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Pick the low-hanging fruit

It can be frustrating not seeing results from your training. It happens to a lot of us at times. Fitness can be complicated, with so many supplements available and so many people out there saying so many different things, often contradicting one another. Every second 'influencer' has different messages and marketing techniques, whether it's the latest fad diet, the next expensive gadget, or the newest 'type of training'. But before you switch up your training entirely (yet again), or spend $100 on the latest 'fat-burner' supplement (that doesn't actually work), ask yourself, are you picking the low-hanging fruit first?

What does 'low-hanging fruit' mean exactly? Well it refers to the most easily achieved set of tasks or behavioural changes that can help you progress towards a goal. In the case of health and fitness, there are many low-hanging fruits to be picked, which people seem to ignore or forget about, while they are busy trying everything else under the sun to get results. 

Below is a list of some of the low-hanging fruit that you should be picking in order to optimise your results:

 

1. Get into a better sleep routine.
Sleep is one of the most underrated performance-enhancing tools we have. Better sleep has been linked to better appetite control, better training recovery, increased physical and cognitive performance, enhanced mood (Patrick et al, 2017). The list goes on… And best of all? It's free!

 

2. Resistance/cardiovascular train at least twice a week (Bretland & Thorsteinssen, 2015). 

We all know the benefits now of exercise, both resistance and cardiovascular training. Ranging from things like increasing your bone mineral density, increasing your insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of a vast array of diseases, increasing your cognitive function and having positive effects on your mental health (Nystoriak & Bhatnagar, 2018), it's a no-brainer to make sure you are including at least two training sessions per week. 

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3. Be physically active on most days.

This might mean taking the stairs some days, or parking further away and walking to work, or walking to the park for lunch. It might even mean giving yourself step targets if you've got the feature on your smartphone or smartwatch. 

This is an excerpt straight from the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines:

"Adults should be active most days, preferably every day. Each week, adults should do either:

  • 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity – such as a brisk walk, golf, mowing the lawn or swimming
  • 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity – such as jogging, aerobics, fast cycling, soccer or netball
  • Include muscle-strengthening activities as part of your daily physical activity on at least 2 days each week."

4. Eat enough protein.

Proteins are the building blocks for life!  You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones, which means maintaining/building lean muscle mass. It is a very important part of recovery and we should be aiming for roughly 1.5g/per kg of bodyweight (Wu, 2016) - although highly physically active people may require upwards of 2g/per kg. 

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5. Eat more vegetables. 

The Western world has an abundance of cheap, super-processed, high calorie food. This makes it quite easy to neglect nutrient-rich food like fresh vegetables. A lot of vegetables have the benefit of having high fibre, high satiety index (they're filling) and low calories (Barber et al, 2020), making them a great option to include to ensure you're consuming a well-balanced diet.

6. Manage stress.

It's no secret that stress has a variety of negative effects on the body. Stress can manifest itself physically and be detrimental to physical performance (Kleine et al, 1988). This might result in decreased power outputs, impaired recovery, and lower perceived energy levels. All things that are important for improving performance. Whether it's finding ways to maintain healthy relationships, staying on top of your work or managing your financial stress, it's all tied in with your physical and mental wellbeing (Klink et al, 2001). If you feel like you need professional assistance, our wellness consultant Emma is now offering consults out of SOF to help with stress management techniques.

7. Find the enjoyment factor!

Is there a particular exercise you love doing? Is there a particular exercise you HATE doing? Realistically, the best exercise regime is one that you will adhere to. So if you know you know you hate running and won't last more than 2 weeks with it, why not stick with something you love and drizzle the very occasional run in here and there? If you love swimming, make it a part of your routine. If it gets you moving more, use it to your advantage!

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Next time you think about changing everything up in your training, or spending exorbitant amounts of money on supplements or gadgets, or even quitting altogether, ensure you are picking these low-hanging fruit first!

 

#teamSOF