I recently had a woman come into Fitness Town North Vancouver looking for advice to help her husband lose weight. He was, in her estimation, 70 lbs overweight and approaching middle age. She was concerned about his health and was looking to help him make some changes. Her first question was, “would it help if we changed the milk in his morning shake from regular to almond?”
This points to a type of thinking that we see a lot of in the fitness industry, in which people take a very specific tip out of context and use it before having the fundamentals in place. It’s a little like teaching a child how to throw a baseball but starting with teaching the curve ball. The child might make some progress, but they’ll struggle because the fundamentals are not yet in place.
In the case of the woman mentioned above, she was basically trying to get her husband to start with the curve ball. My colleague and I asked her some more questions about her husband’s lifestyle and discovered that he drank around 6 cans of pop a day, didn’t exercise at all and worked consistently long hours. Fitness-wise, he didn’t have any of the fundamentals in place. So even though switching from using regular milk to almond milk in his morning shake might help a little, there were some far more important elementary steps that needed to be addressed first.
This leads me to a very helpful question that you can try asking yourself right now:
Is the current step I’m working on going to yield maximum benefit with minimal effort?
To be clear, the words “minimal effort” do not mean minimal exertion during a workout. What I’m talking about is using your time and energy wisely. In the example above, the effort required to switch from using regular milk to almond milk could instead be used to switch from cans of pop to bottles of water. One simple step and a much better result – 800 calories per day better!
Applying the same thinking to exercise for the gentleman above, the one step leading to maximum benefit might be getting in the habit of moving regularly. This might mean buying an exercise bike and riding it while watching the nightly news, or it might mean walking for 20 minutes 3 times per week. For this man, one habit like this would yield tremendous benefits. Add the water-instead-of-pop thing, and he’s off to the races (figuratively speaking, of course).
Focusing on one (wisely chosen) step at a time and solidifying each step as you go is a surprisingly effective approach to change. It makes the process simple and, dare I say, easy.
So try asking yourself this question:
What is the one step I could start practicing now that would yield maximum benefit to my health and fitness?
Whether you are a seasoned gym-goer or a total beginner, this question will help focus your mind and your efforts in the right direction. It will help weed through the overabundance of information and clear out the nonsense.
For me, at the moment, the answer to this question is to cut down on processed sugars. For you, it might be to make an appointment with a personal trainer, get 8 hours of sleep per night, or even dust off that treadmill of yours and start your day with a 10-minute walk. Whatever it is, trust in your own answers and move forward!
Have fun and train smart.
Manager, Fitness Town North Vancouver