We live in a world of immediate outcomes. Want to deposit a check? Whip out your phone. Want relief from that headache? Take this pill. Starting to think you might almost get a little bit bored in a few seconds? Turn on your TV, smartphone, tablet, e-reader, mp3 player…
The world is moving quickly, and it’s exciting to be able to keep up. But there are some things that a quick fix just won’t…fix. For instance, keeping off that extra 5, 10, 25, 100 pounds. Fast weight loss is, understandably, a huge market; unfortunately, though, it is also filled with garbage information, get-slim-quick schemes, useless (if not harmful) products, and countless empty promises, all hell-bent on getting you on board, shelling out dough, and maybe even seeing some results in the beginning.
But they won’t last.
For those who struggle with excess body fat, the only way to achieve the body you want and then keep it is to pay attention (and make some lasting changes) to these Four Tenets of Health.
Some people use the word “diet” here, but I prefer to avoid that word like the plague (unless it’s followed by a minutes-long explanation of how I do NOT mean cutting calories but rather mean it in the same way you would describe a lion’s “diet”). No matter how you refer to it, the simple fact of the matter is that you cannot have and maintain a strong, lean, healthy body with poor nutrition.
The most succinct way I can describe proper nutrition is “things in the grocery store without ingredient lists.” There are no ingredients in steak. You don’t need any corn starch to grow broccoli. Stick to the ingredient-free foods—the ol’ shop the outside aisles of the supermarket trick—and you’ll be well on your way to getting your nutrition in line.
I don’t think I need to convince anyone that exercise is important. What I do need to convince people of is what that actually means and entails. Based on the state of the fitness industry nowadays, it might come as a surprise to you that it’s not a simple matter of “more is better.” You don’t always have to “go hard or go home” or leave sweat angels on the floor. Workouts do not need to absolutely crush you in order to be effective. And they don’t have to be long and monotonous, either.
I imagine some of you are shocked. I hope you are relieved, too.
The latest crazes and trends in the fitness industry rely on buzzwords and hype and, for lack of a better term, sexy methods. But sexy methods are better at creating sexy profits than sexy bodies.
If exercise is your sport, more power to you – I just don’t happen to be talking to you. But if you’re one of the many people who know they should exercise but are not willing to demolish themselves several times a week, then you’re in luck – you don’t have to!
Exercising can become a very complicated matter. For those who have neither the time nor the inclination to study much further, my suggestion is simple: Lift heavy weights and walk as much as you can. Remember: you do not make gains or lose fat in the gym; you make gains and lose fat after the gym. Don’t slog away on a treadmill until the calorie count reaches a certain point: create some stresses from which your body will have to recover, and then go recover!
Sleep is essential. That is not a controversial or even arguable statement: sleep is absolutely critical to your health, and, therefore, to your fitness goals. For some reason, though, surviving on little sleep has almost become a matter of bragging rights. Everywhere you turn, someone is telling you how well they function on only 4 hours of sleep. The truth is, they might be getting by, but they’re certainly not thriving, and they’re only able to do so right now.
Sleep is a very deep topic, and most facets of it are outside the scope of this article. But rest assured (ha!), it is absolutely important, whether you tell yourself it is or not. Shoot for 8 hours a night of true, quality, non-pill-or-alcohol-induced sleep every night. As stated before, you make progress during recovery! So get out of your body’s way and let it do its thing.
We all lead stressful lives. Some more than others, and all of us in different ways. Nevertheless, we all experiences stresses to which our bodies are not accustomed – it’s the price we pay for living in this modern world. And like it or not, failure to properly manage this stress can have a profound impact on your health and fitness goals. Cortisol (that oft-demonized “stress hormone”) serves some important and beneficial functions in the body, but when cortisol is chronically elevated, it can have some nasty effects (poor sleep and belly fat being just a couple).
The road to stress management can be a long one, but it’s very much worth the journey. And effectively managing your stress isn’t just valuable in the gym, either! Virtually all aspects of your life can be affected –in a positive way—by good stress management.
These are vast, expansive topics, distilled down to some very basic principles. There is more to learn and more to try, but main point is that to become and remain lean and fit in a body that functions as well as it looks requires attention to these 4 Tenets of Health. And don’t feel the need to overhaul your life right now: simply become aware of these Tenets, and learn to slowly make some changes. You’ll be glad you did.