The key to staying healthy and fit is maintaining balance. What the hell does that mean, anyway? Let’s start off with the 10,000 foot view. What you put into your body, how you train your body, and how you go about recovering from the stresses you put on your body all have a major impact. Genetics aside, those three things are what we can control.
Eating and drinking set the stage for performance. There is no one right way too eat, but staying away from extremes is a good place to start. First rule: Don’t eat crap. If it has a label with a title that does not sound like an animal or plant name, it is probably closer to being crap than non-crap. This is a continuum, but a good way to look at is that the crap tends to reside at the middle of the grocery store and non-crap is out towards the edges (meat and veggies are not as crappy as packaged ramen). This is somewhat cliché, but it is generally true. Eat good quality ingredients, and you will likely do better with physical and cognitive tasks. Articles about this with further details will follow.
Training is the stimulus that makes you better, stronger, faster. You have to provide this stimulus, and there are no shortcuts. If you move, you are better off. One study of healthy men who underwent 28 days of bed rest showed a huge loss of muscle mass, about .5% per day, or more than .75 pounds in a dude about my size. While few of us can aspire to quite that level of couch potato magnificence, the concept is clear: If we don’t get off our assess we will lose the part of our bodies that allows us to move. The longer we sit, the longer we’ll sit. Then we will lose bone mass, trip, and fall, break a hip then die pretty soon after that. Super, yes?
Resting gets us ready to provide further training stimulus. It also keep us mentally sharp, and in my case keeps me from wanting to shake everybody around me when they speak. This includes sleep, but also active recovery, such as stretching, soft tissue work and mobility. The physical recovery piece I just mentioned straddles the line between training and resting, and thinking about it this way is a good way to remember how integral these two things are. Remember this: You don’t get faster or stronger during training; that happens when you rest. If you don’t rest, you break, then you have to rest. It is better to avoid the breaking part in the first place. It is important to reach a balance between hard work and recovery, and when you do that you reach your goals more quickly.
So long story short, go do something, then have a good dinner and get some sleep (don’t forget to squeeze in a little nookie somewhere along the way. That is the real recipe for happiness).