f I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked to tell someone the key to getting fit I’d be living on some island being fed grapes (organic of course) by any number of very attentive and exceptionally formed females. This however is not my reality. Therefore, I will do my best to answer the question for you.
Given the question, “what is the key to getting fit,” there are a few things we must take into consideration.
– Regardless of science, everyone defines physical fitness differently based on their own preferences.
– There are many ways to achieve any component of physical fitness I am just discussing a couple.
– You should know what the 5 primary components of physical fitness are as determined by science.
– All “keys” to physical fitness require ongoing effort on the part of the person getting in shape.
Once we have determined these things we can get on with discussing just a few ways I know you can improve your fitness level in a hurry. To be exact, I’m going to discuss four (4) bits of advice I would give just about anyone wanting to get fit in the shortest possible time.
So without further delay here goes!
1. Sprint often – whether you are running, riding a bike, jump roping or scaling a very tall tree, do it with maximal intensity. Of course this cuts down on the time you put into the activity, but the overall physiology of the activity will benefit you more as well. Having said this, I should probably explain that last statement. If you are wanting to run a marathon or swim to Tahiti, my previous statement is an outright lie. However if you desire to be strong, powerful, energetic, lean and muscular then my statement is right on the money (give me my nickel – another grape please). People who sprint as a fundamental part of their training are muscular, lean and powerful. If you don’t believe me, just type “track sprinter” into Google images and see what kinds of physiques you find. On the other hand, people who do long distance, lower intensity exercise (long distance running, biking etc.) tend to be thin, less muscular and have an overall less well-rounded physique. You can type “endurance athlete” into Google images if you like. While I tend to appreciate both types of fitness activity and both types of physique I admit, that sprinter’s physiques look more like what my idea of a fit body image is. So if you desire a body that is functional, strong, powerful, lean and vibrant, get to sprinting!
2. Reduce Grains and Dairy – luckily this tip is starting to take root and become more accepted in the fitness world. Bottom line; our bodies were not designed to ingest grain products nor dairy from non-human animals. Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, any milk other than human milk was designed for the babies of that species, not for you and I. While human milk was designed for us to drink, even it was only meant to be ingested during infancy. Once we can eat, chew and handle our own food we are meant to eat the phenomenally nourishing things the earth provides us naturally. Grains exist in great amounts because our starving ancestors way back in the day figured out that growing some wheat, rye or oats and carrying it around in a sack was a lot easier than chasing down a rabbit or rooting around for walnuts during a snow storm. Luckily we aren’t so hard-up for nourishment these days. If you are a starving mess, then by all means, load up on the milk and bread. Heck, if you’re truly starving, eat anything you can find! But if fitness is your goal and not simply surviving, then cut back on the grains and dairy. They are hard on the body, they are not easily digested, many are addictive, they tend to create inflammation and our body reacts to them by becoming bloated, sluggish and fatty. There is even evidence to show that grains (primarily wheat) may lead to verifiable brain damage and contribute to disorders like ADD, ADHD and depression. Try to stick with lean meats, fibrous vegetables, nuts, berries and melons. Things like this are what our bodies were designed to feed on, so give it a try.
3. Work with a Fitness Coach – I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Jared, this isn’t a very original tip,” but it’s one of the best tips I can give you. In my experience, less than 1% of most gym members work with a personal trainer while in excess of 60% stop coming and eventually drop their membership. You see it every January! Herds of people join the gym and shuffle toward the treadmills as if led by some primal force. After a few weeks you see fewer and fewer of the new faces and by March, it’s the same group of regulars that have always been coming. But, we know that those who work with, and continue to work with a personal trainer or fitness coach, stick to their programs, they keep coming to the gym, and eventually they develop habits that lead them toward a more fit lifestyle. Working with a fitness coach or trainer is absolutely one of the best recommendations I can make to anyone wanting to get fit. My only caution is that you choose your coach wisely. I personally hire a professional coach to oversee my entire fitness program. That’s how strongly I believe in this factor.
4. Thou Shalt Have 60 Days of Selfishness – many people fail to get fit, in part because it requires you to focus on yourself. Not just while you workout, but while you cook, while you eat and while you interact with your family and friends. If your tendency is to make everyone around you happy before taking time for yourself, I promise you your chances of achieving the fitness lifestyle are slim at best. You must learn to focus on yourself, your goals, your dreams, what you need and what will help you get fit. This means helping your spouse and kids deal with the fact that they are going to eat more broccoli this week and skip the chicken nuggets. Sometimes they are going to have to empty the dryer and fold some clothes because you are going to the gym. Your girlfriend/boyfriend is going to have to deal with the fact that on Saturday mornings you are going to go for a bike ride, so she/he can either come along or sleep late, but you are getting fit. In the end, personal fitness requires personal attention and care. If you can find ways to make yourself a priority for 60 days without letting anything or anyone else keep you from moving forward with your fitness plans, you will have a firm foundation on which to build a lifestyle you can be proud of.
So there are four (4) tips to getting fit in a hurry. Sure there are the usual tips you get from trainers not quite as cool as I, but in case you missed them, here’s a few of the generic (but true) tips to getting fit:
– reduce sugary beverages (everyone knows this by now)
– increase water intake (YAWN!)
– taper-off or reduce your carbohydrate intake as the day progresses
– get plenty of sleep and rest
– reduce processed carbohydrate sources (if you omit grains you don’t have to worry about this one)
Ok, you’ve had enough and so have I. But on a serious note, taking the four (4) tips I gave above and combining them with the things you already know and do will benefit you greatly and will take your chances of getting fit and staying fit and compound them almost instantly.
Jared Meacham, MS.Ed., CSCS.
Jared is a fitness entrepreneur, writer and recognized weight-los