us “negatively.” We can define “negative” (since it is quite subject to individual interpretation) as:

Anything that detracts from the long-term quality of, or equilibrium among, the Seven Lifetime Value Accounts depletes their current balance, or hinders our ability to sustain our investment in them.

When we discover influences (people, information, environments, etc.) that subtract from or divide more than they add to or multiply, we should:

• Remove them from our lives altogether – this will work better on magazines, television shows, radio programs, and the like than on family members.

• Reduce their share of or input into our lives – let those who do not acknowledge the power of their choices in determining their own wellness watch us from a distance as we proactively shape ours…hopefully they’ll learn something.

• Remove ourselves from the reach of their energy – Let’s stay away from that corner store with the “Delicious Healthy Snacks” sign that peddles artificially flavored, food-like substances with corn syrup-sweetened carbonated beverages with which to wash them down. If we walk in, it is by our own choice that we come “under the influence.”

The next time we feel like just rolling with the herd because it’s “easier” than standing out and living healthy, well and awesome lives, let’s remember a tiny concept expressed in a well-known historical letter and ask ourselves if we really want what we’ll get if we do follow the crowd:

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Oh, and as far as keeping up with the Joneses, when we think about comparing what we have to what they have (food “freedoms,” bottled “youth” or “beauty,” “enhanced” athletic performance, etc.), let’s not forget to also compare what we have to what they have (chronic diseases, adverse reactions, that extra-spacey look, etc.). Then we can ask ourselves “Do we really want to clamor with everyone else around us to ‘win’ a lifetime achievement award for the number of chronic diseases and corresponding ‘treatments’ we can go through before we close our eyes for the last time?” We’d probably be a whole lot better off just staying near the basics of the Bonfire…

Sustained exposure to negative influence over time reduces the balance in our Seven Lifetime Value Accounts. It’s up to us to determine not to be part of the downward spiraling health trend that surrounds us. As Dr. Paul writes:

Let’s rally together to go against the accepted norms, against society’s common traits of living a sedentary existence, eating non-nutritious processed foods, and engaging in busy but unproductive, chronically stressful lives. All of these common contemporary lifestyle behaviors are literally destroying our bodies, our health, and our lives.

Stress Management – Quick Strategies for Coping with Stress

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The Quick Take Away:

  • Eat less sugar: sugar is an extraordinary stress-inducing food that undermines our health in countless ways.
  • Sleep more: go to bed earlier because you still have to get up at your usual time, so to get more rest – one the most effective stress relief behavior you can engage in, and it’s free and feels great.
  • Exercise more: the body’s response to exertion is categorically a must for health in general but a key strategy for melting stress
  • Say no … more often: reduce the demands on your schedule by simply not committing to so many … things (for you, for your kids, at work).

We all do what we need to do to survive, “get by,” and in hopefully most cases, succeed.  In all of these, good, bad, or ugly, stress accumulates and adds to the load we’re already carrying through life.  Thankfully, we are surrounded with abundant information on how to productively quarantine, reduce, or ideally, dissipate the stress – the question is, have we looked into it yet?

There are none more powerful in managing stress levels than ourselves, and so we are charged with the responsibility of keeping tabs on how we are allowing stressors to affect us psychologically and ultimately, physically.  After reading Week 1’s SPARK Insight, we understand a few of the physiological effects of chronic stress, and are tasked with finding practical methods to incorporate daily to prevent stress-induced deficiency.

Here are some great “weapons” in our arsenal that everyone can use to combat chronic stress:

  • Bonfire’s FUEL section provides a wonderful way to eliminate some of the stress of having to “cook up” healthy meals to fuel a hungry household, and provides grocery shopping lists and recipes with instructions each week.  Not only does this help with the planning and shopping aspects, but the real, live, and whole ingredients in the meal plan help our bodies be properly set up to physically deal with our daily stresses.

We need to practice removing ourselves from our everyday stressors, even if for a few seconds at a time while right in the middle of them, and we need to be on-purpose about it.

One particularly inconspicuous strategy that is fun and costs nothing is a “three second vacation.”  For three seconds, close your eyes and let your mind transport you to the most relaxing place on earth – sights, sounds, scents, everything.  Breathe it all in deeply for three seconds, and then resume your activity (extend duration and/or repeat as many times throughout the day as necessary).

Also, to the extent that schedule and location make it practical, giving your body a chance to “reboot” comes highly recommended.

On a larger scale, we challenge you to use some of the most gratifying activities you’ve come to enjoy to assist in the battle against stress.  They don’t necessarily need to cost anything (it doesn’t cost much to take a sketch pad out to draw a landscape or to get out and climb a tree…preferably your own tree), but a reasonable expense is also acceptable (a ride along the coast on a sunny day, top-down in a rented convertible, a round of golf, or a session out on the community airfield with a radio controlled airplane…however, if the expense or challenge of the mechanism adds stress, please find another coping mechanism to use).  If we ask our Bonfire experts, we’re sure to find intense exercise and surfing among their top choices for coping mechanisms – not specifically for the coping aspect, but because they’re a main course of fun with a generous helping of stress-relief on the side.

We’re all different and there’s no sense in stressing about choosing coping mechanisms, so find your fun and you’ll discover a mechanism that works for you!


by admin

We make it easier to reach your goals.
Get started with us today!

Most people would say they should be healthier. The sad truth is that we’ve never been sicker – despite more doctors, more hospitals, more drugs, greater technological advances in diagnosis and ‘treatment’ (after the fact = sick care), man has never been sicker than we are today. The deterioration of modern man’s health has gotten to the point where recently the CDC announced that for the first time in the history of man on earth, children are not expected to live as long as their parents – did you get that? That’s never happened before. Ever. And it’s the result of toxic and deficient lifestyles in the form of processed packaged nutrient-poor foods filled with health-robbing chemicals and devoid of life-giving nutrients, combined with sedentary and stressful lifestyles.

The good news is science has shown beyond a shadow of doubt what is required to be healthy – the doctors who founded and created Bonfire have not only vetted this research on your behalf to outline in great detail how to successfully adopt healthier lifestyle habits, but they’ve been teaching it to literally tens of thousands of patient for over 58 years of combined clinical practice. It’s now available to you as the Bonfire Program and it’s FREE. The Bonfire Program is a 90 Day Health Transformation Program that will gently and effectively guide you through adopting healthier habits into your lifestyle within the domains of eating (fuel), moving (air) and thinking (spark).  [click here]

Get the Body You Want … Without Fad Diets or Gimmicks. 

Perhaps the single most identifiable characteristic of our unhealthy modern culture is the fact that the vast majority of people today, both young and old, are overweight or outright obese. Being overweight is the hallmark feature of nearly all chronic diseases – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune/inflammatory disease, and the like. Being overweight isn’t about ‘being overweight’ (or out of shape, or ‘fat’, or whatever), it’s about being unhealthy. There is no other way to put it – when someone is overweight, they’re unhealthy. Period. Do you want to ‘gain health’ (i.e. lose weight)? Then sign up for the Bonfire Program today and start losing weight and getting healthier tomorrow.

Are you facing a health challenge?

Allergies? Skin Problems? Autoimmune Condition?

You know, it wasn’t that long ago that when someone died of cancer, it was unusual – it was a ‘big deal’. Today, it’s commonplace – everyone knows someone who’s has or has died from cancer (every other weekend is a Breast Cancer Walk). Similarly, between 1940 to 1980, an overweight kid was somewhat of a rarity; or, for those of you old fossils like Dr. Paul, remember when there was that one kid at school who ‘had asthma’? Today, registering a child for school always involves a list of current medications, allergies, health conditions, etc. (not to mention the 15% of boys today taking Ritalin or some other ADD/ADHD medication). How peanut butter and jelly used to be an American tradition; now, it’s an act of bio-terrorism at ‘NUT FREE’ schools. What’s most fascinating is that no one is asking … WHY?

Learn the keys to getting the body, health and life you’ve always wanted and deserved – for FREE.

Why are so many people, children and adults alike, off the rails with their health? It’s quite simple really – it’s our lifestyles; as modern humans, we’re so off base from what and how we’re supposed to eat, move and think that the current health epidemics (obesity, allergies, diabetes, autoimmune, dementia/neuro-degenerative diseases, etc.) are to be expected. Think about it – if you fed your dog a steady diet of donuts, pizza, soda pop, and Twizzlers, and never took him for walks, what do think his health would be like? Think he or she would have skin problems, digestive issues, develop cancer?  Of course our dogs do suffer because we feed them processed packaged crappy food made from corn, soy and junk vegetable oils in the form of ‘kibble’ … and so do we suffer – because we’re living unhealthy lifestyles as well. But there is an answer, a better way – a correct path to take in our lifestyle choices. The Bonfire Program is built upon evidence-based research proven to promote health and reduce, and in many cases actually reverse, many health conditions affecting modern man today. [click here]

Get FREE Recipes, Workouts, Thought-Life resources that make it easier to get results. 

Three successful doctors created Bonfire to make it easier for you to get healthy – the FREE 90 Day Program will take you step-by-step down the path to improved health! START TODAY – CLICK HERE

 Change Your Lifestyle
Change Your Health

Do you know your lifestyle is probably creating widespread CHRONIC INFLAMMATION throughout your body? Inflammation is the root cause of many, if not ALL health challenges facing people today.

What causes INFLAMMATION? The scientific research is very clear on this: modern life is killing us through pro-inflammatory lifestyle choices – the way we eat, the way we [don’t] move, and our mangled thought life (stress, lack of sleep, lack of gratitude and patience).

Here are two things YOU MUST DO right away to stop deadly chronic inflammation:

1. Change your lifestyle CLICK HERE TO START TODAY

2. Start taking ENOUGH high quality natural triglyceride omega-3 fish oil to mitigate the effects of your PRO-INFLAMMATORY LIFESTYLE CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

Are you STRESSED? Who isn’t, right? Being stressed ALL THE TIME, and NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP are major threats to your health. Change your lifestyle starting TODAY – Change Your Lifestyle and Change Your Health – Today … for FREE! CLICK HERE TO START TODAY

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? There is a way out, a better way … through healthier lifestyle choices. Let us come beside you and guide you, teach you, show you … how to adopt healthier habits in your life. The Bonfire Program has worked for thousands and thousands of people … just like you! Our motto is ‘We make it easier to get healthier’. Notice we don’t say ‘easy’, but easier; it’s simple, but not necessarily easy to add healthy habits to your life, to make change, even positive change. But we’ve figured out how to help you do it … in a confidence-building step-by-step process. The Program is FREE – just sign up and start doing (yes, reading won’t cut it – you have to DO).

What have you got to lose? It won’t cost you anything and you’re friends already think you’re weird, so … why not?



The 2nd Annual Nor’easter Crossfit Throw Down

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August 26, 2pm – 4pm
On the beach in Hampton, NH 

To celebrate the final day of the 2nd Annual Bonfire Health 100 Day Challenge, we’re celebrating in style with some fun, sun and Crossfit competition at the beach in Hampton, New Hampshire at Bicentennial Park (directly across the street from Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop at the north end of “The Wall”).

Click HERE
To enter your Crossfit Team!

  • Join North East area Crossfit Boxes and Compete on the Beach!
  • Support the Mauli Ola Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis Kids
  • Teams of 6 (3 Men/3 Women) – this year includes a ‘Scaled Division’
  • 3 WOD’s – One Day Event (2pm – 4pm)
  • $150 Entry Per Team (proceeds go to MOF)
  • Sponsored by Bonfire Health and Reebok!

Don’t miss out on this special end-of-summer beach party with like-minded healthy people!

It’s All About Oil

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By Eric Morris

First up, the low down on Olive Oil
Did you know that olive oil is as tender and fragile as an early spring flower? No? Well, I hate to rain on your parade, but the really good stuff (cold processed, extra virgin olive oil) is delicate and should not be used to cook with.

Why not? Because the compounds in olive oil break down easily when introduced to heat, which destroys most of the benefits of the oil. Even more unnerving is high heat can turn olive oil rancid and develop free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for doing serious damage to the cells of the body and may be the culprits behind early aging, cancer and being too cool for school. (that last part was a joke.) Free radicals – one of the reasons we (should) eat so many vegetables. 

Olive oil is best reserved for drizzling on top of salads.

Tired of using olive oil for every cooking necessity while eating paleo? Well young grasshopper, there are plenty of oils out there that are not only delicious, but super healthy for you.  Check it out!

IMPORTANT: When buying oils, buy cold processed, extra virgin oil if possible. Cold processed refers to the processing technique the food went through to become oil. Cold processed oil ensures there was minimal heat involved in processing and all the nutrients and antioxidants are still intact in the oil.

Extra virgin means the oil was produced by the first pressing of the food through the cold pressing process. That means extra virgin oils are less processed, more delicate and retain more nutrients. Good to know!

Macadamia Nut Oil
Want to scramble some eggs, but don’t want to use butter? Macadamia nut oil is your right hand oil! This oil is light and has a buttery taste to it while boasting an excellent nutrient profile. The oil is composed of mainly monounsaturated fat which gives it the ability to withstand very high heat during cooking, increase insulin sensitivity and scavenge “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Really Cool Fact: Macadamia nut oil has an omega 3 to omega 6 ratio of 1:1 which is the same ratio that the body needs for optimal function! This is truly an MVP oil! Get it here:

Extra Virgin Coconut oil
Coconut oil and coconut products just might ensure you live to 150 years old. Dr. Mary Enig has completed extensive research on the coconut and remarked that “Perhaps the best way to lose unwanted weight (excess weight in the form of fat that is) is to change the type of fat in the diet to the type of fat found in the coconut.” I think she is on to something.

Here is why coconut products are the next best thing since the riding lawn mower. The form of fat in coconuts is called medium chain triglycerides or MCT. MCT’s are great for a few reasons. First, they are anti-microbial and anti-viral. This means that coconut products serve as natural bug killers and increase the health of your digestive system.

Second, MCT’s require very little energy to breakdown, absorb and utilize in the body. That means MCT’s can be utilized for fuel easily, which will keep your energy levels high during the day without the spike and crash that fast absorbing sugars will create.

Finally, MCT’s are composed of a fatty acid named lauric acid. Lauric acid is responsible for giving cells flexible and rubbery properties. This is great since a flexible cell is a healthy cell and will result in smoother skin, cleaner arteries, healthier joints and x-ray vision! Just kidding about that last one!

Avocado Oil
What’s Avocado oil got that I don’t got? I will tell you inquiring terrier!  Chlorophyll and beta-sitosterol!!!!

Alright listen up boys, this is for you: Beta-sitosterol is compound found in large quantities in the avocado and avocado oil that has tremendous health properties. New research has been published on how beta-sitosterol can regulate the male hormonal profile to keep the endorcrine (hormone) system functioning normally.

The biggest thing scientists have found? Beta-sitosterol may help in the protection against prostate enlargement. It’s proven that almost every guy, given they live long enough will encounter prostate problems. With ample amounts of beta-sitosterol, it is possible to slow the rate of enlargement of the prostate. Beats taking some stupid pill everyday right?

For you young ladies (and men I guess): Chlorophyll (found in all green vegetables) is a potent blood detoxifier and can assist in the regeneration of damaged cells and evacuation of toxins from the body. Chlorophyll is also responsible for keeping skin healthy and giving it that “glow” that everyone is after. Avocado oil contains a moderate amount of chlorophyll in every serving so every time you cook with avocado oil you are giving yourself softer, healthier skin. Imagine that!

Forget spending $50 bucks on the latest lotion/moisturizer and get yourself some avocado oil instead!

Avocado oil has a high heat point so it is safe to cook with, it contains mainly monounsaturated fatty acids, plus omega-9 fatty acids which aid in the absorption of omega-3’s. It also tastes awesome on just about anything! They carry a few different styles of avocado oil at Philbrick’s Fresh Market so check’em out and start cooking!

Walnut Oil
Walnut oil contains the most omega 3 fatty acids out of any oil on the market. The type of omega 3 in walnut oil is ALA or alpha lipoic acid, which comes in a distant 3rd when compared to the omega 3’s, EPA and DHA that come from animal sources, however walnut oil has been shown to decrease c-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the body. Walnut oil also contains large amounts of magnesium, calcium and potassium.

Before you start splashing that pan with Walnut oil: Given the high amount of omega-3 fatty acids in walnut oil, it is not advisable to use as cooking oil. Walnut oil is not as stable as avocado oil, macadamia nut oil or coconut oil at high temperatures and is best if used as a salad dressing or for flavoring prepared food.

Walnut oil can be found at any big grocery store in the oil section.

About Eric Morris

Yep, Eric looks like he sleeps on the ground, routinely hunts squirrels in an effort to reduce his weekly grocery bill, carries logs around town merely because its good exercise and no one will question him, and studies local beavers in an attempt to learn how to gnaw through wood with his teeth. It’s all true … but he knows of which he preaches:

  • B.S. in Exercise Science from The University of New Hampshire 2008
  • M.S. in Exercise Science (expected – hopefully) from the University of New Hampshire
  • Certified Strength and Conditioning specialist (C.S.C.S) by the NSCA
  • Certified CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
  • Head Trainer of CrossFit Portsmouth


by admin

AIR  ~  Movement of the Day:
Day 16 of the 100 Day Challenge! Don’t do your Tabatas alone! See the power of teamwork below as Dr. Paul is seen doing a Ring Hold Tabata at Crossfit Cape Ann. Because there was a limited number of rings for the amount of people, this is somewhat of a modified Tabata in that it was done in twenty second intervals (instead of the customary 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest).

CFCA owners Jon and Karen Conant are getting their team together for the Bonfire Mauli Ola 100 Day Challenge Crossfit “Throwdown” at the closing party on the beach in Hampton, NH this August. Will you be there? Come watch, come participate, come have fun – IT’S A BEACH PARTY with psycho Paleo Crossfit health fanatics! [Click here for additional Workouts]

FUEL  ~  Dish of the Day:
Wicked Good Chicken Salad is a fantastic lunch to fuel your afternoon. Make a generous batch and be prepared to make positive, forward-thinking, healthy decisions this week! [Click here for additional Recipes]


SPARK  ~  Thought of the Day:
Quote of the Day: God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?”  ~ William A. Ward

Essential Element:  Our ability to choose our response to a situation is a learned skill.  Like a muscle, it requires time and practice to develop strength and coordination. [click here to read Spark Insight: Gratitude] 

Journal:  Whom at work do you silently appreciate? Whose steady presence provides stability and consistency in your workplace? These are the people that usually go without thanks. Write down the names of those in your workplace that provide that steady presence– and dedicate a few seconds of  your coming week to thanking them out loud.  [Click here for additional Journal exercises]

Guest Contributor – Eric Morris on Kale

by admin

Cooler than Kale? Not likely!

I love Kale. It’s strange I know, but I am not the only one!  There is Bo from who makes his own t-shirts with awesome sayings screen printed on them, (go buy a shirt then show it to me. I will be pumped!); there is the crazy farmer lady who owns the blog, where she documents her year of eating kale every day, and of course there are the nutrition scientists who love kale because it is one of the healthiest things you can put down your gullet.

The amount of good stuff in kale and other relatives of the brassica family (think collard greens, broccoli, mustard greens and kohlrabi) is overwhelming. It could take up to 30 or so pages to fully explain the benefits of this vegetable, so here is a short summary of the goodness that is in kale:

Your natural multi-vitamin
Kale has a high content of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin K, potassium, manganese, copper, and even the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). In addition to the carotenoid beta-carotene, kale contains other very important carotenoid molecules called lutein and zeaxanthin (both necessary for eye health) and numerous others (probably too many to count, and maybe even yet identified).

Eating kale is like winning the health lottery!
Kale has a substance called sulforaphane in it. Sulforaphane is a big deal when considering heart disease and healthy arteries. I recently came across some research that explained how sulforphane can “turn on” certain protective mechanisms in the arteries to protect against inflammation and atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Kale and its brother broccoli have been tapped as containing the most sulforphane when compared to other vegetables and foods. So eat your kale. Your heart will thank you!

Need calcium? Kale has got you covered! One cup of cooked kale has more bio-available calcium then 2 glasses of milk! We need a T-shirt that says “got kale?”!!!

Kale: the James Bond of vegetables
What else does kale have in it? Yep. You guessed it – glucosinolates. Now, I am sure everyone knows the deal with glucosinolates….What? You mean you don’t??? Well, let me hit you with some knowledge!

Glucosinolates are compounds found in high concentrations in leafy green vegetables (especially kale). These molecules are especially cool because they activate the body’s own antioxidant system. This cascade of antioxidant activity actually cycles over and over within the body and continues to protect your system as many as 3 to 4 days after the glucosinolate-containing food has been consumed. Talk about protection! By this process, glucosinolates help the liver eliminate toxic molecules.

These toxins come from many sources: cigarette smoke, pollution, drugs, even free radicals generated by our own bodies in response to illness. So the big picture here is even if you eat super clean, it is good to have some kale in your diet to protect against the bad stuff that may be floating around in your environment.

Kale – it is like a vegetable Ninja!
O.K. you get the point, you should be eating some kale right now, but what if you really don’t want to gnaw on raw kale all day long? Never fear! I found some recipes from Diana at that look delicious. Here are a few I found:  More

The Big 4 of Mental Toughness – Part II

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The Big 4 of Mental Toughness – Part II

By Mark Divine

In part one of this series on Mental Toughness we introduced the “3 fights” you fight every day.  The first fight is inside you.  That battle is overcoming your fears, steeling your resolve, maintaining an offensive mind set, developing skills, knowledge and personal power, and not succumbing to mediocrity.

The second fight is the actual engagement; the one most would consider “the fight”.  The Coach says 3, 2, 1 go and you launch yourself into the WOD. In business, you launch the product and steel yourself for the customer response. As a SEAL, you close with the enemy and engage in combat.   This is often the easiest of the 3 fights, and often the shortest in time invested.

The third fight is between you and “the system.” The system can be downright cold and cruel sometimes.

However, if you focus on the fight first and seek to win that before you ever embark on the second fight, or have to deal with the consequences of the third, you will win all three, every time.  The first fight is in your mind.  You must win in the mind, before stepping foot onto the battleground.  This is true for any situation in life.  The question, then, becomes how.

You must master 4 mental toughness tactics to win in your mind before you step into the battles of life.  Whether you are a SEAL candidate or business professional, the big 4 are your toolkit to mental toughness and success.  Let’s look at the first of these tactics.

Performance Zone Breathing
Control of the breath is not just useful for arousal control, leading to a lessening of the effect of the negative impact of stress, but also in the positive sense it is useful to change your state even if the stress facing you is “simply” performance anxiety.  Elite athletes and Navy SEALs utilize breath control to prepare for missions and events.  The act of psyching yourself up physically and mentally includes deep diaphragmatic breathing, forced exhalation breaths combined with powerful visualization and positive affirmations.

Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing
Breathing is both a conscious and unconscious process.  When unconscious we tend be do what is called “chest breathing.”  This type of breathing is inefficient and labor intensive in that it requires more effort for the same amount of oxygen intake, lowering energy stores and increasing anxiety.

  • Facing a stressful event, we should switch to a deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern. 

We can practice a deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern through a discipline we call Box Breathing at SEALFIT Academy.  Box breathing is meant to be done in a quiet and controlled setting, not while you are in the fight.  The pattern is simply a box, whereby you inhale to a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, exhale to the same 5 count and hold again for 5.  You can start at 3 if this is difficult, or take it up a notch if easy.  You should be uncomfortable on the exhale hold, and be forced to fill the entirely of your lung capacity on the inhale hold.

The benefits of deep diaphragmatic box breathing include:

  • Reduction of performance anxiety
  • Control of the arousal response
  • Increasing brain elasticity – flexibility through enhanced blood flow and reduced mental stimulation
  • Enhancing learning and skill development
  • Increasing capacity for focused attention and long term concentration

Relax, just breathe!
When you are in “the fight” you will not want to hold your breath.  So we turn to what we call a Relaxation breath instead.  In this practice you will drop the hold and just inhale to a count of 5 starting from the diaphragm then filling up the middle of your chest then finally the top as if you are gulping in a final sip of air.  Immediately you will begin to exhale in the opposite manner – starting at the top and ending with a puff to get the air out of the deep recesses of your lungs.  Then you do it again and again.

The relaxation breath is valuable to control the arousal response, calming the body and mind so you can remain in control, focused and present.  If you practice it enough it will eventually become your natural breathing state, providing enormous physical and mental benefits over the long run, such as:

  • Long term anxiety reduction
  • Chronic pain reduction
  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Improved immune functioning
  • Enhanced lung capacity
  • Enhanced body awareness
  • Enhanced control over bodily functions
  • Enhanced sense of presence
  • Increased energy

You can practice the relaxation breathing exercise anytime throughout the day.  It is great to do before a meeting, while driving, or now, while you are reading this!  Continued in part 3…

Until then, train hard, stay safe and have fun!


Commander Mark Divine is founder and CEO of US Tactical, inc. which operates SEALFIT, and US CrossFit. He started his athletic career as a collegiate swimmer and rower, then competitive tri-athlete and martial artist before joining the Navy in 1990 as an officer. He graduated honor-man of his SEAL training class and served on active duty for nine years. Mark retired as a Commander from the Navy Reserves in 2011.

At U.S. Tactical and SEALFIT, CDR Divine has trained and mentored thousands of Navy SEAL and other Special Ops candidates to succeed in the most demanding military training programs in the world. His success rate with SEALFIT in getting candidates through their SOF programs is near 90%.  More