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Simple things to improve our health - Checklist of reminders

Simple things to improve your pathway to health, fitness and vitality.

Here are some simple things we have probably heard before but perhaps you neglect to do and it's a handy checklist. These things can all  greatly affect our health and wellbeing and this is a timely reminder that I hope will help kick start you on a healthier path.

To be performing at your ideal performance level you need to take care of these 5 areas of your life your physical wellbeing, your emotional state, your mental/cognitive state, self-awareness and your higher purpose, your values, morals and code of ethics.

 These areas all interrelate and affect each other but at the base and most important of all is the physical. Without physical health and a fit, strong body you can't hope to build a healthy emotional and mental state where you can achieve happiness, fulfillment and reach your intellectual capabilities. 

Foundation building begins in the physical so here is a list of reminders to get you stronger and healthier.

1. Eating small regular meals so that your metabolism doesn't stagnate and enter into conservation mode which can make you gain weight. Going hungry can also drive cravings and make you grab for quick treats to get your blood sugars up quickly which can then drop you back down causing a vicious cycle. Eating a healthy breakfast to kick start the metabolism is very important and the most important meal of the day.

2. Good hydration: Many of us are chronically dehydrated all the time and it's not just a matter of drinking a litre of water and you are now hydration. Getting the fluids up in a severely dehydrated body can take months or even longer. Starting the day with two big glasses of water sets your metabolism up to burn well and helps kick start the detoxification pathways. Drinking regularly (preferably out of a stainless steel or glass bottle, not plastic which can leach xenoestrogens in the water causing hormonal problems). Set certain targets for different times of the day (see my article on hydration). 

Drinking less caffeinated drinks, cutting out alcohol and high sugar drinks can also play a big part in your ongoing hydration battle. If you do drink a cup of coffee for eg drink another two glasses of water to even it out. Diuretics like coffee shouldn't be counted as part of your daily water ration.

But drinking plain water can just be flushed straight through the body so taking electrolyte supplements and regularly testing of your electrolyte levels can be informative and helpful. This is especially important for athletes who sweat a lot or people in hot or cold environments. Taking an electrolyte supplement (not ready made so-called electrolyte drinks full of chemicals and sugar) but products like Elete or CMD drops or endurolyte tablets by Hammer nutrition (www.hammernutrition.co.nz) can help. Getting the water to the tissues that need it means the electrolytes have to be in balance in the body for it to be absorbed and held. Water is needed for literally millions of metabolic processes. 

3. Good sleeping habits - (see my article on dealing with insomnia) is also extremely important if you want ot be resilient and full of energy. Sleep problems can come about from bad habits like drinking caffeinated drinks too late in the day or alcohol. Watching TV or using digital devices in bed can stop you from being able to power down in bed. Using the bed for anything other than sex and sleep isn't advisable. Your body should know when you hit the sack it's sleep time. Having a darkened room can help the melatonin levels in the body and help you fall asleep. Deep breathing exercises can calm your body down and activate the parasympathetic nervous system and adopting a regular bedtime and wake-up time can all help your sleep patterns.

Regular cardiovascular workouts and resistance training can help balance the hormones in your body, help you maintain functional muscle, improve your metabolism and help you detoxify. It can also be beneficial for lifting your mood and aids in the fight against depression and helps to clarify your thinking. Nothing like going for a run to clear the cobwebs out of your brain and help you gain a new perspective on issues although just doing steady state cardio work won't be as effective at lowering stress hormone levels in our body and increasing fitness as regular high-intensity interval training is (provided you have a good fitness base to start with). These types of workouts train both cardio and resistance energy systems and are by far the most efficient use of your precious training time if you are in a hurry. This type of training involves high-end intensity work, for example, running at 80% to 90% of your capacity for very short bursts say 30 seconds to 2mins then recovering for a same period of time or it could be using weights or body weight type exercises at speed, hard out in short bursts then recovering and going again. This type of workout gets you in the anaerobic zone and can leave you burning fat for up to 36 hours afterward. Great for fat loss without muscle loss.