So after a bit of a rocky start to this project - we are back on track! I actually have had a few really successful fasting days, just like the good ol' days. My meals have been fairly clean, my sleep is on point, and water intake has massively improved.
So I realize that I have been pretty awful at keeping up with this. I always start these projects super pumped up and excited and then it seems that other areas of my life take over. So I have lost track of sleep and steps and nutrition etc. With that said, I am making really great progress. So instead of my super detailed breakdown of sleep, nutrition, steps, and workouts, I am going to give you a breakdown of how I am implementing those to be at my best, and why they are important to any healthy lifestyle.
You really cannot neglect sleep if you want to be your healthiest self.
Growing up my mom used to say I would turn into a pumpkin after about 10pm. You know the story of cinderella? She arrives at the ball in a beautiful chariot, but when the clock strikes midnight, it turns into a pumpkin? Well that's pretty much me except I have a much earlier curfew then princess cinderella.
So Why is Sleep Important?
Sleep is one of the coolest functions of any species that is capable of it. Essentially, your waking functions - heart rate, breathing, and external sensory receptors - are turned way down. With less energy being given to these, our brain can focus more energy on the internal functions. Our body goes through a pretty impressive number of recovery and regenerative processes while we sleep. We also dream while sleeping, allowing our brain's to process emotions, experiences, and anything else we may have come across recently, or are struggling with.
This is why I try to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night. 6 hours actually is not an ideal amount. It is recommended that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night to allow for adequate rest and recovery. Sometimes my work days are very long and I have to get up very early the next day to get back to work, but I always try and get at least 6 hours.
Tips For Great Sleep
1. Get your room at the right temperature. This is super important to set the body up for a deep sleep. In the summer months and in my apartment which does not have sufficient AC I sleep with a swinging fan right by my bed. I sleep under the covers, but the fan keeps me cool enough that I never wake up from overheating. I have read that 21 degrees celsius is the ideal sleeping temperature, but I know some people who prefer a very cold sleeping environment, and some who prefer very warm environments, so it really is something you have to play around with.
2. Get a blue light filter on your phone. I have been preaching this for years! Blue light filters are now included on most smartphones and they are one of the most underrated features. The blue light filter essentially blocks the blue light that is emitted from you phone. This blue light is perceived by the brain the same way it perceives the blue light from the sun. The longer you are exposed to this, the less melatonin your body is producing, and therefore the harder it will be to fall asleep. If you find you are someone who is on their phone late into the night, then put your blue filter on. It will make falling asleep much easier.
3. Create a sleep routine. Every night try and do the same few things before bed in a similar order. The brain loves routines and will make life much easier the more routine your life is. Every night before bed (well at least almost every night) I get home, watch some Stephen Colbert or Trevor Noah, rinse my face, brush my teeth, get in my PJ's, and either read my book or read the news on my phone.
I hardly ever have issues falling asleep these days and I can confidently say that it is due to my sleep habits, and understanding how the body prepares for sleep.
Focused, programmed exercise will always help you get towards your goals faster than random, sporadic exercise.
My workouts have only improved since I began properly programming them. I see this with my clients as well. The ones that show up to every appointment, and that have a well-designed program that is progressing intelligently see the best results.
How Can You Benefit from a Workout Program?
Here's the thing, I studied in college for 2 years to figure out how to program a really good program. Even then, there is new information that comes out all the time, and I am constantly trying new variations to fully take advantage of program design. For those of you who don't have the time to learn how to program, either find yourself a trainer, or do a little research on the training phases, and the 7 training principles. Understanding training phases and how to implement the 7 training principles only scratches the surface of intelligent program design, but it will give you a good idea of how you can start benefiting from a great program.
Also stay tuned for my programs which you will soon be able to purchase from my website!
As for how I do things, I have a 4-ish day split. Squat and glutes, back, deadlift and glutes, HIIT. I have recently started to incorporate a little more cardio and some chest exercises to really get lean and reveal some of the muscle I have been working on putting on over the winter. Besides a program, my best advice is to do just enough, and no more. So if you are just starting, you can get away from working out twice a week with 2 full body workouts. If you have been training for a longer time, then a really well designed program, and a couple more days a week will get you to your goals. You don't need to go crazy and workout 7 days a week, twice a day, for 2 hours to get results. Do just enough, and live your fricken life :)
Anyone who thinks they can out-exercise a bad diet is just wrong.
If the magic weight loss pill had been created, we would have an obesity crisis. The fact is, nutrition will play a massive part in any health goal. How you feed and fuel and nourish your body is SO important.
What is the Right Way to Eat?
This is an impossible question to answer. For everyone, the right way to eat for their body is unique to them. Our ancestors come from all kinds of different areas and therefore our bodies work best on different sources of food. With my clients I give them 3 general guidelines:
1. Drink at least 3L of water
2. Make sure there's colour at every meal
3. Prioritize healthy proteins and fats
Water is used in just about every metabolic process in the body so there better be enough of it in your body to satisfy all of those metabolic needs. If not, the body becomes dehydrated and the brain can begin to misinterpret signals and make you think you are hungry, tired, angry, sad, etc. etc. So best to drink 3L of water and be sure that the body is well hydrated.
Have colour at every meal means that you can be sure you are getting some vitamins and minerals at every meal. Tip 3 is about protein and fat, and yes those are important, but vitamins and minerals need not be forgotten when you are trying to be as healthy as possible. These micronutrients work in tandem with proteins and fats to help you produce hormones, blood, neurotransmitters, and new cells all day every day. So you better have enough or else you will quickly feel the difference.
Last but not least, protein and fat. Your body needs these in healthy quantities in order to function properly. We have been told all our lives that carbs are necessary for energy. Yes - carbs are great for quick energy and if you are heading off to do a tough workout, I recommend mixing in a few extra carbs to help push through the workout. Beyond that, protein and fats should really be your focus. Proteins and fats are broken down in the body and used for just about every single thing the body does. Carbs, if not used, are simply stored as fat. Proteins and fats will always have a job to do in the body.
I don't follow a specific diet or anything like that. I have done a lot of research over the years, tried different things, and have taken note of what works and what doesn't. I use this information for eat for my body and my goals. Right now I have a pretty high fat, high protein diet, but I do eat a pizza once a week. Do I recommend every one eats like me? Not at all. This is what works for me and gets me to my goals. It is usually around 50% fat, 35-40% protein and 10-15% carbs and I eat around 2000 calories a day. I do not track how many calories I burn while exercising because I have never found that useful for me. I just used those estimations to allow myself to eat things I normally wouldn't.
Steps are basically the most simple way to do something good for you body today. Not because 10,000 steps makes you a healthy champion, but because getting outside and moving is good for you body. People don't realize how little they move. Sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for many avoidable diseases, so getting up and moving is the easiest way to live a healthy life and prolong your healthy life.
I hope this blog post has been helpful for all of you. It is so easy to get caught up in exactly what other people are doing, so I figured I would ditch that plan and give you guys something more realistic and actionable.
Hope you're all doing well! Do something good for your body today :)
Riri's Discoveries blog documents Riri's most recent research, her travel adventures, and her personal fitness journey.