Fitness for Dummies: Practical Tips

I know you. You exercise anywhere from a couple of times a week to maybe 4 times max (one of those days is yoga, isnt it?).

You want maximum results, with minimal in-gym work.

Exercise is work.

Working out is work.

You have lots of work.

Your trainer is perhaps a progressive, smarty pants type (at least you should hope so). He/she knows words like “Stuart McGill” and “stability for mobility.” You are always having to do squats. They make you lift heavy things and learn to jump.

You train with the “right” things. Like barbells, kettle bells, and gym rings.

Your trainer stares at your hips with fierce intensity and talks about stuff like “internal rotation.” They occasionally wax poetic on stuff like “ribcage position” or “teaching you cleans.”

You smile politely and ask when your abs will start showing.

You nod politely as well when he/she tries to sneak in mini-lectures about “movement not just muscles” and how “strength takes time.”

Your trainer needs to see you regularly to get you good results. You need to train with enough regularity to get good results. But life gets in the way.

The back of your mind can grasp the concept of movement patterns, and motor skills (like why you can’t do box jumps yet), and learning good form, but only kinda. You do like deadlift day though. Last time you went nuts on P90X, you hurt your back. And that sucked, so …

But you hate having to lacrosse ball your butt, even though you know you should for some reason like “better hip extension.”

Somewhere in your head, you understand that sitting at your desk all day is fucking stuff up even though you work out.

You know you should move more and eat less.

You say the word “diet” with slight embarrassment. Because dieting sucks.

OK, you know you are not “dieting” because your trainer says “Diet is what you eat everyday, we are changing habits, not just foods.”

You know. But still. Your whole life seems to be conspiring against you sometimes. I mean, you sweat enough in the gym. Won’t that just do the trick?

You eat a salad. No it won’t. You sit at work. You sit at home. You skipped another session because you had an important meeting. But that’s life. Right?

You wear shitty cramped toe shoes, and hate how your back acts up all the time. You don’t visit a massage therapist as suggested. Cause it’s a nice idea, and would be really relaxing, and sounds wonderful in theory but …

Life.

You did meditation, like once. You couldn’t sit like those yogis, so it was literally a pain in the ass.

You totally forgot to cook anything. Again. You hate thinking about food in the way you think you should think about it. You just want to eat the goddamn food. You want to move more athletically, get stronger, lose fat, look fit, without having to tell people that you actually exercise.

But the gym is where you remember all those good things. Not in daily life. At least not yet. Eventually you’ll get it, right? But your trainer told you that your life outside the gym is what matters more. That’s kinda annoying to hear.

You weigh your options.

You know you want to stick to this and exercise and stuff as productively as possible, but you are a bit confused about how to actually change your life outside the gym to benefit all your hard work IN the gym.

Here’s my top 10, absolutely bare-minimum, maximum-effect tips for Average Joe fitness.

Guess what? You’ve heard them before. So pick just one for now:

Doing nothing is still a choice. There is no choice that removes the responsibility to choose. Choose something to do.

We’re grading on the curve here with this post, and luckily the curve is pretty low (have you seen the obesity percentages?).

1.) Walk. Walk everywhere you can. Walking is natural, and one thing that we do so much less of. Imagine an animal who walks around all day. Just make it an honor thing with yourself. If you CAN walk, you have to. I won’t even tickle your hopes with talking about fat loss or better legs. Just saying.

2.) Walk in minimalist shoes, swing your arms, and use your legs. Wear a backpack to evenly distribute weight you are carrying instead of a purse or murse (do guys murse?). Walking is a movement pattern that gets distorted by our inactive lifestyles, cramped shoes, and odd loading of the body. So make it as easy on your body as possible. Flip flops are great. Stylish flat shoes with minimal stiffness can be found now.

3.) Breathe through your nose. So, you haven’t gotten around to meditation, eh? Instead, try breathing through your nose. Close your lips completely and breathe through your nose. Breathing, stress response, muscle firing patterns (think core, neck, ribs, low back, etc) are all related to breath. Your sympathetic (go nuts) and parasympathetic (calming) stress systems are tied in to breath.

4.) Eat protein. Add protein to every meal. FYI, “oh but I have eggs at breakfast” doesn’t qualify as getting your protein. Dairy, lean meats, and protein powder are your best bet.

5.) Do you sit at work? That’s OK. It’s the lack of change in posture and loading of the body (your body is always loaded because your limbs and organs weigh something) that matters more than just the sitting itself. So change how you sit, as well as taking brief breaks to stand. A standing desk is not the solution, it’s just part of it if it makes you CHANGE how you move through your work day. Sitting only in one way or standing only is the bad part. Flip your chair around and straddle it, put your feet up, walk to the cooler and back, stand and look out the window while you take a call. People bemoan how they “have to sit.” Well, you can sit different ways! And get up occasionally.  If you drink water, you will pee more and make more bathroom trips.

6.) Sleep. Quality over quantity. Stop stressing about getting 9-10 hours. Start with the hours you get regularly (6 or 7 usually) and optimize those. No points of light from electronics in the bedroom, melatonin to help fall asleep, a good room temperature, and a reasonable bedtime. Be kind to your circadian rhythm. Your body was meant to get tired as it gets dark. Respect that. You can’t get around it anyway.

7.) Throw out your scale. For most people (MOST being the key word here), it’s a focal point of progress that gets completely taken out of context and directs your attention to something that matters very little in the bigger picture. Want to weigh yourself? Do so at your gym, work, drugstore, etc. But not at home. It will distract you from other measures of success that matter more. Things like clothes fitting, feeling good, getting stronger, having more sex, etc.

8.) Find a good personal trainer or coach, or resolve yourself to education on proper fitness with a lot of honesty and experimentation, or accept that it’s not that important to you and at least keep up with maintenance. Some sports, some pushups, some walks, and eating your protein and veggies. Pick your battles. I think physical fitness is important. I also think you have to work at making it important. But I have met plenty of people who do the minimum. You will have to DO something either way.

9.) Shut up with the negativity about your body. NO, I don’t care how you feel. Your feelings are your business. No one telling you, “Oh no dearest, don’t say that about your thighs. They are wonder thighs, not thunder thighs” is gonna change your mind anyway. Shut up about it. Because all it’s doing is putting you in the position to feel sorry for yourself and find excuses. There really is no “nice” way to say this. Faking confidence is one of the best ways to start getting some.

10.) Stop reading blogs, and go take a walk, have sex, or read a book to your kids.

JUST KIDDING, YOU CAN READ MY BLOG!

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Scary trainer face.

 

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Comments

  1. Brilliant article, thanks. But eggs are mostly fat? Been having 3 (scrambled) for brekkie since for ever thinking it was a good mix of fat _and_ protein & helping to pack on lean muscle. Am I doing it wrong? #confused

    • I lost over 100 lbs (1.5 years) eating those fatty eggs for breakfast daily, more yolk than whites, along with veggies, legumes & turkey bacon. I try to hit about 30 grams+ of protein for breaky. All blood work, cholesterol & blood pressure went from sky high to normal in under a year and continues to do so. This worked for me, not disagreeing with the statement of the fat content, but I would never tell someone not to eat whole eggs or whites for protein. I’ll stick to whats working for me.

    • I don’t think you are doing it wrong. Just another example of the confusing and contradicting information people receive in the area of nutrition and fitness. I always enjoy Joy’s articles and insights but I am surprised to hear her say steer clear of eggs. I incorporate them as good fat/protein source several times a week. Happy 4th to all!

  2. P.S. I love the scary trainer face picture. You rock the bald look!

  3. I guess reading comprehension is a skill that needs a bit more work, guys. I said absolutely nothing about “not eating eggs”. Or that eggs were unhealthy for some misguided reason. Neither did I comment on eggs contribution to a diet beyond saying they were not a high source of protein. Please do not take sentences out of context, and put words in my mouth. I said that eggs are not high in protein….cause they aren’t. So if you rely on them as a staple source, you’re getting more fat than anything else.

    • FWIW I didn’t mean to insinuate you said steer clear of eggs, I just didn’t realise they were so fatty. But of course good fat, so I guess I’m okay 🙂

  4. Just check the macros.

  5. I find it interesting that your top 10 tips didn’t include the usual advice to “lift or do bodyweight movements 2-3 x per week”. I am curious as to whether you think specific strength training is necessary for overall good health, or if you think with enough walking that it provides enough loads to maintain muscle mass? I think I read something along these lines on AlignedandWell. Or maybe strength training was included in your suggestion when you wrote “Find a good personal trainer or coach, or resolve yourself to education on proper fitness with a lot of honesty and experimentation, or accept that it’s not that important to you and at least keep up with maintenance. Some sports, some pushups, some walks, and eating your protein and veggies.” I’m sure the advice would vary depending on the individual, but what is maintenance? What’s “enough” to maintain enough muscle mass for good health? What is enough muscle mass for good health?

  6. I think this is among the most significant
    info for me. And i’m glad reading your article.

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  7. Great article Joy, I love the new style of your writing as well, more spaced out and minimalist. I love the first tip. Even when I’m training for endurance events, I try to walk everywhere. It’s so underrated. Keep up the great work.

  8. Great article Joy, I love the new style of your writing as well, more spaced out and minimalist. I love the first tip. Even when I’m training for endurance events, I try to walk everywhere. It’s so underrated. Keep up the great work.

    (For some reason I think this may have double posted, if so feel free to delete this one).

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