Staying in great shape takes time and effort, yes, but it also takes knowledge. There’s a difference between working harder to stay in shape and working smarter to stay in shape. The following will explore some of the ways that soldiers stay in great shape throughout the entire year no matter the season.
As with any health advice available online, always take your time and make sure that you are listening to how your body responds to changes you’re making. Everyone is different and so the following should be viewed as guidelines that can be tweaked to better suit your tastes, schedule, and lifestyle. Since there’s more to staying in shape than first meets the eye. Yes, diet and exercise will be discussed, but so will lesser-known aspects of fitness like sleep, stress management, and supplements will also be looked at.
They Get Enough Sleep
Getting high-quality, consistent sleep is pretty much a superpower when it comes to staying in shape. This is because while you sleep your body is healing. It’s recovering from the workouts you did that day and making sure that your muscles are ready for the following morning. It’s processing the meals you’ve eaten. It’s balancing your hormones so that you stay level and motivated throughout the day.
As you sleep, your body produces what is called: growth hormone. This hormone gets its name because when we’re young it is what helps us grow while we sleep, but this hormone also helps us build and maintain lean muscle. Beyond this, balanced hormones, like the right levels of testosterone at the right points in our day can improve your workouts.
Sleep, or lack thereof, can spiral into all the areas of your life. A sleep-deprived brain makes poorer choices, some of which have to do with being less resistant to junk foods or sugary cravings. Of course, this is going to influence your fitness by increasing the chances that you’ll have unhealthy or damaging foods, but also that you’ll be more likely to skip a workout or other important health habits.
Sleep also revs up your metabolism, making sure that your body is properly processed the foods that you eat into energy that you can use. Too little sleep causes a spike in cortisol (the hormone most associated with stress). High levels of cortisol tell your body to conserve energy in case you need it later, meaning your body is more likely to hold on tightly to the fat that you have. Studies have found significant connections between lack of sleep and weight gain.
To top it all off, poor sleep increases your appetite. When you’re tired, your body is seeking out energy. If it can’t get that energy from sleep, it will turn to food. Studies have consistently found that those who get less sleep take in more calories throughout the day. Beyond this, people who don’t sleep enough tend to eat later in the night (because they’re awake) and this makes the sleep you do get less effective as your body is digesting instead of repairing.
They Keep an Eye on Their Stress Levels
In today’s modern, digital world, stress is all around us. It’s a very different stress than what our ancestors were used to and, because of this, we haven’t culturally or socially adapted to dealing with it healthily and appropriately. Stress is directly linked to weight gain. In fact, in situations where someone has not changed their diet or exercise regime in any way, and are suddenly gaining weight, the culprit might turn out to be stress.
When our body is under stress we experience what is called “fight or flight.” This is when your instincts take over and get what you need to be done sorted out. This is designed for situations like encountering bears in the wilderness, not dealing with the horrors of office life. Because of this, fight or flight can often produce results like overeating comfort foods as a way to lower stress levels.
What’s more, the type of stress we face with modernity tends to be extended. This means instead of a twenty-minute spike of cortisol (when we see a wolf and are either eaten or we get away) we’re experiencing this spike for extended periods—full days, weeks, months, or even years. The human body is not designed for this, so when it happens, the overeating of comfort foods can become a habit.
Depending on the type of stress in your life and the source, it can be easier or more difficult to combat. Sleep and exercise will help, but removing unnecessary stressors is probably the most important step you can take. Of course, you’ll still have stressors in your life that you cannot get rid of (indeed, you don’t want to get rid of them). For these sources of cortisol, stress management techniques and meditation are likely going to prove helpful.
They Make Sure They’re Getting the Supplements They Need
Pushing yourself regularly, or even daily, workout results in your body needing a lot more than it used to need to repair itself. Experts at Wilsonsupplements.com point out that, in particular, BCAAs and protein are needed in this type of situation. BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) comprise three different amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) which are essential for the human body. This means that you need them, but your body can’t make them on its own, so you need to inject them. BCAAs work within the body to help regulate your protein synthesis and by suppressing the breakdown of protein in your body. They also reduce the markers of muscle damage caused by workouts and many people claim they minimize muscle soreness and recovery time after intense workouts. Moreover, they help with muscle growth.
Protein is often supplemented in the form of a powder that is mixed into a smoothie or drink. If you’re working out hard on the regular, it is possible you might not be getting enough protein to help your muscles grow, even if you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet.
When choosing a protein powder take some time to read about the ingredients as there are several different types of protein powder available on the market. Sometimes, with dairy-based protein powders, people discover their skin breaks out a little even if they’re not lactose-intolerant. This might be from the high quantity of lactose. You might have to experiment with a few different kinds until you find the right protein powder for you.
Two types of exercise need to be managed if you want to get into and stay in great shape. Cardio exercise involves activities that get your heart rate pumping. Running, biking and swimming are all great examples but don’t knock some of the other forms of cardio like jumping rope. With just a few square feet and a rope, you can get your heart rate up, burn calories, and improve the health of your cardiovascular system. Stair sprints, running on the spot, and burpees can also count as cardio exercise. These workouts help keep your waist trim, but also increase your stamina and endurance as well as making your heart and lungs strong.
Strength training is the other form of exercise to be done regularly. Here is where you might see a big difference between how soldiers stay in shape and internet workout gurus advice. This is because, when it comes to strength training there are two possible goals that are often very different from one another. You can strength train to build muscle, like a bodybuilder, and here the goal is to change the way that your body looks from the outside. You can also strength train to get stronger and be able to lift more weight. These targets require very different forms of exercise, so it is important that you think about the outcome you want and specify this when you’re looking into workouts for you. But don’t think that they’re mutually exclusive, you can work towards both if you want. Lifting weights and doing bodyweight exercises like pushups and pullups both fit into this category of exercise.
Flexibility training isn’t one of the two main forms of exercise, but you might find it incredibly useful as you embark on your fitness journey. Stretching regularly and doing a few balance-based exercises can help strengthen your core, but they can also help prevent injuries which is important if you want long-term fitness. There are far more risks to overdoing your workouts than you previously would have thought. It’s easy to permanently damage your back, neck, knees, shoulders, hips, and ankles. Taking the time to stretch can help make sure you’ll be working out long into your old age.
They Eat Well
We’ve touched a little bit on protein above, but there are many more aspects of a well-balanced diet that can contribute to year-round fitness. First, you’ll need to take a moment to learn about water and fat. You need both of these substances to do so many things in your body, including making use of the vitamins and minerals you’re ingesting. Nearly all vitamins need water or fat in your system to be properly utilized which means if you’re lacking on or the other (or both) you might not be using the vitamins you’re eating.
Beyond this, studies have proven that drinking more water can help you lose weight. Water serves as a natural appetite suppressant, it increases how many calories your body burns, and it helps remove toxins and waste from the body (which believe it or not, contributes to weight gain). Beyond this, drinking water helps reduce the number of other drinks you have in your day (coffee, sugary sodas, sugary juices, tea, energy drinks… etc.). This can also have a positive effect on your waistline. In addition to all of the above, drinking more water helps you burn more fat and helps your joints and connective tissues withstand intense workouts.
Healthy fats are high in calories, so many people at first glance would think to stay away from them if they’re paying attention to their shape. This couldn’t be more incorrect. Years ago, the sugar industry paid off a whole bunch of scientists to produce fake results to blame fat for obesity and other health problems. Even though we now know the results were fake, people still associate fats with weight gain.
Good, healthy fats can be included in your life to reduce your risk of heart disease (it has been shown to lower cholesterol) but it can also help you keep a healthy weight. Healthy fats like those found in nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs, and fatty fish have been shown to keep people fuller (thereby reducing snacking and overeating) and help improve the body’s ability to burn fat.
Beyond taking the right amount of healthy fats and water, people who stay fit all year round have found a healthy balance between nutritious calories in and energy out. Depending on your size, muscle mass, and exercise habits the number of calories you should be aiming for differs. Take a little time to research how to calculate your ideal caloric intake or speak to a healthcare professional to understand where you should be aiming.
One way to help lower stress when it comes to calories is to focus on weekly or biweekly average daily calories instead of a number you need to reach each and every day. This will allow for social events like birthday parties or drinks with old friends you’ve not seen in a while to be enjoyed without throwing off your entire regime.
With the above information employed regularly and with knowledgeable care, you will begin to find a healthy and enjoyable series of habits that will help keep you in shape all year round. Of course, if you have any underlying or preexisting medical conditions, it is always wise to speak to a healthcare professional before making major changes to your diet or lifestyle. It might also be helpful to keep a journal or a few notes about each day’s exercise and food choices and emotional states. This will help you stay aware of the positive results from your hard work and will, therefore, help keep you motivated to keep up the good work.