In a current world of information overload and immediate gratification, we’re constantly looking to what works the best to feel optimal and look our best. Like in any other industry, new methods are always being developed in fitness. New products are coming out all the time, to help you lose weight, get stronger, improve balance, sleep better, feel better, etc. What I’ve seen over the years are three main ingredients in the big equation of life that will always play a major role in helping to achieve your personal goals: sleep, stress, and water.
Sleep is free, and you dictate the amount. The reality is that there will always be something that can get in the way of enough sleep. The human body needs this crucial rest to recharge and operate at full capacity. The sneaky thing is, some of us can operate relatively normally on very little sleep, but that doesn’t mean we should keep doing so.
Personally, I enjoy reading about individuals who’ve made a name for themselves in their industry. Whether it be corporate icons, athletes, chefs, or doctors, I like hearing about what they would have changed, done better, or done less of. Almost every one of these people mentioned not working so much and getting more sleep!
The brain operates best and makes better decision when it’s rested enough to realize its full potential. When we’re limiting sleep, that process is hindered.
If you’d like to get more sleep, three major tips that can help are:
1. Screen time – Put the screen away when you’re in bed. Light affects sleep because it is a stimulant. When you get in bed, tell yourself it’s time to rest. Reading a book can calm the mind. Meditation can help with calming the body as well.
2. Foam rolling. Picture yourself after getting a message. The last thing you want to do afterward is workout, right? Your body is calm and relaxed. Try some foam rolling before bed. The same can apply.
3. Get in bed 30 minutes earlier than you usually do. It’s not a huge deal, but it adds up. If it’s hard to get to bed because you’re a night owl, just try to adjust by 30 minutes at a time. If it’s usually 12:30 when you get into bed, try 12:00 the next night. That 30 minutes can make a huge difference.
Everyone has stress in their lives. Humans original goal in life was survival, which is very stressful. Times have definitely changed, but stress still exists. When you get an email that says your child has been misbehaving at school, it causes stress. When you’re not performing well at work, it causes stress. Multitasking is actually a form of stress.
The main problem with stress to the human body is what’s going on internally. In a stressful state, your adrenal glands release what’s called cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that can be both good and bad. You’ve probably heard it most as helping with fight or flight. A popular example is if you’re being chased, cortisol is released and you react by running. You survive, and that’s good! But, when cortisol is being released in small doses throughout the day, that’s when problems set in. In this current state of our lives, we’re exposed to more and dealing with more. That, in turn, means more stress. You can’t see cortisol and that’s what makes it dangerous. Some even label it as type 3 diabetes.
Another problem with constant stress is that it ages the brain, as well. The human body can’t process the amount that is released so other organs become impaired–the heart, brain, liver and adrenal glands to name the most important.
Some ideas to limit stress in your life are below:
1. Schedule working out/activity on your calendar like a meeting. That way it’s set and others can block you out.
2. Stop checking email by 5pm. The outside world can wait. If it was that important, you can still be reached by phone.
3. Chose one day a week of no social media. Cleanse yourself of information overload. If something major happens, you’ll hear it from someone.
4. Eat mindfully. When you sit down for a meal or snack, enjoy what you’re eating. Try chewing each bite 20 times.
Yes, I know, water isn’t technically free. But you can get it at the gym, at your house, stores, other’s houses etc. It’s free enough.
More importantly, it’s underused and forgotten, and most of us don’t drink enough. Here’s a good goal: either try to drink your bodyweight in ounces. (yes, you will become one with the toilet, but only for a while. Your body will start to regulate the liquid and you won’t be peeing as much.) or drink 100 ounces a day. That’s still a lot, but very doable. Most of us think we drink more than we actually do. If you try either of these two options you’ll feel fantastic, and it usually helps with hunger if you find yourself reaching for sugary foods.
Give the 3 Free a try. Try keeping these consistent for a week. Monitor how you feel then go from there.