The Fitness Triad
Hello, my friends! Today I would like to discuss what I have labelled "The Fitness Triad". The Fitness Triad consists of Working Out, Working In and Nutrition. In order to have complete success in becoming the healthiest version of you, all three have to be working in synergy. Let's take a look at all three, starting with Working In.
Working In is where I often see the biggest problems. To better understand this, let's take a look at the nervous system and how it relates to stress. Within the nervous system lies the Autonomic Nervous System, which is made up of the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic Nervous Systems. The Sympathetic is often referred to as 'Fight or Flight' and the Parasympathetic as 'Rest and Repair'. To be at our optimum health, we want to move back and forth into both systems. The problem is as a society, we tend to spend far too much time in the Sympathetic (fight or flight). The Sympathetic is only meant to be in for short periods of time, while the majority of our time should be in the Parasympathetic for optimal health. What are the consequences for continually being in Fight or Flight? Well, let's take look.
Ok...Here is where it gets ugly! Being continually in Fight or Flight negatively affects weight loss, sex life, ageing, strength, sleep and hormonal balance. When in Fight or Flight, it becomes difficult to lose weight. When continually running from a tiger the body wants to store fat as energy. The body believes there is trouble ahead and we need to conserve. Our sexual virility diminishes, for as a species, we don't want to reproduce in times of trouble. Sleep suffers as our body is on constant alert, leaving us wired and tired. Communication suffers as our primitive brain just wants to fight and eat Oreos! Hormones go out of balance with the stress hormone cortisol rising and the Youth hormone DHEA falling. The satiation hormone leptin falls. The hunger hormone Ghrelin kicks in, often late at night, causing us to reach for all the wrong foods (Come on. Have you ever been up late at night watching Game of Thrones and said, "I'd really like a salad?" Blame the Gremlin hormone Ghrelin!). Have a heart, there is a solution. In future blog posts, I will cover Working In topics such as Meditation, Sleep, Earthing, Breathing techniques, Heart/mind entrainment, Cold Water Thermogenesis, Circadian Rhythms and more. Now let's move onto the second part of the Fitness Triad which is Nutrition.
I like to keep nutrition simple. Weighing foods, counting calories, keeping food journals etc is not going to be sustainable over a long period of time. The number one thing you can do to optimise your nutrition is to eat Whole Foods. These days, we are out of touch with what constitutes foods. Simply put, if you go down an ingredients list and don't recognise or have trouble pronouncing an item, you are no longer eating a food, but are eating a product. Another culprit is sugar. As I said, I'm not big on tracking food, but if there is one item to track for a few days, it's sugar. It's best to keep sugar under 20 grams. Recently I had a client show up to a session with Vitamin Water. I asked to see the label and it had 27 grams of sugar. He replied surprised, "But it's vitamin water!" The lesson is when it comes to sugar, read labels. I will blog on many other nutritional topics such as 'The Dirty Dozen', 'The Clean Fifteen', Superfoods etc. But if you do the following two things, you will be 80% of the way there. The first, as was mentioned earlier is to eat Whole Foods. The second is to learn a lesson from some of the healthiest persons on the planet, the Okinawans who have a saying, "Hara Hachi Bu". Which roughly translated means, "I'll eat til I'm 80% full and I can go for a walk."
The last piece of the Fitness Triad is Working Out. Working In and Nutrition were covered first as they set us up for success in the actual workouts. You can look forward to many blogs regarding Working Out including Interval Training, Workouts for Weight Loss, Muscle Confusion, Ancestral Training, Training like an Athlete for everyday life and much more. If I can leave you with one piece of advice, it's to train smart. Personally, I have seen the biggest positive gains in my fitness by working out for only a total of two hours per week. I have gotten stronger, fitter and faster by reducing time spent training. Our ancestors spent a lot of time in mid to low grade activities such as hunting, gathering and foraging. They then had short bursts of high-grade activities running from whatever metaphorical tiger existed in their region. As in many areas of wellness, the solutions lie by taking a closer look at our roots.
Well, it's a beautiful day and I'm going to end it by heading to the Ocean for a three-minute dip, called Cold Water Thermogenesis. It has been an amazing addition to my Health and Fitness repertoire; so much so I plan on continuing year round. That's for another blog coming soon. Til then, stay fit my friends!