Your body is probably the world’s most intricate and amazing machine. In order for it to perform at its best, it takes a completely holistic approach. People think when they workout they are taking care of their body. People believe that when they eat vegetables they are taking care of their body. People believe when they sleep 8 hours a night that they are resting their body adequately. All 3 of these are VERY true but only a partial look at what each of us should be doing to keep our body healthy, strong, lean, and comfortable. Below are my top 10 pieces of holistic advice for clients. If you can follow these ideas 80% of the time, then you are treating yourself pretty damn well! Eat clean, natural foods like your grandparents ate – Get rid of your processed, artificial foods: Organic fruits/vegetables, all natural meats and animal products are the only way to go with your food choices. Your body has digested foods like this for hundreds of years so it understands how to digest and use these, making the best use out of them. Processed foods like cereals, crackers, protein bars or powders, artificial sweeteners are completely foreign substances in your body and are not only rejected but usually viewed as toxins.
Life Balance - Keep stress levels as low as possible: We all have crazy work schedules and jobs (if we are lucky) these days, but we also make daily choices on whether or not we keep our lives in balance and as low stress as possible. Take a step back and decide if you are making enough time for yourself. Allowing work or stress to run your life will deplete your adrenals and flood your body with cortisol, keeping you over-weight, in pain and frustrated and will definitely keep you from performing at your peak.
Water: It makes up all the muscles and fascia in our bodies! Without it we turn into stiff, uncomfortable messes. Stay fully hydrated by drinking filtered water throughout the day, every day.
Sleep 8 hours, 10-6A: With our circadian rhythms, our body recovers physically between the hours of 10p and 2a. We recover mentally between 2 and 6am. If your sleep schedule is not occurring during these periods you are missing out on rest your body needs. Resting is 50% of muscle building. Take the time to get back on track with your body and sleep and your performance will sky rocket. And if you have a heavy reliance on sleep meds, put ridding yourself of this addiction at the top of your list. If you are having trouble sleeping, then one or several of the other categories on this list are out of line so try to look at those without relying on the meds.
Strength Training More Important than Cardio: A normal individual needs two: twenty minute cardio sessions a week to maintain heart health. (Of course if your sport requires more cardio that is a totally different story.) The best bang for the general public’s buck is to do strength training during the week for your workouts. It will not only keep your body working well (with the right program), but also will keep your muscle mass up, metabolism up and body leaner.
Remove/limit all inflammatory foods (GLUTEN, SOY, DAIRY, ALCOHOL): These foods are not only unnecessary in your diet, they are also inflammatory to your system causing a lot of the bloating that I see in clients, especially around their midsection. Do some online research of your own. Go for 4-8 weeks without any of the above foods and see what effect it has on your body. Then try re-introducing them one at a time and see what happens. For peak performance, avoid them.
Eliminate/Limit Caffeine: Especially for those of you with high loads of daily stress, caffeine is only ramping your cortisol levels higher and breaking your body down more. For those of you that crave your morning coffee, try swapping to espresso or an Americano instead for a caffeine hit with a little less body slam!
Stretch only for what your body needs: People tend to think that (a) you should never stretch or (b) you should stretch all the time. The answer is actually neither – you should only stretch areas of your body that need stretching in order to maintain your body’s ideal length-tension relationships. Your body is a series of levers. If a muscle is overly tight, it throws off that lever causing joints to wear incorrectly and often get sore or injured. I recommend working with an advanced trainer or therapist who can fully assess your body for length-tension discrepancies and prescribe a stretching routine to match your needs. Avoid fully stretching everything! Stretching muscles that are already long, will only make them weak and create a situation just as dangerous as a tight muscle.
Avoid getting sick through proper food choices and probiotics: This is a BIG SECRET that no one seems to realize. If your digestive system is running smoothly and you are making clean, smart food choices, then your kidneys and liver are cleaner (NOT bogged up) and when a cold comes into your body, you are able to filter and allow the cold to pass through your body more quickly, often without feeling any symptoms. People often say that they get sick on planes, usually those people are eating NASTY airport restaurant and airplane food as well – think about it! Keep your digestive system clean with good food choices (see above) and by digesting probiotics daily. I recommend kombucha.
Breakfast is most important meal of the day, Treat it that way: People seem to leave breakfast as a comfort food meal, which often means cereals, fruit, pasteurized milk and pasteurized juice. Where is the real protein? The non-processed fiber? The whole fruit? Don’t restrict yourself to only eating crappy breakfast style foods! Don’t have time before work to cook eggs or potatoes. Pre-cook your week’s breakfast on the weekend and reheat it during the week. Like a veggie frittata in a pyrex that you dish out of and reheat each morning. Or cooking a week’s worth of turkey hash with potatoes and peppers. And I always recommend a quarter or half avocado with each meal to keep some great fat in the meal and keep you from getting hungry too quickly.
Author: Billy Polson, Founder & Owner