So by now you are familiar with the steps of building a good diet and fitness foundation for yourself. If you’re unclear on these methods please refer to my previous blog post. So what’s next? Improving your mindset and preparing your body for a very long race seems like the best starting point. When you begin to hit the gym for the first time, in a long time, or with a change in goals it’s important that your diet is fully optimized. Once your diet is on point so will your mind, and you are now ready to grasp hold of the challenges ahead.

The most crucial part of any battle whether physical, mental or spiritual is the mechanism of defense. Before working out again try some of the following tips.

Flexibility is your ultimate key: The more flexible you are the less prone you are to injuring yourself. The mobility of your joints and muscles hold more power than you think. I like to think of this as an example; picture Bruce Lee fighting the strongest Olympic Lifter, even when you remove Bruce Lee’s experience and skill in fighting he would still win… How? He’s not as powerful as the other person but he definitely has way more mobility. Did you know that water holds more power than the earth? There are many scientific claims and arguments that could support either side, but my theory is backed behind the fact the water is more ‘flexible’. Water can slice through rock not because of its strength but because of its mobility and persistence.

Think of stretching as a way of training and you are Set, but before you GO, Start off with still and simple stretches and as you progress and build comfort make the transition into dynamic (moving) stretches. Breathing is important while stretching – a steady 3 second inhale, hold for 2 then exhale for another 3 seconds seems to be the best way. In general, stretching is a sign for growth; stretching will improve blood flow throughout your body and allow all the nutrients, from that Body By Bell diet to replenish your muscles, joints and bones. If your goals are anything opposite that of winning the Strong Man, Olympics Lifts, or Body (mass) Building competitions then this is definitely the approach you should take. Not only are you helping to flush your body of toxins, build longevity and strength but you are also making a smooth transition into the gym; meaning you won’t get burnt out as quick.

Not too long after your sessions of dynamic stretches you should consider doing yoga. Yoga itself is actually a religious practice, but if you combine meditation, relaxation, patience, and dynamic stretches, you are taking away the essence of what’s important. This will really allow you to get to understand your body more, how it works and find imbalances you might need to work on. Practice nice fluid movements, at this point there’s no need to worry about firm movements. But I am telling you, once you resort or report back to flexibility everything else comes naturally.

To add a little flavor to it, turn it into a game, pretend you are the Avatar and have to master all four elements. Breathing (Air), Flexibility (Water: stay hydrated), Strength (Earth: eat healthy), and fire is the driving power within yourself whether it’s building more motivation within yourself or heating things up by adding some extra intensity to your life or workouts. I can’t remember the last time I told someone to “Pretend this…” but honestly it’s about time. This is a skill we had as children that eventually faded away. As children we thought anything was possible and nothing would stand in our way, I mean, doesn’t that seem like the proper mentality to have? Fortunately the easiest way to bring this back is by pretending and having fun; and “Yes” it’s as easy as it sounds.