The Weekly Thread: embracing discomfort, why hormones should peak in the summer, and squat variations to get more strong and bendy.

In a paper titled, “Seasonal Variation of Testosterone Levels in a Large Cohort of Men” researchers show that testosterone levels in men peak during August, maybe a bit into September, and then are at the lowest point in February, when the sun is at the lowest points for an extended period of time over winter, alluding to a strong correlation between sunlight exposure and testosterone. 

In this segment, we’re just citing the above paper, however, a similar correlation can be drawn for women, and a simple query in a search engine of your choice for “seasonal variation of estrogen in women” or anything along those lines will display ample results backing this up, 

The authors of the paper state:

“In the current study that included a large cohort of men with a wide range of age groups, body mass index, and comorbidities, we found a significant association between the time of year in which a blood test was performed, and both total, and bioavailable testosterone levels.”

In short, it didn’t matter how old or young you were, or your body mass index, the association was pretty clear and evident. 

Now, a healthy 30 y/o male most certainly has higher overall testosterone levels than a 60 y/o unhealthy male, however, this study shows that regardless of what those levels are, across the board, in men, they seem to peak towards the end of summer, and are at their lowest at the end of winter. 

Again, the same correlation can be drawn for women and estrogen/progesterone. Furthermore, women, do keep in mind that you do produce testosterone, and for good reason, and you can also benefit from a natural bump in it. 

The authors go on to state, due to the large size of our cohort, this study provides strong supporting evidence to the notion that there is seasonal variation in testosterone levels.”

Get more sunlight exposure! 

In the summer, the days are longer, the sunlight is more direct, and the weather is warmer, so it’s natural that everyone will get more sunlight exposure than in the winter months. 

That said, I’d argue the point that we should make an even more concerted effort to soak up even more sunlight, or as much as possible. 

Keep in mind, if you block the sun in various ways, you are NOT receiving these benefits. 

In a past issue, I discussed why you should ditch the sunglasses (for the most part) as they block natural sunlight waves from the eyes that then cannot transmit to the brain that there is natural light exposure. When this happens, you actually are MORE likely to get a sunburn, and your brain also doesn’t know to send the proper signals to boost or pulse many beneficial endogenous hormones like serotonin, oxytocin, and yes, testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. 

Layer on some sunblock proactively before you even step foot outside for fear of a burn, and well, you may be outside, but you’re not reaping any of the benefits of the natural sunlight exposure. 

Natural sunlight is a necessary part of total health and wellness from physical, to mental, to emotional (how much better do you feel when it’s warm and sunny, versus cold and dreary?). Trying to all out block the sun with sunglasses and sunblock is the equivalent of drinking water to hydrate, and then taking a pill that blocks any of its hydrating effects. 

If/when you wear sunblock (as it can be beneficial on a day where you are getting excessive sun exposure), it’s best to make it natural, ideally zinc oxide based, as traditional sunblocks not only block the health benefits from the sun, but they are also highly toxic and have been found to potentially be carcinogenic (cancer causing). 

Now, if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “But I have to wear sunblock or I’ll burn right away”. 

My response would be, quite frankly, “you burn right away because you wear sunblock right away”. How do you expect your skin to ever respond positively to the sun if you don’t give it a chance?

So before you apply the sunblock, start small and slow. On a hot, sunny day, get 15-20 minutes of unadulterated sun before applying a natural sunblock. Start to condition and retrain your skin to have a better relationship with the sun. It’s good for us. 

If you never run and decide one day you’re going to run a marathon a year from now, you don’t go run 26 miles right away do you?

Heck no! You start by running a half mile, and then a mile, and as you condition more and better, you work your way up. 

To yield the benefits of sunlight exposure, you must be receiving them in an unadulterated fashion.  

This research shows that regardless of who you are, your hormone levels will decrease and then bottom out at the end of winter, most likely as a result of the shorter days, less direct sun, and colder temps. So, it would make sense that if you want to keep hormone and Vitamin D3 (let’s not forget about how beneficial higher, therapeutic D3 levels are) levels higher, later into the winter, that you’d want to soak up as much unadulterated sun as possible in the summer, so those hormone and D3 levels are much higher heading into the inevitable winter. 

Do you suffer from seasonal depression? Do you get sick often in the colder winter months? Low energy? More stress and anxiety? And yes, a slower metabolism when we’re also less active. 

Try making more of a concerted effort to soak up as much natural sunlight as possible during these longer, warmer summer days, especially to start your day. 

Getting 20-30 minutes of natural light first thing in the morning will produce a cascading pulse of positive, healthy hormones like serotonin, oxytocin, and metabolic boosters like testosterone or estrogen/progesterone; and also make your body more resilient to combating the daily stressors that inevitably come our way. 


Over the course of the next seven weeks, this week included, I will outline the most important, critical movements to keep you functionally strong, mobile, and more metabolically fit as you age. 

All of the movements I will outline can be done with a single kettlebell, which I will discuss and demonstrate with video examples, and are ideal for everyone from kids & young teens to the most senior of adults. 

Everyone can benefit from getting more strong and bendy functionally, and these movements are designed to give you a primer and some direction on how to achieve this. 

Also, working more of these movements into your daily life is a great excuse to get your bare feet in the grass (which also has tremendous health benefits), and get more natural light exposure as we just discussed above.  

And to be honest, there’s just something really natural feeling and primal about moving an awkward weight like a kettlebell (much like a large stone) functionally with your bare feet in the grass, soaking up all that sweet, sweet healing natural light. 

These movements do not need to be done with heavy weight, as I mentioned, just a single kettlebell will do for all. I personally work these movements into my dedicated weight training regimen at the gym, however, I also work them in with kettlebells, at lighter weights, as part of my morning core, mobility, and light strength workouts I do at home to help jumpstart my body for the day. 

Why Squats?

Squats are a compound movement (works multiple muscles and joints at once), which will be a common theme throughout this segment. 

Here are some key benefits to the squat, and why you should incorporate this movement into your life:

1. Strengthening the lower body. Squats primarily target the muscles of the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Regular squatting helps build strength and endurance in these muscle groups, leading to improved leg and lower body strength.

2. Enhancing core strength. Squats engage the core muscles, including the abdominal muscles and lower back. As you perform squats, your core muscles work to stabilize the body and maintain proper form. This helps strengthen the core and can contribute to better posture and stability.

3. Increasing overall functional strength. Squats are a functional movement pattern that mimics activities like sitting down, standing up, and lifting objects from the ground. By performing squats, you improve your ability to perform these daily activities with greater strength and efficiency. This is especially important as you age.

4. Improving athletic performance. Squats are a fundamental exercise in many sports and athletic activities. They help develop explosive power, speed, and agility, making them beneficial for athletes involved in activities such as running, jumping, or lifting. That said, we can all benefit from improving the aforementioned desired athletic traits. Being more explosive, quicker, more agile in your daily life will reduce overall risk of injury, and help you keep up with young kids, grandkids, the dog, and in all leisurely activities requiring movement. 

5. Boosting bone density. Squats are a weight-bearing exercise that puts stress on the bones, stimulating them to become stronger. Regular squatting can contribute to better bone density and reduce the risk of conditions like osteoporosis. Remember, the human body strengthens through focused stress. This is true for your immune system, your brain, your muscles, and yes, your bones. 

6. Burning calories and promoting weight loss. Squats engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This leads to increased calorie expenditure during and after the exercise, more so than cardio, making squats an effective component of a weight loss or maintenance program.

Implementing Squats Into Your Life

I do multiple types of squats at the gym, most common being a barbell squat. If you go to, or have access to a gym, I do recommend this. 

However, I am going to focus on ways to seamlessly incorporate squats into your home life, as they can also be part of your core, strength, and mobility movements done at home. 

Bodyweight squats. These squats are done with no weight other than bearing your own body weight. Do 3 sets of 10-20 reps of these 3-4 times per week. 

CLICK HERE to watch a quick tutorial.

Goblet Squat. This is a squat that can be done with a single dumbbell or kettlebell, and is a movement I typically do 2x per week. Get yourself a single kettlebell at home, at a weight ideal for you, and do 3-4 sets at 10-12 reps, 1-2 times per week. 

CLICK HERE to watch a quick tutorial. 

Bulgarian Split Squats. This is a more advanced movement, but one I love as it is very effective at improving balance and core strength. I will do these with a sandbag on my back and also with a kettlebell in the opposite hand of the leg I am squatting on. I will do 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps per leg. 

CLICK HERE to watch a quick tutorial. 

Again, you can make a more concerted effort to work these movements into your workout regimen,or just simply make a point of executing these movements more at home. If you have 5 free minutes, make more of a point to knock out a few sets of body weight, goblet, or Bulgarian split squats. These small, incremental additions, or “movement snacks”, to your life, when compounded over time, will have profound effects on your overall long-term health and wellness.

Embracing discomfort today will bring future rewards.

What are you doing today that your future self and family will thank you for? 

We now live in a world of abundance, where we can actually be proactive in planning for the future, and thinking about it. 

Our ancestors were not so lucky. 

10,000 years ago, they were more worried about not getting eaten by a Sabre Tooth Tiger than they were about considering their long term health and wellness. 

Even as little as 100 years ago, most Americans were farming mostly for subsistence. 

As a result, it’s not hard-wired in our DNA to consider how our current actions affect our future, both negatively and positively. 

So it requires more self awareness, more personal accountability. 

Focus on small victories for the day, that’s all you can do. 

Be okay with delaying gratification. 

As discussed above, small, incremental improvements and positive decisions, compound over time to create tremendous long term benefits. 

Be more critical with yourself, and with whom and where you place your energy.

Try intermittent fasting or eating a little less.

Take 30 minutes to yourself and go for a walk to clear the mind.

And yes, do more squats. 

Your future self and loved ones will thank you.