a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.
Yes. I looked up the definition.
It seems everyone is looking for Life Hacks these days. A Google Search of the phrase comes back with 6.94 million results on how to “hack” your life.
We hack in order to create shortcuts or new methods to improve our lives in some way. Make things easier.
Simplify, if you will. (Thank you, Henry David Thoreau)
It’s really no wonder then why everyone tries to hack their health and fitness with diet pills, juice cleanses, and hardcore workouts, all promising to make you leaner, healthier, and stronger.
LOSE 10 lbs IN 10 DAYS!!!
SHREDDED IN 4 WEEKS!
Unfortunately, these things leave only your wallet leaner. That weight you lost on that juice cleanse? Yeah, that was diarrhea. So, there’s that.
If you ask a Fitness Professional (professional: one who constantly studies and improves their craft by reading, researching, and coaching), they’ll all tell you that strength, muscle mass, and achieving a low body fat percentage takes a LONG TIME: many, many, months and years.
But this isn’t what most want to hear.
As a practitioner, I know that there is no overnight success, neither in business nor fitness. And yet, here we are, trying to hack our way to leaner and stronger every day. Myself included.
So, before we get started, let me reiterate: To reach your fitness and nutrition goals, you better be in this game for the long haul (months and years). There are NO quick fixes.
But I’ll play this game because these are things that can make a BIG difference:
Five “hacks” to instantly improve your health and fitness:
1.) Add one more serving of vegetables per day
You wanted something sexier, didn’t you? Veggies are sexy. Just ask Ryan Gosling.
Veggies are good for you. So more=better!
I’m not asking you to add a veggie to every meal or stuff your mouth full of broccoli before your first coffee. I’m just asking for one more serving of veggies per day.
I think you can handle that. Do it for your health. Do it for Ryan Gosling.
2.) Add 2000 Steps/Day
Too easy, you may say. Well, considering 2/3 of all Americans are considered overweight or obese, it seems that adding some steps is actually pretty difficult.
Everyone is familiar with “10,000 steps per day.” Research has shown a decreased risk of hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, which we can all agree is bad when you walk more.
I’m not asking you to hit 10,000 steps today. I’m not even asking you do it this any day this week.
Just try and get 2,000 more today than you usually do. After a couple weeks, when that becomes your “new normal,” add another 2,000.
To learn more about steps and your health, read THIS article. One of the leading researchers in pedometers and accelerometers, Dr. Bassett, was one of my graduate professors. He’s da bomb.
THIS study by Krumm et al. (including another one my of professors at UT, Dr. Thompson, also da bomb) demonstrated that postmenopausal women who take more steps tend to have lower body fat and lower BMI scores.
Walk the dog another lap around the block. Park further away from the grocery store doors. Take the stairs up to the office instead of taking the elevator. Just go for a walk!
3.) Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night
Again, way easier said than done. I start my day at 4 am most days, and even I can’t seem to get my ass in bed before 10 pm, leaving me with about 6 hours of sleep if I’m asleep before I hit the pillow.
The truth is that missed sleep is pretty bad for your health:
- Increased risk of Obesity
- Impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease and hypertension (hmm, sounding familiar^^^^)
- Alcohol use
In order to improve this process of going to sleep, shut down your tablet, phone, and TVs (bright screens) at least an hour before bed.
Read a boring book. It gets me every time.
4.) Drink more Water
And not the sugar infused sweet tea kind. The plain version. For some reason I cannot explain, my wife just doesn’t drink water.
^As I type that, I’m laughing hysterically because I don’t think she reads my blog anyway. So we’ll play the waiting game and see if she kicks my ass about it.
Other than the fact that your body is made of about 60% water, and ya know, water is really good for you in general, here’s a list of additional benefits:
- Improved physical performance (need it to pump those guns in the gym!)
- Improved energy and brain function
- Improved weight loss
Aim to drink two more glasses each day. Notice I didn’t say “drink a whole jug of water BRO!!!!”
Just drink a little more than you have been. By a glass. Or two.
5.) Deep Breathing Drills
Most of us breathe “shallow” most of the day, which can make us feel stressed and anxious throughout the day. Deep belly breathing has shown to reduce blood pressure and anxiety, as well as improve performance in the weight room or on the court/field.
Carve out 10 minutes per day in a quiet place to practice deep breathing.
Or, if you’re like me, do it right before bed to squash stress.
6.) BONUS: Show UP!
If you’ve read my work before you know that I love Dan John’s work. He’s a coach and author and has influenced much of my work in the weight room.
He relates a story in his book Can you Go? where he says that most people fail because they fail to show up.
Think about it: when was the last time you went to the gym and said “F- it” and walked out?
Probably never. Even if you had a bad workout, you still worked out.
In the book, a woman recounts a story about how, every day, she wakes up early, grabs her clothes and shoes, hails a cab, and gets dropped off at the gym.
“Showing Up” isn’t her showing up at the gym doors. It’s the part about hailing a cab. She knows that once she gets in the cab, it’s on.
So, Show Up. Whether that’s mental or physical doesn’t matter, just show up. It’s hard to fail when you show up.
Hack your health and fitness the following ways:
Add one more serving of veggies per day. Drink more water. Go to bed. Walk more. Breathe deeply, and SHOW UP!
Will these things work miracles?
At the very least, these are the “low hanging fruits” that can have a dramatic impact on your health without much time and energy invested. So they’re really not hacks, they’re just easy steps in the right direction.
So go ahead, hack your health!
p.s. If you liked this, please share it. That would make my day! Thanks!