Connecting the Dots

Written by Orlaith White, Fitness Instructor at Osprey Leisure Club

In my opinion the key to a true healthy lifestyle is all about linking certain aspects of our life to a shared ethos. Training, nutrition and sleep are three fundamental areas which make or break our healthy lifestyle.

Training, or exercising as “non-gym bunnies” call it, has a version for every single person. Whether you are injured, have an illness or disease, suffering from a disability or lacking in the motivation department, there’s a form of exercise for you!

As a child, I played every sport under the sun. I eventually narrowed it down to two or three in my teens and have settled on just the one in recent years: football. Football training and matches, as well as gym work consumes my leisure time. It offers me a release of stress, pumps my body with endorphins and fuels my need for competition.

For those who do not share my passion for physical activity, I encourage you to look at the benefits of a quick session. Look at your day and I’m sure you’ll find a gap for a short workout. Whether it’s going for a fast paced walk, joining a fitness class in the gym or trashing a 20 minute HIIT workout, the benefits of this physical activity will hugely outweigh the sacrifice of a short percentage of your day.

With training ticked off the list, we look towards the second part of our circle - nutrition. I have never been a fan of the word ‘diet’. When mentioned, it immediately gives off a negative spark in the mind of an individual. Instead of ‘dieting’, try to look at your eating as part of this healthy lifestyle.

When it comes to healthy eating, sustainability is key. Many commercial ‘diets’ or eating plans circulated these days are not in any way sustainable. Yes, they provide you with quick results in the short term, but when that course ends, what do you do then? Long term sustainability and food education is the only way an individual can maintain a healthy eating plan.

There is so much free, easily accessible education online nowadays regarding food and nutrition. From blogs and articles to fitness and nutrition professionals on YouTube, you can be sure to learn something beneficial.

For those who are motivated to reach a certain body composition goal, flexible eating is the most sustainable approach. This involves calculating your daily calorie intake based on your weight, height and activity level, breaking down these calories into macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) and tracking your food intake to ensure you are meeting both the calories and macros. This allows flexibility in your eating; instead of ‘eating clean’ 24/7, it offers a variety of food to eat, as long as it fits into your macros.

To individuals who have neither desire nor time to calculate calorie intake and macros, I suggest you operate with a simplified approach. Eat clean 90% of the time and enjoy your treats in moderation. You’ll appreciate them much more!

With training and nutrition covered, we reach the final stage of our circle – recovery. Although cool downs, stretching and rolling are very important post-workout, sleep is the best form of recovery both physically and mentally.

The average human should sleep between 7-9 hours every night. Studies have shown that a continuous healthy sleeping pattern can improve your memory, spur creativity, sharpen your attention span and lower stress levels. Not to mention the physical recovery it offers your muscles and joints after a long day.

As we reach the end of our circle, we can begin to see the connection between our three areas. If you do not eat correctly, you will not have the energy to be physically active, if you are not physically active, you may encounter problems with your sleeping pattern.

All three areas need to be on par to ensure you are getting the most out of your energy and health. You will start to find both physical and mental changes when you adapt this form of a healthy lifestyle. You will gain energy, desire, motivation and self-confidence as well as looking your best.

When it comes down to it, it really is as simple as connecting the dots.