Once again, answering questions on Quora got me inspired to write this post. One extremely common thing that we do as humans is to receive GREAT advice from people who are experienced in a given area or field…..and then do absolutely nothing with that advice. I’m guilty of it and i’m sure most of you are too. Hindsight is 20/20, right?
Here’s one of my favorite examples:
I’ll tell someone who is curious what the “secret” to weight loss is (read: there is no secret). “Consume less calories than your body requires and you will lose weight.” Some seem surprised by this, some take it as something they already know. After all, it’s not just anecdotal—it’s probably one of the most well researched and proven aspects of weight loss.
Despite hearing this multiple times and maybe even from multiple sources, I’ve seen so many people “eat healthy” and wonder why they aren’t losing weight! I have to briefly stop myself from getting frustrated and realize they’re just doing the same thing we all do—we tend to prefer information that matches our existing beliefs (confirmation bias in action).
Further still, it’s damn hard to believe something unless you’ve experienced it for yourself. With that example in mind, let’s get into the meat of things.
Fitness Lessons You’ll Have To Learn Yourself
Weight Loss Requires A Caloric Deficit
This was a very tough one for me personally. If you think back to how a lot of us were raised, though, much of the nutrition education emphasis is on eating the right foods. Don’t get me wrong, eating good nutritious food is incredibly important!
However, no amount of eating the “right” food will make you lose weight if your calories aren’t in check. For me, this meant just eliminating junk food and only eating foods that fell into the so called “clean eating” category:
What’s the issue with this? A few things:
— You still won’t lose weight if you eat too much
— You’ll drive yourself crazy by not allowing for any indulgences
— If you do allow yourself indulgences, it’s increasingly easy to overeat without tracking calories
It’s kind of a vicious cycle, really. If you’re dedicated to losing weight, track your damn calories! Save yourself the headache of trying a million different fad diets and clean eating and just make sure you’re eating the correct quantity of food for your body.
Isolation Movements Won’t Make You Stronger
This realization was absolutely killer for me! For the longest time I would focus on just targeting specific muscle groups that I thought were important to hit. If you’re anything like me, I bet your routine looks something like:
— dumbbell bench press/flyes
— bicep curls
— tricep extensions
— maybe some cable rows every once in a while
— some crunches here and there
Again, I won’t say that isolation movements aren’t useful, because they definitely have their place. However, they won’t do much for developing your overall physique. There is TONS of literature out there that says “focus on the compound movements”, but it’s hard to see why until you decide to do it for yourself and your strength starts skyrocketing. Check this out for more reading on that..
Growing muscle takes a DAMN LONG TIME
You won’t get ripped in 30 days no matter how much a program promises you will. Being “ripped” requires you to actually have some level of muscle mass, and its gonna take a lot longer than a month to put on any meaningful amount of muscle.
If you truly want to build muscle, you’ll have to accept that you’re in it for the long haul. The good news is that making progress from workout to workout becomes that much more meaningful when you realize that you’ll be doing this for al long time.
Which leads me to my last point…..
Fitness Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint
Oh god, I know. This phrase is SO overused. You hear it everywhere. Everyone who’s anything in fitness sounds like a broken record saying it. I used to think it was incredibly cliche, too—until I started to take note of how true it is.
You need to stop trying to lose X pounds by Y date. Stop thinking about adding 20 pounds to your bench press in a week. It’s good to have goals, but getting fixated on the short term will only serve to hurt your progress. Stop crash dieting and lose weight slowly and effectively. This is one that i’m still trying to internalize myself.
Take pride in the fact that you can stick with something for years. Really learn to enjoy the process and your results will start to take off—I assure you.
That’s all I have for now! I hope that just one of you will take the time to internalize a few of these points and start applying them right now, because it will save you a lot of time and headache in the long run.
If there was one thing I could change about my own journey up until this point, it would definitely be listening to people who had faced these challenges before and applying them early on. Now go crush some iron!