In all probability, every one of us can readily recognize the familiar nuisance of a splinter in our finger. It’s usually not exquisitely painful, but it certainly can be annoying. However, in many cases, we are barely aware that it is there, and we can generally tolerate its presence until we get around to removing it. The splinter is quite analogous to a number of obstacles that are often present in our lifestyles which can impede our progress toward awesomeness in life.
But when we finally do get around to extracting the splinter, there is an immediate sense of relief. The durable human body was doing its best to deal with the invader and the less than optimal situation. But upon the attainment of splinter-free status, in the absence of a noxious stimulus, the body can go on with the business of maintaining homeostasis on all levels. There is that sudden sense of “Oh, that feels much better!” Our systems always want to autoregulate back to health, fitness, and high performance. That’s how we are wired.
When we consider health, longevity, and performance, which are the backbones of a lifetime body, we need to make sure that our own lifestyle practices are free of splinters so that we are not driving with the brakes on as we navigate the highway of life. Pulling out the splinters is a critical first step in both wellness and goal achievement.
The 5 foundational components of a Lifetime Body are Food, Sleep, Movement, Ergonomics, and Awareness. I’ll offer up an example of splinters in each of these areas but there can be many more circumstances than the ones I provide. Splinter removal represents the “do not’s” versus the “do’s” in that removing the “do not’s” are the big rocks or Captain Obvious actions to take. However, things are not always as easy and simple as they may seem. We might be going through life slightly unaware of a splinter in health and fitness…until we remove it and feel the rush of amazing results. Let’s dive in.
Food is a powerful lever in wellness, and we can manipulate it infinitely. On the most basic level, the splinter known as processed/junk/fast food is lurking everywhere, and its removal can have profound impacts on health and performance. Just don’t eat crap…or very much of it. This is the stuff made from the blend of grains, refined sugars, and industrial seed oils.The hormone-dysregulating and metabolism-wrecking effects of garbage consumption are too many to list, and the research is clear that it is a one-way ticket to a shorter, lower-performing, disease-ridden, and unsatisfying life. However you can do it, find a way to break the addiction of these toxins, pull out this sinister splinter, and consume a diet rich in whole, fresh, real, natural, local, seasonal, earth-bound foods. Eat a Planet-Based Diet of foods with minimal packaging and short (or singular) ingredient lists. Nuff said.
Sleep is critical for our life journey to be longer and fuller as opposed to it being a hastened commute to death. Get more sleep of higher quality. Remove the splinters that suck away at your life-renewing sleep patterns. Don’t train or eat too close to bedtime. Maximize natural light exposure as best you can throughout the day. Avoid bright lights in the evening. Have a wind-down ritual to set your wings on a glide path to the sheets. Make your bedroom cool and dark (totally, or as much as possible). Get rid of any practice or presence that robs you of your rest and rejuvenation.
Movement is another potentially splinter-ridden part of the equation of ass-kicking. At TLB, we divide movement into two categories: general daily activity, and exercise. With general daily activity, it’s important that we move frequently throughout the day to prevent circulatory stasis or stagnation. The splinters of prolonged sitting and sedentary habits must be removed. We need to find the fortitude to overcome the inertia necessary to keep our bodies vital and active. Being creative to find activity opportunities, and avoiding the splinters of societal pressures and patterns isn’t easy, but it can and must be done. And exercise, the training that gives us specific fitness, functional, and performance capacities is equally important. Finding the optimal modes and amount of exercise for your body type, needs, and goals, is critical. Splinter-like obstacles such as motivation, convenience, and safety can be addressed easily if we approach these very real challenges with intelligence, compassion, and professionalism. A good coach or trainer can help a lot in these areas.
Ergonomics is the study of our bodies at work. More specifically, ergonomics is the fit and function of what we do at work and how we can make it supportive and not detractive to our health. Any work position, habit, or task that is uncomfortable, unhealthy, or potentially injurious must be addressed. Getting rid of the splinters of poor workstation setup, task performance, or overall workflow is essential in making work an experience that is enjoyable and non-stressful.
Awareness, ahh awareness, is a broad-ranging and incredibly impactful category. Knowing yourself, and shaping your day to create a flow, and not fight, existence is key. Try not to put yourself in situations that feel extremely unnatural to your inner beast. Environmental effects such as light, air, water, noise, and electromagnetic pollution must be extracted. Toxic relationships (you decide what that means to you) are best eliminated. The key with awareness is recognizing and then removing factors within your control that are negatively affecting your health and performance.
So the point in all this is that before you start really fine tuning your training, adjusting your macros or taking a supplement — make sure that you have identified and removed the major splinters which may be holding you back. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve seen who broke through to a new level when they simply got a bit more sleep, reduced their glycemic variability, or added a few 10-minute walks into their day. These folks spanned the continuum from elite athletes to health and weight loss focused individuals. They were astounded when simply pulling out a veritable splinter in their lifestyle resulted in success. See if you can find a splinter in your day, remove it, and let me know how it goes. Good luck!