If only I knew then what I know now. How many times have we said this to ourselves in countless situations?
Hindsight is 20/20 and there are many things I would go back and undo including my short- lived mullet in 8th grade, acid washed jeans and actually my entire grunge rock phase. A person can only wear so much flannel…
When it comes to health, fitness and nutrition I wish I could go back to pass on some crucial words of wisdom to my younger self who was in the pursuit of getting fit. Here are five things I would say to my younger self.
1. Don’t Worry About Lifting Heavy Weight
I’m 38 now and I started messing around in the gym at age 16. I had no idea what I was doing but would go into our high school gym and do bicep curls for basically an hour. As you get older and stronger you become fixated on lifting as much as possible. I would tell my younger self to cut those poundages in half and focus on real form and range of motion.
Lifting heavy weights without good form was not only dangerous but probably delayed my potential muscle growth as my joints and ligaments did most of the lifting.
2. Learn The Importance Of Pre And Post Workout Nutrition
As relatively fit as I have become I wonder where it could have progressed to if I had paid more attention to workout based nutrition early on. Many the workout were conducted on an empty stomach and I missed out on that critical window of post workout nutrition where nutrient absorption peaked. The amount of broken down muscle tissue that I didn’t properly repair, along with replacing muscle glycogen storage, was possibly taking me steps backwards throughout that time period.
3. Become More Aware Of What I Was Putting In My Body
This piggybacks off of the last point as the amount of junk I ate in those days was unreal. It’s no surprise that a 16-year-old is probably not making the wisest nutrition decisions, but this went on for years. I missed the opportunity to build a strong base of nutrition in my body that would make positive changes on my health, fitness and body.
Your 18-year-old self could probably eat in one sitting what a small family eats in a week with no bad effects. This will of course not last, and those bad eating habits can extend themselves into your adult life where the negative side effects can become very harmful.
I would tell my younger self to look at food labels more carefully and ideally not eat anything that had a label but focus on fresh, whole foods.
4. Don’t Rely On Nutrition Supplements
Nutritional supplements can have a great spot in your overall nutrition plan, but my younger self was more interested in the latest and greatest sports supplement. These were based more on flashy ads, packaging and endorsement than on any real science. It was easy to buy into things that seemed too good to be true. Today I know better but at the time it seemed like a magic key.
I would tell my younger self there are no shortcuts or magic key, only hard work. And I wish I had been more aware of the nutritional supplements that can play a great role in your health and wellness like a solid multivitamin, pro-biotics and a good omega 3 supplement.
5. Learn To Get Better Sleep
College can make this a nightmare but going into my early 20’s, even if I wasn’t sleeping in until noon like when I was younger, I was still in the habit of going to bed past 2 am on most nights. The amount of stress hormones in my body from lack of sleep must have been staggering.
Staying up late throws off our circadian rhythm and it is most likely spent in front of screens that emit blue light that throw off our natural melatonin production causing inadequate sleep. I would tell my younger self to start getting into a normal bed time routine to encourage deeper sleep, feel more rested and improve health.
I hope you’ve seen this article isn’t as much about getting in your Delorean and going back in time as it is about the fact these are things you can implement now. What is important, for you and for me, is that we make sure we are adopting these healthy lifestyle tips today so that we are not looking back with regret ten years from now.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for.