Forever Young: 5 Tips for Improving Your Lifestyle Before It’s Too Late
Howdy, you might know me as the guy who wrote such memorable post as From Elegant to Elephant: When Your Woman Gains Weight and the remix When the Woman You Love Gains Weight. When you write post with titles like these, you kinda sorta have to put your money – or weight, as the case may be – where your mouth is.
Let me warn the younger readers right now while you still have a chance to save yourselves: thirty is not the new 20. I don’t know who started that vicious rumor, but it is NOT true. I went into my 30s thinking it was the new 20s, and therefore, I wouldn’t have to make any major changes to my normal routine because I would simply be reliving my 20s all over again – except with more money and wisdom.
There are any number of differences (and horror stories) I could traumatize you with about your 30s, but today I’ll focus on some changes you should make to your eating habits and gym routine if you want your 30s to remotely mirror your 20s. If you’re over 30, hopefully you’re already doing these things, and if you’re under 30, hopefully you’ll learn from my mistakes.
Diets Are for Teenagers
When you’re in your teens and early 20s, you can diet all you want. I personally think diets are pointless and stupid, but I recognize they serve a purpose. Diets are like the Tyler Perry’s of the health & fitness world. I don’t care for them, but I assume – given their popularity – that they must do some good for some people. That said, if you’re in your late 20s or older, give up dieting immediately!
In this age group, you can no longer “diet.” Diets are temporary solutions. When you hit your mid 20s or later you need to make lifestyle changes if you want to see any lasting impact on your health or waistline. I don’t care who you are, your metabolism – if it hasn’t already – will slow down. I’m a naturally slim guy, so like most idiots, I assumed I would be the exception to the rule and that my fast metabolism would be a personal gift from God that would never abandon me.
FALSE! AND YOU WILL BE NO DIFFERENT MY FRIEND!
Tip: Start making lifestyle changes as soon as possible. Lifestyle changes are sacrifices. Unlike diets, which are temporary solutions to permanent problems, sacrifices entail giving something up for good. For example, I “gave up” smoking, drinking sodas, fruit juices that aren’t 100%, and fast food. I put “gave up” in quotes, because this isn’t a punishment; however, whatever you give up should become the rules not the exception. You’re only hurting yourself by continuing to eat and do things you don’t need a doctor to tell you is bad for you. The longer you wait, the more time it has to do damage. Stop making excuses and living on fad diets. Give up your vices today, and your future-self will thank you.
“Skinny Fat” People Are Not Healthier
By the time I came across a health article on Skinny Fat, I was already in the midst of attempting to get back into shape. Skinny fat is defined as, “excessive belly fat—and relatively little muscle mass… [or] … ‘normal weight obesity,’ this type of build is linked to increased risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease, the leading killer of Americans.”
Most people assume if they’re slim or skinny, then they must be in shape. This is a hugely inaccurate assumption. The fact is you can be skinny/slim and be out of shape or you can be big/husky and in shape. Although I fell into the earlier category, I was getting more and more out of shape and I wasn’t doing anything about it.
Tips: Like most things, the easiest way to get into shape is to never get out of shape. That’s not realistic for most people. Most of us need a wake-up call before we’ll make the necessary changes. If you’re not in shape or you’re not in the shape you want to be: 1) start SOMEWHERE, anywhere. This couple lost a combined 500lbs in two years by doing something amazing…WALKING. 2) If you’re already working out, but not getting the results you want, DIVERSIFY YOUR WORKOUT. It sounds simple, but I got amazing results by simply adding to and diversifying the workouts I was already doing.
I was going to the gym 5-days a week but I wasn’t getting a real workout. I was doing the same thing boring workouts I’ve been doing the past 10 years, and I never sweat. Now I change up my routines every 4 to 8 weeks, use varying sets to create muscle confusion (think P90X and Insanity, both of which I’ve used intermittently), and if I don’t sweat I don’t consider it a real work out.
Click over to the next page for more tips and my own “before and after” photo.
Know Your Body Type
Look at the pictures above and see where you fall or where you want to fall. Honestly, most of us see what we want to see – this is human nature. If you want a more realistic representation, use your own personal photos. Look at a photo of yourself from five (or if you’re really brave, 10 years ago) and compare it to a photo of yourself from today. If there’s no difference, congratulations you’re a superhero! If there’s a difference, especially a huge difference you don’t like, then you need to make a change.
Tips: A goal without a plan/timeline is nothing more than a dream. It’s easy to talk about what you want to accomplish. The hard part is actually accomplishing it. I like using abstract, objective goals like old photos or ideal (healthy, reasonable) weight. Groups of friends are cool, IF THEY’RE DEDICATED, but strangers are usually better. When a friend(s) falls off, it’s only natural that they’ll want to drag you down with them. It’s not because they don’t want you to succeed; it’s because they don’t want to accept the fact that they failed by themselves. If your friends want to join you, that’s fine, but if they stop that’s not an excuse for you to quit as well. This is why strangers (on-line groups, forums, or gym classes, etc) are better because you don’t have an emotional tie to their success or failure, but you still get the benefit of feeding from “group think” and group success.
Excuse Your Excuses
“I don’t have time.”
“I don’t have the money.”
“I have kids.”
“But what about my hair…”
*insert a 1000 other excuses you’ve made up here*
Look, you don’t have to BS me. I’m a stranger on the Internet. I’d honestly respect people more if they simply admitted, “I don’t like working out, it’s not a priority for me, and I choose not to make time for it.” But, for the sake of argument, I’ll refute the excuses I hear the most…
Time – At minimum, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends adults aged 18 – 64 get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Where I come from, there are 7-days in a week, which means you need to work out an amazing amount of…20 minutes a day. Unless you’re Barack or Michelle Obama, you can spare 20-minutes a day, and even if you can’t, multitask! A novel idea, do a quick aerobic workout while you’re doing something else, namely watching TV, playing on Twitter or Facebook or while reading long @ss blogs on improving your healthy lifestyle.
Money – I’d like to introduce you to something, Google.com. Also, a lot of those social media websites you waste time on have hundreds of thousands of people dedicated to health and fitness and helping others live a healthy, fit lifestyle. Try simple searches on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using #Fitness, #Health, and #FitSpo to get you started. Also, the NATIONAL GUARD released a FREE ‘Soldiers of Steel’ workout inspired by the new Superman movie and Men’s Health released the workout to the popular 300 movie franchise – complete with instructions, pictures and videos. There is literally no limit to the amount of FREE material out there regarding health and fitness. This essentially makes this one of the dumbest excuses on Earth.
Kids – If you can’t get your kids to sit still for 20 minutes, there might be a bigger problem, but frankly, this excuse only works for those out there with newborns, quintuplets, and maybe kids under three. Once your child is old enough to understand English, stop using them as an excuse for not doing something you don’t want to do anyway. Explain to your kid that you’re going to do something that will prevent you from dying too soon and will only take 20-minutes. If people can train a dog to pee outside, I’m pretty sure you can train a fully functional kid to let you do a 20-minute workout. We can argue about this but really all you’ll be proving is how much you underestimate yourself and your child.
Hair – Ok, this one honestly has me stomped. I don’t think it’s a good excuse but I do recognize sweat and just done hair don’t mix. That said, if your hair is more important to you than your health, that’s your choice to make. You might pass away before your time, but at least you’ll have a good head of hair when you do.
Eighty Percent Diet!
This topic is last for a reason.
If you gain nothing else from this post or change nothing about your lifestyle, please recognize that any positive change you make is 80 percent diet and 20 percent workout. At least improve your dietary habits! I respect everyone’s right to have their own opinions, but I HATE when people provide all these excuses for why they can’t work out when the biggest culprit is usually not how much or how little they work out more than it is the fact that they eat anything and everything they can get their hands on.
I’m not here to prescribe a diet to you. If you’ve been reading, you know how I feel about diets anyway. However, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that greasy foods and fast food over fruits and vegetables and home cooked (or healthily cooked) meals is not the better option. In order to be better, you have to do better, but only you can make that change for yourself and your family. I hope it’s a choice you decide to make sooner rather than later.
Below, I’ve shared a “before and after” photo from my own health and fitness journey from my Instagram account. I didn’t do anything major – when it came to diet, I gave up a few vices and I picked up a few good habits. I used to eat out or microwaveable meals almost every day; I gave that up completely. I make most meals from home and basically use common sense to determine what I should and should not eat, which generally includes avoiding all fast food chains that aren’t salad or sandwich shops. More importantly for me, when I work out, I work out.
I want to be clear, I’m not a personal trainer. I’m not a “fitness expert.” I’m a regular guy, with regular 9 to 5 and life obligations like everyone else. I prioritized getting back into shape, I gave up the excuses, and I made it happen. It was that simple. I’m not here today to talk “down” to anyone. I’m simply hoping that if people see a regular guy like myself can do it, they’ll realize anyone can do it.
Hope this helps some-one. That’s all I ever set out to do. As long as this post is I have plenty of other information. I’m happy to answer specific questions in more detail in the comments below.