32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #30

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#30. Start With “Why?”

When we understand why health and fitness is important to us we are more motivated to prioritize it over other things.

The 5 Whys

The 5 Whys is a simple practice to get to the root of a problem, or in this case to gain a deeper understanding of what motivates us. It is one part of Kaizen: a Japanese term for the art of constant improvement.

It goes something like this:

Why #1: “Why is eating healthy & working out important to me?”
Answer: “Because I want to lose weight, and more toned.”

Why #2: “But, why do I want to lose weight, be fitter, and more toned?”
Answer: “Because I want to look good and be fitter and healthier.”

Why #3: “But, why do I want to look good and be fitter and healthier?”
Answer: “Because when I look good and am fitter I have more confidence.”

Why #4: “But, why do I want to have more confidence?”
Answer: “Because I want to be confident around my friends, family, and co-workers.”

Why #5: “But, why do I want to confident around my friends, family, and co-workers?”
Answer: “Because when I am confident in my relationships I will be the best parent, the best spouse, the best co-worker I can be. I will be able to live into the truest expression of who I am capable of becoming.”

Why do you want to lose weight, build muscle, and be fitter? We need a reason that will help us get up for our early morning workouts, resist the office donuts, and make some changes that are difficult but necessary for us to thrive.

When we have a why that is compelling enough, we will be more motivated to make healthy choices so that we can live into out best self.

32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #29

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#29. Give Yourself Grace

#29. Give Yourself Grace

What do you do when your workouts leave you feeling defeated? When life events pull you away from your ability to be fit & healthy? When you don’t feel as in shape as you would like to be? ⠀

First, last, and always: give yourself grace.⠀

Working out requires a certain vulnerability, an acceptance of the fact that you are always a work in progress. When you workout, no matter your performance, no matter how you compare to other people, you are working on being your best self.⠀

Give yourself grace when you feel defeated after a workout. The first rule of CrossFit is to leave your ego outside the door. This is the first rule for a reason: you are only ever competing against you, to be better today than you were yesterday.⠀

Every time you workout you PR the number of times you have worked out. Give yourself grace, and be proud of putting one foot in front of the other, be proud of getting off the couch, of choosing to suffer momentarily for the long term satisfaction of being a healthier, fitter you.⠀

Give yourself grace instead of comparing your fitness today to your fitness during a previous stage in life. For every stage in life you pass through, you make trade-offs. With kids, and spouses, and careers come commitments (financial, time, emotional, etc.).⠀

Give yourself grace, knowing that the stage of life you are in now requires certain trade-offs. Set a time diary, based on your Rocks/Pebbles/Sand (see yesterday’s tip) to prioritize what you can and should be doing during this stage in life.⠀

Give yourself grace when you feel like your current level of fitness is not where you want it. It may seem overwhelming when there is so much to work on (nutrition, sleep, workouts, etc.). But, wherever you are today on your fitness journey, all you need to do is take one step closer to being healthier.

If you have an idea that you could be healthier, and fitter, great! That is the start of a goal. The start of a plan. The start of making healthy changes in your life.

Each workout, and each bite of broccoli is one step on the never-ending journey to live into the truest expression of who you are capable of becoming.

32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #28

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#28 Time Diary

We only have a finite number of hours in the day. How do we make sure to take care of the things that are most important?

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand

Imagine an empty glass jar, this represents our finite amount of time. We can fill this jar with Rocks (our top priorities, i.e. family time, work, health & fitness, faith, friends, etc.), Pebbles (things we enjoy that bring fulfillment and satisfaction, i.e. travel, hobbies, vacation, etc.), and sand (all the things that fill our time and space that are not necessities, i.e. social media, television, video games, etc.).

If we fill the glass jar with sand first, we leave no space for our rocks and pebbles (our top priorities). When we make a plan to prioritize our time, we put in the rocks first, then the pebbles, and we still have some space leftover for some sand.

Prioritizing our time can be as simple as making a time diary. To make a time diary, pick a day each week and plan what your week is going to look like.

Make sure to block out time first for your rocks, the things that are most important. For example if you work Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm, block that off. If you exercise 4 days a week from 6am-7am, block that off. If you have family activities planned for the week, block that off.

Great, now we need to put in our pebbles. Block off time for upcoming travel, for your hobbies, block off time for your sleep schedule (what time do you need to be in bed?), for anything that is necessary for you to thrive.

And if you have time leftover, you can fill this with sand! Your favorite T.V. shows, games, etc.

When we make it a priority to prioritize our time, we can spend our time doing what is most important to us. If we fail to plan out our time, we end up with too much sand and not enough of what we need to thrive.

Choose a day (Sunday’s are great for most people) to write out your time diary so you can choose how to spend your time and create the life you want for you and your loved ones!

32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #27

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#27 How To Stay Accountable With The Calendar Challenge

What do we do when we know that nutrition is the biggest aspect of health that we need to focus on to make progress towards our fitness goals, but struggle doing it?

The Calendar Challenge

This simple challenge will help you to implement a habit to improve your nutrition, and a simple reward system that helps you make the habit a part of your lifestyle.

First, set a nutrition goal (no alcohol on weekdays, no refined sugar, add 20-30 grams of protein to your breakfast, eat a vegetable with each meal, eat a vegetable etc.). Think about one thing that, once you do it every day, will help you to transform your nutrition for the better.

Second, print out a calendar sheet for this month, stick it on the fridge, and draw a blank check box in each day. For every day you successfully complete your nutrition goal: add a big red X mark in the square.

Don’t break the chain! Try for big streaks of days with no lapse in the chain of check marks.

The book Atomic Habits, tells the story of how Jerry Seinfeld used this strategy to become one of the most successful comedians of all time! Seinfeld, knowing that consistency was the most important thing to reach our goals, put up a giant 365 day calendar on his wall, and every day he did his writing task, he would put a large red X for that day.

It didn’t matter if he felt like writing, or didn’t feel like writing, he had to write so he could earn his big red X!

We can use the calendar challenge to create small habit changes in our own lives. Start with a challenge that is challenging, but doable. Stick with this challenge for 30 days, 3 months, or the entire year. Once we make this small habit a part of our lifestyle, we can switch to another habit, and another.

This challenge works great for nutrition goals, but we can use it for any goal that requires a process of daily commitment: be in bed by 9:30pm each night, drink half our bodyweight in ounces of water each day, etc.

The calendar challenge is a simple solution to help us stay accountable so we can finally implement the changes we need for to reach our health and fitness goals!

32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #26

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#26. The Science of Longevity

What are the three main indicators of longevity?

1. Build More Muscle
2. Reduce Body Fat
3. Improve your V02 Max

Build muscle!

To live longer healthier lives we need to look at overall body composition, specifically we need to build muscle mass! “The greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said Dr. Arun Karlamangla a co-author on the study of body mass and longevity.

How to build muscle (in a nutshell): Include resistance training in your workouts, add more protein to your diet, eat carbs and protein before & after your workouts, get more sleep.

Reduce body fat and you’ll live longer!

Studies show the relationship between excess body weight and early mortality is clear. Excess body fat is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.

How to Reduce Body Fat (in a nutshell): Eat in a slight caloric deficit, increase your workouts, sleep at least 7 hours, manage stress & anxiety, and drink enough water to live optimally.

Improve your V02 Max

Our VO2 Max, a measure of aerobic fitness (how our body utilizes oxygen for high intensity workouts), is a single measurement that is associated with heart disease risk, all-cause mortality, and even cancer-related deaths. One study found that the higher levels of VO2 Max extended life by about 5 years!

How to improve your V02 Max (in a nutshell): add more cardio & high intensity interval training to your workouts. When we challenge the heart, lungs, and bones to deliver oxygen during high intensity workouts, we adapt by improving our aerobic systems and improve our VO2 max.

None of us can predict when it is our time to die, but when we improve these three markers for longevity: 1. increase muscle mass, 2. reduce body fat, 3. improve our V02 Max, we might just live a little longer, and we will certainly be healthier & fitter individuals during our remaining years!

CrossFit helps us with all 3!
1. Resistance training to help us build muscle.
2. Cardio & HIIT workouts to help us improve our VO2 max.
3. High power output workouts that increase our net energy expenditure to help us lose body fat!

32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #25

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#25. You Are Moving 24 Hours a Day!

The positions we are in 24 hours of the day creates the story of how we are as movers. Our standing posture, sitting posture, sleeping posture, etc. all play a role in our health and movement patterns.

Most of us think movement = working out. And we pay attention to how we are moving during our workouts: we want good form during our workouts, we stretch in accordance with the workout of the day, etc.

But when we rethink movement to be the positions we are putting our bodies in 24 hours of the day (how we sit in a chair or car, how we hold our kids, how we pick up our laundry baskets, etc).

Stand Right to Win Back Your Positions

We often stand… like we are lazy, tired, stressed: head and shoulders slumped forward, mid back rounded, over-arching our low backs (anterior pelvic tilt).

When we stand intentionally we: have our butt a little bit squeezed to make sure our pelvis is neutral, head tall to make sure our head is not round forward stressing out our neck and back, shoulders pulled back a little so that we maintain healthy shoulders.

Sit Right to Stay Healthy

We often have our butt too far away from the back of the seat, which causes us to round our lower back (posterior pelvic tilt). And we sit too much for too long which causes our hip flexors to get tight.

At work, invest in a good char that helps you to sit up-right, and promotes a neutral pelvis. In a car or seat, start by sitting your butt all the way to the back of the chair, and then down, so you sit upright, and maintain your curve in your low back.

Get up and move! Set a timer so that every 20 minutes or so you have a habit of getting out of your chair, and moving around. Hit some quick hip stretches to restore your movement so that you stay healthy.

When we think of how we are moving 24 hours a day we can stand, sit, sleep, and move intentionally so that we stay healthy and live optimally!

32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #24

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#24. Massage, Physical Therapy, & Chiropractic Care

Cars need a lot of maintenance: oil changes, engines tuned, timing realigned, tires rotated, fluids filled, etc. And most of us pay a professional to do these things because they have the knowledge, tools, and experience to do the job better and faster than us.

Our bodies can be vastly more complicated than, and I hope we value them more than our cars. A professional body worker (masseuse, physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, etc.) can help keep us healthy, fix our movement issues, so that we can move pain free, and do all of the physical activities that help us too thrive.

A great masseuse can help determine your mobility restrictions, work on your tissue to help you move better, break up fascial restrictions, reduce scar tissue, all so that you can move better and feel better.

The practice of chiropractic care has changed over the years. Some chiropractors specialize in adjustment to restore the nervous system and mechanics of the body. Some chiropractors specialize in movement screens and rehab treatments. Some chiropractors specialize in tissue manipulation/mobilization.

A great physical therapist can determine the underlying cause of your pain or dysfunction, can work on you (if needed) to reverse dysfunction and improve your movement, can teach you what to do between sessions to continue to get better, healthier, stronger.

We only get one body for the rest of our lives, so it pays to invest in getting some professionals to help us with our tweaks, reverse our dysfunction, and keep us healthy!

32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #23

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#23. Stretching & Mobility

When we improve our range of motion through stretching, mobility, and stability exercises we move better, perform better in our workouts, and are at lower risk of injury.

If, for example, we have good ankle mobility, we are going to have a better squat, we are going to be able to maintain our balance better during our squat, we are going to reduce our risk of injury during a squat.

Why Do We Get Tight?—Lack of Movement, or Injury.

When we stop moving into ranges of motion that utilize the full capacity our bodies are meant to move into we begin to lose the ability to get there. When we get injured, one of the ways our bodies protect themselves is to reduce movement to safe ranges of motion.

How Do We Improve Our Mobility?

Knowing where we are tight can be tricky. Work with a coach to test your mobility and see where your personal restrictions are. There are basic movement patterns all of us should have access to, and tests that can determine where you are lacking mobility.

Challenge your positions of restriction. When we spend some time in positions that are difficult for our bodies to get into we can create adaptation (over time) and regain these positions.

Have a Daily Practice of Stretching & Mobility

What are your biggest limitations, your biggest trouble spots? Pick 3-4 stretches/mobility drills to do every day for 2 minutes/side to restore your positions and regain your movement. Once you have made progress in these areas, you can prioritize other areas and stretches.

Stretching For Back Pain

Lack of mobility around the hip is one of the causes associated with non specific low back pain (that affects 80% of adults). Stretching to improve hip mobility is shown to help fix low back pain issues.

When we implement a daily habit of stretching & mobility, we move better, feel better, get more out of our daily workouts, reduce back pain, and reduce our risk of injury! Pick 3-4 stretches a day to make consistent change over time.

32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #22

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#22. Recovery
When we recover better from our workouts and the stress of our daily lives we feel better, we think better, and our bodies are better able to perform optimally.⠀
Recovery is holistic: we need to sleep, eat healthy, drink water, and workout to reduce our stress. Here are 5 Tips to help you recover better so you live as your best, healthiest, full functioning self!⠀
Tip # 1: Get 8 Hours of sleep each night. During deep sleep our bodies secrete testosterone, and growth hormone. These anabolic hormones allow us to recover, changes our cognition, affects our decision making abilities, aids in memory consolidation, helps motor skills sink in, and reduces inflammation.⠀
Tip # 2: Get more sun! Lack of sun exposure leads to lack of vitamin D3, which we need to make 5-HTP into Serotonin, Serotonin becomes Melatonin, and Melatonin helps turn off our adrenals so we can get good sleep!⠀
When we are Vitamin D3 deficient, we are serotonin deficient (which makes us moody), we are melatonin deficient (which causes sleep issues), and we get all of the problems associated with sleep issues.⠀
Tip # 3: Reduce Alcohol consumption. Alcohol essentially spikes our cortisol, and, similar to taking a sleep drug, we don’t enter into deep sleep and lose all of the benefits and adaptations that happen during deep sleep.⠀
Tip # 4: Workout to help you sleep better. The right amount of training can increase your sleep pressure—our drive to want to go to sleep. And the higher the sleep pressure, the better quality of sleep we get.⠀
Tip # 5: Track your Data. Services like the Whoop Watch have data tracking and analysis to help you track things like your sleep (total time in bed, deep sleep cycles, etc.), and your Heart Rate Variability indicating that our nervous system is balanced, and that our body is very capable of adapting to its environment and performing at its best.
When we recover well we improve how our body functions, so we feel better, we move better, we continue to get healthy and fit. We can start with getting good sleep to recover better, and look at our lives holistically to improve our recovery so we can live optimally.

32 Tips to Improve Your Health & Fitness Tip #21

32 Tips to Improve Your Health and Fitness

#21. Stress Management
Stress is in large part the story of cortisol aka, the “Stress Hormone”.⠀
When we are stressed our bodies increase cortisol, which has been linked to weight gain, including higher levels of visceral fat.⠀
Stress Stops Healthy Habits. “The link between stress and weight gain is real, mainly because healthy habits like getting enough sleep, exercising and eating a healthy diet are harder to maintain when you feel like you’re maxed out emotionally.” – Dr. Heinberg⠀
Ways to Manage Stress:⠀
Exercise pumps up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins, and improves your mood!⠀
Practice mindfulness training, such as: meditation, prayer, breathing exercises, and journaling.⠀
Get more physical contact—even as little as 6 seconds of physical contact can help to boost oxytocin, a stress fighting hormone.⠀
Eat a healthy diet—managing your weight can help to manage your stress, and managing your stress can help to manage your weight.⠀
Sleep 7-9 Hours a night to recovery well and reduce cortisol levels.⠀
When we manage our stress we make it easier to lose weight, get more sleep, exercise consistently, and make better nutrition choices. Take time to treat yourself, and use these tips to manage your stress so you can live optimally!