Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meditation, Diet and Rest for a Martial Artist

Nowadays either people are too cautious with their diet or just don't care, very few strike a true balance between diet, rest, meditation and workout. Most people due to lack of knowledge think diet control is the key to losing weight or getting the curves they want. So as soon as people sign up at a gym, fitness class, sports club or martial arts club or class they often ask the trainer "What diet should I follow? " before even sweating it out a single session. For most people who workout or train for 1 hour to 1.5 hours a day their normal diet is usually good enough may be just a bit changes here and there is fine. Sadly these are the people who think they are doing too much workout and end up trying all sorts of diets which they hear from friends or trainers or read in some book. Every individual needs a diet differently designed according to their goals, body structure, workout routine and fitness levels. My sincere request to such people is that please do not just follow any diet because someone benefited from it. It may not work for you and may harm you instead. 
Being in the martial arts and fitness field and training for the last 25 years I have very very very rarely had a break in my training due to any injury, illness or fatigue. I owe all this to the able guidance and knowledge of my very knowledgeable and wise masters or teachers. Today we would be looking at the balance between meditation, diet and rest a super athlete or a person living the life of a martial artist should maintain to better their training without any injuries or fatigue. However since diet needs to be designed on a personal level depending on your weight, kind of workout and so on, we would just look at the diet in a very basic form.

Most injuries that occur are usually due to the muscle or joint not getting enough rest or time to rebuild before they are strained again with a workout. So REST is very important for the body. Always ensure the body is well rested if you feel a slightest pulling sensation in any muscle area when you wake up after sleep then avoid that muscle area in your workout so that it can rebuild. However always consult your coach or instructor if you need the rest or can continue workout. An experienced instructor can differentiate between pain in the muscle due to workout or the pain that is a signal that the body needs  more rest.  Most martial artists do train morning and evening and squeezing in an hour of sleep in between these two workout time slots would enhance your training levels much more. Sleep is often referred by many as passive form of meditation where our body gets energized and recharged.  

MEDITATION has always been an important and integral part of all oriental martial arts. In fact even professional athletes the world over have now made meditation a part of their training regime. Meditating for a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour is very good for the body. Meditation has the ability to recharge the body much faster than the body can when we sleep. It improves focus, concentration, makes the practitioner calm and composed, increases the ability of our 6th sense or instinct and much more. Devoting a certain time slot and meditating regularly at the same time has better results. The ideal time to meditate is early morning as soon as you open your eyes, one can also meditate before going to bed provided they have not eaten at least 1.5 hours before they sit to meditate. Meditating with a full stomach is considered not healthy as it is believed to disturb the digestion process and also hinder concentration on meditation. Once you are adept with meditation a person can meditate at any time and any where. 

DIET  is equally important. As the saying goes " We are what we eat." Often people ask me if they should move on to having 6 smaller meals rather than the traditional 3 of breakfast, lunch and dinner. To all these people I ask only one thing - " How many hours do you train? " Our body is a wonderful mechanism more synchronized than the best watch on earth. For people with an hour or so of workout daily the normal 3 meals is perfect no need to change that. However Indians have over the last 25 years changed their meal timings and I strongly believe this is the reason why all the ailments connected with the stomach and obesity are creeping in. Indians have a huge gap between the lunch and dinner timing. Most have their lunch between 1pm to 2pm and then dinner would be between 9pm to 10:30pm after which they sleep within the next 15minutes or so. There is almost an 8 hour gap between these meals. So either have your dinner between 6pm to 7pm or have a nutritious snack ( fruits, sprouts, vegetable juice, sandwich) in between and have a light dinner later.  Coming back to the diet needs for martial artists or super athletes they need 6 small meals a day. The level of workout that these people put in is far more intense than a normal workout. One hour workout of a martial artist has the same effect as a 3 - 4 hour workout of a normal person. This level of intensity super activates our metabolism and hence it is very imperative to keep refueling at proper intervals. The ideal way to work with such a diet is maintain the normal 3 traditional meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner but just add a small snack meal in between each of them. The 3 main meals should be a well balanced one consisting proteins, carbohydrates, fiber,  potassium, calcium and so on. Depending on the workout the contents can be changed. So suppose one trains in the morning and evening then the breakfast can be more rich in protein and potassium, the lunch more rich in carbohydrates and other minerals and vitamins with traces of protein and dinner can be more rich in protein and calcium with a bit of carbohydrates and other minerals. As for the 3 smaller snack meals it can include fruits, protein shakes, vegetable juices, soups, salads, sandwich etc.   

Kindly do not follow the diet without consulting your instructor. The diet is only indicative of what is the ideal way of designing a diet for an individual. A diet that may suit and benefit a person may actually end up harming another. So kindly do not play with your body and consult an experienced and qualified instructor for guidance. 

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