I take my sleep seriously. And food. Sufficient, peaceful sleep and good food keep me healthily and happily ticking over. It also makes life a bit more pleasant for those in my company on the next day 😀 We’re talking sleep today, though.
Sleep is arguably one of the most overlooked pieces of health and fitness. Yet of all the pieces, it may have the greatest influence on just about every bodily function. Our bodies are incredibly active during sleep as they undergo an array and growth and restorative processes necessary to keep the mind and body healthy.
Sleep is essential for learning. A full night’s sleep keeps your memory sharp and improves your problem-solving the next day. It also keeps you attentive and creative, fosters prompt decision making and improves your overall mood and energy. Much of this research has associated these changes in mental health to altered activity in parts of the brain.
During waking hours all body systems are exposed to all kinds of stressors. The environment, exercise, sensory stimulation, and unfortunately for some, trauma. Sleep is when the body replenishes expended mineral and energy stores, rebuilds damaged tissue (including nerve tissue which probably undergoes the most daily restoration), and grows.
Sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, some of which is the result of overeating and obesity caused by an imbalance in the hormones that manage hunger and satiety. Research has also established a strong correlation between sleep quality and quantity and body composition. The mechanisms thereof are complex, but it results in excess weight gain and an inability to gain and maintain muscle.
A good night’s sleep will improve athletic performance, including speed, accuracy and overall energy. And sleep is especially important for kids and teens, and those who exercise because it induces the release of human growth hormone, an important hormone in cellular regeneration.
Getting sick a lot of late? Your immune system is most active during sleep – partly why when you are sick all you want to do is sleep! A consistent dose of daily sleep reduces your risk of getting the common cold and other illnesses and makes you more resilient to those daily stressors.
Sleep deficiency also affects your endocrine system, thereby affecting the production and sensitivity to important hormones such and insulin and cortisol.
So just like exercise and nutrition, there’s a big picture perspective to sleep. It’s essential to long-term health.
How much is enough?
How much sleep we need varies between individuals, but most of our differences in sleep requirements vary with age. Babies need the most while adults (regardless of age) need the least. Adults need seven to eight hours a day, but I’m of the opinion that for optimal health and fitness you need eight to ten hours a day.
Getting a good night’s sleep
Just as how much sleep we all need varies, so does what leads us to sleep. Our circadian rhythm is the body’s sleep system. It sets in motion the temperature and hormonal changes required for sleep and waking. If you’ve ever experienced jet lag, you’ll know what it’s like to have that system thrown out.
To help lead you to a good sleep, get as much natural blue light during the day as possible. Natural blue light is the sky! Start winding down 30-60 minutes before you plan on hitting the hay. Dim or switch of all artificial blue light such as ceiling lights, TVs and handheld devices. Have blackout curtains in your bedroom and for the light sleeper, wear ear plugs – as long as you can still hear your alarm in the morning!
Goal setting is a powerful tool. It provides focus and highlights the actions you need to be successful. Goals keep you on track, even when it feels like you aren’t making any progress. When you hit obstacles, focusing on your goals keeps you moving forward. And constantly moving forward, even if only by little bits at a time, is the aim of the game.
Setting and achieving goals, however, is a process that is used to keep you moving forward. Goals are not destinations.
Consider a university course: The goal is to earn a qualification, but the qualification is not the end of the line. You might further your education, or the qualification may be what you need to enter the workplace. You certainly don’t stop learning when you begin working either. The goal–the qualification–got you to a stage in the journey.
A pay incentive at work is a goal. You need to meet X objectives in order to earn a bonus. You meet the objectives and earn the bonus, but you don’t stop working. Unless of course the bonus was fat enough to retire on! The goal–the bonus–was used to keep you motivated and focused.
It’s the same with fitness. Goals are used to keep you on track, to keep you moving towards increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains throughout life. The goals aren’t the destination. So you’ve lost all the body fat you wanted to, how much more can you improve your health markers by now? You got your first pull-up, how many can you do without resting now? You’re able to walk on your hands, how quickly can you cover 60m on your hands?
Goals are tools to keep you moving forward. To be just 1% better than yesterday, you need goals. But there is no destination, you’ll never get “there.” So set smart goals, accomplish them and set new ones, but don’t get caught up in the goals or in whatever you think the endline for fitness is. Fitness is a journey that takes a lifetime to travel. Enjoy the journey, it’s what matters most!
The dehydration dogma is universal: It’s dangerous so you need to drink a lot of fluids, especially in extreme conditions such as heat and exercising for long periods.
For decades the prevailing advice from sports coaches, the media and most notoriously, the companies who manufacture ‘sports’ drinks and supply bottled water, has been to drink at least eight glasses of water a day and to constantly sip on (hypotonic) sports drinks before and during bouts of exercise. These are myths that just won’t die.
Where do these myths come from?
There is certainly no good research behind either approach. It’s believed that the eight glasses of water a day myth stems from a recommendation by the Food and Nutrition Board in ‘Murica for people to consume at least 2.5 litres of water a day. What everyone neglected to do was continue reading beyond that recommendation. The board followed that recommendation with advice that most of that water would come from food. Whether you call it a misunderstanding or misdirection, it’s unsubstantiated. Much like the advice to drink copious amounts of sports drinks during exercise.
Aside from staying hydrated, the culture of drinking lots of fluids during exercise and sports is founded on beliefs that it will prevent heat stroke and exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC). EAMC are most likely caused by neurological changes brought on by fatigue – NOT due to an undue loss in water and electrolytes. Knocking down gallons of water or sports drinks will not prevent or stop the cramps, and it could kill you.
The body’s innate systems for measuring water and electrolyte concentrations are finely tuned. When you need water, that system tells you so by inducing thirst. The eight glasses a day and sports drink advocates will tell you that it’s too late if you’re already thirsty, but we’ve already called their BS 😉
It is dangerous to become dehydrated, but that is why the body will induce thirst if water levels begin dropping below normal. What most don’t know, however, is that hyperhydration (too much water) is just as dangerous and arguably more prevalent than dehydration.
Hyponatremia occurs when a person drinks so much hypotonic fluid, like water and sports drinks, that blood sodium levels decrease. In bad cases the excess fluid floods the lungs and brain. Much like dehydration, hyponatremia can be fatal.
Therefore, to stay adequately hydrated you should drink when you’re thirsty. The best fluid is of course water, but hot drinks like tea and coffee do contribute to your daily fluid intake. Avoid fizzy drinks, fruit juices and concentrates. Eat vegetables everyday along with some fruit – they provide a lot of water. If you are exposed to extreme environmental conditions such as heat and altitude, or are exercising for long durations, you are still more likely to experience hyponatremia than dehydration so keep drinking to thirst.
It should go without saying that drinking soda during an endurance event is a no-go, but the fact that soda companies support fitness events and are the largest producers of bottled water should indicate that these hydration myths are no coincidence.
Your name? Inge Fuchs
What drove you to join CrossFit Jozi East?
Well, I initially wanted to get into shape for my wedding which was September 2016. Dedré Bouwers then told me about Crossfit Jozi East and how fun it is and that it was just down the road from work.
How long have you been a member for?
Since May 2016
Who inspires you?
My husband, he is driven go getter and lets nothing stand in his way.
What are you doing when you aren’t at the gym?
Planning client’s holidays who would like to travel with a Motor home, and thinking of new business opportunities.
Tell us one interesting thing that people might not know about you?
I have my 1st Dan black belt in Karate-Tenshikan and came 2nd in The World Championships in Japan.
What songs have you completely memorized?
Eeeh I am not really the singing type, but I know most words from the song “Afrikaaners is plesiere” Karen Zoid
What’s your favorite piece of clothing you own / owned?
My Karate Suit which I wore in Japan for the World Champion Ships which was signed by the Kancho in Japan
What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years?
Where am I?
If you were dictator of a small island nation, what crazy dictator stuff would you do?
Only swim suits allowed, only 3 days of work, I have a public holiday every month celebrating me and only I am allowed off on this day, no motorized transport, beach party and volley ball every Friday.
What would your perfect workout be?
A combination of rope climbs, thrusters, box jumps and Squats.
What has been your most memorable class or session at CFJ East?
The day I beat Aileen in rowing and had fastest time in the ladies division 😊
What Is The Coolest Thing That You Have Achieved At CFJ East?
Mmm, I would say rope climb. I never thought I would be able to do it.
What Changes In Your Health Have You Noticed Since Starting?
My fitness levels have increased and I am so much stronger in my legs and upper body.
List Some Of Your Big Goals.
Running my own Lodge on my Game Farm
Opening a huge Animal Rescue Centre
Travelling the World
And of course, being able to do pull ups and walking upside down
Let’s get straight to the point: Can you complete the workout as it is prescribed (as RXd), and should you? It’s a simple yes or no answer to both questions, but it seems to be such a conundrum for many.
Can refers to your ability to perform the movements and/or loads that have been prescribed. Remember, the workout you see on the blog and on the whiteboards is a guideline to ensure that everyone achieves the desired outcome of that workout. Given that everyone is different, everyone performs a modified version of the workout that’s relative to their goals and abilities to ensure that the desired outcome of the workout is achieved.
The question of can you perform the movements/loads as you see it on the whiteboard simply refers to whether you can or can’t complete at least a few repetitions of that task, not taking into account the entire workout. Can you do the RXd workout? If no, modify to ensure that you move with good technique AND intensity while meeting the objectives of the workout. If yes, the next question is should you?
You should complete the workout as RXd only IF you will be able to do so with the desired intensity.
The guidelines loads and reps, the time domains set, and the expectations the coaches give you in class are all there to help you decide on whether you should attempt the workout as RXd or not. There is no point attempting a workout as RXd because you can do everything if you aren’t going to get the right amount of work done within the right amount of time.
If you halve the time of a workout, you double your power output even if you had a lighter load. Double, no ifs ands or buts, double!
Given that power output (which is exactly defined as intensity) is the one variable most closely associated with favourable adaptations to exercise, you should be aiming to optimise your power output at every workout. And that means smartly modifying and scaling the workout, 99% of the time.
Note: “scaling” the amount of reps down to enable you to do the RXd loads is not smart scaling, it’s stupid.
The RXd workout is a guideline and certainly something to work towards. But it’s not a destination.