Sunday, May 29, 2016

Five Ways to Change Your Fitness Level, and Your Life (Part 2:Proper Recovery and Stress Reduction)  

   by Bob Wells, CPT, CES, PES, Pn1, Pn2

"Nothing great was ever achieved without hard work."

We have all heard this quote, or some variation of it regarding the need to work hard if we wish to be successful in our lives. Quotes like these, and their call for hard work inspire us to persevere at work, in the gym, and on the playing fields.

We lionize those who seem to never rest, pushing their minds and bodies to the brink of collapse. We erect statues in their honor and memory, and endlessly recall their admonitions to work increasingly harder.

There is no debate about the need to work hard to achieve our fitness goals, such as our dream bodies. However, it should be also noted that nothing great can never be sustained without proper recovery and stress reduction.

College football fans surely remember the case of Urban Meyer, whose legendary hard work initially paid off with an average record of 11.4 wins and just 2 losses his first five years at Florida, claiming two national championships in that same span. Stories about Meyer's legendary work ethic grew, as did his mental and physical stress.

His last year with the Gators ended with a trip to the emergency room, a 'dismal' 8-5 record, and the beginning of a two year break from coaching to recover from his inordinate amount of stress and hard work. Clearly, hard work has a tipping point, where there is an inverse relationship between it and success.

Therefore, we need to recover properly and reduce our stress if we are to achieve even greater successes in the gym, on the playing fields, and in life.

Here are five things that we can use to recover and reduce stress:

1.  Get a good night's sleep.  According to Harvard Medical School, adults need 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep a night. Proper sleep will allow us to recover and perform optimally, physically and mentally. (Check out Hacking Sleep for tips on how to engineer a good night's sleep.)

2.  Practice yoga.  Yoga, which has become extremely popular in the last 40 years, is another way to relieve stress. (Here are some basic yoga poses, or a list of yoga classes near you.)
Photo by Ilaria Vecchi Photography
3.  Curl up to a good book.  Find a quiet spot to read for 30-60 minutes each day.

4.  Meditate.  Meditation, which can be done in just 10-15 minutes a day, is an effective way to calm our minds and reframe our thinking. (Check out how to meditate to get started now.)

5.  Get a massage.  Massages are a great way to relieve the accumulated physical and mental stresses of our lives. (Equinox spas are amazing, but feel free to try one of these other spas near you.)

Check out "Strategies for getting control of stress" for additional ways to relieve stress and recover properly. Remember that rest/recovery is as important as the hard work that you are doing to achieve your goals. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Five Ways to Change Your Fitness Level, and Your Life (Part 1:Nutrition)  

   by Bob Wells, CPT, CES, PES, Pn1, Pn2

When it comes to nutrition, or more specifically good nutrition, many of us conjure up notions of restrictive diets, counting calories, and forswearing our favorite aperitifs.

Everywhere we turn, the latest health and fitness magazines and blogs, our family, friends, trainers, or the random yenta at the grocery store has the perfect diet for us. We are told to "eat this, not that" and sit back as the pounds melt away. We will try anything to feel better, to look better naked.

Atkins, Zone, veganism, paleo, and pescetarianism are just some of the myriad diet options that abound. Some options require us to confront complex moral issues, such as dealing with meat and fish consumption. Others simply require us to be math wizards, calculating our caloric intake and expenditure during various activities with the mental dexterity of Alan Turing or Leonhard Euler.

So we try one or more, but inevitably, and rather quickly, we put back on the pounds that we previously lost. We end up frustrated by our inability to keep off weight permanently. We cycle back to defeatist mindsets and unsustainable diets, as our weight yo yos.

We can stop this vicious cycle with a sensible diet that works and that we can sustain long term. Precision Nutrition has a great hand based diet that does both. Instead of fastidiously counting calories, we use our hands to measure the food portions.

The charts below are a guideline to help you regain your sanity, and get your dream body--for summer and beyond.

Courtesy: Precision Nutrition

Courtesy: Precision Nutrition

Monday, May 9, 2016

Five Ways to Change Your Fitness Level, and Your Life   

   by Bob Wells, CPT, CES, PES, Pn2

Spring is upon us, and that means that summer is quickly approaching. For most people, summer means things like time off from work, weekend trips to the beach, vacations with families, and weddings. 

We cherish, and subsequently, chronicle these moments to share with family and friends--to have reminders of life's magical moments and journeys that make us happy and inspire us. These experiences open our eyes and minds to a vast array of new experiences, and provide us with memories that last a lifetime. 

Inevitably, we want to look and feel our best for these momentous occasions. Still, and despite our best intentions, it can be challenging, or down right daunting to know what to do next or where to go for help. 

The answers to our questions, and the solutions to our health and fitness "problems" are for the most part simple. It is properly implementing these strategies that proves to be the most difficult for most people. 

We will now introduce the Star of Fitness now and the 5 necessary elements for changing your fitness level. (see picture below)

Over the next few weeks, we will delve deeper into each one of these points on the star of fitness. We will also give you easy to implement steps to improve each part of the star and improve your fitness and your life.

Here's to the next step, and the new you.