How to Become the BEST Version of Yourself

Guest post by Dana Hamada

daneBalancing Fitness and Adulthood: Not an Easy Task. 

Recently, we (the Strongfigure Insider’s Group) discussed on Facebook, “If you could travel back in time and give yourself training advice, what would that advice be?” To paraphrase, my advice would be that in order to truly give the best of ourselves to those who are most important to us, we have to be the best version of ourselves, and we accomplish that by taking care of ourselves spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. But how does one do that, especially with all the demands of being an adult? Or even more challenging, with all the demands of being a parent? I feel like I could discuss this for days. We want to be the best in all the roles we play in daily life, but often at the cost of our own health.

Make Yourself a Priority.

For me, finding a way to balance it all stems from simply recognizing that I need to make myself a priority. I need to make myself a priority so I can be that best version of myself. I need to make myself a priority because the important people in my life are worth it. I need to make myself a priority because I’m worth it. The latter can be a challenging one to really own.

How Do I Prioritize ME? I Am Too busy!

I have very little down time. I spend a lot of time with my family – my wife, my kids, etc. I also spend a lot of time with my friends. Up until 2013, I was also a grad student (again). So where does one find time to balance fitness and nutrition in the midst of all this?Dane

Finding What Works for YOU

I have a training purpose and I stick to it.

  • On days that I train, I do it early in the morning. That doesn’t work for everyone, but for me it’s the only way to guarantee that I can get my training in AND have the time to spend with my kids, my family, my friends.
  • When I’m at the gym or on my bike, I allow myself a fixed amount of time, and I stick to it.
  • When I’m on the bike, I focus on speed or elevation climbing.
  • Where possible and practical, I try to find active activities I can do with both my family and my friends: cycling, hiking, going to the gym, or even just walking.
  • I’m not one of those parents who sits down and reads a book while my kid is at soccer practice. Soccer practice is an hour. I spend the first 10 minutes watching my kid practice. Then for the next 40 minutes, I run or walk and sometimes hike the trail behind the park. I return to the field and watch the remaining 10 minutes of practice. This allows me to balance some “me time,” fitness time, and time with my kid.  I like to watch at least part of the practice because it allows me to really be there for her. But getting in a short run, walk, or hike, makes my time productive and I don’t feel anxious about being idle.

All of this allows me to maximize the effectiveness of my training time.

Get Active with the WHOLE Family!

For the past few years, every summer my family has taken an “active” vacation. Sequoia National Forest, Grand Canyon…these are awesome trips that allow us to have family time, plenty of active time, time to escape the concrete and technology jungles and also allow me to focus on another hobby – photography. This has worked out so well for us. I encourage families to take these active vacations. They don’t have to be expensive!

Be THAT Guy at Work.

I’m the role model guy at the office.  LOL!  I take the stairs – before and after work, to meetings, and a few times of day in between. I have a standing workstation. I stand 100% of the time. I encourage walking meetings (this is possible most of the year in Southern California). When I can, I bring a small group of colleagues to the gym at lunch time. The gym is 0.7 miles from the office. We maximize this time! We change, run to the gym, work out for 40 minutes and run back. That 40-minute gym session just became a 40 minute gym session that included a 1.4 mile run. I get to to the office EARLY.  My goal is to also leave before traffic becomes heavy. On days that I know this isn’t possible, I bring my bike and I lead a small cycling group to the Rose Bowl after work. We can cycle about 20 miles, eat a quick dinner and then get on the freeway after traffic subsides.  Efficient multi-tasking!

Food Prep is Critical to Long Term Success.

I calculate my macros and calories based on current fitness goals and then menu plan accordingly. Once the food is prepped in the kitchen, much of the actually cooking time does not need to be actively attended to…things like hard boiling eggs and baking chicken breasts do not require monitoring, so I set a timer and while these things are cooking, I can help kids with homework or even just catch some TV or rest. If we are going out to eat, I try to take a look at the menu before we leave so I can stick to my macros. Sometimes I will eat something before we leave so I’m guaranteed to make my macros goals.

On days that I’m in the office, I pack for a 10 to 11 hour day. Food prep keeps me on track and also efficient with my time. Not only am I not spending money in the cafeteria daily, but I’m also not wasting time down there. I eat at least 4 meals during my work day, so if I had to leave my desk every time I had to eat something I would be wasting a considerable amount of time and money in the cafeteria. I also keep an ample stash of bars and protein powder at my desk, along with nuts and other staple items that I can easily access as needed.

Balancing all this doesn’t require one to live an abnormal life or an anti-social life. I find that if I can incorporate some active time into the time I’d be spending with others, we all benefit and it ultimately frees up more time in my day.

Find Your “Wind Down” Strategy.

I sleep better if I have some time to wind down before I actually get into bed. I have daily physical therapy exercises that I do and yoga is actually very beneficial to my mobility, joint health and also helps me wind down. So if I do my physical therapy exercises, followed by 30 minutes of yoga, I have accomplished several things in less than an hour and I get that needed “wind down” time before I sleep.

Don’t Break Appointments and Don’t Waste Your Time.

To me, consistency is more important than being obsessive. I can sustain consistency for a long time. I can sustain obsessiveness for a short period of time. Whenever schedules are challenging, I schedule the time. I make an exercise appointment. I make a food prep appointment. I don’t break appointments.In terms of exercise itself, if you find a way to incorporate a good portion of it into your daily routine, it doesn’t have to be this daunting task that you never have time for. Working it into your daily routine allows you to feel normal. Take the stairs, park further from the store, walk every aisle in the store. When I go to the gym, I time everything. I don’t spend a lot of time on social media or sending text messages when I’m at the gym. I see so many people doing this at the gym and then wondering why they accomplished so little during the time they were there.Lastly, I prepare my water and my protein drinks the night before and set everything in the refrigerator. In the morning, I grab my refillable water bottles and my shaker bottle and it’s go time. I leave the protein drink in the car so I’m guaranteed to get that in within that magical 30 minute anabolic window. And by doing all that the night before, I’m not messing around prepping things before I go to the gym (or worse, forgetting any / all of it).Dane2

To Recap (and you should probably write this down):

  • Prepare ahead of time.
  • Plan.
  • Integrate into your daily routine.
  • Stick to the plan.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Know that it takes practice to get it down to a smooth routine.

Do you have some tips to add for balancing fitness, nutrition and LIFE? Or do you have a favorite tip you learned from Dane?Let us know in the comments below!

This week’s Strong Figure Conditioning Workouts: