The Two Most Important Factors Affecting Health and Fitness!
As affiliate owners and coaches we believe CrossFit develops fitness to the greatest degree. Our program is based on everything we do being measurable, observable, and repeatable so we can track our fitness for a lifetime. CrossFit works, the data proves it. But there are two factors that have a bigger impact on our health and fitness than making it to the gym every day.
This might sound crazy to say as an affiliate owner. But we must understand that many factors affect health and fitness. It is like a puzzle, finding balance in our lives to optimize our health but also enjoy living life.
So what are we talking about here?
The two biggest factors that affect our health and fitness are nutrition and sleep. Without these two aspects of our lives being tuned in everything else will suffer, not least our performance and development in the gym.
Nutrition is the fuel that we provide our bodies with to make it through the day. If we fuel our bodies with bad fuel then we get poor (suboptimal) results. Fuel it with the nutrients it needs and you will feel like a superhero. Poor nutrition choices are the kryptonite to health and fitness.
Poor nutrition choices can mean overeating or under eating, putting poor nutrient-dense foods in our body, or eating at the wrong times. Look at it this way, each morning we are setting off on a 12-hour journey. The vehicle is our body and each task we have is a destination. In order to make it to each destination efficiently, we must make sure we have enough fuel to get us there and perform the task needed when we arrive. If we put poor fuel in our vehicle will not perform optimally on the way or once we arrive and our gas mileage will go down (our fuel will not last as long). If we do not put enough fuel in then we will not even make it to the destination. But, if we put good quality fuel in, in the right amounts, then each journey will be smooth and efficient, and the task we have to perform at each destination will be done with better quality.
The first step in improving our nutrition is becoming aware of the nutrients we are putting in our bodies. If you wish to learn more about this speak with one of our coaches and we can set up a consult.
Sleep is also vital. Sleep is what helps our body recover from each day. Sleep quantity and sleep quality are vitally important. Most people understand sleep quantity believing 8-10 hours in bed will provide the body with enough rest. But sleep quality plays a massive role.
Food and drink can affect the quality of our sleep. For example, alcohol can leave us feeling drowsy and can help us fall asleep. Many associate drinking alcohol with helping them sleep. But alcohol, being a depressant, means that the quality of our sleep is negatively affected by its consumption. The stages of sleep we are able to get to with the consumption of alcohol is lessened, we cannot get into that deep sleep our body needs.
Eating too late or eating large quantities of sugar/refined carbohydrates can also play a huge role in the quality of sleep we get. And then there is caffeine, which we all understand can affect and impact sleep length and quality.
Besides these factors, blue light from electronics such as phones, TV’s, and computers/tablets can impact the amount of time it takes us to fall asleep. When we stare at these items before bed our eyes and our brains are stimulated which in turn throws off our circadian rhythm.
Our sleep conditions can also play a large role in sleep duration and sleep quality. Making sure the room is dark and the temperature is comfortable has its effects.
With all these factors and more affecting our sleep, it is easy to see why there can be many days where we feel lethargic and our bodies have not recovered from the previous day or days. Focusing on getting enough sleep and good quality sleep will go a long way to promoting energy levels and allowing our bodies to recover and perform as optimally as possible. Sleep is also the time when our body needs to repair itself and by not allowing this to happen we can expose ourselves to high risk of injuries and chronic pain.
There is no definitive amount of sleep that an individual needs per night. 8-10 hours is thrown out there an awful lot as a baseline but it is a little more complex than this. Aiming to hit 35 sleep cycles over 7 days is a more specific way to look at this. A sleep cycle is 90 minutes, so gauging each nights sleep based on this and totaling up 7 days will give you an indication of duration. As for sleep quality, refraining from the issues above can go a long way to aiding good quality sleep and helping the body recover as it needs to in order to perform.
Without good nutrition and sleep, every other factor is going to be out of whack. It's like trying to run uphill with your legs tied together. You can still move, but you will never be optimal. Untie those feet and push the limits of our potential.