Right to the point… Here are some REALLY powerful secrets hiding right in the open that you can use increase your health, fitness and overall happiness. Think about them!
1. Create a base first: Lots of folks leap right from an inactive, over stressed and poorly fueled lifestyle into their latest attempt at an exercise regimen. That’s fine if it works for you (I understand it does for some people) but for many it ultimately does not. They are putting ANOTHER stress on top of a crumbling foundation. Demanding an additive behavior of themselves before they are ready. First work on the pillars of support:
Then you can see about adding an exercise/training regimen to your routine.
2. Build Strength: Strength first! Not “cardio”. Let’s face it, the single-minded focus on mid-high intensity cardio like cycling, running and machines at the gym is leaving people short. Think skinny-fat, broken down bodies and a never ending dependence on carbs and sugar (not unrelated). You want to balance/repair your metabolism to be better at fat burning which will give you better indicators of health AND a lean tone body. Combine this with strength training/load bearing/weight lifting and you have a really awesome combo. Most people would be shocked and awed to find out that if they fix the 3 points listed above and start doing some good load bearing training 3x week, they very likely could reach their body composition/aesthetic goals with virtually no “exercise”. Unfortunately this is one of the best kept secrets around….
Find yourself a good instructor and start learning the basic primary movement patterns: squatting, bending and pulling being the most important and giving you the biggest ROI.
Smaller accessory movements with Dumbbells and Kettlebells represent a nice departure, provide each side of your body with independent demands which can help you balance and strengthen your structure and are great for targeting specific weak areas.
3. Low Intensity in the Sunshine: Go outside and walk, hike, bike, snowshoe, x-country ski etc. but ditch the intensity focus. If you are a hobbyist or an athlete training for an event then obviously you should see your pre-planned training regimen through (nevertheless the sustained low intensity can still play a prominent role in your template). But for the rest of us, or when you are “off” or early season, practice recreating/training in a different state. We often refer to this as Z1 training here at our gym. Here we are combining it with the prescription of going outside to do the work.
*Note that if you are a “Type A”, at least in how you approach your training and exercise, this will be challenging. You will have to try really hard to dampen that pace and chill out! Just enjoy the opportunity it creates for you to see everything you have been missing…
This practice serves numerous functions:
- Vitamin D!
- It’s an excellent opportunity to practice mindfulness which conveys a whole host of health benefits…
- It helps you get into the parasympathetic nervous system, something we all need more of
- Builds and maintains your aerobic base – creates a platform for all forms of metabolic exertion
4. Upgrade your happiness! Here are some tips and approaches that many have used and that I personally am working to implement:
- Go out in the sunshine (again). So many known/established ties to health and mood here.
- Be physical, get strong! Creating a physical basis also builds strength in mind body and spirit.
- Practice watching or being the observer of your “parade”. What a show it is! This is the beginning of perspective. Then you can begin to be more skillful about identifying judgement, desire and reactions.
- Say “yes” to everything in your life.
- When you catch yourself becoming attached to something or a certain outcome ask yourself if it’s really that important that you be unhappy if you don’t get it or if things don’t go your way.
- Create time in your life. It’s the only thing you actually have AND you have no idea how much is left.
So there you have it. Go forth and be strong, healthy and happy!