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TnT Metabolic Igniters

Aligning our Habits to Support our Goals

By Crystal Watson, MA, BKin, CSCS

Hello 2020!

We often end December by evaluating our past year, establishing resolutions, and setting new goals. This primes us to start of the new year feeling ignited, passionate and committed to our goals. While it is advantageous to capitalize on these high levels of motivation, if we push too hard, too fast (instead of gradually building up to these goals), it is easy to become burnt out, discouraged, and ultimately fall short of our goals. As such, it is important to establish and utilize proper healthy habits and recovery strategies that help us maintain our motivation and as a means to prevent road blocks (such as injury or burnout). Accordingly, I have set out to write this blog with the intent of highlighting some key lifestyle habits that will support you in reaching and accomplishing your goals.

 

1) Sleep

    • A lack of sleep has been shown to impact many aspects of performance including memory, decision making, reaction time, and mood. Additionally, it can impact physical performance and increase one’s susceptibility to injury.
    • It is recommended that we get 7-10 hours of sleep per night.
    • If you require a nap during the day, aim for 20-30 minutes. Longer naps will leave you feeling groggy.
    • Having a consistent sleep routine is the best way to optimize sleep. Aim for the same bedtime and wake-up times throughout the week.
    • Create a cool, dark and quiet sleep environment. To do this consistently you may need to utilize ear plugs and an eye mask.
    • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
    • Limit your screen time in the evening and turn off all device one hour prior to bedtime.

2) Fitness

    • It has been found that fitter, stronger individuals recover better, have better moods, and perform better cognitively. Therefore, whatever your goal is, being physically active and improving your fitness will aid you in reaching it!
    • Physical activity has also been shown to reduce illness and enhance overall wellbeing.
    • Improving your fitness can be done in a number of ways. We typically consider going to the gym and lifting weights as the only way to ‘get fit’. However, group fitness classes, dancing, playing a recreational and/or seasonal sports, swimming, active transportation such as walking and biking, or anything that gets you moving above and beyond your daily tasks is beneficial.

3) Nutrition

    • Food is our body’s source of fuel. We depend on a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to be able to perform physically and cognitively. Therefore, it is important your nutrition plan supports your energy needs for the day.
      • Did you know that carbohydrates are the body’s and brain’s preferred energy source?!? Be hesitant to adopt any nutritional habits that severely restrict carbohydrate intake.
    • When fueling for physical activity, it is recommended to have a carbohydrate-based snack prior to your sessions. Aim to minimize the amount of fat, fiber, and protein in this snack as it will slow your digestion and may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort.
    • If training lasts longer than one hour, it is recommended to consume 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour of physical activity.
    • After a hard training bout your carbohydrate stores may be depleted. The 30-60 minute window immediately after exercise is an ideal time to replenish these fuel stores. Additionally, consuming protein during this time can aid in muscle recovery. It is recommended to consume a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein as soon possible after a game (or training session).
    • Keep in mind that your nutrition should be based on your physical activity demands for the day.
    • Good nutrition is a habit. It isn’t just what you eat on ‘game day’ that will affect your performance. It’s the fuel you put in your body in the days and weeks prior to, that will impact your performance (good or bad depending on your food choices).

4) Hydration

    • Thirst is the best way to judge your level of hydration. However, we can also monitor our hydration status by the color of our urine. If well hydrated, your urine should be a pale yellow color.
    • As we exercise, we lose fluid due to sweating, making it important to replace the fluid we have lost. In addition to drinking water during training, it is recommended that we consume 16-24oz of fluid for every 1lbs of body weight lost following a hard training session.
    • If training sessions last for more than one hour, you may also need to replace your electrolytes. This can be done with sport beverages (usually should be watered down), or by consuming a small snack that contains sodium.

5) Physical and Cognitive Recovery

    • Static stretching (holding a stretch for 15-60 seconds) and foam rolling can be used to enhance your body’s physical recovery. Stretching and foam rolling doesn’t only feel good, it also increases blood flow to the area which can aid in the healing process.
    • Mind-body practices, such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and meditation have been shown to reduce stress, increase the release of dopamine, and even decrease blood pressure. Practices such as these will leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to conquer your goals!

 

Establishing and utilizing the practices listed above have big payoff’s. Therefore, I encourage you to optimize your sleep, fitness, nutrition, hydration, and recovery tactics as they will enable you to crush your goals in 2020!

 

References

Dearden, A., Henson, D., and Boose, J. (n.d.). Performance planning: Travel smart! Retrieved from https://www.csipacific.ca/wp-content/uploads/pp/performance-point-1207-travel-smart.pdf

Dietitians of Canada. (February 2016).  Nutrition and athletic performance: Position of dieticians of Canada, the academy of nutrition and dietetics and the American college of sports medicine. Retrieved from    https://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Public/noap-position-paper.aspx

HealthTrax. (February 2019). Benefits of Mind-Body Exercise. Retrieved from https://www.healthtrax.com/blog/2019/2/28/benefits-of-mind-body-exercise

Muth, N. D. (2017). Nutrition. In Bryant, C, Jo, S., Green, D. (Eds.), American Council on Exercise personal trainer manual fifth edition (pp. 149-260).

Naperalsky, M. (January 2017). Exercise recovery: science verse practice [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.nsca.com/education/videos/exercise-recovery-science-versus-practice/

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