That’s right folks… You’ve always known that there was a secret to getting and staying fit and healthy. Today I am going to reveal this coveted secret and leak to you the hidden key to fitness success with health that no one else will share with you. Ready? Get your pen and paper handy…
Here it comes…
Eat fewer calories and workout.
What the bleep?? You might be screaming right now. But the funny thing is, that is honestly all there is to it! Sure you can get into more details like avoid trans fats and drink 90 or more ounces of water each day. But the bottom line is: fitness and healthy living is simpler than 96% of the personal trainers out there want you to know. Look at the billion dollar industry of books, magazine articles, DVD’s, radio programs, TV infomercials, and personal trainers. Do you think they want you knowing the simple truth? Absolutely not!
That said… This secret is simple, but not easy. What I mean by that is that it is simple as a formula… Simple to learn… Simple to understand… But, absolutely NOT easy to stick with and follow on a daily basis. That is the single reason why all of us aren’t perfectly fit!
Now that you know the truth, let’s break it down just a little bit in a simple formula that you can use to change your lifestyle today and become a more fit person immediately.
First-things-first: You need to start this life changing experience with the right attitude. A positive one! If you go into this all whiny, “the gym is tough to get to, and the machines I want are always taken, yada yada yada…” Then you will NOT succeed. You need to start by altering your attitude. You need to square your shoulders, puff out your chest, elevate your chin, squint your eyes (if you look cool doing that), and in your most serious voice scream, “Not one more damn day!” That’s right, scream it! Psych yourself up and do not accept no for an answer. Today (not tomorrow) you are going to alter yourself and create the healthy base that you desire. And then you are going to set goals and desires for the remainder of your life! I like to call this #Fit4LifeTraining. We’re in this for the long-haul, people!
Now that you got your mindset right. Tweet about it! You know what I mean… Email your friends, post your Facebook status, and tweet. Say something like, “I have decided to change my fitness level and I’m starting today! #Fit4LifeTraining.” I search on #Fit4LifeTraining every day, so if you add that hashtag I will know you read this and I will pick on you and keep you to your word! So, will the slew of others who read this article (all three of them).
Once you come out of the closet about your health, I challenge you to continue giving status updates. Find like-minded people to cheer you on, and that you can cheer on. Support each other in your quest to longevity and healthy living.
Anytime you feel you can’t make a workout because you are tired, or sore, or don’t have time you repeat this little ditty. “Vaughn Ripley is a hemophiliac and HIV+ for more than a quarter century. On a daily basis he deals with severe pain in his feet and toes from peripheral neuropathy. His daily bout of diarrhea, stomach issues, eye problems, rashes, and countless other maladies from medicine side effects do not stop him. As a matter-of-fact, he is probably working out right now on only four hours of sleep and thinking about his family and work, texting, updating his status, responding to emails, writing personal and business blogs, typing in the next chapter of his fictional thriller, walking on water (that part I just made up to see if you were listening), and playing eight other people on chess.com.” I am not stating that bit of info to toot my own horn. Instead, I am giving you leverage to get your lazy arse off the couch and move it! If I can do it..
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. So can you!!!
Now let’s get there:
Garbage In / Garbage Out
Eating. mmhmm. I’m not going into great detail here, because I don’t believe in most supplements and so on. I’m more a fan of simplicity. Eat good food and see good results. Try and eat healthy as often as you can, because tomorrow you might find yourself at a McDonalds. I use the 80/20 rule here. If I eat good and healthy 80% of the time, I can afford to eat sloppy the other 20%. If you reverse that rule (which many of us do on a daily basis), you will be hosed!
The big secret about food is… If you want to lose weight, monitor yourself and then correct your course. What I mean is, track your daily calorie intake and track your weight (always weigh yourself at the same time under the same circumstances – I like to do first thing in the morning immediately after my first pee, but before I eat/drink anything… And, I do it naked – Meow!) On a weekly basis evaluate your situation. If you stayed the same weight or gained from last week, simply plan your daily intake to be 100-250 fewer calories (e.g. last week you averaged 3,125 calories and you didn’t lose any weight – this week shoot for 3,000 calories per day and see where you are next week). Keep repeating this process until you find you are losing ~1 or 2 pounds per week.
Avoid Trans Fats and drink more water. There… I said it.
There ain’t no super secret diet, and it isn’t rocket science. Less intake = less weight gained. PERIOD.
Weight Lifting (anaerobic exercise)
I like to lift weights in a full-body fashion. However you decide to do it (push day, leg day, pull day or full-body in one day) isn’t as important as simply doing it! It is a proven scientific fact that muscle assists the body’s metabolism and burns fat. Hence, lift and build your muscle to burn some fat. Plus, your healthy joints, tendons, and muscles will thank you in the long run.
I would like to dispel one of the silliest myths that I’ve run into as a personal trainer. Someone inevitably says (and it is usually in a whining dribble):
“But I don’t wanna end-up looking like Arnold.”
Are you freaking kidding me?? Let me go ahead and put the kibitz on this one right now. First: You CANNOT end-up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger without extreme genetics, heavy doses of steroids, and 5+ hours of weight lifting every day for 10+ years. Second … Well, there is no second … I think first covered it just fine. You WILL NOT end-up looking like Arnold by lifting weights. You won’t even get close without a bodybuilding plan, ‘roids, and some SERIOUS motivation! So, stop making excuses and slap some iron on a bar and lift, you puny punk!!
I should mention that I think two or three days of weights is more than enough to keep your body in great shape. You can do more, but ALWAYS make room for a rest day (where you do no weights or cardio). I do two days of weight lifting each week.
Another no-nonsense section is cardio. It really is simple. Do 45 or more minutes of steady state cardio every other day (or so) where your heart rate is 65-85% of your predicted max. If you do intervals it does not have to be for that long. Intervals are more advanced and you do not need them at this stage. I do three different types of cardio: bike, run, and swim. For my bike day, I will do two days of 90 minutes of riding and I call these “maintenance days.” Then I do one more bike day, called my “long day,” which is normally 2.5 hours or longer (depending on what I’m training for).
Once again, I believe that three days of cardio is good enough to keep your body in great shape. You can do more, but ALWAYS make room for a rest day (where you do no weights or cardio). I do between three and six days of cardio because I am triathlete and this is my bailiwick. Don’t kill yourself… Remember to enjoy what you are doing.
Dude!? Do I really need to explain this? You need a day off each week. Okay?
One thing that I do to ensure that I stick with my goals is signing up for events. I spread them out some, but each year I’m always signed up for three, four, or more events. One year might be two triathlons, a 10-mile run, and a 1-mile swim. Regardless of what you choose, pick something, sign up and train! This helps to keep you motivated through sticking points.
A final note… My good buddy, Pat, is sick and tired of people saying, “Well yeah, but you’re genetically designed to look like that.” Pat does tough workouts, eats right, and knows what he’s doing. Of course… He is genetically built like a freak of nature too… Alas, he is right. Genetics is just one tiny piece of the whole pie. If you rely on one piece of the pie it will come back and haunt you! It takes a heck of a lot more than genetics for Pat to get up at 5 a.m. and go straight to the gym to crush the weights for 90 minutes every day. The next time you are telling someone how lucky they are, think about it. Are they lucky? Or, do they make their own luck?
Make some of your own luck! And… Start TODAY!!!
What do you do to stay healthy? Was the article insightful and/or helpful?
I hope this helped without offending you too much,
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Excellent article Vaughn. You taught me the simple approach and use it to this day. Ok, I have slacked on the events, the formula (burned calories=consumed calories), 80/20 rule (more like 50/50)…sigh. I still fight the fight and you’re right about something you told me…do something for a month and you’ll miss it like missing brushing your teeth; I still keep my workout schedule!!!
Thank you, Pete! You make me very proud!! I still talk about your amazing transformation and awesome motivation. Keep up the awesome work!
Well said Vaughn! I have a couple notes of my own to add 🙂
For motivation, I’ve found a few things to be effective for me.
— First, like you said, is signing up for an event. Knowing you have a goal like that can make it clear that exercising is a better choice than sleeping late.
— Second, having training partners can be motivational. I know I’m expected to be there at a certain time for a run (or whatever we have planned), and I’m not going to ditch my friends without a very good reason. That sometimes is the motivation to be out there doing something at 6am instead of staying in my nice comfy bed.
— The third motivational trick my husband and I use is to take a couple of our favorite TV shows and make the rule that you can only watch them in the basement while exercising. For me, wanting to see who gets knocked off on The Voice or So You Think You Can Dance is motivational. My hubby has a different set of shows he really likes. This trick has the added benefit of keeping the TV off in the house most of the time, and encouraging more family activities, etc.
— A fourth trick I sometimes use (which is not necessarily one I totally endorse) is to only let myself eat a cookie or other treat if I did a hard/long/both workout. So I reward myself with food, knowing I’ve burned the calories to justify it.
As for today’s workout — 12 mile run and 50 pushups. That’ll get me a cookie – or two 🙂
Awesome points, Andrea! I love the TV show idea!!! And, obviously a training partner can do tons for you! My training buddies motivate me more than they know!
I completely agree with the simple and “not” easy formula!
Since January, I have lost 40 pounds and am down to a size 6 from a size 12 in jeans, and I feel great! I joined a CSA to push myself to eat more veggies (and experiment with ones I have never eaten before). Of course this helps me with my nutrition goals, plus I eat a lot more protein than I used to on a daily basis. For me personally, it’s meditative to run so I typically do this alone. My MIL teased me about being skinny, but I would rather be called “fit” because I definitely work for it! This summer I’ll be posting a before and after photo in the same dress I wore to a family members wedding 4 years ago. Can’t wait!
That is fantastic news! Thanks for sharing! And, keep up the most excellent work!