What a year it has been. Just when we thought things were getting better, COVID numbers spiked again and, of course, right before the holidays. As a nutritionist and a coach, I come across a lot of people who share their fears of getting sick and, this time of year, ruining the holidays. But there are things you can do to give yourself a boost to an overall healthier life.
The human body is a resilient, adaptable machine. To ensure this impressive biological machine continues to function optimally, you should develop a lifestyle that supports health, wellness, and disease prevention. However, prevention and optimization do not happen by singularity approaching health in silos. The ultimate prevention to minimize your risk of illness, disease, or pandemic outbreaks is to take a well-rounded, integrated approach to your health. I’d like to start off giving you five modifiable personal lifestyle principles that should be considered pillars of health in the optimization of your body.
1) Evaluate stress within your life.
Stress is a major health inhibitor by overwhelming your nervous system’s ability to function optimally. Simple methods to alleviating stress include implementing meditation, prioritizing your attention, and letting go of things beyond your control.
2) Consider your sleep and relaxation.
Develop a simple bedtime routine you can replicate every night. Limit electronics 30 minutes prior to bed to allow your body to release melatonin and to give your mind a break from simulation on social media, news outlets, apps, and e-mail. Reducing the room temperature by a few degrees can help you sleep more soundly. Consider installing blackout curtains to limit light and dampen sound. Be sure to implement opportunities for relaxation throughout your week, from five-minute breaks to hours for a hobby. Take short breaks throughout your workday to boost your productivity and prevent headaches. Enjoy life beyond your responsibilities.
3) Make nutrition choices to support a healthy lifestyle.
The food you eat becomes the fuel your biological machine needs to thrive. Connect with a certified nutritionist and learn how to properly implement food into your life in a way that is healthy, tasty, and sustainable. If a “nutritionist” suggests a crash diet, run away (see principle 4). Often, the first step of your nutrition journey will identify foods that do not agree with your body through a short elimination diet. You may be ask to keep a food journal so your nutrition professional can suggest better food options and identify gaps in your nutrition choices.
4) Make exercise and movement your lifestyle.
Your human machine is not created to be sedentary, despite how ergonomic the equipment or enthralling the Netflix. As you learn to create a lifestyle surrounding your health, your energy reserves become full and your body begins craving movement. Be well rounded with your exercise, even if you specialize in a sport. Strength exercises (even bodyweight!) should be incorporated into your movement routine twice weekly. Cardiovascular health is important to transport fuel throughout your body, so moderate cardiovascular exercises should be incorporated one to three times weekly and may be done in alongside your strength training. Flexibility is the final pillar to your movement habits, helping to optimize your musculoskeletal system while developing stability to prevent injuries. Flexibility routines can also be combined with your other workouts in the form of static stretching, dynamic stretching, and myofascial release (foam rolling). Yoga is a great tool to incorporate flexibility and strength while promoting stress relief in a relaxing environment. If you are not comfortable with developing an exercise routine without the help of Pinterest, seek the assistance of a certified personal trainer.
5) Strengthen the relationships in your life.
Take the time to enjoy people and create a depth to the ultimate investment you are making: Your life. Expand your relationships outside of close friends and family. This can include hobby groups, support groups, spiritual gatherings, and volunteer service. Relationships should expand beyond social media and be real, personal, tangible relationships.
Pick one thing, the easiest thing, and start TODAY with making it part of your life.
If you need a boost, check out our comprehensive athletic plans that cover all of these components and more. They will help you thrive both in competition and in your everyday life.
Endurance Sport Center @EndureSport