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Think and Rest Yourself to Fat Loss and High Performance: Part 2.

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In Part One you learned three non-nutrition and exercise components that could make or break your progress in the gym.  Now I’m going to give you some simple tips on how to get those three things in check and make sure you’re reaping all the benefits of your hard work.

As with making any big lifestyle change, I recommend setting yourself up for success by not trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle at once. Instead, pick one small component at a time that you’re 100% confident you can change and easily be consistent with.  With that in mind..read on!

1. How to: Stop Using Self-Loathing as a Motivator.

Changing your mindset is a huge feat.  Developing new thoughts and habits is not an easy task, by any means, especially when it comes to how we perceive ourselves and our bodies.  I mean, most of us are fighting against YEARS of flawed standards that have been hammered into our heads from the media, society and the mainstream fitness industry.

Imagine:

  • No longer depriving yourself
  • No more exercise or diet related guilt or shame
  • No more negative self talk
  • Listening to and being in tune with your body rather than fighting against it
  • Ditching “cheat meals”, understanding food is food, not good or bad, and you can eat it all
  • Eating ONLY food that tastes great and makes you feel great
  • Working out to become stronger, better and to build yourself up physically and mentally,  not to chase fatigue or because you need to punish yourself

All it takes is working on switching your perspective.  Understand that your fitness journey and quest to build the body you want should enhance your life, be fun and should be viewed as an ‘adventure’. It shouldn’t make you miserable or leave you feeling stressed and deprived.

When you start out on a healthy lifestyle journey, start it because you love your body enough right now to take care of it and to know that you deserve to be healthier, feel better, have more energy, be stronger and nourished.   Don’t wait until your waist is smaller to start loving your body, because chances are you’ll never be truly satisfied with yourself and your body with that mindset.

For those who constantly struggle so much with diets and fat loss, it’s usually not food that’s the root of the problem. It’s their unhealthy relationship with themselves that holds them back.

When you truly value and appreciate your body rather than loathe it, you take care of yourself by eating nourishing, delicious foods, moving in ways that promote joy and health and ditching the negative self-talk.  And with that, body composition falls in place.

Give up the focus on calories burned and working until exhaustion in the gym.  Training sessions shouldn’t be miserable, they should be fun and adventurous – set performance related training goals that excite and motivate you. Work towards deadlifting 1.5x your bodyweight, doing 10 full push ups or bench pressing triple digits. Just set a solid training goal and stick with it.

Forget all the “rules” you’ve heard about nutrition and start viewing food as just what it is..food. Understand that it’s very possible to eat delicious meals, in a stress-free way, that support your body, mind and goals.  Forget about dieting, because you can’t diet forever.  Learn to listen to and be in tune with your body and what it needs rather than fighting against it and forcing it to eat certain ways.

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Give your body a chance!

2. How to: Get Better Sleep.

Not all sleep is created equal. Deep sleep is where our body repairs and regenerates our tissues and employs other recovery processes.  Without deep sleep, we’re not recovering and healing – and if we’re not fully recovered, then we can’t repeatedly kick ass in the gym. And that’s a bummer.

Busy schedules cause most of us to put sleep on the back burner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try and make the most out of the sleep you do get.

  • Get to bed before 11pm – “An hour before midnight is worth two hours after.” Honestly, there’s nothing natural about having tons of energy late at night and not being able to sleep because of it. This is usually a telltale sign of a disrupted circadian rhythm and whacked out cortisol (stress hormone) levels.  Levels should be high in the morning to help us wake up and low at night to help us rest.  Chronic stress can really screw with this pattern, making us tired in the morning and wired at night.
  • Keep a regular, consistent sleep schedule – get up at the same time each morning and go to bed at the same time each night.
  • Avoid artificial light exposure a couple hours before bed – artificial light upsets our circadian rhythm and impacts our sleep.  “Blue lights” like those emitted from most electronic devices can also suppress melatonin production.
    • Ditch the electronics and try installing f.lux on your computer, its free and awesome. I’ve been using it for years.
    • Use a sleep mask or black out shades to keep your room dark
    • Cover up blinking lights or digital clocks
  • Don’t go to bed too hungry or too fullForget the “no eating after 7pm” rule. As with most nutrition rules, it’s bullshit and holds zero efficacy.  If you’re stomach is rumbling and growling while you’re trying to fall asleep and you’re trying to fight against it with all your willpower..you’re going to be miserable..and it’s most likely going to wake you up in the middle of the night.  On the other side, if you eat a large meal too close to bedtime, this could also disrupt your sleep, especially if you ate something not easily digestible or have digestive issues to begin with. Find what works for you – if having a snack before bed improves your sleep, by all means do it.
  • Manage your stress – A quick meditation or deep breathing before bedtime and/or throughout the day can do magnificent things.  Try simply letting go of worrisome thoughts that pop into your head while trying to fall asleep – you don’t have to acknowledge and solve every little thing that comes up right now.
  • Nap – Seriously. If you can’t get enough sleep at night, brief naps can do wonders.  Even just allowing yourself to doze off for a few minutes at your desk. Who doesn’t love napping?

3. How to Lower your Stress Levels.

Stress management isn’t the most alluring topic and makes most people totally gloss over…But it’s THE most neglected component of those trying to build a healthy lifestyle and chronic stress will sabotage your efforts.  Most are fairly aware of the more obvious, common sources of stress – traffic jams, financial issues, job stress, arguing with significant others, etc.  But these aren’t the only sources of stress.   Digestive/gut dysfunctions, food intolerances (or eating things that don’t agree with your body), inflammation, environmental toxins, negative thoughts, lack of sleep, too much exercise or intense exercise, poor nutrition and under-eating, under-recovering,  injuries…just to name a few, are also things that illicit the same stress response as the big, “common” stressors., causing your body to pump out stress hormones.

Here are some simple things that you can do to help rejuvenate your body and some recovery based activities that you can implement into your program:

  • Light/recovery based workouts – walking, yoga, “fun” activities (like rock climbing, hiking, biking) or cardiac output (light cardio done with your heart rate kept between 120-150bpm for 20-60mins).
  • Foam rolling and massage
  • Adequate quality sleep and naps
  • Good nutrition and properly fueling your body
  • Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive and like-minded people
  • Epsom salt baths
  • Use an HRV system to help monitor your stress and recovery to adjust intensity of training sessions- BioforceHRV, Ithlete (what I personally use), and Omegawave are all systems I recommend
  • Meditation and deep breathing – All you need is 5 minutes per day.   I recommend the app “Breathe”. It lets you input your current emotions and chooses a meditation for you based on how you’re currently feeling.  You can also just take a few minutes to lay down in a dark, quiet room, focusing on breathing, spend time listening to relaxing music or sit outside and clear your head.
  • Remove sources of negativity from your life and learn to say “no”. Commit to taking care of yourself and understand it’s okay and healthy to put yourself first.

So there you go. Simple tips to iron out the three big “rocks” that you may be overlooking in your program that can throw a big ol’ wrench in your progress! Did I miss anything? If you have any tips that help you sleep better, manage stress or fight self-loathing, please share them below!

(If you still need a little help with any of the above, don’t hesitate to email me: Erika@HurstStrenth.com. I got yo’ back!)

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