This past week I have been struggling on what to write. My energy was low, the motivation wasn’t there and I busied myself with other things to the point that I didn’t find time to write something. I know, I know, shame on me for making excuses! But things are about to change. This morning as I was thinking about what to write, I remembered a piece of advice I heard a few years in an interview. The interviewer asked the individual what they did when they had a writing block and the man answered: I write about things that aggravate me. I thought this was a great idea, so today, I will write about something that annoys me!
A few days ago I was listening to an interview with Peter Hotez, an infectious disease specialist who is working very hard to find answers regarding the coronavirus and in the creation of a safe and effective vaccine. Throughout the course of the interview he constantly emphasized one important factor when discussing COVID-19: the host body! We all have our own unique make-up and this results in varied symptoms, varied reactions, and ultimately, the potential for a varied treatment plan. We can follow the protocols that were used in other countries like China or Italy, but at the end of the day, the individuals that comprise those countries either have a different genome or live a totally different lifestyle than we do here in America.
So you may be asking yourself, how are we going to tie this into physical fitness. I will tell you right now that when you choose a workout plan or a routine, remember one thing: THE HOST BODY MATTERS!
Everywhere you look there are training programs and ideas. One person claims to have the best fat burning routine, another trainer talks about their success with a celebrity client, or better yet, the snake oil salesman type who can sell water to a well but really has no clue about training principles. These programs use words like toned, lean, jacked, bulging, and any other fitness adjectives that’ll grab your attention. And these opinions, just like those on the nightly news, can become quite polarizing. One “experts” view opposes the other “experts” and after taking it all in you are left to wonder, “How can all these people have the best training program around?” I know the answer to that, they can’t!
We have to keep something in mind when embarking on a new idea. One program might work incredibly well for one person and it might not work at all for others. One diet can give someone tremendous results and in another give them high blood pressure. We are all unique individuals who live in our own unique way.
I am sometimes reminded of a conversation I had a few years ago at the local swimming pool. I am not a great swimmer but that summer I was trying to become a little more efficient and make some improvements. Swimming in the lane next to me was a former classmate of mine and after making small talk he asked what I was training for. After a few seconds of thought I jokingly said life. I told him I was training for life! He smiled and said he liked that idea and we continued on with our laps and on with our lives. As I look back, I begin to think that what was once a joke has now become the best piece of advice I can give.
So you may be wondering, what is the best training program out there? The answer to that question is the training program you can adhere to. I would start with getting somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep. This will allow your brain and body to recover and regenerate to its full capacity. After that, I would be mindful of where you are getting your calories from and really limit those so-called “empty calories” from foods that offer little to no nutritional value. If you want to experiment with something else regarding diet, I am a fan of time restricted eating which is explained below...
“People who practice time-restricted eating typically eat during an 8- to 12-hour daytime window and fast during the remaining 12 to 16 hours. Unlike intermittent fasting, which involves caloric restriction, time-restricted eating permits a person to eat as much as they want during the eating window. Time-restricted eating aligns the eating and fasting cycles to the body’s innate 24-hour circadian system” -- Rhonda Patrick
The third thing I would do is try to move your body as much as possible throughout the day. Americans spend way too much time sitting and the World Health Organization ranks inactivity as the fourth biggest preventable killer globally, causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths annually. The more you sit the more likely you are to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, an increased risk of diabetes, bodyfat accumulation and all these factors may put you in an early grave.
Lastly, in terms of importance, is the type of exercise program you partake in. Most individuals put too much stock into what they do in the gym and they forget the other 23 hours in a day. Sleeping well, eating well, and moving your body are three things that require no weights, treadmills, ellipticals or kettlebells. These three things can be done by a 5 year old and also a 105 year old. The fourth component will vary as you move through life. There will be phases of barbell work, or running work, or maybe you want to learn how to do parkour, but remember, it is not about how much you can deadlift or how many half marathons you ran last year. It is about finding a routine and creating habits that you can adhere to for a lifetime. So to me, that is what the best program around is!