Having worked with a wide range of clients over the years I have noticed certain trends that are common in everyone, even in my most driven and health conscious clients. While these clients are often aware they are neglecting these areas of their health they no not really stop to consider the consequences or impact it has on both training and how they feel.
Today’s blog looks at the 5 Things Even Healthy People Neglect, let us know if you have been guilty of any of these recently
No.1 Sleep Deprivation
The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night to be able to fire on all cylinders. If you fall short of this number you will start to accumulate sleep debt and this will need to be re-paid by catching some extra Zzz’s.
Lack of sleep will affect your response times, increasing risk of injury in the gym and negatively impacts your immune system, nervous system and hormone release. The stress hormone cortisol may also increase leaving you feeling anxious, short tempered and low.
Where possible plan when you’re going to go to bed. Is far too easy to get caught watching a TV program longer than planned or get sucked into the rabbit hole of social media and all of a sudden another hour has passed that you could caching up on much needed sleep.
If you struggle to fall asleep try to make sure you are not drinking caffeine after mid-day. Make sure your bedroom is a peaceful place and that means no TV, laptops or phones. Avoid evening computer activity as the light has been shown to stimulate the mind making settling down to sleep more difficult.
Finally if you can try to eat 2-3 hours prior to going to bed as this will let your body digest the food and will leave you feeling more comfortable than if you go straight to bed after a big evening meal.
No.2 Exercising on Cruise Control
When exercise becomes an ingrained part of your lifestyle it can be quite easy to fall into the trap of training on auto pilot. Your cardio is always at the same pace or intensity, your weights haven’t changes for months and your routine is done in an almost zombie like trance.
It’s time to wake up and reinvigorate your routine and your results. If you don’t change the stress on the body at regular intervals then you will hit a plateau and your fitness and results will level off. If you are getting to the gym several time per week then this does not need to be the case.
You can break through a plateau in several different ways. One way is to change the duration of your session such as running for 30mins instead of 20, or add another set to your weight routine. This route will make sessions longer and will not be favoured by everyone. However you don’t need to train longer if you can’t or don’t want to. Instead increase the intensity of you session by running faster or adding in some quicker paced intervals with easy recoveries in between. Increase the weights you lifting instead of the number of sets, for example if you’re lifting 3 sets of 8-12 reps increase the weight so that 8 reps is just about manageable. Now build back up to the full 12 reps again and repeat.
The final and sometimes best way to mentally get your head back in the game is to try something totally new. Try a new class, head to a boot camp or work with a PT for a while and learn some new exercises and get some advice on how to plan your training more effectively.
The body is just too smart and you need to keep it guessing. You don’t need to change it up every single session but at least every 6-8 weeks you need to be changing the stimulus on the body to encourage it to adapt. This adaption makes you fitter, stronger and ultimately healthier as a result.
No.3 Dining Out Too Often
Studies have suggested that most people eat out once per day on average. This take into account meals, fast food, snacks on the go and trips to the coffee shop.
Because we are exposed to this lifestyle of convenience and choice the old fashion skills like preparing lunches and snacks are often overlooked.
The foods we eat when away from the house are often loaded with fat, salt, sugar and often caffeine. These are all designed to taste good and play into our desire and culture for convenience. The problem is that even the healthiest choices are still likely to be loaded with unwanted extras and hidden calories. Even the healthiest individual will find themselves caught in this situation, usually feeling very frustrated that they had not been more prepared and now the only choices available to them will not help them towards their personal goals.
Preparation is the only answer to this modern day problem. First start by planning your weekly meals, lunches and snacks based on your upcoming week. If you struggle with this then plan a few day in front and head to the supermarket after work to make sure you have healthy lunches and snacks for the next day if nothing else.
Prepare you snacks and lunch for the next day while you are making your evening meal. This takes no extra time at all and can be as simple as poaching a chicken breast and preparing some salad or vegetables. Pack all of this up and have it ready to grab as you head out the door the next morning.
This will keep your energy levels steady, your diet on track and let your train hard when you exercise. The bit you might be most shocked by is the amount of money it can save as well.
Evening dining can be solved by batch cooking meals and freezing them. This can be done each week or once a month depending on how often your plans tend to get de-railed. Try and cook fresh when you can and then just grab a frozen batch cooked meal on the mornings you know you’re going to need a quick healthy meal.
TIP: Split your batch cooked meals into the correct portion sizes before you freeze them. This will make meals go further and keeps your portion control smart.
No.4 Too Much Stress
Good health requires three things, a balanced diet, an active body and a clear focussed mind. Stress however is the reality for the vast majority of people in our modern society. While we all live with stress to one extent or another most people don’t recognise the damage it is having our health or consider how to tackle and reduce it.
If you are stressed then the hormone cortisol will be released, this is problematic for a number of reasons especially when this occurs over a prolonged period. Stress and cortisol can lead to a lowering of the metabolism which leads to weight gain, it can increase blood pressure and risks of heart diseases. When released in chronic stress cortisol can lead to depression.
More minor cases can lead to memory problems, loss of sleep and concentration issues. These three things can quickly lead to more stress and cortisol release and is how people get stuck in a vicious cycle.
Taking back control is the best way to deal with stress. Often it might not be possible to do this entirely which may be one of the causes of the stress itself. However addressing those things that you can will help you to feel more in control and able to manage those which you can’t.
For example one client works in Europe several weeks of the month which makes healthy eating, sleep and exercise a real challenge and very stressful.
To tackle this start by writing a list of all the things that are causing your stress and why. Now look at all the things you can change and start making a plan to either remove or minimize the causes of your stress.
For my client she takes her running kit with her every time she travels and does her best to run a few miles when she can. She also knows now how to pick the best options from the hotel menus and when she can’t train she focusses more on her diet to make sure she is doing the best she can rather than letting herself go each time she travels.
When at home she has a focused training plan and balances this against getting the extra sleep she needs after traveling away. When a trip away is due she will plan a couple of harder training days back to back knowing that if she cannot exercise while she is away that she has trained well and can focus on good recovery.
This is not an ideal solution and requires planning ahead every week, as each week is different. However by taking responsibility and owning her stress she is able to feel better about her progress and genuinely recognize the small achievements given her unique situation. This lowers the amount of external stress and helps keep a positive and clear mind.
No 5. You’re Dehydrated
Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid from the body then your able to take in. Dehydration brings with it a number of problems including irritability, headaches, nausea, and rapid heart rate and in some very extreme cases, death. Dehydration will also slow your metabolism affecting your weight loss goals.
The question now is, when was the last time you drank 8 glasses of water over the course of the day? Of course if you haven’t it does not mean you are going to keel over, but it is having an effect on your health and your goals.
Dehydration aids digestion, keeps muscles loose and is an essential lubricant to many of the daily bodily functions.
If you are always dehydrated then you’re likely to be underperforming in many aspects of your daily life. I get asked for easy fitness tips all the time and I always reply with the same answer, drink more water.
Don’t wait until you are feeling thirsty as it is already too late at this point. Instead have a water bottle by you during the day. Avoid glugging it all down in one go as it will pass through the body too rapidly. Instead sip from it a regular intervals.
Some clients in the past mark the bottle up with the intention of drinking to the line by a certain point in their day. This technique means they have a visual aid to see how they are doing.
If you don’t like water then try adding some fruit such as cucumber, lemon or strawberries. A few mint leaves always goes down well too. If all that water is too much then increase your intake of herbal teas to add in a bit of variety.
How About You?
I have struggled with all of these at one point or another with lack of sleep being the big area that I struggle most. My job is active and if I miss out on too much sleep I just don’t feel good and other areas of my health suffer as a result.
So what’s your struggle and where are you strength’s? Let us know below in the comments or jump over to our Facebook page and joint the conversation. Facebook/FundamentallyFIT