Brian White | You Should Be Doing It
Helping people lose weight, get healthier and live a more vibrant life is something I am very passionate about and the following list comprises of some the best advice I can give to anyone who is trying to achieve those goals in 2015.
1. Early to bed, early to rise. “Early to bed, early to rise will make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Benjamin Franklin’s quote may be more true today than it ever has been. Mornings are more conducive to exercise, stress-free relaxation and will keep you slimmer. Nights are more conducive to melting into a couch watching prime-time programming, drinking alcohol and Internet surfing. If you want to live a long, vibrant life, listen to your body’s natural biorhythms and go to sleep when it is dark and wake with the sun.
2. Nothing compares to interval training. Especially when it comes to burning body fat. Athletes have known this forever, but interval training will work for every fitness level. Short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by a more moderate period will save you time, burn more body fat and increase your cardiovascular health — period. The best place to start is to do 45 seconds of cardio as hard as you can, followed by one minute and 15 seconds of recovery time. Try this for 20 – 25 minutes and it will completely revamp your cardio routine.
3. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Fifteen years of being a personal trainer is a long time and along the way I have seen my share of fad diets and I have even agreed with some of them at certain times for certain people, but the truth of the matter is, the only advice that has stood the test of time and I can get 100 percent (not 99 percent) behind, is Michael Pollan’s advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That, more or less, is the answer to the question I have heard hundreds of times over the years — “What should I eat?” To add a few more details, meat won’t kill you (it’s actually healthy), make sure it is grass-fed, and hormone free. Eat REAL food; whole, fresh foods are always better than processed foods. Drink water and avoid sugar as much as possible.
4. Attack goals and build habits 21 days at a time. It can be overwhelming to undertake a health or fitness goal, especially if you have significant weight to lose or you have been diagnosed with a health issue. When you are overwhelmed, it is too easy to give up at the first sign of difficulty. Without a laser-focused goal you cannot weather the storm. Goals are achieved one day at a time, with persistence and dedication and the best way to build the momentum that will carry you through is to set a 21-day goal.
5. Don’t worry, be happy. Things never happen the way you imagine. When you are worrying, you are essentially saying, “I know things are going to turn out badly.” Can you tell the future? I seriously doubt it, so don’t waste the energy. Don’t talk yourself out of doing things because you are worried you will look like an idiot, or you might fail. Really living life is all about taking calculated risks or getting out of your comfort zone and if you are constantly worrying about the bad stuff that can (but probably won’t) happen, you’ll never really live. Worry robs you of emotional energy, it distorts reality and is really bad for your health. Physically, worry will increase your blood pressure, cause digestive issues, muscle tension and skin blemishes.
6. Stop thinking you aren’t ready. You are. I have always liked the motto “Ready, Aim, Shoot” because personally I have struggled with periods of inaction in various areas of life and business. It helps me realize that the most important thing you need to do to achieve is to take ACTION. Most times it is better to substitute action for knowledge because really there is no better way to learn than to actually do it. You can always correct the course as you go. Don’t wait for the perfect conditions before you act because the conditions will never be just right.
7. Get a Vitamix blender. This one little kitchen appliance has literally changed the way my family and I eat. Never could I have imagined that blending vegetables and fruit could be so incredibly tasty, give me crazy amounts of energy and make me feel superhuman, but it does. And to top it off, I never thought my kids would beg me to make them green smoothies. If you are serious about living a healthy, long life there may not be a more vital tool to have in your kitchen.
8. Get a quality juicer. There is no better way to give your body what it needs than juicing. Your skin will look better, your body will feel better, your mindset will be more positive and you will have endless amounts of energy just by getting one big juice a day. My favorite morning juice is full of kale, cucumber, celery, parsley, chard, ginger, turmeric and garlic.
9. Nothing will ever take the place of resistance training when it comes to sustained weight loss. Fifteen years is a long time to be a trainer and I have seen my share of exercise fads, for sure. But, the underlying truth in the ones that actually work is that it takes resistance training to build lean body mass, burn excess body fat and to be optimally healthy. Yoga, Pilates and cardio exercise are certainly parts of a complete exercise program (and are awesome) but fat loss begins and ends with resistance training. Work your large muscles, increase the intensity over time and switch up the exercises every three to four months, but never go too long without resistance training.
10. Everyone can feel 10 years younger with these two things: a foam roller and a yoga routine. While they are a little different in what they do for you, they complement each other very well. Yoga could be the single greatest thing you can do for your health in this day and age. It will reduce your stress levels, make you more aware of your body and increase your flexibility. A foam roller will help you work out trigger points, knots and areas of increased muscle density throughout your body, although I have found it works much better in the lower body. Specifically, the quads, hip rotators and IT band are where you will experience the best results.
11. Exercise for 30 minutes every single day. Whether it’s resistance training, cardio, yoga, meditation or foam rolling, set aside 30 minutes every day to do something healthy for your body. Your health is your life. Don’t let it go. Setting a goal of 30 minutes of exercise will make it more likely you don’t miss a workout because of time constraints and it will build the momentum needed to make it a lifestyle.
12. Cut out the white stuff. The negative health effects of eating sugar, namely fructose, go way beyond just increasing the size of pants you have to wear. It creates low-level inflammation in the body, raises your blood pressure, fools your metabolism into turning off your appetite control, increases insulin resistance and gives you that beer belly look, too. If you have a “sweet tooth,” I highly recommend you set aside an hour to watch the YouTube video “The Bitter Truth.” It might be just the video you need to cut out the white stuff.
13. Keep it real. It might actually be thousands of times that I’ve been asked what to eat to lose weight and regain health. The answer has become simpler over the years as I have researched exhaustively and experienced the life-changing effects of eating real food with my myself, my family and my clients. Just eat real food. Real food is whole, unprocessed and unrefined, pasture-raised or wild, local, seasonal and organic. I truly believe that industrial food processing has without a doubt had the most detrimental effect on our health than anything else on the planet. I also believe we will never learn how truly bad processed foods are because there is too much money at stake to allow that information to get out. The best rule of thumb should be if it comes in a bag or a box or has a health claim written on it, don’t eat it.
14. You don’t need a product. You need a lifestyle change. One of the scariest things I have learned from the hundreds of clients I have helped over the years is that people are too quick to turn to a product or a pill to fix a (real or perceived) problem with their health. Whether it is sleeping pills, diet pills, alcohol or a Shake Weight (ok, no one has turned to a Shake Weight), people are too quick to take a product rather than take a real look at their lifestyle. Regular exercise, eating real food and finding the right coping mechanisms for stress is hard work, but you’ll add years to your life and life to your years if you put in the extra effort needed to change your lifestyle rather than look to the “quick fix” (I use that term loosely because usually nothing gets fixed, especially long-term).
15. Whatever your past was, it’s gone now. Nothing you do today will change anything that’s happened before, so focus on what’s happening right now. I used to identify with my past a lot, I did some crazy things that people who know me now would never believe (nothing malicious, but stuff I am not proud of). I used to let my past dictate my present and future. But, one of the most freeing things I have learned is that the past can’t be changed, forgotten or erased. It can only be accepted and learned from. We have all made mistakes, had struggles or regrets in our past, but it does not define you, you are not your past and you have the power to shape your future exactly how you want.
Remember, there are like-minded people like yourself who have big goals for 2015 — seek them out, find a group, partner, gym or trainer who can give you the support and plan that you need to make this your year!
—Brian White owns Brian White Fitness (BWF), located in Hillcrest. He runs boot camps in Balboa Park and trains clients at Diverge Gym. Read his blog at youshouldbedoingit.com, or take his seven-day video challenge to get back into healthy habits. Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.