You're working out. Great! You should be proud of yourself. The next step is to ensure that you are providing your body with all of the supplemental health habits that will complement your exercises.
Healthy habit number one - proper nutrition
We all know that we need to eat healthy. But with all of the conflicting diet information, it's tough to know where to start. Follow these five simple nutrition steps.
Exercise and diet will cover about 75%, but there are some other considerations and healthy habits that you want to get into.
Epsom Salt Baths
Try taking warm Epsom salt baths on the nights that you workout hard. Epsom salt contains magnesium, an important mineral that gets depleted through exercise. Soaking in the tub allows the salts to absorb through the pores of the skin. It also feels great!
Foam rolling is a fantastic way to get those tight "knots” out of your muscles. When you exercise hard, sometimes some muscles tend to hold onto tension too long. Rolling helps relieve tension. When you roll, you're not trying to obliterate the muscle, you are just trying to place enough pressure on it to relax.
It sounds intense at first, but cold showers are an amazing way to aid recovery. Again, I know it doesn't sound super appealing, but I have a strategy to get you there. At the end of your regular shower, turn down the temperature slightly and stay at that temperature until your body gets used to it. Then go down a little more. Then a little more. Gradually, your body will get acclimated to the new lower temperature.
Why do this, you ask? There's a growing amount of research that shows the benefits of cold showers in the form of capillary restriction, restricting blood flow, and assisting in circulation. When the extremities are cold blood pools in toward the organs. As you warm up the water, the blood returns to the peripheral. Alternate between warm and cold and you are assisting your body in flushing out exercise related toxins.
You likely have heard the benefits of meditation. Meditating daily, even for just five minutes, is a phenomenal way to lower stress, and therefore cortisol. Cortisol is a killer of muscle gain. It is a stress hormone that directly interferes with the process of laying down new muscle fibers. I recommend meditating either before or after the most stressful part of the day.
If you have to, wake up 30 minutes earlier. I have two alarms. My first alarm wakes me up at 5:30 AM, and then I walk out to the family room and put on an audio meditation. I lie down on my back with my legs up over a chair, which is also a great bio-mechanical position to relax the spine. Sometimes I fall asleep, but often it is just the start that I need for my day. I follow the guided meditation for about 30 minutes. My second alarm goes off at 6 AM and I am ready to tackle the day. Doing this also ensures waking up on the "right side" of the bed.
12 Hugs Per Day
Seriously, hugging has been shown to increase overall satisfaction in your life. And what is health other than increase happiness. Virginia Satir recommends that we get 12 hugs per day to optimally function. Have you seen the movie Trolls? My kids love it. In this movie they have their watches all set to go off every hour, to remind them to hug. That's about the right pace if you want to get 12 hugs per day.
Before you laugh this off, try it. You will feel connected to those people around you, and more centered and grounded yourself. Also, if you were having a hard time getting 12 hugs, consider reaching out to others, forming a community around like interests. Trust me, this was hard for me too, and I rarely hit this 12-hug goal. But I aim for it every day. It's never too late to create new habits. Get started on this one, I think you'll find that it enhances your quality of life.
The next health habit that I recommend is listening to audiobooks. You don't need to reach your goals to be happy, you just need to be progressing toward your goals. Learning new things is a fantastic way to feel that progress. The wealthiest people have been shown to read at least two books per month. This might seem like a lot, but you can do this too by putting an audiobook in your car.
Make sure that you frequent your local library often and always have one or two audio books checked out. Every time you get into your car, you will be listening to somebody's greatest work, edited for your growth. Think about it, an audiobook represents somebody's best work. It has been edited probably over a dozen times. Compare that to the talk radio or whatever else you listen to. Most of it is just off-the-cuff. Join the elite and listen to one to four audiobooks per month. You drive a lot more than you think you do, and you'd be surprised how much "reading" you can get done just by being in your car.
Ultimately, fitness by itself can be hollow, but it becomes powerful when fitness is complemented by a few other success habits. By keeping your focus on these daily routines, your body will grow healthier and you'll be happier. It is absolutely incredible what happens when you synthesize this information and begin living your life on purpose.
I wish you the best in your health quest. You deserve it! Each of us deserves to live the life that we set out to live on purpose. Take baby steps, keep encouraging yourself, and know that you will fail from time to time. When this happens, don't get down on yourself. Just get back up and keep going.
Let me know how I can help.