5 simple tactics to boost your mental and physical health.

Written by Luis Castillo 

Food is one thing that has evolved  massively throughout the last few generations . We transitioned from a diet based in meat, veggies and some fruits to a wide variety of processed food-like substances with artificial flavours and poor nutrient density. 

Our bodies were developed in adversity. Everyday was a battle to survive and because of that we developed different strategies or tools to stay alive. If it was too cold we would cover our bodies with animal skins or make fire to cook and warm-up ourselves. The seek for pleasure wasn’t something free but a strategy to overcome the adversities that we faced daily.

In our times this dynamic has been broken and now we can find pleasure anywhere we go. Food is now longer the prize of a big hunting experience. 

Our clothes are not a functional tool to protect our bodies from the cold anymore, they have become a fashion accessory. If it rains you don’t have to do more than go to your closet and get your favourite jacket.

Want to eat? Open your fridge and decide what you want, and if there is nothing… Easy! Just check your food delivery app and wait on your couch for your delivery to come.  All these are great things and allow us to have a much better life than the one that our ancestors had but at the same time it has created a massive imbalance in our health.

So, what can we do to overcome these health imbalances? We always have the choice to get out of our comfort zone and expose ourselves to controlled amounts of stress to avoid these symptoms and get the most out of our life. 

As humans, we create specific adaptations based on the demands we expose ourselves to. 

The way to make life easier, is by pre-exposing ourselves to progressively overload stimuli in controlled environments, so that when we come to the main event (STRESS), we don’t rise to the occasion, we fall to our level of preparation. 

Here are 5 “stress-inducing” activities that you can incorporate into your routine that can lead to massive changes in your mind and overall health. 

1- Cold Shower: 

Most people assume that cold exposure is only about the physical benefits. 

Things like, elevating healthy cortisol levels in the morning, increased metabolism, insulin sensitivity, inflammatory reduction, regulation of the immune system and increasing norepinephrine, dopamine, and beta-endorphins, improving wakefulness and attention. Making cold exposure a great tool to fight depression.

But what we want people to be aware of is the psychological side. 

The increase in mental resilience and the ability for the brain to realise that is tough and can do hard things. 

The more times we expose ourselves to tough situations and overcome them, the more we will push ourselves for more. 

Read more benefits of cold showers here.

2- Sauna

On the contrary to cold exposure, using heat allows us to dilate the capillaries and blood vessels so that we can transport nutrients around the body more easily. 

While most people assume we need to prevent inflammation for everything, much of our body’s defense mechanism relies on it. 

If we can mimic some of the body’s natural responses in a controlled fashion, we can help our body aid itself in natural growth and repair to eliminate pathogens and maintain homeostasis of the hormones. 

3- Intermittent fasting

Most people see IF primarily as a tool for dropping body fat by reducing calories and ‘starving themselves’. 

Which will technically happen if there is a sustained calorie deficit, however, there is much more to IF than just the body composition benefits. The physical and metabolic changes that occur include:

  • reducing inflammation markers, 
  • reducing triglycerides 
  • improving lipid profile
  • reducing coronary risk
  • improving neuronal plasticity
  • Improves insulin sensitivity and blood pressure.

However, like the above tactics, there are also psychological benefits to controlling your eating windows and not falling victim to the “first world problems” of being able to causally eat at will. 

When was the last time you felt real hunger? The uncomfortable feeling of wanting to eat but actually having to wait for more than 30m minutes. 

The human body can physically overcome not eating for over 7 days, but can you? Do you have the discipline to tell your mind to be quiet as you endure the discomfort of not eating whilst your body screams at you to be nourished?

Like the aforementioned tactics, this is about designing controlled and progressively overloaded stress responses so that we can become more resilient. 

4- High intensity training

Your body is more likely to create adaptations when you work with extremes. Big efforts will create bigger adaptations than medium ones. By working out with intensity, you’re forcing yourself to progressively overload the stimulus and create new adaptations every single day. 

Most people confuse HIIT training with just flogging themselves at aerobic-based conditioning based workouts that don’t have any rhyme or reason, but there is much more to it than that. 

We need to ensure that we are directing intensity across all 10 physical skills and adaptations, not just aerobic capacity. You can show intensity and gain massive adaptations towards a given skill without feeling any fatigue whatsoever. 

Things like strength, balance, coordination, across board times and modal domains all need progressing with intensity., but are often neglected for calorie burning exercises that yield minimal results.

5- Sun exposure

Being exposed to the sun during our mornings has a lot of benefits for our bodies. It also helps to regulate our circadian rhythm leading to better sleep and recovery during the night, creating a positive perpetual cycle of rest and repair and leading to heightened cognitive abilities and better productivity. 

Sleep helps regulate our hormones which have both physical and psychological health benefits:

  • Controlled blood pressure due to nitric oxide regulation 
  • Controlled “happy” hormones leading to elevated moods and decreased risk of long term depressive states
  • Improved cognitive function 
 

These all sound so simple, but are still so often overlooked in these modern times. 

Take the time out of your busy schedule to expose yourself to these stressors and watch the other aspects of your life improve as a result.

Take the time out of your busy schedule to expose yourself to these stressors and watch the other aspects of your life improve as a result. 

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Brandon Hasick

Director and Head Coach
Body By Brando

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