I am terrible at writing and can’t put blogs together very well. I have way too many ideas and can’t seem to organize them into nice, flowsome (that’s flowing and awesome in one word) sentences and paragraphs.
One thing I can do is write random lists that don’t necessarily tie together to share brilliant information. Consider this the first post in the 5 Things you should do series.
1. Sleep More
Yup, its that simple. Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night. In fact try to go to bed and get up at the same time every morning. Here are a couple fun facts that won’t make you sleepy.
- Growth hormone is released by the pituitary gland when you sleep. Growth hormone stimulates growth and reproduction of your cells. When your body produces the proper amount of GH you enjoy the benefits of strong bones and muscles. GH can also decrease the amount of adipose tissue you have. Long story short, you burn fat and gain muscle…there’s a reason why this stuff is handed out like M&M’s at every “rejuvenation” clinic in Florida. GH really is the fountain of youth.
- Proper sleep decreases inflammation! Who ‘da thunk it? Research indicates that people who get less sleep—six or fewer hours a night—have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more. Pretty sweet huh!
2. Take Epsom Salt Baths
I have used Epsom salt baths for years. The jury is out on how the baths truly benefit the body. Some people swear by them (me) and others say they don’t work. I am not here to debate the scientifics, but to share my experience. If you need scientific facts, use some google magic and get what you need.
I primarily use epsom salt baths when I am suffering from DOMS. Here are the benefits I have noticed:
- decreased muscle soreness
- better sleep
- decreased joint stiffness
- more productive workouts the following day
So go ahead and give them a try, I will even give you the recipe:
AMAZING EPSOM SALT BATHS!
Block off 30 minutes
Light some scented candles and throw on some John Mayer on the ipod…(that’s optional)
Fill your tub up 2/3 of the way with hot water (not too hot!) and add 2-3 cups of epsom salt. Don’t fill the tub all the way up! If you are not familiar with water displacement, this picture of a T-Rex submerged in water might help.
Enjoy the bath for 10-15 minutes, stop sweating, cool down a bit and go to bed!
Ok, not that type of rocking but I couldn’t resist using a picture from one of my favorite movies.
Rocking is a fundamental movement pattern we learn around 8-12 months old. This movement strengthens the whole body while concurrently stimulating the vestibular system. This drill is very non-threatening to the CNS and reinforces healthy movement patterns we learned as baby.
This drill seems to “take the brakes off” of a lot of my clients and vastly improves their movement quality. Rocking closely resembles the squat pattern and does wonders for hip, knee and spinal health. Try rocking on your off days and see how you feel!
4. Proper Breathing
Every night before I go to sleep I go into my son Connor’s room and watch him for a minute or so. It’s quite peaceful watching him sleep. His belly rises and falls with a perfect cadence. This is is how we are meant to breathe, with our diaphragms. Unfortunately, as we get older we forget how to breathe.
Sitting all day and a leading a stressful life is not a good combination. It’s like brushing your teeth and drinking orange juice immediately after.
Ok, back to breathing.
The diaphragm is your primary breathing muscle. It separates the rib cage from the abdomen. As you inhale, the diaphragm contracts and your belly should stick out. When you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and your belly goes back to normal. WAIT!!! Are you saying that my belly should stick out when I breathe? But how can I keep my six pack contracted when running shirtless in 50 degree weather? Yup, we all know that guy
So yes, proper breathing occurs via the diaphragm. But as I mentioned, most of us have it all wrong. The majority of people are using their “emergency” or secondary breathing muscles most of the time. The scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, pecs, and serratus are all secondary breathing muscles. If these muscles do all the work, you can look forward to:
- neck and upper back pain
- thoracic outlet syndrome
- decreased ROM in the shoulders and neck
- chronic headaches
- rozen shoulder
I am not saying this will happen to you. All I am saying is that you should learn how to breathe properly. If ya don’t, good luck.
5. Avoid Gluten
Over the last 6 weeks I have purposefully tried to avoid gluten in my diet. This was a mini-experiment to see how I felt. I have read the literature about the issues gluten can present but I wasn’t ready to give up pizza and guinness on the weekends. I have drastically cut back gluten in my diet and I feel 100 times better. I have less stomach aches, my workouts are more productive, I am leaner and my wife doesn’t make me sleep on the couch as much. I don’t claim to be the conductor on the gluten free train but I am willing to bet that if more people avoided gluten in their diet, they would lose weight and feel better.
For more info on this topic visit www.wheatbellyblog.com.
Which one of these areas needs some work in your life?