By: Jeff King M.A., C.S.C.S
I am reading Dan John’s book “Never Let Go.” This is a great read. John shares his philosophies on lifting as well as life. Many things resonated with me thus far but one in particular inspired me to write this article. John discusses that when things get difficult, such as training or swinging a golf club, just simplify. Too often people panic and resort to drastic measures to improve on their goals. It got me to thinking that I see this all the time as a trainer.
I see it with people I work with who have good intentions to improve their health and fitness. We all know the story: “I want to lose 10 lbs”, I want washboard abs for the summer”, and “I want to look good naked for my upcoming honeymoon.” I can go on and on. Those are nice goals but what normally happens? Client A has been working out for two weeks and has not lost a pound. Client B is still waiting for the first signs of visible abdominals and Client C is going to sleep in sweats and a hoodie. All three have yet to see progress and decide to drastically change their approach. Client A saw Mariah Carey lose 10lbs on the “Pizza diet’; therefore she is on this and doing nothing else. Client B is doing crossfit (nothing against crossfit, well kind of but that is another article) two times a day, seven days a week. Let’s not leave client C out of the mix. All she did was purchase some “magic” cream which is supposed to suck all the fat away. And I, the trainer am supposed to believe all three clients did everything perfect and still have no results.
What’s lost in the shuffle is Client A works out but still eats the same processed crap that he did before he started his program. Client B uses coffee as a form of hydration, while Client C is super stressed and sleeps three hours a night because she is staying up watching Season 2 and 3 of “Desperate Housewives”. In all three cases, the clients did some things right but omitted others. All however, expected to reach the goals they set. Having this expectation is analogous to baking a red velvet cake which requires 10 ingredients but using only 7, and expecting the cake to taste exactly the same. The cake will never taste the same no matter how hard you try and you will never reach your fitness goals without doing the simple and fundamental things that are the keys to success. Simply put: people need to focus on doing the simple things well and consistently.
Simplicity and consistency can go a long way in reaching any type of goal. A prime example is sports. John Wooden, among others, would preach to his team in that if they executed the fundamentals of basketball (defense, rebounding, passing), the team would be successful. The same is true with health and fitness. It is amazing to find out that many people in our country do not do the simple things regarding health and fitness: eating quality, non-processed foods, lifting weights, doing some form of cardio, staying well hydrated and getting 6-8 hours of quality sleep. All of these things are rather simple in nature yet many struggle to do just one of these things consistently, let alone all of them. It is often said “the simplest things are often the hardest to do.” Why is this the case? Well, it takes a certain level of commitment to live a healthy lifestyle and too many people are not willing to accept this task. They blame this lack of commitment on work, school, kids, financial status, health and family. Well sorry to burst your bubble folks but this is LIFE and everyone deals with IT. Another contributing factor is the lifestyle we live. In the age of electronics, technology has made our lives complex. Smart phones, emails, twitter, Facebook and Google chat all divert our attention from the simple aspects of health and fitness and lead us to fad workouts and diets which claim to give us instantaneous results. Truth be told, the “pizza” diet may work for a few weeks but will quickly sizzle out.
Over the years my message to my clients regarding their fitness goals has gotten shorter and shorter. It goes like this: eat right, move more, sleep and drink more water. It is hard to believe people, but following this advice actually does work. Our lives are already chaotic enough so make this easy on yourself by “dumbing’ down the playbook. So next time someone approaches you about how they can attain their fitness goals, just provide them with a little K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple Stupid. Who knows they might lose those 10lbs, get that washboard stomach and possibly gain the confidence they need to be naked on their honeymoon.