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Men’s Health Advice from a Former Professional Athlete

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Knowing what trends and advice to trust in the health and fitness industry can be challenging, especially when it comes to men’s health. The staggering volume of content out there can be overwhelming, making us less likely to take the next steps to improve our health. After almost 30 years in the fitness industry, with 15 as a professional powerlifter, I’ve seen just about every trend come and go. And I can tell you that improving your overall health can be way simpler than we make it out to be. The best part is you can start making improvements today! Whether you want to make positive changes to your health and fitness journey or help someone in your life get started, give these tried-and-true tips a try!

Forget About Training Like the “Pros”

It’s no surprise that working out and staying active is essential for a healthy life. But how much is too much? One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen people make with their fitness journey is trying to follow training programs intended for professional athletes. Using routines intended for pro athletes seems like a no brainer, right? If something works for high level athletes, why wouldn’t it work for you?

Well, there’s a lot of reasons.

It’s important to remember that pro athletes don’t start off as pros. An athlete’s needs change throughout their career. Back in my lifting days, my training changed dramatically from my 20’s to my 40’s because my needs were different at each stage of my career. Plus, pro athletes don't train for health, they train for performance. What a pro does to maintain an elite level of performance can be ineffective or even dangerous if you’re just starting out.

What you want to focus on is finding a fitness regimen that you can consistently maintain. It doesn’t have to be an intense or physically demanding regimen, just something you can maintain. Sticking to a routine can benefit you more than pushing yourself too hard that you end up getting hurt or discouraged. And if you are in a position where you’re ready to take your fitness to the next level, consider working with a reputable trainer that has experience training people at your level.

Prioritize Sleep

When was the last time you weren’t at least a little tired? Are you tired right now? The best health & fitness protocols won’t make a difference if your body isn’t allowed to recover. While it’s easier said than done, we should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night for optimal recovery.

When we don’t get enough sleep, it could be for several reasons. It could be stress, too much stimulation or activity around you, or even the bed itself!

If you don’t already, try having a routine as you prepare to sleep. Having a regular routine can help your body understand that it is time to rest. This can be brushing your teeth, turning off electronics and lights around your home, or doing a little stretch before getting into bed. When possible, try to do these around the same time to help your body get used to sleeping at this designated time.

Speaking of electronics, you’ll want to ease up on screen time, especially around bedtime. We’re designed to sleep in the dark, and the blue light from phones and tablets can trick your brain into thinking it’s earlier, delaying sleep. Not to mention the stimulating effect online content can have, further delaying restful sleep. Once you start getting ready to sleep, try to minimize time on your electronics or put it aside altogether! 

Be Mindful of What You’re Eating

You don’t need to follow the latest health food trends to stay healthy, but you should be mindful of what you’re eating. Eating primarily processed foods can cause an accumulation of body fat and inflammation, both of which can cause more serious problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

Just like working out, what’s important if you’re just getting started is having a routine that you can stick to. Years ago, I tipped the scales at around 240 lbs. I went from 240 to 150 lbs. and have maintained this weight for about 3 years now. It took 5 years to get here, but I knew that slow and steady changes with my fitness regimen and diet were going to be the secret to success.

Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. Rapidly making big changes to your diet isn’t likely to be long lasting. Start with simple changes that you can regularly stick to like implementing more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Then slowly work your way up to limiting added sugar intake or red meats, while incorporating more hydrating and anti-inflammatory food options. Depending on your health and fitness goals, you may want to prioritize certain types of food over others.

If you’re not sure where to start, our StretchLab studios have partnered with Territory Foods to help you get healthy, prepared meals designed to help you achieve your health and wellness goals. Just ask us about Territory Foods the next time you come in for a stretch! 

Make Stretching Part of Your Routine

I’m not just a Master Flexologist, I’m also a StretchLab success story. When I was a professional powerlifter, stretching was critical for my own health and fitness but I didn’t prioritize it. By the time I retired from powerlifting, I had been living with severe low back pain for almost 10 years. I didn’t really care much about stretching in those days and would only do it if I absolutely couldn’t train. I’ve wised up since then! Being able to regularly stretch and get stretched with so many great bodywork professionals has had a profound impact on my life and health. I’m now pain free for the first time in a decade, and I have my fellow Flexologists to thank.

Stretching can have numerous benefits from pain relief, to improved sports and fitness performance, to stress relief, and even just better quality of life. Whatever your age, lifestyle, or health goal may be, stretching regularly can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellness. Working for StretchLab has been the most rewarding phase of my fitness career because of the way I’ve been able to help people with just an assisted stretch. What many of our members find is that once you can move without restriction, the rest tends to fall into place.

Try stretching for a few minutes every day, throughout the day, allowing the body to continuously loosen up. But just like all the other tips listed here, consistency is key. If you’re not sure what stretches make sense for you or how to make it a part of your routine, consider an assisted stretch with a highly trained professional like a Flexologist! 

Make Your Health a Priority

It doesn’t take the latest trends or crazy tips to start living healthy. The first step is wanting to prioritize your health. From there, you can start small by building long lasting routines that can have long lasting benefits. It may sound silly that just getting more sleep or stretching can have an impact on your health, but you won’t know until you implement it.

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