I did a podcast back in 2021 on the reflection of my definition of health after traveling the world. It went over things like being able to take a break from all of your supplements and perfect schedule. Essentially can you adapt to less ideal situation. Because I believe that that is part of health. Today’s episode is not that, but kind of a piggyback off of, or a cousin to that episode.
I won’t be going into nutrition because it’s not some thing that I am as well versed in as weight training. But you could obviously dive into nutrition as an additional thing to manage or look at outside of fitness. But I want to look even further outside kind of the normal scope of fitness and nutrition.
These aren’t groundbreaking. They are absolutely normal. And I think it’s pretty natural to venture into these different areas the longer that you have been in not even weightlifting, but just the exercise world in general. This may be a quick episode, but I hope to give you some resources and things to think about an implement outside of your time in the gym.
It’s no surprise that this came up considering that I am almost done reading the book Breathe by James Nestor. In my academic brain, there’s quite a bit of pseudoscience in this book if I’m being honest. Or just methods and claims not backed by science. But also just because something hasn’t been scientifically tested, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hold merit. The research world is after all still a money-based practice. Research needs funding. So that’s something to consider in general.
Regardless, it’s no secret that we breathe from the moment we enter this world until the moment we leave this world. And there are more efficient ways to do that given different scenarios. Breath can be very powerful in controlling other areas of our body, especially in regards to our nervous system. Breath is often used in a meditative state to bring the body into a parasympathetic state. In your autonomic nervous system you have parasympathetic and sympathetic. Sympathetic is your turn up fight or flight stimulated side, and parasympathetic is your rest and digest. Meaning it is when we down regulate, and slow everything. We prepare for rest. We recover.
Essentially breath can be used to calm the body, or stimulate the body. So I’m not necessarily telling you to implement any practices. But maybe just pay attention to the way that you breathe throughout the day. Are you breathing through your mouth? Are you breathing through your nose? How do you breathe when you exercise? How are you breathing before you go to bed at night? Just draw attention to those areas, and then if you have the means maybe pick up a book like Breathe, or listen to it on audio. There’s several others that I haven’t read yet that I’m sure will come up on suggestions when you select the book nn Amazon. And at the time of this episode it is on my Amazon page if you want to go to that.
I personally bought the book in the beginning of 2022 but prioritized reading it during my pregnancy just because I know the power of breath during highly painful and intense situations. So I thought I would kind of read that as a base. If you’re looking for an area to focus on with your body outside of training, think about breath.
In my mind this is a part of weight training or strength training, but it’s not for a lot of people. So thinking about mobility in all planes of movement. For me I am very restricted rotationally, and honestly with lateral flexion in my midsection.
If you have not yet ventured into mobility, I will link some Instagram accounts to follow that have some different takes to mobility. I definitely benefit from static stretching from a relaxation standpoint. But I find the best long lasting results from active mobility and really working into my end ranges with movement. So check the show notes for those accounts. And then of course the best subscription I know of is still ROM wad. Which is technically static stretching not active mobility. But it’s very nice to have someone walk you through what you should be doing for the day in 20 minutes. Rather than you having to find it yourself or come up with it. That’s just not sustainable.
The more I think about longevity and moving for life, mobility is king. Can your joints move through their end ranges without pain or discomfort? If you can then we can build strength on top of that. So if you haven’t assessed or looked at your mobility lately maybe get curious in that area.
If the pandemic was good for anything, it highly popularized daily walks. And daily walks increase your TDEE. This is your total daily energy expenditure.
That doesn’t have to be only walking. For instance, when we travel, our TDEE was much higher than when we were at home. Perhaps I had less intentional lifts how we were traveling, but we walked so freaking much. So my overall total daily expenditure may have been at a lower intensity, but much higher than at home. Before traveling, I really did just sit all day and then get a lift in 3 to 4 days per week. Which is not ideal from a health standpoint.
Daily walks are something we continued to do when we returned home. We go on at least once a day, but I prefer twice a day. Because I really do just sit or stand at my desk outside of that and my lift. It’s not about total calories burned even, it’s about getting up blood flow, getting some fresh air and getting your body moving so that we are just sitting stagnant all day. That’s what it’s about for me. My body feels better, and my hips and back especially feel better when I have a little bouts of movement throughout the day.
This also pushes you to let go of that all or nothing mentality. I’ve noticed in the week that I did 20 to 30 minutes of low intensity cardio while I drafted some podcast episodes, it just feels so good to start my day with a bit of movement and blood flow. And I’m more apt to stay active throughout the day if I do that. Again this is not some thing I am training for specificity. It’s just a way to increase my TDEE.
This doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to get you in the mood for sleep. There’s no research to back up me drinking tea before bed has some cause and effect and me sleeping better than if I didn’t drink tea. But drinking tea helps me wind down, and I think, get into that parasympathetic state. Whether it’s placebo or not. Stretching can do this, reading can do this, lowering the lights can do this. I don’t much care what it is, but I do suggest looking at and developing even just one thing you do before bed to help you prepare for sleepy time.
Even for spontaneous people, our bodies love routine. It can’t be denied. So attempting to go to bed within the same half hour window might be something you start with. Stopping TV time early, reading before bed. All ideas you can implement for yourself, or just begin to get curious and observe yourself without changing anything first.
Sauna and cold exposure
I did not pull any research for this podcast episode. But if you want to look up research, I would type in cold exposure and immune response. And sauna exposure and heat shock proteins. That is where I encourage you to start. Both of these have been researched heavily. Saunas more than cold exposure to my knowledge. But both are worth looking into.
I know the benefits of saunas are pretty clear-cut and backed by science. Some of the claims on the cold exposure side are a bit more iffy. We know what cold does to our recovery process and swelling. Often times it stops the healing process. So using it in order to decrease soreness is not backed by science. Using it to recover quicker to my knowledge is also not backed by science. But I do believe there is scientific backing for positive immune responses. And that’s enough for me to want one in our new house. I likely wouldn’t use it by itself, I would use it in combination with a sauna. Because there is also research on hot and cold exposure. But I don’t know that it is that much different than just the benefits of a sauna.
On the sauna note, I’m not a big sweat-er. Like I don’t sweat during my lifts. It’s very rare if I do. And saunas have always and forever just felt so good to me because I can sweat. So take that for what it’s worth as well.
Outside of any scientific backing, I think that plundering yourself into a cold ice bath it’s just another opportunity to do a hard thing, that may have some positive immune responses. And it’s only 1 to 5 minutes of your life likely. It’s undoubtedly a shock to the body, it’s an opportunity to practice breath work, opportunity to build mental fortitude. And I am down with all of those things.
There’s a lot of recovery tactics out there that are not backed by literature. But that people feel better after doing. I am a believer of whether it’s pseudoscience or not, if it’s not hurting anything, and you feel better afterwards, or you feel like you’re taking care of your body, I’m all for it as long as it’s in addition to the basics. As long as you’re getting your sleep, drinking enough water, lifting weights and getting some form of cardio in, I’m game.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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