Fitness is both simple and complex. It’s a rabbit hole. You can dig as deep as time allows. This is interesting if your career is in the industry. As a PN coach we are told that it’s important to understand the theory, like a mechanic must understand how an engine works but the driver only needs to know how to drive. Most of you reading this are drivers, not mechanics so don’t waste your time getting lost in the rabbit hole of training and nutrition.
If you want to gain some strength and lose some fat like 90% of the population you don’t need to dig too deep to get results. Most of the major issues we run into is digging too deep and getting overwhelmed. Information overload is debilitating. Most of the questions I get asked in the gym are about things that don’t really matter. They’re the pebbles sand. Which only really benefit you if you already have the big rocks in place.
In Steven Covey’s “The 7 Habit’s of Highly successful People”, he uses the analogy for time management using rocks. The most effective way to fit all the rocks into a glass is to start with the big rocks, then the smaller ones and finally the sand. If you start with the sand not all the big rocks fit.
This is exactly what happens with fitness. Instead of focusing on 4-5 movements and getting proficient at them we get sidetracked and wonder which tricep exercise will get you the best results for fatloss. Below I have outlined 7 big rocks that should be in place before you worry about anything else.
Big Rock 1. Record a Food Diary
Awareness is the key to change and nutrition is no different. Recording a diary of what you eat each day will give you an idea of where you can improve. A lot of times it’s the small little things that put us into a calorie surplus each week. You’re super strict Monday to Friday but after recording a diary you realise that you eat out and drink alcohol every Friday and Saturday.
Once realising this you can put steps in place to reduce it to once a week and then every second week.
Big Rock 2. Eat 5 servings of vegetables each day.
If you don’t like them then learn. It’s not a big deal to add in 1-2 servings of veggies with each meal. It takes about 4 minutes to boil frozen peas or wash a bag of spinach and dress it with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.
Big Rock 3. Get 7+ hours of Sleep a Night
Sleep is often glossed over. Just think of when you under sleep. You wake tired, cranky and this leads to overwhelm. When I’m tired I crave caffeine, sugar and will make poorer decision with food throughout the day. I will also be much slower cognitively so my work output suffers too.
Big Rock 4. Eat protein with each meal.
Protein is used by your body in numerous ways; immune function, to repaire muscular damage, teeth, hair, bone and skin.
One of the most common issues I find when I do nutritional consultations with clients is that they eat too little protein. As a result the individual misses out on all of the benefits of this awesome macro nutrient. Men should aim for two palms whilst women should aim for one.
Big Rock 5. Move every day.
Sometimes we can forget what we as a race have done for 1,000s of years. Humans have always moved throughout the day. If you don’t move you are seriously damaging your body. I have no problem if you aren’t a gym person and don’t enjoy exercise. But you have no argument against not moving.
Find something you don’t hate and do it everyday. Walk, jog, run, salsa, climb, yoga, hike, lift weights, handstands. It’s all movement. The key is finding something YOU enjoy. If you don’t move you are doing yourself a disservice. You have this amazing body waiting to serve you. You just have to start moving it.
Bg Rock 6. Schedule some “me time” each day.
Stress, overwhelm, anxiety, depression. Man, these emotions are becoming more and more common. Taking time out of each day for you is a powerful way to combat these feelings. This can be a walk in nature, sitting in your car in the driveway on the way back from work or sitting on a cushion and meditating.
You are the most important person in the world and you need to look after your mental health. It’s not being selfish, it’s being someone who as result of this self care becomes a better friend, partner, parent and child.
Big Rock 7. Be compliant. Follow the above guidelines at least 80% of the time.
There’s a famous lifehacker article about Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret. Below is an excerpt from it.
I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime…
He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.
He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
This last point is true for anything you want to get good at. You need to be consistent with you attempts. One bad meal or missed session won’t ruin your progress if it on the back of eating well 80% of the time and not missing 80% of your gym sessions.
Consistency truly is the key and doing moderate workouts long term will always trump extreme workouts over a short time span.