The Forgotten Fundamentals of Good Health and Fitness

Everyone who knows me has heard me many times preach the importance of sticking with the basics, the fundamentals of health and fitness. For without these fundamentals it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to ever achieve your goals. The fundamentals form the foundation of your health (how you feel) and your fitness (how you perform), making you whole and allowing you to feel the way you should feel, the way you were meant to feel – with an abundance of energy, vitality, spirit, and confidence. So, when was the last time you ever felt that way? If it’s been too long to remember then let’s help you get back to feeling like a kid again.

The first and most basic fundamental to good health and fitness is getting enough sleep. How much of this precious commodity do you allow for yourself? Probably, not enough. And, if you do get the requisite 7-8 hours of sleep, is it sound sleep? Or, do you find yourself waking up periodically throughout the night? Think about the last time you got even 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. How did you feel in the morning? You probably got up with a spring in your step and a level of energy that carried you effortlessly through your morning routine and out the door. You morning commute probably felt like it took less time as there didn’t seem to be as much traffic – or at least, this is how you felt.

You probably sensed things more clearly – maybe, noticing things you normally don’t (e.g. robust smells in the air, birds chirping, sun shining). You also probably experienced fewer “fires” at work or, at least, handled them more efficiently and with less effort. Things probably didn’t bother you as much, as well. Hmmm, so what happened? How is it that a seemingly normal day out of your week can be so affected and different. Well, for starters, your day is very much based on your perception – and, your perception is all about mindset, something that is greatly affected by the amount and quality of sleep you get every night. When you have a lot of energy and feel good you tend to be in a better state of mind. With a proper mindset you make better (i.e. healthier) decisions, take better care of yourself, and feel better about yourself – all of which positively affect your health and fitness. But, of course none of this can happen unless you let it happen. If you are reading this and thinking that you don’t have the time – think again. Take the leap of faith that if you just made this a priority and let the benefits of sleep come to you that you will become efficient enough to allow for more time in your day – more time to devote to sleep. Of course, you can always just carry on and accept your standard answer. The choice is always yours.

A second fundamental that is often forgotten is learning how to control stress. A certain amount of stress is a necessary and important part of life. But, too much stress can wreak havoc to your system and cause unnecessary damage to your health and fitness. To help control stress take a step back from any stressful event that comes up in your life, breathe deeply, and ask yourself whether it is something you can control or not. If you can control the matter, set a course of action and take care of it. If it is something you can control but that won’t occur until later in time don’t sit and worry about it – take comfort in knowing you have a plan of action to take care of it and then move on until you have to deal with it. Ask yourself if worrying about it is really going to help make things better.

Is the matter something that will affect you 5 years down the line? If not, then move on. Or, talk about it with a friend and then move on. Just do your best and let the chips fall where they may – trust your judgment and know that even if things don’t always work out exactly as you envisioned if you can learn from the situation then you are always a step ahead. And, if you can not control the matter let it go and don’t worry about it. Life is too short to worry about things you can not control. But, remember this – learning to control stress takes practice and effort because when you are in the moment of stress it is just too easy to brush it to the side and lose yourself to the stress. Don’t do this – take a stand! The sooner you begin practicing this the easier it will become and the more of your life will be affected by less stress. And, when you can learn to control stress you’ll reduce the incidences of minor aches and pains in your body, keep your metabolic rate up to burn more fat every hour, and enjoy life a heck of a lot more. And, isn’t that the key?

The next fundamental is easily understood but rarely practiced. Consistency. Being consistent in your workouts; being consistent in your nutrition; being consistent in your mindset – all equally important endeavors that get lost in our busy everyday lives as we try to live a healthy and fit lifestyle. It should be fairly obvious that in order to make real change you have to be consistent. And, this concept gets readily agreed to in the beginning of any fitness endeavor because the person is excited and raring to go.

But, with every hurdle that passes a good majority of people’s will and determination shrinks and dissolves. Soon, consistency becomes something of the past. Please do not let this happen because as soon as it does, you might as well start over again because it only becomes harder to maintain consistency as you become more erratic in your dedication. But, the real problem with losing consistency and having to start over again is that each time it happens you lose a little more confidence in your ability to maintain your efforts to reach your goal. Over time, confidence lost only brings down your level of motivation until what was possible become seemingly impossible. Please remember that it’s a lot easier to keep something moving than it is to get something moving from a standstill. Once you start please do not stop – keep putting one foot in front of the other.