You hear it all the time. Just eat right and exercise and you’ll be healthy and ripped. It’s as simple as that. And you know what? It was often me you could see up on the rooftops shouting that message. And I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong.
I used to teach a class at Lifetime Fitness called EAT. It was an acronym for something related to health, but I forget what that was and could not care less. Either way, I used to tell my audience that to achieve the ideal weight they needed to follow the 80:20 rule. And no, it’s not do things right 80% of the time, but rather that their ideal body weight could be attained through 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. I don’t know where I came up with those percentages, but it sounded cool and was a way of selling my services (Hey, I’m more important than the trainers so buy from me). And I stand by the fact that nutrition plays a larger role than exercise when it comes to fat loss. However, it’s not as simple as eat right and exercise or follow the 80:20 rule. Turns out there’s a few more. So if it’s not just diet and exercise, what else is there? Well, I once read that when reading we are automatically drawn to numbered or bullet points, so that’s what I’ll do. And if you’re anything like me, you didn’t even read this intro and just jumped straight to the next section.
1. Sleep! — I don’t think I can stress this one enough. Study after study shows that a bunch of us are not getting enough sleep and that’s just sad. I have a few friends who have the pretty legit excuse of having toddlers and needing to tend to their needs in the middle of the night, but most of us lack sleep because we are trying to get too much done. And a lot of the time what we’re trying to get done isn’t anything of any importance. Is it really necessary to catch The Late Show every night? DVR that shit and watch it later. So much occurs in our sleep, namely in our REM sleep, that allows our bodies to repair and grow, thus giving us the energy and capability to have a successful next day. Missing out on quality sleep from time to time will happen, but if it’s a chronic issue then you need to realize you are holding yourself back from becoming what you’re capable of becoming… Awesomer! (no that’s not a typo)
2. Stress — This is another biggie. So much so that one of the best gyms in America (and really worldwide for that matter) specifically asks each client for their current level of stress in and out of the gym because they know that high stress can keep folks from reaching their potential (I didn’t ask them that personally, but I think they’d agree with that). By the way, that gym is IFAST. It’s where I train. Google it. But anyhow, stress is a big one because just like with lack of sleep, we can get into hormonal imbalances that predispose us to failure. One of the big ones is cortisol. You may have heard it referred to as the “stress hormone”. It’s actually beneficial and necessary for physical adaptations to occur, but chronic elevated levels of this stuff is a big no-no. So don’t sweat the small stuff and like Chubs told Happy Gilmore, “Find your happy place” on a daily basis. You might be surprised at the results.
3. Recovery — I was actually at the gym today talking with my friend and trainer, Zach. I was discussing how I will be out of town at a facility where no weight equipment will be available and that the best I’ll be able to muster is some body weight stuff of an evening. My current goal is hypertrophy and this is not the way to do that. He made me feel better by reminding me that taking a bit of time off from time to time can actually be beneficial in the long run. He’s right by the way. It’s hard for me to shut down, but I know it will be OK .. and possibly I’ll come back stronger. The point is, sometimes we overdo it. Not just with exercise, but with life in general too. I’m not necessarily talking about over training (much more rare than you think…. and CT Fletcher has a hilarious take on the subject. YouTube it.) but exercising hardcore everyday just isn’t healthy. The body recovers when we sleep and when we eat. Exercise is merely the stimulus for growth to occur.
4. Consistency — I’m gonna make this short and to the point. In my opinion, the number one most important aspect of seeing results is consistency. I also really like persistence. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
5. Effort— This one is more for those who have hit a plateau in their fat loss journey. That’s because any untrained individual will respond to basically any exercise stimulus you throw at them. That can include walking 30 mins a day if they’d been doing 0 before that point. But we all hit plateaus and when we do, we need to look at a lot of different areas (see #’s 1-4), but often we’ve merely let ourselves get too comfortable. Technically speaking, you can go to the gym for 2 hours a day everyday and not see a bit of results if “going to the gym” means sitting on your ass in the sauna (don’t do that by the way). Or as my friend Dale, owner of Athletic Revolution, puts it “You won’t get any stronger by just leaning against the squat rack”. So chiggity check yoself before you wreck yoself.
That’s all for this time guys. Hope you enjoyed it and got something out of it. As always, feel free to leave a comment about this post or about ideas for upcoming posts. I’m headed to Austin, TX next week to attend a business school so I’m looking forward to coming back with some new ideas and ways of thinking. Til next time…