Ignore the experts:
This can be a difficult choice for most people, but I will explain why it’s important to ignore so-called fitness experts in the beginning. The biggest problem with most dietitians, doctors, personal trainers etc is that they have such a deep theoretical understanding of how the human body operates that overtime they become convinced that they actually understand what it takes to be in great shape. Most of the fitness experts out there are what I call: armchair gurus. Remember: An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory – and having a sports medicine degree or being a M.D. does not make anyone an automatic fitness expert, especially considering that most of them cannot remember their last visit to the gym.
All diets are rehashed – stick to the basics
It’s perfectly OK — in-fact, I highly recommend that you try out as many diets as possible, but be very careful about investing your time and energy on the wrong diet. How do you know if it’s the wrong diet? Most diets out there in the wild have one primary goal: to make the diet/fitness program seem attractive to a large portion of the populace and incidentally – extract as much money as possible from these uninformed souls. When money is involved, fundamentals need to be skewed to add marketing value, which translates into more units (books, DVDs etc.) being sold. Eating healthy is actually very simple and at times boring and therefore lacks any inherent marketing value.
What I am going to share with you is a minimal fitness baseline – a basic structure designed to get you up to speed.
The following habits should be integrated into your daily life and mastered overtime:
- Go to the gym (not a home gym – these are a waste of time)
- Get lots of rest (at least 7-8 hrs.)
- Drink lots of water
- Cut down on low quality junk (Soda, Fried/Processed Food, etc.)
- Eat natural, wholesome food that comes from the ground and/or nature
- Eat quality proteins (Fish, Chicken Breast, Lean Meats, Eggs, Legumes)
- Eat vegetables (Broccoli, Spinach, Tomatoes, Carrots — pretty much anything counts)
If you are not doing any of the above right now – do not worry. It might take you a few months to change your habits, but as long as you are making a conscious effort to change your ways – you will literally feel the effects of eating these foods. This process should encourage you to minimize your junk food intake.
How to “Trick” yourself to succeed
In order to stay in shape, you do not need to spend a ton of time in the gym and religiously count calories. If you are new to the gym, I recommend doing a workout that is super easy. I use this technique when I am feeling sick/off/tired to still go to the gym and get a decent workout in. I don’t care if it’s walking on a treadmill at snail pace or lifting super lightweights. Remember: As long as you are going to the gym, you have already made significant progress.
Don’t be too healthy
This is a bit counter-intuitive, but a necessary facet of your diet if you want consistency with maintaining your healthy habits. While you are eating clean, healthy, nutritious foods – you are going to eventually conjure up disturbing dreams about eating chocolate fudge ice cream for breakfast, cheese stuffed crust pizza with a 6 pack of beer for lunch and filling your bathtub up with chocolate syrup and marshmallows while you ingest chili cheese fries with your face during dinner.
In-fact, this is part of the reason why I have been able to eat healthy day in and day out without going back to eating junk food all the time. The truth is, going overboard like this (I designate one day per week as: calorie overload day) is absolutely necessary for you to be able to stick to a healthy eating habit. As long as you are eating healthy 95% of the time, the other 5% will have negligible effects on your overall health.
Double your productivity
Instead of listening to music all the time while you are at the gym — mix it up a bit and listen to a podcast or audiobook about something that interests you. Listening to brain stimulating content while working out is a fantastic habit to develop. Now this does not mean you can go to the gym with a magazine and/or book and workout while reading. This is absolute nonsense and you will accomplish neither. I also highly recommend that you leave your cell-phone & friends at home while at the gym. Any form of distraction is bound to waste your time and energy at the gym.
Consistency is the key
The goal of getting into a habit of healthy eating comes down to one main goal: consistency. You cannot get too distracted. I don’t recommend working out or eating healthy for more than 6 days in a row per week. Consistency is all about habit and easily the hardest part about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are far too many distractions for most of us to be consistent in anything these days – but if being healthy is an important priority for you, it should not be a problem. This is also why I recommend having one cheat day per week where you are allowed to eat absolutely anything you want.
Answer this question: “Why?”
If you are going to the gym to get in great shape so you can get x, y, or z (women/men, impress people, ego etc.) – I am sorry to say but you have a very weak mental foundation for fitness. You should be going to the gym and wanting to get in shape because of one reason: YOU. Think hard about why you want to be in great shape and double-check to make sure if it’s due to your own internal motivation(s).
It’s NOT easy
Like anything else in life, if you half-ass your workouts and nutrition, you are guaranteed to get half-assed results. Staying in great shape is NOT easy – contrary to popular belief, (and in my experience) it will take you five times longer to achieve your desired goals and it will be equally arduous to maintain it. You will spend a lot of money, energy and effort on fitness – just like anything else worthwhile doing. Most importantly: you will learn more about yourself during the journey than you have imagined. As long as you take on one small step at a time and keep improving: you WILL get to your end goal. It’s inevitable.
Quick note on supplement(s):
The correct supplement can be a great addition to your newly formed healthy habit(s), but do not get hung up on spending money/effort/energy on picking out the right one. In order of importance, the following is what you should be focusing your time on:
1. Intensity and Regularity of Workout: 30- 35%
2. Lifestyle and Nutritional Choices: 40- 50%
3. Supplements: 0 – 20%
If you are fat, out of shape, miserable – it is absolutely, 100% your fault. Stop blaming others and please: stop whining. No one forced you to swallow chocolate cupcakes at gunpoint during the past three years – you made a conscious decision to pick up the food and stuff it in your face. Accept it. As long as you are willing to slowly implement elements of this bare bones guide – you have already made significant progress. Truth is, if you are fairly new (or even getting back into it) – this can be very difficult to follow. Take one simple piece of information in this guide and implement it over several weeks. Rinse and Repeat. Remember: the idea of this whole fitness mambo jumbo is to detach yourself from your own ideas/beliefs and to gain independent verification of the “facts” – by consistently applying (ie: workout) and measuring your progress.
As always, if you have any question(s), thought(s) or fitness related challenges you’ve experienced, feel free to share them below.