When you are a doctor and you go out with friends or family, everyone wants you to take a look at the mole on their back, or ask why their knees hurt in the morning.
When you are a health coach or personal trainer and you go out with friends or family, everyone wants to ask you the best exercise to “tone” their arms, what they should eat for breakfast, and how often they should workout.
Point #1 – I have nothing against people asking these questions. Anyone interested in bettering themselves is a rockstar in my opinion.
Point #2 – Understand that I will probably nod and smile, and then tell you that I cannot answer your question. At least not during a typical conversation when you are out with friends or family.
The essence of these questions come from the idea that there is some kind of “Magic Formula” to fitness. Or that all coaches and trainers have the secret equation to weight loss and we hide it in our back pockets until you take out your wallet.
Well I’ll give you the magic formula without you paying a penny:
- Begin with Strength
- Eat Real Food
Let’s break that down a bit more:
1. Begin with Strength
The fitness industry has blown up over the past few decades. Our parents and grandparents had the standard gym with free weights and a few machines. Now you can take a cycling class on Monday, do a CrossFit WOD on Wednesday, and go to Paddleboard Yoga on Friday.
With the boom of workout facilities and new and creative ways to move your body, it’s understandable that most people are confused as to what is the “best” form of fitness.
This is why you begin with strength.
If you make your body stronger, it becomes better at running, jumping, squatting, pushing, pulling, lifting things off the ground, balancing, throwing, climbing, rowing, punching, kicking, sprinting, dancing, and swimming to name a few.
Think of strength as your foundation. If the foundation is weak and you try to build upward with HIIT, long distance running, kickboxing, or other fitness fads, your building will soon collapse. If the foundation is strong, your body is more capable of handling these movement and workout varieties.
2. Eat Real Food
Dan John puts it best: “Eat like an adult!”
Put down the cookies and cream ice cream and pick up an apple or orange.
And if it comes in a package with 20 ingredients that you cannot pronounce, put it back on the shelf.
Processed food gives us a surplus of calories with little reward. Which do you think will fill you up more? A baked sweet potato with steamed broccoli and natural protein source, or a Lean Cuisine?
The Lean Cuisine may have less calories depending on which you choose, but I will bet that it leaves you feeling hungry and reaching for chips later.
The less food is processed, the more nutrients are intact. Our bodies crave these nutrients, and when they are missing hunger signals are sent to our brains until they are filled. This is why we are overeating yet still malnutritioned.
So when you walk into Trader Joe’s, Jewel, or even Whole Foods, make it a point to spend most of your time and money on items that are on the edges of the store: the produce and meat section, not the cereal aisle.
It really is that simple. The difficult part is individualizing it to each person.
For example: Do you know how to start a strength training program?
Do you have injuries, movement limitations, overactive or underactive muscles that need to be addressed in your workouts?
Do you know how to squat, hinge, push, and pull with the correct technique and form so that you don’t injure yourself?
Do you know what mobility exercises you should incorporate?
Are you doing the same workouts over and over again so that your body has adapted and is no longer expending as much energy?
Do you know what your goals are? Are you looking to gain weight, lose weight, gain lean muscle mass, or tone?
Do you know how to adjust your training and nutrition depending on your goals?
The above questions and the individuality of the answers is the reason that I have a job. It’s unfortunate that I cannot give you a one size fits all “Magic Formula.” But the fortunate thing is that there are many coaches out there that are willing and eager to help! Reach out, ask questions, and leave feedback.
And if anyone makes you feel silly or inadequate, walk away and never look back. They are not worth your time or money.
Have more questions on health or fitness? Reach out!