I shouldn’t have to explain to you why having bad eating/exercise habits is bad. You are putting your health in danger with you, you are shortening your life, and it doesn’t look good, but you know that already. You already know that being a lazy, pathetic sack is not something you should aspire to, so this is where you are going to start being healthy.
At this point I’m not going to get you to lift weights to become a ripped superman; if you want to that’s great (I’ve heard Starting Strength is a good place to begin) but it’s not necessary for the purposes here. The purpose of this guide is to simply make you a decent example of a social man, not a demigod in human form. The purpose here is to get you from either fat or super-skinny to healthy,
Myself, I was really skinny, weighing 155 lbs at 6’2″. Over my first three years of desk-work, living on my own, and martial arts (all began at about the same time) I ballooned to 210 lbs, about 15 or so muscle, the rest fat. Just before I started this blog, I started to eat primal. I lost 15 lbs in 3 week eating strictly primal, then another 15 over the next half year, being less strict. I’ve maintained myself at about 180 (I have about 5-10 lbs of fat, mostly in my gut, I could lose if I became strict again).
We’re not trying to make perfection here, win body-building awards, or even look ripped; we’re trying to make it so you aren’t a disgusting, fat slob, or a weak, sickly looking beanpole. We’re simply trying to make you healthy.
Overall, you need to strive for an ordered relation to food and exercise.
There are two ways to start being more healthy: the incremental way and the immersion way.
With the incremental way, you pick one small habit (such as drinking only water) and concentrate on that for a few weeks. Then when that habit is ingrained, choose another small habit (such as stopping eating potato chips) and work on that, and so on.
This is slower to do, but it is also less likely to over-tax your willpower. It has a better chance of succeeding. It’s like slowly walking into the lake, you slowly acclimate to the water over time. I’ve heard Habitforge is a useful tool for this, but haven’t used it.
The full-bore method is simply to choose a major lifestyle change and do it until it is a part of you. This is what I did for my diet. I choose the primal diet and simply did it for 3 weeks.
This is more difficult at first, but it takes a shorter time. Like a jump into a cold pool, it really sucks for while, but you get used to it faster. It also has a higher chance of failing.
If you plan the immersion method, I would highly recommend the primal diet, it worked for me. Choose what you want, but that’s what I’d recommend. Mark has even written a guide to getting started for the first 21 days.
I’m not a professional dietician or medical expert; I’m not qualified to tell you what to do. I’m not going to tell you what kind of work-out routine, or diet routine you should have. That is your choice, do what you think is best for you. I’m only recommending what worked for me. I will give some very basic tips though.
Some basics tips of proper exercise:
- Keep up with your martial art and sports they are great starts and will carry you pretty far on your own, especially if you’re at an extreme of fat or skinny. Your martial arts instructor has probably told you to do some home exercises, so do them.
- Workout Routine – Getting a work-out routine and sticking to it is best, but most people (me included) find it hard to do so. Find something simple to start with; start with a number of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges you can do, then simply do one more each day. Do it at the same time each day; such as after work, before your morning shower, or before going to bed.
- Weights – Lifting weights is the most efficient way to lose weight and build muscle. It is also the hardest to stick to.
- Workout group – If you find it hard to workout alone, finding a few friends to do it with you can make it a lot easier. If you have a significant other, exercising with her can make it easier. Simply having someone else who will hold you accountable (and vice versa) makes it a lot more
- Scheduled workouts – A scheduled and supervised workout will be more likely to get you working out than an unscheduled one. So join a workout class or a jogging group or something similar if you’re hacing trouble keeping up with your workout.
- If you are primarily trying to lose weight or gain muscle, doing high impact, burst activities (sprinting, weights, push-ups) takes less time to get the same energy-burning effect than low-impact activities (jogging, treadmills, biking). The latter is more useful for building endurance though.
- Do small things. A bunch of little things add up. Don’t drive short distances; if you can walk somewhere in less than 15 minutes, then do so. If you’re walking somewhere, sprint part of the way. If you’re watching TV, do a few push-ups each time commercials come on. Little things like this do more than you think when added up.
Some basics tips for proper eating:
- Choose a diet you can realistically stick to. If you’re diet requires too much willpower, try to find another that uses less. As the Willpower book states, Willpoweris not a major factor in dieting. Even the best diet is useless if you don’t follow it. Again, Primal is fairly simple to follow, and the 80-20 rule makes it easy to stay on track; I’d recommend it.
- Do not yo-yo diet. Whatever change you make, make them as part of a permanent life change. People who binge diet, usually gain more weight when the diet is over than if they hadn’t dieted in the first place. DO NOT GO ON A TEMPORARY DIET; DO NOT YO-YO DIET. I can not stress this enough.
- Pop, juices, and milk are all heavy in sugar avoid them. Drink water. If you make one single change, this is the one. Drink water; don’t buy other drinks and consume them only on occasion. When you are thirsty, drink water.
- Fast foods are an occasional treat, not an everyday meal. Definitely do not eat it 10+ times a week like I was at one point. Limit it to once a week.
- Make real food. Kraft Dinner and hotdogs are easy, sure, but so is frying a pork chop. Stop buying food in packages, and buy food that either comes from an animal or from the ground. Real food is a lot simpler to make than you think; try it.
- Change your snacks. Not eating snacks is unrealistic at this point, so simply eat good snacks. Stop buying potato chips and candy and buy almonds, dark chocolate (70%+), jerky, vegetables with dip, and fruit instead. (Dried fruit is okay on occasion, but is almost as bad as candy if you have to much of it).
- Nobody ever got fat eating vegetables. If a diet you’re on has you feeling like you’re starving, the best bet is to eat more, but make it vegetables. If you make a portion of food and it doesn’t fill you, make a salad and put some vinaigrette dressing on it. It tastes better then you think.
- Try to focus on meat and veggies. Don’t eat too many carbs.
- If you are skinny and trying to gain weight/muscle eat a lot of meat.
This week your goal is to be healthier. If you’re trying the incremental route, choose one healthy habit (I’d recommend drinking only water) and start it. If you are trying the immersion method, start it (or get the book on it, then start it when the book comes).
Again, if you are trying the immersion method, I’d heavily recommend the Primal 21-day challenge.