"I WANT to get in shape, so what do I do?" They ask me.
"Of course you do...Everyone wants a million dollars."
When I tell this to clients, they always look puzzled. When I ask people what they think they would have to do to make a million dollars, they'll say "work hard, have a plan, start a business, quit my job, etc. etc."
For some reason, we can all grasp the idea of making money, and the amount of work that goes into making that money. We can grasp the idea of taxes, savings, investing, unforeseen expenses, the ups and downs... and most importantly, THE TIME. But exercise is different. We all want to believe (even me at one point) that exercise is can be a "get rich quick" scheme.
But show of hands here... how many of you have reached your goal? And of those people, how many of you reached your goal faster than you thought you would? Nobody? OK maybe that one lucky guy/girl with the "blessed genetics."
So what is the hangup? Why so many failed attempts? Why do you get motivated 4 times per year only to see it fizzle into a bowl of ice cream a month later?
Because you probably don't know what "I need to get in shape" means...
Most people will say "to look better" "to lose weight" "to feel better." But what is the common thread between all of those? What is the underlying variable that most people seem to overlook? WHAT IS THE MAGIC TRICK?!?! It's not that getting in shape doesn't mean those things, but rather your process to get there has failed because your attention wasn't focused in the proper place. So here’s how to get “in shape”:
Write down 3 things that you think "in shape" people can do that you can't do. Not how their body looks, but what can they DO. Take the time to dissect it's meaning TO YOU. What exactly do YOU want. Set your expectations of "in shape."
Write down the reasons WHY they can do it, and you can't. Can they do more pushups/pull-ups? Probably because they're stronger... or they weigh less. Can they go up stairs without losing their breath? Probably because they're stronger, or they weigh less. Can they go about their day without pain? Probably because they're stronger, or weigh less. Do they have more energy? Probably because they're stronger, or weigh less...
Do you see the pattern here?
OK, I need to get stronger, or weigh less... maybe both. Now what?
Learn the foundations of Strength Training. Realize that all major adaptations rely on the foundation of strength. When you get stronger, you build muscle, when you build muscle, you increase your metabolism, when you increase your metabolism, you Partition (fancy word use) energy more efficiently. Which means the food you eat all has a "home" within your body. Carbs go where they need to go, fats go where they need to go, proteins go where they need to go, and very little is left out on the mean streets that is your cardiovascular system.
Essentially, you are never dieting, ever. Your heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood to those muscles, you drop the bodyfat you don't need, and you minimize the imbalances causing most pain associated with inactivity and sitting...win-win-win.
But there's a catch.
This takes TIME. You are building a business within your body. You may be in a lot of debt at first, make some poor decisions, lose some friends... but that's what it takes to build a sustainable business that you can profit from for the rest of your life. And trust me, when you get there, the effort it takes to MAINTAIN a business is much less than it is to GROW a business.
So how strong do I need to get?
It doesn't matter, just stronger than you are now, it is all relative to your current situation. Sometimes strength is limited because your movement quality is limited. If you can't move well, address that first. When you can do something more or longer, you are getting stronger.
How do I know when i'm strong enough?