Are you a busy person? Do you find yourself juggling the demands of career, family and life in general?
I want to share with you some tips and advice for keeping fit and healthy and help you achieve your health and wellness goals when time isn’t on your side and stress is high!
TIP NUMBER ONE – Work IN not OUT
A long time ago I learnt the important principle that “All stress summates”. What does that mean? It means all stress accumulates. It means that the body perceives all different stressors in the same way. Different types of stressors can be physical, mental, emotional, nutritional are among a few!
Our body does a great job at trying to manage these stressors, and actually, we need stressors. It triggers our body to grow, adapt and stay healthy (A process called Hormesis)
However when these stressors become too high and they become chronic e.g. financial stress, relationship stress, work stress etc. Going to the gym and adding a tonne of physical stress on your body might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
With these high level of stress, all of your important systems critical for restoring homeostasis (balance) are backed up. Fatigue, low energy and poor digestion leading to nutrients not being absorbed and aches/pains can be a common side effect of being chronically stressed and over trained!
What’s the solution?
Reduce some of those other stressors, balance your nervous system so you can work out in a healthy way. Think of it like having a credit card with our energy being the money. When you spend when you are already in a deficit you become overdrawn! This is analogous to being in a deficit with your health. We must pay back in the bank!
These are all great ways to pay back into the bank, balance your nervous system and all other crucial systems for rest and repair.
- Try a slow gentle yoga class.
- Cut down your coffee intake for a week (If you NEED it, you haven’t got a healthy relationship and you’re probably out of balance)
- Do some gentle rhythmic movement at a slow pace focusing on your breath. Movements like the squat, row or slow walking in nature are amazing ways to achieve this.This helps calm your nervous system and increase the pump mechanism that reduces waste and encourages rest and repair. Tai Chi and Qigong are other amazing ways of restoring balance and have been used for millennia.
- Laugh, watch something funny or plan a night with some friends without a need to ‘accomplish’ something but just be.
- Eat whole, real foods in a balanced way. Organic when possible. Reduce the toxic load.
- Play more. We forget this as grown-ups.
- Active recovery and/or stretching and mobilizing.
You will start to find you actually get more from your workouts, digest your food better and you will have rested your main control, hormonal and digestive systems. The result? Better performance, better skin, better energy and a sense of centeredness.
TIP NUMBER TWO – Take down the volume, not the intensity
If you travel a lot for your work or just generally get some relief and joy from going to the gym. Don’t let this stop you.
If you have a workout, ask yourself how far from 100% energised you are and recovered and then reduce that amount of volume from your work out. For example if I feel only 50% I am going to half the amount of sets in my work out!
Keep the intensity the same however. Exercise intensity refers to how hard your body is working during physical activity. This would be the weight in strength training.
This way we still achieve the benefits you intended with your chosen intensity and keep that strength and mass, but you don’t overspend. You leave the gym feeling energised, pumped and ready to come back next time. You get the growth and the hormonal benefits and may actually notice improvements from not overdoing it.
I can assure you from my personal experience the way my body looks and feels skyrocketed when I learnt when to rest and work in, when to reduce the volume and when to go all out.
The ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude is a belief system that has a time and a place but can lead people to feeling guilty for not leaving themselves on the floor every workout. I am going to tell you now. That’s not necessary nor an efficient way of staying sharp, fit, strong and healthy.
FINAL TIP – Make it simple
Let’s take out the thinking mind. Lower the demand on your brain. If you are stuck for time, instead of four or five exercises, choose two. And choose more functional multi joint exercises that target and work the whole body.
You will notice the experience is far easier, far less stressful and way more likely to be something that pays you back as opposed to leaves you with nothing. Training should be something that’s a tool for you, not something you fear and feel trapped and obliged to do.
Good exercises to choose from:
- Standing Cable Push
- Standing Cable Pull
- Cable Wood chop
- Kettle Bell variations
BONUS TIP – Play don’t plan
If all of this still seems stressful. Follow Paul Cheks advice and Play don’t work. Go to the gym and play, do what you want for as long as you want. Get rid of the structure. Lose your intention and have fun. This can be incredibly healing and useful when you are burnt out mentally. Loose the structure and be like a kid in a playground.
You don’t want training to be another enemy that becomes a source of guilt and shame. You want it to be your friends, something that makes you stronger, healthier and thrive. These tips will be great tools to have if you’re not 100 percent but want to keep your health and wellbeing goals on track.
Sean Thomas Miller
Personal Trainer, Holistic Health Coach, CHEK Practitioner & Corrective Exercise Specialist.