What Really Works (part 1)

After 7 Years In Health & Fitness, The One Question That People Keep Asking Me Is…

Having been “the fitness guy” since before the turn of the century, and having been a fitness coach since 2006, I’ve received a lot of questions over the years about how to get in shape. Most of the time, it appears that someone is either looking for a quick tip in the form of free advice and/or they’re just being nice and starting some small talk. I’m ok with it either way. But once in awhile, I get a question that catches me totally off-guard by someone who is dead serious and wants to know the truth.

It has been asked in many different ways by many different people – directly or indirectly – but the root question is always the same. People want to know what really works when it comes to improving their health and fitness. What actually works when it comes to fat loss? What actually works when it comes to getting lean, ripped, and stronger? What is the real deal? These are the same people who likely drink their coffee black, their whiskey straight, and their green tea with organic lemon and raw honey. They want it raw and uncensored.

This catch me off-guard because most people just don’t ask questions like that. The truth is that most people are looking for a quick, bite-sized tip to implement into their day to day life that will make all their hopes and dreams a reality. Of course, you and I both know they’re asking the wrong questions.

So, how do I answer the question of “what really works?” Well, I don’t think I’ve ever answered it the same way twice. It’s always a different response and resulting discussion for each individual, but the over-arching theme is usually the same.

I usually explain that our health and fitness is largely a by-product of our cumulative day-to-day habits and lifestyle choices – that past and present habits are what create the body’s we have today. And if we want to change our bodies, then we’ll have to change our habits and lifestyle choices to reflect the needed stimulus for our body’s to adapt.

If you want to change everything about your body, then you’re going to have to change everything about your life.

An important point to remember is that, for the vast majority of people, it very rarely comes down to one or two simple changes or “hacks.” It almost always takes a total and complete overhaul of someone’s life, which obviously can seem overwhelming in the heat of the moment. And that’s why I reassure people that it can be done by anyone, but it takes patience and time. And the best way to approach a total body transformation is one step at a time – baby steps – to gradually and progressively implement the necessary changes to bring about the desired results. It cannot and will not happen overnight.

You see, humans are far too clever to trick ourselves for very long, and that’s one of the many reasons why most temporary, short-term diets don’t work. So, we must make small, incremental changes regularly to short-circuit our predisposition towards screwing things up. It could be adopting one big, new habit a month, or one little, new habit every week or two. But it must be sustainable, and you must have full faith that you can do it.

Because achieving an excellent state of health and fitness requires a variety of distinct interventions, and the best results are always obtained when the many different factors are integrated into one synergistic system for success.

Stay with me here.

If you want to be lean, ripped, stronger, and healthier, then you’ll probably have to implement a regimented physical activity plan – including a specific exercise program that will have several different methods and protocols (e.g. strength training, cardio training, injury prevention, etc.). But an exercise program is just one cog in the wheel. You’ll also need to be eating a certain way, resting and recovery a certain way, and managing your lifestyle in many other ways as well. Not to mention you’ll need to change the way you think, which is easier said than done.

And it’s only when this integration of factors starts working together that we begin to see positive, sustainable results.

The Bottom Line

And so, you see, the answer to the question of “what really works” isn’t so cut and dry. The answer that so many fitness coaches rely on is that it depends – on a lot of different factors. The actual process is extremely complex, but fortunately the solution is really quite simple – but not easy. And that’s exactly what people need to hear because it’s the truth. And like the old saying goes, the truth will set you free.

“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” – Dale Carnegie

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” ― Aldous Huxley

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” ― Mark Twain

Stay tuned for part two of What Really Works where I discuss my specific success formula that I walk my clients through – an essential component in any great physical endeavor. It’s the “better half” of what really works.

Update: Click here to read part 2.

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P.P.S. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasma/

3 Responses

  1. What really works? Taking action! Like you have quoted in the bottom line – the type of plan or program is the easy bit I feel but getting off your butt and taking action is the bit that generally leads to outstanding results.
    Looking forward to part 2!

    • Exactly, Andrew. When I complicated my workouts with adding too much of everything, I quit them in a few weeks. I was in the best shape, when I knew only basics of workout construction and I had simplest workouts possible. Good old days. Ignorance really is a bliss :)

  2. Wintanclan

    John, come on, get your facts straight: Lemon and Honey in green tea? Yuck! That’s NOT the real deal. That’s for lipton-level pussies ;)

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