This topic was a product of some reflection I did while driving home from my weekly deep tissue bodywork session. For the last six weeks, I have visited my own personal torture artist on Tuesday afternoons.
He contorts my neck, stretches every teeny tiny muscle and ligament in my shoulders and digs his elbows into my hamstrings and calves so much that it feels like someone is putting a lighter on my skin and running it down the length of my leg.
Sounds enjoyable? Not so much.
Why do I do it?
I do that, because with all of the work that I put in the gym and the sitting that I do at a computer on a daily basis (often more damaging to the body in my opinion), I need an aggressive body working session. We work on my tight, pressured areas. We don’t even touch my other muscles unless I’m having a problem that week.
But, back to the reason for this article…I started thinking about what it takes to be really successful with your body transformation, regardless of what that means for you. In other words, “What does it take to unleash your inner athlete?”
You are an athlete, no matter your level. You should be sprinting, jumping, lifting things and moving your body in different ways. That’s an athlete. Now, how do you enhance that and actually treat yourself right?
In my opinion, there are five must-dos to unleash your inner athlete and create the best version of yourself.
Instead of thinking about dieting and restricting your body, think of your food and nutrition from a performance aspect. You want the food that you eat to fuel your training sessions and allow you to work harder, smarter and, ultimately, get better results.
This is simply a shift in mindset, but it will change the way you look at your daily intake. Are you eating some protein and carbs before you train, or are you going in to train fasted but feeling awful and tanking on your energy?
Anytime you eat, think to yourself, “Does this fuel my performance and my athletic goals?”
2. Train instead of workout.
What’s the difference? It seems like that might be the same thing. How often do you hear a high level athlete say they are working out? Pretty much never. They are always training. Whether they are training on the field or in the weight room, they are moving closer to a specific goal.
If you are just working out, you are just driving from California to Chicago without a road map. If you are training, you have a specific goal in mind and each step you take in the gym will move you closer to that goal. That’s up to you to determine, but you can come up with a few goals. I like my clients to have a performance goal and also a body fat or physique goal.
Sleep is one of the non-sexy pieces of weight loss or fat loss. No one wants to hear that they should change their sleep; everyone wants to know the fastest way from X to Z. We’re all human, and we want the fun, shiny tricks.
If you can dial in your sleep each night, your fat loss or performance goals will come a lot faster than if you’re struggling to get five hours of sleep per night.
I could write an entire article on the benefits of good sleep, but for the sake of this today, here’s what you need to know. Sleep is when your body repairs itself and produces growth hormone, which can help you burn fat and build muscle. Sleep is also critical to hormone regulation, specifically cortisol (stress hormone), and lack of sleep can also trigger some sugar cravings. What do you want to reach for on those sluggish and tired days? Sugar. Your body is craving a pick me up and when you combine the lack of sleep with the poor mood, it can typically lead to some not-so-great decisions around food.
In order to unleash your inner athlete from a performance and lifestyle standpoint, you should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
The mistake I see a lot of people making is that they wait until they have an injury to visit a chiropractor. I believe you should use this tool as maintenance and preventative medicine. I have a great chiropractor, who happens to be a client of mine, so I see him once a week to keep my alignment. You may not be able to do it once a week, but I recommend every 3-4 weeks at minimum for a tune up to your body.
When you are training hard and moving your body in difficult directions, you want to keep your alignment and keep your joints healthy, so that you can stay injury-free. The better your joints move, the healthier you will be.
I touched on this earlier with my inspiration for this article. I get weekly deep bodywork done. Again, you may not be able to do something like this weekly, but I recommend visiting a great massage therapist at least once a month. Find someone that can work into your problem areas and not just provide a relaxing massage.
The relaxing kind of massage is great once in a while, but if you are doing high level training (which would be any type of weight training or kettlebells, in my opinion), you need to keep up with your mobility. Any restrictions in tissue quality can lead to compensation from other muscles or an injury down the road.
All five of these factors will keep you in the game long-term. The goal of your training should be short term for some things, but it’s all about staying healthy and staying athletic over the course of your life. If your workouts are beating you down and your diet is driving you into the ground with no energy, that’s no way to live.
Think of yourself like an athlete, because you are. Treat yourself like one and give your body the care and nurturing work that it needs everyday. I’d love to hear the changes that you are making. Leave a comment below.