“8 days a week!” – The Beatles
So after having some email communication this past week with my Pop, he hit me with a really cool question. After sending him another video on nutrition, he wrote back with a great statement and the question.
“Here is what we / I know: diet needs to focus on micronutrients. Lift weights once a week. ‘Sprint’ exercise once a week. Walking lots every week. Fast for two days every three months to stimulate stem cells. Sit in a sauna a minimum of three days a week to stimulate growth hormone.”
“How do you package that into something easy to use and apply?”
My response to him was… You just did! My Pop packaged this perfectly and summed up a lot of people’s research and expertise into just a handful of phrases. So now we can break this down, step by step, to hopefully help you put this into practice. All of this great research and knowledge is useless if we can’t find practical ways to use it.
Each week I will discuss in more detail each aspect/day of the weekly habits. I’ll do my best not to let the geek in me get too carried away with all the science, but I will definitely make sure you are aware of the benefits and reasons for this approach and, of course, I will include the links if your curiosity gets the better of you, too, and you wish to take the time to dive in.
So to begin this article, I quickly googled the origins of the 7-day week. It is pretty interesting and, naturally, the geek in me rather enjoyed exploring it. Needless to say, it goes way back to the Babylonians, if not sooner. The earliest evidence of an astrological significance of a seven-day period is connected to Gudea, priest-king of Lagash in Sumer during the Gutian dynasty. It is speculated that it could have been based on the lunar quarterly cycle. A lunar month is 29 days and 12 hours. It is cited in the Epic of Gilgamesh, specifically the flood myth, saying it rained and stormed for 7 days. The Hebrews used the 7-day week, and Genesis tells us the earth and man were created in 6, and that God rested on the seventh. So the number 7 and the 7-day week have been around almost as long as civilization. Even better, civilizations and empires have come and gone, but the weeks have stayed the same. The Romans had an 8-day calendar, but the 7-day week became more popular and ultimately, when Constantine made Christianity the state religion in the fourth century, the 7-day week came right along with it. The French tried to replace it in 1793. That lasted only 9 years, and they reverted back to 7 days (It helped the Catholic Church re-established control), and the USSR tried to change it, but to no avail. On a side note–and this did not come up in this work–but in previous research, when a woman goes through her cycle, (on average) the various hormones involved play their part, each taking a turn in “spiking.” Remarkably, each phase roughly lasts a week. It is a stretch, I know, but whether the week is natural, or has just been around for so long that it seems that way, it just seems to work. Even in the movie, The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, they tried to explain the week with having Moses explain to Pharaoh that the Hebrew slaves would be more productive if given one day of rest every 6 days (creating a 7-day, pyramid-building week).
The naming of the days involves the moon, the sun, and gods. In the Latin world (specifically French and Spanish), they use the names of the Greek/Roman gods. English uses the same gods, but instead uses the Norse names for the similar god for the weekdays. I just thought that was kind of neat.
But to the point, regardless of the origin of the week, it just seems to work and rather than fight it, or fight ourselves, or try and do too much in a day that we never seem to have enough hours for, or try to do too much in the week, we can spread out the various practices over the entire week. Thus, over the long run, accomplishing a lot more and being much healthier and happier.
The weekly habits we will be looking to incorporate are:
- High-intensity strength-training (only once a week)
- A form of ‘sprint training’/short-duration, high-intensity cardio (only once a week)
- A movement practice over multiple days (walking to work; grocery shopping may not be enough alone, but it adds up and, therefore, counts as part of it)
- The exploration of a meditative practice (5 – 10 min. daily, or 30 min. – 1 hour once a week)
- Hot/cold therapies (the sauna treatments)
- Eating a nutrient-rich diet and the inclusion of a possible cheat day
Now, you don’t have to wait for me to introduce each aspect of the plan in my weekly blog articles to get started on the whole thing. However, if you are new to all of this, then you could take your time, and each week, pick a day to incorporate the next piece of the pie–can a coach say pie?–puzzle! the next piece of the puzzle. Next week, we will dive into high-intensity strength-training and I will share with you what I start my clients with. Otherwise, you can read my previous posts, #5 and 6, “Why I like High Intensity Training,” Parts 1 and 2 (dates: April 27th, 2015 and May 4th , 2015 respectively).