• Nathan Riley, MD

How to Live Well

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

This a constantly evolving document in which I outline the principles of a healthy lifestyle based on my own practices and those practices that I think are relevant and applicable to most people.

Last revised 12/23/2020


  • First and foremost, what's your dream? What are you living for? This is an important step in identifying and correcting health challenges along the way.

  • Then: stop telling yourself you can't change or that you even have to change at all. Maybe you're not broken after all?

  • Eat whole foods; avoid processed foods. The less ingredients on the nutrition label the better. I spend 80% of my time in the produce section of the grocery store.

  • Eat organic vegetables plentifully and in a wide variety of colors and textures.

  • Eat animal products from ranchers and farms that respect the soil and the animal. I'm obsessed with Fox Hollow Farm, which is a biodynamic farm located just twenty minutes from our house in Louisville, KY.

  • Rotate proteins (plant or animal) on a 3-4 day basis. Proteins are the most likely culprit for food intolerance.

  • Vote with your dollars. Invest in small businesses and local farms who are making food and other products with sustainability in mind. (Quality > Quantity)

  • Stop drinking pasteurized cow's milk and eating so much wheat.

  • Drink a lot of clean, slightly alkaline water. Invest in a water filter. (I like Berkey)

  • Aim for 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Block out any UV light before and during your sleep using black out shades in order to not disrupt your circadian rhythm. I also wear blue light blocking glasses at night before bed.

  • Adopt a Qigong or Tai Chi practice as a form of working-in to balance your working-out. I love Mimi Kuo-Deemer's style. These practices literally push life energy through your body.

  • Foster YIN forces (most of us are rich in YANG). This includes self-reflection, contemplation, quieting the mind, and slowing down our roll. More on this here.

  • Breathe deeply. Make a point to do box breathing twice daily. Stop everything that you're doing. Inhale for a 5-count, hold for 5, exhale for 5, then hold for 5. Repeat for five cycles. I also encourage you to try out a breathwork class like Effiji.

  • Learn to forgive

  • Make time for mindfulness and meditation. The point of these practices is to take control of where you focus your mental power. For beginners, this can be as simple as focusing on the sensation of belly breathing for ten minutes per day. I like Sam Harris "Waking Up" app. Breath the cycle of negative thoughts or monkey mind.

  • Consider your first activity when you wake up, and make sure that it's not related to work or email.

  • Delete social media. I promise you don't need it.

  • End your showers with cold water. Start with 15 seconds, and work your way up to 3 minutes per day. Cold immersion tubs are also great.

  • Be present with your family and friends

  • Invest time and resources into lasting friendships

  • Minimize alcohol and processed sugar intake. I try to limit myself to a glass of wine per day.

  • Stop smoking cigarettes and other impure tobacco products

  • Look both ways when crossing the street

  • Wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle

  • Stop texting and driving

  • Rotate coffee or caffeine to every other day

  • Minimize supplements. Get your nutrients from whole foods. I take just four supplements: Royal Blend Fermented Cod Liver Oil & Concentrated Butter Oil from Green Pasture, LDM-100, Ashwaganda from Organic India, and Stamets 7.

  • Make your workouts count. I only work out a few times per week, but my workouts are murder. Put away your phone, mix up your movements, and make it fun.

  • Lift heavy things using proper form to ensure that you won't hurt yourself lifting light things

  • Can't afford a gym membership? Bike to work. Take the stairs. Park as far as you can from the grocery store and carry your groceries to the car instead of using a cart. MOVE MORE.

  • Stretch. I love Hitomi Mochizuki's app "Hitomi Now" for daily yoga.

  • Learn about the chakra system and adjust your daily routine to re-tool any imbalances (hint: your 1st or 2nd chakra probably needs work)

  • Don't stress the small things

  • If you're sad or afraid, say it out loud. Men, especially, are conditioned to be stoic in the face of hardship. Let that shit out, dude.

  • Be intimate often. This could mean having sex or it could mean engaging in partner massage. Furthermore, learn how to please yourself.

  • Before you eat, stop and honor the animals and plants that are gifting their vitality and flesh to you.

  • Dedicate yourself to a spiritual practice. This could include religious study, dabbling with psychedelics under a trained facilitator, or through deep meditation or breathwork. I have been partaking in a virtual Rudolf Steiner study group, and it has become a highlight of my week.

  • Spend more time in nature. Hike slowly enough on occasion to notice and identify a new plant or tree species.

  • Go outside. The benefits of getting sunshine outweigh the risk of blocking all UV exposure. And start using barrier pastes instead of nanoparticulate crap if you must use anything at all. Raw Elements is my favorite.

  • Indulge in rich, sweet cake once in a while. And don't feel guilty about devouring it.

  • Dance like nobody's watching. I put on music every time I am cooking and dance by myself, with my wife, or with the baby. Everybody will be too worried about what they look like to care about how you look. Bust it. Here's my ever-evolving playlist.

  • Start a garden. Indulge in the scent of fresh herbs. This is medicine!

  • Cook most of your meals at home. This is the only way to know what you're putting into your body!

  • Don't cook with vegetable oils (e.g. canola). Use lard, butter, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil instead

  • Consider carefully the impact of taking on new projects or a job promotion. Is this going to impact how you can care for yourself? I can't stress this one enough...

  • Trust your intuition. You don't need to hit every item on this list. Just do your best and let your soul be your guide

  • Learn to forgive; learn to trust

  • Learn to listen to your body. Become comfortable with silence

  • Select cosmetics or cleaning agents for your body, clothes, linens, and household that are made from natural, non-toxic chemicals

  • Floss daily

  • Remember that your body has the ability to heal itself if you give it the tools and stand out of the way of your nature

  • Set the intention to live a life of vitality (physical, emotional, and psychological)

  • Minimize screen time

  • Keep your devices in airplane mode when not in use to minimize exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Also: turn off your Wi-Fi router at night

  • Minimize email engagement to twice daily


In summary: think, breath, drink, eat, move, and sleep with intention and just the right amount for your mind and body. If you need further assistance, I can't recommend Paul Chek's teachings enough. Find yourself a CHEK practitioner to help hone your lifestyle once you've done your best to work on the bulleted items before.

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