“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy
No one needs to hear the statistics concerning the weight of Americans and how this plays a role in our health. It has been beaten into our heads for as long as my challenged memory can remember. We are beating a dead horse at this point and frankly, we cannot afford to spend any more wasted time doing so.
What we need are actionable solutions that are easily implementable, practical, and sustainable. Go ahead and leave the magazine on the counter that promises to give you the body of a lifetime if you just follow this celebrity’s program. She looks nothing like that in real life anyway.
Here is my solution for you if you have struggled to lose weight consistently, you cannot find a diet that “works,” if you are looking for a starting point on your health journey, or you just cannot seem to lose this stubborn weight, despite your best efforts.
My solution is by design simple: measure, implement, manage.
Log everything! Be vigilant; log every bit of food and drink that comes into your system for at least three days, every rep of each workout, and even your sleeping habits. Think of this as a testing period. Do not yet implement any changes.
If you are new to tracking your food, the easiest and most convenient platform I have found is My Fitness Pal. They have a huge glossary of food items at your disposal and have even implemented a scanning system, which allows you to scan any barcode. 90% of the time the food item is in their system and with one click it’s added to you food diary. For those who are not mobile app savvy, they also have a comprehensive desktop system as well.
As far as activity tracking, a wearable device is the gold-standard. However, for running and walking you can just as easily use the Nike Running App. If you are lifting or performing a high-intensity exercise, a pen and paper are your best bet and my personal favorite.
For your sleeping habits, I want you to include not only the total amount of time slept but also your activity for the hour leading to your bedtime. I would also encourage you to track your sleep with an app like Sleep Bot, or any fitness tracker you may have like a FitBit, Polar Watch, etc. These will give you data like how long you actually sleep, deducting your wake time during the night, and also your time to fall asleep.
*(The Sleep Bot app will actually wake you according to your depth of sleep, so you wake up during a lighter sleep period, avoiding waking during your deepest stage of sleep, Rapid Eye Movement, and therefore feeling refreshed and not groggy.)
Most importantly, think of this as a testing period only. Do not yet implement any changes.
We need to establish a baseline and the contributing factors keeping you in your current state. It’s often been said, what gets measured, gets managed. By simply measuring your current stats and habits you will become more conscious of any detrimental patterns and can stop them in their path.
Now you have an accurate baseline to compare against any changes you make. When you begin to implement changes, do so slowly and gradually. Remember to keep the bar low.
Example: I will walk for 5 minutes every day. More than likely you will walk for more than 5 minutes once you get started and you also gain the satisfaction of completing your goal. Success!
First, start aiming for 8 hours of sleep every night, going to bed and waking around the same time every day. Try avoiding all technology and devices within an hour of bedtime.
If you cannot seem to put the phone, TV, or laptop down within an hour of bedtime, you are sending your body mixed signals. The blue light from these devices is telling your eyes that it’s still daytime and therefore, your mind stays awake. In order to block these out, I recommend Flux for your desktop, the default iPhone system or a comparable blue light filter app for Androids, and even glasses for your TV if needed. This allows you to continue to use these devices, but the blue light is filtered.
Next, dive into your diet. More than likely you need to adjust your macro nutrients. I won’t overwhelm you with the details, but it boils down to eating a majority of macros from fat, secondly protein, and lastly carbohydrates (with the right timing). It’s not as simple as that, but it’s essentially as simple as that.
One tip that will give you the most bang for your buck, cut out the sugar: sweet tea, soft drinks, candy, the added sugar to your coffee, conventional milk products, meal bars, excessive amounts of fruit, etc. You will soon have higher energy levels, sustained energy levels throughout the day, find the weight begin to fall, and an overall healthier mindset will follow.
Start simple like I said, trying to avoid only one area of sugar temptation at first. The rest will come in time.
For more info on this, listen to our podcast where we walk you through the details.
Another practical and Too Fit approved diet is the Slow Carb Diet, made popular by not only the mega blogger and author Tim Ferriss, but also due to its wide range of success.
Finally, we can make some changes to your workout routine. This is where most people want to start because we have been conditioned to work harder, do more, burn more calories than we intake, energy out greater than energy in. I want to encourage you to remember this one thing:
…you cannot outwork a poor diet or inadequate sleep hygiene practices.
If you need some new workout ideas check out our 1 x 20 program that will surely do the trick.
The easy part. Once you find out what works for you, stick with it! Continue to measure every so often. I recommend at least one week of every month.
You’ll come to find that you no longer need to track every detail of your food or workout because you gain an understanding of macros, calories, perceived exertion, and the like.
As plateaus come, you now have a game plan at your disposal that allows simple changes to be made so the personal records keep falling.
Share if you learned something here or you know a friend that could use this information.
Comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you need further help in any of these areas.