Stop The Madness – Zero To Fit In 3 Steps, Part 1

3 Easy Steps To Integrate Fitness Into Any Lifestyle.

The temptation to overlook health and fitness can have negative consequences. Here are three easy steps to help bounce back after overlooking your body while building a career, providing for family and / or raising children.

The Big Picture.

Step 1, Preparation is the foundation of success

Step 2, Rethinking nutrition is key to lasting results.

Step 3 Establish a simple support system

The mind body connection is real, use it to your advantage.

(Caution – skip immediately to step 1 to avoid the rambling thoughts of the author) 
For most people their body has far greater value than their home so let’s begin by asking this question, would you spend money and energy to build an impressive house but cut corners and skip over important steps in the foundation with the full knowledge that your investment would soon need costly repairs, sucking up your cash, draining your time and even preventing you from using your home for an undetermined period of time?
Of course not, the idea is enough to make anyone feel upset but that’s exactly the type of disaster we risk in beginning a fitness journey without preparing and educating ourselves in the details.
In spite of this example the temptation remains very real to say, “Sure, training is easy I’m going to start exercising right away, it’s no big deal because I have enough will power so let’s go!” As a matter of fact you might even have a fitness program ready and the intention to follow it every day until you look like an Instagram model, yeah hold up a second there Champ. Yes you are right in so much as that you can do great things in fitness with a sold foundation and I want to be the first to applaud and support your effort but did you know that the quickest way to failure for most people is to throw themselves into an exercise routine without a thought out and balanced plan for success which is why a full 90% of all these same people with great intentions to become their fittest selves will abandon their dreams in as little as only a few months.
Have you ever seen that person on Facebook purposely jumping up and down, straining through dangerously improper technique and too heavy a weight? Why would anyone place their health in such danger for a few minor neurological changes only to end only up aggravating an existing injury or creating a new problem before abandoning in despair, it’s complete madness.
As a society we sleep too little, exercise rarely or never and overeat processed food for too long. Add to this socially encouraged fermenting, over caffeination and blind acceptance of health risks that can culminate in illnesses and worse, no wonder FB guy is frantic, he and most of society is crying out for help.
There is a sane and rewarding way of self care though fitness and nutrition, and your example can even help the people around you as you increase your positive energy and outlook on life as a healthier, fitter and more balanced person. Beginning a fitness journey is among the most selfless things that you can do, the effect of improving and maintaining your health will positively impact your family and all the people that count on you including your future self. So, even though some changes might seem like a bit of a short-term shock, you can lessen the impression of physical and psychological impediment by agreeing right now that you deserve to enjoy as much of your life as possible and that you are willing to follow a plan to reach this goal.
Now if you waited for a perfect person to share how simple it can be to turn yourself around from a downward health and wellness spiral to wellness and performance, it wouldn’t be me because I’ve been guilty of most of the above and perhaps it was even worse. After having begun a career in fitness at 19 I succumbed to my own personal version of the Superman syndrome by ignoring my body’s warnings as I tried to reconcile the excitement of a growing family, entrepreneurship and triple digit work weeks. Slowly but surely I not only ignored training and nutrition at the expense of health and happiness but ended up on an operating table for bicep tendon reattachment surgery as my reward. The initial injury wasn’t so bad but the subsequent daily instalments of time and lost opportunity during rehabilitation were a hard stop grounding experience that really sucked. In retrospect I’m very grateful as the experience was a test of my resolve and forced me to change a lot of broken things in my life which became the blessing and catalyst that brought me to rethink my concept of whole body fitness and re-immerse myself in the nutrition components that support total wellness and performance. Let me share with you now a few of the lessons I’ve learned while rebuilding my body and returning stronger with greater balance, energy and zest for life.
Moving forward lets consider the general perception of what exercise is. According to Wikipedia “Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness.[1]” Depending however on who is speaking it’s common to hear more about personal preference than what is actually right for us and because we also have individual preferences it’s common to focus on a single aspect or activity for a time. Often enough any single-minded focus can satisfy an urgently lacking need in the short term but as soon as our bodies send us the signals that we are still not alright we quickly either move on to the next best thing we hope will complete our wellness, take a break or quit. This lack of a holistic fitness foundation is a major contributor to failure for most people who regularly start /stop and abandon their fitness goals.
Most of us enjoy trying new sports and activities, even participating in multiple sports, i.e; mountain biking in the summer and skiing in the winter (that’s me by the way). If you really want to get the most out of everything you do sport or not, you’re going to need a go-to health and fitness system that supports your goals.
A successful fitness system begins with #1, a balanced and motivating physical preparation that creates positive reinforcement, #2, improves your nutrition and #3, culminates in a progressive and often multi-phased physical training program. Although the concept is presented as a how to guide for entering into a fitness program from low or complete inactivity, the 3 steps we’ll discuss are designed to assist in encouraging the adoption of a healthy fitness lifestyle that will benefit the casual fitness enthusiast and professional athlete alike as the system provides an easily adapted framework capable of scaling with changing performance demands.
While it’s normal to think the primary benefit of physical exercise is physical, the following 3 steps are also powerful tool in the maintenance of mental health. To be clear I’m not suggesting exercise is the one magic cure of all mental health issues for everyone but, studies show people think and perform at a higher cognitive levels and with greater emotional stability when following a regular workout. From personal experience and working with all types of people who have increased their focus after beginning a progressive return to physical activity after an extended period of inactivity, I definitely agree.
Below are the steps I have found to be the safest, sanest and most rewarding while leveraging the power of whole fitness to feel better and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

Step 1: Preparation

As a beginner, good preparation to integrate fitness into your lifestyle cannot be understated. Both the visual changes in body composition including fat reduction, firmer muscles and strength increases come as a result of all the body’s systems working together in reaction to training and you’ll want to activate everything properly before pushing any limits.

For most people the beginning is as simple as dedicating a 30 minute time slot each day, putting on running shoes (or boots depending on your climate) and taking a five-minute walk to the corner. On the return home you might practice a few box breathing repetitions, enjoy a quick stretch before taking off your running shoes and gifting yourself back any remaining time in your 30 minute slot. Is this a small step, absolutely but it’s important because one of you’re really important goals in starting off is to creating a simple and satisfying habit where you get to rack up a few easy wins.

I know there will be a temptation to ring your hands in exasperation saying no… I’m ready for more right now but trust the system. Pretty much everyone who has been sedentary for any extended period will benefit from racking up a few easy wins as you prime your body and release endorphins you will be reinforcing your decision and desire to get fit. For those of you who are already active in different ways your proverbial walk to the corner might resemble something more like a 20-minute bike ride or other activity but the important thing to keep in mind is not what for how much you do but rather that you are developing and important fitness habit without punishing your body.

The simple act of carving out a specific time in your day used to improve your health is a win and completing these initial goals without tearing yourself down encourages your body and mind to naturally yearn for more which is a great big win. Although your training preparation phase should be easy by design you’ll begin experiencing an increased sense of satisfaction and well-being as you wake up your central nervous system and begin to activate your adrenal and endorphin functions that are invaluable in naturally maintaining you new healthier mindset and lifestyle.

Social support is also important. It’s not always easy to find a workout buddy particularly during a lockdown like Covid but you can usually always find an accountability partner. This should be somebody who will encourage you as you check in with them daily to share your experience and success. Choose someone who will care or at least be interested enough to follow up with you if you forget to check-in when you’re supposed to. This could be anyone from close family, a work colleague or perhaps a friend you just don’t seem to connect with often enough.

Step 2: Nutrition (overview from part 2)

If you are serious about energy and stamina during training, recovery after training and wellbeing beyond fitness this segment is for you.

A good nutrition plan does not need to be complicated but ignoring our body’s nutritional needs is an impediment to success. In contrast learning to apply sound nutritional principals increases health, performance and wellbeing in and out of an exercise program.

Did you know that nutrition is where abdominals are either showcase or buried?

Step 3: Training (overview of part 3)

If preparation and nutrition are the unsung hero’s in the beginner’s arsenal, the actual training is where many people will find the most fun as you experience and enjoy the improvements in your performance as you learn to increase the intensity of your workouts.

What do I do first? How long should I train? When should I change programs?

Learn the power of beginning slowly and finishing strong, build the fitness program that’s right for you.

Now that you have an overview of the process remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. The naturally gifted hare stopping often throughout the race because of overconfidence in his abilities. His old belief failed him when the tortoise who was following a simple but well planned system beat him to the finish line. Whether you are more like the a tortoise or a hare, following this 3 step system that will carry you to your own finish line faster and with less stress which in my opinion is the best way to succeed in advancing  from sedentary or minimal activity into a long lasting and satisfying fitness plan.

See you in the next part of the series as we dive deeper into Nutrition, and it’s important role in you’re own fitness journey. Until then we hope you enjoy exploring and applying the preparatory guidance presented and continuing moving forward into long lasting health and fitness.

Neil D