I get asked diet and exercise questions all day, every day…And I love it.
And what I’ve seen with these questions is that we love to overcomplicate things and focus on the details when the overall picture is still fuzzy and incomplete.
It is almost easier for us to hone in on one piece of the puzzle instead of first outlining all the basics.
We skip starting with the two most important rules and jump right into micromanaging a few very specific things.
I think we do this because it is EASY.
It is easier to focus on a few little details than it is to get the big picture in order.
For some reason it is easier to make dieting and exercising overly complicated than it is to focus on the basics.
Why this is the case?
Honestly I have no idea. It baffles me.
Because the truth of the matter is – being healthy is pretty simple.
But most likely we get stuck on the details because we want a quick fix. A simply fix. Or maybe it is because we want something to blame when we lose motivation and fail to reach our goals.
No matter what the reasoning is…We need to stop doing it.
Because really there are only two things out there you need to do to be healthy:
1. Eat whole natural foods.
2. BE ACTIVE.
Yup…two things. And really two very easy things.
You don’t need to starve yourself or deprive yourself. And you don’t need to spend hours in the gym.
You just need to eat whole natural foods and move around!
You don’t need to worry about macros, or types of protein or meal timing if your basic diet isn’t even in line.
Start with a focus on whole natural foods and then hash out the details.
Seriously….you aren’t going to draw a face starting with detailing out the nostril before you even know where the nostril fits on the face are you!?! I mean…I’m not artist but that just seems ridiculous!
Same goes for exercise. People claim all they don’t have time to workout, but what they are really saying is “I don’t have time to spend hours in the gym like it seems I need to do to get into shape.”
And maybe that is simply their excuse to not workout because they don’t want to.
Because it is simply not the case.
You don’t need to spend hours in the gym or even go to a gym to be healthy.
You just need to be active!
Heck if you even get up and stretch and move around for 5 minutes every hour or so you are off to a good start! (Try these 10 Desk Exercises!)
If you even take your puppy for a walk in the mornings and afternoons, you are being more active than most.
Just first get moving than improve your activity so that it is helping you to reach your specific goals.
Don’t feel you have to jump right into an hour-long workout 6 days a week if you aren’t even currently moving for at least 15 minutes every day!
STOP OVERCOMPLICATING THINGS AND MAKING EXCUSES!
Start with the basics…Create an outline, a solid foundation and then, once that becomes habit, start working on the details.
I frankly think that developing a healthy diet is simple.
People make it seem like it is super complex. Heck companies want people to think it is complex so they can sell supplements and weight loss products and processed foods that supposedly have all these health benefits.
But honestly, you really only need to remember one thing when it comes to eating healthily – eat whole, natural food!
Cut out all the crap!
Don’t worry about freaking supplements even if they were on Dr. Oz. Don’t worry about your micronutrient intakes. Don’t worry about exactly how many fruits or vegetables you eat or how many omega-3s you are getting.
Just cut out all of the processed crap!
If you started focusing on just eating natural foods, so things that spring out of the ground and aren’t processed…aka usually have a short shelf life unless frozen, your healthy and the way you feel will improve exponentially.
Just by starting to even cut out one processed thing a day, like the crackers you eat for a snack (even if they are supposedly “healthy” crackers), you will be cutting out a ton of crap from your diet.
Processed foods are loaded down with vegetable oils and sugars. I mean take a look at any nutritional label on any pre-packaged food at the grocery store. I bet there are a ton of things listed in the ingredients that you’ve never heard of.
AND I bet all of them have way more sugar than you expected…but then again you were probably more worried about the fact that they were supposedly advertised as low-fat or “all-natural,” right!?!
But seriously, those pre-packaged foods can do some damage.
Here we are worried about the amount of saturated fat in an animal product and yet people are consuming a TON of simple sugars and vegetable oil (which is SUPER bad because it causes inflammation because it contains a horrible ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s) in all of the processed crap out there!
Anyway, the point is if you cut out processed, pre-packaged foods and focus on eating whole, natural foods, you will instantly cut out a TON of bad things.
Once you do that and have a good diet baseline, then start looking at ratios and exactly what natural foods are best and how you react to gluten, dairy and carbs, in general.
Don’t make it complicated to start!
At work we constantly talk about getting back to basics. And that is exactly what you’ve got to do here. Don’t make a ton of changes and complicate your diet.
Make one simple change and get back to the basics – eat whole, natural foods!
We’ve been discussing core values at our gym, Innovative Results, in Costa Mesa and one of the core values that has really stood out for me these last few weeks is “Back to Basics.”
There are so many FADS out there, telling you they have the “quick and easy” solution.
Of course when I see “quick and easy” associated with a diet and/or exercise program, I laugh and ignore it (unless of course I want something to rant about…).
Because there really is no quick and easy solution. Hard work is involved!
BUT if you stick to the basics, I will guarantee you will actually get the results you seek.
But what does sticking to the basics really mean?
Does it mean only traditional moves like the deadlift, squat and bench press? Or does it mean battling ropes, foam rolling and corrective exercise? Does it mean only doing 3 simple exercises for the rest of your life or is variety key?
Or is everything I listed above correct?
For me sticking to the basics means these four key things:
- Compound exercises that use muscles in an integrated fashion and work the major muscle groups.
- Moves that are functional aka training that helps us move better in day-to-day life.
- Preventing injuries by correcting imbalances and developing STRENGTH.
- Creating a PROGRESSION with well-considered variables.
So for me sticking to the basics doesn’t mean SIMPLE, it means well thought out and EFFICIENT.
It means not doing the freaking leg extension machine at the gym unless you have a really really really good reason to do it (aka don’t do single muscle group movements).
It means picking out a few KEY COMPOUND EXERCISES for the month that work YOUR BIG MUSCLE GROUPS.
It means STICKING to a ROUTINE and not just throwing in random exercises that you’ve seen in a magazine.
It means correcting problem areas THAT YOU HAVE and not just doing corrective exercises and SMR (foam rolling) on areas that you’ve been told COULD BE problem areas.
Going “Back to Basics” doesn’t have to mean being boring or only doing the same few things day after day.
Honestly, it means creating something measurable. When you just put together random exercises with random weights, repetitions and sets, you aren’t setting yourself up to measure your progress.
If you stick to the basics, you will create a program that will not only allow you to measure you progress but will also probably help you reach your goal faster!
So take a second right now to think about your current exercise program. Can you measure your progress? Are you doing compound movements and working your major muscle groups? Do you stick to a progression for at least a month? Are you correcting YOUR imbalances?
If you answered no to some of the questions above, maybe it’s time you got BACK TO THE BASICS!
P.S. Getting back to the basics most definitely also applies to diet. Just think, “WHOLE NATURAL FOODS!” This will definitely be a focus of mine after four days traveling and eating all of the goodies that St. Louis and Bloomington have to offer! 🙂