It is important to understand how to improve your health and fitness so let’s take a deeper look at this.
If you want to become a better version of yourself and begin a transformation that will reach into every aspect of your life, then one of the most important places to start is with your health.
A Healthier You
Your health is the source of all your power. The way you feel when you wake up first thing in the morning is what will determine how much you can get done that day.
Your health impacts directly on your mood, your ability to complete physically or mentally demanding tasks and even your looks. Then there’s the fact that your health will determine how long you live and the quality of your life during that span.
In other words, your health is the single most important thing to consider if you want to make life objectively better. And yet it’s something that many of us don’t give any thought to.
Seriously, most of us will give far more focus to our careers, whether or not the house is tidy and what our friends think of us than we will to our physical strength, the condition of our heart or how much body fat we’re carrying around.
And it should come as no surprise then that a huge proportion of us are incredibly unhealthy. Many of us will drive to work every day and then spend all day sitting in an office in a hunched position while feeling very stressed. We come home and eat a ready-made meal which is packed with salt and sugar and zero nutrients and then we crash out on the couch before having a fitful and all-too-brief night’s sleep.
Then we wonder why we are overweight, unattractive, tired, depressed and prone to illness.
The big problem is that many of us don’t know how to go about fixing this problem and becoming healthier. And moreover, many of us think that getting into a healthy place is going to involve a large amount of work and effort – too much for us to attempt.
Maybe you’ve had a go at a new training program or diet at some point and found that it didn’t provide the results you were looking for? Or maybe you gave it a go and then just ran out of energy early on?
Let’s see what we can do about this.
How To Think About Food
We will start with diet because that is ultimately the easier thing to change.
Our aim here is health first and foremost, seeing as this will make weight loss and fitness easier. So don’t focus on starving yourself – that isn’t ‘healthy’ even if it leads to weight loss.
The key shift in thinking is to realize that food is not just ‘fuel’. A lot of us treat our diets like we might treat the gas that we put into our car. We start to feel hungry, we start to tire out and so we realize that we need to refill the tank. Then we look for any kind of food we can – preferably something that we will find tasty – and then we eat until we’re full.
But food is not just fuel. More important than acting is as fuel, is the fact that food is also a material and a resource. This is what the body is made from.
Our bodies work by taking what’s in our diets and then recycling that into the raw materials that build our bones, our muscles and our brains. This creates the important hormones and neurotransmitters that enable countless reactions and processes throughout our body. And it is what we use in order to fight disease.
It Is Not Just About ‘Filling Yoursel Up’
If all you think about is ‘filling yourself up’, then your body will be missing out on crucial nutrients and that is when you start to feel slow and groggy. That is when you start to notice your skin flaking, your eyes looking bloodshot and your hair becoming brittle.
Did you know that 80% of the US population is deficient in magnesium for instance?
That is a huge number and it’s devastating when you think just what this mineral does: it helps to form bone and connective tissue by helping with the uptake of calcium, it prevents muscle pains and aches, it accelerates learning through brain plasticity, it enhances our sleep and it helps men produce more testosterone for greater virility and masculinity.
This is just one nutrient and it does all that. Imagine the effect of not getting enough.
And then there is vitamin D which we can get from the sun or a few dietary sources. Again, many of us are deficient thanks to our desk-bound indoor lifestyles, which results in lower testosterone production again, poor sleep, low mood and susceptibility to disease and illness.
Vitamin D acts like a ‘master key’ for many of your hormones and helps to regulate your hunger and your energy levels among many other things. Studies suggest that adding vitamin D to diets could save thousands of lives each year by preventing serious diseases!
Then there’s vitamin B12. This is a vitamin that enhances the body’s formation and use of red blood cells, enabling us to transport energy and nutrients to our brain and muscles. Many people are low in this – especially vegetarians – which can cause nerve damage, depression inflammation.
I could go on and on. Essential fatty acids, vitamins, amino acids, minerals… all of them serve countless crucial and important jobs throughout the body and most of us aren’t getting enough. That’s because we’re just eating processed sugary foods – things like cake, sausage rolls and Coca-Cola: empty calories.
Try Doing These Three Things
- Switch to fresh, natural foods. That means that you’re going to try to eat things that you prepare yourself from fresh ingredients at least four times a week. This doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It can be as easy as having some chicken with a side of broccoli and rice, or it could mean having a salad leads with avocado, tomatoes and tuna fish. This takes minutes to make and it’s not more expensive than a ready meal.
- Take a multi-vitamin. While it’s true that it is better to get the nutrients we need from our diet, many of us will fail in this endeavor and so we’re left with no option other than to get it from supplementation. There is nothing wrong with doing this as long as it absorbs and it certainly can’t hurt to boost your levels of those crucial nutrients.
- Seek out superfoods and dense sources of nutrients. For example, you should consume smoothies occasionally if possible. I recommend swapping out your morning coffee on the way to work for a fruit smoothie (or better yet, a vegetable smoothie which is lower in sugar). Likewise, I recommend boiling a bunch of eggs and then snacking on them throughout the week. These are high in the brain boosting ‘choline’, as well as being complete sources of essential amino acids. Avocados are great because they contain magnesium, healthy saturated fats and more.
The point is that by making these changes, you should start to look and feel healthier. You’ll have more energy, a better mood and your brain will work quicker. This will then make it easier for you to start focusing on other aspects of your health such as weight loss and fitness.
Fixing Your Fitness
The mistake that most people make when trying to improve their health and fitness is that they aim too high. Their objective is often to try and transform their bodies into these athletic specimens that they see on magazine covers when they are currently barely able to make it up the stairs.
This is particularly apparent when running. Lots of people give up on running because they find it horrible. And they find it horrible because they push themselves too hard – they run too fast and too far because they want to become top runners or they want to burn thousands of calories.
But the best approach to running is to first simply focus on becoming better at running. Better yet, you should learn to like running.
To do this, you should go for shorter runs to begin with and you should take them more slowly. Go for a light jog through a scenic area and come home as soon as you stop enjoying it. Do this regularly enough and you’ll eventually start to enjoy and look forward to those runs. This is when they can start to transform your fitness and your lifestyle.
Running once or twice a week even just gently like this will help you to train your heart. The difference this can make to your happiness and health should never be underestimated.
When you run, you will specifically be strengthening and enlarging the left ventricle. The end result is that your heart will be able to pump more blood around the body with fewer beats. In turn, this means that your crucial ‘resting heart rate’ metric will slow down.
Your heart will beat less as you train, which in turn will result in your sympathetic tone being better. In other words, you will be less stressed all of the time and your heart will be far less prone to hypertension.
But running might not be for you. This might be beyond you. Another great type of exercise to start up then is resistance training, also konw as weight lifting.
Resistance training / weight lifting can transform your life and this is something that far more people should consider.
Many women – and in fact many men as well – will turn away from the idea of weight lifting because they don’t want to become overly bulky or muscular. The point that these people are missing, is that it is impossible to ‘accidentally’ become too bulky or muscular. Rather, in order to get to that kind of size, you need intensive training and work.
A more moderate training program will simply give you tone, power and greater control over your body.
And guess what? Building muscle will help you to lose a lot of weight because simply having muscle will increase your metabolism to the point that you’ll be burning more calories even as you sleep. Oh, and it also gives you the ideal physical proportions you want.
A great training program for beginners to try is PPL – Push Pull Legs. That means you train all pushing movements one day, all pulling movements another and then legs on the third day.
Again, don’t push yourself too hard too fast. Focus on enjoying the training and just using your body in new ways. I hope you have found helpful ideas that show you how to improve your health and fitness in this post.
You are not an athlete and there’s no rush here. There’s no reason to push yourself beyond what you find enjoyable.
Share your thoughts and experience by leaving your comments below and I will be sure to respond!
Finally, note that you also need to be more active the rest of the time. Two or three one hour sessions a week will not make up for a sedentary lifestyle. So start to incorporate walking into your routine – this is a fantastic way to burn an extra 2-300 calories a day and that amounts to 1,000 to 1,500 calories a every work week!
Likewise, consider taking up a class, be that martial arts, dance or something else active that will get you into shape.
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