Training & Nutrition as tools | Realizing Your True Physical & Mental Potential
We live in times where fitness has become a massive trend and paradoxically, fewer people consider it important, giving way to other things to get on top of their priority list. The collective paradigm about health, nutrition, and fitness has been warped beyond belief. This therefore leads to more people than ever getting lost in a vicious cycle of non-sustainable physical, nutritional and mental habits.
And while getting fit and starting a diet is just a “Someday” goal for many people, the truth is that it is the natural way the body should work.
The Modern-Day Lifestyle
Humans as a species have been on this planet for at least 200,000 years and for the most part, it has been a survival game. It has only been the last 30 years that we’ve had easy access to such an abundance of foods, which can even be delivered to your doorstep! So, you see where this is going, right?
We are way beyond our natural human patterns of movement and nutrition, working sedentary jobs and eating heavily-processed, nutrient-poor foods. What we now call training is actually the way things worked for most of human existence.
Here’s The Best Part Though
Your HEALTH determines your performance in every other aspect of your life. Think about it, too many people often get to the point where neglecting their body becomes habitual, rather than a choice. This usually leads to an overall decrease in the quality of life, where they feel mentally and physically exhausted just a couple of hours into the day. As this happens, it gets harder to focus and perform well on your other activities.
This is where physical, nutritional, and mental practices come into play.
Fitness & Nutrition as tools
By now you should know that the best thing you can do to improve your performance in every aspect of life, is to keep your body & mind healthy. And quite frankly, the physical part of it is really simple – Using your body’s active components (training) and granting fuel for performance & recovery (food). As we mentioned above, the modern-day lifestyle imposes us to an environment where EVERYTHING we need is right around the block.
The question is, are you going to go to the gym or the pub?
Are you going to go to the grocery store or the burger joint?
Making all the right choices that will nurture all the various functions of the body, will ultimately set you up for a clear vision and good performance in all aspects of life. The goal is to create a plan you can adhere to and bring into your older years, to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
Physical & Mental Practices Anyone Can Use
Now that we have a firm grasp of the fact that taking care of your body is the least and easiest thing you can and should do, let’s have a look at actionable steps you can take towards that.
1. Bring diversity in your nutrition
Nowadays, more often than not, there are fad diets that overwhelm people trying to set up a concrete nutrition plan. Should you do keto, paleo, low-carb or intermittent fasting? The short answer is – Use whatever you can stick to in the long term. But when building out your nutrition plan, consider this: A balanced approach to nutrition is the best way to go, as each and every macro and micro nutrient has its own purpose in your physiology.
Eat some meat, some fish, grains, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, nuts and any other whole foods you may have in the local store. Remember that the different colors of food simply show the different nutrients available in that food. In this case, the more colorful your plate is, the better.
Enjoy food not only as a functional component of your health & recovery plan, but also a form of enjoyment and art.
2. Include endurance, strength & functional training
Your body is a complex biological machine that has a musculoskeletal system, used to move in the environment in a variety of ways. As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, the modern-day lifestyle robs us of most movements which we would otherwise do. This is exactly why, it is best to use as many functions of your body as possible. Contrary to popular belief, your “fitness” is not just about going to the gym and lifting weights.
It is much more than that. Your body can run, swim, climb, crawl, jump, pull, push, etcetera… Think about it – Each of those movements engages a different set of active components (muscles) The more of those components you frequently engage in challenging training sessions, the better your overall development will be. This is mostly valid for people who are not athletes, as competitive sports would require a different approach, the goal of which would be to maximize on a couple of physical properties.
3. Take care of your recovery
Whether you are doing light cardio or grueling strength training, leaving a window for recovery before the next session is always mandatory. It is this exact recovery window that allows the trained muscles/functions to reach the state of supercompensation. Supercompensation is essentially the point during recovery, at which the exercised muscles/functions have a higher working capacity than they did prior to the training bout.
This is what progress actually is – Your body preparing for bigger challenges! Here are our best tips to optimize your recovery:
- Get 0.8-1g of protein per lb. of bodyweight
- Eat 0.45g of fat per lb. of bodyweight
- Consume a solid amount of carbohydrates
- Hydrate yourself well (Avoid excessive thirst)
- Sleep 6-8 hours a night
- Let each muscle group rest at least ~72 hrs between strength training sessions
- Rest at least 24 hours between prolonged aerobic (cardio) sessions
- Get frequent deep tissue massages
4. Breathe more!
Besides robbing us of movement, the modern-day lifestyle often instills passive stress into the mind. If your mind is stressed, so is the body and we all know that chronic stress has long-term side effects that manifest in many aspects of our lives. And quite frankly – You don’t want that. This is where breathing exercises come into play.
Now, breathing is normally an autonomous function… until the moment you think of it. And this is actually good!
Consciously controlling your breathing pattern can have massive benefits on your autonomous nervous system (ANS) right away. Just 5-10 deep, slow inhales and exhales can instantly act as a powerful signal for the body.
That exact signal tells the ANS that it is time to relax and recover, thus allowing many glands in the body to secrete health-nurturing substances. The step-by-step breathing practice we have for you below, can be used daily to manage any type of stress and bring harmony back to the heart & brain.
- Sit down comfortably and close your eyes, preferably on a quiet spot
- Place your hand on your chest and shift your attention to your heart
- Inhale slowly through your nose and into the belly, then up to the chest
- Exhale slowly through your nose, releasing any bodily/mental tension
- Repeat and focus your attention to your heart and breathing
This is essentially a meditation practice which has powerful effects even when done for a couple of minutes per day. The main goal is to focus on your heart & lungs and induce a powerful self-regulation signal. If any intrusive thoughts come to your mind, don’t follow and multiply them, just let them go and return your attention to the heart and lungs.
To Wrap It Up
Doing regular physical/training activity, eating well and practising mindfulness shouldn’t really be considered “goals”. These are rather just the tools you can and should use to set yourself up for better performance in any other aspect of your life. Modern-day cities provide everything you need for a complete biological optimization, right at your fingertips. But the catch is that they also make it easy for you to create a full-on biological disaster. The question is, which route are you gonna go? Choice is yours, make the rest of your life the best of your life.