Time to Recover
So, here’s the deal…
this is me back in 2004.
Skinny, gaunt, overtrained and under-recovered.
This, right here, is the byproduct of an exercise obsession,
a recovery aversion,
and disordered eating.
This is why I have dedicated my career to finding the right ways to exercise, the best ways to recover and the right way to eat in order to reach a specified goal.
Fat loss and getting in shape is is a great goal, it just needs to be done properly.
Thanks Mr G
In grade 11 Biology, Mr Gabel was teaching us about the cardiovascular system.
He had us measure our heart rates for class.
Mine was in the low 30s – something I was pretty proud of.
I figured I was “Lance Armstrong Fit” (Lance Armstrong was liked and appreciated at the time) as his heart rate was in the 30s.
This measurement set off a cascade of events that landed me in the hospital for a month.
If it wasn’t for that class,
We may have never known what was going on.
They told me my blood pressure was “near death”
They measured my weight, something I had not done.
Guess what it was…
I was constantly sore, irritable, stressed and unrecognizable from a physical, mental and emotional perspective.
My body was deteriorating, my performance decreased and my mood was unstable.
So what was going on here?
Well, we know that in order for us to get more fit, the following must happen:
#1-The exercise stimulus must exceed the current capacity of the body
#2-we must allow adequate recovery in order to overcome and surpass the short-term reduction in performance
I was definitely doing the first part, but I was definitely not doing the second part.
The story that follows will highlight how I ended up 110lbs and “near death” in a hospital bed.
Throughout the story, I will highlight the times I SHOULD have taken to recover.
I wasn’t training a crazy amount each day – it was only about 2 hours with a walk there and back to the gym, but as you will see it was the sum of everything I was doing that led me to end up as the guy in the picture.
The sum of everything that we do is known as the allostatic load. To learn more about stress and the allostatic load, check out this article here.
Anyways, I woke up early in the morning,
walked to the gym,
worked out for a couple hours doing “hard” non-stop exercises with minimal recovery,
then I walked home and got ready for school.
I also snuck in some extra core work throughout the day as well. I am embarrassed to say this but I was repping 1000s of crunches and sit-ups daily. Something I do not recommend today 🙁
Time for recovery 1 – Exercise Programs
So, this leads us to our first opportunity for recovery – in your exercise programs.
People don’t usually think of their exercise program as a place to recover, but the strategic placement of recovery in the right places with the right durations is what allows you to get stronger, more fit and hotter.
Ensuring that you get what you’re hoping to get from your training requires you to actually recover within your exercise programs.
Recovery in your programs comes in a variety of forms:
1-In your daily workouts in the form of work:rest ratios
2-In your weekly workout schedule in the form of off-days
3-In your monthly programs in the form of deload weeks (we include a period of lower volume in our workouts to prevent excess accumulation of fatigue)
4-In your annual plan (yearly) in the form of transition phases. This can be 2-4 weeks of unstructured training or often times, it is just a vacation with no formal workouts
I was going all day
I really didn’t stop doing stuff.
I was moving all day.
I would walk 25 mins to and from school (uphill both ways….in my dad’s pajamas),
bust my butt in school,
do extra-curricular stuff ie. student council, fitness club,
work at home hardware,
work at the Stonewall Arena,
do some babysitting,
And play sports ie. hockey, baseball, track, skateboarding.
Time to Recover 2 – Rest of the day
This is a substantial opportunity to take advantage of some recovery methods.
I put so much emphasis on being and staying busy but getting in shape the right way requires you to use some recovery modalities when you are not exercising.
Here are some of our favourite recovery methods:
1- Mobility Flows
Mobility flows are just mobility exercises strung together in a sequence, check out this video:
2- Foam rolling
If you would have asked me about meditation 15 years ago my mind would have gone to a scene involving a fair-skinned hippie with braids, loose-fitting clothing who had not showered in 6 months sitting in a field of lillies cross-legged with her hands in the traditional meditation pose saying Ommmmm.
I have since changed my view on the topic…I love it!
I do it every day.
Here is what the research is saying about meditation:
It lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate,
It lowers stress hormones (ie. cortisol),
It lowers inflammation,
It boosts immune system function,
It increased focus, mental acuity and attention,
It increases mood,
It improves sleep,
It improves regulation of our body clock,
It increases emotional regulation,
It enhances memory and recall,
It can even develop gray matter in your brain.
We love using the headspace app for meditation.
I was not eating the right stuff
Here’s what I had going on:
Oatmeal and raisins for breakfast
Chicken breast sandwich on rye bread and carrots for lunch
Corn flakes, cereal and skim milk for supper.
I also avoided fats like they were cyanide.
I wish I was lying and I wish that wasn’t every day….but it’s the truth!
Don’t do what I did.
Obviously, proper nutrition is a substantial component of recovery.
This leads us to our 3rd time to recover….meal times
Time to Recover 3 – Meal times
In order to effectively perform, recover and benefit from your workouts, getting enough protein, smart carbs, healthy fats and colourful fruits and vegetables is essential.
We will briefly discuss each nutrient below.
Protein is found in things like chicken, fish, tofu, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, protein powder, beef and pork.
Proteins are building blocks within our bodies.
They build muscle, enables recovery, makes hormones and contribute to healthy immune system function.
Generally, females should get 1 palm of protein per meal, males should get 2 palms of protein per meal.
Smart carbs include things like potatoes, yams, rice, colourful fruit, quinoa and barley.
Smart carbs provide energy for our bodies to move.
Therefore, they fuel training and aid recovery, they preserve and restore energy stores in the muscle and liver and they can even help burn fat.
Females should aim for 1 cupped handful per meal, males should have 2 cupped handfuls of smart carbs per meal.
Back in my “fat-fearing” days, my wise-ass brother thought it would be funny to threaten to put some butter into my rice. I freaked on him. It didn’t help that I was incredibly irritable, but man, was I pissed.
Nonetheless, healthy fats are great. We need them.
Here is what heathy fats can do for you:
They store vitamins and minerals necessary for peak performance,
They nourish your brain, eyes and cell membranes,
They help maintain blood glucose and insulin levels so you can train harder longer,
They enable proper immune function so you don’t get sick and miss training,
They help build and balance important hormones,
They help improve recovery,
They help improve your libido,
They give you energy,
And they they help you feel satisfied with your meals.
Some fats may even help with brain development in children and may prevent neurodegenerative disorders in adults.
Generally, females should have 1 thumb of healthy fats per meal, males should have 2 thumbs of healthy fats per meal.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I was eating vegetables at this time, but I just wasn’t getting enough variety with my colours.
I ate so many damn carrots that my hands turned a funky orangey-yellow colour.
Nonetheless, a variety of colour provides nutrients.
Nutrients = health and recovery.
Therefore, Colourful fruits and vegetables”
Help maintain blood sugar
Contribute to heart health
Decrease the risk of certain cancers.
Generally, it is best to aim for 5 servings of colourful fruits and/or vegetables each day.
A serving of colourful vegetables like peppers, spinach or eggplant is about the size of your fist.
A serving of colourful fruits like blueberries, pineapple or grapefruit would be about 1 cupped handful.
My sleep ritual?
I was definitely burning the candle at both ends, sleeping from about 10:30 pm -4:30 am.
Six hours is not enough for adults let alone a growing 16-year old kid.
This leads to our next time for recovery – bedtime.
Time to Recover 4 – Bedtime
Research consistently shows that people miss out on sleep due to….
voluntary bedtime delay.
As in, people will elect to stay up and watch Riverdale rather than go to bed.
As a result, here is what can happen when we do not sleep enough:
We can have increased cravings for salt, sugar, fat and carbs
We can have decreased craving for protein and vegetables
Increased diabetes risk
Decreased testosterone and increased estrogen
Decrease in lean mass (muscle, bone, organs ie brain)
Increased risk of heart attack
Increased risk of stroke
Decreased work and athletic performance
So, what do we do about this?
Enter the Bedtime ritual.
So, now what?
Well, we gave you a ton of stuff to do.
What should you do with all of this information?
We would never expect you to do all of this at once.
Chances are there is something that resonated with you.
Something that you felt would make a substantial difference in your life,
Or even, something that you are super confident you could do.
Pick that thing.
And take action on it.
Today’s world is full of information like the stuff in this article.
What makes the difference is the ability to act.
So, take action on that one thing and start changing your life today.