Most of us make this whole “get in shape thing” WAY too complicated.
We are pulled in every direction when it comes to spending our few spare moments and our hard earned cash.
On top of that, there are a million fitness companies that tell us they have a secret formula, thousands of gyms that guarantee success only if their system is followed, and hundreds of supplements that claim instant gratification.
Today, I want debunk the six big things that people THINK they need to get healthy.
I get way too much excitement out of this.
“Sorry, I can’t get in shape because I can’t afford a gym membership!”
I used to be a gym rat and thought it would be impossible to get seriously healthy without a gym. As a result, every time I traveled I would skip my workouts because, “welp, there’s no gym!”
Last year, I traveled like a madman, and didn’t set foot in a gym for months and months at a time. As a result, I had to become increasingly reliant upon the outdoors and my surroundings, and managed to get in the best shape of my life and even pack on some muscle!
Since then, I’ve come to realize that gyms aren’t a necessity.
Even though I might hit up a gym occasionally for heavy squats and deadlifts, I love training anywhere and everywhere: in parks, on playgrounds, in hotel rooms, in front of historic landmarks, while wearing tuxedos, etc.
Gyms are NOT required…there’s a far cheaper option: Mother Nature! She doesn’t charge initiation fees, cancellation fees, monthly fees, and her gym (outdoors) is never crowded.
Yes. I just called Mother Nature cheap.
2) Supplements and pills
It seems that every day, there’s a new miracle drug that will lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, make you sleep better, burn fat, build muscle, and make you finally healthy without any effort, promising to undue years of bad decisions without requiring you to make any personal changes.
Considering the industries that create these miracle drugs continue to grow and grow, it’s easy to see that our society spends its hard-earned money on trying to find a quick-fix for our unhealthy bodies, rather than simply choosing to make healthier decisions.
Like Jerry Seinfeld teaches us, it’s like inventing better and better helmets rather than just avoiding head-cracking activities altogether
Don’t believe any ad that says you NEED a particular supplement or pill to live better or get healthier. If you are eating a proper diet of vegetables, protein, fruits, and nuts, you’ll be getting all of the nutrients you need to live a great life.
[note: the only supplements I could ever see you possibly wanting to us are a protein supplement if you cannot get enough from natural sources. Also perhaps a fish oil supplement if you are concerned with your omega-3 balance. However, neither are necessary if you put the focus on eating right.]
3) “Health food”
Meal plans like Healthy Choice, Nutrisystems, and any other “eat only our food and you’ll lose weight” plans make me want to hulk out and punch something.
Rather than teach you how to fend for yourself, they help you build up a dependence on THEIR proprietary food system. They might even work for a month or two, helping you lose some weight (mostly due to severe calorie restriction), but teach you absolutely nothing about how to actually eat properly for life. Eventually, you get to the point where you need to go on vacation, you can’t afford the meal plans anymore, you get sick, move, or get stuck late at work for a week, and you COMPLETELY fall off the wagon.
You do NOT need these meals, their preservatives, or chemicals.
You can learn how to actually eat better instead! I’m not saying you need to shift your entire paradigm of food consumption overnight (small changes for the win!), but if you can educate yourself on actually eating properly, then you’ll never be in a situation where you don’t know what to eat.
Knowledge is power, sucka.
4) Fancy Equipment
The treadmill desk!
The Chuck Norris total gym! (sorry Mr. Norris, I still love you).
And don’t even get me started on things like Reebok’s tone-up shoes, ab machines, and whatnot. All of these pieces of equipment carry hefty price tags and claim to get you in the best shape of your life.
Within a month they’ll be stuck in your garage/basement/attic and never used again.
Believe it or not, you already HAVE the best piece of equipment you need to get in shape. It doesn’t cost a dime. And it’s with you wherever you go.
As previously stated, I’ve fallen in love with body weight training. If you don’t think you can get in redonkulous shape (that’s “really really good” to the layperson) without picking up a weight or buying equipment, just ask a gymnast. Their training almost comes exclusively through manipulating their body in increasingly difficult movements.
You can get started with two great bodyweight routines here:
Above ALLLLLLLL other excuses I receive through Nerd Fitness, this one is the most prominent:
“I just don’t have time to work out or make healthy meals.”
Unfortunately, the folks who tell me they don’t have time to work out don’t factor in how much time they spend watching TV, playing videogames, or screwing around on the internet watching Ron Swanson dance (I apologize for the next 5 minutes of your life you’re about to lose – I’ll make it up to you).
In 99% of cases, somebody telling me that they don’t have enough time is either lazy, uninformed, or inefficient with the time they DO have available. I love this perspective: Instead of saying “I don’t have time,” say “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.
I can’t fix lazy, but I can certainly help with the other two.
Hopefully you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness long enough to realize that what you eat will be at least 80% of your success or failure – no joke. For that reason, you’re going to eat every day anyways; if you just work on making healthier choices, you’re 80% of the way there. For example, here’s a super easy meal that will take you probably around 30 minutes to prepare. Make enough of it, put it in tupperware, and you’ll have meals for days!
Need more options? Check out the Easy Caveman Cookbook from my buddy Vic Magary.
Now, let’s get over to that other 20% – exercise.
Maybe you don’t have time to go find a park. Maybe those body weight routines above take up too much time.
- Have you tried spreading your workout through the day, angry birds style?
- How about getting strong in 20 minutes?
- How about Tabata?
- Interval Training?
STILL don’t have enough time because you work too much? Let’s say you spend all of your time at work, and you’re supposed to have a meeting with somebody or a few people; why not have your meeting while walking around the park near your office? It’ll guarantee the meeting stays short (say, 20-30 minutes), and everybody involved gets some exercise, and no extra time required.
None of the routines above cost money or require a lot of time, which means you have ZERO excuses when it comes to exercise.
However, I get the “I can’t afford to eat healthy” from folks far too often, so let’s address it.
These are folks that get snacks from vending machines, load up on calorie dense and nutrition-void snacks at grocery stores, and dump tons of cash into liquid calories every day (sodas, Starbucks runs, and more).
But, for the sake of argument, let’s say you ARE on a super tight budget; maybe you’re supporting a family, you’re a poor college kid, or just out of college and can’t find a good job. That doesn’t give you an excuse to eat poorly!
It’s possible to eat super healthy, and it’s possible to do it on a tight budget – you just need to make it a priority! Check out “how to eat healthy without breaking the bank“, a 2500+ word epic post covering this exact subject.
What you DO need
Okay, so if you don’t NEED anything above, then what DO you need to finally get healthy?
A reason - Unless you have a legitimate reason for getting in shape, you’re going to fail at the first sign of adversity. Whether it’s for your wife, your kids, to impress somebody, or to be able to tie your own shoes, just have an actual reason for wanting to live that better life!
Want to know the best reason that will carry you forward the most? YOURSELF – so you can look in the mirror at the end of the day and say, “I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish.”
A plan - Once you figure out WHY you want to get healthy, it’s time to put a bit of effort behind HOW you’re going to get healthy – are you going to strength train and eat Paleo? Are you going to run every day? Are you going to take up martial arts or parkour? Are you going to join an ultimate Frisbee team? I prefer the “Level Up in the Game of Life” approach of goal setting – pick lofty goals, identify the steps between where you are now and where you want to be, and then create a reward system that tracks your progress and encourages growth.
Support - Do you have a group of friends to lean on in real life who are all struggling with the same thing? Are you all working together to live better? Or maybe you need an online support group of folks at the same level as you.
Patience and consistency - Rome wasn’t built in a day; Optimus Prime didn’t transform instantly – it was one move at a time. It took you years and year to get to where you are now; don’t expect your outward appearance to catch up to the “new” you until you’ve stuck with it for months. Take things one day at a time, one meal at a time, one workout at a time. And stick with it.
So now I ask ya…what’s missing?
What are some other things you used to think you needed until you discovered they weren’t necessary?