Is there someone in your life that epitomizes health? They always look good. They don’t have a weight issue. They always seem to have energy and be in a positive mood. You rarely see them getting sick.Do you know this person?
If so, maybe you’ve noticed that they can make this all look pretty easy.
And they also don’t seem to get sucked in by the various nutritional and fitness fads. The probably haven’t tried intermittent fasting. They didn’t eliminate all carbs from their diet. And they didn’t give German volume training a go when everyone was going crazy over 10 sets of 10 reps.
So what is it that accounts for these people having the best health and fitness? Why do they seem to have it all without having to work for it?
Part of this has to do with the fact that these people have established really good health habits. And they practice these health habits all the time. They exercise when on vacation. They get 8 hours a sleep every night. And they have good nutritional practices.
Well success leaves clues. And we can model what works and reap some of the rewards ourselves.
Really it comes to doing one thing. And doing it really well. What is the one thing? Well it could be one of a number of things. And below are a few examples. Read through the list. And pick the one thing that resonates and sounds like would fit you the best.
A. Build New Habits – We are creatures of habit and it can be hard to break patterns. For example, when I wake up in the morning I grab my phone and go to the bathroom. While waking up I’ll check my email, business and personal. Then I’ll check social media, usually Facebook and Instagram. Next I’ll check the headlines on Business Insider, Bloomberg, MSNBC, Reuters, CNN and Fox. If there’s a headline that catches my eye I’ll click and get sucked into the story. Did you know Usain Bolt is trying to make it in professional soccer and scored two goals in a game in Australia? Because of this silly routine I do know this.
Now obviously it would be more beneficial to read or write for 20 minutes instead of spending time online. Despite knowing this I still spend time each morning doing this.
Going forward I’m going to leave my phone alone first thing in the morning until I get to work. No one is phoning at 430 am. And this is the best time of day for me to read or write. There are no distractions. I’m refreshed. And it’s quiet. I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity again. Feel free to check-in with me when to see how I’m doing on this. Saturday will be day four.
B. Limit Yourself to One Change – I can’t remember who I had the conversation with but it involved an individual starting a fitness routine with a coach. And the individual’s program involved packing workout wear everyday and coming to the gym. Once this person had arrived at the gym they were only allowed to exercise for 2 minutes. Then they had to leave the gym.
You can guess what probably happened, right? This person established the habit of going to the gym everyday. They were always prepared to train. And they always left being able to do more.
Once we have the one thing established as a habit then we can look to add more our plate. This allows you to make changes at your pace and comfort level.
The one thing we need for success is just that. It’s to do one thing. Not 10, 5 or even 2 things. Start small. Aim for frequent small doses rather infrequent efforts at a massive level. For example, if a person set a goal to exercise 12 hours per month, they would get a better result with 20 minutes daily rather than 3 hours every Saturday.
C. Pick the One Thing – In terms of where to start, look at what you’re not doing well in terms of your health and fitness. Is it your sleep? Or your nutrition? Or your training? Once you know what the weak link is, pick one habit that will improve that aspect of your health. Maybe an athlete has a poor habit of playing video games after games and staying up until the early morning. Besides the poor sleep habit established this will also impair nutrition as the athlete may sleep in and miss breakfast.
D. You Are the Dictator – When it comes to your life and decisions you get to be in control. For the most part anyway. We live in the country with the most freedom anywhere. You can choose where you want to live. You can choose what you want to do. You can choose your faith or not. You have freedom of expression and many of the other privileges not available in other countries. Imagine you are the dictator of your own country. You get to make all the rules. You have no one to answer to but yourself. You get to choose what you eat or don’t. You get to choose when and how much you sleep. You get to choose what exercise you’ll do. You choose the company you keep.
When things don’t go your way you really have no to blame but yourself. You are the dictator. You are in charge. When others set rules or laws we comply or there are complications. For example, try not paying your taxes or not stopping for red lights. There would be consequences for not following the rules. Set some rules for yourself and follow them.
E. Plan-Do-Review – When it comes to fitness, most Canadians don’t do any. When we do something that would work up a sweat, i.e. moderately vigorous physical activity, only 5% of the population does 150 minutes per week. And then you think of this 5% and probably many don’t have a plan. They go to the gym. They get on a cardio machine. They move mindlessly while watching a sports game or reality show. After a while they move over to the row of strength machines and do 3 sets of 10 before moving on to the next machine. There is no rhyme or reason to the selection of the exercise other it’s the next machine in the series of equipment. Once a few reps have been completed on the last machine the workout is done. There’s no foam roll, stretch or cool down to finish things off.
Unfortunately if it wasn’t bad enough that 95% of people don’t get 30 minutes of exercise a day, the 5% that do probably don’t have a plan or any direction. When you get started on a fitness routine you need to have a plan. You need to track and record your workouts. And periodically you should test yourself to see how things are working and what isn’t.
F. Focus – I remember hearing a story where Gates, Buffet and Jobs were at a dinner. They were asked when the others weren’t around what accounted for their success? And they all said the same thing. Focus. And we can make the same argument here for our health and fitness. How often do we get bored with the process? How often do get distracted by the shiny ball? Do we have too many choices and suffer from paralysis by analysis? Pick the one thing and stay focussed on it.
G. Get the Big Rocks – If we want the best results we need to direct our attention to the basics. There’s no sense investigating this supplement or that if your caloric intake is way too high. There’s no sense seeking the next best hip mobility drill if your program has zero intensity and burns barely any calories. With nutrition eat the best food you can afford, in the right amounts at the right times. With your sleep get 8 hours of quality sleep on a regular basis with as much before midnight as possible. With your training look to do something daily with movement and intensity for at least 30 minutes. This is where the expression ‘it’s simple but not easy’ comes in.
H. Stop the Bleeding – When you look to do something positive ask yourself what is hurting you the most. Direct your attention there and address your weakest link. Imagine if you were a doctor and you came across a patient with a sprained ankle but also suffered a heart attack. It’s life over limb at this point. It would make no sense to treat the ankle with ice and a wrap while the patient doesn’t have a pulse. The sad thing is we do this with our health and fitness.
There are those who will have problems with snacking or cravings but want to ask if I think essential oils would be a good thing to try? Or someone that is one their device for hours before bed and wonders if a blue light reduction app would be a good idea?
We’re kind of missing the point. Focus on the where you’re losing health. Get your mind, sleep, nutrition and training in order. And start with the one thing that you struggle with the most.