Stop Putting The Cart Before The Horse
Today’s post is about the inverse prioritization that many of us take to a healthier life. It proposes a new order to creating a successful training program. Spoiler alert! The training program COMES LAST. Scroll to the bottom for the order of operations if you don’t have time to read.
According to a Gallup study, Americans sleep less than 7 hours per night with 40% of us getting less than 6 hours on a nightly basis. According to Bureau of Labor statistics, the average American works 44 hours per week. According to the American Pyschological Association, stress levels are on the rise. Put all this together and do we really want to ask more from our bodies with an exercise program?
Adding a training regimen to daily life can be a tall order. Where do we fit it in? Generally, we’ll sleep a little less and get up early, or maybe train during time that we could be spending with our family such as dinner time or weekends. Based on rational thought, how can this be conducive to a net positive impact on our health and well-being? Less sleep, less family time and the same amount of work and stress.
Let’s propose a new ideology. Instead of taking more from your body and lifestyle, why not give them something?
What can a training regimen take from us?
1. Time with family and friends
5 Quick Tips
- Sleep enough
- Make time for friends and family
- Nail down your nutrition
- Manage your stress
- Find the best training program for you and your schedule.
So if we can nullify these 3 drawbacks to training, could we all agree that training is a good thing?
Time with friends and family 1
This one is difficult because unless you’re the Gronkowski family, those who train generally struggle to have family members who also train. Instead of choosing your preferred method of training, choose the people that you want to spend time with and tailor your exercise program around them. Want to spend more time with your parents/grandparents? Schedule a walk with them a few times a week. Maybe getting close to your significant other is important to you, group training or attending an exercise class that they are interested in can go a long way. Choose the people you want to be around, then choose the exercise. Not the other way around.
This one is also difficult to deal with, as it relates heavily to the energy drawback as well. If we start training and give up a little sleep, our recovery capacity is diminished and our recovery needs are increased. That’s a brutal inverse relationship. Therefore, we need to draw some boundaries. If the only way to exercise is to give up sleep, then don’t exercise. Period. For the other 99.9% of us who spend time on social media, email and watching Netlfix, let’s find time for training during the rest of our spare time. This could mean going to the gym during a lunch break or doing at-home workouts during commercial breaks. Don’t sacrifice your ability to recover and feel good just for an extra self-pat on the back because you trained at 5am before the rest of the world was awake. If you can get to bed earlier and enjoy the early morning or late night workouts then go for it! If your sleep suffers, look elsewhere for exercise time.
Energy can be difficult to quantify but we all know what it feels like. Mental sharpness, extroversion and desire for movement come to mind. If we can maintain our energy levels then we can really make a training program “stick”. Since we’ve covered social interaction and sleep quality already let’s look at some other areas that impact energy levels. Nutrition and stress management. If we are training and neglecting our nutrition, we don’t recover. If we are training and we neglect ongoing anxiety and stress, we don’t recover. Both of these categories need to be addressed BEFORE a training program is implemented, not after. So again, before you go crashing into that new exercise program, define your nutrition and stress management techniques. Make the time for cooking, meditation, music (I count playing the saxophone as my meditation time) or whatever it is that helps to calm your mind. If you still have time after those things to get your training in, then you’re good to go! Get after it.
Before a training program can be successful long-term, we need to address the other aspects of our life. Throwing more gas on a fire that doesn’t have any wood burning will keep it burning but only for a short while. Build the foundation of recovery before you ask your body to recover more.
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