You know, one of the strangest aspects of the whole health and fitness game is how eager people are to spend money on solutions, and completely ignore the stuff they can fix for free.
This is especially ironic (and infuriating) when you consider that the things you can fix for free is exponentially more important than anything you can solve with a new diet or super shake.
DRINK MORE WATER
You’re not drinking enough, and you know it, and I know it.
You know how I know?
Because I’ve worked with several thousands of clients in my career, and most of them weren’t.
One of the things that I do when I start a new client is have them keep a food diary.
For the first two to three weeks I’m working with them, they have to write down everything they eat and drink, no matter what; everything from protein shakes to chewing gum to salt and vinegar.
Having a properly hydrated system helps with digestion and makes you more capable of breaking down and absorbing nutrients. It also aids with bowel movements by preventing constipation.
There is the increased rate of excretion, which helps flush toxins out of the body—the best cure for pollution is dilution, as the saying goes.
In terms of fat loss and muscle gain, staying hydrated helps in ways it’s impossible to quantify.
Firstly, your metabolism is healthier: when you’re dehydrated, things slow down (partially for conservation).
Secondly, hydrated muscles contract more efficiently. Workouts will be more productive, and more intense.
STOP SITTING SO MUCH
If you’ve been paying attention over the past two years, you’ve heard that sitting is death.
While it may sound a bit dramatic to phrase it so severely, the fact is, it’s true.
Quite true, actually, in the literal sense.
People who sit a lot die much, much younger than people who don’t. The numbers vary a bit, but according to one study, those who sit six plus hours per day are likely to die 15 years before those who sit three or fewer hours per day.
Another found that people who sit for most of the day are 54 per cent more likely to die of a heart attack than those who do not.
In terms of your actual fitness, sitting too much is going to mess up your posture.
When you sit, your hip flexors are in a shortened position; sitting too often creates perpetual shortness, to the extent that it can pull your pelvis into posterior tilt. This will make you primed for injuries.
Similarly, sitting too much generally means you’re looking down at a computer, and typing at one—the result of this behaviour is chronically shortened/tight pecs, creating a round, forward-rolled shoulder effect. In addition to just looking terrible, this has implications for shoulder and back health.
So, what to do? The easiest answer is to sit less and stand more. But, that may be easier said than done. It’s not that standing is hard to do; it’s just easy to forget to do it.
GET MORE SLEEP
I don’t want to bore you, but you need more sleep.
Why? It’s simple: lack of sleep is associated with: more fat, more hunger, irritability, higher stress and earlier death.
None of that sounds good to me.
Lack of sleep ruins your ability to function. You have trouble concentrating, remembering information, driving, taking care of your finances, and performing your job at a high level.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there are some hormonal implications to consider: it’s been found that sleep less than six hours per night for as little as two weeks can lower testosterone levels by 10-15 per cent.
So, if you want to compromise sex drive, have trouble focusing, and die earlier, all while sabotaging your fitness efforts, by all means, keep thinking you’re fine with just five hours per night.