We all want to be in great in health. We all want to have energy. We all want to look great, feel great, and be able to live the life we want.
That may mean different things for each of us, but we all need a healthy body to function optimally and get what we want out of life. If you’re someone who has been in great physical shape and is used to being able to tackle the things in life that they want, then you can definitely appreciate this.
At the same time if you’ve been in a place where your physical health wasn’t all that great, whether through an injury or just not taking care of things as best you can, then you also see the value in reaching and maintaining a phenomenal level of well being.
Part of the challenge for many of us is that as humans we fall into patterns that can be less than optimal and thus lead to a state of less than optimal well being. It’s easy for daily patterns of thought and behavior to become weekly, monthly and then yearly patterns.
As time goes by the patterns become more and more cemented in, less likely to be swopped out for better ones. The shift required to truly change to a better way of thinking and doing things becomes more monumental.
One of the other issues with how we approach optimizing our health is that we don’t always know where to start. Even if we have the motivation to make that shift towards a healthier lifestyle, what good is that when we’re not sure what that lifestyle entails? What if we don’t really know what is foundational in becoming healthier – how do we orient ourselves and begin to approach improving things at all?
And that’s the key right there: knowledge.
Taking what we know – and taking what others have learned, is the key to starting to create the habits we need to have an optimal life with optimal health. The trick here – and this is the real rub – is to be able to sift through all the garbage advice out there and find the really impactful stuff that will help you improve your health. And that’s part of the reason you’re here, right?
With an extensive focus on nutrition, physical fitness, and the revitalizing and rejuvenating components of specific targeted supplementation, we’ve picked up a couple of nuggets that can help you.
And sure, general nutrition tips, workout advice, and supplement recommendations are great – but those things won’t get you 100% of the way there if you’re not learning what else matters and how to put it all together.
So where to start?
Let’s start with lifestyle: the way you live and the things you need to do (and not do) to keep your body and mind the best they can be.
Awesome, most of us get this. We need to be “healthy” in our day to day habits, right? We need to avoid the bad and double down on the good habits. Yep, that pretty much sums it up, but let’s get a little more specific.
When it comes to lifestyle there are several key focal points that you need to be aware of to get everything as good as it can get.
They are: sleep, nutrition, exercise, and supplementation.
The first of these is arguably the most important: sleep.
How do we know this? Well, research shows us that we literally can’t live without sleep, and that dwindling levels of shut eye are correlated with reduced performance and mood. And even though science says all of this, we basically have already known it all along.
The real question becomes how much sleep do we need and how can optimize our lifestyle to maximize our sleep quantity, as well as it’s quality.
For most of us as far as amount goes, we need eight hours per night. Sure we can get by with less, and a few of us need more, but for the most part 8 hours is the golden number to shoot for. Personally I find getting in bed 8 hours prior to when I need to wake up ends up actually yielding me a little less than 8 total hours, but I still feel pretty good when I wake up.
And I don’t feel as though I need more, but sometimes it’s nice.
So what’s your number and how can you maximize your quantity and quality?
If you don’t know how much you need, shoot for eight hours, but see how you feel throughout the day running on more or less. If you tend to be a night owl and are forced to run on less sleep, and find yourself tired through the day, force yourself to NOT take a nap during the day when you feel tired, and see if that’ll get you to start to hit the hay earlier, which will make you more of an early riser.
The other basic but tried and true stuff when it comes to sleep is stick with two things in bed: sex and sleep. Don’t use your bed for anything else. This means reading, using your phone or computer, etc.
That way when you hop in at the end of the day, your body will be trained to shut right down.
Two more tips to help optimize quality and quantity: keep your caffeine consumption down to zilch past 4 or 5PM and keep your room as dark as possible after you shut off all the lights. This means cell phones, chargers, computers, and any other electrical devices that emit additional blue light and other frequencies will be off or out of the room.
The second key focal point on the lifestyle side of things is: nutrition.
This seems like a no brainer, right? Sure we all say that, how do we really eat right? What does that even mean?
Without going off on a long tangent here and for the purposes of simplification let’s define it this way: eating right means eating in a way that maximizes your health and works for you. Why do I say this?
It’s simple – if you attempt to eat in a way that maximizes your health but isn’t working for you IE you can’t maintain it, there’s literally zero value there. You won’t sustain that pattern of healthy eating for very long and there will be no long term benefits attained.
So the trick is to blend the super healthy, borderline obsessive nutrition rules with the less than obsessive, semi unhealthy patterns that you’ll probably take part in regardless. Marry these two, come out with the average, and stick with that. If you can maintain that balanced approach, you’ll be in far better shape than 99% of the population.
Let’s break down some “rules” or behaviors that should be able to fall into this pattern and you should be able to stick to over the long haul. Start with the following simple tips and strategies to keep your nutrition both healthy and easy:
1. Eat less food overall.
This is an obvious one, but you actually have to do it. The best bet here is to go old school and start to pay attention to portion sizes. And I don’t mean pulling out some guide or book or chart.
All you want to try to do if you’re looking to get leaner or lose weight is to eat less total food at each meal than you have been. Look at your plate.
Is what’s on it less than what was on it when you were eating too much? Start there.
2. Cut down on carbs and sugar.
We need less in the way of carbohydrates and simple sugars than we think, particularly if you are not active enough. Increase your activity and you can increase your carbohydrates, because you’ll then use them for energy. (Although there are some schools of thought that say we should be increase our activity and still keep our carbs low).
Either way, cutting down on carbs and sugar, particularly in the form of breads, pastas, grains, cereals, rice, and flour and corn based products will help with reducing your insulin response and help your body burn more fat. You’ll also likely feel less bloated, tamp down inflammation, and have more energy.
3. Increase your protein.
This will help you build muscle, and it will also help you adhere to number two above. It will also increase your metabolism and give you a leaner look, particularly if you are consuming enough water. (see number 4)
4. Drink more water.
Even when you’re not thirsty, drink more water. This actually aides in the muscle building and fat flushing process, and people are rarely aware of this. It also helps you feel full, balances electrolytes, and will stop you from eating as much (see number 1)
5. Back off on alcohol.
The problem with alcohol is that in low quantities it may be healthful, but in higher quantities there are tremendously negative effects on the body. You’re not just trying to follow number two above when you cut down on alcohol (remember, it’s a carbohydrate), but you’re keeping your hormones, stress response, and metabolism in check when you limit your alcohol intake.
A great reminder to use to keep in mind how bad large quantities of beer, liquor, or wine are for you is to think about how horrible you feel when you’re hungover. You feel crummy because your body is damaged. So, yea, don’t damage your body.
Third up on most important lifestyle stuff is: exercise.
Moving your body is important, period. More and more evidence shows that lack of activity can have devastating effects on longevity and that those who are more activity not only live longer but also have a better quality of life. For those who are already exercising, the trick is to just keep going, and to make sure you’re doing what you can to include variety in your workouts.
This means enough cardio focused activity as well as weight training or some form of resistance activity. If you can do more and throw in activities that force your body to move and add in skilled movements it’s even better. This might mean adding group sports or golf, mountain biking, skiing or the like into the mix.
Anything that forces the body to work in athletic patterns of movement is extremely valuable not only for keeping the body fit as you age, but also for the brain.
Now, if you’re not already regularly active then, well, the trick is going to be to start. This means 1-3 days of some form of resistance training and a few days of light to moderate cardio.
The resistance training could be body weight training at home or weight training at the gym with machines, cables, and then lighter free weights. Cardio is really anything that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time – be it group sports, walking, hiking, running, biking, or simply using a cardio machine at the gym. There are lots of ways to ramp things up and challenge yourself more after you’ve gotten your feet wet, and we will review that more later.
The fourth lifestyle element to tackle to optimize your health is: supplementation.
To the surprise of many people, using supplements is just as important as the foods that you eat. In an ideal scenario, you would eat a perfect diet and get all the nutrients and additional minerals and compounds from these foods. But the truth is that even with a perfect diet, there are things about the way your body works where some things are absorbed better than others.
Some things you need more than other people. Whether it be a certain vitamin or antioxidant, supplementing with these compounds can be key. It is very unusual to find an individual who, even if they are eating great, are not lacking in something.
And in this day and age, why are we not doing everything we can to be optimal. If there is a supplement that helps with energy great. If there’s one you can take that helps you burn a little more fat, awesome. If there’s one that improves your focus and energy, even better.
And the great part is that none of those statements are really questions. They’re all not “if” statements but really “what” statements. Supplementation can be a tricky never ending process, but the idea is to start with the basics and continue to see what works for you. See what works and what may not seem to do much.
As a side note: one of our main focuses at PHX BODY is to produce supplements that have scientific evidence supporting their efficacy in improving health, so as you follow us be sure to keep track of what we’re creating that may or may not be something you can take to enhance your health and vitality.
Our other goal in parallel to producing great products is to continue to always put out great content giving you the real deal on what you can take supplement wise to improve your health – as well as the things we have provided here – lifestyle tactics and strategies you can implement to optimize your health to the fullest!
So that covers the four main lifestyle components you can look at to perfect your health: sleep, nutrition, exercise, and supplementation.
But let’s look at a couple other elements that are important to maximizing your overall health and vitality – the two other things outside of those mentioned above that can help you get that extra edge.
The first of those things is your mentality. Specifically what level are you on when it comes to spirituality and positive thinking?
Now, spirituality in this case does not necessarily mean religion, but for some it can. Spirituality for the purposes of this article pertains specifically to the idea of having a connection of some sort to the universe. It means thinking outside of the daily ins and outs of life and being able to disconnect from the stress of the day to day grind and the logical and lower level thinking required to complete one task after the next as we often do in life.
It means not continuing on the treadmill looking to do more, have more, make more money, get more attention. While all of those things have their place, spirituality allows us to stop and connect with our deeper selves and the universe, often times reassessing what is really important to us as individuals.
For many, pursuing great spiritual awareness could mean going to a spiritual coach or retreat. For others it could mean reading books that cause you to reflect and allow you to train yourself to be more in the moment. And for some it means practicing daily or at least regular meditative practice, where you focus on your breathing, controlling your thoughts (often by actually trying to think less), and taking time to let life slow down – even if it’s just for a brief moment.
The second thing that has tremendous value in maximizing your health and your quality of life is damage control. What do I mean by this? Well, as we mentioned above there were quite a few things we can be doing to optimize your health by doing them – by adding them to our list of rituals or behaviors throughout our day or week. And they’re all great.
But along side of these things that we should be pursuing regular patterns with, there are also a slew of things we should be avoiding if we want to maximize our health. Here are a few of the biggies:
1. Don’t smoke. It will kill you.
2. Don’t over-drink. We mentioned this above, but it’s worth remembering.
3. Reduce your stress.
This means find ways to relax and connect with those calmer moments in life, like we mentioned above, but it also means reducing the amount of stress you get exposed to. That could mean getting rid of people that are negative, changing jobs, getting out of a relationship, and more.
4. Find good friends and acquaintances.
This is not mentioned above, and it’s not really a thing to avoid, but it’s worth mentioning because it reminds us to avoid bad people.
5. Avoid negative patterns.
It’s been said that the less we have to use will power to make decisions, the more likely we are to stick with good habits – and make positive decisions. If you avoid negative patterns, and instead implement positive patterns and behavior, you’ll be likely to do the things you need to do to stay healthy – working out, eating right, reducing stress, and more.