GRIT Fitness and Performance was recently named Best Gym/Workout Center for 2021 by South Jersey Magazine.
So before we dive into the post, we’d just like to thank everyone who made this possible: clients, friends, family, dare we say… fans?
Ok, ok, we probably don’t have “fans” yet, but hey, let us soak up our 15 minutes. And going forward, we promise to keep delivering a 5 star product to all of our current and future clients. Honestly, we really can’t tell you how appreciative we are of all your support… we love aaaaaaaall you guys!
Anyway, enough of that. Onto why you probably clicked on this link.
The ever evolving clusterfu*ck of information available to you on the internet about the “best” health practices can be down right confusing. But we’re here to set the record straight. So what we’d like to do today is to give out our own “Best Of The Best for 2021” awards to all things health and fitness related. From recovery methods to exercises choices, we’ll try to cover all our bases.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
The Best Diet: Paleo…ish
We can feel the hateful comments bubbling up inside some of you already, but please, relax and hear us out.
The best diets all have 4 things in common: management of total calories ingested, adequate protein consumption, a focus on whole, real foods, and sustainability.
The Paleo diet seems to check all of these things off to a degree. It focuses on foods that can be hunted or gathered and excludes most modern day “junk” like refined and processed foods. On the Paleo diet, someone would focus on primarily meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Any nutritionist will tell you that this is a very solid diet for most folks.
But we said Paleo-ish for a reason.
A huge component to success when it comes to diet is adherence to the diet, or sustainability. Without it, you’ll find yourself yo-yo dieting and fluctuating between periods of “my body is a temple” and “…is ice cream a vegetable?”
So if increased sustainability means adding some non-Paleo foods, like yogurt, because of its convenience or the fact you love it…by all means, go for it.
Think of it like this. If 80% of your food intake is Paleo, and the other 20% consists of the “ish”, you’re on the right track.
This doesn’t mean other diets like the Ketogenic diet can’t work for you… because they absolutely can. However the Paleo-ish approach just seems to be an easy to grasp, and more importantly, sustainable way of doing things that won’t interfere with simply enjoying your life. When you can’t enjoy a spontaneous meal out with friends because it’ll interfere with your carb free 8 hour feeding window, you soon become “that friend” of the group.
Don’t be that friend. Nobody wants to be that friend.
The Best Workout: The One You’ll Do Consistently
Disclaimer: we preach about strength training 24/7. It needs to be a priority for everyone. Seriously, if your exercise program doesn’t involve some aspect of getting stronger, you need to have your head examined.
Anyway, aside from the fact that strength training will do more wonders for your body than all the Zumba, trampoline, and spin classes combined, it pails in comparison to the workout that you’ll make a part of your lifestyle. We can’t force you to looooove strength training (but seriously, give it a try). So if you hate lifting weights, you’ll probably begrudgingly do it on an inconsistent basis. But if you looooove let’s say, rock climbing, you’ll probably wanna do it all the time.
Here’s the thing about your body… it loves movement. While increasing strength has tremendous benefits, so does just moving your ass in general.
So if being consistent with incorporating more movement into your life means rock climbing instead of dedicated strength training, by all means, go for it.
There’s a saying in the strength and conditioning world that goes something like this:
“The worst training program done consistently will always get more results than the best training program done inconsistently.”
This means that if you absolutely love spin classes with your friends and never miss a session, it’ll probably lead to more results than forcing yourself to do Crossfit four times per week because you simply don’t enjoy it.
So when it comes to the best workout, find something that you love doing and stick with it.
Second disclaimer: if done with enough frequency and intensity, repetitive forms of exercise (like jogging or cycling) can cause imbalances within the body, which can lead to nagging pains or injury. Pretty much the only way to fix that is to strength train to balance things out. So we know we said do what you love… but you should reeeeeally try to start love strength training. Just sayin’.
The Best Way To Recover: Sleep
This one isn’t even close.
Good sleep can enhance every aspect of your life. Yet conversely, bad sleep can wreak havoc and transform you into a dumber, slower, weaker, sicker, less attractive version of yourself.
You ever try and use your phone when it’s low on battery life? iPhone users know that it goes into “low power mode” once it hits 20%, diverting energy usage to only the most critical functions that your phone needs. Well, your body is kinda similar.
When you’re constantly running on a “battery life” of 20% or less, do you honestly think your body cares about anything other than simply surviving?
Spoiler: it does not.
So things like burning fat, increasing lean muscle mass, learning new skills, retaining information…. all of these things take a back seat to making sure you don’t die. I mean, you won’t die, but your body is a big drama queen and treats the situation as so.
All sorts of wonderful processes occur when you sleep. From releasing and regulating hormones, repairing muscle cells, retaining the day’s information, and clearing waste and ‘toxins’ from the brain, quality sleep can drastically improve how you feel and operate on a day to day basis.
So put down your massage guns and your cleansing teas and go to bed.
The Best Exercise: Deadlift
This is a tricky category because the true winner is “it depends.” People have different anatomies, goals, backgrounds, and movement capabilities, so crowning one singular exercise as the best for everyone just doesn’t quiiiiite work. But we’re gonna make an argument for the deadlift for several reasons.
What do you do when you need to pick up an item off the floor? You deadlift it.
Outside of perhaps a farmers walk, the deadlift is perhaps the most functional exercise you can perform in the gym because the carryover to the real world is undeniable. Anytime you need to pick something off the ground, you are performing a deadlift in some form or capacity.
Now the bag of cat food you’re picking up at home probably doesn’t compare to a barbell in terms of overall weight, but possessing the skill set to do so in a safe and efficient manner is only going to increase your resiliency and longevity. When you perform a well executed deadlift, you learn how to effectively brace the musculature that keeps your spine in a neutral position while allowing the legs to power the movement.
This results in safe, efficient movement.
However, tons of people do the exact opposite in their day to day life. They’ll pick something up with horribly rounded backs, forcing their spinal erectors and intervertebral discs to handle 90% of the load… and then they get hurt (shocker!). For this reason, deadlifts get a bad rep.
We’re here to tell you learning how to properly deadlift is an absolute game changer for your overall health. Life is going to require you to “deadlift” something at some point. It could be a case of water, your kid, or hell, even your shoes. Unless you’re a Saudi Prince with a team of servants who beckon at your every call, you’re going to need to pick something up off the floor at some point.
Having the knowledge and skills to do so properly is going to keep you running like a well oiled machine for years to come.
Aside from that major point, the deadlift is a full body lift that requires every single muscle in your body to work. Grip, shoulder girdle, upper back, spinal erectors, glutes, hamstrings, obliques, abs… it all gets worked.
The Best Stress Management: Breathing
While meditation, yoga, and other forms of stress management are all tremendous options, it takes a back seat to breathing for a few reasons.
First, breathing isn’t exactly something you need a manual to do. You’re doing it right now. Everyone can do it. Secondly, breathing is actually the only aspect of your autonomic nervous system that you can actively control. Other things, like blood pressure, you don’t really have a say in.
However if you can learn how to control your breathing, utilize your diaphragm, and take mindful breaths, you can actually influence how those other “uncontrollable” aspects behave. This means that with a few good breaths, you can decrease your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and even decrease excessive muscle tone (the trifecta for improving stress levels).
Because of this combination of convenience, ease, and return on your investment, breathing gets our top spot. Unsure of how to go about breathing correctly to reduce your stress?
Try the box breathing method.
Keep a few things in mind as you go through this process.
- Make sure to feel your ribs move as you breathe: up and out on the inhale, down and in on the exhale
- Relax your neck and upper traps as you breathe
- Ensure you perform full exhales, to the point where you can feel your abs working at the tail end of each breath
- Try to focus on your breath.. stop thinking about random crap (do penguins have bellybuttons?)
Now at the end of the day, it’s important to know that this list is not set in stone.
Of course there will be instances where a different “best” exists for certain individuals. But this list is a solid foundation for a vast majority of folks out there. The absolute most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to creating the best YOU is to find what works for your lifestyle and preferences and to make it a consistent part of your life.