This short 13-word statement comes a from a 15-year-old school dropout, who suffers from dyslexia. He was unable to read, write or spell during his early school years. The rest of the class and the teachers thought he was either stupid or lazy. But he was able to turn his weakness into a unique advantage. He was able to simplify things in life. Sir Richard Branson did quite well with that.
Further, the world’s largest airline, Southwest Airlines, that to date employs 46 000 people, carries more than 100 million passengers a year and generates billions of dollars, was founded on a business plan sketched out on the back of a cocktail napkin at a hotel bar back in 1966.
What we can learn from stories like these is that almost always simplicity is key when it comes to dealing with anything in life. The same applies to our health and fitness related goals. Especially today, where people are busy with their jobs and families, and time spent for ourselves and our health is insufficient; we need a fundamental and efficient approach. People are always juggling work and life, and find themselves spending hours exercising or training in a gym – this is not realistic and mostly, not necessary.
Nutrition is an essential component of overall health and performance. Also, nutrition can be a complicated and confusing topic. There are a lot of fad diets and trends these days and a lot of confusing and sometimes contrary information.
Many people are always asking: Are carbs bad for me? Do I need to count calories? Do I need to cut out all sugar? And no food after 6 pm?
The answer is no to all of that. Of course, these questions have their right to exist. Some more than others but, if we want to simplify things, cutting out a whole food group or spending lots of time counting calories is not sustainable. In the beginning, you might lose some weight by adapting your diet but, it might be due to you eating less food, and not specifically to what you eat and when you eat. It is more beneficial to focus on our hunger and fullness cues and natural food sources, to make sure we only eat when we have to and get all the vitamins and minerals we need.
The simple but effective steps which I believe everybody can do are:
- Eat mostly non-processed whole foods
- Eat lots of colorful veggies and fruits
- Eat protein with every meal
- Eat slowly and stop after 80% full
- Eat only when you are hungry
These points do not require a lot of effort and will help you a lot more with looking and feeling better.
Exercise and activity
Exercise, or rather training, can vary a lot of on your goals, preferences, and time. But here we are talking about general health and strength which is useful for 90% of the people who will read this. For people with limited time and want to have the biggest gains for their time investment, I recommend 2 (minimum) to 3 (ideally) sessions of strength training per week. Focus on compound movements like squats, deadlifts, presses and chin-ups. Forget the rest as these are practical exercises and natural movement patterns we do on a daily basis. Just a few exercises are enough for most of the people who want to get strong, be healthy and fight the decline of resting metabolic rate and loss of muscle mass as we age. Depending on your goals we have to focus on some conditioning, HIIT and cardio.
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The specific training plan relies heavily on you and your schedule and experience. Also, you should incorporate as much fun activity as possible. Especially, for people who sit all day, it is important to move as much as you can during the day. Walking, swimming, yoga, boxing, hiking, biking, playing with your kids. The options are endless, and we just need to find something you enjoy.
Rest and Recovery
The last point I want to discuss briefly is rest and recovery. People are very stressed and I know as a coach in his thirties with no kids, it is easy for me to speak but, the fact that you have to sleep more and the constant level of stress is not okay. Your level of stress might be the main reason you are not losing weight and body fat. Sleep is essential, and there is a lot of strategies and tips we can use to help.
Here are five useful tips which can help you sleep better:
- Turn off any electronic device 30 min before sleep (Phone, TV, Laptop, Kindle,)
- Take a hot bath or shower before bedtime to slow down the brain and body
- Sleep in a completely dark room or wear a sleeping mask
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day
- Include physical activity to make your body more tired
I firmly believe that if we focus on simple nutrition strategies and simple but effective training, we can progress very far in our health and fitness goals. What does help you most regarding exercising and nutrition? What is your biggest bang for your buck? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below or a message and share this post with people you know, who will benefit from these strategies. Thank you.