"I want to get in shape and be healthy, how do I do it?"
My sister is a bright young woman - she knows that eating well and moving daily is important. However, she's also in a very busy season of her life. In addition, she's also growing up in a day and age where access to information has never been easier.
The desire to change is there, but the information overload is causing paralyzation. Too many choices on which training program to follow and what foods to eat only add to the inertia.
Maybe you can relate?
If that sounds like you too, you've come to the right place. To break through the barrier and get unstuck, simplifying your approach is the best route.
Below is the answer I gave to my sister in response to, "I want to get in shape and be healthy. How do I do it?"
Here is my simple health strategy that you can use too:
1. Sleep 7-8 hours each night
2. Eat when you're hungry and include lots of plant based foods
3. Move for 20 minutes each day
If you follow this simple list of strategies you'll be healthy. You'll feel better. Your body will change. And, you'll put an end to the labyrinth you've been trekking when it comes to finding your way with health and fitness.
You may have read that list and thought, "Hmmm. Sounds simple enough. But how or where do I start? How do I sustain these strategies?"
I suggest you start with these three areas:
Understand the difference between sport and health
Fitness as a sport has claimed it's real estate. It's here to stay, and it's growing rapidly. For the right person with the right goals, training for sport isn't foul at all.
However, things have gotten hazy and the line has been blurred between health and sport. They are not the same. Training for sport is far more demanding than exercising for health.
It's like saying a plant needs water and then throwing it into a lake. It's bombastic for the lay person.
If you have no desire to be an competitive athlete and you're aiming to improve your health, starting with 20 minutes of movement per day is where I suggest you start.
Tip toe vs. cannonball
The simple health strategy list consists of three pillars: sleep, eat, and move. To forge these into your life as habits, I encourage you to do a assessment on how you like to start anything new in your life.
Trace your steps to your own behavior and realize if you're a tip-toer or cannonballer. Here is what I mean:
A tip-toer gradually slips into the water. They first test the water by dipping their toes. Once acclimated, they submerge both feet. Then, they'll slowly lower themselves until they are waist deep. Finally, after a progressive, pragmatic sequence, they are fully immersed.
A cannonballer is quite the opposite. They can't wait get their clothes off fast enough to take the leap and nose-dive into the water. From the onset, a cannonballer is all-in or all-out. The prefer to by-pass any type of habituation phase and jump right into things.
Which one are you?
Answering this question for yourself will make your health journey a lot easier - especially in the beginning.
A tip-toer may want to start small and slow. Perhaps focusing on sleep for a while before moving onto the eat strategy is what they might do.
Or, you might be a cannonballer and prefer to adopt several strategies at once or all maybe even all of them in a single swoop.
There is no right or wrong here. The most important factor in this equation is you. And putting you first by understanding how you most optimally forge behavior change will allow for sustained success.
When nobody else knows you're trying to change, it's painfully easy to skimp out on the things you know you should be doing.
For example, a lot of people know how to exercise but they still hire a personal trainer. They are investing in someone who won't let them miss a session, not paying someone to teach them how important exercise is for their health.
This is the reason why it's hard for some people to make it to the gym or exercise daily - there is no external accountability checking in on them or kicking them in the pants when laziness creeps in.
Having a coach or mentor help you adopt the three pillars - sleep, eat, move - will help you sustain momentum when the novelty of starting something new wears off.
If you're knowledgeable about health and fitness but you're not in the shape you'd like to be in, it's likely that the missing link in your game is accountability.
Accountability keeps you consistent because you have to report and check in with someone or something. This is crucial with habit change because you will not always feel motivated to eat well or lace up the New Balance's to head to the gym. In a way, having accountability is a buffer to our natural tendency to do what is easy.
Sleep for seven to eight hours each night. Eat when you're hungry and include a lot of plant based foods. Move for 20 minutes each day. These three things have the power to transform your health.
Simple enough right?
When you do the work to include the three pillars of health into your daily life and eventually make them habits, you'll be equipped with a life skill (living healthy) that is hard to put a price on.
These habits have changed my life and I'm confident they can do the same for you.