Last updated on September 19, 2016 | Follow @deanyeong on Twitter
I used to have a fitness tracker, and a few other applications to track my sleep, plan my diet and manage my workout routine. Additionally, I used to take quite a few supplements. I still do, but incredibly fewer now compared to two years ago.
Health and fitness are a huge emerging industry in the market. The supplement industry is making billions from the American market alone. Besides, more and more tech startups are focusing on this topic of personal health and fitness nowadays. It’s certainly not a bad thing to have more businesses and entrepreneurs trying to solve the problems we’re facing in terms of our health and fitness, but not all of them are actually solving a real problem.
At one point, I asked myself, “Do I really need a sleep tracker and all those additional apps?”
It’s cool to know our sleep “performance”, but the more important part is what we do after that. For my case, I know what I need to do with my sleep to maximize my energy and productivity during the day, but I never do it. Back then, I was using a sleep tracker to convince myself that I’m in control when I really wasn’t.
There are many small things that we can do without the help of any additional products or extra technology to improve our performance, boost our productivity, and live a healthier life. I’m going to address a few fundamental ones here.
I believe everyone knows about this. We are what we consume. Every single cell in our body is made up of atoms from the foods we put into our mouth. It’s crucial to manage our diet if we really want to live healthier and longer.
Most people are having a hard time managing their diet. In fact, it’s really not that hard and complicated. Here are two fundamental areas of your diet you can manage and control:
With the abundance and ease of access to foods today, one of the biggest problems we’re facing is the inconsistency of our diet pattern. This usually causes us to consume more foods than we actually need and leads to obesity and other diseases.
Due to the distraction of work and a busy lifestyle, we pay less and less attention to what we put into our mouth today and we tend to make the wrong food selections based on the tastiness and ease of access to them. By managing your diet macro and diet pattern, you can start transforming your body in a significant way without too much hassle and effort.
The next area we should take a closer look at is exercise. Most people don’t move today. A few thousand years ago, we run, sprint, climb, crawl, and roll. The movement pattern is one critical element in human evolution. The first human who stood up changes the whole species.
Movements were required in order to survive a few thousand years ago. Today, we need only our fingers and a computer. We created an environment that helps us to move less. But our body isn’t designed to stay idle.
It’s really complicated for most people when approaching the topic of exercise. Every person has his or her own “Bible” of exercise. The truth is that there is a set of fundamental rules on how to train your body to better health and fitness.
Aerobic training. Activities like sprinting, jogging, swimming and any sport that trains your cardiovascular system. It’s important to incorporate this training element into your exercise routine because it helps to improve the transportation of free oxygen in our body.
Compound resistance movements. These are the movements where you add resistance to your body when you’re performing them. It helps to strengthen your muscles and skeletal system. You may already notice that I added the word “compound” here – that’s because these are the most important movements you should be focusing on. Compound movements are movements that require the use of more than one muscle group and joints. Some examples of these are squats, bench press, and pull-ups. You don’t necessarily need to use an external weight as the resistance; you can use your bodyweight as the resistance too in performing some of the movements.
Movement pattern. This includes many areas that most people overlook such as mobility and flexibility. Expanding your body movement patterns is going to help you grow the ability to control your body in many circumstances. Movement pattern also means to have great strength and great usability of your strength.
When I was a kid, I hated sleeping. Growing up, I was aware of part of the importance of sleep, but I still believed that sleeping reduced my performance and productivity. If I could sleep less, I could then get more done. You may already know it – I was wrong.
Sleeping is one of the most important links to great health. During your sleep, your body is repairing the damage from daily activities and exercises, and it does more than that. Our brain is the only part of the body with the absence of the lymphatic system, and while it’s mass is only 2% of our entire body but consumes 20% of our total energy to function optimally, it has no way to get rid of the wastes and toxins that build up during the day.
So, how does the brain get rid of the waste within itself? By the brain fluid called cerebrospinal fluid. The cerebrospinal fluid has three main functions:
While it performs these functions all the time, the waste clearance process from the brain tissue is further increased during our sleep.
Without a good amount of sleep, our daily performance reduces due to the accumulated waste in the brain. Besides, our brain is not fully at rest while we sleep. It starts to do its job to reorganize all of the information, experiences, and emotions we went through during the day to form neuro-pathways for memories and knowledge.
So, how much should we sleep? It really depends on one’s body. Some people are good with 5 to 6 hours of sleep but that’s just a small percentage of the population. Most people need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep to go through the whole process of brain and physical muscle recovery.
Technology advancement is one of the greatest parts of human history. We were able to achieve so much more with the aid of technology both in scale and in the individual. It also transforms how we live and how we manage our health in a significant way.
It certainly helps to have a fitness tracker to measure our health and fitness performance, because one important element of applying change is measuring our progress. But you don’t really need the next advanced supplement, the all-in-one piece of workout equipment, or a smart pillow that syncs with your iPhone to live a healthier life.
Instead, start managing the fundamental links to great health right now by taking action to eat better, to move more, and to sleep well. Without the real action in place, the next shiny technology is just another distraction.