I think a big obstacle for people when it comes to getting in shape and turning their life around is the fact that they think it’s a confusing process. They think there is some secret or knowledge they don’t have that would be too difficult to attain in order for them to right the ship and get on track to obtaining the healthiest and fittest version of themselves.
They are partially right – there is a secret. The secret is…ITS SUPER SIMPLE.
Don’t confuse that with easy. It is not easy. Whenever you are trying to change behavior that has been engrained for years you can fully expect a fight (with yourself). However, it is not confusing. Today we are going to go over the 5 step, SIMPLE process that is going to get you into the best shape of your life.
Now, these steps are going to be specific. I am not going to give you broad suggestions like “exercise” and “eat healthy”. Everyone already knows they should do that and that is not going to help anyone to hear it for the millionth time. However, I am going to narrow the scope on some of these things and get specific and tell you why you need to be doing them.
Let’s kick it off…
1. Full Body Resistance Training
Everyone knows they need to exercise. Humans were made to move – and move A LOT. The world we find ourselves in today leaves us sedentary and, as a society, we are starting to see and feel the ramifications. We are the unhealthiest generation in the history of the world despite the fact we have the most advanced medical abilities in the history of existence. That alone should tell you something.
While any exercise is better than no exercise, resistance training is my recommendation if you are looking to attain the peak of your health and vitality potential. Resistance training increases your metabolic rate which promotes healthy body composition, it increases bone density, strength, and muscle hypertrophy – all of which are extremely important especially as you age.
Resistance training, when properly executed, can also increase, and improve mobility leading to more efficient movement, which in turn, leads to less musculoskeletal injuries. Lastly, resistance training can and does often double as a form of cardiovascular exercise. Unless you are a Powerlifter taking 5-minute breaks between sets, your heart rate will rise and can reach fairly high levels depending on the intensity, goal, and execution of the session. Without special attention paid to this aspect of training, most resistance training sessions with average intensities and average rest periods taken, will find themselves in a Zone 2 heart rate zone most of the time which is phenomenal for cardiovascular health.
Taking this a step further we employ full body workouts. It is not uncommon for training splits to be divided into body parts where you exercise one muscle group per workout (this is strongly not advised as for 99% of people it will be overkill and a lot of their time, energy and recovery resources are wasted). Splits can also be divided into upper and lower body splits where the upper body and lower body are trained on alternating workouts. This is a great training split and one that I have employed with myself the most often. I find this to be the most effective split if you are looking to maximize certain aspects of resistance training such as muscle hypertrophy and/or strength as opposed to looking for general fitness.
Full body workouts are the gold standard when it comes to looking to maximize our general health and fitness ability. It allows one to train the entire body with the highest frequency and keep the body within its recovery capacity. Since you must train several muscle groups within one workout, it keeps you from over focusing on one particular area allowing for optimal recovery.
There are a lot of ways to employ full body training, but for the purposes and scope of what we are talking about in this article, these are the things your full body workouts should consist of:
- Train an Upper Body Pressing Variation
- Train an Upper Body Pulling Variation
- Train a Lower Body Push Variation
- Train a Lower Body Pull Variation
- Train the Core
The number of different workouts you can create by following those simple guidelines are endless and would allow you to train every single day if you choose to. Which is precisely why it is the go-to split for the goal of general health and fitness – because WE SHOULD be doing something every day!
Walking is the secret weapon that’s been living right under your nose since you had the ability to do it! If the benefits of walking could be packaged into a pill form, then it would be the most in-demand supplement on the planet – hands down. It will help you melt fat off your body and attain a leaner physique. It will boost your recovery and improve blood flow to allow you to train harder and more often to aid in building lean body tissue. It will boost your immune system and of course, help us live longer by improving our cardiovascular health.
Unfortunately, we can’t package the benefits of walking into pill form so we must dedicate the time to making it a part of our regiment. The good news is that it is not difficult to do at all. In fact, it is quite enjoyable. It can be used as a break from the day in almost a meditative therapy kind of way.
We have all heard of the 8,000 steps per day rule. This is the bare minimum to be considered an average human being. News flash, the average human in America is overweight with one or more health conditions. 10,000 steps a day is the bare minimum to be considered an “active” person. This is better and this would be the absolute lowest acceptable threshold. However, when you actually carve time out to walk and be alone with your thoughts, you will realize it is not difficult at all to attain 10,000 steps per day.
On a 30–40-minute morning walk, I will accumulate between 4100-4300 total steps – and that’s before I even eat breakfast!
With that being said, I would urge you to shoot for 12,000 steps a day if you really want to begin to reap all those juicy benefits we mentioned earlier. Wake up 30 minutes earlier each day to start your day with a quiet, productive walk (this is my favorite and a staple in my life). It’s a great way to start your day productively and good mental preparation for your day. You can also add in 10-minute walks after each meal. This helps aid efficient digestion as well as accumulate another 20-40 minutes of walking throughout your day. Lastly, I love to wind down with a quick 10–15-minute walk in the evening before coming in to settle down for the night. It’s a good way to wrap up the day and think through anything that could nag at you when you lay down to sleep.
Implementing one or more of these practices will be a surefire way to ensure you are walking enough to crush whatever health and fitness goals you have set for yourself.
3. High Protein Diet
Exclusionary diets almost never work long term when it comes to general health and body composition goals - unless a person is cutting things out for health purposes (allergy, bad reactions, etc.). People don’t like to be told they can’t have something and taking things away that they enjoy automatically sets them up in a poor mindset going into whatever diet or nutrition program they choose to embark on.
This is why we start with addition rather than subtraction. Prioritizing protein is one of the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ moves you can make when finding a nutrition practice that is sustainable long term.
Protein is not only going to help us repair and build lean body tissue from our workouts (because you should be following step number 1!), but it is also contains a high thermogenic effect (costs more energy to digest than it contains) and is satiating – meaning it fills you up! Feeling fuller from quality proteins that will aid in improving body composition will help you forego the processed junk food that continually gets in the way of the lean and healthy body to aspire to build.
Choose high quality protein sources such as chicken, turkey, eggs, wild caught fish, and lean cuts of beef. Even using a good quality protein powder is perfectly acceptable if you find yourself in a pinch and don’t have a good meal at your disposal or even for making protein smoothies as a meal option.
4. A Salad a Day
This might be one of my favorite nutritional practices of all time and yet, it is one you don’t hear a lot of other fitness professionals talk about. One big salad a day is an easy way to check a lot of boxes when it comes to getting micro-nutrient dense food into your diet. Fruits and veggies are a big part of a healthy diet and you want to make sure you are taking in both on a daily basis.
However, fruits have always been a lot easier for me to consume on a regular basis. They are sweet, juicy, tasty and don’t require any cooking or preparation. This is not the case for most veggies. It’s a lot easier to grab an apple on your way out the door to have for a snack then a head of broccoli.
If you can get a mix of your favorite leafy greens, and a medley of some of your favorite veggies, you can prepare a big salad bowl to keep in your fridge so you can have easy access to a big serving of veggies every day. It’s very easy to grab the bowl from your fridge, fill a plate with your salad, toss on some quality dressing to boost the flavor, and BAM – your serving of veggies is taken care of for the day. It can precede a meal or be the meal itself if you choose to toss a protein source in with it.
My go-to salad consists of romaine lettuce, baby spinach leaves, cucumbers, onion, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Then I will usually add a tablespoon or so of sauerkraut on top and drizzle it with either some olive oil and vinaigrette, or a nice apple cider vinegar based dressing.
Simple. Easy. Very Effective.
5. Seize The Night
I have a theory. I have no studies to prove this theory or no substantial anecdotal evidence to back it up – however, the more I think about this theory and the more I share it with people, the more my views on it get reinforced.
We have all heard stories or know someone personally in our own lives who maybe didn’t live the healthiest lifestyle but lived a quality life all the way into their 90’s or beyond. The old lady who smoked everyday or the old man who ate bacon and eggs for breakfast every single day with all the butter and grease in all its glory. There are a lot of different variations to this story, but you get the point.
Some people would chalk it up to genetics. This may be very true and play a role in a lot of cases. But I am also willing to make a strong bet that those people who lived very long quality lives……slept like a baby.
I believe if you are getting 8-9 HIGH QUALITY hours of sleep every night, then you can really make up for other areas of your life that may be sub-optimal by the health standards. Sleep is such an amazingly powerful tool we possess as human beings and is an absolute non-negotiable if you are trying to optimize your health and/or attain any fitness goal.
Getting to bed early and getting quality sleep is the ace up your sleeve to maybe give you a little extra wiggle room to make up for some loose dieting OR to really boost your health and fitness to the next level. It doesn’t get any easier than SLEEPING. Get to bed early, create a bedtime routine for yourself and create a sleep sanctuary to set yourself up for success. It is this reason that sleep hygiene is such a big focus in our Health & Nutrition Coaching Program. If you need help designing a routine that will work for you, book a call!
While sleep might offset some ‘not-so-ideal’ health choices within your diet or maybe enjoying a drink here and there, it will not completely erase terrible lifestyle practices. Don’t think you can lounge around on your couch all day, not exercise, not eat any quality foods, not hydrate, etc. and just think because you got 9 hours of sleep, you’ll be okay. You must also look at the things that come with getting good sleep such as activity levels, stress management, etc. People that are sleeping well are getting to bed early, aren’t overly stressed (keeping them asleep), spending energy (being active), etc.
As you can see, all these things can feed off of each other in one way or another. This is why it is called a LIFESTYLE. Because to truly make lasting, impactful change, you must change the way you go about living your life with these simple steps to be your healthiest. It is a complete mindset shift, that once made, will move mountains in your life.
If you need any help, I got your back.
Time to grind,