As each year draws to a close I like to take time to reflect on not only my achievements, but also my failures and learnings. Below is a list of 6 health and fitness learnings for 2018. Keep in mind these are my opinions, and whatever I write about or recommend may work for me personally, and not necessarily everyone.
This year was a pretty full on for me. I traveled to the UK (twice), pledged my love and got engaged, re-branded my health and fitness coaching business – with improved service through my health and fitness coaching app, and I also played Roger Federer in tennis (dressed Thor LOL!). There was plenty of other stuff that happened, which I tried to capture on my “gram”, so feel free to go and check that out – @thorofoz.
However there are things I didn’t mention and I didn’t capture for the “gram” something in the past I would heavily stress about. This should lead us off nicely…
Living in the moment
This year I have learned to fully immerse myself in my environment and appreciate my surroundings. I was a little surprised at how much more relaxed I became. Having in depth conversations, listening carefully and avoiding any distractions such as using phones etc. I was able to learn so much more and increase my productivity. Workouts in the gym for example – not every workout needed to be captured or put onto Instagram. With other events or outings I had, if that opportunity came up to get a photo or video for the gram – I took it. I didn’t try to force “happy” or “living the life” moments or try to fabricate any experiences, which made everything more organic and real. It also HEAVILY reduced my stress from thinking I NEEDED to post on social media about everything going on in my life. As a health and fitness ambassador, this is very important. Social media is a marketing tool for me, however I need to be cautious that it doesn’t take over my life!
Traveling without Anxiety
Until recently, every time I boarded a plane, especially during take off, I would get anxious. Thinking “what if” this went wrong and such and such happened. Air travel these days one of the safest ways of travelling, less people are harmed from this than by travelling in motor vehicles. Most of the time, we tend to overthink things or worry about things that have a very low probability of happening. You can apply this anytime you find yourself unnecessarily stressing about something. There is so much people will avoid doing or experiencing simply for the fear of something happening, which is very unrealistic and damaging to our growth as people. This, along with many other valuable lessons can be learned from Anthony Robbins in his many published books and audio-books. I recently read his book “Awaken the Giant Within” which was originally published decades ago, however still holds relevance today and I highly recommend it to EVERYONE.
Not to worry about my Nutrition
Over the years, through using My Fitness Pal, I have learned a great deal about how many calories, micronutrients and macronutrients certain foods contain. I actually used this app EVERY SINGLE DAY for 6 months in preparation for my bodybuilding competition back in 2013. I have been travelling A LOT this year and putting into practice all those things I learned. I found that I didn’t need to stress about getting my “ideal calorie intake” or “hitting my macros” day in day out. Whilst travelling the UK for 3 weeks and having normal meals, I employed a few simple rules about how I approached each day with my food choices and found that this really didn’t damage my physique nor ability to function. Two examples are hitting an approximate target of protein and calorie intake for each day. A quality protein supplement from Bulk Nutrients really helped me in this area. In the past I would be very conscious and perhaps a little afraid of eating whilst travelling because I wouldn’t be in full control of my nutrition. Imagine every time an opportunity came up to go to an event or experience something new, that you passed it up because you couldn’t get your usual food options, which in your mind, meant your “nutrition wasn’t ideal”. That isn’t what I would call living life. Nowadays, I rarely track any of my nutrition through any apps, however this has taken some time to master. For anyone who knows very little about calories or macronutrients, I would suggest 3 – 6 months is a good length of practical experience time in tracking nutrition. In my opinion, learning through the process of tracking calories and macronutrients is one of the most important things we can do for our long term health.
Not to be obsessed about Training
Following a training program is KEY for your health and fitness. There certainly needs to be structure and consistency with your training to progress, however we are not ALWAYS going to have access to a gym… and if we do, there are going to be times that you won’t have access to your favourite smith machine or that seated shoulder press, or someone has the 10kg dumbbells… and the 9kg dumbbells… and the 8kg dumbbells… and they’re doing drop sets and wont be done for another 10 minutes and flat out refuse to share or let you “work in”. STUFF IT! Do something else, substitute the exercise, go to the gym later that day or skip that workout for the day. Just because your trainer or coach programmed you to be in the gym on a particular day, doesn’t mean you NEED TO GO. Obviously you wouldn’t do this too often, however the body is an amazing thing, and some time off from workouts isn’t going to ruin your physique, it won’t mean that you will lose muscle and it won’t make you gain fat. I took two resistance bands to the UK and stepped inside a gym once over the whole 22 days I traveled. There were negligible negative effects as a result, simply by doing a few fun workouts.
Sleep should always be based on circumstance
In the past I would always get 8 hours sleep, no matter what. I thought this to be the ideal amount for me to function effectively, day to day. This was until I really started to get busy with things this year. I took on a record number of clients, and I was travelling a lot too. I decided to reduce the amount of sleep I got, to 6 hours every night so that I could devote more time to work and getting things done. However this meant that I needed to make some major changes to my nutrition and my training. My calories increased to meet the demands of my increased metabolic rate (being awake for longer and moving more meant my energy expenditure grew). I also REDUCED my training volume meaning less time in the gym and so that I could allocate more time to business. I didn’t want to be absolutely wrecked after each and every training session – I still needed to be effective for the rest of the day. So when someone says simply “sleep less” it may not be that simple. It is all dependent on a whole range of factors, which is why I take such a holistic approach in my coaching services.
The importance of a healthy endocrine system
Over the years I have put into practice just about every “diet” you can find in the media. Keto, Low Carb, High Carb, High Fat, Low Fat, High Protein, Atkins, Paleo, Vegetarian and so on… The thing is, without the guidance of an expert, following a diet which is restrictive in either calories, a food group/type of macronutrient or otherwise can be very dangerous. For example, the dietary reference intake (DRI) for fat in adults is 20% to 35% of total calories from fat. That is about 44 grams to 77 grams of fat per day if you eat 2,000 calories a day*. For a period of time I had tried a Low Fat diet, where I actually consumed less than 40g fats PER DAY whilst following a calorie restricted diet. Now for someone who is roughly 90kg and very active, this is a recipe for disaster and sure enough my body let me know about that. As a result of the prolonged calorie and fat restriction, I found that my testosterone levels had dropped below what i considered “normal” for a 32 year old male (I am happy enough with with determination after having several blood tests performed under the supervision of an endocrinologist). As we know, effective testosterone production is important for males for a range of reasons including healthy behavioural traits, brain function, libido, skin/hair/nail/soft tissue growth, fat metabolism, done density, heart health and so on. This is why, as a health and fitness coach, I put utmost importance on the overall health of my clients. A big part of my coaching is nutrition, ensuing that all of my clients are set up with a healthy nutrition plan which is not restrictive of any food types unless they have allergies or intolerance (lactose or gluten), or for other reasons (religious, vegetarian, vegan etc.). Activity level, occupation, lifestyle and everyday stresses are also important factors when it comes to the endocrine system which is why I enjoy getting to know each and every one of my clients so that I can make sound recommendations to deliver the most safe and effective coaching I possibly can.
There you have it, some of my learnings from 2018, which hopefully you can take something away from. I wish everyone a safe and productive 2019. If I can be of any assistance in your needs for a health and fitness coach, please – drop me a message through my website or on my Instagram or FaceBook pages.