The following is a guest article from Slyvon Blanco, owner of Von Blanco Fitness and author of No Nonsense Fat Loss: A Practical Guide to Simplifying Your Fitness for the Real World — a no-fluff fitness book that gives you a blueprint on designing a fitness lifestyle that gets you the results you need in the time you have.
Fitness is simple. It just ain’t easy.
It’s not that we choose to make it hard. It’s just that there’s so much conflicting information out there, we don’t know what to do with all of it.
That, and most of the “advice” we see on the internet and in the media is simply narrow, misleading, and downright deceptive.
They told us carbs were evil. That we had to eat every 2-3 hours in order to stoke our metabolism. That calories didn’t matter. That eating past 8PM was bad for you. And apparently, breakfast was the most important meal of the day, and if you skipped it, you’d get fat.
All these years, we’ve been told by experts, gurus, doctors, dietitians, fitness professionals, and nutritionists to do this and do that.
We have more information than we ever need, yet obesity rates continue to rise.
Part of the problem is there’s too much information drilled into our brains that it’s causing us to feel lost. Confused. Overwhelmed.
Most importantly, the information overload is causing us to worry about all the wrong things.
Not knowing how to differentiate BS from the truth is essentially the underlying cause of most people’s lack of success with their fitness. Time and time again, I’ve come to notice that this is what separates those who get results from those who don’t.
If you can simply develop the minimal skills it takes to understand what truly matters, you can win this game we call fitness.
The (Few) Things That Really Matter
If you want to finally make a change with your fitness, the key is first understanding what’s truly important.
You know, the fundamental principles. The essentials.
The little boring things most people forget about, but actually make the biggest differences.
Because at the end of the day, 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.
You might know this as the 80/20 Rule (also known as Pareto’s Principle).
If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, here are some examples:
- 80% of profits come from 20% of customers
- 80% of sales are made from 20% of the sales staff
- 20% of the things you do bring you 80% of your happiness
- 20% of the people you know make up 80% of your interactions
This principle also applies to fitness.
There are only a few things you you need to do to get the results you want.
The following isn’t an all-inclusive list, but is a small sample of the kinds of things you should actually be worrying about.
1. Know Your Numbers
This is the most important variable when it comes to nutrition. Whatever your goal is, whether you’re trying to shed some fat or pack on some muscle, your energy balance is the main determining factor of body composition.
You must at least know what your baseline numbers are because the last thing you want to do is go about your nutrition blind. Whether you’re tracking calories with an app, doing simple portion control procedures, or doing a little bit of both, being aware of what your calorie intake should be is one of the most crucial things about dieting.
Yes, food quality sure does matter (which we’ll get into next), but how many calories you’re consuming of that quality food matters just as much. This is why “clean eating” isn’t necessarily the solution to fat loss. Eat too much of anything, and you’ll tip off the scale.
Science will always win. There’s no way around it.
2. Eat Mostly High Quality Foods
And by “high quality” we’re simply talking about real foods that are minimally-processed, not necessarily the organic stuff.
Anything that has ever walked, flown, swam, or been picked out of the Earth fits this category.
This doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to eat other stuff like your favorite Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor, cookies, or cake. It just means you have to prioritize eating more nutritious foods than ever before. Hence the word “mostly”.
Remember the 80/20 Rule? Apply that concept to the foods you eat: 80% of the things you put in your mouth should be whole, minimally-processed foods while 20% can be whatever you want.
If you’re feeling ambitious, go for 90/10.
3. Personalize Your Fitness (Both Your Training and Diet)
There’s no such thing as a “best diet” or a “best workout program”.
But there is such a thing as a diet that works best for you, as well as a workout program that you’ll actually enjoy doing.
One of the biggest struggles people have with fitness is adherence, and for obvious reasons: we’re trying to follow rigid rules that we can’t stick to.
When it comes to your diet, you have to re-write the rules and create your very own diet that revolves around your lifestyle and preferences. If you restrict yourself from your favorite foods, you’ll eventually throw in the towel and go back to square one.
As for the your workouts, they should also fit your preferences.
If you enjoy the Powerlifting concept of lifting super- heavy things, get on a Powerlifting program. If you prefer Bodybuilding-style workouts, then do that. If Crossfit intrigues you, then by all means, join a Crossfit gym.
Whether you work with a coach or figure it out by yourself, completely personalizing your program allows you to actually look forward to your meals and workouts.
In fitness, adherence and consistency trumps everything else.
Nothing matters unless you’ll actually take action in the long-term.
Which brings me to the next and last thing on the list…
4. Play the Long Game
As previously stated, consistency is key.
Set training & nutrition goals, build small but sustainable habits that you’ll do for the rest of your life, and then crush your goals.
Until then, don’t try anything new.
Stick to one training program, one “diet”, and don’t overanalyze. The more you spin your wheels, the less you’ll progress.
We only have so much willpower, so use it wisely.
The (Many) Things That Don’t Matter
Eating every 2-3 hours to have 5, 6, or 7 meals a day… eating organic foods instead of non-organic foods… weighing your foods to the ounce… taking all sorts of supplements… giving up sugar, alcohol, fried foods, and pasta…
None of those things matter in the grand scheme of things.
If you were to do any of them, it should be because you choose to. Not because you have to follow some rigid set of rules from Diet X.
These things cause unnecessary stress, can be unhealthy, and are ultimately unsustainable.
More importantly, they’re time-consuming things that won’t make much of a difference.
Take care of the fundamentals first before giving anything else a try.
Here’s what I want you to do now:
- Get a better understanding of the fundamentals of fitness, and ignore all the little details. By focusing on the few things that matter and less on the many things that don’t, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money, and energy.
- Re-evaluate your current fitness lifestyle, and make any necessary changes that fit your wants and needs. Are you doing things that’s putting more stress in your life? Are you attempting to follow a diet or workout program that you dread every day? Find a way to personalize your fitness so you’ll actually look forward to it while getting results at the same time.
About the Author
Slyvon Blanco is an online fitness coach, owner of VonBlancoFitness.com, and author of No Nonsense Fat Loss: A Practical Guide to Simplifying Your Fitness for the Real World.
He has a passion for showing people how to simplify their fitness, and has guided clients from all over the world in transforming their bodies both inside and out. His work has been seen on websites like Bodybuilding.com, STACK, Yahoo Sports, and Fitocracy.
Fitness stuff aside, Slyvon is a digital nomad, foodie, and a self-proclaimed lifehacker (if you want to learn how to fly anywhere in the world FOR FREE, he’ll show you how).