3 Timeless Fitness Truths That You Should Never Forget
I’ve never had a huge transformation. I never lost 100lbs. I never gained 80lbs of pure muscle. Nothing. I played 5 sports my entire life, stayed active in college, and turned fitness into a career. It was a natural transition, mainly because geeking out on training and nutrition was something I thought was fun and started to realize I could make a living at it.
I have a hard time empathizing with a lot of people I work with and their fitness journey. Actually, I’m at a pretty huge disadvantage. It’s something I have to work every single day to overcome.
The great thing is I’ve been fortunate enough to work in amazing facilities and be surrounded by people who remind me every single day what it’s like to have real struggles in their fitness journey. Because while I recognize that working out most days of the week isn’t normal for most, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard to conceptualize that, because that’s my normal.
And no matter how hard I try, I can’t know your normal.
This is a fundamental fact of being a human and going through the world. Understanding these differences helps us be better friends, family members, and citizens.
But to bring it back to fitness, thanks to my work I’ve had the pleasure of having a lot of conversations with people about their journey. Especially when that journey involves the point after they’ve gotten started.
Fitness is no longer something new and shiny to them. They’re in it. They’re dealing with everything that comes with trying to turn fitness into a part of their life.
One of the most vexing issues here is how do we even define fitness? Once you open things up a bit and start exploring the definition of a word and what it means for each and every individual things start to fall apart pretty quickly. My definition of fitness probably means something far different compared to my mom.
And while I don’t think we should devolve into having a pointless semantic argument, it’s important that we take the time to explore this just a bit.
So the for the sake of this article, we’re going to define fitness as the following:
Being below 25% body fat for women and 20% body fat for men, being able to pick up 2x our bodyweight up off the ground in the form of a deadlift, and being able to walk up 5 flights of stairs without having to stop and catch our breath.
Some of those should feel like they’re a bit exclusive, and that’s the point here. Defining things and setting categories is important. Limits are important in that they give us freedom, ironically enough.
By setting strict limits, this time in the definition of fitness, we know that we have a set of standards we’re shooting for, and it creates the necessary context for us to move forward when we’re getting our learn on.
So, you want to get fit? Cool. Here are 4.5 things you should know before you get started.
- It’s going to hurt sometimes.
Starting off nice and optimistic, right? This is the first point because I think this is the one that is most important to touch on, since it’s something we tend to forget at times. Getting into great shape isn’t always going to be fun. Sometimes it’s actually going to be pretty uncomfortable.
And while I get that a lot of people know people who completely torture themselves with exercise and dieting, over the course of working with thousands of people both online and in person, the big trend that I’ve noticed is that far more people actively shy away from making shit painful vs. torturing themselves with work.
The vast majority of the population doesn’t want a diet that’s going to eliminate some delicious food or involve an exercise that makes them sweat or their muscles burn a bit.
I’m here to tell you that if you’re being sold a program that tells you that our exact definition of fitness is possible without having to do those things, then you’re being sold snake oil. It’s complete and utter bullshit.
The reality is that dieting isn’t always going to be fun. When you’re trying to drop body fat you’re actively starving yourself in order to reduce the amount of tissue that exists on your body. That may sound harsh, but it’s the reality. And the sooner we can understand that reality, the sooner we can understand that this means we can’t always have everything we want when we have some aesthetic goal in mind.
Sure, the world would be amazing if we lived in a hedonistic paradise where we could succumb to spur of the moment pleasures whenever we wanted. But you know what happens when we live in a world like that? Pinocchio knows.
Living moment to moment where you turn yourselves over to sins of the flesh and temptation is an easy way to locked onto Paradise Island forever. And here’s the issue: that’s not where you want to spend eternity.
Sure, it may sound nice. But remember, limits are freeing. And those limits provide us with the discipline and strength to move forward in life. Not only towards our aesthetic goals, but also towards personal goals that transcend the very nature of our current state of being.
It’s not hyperbole when I say that dieting and training is practice for life. By being disciplined, doing shit that is hard and uncomfortable, you’re essentially practicing for life. Lifting becomes a metaphor for life that you can carry with you throughout the rest of your days.
- Boring is good.
Sometimes being a boring motherfucker can take you a hell of a lot further in life than being the new kid on the block who likes lots of shiny new objects. Routines and the basics never go out of style, so it’s important that we find our own.
Training and nutrition at their most fundamental levels are pretty basic. There’s only 5 main movement patterns:
Everything else is a branch off of that tree of training. So by continually working on the basics and trying to do them as perfectly as possible, you’re bound to make improvements over time.
The same can be said for dieting. It’s really easy thanks to the advent of the Internet and a whole swath of experts who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about to get lost in the misinformation and start trying diets that have eating the heart of your enemies as their main tenet.
Which, to be clear, would be a diet I can get behind. So if you find that diet, let me know.
But the reality is, most diets exist on the fundamentals:
Eat more colors
Eat lean protein
Don’t eat too many carbs you buy in a box or a bag
If you’re buying food that fits within those three rules you’re likely buying food that is fresh and requires some preparation, but you know what, that’s a good thing. It means that you’re in control of what you’re putting into your mouth, and likely going to wind up being healthier and look better because of it.
But you know what these rules are not?
They are not new. Nor are they flashy or shiny. They’re pretty boring, actually. And that’s what is so great about them. When it comes to getting fit, boring is better. Boring repeated consistently time and time again for months on end is even better. Boring repeated consistently for years is how you get into the kind of shape that leaves people with their jaw on the floor.
It’s for this reason that people who succeed with fitness also tend to succeed in other areas of their life. This isn’t a rule specific to fitness. It’s applicable to just about anything. My friend Eric Bach said that, “Success lies in the ruthless execution of the basics.” and he’s spot on about that. Be it a business you’re building, a book you’re working on, or raising a family. The basics are what move things forward.
So find your own set of rules that you can hang your hat on. The kind of uncompromising rules that you know you can always depend on, because they keep you moving forward in the right direction, and you’re bound to look better because of it.
- The entire world is conspiring against you.
This goes along with the first point we made here, but I think it’s important for most of us to know that whenever we really start to get serious about making some big fucking changes in our physical development in the name of fitness you’re going to learn a few things about your family and friends.
A lot of people will really start to question how much time you’re spending at the gym. They’ll also start to comment on your food choices. As if now starting to eat vegetables is the most absurd idea in the world.
Because, well, to a lot of people it actually is.
And therein lies something worth exploring for most people. They’re not asking questions, making snide remarks, or disparaging you because they’re scared or jealous. Though they probably are, and that’s part of the reason they might be saying shit to you.
But it isn’t the only reason.
One of the biggest reasons is we live in a society that just isn’t setup to allow for you to chase your fitness goals. It’s becoming more and more accepting of that, sure. But only since marketers have realized that fitness is actually an industry in which people are willing to spend money.
For a very long time we’ve been conditioned to think about nothing but convenience and what that can deliver us. Eating fast food saves us time. Time that we can spend working or whatever.
On top of that, the food we eat is typically engineered to give a very specific reaction in our brain. We’re supposed to eat and see the pleasure centers of our brain light up in a way that they aren’t used to doing when we’re eating.
You see this with things like chips, refined carbs, salty snacks, sweets, and others.
Additionally, we’re bombarded with information on a minute by minute basis. From being on Facebook to walking down the street you’re bound to interact with advertising of some sort. Much of which is going to be for food and drinks that you don’t even know you want right now.
Sure, you can fool yourself into thinking that you’ve got stronger willpower than 3,000 of your friends and you can handle seeing advertising without ever letting it impact you. That’s fine. Think that. The only thing I’d ask of you is to pick a number between 1 and 100.
Weird, right? Why do you want to pick a number between 1 – 100? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you. Just pick it.
Got your number? Good. What is it?
Science tells us that you picked a number slightly higher than you normally would thanks to me dropping the integer 3,000 just a sentence before asking you to play that game.
That’s a perfect example of priming and how it works, and that shit works at a large scale on a daily basis, whether you like it or not. You’re bombarded with advertising that you’re inevitably going to have to fight off in some regard. But it’s going to be mentally exhausting. And if you try to mentally battle the ads and fight it off all the time you’ll find that leads very quickly to the road of failure.
So what do you do instead? You build fucking habits that you can stick to.
Habits are the shit you want. They’re the things you can depend on. They’re cold and calculating and don’t give a fuck that someone wants to sell you something. They don’t even pay attention to that. They have far more important things to worry about. Like doing their habit duties.
And if you put the right habits in place, like having your morning routine, prepping your meals, eating those prepped meals then you’ll find that the entire world may still be conspiring against you, but at least then you’ve got all the requisite tools to tell it to fuck off.