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8 Ways to Be Your Best Self in 2018

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8 Ways to Be Your Best Self in 2018

Happy 2018! Here we are again at the beginning of another year. If you’re not the kind of person to make resolutions, maybe this list can change your mind. The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the previous year - a time to acknowledge your accomplishments and to begin working towards things that you still want to achieve. For me, the new year is a reset, and a time for appreciation and growth.

Below I’ve listed some guidelines on resetting your body and mind for 2018! (One could also argue that these are ranked by importance)

1. Drink Water.

This seems like an easy one, right? But have you ever truly reaped the many benefits that drinking enough water provides? A good friend of mine would tell me that the answer to all of your maladies is water. If you skin looks tired, drink water. If you’re feeling under the weather, drink water. If you feel a headache coming on, drink water. If you’re feeling lackluster, drink water - you get the point. It is recommended to drink half of your bodyweight in ounces of water daily. For example, a 180lb man or woman should drink 90oz water per day. Give it a go for clearer skin and a clearer mind!

2. Get Enough Sleep.

Here’s another favorite for resolution-ers. We often say that, with every new year, we’re going to sleep more and work less. But with another year gone, here it is again, making it to the top of the list. Sleep is just as crucial for peace of mind and productivity as drinking water. Without enough sleep, or without enough quality sleep, we enter the vicious cycle of relying on other substances to keep us awake, disrupting our natural sleep cycles and throwing our hormones out of whack. This creates a crabby, tired monster who never gets anything done. Let’s stray away from that in 2018.

3. Put Away Your Phone.

This one is tough. I get it. Our cellphones are our connection to the outside world, they’re our source of income, and they’re also part of our identities. Take this tip with a grain of salt - the more you’re looking at your phone, the less time you’re a part of the world around you. Start small and keep your phone away during dinner with friends. Focus your year on building solid social connections without the use of electronics - you’ll gain much more than you think.

4. Get Up and Move.

Notice how an exercise-related topic is 4th on the list? That’s because, in order to get the most out of exercise, you have to be hydrated and well rested. Now for this exercise goal, it doesn’t have to be anything crazy - just getting up and moving daily is all I ask of you. If you drink more water, you’ll also need to take more trips to the bathroom, which is more movement (see how i slipped that one in). If your movement is going for a walk at lunch, awesome! If its commiting to 3 days per week of strength training, amazing! Or even if it’s going to zumba with your mom every Saturday morning, even better! I hope to be less hard on myself in 2018 for missing a workout, and so should you!

5. Eat More Veggies and Less Donuts.

Now, here’s the food one. This year, I challenge you to have a more open mind when it comes to what you eat. I know it’s easy to fall into cycles: you eat poorly, then realize you’re eating poorly, so you eat really well for a week, only to have your flow disrupted when your coworker brings donuts into the office and you cave and eat three. Wow, can I relate to that. It’s tough to say no to sweets and treats, I know. But if you really want to eat the donut then eat it. Maybe don’t eat three donuts, and have an extra large serving of veggies during your next meal, but don’t be ashamed or discouraged if your diet hits a road bump.

6. Laugh More.

This one seems silly, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. This is just a friendly reminder to not take yourself too seriously. We’re all professionals here and we’ve worked hard to get to where we are, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t laugh until you cry every once in a while. When was the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe? If you don’t have an answer to that, it’s been too long.

7. Work Less.

Did you know that work days in Sweden are six hours? Can you imagine? That sounds amazing. They did this in order to allow employees to be more productive during each hour of work, and also to allow them to live fuller lives. Let’s take some advice from across the waters and start working less. If you can answer the question, “Will it make a difference if I do it tomorrow?” with a no, then it can wait until tomorrow. Just think of all of the time you’ll have if you actually stopped working when you left the office.

8. Learn Something New.

Lastly, there is evidence that continuing to learn may help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Now if that isn’t enough motivation to learn more about a subject of interest, a new language, or even just read more, I don’t know what is. One of my personal goals for this year is to read one book per month. I used to love reading growing up but I’ve fallen off of the wagon. I want to use this year to learn as much as I can. What do you want to learn more about?

This list is a guideline to help you live a more fulfilling life in 2018. We aren’t getting any younger, so now is the time to stop with the excuses and stay dedicated. Who knows - maybe you’ll develop habits to continue these great behaviors forever, or at least inspire someone around you.

Happy New Year and let’s be our best selves this year!

perform-for-life-amber-movement-specialist

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How to Reset Your Body for a New Day

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How to Reset Your Body for a New Day

Preparing for a new day starts with the day and night before. Although most would say that you should get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, everyone’s body is different, and with that, each person’s sleep requirements vary. If you’re an 8-hour sleeper - awesome! If you’re a 5-7 hour sleeper like me, read below for tips and strategies. If you think you’re a 3-4 hour sleeper, then I would recommend you prioritize getting more sleep! Whether it's because of stress, work, or life in general, everyone encounters times when our sleep is out of our control, but sleep is extremely important, so it should be somewhere on everyone’s list of priorities. I’ll talk more in a bit about ways to make you feel less tired throughout the day.

Sometimes we just lay in our bed in our thoughts and continually wonder when we'll fall asleep. As a kid, and even now, I will listen to music that I know will put me in a more relaxed state. Put down the bright phone screen (or if you have to be on it, use your phone’s night shift and turn down the brightness), turn off the Netflix, and don’t forget to breathe.

THE NIGHT BEFORE

  • Foam roll: Bodily tension may make it harder to fall asleep. You want your body to feel relaxed so that your muscles can better regenerate as you sleep, and foam rolling is a perfect way to release any tension you may be holding from the day. Think about getting a massage - how easy is it to fall asleep after? (Source: https://www.fab-ent.com/foam-rolling-better-sleep/)

  • Set your alarm - use a song that you'd be happy to wake up to instead of the preset noises your iPhone or Android comes with.

WHILE IN BED

  • Breathe: try deep breathing to calm your nerves. Deep (belly) breathing stimulates the “rest and digest” portion of your autonomic nervous system, thus slowing your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure, and allowing your mind to relax. Check out the article below for some deep breathing exercises (Source: http://www.livestrong.com/article/18735-deep-breathing-exercises-sleep/)
  • Cuddle with your significant other- nothing is better than falling asleep with your boo
  • Single? No problem- more space to spread out
  • Have a pet? If you’re open to it, allow them to sleep with you. Though the evidence isn’t conclusive, some studies have shown that animal-human co-sleeping can improve sleep quality.

 

THE NEXT MORNING

  • As you wake up from your alarm, do NOT snooze! Let your song play out. This will allow you to wake up slowly, as opposed to snoozing and rushing when you’re finally out of bed.
  • As your song plays, stretch while in bed. We tend to hold positions for long periods of time while sleeping, and this can cause the muscles that are shortened in these positions to become tight. (Source: https://www.prevention.com/fitness/do-these-stretches-before-getting-out-of-bed/slide/2)
  • After getting out of bed, hit about 5 squats before you head to the bathroom and do your thing: brush your teeth, wash your face, etc.
  • Try to drink a large (16oz) glass of water within 15 minutes of waking up, then don’t be afraid to follow it up with your favorite morning beverage, coffee, tea, or juice. Starting the morning with water will rehydrate you and stimulate your metabolism

Starting your day off with a routine like this will allow you to maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Now, the hard part expect the unexpected. There are days when work, life, and the world around us can be quite stressful, and this can affect our emotions. Stress is a part of the American adult lifestyle, plain and simple; we must try different ways to cope with it until we know what works.

DURING THE DAY / END OF THE DAY

  • Continue to breathe! Calm your mind. If you’re feeling stressed at a given moment, try a five-second inhale through the nose, allowing the air to fill your belly, followed by a seven-second exhale

  • Exercise! Get your butt in the gym to release some pent-up stress

  • Plan ahead and make a playlist to listen to in times of stress - music can be a great stress reliever

  • Talk to people! Call a friend or family member, or talk to a co-worker. Human interaction can really go a long way, and it’ll allow you to air out any frustration or stress you may be feeling. Keeping these things internalized can allow them to take over your entire psyche. Getting these things out in the open will put them into perspective, and can make them seem more manageable

  • Help someone in need. Whatever it is, make someone else’s day better, and yours will be too.

Hopefully, these tips helped you reset your body for a new day. Below, I've attached a playlist that personally energizes me. Find the tunes, sounds, people, places, and things that ignite that spark in you.


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3 Signs You're Overtraining

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3 Signs You're Overtraining

Overtaining is defined as “…a maladapted response to excessive exercise without adequate rest, resulting in perturbations of multiple body systems (neurologic, endocrinologic, immunologic) coupled with mood changes.” 

Simply put, overtraining occurs as a result of exercise without adequate recovery. This can cause, among other things, increases in body fat, a plateau or reduction of lean (muscle) mass, an elevated resting heart rate, increased levels of stress, increased likelihood of injuries, decreased performance, and a weakened immune system.       

It’s necessary to be clear on one thing: overtraining will NOT occur in a vast majority of the population. Most busy professionals simply don’t have the time to put into the gym that would cause them to fall into a state of overtraining - it is much more likely to occur in athletes. However, it is also necessary to note that when a person reaches a state of overtraining is largely dictated by their recovery time outside of training.

At the cellular level, exercise is stress on the body. From a strength training perspective, hypertrophy (muscle growth) occurs only after muscle fibers have been torn and subsequently repaired. When performed in the correct dosages and with adequate recovery, the net result will be a positive bodily adaptation (increased aerobic capacity, increased muscle mass, etc). However, if too much is performed, or the recovery period is inadequate, and this pattern remains consistent, then overtraining may occur. High-stress levels from everyday life could also increase the risk of overtraining. Your recovery may be inadequate if:

  • you sleep less than 7-9 hours
  • you don’t eat enough/your body doesn’t get the micro- and macronutrients required for proper recovery
  • if you don’t allow enough time between workouts.

Intensity is also a player in overtraining: the higher the intensity of the workout, the more time should be given to allow for proper recovery. So, a person performing HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training) should ideally allow more time between sessions than someone performing a brisk walk or moderate intensity resistance training. Like I said, exercise is stress at the cellular level, so if you lead a high-stress lifestyle, HIIT is most likely not for you: the last thing someone who deals with high levels of stress needs is an exercise that will put much more stress on the body. High-stress individuals will often respond better to low or moderate intensity workouts.

overtraining.png

As a trainer, I realize time and time again that less is more. People believe that they need to be pushed to their limits during each workout to achieve their goals, and that this is essentially the only way to do so. However, the body will only respond positively to a certain amount of stimulus, and after a certain point, this excess stimulus could potentially push you further away from your goals rather than closer to them. The point at which overtraining is reached is different for everyone, and depends on multiple factors. If you aren’t seeing results, or even seeing the inverse of your desired results, consider what you’re doing to recover outside of the gym, and consider whether or not your workouts are complimentary to your stress levels and lifestyle.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435910/


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Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin Z

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Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin Z

Sleep is positively correlated with everything  - mental clarity, hormonal balance, fat loss, muscle gain, and more.  It is free and, barring some unfortunate living and medical conditions, universally available to all.  Yet it is often a low priority for many athletes.  And they suffer for it.

City living can be a challenge to reasonable bed times.  Late night events such as concerts and dinners might keep us out late.  Living in an urban area often means traffic late into the evening. And in our homes, we have our TVs, tablets, and smartphones buzzing late into the evening with business and social notifications.

Optimally, we want our sleep pattern to mirror the sun.  As the sun goes down, we wind down. Sun comes up, we get up!  Not too difficult.  If you have to wake up exceptionally early, then guess what?  You get to go to bed early!

Optimum sleep times for most individuals is 9/10pm sleep time and 5:30/6:30 am wake time. This is going to vary from individual to individual.  Some people do great on 6 hours of sleep per night.  Others need 10-11.  Most people thrive on 8.5 hours.  You are going to have to find out what works for you.  But generally, if you (1) wake up and completely hate life and want NOTHING but to go back to bed or (2) feel tired ALL THE TIME you need to sleep more.  If you wake up every day, kill it all day and feeling great, you’re probably sleeping right for you.

So what can we do to help normalize our sleep patterns?

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

1. First thing is first – you need to prioritize your sleep!  

If you were working out to improve your physique, would you go down the street and eat a big fat ice cream sundae after each training session?  Probably not.  So WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU STAY UP UNTIL 1 AM BROWSING Facebook/Reddit/NYTimes/whatever.  Staying up late is going to increase your stress hormones, and make it literally harder to do EVERYTHING.  Do you want to negatively impact your sex drive? Your ability to lose fat and retain muscle?  Do you want less patience and reduced mental clarity?  Prioritize a better you.

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

2. Put down the smartphone!

Many of our athletes claim they cannot sleep, but they are on their electronic devices literally up until the minute they close their eyes.  This is not optimal.  You can put it on silent and set your alarm 15 minutes before you intend to sleep, and the world won’t explode.  The first thing tomorrow morning, you will be able to resume the rat race.  Give yourself 15 minutes.  After you graduate from the 15-minute program, try 30.  I promise you will thank yourself!

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

3. Minimize light exposure.

As the evening begins, try to reduce the lighting accordingly.  There are really awesome features built into Android and Apple iOS that allow you to reduce the brightness of the phones and tablets in the evening.  For the computer, you can download f.lux.  It will reduce the brightness of your laptop screen in the evening.  As for house lighting – less is more!  Try using a lower watt light bulbs in a lamp that gives more indirect light (versus using an overhead light).  Personally, I use a Himalayan salt lamp by my bed.  They are about $25 online and they give off a soothing warm light that is much less rich in the blue light that our body associates with day time.  You can read more on the dangers of blue light in this Harvard Health letter

Photo Cr

Photo Cr

4. It takes time, but it's worth it.

Don’t try to start going to bed tonight at 10 pm if you go to bed at 1 am.  I wouldn’t expect someone eating Twinkies for breakfast to immediately start cooking for themselves – I’d probably switch them from Twinkies to Pop Tarts, Pop Tarts to Lucky Charms, and maybe Lucky Charms to actual food.  Likewise, we do not do interval training on our first day out of knee surgery.  What time do you go to bed, on average?  Write that time down!  Good job!  Is that time 10 pm?  If not, then proceed to next step: take that time and subtract 30 minutes.  Congrats!  You have your new sleeping assignment!  Go get em!


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Sleep Like a Golden State Warrior

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Sleep Like a Golden State Warrior

    Between work, school, a social life, and of course exercise, we often forget to prioritize one of the most important aspects of our health: SLEEP. It’s easy to overlook the need for routine sleep with such busy schedules. The problem with putting sleep on the backburner is that it is essential in performing all of the important tasks in our lives. We all need sleep in order to reset our bodies to function at full capacity for the next day.

    Have you ever wondered why even though you have been exercising regularly you just can’t seem to get to that body composition goal? There has been evidence to suggest that sleep deprivation can lead to obesity. An article in Time magazine, “Poor Sleep Gives You the Munchies” discusses a study done by the journal, SLEEP. In the study, they found that sleep deprivation could lead to higher levels of endocannabinoid, which is a chemical that makes you hungry in the middle of the night.

    Sleep deprivation can also hurt muscle mass growth. A lack of sleep can lead to a reduction of testosterone and decreased levels of protein synthesis. So whether or not you are trying to lose weight or increase muscle mass, adequate sleep plays a key role in performance.

    So how much sleep do we really need? According to research, the average adult needs about 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep per night. In an interview with Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors, he not only stated he gets at least 8 hours of sleep, but also he commented on his new key to success:

“I’d wake up on game day in the morning to practice, and I started noticing better shootarounds. My teammates are like, ‘Man, you’re making some shots today,’ and I’m thinking to myself, ‘They have no idea I’ve been going to sleep!’ I start getting confident. It’s 9 or 10 in the morning, but I know I’m going to have an amazing game tonight. Sleep good, feel good, play good.”

    In conclusion, getting enough sleep is one of the most important but overlooked aspects regarding a healthy lifestyle. If only we had a few more hours at night, imagine what we could accomplish.

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Here are some tips for getting to bed earlier:

  1. No screens (TV, phone, computer) at least 30 minutes before bed.
  2. Sleepytime teas with lavender.
  3. Take a warm shower before bed every night.
  4. Have an actual set of clothes specifically for sleeping in. Mentally prepare yourself for getting the rest you deserve.
  5. Exercise!

 

 

 

Learn more about Coach Nathan here

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References:

"Adult Sleep Needs at Every Age: From Young Adults to the Elderly." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2016.

Bromwich, Jonah. "Poor Sleep Gives You the Munchies, Study Says." The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 Mar. 2016. Web. 02 Sept. 2016.

Dattilo M. "Result Filters." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2016.

Spies-Gans, Juliet. "Andre Iguodala Attributes Strong Play To Better Sleep Cycles." Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 10 June 2015. Web. 2 Sept. 2016.

*The image used is from Andre Iguodala's instagram, @andre.

 

 

 

 

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