My Top Sleep Hacks

Sleep hacks I’ve used to get great sleep and get better fitness results

When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, sleep might be the most important factor. Without high quality sleep, you’ll be limiting any progress you can make. Sleep is crucial for muscle building, performance, fat loss, and other areas of fitness.

Grounding

What is grounding? The answer is in the name itself. Grounding is walking around barefooted on a natural surface like grass and mud. Barefoot walking has a very calming effect. If you’ve ever had a foot massage, you’ll experience the same feeling of relaxation when grounding yourself. From my experience, most of the time that I ground myself I’m able to fall asleep faster and I wake up less frequently. Do you ever wonder why you sleep so well when you go to the beach? It’s because you ground yourself when you walk on sand.

Beside getting great sleep, grounding has numerous health benefits like reduced inflammation, better mood, and faster injury recovery. One of the best times to ground yourself is after a workout. It’ll calm your nervous system.

Delta Wave Music

Nowadays I like to experience complete silence during the last hour before going to sleep. At some point I listened to Delta Wave Music and even meditated to it before sleeping. The idea behind it is throughout the day our brains are in different ways, depending on what we’re doing. When we’re fully awake our brains are in the beta wave. When we’re relaxed we’re in the alpha brain wave. When we’re drifting into sleep or waking up , we’re in the theta brain wave. When we’re in deep sleep, we’re in the delta brain wave. By listening to delta wave music, I’d fall asleep easier and drift into deep sleep. I stopped listening to delta wave music because I didn’t want to become reliant on it. I’d reccomend it if you find yourself desperate for quality sleep.

Boost Seratonin

It’s commonly known that melatonin is the brain chemical that helps you sleep better at night. You can do things to directly boost your melatonin or you can boost your nightly melatonin productions by boosting your seratonin during the day. The easiest way to boost seratonin is through natural light exposure, especially from the Sun. If it’s a cloudy day, you can still get more natural light exposure spending time outside than you would indoors.

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Explanation of the different brain waves: https://nhahealth.com/brainwaves-the-language/

Scientific journal on Grounding: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/

The role of Seratonin in sleep quality: https://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_11/d_11_m/d_11_m_cyc/d_11_m_cyc.html

Better Gains and Less Stress Lies in The Power of The Tongue

How the position of your tongue can reduce stress and boost your overall fitness

When it comes to getting great results in fitness the things we normally focus on are exercise, food, and sleep. These are all very important in order to achieve any fitness goal. One thing that’s often overlooked is stress management. Nowadays, a lot of people are dealing with daily stress, not aware of how it is holding their bodies back.

Stress can be a good thing and a bad thing depending on how it’s experienced. The good stress comes from doing a tough workout or just doing anything that challenges you. This type of stress can lead to growth whether it’s mental, physical, spiritual, or financial. Even the good stress can be damaging if you get too much of it.

The Effects of Too Much Stress

The bad stress is the one that drains you of energy. It’s the type that has you fearing the future or stuck in the past. You may wonder how this stress stops you from achieving your fitness goals. Where do I start?

Stress leads to increased cortisol in your body. Excess cortisol has a negative effect on sleep. The more cortisol you have the less melatonin you produce at night. Melatonin is crucial to sleep.If you’re someone who’s trying to make progress in their fitness, you’ll know that sleep is the biggest key to recovery.

Cortisol also has an inverse relationship with testosterone. The more cortisol you have the less testosterone you produce at that moment. Testosterone is one of the most important hormones when trying to build muscle and/or burn fat. To add to the fat loss aspect, high levels of cortisol is associated with weight gain in the form of fat.

For anyone that’s trying to gain strength, think about how stressful lifting heavy is on your body. Your body can only handle so much stress. How well do you think you’d be able to handle the stress of your workouts if you’re constantly dealing with stress throughout your day?

On the flip side, breathing deeply reduces stress. It’s also great for workout recovery because deep breathing means better digestion of food. Better digestion of food means more nutrients absorbed from the food you eat. For the people who are trying to lose fat, your body has to burn calories in order to digest your food.

Solution

One of the simplest things you can do to reduce stress is to place your tongue at the roof of your mouth. When doing this, make sure your tongue isn’t touching your upper teeth. It sounds weird but by holding this tongue position, you’ll automatically breathe through your nose and into your diaphragm. This allows you to breathe deeply without any conscious effort. Deep breathing puts you in the rest and digest mode compared to the fight or flight mode when you’re stressed.

It’s been six months since I’ve relearned how to properly breathe.I’ve definitely noticed the benefits. I feel more relaxed in general, my digestion is better, and I sleep more deeply. At first it’ll feel weird breathing like this if it’s new to you. After a month, it’ll feel so normal that breathing any other way feels strange. One of the things that helped me the most is doing this while going for walks.

I could go on about the benefits of nose breathing with proper tongue posture but I recommend you test it out for yourself. See how you feel once you make nose breathing a natural part of your life. See how you perform in your workouts, how you deal with daily stressors, and how your body looks as a result. You’ll be amazed!

How Cortisol affects sleep: https://thrivenfunctionalmedicine.com/melatonin-and-cortisol/

Cortisol and testosterone: https://news.utexas.edu/2010/09/27/stress-hormone-blocks-testosterones-effects-study-shows/

Cortisol and weight management: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/stress-weight-gain

Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing: https://www.oralhealthgroup.com/features/mouth-breathing-physical-mental-emotional-consequences/

Photo Courtesy of: https://www.pexels.com/@snapwire

Fitness Quote of The Week- Consistency

(Short read) the importance of consistency

“ I train to be the best in the world on my worst day “- Ronda Rousey

This quote from a former UFC champion is about consistency. You may not be training to be a world class athlete but you’re probably training to reach a fitness goal. If it’s a worthwhile goal, it’ll be one that challenges you.

On your mission to achieve the goal, you’ll have some days that you don’t feel like training. You’ll feel tired, stressed, or something else. Unless you’re sick or severely exhausted, you should do something. Something as little as mobility work or extra stretching will help in the long run. One of my personal workout principles is to always show up.

When you show up, you may not be going 100 miles per hour but you’ll be doing something. Even if you lower the intensity of an exercise significantly, you’ll still be working on those same movement patterns. This can make you more efficient the next time you do the exercise.

If you’re trying to lose fat and you normally run 2 miles a day, running half a mile will help you more than sitting on the couch and doing nothing. Personally, I prefer sprints over jogging.

Just show up. That small amount of progress gets you closer to your goal than the day before. The added benefit of always showing up is it always gives you an opportunity to learn.

Deprivation Increases Capacity

How having less available can help us grow.

We’ve been given a challenge and opportunity.  It’s time to see what we’re all made of. The great Strength Coach, Dan John recently posted a YouTube video that helped put things into perspective. The title of his video is Deprivation Increases Capacity. He talked about how having less resources forces us to adapt and step up. It forces us to work harder. In today’s current climate, a lot of us can feel limited. This is the perfect time for us to step up and see what we’re capable of. It’s what the fitness mindset is all about.

There’s a lot of uncertainty and things that we can’t control right now. One thing we can control is how we approach our fitness and our personal lives. It’s time to embrace this challenge we’re facing and use it as an opportunity to grow in all aspects of our lives. This is what the fitness mindset is all about.

One change I’ve made in my fitness routine is increased workout frequency. I’m training five or six times a week with the off days being for active recovery. One thing that has helped me deal with everything going on is meditating.Meditating has helped me stay grounded during this time. I recommend it for any. Your mental health has a direct impact on your physical health. What changes are you ready to make?

It’s time to approach life with courage and toughness!

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The Power of Self-Awareness in Fitness

How self-awareness will help you achieve your fitness goals faster

As I take time to reflect on my fitness journey, I realize that one of the keys to the progress I’ve made is self-awareness. Self-awareness is crucial to your success in fitness and all other areas of your life. For the purpose of this page, we’ll focus on fitness.

When you have self-awareness, you can be honest with yourself. Self-awareness will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness will help you see areas in which you can improve. Self-awareness is beneficial for the mental and physical aspect of fitness. 

The Mental

Fitness is as much mental as it is physical. That’s why I’m a big fan of fitness affirmations. To amplify the power of affirmations, you’ll need to find out what thoughts and beliefs are holding you back. This is where self-awareness comes into place. A lot of times we’re not aware of limiting beliefs till we do some reflection.

If you feel stuck at some point in your fitness journey, it might be because you have a certain belief holding you back. Maybe you don’t think you’re worthy of attaining an attractive body. When you have more self-awareness, you see how dumb a belief like this is. If you put in the effort through proper exercise, diet, and sleep then you deserve to have an attractive body.

You might even be afraid of getting hurt in your pursuit of strength or athleticism. This belief could come from injuries you’ve had in the past that have nothing to do with your current position.As someone who’s had previous injuries, I had to do some self reflection to see how those experiences are currently limiting me. My reflection helped me see that those injuries were a result of bad decisions and that I’ve learned from them. As a result, my confidence during workouts increased and so did the progress.

The Physical 

Self-awareness is also important in the physical aspect of fitness. Being self aware in the physical aspect means taming your ego. How can you get stronger if you don’t know your weaknesses? When you’re self aware in the physical aspect, you’ll look see what body parts are holding you back during your lifts.

Being self aware can help prevent injuries as well. When you have self-awareness you can be honest with yourself about your form when performing a lift. You can make the necessary changes to your form so you can lift the weight properly and reduce your risk of injury. When you’re self-aware, you know how your body is feeling on a particular day and you can decide what level of intensity is appropriate for a particular workout. 

How To Increase Self-Awareness in Fitness

Yoga: Improved self-awareness is one of the many benefits of yoga . This is especially through when it comes to your body. Another name for this is body awareness. Doing yoga gives you a strong sense of what’s going on throughout your body, good and bad. 

Meditation: Meditation is a great tool to improve self-awareness. Not only does it help reduce stress hormones and improve nervous system health, it also makes you aware of your subconscious thoughts. These are the thoughts that drive your daily behavior without you being aware of them.

Written Thoughts: I’m a big believer in taking some time to write down your thoughts. It helps you see what’s necessary for your personal growth and for the achievement of your goals. When it comes to fitness, it’s only necessary if you find yourself in a rut. I’ve found that when I feel stuck in my fitness journey, writing down my thoughts have given me new life. This can be used for those who don’t want to sit down to meditate. Don’t worry about this if things are going smoothly. 

Self-awareness is important in fitness and in every aspect of your life. When you improve your self-awareness, you improve your chances of getting what you want out of life.

 

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How To Keep Your Fitness Resolutions

The best ways to keep your fitness resolutions

It seems like every year people make a New Years Resolution to exercise more or to live a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, people often fail in keeping those resolutions. Personally, I’m not a big fan of New Years Resolution.

The way I see it is if you have a goal that’s important to you, why wait till January 1st. You can start working on that goal right away. If setting a goal for the New Years is what works for you, I’m here to support you. This post will be geared towards fitness but the principles can apply to any other area of your life.

Fitness Resolution Guide

Start Small: If you haven’t been active, don’t expect to be able to do 1 hour workouts 5 times a week. It’s not sustainable unless someone forces you to. Once you set a big goal for the year, focus on small things you can do to move towards that goal. Once you build the habit of supporting that goal, you can move on to bigger things.

An example is if you want to simply make exercising a habit. Try to set aside 10 minutes each day to do a workout. In your mind, 10 minutes won’t seem like too much of a commitment. You might finding yourself in the zone and decide to work out longer. After you do this everyday, exercising will become part of your identity. You won’t be overwhelmed by the idea of doing long workouts.

Write it Down: I’m a big believer in writing down goals. When you write a goal, you’re bringing it to life. Just keeping a goal in your head is less impactful. You have thousands of thoughts each day. By writing down your goal, you’re giving it precedence over the many thoughts that float around in your head.

Create Reminders: One thing that helps me build new habits is giving myself reminders. You can leave notes in places you’re likely to see them. The notes can be an instruction you give yourself to do something. The more you see that note, the more likely you’ll be to follow it. You’ll be brainwashing yourself in a good way.

Forgive Yourself: Creating new habits is hard. You might stumble at times when trying to create that habit. Maybe you’ll miss a workout or eat eat some junk food. The place where people go wrong is by giving up when they stumble. You should never give up.

When you stumble pick yourself back up. Forgive yourself for the mistake and start fresh with your habit. If you do this every time you stumble, you’ll eventually make the new habit part of who you are . It also helps to have positive reinforcements. Bet on yourself and keep moving forward!

 

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Strong Feet Equals a Strong Body

The importance of strong feet and ankles for your physical performance

A tree without roots can’t stand. If you’re physically active, you need to take care of your feet. Your feet have so many muscles in them and are connected to the rest of your body. If you’ve ever tried reflexology, you’d understand how much your feet affect the rest of your body.

From my experience, when my feet and ankles are healthy I perform my best. There are many benefits to having strong feet and ankles.

Benefits of Strong Feet and Ankles

Better Balance: This one is pretty obvious. When your feet and ankles are strong, your balance will be better. This is important in every fitness activity that involves standing. When your balance is off, your other muscles will have to work even harder. This will make the activity you’re doing more difficult than necessary.

Injury Prevention: Playing any sport with weak feet and ankles is a recipe for disaster. In most sports you’re constantly changing directions and putting your ankles in awkward positions. When your feet and ankles are strong, these awkward positions won’t be an issue to you. I already mentioned how other parts of your body have to work even harder when your feet and ankles are weak. This can lead to overcompensation of those muscles. Overcompensation of muscles often lead to injuries. If you’ve ever tried to squat with a bad ankle you’d understand. It sucks!

Stronger Nervous System: There are several nerves in your feet that connect with the rest of your body, including your brain. When my feet have been strong and healthy, other parts of my body were too.

 

Feet and Ankle Strengthening Exercises

Tennis ball, wall throws: This is one of my favorite feet and ankle strengthening exercises. To do this exercise, stand on one leg and use your opposite hand to throw a tennis ball off a wall. Once the ball bounces off the wall, you’ll catch it with the same hand. Do this for 50 reps and then switch feet and hands.This will also make your nervous system more efficient because your brain is working hard to keep both sides of your body in sync while doing the exercise. You should do this barefoot.

Barefoot Walking: One of the easiest ways to strengthen your ankles and feet is by walking barefoot. Go to an open grassy field, take your shoes off, and start walking. You may get some funny looks but the benefits are worth it. Barefoot walking has helped me recover from a previous ankle injury. Not only will you feet and ankles get stronger and healthier but you’ll also feel better because all the nerves in your feet will be stimulated. I’ll go more in-depth on barefoot walking benefits in a future post.

Standing Yoga Poses: I’m a big fan of yoga for physical health. It’s something I do several times a week. Standing yoga poses like the Warrior 3 and the Tree Pose will definitely help with ankle and foot strength. If you want to make them even more challenging, try these poses with your eyes close. This actually makes your feet and ankles work harder to stabilize.

If you haven’t been taking care of your feet and ankles then you’re missing out on several performance benefits. Stronger feet and ankles could be the missing link to your training program that moves you significantly closer to your goals. Give some of these exercises a try and reap the benefits.

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Fitness Affirmations

This post is about the importance of self-talk in achieving your fitness goals.

Your level of confidence will have a major impact on how likely you’ll achieve goals. One thing that will boost or hurt your confidence is your self-talk. If you’re trying to lose weight but you keep calling yourself fat, you’re just  sabotaging yourself. The easiest way to achieve a goal is by having your mental thoughts and emotional feelings in sync with your physical actions. Also, you’re more likely to do the physical actions that will lead you to achieving your goals when you have your mind set on your goals.

That’s why I love affirmations. They put you in the mental state of already achieving your goals. An affirmation is something that’s declared to be true. The tricky part with using affirmations is you might feel like you’re lying to yourself. What you’re doing is creating a shift in mindset. As you keep repeating affirmations to yourself with emotion, you’ll start to believe in them. Once you believe in them, you’ll act on them. Your actions will be conscious and subconscious.  The power of the mind is no joke!.

A lot of high achievers in fitness, business, and other areas of life use positive affirmations so they can be locked in on achieving their goals. They have helped me in achieving various goals of mine. For the purpose of this page, I’m sharing some affirmations that could help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

Strength Affirmation: I am strong and powerful. I move weights easily. I get stronger each and every workout. I feel like I could wrestle a gorilla. I’m excited about this new strength I’m gaining. I’m hitting new PRs with ease. I’m ( Insert exercise) (Insert weight) with ease.

Muscle Building Affirmation: I am a muscle building machine. The food I eat go right to my muscles. I have so much muscle it’s ridiculous. I’m building new muscle each and every workout. Every action I take is helping me build muscle. I’m King Kong in the flesh!

Fat-Loss Affirmation: I’m a lean mean machine. My diet is on point. My workouts annihilate the fat in my body. My metabolism is buzzing. I love what I see in the mirror. Damn, I look good! I love my body.

Overall Health Affirmation: I feel so healthy! My joints are healthy. Blood is flowing through my body smoothly. I’m full of life. I’m breathing deeply. My movement is so fluid. I have so much energy. I look and feel young. I have a healthy and active lifestyle. I love highly nutritious foods. I’m at peace mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Athletic Affirmation: I’m a beast. I move like a gazelle. My reaction time is crisp. I dominate whenever I step in the field/court. I contribute to my teams success. My shot is deadly accurate. I can see things before they happen. This sport is easy for me.

Positive affirmations have helped many people achieve their goals and they can do the same for you. One thing that will give the affirmations more power is to look at any beliefs that are currently holding you back from your goals. Once you find those beliefs, you can attack them and destroy the power they have over you. It helps when your beliefs and affirmations are in alignment. It’s time to crush your goals!

Affirmation Definition: https://www.thefreedictionary.com/affirmation

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The Secret To Elite Workout Recovery!

The post is about my first time in the sauna and why you should add it to your health and fitness routine.

I’ve never thought about using a sauna until recently. I always saw it as nonsense that wouldn’t provide any significant benefit to my health and fitness. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a fellow lifter that I started to consider.

We were having a small conversation about our respective workouts. As we were talking, he mentions that he’s about to hit the sauna. As I have a curious response, he tells me that it helps him with workout recovery. We talk a little longer and go our separate ways.

Now I start thinking about the sauna. This guy at my gym who has impressive strength says the sauna helps him with workout recovery. Maybe he’s on to something. My mind starts flashing with thoughts. I suddenly remember listening to Joe Rogan talk on his Podcast about how the sauna has helped him physically. I don’t remember the details of what he said but just that it has helped him a lot. I went from curious to attentive. I decide to look up the benefits of the sauna.

What I find propels me to decide to use the sauna. I found all kinds of benefits in my research like the increase of HGH, increased muscle endurance, stress reduction, and better sleep. I even found one page that called the sauna a performance enhancement drug. If sitting in a hot ass room can help me achieve my goals at a faster rate, I have to give it a try.

Sauna Time

The day to use the sauna has arrived ! I do an intense total body workout and head to the locker room to. After a quick shower, I walk towards the sauna room. The moment I open the door, I feel intense heat approaching my face. The room is so hot. My goal is to sit in the sauna for 20 minutes but I have my doubts. I’ve never experienced anything like this! So much heat concentrated in one room. After 5-7 minutes, I start to get a little comfortable with the heat. It’s still extremely hot but my body has adapted. As I keep sitting in the room, I start sweating profusely. I can’t remember the last time I’ve sweated this much and I’m someone who enjoys doing outdoor workouts during the summer.

After 20 minutes of intense heat and sweating, I’m ready to leave the sauna. What I noticed as I was leaving surprised me. The joints that have been aching for the previous week suddenly felt great. They felt like I haven’t been beating them up with heavy weights and intense workouts. Maybe the workout recovery stuff was true about saunas. After I clean myself off and drink a ton of water, I leave the gym.

The next day I feel great! I feel mentally and physically revitalized. I think a big reason is I slept great the night before. I guess sauna use is great for sleep quality. As a result, I have greater excitement for my next workout and for the next time I use the sauna.

Sauna Tips

Drink a lot of water: If you use the sauna, I recommend drinking water before and after using it. You need to replace all the water you lose from sweating in the sauna. I learned this the hard way on my 2nd sauna day. I felt very lightheaded on my second sauna day because I didn’t drink enough water before entering the room. I was so focused on the benefits of the sauna that I ignored the tips and warnings that were shared. Drink more water than you normally would if you’re using the sauna after a workout.

In addition to drinking water, make sure you get electrolytes. I prefer Propel over Gatorade since there’s less sugar. You can also get electrolytes from foods like bananas, spinach; potatoes, and more.

Cold Shower: Take a shower that involves you using cold water at some point. Using the sauna will raise your body temperature so you need to find a way to cool down. This is especially important if you want to enjoy the sleep benefits related to sauna use.I’ve heard many times that it’s easier to sleep when your body temperature is low. You should try to take that shower as soon as possible after using the sauna.

This experience has thought me a valuable lesson about being open-minded. Never shrug anything off until you know what it’s all about. Do some research and if you really want to understand something, try to experience it!

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Winners Do Cardio

If you’re not doing some type of cardio, you’re missing out! It has several health benefits that go beyond burning fat . For me, cardio is also a great way to improve muscle recovery. Cardio gets blood flowing throughout your body. As someone who does a lot of heavy lifting, I can feel the relief in my body after a long cardio session. The blood flow from cardio reduces soreness and the stiffness caused by lifting. I also notice that I don’t recover as well from my workouts if I don’t get enough cardio in my workouts.

Everyone knows the typical ways of doing cardio such as high intensity interval training and jogging. If you’re not a fan of conventional cardio workouts, below are some other ways to get in a satisfying cardio workout.

Alternative Forms of Cardio

Sports: Playing sports is a great way to get in a get cardio workout. Assuming you like the sport, you’ll be having fun as well so it won’t feel like a workout. If you’re not physically ready to play competitive sports, you can do less intense sports activities like shooting some jumpshots or tossing a football with a friend.

Walking: Walking is a natural part of human movement. You can walk around around your neighborhood, walk to the grocery store, to the park, etc. You can treat walking like a means of transportation so it doesn’t feel like a workout.

Bag Work: If you’ve been following this blog, you’d know that I’m a big fan of bag work. It provides a good cardio workout and promotes mental health. Hitting the bag for five minutes won’t make your precious muscles disappear. It might actually support muscle growth since you’ll be generating force when throwing punches.

Random Activities: You treat random activities as cardio as well. Join a dance class, skateboard. Even doing yard work will have a cardiovascular effect on your body. Find an activity that keeps you moving and gets blood pumping in your body. You can treat these as activities rather than workouts.

I made this post to talk about cardio for recovery, so try to avoid any cardio activities that will sabotage your goals. If you have a knee injury, playing a sport probably won’t be the best option for you. Training a marathon won’t help you if your main goal is to build strength and muscle. Do activities that are appropriate to your body and support your goals.

There are several ways to get in a cardio workout that aren’t mentioned in this post. There’s no excuse not to get in some type of cardio. All it takes is some dedication and creativity. What are your favorite forms of cardio?

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