Updated: Jan 15
Most people want to start the new year setting new dietary and fitness goals but few are able to maintain this new habit after the first few weeks of the new year. Not because they lack "motivation", but simply because they lack proper guidance. “How do I begin?” is one of the top fitness questions I often get asked, as a pro athlete and understandably so. Beginning any journey is intimidating, let alone one that is health and fitness related. But with the proper information and preparation it doesn’t have to be.
Everyone knows that exercise can improve your health. If you exercise regularly, you know there are numerous greater benefits aside from simply weight loss or staying in shape. Being productive and alert at work (even if you are working from home) can help you get your task done quicker or even make you more eligible for a promotion. By not exercising regularly, you could be putting your health — and your job — at risk. I highly believe physical exercise and work-life balance productivity go hand in hand.
Knowing what activities you are performing and their relative intensities will help you better prepare and be ready for an awesome training session during this “new beginning phase.”
Here’s how you can prepare for your new fitness routine this year. Just make sure you follow these small steps and I guarantee you will have a great start of the year creating a snowball effect therefore increasing your productivity in the rest of your activities:
Stay Properly Hydrated Throughout the Day
Entering a workout in a fluid deficit can negatively impact both the duration and power output you can reach during a workout. Making sure you stay properly hydrated at all times, especially during summer, is a must. You should be adequately conditioned when training already begins. That means, hydrating carefully and properly throughout the day, eating healthy, sleeping well. I have put together a blog on how to maintain a healthy and effective diet to help and prevent things such as cramping. You can check it out by clicking here.
Be mindful of your electrolyte intake
Along with water, your body loses electrolytes when you sweat. Making sure you are always replenishing fluid and electrolytes if you are engaged in a physical activity is a must if you are looking to perform at optimum levels. Consuming electrolytes is kind of like paying your electricity bill. Consuming a diet rich in electrolytes ensures that you'll supply a steady current of electricity to keep your heartbeat in rhythm and your muscles contracting comfortably without any cramping. Electrolytes are almost as important as plain water when it comes to increasing and maintaining hydration levels, especially during summertime activities.
Eat foods high in water content
Luckily, many delicious foods that reach their peak ripeness during the summer months are high in water content. The most common ones to find (and my personal favorites) are watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, orange, peaches or grapefruit. These will keep you fresh and stress free while maintaining water and fluid content on the body.
Recognize foods/drinks that promote water loss
As the temperatures rise, it may feel like the temptation to reach for anything but water is at an all time high. Caffeine and alcohol are natural diuretics found in popular summer beverages including beer, specialty cocktails, soda, and iced coffee. For adequate hydration, it is recommended to limit or even avoid your intake of these drinks. But on the hot summer days where alcohol and caffeine are in the mix, make sure you pay extra close attention to your water intake.
Eat produce rich in antioxidants and other nutrients
Avoid sugary foods, especially honey and molasses, and stick to natural sugars available from fruits and veggies. Take healthy food and drinks to work instead of loading up on fatty, greasy food and sweetened cold drinks from the canteen. Fresh berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries reach their peak ripeness in the summer months. These colorful summer fruits contain powerful antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C (just one cup of berries provides 3.5g of fiber and 100% of your daily vitamin C).
Increase your Productivity Now!
Here are some things that I guarantee will be improved by adding a quick workout or exercise in your daily routine this year:
1. Overall Energy
When we exercise, we are helping with the increase in blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen our awareness and make us more ready to tackle our next task or next big project. There is a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) that boosts our cognitive abilities; and BDNF is triggered by exercise according to the American Council on Exercise.
Most of our cells contain components called mitochondria, often referred to as the cell's "power plant." The Mitochondria produces the chemical that our body uses as energy, known as ATP. Physical exercise stimulates the development of new mitochondria within our cells, meaning that our body will be able to produce more ATP over time. That gives us more energy to exert ourselves physically, but it also means more energy for our brain, boosting our mental output. If you have an important business meeting, I suggest you make sure you exercise beforehand. Having more energy means we will feel more awake at work. Being on top of our game will assure that we perform our work correctly and to the best of our abilities.
2. Less Stress
Exercising is proven to reduce stress. For example, If you travel frequently for business reasons, or have a busy daily lifestyle you can still exercise and stay fit. There are zero equipment workout routines designed for people in quarantine right now. Our friend and personal trainer Nick has put together a series of workouts that require no equipment and are very quick that you can checkout by clicking here. Walking around the neighborhood is also a good way to get some exercise, take in some local culture, and relax a bit before an important business meeting or online class. Having a clear mind before the meeting or class will help you display more confidence and speak clear thoughts.
When you exercise, your brain releases serotonin that helps you feel better and improves your state of mind, making the stresses of work easier to handle. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that sends messages to the body to stimulate mood and emotion, according to Harvard Health.
3. Creativity boost
While exercising, our minds may wander to something that has been giving us trouble with a project at work. Personally, I like to go on a walk everyday, put on a podcast and learn about something new or get some more information about my area of interest while walking around the neighborhood. You might just come up with a creative solution to that problem that has stunted productivity on the project. Creativity comes at the strangest times – like in the shower or in the middle of an intense workout. It is important to take advantage of this boost of creativity, write down your ideas and put them to work.
Keeping your body hydrated is the bare minimum you can do to also help optimize mental and physical performance and health. As a professional swimmer, I always have to make sure my body is at its maximum level of hydration, so I can perform at my best during everyday workouts and swim meets as well as working from home and performing the task at hand. Water is still the best to sip or gulp while you're at work. If plain water doesn't do it for you, try chilling it in the fridge or with ice. Still too bland? Try flavoring your cup with a wedge of lemon, lime or orange, or chilling some in your fridge at home with citrus or strawberries.
Depending on my daily workout, I do switch or add a sports drink into the mix of my daily hydration. Walking around with a water bottle or sports drink bottle has become part of who I am. Staying hydrated not only helps me to stay on top of my physical performance, but also I make sure I am always at my best mentally.
Hydra-Guard Sports Drink also help me to make sure I have my proper amount of Vitamins and essential electrolytes. One bottle has 20% the equivalent Daily Value of Calcium we need alongside with only 5g of REAL Sugar and no artificial anything.
Many professional athletes endorse the use of sports drinks to better prepare them for a tough workout and to stay properly hydrated at all times. World Championship finalist and American triple jump star Chris Carter also agrees that it is vital that we prepare our bodies in the best way possible before going into a summer workout session. “By consuming Sports Drinks such as Hydra-Guard before, during and after my workouts, I make sure I am ready to take it to the next level and be prepared for my workouts, and everyday lifestyle avoiding cramps and preparing me to perform at the highest level at all times,” says Chris.
Minnesota Vikings’ Running Back Alexander Mattison also emphasizes the importance of sports drinks like Hydra-Guard in his preparation to play at the NFL level. “I believe that staying Properly Hydrated with products such as Hydra-Guard is very important because as an athlete, it becomes part of a healthy lifestyle choice and it helps me to prevent any injuries,” says Alex.