The bulk of the focus of Strong Body Today lately has been workout and fitness tips for people who have already made the commitment to a lifestyle of fitness. Those of us who saw the benefits of exercise, and then acted on it. Most of what is shown here is weight training, and focused on strength. But even the most broest of bros still understands the benefits and needs for cardio in addition to our weight training. So I don’t want to limit the discussion entirely to lifting things up and putting them down. I also don’t want to limit the discussion to folks who are already in this lifestyle.
I’m sure I am not alone in having folks approach me for workout advice. Lots of people like the idea, and they see the benefits, but for some reason it stalls. They end up being the same people they were a year ago, the last time you saw them and the last time they asked you. While we may be inclined to blame them for lacking the personal initiative or discipline, I think we should also be mindful of the magnitude of advice we give. We wouldn’t recommend a guy who’s been lifting for 6 months, and can bench 135, to try benching 300 today, because “why not? Isn’t that his long term goal?” While 300 may not be that epic for some folks, it is AT THE TIME for this guy. So when we dole out advice for the pudgy cousin who asks us at Thanksgiving, are we telling him to utilize a beginner program, and start light? Or are we giving him advice that we think is “no biggie” even though its coming from our perspective of being in the 300+ club?
So You Fell Asleep At the Wheel
You just snapped awake, you felt the rumble strips on the edge of the road (or maybe the shortness of breath at the top of the stairs) and you need to make a change. Don’t yank the wheel. You may look at your life and think you need to make a huge change. And you may be absolutely correct. But huge change is the result of many small changes added together. Make small, sustainable changes. Much like the yank of the steering wheel, crash diets or jumping into fitness programs you aren’t ready for is just inviting your body to crash. Drastic weight loss diets (called “crash diets” for a reason) more often than not, do not result in sustainable weight loss. If anyone is selling you a detox shake, a juice diet, a waist trainer, etc, IT IS NOT A SOLUTION. Unless you are viewing it as a solution for someone to make money off a bad decision. And drastic changes in exercise when your body is not prepared puts you at a high risk for injury. And with injury comes a decrease in training. You didn’t pace yourself, and now you are out of the race.
Other issues presented by the huge drastic change, is the emotional and mental effort required to repeat these decisions over and over. If day 1 of your diet leaves you nearly comatose, with no energy, or with headaches, or generally feeling ill, how easy will you repeat that decision? Or if day 1 of your workout leaves you feeling like you were hit by a truck, and you broke down in tears at the end of your workout AND when you rolled out of bed the next morning… will you do that workout again? Or will you find a reason to rest and relax a little more? Small changes are easier to maintain “in the now” because you aren’t climbing a new mountain every day.
Small changes result in small errors. You will not derail your entire plan if you screw up a single day, or even a weekend. Because your efforts are so measured and managed, if you miss a day or two, you will not be starting again from scratch. You will still be headed in a better direction than when you started, and it won’t take herculean effort to reattain the status you left off at.
Small diet changes can include:
1. Remove sodas and sugar drinks. Just drink water. Its really not that bad, I promise. Its actually pretty refreshing.
2. Incremental portion control. Don’t just drop from 3000 calories a day to 1500. You will suffer, and it will be easy to convince yourself to quit. Drop from 3000 to 2750 for a week. Then 2750 to 2500. And etc, etc.
3. Make your own food, make more effort to ditch pre-processed, pre-boxed foods. A lot of healthy meals can be prepped and made in short order. It may be SLIGHTLY more effort than setting the microwave on 5 minutes and waiting, but its SLIGHTLY more, and we are all about making SLIGHT changes.
Small Workout Changes
1. If you start weight training (and I DO recommend this, even for beginners) choose an appropriate program. Don’t get on the innerwebs and find the workout of the most ripped and shredded dude/woman in the world. Hold that as your goal, but work towards it.
2. “5×5” is the most basic concept you should remember. There are a lot of programs that use this as their starting point. I recommend it as the starting point for my programs, if you follow mine. It is not THE only answer, but it is 1) easy for your body to adapt to in the early stages and 2) is easy to follow mentally, before you learn the intricacies of Bro Science 101.
3. If you are not ready for weights, you can use bodyweight. But all the principles you’d follow with weights you will still apply with bodyweight.
4. Begin to understand the idea of linear progression.
5. Build an aerobic base for conditioning. And also apply similar concepts of linear progression to your cardiovascular work to build up your base.
The big change you want to see in your life is the accumulation of small changes. The Great Pyramids of Giza were made of many smaller bricks. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and CONTINUES with many small steps. Its not just one small step and then one giant 999.99 mile step. Make the right SMALL decisions, and make them often.