Friday, June 24, 2011

My Health, My Fitness, My Advice

You don't have to know me for long to realize that I make my personal health and fitness a top priority in life.
I'm very conscious of everything I do with and to my body, and I'm very in-tune with everything it tells me.
My reasons for this go back to my childhood.

God bless my Mom and her genes, but both of them have presented obstacles for me in life when it comes to my health and physical condition.  Her side of the family is rampant with heart disease, high blood pressure, alcoholism and obesity. To make things worse, she overcompensated for her less-than-privileged childhood by making sure to always have snacks and treats around when I was a kid. To her, this was good mothering - giving your kids cookies, cake and ice cream - food that makes them happy.  Unfortunately for me, that helped to make me the "fat boy" that I got called in elementary and middle school.

Turning into a teenager brings with it the strong desire to fit in and be cool, so becoming selfish and concerned with your image is almost inevitable.  This need to change my body is what drove me to harness my will power and change my eating habits.  I can vividly remember being 12yrs old or so and going into the snack cabinet for a handful of cookies as I'd done so many times before. But on this occasion, I distinctly recall saying to myself, "Do I really want to eat these cookies? Is the brief, pleasing taste of these cookies worth the lasting effects of being fat?"  Then I put them back, and my uncanny will power was born.

Playing sports in high school greatly aided me in my physical appearance goals, but it was truly my strong desire and will power to control my diet that made the difference, and still does today.  So although I commonly get asked about what kind of exercises and workouts I do or how much I bench or what supplements I take, it's really about how and what I eat and other little lifestyle changes here and there that have more of an impact on my overall health.

If you already know the stuff I'm about to share - awesome.  If you disagree - cool. Ignore me. But I know a lot of people have no clue about how to make positive changes to their health, and this is for them.  I've read dozens of magazines, books, websites, blogs and scientific studies.  I've played sports and worked with athletes, coaches and personal trainers.  I've been injured and consulted with doctors and gone through physical therapy.  I've taken each and every opportunity presented to me to learn about human physiology and anatomy, and the knowledge I believe to be true is based on years of experience and a genuine love of sport and fitness.

So without further delay and not due to popular request (nor anyone's request for that matter), I hereby present to you in no particular order of importance.......

Brian's Top Tips For General Health

Drink a big glass of water first thing when you wake up in the morning.
You'd have to be living under a rock to not know that drinking a lot of water and staying hydrated is a good thing for your metabolism.  Everyone should try to drink a lot more during the day than they do now.  So ponder this - would you go the entire 8 or so hours you're at work without drinking anything? Of course not.  The same concept goes for when you're sleeping - you wake up dehydrated and a big glass of water jump starts your metabolism.  Aim for at least 16 ounces. Then later:

Eat Breakfast
Studies show that people who skip breakfast are 450% more likely to be overweight!!  I didn't make that shit up!  Eat something for breakfast!

You can't out-train a bad diet.
Unless you have an intense workout regimen, you will not be able to compensate for a shitty diet enough to get that six pack.  If you truly want to lose more weight and become fitter, put more effort into getting your eating habits right before wasting too much time trying to figure out which workout to try.

Take a high-quality multivitamin.
Pretty much nobody gets adequate amounts of necessary nutrients from their diets.  Because of that, you're likely deficient in several vitamins and minerals and might never know it until a serious health issue arises.  Find a high-quality multivitamin and take it daily.  You might still be deficient in specific things, but this will greatly decrease your chances of it being serious.

When you get sick, immediately stop eating sugary foods.
When scientists need to study bacteria and yeast, they grow them in petri dishes containing agar, which is a polymer made up of sugar.  Think about that for a minute.  Here's more to read if you don't believe me.

Get at least 7-8 hours per night.  Don't listen to this BS "some people don't need as much sleep as others." That is crap.  Sleep isn't just so you have enough energy to get through the next day, it's to help your body recover and rebuild.

Stop Making Excuses
Excuses are for people who just don't have enough desire. There's always going to be mornings you wake up tired. There's always going to be days you have a cold or feel sore or a little hungover. There's always going to be an easy reason to not get any exercise.  There's always going to be unhealthy food closer at hand than healthy food. There is ALWAYS something to use an excuse as to why you can't do something positive for your health. Stop making excuses, and you'll realize you have more time and opportunity than you think for some exercise or a healthier meal.

Make It A Habit
Another one to thank my Mom for.  There's been a lot of times I'll tell her how I decided to start/stop eating a certain food and she'll comment "Oh, Brian's on a health kick again."  This prompted me to let her know that its not a diet, its not a kick, its not a fad - its a lifestyle.  The word diet implies some temporary strategy, and you don't want temporary, you want permanent.  Think of your eating habit as a diet, and it will eventually fail. Studies show its takes 21 days to make a habit.  Stick it though those 21 days and it becomes much easier to continue the healthy changes you've made since they'll become part of your daily ritual and lifestyle.

When it comes down to it, wanting to be healthier or fitter - or wanting anything in life, for that matter - requires only a strong enough desire. Once you can harness that desire within yourself, you will easily seek out the necessary knowledge and be well on your way to achieving your goals.

Enable your will power to become your true friend....................or it the lack of it will remain the enemy that stands between you and your accomplishments.

Good luck!