What to Focus On Between Workouts
Posted March 07, 2023 by Matthew Romans
At Total Results, one of our main goals is to provide value to our clients by maintaining a position as an educational resource. I believe that no individual has the market cornered on knowledge, so I strive to learn from a variety of sources with the hope that I might be able to share some of what I have learned with the amazing clients that I work with every day. I am often asked by clients about a great many things that pertain to exercise, nutrition, and general health. This might include the latest nutritional supplement (don't waste your money), what to eat, what type of mattress to buy, or something related to sports performance. I generally give the most educated answer I am able to provide, but if it's something that's outside of my knowledge or scope of practice I'm happy to either research further or point the client in another direction. One common question that I am asked, particularly by newer clients, is, "What should I be doing in between workouts?" While on the surface this may seem like a pretty simple question to answer, there are several factors that I must consider before I give my answer. Every individual has different goals and lifestyles, and there is no one-size-fits-all response. Sure, I can give general advice that will work for most people, but in order to optimize success I need to find out about the client's daily habits and what they ultimately want to achieve.
Based on the vast number of different diet/nutritional books available on Amazon, I think we can safely say that there is no single best way to eat that will work equally well for everybody. Each individual has their own genetic makeup, as well as their own food likes, dislikes, and allergies. You can see differences in the paleolithic/ketogenic styles of eating, and there are even some contradictions between the two. Having said that, I think most reasoned people that have studied nutrition (and aren't trying to sell you anything) will agree that minimizing processed foods and sugar is probably a wise decision. We know enough about how Big Agriculture has changed the nutritional content of commercially available food (and the corresponding rise in chronic disease) to understand that it has not been a positive trend. You really can't go wrong consuming a largely single-ingredient, whole-food diet, because it will give you the biggest bang for your nutritional buck. Inflation and the corresponding recent trend of higher food prices is really unfortunate, because it seems like the food with the highest nutritional value costs the most, but look at it as an investment in your health. Don't worry about counting calories, or figuring out a percentage of which macronutrients to consume; this is more likely to be time-consuming and cause frustration. Eat until you are no longer hungry and then step away from the table. Avoid stressing out over food; eating a meal should be an enjoyable experience, not one filled with anxiety.
I have talked a lot recently about intermittent fasting, and have read and reviewed two excellent books on the subject. Simply put, it is one of the best things that you can do to improve your health and produce benefits that are both seen and unseen. Fasting is a perfect complement to the strength training that you do at Total Results, because your body needs a reason to continue to build and maintain muscle while you slightly reduce your caloric intake with very little effort. It is really not as difficult to do as most people think; it only involves not eating for slightly longer stretches of time than you are generally accustomed. Just because you are fasting more doesn't mean you have to deny yourself certain foods; this is why restrictive diets don't work over the long term. Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it is a lifestyle modification. Everyone's lifestyle and schedule is a little different, but you can adapt your approach to fit your life. That will give you the best chance to succeed.
Physical movement in between sessions is a good thing. We are human beings, and I don't believe we were meant to sit around all day. How active you should be between Total Results workouts is dependent on a few factors: whether you perform one or two sessions per week, what additional activities you pursue, how well you sleep (more on this to come), and what it is that you ultimately hope to achieve. Total Results clients may come once per week due to cost, distance traveled, schedule limitations, or because they were not properly recovering with two sessions per week. Those that exercise more intensely will require a longer recovery period, especially if they are more active between sessions. A client that pursues Total Results strength training in order to improve their golf game or to optimize sports performance will likely have more finite recovery ability, due to increased activity. Charting workout performance by the instructor is critical, but this also requires the client to listen to their body. As one gets stronger and fitter, they will become more in tune when something feels off. Don't ignore this signal! Also, forget about the idea of getting 10,000 steps in per day. It may be fun to track, but that number is completely arbitrary and won't translate into any meaningful physiological change. Remember, there is a fine line between being active and overdoing it.
Proper restful sleep is essential, in fact you can't have any sustained period of progress without it. You can buck the trend for a while with caffeine, but sooner or later your workout performance will grind to a halt if you don't get enough sleep. I have mentioned this in previous articles, but setting a consistent bedtime and wake time is just as important for adults as it is for teenagers. If your body clock is all over the place, or if you're exposing yourself to too much artificial light (in the form of electronics) in the evening hours just before bed, your body will not produce the necessary melatonin required for falling asleep. Strive to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep consistently throughout the week. I find that meditating in the evening hours helps me not only to "power down", but also to manage stress, and it does not require a huge time commitment. Practicing mindfulness at some point throughout the day will help you to become more self-aware, which is always a good thing. Finally, try to read and learn new things; this will help you to keep an open mind and will make you a more effective learner at Total Results. Our workouts are an educational experience, but they don't take place in a traditional classroom setting.
These are some suggestions to focus on in between workouts. If you develop the right mindset, give your best effort, and live well, positive results will come. They may not happen immediately, but remember that this is a process. If you fall off track a little, don't beat yourself up over it. Look at it as a temporary defeat rather than a failure, and learn from it. We just want you to get one percent better each day. You are in control of your own destiny.