Be Well Living with Jonathan Fields

A father, husband, serial entrepreneur, growth strategist, and award-winning author, Jonathan Fields inspires possibility. He is the founder of Good Life Project®, a mission-driven media and education venture whose sole purpose is to help people live more meaningful, connected, and vital lives. We speak with Fields about his personal health mission.   

Wellness Inspiration: On the medical and nutrition side, I’d say Dr. Lipman, Aviva Romm, and Chris Kresser. Gary Taubes makes me question a lot, too. On the mind-set side, Susan Piver and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, along with many of the leading researchers in the field of positive psychology. On the movement side, MobilityWOD founder Kelly Starrett.

Health Passion: Reintroducing people to daily mobility, nature, and relationships. Reworking workflow to allow you to be much more mobile and getting outside can make such a huge difference in our daily experience of life, state of mind, and disease risk factors. Also, refocusing people on the value of deep and meaningful relationships.

Wellness is ______: A vital mind and body; to me, that is all about personal optimization. It is a body that is as strong, capable, and free of pain and disease as it can be. And it is a mind that is as calm, focused, resilient, grateful, and joyful as it can be. I’m also careful to keep “as it can be” in those sentences, because for many of us, once we’ve hit a certain point in life, there is a lot of damage that can be reversed, but also likely some that cannot.

For example, I have a shoulder that has been surgically reconstructed twice. There are some things it will never be able to do. So my optimal state now for that shoulder will look different than it did when I was 18, and will look different than someone else’s optimal shoulder function. I think it is important to think in terms of optimization, not perfection, because it encourages us to do what we can to be as good as we can, but also forgives us when we cannot attain some external and impossible-to-reach definition.

Relax & Chill Out: I have a mindfulness practice that sets the tone for every day. I also try to get into nature pretty much every day. Living in the middle of NYC, that might seem impossible, but it’s actually relatively easy with Central Park three blocks from me on one side and the Hudson River two blocks to the other side. I also listen to a lot of podcasts and read pretty much every night before going to bed. And I’ve begun to experiment with a weekly painting/art session and infrared sauna (not at the same time, though that might make for an interesting podcast topic!).

Morning Start: I’m the first one up in my house. I rise without an alarm, then do my morning practice, which begins with three to five minutes of pranayama (breathing exercises) followed by 20–25 minutes of mindfulness meditation. On Sundays, I generally swap in a metta or loving-kindness meditation; it helps me begin my week with the right intention. I use the Insight Timer app to help keep me honest. Then I make coffee for my wife and myself and try to focus on more “generative” or creative work. Or I spend a few hours reading. One of the great benefits of my job is that I get to call reading and learning a work activity.

Exercise of Choice: If there is a way for me to move my body outdoors, that is always my preference. I used to do a lot of mountain biking, running, and climbing. Now I do a ton of walking in the park. Most of my phone calls are walking calls, and nearly every meeting is a walking meeting. When it comes time for more “formal” exercise, I’ll generally just pick up the pace outside or, when the weather isn’t great or it’s cold outside, I’ll do yoga or my own movement practice in my apartment. Because I taught yoga and movement for so many years, it makes it easier to create a home practice that feels good and also accommodates certain physical limitations.

Sleep Routine: I fall asleep around 11:30 every night. In the hours leading up to it, I try to get off my computer (not always successfully). And even when I am on a screen, I have filters enabled that extract much of the blue light so as not to mess with my melatonin cycles too much. I keep it pretty simple: floss and brush my teeth, get into bed with my wife, talk a little bit, read a little bit, then drift off to sleep. We do not have a TV in our bedroom, so there’s no temptation to stay up later and no disruption from the light.

Current Reading List: There are a few books I like to reread toward the beginning of the year that I’ve just finished. These include:

I also do a ton of other reading, because I feature a lot of authors on the Good Life Project podcast. So my current “first reads” include:

Always in Fridge: Grass-fed butter. Lots of veggies, especially brussels sprouts and asparagus. Truth is, as is the case with a lot of New Yorkers, much of what I get is “on demand,” so it’s not often from the fridge.

Pantry Staples: MCT (C8), avocado and olive oil, almond butter, balsamic vinegar, various nuts, dark chocolate (and lots of it), canned wild-caught salmon and sardines, gluten-free pasta and tomato sauce, organic chicken broth. Did I mention dark chocolate?

Favorite Ways to Reset: Intermittent fast, move my body outside in a natural setting, drink a lot of water and unsweetened green drinks, find a way to sweat.

Favorite Healthy Foods On the Go: Nuts and unsweetened green drinks.

Ingredients I Always Avoid: Regular milk, gluten, soy, refined sugar, alcohol.

Can’t Live Without: My wife and daughter—they are my everything.

Current Mantra: #justbreathe.