This weekend I was thinking about how many little things I do in my daily routine that revolve around my health and fitness. I decided to write it down on a piece of paper and I couldn’t believe how many little things I do every single day to try to improve myself as an athlete. I thought this would make for an interesting post for those who may not include some of these in their routine. I know I am realistically probably only doing about 75% of what I can do to improve myself further, but this is a good start. I did not start any of these things recently, they have been developed and made habits over time. Now I don’t even think twice about it… It’s just a part of my routine.
I make an effort to drink a lot of water every day. The most important for me is getting in 16-20 ounces first thing in the morning. My body has been repairing my body all night long and it needs to be hydrated! It fills me up and it gets me moving. Throughout the day I am constantly drinking water, with my daily minimum usually around 120-140 ounces. Here is a great article on hydration.
Time for reflection
This is important for me. Being mentally/spiritually balanced plays a huge role in how my day goes. I typically find an entry from Dr. Wayne Dyer or Doreen Virtue to help open me up and be aware of something to work on or focus on for the day. They always have some wonderful topics to think about. The ultimate goal is love of yourself and others, and I want to get there, one day at a time.
Not skipping breakfast plays a huge role in my energy. I feel much more balanced throughout the day when I eat breakfast. The most important part of that being protein! It keeps me full and has helped me physically by including lots of protein in my morning meal (typically 2 whole eggs + 4 egg whites + veggie or low sugar fruit). When I help people with nutrition, this is usually one of the most common problems. Once you change your breakfast, the benefits trickle into the rest of the day.
Every day, I track exactly what I eat. Not just what I eat but how much and when. Being aware of what you are putting into your body makes a huge difference. Many times people think they may be eating lots of veggies or protein when in fact, they are not. Sometimes you will not realize this until you actually see it written down. I love being able to look at what I have eaten and correlating it to my sleep, recovery, soreness, and athletic performance.
Food Quality and Quantity
I try to eat as clean as possible, meaning as little processed foods as possible, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins from quality animals. Sticking to whole foods really makes a difference in how your body burns fuel. I also completely avoid gluten and dairy. They both hurt my gut, give me allergies and joint pain. This may be happening to you and you may not know it. If your gut isn’t healthy, you could really be doing damage to your entire body. Man made food products are not good for us! Check out this article on joint pain from the gut.
I also track to exact amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat that I eat every day. I try to eat close to my bodyweight in grams of protein (this is not recommended for everyone) and I watch my fats and carbs to make sure I am not eating too much/too little. When I started tracking I found out I was eating way too much fat and way too little protein, which was making me “fluffy” looking. Not fat, but not lean.
I do not eat perfect all the time, but what matters is that I am very consistent with eating as described. When you stray, just get right back on track. You must look at the big, long term picture.
Post Workout Nutrition
I love having my post workout shake! It is like a little treat for working hard. This plays a huge role in muscle recovery and everyone should be doing some type of post workout nutrition. The key factors are getting in carbs (varying amounts based on goals), protein, and minimal to no fat. Liquid form is best in order to get into the bloodstream quickly. Be careful if you start taking post workout and normally don’t. You need to be sure you are aware of the extra “food” you are taking in if you are wanting to lose fat (in other words, another meal may need to be smaller).
I try my best to take fish oil 1-3 times per day (multiple capsules each time). This has really helped keep my inflammation under control, in addition to many other things! I don’t eat enough fish to get in enough Omega-3, so I need to supplement. I also take more than the recommended dosage, which for me has yielded some great results with recovery and body fat.
I take Juice Plus daily. It is a juice powder concentrate from 30 different fruits and vegetables. It has vitamins and minerals to provide natural nutrients your body needs to be at its best. I notice clearer skin, better sleep, more energy, and improved recovery. Basically, this is my supplement since I cannot eat 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables daily needed for my body to get a wide profile of nutrients. I do not use this as a substitute for good food, just a supplement to it.
I quit coffee over 5 years ago because it was really causing inflammation in my body, which in my case made me caffeine free. I have become very sensitive to it and if I have even one cup of decaf coffee if affects my sleep. I was not aware of how much I was having and how much I relied on it to cover up being sleepy. It was a vicious cycle. Rarely I’ll have a weak cup of decaf or a Kill Cliff, but I have to be certain I will be able to sleep that night. If you have problems sleeping, try cutting out all caffeine and you might start to see how much it affects you.
My favorite time of the day! I try to be as consistent as possible with my workouts. When I miss a day or two, it really throws me through a loop and it is hard for me to stay motivated with my nutrition and training. I do best when I stick to MTW-FSa and resting Th-Su. Even if I am not “feeling it” I still train, but listen to my body and just do what I am able to. On the flip side, I also take an extra day off when needed. I have overtrained and undertrained before, so I have finally found a good balance for myself.
I try to capture most of my workouts on video with my phone (which later show up on Instagram!) which have been a HUGE help in me growing as an athlete. It’s not the same to be told to get into a better position as when you see for yourself performing certain movements. It has helped me build great body awareness and improve lots of little things over time. It is also fun to look back and see how far I have come.
Just this past year I have started taking recovery baths quite often. I usually have sea salt, baking soda, ginger and apple cider vinegar as my “elixir”. If I don’t have that on hand I take a very hot bath with bath salt that is specifically for muscle recovery. It is so relaxing, plus I really think it helps with recovery from the workouts. Ideally I would do some heat and ice therapy, but I’ll stick to a hot bath for now!
I take a nightly tea that helps with sleep. I am not the best sleeper, so I need to make sure I do things correctly so I can have a good night of sleep. I have a warm tea that promotes good sleep in addition to reading something to get me away from the TV, computer, and phone before bed. I stay away from electronics because for one, the light keeps you energized and for two, I need my brain to calm down! There is too much going on in my head unless I focus my attention to one calming thing. If I don’t sleep well my whole next day is affected… I am hungrier than normal, lower energy, achey joints, soreness, etc. Sleep should be one of the most important things on your list, and if it can’t be (kids, work, etc.), then your nutrition and training better be on point!
I have had to retrain myself how to sleep. I used to sleep face up with my left leg straight and my right leg out the the side with my knee bent. When I wasn’t in that position I would be in a horribly crunched up fetal position. No wonder my right hp and shoulders hurt! I started to notice a lot of my problems with mobility and joint pain were related to the way I spent 8 hours per night in bed. Sleeping in better positions has greatly improved the way I feel.
So, there is my list! I probably could have thought of more things, but that was what I quickly jotted down. There are other things I do weekly, monthly, etc., but that may be for another post. I am excited to continue learning and adding slowly to this list. Looking at it this way almost seems overwhelming, but when it is a habit, it’s nothing to even think or stress about!