Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Your 1 Week Challenge

You’re sick of feeling tired, demotivated and unhealthy. You crave the energy, enthusiasm and drive you either once possessed yourself or see frequently in those around you. Basically, you’re stuck.

With endless health & fitness information at your fingertips from books, magazines and the internet, you find it impossible to choose an approach and stick to it.

Well, how about trusting me and committing yourself to JUST 1 WEEK of organised and structured change. At the end of these 7 days I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll feel a million bucks – all by following these 5 basic steps.

STEP 1 - DRINK AT LEAST 3 LITRES OF WATER EVERY DAY


The human body is anywhere from 55% to 78% water depending on body size.
  • Muscle consists of 75% water
  • The brain consists of 90% of water
  • Bone consists of 22% of water
  • Blood consists of 83% water

When any of the above experience a drop in water, suboptimal performance is almost certain to follow.

One very important thing to remember is that thirst is a relatively poor indicator of dehydration. Once you feel thirsty, the negative effects of dehydration are already kicking in. Water, therefore, needs to be taken at regular intervals throughout the day.

But how can you ensure you are always hydrated?
  • Always carry a bottle of water with you, wherever you are
  • Set an alarm to go off every hour, reminding you to have a drink of water
  • Eat foods with high water content. These include fruit and vegetables such as lettuce and cucumbers.
  • Add lemon or lime to your water to make it more palatable
  • Measure your daily water intake. This will make you aware of how much more you need to start drinking.
  • Drink a large glass of water upon waking in the morning. This is vital as you will be dehydrated from your fast during sleep.

STEP 2 – DITCH ALL SUGAR AND SWEETENERS


Now, this is likely to be a difficult one for many of you. However, it’s probably going to be the most important of the 5 steps outlined in this post.

The cravings for sweet, unhealthy foods that we experience are largely, if not solely, down to the undulations in the levels of glucose (sugar) in our blood. When the body takes in sugar, the levels of blood glucose rises. Insulin is then released to regulate the amount of circulating glucose. As we subject our bodies to more and more dietary sugar, we become increasingly resistant to insulin, negatively effecting its ability to regulate our blood sugar levels. The result is the storage of glucose in fat cells and distorted perception of satiety. One week without sugar will go a long way to resetting your baseline blood sugar levels and will set you up nicely for fat loss.

Sweeteners probably deserve a blog post all to themselves. However, for now I’ll just give you the heads up to completely avoid any food that contains aspartame and/or sucralose. Where possible I’d opt for stevia, xylitol or erythritol instead.


STEP 3 - PREEPARE YOUR MEALS IN ADVANCE

I do this every week - usually every Sunday. Me and my fiancé, Nita, write a shopping list together with our planned meals in mind. Here are a few examples:


We then dedicate a big portion of our day to shopping and cooking. We usually aim to make roughly 15 meals for each week, including a healthy fruit crumble which we snack on when hungry. The meals are then put into tupperware and either frozen or placed in the fridge. Yes, this can take a while but certainly saves money and is way more convenient than finding that you don’t have anything to eat and having to rush to the shops at lunch time to grab a limp sandwich bereft of nutrition.

Top Tip – Make too much so you always have extras in the freezer. This is great because every now and again you’ll fish out something you’ve totally forgotten about from a few weeks previous which was delicious!


STEP 4 - SLEEP 7.5-9 HOURS PER 24 HOUR CYCLE


I’ve come across a fella by the name of Nick Littlehales a lot recently. He’s known as the Sport Sleep Coach and has an impressive CV, working with the likes of Real Madrid FC and Sir Bradley Wiggins. He seems to be very much be the ‘go-to-guy’ in the sleep, rest and recovery space. What I like about Nick’s approach is that it’s very simple. Yes, of course he has gizmos and gadgets that he’ll use with the elite professionals he works with but, essentially, he promotes a very accessible method. According to Nick, a full sleep cycle lasts around 1.5 hours. The research out there suggests that getting 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night is optimal for most adults. This works very nicely with the 1.5 hour cycle as Nick proposes that we all shoot for getting 5 sleep cycles in per 24 hours – totalling 7.5 hours. Now, when you get this sleep is kind of up to you. For example, if you know you’re going to struggle to get 7.5 hours of sleep in one sitting then you simply set your alarm to wake you after 6 hours (4 full cycles) and then ensure that later that day you fit in another 1.5 hours in the form of a nap. The best times for these naps are between 1pm and 3pm or 5pm and 7pm.

Allowing your body to recover from the stresses of daily work life and any additional physical exercise is vital in rebuilding muscle cells and balancing hormones. I genuinely feel that this could be the simple missing link that could change millions of lives.

Learn how Nick Littlehales helped Gareth Bale improve his sleep.


STEP 5 - COMMIT TO AN 'EAT THAT FROG' FITNESS ROUTINE


Have you ever set yourself a fitness challenge? You know, one like ‘I’m going to run 5km every day’ or ‘this time I’m definitely going to stick to this 30 day squat challenge’.

I think that most of us have experienced this and have often fallen at the first hurdle. In my Eat that Frog post you’ll learn how I’m a fan of starting your day as you mean to go on and getting your biggest tasks for the day nailed early doors.

Brian Tracy, author of the book Eat That Frog, suggests that ‘If the first thing you do each morning when you wake up is to eat a live frog, nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day.’

Try adopting this way of thinking yourself. If banging out 200 squats throughout the day is something on your ‘to do’ list, then rolling out of bed and getting them done before you can even begin to talk yourself out of it is a great option. Plus, if the first thing you do every day is productive, you’re much more likely to continue your day with a positive mindset.

A big effort for 7 straight days is all I ask of you. Report back and let me know how you get on.

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