I am taking the latest research on training protocols, lifestyle, sleep, diet and stress management and puts it all into one simple acronym, NESS. What does NESS stand for? N – Nutrition E – Exercise S – Sleep S – Stress management Over the years as a high-level athlete, coach and personal trainer I’ve recognized the importance of not just exercising but also paying close attention to nutrition, sleep and stress management. Whatever level of athlete you are you’ll benefit from including these as part of your overall approach to health. And what’s better, you’ll continue to reap the benefits well into your senior years.
NUTRITION: Let’s begin by addressing the number one question I’m asked by my female coaching clients as they get older. “Why am I putting on weight in my mid-section when my I haven’t changed my exercise routine and eating patterns?” As you age, your female hormone levels decrease, affecting how you process and metabolize carbohydrates. While you can’t get back the hormone levels you had when you were young, you can change your diet. The latest research shows that your body can become more efficient at burning fats as its first fuel source. When that happens you also become more efficient at burning carbohydrates. This process takes time to develop. It’s achieved by changing the amount of daily intake of carbohydrates, coupled with switching a certain percentage of your weekly riding workouts to what is termed “fat-burning” rides. To do this you need to determine the following: a. What heart rate ranges are necessary for fat-burning rides? Generally, zone 2 workouts or 4 to 5 PRE (perceived rate of exertion). b. How many carbohydrates do you need based on your total number of rides per week? Note: I am not advocating a “low” or “no” carbohydrate diet, but rather moderating carbs based on the number and type of workouts you do.
EXERCISE It’s important to look at what type and intensity of exercise you need to achieve a more efficient body. As you age, you may sometimes shy away from short, hard efforts on the bike. However, the latest research shows that including at least one high-intensity, short-duration, sub-maximal or maximal workout per week allows you to maintain a high level of lean muscle mass and a low-to-moderate level of body fat. In addition, you need to spend time doing “at-burning-zone” workouts to help your body become efficient in the fat burning process.
SLEEP Sleep has become a central part of my personal training protocol. Getting enough sleep is an important part of health. It determines how well your body functions and how your body manages body weight and stress. There are many devices that can track your sleep: how much you sleep each night, how many times you wake during the night, and the quality of your sleep. This helps you determine your overall readiness to take on a cycling, running workout, your job etc. Sleep is the most important of all the components of NESS and is at the core of how your body operates under any given scenario.
STRESS MANAGEMENT This component of NESS is not a new concept. How we manage stress determines how well we nurture ourselves, what we eat, how much we exercise and how much we sleep. This is why I include stress management as part of NESS. You can manage stress through simple steps, such as taking 4 or 5 deep breaths each morning and evening, or getting outside for as little as 10 minutes each day to allow light into your pupils. Research shows that the intensity of outdoor light, even on a dull or cloudy day, produces 10,000 LUX (the measure of the intensity of outdoor daylight). Compare that with 5,000 LUX, the highest indoor level of light. When light penetrates the pupils it stimulates the body to release hormones that help regulate circadian rhythms, which in turn help to reduce stress levels. This is just a brief synopsis of my NESS protocol. You may have already read articles or listened to podcasts on the various components, but I strongly suggest doing more research and reading and incorporating all of them into your daily schedules. You can also contact me to assist you in making these habits part of your routine. The answer to being fitter, stronger, leaner and calmer lies not just in working out consistently, but in how you workout, what you eat, how you sleep and how you respond to the stresses in your daily life.