I will cover in this article 5 basic daily ‘rituals’ if you will, that will help you have more energy through out your day, help you get leaner & more muscular & promote recovery from your workouts. These may seem simple, which they are yet are powerful.
Daily Ritual #1 – Getting Enough ‘Proper’ Sleep
This seems simple and obvious enough, but many people do not get nearly enough sleep or in some cases too much! How much is enough? I am sure you’ve heard the old 8 hours of sleep a night is what’s needed and this is fairly accurate. We are all wired differently and studies have shown that 7 hours is usually enough.
Even if you are getting your 7-8 hours a night, a nice 20-30 minute nap during the day will do wonders for you and have your refreshed & re-energized if you get tired mid-day like I do sometimes.
Also, the quality of sleep is important. What this means is, getting enough REM sleep & the more, deeper restorative stages of sleep is key. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol & other drugs such as diet pills & decongestants stimulate parts of the brain and can prevent you from hitting the deeper sleep stages or even cause insomnia. Be sure to keep this in mind and limit, if not eliminate these substances if possible, especially in the latter parts of the day.
Also it is helpful if your room or ‘sleep zone’ is as quiet and dark as can be. Wearing a sleep mask, ear plugs & heavy blinds can really help to achieve this. Disengaging from your work & everyday tasks 30 minutes to an hour before bed is great to promote a healthy sleep cycle. Taking a short walk, meditating or doing some light reading (non-work related) before going to sleep help calm the mind & prepare you for a good nights sleep.
Daily Ritual #2 –Drink Enough Water
Our second daily ritual seems almost as obvious as the first one. But again like sleep, most people do not get enough water either. Hydrating our bodies properly is so important for many reasons. Our bodies are made up of about 70% water which says a lot in itself. So why is water so important?… here are some main reasons:
- Removes waste/toxins from the body
- Helps you to lose weight & decrease your appetite
- Increased muscle tone
- Digest food more efficiently
- Increased organ function
- Lubricates the joints & decreases muscle soreness
- Decreases water retention (believe it!)
- Overall improved health
Also, the best way to start your day after you wake up is to drink a tall glass of water in the morning, (Tip: drink preferably warm water with some lemon juice for added detox benefits). This helps get your organs/internal system moving and ready for the day ahead of you. How much water should you drink? Depending on your weight of course this will vary a bit, but if you are active (which if you are reading this you probably are) a gallon of water a day should be your daily target.
Daily Ritual #3 – Have a ‘Real Energy’ Drink Each Morning
So after you drink your glass of water in the morning, a nutrient packed health shake/smoothie should be an addition. A drink like this will give you steady, sustained natural energy, unlike most so called ‘energy drinks’ or highly caffeinated drinks which you usually feel a crash from or the need to keep up the intake of.
Nothing fancy is needed, most blenders do just fine in addition to the vegetable greens & fruits you blend up. Feel free to experiment on your own different combinations. I have found that mixing fruits with vegetables is the best way to go. Water or organic almond, rice or help milk can be used as a base. Also if you can, buy organic.
A favorite combo of mine is vanilla almond milk, blueberries, a banana & a tablespoon of peanut butter… so good!
Tip: adding some wheat grass powder or barley grass powder to ‘boost’ up your energy drink is a great idea.
Daily Ritual #4 – Deep Breathing / Internal Exercise
It almost goes without saying that you should be doing some type of daily exercise regimen. I will touch upon here in this article though, an exercise that is different from the type of aerobic (cardio) exercise(s) that you are most likely used to and engage in. This ritual is truly amazing because it can cause dramatic improvement in your energy level and overall health in general. Deep, controlled, concentrated breathing is also widely known as chi gung, chi kung, qi gong, etc. in the east which originally hails from China.
Many cultures though, have their own forms. As a martial artist I have practiced several forms and there are literally hundreds of methods or styles, from the simple to the complicated. I would suggest of course starting simple and to add it into your morning ritual.
I will offer a basic deep breathing exercise anyone can do that is easy and pleasant. The key when breathing in is deep belly breathing, inhaling and filling up both entire lungs, including the lower lobes which most people, unfortunately neglect to do, especially as they get older, thus being the root cause of many health problems.
- Stand with feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hips & tail bone tucked under to flatten out the lower lumbar region of your spine (as if you are almost sitting on the edge of an imaginary chair). This elongates and straightens the spine, which promotes energy flow.
- The arms are held out as if holding a ball with a small space between the hands, finger tips facing each other. The chin is slightly tucked in, head is held up as if hanging from an imaginary thread so as to pull up the spine. The tongue is to the roof of the mouth behind the teeth & eyes preferably closed.
- Breathe in through the nose deeply (as described above), hold for 2-3 seconds when full and exhale out through the mouth slowly. Now on the exhale engage your stomach muscles to sink the breath and help push out all the air until the lungs are completely empty. When the lungs are almost empty, you can also pull up on your perineum as you flex your stomach muscles to really engage your entire core, almost as if you are squeezing all of the air out.
When complete, relax again as you inhale to start your next cycle and repeat. Start with 9 breath cycles to start. I highly recommend doing more research into this area as it can do wonders for your health & fitness.
Daily Ritual #5 – Supplement with Vitamins & Supplements
This is by far the easiest of the 5 daily rituals to do, since it really takes almost no effort. Most vitamins are taken orally by pill form which works fine. Liquid forms are preferable though as they are absorbed by the body more readily. Taking vitamins, minerals & supplements is important as we just don’t get all the nutrients we need from diet alone.
Also, we may want to take supplements to increase performance in a variety of areas we may be lacking, or to help get that edge as athletes. Being an athlete and a martial artist, I am always looking for that edge that will help boost my performance, energy level & recovery time and yet do it naturally… especially as I get older. There is a variety of supplements out there that can help you do this but I am going to just mention one I have been taking the last few months that has given me great results – Warrior Rx Deer Antler Velvet Extract .
I’ve heard a lot about deer antler velvet, especially that allegedly Ray Lewis was taking it his last year playing football to help him recover from a triceps injury. Whether he took it or not (he said he didn’t), I looked into it since I hurt my shoulder in a soccer related injury.
I have been taking Warrior Rx Deer Antler Velvet daily since & have seen great results in other areas of my performance and training as well. In addition to my sped up healing, I look leaner and more defined than ever & my overall strength has definitely gone to a new level.
I simply take it with my other supplements and vitamins as part of my daily regimen and it’s a liquid/spray which is a bonus over pills or powders. I hope you can apply these tips or rituals as I like to call them in to your daily life and get some killer results like I have.