Each morning would begin with some eggs. Possibly a piece of Ezekiel toast and a side of blueberries, but more often than not it was strictly eggs. By mid day, an hour or so before lunch, I’d snack on an ounce of almonds and a protein powder drink mixed with plain water. Next up came lunch. Most days lunch was a huge salad with a few ounces of lean chicken breast, mixed with some other nuts and a fat based dressing. Before I left work I would have another scoop of whey protein powder in water and maybe a banana and then head to the gym. At the gym I worked with Starting Strength, a strength based progressive program, and would do Squats, Bench Press, and Barbell Rows. Before I left I would spend twenty or so minutes of the elliptical or stationary bike. Some days I would do a circuit of different exercises, build a sweat, and go home.
After each meal and workout I’d write the foods I consumed and the exercises I did. I kept solid track of what was happening. I knew where I needed to be in terms of Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates, water, and total calories. I also knew where I was and what more or less I needed when it came to water and exercise. Most mornings after I woke up and drained the tank I would weigh myself to see where I was in terms of weight.
Doing this strictly for thirty days showed very effective. At the end of the month I stepped on the scale and it showed a total weight loss of seventeen pounds, in only thirty days. My strict but simple plan was proven.
Twice in the last five years I did this plan and the results were the same. Seventeen pounds lost and none coming from muscle. In the coming weeks I will again attempt this plan before summer to drop the winter excess pounds from bulking up. During those thirty days I did enjoy two or three cheats meals of pizza and beer.
So this begs the question: Does getting in shape have to be hard?
Before I answer this with why it doesn’t have to be hard, the answer is a simple yes when you ask the question. If you believe getting in shape will be, or is, hard, then it’s going to be a struggle. The negative notion of the question will bring about doubt, heartache, and frustration. For one to begin a weight loss with the thought of it being difficult is to begin with failure rooted in mind. To start on the right foot, forget asking the question of will it be hard and instead, intend to succeed with positive force.
Getting in shape is not hard. It does require a good amount of work but “hard” it is not. Anyone can do it. Moms with three kids have gotten in shape. Men who had heart attacks and strokes have gotten in shape. Truck drivers weighing over three hundred pounds with no exercise experience in their life have gotten in shape. A stay at home Dad, me, has gotten in shape.
There are two things you need to succeed. A plan and being disciplined in your plan.
What makes a plan effective?
Simplicity. We can’t over complicate the process. If you look at my simple and basic plan there was nothing in it that required an education level beyond the third grade. A child would understand what needed to be done. A quick calculation of my macro-nutrients based on my weight and age gave me all the details I needed to develop a good plan. A simple and effective plan.
When it comes to exercise we can get very complicated and develop a plan like a NFL Linebacker would follow, but for most of us, that is unnecessary. Following a simple strength and conditioning program is all you need. Getting into the fine details of exercise can come when you advance to a higher level of fitness. For the majority of the country, simple is all that is necessary.
Working out four to five times a week for at least thirty minutes is simplicity at it’s finest. Work the basic movements of the human species. An upper body push, an upper body pull, the hinge, squatting, and loaded walking are as basic as you can get. Hundreds of thousands of people have followed simple plans with those six basic human movements and have changed their life. That is all there is to it.
Quality nutrition also makes a plan effective. Without knowing what to eat it can be frustrating. To save you headache and heartache here are a few good foods you should be eating. If you have to ask if something is healthy, it is not.
Lean Meat (Chicken, Turkey, Beef, etc.)
Nuts and seeds
When you eat those foods in line with the details you found when you did the simple calculations of your macros (mentioned above) you will succeed.
BUT.. that doesn’t make a plan effective. You won’t have success using a very basic and simple plan unless you are disciplined in actually doing it. Most people can maintain discipline for ten or so days but then something can happen that knocks us off the tracks. Our discipline has been compromised. A very simple way to maintain discipline is to slow down your thoughts and stop rushing through life. Sure we all have places to go, people to see, work to do, and things to get done, but we can slow down that process and think. Something that seems lost in this rush age of society, thinking. When we actually set aside time to think, great things happen. The iPod was reinvented and changed music when thinking time was spent effectively.
The same goes for your discipline. A great way to help yourself attack your goals and succeed with your plan is to be professional with it. Treat your daily action steps of getting in shape like it was your job. Treating it like a hassle or nuisance is setting yourself up for failure. You must be professional and aware of what you are doing and need to do. It’s that easy.
It’s a shame we try to over-complicate the process of living healthy. Corporations need to make a profit and therefore we create the noise involved with living healthy. Parents are thrown into the pit of lions when kids want sugary snacks and foods. But the disciplined parent knows not to buy that garbage and bring it into the home, where temptation lurks. A good way to think about living healthy when it comes to nutrition is, does buying this food help a fortune 100 company make even more money or is it going to that local farmer who sits in the back of the church on Sunday with his family?
Getting in shape does not have to be hard. Make it simple. Make it so easy that a third grade student can understand it and follow the plan and be successful should they choose to. The more nutrition and fitness clutter we remove from our minds and days, the better we will do with our plan. Remember, you can do this. It is easy when we positively intend for it to be. Too choose otherwise is foolish.