I have been and am further pulling back from blogging and social media. Maybe temporarily, maybe permanently, I don’t know yet. Right now it’s summer and I just want to be.
Be without all the non-essential responsibilities and obligations that the online world brings, even when I’ve always just blogged for fun and without any deadlines.
I really feel like I just need a time out from life that in many ways is not real. Lots of things are happening in the world, closer to me around me, even closer to me in my own head and I just want to be… I want to stop being the person who walks around with phone in hand 24/7. I want to look up and take in this world we live in. As crazy as this world sometimes is…
Before I go on a break, I wanted to get a few things off my chest though. The things that I blog about, the things that are important to me when it comes to health and fitness. You have probably heard these things before because it’s what I write about. Now it’s all here. Read, if you have the time, reflect and let me know what your thoughts are on the various topics.
Ready? Let’s just jump right in…
1. Stop counting macro nutrients and start focusing on micro nutrients
Tracking your macros is a popular thing these days – it’s counting how many grams of protein, fat and carbs you are getting each day. If you have a specific body composition goal, be it weight loss, weight gain or muscle gain, it’s important to make sure you get the correct macro ratio that supports that goal, but I think most regular people, i.e. not competitive athletes, bodybuilders, powerlifters, etc., need to take a step back and check how our micro nutrient intake is doing.
You can put food into your body that gives you the ‘right’ macro percentages but what were the sources of these macros? Did the food you ate provide your body with all the necessary vitamins, minerals & fiber?
I am not a fan of eating plans like If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) or ‘flexible dieting’. Way too many people are misunderstanding the initial ideas of these ‘diets’ i.e. to be a bit more flexible than just eating rice and boiled chicken and broccoli when the goal is to put on muscle and lose body fat, BUT still eat real, nutritious food. That last bit often gets forgotten and the only focus is on the macros and not the micros.
Think about what you feed your cells.
2. Sleep is the superjuice of life
I used to ignore all sleep advice and articles for years because my kids were little and I found it too painful to read about this subject. When my kids were babies they did not like to sleep for more than 40 min at a time, both daytime and nighttime, so now that they’re older I’m trying to undo some of the damage that did to me.
My anxiety doesn’t help because it has given me long periods of insomnia but 2017 has been going well sleep wise so far.
I try to go to bed at the same time every day, I read for at least 30 minutes and that means an actual book made out of paper, I take 3 capsules of ZMA and most of the time I fall asleep within 30 minutes, which is a huge improvement from 1-3 hours.
Without adequate sleep our bodies and minds can not recover. For people who like to train hard and who have fragile mental health, sleep should be one of the top priorities. As for how many hours – that depends on you. I used to get 6 broken hours a night for years so now getting 7-8 solid hours makes all the difference.
3. Don’t take exercise too seriously
You don’t have to join the flashiest gym or have the newest equipment or gear, you just have to find a way to move that is FUN for you. Only when you find a way to exercise that is fun will it become a natural and long-term part of your life, and not a chore you have to make yourself do 3 times a week just so you ‘don’t get fat’.
Fun factor is the ONLY thing that ensures the longevity of your fitness journey.
4. If you don’t feel like eating breakfast, don’t
Breakfast is not the most important meal and force feeding yourself never did anyone any good. I know the theory is that if you eat a ‘proper’ breakfast you’re less likely to overeat later on in the day but if you’re anything like me in that you like to eat often and a decent quantity of food at a time, eating a lot for breakfast when you don’t actually feel hungry yet just means extra calories for the day. Have some black coffee instead. Chuck some coconut oil in it so it’s gentler on your digestion and eat some breakfast when you feel like you want to. For me it’s about 2.5 – 3.5 hours after waking up.
5. Find your healthy weight
Human bodies are incredibly diverse when it comes to their metabolism, hormones and gut biome. There isn’t one ‘right’ way to eat or exercise that is guaranteed to give everyone a comfortable and healthy weight. YOU alone live in YOUR body – figure it out what works for it. Experiment, observe, learn, adapt. Find your happy weight and a happy way to live that sustains that long term.
6. Poop, there it goes
If you’re having trouble with your poop, one way or another, you’re not feeding your body the way your body likes to be fed. It really is that simple. See advice above re: experiment, observe, learn, adapt.
7. Sugar is not evil
Cane sugar is natural. Humans today just eat way too much of it and our insulin levels are messed up and we gain weight and our mood fluctuates like a roller coaster along with our blood sugar levels. Lower your sugar intake but don’t be scared of it like it’s the devil.
The devil is more likely to be artificial stuff like asparatame and sucralose. Sucralose is actually in a lot of ‘health’ products these days, like flavoured protein powders & protein bars. It’s not a 100% possible to stay away from it, especially when you want to grab an ’emergency’ protein shake after a gym session but we can all try and be more prepared. My favourite protein shake consists of unflavoured egg white powder, frozen banana and almond milk.
I know the jury is still out on artificial sweeteners as far as research results go because they haven’t been around long enough yet for us to know just what they do to humans long term but I personally don’t want to be consuming it while we wait to find out what exactly it does to us.
8. There is no such thing as a superfood
Everything that is fresh and alive is pretty much as super as it gets. I have long stopped spending money on chia seeds.
9. Stop drinking Coke
Worse, yet, Diet Coke. See above re artificial sweeteners.
10. Stop drinking fruit juice
Did I really just say that? Yes, and I mean it. There is no need to drink such a high concentration of fructose. If you’re not interested in the science of fructose being pretty much same as any other sugar, then just think about the calories ;) I know I would rather eat actual solid food.
11. Eat butter
There is no need to buy some spreadable weird mix of oils, no matter how ‘healthy’ the label makes it look like. It’s still processed weirdness, so just buy a block of freaking real butter.
If you think it’s annoying to use because it doesn’t spread – it doesn’t have to be in the fridge! Butter doesn’t go bad in room temperature, buy a butter box/dish and have it next to your toaster.
12. It doesn’t actually matter how fast or far you run or how heavy you lift
I am totally a bit competitive when it comes to my fitness but the older I get the more it becomes clear to me that fitness is about fun and longevity. When I’m 85 it doesn’t matter how fast I once ran or what my 1 rep max lifts where, what matters it that I can skip about and do up my shoelaces and carry my shopping.
So keep the fun in fitness – do challenge yourself because that’s part of fun but don’t take it all too seriously. Unless you actually are a professional and get paid to be fast or lift a lot. Then you better take it seriously.
13. Stop overanalysing your body, close your eyes to truly ‘see’ how it feels to live in it
Are you comfortable in your body? Does it let you run after your kids / run for the bus* / carry your IKEA furniture boxes up the stairs / walk up hills to see amazing views?
If it does then do you really think in 50 years time you’ll look back and think “Oh life would have been so much better if only my thighs had had less cellulite when I was 20!”
*This is actually a very bad way to start running – start by running really slowly, not like you’re sprinting to the bus! See point 24 below.
14. Everyone is winging it
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I’m 41 and I can tell you for sure that nobody ever feels like an adult. Nobody ever feels like they know exactly what they’re doing or that they’re fully in control of anything in their lives. Just do your best and don’t be a dick to yourself, to others around you and to the planet. Take one day at a time and accept your mistakes, as well as the mistakes of those around you.
15. Don’t do your kids homework
Seriously. Your kids might need you to sit next to them while they do their homework, they might need you to explain some concepts to them, but don’t correct their homework or do it for them. They need to learn to handle their own shit (while knowing you got their back) and anyway, their grades in primary school really don’t actually matter at all.
16. Own less stuff
Yes, I say this while I type this from the garden of my 5-bedroom house but I have definitely reached the point in my life where I feel like I don’t ever need anything more.
I have way too many clothes, especially activewear, but thank God I don’t have a ‘china set for special occasions’. The only set of dishes we have is the one we got for our wedding 16 years ago (with some added bowls as the family has grown).
Go through your wardrobes and cupboards and donate the stuff you know you don’t wear or use. Does anyone want a 100 CDs of mostly 80s and 90s music, by the way?
17. Follow less people on social media
Just like owning less stuff, have less ‘friends’ on social media. I’m sure when you look through all your accounts, you are following a lot of people you couldn’t quickly describe to me in 2 sentences. Let go of the major FOMO everyone who’s into social media seems to have and just follow the few who you ‘talk to’ on a regular basis and who post stuff that is interesting to you.
Let go of following celebrities, Instagram ones or otherwise. Let go of following a lot of people just so maybe then a lot of people follow you back.
Your time is precious, use it wisely.
18. Learn to say No
Also related to FOMO, learn to say No more often than you say Yes. If you’re blogging and into social media, you will see a MILLION awesome events people are going to, or races they’re taking part in, or fitness classes they’re trying out. It’s easy to feel like you want to / need to be everywhere and do everything.
You cannot, however, have a life and do EVERYTHING. Pick your hobbies, stick with your close group of friends, do a FEW things, but all of them with full joy.
I myself have only time for:
- running alone (run clubs are so intriguing and I think I would love to be part of one but logistically and time wise it doesn’t fit my life right now)
- swimming alone and in my nearby pool (again, swim clubs and coaching sounds amazing but not going to work)
- CrossFit at my one and only box
I do not have time for bloggers’ events, fitness expos, yoga classes (sadly), new and interesting looking bootcamps/classes/events.
And if you blog and get emails on a regular basis about publishing sponsored posts and ads, you can fairly quickly tell if it’s a good fit for your blog AND if it’s worth your time. 99% of the time just say no and you’ll be at peace. I felt bad in the beginning to say no all the time but I have a personal blog on which I publish whatever I want, I do not have the obligation to anyone to push their content or agenda.
19. Read books / listen to podcasts / watch documentaries
Never stop learning and exploring but don’t rely on social media for all your information. Read books, be it fiction by amazing authors who take your mind to faraway places, be it non-fiction by subject matter experts.
Some of the good books I have read lately:
- How to stop time
- Into the water
- Run: The Mind-body Method of Running by Feel
- everything by Haruki Murakami
Some of the best podcast episodes I have listened:
- How to run faster and more easily without running & fix your weak feet with Tim Bransdon – The Mind Muscle Project
- Train fast to be fast – Take Away Tuesdays – Episode 2 with guest Tex Mcquilkin – The Mind Muscle Project
- Breath training to calm the mind, control fear and elevate performance with Brian Mackenzie – The Mind Muscle Project
- Why we need to eat more and move less with Paleo God-father Robb Wolf – The Mind Muscle Project
- How to Improve Pacing, Breathing & Recovery – Barbell Shrugged
- Stop Obsessing, Start Enjoying: How to Be at Peace with Your Gains and Have a Hella Fun Time Training Again – Barbell Shrugged
- How To Stay Young w/ CrossFit Games Masters Athletes Annie Sakamoto & Ron Ortiz – Barbell Shrugged
- TRAINING vs. EXERCISING – Barbell Shrugged
- Eating For Performance & Longevity – Barbell Shrugged
20. Uninstall social media apps from your phone
Are you walking through life phone in your hand at all times, refreshing one app after another? Posting, liking, commenting, waiting for posts, likes, comments?
You don’t have to be connected at all times. Maybe it’s the FOMO again that tells us that if we don’t refresh Instagram at least every 10 minutes we miss out on something life changing. Chances are you won’t. Chances are you’re just being sucked into this vicious time-stealing vortex of refresh, refresh, refresh, oh my god, where has my life gone?
I have uninstalled Instagram, Twitter and Facebook from my phone. I still check them via their web interfaces but since these are so much less user friendly than the apps, I don’t do it that often. I feel that I’m still connected (for whatever benefit that gives me) but I feel that I have a bit more of my life back. My real life. Outside of social media.
21. Don’t read women’s magazines
It’s baffled me for a long time why women consider sitting down with a fashion/gossip/fitness magazine as a ‘treat’. Do you know anyone who actually then feels uplifted or encouraged by reading a women’s magazine? I personally don’t feel like that after reading one of those things. I feel I’m not small enough, fit enough, ‘toned’ enough. I feel my hair is not smooth enough, my skin is not clear enough, my wardrobe is not fashionable enough.
These magazines are made to make you feel inadequate in every possible way so that you spend money on stuff that they advertise.
If women felt confident about what they look like and what they wear, a LOT of companies would not make much money.
22. Be idle once in a while
Doing absolutely nothing once in a while is not a waste of time. Humans need to just be. Humans need to relearn how to just be in the moment and observe what is happening around them, what is happening inside them.
Lie down on grass once in a while and just stare at the clouds. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
23. Not everyone you meet will be into you
If you read my blog then you’re probably a pretty cool person. However, not everyone you meet during your life will be into you.
It’s nothing personal against you, it doesn’t mean you are not a nice or a fun person, it just means that not everyone clicks with everyone. Such is life, such are humans.
24. If you want to start running, start SLOW
Running is amazing. For one’s physical AND mental health and I can’t stress this enough – so many people say that they cannot run because the only time they run is when they full one spring to catch a bus and of course that is not enjoyable if you’re not used to running!
Walk fast and then break into a jog that is only a tiny bit faster than your fast walking. That is probably your happy pace to begin with. Stick with your happy pace, walk / run at that speed until you can eliminate the walking and just run for 30 min. Don’t worry about looking stupidly slow. Nobody cares. And if you do get stupid comments from drivers by – they are just random dickheads whose opinion does not matter.
Once you can run without taking breaks for 30 minutes, only then try to increase your pace, or your distance.
It’s your life, your journey, YOU can decide how, how fast, how long you run.
25. You will not agree with everything in this list
… and that is one of the points of this list. Go forth and write up your own list. Think about what matters to YOU, not what you think SHOULD matter to you because it’s popular/cool/healthy/etc.
And with that I hope you all have a wonderful summer and that you get to lie on grass and stare at the clouds and that you get to eat amazing ice cream and get your feet wet in the sea.