Getting fit can be easy, people just overcomplicate things
If you don’t want to be a competitor or an advanced athlete, that’s okay. That is not everyone’s goal. Not everybody has to compete, or do a sport professionally and become a participant in the Olympics.
But it always breaks my heart when I hear people say:
“I’ve tried (insert any sort of fitness or exercise) for two months, and it was so much fun. I’ve lost a good few kilos, but then I didn’t have the time anymore.”
“This 8-week program didn’t bring the promised results, unfortunately.”
“I loved weight lifting when I was in my 20s, gained good muscle, but then life came in between, and I didn’t have the time or resources to continue.”
“I’m going to the gym once in a while. My schedule doesn’t allow more frequency.”
The reason is never that “life came in-between” or that “some outer force” didn’t make it possible anymore or that you can’t afford to go after fitness any longer.
It’s usually one of the reasons listed below why people stop or don’t accomplish keeping themselves fit long-term.
In fitness and health, as well as in life generally, we always have a choice.
We can choose to order a burger or a salad.
We can choose to go to the gym and work out or stay at home and watch Netflix shows on the couch.
We can choose to do exercises the right way or execute them in a poor form.
And we can choose to get ourselves some help or try to figure everything out on our own and accept that it will take much longer.
Keep that in mind. It’s YOUR responsibility how you approach it.
1. Get over the pain barrier
Pain at working out is temporary. But the pain of regret is forever.
To lose fat, build muscle tissue or enhance your fitness levels in any way, it is inevitable to put in lots of hours of training and push yourself not to stop immediately when it starts hurting. The pain at the end of a set is usually an indicator that you’re in the range where an effective growth stimulus happens.
For example, that could mean if you’re lifting weights at the gym, you feel the muscle getting sore, but you keep going for at least three to five more repetitions when that pain arrives. Your body can do that and even more without getting injured.
To get the best possible outcome from your workout it’s essential to keep going at least for a few more repetitions and trick your mind not to stop although it hurts.
The same counts for most types of cardio sports. If you’re only running or bicycling at or below an intensity that you feel comfortable with, your body won’t adapt, and your fitness level will not change.
If you’re unwilling to train to an extent where it’s getting a little painful, you will not get better long-term. Keep in mind that the pain at a workout is temporary and doesn’t equal getting injured. Your muscles can take more than you think.
Once I focused on getting over the pain barrier frequently, my progress had sped up tremendously.
It’s also vital to make use of progressive overload. This is the systematic increase of training impulses. It’s essential to lift more weight in the gym more often, increase the height or distance you jump, extend the track or speed up your run, etc.
Simply put, if you don’t set a training level that’s challenging, your training will not bring the desired results.
Doing bicep curls with 4-kg dumbbells is not going to make your arms grow. It would be best to do them with a weight that challenges you, which you can curl only six to eight times.
Yes, there are always newbie gains, which are the adaptions your body makes to the new impulse. But those are only coming in the first few weeks or after a significant lay-off as your body re-adapts. After that, you’ll reach a plateau if you don’t increase your strength/speed/performance.
Progressive overload is required to get stronger, fitter, and more enduring. Without it, you’ll never be able to increase your performance.
2. Don’t eat like this
“You are what you eat.”
This quote is as old as humanity. Yet, it’s never been more essential and visibly imaginable than today.
Modern industry and convenience food have led to an alarming situation where half of the western population has become overweight.
Diabetes Type-II is one of the dominant diseases nowadays, besides mental health issues. Experts relate that to the global rise of obesity.
I sometimes wonder how that’s possible when there are more active gym memberships than ever. But then I remember that most people who are signed up at a gymnasium either never go there or only go there once in a while when they feel motivated or ‘have time’.
Not to mention, temptations for unhealthy, high-calorie foods are everywhere.
One burger cannot make you fat as well as one salad cannot make you slim. It’s the constant consumption that adds up long term that makes you look like the Michelin man.
Going to the gym or doing any other type of sport to keep yourself fit and healthy, but then eating at McDonald’s every day is like driving a Ferrari every day but refueling it with the worst possible gasoline.
Tips to eat healthier to get fit:
Switching a diet too radically is only going to end up in a yoyo effect.
Make small adjustments first. Over time, you’ll be losing your cravings for salty unhealthy junk food and binge-eating attacks.
A good rule of thumb at the beginning is to focus on eating protein-based, wholesome and nutritious food. The advantage is that it will fill you up with way fewer calories than junk does.
Fast convenience food contains ridiculous amounts of calories within a low volume. Foods with a lot of protein, vitamins, and volume contain much fewer calories and lead to good satiation.
This also makes you eat fewer “snacks” in between. You’ll feel less of a need to do so.
Even if you want to bulk and put on muscle, you should focus on eating nutritious, healthy meals and not to fall into what many call a “dirty bulk”: The approach that it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as it fits your macros.
That is not true at all. It might contain some truth (but much less as we age), and it may be better to eat pizzas and burgers than nothing if your goal is to put on muscle. Yet, all this is going to do is to make you unnecessarily fat as well - which is not ideal, and will force you to then have to be restrictive - hence the yo-you effect of poorly planned, or ‘quick fix diets’.
If you’re training hard but frequently eat fast food, you’re not going to gain lean muscle mass as good as with a cleaner diet. Your body cannot build muscle tissue as well if you feed it with those kinds of poorly nutritious meals.
So stay away from “If it fits your macros”; " all things in moderation"; the "80/20 rule" and save the junk food up for your next refeed day.
3. Search for professional help
If you want a dream body, you need to get advice from someone with a dream body.
If you take a look at history, you’ll see that all influential people in sports had in some way a mentor.
Arnold Schwarzenegger had Joe Weider.
Wayne Gretzky had Gordie Howe.
Michael Jordan has primarily influenced Kobe Bryant.
Every big sports team or athlete has a coach or trainer who gives them direction and plans.
Hiring a coach for yourself is optional. Not everyone has to. If you’re happy with the physique you built on your own, why should you?
Yet, it is one of the most powerful things to achieve better results in a short time and accelerate your journey to a specific goal.
If there was one shortcut I ever took to reach my fitness success faster, it was getting a coach. It’s required if you’re going to go all-in on your fitness and after the optimal physical transformation in a healthy sustainable way.
A coach is a mentor who gives you a different perspective and helps you achieve what you want faster. They are giving you a system that works. They also keep you accountable and explain how the exercises are done right and effectively - and a truly good coach will also explain WHY you’re doing the things you do so that you actually learn throughout the process.
With fitness, everyone can make it at least to a certain level on their own. You need to do simple things, watch a few YouTube videos, and gain experience. Yet, unless you’re a personal trainer or well educated yourself, you’ll definitely reach a plateau one day.
This is where a fitness coach comes into play to help you get over it. They do everything in the background for you that you don’t have time for:
Creating an effective workout and meal plan.
Providing you with knowledge.
Making sure you stay committed and disciplined.
Keeping you accountable and reminding you of your goal.
Explaining the exercises or the program until you execute everything well.
I sometimes look back on my journey and ask myself why I haven’t hired a coach sooner. It would have saved me years of useless training.
For years, I looked the same, worked out hard, and nothing had changed on my physique. That was way more frustrating than spending that small monthly payment for my coach nowadays.
I didn’t have a person telling me what I did wrong and what I should do instead. That was such a big game-changer.
When I decided to get a coach, I finally got serious results within a much shorter time.
If you want serious results, stop approaching your fitness & health like it is something secondary.
Do you want a better-looking body and a fitter lifestyle?
Then you need to take things seriously and not treat fitness as something you do once in a while or something you stop for a month and then start again. That strategy won’t lead you anywhere.
Consistency is key.
As mentioned already, life doesn’t care whether you have time or not. You have to make the time.
You don’t need to become a competitor or rock the abs of a cover model, but if you have a goal that you want to achieve badly, it’s inevitable not to make one of these three key mistakes.
Get over the pain barrier.
Stop eating shitty food.
And get a coach who has achieved what YOU want to achieve.
If you only do those three things right, you’re on a guaranteed path to success, and results will come soon.
Everyone is responsible for their fitness.
Life doesn’t care whether you have time or not. It doesn’t care if you became a parent or suddenly got promoted in your job.
If you don’t take responsibility and remain active, your immune system will not be robust against invaders. Your posture will suffer long-term. You’ll get back pain at some point. And you’ll age faster.
As mentioned before, nobody needs to become an athlete or a bodybuilder. Yet, a basic level of extra activity and a focus on maintaining a healthy balanced diet IS required to keep your body fit and healthy long-term.
Take responsibility and do what you can to stay active.
Your future self is going to thank you.