If you’ve found a great workout and eating plan that works for you, well done! If you haven’t, here is a great plan to get you going in the right direction. Today I want to discuss 5 things that many of us often miss. These things can take your physical health and overall well-being to a whole new level. Think of this list as a checklist to see where you can improve and what you need to work on to keep your body in tip top shape.
1) Maintain a constant sleep routine (even on weekends)
Our body works on something called the circadian rhythm. This rhythm is a collection of hormones, energy production systems and mental processes that determine when we are active and when we feel sleepy. A misled circadian rhythm leads us to struggle to fall asleep at bed time, have all the mental energy that we needed during the day in the middle of the night, and struggle to stay awake during the day.
By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, we tell our bodies when we need energy and when we need to recover. A single late night can throw this rhythm out of whack, and the more inconsistent we become, the more our circadian rhythm will try to make sense of it all by making us feel tired at the wrong time in an attempt to restore balance. This often happens when people sleep longer on weekends or go to bed much later than usual. Unfortunately, our bodies can’t distinguish between weekends and weekdays: They work in 24 hours cycles exclusively.
There will always be the odd night when you have to go to bed a little later or wake up a little earlier, but doing so repeatedly gives the body a hard time to re-calibrate itself. Try setting a sleep and wake up time that can be the same every day. You will feel better in the long-haul and have more energy, since your body will know exactly when to produce the energy that you need. Your weekends will become more refreshing because you’ll have more time to do whatever you want. If you enjoy binge watching series late through Friday night, move it over to Saturday morning and reap the benefits of increased energy throughout the rest of the week.
2) Eat enough fruit and veggies
Nutrients are divided into two categories: macro nutrients and micro nutrients. Macro nutrients refer to larger nutrient groups: fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Getting your macro’s right will determine whether you lose weight or gain weight. It will allow you to control how much food you have for energy versus how much food your body has available to turn into fat.
Many fitness enthusiasts focus on macro nutrients because that determines how much your body has for energy or fat production, but micro nutrients are just as important. Micro nutrients are nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phyto chemicals, omega fatty acids, antioxidants etc. In order to make sure that you get enough of these ‘little’ nutrients, make sure that you eat a balanced diet so that your body can get a variety of nutrients from a variety of sources. Fish are great sources of omega fatty acids, which often form part of the protein portion of macro nutrient planning.
Unfortunately, fruit are often avoided because of their sugar content. This means that many fitness enthusiasts are missing vital micro nutrients that can only be found in plant foods. In order to avoid missing out on nutrients that your body needs, plan fruit and vegetable foods into your daily macro nutrient plan. The fiber from these foods are also extremely beneficial. Fiber allows your body to release more unwanted substances through every bowel movement. This, in turn, helps to detoxify the body and keep it running at its best. That is why we should make sure that a large portion of our diet comes from raw foods.
3) Avoid substances that hinder your physical success
Rewarding yourself for achievements and progress made through physical transformation is a great way to keep you motivated to do more. It is very important, however, to make sure that you choose your rewards wisely. Don’t reward a healthy activity like exercise with an unhealthy activity like alcohol misuse. Alcohol negatively effects your digestion, central nervous system, lungs, blood sugar levels, and more.
Unhealthy food is another unwise reward that is most typically used by newer fitness enthusiasts. You can’t exercise off a bad diet. Once figuring out which foods best suit your goals, find ways to enjoy them. Adding healthy garlic to my meals instead of salt instantly increased how much I enjoyed them. Find healthy spices like chilies that add the flavor that you are looking for to the foods that you need to eat.
If you are addicted to other substances, exercise helps with overcoming addiction, too. Perhaps it’s time to finally put out that smoke for good?
4) Minimize mental stress
Mental stress places a large burden on your body. One of the ways it does this is by releasing the hormone cortisol (the stress hormone), which halts fat metabolism and, if allowed to accumulate via excessive stress, will lead to muscle breakdown. Stress also tenses muscle fibers in the body, which decreases overall recovery ability between workouts.
Find what stresses you out and deal with those issues so that you can lead a better, healthier life. If it is work in general, find ways to enjoy work so that you can stress less while increasing overall wellness.
5) Get enough rest
This is a very important point, ESPECIALLY for fitness enthusiasts. As we learn to enjoy exercise and our desire to workout increases, we can easily end up doing it more than what our bodies can recover from. This is referred to as over training. As you over train your body, your physical ability diminishes, along with your recovery ability. You will struggle to sleep properly, your moods will fluctuate from one extreme to another and your appetite could either greatly increase or decrease.
This happens because your body can no longer cope with the physical stresses placed on it and your body slowly begins to break down. Other signs of over training include lowered immunity (when I get sick, I know that my body is telling me that I need a break from my daily workout routine) and hormonal imbalances. Many people experience severe depression because of overtraining.
Learn to recognize that first signs that your body uses to let you know that it needs a break from your exercise regime. Take a few days off and allow your body to recover. When you start exercising again, you’ll be amazed to how much better you feel and how much more your body can do now that it has had a chance to adapt and recover.
It is also important to schedule regular rest throughout your regular exercise routine. For example, I have a complete rest day every Sunday and take an entire week off every 2nd month. On other days, I have active rest days where I do a different form of exercise to increase blood flow while I let the muscles from my usual workout routine recover. Without enough rest, exercise will do more harm than good.
I hope you gained something of value while reading my post. As always, please feel free to like, share, comment, reblog or link to this post. Have a great day!