Article – 10 Phases to a Healthier You

Think you know all there is to living a healthy lifestyle?  Check out this list of 10 phases of healthy living and see just how many of these activities you are currently implementing in your daily life.  Who knows, you just might learn something. 

Cardiovascular Training

                Cardiovascular training is the starting point for the majority of people when they start off with a new gym membership.  It’s safe, not far outside the comfort zone, and everyone either knows how to do it or can figure it out pretty easily which makes it the go to starting point for most people on the road to a healthier you.  Cardiovascular training will help an individual build up his or her endurance so they won’t get winded as easily and this will help the individual drop weight.  It takes approximately 3,500 calories burned to lose one pound of body weight.  Of this one pound lost, 2/3s will be comprised of body fat and 1/3 of the pound will be lost muscle mass.  Because of this, cardiovascular training is not ideal for building muscle.

Resistance Training

                Resistance training can include calisthenics (bodyweight exercises like pushups, pull-ups, etc.), compound movements (bench press, dead lift, back squat, etc.), machine exercises, the use of free weights or resistance bands, or any other activity that is designed to build lean muscle mass.  While cardio will help you drop size it will only drop you down to what muscle you have underneath it all.  Resistance training will help to add on muscle mass and develop the structural shape that ultimately forms what your body looks like when your fat levels are low.  Another benefit of resistance training is that your metabolism will continue to burn more calories up to 48 hours after your workout. 

Explosive/Athletic Training

                Explosive or athletic training is adding exercises to your workout plan that help with your overall functional performance as opposed to focusing purely on aesthetics.  This may include prowler sled exercises, box jumps, farmer’s carry, atlas stones or a higher concentration on compound movements and Olympic lifts,.  Crossfit, circuit training, or strongman training would be examples of this type of training.  Resistance training can allow certain body parts to develop quicker than others.  With explosive/athletic training you will be limited by the weakest link in the chain so it will help you to identify what muscles are lagging.  Explosive/athletic training helps to build strength, power, speed, and agility which can help reduce your chance of injuring yourself during daily activities. 

Correcting Musculoskeletal Imbalances

                Most, if not all, of us have some level of musculoskeletal imbalances in our bodies.  Our bodies were designed to hunt, forage, raise young, build shelter, etc.  Nowadays we spend a great deal of our time sitting in unnatural positions for hours at a time, often with bad posture.  If you haven’t exercised in years your body can actually develop motor sensory amnesia.  This is a condition where certain muscles in the body forget how to engage properly because stronger more dominant muscles have been performing the job of the weaker muscle.  When these muscles are eventually called upon they are too weak and often lead to injury.  Musculoskeletal imbalances can cause poor posture, joint failure, increased risk of injury, and a host of other issues so correcting these imbalances is crucial in helping to keep your body healthy and functioning properly.  I offer consultations for helping you identify these muscular imbalances and how to correct them with specific corrective stretches and exercises to target the problematic areas. 

Water Purification

                Our drinking water isn’t as pure as we believe it is.  If you drink bottled water you are also ingesting the toxins from the plastic bottles.  If you drink tap water you ingest sediment and chemicals that were added to the water.  These pollutants have been tied to endocrine and neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.  They have also been shown to throw off the body’s natural hormonal levels causing low testosterone and high estrogen levels.  A way around this issue is a reverse osmosis system.  A reverse osmosis system takes your tap water and pushes it through a series of filters and a fine membrane that eliminates sediment and chemicals in the water.  Your local hardware supplier should carry reverse osmosis systems for around a couple hundred dollars. 

Eliminating Processed Foods

                One of the primary reasons foods are processed is to increase the shelf life of the products.  In order to do this the fiber and some of the nutrients need to be eliminated and sodium is often added in large quantities in the interest of preserving the food for a longer period of time.  The average person needs around 25-30 grams of fiber a day.  However, the average person who consumes mostly processed foods only gets around 5 grams of fiber a day.  Fiber cannot be processed by the body which means the body will spend energy trying to break it down and eventually will push it through the digestive tract pushing out harmful contaminants with it.  Diets low in fiber are often linked to individuals with digestive issues and even certain types of cancer.  The high sodium levels found in processed foods can cause cardiovascular issues like hypertension and will cause the body to retain water weight.  By eating foods in their whole, original form you are helping to eliminate what is added or removed during manufacturing.  When grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store and avoid the processed food section as much as possible.  This will require you to prepare more of your foods from scratch but it will generally have the greatest impact on losing weight and increasing your energy levels because you will be in control of what goes into your body. 

Going Organic

                USDA organic foods are foods that were made without synthetic fertilizers or enhancers, genetically modified seeds or feed, or sewage sludge.  Since organic food is processed without means to increase the yield it’s more costly to make and therefore cost the consumer more for organically produced products.  As you start to transition organic products into your daily life you should consider if the cost premium is worth the benefit of what you are eliminating by going with the organic option.  Items that are generally worth the cost premium can include apples, potatoes, berries, and meats.  Organic meats are not fed genetically modified organism (GMO) feed.  For example, cattle are fed grass instead of corn which typically leads to lower levels of illness in the cattle.  This leads to less use of antibiotics over the life of the cow which leads to lower concentrations of disease and chemicals in the meat that’s sold to the consumer. 

Fulfilling your Macro and Micronutrient Needs

                Macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates, and protein.  Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and other nutrients necessary for normal body function.  A diversified diet consisting of a variety of vegetables, fruits, and meats will help you to meet these levels.  In order to boost your daily intake of micronutrients I recommend consuming a blended fruit and vegetable drink each day.  This will also help you intake a large amount of dietary fiber.  Using frozen fruit will help give the drinks a sherbet like consistency and taste and will help cut down on waste for spoiled produce.  If you aren’t sure how many macronutrients you need for your body’s size or how to structure your meal plans in order to meet your goals we can help. 

Foam Rolling and Corrective Stretching

                Foam rolling is a way of self massage that stretches the muscular tissue and helps alleviate muscle soreness.  Foam rollers come in a variety of forms from giant rolls of dense foam, to PVC pipe, to rumble rollers.  By laying on the foam roller the individual can stretch out and massage the area of sore muscle and increase the blood flow to the area which will aid in the recovery time.  Lacrosse balls or other dense rubber balls can be used to target specific knots, especially in the back. 

                Corrective stretching helps to open up joints that do not have the capacity to operate in the full range of motion.  When you tell your body to pick up something off the ground it doesn’t know you want to use 20% of one muscle and 50% of another.  The body will use whatever muscles are most efficient at performing the task at hand.  By stretching the tight or dominant muscles it temporary resets the bodies hardwiring to engage the dominant muscles and allows the weaker muscles to be trained and strengthened. 

Meditation

                Meditation can include yoga, deep breathing, and a variety of activities targeted at removing stress from the body and focusing the individual.  Many people cannot take a full deep breathe because of neurologic holding patterns in the body that are preventing their diaphragm from fully expanding.  By focusing on ways to release the stress from the body these holding patterns are released allowing the body to take fuller breathes and increase blood oxygenation.  Stress will drain your energy, restrict your body’s capacity for movement, decrease the quality of your rest, slow your cellular recovery, and overall work against everything you are trying to accomplish so keeping your stress in check is crucial for maintaining a healthy mind and body. 

The majority of the topics discussed in this article will be covered in more depth in subsequent articles.  Stop back or follow us on Facebook at SK Health and Fitness to get updates when our site is updated with new articles or videos.