Monday, October 29, 2012

Keeping Fitness Simple

It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're trying to live a healthy life and make the right decisions, but fitness doesn't have to be complicated. I think most people will have greater success with their goals if they keep it simple. Here are 4 basic guidelines to keep in mind as you are trying to live a healthier life.

1) Don't stress out over the latest studies you hear about on the news. In the past I would get confused and frustrated with all the conflicting information out there. It seemed that even the "experts" couldn't agree with each other on many health and fitness topics. I try not to have a knee-jerk reaction anymore when I hear about the most recent findings from the latest scientific study. Remember the guy on the twinkie diet last year who lost weight? The media loves reporting stuff like that, even though it is not beneficial to anyone. Some people will change their plans each time they hear about a new finding. Instead of always trying to adapt to the most recent news or trends, just use some common sense and be consistent with your efforts.

2) There is no single exercise program or diet that is the best for everyone. There are many disciplines and philosophies when it comes to exercise and nutrition. Even though many of us might love something and believe that it is the "one supreme program to rule them all", this may not be the case. Each of these unique systems have helped people get results and they all have their poster child who swears by it. When your life has been changed by a particular eating philosophy or workout routine it's hard not to be excited and want to tell everyone else that is what they need to be doing, but what works for one person may not work for someone else. This means you really need to customize your program according to YOUR goals, preferences, and abilities if you are going to stick with it and be successful.

3) Eat more whole foods in their natural state. Avoid highly processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, preservatives, and calories. I'm not a vegetarian, but I am moving closer in that direction with time. I believe the masses would be much healthier if they just ate more whole foods in their natural state and consumed less processed foods. A quick way to tell if you are eating processed foods is by looking at the ingredients. A food is highly processed if 1) there are more than 10 ingredients, 2) you can't pronounce half of them, 3) it sounds like you are reading a chemistry book rather than reading a food label.

When it comes to nutrition, I love reminding people of the simple concepts: balance, variety, and moderation. Applying these principles not only to your diet but also in your life can help you avoid extremes and keep you grounded.

4) Increase your physical activity. Exercise provides so many benefits and helps you feel great, but many people are missing out on this, since we live in such a sedentary society. Look for ways to use your body and keep it active. Exercise should be fun, not a punishment. Find something you love doing in order to stay active.

These four guidelines might sound vague or too simple, but little things can make a big difference over time and simplifying things can also keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Take a look at your lifestyle and identify a couple simple things that you could do to improve the quality of your life.

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