Health Hacks 4-11-17

There are 5 primary pillars of total health & fitness: mind, nutrition, weight training, cardio, and spiritual.

Here are 10 health hacks, 2 per pillar. Try some out to see real results on your weight, energy, attitude and happiness.

Mind

  1. Create an image board. Google images of people who inspire you – athletes, business people, the Dalai Lama, some historical figure…people who have qualities you aspire to. I find 8 – 10 images that motivate me, print them out in small sizes, and tape them to a single 8 X 11 inch piece of paper. I look at this each day as part of my morning routine (see Spirit below).

  2. Drink less alcohol. You might think this would be under nutrition (it could actually be under any of the pillars). Consuming less alcohol is the single best thing you can do to improve your brain cells, clarity of thought, etc.

Nutrition

  1. Drink more water. You’ve heard it many times before; it’s true. Having more water throughout the day is the simplest, cheapest way to lose weight, improve your skin, etc. In addition to more in general, drink at least 1 glass before dinner. This will lead to smaller end of day meals and less alcohol consumed.

  2. Eat small portions. I know, I know, easier said than done. But when it comes to weight loss, the single biggest variable as we get older is how much food we consume (vs. how much we workout, etc. – yes you need both but you can’t ‘out workout’ a terrible food plan). The point here is that instead of depriving yourself of things you like, just eat a little less of it. Drink water before a meal, eat slower, cut off a slice/portion and give to someone around you, etc. There are many tricks to allow you to have your cake and eat it too (albeit a smaller amount).

Weight Training

  1. Do circuit training. The time we have to dedicate to weight training is limited, but very important for total health as we get older. So use your time wisely. You don’t need to hammer out lots of weight and sit around for 5 minutes between sets. Maybe if you are looking to become an Olympic weight lifter, but not if your goal is to add a few lbs of muscle, get lean, etc. If you are lifting for 45 mins, for example, you should literally be moving about 40 of the 45 minutes. I probably lift more weight in a single 1 hour session than most people do in a week’s worth of workouts because I keep moving from 1 exercise to the next. Pick 2 or 3 body parts and do an exercise for each but go back to back to back. So it might be 10 reps of military press (shoulders) followed by 10 reps of lat pull downs (back) followed by 1 minute of ab exercises. This latter exercise gives your muscles the rest they need to go right back into the military press. You will get double the results in half the time by lifting this way.

  2. Do forced reps. Every few workouts find a training partner. Instead of stopping at 12 reps (or whatever is the number where you just about can’t do anymore), do another 3 – 5 with your partner helping you. Of course make sure you are well warmed up (do these later in the workout) and maintain good form. These extra few reps which take less than 15 seconds will be the difference between muscle growth and atrophy.

Cardio

  1. Do Interval Training. Rather than hopping on the elliptical for the yet another slow moving, 7 calorie burning 45 minute ‘workout’, spend 20 minutes doing some type of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). With a long distance (Iron Man Triathlons, Marathons, etc.) cardio background, it took me a long time before understanding the benefits of short, intense intervals. Now about half my cardio is in the form of interval training. I spend less than half the time I used to doing cardio and I am faster/leaner than ever. Interval training is simple and can be done anywhere. A basic example is a 10 minute warm up followed by 30 seconds very hard of running, biking, etc and then 30 seconds easy (as in walking, or spinning slowly). It is important that the ‘rest’ period is as easy as the interval period is hard. Build up the number of reps over time, but it does not take much to get some serious benefits. I typically do a 1 ½ mile run warm up followed by 10 very hard hill intervals ending with a few minute walk cool down. The whole thing is done in under 30 minutes, but boy is it effective.

  2. Pick 2 – 3 songs on your music device and run as hard/far as you can until the songs end. I noticed a few years ago that when I played 2 songs by Big Audio Dynamite (google E=MC2 it will take you back to the 80s) that I would just about reach the turnaround point of my run when I was going hard. This became the basis for my hard run days. Now, when I want to challenge myself I put on these 2 songs and run as fast as I can and see how far past my turnaround point I can run until the 2nd song fades. I actually set a new personal best last week – and I started this nearly 10 years ago (meaning I’m only getting faster).

Spiritual

  1. Start a morning routine. I have written about this previously so you can click the link below for more info. How you start your day can have a big impact on your state of mind and productivity.

  2. Read one of myriad books within the realm of spirituality. See link below on my annual reading list for some ideas. You need to feed your mind – and soul - with good information in the same way you feed your body superior nutrition. Spend a few minutes each day (I read before I go to bed) getting some perspective on this important aspect of total health.

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