By Tia Norris, March 2017 Issue of Echo Magazine in Phoenix, AZ.
There are three aspects to all fitness programs: exercise, diet and lifestyle. As you all know, most of my columns hammer on the exercise and the diet aspects.
Still, it’s almost too common to hear, “fitness is a lifestyle.” In my experience these two aspects are quite different and need to be addressed separately.
So, you ask, “what is the lifestyle, exactly?”
My best answer for you is that “the lifestyle” is everything you do outside of the gym and the kitchen, that helps to make you the best version of yourself.
Here are three points for maintaining a healthy lifestyle that complements all your hard work in the gym and the kitchen:
1. Sex. Safely.
Now that I have your attention! Obviously, sizzling sex is a staple for the vast majority of the population. In the words of Madonna, it’s human nature. You and I both know that I don’t need to detail the benefits of a sensational sex life to prove my point her, so I’ll summarize by listing: increased energy, better sleep, hormone balance, feelings of connection and pure, unbridled happiness, to name a few.
On one hand, yes, you should be having great sex, often! However, on the other hand, let’s not be dumbasses about it, people. Use your head, you know, the one with the actual brain inside of it. According to gettested.com, 20 million people in the United States are infected with STDs every year. Add in the fact that the LGBTQ community is disproportionately affected by STDs and the stigma and shame that’s commonly associated with STDs, and you’re looking at a very real risk.
The bottom line is that you should be practicing safe sex! It is NOT worth rolling the dice with your health for a few moments of pleasure. No matter what, you must talk about it, get tested regularly and protect yourself accordingly. You know this, now do it. No excuses!
2. Treat Yo’self.
As an athlete, as a human being, you must give your body as much as you take from it. This means that you need a solid self-care routine. You must learn to take care of yourself first, if you ever expect to take care of other people. Everyday, I make myself as strong as I can so that I can help make others strong. If you are low, overworked, injured, underfed or under nourished (for some examples), you’re not only going to render yourself unable to make progress, but you’re going to have the same effect on those you extend your care to, whether it’s your partner, family, pets or clients.
For me, since I push my body to the absolute limits on a regular basis, this means regular doses of deep tissue massage (two hours per week), chiropractic work (a few hours per month), acupuncture (an hour per month) and stretching with meditation (daily). From an athletic standpoint, I highly recommend that you follow a similar routine. Because an imbalance in the give/take from your body will eventually cause an injury. My recommendation is always this: for every hour of weightlifting, you’ll need 20 minutes of soft tissue work or stretching; for every hour of cardio, you’ll need 30 minutes of the same work. Taking care of yourself will help you avoid injury and setbacks down the road.
But what about therapies that aren’t just for your muscles? How about a facial, or a spa day, a shopping spree, a spontaneous weekend getaway or a day of nothing but video games? Too often the demand is to be constantly on the go, fixated on progress and output but forgetful of what we need for ourselves. Just stop. Ditch your schedule, ditch your obligations. You have my full permission to skip that social outing or call into work, to do whatever you need to do that makes your soul happy (but use this hall pass sparingly).
Again, any imbalance – even just mentally – will eventually run you into the ground. Treat yourself with whatever feeds your soul!
3. F*ck Everybody Else.
No, this is not tied to discussion point No. 1. Seriously, one of the best things you can do for yourself, and your life as a whole, is to stop giving a f*ck about what everyone else says, thinks and does. As long as what you’re doing doesn’t hurt anyone else, you should be free and confident to do whatever the hell floats your boat. Other people’s assessments of you are just a projection of themselves. Too many people in this world are paralyzed with worrying about what other people will think. F*ck that. Skip the insecurity, stop wasting time, and just be yourself, unapologetically.
Of course, diet and exercise are the bedrocks of any fitness program. But ultimately, the lifestyle is what will cause your full success or your failure. By having safe sex, treating yourself, staying balanced and keeping the focus on what’s important to you, I guarantee that the you’ll find the journey to your fitness goals will be that much easier.