Entry No. 9 – Total Recovery
The debriefing starts now…
Welcome to 2018! I sincerely hope that your year began on a positive note and that you have conquered (not shied away from) the first week of January.
The general consensus seems to be that we ALL have frozen our butts off this first week of 2018, but alas…nothing lasts forever. The sun will return soon enough, and with it, the rushed chaos of our daily routines. Speaking of routine, I certainly hope that FITNESS is included in your annual agenda –if it wasn’t already.
Perhaps you did not reach your ideal fitness goal, whether it be achieving a particular body fat percentage or performance ability. Maybe you wanted to look just a wee bit better in that bikini, or run a tad faster in the half marathon? Maybe you wanted to nail the splits, have the strength to do home renovations…or maybe you wanted to jump rope for a minute straight without smacking yourself. WHATEVER the goal, if you were unsuccessful, leave that disappointment in 2017. What’s harboring negative energy going to do for you now, today, in 2018? Absolutely nothing.
That being said, let’s get into today’s discussion: Total Recovery.
The window of opportunity for muscle growth begins the moment you stop lifting, but your gains suffer without proper recovery. Muscles don’t grow in the gym; they grow afterwards. When you lift heavy, muscles undergo micro-tears and are broken down via a process called catabolism. Catabolism is defined as the breakdown of complex molecules in living organisms to form simpler ones, together with the release of energy; destructive metabolism. So how do you properly recover?
Reduce The Stress
Stress is unavoidable. Acute stress—like the kind you create from exercise—is a good thing and leads to muscle growth. Chronic stress on the other hand, like inadequate sleep, mental, emotional, or nutritional stress, can significantly impact how you feel and how quickly you recover. When your daily life is submerged in chronic stress, and you add intense workouts, you’re asking for problems. Your overworked body will inevitably break down in the form of injury, poor performance or decreased immunity.
Take steps to reduce your stress level (check out my post titled “Antidote to being Busy and the Importance of REST” here) to ensure a quick bounce back and healthier state of mind. Be sure to prioritize things you love and surround yourself with those who uplift, inspire and humor you.
Fuel before the Grind
By now, most of you guys understand that the foods you eat before, during and after your workout factor into the quality of your recovery. Nutrient dense foods and healthy fluids will always outweigh junk food and soda.
Digestion is a lengthy process; from the time you finish your meal, it takes between six to eight hours to move through your stomach, small and large intestine. If you are a #TeamAfterWork gym-goer, the proteins and carbs that you ingest prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterwards. So make sure you’re choosing high-quality lean proteins along with some complex carbohydrates, especially if you plan on an intense workout. I would suggest nothing too heavy within an hour of working out, else you risk digestive issues and/or unpleasant cramps.
Push It Real Good, But Don’t K.O.
Now let me say, I appreciate a solid motivational video when my fit-ethic is low. Hearing things like, “No pain, No gain!” or the infamous C.T. Fletcher line, “It’s still yo mutha-f#kkin set” gets me hype and encourages me to push harder. But it’s important to not push to the point you can’t function for days afterwards.
If you pull the equivilent of a Mortal Kombat “brutality” on your body every workout, your body will revert its energy to repair the culmulative damage, rather than building muscle.
Stretch. Yup. Stretch.
Stretching has to be the most underrated player in the fitness game. And I get it. Stretching doesn’t sound sexy (or even necessary) when your goals are to gain mass or increase endurance, but trust me. By not having the necessary flexibility and muscle pliability, you short yourself on those precious gains in many compound lifts. Like squats. Bench press. Dips. Deadlifts. Pull Ups.
Try and aim for ten minutes (twenty would be better) every day post-workout to complete a cool down stretch. If you don’t intentionally plan for this, you WILL skip it. So start viewing stretching as a requirement, not an afterthought.
Focus On Quality Sleep
If I had a dollar for how many times I hear, “Ugh, I’m so tired…”, I’d have…*does calculations*…A LOT.
Sleep is critical to your health, forget what you hear from these “TeamNoSleep advocates. Not only does it repair your muscles, but your heart, blood vessels, and immune system. Sleep also allows our brain to consolidate memories and process information. Sleep is critical for your body to restore itself, and despite what some falsely believe, keeps you looking youthful.
If you find yourself getting less than six hours of sleep (and you’re tired throughout most of the day) then it’s time to find ways to get to bed earlier. And yes…sacrificing the fourth episode-in-a-row on that rerun, or ignoring social media after 9pm, is worth sleeping.
That’s my five (maybe six) minutes for the day. Let’s start this year off right.
Today’s Random Nugget: Zero-Dark-Thirty is technically a half-hour after midnight, but commonly used to describe any event that is scheduled to take place after midnight and before sunrise.