When in doubt, simplify.

By: Coach Sean

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We humans have an uncanny ability to over-analyze things. For the most part it is done with good intentions as we look for the one right answer to our question. Not satisfied with the simple answers, we convince ourselves that there must be more to a problem that so many people we know struggle with.  It also stems from the fact that, with the help of Google, we can all become pseudo-experts in whatever field we choose. The quickest way to get confused is to start out with a basic understanding of a topic and then read what a handful of internet experts have to say. After an hour or two, you will have read a number of contradictory claims and be worse off then when you started. But of course that won't stop you sharing your new found 'expertise' with friends and family! 

Most of the time it pays to take a step back and try to simplify topics. What are the basics that matter and really work? I like the 80/20 rule here. The idea that 80% of the benefit will be provided by 20% of the work. Get the big, 'simple' stuff right and you will be well on your way to success. The nitty gritty details are a lot more work and only make up only a small portion of the benefit. 

So when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, what are the simple things that everyone should keep in mind? I have listed below what I believe are the most important points in the simplest terms possible.

 

-SLEEP- 

  • as close to 8 hours a night as possible, in a cool, completely dark room.

-FOOD & DRINK- 

  • eat only real/whole foods (things that rot)

  • build meals around a protein source

  • drinks should contain few if any calories (think water, tea, coffee)

  • eat when you are hungry, not out of habit

-MOVE-   

  • get outdoors and walk in the sunlight every day...the earlier, the better

  • lift heavy things, sprint, jump and/or do bodyweight exercises 3-4 times per week

See...super simple. 

It would be very hard to be unhealthy or carry around extra body fat if you actually followed that simple advice. But just because it's simple, doesn't mean it's easy. It can be hard work to create new healthy habits and I believe a big part of the reason is that during our formative years we didn't have to. Most of us built up unhealthy habits when we were in high school and university until they felt natural. Things like drinking way too much alcohol, eating burgers, fries and pizza whenever we wanted, and sitting on the couch watching TV for hours on end. It was no big deal back then. A quick nap and trip to the gym on the weekend and you could do it all over again the next week without any obvious consequences. But we were wrong. There were consequences. These behaviours became habits and have stuck with us into adulthood. Now we get a bit more sleep, eat and drink a little less crap and workout a few times a week and try to convince ourselves that we are pillars of health. But these habits that we have developed have very real consequences as we age. The lack of sleep catches up to us. The extra pounds slowly creep on and we don't move as well as we used to. When you think about it, it seems like common sense. It's time to grow up and stop acting like a teenager. 

Remember what I said at the beginning, don't over complicate this. It will get hard and you will have setbacks, but that doesn't mean that you need to find a new or better way. These simple ideas are the way. You just need to step back and put in the time and effort to slowly form these healthy habits. Don't expect perfection, but also don't convince yourself that you deserve that pizza or piece of cake because you have worked hard. Realize that the urge to have it is just one of your bad habits that you are trying to break. You are an adult now and you deserve to live a long, healthy and active life. 

Treat your body like you should and make sure that you get what you deserve.