It’s important to put in the work, lift the weights, run the miles, practice your swing, etc. but that’s not the only thing. Many are good at doing that part, but neglect everything that comes after: appropriate food, stress, sleep…recovery and adaptation. We need to recover to yield the desired result.
Let’s start with stress. There’s good stress and bad stress, but too much of either or both is detrimental to our bodies. When I coach people, I want to know all the stressors going on in that person’s life: family, significant other, work life, personal life, workouts, etc. If someone is very stressed at work (bad stress), has a family (good stress), gets poor sleep (bad stress), then goes and does a HIIT workout, that person is going to keep driving themselves into the ground and not feel better. Even though we like to think that the workout is good stress, it could be doing more harm than good. If that person wants to have harder workouts, then we need to work on reducing some of that stress.
Sleep is the most underrated, under-appreciated part of our lives and is still neglected. When we get quality rest, our body is able to recover. That’s what it’s doing when we sleep: recovering. If you have all the above things going on in your life, and now sleeping maybe 5–6 hours per night or less, then you’ll never feel rested. Poor sleep could not only cause you to not feel rested, but anxiety/depression, weight gain, mental fatigue, will come at you 10x harder than if you just fixed your sleep. Stress and sleep are definitely in the top 5 most important things when trying to not just alter your body but improve your quality of life.
Food is another major key to adaptation, and I’ll even say more crucial than the actual workout itself. Food is not just a satisfaction to hunger, it’s a channel to achieving goals and optimal lifestyle. We can use food to affect lifestyle in many ways outside of fueling workouts. We can use food to alter hormonal imbalance (not all cases, but some), improve gut health, lose weight, gain muscle, live a long healthy life. Food should be respected and treated with importance because the most consistent things we do on a daily basis are sleep, eat, and drink. Will you put 87 Unleaded gas in your Maserati? Probably not. Now, I’m not saying you should never go out and have fun meals and drinks with friends and family, but pick and choose your battles. Burgers and fries aren’t bad. Having burgers and fries every day is. Sometimes when I coach an athlete and we’re ‘in-season,’ then I might incorporate a meal like that since the goal is fuel and recovery. Not ideal, but if the calories have been spent and we need to add some higher calorie foods, we want the calories. In moderation and when appropriate of course.
If you want to travel, play with your kids and grandkids, live an exciting life, then you need to treat your body well. Eat and drink right, still enjoy fun times with good people, and move well and often. Life is all about balance, make sure you have some.