I’m dedicated to helping everyone find a health plan that is sustainable. Sometimes that means sharing information that might appear contradictory. Go strictly Paleo or eat carbs? I think both approaches can work. It’s a matter of preference and one that you ultimately have to decide works for you. Some things in health and fitness are absolute, but most are up for debate. And other times, what we know changes. Altering my stance is never about selling out; it’s a matter of admitting when you’re wrong and trying to spread what’s right.
But some very good lessons have a way of falling through the cracks and remain unanswered. Here are a few truths that you might want to remember:
ONE Diet Solution Does NOT Exist
I do my best to keep myself healthy year round. This means exercising consistently 3 to 4 times a week and eating healthy. Sometimes I train more, and other times less. But at the end of the day, I’m very consistent. Two times in my life I’ve worked my way into what most people would call “tremendous” shape. I was lean, muscular, and felt great.
The problem? Each time I took completely different approaches. In one situation I was eating six meals a day, training six days a week, and eating so many carbs that you would expect my insulin levels to explode. The other time I was “only” training three days per week, practicing intermittent fasting while eating two to three meals per day, and generally following a Paleo-type approach of protein, fat, and veggies.
My results were essentially identical, which taught me a simple lesson: Many diet and fitness strategies can work. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to fight for a particular viewpoint. Yes, some diets are good and have a basis. Others are genuinely bad. But most diets depend on an unpredictable variable–YOU. You need to find a plan that you can sustain. One that keeps you happy, works for your schedule and life and is sustainable.
I know this should seem like common sense, but too many people are either looking for a quick fix or the one solution that will solve everyone’s problems. Not going to happen.
Here’s what does: Finding the symptoms that lead to your dietary struggles; taking a step-by-step approach to changing the behaviors that make following a healthy diet difficult. This incremental approach is behavioral psychology 101. You must identify why you struggle. Make a list of everything that’s difficult (hungry all morning, overeating at night, no time to exercise, etc.), and then begin working one step at a time. You’ll not only end up finding which diet will play to your strengths, you’ll also have a better idea of the real enemy.
Some Experts Are A-holes
This needs to be said for the sake of your sanity. Some fitness and nutrition experts really don’t care about you. I’ve worked with many people who are blinded by their own arrogance and interviewed several others who have masqueraded as those who offer a good solution to your health only to be completely driven by the wrong motivations. But there are two important distinctions:
Just because someone is trying to make money, that doesn’t mean they aren’t an expert or don’t want to help. Some of the best programs or influencers I’ve met are labeled as “internet marketers.” Some of the worst people I’ve met also fall into that category. Discovering who has good content and who genuinely works hard to guarantee results is the bottom line.
Just because you try a program and it doesn’t work, that isn’t an excuse to condemn the entire fitness industry. Don’t let the charlatans of the world ruin what is, in general, a very altruistic field filled with incredible people, brilliant minds, and those who work themselves to the bone to help others.
It unfortunate when people are misled, especially in an industry where many people are vulnerable. Those with knowledge are the gatekeepers of your health.
In the end, sometimes you might become frustrated by sensational “sells.” And that can lead to frustration so intense that you quit on your health. Don’t do that. Forget the negative energy and the failed attempts. Feeling sorry for yourself or expecting others to feel sorry for you won’t change the fact that you still need to find a way to be healthy. Complain about what you don’t like. Get it out of your system. And then smile.
Remind yourself that a solution does exist. And then get back to work and find a better one. This is a much better approach. And you will have found a way to live a healthier, happier life.
You CAN Survive With Less Sleep
Don’t take this the wrong way–sleep is still one of the most important elements of good health. Most of the time all you hear is that you need 7, 8, or 9 hours of sleep to be healthy. This is true, but there are exceptions. Sometimes you’re just not going to get that much sleep. And you know what? It doesn’t mean your body has to fall apart. If you can improve the quality of your sleep, you can survive in the short term without missing a beat.
For better quality, you should focus on a few key aspects. To start, it’d be great if you could avoid electronic media before you go to bed. The light from a TV or your computer actually affects your brain in a way that negatively affects your sleep.
Exercise can also help you sleep better by priming your hormones for restfulness and recovery. This can be something as simple as a 30-minute walk. Avoiding alcohol, eating carbs (they’ll make you sleepy), or even a colder room can all make for a better night of sleep. Try it and improve your quality so you can feel more rested despite falling short of the optimal number of hours.
Reps and Sets Are Misleading
I highly suggest that everyone read this great article. In it, you’ll learn (if you didn’t know it already) the prototypical recipe for building muscle, adding strength, or losing fat. But as Goodman points out, the rules of reps and sets are not written in stone. And oftentimes, the best thing you can do is to break the rules and train in a different rep range than what is typically prescribed. There are personality variables that can impact the results that you experience. And there’s also another little-known fact…
Muscle “Tone” Is BS
Sorry, muscle “tone” is one of the most misleading concepts in fitness. Most people are familiar with this idea: Train high reps for “muscle tone.” Only problem? High reps oftentimes won’t make your muscles look more toned. It’ll do the opposite.
In reality, there are two types of “tone”: neurogenic and myogenic. That’s a lot of jargon that fitness and science nerds tend to care about. What it means: You want myogenic tone, but that happens best with heavier weights at lower reps. That’s exactly why women should be lifting weights–and not just the tiny ones.
Does this mean you can’t get “toned” without lifting heavy? Of course not. Plenty of women has shown that this can happen with higher reps. But much more have proven that you’ll get the lean look you want–FASTER–by using heavier weights. Push the intensity–whether you’re a man or woman–and you’ll be surprised how quickly your body will change in the way you want. Men will look healthier and stronger and women will look leaner and sexier. Trust me on this one.