I wish that I knew what I know now.
I’m sure most people can agree, that if you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, you’d have a few tips to throw their way. Simple ideas and actions that would make the world of difference. Throughout my health and fitness journey I have made a million mistakes and shortcomings. I have fallen victim of countless miracle diets and workout routines. Been lead astray by your friendly neighborhood GNC salesman, pitching the new “Extremely Hardcore Ultra Intense Fat Burner”. I even believed what the government said about nutrition was gospel, because they wouldn’t lie to us. Plus they had scientist, right? So they must be telling the truth. Yeah right.
Anyway, my point being that we all make mistakes. What makes the difference between people is who learns from them and who simply moves on. I have chosen to embrace my woes and use them to my betterment. So here I have listed 10 tips I have learned that involve Fitness, Health, and Life. If doc Brown pulled up in his DeLorean, scooped me up, and threw me back in 2003, I’d give myself this advise.
1. The Law of Diminishing Returns
The essence of the Law of Diminishing Returns can be summed up the in common saying “More is not always better”. This is true to most everything in life, especially to that in which pertains to the human body. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Take aspirin for example, you take 1-2 and your fever goes down and it reduces your inflammation. This is a good thing. However, if you were to take 50 aspirin, you’d die. This also holds true to exercise, which is a stress. (I’ll deal with stresses later) The shape of the cure is very plain to see. In the beginning, the more exercise you perform, the better return you’ll receive. Then when you reach the top and start eking down the other side. You’ll quickly start noticing that the more exercise you do, the more unhealthy you’re becoming. In short, you must learn moderation.
2. Fitness and Nutrition is more than just Body Composition
In my beginnings with fitness and nutrition, I of course only perceived health in the terms of body aesthetics. I know this is vanity at its highest, but I would argue that this is the main reason 85% of people start any exercise program and or diet protocol. They see these athletes, models, actors on TV and think “Man, they look freaking great. I want to look just like (insert hot chick of dude Here)” What you fail to realize is that fitness and nutrition goes way beyond appearance. Skinny women and jacked guys can be just as unhealthy as anyone. What makes the difference is what you are doing to make yourself a overall healthier person. Here is an awesome tip, If you eat so that you are healthy and you structure your workouts so that you progress to some physical goal (be it 20 Chin-ups or 3 times your body weight in the deadlift) your body will look awesome, inside and out. In other words, eat for performance and health and the looks will always follow.
I can hardly put a higher ranking of importance on any tip than that of getting the proper sleep. So much lays in the balance. If you do not get the correct kind and amount of sleep, you can kiss fat loss, muscle building, short and long term memory, sharp cognitive function, happiness, proper digestion, correct cortisol levels, and proper hormonal levels goodbye. (list goes on and on.) Sleep is absolutely vital. You must sleep in a completely darkened room and always get at least the bare minimal for your specific body’s needs. (Typically 8-10 hours). No excuses, just make it happen.
I might surprise you here, but I believe supplements can have their place in a lifestyle change. Now I’m not talking about supplements like Vitamin D or Fish Oil, which are certainly a good and wise choice to take. I am speaking more about your GNC stuff here. Now, do they work like they say they will on the label and burn fat or build muscle, probably not. However, where they typically fall short on those accounts, they make up for with the placebo effect. The placebo effect is a scientifically proven phenomenon. If you truly believe that this supplement is going to help you lose weight or build muscle, then you are statistically much more likely to continue taking this supplement while still dieting and working out. Which will of course lead to better results. Now whether these are good for your health or not is another discussion. All I am saying is that I can see some small merit in taking them.
5. Embracing Your Physical Self
Alright, so here is where I might crush some dreams. People are different, plain and simple. Some people have the proper gene expression to be massive viking warriors while other have the genes to look like a hobbit. This sucks, I know. This doesn’t mean that you cannot do remarkable things to your appearance, it just means that there are limits. For instance, no matter how hard I try, I will never look like Arnold (not even with lots of pharmaceutical aide). However, there is good news in all of this. Once you accept who you are, you can then train accordingly and become the most badA version of yourself as possible. In other words, everyone is different and responds differently to exercise. Find that which work for you. This will take some trial and error.
6. Constant Pursuit of Education
“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” – Confucius
In my personal opinion, the main problem with people today is that they chose ignorance. People absolutely refuse to help themselves. They simply wish to be coddled and lead around like sheep. Do yourself a service and never stop learning. Do not take everything people say as truth, do your own research, come up with your own ideas. This is how you step out of the crowd and become someone of interest.
7. Do rather than Dream
You must take action in your life. Right NOW. Dreams of grandeur are great, but they will lead you nowhere if you do not pursue them. If there is something that you want in life, then immediately execute plans in which you achieve this goal. Do not waste the time that is given to you.
8. Stresses (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
The word stress gets a bad rap. It can actually be a good thing to have in your life as well. We call these hormetic stresses. Exercise for instance is a very stressful event. You are placing a great deal of oxidative stress on your heart and lungs, not to mention the tearing of muscle tissue that is going on. However, the body benefits from these stress due to acclimation. The stress that is a killer, is the chronic stress that is so prevalent in today’s society. The mental stresses of work and your finances. The physical stress of poor diet and gut health. In order to become a happier and healthier human being, you must seek to control your stress. Easier said than done, I know, but the consequences can be grim if you fail to do so. So take days off, take vacations, do things that make you happy. Eat a Paleo/Primal diet that will give you a low to no inflammatory response. Your health depends on it.
9. The Great Outdoors
Dude, outside is awesome, go there. Why in the world would you choose to be cooped up inside all day is beyond me. Science has proven a long time ago that people are much happier when they go outside for at least an hour a day. Your body craves the sunlight and Vitamin D. It longs for the fresh air. We as humans were not made to be sitting around inside all day. You must get out and move.
10. A Joie de Vivre: Walking
A can barely begin to count all the benefits I contrive from walking each day. Mental, physical, and spiritual. This is a time for me to think. I used to believe walking was only for old people. I couldn’t have been more incorrect and naive. In all honesty, I firmly believe that I have learned more on my walks, listening to podcasts, audio books, and lectures, then I have in my whole college career. Walking also aides in muscle recovery and burns extra calories, plus your dogs will love it. I believe everyone should walk at least 6 miles a week to maintain their health.