In my last post I quantified what the proper amounts of movement and resistance, which means I will now discuss the second skill of the Body Invincible Plan, ‘rest and recovery.’ These key components of health are some of the most neglected, yet what most don’t consider is that they provide the majority of our results. It seems so trivial, yet we are all guilty of doing it. I want to give you the proper tools to learn how to do it the right way, beginning first with sleep.
The number one thing our body needs to recover is sleep! Sleep seems to be an elusive thing for some of the best people, whether it’s because they are over-extending themselves or their body simply won’t let them power down.
I want to first discuss how much sleep do you actually need? Assuming you are a healthy adult, you need anywhere between 6-8 hours each night. The older we become, the less sleep we are likely getting and that is OK so long as it is restful sleep. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as just lying down and closing our eyes, so I provided some tips to promote a restful sleep:
Stop drinking water 45 minutes before bed. This will reduce the likelihood of getting up in the middle of the night.
Shut down all electronics 30 minutes before you plan on going to bed. The blue light associated with electronics can suppress the release of melatonin making it harder for you to fall asleep.
Finish any tasks that may keep your brain active. I like to create a to-do list for tomorrow, but everyone is different. Give a try!
Engage in a relaxing activity like reading a book (not an e-reader) or even meditating. A few helpful apps to try are Headspace and/or Calm if you need guidance. This breaks rule #2 but it is useful until you learn how to meditate on your own.
If these four don’t work for you, here are two other sneaky tricks that might just do it:
Try a weighted blanket. The extra weight stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system which makes your body think it’s being hugged and therefore helps you relax.
Soaking your feet in warm water (Epsom Salts if possible). This is an old Eastern Medicine Remedy and has a very calming effect. Extra bonus if you meditate at the same time!
Now that I’ve discussed how important sleep is, I want to focus on the importance of rest days. These are critical if you are pushing your body to see improvements. Depending on your goals, rest days could be completely gym free days or they could include lower intensity activities that stimulate blood flow and promote recovery. Here are some great examples of lower intensity rest days.
Sauna or Hot Tub + Static stretching.
Swimming or Cycling for 30 - 40 minutes at 50-60% intensity.
Massage or Yoga Class/Mobility Work.
Now that we have tackled rest, it’s time for recovery. I mean recovery in the form of nutrition to help your body with the repair of tissue damage you caused during all of your awesome training. For this blog post we are just going to hit broad strokes, and get more in depth into each one of the below in the next post.
Eat a balanced diet hitting all of your macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates).
Eat the rainbow. Taking in fruits and vegetables of different colors and textures give your body all the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Hydrate. Our bodies need water for all processes so take in at least half of your body weight in ounces daily.
Supplement areas that are difficult for you. Maybe you are not a fish person, but we know we need our good fats and that is where a fish oil supplement comes in handy. Maybe it’s hard for you to eat enough protein, it’s ok we have protein shakes for you.
That’s it for now folks! Try the above sleep routine, work in some rest days, and fuel your body to recover.