Fitness. If you dare to mention the word in public, the reactions to it are always dramatic and distinct. You will encounter the exercise nose turners, the arm-flexing intimidators, the run around the room enthusiasts, the burrow in the seat of the couch avoiders, the wide-eyed wonderers, and the shoulder-shrugging, fatigued professionals who are just too tired to care. It’s true, exercise today is overwhelming. There are so many different theories out there, and all of them seem to have a library of skewed statistics to back them up. However, in a world of all-or-nothing mentality, new studies are showing that working out longer and more often is actually causing people more harm than good. Once again “conventional wisdom” seems to have led us astray! But because at Radiant Life we believe that exercise works synergistically with nutrition as a key pillar of wellness, we have decided to kick off a Radiant Life Forum on Fitness Blog Series. There is a lot to say, so this week we have tried to squeeze in some of our revitalized fitness messages into 5 comprehensive tips.
Before we start things off, let's get one idea straight:
Fitness is not about looks or short term gain, it is about long term health.
When you start to think of it this way, exercise takes on an entirely new meaning...
Modern Americans have hailed fitness as an elaborate and complex event to be squeezed into the corners of our epically long “to-do-lists.” We have been told that in order to be slim, we must take a significant amount of oh-so-precious time out of the day to strap on a pair of cushioned sneakers and pound the pavement, or wake up before the sun to browse a collection of outrageous looking workout equipment in the shadowy dawn. Ask me, and I think this is just anxiety provoking! With intricate checklists and color-coded schedules taped up to the walls, stuffed in desk drawers or shoved into the car cup-holder, it is nearly impossible to sustain a fitness plan these days. Ancestrally, humans did not shuffle around with highlighters waiting to cross off their next set of muscle group focus...they would walk, jump, climb, hang, squat, throw, lift, and carry things, all in the natural process of environmental navigation and basic need. Though modern conveniences have limited our need to perform survival tasks in this way, we can incorporate these basic principles of low-level movement and infrequent high intensity activity into our daily lives...without carrying a clipboard.
2. Pick a Point and Start TODAY
It's no wonder that many people have become ravenously addicted to exercise, or just completely exhausted and turned off from it. The endless list of fitness tasks we believe give us the “perfect body” simply don’t work. In fact, studies show that the current model of everyday, aerobic-based fitness training has a 95.4% long term failure rate. When we are discouraged and beaten down by a ”no pain, no gain” dogma, it is hard to be inspired to do anything at all. But the time to turn around the paradigm is now! A 10-20 minute walk outside will serve as a wholesome contribution to any individual’s health. If it is nice enough to walk barefoot in the sun, you will also benefit from the healing qualities of earthing and energizing vitamin D. Some programs, like slow weight training (popularized by the book Power of 10 by Adam Zickermann) are designed to be completed in one 30 minute workout, once a week. Similar high intensity weight training routines are completed in a 12 to 15 minute span, again once every 7 days! It sounds too good to be true, but it’s one of our new favorite fitness secrets. During a weekly meeting at Radiant Life, we never finish without someone exclaiming: “Take 15 for a workout!” In a few minutes everyone is back around the table (not sweaty nor smelly mind you), energized and ready to go. Another quick way to get your exercise in is rebounding/cellercising for deep cellular health. Try it out!
3. Find Balance
No single type of exercise is the golden, exclusive “right exercise” to do all day, everyday. Repeated movement to the same muscles and joints will leave them torn, swollen, and irreparable. Furthermore, consistent similar movement will leave some muscles contracted and others flexed causing incongruent pulls on the body, alterations in natural posture and even wearing on the bones for long term injury. Remember, everything in your body is connected, so eventually these structural disproportions can cause suppression of certain organs which will limit optimal functioning of digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory and immune systems. It comes down to the cliche paradigm of moderation. If you love to run, by all means get out there! But be cognizant of the intensity, and which muscles and joints you are straining. Blend activities for a healthy fitness diet that you revel in: yoga, rebounding, hiking...the possibilities are endless. While exercise principles are the same, the type that you select should be adapted to fit your lifestyle. Keep in mind that the goal is not to work yourself to a point of injury for glory, but to discover optimal composition, energy, strength and health.
4. Eat Nutrient Dense Foods/Drink Filtered Water
How many times have you been told “a calorie is a calorie!” “to lose weight, eat less, exercise more!” “avoid fat- it will make you fat!” We have been sold a myriad of ineffective and totally wrong theories about food. You could exercise all you want, and you will not be “burning off” that gargantuan Oreo cookie stack you ate in the afternoon. Processed foods cause metabolic and hormonal damage internally, which cannot be erased by a simple in=out equation. Instead of a refined inflammation-promoting diet, it is important to eat raw, lightly cooked and fermented foods to nourish the body and mind. Purified water is also phenomenally important in replenishing the body. Many of the chemicals and additives to the public water supply can stunt muscle development and overall health, so it is important to make sure your water source is filtered. You can also ditch the gatorade and protein shakes- look at the label and see if you can even recognize more than one ingredient name! If you need some flavor, add a lemon to your glass waterbottle and you will feel less thirsty in the long run! Also check out Radiant Life’s Superfoods Smoothie recipe for a simple, high protein complement to any exercise plan.
5. Rest Your Way to Success
That’s right. I said it. Contrary to all those work-till-you drop, deprivation theories, resting is a crucial part of fitness. Get a a massage, lie out in the sun, take a 30 minute nap, and get enough grounded sleep. As many of you know, every time you exert a muscle it develops billions of microscopic cellular tears which are reinforced with thicker, stronger fibers during the healing process. When the body is challenged repeatedly growth hormone is actually inhibited, muscles start to atrophy instead of build, the immune system weakens and injury rates rise significantly. Research now shows that if muscles are exerted to fatigue, they need far more than 48 hours of rest to build. In fact, the faster twitch muscles may require up to 10 days to fully recover if they are worked to total fatigue. So Relax! It’s so good for you. The stress based cortisol influxes you are experiencing by worrying about exercise are actually damaging your health!
The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
The Smarter Science of Slim by Jonathan Bailor
The Power of 10 by Adam Zickermann
Photos: Weights by Gudlyf/ Hammock by themichaelsmith, Courtesy Flickr