So… in order of importance
1-Sleep. If you don’t get this right, no matter how you eat or exercise, you’ll never get good results. Sorry. This is one area I have to apologise for being really strongly opinioned, and its very much how my body works. Sleep is when we grow, heal, download and process.
2-Stress less. I could talk about this until the cows come home. A little bit does us good. We can be super productive at work, in terms of exercise – a bit makes us fitter, stronger. But in excess – stress is the Devil. None of the Top 5 can counter balance excess stress. The only reason sleep beats it, is because thankfully it’s not something all of us suffer from (or are as affected by). Good sleep (which isn’t really synonamous with stress anyway) can ease the effects of stress. Good nutrition, and good training will not release their full potential if the hormonal effects of stress have their wicked way. Stress cannot be avoided. It has to be faced and fixed. Speech over.
3-Nutrition. You may be familiar with the olde mantra “80% food/20% exercise”, and if this was a Top 2, I would completely agree. You cannot out-exercise a rubbish diet. Poor nutrition will prevent your body adapting to the exercise you do like it naturally wants to: burning fat store, increasing muscle mass, improving heart and lung health, which means a lot of wasted effort. You may train hard enough to be slim, but that unhealthy lifestyle is then hidden where it can’t be seen, in your arteries, liver and blood. Great grub means that when you miss a workout, or take a holiday, you actually come back stronger and fitter.
4-Exercise. We’ve touched on how this affects the body in point 3, but boy-oh-boy it’s a miracle for the brain too. These points are all cross-connected, as exercise can really help to manage stress, and can be awesome at promoting healthy sleep patterns too. The rule is it has to be consistent: 3 x a week minimum, and it has to be quality.
5-Persevere. We can’t get it all right all the time. Will power is not finite. Maintaining and adhering to a clean and balanced lifestyle is not always easy. The message is self-forgiveness and focusing on the long term goal, not just today. If, and dare I say when we slip off the path of good behaviours, and stumble into processed cookie land, or skip exercise. Don’t give up. Write it off, and move on. Get back on the horse. As quickly as I say that… its worth taking a minute and questioning why the slip, just so it doesn’t start becoming a regular occurrance.