Your body is constantly feeding you information and one of the best ways to get results from a nutritional and exercise program is to listen.
I have a list of behaviors and sensations that I ask clients to monitor on a daily basis. Small things like if and when you hit a wall in the afternoon, or if you crave certain foods or when you fall asleep can say a lot about what your hormonal balance is like.
If you want to maximize results in any area of performance – training, nutrition, studying for exams – you want to balance hormones. Without making regular appointments with your endocrinologist and doing blood, spit and urine panels every month, the best way to inform yourself as to whats happening in your body is to keep track of your behavior, emotions and feelings. These signals will tell you if you are training too hard, not training enough, need more fuel, etc..
For instance, what’s your sex drive like? Is it low? Ladies, this may mean your estrogen or testosterone is too low. Guys, when was the last time you woke up with an erection? Have you been getting sick more often? Signs are pointing to low testosterone. If you are also noticing weight gain in your chest, then you may have estrogen dominance. These are all signs that can lead you to fairly simple lifestyle changes that will remedy all of the above.
The questionnaire I send out to clients is as detailed as possible to make sure we can maximize efficiency of the program we design for you. If, right now you’re thinking “woah bro, don’t ask me about my erections” don’t worry, you can skip that part. But you would be surprised how much information you can get from your own body. Patterns are everything.
The evaluation is just the beginning, regular monitoring is crucial for optimizing performance, here is a short list of some of the feedback markers I ask clients to keep track of during a training programl.
- Sleep – quality & quantity – If your sleep pattern is irregular we track bed time/wake time
- Mood – waking mood, daytime mood, consistency
- Energy levels – general daytime
- Daytime crash – if it happened and what time
- Sex drive – overall
- Energy level through workout
- Recovery – from previous workout – any notes post current workout
- Stress level – general/any spikes
- hunger – anything out of the ordinary and time of day
- Cravings – what and when
These are the basics and they give you a ton of information on how your progress is coming along. No matter what your fitness goals are you don’t want to sacrifice general health in order to reach them. And truth is that even though you can push past problems with any of the above markers, eventually it will catch up to you and you will pay for it.
I have also developed a shorthand response system so that it takes about 2 minutes to track these markers on a daily or weekly basis. Bing bang boom, you’re all done!
There is a guy named David Goggins and he has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to get where he is today. He went from being obese, depressed and hopeless to becoming a Marine and now an ultra-marathon runner and general fitness maniac. His story is crammed with feats of will and determination. Its inspiring stuff, but he also drove his body into the ground and came very close to death more than once. the first time was when he ran his first 100 mile race. He did it with no long distance running training and it ended with him pissing blood, pooping his pants and ending up in the hospital because his organs were failing. I urge you to listen to any podcast you can find with him in it, he will inspire you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. But I also urge you to see that your body can only take so much and will scream at you to change something, even when what you are doing is looked upon as fitness. Listen or pay the price.
Know what the top two most important factors are when trying to manage weight loss?
Nutrition….and then sleep. Exercise has a major role to play too and in all fairness I believe that the hierarchy tends to flatten out when we talk about general health and fitness rather than just weight loss. But if you are feeling sleepy all day it may be time to address this and slow down on the workouts.
So, if you are training a boat-load and have all of your macronutrients and micronutrients on point but you’re not sleeping enough, this may be the cause of your plateau or your future plateau. Sleep is a tough one to figure out for a lot of people, myself included but there are several measures we can take to improve it and get the ball rolling again on your weight loss or strength training program.
Another big sign is hunger and energy levels. Are you cutting calories and training consistently? This is only okay for small periods of time. If you have a moderately intense training routine, you need to feed yourself properly for it to be effective. The training effect is maximized when you fuel it right. The progress may seem slower at first but if you want your digestive, immune, nervous and cardiovascular systems to work at capacity, you can’t starve them. This is a sure fire way to create hormonal imbalances. If you are hungry and low energy most days then something is up. When you are a fitness model, this may be the case running up to a shoot, the sacrifice is real but short term. Don’t mimic this day in and day out, your metabolism will crash.
Are you currently suffering from a poorly planned workout regimen? Not meeting your goals?If you are looking for help building an exercise program with a more holistic approach, apply for our custom program design.
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Another common scenario – training injury