Friday, March 30, 2018

The 5 Minute Fitness Guide

I'm writing this guide because I see too many people try and fail at losing weight and living the lifestyle that they truly want.

Achieving your fitness goals is actually really simple. But it is not easy. Thus, I wanted to condense all the information I've acquired into a guide that you can read in 5 minutes. This will be plenty enough to get a beginner going and even a good refresher for someone already fitness focused.

Mentality


When someone says to me that they are on a diet, I know that they have already failed. A diet has an implication that it is temporary. So when someone says they are on a diet.l, I know that sometime after the diet they will be off the diet, usually returning to their original diet that got them to want to diet in the first place!

The solution to this is to not go on short term diets. People who are truly healthy do not go on diets. They always eat healthy. You might say they are on a lifetime diet. To be truly healthy you need to think long term. Why do you only want to be fit temporarily? Dont you want to be at your best form throughout your entire life? Commit to being healthy throughout your life and not just in short diet spurts. You will see later that once you take in this long term mentality, you're approach to fitness changes because any diet or exercise solution must be chosen with sustainability in mind.

Let me give you an example. When constructing a plan for your health, you could decide to go on to XYZ weight loss program where you pay for set meals that they send you every week. I don't have anything against these types of programs and believe that if followed, you will actually lose weight. However, these meals tend to be pricey and unless you are okay with purchasing these meals for your entire lifetime you should not use them. You would end up spending way too much money over your lifetime and be confined to eating a limited set of meals. If the company goes out of business or if you move to a place where there isn't a store near you what do you do? Remember that we want sustainable results. We don't want to go on a plan and then abandon it once the result is achieved only to regress again.

Don't restrict yourself


Since we now have a long-term mindset we no longer think in terms of a temporary diet. This means we are not allowed to restrict ourselves. How do we eat healthier without restricting ourselves? We do this by focusing on what items we eat, not necessarily the quantity. We make tradeoffs of food that is unhealthy with food that is better for you. 

80% diet 20% fitness


When most people decide to get in shape the first thing they do is try to get a gym membership or pick up running. This is not a bad thing but remember that you cannot outrun your diet! Getting into shape should be thought of as 100% diet, 0% exercise. I think most people would benefit from this mindset. But it isn't true so people try to lose the weight by working out more. This is possible but it is much more difficult (and failure prone) than just focusing on the diet. I believe the reasoning is that changing ones diet is actually the hard thing and people want to focus on the easy paths.
What food are the best and worst for you? It is true that people react differently to the same foods. So it is always important to be mindful of your own body's reaction to food. But the majority of people could do well following some basic food principles.

1) Avoid sugar


Yes it's odd that sugar, one of the tastes that we are born naturally attracted to, is actually not healthy. Why would we have evolved to be attracted to sugar? Well it makes sense, sugar provides an enormous amount of dense calories and back in the day our ancestors needed those precious calories to survive. However, fast forward today we have an abundance of easy calories. The same system that kept us fueled now keeps us fat. Today there is very little need to be consuming sugar at all. Avoid it at all costs.

2) ‎Decrease simple carbohydrates


Most food has some amount of protein and carbohydrates. For example vegetables have carbohydrates in them. These are fine. What you really want to avoid are noodles, rice, bread, potatoes, and corn. Simple right? Well it is actually pretty hard because most of the world's foods tends to contain one main carb ingredient. If you can eliminate these 5 completely you will lose weight quickly. Usually it is unavoidable so I would suggest just reducing calories from these big 5. Don't finish all of your rice. Don't eat the bread that comes as an appetizer to your main course. You will notice that simple carbs tends to be the cheapest to produce. They tend to be considered just cheap filler. Thus it should be easy to leave some on the table.

3) Avoid Processed Food


Most of the cheap processed food you find at the grocery store will contain some amount of these. It's best to avoid processed food as much as possible. A good way to tell if the food is good for you is to look at the ingredients list and see if you recognize (and can even pronounce) the ingredients. If you can't, you should probably avoid it.


Eliminate sugary drinks


The first step is to eliminate sugary drinks. Why sugary drinks? Because consuming liquids makes it so easy to overdose. If you are going to start somewhere it is best to use the 80/20 rule and fix the biggest diet issues first. Sugary drinks include all fruit drinks. Yes that's orange juice, grape juice, passion fruit, etc. All of them.

So what are you allowed to drink? Water, Coffee, and tea. Without adding sugar. Diet sodas are up in the air but I would avoid them as studies have showed that even though they are calorie free, they do strange things to the body and can cause overeating. Sparkling water or adding some lemon to the water is fine but really any juice is not okay. Even though it claims to be healthy for you this stuff is full of sugar, wheter organic or natural or not. Vegetable shakes are okay because vegetables tend to not have as much sugar. If you still want a lot of the vitamins from fruits go ahead and eat the fruits separately. Just don't blend them. It's funny because weight watchers actually has a similar system where you are allowed to eat fruits separately but not blended. This is because if you actually eat 5 bananas you will feel sick, but if you had those 5 bananas in a shake you wouldn't notice all the sugar and calories you had consumed so quickly.

Exercise


Exercise is like the icing on the cake. To get in shape you need to focus on diet. It's only when you've solved that riddle where you should move on to exercise. You can't outrun your diet but any health plan should also include exercise, mostly due to the other health benefits like building strong muscle and improving the cardiovascular system.

Whether it's weights or a class, or cross fit. When you are starting out almost any exercise will give you good results. The only thing to watch out for is to make sure your form is good otherwise you can injured yourself. Watch some instructional videos or get a trainer when starting out.

I feel like most people are looking for the perfect workout. There are constantly new "try this new best workout backed by science" advertisements. This keeps people indecisive because there are many good options and that causes people to focus on the wrong thing. They focus on finding the perfect workout rather than focus on the execution of their workout. Just pick one of the them and execute.

Well, as long as what you pick is something you will commit to. For example, When I was looking for a gym, one thing that was important to me when finding a gym was that it was between home and work because if I went home first then I'd never make it to the gym. Thus, I picked a gym that I could commit to going to.
If I had to suggest an exercise, I'd recommend developing a calisthenics(body weight) workout. This is helpful because you don't need a gym or any equipment to do them. Having to go to workout when I am not able to make it to the gym gives lots of flexibility. It makes it so there is no excuse to miss a workout. I don't need any tools to stay fit, just my body.


What gets measured gets improved.


I personally do a weight check once a month which gets recorded into a spreadsheet. My weight doesn't fluctuate that much since my diet is pretty consistent. But I want to know if there is a change of weight. Since then I've added a column for fat and blood pressure. I also add a note in my calendar for each workout that I do. It keeps me on track and accountable.

Want To Gain Weight?


Never forget that even when working out, your diet will still determine most of the results. Working out is like an amplifier. It can simultaneously be used to gain weight or lose weight. If you want to put on bulk you must not only work out but also eat a ton all the time. Most people think they are eating enough but usually they aren't. On the other hand if you want to lose weight, you can still workout but consume less carb loaded food and generally less food.

Discipline


Everybody is looking for the right strategy. But the strategy for fitness is quite simple. The harder part of of fitness is the execution. That's where discipline comes in. You don't just start out with discipline. You build it. You do this by committing to a small task every single day. You start with a small goal. Maybe you decide you will take a 20 minute walk every single day. That alone won't be what gets you to your fitness level. The walking itself is a little beneficial, but more importantly, the act of committing to goal and accomplishing it will be what brings you to success. After you complete your goal you set another goal, this time a bit more difficult. You keep going, setting goals and committing to them and accomplishing them, building up your discipline as you go. 

Done


That's it. There is so much deep information about diet and exercise in books and on the internet but more information is not the problem.You only need the above 5 minutes of strategy to get started. Remember, fitness is simple but not easy! I hope you find this guide useful for you. Good luck!