The idea of working out and eating healthy is nothing new to most people. Heck, most of us have tried to get into a fit state from time to time. We manage to get some results, but soon after we just can’t keep up the paste.
The problem lies in our approach, and training 5 times per week and eating chicken with broccoli every day just isn’t sustainable.
Luckily, this quick guide will teach you how to finally overcome this barrier that is keeping you from being fit and healthy all the time. Just keep reading and find out how!
The Steps for Creating a Sustainable Fitness Approach
1. Start of Small
Doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or newbie, you can’t expect to start an intense routine right away. Not building a solid fitness base and not establishing proper recovery habits (nutrition, sleep, recovery tools) are all things that we must account for to benefit from any training program.
If you start with the “perfect” plan, you are already doomed.
It takes a lot of focus to create a sustainable new habit. Taking on too much up front is just going to leave you discouraged and overwhelmed.
Let’s start with a basic exercise and nutrition plan to get some momentum going. Even if you are already advanced, I recommend circling back and making sure you have some of these fundamental habits down.
Mobility and stress management where my weak sides, if only I had worked on them sooner…
Some of the following options are for those of us who are starting from scratch. However, there are also options for people with some experience, but no willpower for consistency.
- Walking instead of using your car
- 20 push-ups, 10 squats, and 10 jumping jacks first thing in the morning
- Doing a daily 5-minute mobility workout
- Schedule a daily walk around the neighborhood
- Drink 2 glasses of water first thing in the morning
- Remove caloric beverages from your diet
- Choose one meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and make it healthier. Choose rice over fries, chicken instead of burgers, etc.
- Eat protein with each meal, reduce fats
- Make a staple grocery list and aim to shop for just healthy foods that you like
Work on one option from each category every day for the next week or two, and you’ll notice a nice momentum building as you start knocking out these simple and easy habits.
2. Dedicate an Hour a Day
One hour is only 4% of your day. Think of it as your “me time.”
Now let’s look at your schedule and how to plan this hour that you’ll dedicate to fitness.
In my early days with myself and clients, I made the mistake of trying to make fitness as least time consuming as possible. Taking just 2 or 3 days a week for quick workouts.
The problem with that is the lack of habit building. Most of the time I just couldn’t keep the consistency of training and eating healthy.
Lesson learned: For long-term success, make an everyday commitment. But here is the kicker, this doesn’t mean we are going to have a killer workout every day. This kind of approach is why we keep burning and quitting in the first place.
So, to create a lean, fit body you’ll need to exercise as part of your habit. However, we can’t forget about nutrition. You see, working out breaks down your body, then nutrition and lifestyle habits help repair everything. Training, nutrition, and lifestyle work together in building lean muscle, fat burning, and health.
Your “Fitness Hour” should be used for:
- Workouts (strength, conditioning)
- Nutrition (meal prep, shopping, healthy recipes)
- Recovery (mobility, sauna, foam rolling, walking, cryotherapy)
3. Training for a Lean and Strong Body
Now it’s time to find out what exercises you need to perform in order to reach your fitness goals. The basics will always be the best option when it comes to building lean muscle and burning fat, while staying pain-free.
Build your strength workouts around these exercises:
- Pushup variations
- Dumbbell presses and rows
- Band pull apparats and face pulls
- Kettlebell swings
- Loaded carries
- Sled pushing
Isometric exercises are also a great option to build strength. Essentially with isometrics your muscle is flexed, but it’s not expanding and compressing. It’s a stagnant way of placing resistance on a desired group of muscle.
Isometric exercise you should do:
- Split squat
- Wall sit
- Leg extensions (hold the tension at the top)
- Isometric push-up
- Static lunge
- Static pull-up
You also want to exercise your cardiovascular system in order to be healthy.
Most people make the mistake of doing any form of cardio that will make them tired.
We know better that that, your goal should be to improve heart health and have relentless conditioning. To do so, we want an 80/20 balance.
Low-intensity cardio should make 80% of your conditioning. It helps you stay lean and it improves recovery between strength workouts. This is very important and must be a part of your program. 2-3 days a week choose to hike, run, bike, or swim for 30-60 minutes with a lower intensity.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) should be around 20%. To do HIIT correctly, you want to go as hard and fast as possible for 30-60 seconds. Then you take a break for 90 seconds or until your heart rate recovers. Repeat for 15-30 minutes.
Great cardio options are:
- Hiking (low impact)
- Jump rope
- Hill sprints
- Air Bike (low impact)
- Sled pushing
- Swimming (low impact)
4. Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Eating healthy shouldn’t be complicated, in fact it’s really simple.
If you want to have a real chance to get lean and build muscle you’ll need to make healthy eating a priority.
For a lean, strong body you simply have to focus on a minimally processed diet filled with nutrient-dense foods.
Your grocery list should contain mainly the following foods:
- Lean meats
Healthy eating guidelines:
- Eat 3 meals a day, no snacks
- Have some protein foods with each meal
- Have a serving of veggies or fruit with each meal (if possible)
- Consume anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, olive oil, and berries
- Have a complex carbohydrate with each meal (potatoes, rice, oats, whole wheat pasta or bread)
While these guidelines are pretty strict, it doesn’t mean you can’t have some comfort foods here and there.
Don’t be afraid to eat ice cream or pizza sometimes, just don’t make it an everyday thing.
5. Take Recovery Seriously
You have training and nutrition dialed in, now we want to make sure you recover properly.
The biggest part of recovery is sleep. You need to get 7-8 hours every night.
Improve your sleep with the following tips:
- Aim to go to bed and wake at the same time each day
- Go to sleep before 10 pm
- Keep your room cool and dark
- Make a to do list for the next day
- Turn off your electronics 30 minutes before bed
Other great recovery tools include:
- Sauna (great for detoxification, faster metabolism, weight loss, better blood flow, pain reduction)
- Cryotherapy (stimulates circulation, promotes faster joint and muscle recovery, better oxygen flow and healing)
- Massage (relaxes the muscles and entire body)
- Spiritual studies
- Relaxing hobbies
To create a great fitness habit you have to be more consistent. You get the best results when you can stick with fitness day in and out. Even if you make small breaks, it won’t matter if you continue grinding throughout the years.
Take the time to build a foundation and create these habits. You won’t regret it.
Step 1: Start off small. Pick one simple exercise and nutrition habit to get started.
Step 2: Dedicate an hour a day. Make an appointment with yourself every day to work on your fitness. Think of it as your wellness time that can encompass workouts, nutrition, recovery, relaxation.
Step 3: Build a lean and strong body. Incorporate a smart, balanced approach to your workouts to build a lean and strong body.
Step 4: Develop healthy eating habits. Forget about fad diets and start building real healthy eating habits that will last you a life time. Focus on eating 3 protein, carb, and veggie-based meals a day.
Step 5: Don’t forget about recovery. Aim to get 7-8 quality hours of sleep each night. Feel free to try out the sauna, cryotherapy, and other recovery tools.