Eric Barker

Eric has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine. His book Barking up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong debuted at #2 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. His latest book Plays Well with Others: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Relationships is (Mostly) Wrong is a guide to help build better friendships, reignite love, and get closer to others.

What does a typical day of eating look like for you?

Quest bars, fruit, nuts and protein shakes are staples. By keeping those as my go-to, I don’t mind indulging at times because I know the majority of my eating has been pretty darn healthy. I try to limit what I have in the house because if it’s in reach, I will eat it. Discipline at the grocery store is everything. 

What do you eat when you’re on the run?

Quest bars. More importantly, I try not to eat on the run if I can. Home is where I have lots of control and few temptations.

Let’s say you got to choose your last meal on Earth, what would it be?

Pizza and soda. Made me happy as a kid and some things never change.

What is your go-to comfort food?

Going to Starbucks for coffee and some indefensibly sugary treat.

How do you recover after indulgent eating?

I try not to beat myself up too much. I just get back to the normal plan – and make sure that whatever I indulged in is has been relocated to the trash.

How do you find time for fitness?

Luckily, most days I have a lot of control over my schedule. Mornings are designated for serious stuff like writing. By the afternoon, my cognitive horsepower is exhausted and it’s time for busy work and exercise. It’s a good thing my gym is right around the corner. Makes it harder to tell myself I don’t have time.

What do you like to do for exercise?

Strength training is paramount. I try to do relatively short bouts of lifting, compound exercises for the big muscle groups, generally 6-8 reps. I shy away from squats and deadlifts these days because, for me, they’ve just led to too many injuries over the years.

I also try to do an hour of fast walking on the treadmill. As a writer who works from home, my lifestyle is so sedentary that I don’t even consider this cardio. It’s just getting in the amount of walking a normal person would do.

I load up my iPad with TV shows that I don’t let myself enjoy outside of the gym. This provides motivation to get out of the house and to the treadmill.

What are your 3 favorite workout songs?

I’m more of a podcast guy. “Econtalk”, “Conversation with Tyler”, and “Very Bad Wizards” keep me going.

After a challenging day, how do you destress?

Generally, lots of reading. Something unrelated to my writing. (Oddly, a lot of what I read still ends up in my writing but it’s still a shift.) Other than that, it’s movies and seeing friends.

How do you treat yourself after a long week?

Ummmm… often I don’t. I probably should. I generally work every day so the weeks can kinda blur. Writing my new book, “Plays Well With Others” took an absurd amount of research. And then as soon as it was done it was time to start the marketing.

Next January I look forward to having an answer to the question, “How do you treat yourself after a long three years?”

Do you have a nighttime ritual?

Absolutely. Nothing has improved my sleep more than a consistent schedule and killing the lights two hours before bed. I literally have an alarm set on my phone labeled “DARKNESS.” I’ll still use devices with “Night Shift” enabled but TV and lights are off.

Is there a motto or saying you say to yourself that helps you?

I will assume cursing doesn’t count. Seriously, I try to remind myself to be grateful. I can get hyperfocused on accomplishing goals — and that’s usually great – but it also means you’re constantly scanning for the negative so you can fix or improve it. If I don’t explicitly take the time to appreciate what I have accomplished, it wears on me and the world is a darker place.

Is there anything you’re working on changing?

I write in the self-improvement space so my first instinct to respond, “Everything. All the time.” Which leads me to my real response which is “more balance in my life.”

Why do you think so many people think being fit and successful can’t coexist?

Many people see fitness as a chore. As something optional that they “should” do. But you need to see it as essential. I would not die if I stopped showering or replying to important emails, but I know they’re important and I do them. They’re the default. Good habits I never question. Living a healthy life is no different. And trying to stay healthy and strong doesn’t crowd out success; it makes it easier because you feel better and maintain your not-dead status.

What is something you know about health/fitness you wish you knew 10 years ago?

Consistency is everything. You’ll have good days and bad days but keep showing up. And anything that gets in the way of consistency is a problem, so be mindful of injuries. Getting hurt is the one time when you literally cannot exercise so overdoing it can backfire hard. Don’t try to be a superhero overnight. Just show up and put in the work consistently.

If you’d like to learn more about Eric, you can follow him on his website or on Instagram.

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