When it comes to health and fitness, the things that actually work are boring and basic. Telling someone to eat more vegetables and protein isn’t interesting or sexy. But tell them about nutrient timing, supplements, or weight loss hacks and they’re all ears. The bullshit sells and the important stuff that works gets overlooked. As Shay Carl, who lost over 100 lb, explains in the book Tools of Titans:
Let’s look at some clichés that hold true. These are simple but powerful. If you stick to them consistently, you’ll get results.
1. Eat More Vegetables
Peoples diets have become part of their identity. Everyone wants to know what camp you’re in. Are you Paleo? Vegan? What about GMOs? While many diets argue over what’s healthy, there’s one point they all agree on—we need to eat more vegetables. The benefits of vegetables are huge! They are:
- Packed full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants
- Low in calories and filling
- Good for your digestion
For men, try to get 6-8 fist-sized servings of vegetables every day. Women should shoot for 4-6. If you only eat vegetables when they come on burgers, start off by adding small amounts to one meal and work your way up.
2. This Too Shall Pass
I love this cliché. I use it all the time when I’m stressed about stuff that’s not really a big deal. It’s applicable to fitness and other areas of your life.
Life has its ups and downs. We overdo it and injure ourselves. We eat junk food and get out of shape. As stressful as these times are, they are rarely life-threatening or permanent. But it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, simply repeating ‘this too shall pass’ is a good reminder to stay the course and weather out the storm.
3. Exercise Regularly
A lot of people hear this and their first response is to start cycling through excuses. ‘I don’t have time’. ‘I don’t know where to start’. ‘I’m too tired’. . .
The reason people struggle to exercise is that they build it up in their head. They think they need to sign up to a gym, learn how to lift weights, or spend their life on a treadmill.
Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. If you’re not doing anything at the moment, start by walking every other day. Set the bar so low that you can’t fail (try a five-minute walk on your lunch break) and build up as you progress. It doesn’t matter what you do. Find something you enjoy that gets you moving. Don’t overcomplicate it.
4. Take Action
I end each one of my blog posts with a call to action because goals without action are just dreams. It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to do. If you don’t start by taking one small step, you’ll never build momentum. The hardest part is getting started, so break down your goal into the smallest possible steps and work on them consistently.
5. Be Grateful
You might be thinking ‘what does gratitude have to do with health and fitness?’ Well, if you’re not happy or in the right mindset, you won’t be able to form good habits. When we’re down, going to the gym or cooking can seem like monumental tasks. And it turns out that something as simple as gratitude can help.
Research on brain science shows that gratitude could be the ultimate magic pill for happiness. Gratitude stimulates the part of the brain associated with dopamine—the feel-good chemical. Practicing it is easy. Every morning write down three answers to this question: ‘I am grateful for’ . . .
If you can spend five minutes a day doing some journalling, I highly recommend test driving The 5-Minute Journal.
6. Don’t Care About What Other People Think
How many times have you held back from trying a new sport or activity because you were worried about what other people would think? I know I’ve let it hold me back from a lot of things. This is a tough one for many people and I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but here are some things you can try:
- Remind yourself that no one really cares. People are too concerned about their own lives to care about what you’re doing. Even if someone does notice you doing an exercise wrong or struggling, they won’t think twice about it. In fact, most people genuinely want to help when they see people learning. We all start at zero.
- No one knows what they’re doing either. We forget that we’re all in the same boat. We’re all trying to make heads or tails of this life. As E.M. Forster said, “Life is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.”
- What’s the worst that could happen? Think about the absolute worst case scenario. Say you’re new to the gym worried about looking stupid. Do you really care what other people are thinking in their heads? It’s not like anyone’s going to go out of their way to say something or judge you. Most of the time, our fears are unfounded.
7. The Best Diet or Exercise Routine Is the One You’ll Stick To
I get a lot of people asking about the best diet or exercise routine. My answer is always the same—it’s the one you’ll stick to. You could get a program written by the world’s best strength coach. Or you could get your nutrition planned by a sport’s nutritionist. But these are useless if they don’t fit your life.
When you start out down the road to getting fit, your goal is to find an eating strategy (not a diet) that you can easily stick to for life. Same goes for exercise. Hate running? Good. You never have to do it again. Find what excites you. Do that.
8. Abs Are (Mostly) Made in the Kitchen
A lot of people start out with a goal of seeing the elusive six pack. What they don’t realise is that all the sit-ups in the world won’t uncover abs from beneath a layer of burger-built belly fat. To see abs, you need to drop your body fat down to around 10-12% for men or 15-17% for women. And when it comes to weight loss, 80% of your results will come from nutrition.
That said, you need to work the muscles so that they are thick and ‘pop’ when you get down to a low body fat. Which means that working your abs is part of the process. But dropping your body fat should be the number one priority.
9. Use It or Lose It
Our bodies are built to move. When we become sedentary, we get stiff and sore. Back and neck pain are commonplace these days. And many people who suffer from this pain are spending a lot of time sitting in front of computers or do little to no exercise.
Pain and injuries are not part of the aging process. And you should not take a lack of mobility or flexibility lightly. These are warning signs that you need to get the body moving more. It doesn’t need to be crazy. Doing yoga or stretching daily is a great place to start. Motion is lotion.
10. Eat Whole Foods
That’s a bit of a vague term, so let’s clarify it. Whole foods are minimally or unprocessed foods free from additives or other artificial ingredients. That means fresh fruit, vegetables, unprocessed meats, nuts, seeds, and other whole foods. If it comes in a packet or has ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s probably not a whole food.
A simple way to make sure you’re eating whole foods is to stick to the outer edges of the grocery store. That’s where all real foods are found.
11. If It’s Important, Do It Consistently
Your body is not just some beat up old Datsun that gets you from A to B. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own. So, you can choose to make the most of it or waste its capabilities.
When it comes to achieving health and fitness goals, consistency is the biggest determiner of success. If something is important, do it consistently. Set a schedule and stick to it. It could be working out, stretching, mobility, eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, or anything else.
If you value your health, draw a line in the sand. Drop the ‘I don’t have time excuse’. If something is truly important, you’ll make time.
Don’t just consume information. If you’ve read this far, I’m assuming you find this post useful. You’ve now got two choices: 1) close the screen and think ‘that’s nice’ and move on with your day. Or 2) pick one cliché and follow the advice for at least two weeks. Start with an easy one. And as Nike says, just do it! Decision creates action. Action creates results.
I Need Your Help
I’ve also got a huge favour to ask of you. No, I don’t want your money. But will happily accept it! I’m trying to get this blog off the ground and I can’t do it without your help. Simply sharing this post on social media (you’re so close to the share buttons—look down below) or emailing it to a friend makes a HUGE difference in my life. In return, I promise we can be best mates and you can reach out anytime. Seriously. If you need help with any health, fitness, or Jedi Knight goals you can contact me here.
You can also share some love by adding a comment below. Let me know what your favourite clichés are that hold true.
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