As we get closer to the new year, it always makes me excited to think about the beginning of a new phase in life and a new phase of training. When starting a new phase of anything, I like to keep it simple and strip everything down to the basics. Creating a foundation that you can build on is important for anything in life, especially when it comes to our body. The foundation we build upon in fitness is a healthy lifestyle.
The majority of the population in the beginning stages of a fitness journey believe that working out daily will lead to a healthier lifestyle. While this is a great first step towards that healthier lifestyle, there are some other basic lifestyle guidelines - according to OPEX Fitness - that will drastically improve an individuals quality of life.
"THERE ARE 24 HOURS IN A DAY: WORK & REST APPROPRIATELY"
This is all about balancing work and rest within your life and being mindful of this on a day-to-day basis. Too often we can get overwhelmed with work and let this bleed into our home lives, affecting time with our families and loved ones.
"YOU WILL DIE ONE DAY. GET OVER IT & GET LIVING"
Probably the most jarring of all the guidelines is this one. You can either see it as being quite morbid or just strange but we like to remind ourselves of this again to give us balance in our day-to-day lives. Also having an understanding of what our true purpose is within life is massive with this, we have a limited amount of time to work towards fulfilment, maybe spending less time looking at cat videos on Facebook isn’t a bad idea!
"WATER. HALF OF SOMEONE’S BODY-WEIGHT IN OUNCES PER DAY AS A STARTING POINT"
In our language, at least 2 litres of water consumed as a minimum throughout the day is essential to maintain hydration levels. This falls outside of any water you need to consume outside of doing exercise. Keeping hydrated throughout the day is key to keeping good cognitive function, help digestion and maintaining energy levels. Buy a decent re-useable container and carry it with you everywhere. Build the habit of sipping (not chugging as your body won’t be able to digest it and it will pass straight through you) throughout the day.
"GOING TO BED & WAKING UP AT THE SAME TIME EVERY DAY TO MAINTAIN GREAT CIRCADIAN RHYTHM"
Your Circadian rhythm is your natural body clock. If we have this in check your body knows when to sleep (and therefore optimises sleep quality) and naturally knows when to wake. If you wake up before your alarm (and don’t need 4 coffees to get going) in the morning then you are doing well, if you hit the snooze button 15 times then your rhythm is out. If you can within your life get a regular sleep and wake time (even at weekends) this will have a MASSIVE positive impact on you throughout the day.
"THE EARTH SPINS & THE SUN AND MOON CORRELATE WITH OUR ENERGY PATTERNS. WE NEED SUN EXPOSURE, WE SLEEP WITH THE MOON."
This goes hand in hand with the previous point. We need to get rhythm with the Sun and Moon and make the most of what they provide us. Sunlight is essential for getting us much needed Vitamin D, so in the winter months when you can go to work when it is dark and leave the office when it is dark getting out in the crisp winter Sun over lunch is extremely important.
For many of us when things in our life get busy the first thing that we are willing to compromise on is our sleep. You can’t hack how much sleep you need as a human, 5 hours is never enough for us. 8 to 8.5 hours is the sweet spot or minimum to maintain good energy levels. We over supplement on caffeine and other stimulants to combat this but in time you will ultimately burn out, get ill and get more and more into a sleep deprived state. If nothing else from this post, consider getting more sleep the one thing you can do to help how you feel straight away! Try adding an extra half our every night each week until you feel good throughout the day.
"WATER, MOVING BLOOD & DIGESTION ARE ESSENTIAL DAILY ROUTINES"
Sufficient water as we mentioned above is key to maintaining optimal energy levels and alertness throughout the day. Movement or exercise is also massively important for us. We are quite simply not meant to be sat down every day, this is so unbelievably bad for us and we are only just starting to realise now how much so. If you sit at a desk try to get up and move around just for a couple of minutes every half hour. Get a proper break every 90 minutes and also think about how you are actually sitting at your desk! 10,000 steps should be a minimum for all of us and this is separate to any exercise you do in the gym.
Digestion similarly to this is also something we need to have rhythm and consistency with. If you don’t then something is off and you won’t be performing optimally. This is a massive subject alone and relates to gut health, nutrition, stress and a load of other things. Your Coach will guide you through this to ensure that this is optimised like everything else!
"RECOVERY. BLOOD FLOW FACILITATES RECOVERY & HEALING FASTER - GET MOVING EVERY DAY"
Too often we think of what we do in the gym as being our only exercise or physical activity that contributes towards growth. We have been conditioned to think that if you aren’t sweating buckets going crazy you aren’t moving forward. Getting outside and going for a walk on the days you aren’t training is probably one of the most valuable pieces of advice a Coach can give you. The steady walk promotes blood flood and for bonus points if you can leave your phone at home whilst you do this you take some valuable time to disconnect and gain perspective.
If you are over worked, full of stress, lack sleep and are eating poorly going for a walk might be the best thing you can do exercise wise, rather than trying to throw more stress in the system and go hard at the gym.
"DIGESTION. FOOD IS A 36-44 HOUR INVESTMENT, SIT DOWN, CHEW YOUR FOOD, ENJOY YOUR FOOD, SET THE PHONE ASIDE & HAVE A CONVERSATION"
Last but not least we get onto not only nutrition but what we call food hygiene, i.e. the way in which you eat your food. Whenever you eat food you need to consider that it is going to be in your system for quite a while, so try to choose what you eat wisely. Avoid processed food and find balance that is appropriate for you with what you eat.
Then looking at how you eat try to enjoy the moment when eating and take the time to make it an experience. Chew each mouthful 30 times (I know 30 times!), rather than trying to chew it just enough so you don’t choke. This will help your body break down the food, digest it properly and absorb all of the nutrients out of it. Taking the time to eat will also enable you to listen to your bodies own signals as to when it is full. Be mindful when you eat of the act of eating itself, disconnect from the TV or your phone and if you eat with a loved one then have a real conversation.
COACH DOUG: IN CONCLUSION...
All of this and I haven’t even talked about what you should eat and how many calories you should have a day!? In fitness we often fast track to calories as they are the easy variable for us to control but if we compare it to a car it doesn’t matter if you put premium fuel in a banger, it’s still gonna run like s###. We want to get your engine performing optimally then we can focus on food quality, quantity and timings.
As your Coach, we'll start working on these basic lifestyle guidelines together and as you grow over time we will get down into all the details you need to help you achieve your goals and live the most fulfilled life possible.
So let's crush these goals in 2020, starting with a healthier lifestyle outlook!