A few weeks ago, I set out the three primary training goals that men should pursue: strength, mobility, and improving body composition, which means losing fat, building muscle, or both, depending on your current status. Today I want to give you a small hack that I use to kill two birds with one stone.
Let me preface this by saying that, generally, there is no hack to fitness. I’ll repeat: there is no hack to fitness. It takes consistent effort over time, both in relation to what you eat (diet) and what you do (activity). That said, I’m all for working smarter and figuring out ways to be more efficient in our efforts. So here are a couple of practical things I do to help my mobility and my health/nutrition.
This hack is primarily for desk jockeys, those of us who end up sitting for the majority of our workday, but it will benefit almost anyone. Sitting is an enemy. Whether you believe that we evolved over millions of years or were created in an instant by a supernatural being, or both, most of us can agree that we did not evolve or were not created for sitting all day long. We were designed to move. But, as I’ve noted repeatedly, the technological advances that have made life so much more convenient and comfortable have had the consequence of making us more and more sedentary.
This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, almost every passing generation moves less than the one that preceded it. There was a time when no one jogged. They didn’t need to. They moved around so much and ate so much less that they remained much leaner and more mobile. However, as we became more and more sedentary, heart disease and other issues became more and more frequent, which led the medical community to promote increased physical activity. As a result, a track coach in Oregon created a small pamphlet that he called the Jogger’s Manual, which encouraged people to run at a slow pace until they ran out of breath. The Jogger’s Manual led to a couple of books on the subject and, poof, the sport of jogging was off and running (pun intended). And it led to this wonderful scene:
Now, you know from my blog posts that I’m not a fan of jogging. However, I’m even less a fan of being sedentary. Sitting makes messes up your posture. It makes your body tight and immobile. The medical community even links it with a greater risk of heart disease and cancer. Here’s the big problem: these risks are not significantly offset by exercise. In other words, if you sit for a majority of the day, the effects are not undone by going to gym that evening. Big problem.
Solution: get off your ass during the day. While the solution is obvious, execution is not always easy. We get into a project at work and end up sitting still for hours on end. Or we get stuck in meeting after meeting. Here’s how I make sure I move regularly each day:
I’m a big believer in drinking water. The medical consensus is that we need around two liters of fluid each day. Now, that doesn’t mean that we need two liters of water each day. However, here’s a second thing I’m a big believer in: don’t drink your calories. Cutting out calories from beverages alone can, in some instances, create enough of an energy (caloric) deficit to cause you to lose fat instead of gain it. Additionally, the health benefits are tremendous. So, I’m an advocate of drinking a lot of water.
Personally, I make sure to drink at least four liters of water each day. Most in the health and fitness community will tell you to drink at least one ounce of water for every two pound of body weight. Because of the particulars of my diet, I drink more than that, as water also reduces hunger. Here’s the hack:
I take a one-liter bottle everywhere I go. I fill it before I leave and repeatedly at work. I drink water all day long, which means I have to use the bathroom a lot. Every time I use the bathroom, I do one upper body stretch and one lower body stretch. The bathroom break ensures that I’m up and moving and breaks up the sitting. The stretches maintain and enhance my mobility. The water intake reduces hunger and keeps my body hydrated for optimal function and performance. Minimal effort, significant payoff.
So give it a try: Grab a water bottle, plan to drink one liter every two or three hours, then do 30-60 seconds of stretches every time you use the restroom. I’ve done this nearly every work day for the last four or five years. It works and it’s convenient. You’ll be less hungry and, over time, your mobility will improve.
Next week, I’ll share a few stretches that you can incorporate into your routine.
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