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Arron Collins-Thomas - Episode 7 - The Importance of Rest & Recovery

Watch Episode 7 here!

If you would prefer to read a text version of Arron's latest vlog - check out the video transcript below 👇

Amy Williams:

Hello, it's Amy Williams for the, U Perform YouTube channel. And I'm here again with our fitness expert Arron. So today we're talking about rest and recovery, a hard thing to do in our crazy hectic lives.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

Yeah. It's something that people really struggle to give themselves time for, right. But we all need to pay attention to how well we recover, how much rest we get so that we can perform in all aspects of our life. Right? As an athlete, you would have had a lot of rest and recovery within your training program. And that's, as you were performing at a really high level. Well, now as a mum with kids and a job and everything else, you're performing at a high level, just in a different way. So why should you treat your body any differently? And I think it's very difficult for people to understand that and get that into their minds, that you are still performing. You're still going to the gym and working hard. Still working hard at your jobs, still earning money, still have all the stresses of life. But we think, well, because it's not maybe as important at the time as was what you were doing. You know, why should we give our self as much recovery and repair?

And so, giving ourselves time in our day to be alone without our phones and our devices, or be away from other people is really important. Thinking about ways of recovering and repairing through, um, self-massage techniques, foam rolling, any massage tools that you might have, things like that are really great. Doing yoga classes, doing Qigong classes, breathing classes that I've spoken about before. All that kind of stuff allows you to have a bit of time in the day for you and to help your body, to kind of regenerate, recover and reboot a little bit.

Amy Williams:

I guess its finding something that works for you, isn't it? It is that 'the hours in the day', you know, how can you, as a busy working mom, those hours that you don't have children that you're looking after, is probably the time and is the time for me when I'm opening up that laptop and cramming in as much work as I can. And then you're like, Oh, it's half past 10 at night. I haven't now done anything for me and I think that's a really hard thing to do. Isn't it? Have you got any tips for, yeah. The crazy busy hectic life of people who just don't physically feel like they've got that time in the day?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

I think it's so easy to say, isn't it, because I don't have children. It's a little bit easier on that front. I think generally we all just overbook ourselves. It's the same for myself and for a lot of my clients. Right. But I'll rush between client and client and then I'll try and fit in a coffee meeting with someone that I really don't have time for, but I quite like to do. So I stress myself out to get there late inevitably, I have a coffee. Now when I'm already in a stress state, is it a good idea to throw caffeine into my system and speed me up even more? Probably not. And then I'm late for my next thing and it just rolls on and we just felt like we've got no time because we do generally try and cram too much in.

The art of saying no, it's really, really difficult. But the power of that is huge. We have to learn to say no to, friends. Learn to say no to family, to stuff that doesn't serve us. That isn't going to help us in whatever our goal might be. Which might be to create more time or it might be to be more productive at work or it might be to be more healthy. Yeah. By cramming too much in we can't get all those goals that we want. So by saying no, by giving ourselves some space, you know, that's going to hopefully create a bit more time for you.

I think we're all a bit scared to say no to stuff. Um, you know, we feel that if we say no, now we might not get invited to that party again. We say we get FOMO, fear of missing out from the party that everyone's going to. But realistically, once that party has started, sadly, no one really misses us, they don't realise we're not there once they start having fun.

So, you know, we maybe put ourselves, under too much pressure at times. So trying to say no, that's the first step and creating some space. And then once you have that space, it's filling it with the right stuff. Okay. So filling it with stuff that's going to serve you well, that's going to make you feel good or even just taking a bit more time to eat your lunch, eat the right food. We have spoken about this before, where we're so busy as personal trainers, right. We're constantly moving between different things. We've got loads of stuff to do. We're programme writing until late at night. Often we don't actually give ourselves enough time to eat the right food.

And I've been guilty of it. I'll grab a protein bar here and there because that's kind of healthy. But when I hit the third or fourth protein bar in a day, it's probably not a good idea instead of a meal, but we find ourselves slipping into that. So crafting that time to eat the right foods will energise us. We will make us feel better, will help with that recovery and repair of our muscles anyway. We'll improve our sleep. And then, you know, that's obviously going to roll on in that whole self-care subject that we're talking about.

Amy Williams:

I have actually found for me, I started meal planning. I've never done it before. I'm kind of one of those right, quick weekly shop grab the odd kind of thing. And then each night are just look in the fridge and decide what I'm going to do. And actually now I'm having done a few of your meal subscriptions and I thought, Oh, the ease and joy of thought of not having to think, you just pick up one of those bags, stopped doing that. And I thought I can do this myself and actually writing meals down. Okay. It takes a little bit just to think your brain on a Sunday evening, but suddenly the stress of that and to think I know exactly what I'm having tonight. because it's written down, grab it weirdly, already kind of empties that mind and like frees up a tiny bit of stress of every evening of oh what am I going to make for food? So I found that that was actually a very simple little way of just actually planning weekly meals.

What else do you suggest for people? Just like sleeping, getting into better sleeping habits. I find particularly when I'm trying to sleep or I wake up a lot in the night that then your brain is just racing like a loony and you can't get back to sleep and then you wake up thinking, Oh, I've had a rubbish, night's sleep. I just need more sleep. And then you're stressed , and it's just like this little cycle.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

So one massive part of self-care is sleep, which you just mentioned there. Right? A lot of us don't get enough of it and we actually undervalue it. You know, a lot of people get embarrassed to say that they nap, but if you're not getting enough sleep at nighttime, you've got to take some naps in the daytime. Right. You've got to do that. But we wear lack of sleep a bit like a badge of honour. Often we'll go out and we'll say I only had four or five hours sleep last night. I've survived on coffee through the day and I've smashed the day. And I don't know why we think that sounds great because it really is very detrimental to our health.

And again, if we want to look after ourselves in the right way, sleep is one of most important places to start. So we can help that with a few little tips trying to remove electronic devices. I think we all know that we should do it, but it really does make a big difference. The good thing about most devices now is that they actually have the setting where you can dim the lighting down. So it makes the phone less interactive, all these colors and things going. You can also put things on your phone that locks you out of your social media. So you're not mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, that kind of stuff, which stimulates you right, when we're looking at that or the colors are stimulating us, the videos are the stuff that's going on and it sets our minds racing before nighttime.

So trying to digital detox a little bit before bed, it's quite useful. A good friend of mine taught me this tip, he and his partner. They have a digital box in the house by the front door when they come in, they put their phones and laptops in there and they want to use their phone or laptop. They have to sit in the dull corridor on their own. And so it means they only do it for a few minutes and then they come back in and they join their partner. So they're actually conversing, having nice conversation, which is great for that connection with people anyway. So that starts to already wind them down. At the end of the day, they're not thinking about work so much and they're not being so stressed out by being connected. Their phone might be vibrating and they're thinking, what is that? Is that work? Is that someone who needs me.

And then before bed, you know, spending some time breathing, breathing techniques are great to kind of help people sleep. And if we can slow ourselves down through some breath work, that's going to have a massive effect on not just how long we sleep possibly, but often the depth of sleep that we get.

People often don't breathe very well. Anyway, in general life, people tend to breeze quite short, shallow breaths, quite often into the chest area. And so by just taking long slow breaths in, through the nose, into the belly, that into the chest and then out through the nose, just trying to slow that breath down over the period of five or six minutes can actually just start to wind the body down a little bit and help you get into that sleep. And then the thing is if you wake up instead of kind of panicking about, Oh my God, I'm awake now. And wide awake go to check the time; returning back to that breathing pattern and trying to take yourself and slow yourself down again is really beneficial. So at least if you're not falling asleep fully at that point, you're still kind of in a bit of a meditative state. So it keeps your body relaxed rather than that panic of, Oh no, what time is it? I've got to be up in three or four hours.

We've all been there and it's trying to kind of combat that a little bit. And the next part of that is actually still on taking the devices away. Don't have the device in the room, because you'll be tempted to look at it when you wake up, people often kind of go for that device when they wake up. And again, that's that first thing in the morning. I'm just going to check my phone, reach out, check that phone. Like, no, because you're starting your day with stress potentially. Right? You're looking at their email pops up. You think, Oh, I've got to have this meeting later. I haven't prepared for it.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

So before you've even had a chance to start your day on a positive note, you've gone, okay this is what I have today or the news just popped up and told you something awful is happening or whatever. So we just create stress in the beginning of our days, which is not a great way to start to look after ourselves. Right? So a great thing to do in the mornings would be get up to do some breath work, do some gentle stretching just to ease yourself into the day, have your breakfast, and then start to look at the stuff.

Amy Williams:

We've just touched on breathing. And in the past, we've talked about Qigong that you're very heavily into, just refresh our memories. And for those who haven't watched, why is breathing so important? Clearly we need oxygen, but your big, deep, deep breaths and breathing that you do.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

It's all about how stress affects your breathing and then that effect on your nervous system and some of the chemical imbalances that happen in your body at that point. So when you're in a stressful state, let's think about fight or flight response. You're being chased by a tiger. Your body throws a load of chemicals into your body to help deal with that. So your cortisol levels go up for example, which is a stress hormone, great at the time that we need it, not so great if we have too much of it in our bodies. And because we live our life at this fast pace, we're talking about where we're constantly under lots of stress all day long nonstop. We're kind of in that stressful state all the time, we have high levels of cortisol for a lot of people. Cortisol and melatonin for your sleep they'll play a little fine balance.

If your cortisol levels are high, melatonin is likely to be quite low and therefore it's going to be affecting your sleep. So if we can use our breath work to bring ourselves into more of a parasympathetic state, that's your rest and recovery state throughout the day, especially if you've gone into a stressful situation. If you can bring yourself back down from that quite quickly, we're going to help reduce the effects of cortisol. Melatonin levels should balance out and therefore we should get a better sleep. So we hope that if we can manage our stress throughout the day, by breathing better, breathing through stressful situations, I think everyone says when you're stressed, just breathe, right? Everyone says that all the time, right? So it's not just one breath. It's actually more like five or six breaths. If you can take five or six deep breaths slowing down each time, you can then start to have a change on the effects stress is having on you.

The lungs are the only organ inside your body. You've got direct control over, right? We can't tell our heart when to beat necessarily. We can't tell our stomach when to digest, but we can tell our lungs how much to breathe in and out. How slow, how deep, how fast and so that can help regulate, everything else in our body including those chemicals, including our stressful state.

So throughout the day, little bites, um, throughout the day of breath work or doing some moving meditations like Qigong or using an app that helps you with your breath work or your meditations, that kind of stuff regularly throughout the day will have a massive effect on your rest, your recovery, your stress, all the wonderful things we've talked about. So breath is hugely, hugely important.

Amy Williams:

We keep touching upon Qigong and breathing. And you talk about the breathing and meditation and movements. Why is that so much sort of easier or you find better? Because I find it very hard to meditate and to even sit still and to do your breathing and your brain just goes off in all other places. Why do you like the movement?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

I think a lot of people really struggle with meditations. I certainly do and have them for years. Our lives are so fast paced. Our brains are trained to have so much activity and all the time, there's constant stimulation, right? There's phones, TVs, there's stuff going on around us all the time. So to suddenly go right, I'm going to stop my body, stop my mind and be quiet is really, really tricky because our brains have just been trained over years to become super active. So doing Qigong, moving meditations, you're distracting the mind a little bit because we're thinking about our movement of our body. So you might be moving in lymphoma and thinking about sending energy a certain way. So it helps to quieten the mind and allow you to stop thinking about everything else that's going on around you.

I think meditation can sound a bit scary to some people because you think you've got to sit cross legged on the edge of a mountain in whatever pose. And that is really tough for people to kind of get into that thought because they think it's a bit hippie-ish right? But it doesn't need to be like that. It's kind of something that everyone should be spending time doing. Just trying to quieten their mind and to do less for just 15 to 20 minutes. We always want to have a positive outcome from things that we do. And a lot of people I've seen who've done meditation work they've gone well, I didn't really enjoy that session. It wasn't very good because I couldn't quieten my mind. But what you've just done, you've spent 20, 30 minutes breathing. That should be a positive experience, but you've made that negative because you didn't think it was very good.

So if I give you breath work to do, well, we can all breathe. So that's a positive experience. If we give you moving meditations where you quieten the mind as well at the same time as doing your breathing, you can't have done that wrong. So it's going to give you a positive experience at the end. So therefore you're more likely to do it, then you're getting a better pattern of it and then you'll get better and better at quieting the mind because it's just like anything else. You've got to train the brain at becoming quiet. The same as you train your muscles to do certain lifts.

Amy Williams:

We haven't touched upon nutrition and you know, all of this moving and breathing and all the rest of it. I mean, I'm just becoming hungry as we're talking about it. Are there any kind of foods or any way that we can get nutrition to help us in that recovery, I guess post-workout or just day to day and find in the benefits from our nutrition.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

I think in general, we just need to all make sure that we're eating a rounded, healthy diet. Right. And I would always advocate kind of a Mediterranean style diet where there's lots of color in it. Eating the right kind of food. A mixture of fish and mixture of meats Keeping it as varied as possible and eating regularly, right? There's a lot of people who I've trained who will come to me and say, well I want these results, I want to lose weight. Therefore I'm not going to eat. That's a really bad way to go because you're training more. You're working out a lot and your body is demanding energy. So we've got to fuel the body so it can recover and repair in the right way. So often by cutting the calories too much and trying to lose weight in too many extreme ways is actually having a detrimental effect for people's bodies. So eating the right foods is really important.

Amy Williams:

It's great hearing about Qigong again. And if it's sort of scaring people and they're like, Oh my goodness, how do I even start doing this? You do teach don't you, you do help people.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

Lots of Qigong. You can find us at hayoufit.com where we teach loads of classes on Instagram each week, as well as courses you can sign up to online. So there's some moving meditations, which is a full Qigong moves. There's some breath work stuff in there. And there's something quite exciting, which is called wild animal play Qigong where you are doing more physical movements. So it's working on a bit more of the external parts of the body as well.

Amy Williams:

Okay. So what are we going to be talking about next week if people are going to tune in?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

Okay. So next week we're looking at fitness tracking. So wearables, why you should track fitness and what the benefits of that are.

Amy Williams:

Okay. Brilliant. Well, thank you Arron for today. Thank you for watching. Please subscribe and hit that bell and hopefully we will see you again.

Tune in next Tuesday for Episode 8.

See you then!

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