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5 Ways to Make Health and Fitness “Easy”

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How to “change” is an area that (like nutrition and exercise) is riddled with myths. One of the biggest myths is that “falling off the wagon” when life is stressful is a character flaw. Nonsense. Trying to rely on willpower to change is a recipe for failure especially when it comes to getting and keeping the body you want.

Here’s a pretty typical start to “falling off the wagon”:

7 a.m.: wake up, skip breakfast because there’s nothing to eat at home; or whatever you have just seems gross or hard to make

– 10 a.m.: hungry, sitting in a meeting.

– 10: 01 a.m.: There are delicious pastries on a tray directly in front of you on the conference table.

– 10:02 a.m.: You are now in a fight with yourself – it’s willpower vs. your stomach.

– 10: 15 a.m.: If you are virtuous and well rested, and not already stressed out, then willpower might win. But you’ve just spent some of your precious willpower that you will need later.

Noon: crazy day at work. Can’t go for lunch. Work orders lunch for you.

12:20 p.m.: You’re ravenous. Pizza is ordered because whoever is in charge of ordering food at work wants to turn everyone into fat sloths.

12: 21 p.m.: You’re out of willpower, and cave into the siren song of the pizza. Disgusted with yourself for eating the pizza you inhale a bowl M&M’s because “it just doesn’t matter anymore… if only I were a better person”

The key to winning in the above is not “being a better person,” it’s having better strategies in place so you don’t get into this situation in the first place. Strategy trumps willpower, and these are the top five strategies for making getting and keeping the body you want “easy.” (“Easy success” does not exist. Strategy is relatively easy, that is strategy makes success possible.)

1. Have a stash

No matter how well-prepared you are, you will inevitably end up very hungry with nothing remotely healthy available and all kinds of junk food tempting you. The key to this is having a stash of some kind of non-perishable healthy snack at work and/or in your purse just in case. In my office I have a bag of almonds in my filing cabinet, and they’ve saved the day more than once. The things that seem to work best for most people are nuts or ready-to-drink protein shakes.

2. Go grocery shopping the same day every week

This one simple discipline will get you out of nutrition-trouble every day of the week. Without this, you’re virtually guaranteed to end up ordering pizza or getting fast food on the way home at the end of an exhausting day because you think, “Ugh! I don’t have anything at home, and I am sooo tired and sooo hungry.”

Having your shopping day on the same day of the week helps it to be automatic and you can do it without really thinking about it. My wife and/or I do it on the way home from work on Saturday.

3. Standby

You need one to two meals you can make at home that are nutritionally compliant and easy to make. One of my favorites is eggs and spinach with cheese. I’ve always got eggs and I’ve always got spinach at home. So, when I forget to cook for the week or when it’s Tuesday and I’ve already eaten all the prepared meals in the fridge, I can still have something tasty, healthy and easy that I can make after a 16 hour day.

4. Make it a date

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. We all intend to work out, but when and where are you going to do it? It’s only real if it’s in writing or pixels. In your head it doesn’t count – your brain can only hold five to nine pieces of information at a time. Have appointments with the time, date and place makes you 2-300 percent more likely to do it.

5. Get bulky

You’ve heard this before I’m sure, but hearing isn’t doing. Cook one to two big batches of something that is healthy and tasty that keeps. (Fish and shellfish tend not to keep for more than two days.) Generally, to keep from getting bored, change it every week or so. You can rotate a handful of recipes so you don’t wind up with a container full of food you are sick of. You tend not to get sick of the same handful of recipes if you rotate them.

Having healthy food that is already done and only needs to be reheated in your fridge when you get home from work is really, really nice, and takes a lot of the stress out of compliance.

Strategy trumps willpower. If you rely on willpower to change your body, you’ll probably fall off the wagon at the next stressful life-event/change. But, if you use your willpower to build habits (that starts as strategies) into your life, stress won’t derail you (or at least will only set you back a bit). It’s not just about getting results, ultimately it is about keeping them.


@2012, Josef Brandenburg. Josef Brandenburg is a Washington, D.C.-area certified fitness expert with 11 years of experience. In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training fitness program, which specializes in weight loss and body transformations for busy people. Read more about The Body You Want at www.josefbrandenburg.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services


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One response to “5 Ways to Make Health and Fitness “Easy””

  1. richard mchenry says:

    EGGS..you are kidding me! Workout..?try high intensity training. I am 70, had a HA, took statins, which I now regret because of permanent leg muscle pain, I now eat a plant based diet. It is my belief that the supplement business is made possible, in part, because of deadly eating habits.