We’ve all been there. You look in the mirror and you’re not happy with what you see. The swelling belly, the sunken chest, poor posture. You don’t look like you used to and you sure as hell don’t feel the way you used to. For many at this moment, a spark of anger and motivation rises to the top. You’re ready to make a change! You want results and you want it now. Congratulations! You have taken the first and important step to decide to change for the better. But also at this moment, confusion and impatience about how to accomplish these goals are the Waterloo of millions of men every year. It’s great to be motivated, but motivation while important is never enough. You have to do it right if you’re gonna get it done!
My favorite book series has always been The Lord of the Rings. Early in the Fellowship of the Ring Frodo and his companions are trying to decide how to travel without being seen by the mysterious Black Riders who are later revealed as the evil Ring Wraiths. They argue over the best and fastest way to safety when young Pippin, usually the most reckless of the group makes a simple yet powerful observation: “Short Cuts make Long delays”. Although a book of fiction, Pippin’s statement is often very true. I first read that in the 6th grade and it has stayed with me ever since. When I am impatient those words will echo in my head and remind me to think things through instead of acting rashly. Which to be honest is hard for me. I hate waiting! And when something is hanging over my head or dangling just out of reach I am very impatient. It takes work to chill out and think things through.
How does this relate to your health? For many of us time is short. And when the demands of life seem to limit our ability to take care of our health & fitness, people often start looking for shortcuts. We live after all in a world of instant gratification. Everyone wants everything right now and the fitness industry in particular has been built on the premise of giving you a superhero physique in record time. Advertisements with incredible before and after pictures. Promises of massive results in just a few weeks while only taking up a few minutes a day. There are some truth to some of these claims, and there is nothing wrong with some of the premises being put forth. BUT, you have to realize the differences between reality (not reality TV) and advertising. So what’s the difference?
- It takes more than a few minutes a day to lose a lot of weight. Short, intense, cardiovascular and conditioning exercises especially when organized in a circuit format are extremely productive and are one of the primary tools used in any good program. But if you need to drop a substantial amount of fat, it’s going to require a little more than just a few minutes a day of your time. Short workouts are great and I use them with many of my clients, but they are part of the recipe, not the whole pie.
- You may lose weight on a calorie restricted diet, especially one in which the food all comes to your front door packaged and ready to eat. But without truly learning HOW to eat (which requires more understanding than just counting calories or points) you will eventually fall off the program, go back to normal foods without a plan and regain the weight. As I have said in previous blog posts, statistically some 95% of all dieters regain the weight plus an additional 3 pounds on top of where they started. In the long run (and that’s the only run that matters) trying to lose weight by denying yourself doesn’t work. Of course if eating what’s correct for your body type and situation is to cut calories because you are hugely overeating then eating less is appropriate for you at that time, but even then appropriate caloric management not caloric restriction is the long term solution.
- You got to have your mind right. Setting clear goals, understanding how your brain works under stress and how to avoid self-sabotage are crucial for success. And knowing about it is not the same as understanding how to do it. Without a complete understanding and a plan for success chances are you’ll sabotage your own efforts and be right back where you started. Remember the 95% failure rate? It’s not all from incorrect nutrition and exercise. To be successful the mind is key.
To be successful once and for all. To be on the last diet you will ever be on, you must understand how the body and the brain works and how to use these powerful tools to achieve the physique and life you deserve. So don’t take the short cut through the forest. Don’t take the easy way out. Because it always backfires. “Short cuts lead to long Delays.” Commit to learning and doing it right and the reward will last a lifetime!