There is something about the warm rays of summertime sunshine that just make us feel good. Perhaps its our body thawing out from the effects of long fall days sitting in a treestand waiting on a whitetail or the frozen wintry months that follow. The summertime days are longer which lends itself to feeling like there is more life to be lived than during the cold dark days of winter.
For the first time in over a year, many states are finally allowing its citizens to live a mask-free life and because many people have been isolated for such a long period of time, we can all look forward to the coming months, to give our body, mind and soul time to reboot.
We all want to feel our best and that starts with our mental health. Coming out of winter our bodies have most likely experienced a dip in serotonin levels. This dip can be associated with reduced sun exposure from longer hours of darkness and more hours spent indoors during winter months. These additional hours of darkness can cause seasonal depression known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD.
As hunters and outdoorsmen, we all know the mental benefits of being outdoors in nature, breathing the fresh mountain air and basking in the sunshine. But what you may not know is that scientists have proven that it takes as little as 5-15 minutes outdoors in the sunlight just a few times a week to increase the release of mood boosting serotonin in the brain.
With many people around the world having been somewhat isolated due to COVID restrictions, we are all excited and ready to get social with our friends and neighbors but there can also be underlying concerns with our bodies having reduced immunity due to isolation. Giving your body a boost of Vitamin D by going outside can help build your immune function, prevent inflammation, assist with bone growth and repair within the body and help to absorb calcium. Because of the therapeutic benefits of Vitamin D within the body, many doctors and scientists have taken a hard look at the healing benefits from Vitamin D as it relates as a tool for COVID prevention and treatment.
Several studies have shown an association between low vitamin D levels and increased risk for COVID-19, although not a direct link. David Meltzer M.D., Chief of the Section of Hospital Medicine at the University of Chicago and his colleagues found that people who were vitamin D-deficient were more likely to test positive for COVID-19. Although right now, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to prove that vitamin D is helpful in preventing or treating COVID-19, the benefits to the body cannot be ignored.
Because very few foods contain a significant amount of Vitamin D, it is important to get outside and in the sunshine in order for the body to begin the process of manufacturing Vitamin D. The skin produces the most Vitamin D when exposed to the sun during the middle of the day. The more skin you expose to the sun, the more Vitamin D your body can produce but be careful to not overexpose your skin. There are obvious risks from over-exposure to the sun such as sun burn, premature aging of the skin or skin cancer. Your body will produce plenty of Vitamin D, long before you have time to burn your skin so be sure to wear sunscreen if you are going to have prolonged periods of time with exposed skin in the sun.
As you can see, getting outside is great for the mind and the body and there is no better way to reinvigorate the mind and body than to incorporate your workouts into the outdoors! A consistent workout program boosts energy levels, confidence and improves overall health. What we choose to do on a daily basis is the foundation for our mental and physical health. Who you are and who you want to be is all about what you do. With the right attitude, thoughtful planning and dedication, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals. You just have to stick with the process long enough to witness results and get out of your comfort zone long enough to reboot your life.
Try these 5 strategies to begin your reboot:
- Get Outside– We are hunters, we thrive on the mountain so take your workouts outdoors. Try running or hiking outdoors. You can increase the intensity of your outdoor workouts by adding a weighted backpack or ruck which will increase your cardiovascular endurance, hip and leg strength. On warm days, try outdoor cycling, stand-up paddle boarding or swimming. The most important training is your mental fortitude, so get out, have some fun and adventure.
- Get A Lifting Partner– Find a good lifting partner with similar goals and mental attitude. Motivate each other to train harder than perhaps you might alone. Make sure that you lift an appropriate weight that you can safely achieve a complete range of motion while your muscles are in a fully contracted state throughout the entire range of motion. With a partner, you can safely challenge yourself by stacking on more weight with the comfort and safety of having a spotter. If you don’t have a lifting partner, consider hiring a personal trainer.
- Group Fitness– Group fitness like crossfit, boot camp, spin class or a swim meet is a great way to intensify your workouts. If you are even slightly competitive, being in a room filled with people doing the same workout, will make you want to push your comfort zone and work harder with the ability to scale your workout to your current level of fitness.
- Cardio At Home- Television, iPhones, iPads and social media have most Americans consumed with digital for at least an hour a day. Utilize your time catching up on your favorite television show or social media outlet while kicking out some cardio. You can achieve your goals much more conveniently in the comfort of your own home, so make the financial and floor space investment in an elliptical, treadmill or spin bike. There are a wide variety of at home fitness programs from companies like Peloton, Street Parking and the Wilderness Athlete 28 Day Reboot Digital Platform that will make cardio at weight training at home much more fun.
- Register For A Competition- Making the commitment and actually registering for a competition be it the Train To Hunt Challenge, a figure/body building show, Tri-Athlon, Bi-Athlon, 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon will create a clear deadline and goal. Having a goal is a huge mental motivator that will give your workouts purpose and most importantly, priority.
In order to stay on track, be sure to schedule your workouts into your day planner. Keep a daily journal of your workout sessions so that you can more rapidly identify starting points for loading weight for your lifting sessions and have the opportunity to go back and measure strength and endurance improvements accurately.
Food fuels exercise. Stable blood sugar is the key to all performance both mental and physical- consuming your first balanced meal of the day should occur within one hour of waking and every 3-4 hours after, up to 2 hours before bed. Too many calories consumed in one meal or throughout the day will be stored as body fat. Conversely, an extreme caloric deficit can speed up fat storage, give you sugar cravings and squash your energy levels. Low energy makes it nearly impossible to give 100% in the gym and in life.
*Performance Tip– Nutritional imbalances and nutrient deficiencies are common. An easy fix to help off-set that, the simple inclusion of a high-quality multi-vitamin.
Time your meals around your workout schedule so that you are eating 30 minutes prior to your workout and within one hour of completing your training session. Sticking to this regiment will provide everything your body needs during your workout keeping your blood sugar stable and energy levels high.
Giving your body what it needs comes down to balance of carbohydrates and complete protein. Carbohydrates and protein are the baseline for repair, rebuild and recovery. Ideally, you consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates to replenish depleted glucose and to ignite the needed insulin response creating the drive of consumed amino acids or protein into your cells. The consumption of complete protein intake will deliver the BCAA’s or branch chain amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine) into your cells.
If you aren’t currently on an exercise program, and would like help getting started, The Wilderness Athlete 28 Day Reboot has everything that you need to feel your best this summer. The Reboot program is all about tracking how you feel from day to day, meal to meal and workout to workout. Including a grocery list, 28 complete workouts, and digital access to in the gym and at home bodyweight workouts.
What are you waiting for? Now is the time for some sunshine, Vitamin D and reboot of life!