Personal Training and Wellness Advice from Crux Fitness Richmond – 9 Lifestyle Changes to Look AND (More Importantly) Feel Well
I’ve hung around enough gym rats (myself included) now that I can confidently assert that looking good is not the same as feeling good. Having a set of 6-pack abs doesn’t necessarily mean you have a low risk for cardiovascular disease. Having thicc glutes doesn’t necessarily mean you have healthy interpersonal relationships. And on a deeper level, having big biceps is definitely not correlated to having good mental health…
That’s my fucking beef with the fitness industry – too much surface level click-baity-6-pack-abs bullshit and not enough education on how to feel good in all dimensions of life. Now don’t get it twisted, your outer appearance is definitely an important factor for overall health and wellbeing, but it’s not the be all and end all. As a matter of fact I’d go as far as to say that a strong and sexy outer appearance is simply a manifestation, or the consequence of, all the other health behaviours that one should perform to optimize their mental, emotional, and physical health. Keep in mind I said mental, emotional, and physical health… not the appearance of health – we’re talking about the real shit. We’re talking about the wake-up-in-the-morning-without-an-alarm-clock-because-you’re-so-engaged-in-life type of health. So with that being said, here are 9 lifestyle changes that will have you first feeling good AND THEN looking lean, strong, and sexy as a result.
- Eat 9 or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Make sure to eat a variety of different colours in order to cover the broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that your body craves to function at 100%. Drink water.
- Practice intermittent fasting. Your GI tract will be stoked about the rest you’re giving it. Your pancreas will rejoice at not having to be whipped into excreting another little bolus of insulin. And your thyroid and adrenal glands will be super excited to finally get a chance to release the hormones necessary for fat loss.
- Avoid sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. This should be a no-brainer. And although I totally understand that there are many logical fallacies in this statement, it’s still a good rule of thumb: If you don’t want to feel like garbage, quit putting garbage into your body.
- Increase NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Working out for an hour a day is amazing, I whole-heartedly congratulate you on that and urge you to keep going. But what are you doing during the other 23 hours of the day? Make sure to get up and walk around the office periodically. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Bang out a few sun salutations first thing in the morning after waking up. Move more, sit less.
- Practice the fundamental movement patterns in the weight room. Squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate, and walk/run your way into better musculoskeletal health. Increase difficulty by adding speed, load (i.e. weight), or tempo to the exercises to see if technique holds up. Drill the fundamental movements over and over in the weight room so that you can feel as toned, strong, and muscular as possible. But also drill the fundamental movement patterns over and over so that you can safely…
- Increase cardiorespiratory fitness through engaging activities that you actually enjoy! Take up a sport – join a soccer rec league as an example. Shit, take up sports that aren’t even sports but leave lots of room for improvement (in my opinion, the never-ending growth curve afforded by trying to get good at different sports or physical activities is one of the greatest joys in life). For example, do yoga, start snowboarding, or try kickboxing. Cardiorespiratory health is so under-discussed in the fitness industry it really concerns me. Hey and if you really want to, cardio machines are good too, but only if you actually ENJOY being on them. Also, the number of calories it says you burned is definitely not the number of calories you actually burned… just sayin’.
- Practice minimalism. You don’t need much to be happy. Once you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and a well-stocked fridge I urge you to not fall into the trap of trying to increase happiness by accumulating more frivolous bullshit. Firstly, it won’t make you happier in the long run. Secondly, the material possessions you accumulate are a huge drain on the environment and your wallet. Finally, no matter your level of self-awareness, you will definitely fall prey to the hedonic treadmill (TLDR: Buy stuff, feel happy, feel sad, buy “better” and “cooler” stuff, feel happy, feel sad, rinse and repeat.) Happiness isn’t found in Louis Vuitton belts or Instagram followers. Happiness is found in you.
- Find quiet time. Meditate. Hang out by yourself with no distractions. Practice being content and okay with yourself with little external inputs to band-aid fix the background noise of anxiety, depression, or whatever other mental ailment that might be subconsciously driving the way you approach life.
- Engage in psychotropic experiences to find the blind spots in your life that, unbeknownst to you, are fucking with you. It’s very hard to step outside of our habitual thought patterns and subconscious routines. Therefore it’s very helpful to seek out psychotropic (psycho = of the mind, tropic = change) experiences to get a more objective view on our own lives. Examples of psychotropic experiences: meditation, breath work, ice baths, long distance runs or hikes, talking to a therapist, taking psychotropic drugs.
As always, if you’d like to know more about, and start taking responsibility for your own health, fitness, and wellness, please reach out to Crux Fitness Richmond for any of your personal training needs.
Patrick Koo – Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach at Crux Fitness Richmond