So you want to be fit.
If I asked you to tell me five things you can do to get fit and stay fit, you can probably give me five good answers.
As a matter of fact, most people can.
But if I then asked you if you were going to do those things, what would your response be?
The way I see it is simple. You will do one of two things:
List a few good ideas, then revert back to rationalising why you cannot do ALL of those things.
You will look me in the eye and tell me that you CAN and WILL.
If you fall under the first type, I have bad news for you. This article probably will not help you.
There are only a few things in life that you should lay down all the chips for- Things that cannot be compromised for anything or anyone. Ever.
Health is one of them.
So unless you take a no-discussion approach to restructure your life around health, no amount of ideas will help you.
Sorry not sorry.
If you belong to the second group, then you are on your way to something great.
I don’t even know you and I believe in you.
In fact, you can stop reading here. Just go and follow through on your words.
But in case you were wondering what five health tips I have followed for the last year, here they are.
No-nonsense, no-rambling. Straight to the goods.
#1: More Vegetables
Conventional wisdom says that macro-nutrients are what keep you alive. But do you want to be alive, or do you want to thrive?
Eat more greens. Eat more color. Eat mostly organic.
Yes it’s what I do. Yes I’m biased.
#2: Chill on the Sugar
Sugar is a major problem in developed countries, where it is added to pretty much everything. Nearly every processed or ready-made food has added sugar and/or modified corn.
Yes your urban life is busy. Yes it’s time-consuming to prepare a healthy meal. It’s even harder if you don’t know how to cook. So two options:
- Discard that Netflix cue and spend some time learning and cooking. Or.
- Find a better job and get out of the 9-5 typical office life.
Here’s a tip on grocery shopping: Don’t bother shopping in the snacks isle. Don’t shop in any isles. Shop in the periphery for fresh fruits, meats, and vegetables.
Yes you need sugar. Yes your brain thrives on it. Have I had a muffin or waffle or cake or cookie in the last two weeks?
Am I still brainstorming up amazing ideas for this blog while succeeding in my studies?
So cut the junk. As Arnold would say: “Put that cookie down!”
I will keep it brief, and give you some personal tips in three fitness categories: Weights, cardio, core.
Warm up. Don’t jump straight into the heaviest set. Make sure your joints are ready first. Work up to a heavy weight SLOWLY. You don’t need to look like a body builder to be fit, but a few more pounds of muscle sure make you look that much more full and attractive (That’s for both men AND women, by the way).
You should always have a sweat going when you get to your working sets.
(In case you don’t know, working sets are sets in your exercise where you are trying to actively grow the muscle. They should be anywhere from 6-9 reps, depending on the muscle group involved. You should struggle on your last few reps in each working set.)
Work on mobility. Don’t just think about the weight. Trying to put up the numbers without good form and range of motion is a sure-fire way to get injured. A.K.A nowhere.
Barbells are the best. Compound movements are the best. Any weights are fine- And that includes your body.
Forget treadmills (On second thought, don’t, they’re good for warming up). Best cardio is interval training. There are too many videos about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) on YouTube. Go search them up. Or just do windsprints. You get the same result.
Don’t do HIIT all the time. Three times a week is plenty. Do them on off days or before you lift weights. Regular jogging is awesome too, provided you have a good neighborhood or park to run in. Do NOT run beside busy streets. The air is polluted, and there are too many dangerous drivers that can potentially run you over. I don’t take that chance, and neither should you.
“Abs are made in the kitchen”.
Don’t make me laugh. Abs are made by effective work and dieting down. Forget about sit ups. Planks and ab rollers are where it is at. One arm, two arm, side planks. Doesn’t matter. Do a few sets every other day. Do them at the tail end of your workout. Do them in the park, on the beach, in bed…
You get the idea.
Use AB rollers regularly. I love AB rollers because all you need is a solid floor to get great results. Don’t fall for expensive gimmicks like “ab toners” or “home ab trainers”.
Just now, I googled “ab exercise equipment”.
In fact, you can get far superior results with something like this:
The first one is almost identical to the model I use at home. The gym I go to has the second one, which is slightly better in my opinion. At the end of the day, I think both are equally effective.
Do planks and ab rollers every other day. You will get toned mid section. Guaranteed.
One last thing about training. Don’t forget to stretch and relax your muscles from time to time. You train them hard, and therefor you need to take good care of them.
Yoga is good if you have the time. Otherwise a simple set of stretches should suffice. If muscle tension is something you struggle with, using lacrosse balls and foam rollers to perform myofascial release (which a fancy way of saying deep tissue massage) will help plenty. DO NOT do static stretching before hoisting heavy weights. Trust me.
Speaking of relaxing.
It sounds simple. And it is. There are numerous techniques out there. Below are two of the best tools I use to alleviate day-to-day stress.
Meditiate for 20 minutes each day. To do it, simply sit somewhere quiet and try to not have a thought for the entire 20 minutes. It will be impossible. You will have many, many thoughts intrude into your mind. Because that is how amped up on stimuli our modern brains are. Tell that brain who is boss. Let the thoughts come, but let them wash over you. Keep coming back to the feeling of nothingness. After twenty minutes, you will feel like a different person. After twenty weeks, you WILL be a different person. A better person.
Take deep breaths. Again, sit somewhere quiet. Take a deep breath in from your nose into your belly. Hold it for a few seconds, and let it out SLOWLY through your mouth. Some people advocate the 4-7-8 ratio of in-hold-out. I personally ignore that. I just do what feels right for me, which is to breathe out for longer than I inhale. The key here is to do what feels right for you.
#5: Leave out ALL the fast food. Forever.
Leave the MacDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, and anything that has a drive-through. Don’t eat anything that is heavily processed, fast food or not. Restaurant food and cafeteria style food need to be cut down too.
Best option: Start cooking your own meals.
And that is IT. Five tips on how to become fit and healthy as can be.
One more piece of advice:
You need to get used to the idea of being uncomfortable. Condition yourself to embrace each challenge.
When you love the hardship, nothing stands in your way. Because you’d just crush it.
Until next time.
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