I made roughly around that many mistakes when I was just starting out this whole “fitness” thing.
I spent a lot of time searching the far depths of the Internet looking for that elusive “magic pill” (it doesn’t exist).
I mean, who could blame us? We’re all busy people. We all have things to do. Life gets in the way sometimes when it comes to getting fit.
We make as many as 200 decisions every day when it comes to food alone.
When you’re fed with things like “breakfast is the most important meal of the day (not true)”, “eat a small meal every 3 hours”, or “get rid of that stubborn fat by doing “x” exercise”, it’s easy for things to get overwhelming.
Paralysis by analysis kicks in.
No wonder most people don’t make it past January when it comes to keeping their New Years’ Resolution.
The thing is, anybody can workout for an hour every day. It’s what you do with the other 23 hours that greatly determines your results.
Think about it.
That hour long workout is only 4% of your day. How are you doing with the other 96%? Yet, most people only focus on the exercise part and set and forget the rest of their day.
We turn to crash diets and super complicated meal plans looking for fast results.
The fact is, there is simply no overnight fix when it comes to fitness.
If getting fit was easy, everybody would look like they just came off the set of Baywatch.
Sadly, it’s not.
I’ve spent that last few years trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I sorted out through all the BS in the world of fitness and I’ve found that there are really only 5 simple steps you need to focus on.
Follow through these 5 simple steps and you’re gonna be further ahead of 99% of the population hoping and praying that their ideal body will come knocking on their door one day (the “hope and pray” method doesn’t work by the way).
1. Start with ‘Why?’ aka your mindset
“What??? You mean we’re not gonna start with dieting??”
We’ll get to that in a second.
Let’s start with one of my favourite quotes here by Victor Frankl:
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
A huge part of your success is going to depend on knowing why you’re doing this to begin with and how mentally strong you are.
Knowing your ‘why’ will then help you create a solid foundation to develop a strong mindset which is gonna be your most important tool in your fitness journey.
I mean, you could have the best diet, the best meal plan, or the best workouts laid out for you, but if your mind isn’t in the right space, you’re simply not gonna get the results that you want.
The moment you encounter that first obstacle, and there will be many, you’re always gonna find the path of least resistance and that usually means giving up on your goals.
I believe that this is one of the biggest reasons why people fail when they’re trying to change their lives for the better.
They just don’t have a strong enough ‘Why?’.
So, dig deep. Really think this one through.
If you have a strong reason why you’re doing this, then that should be enough to carry you through the rainy days. And there will be many. You can apply that mindset not just with fitness but with everyday life as well.
Which brings us to our awesome pie chart of fitness. I believe that fitness revolves around 3 key components: sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
Notice how sleep takes up half the chart? That’s step #2!
2. Take care of your sleep
This is your starting point.
This part is so important that even if I give you the best diet advice and the best workouts on the planet, but if you don’t get this part right, you’re wrecked.
It’s that simple.
If that’s news to you, that’s a very good indicator why you haven’t achieved your fitness goals yet.
Here’s the plain honest truth about it.
Lack of sleep can lead to obesity, increased risk of heart disease, and even early death.
And yet, we deprive ourselves of sleep all the time. In fact, most people in North America are chronically sleep deprived.
What I do know is that sleep is crucial to life, and quality sleep is absolutely important to your physical and mental health. We talk about this first for a reason because it’s something that you can fix right away.
Sleep deprivation has so many downsides that it’s impossible to sustainably improve your physical health with nutrition and exercise until you fix your sleep.
If you’re wondering why your last venture in the world fitness didn’t go according to plan, not getting enough sleep is probably one of the biggest reasons why.
It’s just as important as eating healthy and working out. You need to have all three if you want long term results when it comes to your health and fitness.
Here’s what to do: Go to bed early. Starting tonight! Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep in a pitch black room every night.
I’ve never heard of anyone complain about getting a good night’s rest.
3. Nutrition – You can’t outrun your fork
I don’t believe in crazy dieting or restrictive meal plans.
You can’t just sell a once size fits all meal plan and sell it to everyone and just say that this is the only way to eat. That’s just a recipe for disaster.
It leads to a lot of unhappiness and misery when you can’t fully follow your diet/meal plan to a tee.
You feel like a failure. You quit.
I mean, what’s normal eating anyway? What might seem normal for someone living in North America might not seem so normal to someone living in Asia. Different countries, different cultures, different food.
This is where sensible eating for me comes in. Mindful eating if you will. I want you to eat in a way that is sensible and sustainable.
The next time you go out for ice cream, make a conscious decision of ordering a small cone instead of a pint. To me, that’s sensible eating.
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: You don’t always have to finish whatever food is in front of you.
The problem is that as a society, we’ve become emotional eaters. We’ve turned to food as a form of entertainment.
Ask yourself, what’s the first thing that you turn to when you’re bored? What’s the first thing that you do when you’re sad? What’s the first thing that we do when we run in to someone we haven’t seen in a while? We’re all guilty of this:
Don’t get me wrong. I love food just as much as the next guy. It’s our relationship with food that we’ve developed overtime that’s become our one of our biggest downfalls.
Every meal doesn’t always have to be a pleasurable 5-star dining experience. We shouldn’t always eat like it’s our last meal on the planet.
Know the difference between what you want now (insert your personal caloric Kryptonite here) and what you want the most (your fitness goals).
I also believe in the 80/20 rule – The majority of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.
How does that apply to nutrition? I believe that 80% of your results will come from 20% of the small good decisions you consciously make throughout the day.
For example: If you’re somebody who likes to eat chips, NEVER eat out of the bag.
We’ve all been there before.
We think, “I’m only gonna eat a few pieces”. So you put on your favourite TV show and next thing you know, you’re reaching from the bottom of the bag because you’ve inhaled the entire thing.
Here’s what to do instead: grab a small plate and pour a serving for yourself. Then seal the rest of the bag (tape it, put a rubber band arond it, whatever you need to do) and put it away somewhere where you can’t see it.
This does two things. Number one, it forces you to just concentrate on the serving that’s in front of you. Number two, it prevents you from overeating because the rest of the bag is nowhere to be seen. Out of sight, out of mind.
If you do however get your hands on the rest of the bag (congratulations, you just made it on Santa’s naughty list), the fact that you have to do all that extra work to get your hands inside the bag because it’s sealed, is usually enough to deter you from eating more of it.
Here’s another example: While I don’t advocate drinking pop, you can buy smaller versions of their regular sized cans. These mini-versions have 35% less calories than their regular sized counterpart.
Same taste. Less guilt!
Little diet hacks like that add up over time.
(NOTE: Want to learn more diet hacks? Download this free cheat sheet)
At the end of the day, just focus on making one good decision at a time. Start viewing food in a different light. Instead of always eating for pleasure, start looking at it as just a source of fuel.
Think of your body as a high performance engine. You want to fuel it to perform.
If you fuel your body with healthy food, it’ll run smoothly and efficiently. If your body runs on fast food, chips, and candy, your energy levels will suffer and it won’t take very long until you see the negative effects of it on the scale. Eventually, your health starts to pay the price.
Need help stocking your fridge with healthy food? Download the Newbie Fitness Academy Grocery Checklist.
4. Exercise – The best things in life make you sweaty
There’s simply no escaping this.
I’m gonna give you one the one and only concept that you need to understand about physical health, in case you’re one of those people who thinks that you can just live your life and not exercise:
If you want to improve your overall health, there is literally nothing better you can do than to become physically strong.
The science and evidence on this are pretty clear.
If you go back to as early as our hunter-gatherer days, the people that are able to hunt and provide (the ones that are physically strong) are the ones that survived and prospered.
If you can build your overall functional strength, you’ll get a lot of other health benefits for free – like more muscle mass that burns calories while you’re resting, and more testosterone that cuts visceral fat aka the spare tire around your stomach.
Looking good shirtless also helps 🙂
Haven’t exercised since gym class in high school? Try out this beginner bodyweight workout. No equipment or gym membership needed! All you need is a tiny space, a little motivation, and a good attitude!
Beginner Bodyweight Workout
Tabata Style: 20 seconds on/10 seconds off
4 Rounds of:
Here’s the workout demo. Prepare to get sweaty!
Quick note about this workout:
This is a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) style workout. We love it because it sends your body into fat burning overdrive!
The key is to push through the high-intensity intervals (for 20 seconds) and lower your heart-rate during the low-intensity intervals (the 10 second rest).
The biggest thing that you have to remember is that the intensity is always relative to the person doing it.
Meaning if you have to do push-ups off your knees or on the kitchen table, then that’s your starting point and you just progress from there.
Other than the fact that it takes little to no time to perform with basically no equipment needed, one of the biggest benefits of HIIT workouts is that it increases your resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours.
What does that mean?
Once you finish your traditional cardio workout (ie. treadmill, stairmaster, elliptical, running), you’re done burning calories. Whereas the fat-burning party keeps going and going if you do HIIT workouts.
(NOTE: Want to get rid of your belly fat without going on a crazy diet? Check out our Spare Tire To Six-Pack Kick Starter Plan! Click here)
5. Live a life that you love
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Without a specific plan for how to achieve it, it’s just a wish. A fantasy. And fantasies aren’t going to make you achieve your fitness goals.
At this point, you literally have all the steps that you need to jumpstart your fitness journey. The next question then becomes, how do you go about turning this entire fitness thing in to a lifestyle?
First, lets quickly touch on how the dictionary defines the word fitness.
They define it as: in good physical shape and healthy.
HEALTHY! I think everybody can get behind that. So in other words, the fitness lifestyle is the healthy lifestyle.
The key to all this is to always pursue simple.
Focus on taking things one day at a time. Focus on making one good decision at a time. One meal at a time. And know that you’re bound to stumble once or twice.
There’s gonna be some rainy days. Just pick yourself back up, pull up your big boy/girl socks and keep chipping away.
Here’s my secret to all of this. You have to like what you’re doing. You have to enjoy it. If not, you’re not gonna last. You’re gonna find every excuse to go back to your old habits.
You have to like the food that you eat. You have to like whatever workout you’re doing. You have to take care of your sleep. Add up all those things and fitness happens.
Remember that nothing worth having ever comes easy. Small daily good decisions add up to staggering results over time.
You’ve got this!
As always, if this was helpful, share it with a friend who could benefit from it as well!