Happy Sunday 😊
Today I’m excited to feature Adrian Alfieri and his Wellness Wisdom Stack. Adrian’s currently investing in consumer over at Assembled Brands and is an active angel across e-commerce and digital health verticals. When he’s not discovering the next break-out brand, he’s uncovering the daily habits of founders and VCs at The Proof, an interview series focused on high-performance wellness.
When I first met Adrian, I was elated to find someone who was just as passionate and nerdy about wellness as I was.
And it wasn’t just the fact that we were both writing about it. We had both gone through periods of high anxiety and uncertainty, and came to wellness through the desire to understand how to better deal with those moments.
Writing about wellness and sharing it with others is both a form of healing and social accountability for ourselves.
Adrian has done a terrific job tirelessly documenting the wellness routines of those around him. Today, I'm honored to be sharing his own Wellness OS across Mind 🧠(emotional and intellectual) and Body 💪(self-care, fitness, nutrition) with you all!
What’s your definition of wellness?✨
My own definition of wellness came about after a rough patch during my senior year at Brown.
I had just ended a long-term relationship, was scrambling to finish my senior thesis, and was plagued with existential questions around what to do after graduating. It was the first time I experienced a prolonged feeling of helplessness that was hard to talk about with any of my friends.
Things began to gradually shift for me after I came across Tim Ferriss and his interviews with high-profile folks in the startup world. More importantly, he didn’t talk about business. He went deep into their habits, systems, and routines related to health and wellness in high-pressure environments. I began to mirror and incorporate a number of these habits into my own life, and ultimately came up with a five-pronged blueprint that worked for me:
As I began to consistently hit three or four of these habits every day, my mental health began to improve.
Before diving into the roots of where my anxiety was coming from, I first asked whether I was taking care of myself in these areas. That worked for me.
To this day, this is the underlying system that enhances every other aspect of my life. As of right now, my ideal morning and evening routines are as follows:
- Get 8 hrs of rest and up by 6am with my clothes laid out
- Pop on a hoodie and go on a 20m stroll outside with a podcast
- Prioritize my to-do list for the day and dive right in
the quality of my morning is 100% determined by my evening routine, so I protect it at all costs.
- Hot shower + screens off 1 hr before bed - this physically signals to my brain that it’s time to relax
- Stop drinking water as well so you don’t wake up to use the bathroom
- Do something meditative and mindless - I’ll read fiction, journal, or tidy up my room
- I have a notebook near my bed where I capture all the to-dos/thoughts that randomly come to my head as I drift to sleep. This assures my brain that I’ve captured them somewhere safe and it can safely shut-off.
I use the following Notion template to track my own progress
If you dig into it, each of my five core wellness habits is represented here:
- Tracking my recovery via Whoop, reading, and having an hour to unwind without tech before bed all help with sleep.
- A morning walk serves as my daily mindfulness routine, as opposed to meditation (which I’ve always had trouble with).
- “Fam” refers to my direct family as well as my chosen circle of friends. If I’m not seeing one or more of my “fam” every day, I make sure to block out time for an evening call or facetime with someone (anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour).
Sleep and community are probably the highest leverage actions for me.
- In addition to a cardio workout, which can vary depending on where I’m living and my fatigue level, I’ll knock out a morning stretch along with 100 pushups and 100 squats throughout the day between calls. Prior to quarantine, I’d weightlift a few days a week. But, without a gym, I’ve prioritized cardio and bodyweight.
- Finally, and this varies for everyone, my body feels the best when I’m eating a paleo diet and sober most of the week. I’m not against drinking on special occasions (I have an affinity for good mezcal and tequila), but what I try to avoid are the weeknight beers that just aren’t necessary. They don’t dramatically improve my mood and just lead to brain fog. My mornings are vital for productivity and focus, so anything that might damage that block of time I really try to cut out.
- Authentic relationships - friends and family mean the world to me. A potential alternative to therapy is just having 1 friend whom you can be truly authentic with. Who can hold space for you as you explore and process your emotions.
- Community - I’m constantly encouraged to stay consistent with my well-being routines through being around people who also care about the same things. Many people are limited by their school and work social networks. After starting The Proof and having more of an online presence, I've been able to attract people in my life who value the same things, like Patricia :)
- Mindfulness through walking - meditation never stuck for me. Rather I often wake up at 5-6am and go for a 30-minute walk outside when the rest of the world is sleeping. I do some of my best thinking on these strolls.
Weekly reflection + life audit - every Saturday I get a big cup of matcha, fire up Notion, and dive into a weekly checkpoint. It’s comprised of 15 questions:
- Am I closer to freedom?
- What did I ship this week?
- Is my calendar optimized for flow?
- Where am I trying to be too clever?
- Does my calendar reflect my priorities?
- Was I going too fast, too slow, or just right?
- What 20% of actions drove 80% of results?
- What’s giving me energy?
- What’s dulling me?
- Can I intentionally slow down to move faster?
- What am I putting off? What if I just did it now?
- Did I let other people dictate how I spent my time?
- Am I calm? Am I fit? If not, what's in place to change that?
- What can I remove, digital or physical, to improve coherence?
- Am I sticking to the schedule, or am I letting life get in the way?
- What’s the real goal here? Is there a better way to accomplish it?
- After unbundling my reflections on the week prior, I’ll return to that handful of breakthrough moments and take action. In my own workflow, this entails adding a calendar batch, updating my to-do list, or sending a follow-up email. This ritual doesn't take long. But, it forces you to honestly confront what’s working and what isn’t — while priming yourself to take swift action.
- Critically, it doesn’t just clarify your thoughts. It changes how you move through the world 🌍
- I also audit my content diet - what you feed your mind directly impacts your ambient mental state and what you produce. Here are some of my favorite podcasts, newsletters and books.
- I primarily use Youtube for extended sets of flow state music: Boiler Room sets are brilliant, or concert sets by Zhu, Lane 8, or Rufus du Sol
- Tracking physical biometrics through my Whoop - every day I record my Whoop Recovery Score (based on 3 physiological markers: Heart Rate Variability (HRV), Resting Heart Rate (RHR), and sleep) to see what changes I need to make in my routines. If I see that I have a high score, it motivates me to continue the streak.
- I oscillate between HIIT and lower intensity workouts - on an ideal day I’m playing soccer or swimming. In between meetings I also do rounds of air squats and push-ups and strive to hit 100 reps of each every day.
- Giving myself a massage - I use a spiked roller like this one to soothe tight muscles and yoga blocks to stretch.
- Paleo diet and measurement - I tend to stick to a paleo diet. Recently I invested in getting an at-home food sensitivity test by Everlywell. It measures your body’s immune response to 96 foods to help provide guidance on what types of food may be the best to choose for an elimination diet. I also just ordered a Levels continuous glucose monitor, which I’m particularly hyped about. It’s arriving next week!
This concludes Adrian’s Wellness Wisdom Stack. If you enjoyed please share this with your friends & family! 💌