There are tons of information out there about recovery. From flopping around on foam rollers to light therapy, it seems like there is always a “new & shiny” way of recovering. What most people forget about are the “big rocks” of recovery. We do the same thing with training and nutrition. The coolest and most challenging workout program for fast results, instead of sticking to the basics of strength training for long lasting progress. The newest “fad” diet instead of just doing something that is healthy and sustainable for your lifestyle. Shiny object syndrome is definitely a thing in the fitness community as well. Because the “quick fix” mentality is so damn prominent in today’s culture. However, there are tried and true ways we can recover for optimal gains and longevity. Here are the 5 steps to assure you’re recovering:
- Sleeping 7-9 Hours Per Night
Sleep is probably the most overlooked and underutilized tool when it comes to recovery. Sleeping more hours in your day makes all the difference with the things that matter. To the people who are #teamnosleep and run on 2-5 hours of sleep, you have no idea what you are truly doing to your body. If you sleep more, you will see a lot of positive health benefits: better energy, more productivity, better problem solving, boosting of hormones you need for muscle building and fat loss, better central nervous system recovery, less fatigue and will literally make you live longer. Think it’s too good to be true? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll debate it. The thing is, a lot of people understand and know these benefits but STILL don’t emphasize sleep in their daily life. And I get it. We all have busy lives with work, family and everything in between. But let’s go back up to productivity. If you are more energized, more focused and just flat out feel better throughout your day, even if you’re taking a little more time for sleep, wouldn’t your days be better? 10/10 times the answer to that question is going to be yes.
- Eating Whole Foods (80/20 Rule)
The bottom line about recovery, is that we want to limit inflammation as much as possible. When we eat whole foods for the majority of our diet, we limit inflammation. Inflammation in the gut can lead to a whole host of issues. Digestive issues leading to lack of nutrient absorption, this leads to hormone imbalances which then leads to lack of sleep, brain fog, mood swings… not good. Eating vegetables, fruits, potatoes, rice, meat, poultry, and well sourced dairy for the majority of your diet is KEY for recovery. The best way to think about it is the 80/20 rule. Make 8 out of every 10 meals come from real, minimally processed foods. You will recover better, have more energy, be more productive and have more desire to workout. When you recover more effectively you will burn more fat and build more muscle because your hormones are optimized. This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy yourself and have a drink or a slice of pizza or two. But when the majority of your diet is refined sugar and trans-fat filled foods, you’ll feel it. Digestive issues, stiff and painful joints, poor sex drive… these are things no one should have to suffer from day in and day out. The first step has to be building awareness around your nutrition. If you need some help doing this, fill out this application.
- Drinking Enough Water
My clients understand the importance of drinking water. Drinking water keeps you hydrated. It ensures proper brain function. But what else can water do? Drinking enough water can lead to proper digestion. As we talked about with the importance of whole foods, digestion (nutrient absorption) is KEY for recovery. Not only absorption but the transportation of these nutrients throughout your body is largely the responsibility of hydration. Staying hydrated also helps you get rid of waste that your body doesn’t need, which again, when we talk about recovery is very important. I have clients who have come to me in the past and have all kinds of pain. As with all of my clients, one of the first places I look (even before food quality) is how much water they’re consuming. Water is what protects the body’s vital tissues and joints. We introduce more water and all of a sudden, the joint pain starts to diminish. Even slight water loss can lead to a host of negative effects like anxiety, short term memory loss and added tension. Keep water readily available and consume a consistent amount of water throughout the day. Don’t wait until the end of the day and realize “I haven’t drank enough water” and try to drink it all before bed. This will impact sleep because you’ll be waking up every hour to use the bathroom.
- Managing Stress
Managing stress is something most people that come to me just flat out suck at. And honestly, most people do. But it’s not their fault. The medical industry and big pharma have a big influence on this. A pill for everything. Not ever getting to the root cause of any stress issues. Sleep is a vital component for managing stress. So, if you’re not putting an emphasis on your sleep, you need to be. You could literally be cutting years off of your life if you aren’t. Waking up at 4-5am daily and running on caffeine and Adderall will eventually crush your nervous system. Which will then crush your hormonal system. Which will lead to a very unhappy and unhealthy you. When we talk about managing stress, it starts with LOVING YOURSELF enough to take care of yourself. This means having a healthy balance with exercise and rest. Many people believe the key to having abs is suffering. Suffering in the gym with super high intensity cardio-based exercise. Suffering in the kitchen by following a “meal plan” that pigeon holes you to 8-10 different foods. This isn’t the case. If you want to learn more about training and nutrition for your goals, fill out this application. Some of the things when it comes to managing stress that aren’t talked about are simple relaxation techniques. This means having a daily meditation practice. Even if its 5 minutes of being present and focusing on your breathing daily, meditation practices have been proven time and time again to be one of the most effective ways of de-stressing. There’re many ways to meditate, but I like to put on some sounds, take deep slow breaths and think about a “mantra”. Something like “I unconditionally love and respect myself.” When my mind begins to drift to other places, I pull it back to the mantra. Another key for managing stress is purposeful scheduling of just doing shit you like to do. Make it a point every week to do something fun. Whether its date night, playing a sport, gaming, WHATEVER. Make time for you. You’ll find that when you begin to do these things, everything else in your life improves including recovery. Having that sympathetic response when you lift heavy weights is good. Your body needs stress to change and adapt. But having the parasympathetic response balances this and ensures that you’re not over training and under recovering.
- Tracking Biofeedback
You may be asking, “what is biofeedback?” That’s a great question. Biofeedback is basically everything your body is saying to you through its natural processes. It’s sleep quality, energy level, mood, hunger, cravings, recovery, motivation, training performance, stress, libido etc. You also might be asking, “why should I be paying attention to these things?” Well, these things are sort of a daily report card. If you’re sleeping well, have good energy, are in a good mood for the most part, feeling hungry, not getting crazy cravings (like right after you eat craving sugary/salty processed food), recovering from your training (if you’re interested in training, click HERE), are motivated to crush your day, performing well (getting stronger), not feeling super stressed all the time and have a high sex drive then your hormones are in a good spot. This means you’re probably taking care of the things we talked about above and you have a healthy relationship with exercise. If one or more of these is off, it could mean your hormonal system isn’t in an optimal spot. The thing is, it impacts more than just losing fat and gaining muscle. It’s more than just looking better. You won’t be as effective at your job. You won’t be as good of a friend, girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, son/daughter, mom/dad. It impacts your whole life. That’s why I’m so big on lifestyle coaching. Tracking my client’s biofeedback allows me to help them realize the importance of these things on losing fat and gaining muscle, but also their whole damn lives. If you’re recovering optimally, meaning taking care of all aspects we talked about above, your biofeedback will show it. If you’re looking to improve your lifestyle and learn about the power of tracking biofeedback, there’s no better time to start than now. If you’re confused on where to start, shoot me an email email@example.com and let’s figure out where you are now and create a plan for recovering better so you can enjoy a healthier lifestyle.