05/24/2013 08:14 EDT | Updated 07/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Why Working Out Is the Cherry on the Healthy Living Sundae

young pretty women  race on...
young pretty women race on...

Welcome to the honest blog of a personal trainer with a decade of experience, a degree in kinesology, and a dream to see the nation get fit.

Working out can sometimes be, well, not fun. Long days at work, kids going crazy, family emergencies. It all adds up to a mentally drained and exhausted you.

Now I want you to go to the gym. The typical answer at this point: "I know I should, but there just isn't time."

What if I told you, as an honest trainer, the gym was the fourth most important thing to take care of in your healthy living? In fact, getting into a gym is the icing on the cake or the cherry on top of a sundae. When I started setting up wellness challenges in workplaces (formerly called Biggest Loser, or Weight Loss competitions) I started to realize just how far from healthy this nation is.

The Pareto Principle has started to rear it's ugly head in health and fitness more and more. You know, 80 per cent of people do 20 per cent of the work. A company brings me in to do my seminar on the four pillars of health, and set up a challenge competition. If I have 50 people at the seminar, I am lucky if 10 of them exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet, or do enough to keep their weight at a normal healthy level. That means that 40 of those people are unhealthy, lowering their productivity, and missing work due to illness far too often.

This honest trainer can begin to change that, how? By not focusing on exercise. You won't exercise, or increase activity if you can't because you don't have the energy. You won't go to work, if you can't because you don't have the fuel or energy.

If this was a seminar, this would be where I bring up my brand new car, and how much I love it. How I treat it with the same care I give my body. I try to avoid sugar, and put high quality food in my body. That food is the fuel that will get me through the day and from point A to B. If I need to go further, or if late in the day I am running out of energy, I put in a high quality snack (I carry protein shake powder for such emergencies). My car is the same thing, I want it to drive so I put fuel in. If I drove in my car and hadn't put fuel in, the gauge was on empty and I kept driving, I wouldn't be shocked when it just stopped moving right? So why are we astounded when we run out of energy. I also wouldn't put sugar in my gas tank, so why would I eat it?

Next on the agenda. Overheating. I had a car back in the day that broke down on the side of the road. Had a major engine fail because all the oil had drained from the car. The entire engine seized and it was close to million degree's when I opened the hood. You wouldn't run a car without oil, why run your body that way?

What am I talking about? Water! Hydration is one of the most typically undervalued health tools out there. How fortunate are we that we live in a world with clean, readily available water. With all that water available, and people still drink pop and coffee more than fresh, life giving, beautiful water. Water lubricates joints, and it stores every vitamin other than A, D, E, and K. That means, no water in the system, no storage of the vitamins that control every function in the human body. The other fun fact about drinking water is in regards to mental clarity and decision making. When the body is 3-5 per cent dehydrated, you won't feel thirsty, but your mental capacity and decision making ability can decrease up to 15 per cent. The average work force has 80 per cent of it's staff working at 85 per cent capacity. Simply because we don't drink enough water.

The last thing I talk about with people before getting into exercise is sleep. If you have followed this blog you know I am huge proponent of sleep. The world does not value sleep the way it should. My hometown of Winnipeg has a furniture store called Dufresne where they put you through the dream experience. At the end of the session you will get a bed, pillow and blanket scientifically matched to your sleep patterns. How do I connect that to a car? Have you seen cars these days? Everything is electronic. We spend tens of thousands of dollars on cars that are so fine tuned that they can turn a small engine into a horsepower machine. Sleep can do the same for you. A solid night's sleep, in the best possible circumstances can take your body from where it is and get the absolute most out of it. Sleep properly, and you get a body that is unstoppable.

Now that you are treating your body like a sports car with proper fuel, hydration, and sleep you can go racing.

If you want a high performance physique, you have to go workout. The people on the cover of magazines don't get that way without a lot of attention to details. The gym can be for just toning up and the basics or, you can put hours of work in to carve the best physique of your life. The only thing to remember, is at either level, if you aren't covering the basics you won't be able to get in the gym and enjoy all the health benefits, and yes, sex appeal that comes from working out regularly.

I call the approach the four pillars of health. As I go into more an more large corporations and get the staff motivated I am moving away from weight loss and turning to a high performance style of life. Your body and your energy levels need you to hydrate, work on nutrition, get restful sleep and exercise. Those are your four pillars of health. Build a foundation, live healthy, and watch your body, energy, and mental focus change. Want to move up the corporate ladder? Build a solid base to put that ladder on. Then climb as high as your mind can dream.

Your body is a sports car in waiting.

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