• Megan Benzik

Introducing The Live ATOP Cairns

Updated: Feb 28

What are “cairns” [care-ins] you ask?

Cairns are the piles of rocks you see on hiking trails that are meant to guide you to the summit or peak of the trail. These piles of rocks are often stacked in a way that requires balance. We couldn’t have found a better analogy to describe the lifestyle guidelines that we believe everyone should follow along their individual journeys towards reaching their summit.

We know that everyone’s steps are different along a journey, but there are certain general guidelines that help us to ensure we are headed in the right direction. These Live ATOP Cairns help to keep us on the right path towards reaching our peak potential, while also reminding us to maintain balance in our approach towards the top. We all know that sometimes, even with having these cairns, it can be too easy to stray off the path. Whether that be on purpose or simply on accident, it's rare that life goes exactly as planned. At Live ATOP Coaching, Austin and I are not drill-instructors, but rather guides, meant to help hold you accountable in staying on the correct path that leads towards your goals and truly living your best life.

Guides are never permanent, but rather a temporary solution to help you along your journey so that upon reaching your peak, you are able to learn, grow, and begin to guide yourself. Likewise, Austin and I do not intend on working with anyone forever. We simply want to help hold you accountable along your journey while teaching you how to reach your peak potential and maintain it throughout your life, even without us.

Once you have reached your summit or peak potential of living your best life, we believe that the best way to maintain this is by giving back and helping others do the same. This doesn’t mean we want everyone to start a coaching company or live in a van. It simply means that through this journey, we want you to reach a point where you feel fulfilled enough in life to embrace a desire to give back in some way and impact others in a positive way.

It’s a cycle that we believe can change the world.

So what are the Live ATOP Cairns?

1. Sleep

Every human is on a natural body clock that goes hand in hand with the cycles of the sun and moon. This is called the Circadian rhythm. If you are aligned with this rhythm then your body naturally knows when to sleep and when to wake up. Aligning with this natural rhythm will, therefore, optimize your sleep quality.

Why is sleep important? Because it doesn’t matter how healthy you eat, how much you exercise, or how many supplements you take. If you are not getting enough sleep, your health will be negatively impacted.

Since society seems to encourage a lack of sleep as a way to “grind” towards success, cutting back on sleep is usually the first thing people do when life gets busy. To make things worse, society also pushes caffeine as a way to compensate for a lack of sleep. This will ultimately lead to burn out, overtraining, overreaching, and possibly even sickness due to sleep deprivation. It’s an unhealthy cycle that most people underestimate the negative effects of.

If you are finding yourself hitting the snooze button repeatedly, then this is the first sign that your daily rhythm is off. If you can get back on a regular sleep pattern by waking up and falling asleep at the same time every night, you will experience benefits in every aspect of your life. This is why we have sleep listed as one of our cairns towards living your best life.

This is one of the first things we work with our new clients on. Based on their individual schedule and nighttime routines, we have protocols that we will recommend they try in order to work towards getting a better night’s sleep.


7-9 hours per night

2. Hydrate

The human body is made up of about 60% water. This means we all NEED water to survive. Staying hydrated throughout the day is essential for maintaining energy levels, keeping cognitive function high, helping with digestion, and keeping mental alertness throughout the day. It also allows for the movement you do to be more effective in circulating bodily fluids.

Most people have a tendency to forget about drinking water because they are busy with life and simply don’t feel thirsty. This can especially be the case in the winter months. If you were not already aware, thirst is actually the first sign of dehydration. So if you are waiting until you are thirsty to drink water, you are in a cycle of dehydrating your body on a daily basis.

Research shows that as little as 1 percent dehydration negatively affects your mood, attention, memory and motor coordination due to the decrease in fluid in your brain. Your brain isn't the only thing negatively affected by dehydration and so this is why we have hydration as a cairn towards reaching your peak.


½ your body weight in oz of water per day.

*Most people need more based on a couple of different factors, however, this is a great STARTING point for most people.

3. Nourish

The human body needs nourishment to function properly. Food is the fuel your body uses to function and generate new cells. Every meal you eat is a 50-hour investment in your energy, training, recovery, and basic cell generation. In order for your body to use food as fuel, it needs help from your digestive system. Having rhythm and consistency with your digestive system helps tremendously with this. If you don’t have consistency with your nutrition and digestion, you likely aren't performing, or even functioning optimally.

When it comes to food, most people tend to opt for convenience instead of quality. On top of this, our fast-paced society leads to busy schedules that rarely leave time for eating food the way we should. By scarfing food down quickly instead of chewing, we are actually harming our digestive systems and forcing our body to use extra energy to digest the food we eat.

By cleaning up your nutrition, and focusing on optimizing your digestion, you will increase your overall sense of wellbeing and energy throughout the day. This is exactly why nourishment is one of our cairns.

Every client starts at a different place, especially when it comes to nutrition. We meet our new clients where they are at and determine the next step towards increasing their nourishment. With that being said, the goal for nourishment varies tremendously and changes multiple times as we help our clients progress towards living their best lives.


Decrease processed foods and increase whole foods.

Chew every bite of food 30 times.

Determine the proper amount of food per day based on activity level

4. Move

The human body is meant to move and move often. Moving essentially allows your body to circulate fluids, that contain nutrients, throughout your body. This helps EVERYTHING in your body function better. In general, it helps to enhance your mood, keep your immune system healthy, maintain your bone mass, enhance your brain health, and will even lead to an overall improvement in your sex life! (assuming your partner is moving as well ;-) )

The problem we see in today’s society is that most people are constantly stuck in a seated position, whether that be at work, in the evening while watching TV, or both. If you fall into this category, it’s time to start moving more! For those of you who are practically living in a gym every day, getting easy blood flow outside the gym is still beneficial and can help tremendously in terms of recovery between workout sessions due to the increase in blood flow obtained through easy movement. With that being said, if you are overworked, overtrained, or stressed out; staying away from the gym and just doing easy blood flow like walking might be the best thing to do, rather than hitting the gym harder.

By adding more movement in your lifestyle, you are ensuring that your body continues to function properly in a physical and mental sense, which is what keeps us full of life and vitality on a daily basis. We believe this is an essential aspect to every journey, which is why it is one of our cairns.

When we start working with clients who are sedentary, we typically focus on getting the steps in before adding in physical “sessions”. Again, we meet our clients where they are and then progress from there.


10,000 steps per day

3-4 movement specific sessions per week *This includes walking, weight training, GPP, yoga, or sport. Spend time doing something to express your physical abilities.

5. Focus

The human mind is a crazy place. It will run in circles over-analyzing everything and making up crazy stories if left undirected. Having a focus, vision, or purpose in life helps to keep it in line, leading to an overall increased sense of happiness, while also decreasing stress and anxiety.

With society pushing everyone to work harder, make more money, and have elaborate things, a lot of people are opting for side hustles to make more money, while raising a family, and trying to take care of themselves. Life can easily get a bit crazy mentally if there is not awareness built around this. Conversely, there are others who are content with their job but don't have a focus outside of work. Either extreme can lead to a mental imbalance or increased anxiety.

By having a focus in life, your mind is less likely to overanalyze, become consumed by gossip, or create problems that don't exist. Since this leads to an overall sense of happiness and happiness is essential to living your best life, focus is one of our cairns.

Depending on where our clients are when they start, we either help them to create focus or narrow down their focus. We then slowly help them integrate daily habits to help remind them of their focus. We also encourage our clients to spend time simply breathing and calming their minds almost daily to help keep their focus CLEAR.


Create 3 main life goals/themes

Create a schedule that directs you towards those goals

SLOW DOWN by meditating and/or breathing daily.

6. Gratitude

Practicing gratitude not only improves your psychological health, self-esteem, mental strength, and empathy, but it has also been shown to improve relationships, sleep, and physical health! When you spend time every day reminding yourself of how grateful you are for the things you have in your life, you are creating new cycles of positivity in your mind that will allow you to feel grateful and more fulfilled even when you aren’t consciously thinking about it. Trust us, it’s a great feeling!

In today's world, so many aspects of our lives are automated that we often fail to realize how lucky we are to live such easy lives. Running water, electricity, and even shelter are things we never have to think about and yet there are tons of people in the world who would give anything to experience these things. Even grocery stores make our lives easier. Imagine having to hunt and harvest food to eat every day!

If you can train yourself to be grateful for the simple things you no longer have to spend energy thinking about, you begin to realize how extremely lucky you are for the more complex things in your life. This simple shift in perception will literally transform your entire life. This is why it is one of our cairns to guide you in living your best life.

Practicing gratitude looks different for everyone. When we have clients with super busy schedules, journaling isn’t always the easiest to fit in and that’s fine! We have multiple tips, and protocols that we suggest our clients try based on their schedules.


Take time to consciously practice gratitude every day.

We don't just preach these guidelines, we live them!

We developed these 7 Live ATOP Cairns through our life experiences and observations on what top habits are necessary to living your best life. We believe that it is only through learning how to live your best life, that you can help others to do the same. We hope to help as many people as we can create these healthy habits and cycles in their lives so they can reach their true potential, feel an overall sense of fulfillment, and continue the cycle by giving back in some way.

Whether giving back means simply spreading this knowledge on or if it means helping someone out in a different way, we believe changing the world and creating positive impact starts with one person.

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