The Other 23 Hours

You show up consistently and push yourself in the gym. But why aren’t most people taking recovery as seriously as their workouts?

Unless you’re lucky enough to be a full-time athlete, time isn’t always on your side. But there are still ways to make the rest of your day productive, or at least not as harmful, to your training goals.

Remember, it’s much more time consuming (and costly) to undo bad habits or deal with injuries than to be mindful of the lifestyle you’re living outside of the gym.

Drink more water

It’s first because it’s an obvious tip and you’ve heard it a million times. But most people —especially active people— don’t drink nearly the amount of water they should. Find ways to make it a priority whether it’s starting off with a glass in the morning or striving to drink a certain amount at work.

A lot of people find that just having a water bottle with them all the time (in the car, out running errands, etc.) encourages them to drink more frequently.

This is extremely important around your workouts, but gets lost in cold weather months. Athletes who aren’t doing a lot of metabolic conditioning (lifters) are often horrible at staying hydrated as well. Just because you aren’t drenched in sweat doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to hydration!

Move around outside of the gym

If you’re upping your water drinking, at the very least you’re going to the bathroom more during your work day. And that’s a good thing. No matter how small, moving around helps get your body out of a chair and where it’s mean to be- moving around.

That can also be a big mental boost. A lot of research has been done that supports the idea that we should all be taking short breaks throughout the day to increase alertness and efficiency.

Squeeze in stretching if you can. Walk around or go outside for lunch. Just please move more.

Also, if you aren’t familiar with the concept of NEAT, those small steps can also add up when it comes to your nutrition goals.

Sleep more (and better)

We have talked about this topic at length. (See Part 1 and Part 2 of our sleep series). But what you really should know is if you absolutely can’t get into bed any earlier at night, you can still make an impact by improving sleep quality.

Make sure it’s cold and completely dark when you go to bed. Stop scrolling Instagram right before you roll over- screen time seriously messes with your sleep cycle.  And try to stick to the same schedule if you can. There’s no “banking” extra sleep on the weekends to make up for getting four hours a night during the week. That’s like trying to adjust your eating on Saturday to undo Wednesday’s dessert. Your body doesn’t work like that.

Be as active as possible outside of the gym

Change your thoughts.

Stress? We all have it. But here’s the neat thing about it: we CHOOSE whether to let that stress creep into the rest of our day.

Our minds are so much more powerful than most of us realize. Something as simple as a few slow, measured breaths and shift in attitude can have a profound impact on the rest of our day (and workout later that night.)

Or maybe it’s a few positive sticky notes or quotes near your desk to help keep you on track. I’d highly recommend trying a short daily meditation app like Headspace as well.

There’s a reason the top athletes in every sport in the world are hailed as being mentally tough. They know how to block things out and focus on what’s important. The more you can train your mind to do that, the less stress you’ll have. And that can lead to some awesome things: reduced inflammation, better sleep, fat loss. Find what works for you.