Back in my early 20’s I truly believed I was fitter than a Malley bull and if you had asked me, I would have said I was a very healthy individual. Looking back however, I really wasn’t.

I had always carried a bit of extra weight and compared to today, I was weak and void of energy.

Over the years as my education on health and fitness has evolved, I have identified the four main reasons why I felt like that back then. I’ve seen my clients struggle with these same issues.

If you’re struggling with your weight loss or strength goals, you may be making these mistakes.

1. Lack of sleep

Sleep is seriously the biggest issue that I see affect peoples health. My problem wasn’t getting to sleep or staying asleep, it was more to do with the times that I was sleeping.

You see, I used to believe that 8 hours sleep was a good amount of time regardless of when it occurred. This is actually incorrect. Timing is critical.

Between roughly 10:30pm and 02:00am is time that physical and psychological repair processes occur and they can only happen during this window. It’s called a circadian rhythm and obeying it is vital to your recovery from the stresses of life.

Try and prepare for your nights sleep in the same way you prepare for your day. About an hour before bedtime, turn off the TV or computer and start to wind down. Routine is important.

Ensure your bedroom is dark and all electrical devices are switched off or moved away from your bedside table. Temperature is also important try and keep the temperature around 24 degrees if you can.

2. Not hydrating enough

Being well hydrated is one of the quickest and easiest steps to improving your health almost instantly. When you are well hydrated, your body can function optimally and detoxify from any hazardous foods you may have ingested.

Whilst there is no strict science on it, there is an approximate formula for calculating how much water you need based on your body weight and the foods and fluids you consume on an average day. You can check it out here.

The best tip I can offer is buying a nice water bottle that becomes a part of your day-to-day possessions. Before leaving home, I check for my watch, phone, wallet, sunnies, keys and water bottle. It’s that simple — when you drink from disposable water containers it’s all too easy to leave it behind or lose it somewhere.

Wash and dry out your bottle once a week to ensure to doesn’t start growing unwanted bacteria.

3. Too much Stress

Stress comes in many shapes and forms. The brain can’t actually differentiate between different types of stress. They are all seen as a threat and subtract from your body’s ability to become pain free, lose weight and make strength gains.

One of the most important steps you can take is taking some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Do something for yourself that you thoroughly enjoy and take your mind away from your worries.

Personally, I like to go for a long walk with my wife or go for a swim at the beach . You might like to allocate some extra time to do something with the kids or even make time to get along to a yoga class. It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as you enjoy it and can have mindful awareness that you are doing something for yourself.

Avoid using this time to sit in front of the telly, even if that’s what you enjoy the most. Try and get out and do something restorative.

4. Alcohol

I like a cheeky vino or beer as much as the next guy, but we must establish some boundaries here. If having a social drink is a part of your life then that’s totally fine. You can still have an occasional drink and achieve strong health as long as you follow a few simple rules.

  1. Set your drink limit before you start and stick to it. I recommend no more than 2-3 standard drinks on any one evening.
  2. Don’t drink alone. If you feel the need to drink when you’re alone it’s no longer a social pastime, it’s a coping strategy.
  3. Match every drink you consume with a glass of water. Even though you are only having a few drinks, simultaneously hydrating yourself will make you feel so much better the next day.
  4. Avoid eating crappy processed foods (anything with sugars, wheat and dairy) whilst drinking alcohol. Your body will be busy dealing the alcohol and won’t be able to process food as it would normally. Choose natural whole foods like meat, fish, above ground vegetables and nuts.

As long as you’re actively taking steps towards modifying behaviours that are holding you back and making change, you’ll get to where you want to be one way or another. Implement all of these things or just one at a time – it doesn’t matter as long as you’re not spinning your wheels getting frustrated at your lack of progress.

The points I’ve shared with you are absolute game changers and actually very simple to implement. However, if you think you are the sort of person who may need a little nudge then I recommend your first port of call is to hire a personal trainer to guide you on the right path. Having that extra accountability will do you wonders.

A good trainer can not only help you with your lifestyle factors but can also incorporate exercise which will accelerate your progress and get you to the point where you are accountable and can continue towards better health on your own terms.