I’ve always been interested in how our lifestyle choices affect our longevity, durability in the activities we enjoy, and our overall content-ness and wellness. Our health and wellness can be greatly affected by how well we are able to:
Be Active: more is not always better
Be Nourished: our body and mind
Be Rested: quality of sleep and downtime
Be Calm: managing stress
There are other areas of our life that can affect our wellness such as our work environment, the quality of our home life, our love/friendship connection and mental stimulation. This posting will focus on activity, nourishment, rest, and calmness.
Ben Greenfield is a big fan of a “move often” approach to fitness rather than high volume training that adds wear and tear to the body. What does this mean? Our ancestors would have many hours (upward of 7 hours a day) of very low intensity work (walking around gathering) with bursts of high intensity and strength work (hunting and survival). Not much middle zone or gray zone intensity. What does this look like for today’s athlete?
If you have a desk job, stand up and move around: often. Set a timer to remind you to move. Do a few lunges and push-ups every so often. I often “sit” at my desk in a kneeling low lunge with my back knee rested on a yoga block. Consider getting a standing desk.
Include some HIIT workouts 1-2 times a week.
Lift something heavy (safely).
Multi-directional jump training or plyometrics.
Work on range of motion: yes this is stretching and yoga, but also specific mobility work (check out The Ready State)
Under-speed workouts (legs/arms going slow)
Over-speed workouts (legs/arms going fast)
Easy workouts should be just that; easy. And hard workouts; hard. Don’t make all your workouts gray zone workouts.
Seek new challenges to stay motivated and stimulated
Processed foods and refined carbs 'tell us' to keep eating. When you cut out these foods and eat a nutrient dense clean diet along with healthy plant-based fat your hormones help bring back your 'appetite signaling' to a normal place. Natural satiety signals kick-in.
Clean eating isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle that emphasizes selecting real foods over highly processed foods. Clean foods are ones that are close to the original state in which they were grown or raised. They tend to spoil faster than processed foods and they tend to not have an ingredient list...or if they do, it’s a short one. Not many people have the time to make everything from scratch. So when you do have to buy foods ready made make sure they are as clean as possible. Read the ingredient list. For example take peanut butter. It should just have one ingredient: peanuts and no other added ingredients.
If you want to eat clean it takes some planning. It doesn’t take much time and it can really set you up for success. If you know planning isn't your thing, consider getting a meal plan to follow. Whole Foods have inexpensive easy-to-follow weekly menus that cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Or contact me for help.
Here are some basic guidelines to eating a clean nourishing diet.
Switch to organic, non-GMO, grass fed, wild caught, free range, etc.
Eliminate artificial sweeteners, additives, colorings and flavorings.
No processed foods.
Cut down on sugar, this includes dried fruits, candy, sodas, etc.
Eat healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, etc.)
Eliminate vegetable oils, refined oils, sunflower, safflower, canola, grapeseed oil, etc.
Have a mix of gently cooked and raw veggies.
Chew your food more...even your smoothies.
Slow down at the dinner table: Put your phones away. Be with people. Eat with gratitude.
Activate nuts, seeds, legumes and grains. This means soaking them or even sprouting them. This reduces phytic acid and increases digestibility. (Phytic Acid inhibits the absorption of minerals in our body).
Functional hydration when exercising: For longer workouts you need water, salt and sugar. Skratch, OSMO, Nuun Performance, etc. For shorter workouts drink just water or an electrolyte drink like Ultmina Replenisher.
Hydration throughout the day: filtered water.
Real food on the bike: Take a look at the sushi rice cake recipes in “The Feed Zone Portables Book”. Good snack food!
A healthy gut equals a healthy body and mind. There is a lot of research showing that many diseases and ailments can be cured or prevented by healing the gut. If you want to delve deeper into this topic I recommend working with a Naturopath Doctor or Nutritional Therapist. Try to eat a variety of cultured and fermented foods. Cultured foods include sour cream, cream cheese, kefir, yogurt. (Make sure it says cultured on the label.) Fermented foods include miso, tempeh, kombucha, kimchi, fermented veggies like pickles and sauerkraut, and true sourdough bread. Eating lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables will provide adequate fiber to help feed the good bacteria in our gut. Aim for 30-40 grams per day.
20-30 grams of protein with each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Too much protein is not a good thing, as is too little. What’s the right amount? Use this as a starting guide:
0.55 x body weight in lbs.
A140 lb person should be getting 77 grams of protein a day.
The more active you are and the older you are (40+) you'll need more protein. And finally,
16. Supplements: get blood work done so you know what you are deficient in
(Inside Tracker). As athletes here are some recommendations:
Vitamin (Thorne Basic Nutrients 2/day).
B12 for vegetarians / vegans
Iron - especially for menstrating females and those who don’t eat red meat.
Quality and quantity of sleep are so important. Strive for 7-8 hours of shuteye. In the perfect world we would go to sleep when we are tired and get up when we are fully rested. This is rarely practical for the majority of us. Here are some things to do to help get that full night of sleep:
Shower before bed - not too hot. You need to cool your core body temp down before bed.
No screen time 2 hours before going to bed.
Breath work, yoga or meditation routine to help wind down. Breathing through your nose activates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest system) - this helps calm you.
No caffeine after lunch
No alcohol 2-3 hours before bed
Get up at the same time each morning
No exercise 3 hours before bed. It raises core body temp.
Dim lights 1-2 hours before bed
If you have trouble staying asleep, don’t stay in bed being awake too long. It's best to keep the bed associated with sleep and not being awake. Get up and go to a different room with a dim light. Don’t look at a computer screen, instead journal, read a book, meditate, belly breathe through your nose. When you start to feel sleepy, start your bedtime routine again (go brush your teeth) and head to bed.
Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies causing damage that sets the stage for all kinds of disease and sickness: it affects our immune system, can cause inflammation, accelerate aging, etc. It’s not always possible to remove stress, but there are many ways to try to alleviate it. Find out what works for you and leaves you with a feeling of calmness.
Listen to music
Meditation (Insight Timer App)
Mindfulness practise (10 minutes a day with Headspace App)
Mind-Body Practices: Qi Gong, Tia Chi, Yoga (Gaiam Yoga Studio App, YouTube: Yoga with Adriene)
Engage meaningfully with family or friends
Journaling / inner work
It’s never too late to make some meaningful changes. Don’t take on too much at once. Implement a few changes at a time. Aim to be 1% better each day. Partner with a friend: seek out help and encouragement to help hold you accountable. Or work with a Health Coach :-)
What the Heck Should I Eat by Dr Mark Hyman
Longevity by Gwyneth Paltrow
Beyond Training, Mastering Endurance, Health and Life by Ben Greenfield
Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore
The Essential Book of Fermentation: great taste and good health with probiotic foods by Jeff Cox
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Feed Zone books by Allen Lim an Biju Thomas
Fast after 50 by Joe Friel
Roar by Stacy Sims
Why we sleep by Matthew Walker
Inside Timer App (meditation)
Head Space App (meditation) Nike Training Club App (for workouts) My Transphormation App (for workouts)
Fitness Blender Website (free workout videos)
YouTube channel: Yoga with Adriene
My Fitness Pal App for taking nutrients