We've lost count of how many times friends have asked us for advice on starting a new fitness regime or losing weight around their belly and butt. The reality is, each of those people will end up taking their own path, some will stick with it, others will fall by the wayside. There is no one size fits all approach of course but over the years we've gradually distilled our response down to its most elemental basics; so if we only have two minutes to help someone, this is what we offer them:
1. Movement Matters - First and foremost, think in terms of building movement into your daily life, not just 3 x 60min sessions in the gym each week. Leap on any opportunity to walk more, carry bags, take the stairs, sit less, lift boxes, get outside and generally put your body to good use in daily life. That kind of low level activity throughout the day is what makes the difference to general health in the long-term because it really does add up, even without a FitBit.
2. Eat Real Food - Base your diet on salads, vegetables, tubers, meat and fish. If you can't eat something raw, have it lightly steamed, baked or grilled. Ensure a moderate intake of healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, nuts and seeds; this is what keeps you going, not carbs. Go easy on the fruit, one or two portions a day is enough. Cut down on bread and pasta; if you are looking to lose weight then add white rice and potatoes to that list. If you digest dairy, stick to small portions of full fat yoghurt and cheese. Learn to spot the many forms of sugar in processed foods and avoid them completely. Listen to your body but don't be afraid of going more than four hours without food either, our ancestors certainly weren't. Above all, find ways to enjoy your food and if life gets in the way of your diet, just acknowledge it and move on. There's always a tomorrow.
3. Lift + Sprint + Res(e)t In its most basic form, a training regime needs to involve three things. Firstly, load the muscles several times per week by lifting heavy objects such as sandbags and weights or leveraging gravity and your own bodyweight. This builds the strong, lean muscle needed to be physically useful in life. Secondly, your cardiovascular system benefits from being put through its paces so aim for several 20-30 minute high-intensity sessions that get your heart beat racing each week. Run, swim, skip, box, dance or just play with your dog; mix, it up, just do whatever turns your sweat valves on. Thirdly, the more you ask of your body and mind, the more you need to reset them with mobility work and some form of mental relaxation or meditation. Learn to embrace the downtime!