In a world where complexity is regarded as superior, the most effective fitness practices are overlooked, undervalued, and flat out ignored due to one simple characteristic - SIMPLICITY.
Not deemed flashy or difficult enough, the mainstays of strength and conditioning have found no popularity in gyms or on social media accounts featuring 8-packs and glutes that break the internet.
I'm laying out the 3 most undervalued aspects in all of exercise, nutrition, and stress management. These are effective for every level of exerciser, from beginner to professional athlete.
As you read on, please enjoy that incredible moment of simultaneous "Well, duh" and "Wait, why aren't I doing that?"
Take a hike. Hit the bricks, kid. Mosey on down mainstreet. Seriously.
Walking is the most undervalued practice in fitness. Not only is walking directly associated with longevity, quality of life, better immunity, low risks of chronic diseases, AND lower stress levels - it's just plain nice.
You can walk anywhere. Except on water. Unless you have devine parents. Since you can manipulate the distance, speed, and incline of your walk you can constantly change the implied demand on your cardiorespiratory system as well.
Folks tend to skip walking and get right into jogging. Bad idea, especially if you're running with the goal of losing weight. The number one cause of injury in the general population is jogging related injuries. Your joints, connective tissues, and muscles need to be trained in preparation for the orthopedic nightmare that is jogging. The amount of force you absorb into your ankles, knees, hips and low back are staggering. So pump the brakes a bit and walk before you run.
Walking for 30-60 minutes should be an almost daily habit. Build your aerobic base, de-stress, and enjoy a light stroll.
Want to control your calories? Stop eating at lightspeed like you don't know when your next meal is coming. Before you even start with macros and calorie counting, get a handle on this eating approach.
It takes 15 for your stomach to signal your brain that your appetite has been satisfied. I don't know about you, but I can eat a TON of food in 15 minutes.
For those of you who built up speedy eating habits, I get it. I grew up with a brother and we inhaled our food. If we didn't eat fast, the other one ate everything.
But now, we are grown ups. We can eat slowly and stop when we are satisfied - which tends to be around 80% of full and a long way from stuffed. Give yourself a chance to taste your food, enjoy your meal, and feel satisfied before you're ready to burst.
This is something I struggle with, but when I'm doing well I feel lighter, more energetic, and I sleep better. My clients have had the same experiences with the added bonus of weight loss.
GET OFF THE GRID
This will make me sound like a modern day Grinch, but it has to be said. People and their notifications drive me nuts. With their chimes, slacks, tweets, DMs, Facebook messages, texts, posts, alerts, alarms, timers, and the noise, noise, NOISE.
These things cause a stress response in your autonomic nervous system every single time. That's not hyperbole, it's a well researched fact. You know that feeling when your phone buzzes and you get mild anxiety until you check it? That's your fight or flight response. You feel ramped up until you take action.
To add a little icing to the stress cake you're baking all day; screens use a lot of the blue light spectrum. That's the color spectrum that keeps you awake and alert. So, on top of your constant anxiety, you can't relax. This is also why Netflix has to have the "Are you still watching?" feature. Blue light makes it harder to fall asleep, so you end up binging The Office for hours on end, even though you've already seen it 20 times through.
So for the 1-2 hours before bed, and preferably several shorter spells throughout the day, TURN EVERYTHING OFF.
No TV, no phone, no iPad, no nothin'. You'll notice a greater sense of calm, higher quality sleep, and better productivity at home or work. Getting off the grid regularly is the simplest, most impactful thing you can do to relieve stress.
So when you're done with this article, power down and find some peace.
``````````````THAT'S TOO EASY
No it's not. If it were you'd be doing it already.
Your gut reaction to this basic information is going to be that it won't amount to much. This is too basic to make a dent in your goals.
You're dead wrong.
These 3 simple things will do wonders - seriously WONDERS - for your health. Not everything requires a complex plan to be effective.
I've had clients that were stuck, VERY stuck, until adding these habits. One client had done 60 minutes of cardio every single day for a year and hadn't lost a pound. They came to me and we lost over a hundred. Guess what habits we started with? One athlete wasn't making any strength progress. We traded the extra HIIT work he was doing for low intensity walking. BOOM! New PR's on every compound lift within a month.
You're a grown up, so make your own decisions. But, if you choose to pass on this advice do this for me: set a reminder on your calendar 6 months (or even a year) from today. When that day comes, look at where you were when you read this article and where you are after 6-12 months of flashy, overly complicated crap. Did you make the progress you wanted? Have you built any solid habits? You'll think about it and have to admit that no, you didn't.
Give these 3 things a try. I bet you see your progress pick up again, even if these are the only things you change.
If you want help adding these to your current schedule, routine, or program - email me. I'm happy to lend a hand.
Articles filled with actionable information to improve your approach to the 4 pillars of fitness.