When people first start taking steps to improve their health, they often really focus on the training part because it’s something that they can actively do, and they feel like they’re really working towards their goals. What often gets overlooked is recovery, which is a really important part of improving health as this is where your body actually reaps the benefits of the training.
The two key aspects of recovery are nutrition and sleep.
When people first get into health and fitness and start training, if they try to improve their nutrition, it will generally go towards an extreme. They will cut out a bunch of foods and restrict the amount of food that they eat. This results in a diet that is generally low carb, low fat, maybe moderate protein, but overall, fairly low calorie. Even if your goal is fat loss, and you need to be in a calorie deficit for that to occur, you still need to have adequate calories so that your body can function properly and also recover from your training.
The two nutrients in particular that are really important for recovery from training are carbohydrates and protein. If you feel like you aren’t recovering from your training properly, you’re feeling tired and fatigued or you’re regularly sore after your sessions then have a look at bumping up your carb and protein intake and see how your body responds to that.
We love to burn the candle at both ends. We are addicted to being busy and on and connected to people, scrolling social media, all of that sort of stuff that keeps us engaged and our brain active. So we are up later and then we try and get up early so that we can get a bunch of stuff done before we head off for work. The result is our sleep is getting sacrificed. So we end up running on caffeine, which then adds another layer of complexity to this and can also impact our sleep and our sleep quality.
I know that people have young children or people are working shift work and sleep schedules can be all over the place, but we need to try and do the best we can with what we’ve got. This means considering our sleep environment, considering what we do before we go to bed and what we do when we first wake up.
I know we’ve all heard the advice to put your phone away about half an hour before you go to bed, turn the lights down, let your body start to settle down before you go to bed but it realistically isn’t going to happen for a lot of people.
So instead, find something that works for you, that does help you relax.
This might be a 10 minute guided meditation when you get into bed or it might be 10 deep breaths, or it might be having a shower right before you go to bed so you have some time to just have a break and do something where you’re not absorbing information.
And then in the morning, instead of grabbing your phone and scrolling through notifications straightaway, maybe set your phone on to Do Not Disturb or use an app blocker so that you don’t get notifications and you’re not tempted to check them first thing. This will give your body a chance to wake up without getting that dose of anxiety and connection straight away.
Sleep is when your body recovers from everything that you do and repairs itself. And so it’s really important to try and improve the quality of your sleep and get the best quality sleep that you can.
Sleep and nutrition are the two areas of recovery that often get overlooked and people try and focus on the minor things like icebaths or contrasting or stretching instead of getting these two key areas locked away first.
Focus on those two parts of recovery and see how they can improve your training.