Buying a new car would be considerably easier if your choices were limited. Instead you have to choose the type of vehicle; used or new; the cost; the horsepower; 2 door or 4; to lease, finance, or buy; to upgrade the interior or keep it basic; mileage; insurance; colour; and god knows what else.
To make things easier you decide to ask around and get the opinions of others. The problem is everyone offers you different suggestions – the soccer mom opts for the minivan, the environmentalists pushes the hybrid, and the construction guy wouldn’t think of buying anything but a truck. Doesn’t help you much does it? These people have the intention of helping you but instead leave you more confused than when you started.
The same thing happens when embarking on the journey to become more fit and to eat healthy – Jessica says carbs will make you fat, Billy says you have to lift weights 5 days a week to gain muscle, and Sarah swears by intermittent fasting while doing endless bouts of cardio. Considering the hundreds of different ways to train, along with all the fad diets and opinions of others, how the hell do you know what to choose?!
Back to the car metaphor – besides wanting to help, these people have something else in common; they ended up going with what would suit their needs best and stuck with that. The same thing must be done when it comes to your health.
Seeking information from others can be helpful but often times ends up adding to the confusion. You bounce around trying techniques that may have worked for others but leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Here are some tips that have taken me years to learn and apply to my current life:
Determine your goals, ones that do not oppose each other: You can’t be a power lifter and run a marathon while expecting to be great at both. Choose your focus and stick with that. You can be good at lots of things, but great? I doubt Sid the kid can play basketball as well as he does hockey, and I can imagine he has been perfecting his hockey skills his entire life; even if he wasn’t the best at first.
Seek advice from a FEW KNOWLEDGABLE people: Most people like to talk and act like they know it all even after minor success. If you need information regarding losing weight and/or choosing the right exercises; speak with a reputable dietician and personal trainer. Considering the advice of others has its place, so long as it doesn’t leave you feeling more confused.
Too much of a good thing is still too much: It has taken me years to come to terms with this fact. Doing endless bouts of cardio or excessive weight training sessions will leave you flat and weak. More isn’t always better, and finding a healthy balance is tough. Seek advice from a trainer who can help you program your training is a good option. If you’re new to exercise, my advice is to start with 2-3 full body weight training sessions/week and 3-4 moderate intensity cardio activities for 20-30 minutes/week.
You cannot out train a bad diet: You may have heard this saying before. Unfortunately it’s a fact and there is no way around it. Sure, you’ll see improvements in your body composition and likely even drop a couple pounds just from the addition of exercise to your life. However, it isn’t until you change your poor eating habits will you see significant changes in how you look and feel. Exercising does not give you a free pass to eat more crap.
Have a plan, stick to it, and document your progress: Walking into a weight room without a plan is pointless. You need structure, consistency, and dedication for anything to work. Changing things up too often does not allow your body and mind the time it needs to become bigger, faster, and stronger. Have a plan ready, document the weights you use, stay consistent, and strive for improvement.