People start new programs all the time, and people quit them just as fast. For every ten bright eyed, enthusiastic newbies ready to start their latest fitness endeavour, there are nine burnt out, hollow eyed folks who failed to go the distance. What’s that one person doing right, that those nine people are failing to do? How do you line up your factors so that you’re most likely to stick with your workout, and less likely to quit? If you’ve glanced at the banner above, you’re likely to have an idea as to where I’m going, but listen up folks. Sometimes its the basics that people forget first.
If there’s one thing I hammer over and over again, if there’s one element that I stress cannot be neglected, cannot be overlooked, cannot be skipped, it’s nutrition. You are what you eat. Period. If you think you can get by with the occasional pizza or fast food burger, you’re going to look like a guy who occasionally gets a pizza or burger. If you think you can wing it and eat roughly what feels right, in what you think are the correct amounts, then boy, you’re going to fail to get results.
So what should you do? You should do some homework. Back in the day, eating right was easy. You ate fruit off the trees, you ate fresh meat, you drank lots of water, and go everything you need. These days, with supermarkets chock full of nutrition depleted processed junk, it’s hard to eat what you need. Do you know the difference between carbs, protein and fat? Do you know how much of each you should eat? Do you know if you should be on a low or high carb diet? Do you know your body fat percentage, and what you should be eating to lower it? Do you know how many calories you’re consuming each day? Do you know how much sugar/preservatives/hormones/crap is in the food you’re eating? If you can’t answer each of those questions with a resoundingly confident ‘yes’, then buddy, you’re just guessing. And when it comes to your health, guessing isn’t good enough.
So get online and start learning. Check out Lyle Mcdonald’s Body Recomposition site. Start reading the ingredients in what you buy. Go watch Food Inc, go read all of Michael Pollan’s books. Start writing down what you eat. Figure out how many calories you need to maintain your body weight. Figure out how many you should cut to lose weight. If you have a smart phone, download a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal or DailyPlate. If you don’t, go to those webpages and start keeping track via your computer. Learn about how insulin pushes glucose into either your muscles or fat. Do your homework. Learn about how your body works, and about what happens when you put food in it.
Sound like a lot of learning? It is. But if you’re not willing to learn about your own body, about what you’re putting in it, then you’re not going to succeed at getting fit and STAYING fit. It’s as simple as that.
Think of your body as a house, and exercise as a hurricane. You hit the weights, and that hurricane hits your house, tears it apart. Busts down walls, blows off roof tiles, shatters windows. At the end of your workout you haven’t gained any muscle. Instead, you’ve just shredded it. What rebuilds your muscle? Sleep. Sleep is when the construction workers come out and fix things up, and fix things up better. If you don’t get enough sleep, your house stays busted, and when you workout the next time, you’ll do worse. Think of it this way:
Sleep = healing
It’s that simple, folks. But it’s not just your muscles. It’s your whole body. Every system needs sleep to heal. And how much? Eight hours. You getting only six? Not good enough. You thinking of trying Insanity or P90X and only get 6? You’re going to burn out, or at best, finish by limping across the finish line, not having achieved the kind of results you had hoped for. People, listen up: sleep is essential. You cannot succeed at getting healthy and fit without it. You need to heal. But it’s here where people cut corners. They say, “I’m too busy. I have too many things to do.” Fine. That’s just fine. But realize that those things are coming at the expense of your health and fitness. Go ahead and get five hours sleep and force yourself to stay awake all week by becoming a caffeine zombie. Just realize that there is a very real cost, and that cost is muscle, strength, energy, flexibility, alertness, power, endurance. You see all those ripped people with beautiful bodies out there? They’re all getting their sleep.
This is probably the least important of the three. Yes, you heard me right. I have a friend who’s in his late 20’s, and absolutely ripped. He eats, exercises, does everything right. His younger brother came to live with him, and the kid was 12 and 180 lbs. Had grown up eating fast food and staying up late playing video games. My friend said, ‘If you’re going to live with me, you’re going to live like I do.’ And that was the end of fast food and video games. Now, he didn’t make his younger brother exercise, simply made him eat healthy and get sleep. And you know what? Six months later, the younger brother had lost most of that excess weight.
Now of course 12 year old’s burn more fat due to their insane metabolisms, but you get my point. If you eat right and get lots of sleep, if you’re getting the right amount of calories and no more, if you’re cutting the excess sugar and crap from your diet, your body will begin to regulate itself.
So exercise. Important? Yes. Of course. It makes everything better, but people always fixate on the dumbbells and ignore the pillow and apple. It should be the other way round. If you’re eating and sleeping right, then the exercise will work. Not the other way round. So what kind of exercise? To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. Whether you play volleyball, go for walks, love to surf, do P90X or Turbo Jam, run with your dog, do the treadmill, as long as you’re active you’ll get results.
Does this mean you’ll get the best results? Of course not. You can always optimize your gains. That’s why there are personal fitness trainers in the world, because they know what to make you do to get the best results. Can’t afford one? Get a workout program like Brazil Butt Lift or the Insanity Workout, and in effect buy yourself a personal fitness trainer. Follow that routine, and you’ll get results. As simple as that.
Now, another way people mess up here is that they go to extreme. They want to look like Shaun T, so they buy the Insanity Workout regardless of whether it’s appropriate. People, be realistic. Health and fitness is a life long journey, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you go too extreme too quick, you’ll burn out, and stop. If you’re a beginner, start with a beginner’s workout like Turbo Jam or Power 90. Trust me, those will push you harder than you can imagine. If you’re feeling good, try out RevAbs or Brazil Butt Lift. If you’re in top shape and want to push yourself as hard as you can, then yes, go extreme and do P90X or Insanity. But if your body fat is 35% and you haven’t worked out in 10 years and can’t walk a mile without losing your breath and try P90X and burn out? Then don’t be surprised.
of course, some people are just crazy and have willpowers of iron and can force their bodies through a world of pain and finish an extreme workout. They are the success stories that report losing 100’s of lbs on these workouts. Can you be one of those people? Sure. If you have that willpower. But that’s an all or nothing approach, and while I applaud those champions, I urge a more realistic approach that will ensure a greater rate of success. Start slow, people, start with a 3 month commitment to Power 90, and THEN hit P90X. It will be there waiting for you when you’re ready.
So there you have it. Eat, sleep, work out. People who try to neglect one of those elements will fail. People who do all three will have a higher chance of success. Of course, there’s the mental element to all this, and I’ll get into that in the next post. But if you make sure you’ve got these three basic points covered, you’ll do great. You’ll do better than great. You’ll become that one person in 10 who finishes their workout program, who loses that weight, who realizes their dream and look and feel GREAT. And when people ask you how you did it? You’ll tell them how simple it was. You’ll say you ate, you slept, and you worked out.
Ready? Then let’s get started, folks. There’s no time to lose!