Get Serious!

What can you get more serious about when it comes to your health and your fitness?  That’s the question that Todd Durkin asks in the video below, and it needs to be answered.  Todd’s a high energy strength coach and trainer from Fitness Quest 10, a facility in San Diego that offers a “comprehensive, holistic approach to fitness and wellness in an environment that fosters a positive energy and friendly spirit empowers you to reach a heightened state of physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual balance.”  That was pulled off of the Fitness Quest 10 website, which you can find HERE, and you can also refer to Todd’s personal website HERE.  I’m going to see Todd speak at the Perform Better conference next weekend, and I’m excited for his high energy presentation.  In the following video Todd explains what you can do to ‘get serious’ about your health and your fitness.

Can you imagine having that much energy all of the time?  Todd is one of the most inspiring speakers I’ve ever seen, and he can motivate just about anybody in the world.  When he posted that video last week, I loved it immediately.  Why?  Well, he talks about the big picture.  Positive life style choices are the keys to a healthy future, but people tend to overlook the basics.  We’re more concerned with what supplement does what then seeing the big picture and focusing on our long term health and vitality.  The posting of the video was well timed because I recently received a message from someone just looking to be healthier.  She’s tried on her own, and is looking for some basic tips to see how to get the job done.  If you’re curious as to the basics that you’re forgetting, I’ve outlined some below, using some from Todd and adding my own as well.

Sleep 8 hours a night.  It’s perplexing to me that everyone has an excuse for why they can’t sleep, but they forget that the only energy required is getting in bed and closing your eyes.  Sleeping is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body, and it offers the following benfits:

1. Learning and memory. Sleep helps the brain to commit new information to memory.

2. Metabolism and weight. Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.

3. Safety. A lack of sleep contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls or mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.

4. Mood. Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.

5. Cardiovascular health. Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.

6. Disease. Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

-Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School

If you’re not sleeping 8 hours a night, you’re doing a disservice to your body.  It works wonders for your health and mental clarity, and resting hard allows you to work and play hard during the day.  Get to bed before midnight and wake up early for a few days, and you’ll start to feel like a million bucks.  I promise!

Drink more water.  Todd says it in his presentation, and everyone from Oprah to the Dinosaurs have agreed; drinking water is good for your health.  I don’t want to pester you with pesky statistics on the optimal amount of water to drink, so I’ll provide basic recommendations.  (If you’re interested in those, please click on THIS link, from The Mayo Clinic.)  Make drinking water the very first thing that you do every morning.  I’ve been downing 20oz from a Shaker Bottle every morning, but this may be too much for you.  Even if you only have 8oz, you’ll prep your body (and mind) for a well-hydrated day, and you’ll help yourself wake up.  Remember what they say: Water does a body good.  (Okay, so does milk, but you need to drink more water!)

By the time you start to feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so avoid this feeling by keeping a water bottle with you and making sure you keep refilling it.  On any given day I refill my 20oz bottle 8-12 times, depending on my activity levels and on days that I drink less water I definitely feel like crap.  If you’re not focusing on your water intake, you may have grown accustomed to feeling like crap, so drink more water and start feeling better.  It’ll work, I promise!

A Neural Wake Up is the best way to wake up.  If you read a post of mine from 2 weeks back, you know that I’ve been performing mini workouts each morning to help wake up my mind and my metabolism before I start the day.  The workouts are between 10-15 minutes, and leave me feeling invigorated and energized to go out and carpe diem, or sieze the day for those of you who don’t like Latin.  I stole the idea from John Romaniello, and I absolutely love it.  I’m going to start recommending to anyone who will listen, regardless of one’s fitness goals.  If you want to feel better, you should start your day with movement.  Anything from  taking the dog for a quick walk around the block, to a few passes up and down the stairs in your home, to some body weight exercises and mobility drills on the TRX like I’ve been doing.  Drink your water, move around a bit, then get on to your breakfast!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, hands down.  If you start off on the wrong foot, you’re going to be playing catch up all day, so make sure you start the day the right way.  Pop Tarts aren’t the way to do it, and while cereals come in various forms, their generally loaded with sugar and processed crap, so I’d stay away from them as well.  Find delicious meals that incorporate protein and healthy fats, and add some vegetables to them.  This could be as simple as throwing spinach into your scrambled eggs, or mixing some almonds into your Greek yogurt.  It’s simple and healthy, you’re telling your body that you’re going to take care of it.  You can’t beat breakfast!

After breakfast, eat every 2-3 hours.  This doesn’t mean giant meals or only snacks, but a combination of the two.  Eating frequently will keep your metabolism soaring, but it depends on what you’re eating.  Lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and nuts are all great options in my book, and make sure you stay away from processed foods.  Due to my schedule, I tend to eat lots of Chobani Greek yogurts and the old staple of chicken and broccoli, but you can incorporate a lot of variety to keep things interesting.  Maybe one day you put Salmon on your salad, and the next day steak.  Or try mixing your own trail mix of roasted nuts and dried fruits.  Even replacing your normal deli sandwich with low-sodium meats and cheese, opting for lower calorie whole grain wrap over fluffy white bread, and replacing mayo with hummus will help pack some more nutrition in to every bite.  Remember to avoid as much processed food as possible, and you’ll be set for success.

Exercise more!  Todd recommends 6 days of exercise a week, and I agree.  In fact, why not try breaking a sweat every single day?  It’ll be better for you, and it’s not as difficult as you might think.  How about trying full body weight training workouts 3 days a week?  Maybe you use yoga for recovery between those sessions, and you like to play pickup basketball or golf with your friends on the weekends.  You may be used to me showering you with a ‘Pick up heavy stuff’ mentality, and I certainly belief that’s one of the best things you can do, but you may not be that interested in building your deadlift or perfecting your press.  I’m okay with that!  As long as you’re active, you’re going to feel and move better.  Just don’t do the same thing day in and day out.  Experiment with new things, try activities you’ve never done before.  Your body and your mind will be rejuvenated, and those are equally as important in the long run.

Walk More.  Walking is on my list of best things you can do for your body, but I don’t want you to go ahead and consider it exercise; it’s just a means of getting from point A to point B.  This could be as simple as parking in the back of the parking lot and walking to the office or to a store.  It may mean you walk a mile to the library instead of driving there.  It could mean that you’re going to be marching in a  Memorial Day Parade tomorrow morning like I will be doing.  No, it’s not exercise, but it’s activity, and that’s an extremely important part of having a healthy, productive day.  Even if you walk around the block during your lunch break of after dinner, you’ll feel better, and that’s the most important thing to do.

Brush Your Teeth.  The latest Men’s Health featured the following fact, from a 2010 study in the British Medical Journal. “People who brush their teeth less than twice a day have a 70 percent greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke than those who brush twice daily.”  If you brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day, you can decrease your risk of heart attack or stroke by 70%?  Are you serious?  You’re telling me that 4 minutes can… Alright, you get the point:  Brush your damn teeth!

None of these items require extreme amounts of effort, but they’re wondrous for your health and well being.  You may want to take care of all of them at once, or build up slowly; try what suits you best.  Sleep more, drink more (water), eat better foods, and move around more.  Simple tips that will help you lead a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.  What’s not to like about that?


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