Training is a tiny fraction of our daily routine – are you optimising the other 23 hours?
Even the smartest and most logical amongst us will place more importance on training than on – say – the hour between finish work and eating dinner. It’s understandable. After all, training is energetic and results-driven.
But the fact remains that training only takes up a very small percentage of our 24-hour cycle. The rest of it is wide open, and the decisions we make will affect how healthy it is.
Here’s how to live the other 23 hours of your day in the healthiest way possible.
Wake up at the same time every day
Research shows that keeping a regular sleep/wake pattern helps get the most from your circadian rhythm. Try to wake up at roughly the same time (within 30 minutes) even on your days off. Doing this can improve your mood, focus and alertness and even reduce insomnia symptoms.
Don’t hit the snooze button
Become the kind of person who gets up at the first alarm (and ideally make it a sunrise alarm that mimics natural light). Avoiding the snooze button won’t just make you more productive and less stressed, it will actually lead to a better sense of self-esteem.
Drink a glass of water
We all love coffee, but what your body really wants after 7-9 hours in bed is some water. Drink at least one glass of water (whilst your coffee is brewing if necessary).
Take 10 minutes for yourself
Don’t let the day rush in and take over straight away. Set aside 10 minutes for yourself every morning, regardless of how busy you are. It doesn’t matter what you use it for. You could journal, read, sit in the garden with a coffee, pet the dog, or do some stretches. Stay away from your phone, email and the news.
Get outside in the sunlight
Your body’s circadian clock is most sensitive to light just before bedtime and for an hour after you wake up. Get outside in the sunlight within 1 hour of waking. It will help your body regulate its sleep and wake cycle and help you avoid sleep issues.
Move your body before work
Training is all well and good, but you need to stay active throughout the day. Don’t be one of those people who sits around all day “because you trained”. Start as you mean to go on by getting some movement in before work. This could be a walk or a bit of stretching – whatever you need.
Take your supplements
If you take vitamin supplements, creatine mono, or any other daily supplement then build it into your morning routine so you don’t forget. It’s all part of creating a healthy lifestyle that ticks over on a 24/7 basis.
Present yourself well
We’re not telling you what you should look like, but taking care of your appearance is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. Looking after the basics of personal hygiene and grooming will bolster your self-esteem and confidence, and that leads to a positive outlook.
Eat protein in every meal (including breakfast)
Protein isn’t just for pre- and post-training meals. Make sure every meal, snack, or mini meal throughout your day includes a bit of protein. And keep it varied, especially if you favour a plant-based eating style.
Make meals from scratch
Nobody has time to cook every meal from scratch, but it’s a good habit to chase. If in doubt, make a meal rather than reaching for the delivery menu.
Connect with friends or family
Emotional wellbeing is just as important as physical health, so make sure you stay connected with people who make you feel good about life. This might mean a quick phone call, a voice note, or a flurry of memes to a mate. Don’t let yourself get isolated.
Do something towards your goals
As fitness folk, we’re familiar with the concept of pushing towards a goal. But do you have non-fitness goals for your life? They don’t have to be big or impressive. But having ambitions will give your life direction. Be sure to do something that moves the needle towards your goal.
Do something that makes you laugh
Laughter and silliness are linked with better physical and mental health. As adults, we often lose touch with playfulness. Do something every day that makes you smile, laugh, or full-on lose it. If in doubt, watch some comedy on TV.
Spend time in nature
Being in nature is linked with loads of health benefits, including lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and less chance of depression. Try to get outside in your nearest patch of nature, even if it’s just pulling a few weeds in the garden.
Care for your body
Don’t let 24 hours whiz by without looking after yourself. Life isn’t all about training and work. Take 10 minutes to stretch, do mobility work, or ease out that niggle in your neck.
Relax… really relax
Most people go entire days without truly feeling relaxed. Take time before bed to really unwind, even if this means lying flat on your back and doing absolutely nothing. Our central nervous system takes a battering from noise, technology, and external stress. Give it a chance to regroup.
No phones in the bedroom
Finally, the tough one. Get into the habit of leaving your phone in another room (perhaps downstairs charging) overnight. Having your phone in the bedroom is terrible for your sleep patterns and sleep quality. The blue light plays havoc with your brain’s ability to rest, and the temptation to scroll is there if you wake up.
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