6 FITNESS TIPS YOU’RE DOING OUT OF ORDER
“ONE WEIRD TRICK TO BURN BELLY FAT”
Ok Champions, take shelter and avoid windows if you can, because I’m about to start dropping knowledge bombs. Brace yourself for a Tornado of Truth™ that will turn some of your worlds upside-down. Most of us want to be as healthy as possible, or at least healthier than we are now, that’s why a lot of us incorporate running as a part of our lifestyle. The problem is that most of us have our priorities completely out of whack.
We desire to be healthier, but our actions are not aligned with that goal. In fact, most of the things we think are making us healthier, are actually roadblocks – disguised as shortcuts – on our path to fitness. The majority of Americans are fed magic formulas to fitness, emblazoned on magazine covers in the grocery store checkout line, or through internet clickbait falsehoods: Take a sh*t ton of supplements. Try some new exercise fad. Eat this unknown Peruvian root and you’ll instantly morph into the high-performance athlete of your dreams. For most of us, not only is this wrong, it’s flat out backwards.
I’ll spare you the beat down of how we got our priorities so out of alignment, and focus on the solutions instead. What follows are the top 6 tips for improving your fitness that actually produce sustainable results. Most importantly, they are presented in the order in which they should be followed. In other words, don’t even worry about making changes at the bottom of this list, until you have a grasp on implementing the foundational items first.
6 TIPS TO BALANCE YOUR HIERARCHY OF FITNESS
1. Sleep More Humans need to power down regularly to repair muscles, properly metabolize bodyfat, and maintain proper immune function, among many other things. The body needs more sleep than the brain, even if you feel awake. This is especially true if you are demanding a lot from your body during waking hours, or are trying to make changes in how your body performs. Even if you are doing everything else “right”, if you’re not allowing your body sufficient time to rest and repair, any progress in your fitness will be halted.
2.Drink More Water Water is so crucial to your health, I wrote an entire blog about why we should all drink more water here. Long story short, drink more than your are now. Much more.
3a. Consume Enough Calories Simply put, consume more calories than you burn = gain weight. Burn more calories than you consume = lose weight. This is called the Law of Thermodynamics. However, consume far fewer calories than you burn = somehow gain a lot of fat due to starvation. Ok, so maybe it’s not so simple.
It’s important to note that “burning” calories doesn’t directly equate to exercise. In fact, you’re not really burning calories at all. You’re utilizing them. They are your fuel source. Most of your calories are utilized just by being alive, for your organs to function properly. Your brain consumes roughly 60% of the calories you utilize. Undereat and you will literally be dumber.
3b.Macronutrient Balance Provided you’re in that sweet spot of eating enough without overeating, the quality of food you put in your body matters. Macronutrients are the three primary colors your metabolism paints with, and your body uses each for different things. You’ve heard their names before, but might not know what they do. They are Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat.
Protein most likely had eyes at some point in it’s lifecycle before you ate it, and is used as the building blocks of skeletal muscle. Carbohydrates grow from the ground, and are used to provide quick energy-on-demand. Fat tastes delicious, breaks down slower, and is therefore used for time-released energy. Consume too many of any of these in one sitting, and the surplus will be stored as bodyfat.
To grossly oversimplify: Eat protein at every meal, eat carbohydrates when you need energy (before/after activity), and eat fat because life should be fun.
4a. Stress Reduction: When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which stores fat. When you are feeling good, your body releases testosterone which metabolizes fat and builds muscle. Being stressed out doesn’t just feel mentally taxing, it takes a toll on your physical body.
Whether it be daily meditation, a yoga practice, listening to your favorite music, or just improving your organization, what’s good for the mind is good for the body.
4b. Human Connection: This is a favorite of mine, as I have yet to see it included in any ‘fitness tips’ list. Humans are social creatures. By spending quality time in the company of others we relax our parasympathetic nervous system. Doing this provides a wide swath of benefits – covering the gamut from improved digestion to better hormone regulation.
5. Exercise: That’s right, this is all the down at #5. Yes, your body needs to move. A lot. This doesn’t mean exercise isn’t important, it means the 4 items above it are even more important-ter to your overall health. You can’t out-train an unhealthy lifestyle.
6a. Micronutrients: Otherwise known as vitamins and minerals. You need these in trace amounts, and usually only when you have a natural deficiency, or your regular diet is so crappy that you’ve created an artificial deficiency. Unless you need to take a micronutrient for a very specific reason, as prescribed by a medical professional, you’re better off just eating more green veggies and cutting out as much sugar as possible.
6b. Supplements: Okay, this should bring us full circle as this is where many people start on their fitness journey. In reality, this category should be either your lowest priority, or completely unnecessary. This may ruffle some feathers, but ONLY THREE supplement categories have been consistently tested and proven to work by multiple regulatory agencies: Caffeine, Protein powder, and Creatine Monohydrate.
If you’re an American, you’re probably already consuming enough daily caffeine to make up for your lack of sleep (priority #1). If you are already eating a protein source at every meal, you don’t need to add protein powder. If you don’t know what creatine monohydrate is, you probably don’t need to take it.
I hope this list helps you reframe what actually matters as you prioritize your own health. So next time you’re ringing up your groceries, or browsing the word-wide-web, instead of being tricked by a glossy image marketing a magic pill, you’ll remember that getting back to the basics is what helps you get back to you.
THE HIERARCHY OF FITNESS PYRAMID
About the Author: Lance has previously been fat, weak, and injured. Lacking any real innate athletic ability, his application of data and science has produced some pretty awesome personal results, such as bench pressing over 500 pounds in competition. As a professional Strength & Conditioning Coach, he’s helped enhance the performance of NFL athletes, olympians, ironmen, and improved the race-day performance of hundreds of runners.
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