Three Factors That Will Make You Want to Exercise
By Mikkel Gisle Johnsen
Even though we all know that exercise and activity are essential elements of a healthy lifestyle, very few of us actually do it on a regular basis. Why is that?
Today I want to touch upon three important factors to consider before you even start thinking about exercising. The way I see it, activity and exercise shouldn’t be something we need to force ourselves to do. Moving our bodies should be the reward – not the punishment – of being healthy, and it should require no mental motivation whatsoever.
By getting the following three aspects of your lifestyle in order, you’ll naturally have the energy to play, exercise, train and move your body – without effort.
Sleep The first component of the high energy lifestyle is sleep. Without sufficient sleep, your body simply does not work the way it’s supposed to! Although we can get by on less sleep than we truly need, this is not going to cut it if you want peak human performance and healthy day to day energy levels. The power of getting adequate sleep on a consistent basis is huge!
The key is to go to bed early to allow enough time until you want to get up. In our natural tropical habitat, our sleep hours were regulated by the sun. In the tropics, the sun is down for about 12 hours per night, year round. We do not have good night vision as a species. Hint hint!
Modern science states that anything less than seven hours of sleep per night results in measurable declines in mental and physical performance. Eight hours is touted as the ideal medium. Our closes relatives the Chimpanzees and Bonobos sleep nine to ten hours per night. Athletes like Roger Federer is known to sleep up to twelve hours per night.
So how much sleep is enough? However much you need in order to wake up naturally, on a consistent basis, and feel refreshed and ready for the day! In other words; enough is enough!
You’ll probably find that somewhere between eight and twelve hours, most likely closer to the nine to ten hour range, will be adequate. The key is not forcing it. Just sleep however much you need, and no…you can’t sleep «too much». What an absurd idea! You’ll wake up when you’ve had enough!
Sufficient sleep will ensure that your nervous system is well rested and ready for a new day of awesome activities!
Hydration It’s a fact – when dehydrated, your body cannot perform optimally. Before, during or after a training session or race, hydration is probably the athletes most urgent concern. Maximal aerobic power (VO2 max) is shown to decrease by 5% when experiencing fluid losses equivalent to only 3% of total body mass under laboratory conditions. In hot conditions this would be even worse. During a performance event, some of the main reasons why dehydration decreases performance are a reduction in blood volume, decreased skin blood flow, decreased sweat rate, decreased heat dissipation and increased core temperature.
More general, day to day symptoms of dehydration are things like fatigue, inability to focus, dry skin, constipation, muscle cramps and headaches.
To put it simply – a dehydrated person will probably not feel like exercising all that much. Getting on top of your hydration is key to creating the optimal conditions for an active lifestyle.
How to stay hydrated though?
In a nutshell – there are three steps: 1. Eliminate dehydrating foods and habits like bread, crackers, processed foods, coffee, tea, alcohol and other poisons. 2. Eat a diet based around fresh fruits (and vegetables if you want) high in water content. This will provide you with the bulk of your water for the day. 3. Drink plain water when thirsty, until satisfied.
Your water drinking needs will go down dramatically by eating a fruit based diet and your hydration will become a piece of (watermelon) cake.
Carbs The last piece of the puzzle is just as – if not more – powerful than the previous two when it comes to creating the conditions that will naturally motivate you to move your body.
Carbohydrates! Especially in the form of simple sugars found in fruit! As a frugivore species, we have evolved to prefer carbohydrate rich fruits as our main fuel source – hence our liking for sweet things.
At rest, our bodies burn a mixture of mostly fat and carbohydrate internally for fuel. As the intensity of exercise goes up though, our bodies become more reliant on those carbohydrates, hence the focus on «carboloading» – which is just another way to say «getting enough carbs» – before a session, as well as sufficient intake of simple sugars during the event itself. Failure to provide enough carbohydrate in a marathon for example, leads to the dreaded «wall» which is simply a case of glycogen (stored carbohydrate) depletion.
Consuming a meal rich in carbohydrate right after a training session in order to replenish glycogen stores, is known to be an essential element in an optimal recovery strategy for athletes of all kinds.
Instead of living your life in a more or less glycogen depleted state, and then «carboload» in the days before a big event – why not stay «carbed up» at all times in order to perform at your mental and physical peak all day, everyday?
When people cut down on the carbohydrates in their diet, it inevitably leads to fatigue, lack of motivation, poor concentration and lower athletic performance. On the other hand, when people cut down on their fat intake (to less than 15% of total calories, with then 5-10% range being ideal) and replace it with carbohydrates, they invariably experience increased energy levels, mental focus and physical performance. Not only that, but their insulin sensitivity goes up as well, which ensures stable blood sugar levels. You can say goodbye to the blood sugar rollercoaster caused by the typical high fat «diabetes-type-2-causing» diet of the western world.
What’s the most available – and healthy – carbohydrate food on earth? Bananas of course! Learn how to make bananas your staple in The Little Banana Book!
The simple sugars in fruit are even superior to the cooked starches like grains and roots, simply because it digests so easily and comes without antinutrients like phytic acid and lectins. The sugars are readily absorbable without prior digestion. The various other nutrients needed for human health – like protein, essential fats, minerals and vitamins – are all there as well. It’s a perfect package!
Give It A Try Why not just take my word for it and give it a try? Really! Try getting enough sleep, enough water and enough carbohydrates for just one month and see for yourself! I can almost guarantee you that you’ll be feeling a lot different about exercise after that month is up. It will likely go from being something you look upon as a chore, to something you regard as an absolute treat. Moving our bodies and being active is the stuff of life itself, but it sucks when the body doesn’t want to. Stack the cards in your favor and get on the high energy lifestyle today!
Give the body what it needs and you’ll be amazed at what it can do!
Read more: The Three Master Keys to Building Fitness