“Think simple” as my old master used to say – meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles.”
Ever heard anyone say this…?
“Man, I wish life was more complex.”
It’s fair to say that most of us would like a simpler life. Less stress, simple health, simple nutrition, less work, less clutter, simple finances, just plain old simple everything. (Insert easy button right here).
The funny thing is we muck it up for ourselves. Yeah, that’s right. It’s our own damn fault everything is so crazy, chaotic, difficult, stressful, and complicated. We tend to think to much, say YES to often, collect a bunch of s@#&, and buy way to many things.
We even over complicate our own health and nutrition.
What diet is best?
How many carbs should I eat?
How many calories?
How long do I run?
How many sets do I do?
What exercises should I perform?
How much sleep is best?
Almonds are good for me…. oh no wait, now there not…. ok, they’re good for the heart again. Oh crap, now eggs are bad….
Holy crap on a cracker, I now have a headache.
Lets take a step back for a second. Say it with me…. serenity now, serenity now, and breath. Whewwww, much better.
This post is dedicated to simplifying our life a little. After reading I highly recommend downloading my friend Matt Madeiro’s FREE ebook Simpler over at threenewleaves.com. He goes in depth about some of the concepts featured here. More importantly, he’s a heck of a dude.
Phase 1: Ptos revo gnikniht gnihtyreve
If you are trying to figure out what that says, STOP!
Stop over thinking everything. Shut the brain off for a little bit. With so much information out there now-a-days it can be tough to tune out.
So much information coming in can be completely overwhelming. The next thing you know it feels like your heart may explode and you’re sweating like a cat trying to bury a turd on a marble floor.
Did I go to far there? I hope so. I want to hammer home the point.
Thinking so much only gets in the way of taking action. Analysis by paralysis is the famous quote. We think to much that we end up freezing like a deer in headlights.
Do any of these sound like you?
I’m a perfectionist: I for one am definitely guilty of this. I try so hard to do everything so precisely and without error that I sometimes never end up finishing anything. I know a TON of people that start a “diet” on monday, fall off the wagon by wednesday, give-up the rest of the week and just tell themselves they will start all over again on monday.
If you F it up so what! Just get back on the wagon and start again… right away. And when I say right away I say by your next meal.
It took me a year to get this blog going. I kept giving myself excuses like the writing wasn’t good enough, original, the site design wasn’t right. I never got anything done. It wasn’t until my friend Joel Runyon told me to, “just hit publish for crying out loud and than go from there” did things start falling into place and I started to grow as a writer.
You’ve got to just TRY. It will never feel like the right time, place, good enough. Just try, get real world feedback, learn from mistakes, and progress from there.
Ask the right questions: Instead of concentrating on the cause of problems, fixate your attention of the solution of those problems. Instead concentrating on why you are not loosing weight, focus on the fact that your waist is shrinking. Or how you just stayed 100% Paleo for an entire week, or eliminated drinking your calories the last few days. Ask yourself how you can keep that up.
Get distracted: Go play! Be active, try a new sport, activity like painting or take sushi cooking classes. Go do something else that requires a high level of attention. Just get your mind off of things. You’ll not only be learning new skills but you could possibly be burning some calories as well.
So many different diets out there. So many ways to calculate how many calories you need. So many “this food is bad for you, that food is bad for you.” It’s frick’n hard to digest it all (get it).
Step #1: Eat real food
Food should be simple. There is no reason to complicate this. Just eat REAL food.
Meats, fish, veggies, some nuts, berries, and never drink your calories. If it has more than one ingredient chances are it’s not real food. If you still have some questions about what falls under the REAL food category then check out this food list and quick start guide. Here is a sample days meal plan from Robb Wolf that is extremely helpful as well.
Stick to water, black coffee, and tea to drink. Eliminate everything else.
Quality over quantity is our focus. There is no need to count calories if you are consuming the right types of foods. Those listed above will keep you from overeating, speed up your metabolism, and provide you with sufficient energy to get fit in at home or in the gym.
Nobody forces us to eat junk. It is a conscious decision that we make. Every time we drink a soda, eat a pizookie, or go out for pizza and beer we know exactly what we are doing. If you want to simplify nutrition and get healthier and fitter right now than eat real food.
Step #2: Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re not
I’m a big fan of eating breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day. But if you are not hungry in the morning then don’t eat. Contrary to popular belief but skipping a meal will not kill you. Skipping a bunch may, but 1, not so much. Fasting can actually be an extremely valuable tool for speeding up fat loss and even promoting muscle growth. I recently started intermittent fasting once a week as part of an experiment. I will have a post ready sometime soon detailing this.
The key is to have healthy foods ready for when you are hungry. Learn to cook in batches. Take sunday prepare your meals through wednesday. Then take wednesday to prepare your meals for the rest of the week. If you are in a pinch have small snacks ready to go. If your mind was somewhat of a cluster-fudge all week long and you completely forgot to cook or prepare snacks you can almost always snag an apple, almonds, or beef jerky form a convenience store. Don’t use this as an excuse to eat like poo.
Numerous studies have shown that it takes 20-30 minutes for signals to let your brain know that you are full. Look, wether that is true or not I’m not sure but I do know that it doesn’t hurt to slow down and eat slower. By the way, one thing that will make you full is veggies… that’s a hint. Fill your plate mostly with those and you’ll do just fine.
Step #3: Eliminate rules
Get rid of the, I can’t eat after 7pm or I have to eat 5-6 times a day, I can only consume 30 grams of carbs. To many rules and your head will start spinning. See steps #1 and #2. Eat REAL food, eat when you are hungry and stop when you are not.
Step #4: Remove temptation
Get rid of the junk food in your house. When it’s time to go grocery shopping again, don’t buy it. Buy REAL food. Easy. Next.
Figuring out how to exercise can be confusing as all hell as well. I’m assuming you have read the quick start guide to working out and the definitive guide to rest, sets, reps, and tempo. But I want to simplify it even further.
How many want to lose fat and build muscle? A show of hands please…. yup, pretty much everyone. Guess what, you totally can.
Step #1: Run a little, lift a little, have fun a little.
Lift your own body weight, lift weights, lift tree trunks, just lift something. The lean muscle that you’re building will help to speed up your metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day.
Run! It’s the simplist form of exercise there is. But don’t make it the only thing you do. Mix in some longer runs with some shorter ones to really benefit.
Lifting weights protects our bones, prevents disease, improves mood and energy, and increases develops better body mechanics. Don’t worry girls, you won’t get bulky.
I don’t want to say you should never run but if you do run fast. Run like the flash and do the right kind of cardio. Every so often go on a hike or long walk with a loved one or man’s best friend. Those will do you much better in the long run.
Step #2: Focus on the right lifts
Curls for the girls and calf raises can wait. In order to burn the most calories, build muscle, and torch body fat quickly we want to focus on the major lifts. Squats, dead-lifts, Presses/push-ups, and pull-ups. Vic Magary has an easy to follow three day a week training plan that anyone can follow.
All of those others lifts are great but we want the most bang for our buck. Take out all the complex exercises and practice the basics. If weights make you nervous then stick with the body weight stuff while you practice technique.
Focus on form, make it hard, and try and improve each week. Keep your rest short enough between sets so that you can catch your breath and move on. Make it shorter (30-45 minutes tops) and intense. When you are done you should feel like you worked out but also feel good.
Step #3: Know what you can and can’t control
Sometimes things come up, you get super busy, there’s an emergency, and trying to juggle family life, kids, and work can be pretty tough. Not to mention finding time to fit in your workouts. If you are prioritizing your workouts and making them an appointment with yourself you should be able to get in at least three solid training sessions a week.
However, I do understand that sometimes even this may feel difficult. But I have a solution. You may not always be able to control when you workout but you can always control what goes in your mouth. SEE SIMPLIFY FOOD ABOVE. There is no excuse for eating crap. Period.
Simplify life. The round up
I just realized this is a post about simplicity and it very well might be the longest post I have written to date. Funny how things work out like that.
Decide what you really want for yourself in this life. Is being healthy and fit important to you? Is spending more time with your family, traveling, doing work you love?
What ever it may be build your life around the lifestyle that you want. If you want more freedom to hang with the family and take trips then maybe it’s time to find a career that allows for more freedom even if there is a cut in pay.
If being healthy, fit, and eating right is important. Then design your life so that those concepts are emphasized.
Take a look at your current routine. Is it one that is in line with your goals, values, life’s dreams? If not, than do what it takes to get to that point and never give up until you get there.
Ask yourself what you REALLY need. Is that car something you need, a new flat screen, a diamond ring?
I’d argue that your health, family, friends, and doing things that make you come alive trump those any day of the week!
It’s simple pleasures like driving down an empty highway, with windows down, a loved one, and a great tune that will forever stand out.
Collect experiences, not material things. And tell a great story while you’re doing so. What do you want your life to say?
Turn of the cell every once in a while, quit checking email all the time, stop saying yes to everything and everyone, keep the positive relationships (the ones that both you contribute to and another contributes to), do work that you love and find meaning in, follow Adams advice here and keep yourself out of debt, batch tasks that you don’t necessarily love doing or are related to one another, most importantly always be you.
Any tips to simplify life? Any that you have found to have worked. Please share with the readers in the comments. Were all in this together.