On Monday we discussed the contents of a healthy diet with regards to protein, fats, carbohydrates, greens and water, today we are looking at some of the lifestyle choices we can make to optimise our chances of success. If we want to lose weight, gain weight, perform to our best in our sport or just live a healthy life; we need to put health as a priority and there are a few little tricks we can deploy to help.
The body's way of regulating itself is through its hormonal system, the endocrine system. This is an assortment of chemical messengers which help communicate between the body and its different functions. This regulates all kinds of functions from sleep, digestion, maintenance of cells, hunger all the way to energy levels, reproduction and mood. The key to remember is that this is a closed system, the body is a closed system and everything can have an effect on everything else.
How do we maximise the efficiency of this system? How do we let it run most efficiently?
Here are a few quick tips to help you on your way.
Get enough, quality sleep at night. Sleep is a massively important aspect of recovery. Everyone's sleep requirement is individual but the government guidelines of 8 hours are an excellent guide. One of the most important aspects of sleep is how you wind down to go to sleep. Try and leave the TV, books, mobile phones, tablets and electronic devices alone for 30 minutes before you go to sleep. Any visual stimulus is going to fire up the brain and keep it active, we want it to slow down and relax. If you have music on, try and keep it quiet and relaxing, again rather than anything that is going to over stimulate the brain.
Keep active. Guidelines are 2.5 hours of aerobic activity that makes you work at a pace above comfortable. On a scale of 1-10 this would be a 7/8. This can be all kinds of work it could be brisk walking, cycling, a class, weight lifting (at intensity). Guidelines also recommend exercise that is physically challenging for the muscles at least 2 times per week. This could be resistance training, bodyweight exercise - just get those muscles working.
Control stress. Stress is a factored part of modern life, some might even say some stress is necessary. But if it is not managed properly it can manifest quite nastily and have adverse effects on sleep, our hormones and the way feel about ourselves. Try and manage stress as best you can, provide yourself with a structure to combat the effects it can have you. If you work a lot of hours, plan time to allow yourself to unwind. Plan time with friends, family and doing the things you enjoy. It is easy to get caught up. If you are busy and find your head buzzes going to bed at night make a habit of writing a list of what needs to be done so that you can unload it from your mind. Look at your week ahead so you know whats coming, when things have to be done by and allow yourself time to get them done. Also cut back on stimulants such as caffeine and energy drinks. Modern day humans batter their adrenal by living on stress, stimulants and not getting enough sleep. This leaves with the wired but tired state that so many complain of.
Stress leads us nicely to the digestive system. What many don't realise that digestion lies as part of the sympathetic nervous system and stress and how we feel can have acute (immediate) and chronic (long term) effects on how we process food, and vice versa. Try and manage stress as best you can as discussed above. Allow time to sit and eat your food so that digestion can be optimised. Try and concentrate on the act of eating so that leptin (the hormone signalling to eat) can be satisfied and let us know to stop eating and grehlin (the hormone responsible for that rumbling in your stomach) can also be satisfied.
With all these areas, try and build good habits. These are guidelines but human beings are unique and you to have find what works for you and be consistent. Think back to a time when you were at your best, when you felt great. Try and think what you did, what served you best. Add a touch of what we have discussed above and you'll be well on your way.
Adfitness Personal Trainer