If you could get to a place where you never had to worry about your weight again, would you?
If you’re like 99% of the people out there, your answer is most definitely yes.
(I don’t know what goes on in the other 1% of people’s minds, but let’s just assume they exist…)
Because let’s face it: trying to be healthy and fit sucks.
Constantly thinking about how you should be exercising, denying yourself your favorite foods, counting calories… it’s no fun. This type of thinking starts to take over your life, interfers with your social engagements, and totally stresses you out.
And on top of that, it’s probably not even working.
Find your happy weight
Everyone, including you, has an ideal weight. This is the weight where you don’t have to be overly concerned about what you eat, where you have plenty of energy to do all your favorite activities, and where you feel pretty damn good in a bathing suit.
This is called your “happy weight” (yes, this is an informal term). Basically, it means that you have the right level of body fat and muscle for your body.
When you reach this weight, you’ll be healthy and strong—but not overly skinny.
If you want to start getting technical, the typical happy weight for women means you have a body fat percentage of between 18 and 24%, and for guys it’s usually between 12 and 17%.
Too much less than this and your body isn’t as strong or fit (this is why bodybuilders have an off season; they can’t stay at such a low body fat percentage all year round)—too much more and you’re overweight.
And luckily for you, you won’t have to go through any crazy diets or work out for hours at a time to reach your ideal weight.
Just follow these five steps and you’ll be on your way to building a healthy, fit lifestyle where you never, ever have to worry about your weight again.
1. Start walking everywhere
Humans were made to walk.
Unfortunately, unless you live in a big city like San Francisco or New York, or even in a smaller progressive city or town that’s made walking a priority, you probably don’t walk much.
That’s because in many places in the world (and especially in the U.S.), you don’t ever have to walk. People used to have to walk to school, work, or to get groceries—now all anyone has to do is get in their car and go.
As a result, the majority of the U.S. is overweight, everyone has sore joints and more people than ever are getting crippling diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Because as Mark Sisson says, not only does walking burn calories…
“The main reason to move slowly and frequently is to stay mobile, healthy, and alert long into old age.”
I could do an entire post on the benefits of walking, but I’ll leave that to later. Basically, you should try to incorporate walking into your daily life wherever you can. Walk to the park, walk to your local cafe, take your dog for a stroll.
Even just 30 minutes a day of walking (outside is preferable) is enough to make a huge difference.
2. Eat real food
100 years ago, there were no such thing as Kraft dinners, Twinkies and sodas.
The food people ate came straight out of a ground, off of a tree, or, for you carnivores, from a living being.
Now, I’ll admit, there were a lot of things wrong with the way society was 100 years ago. But they did one thing right: they ate real food.
That means vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, eggs and protein that hasn’t been created in a factory.
It’s a lot harder to gorge yourself on these foods than it is on bags of Doritos and boxes of cookies. When you eat the good stuff, your body can actually tell when it’s full—and let’s you know when it wants to stop.
Just try to overeat on brussels sprouts and carrots (I have)—you will get full quicker than you think, trust me. And that’ll keep you from reaching for the junk later.
As Michael Pollan famously says:
“Eat [real] food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”
3. Do your HIIT
High intensity interval training is the very best thing, aside from walking all over creation, that you can do for your health.
I could go on and on about the benefits of HIIT for days, but we’ll stick to a few here:
- It burns a shitload of calories.
- It’s really great for your cardiovascular system (i.e., your heart).
- It will get you in incredible shape in a hurry.
- It builds muscle fast.
- It increases the secretion of growth hormone—so you lose fat quicker.
- It increases endurance and builds fast-twitch muscle fibers that look great and make us move faster.
- It boosts your metabolism for up to 48 hours at a time—so you burn more calories all day long.
- HIIT is the very best thing you can do to get that happy weight you want without having to spend hours in the gym.
If you don’t know how to get started, I have tons of HIIT workouts that you can do for free, with minimal equipment, for around 12 minutes a day.
So all your excuses of “I just don’t have time!” just went out of the window.
4. Reward yourself often
Ok, this is a good one: I wholeheartedly believe that in order to get to your optimal weight and fitness level, you need to reward yourself with the things you love.
Yes, that means if you love chocolate chip cookies like I do, you shouldn’t rule them out of your diet completely (or pizza, or craft beer, or whatever else you love).
It’s true that eating like this all the time will not get you the lean, healthy body you’ve always wanted.
But ruling your favorite foods completely out of your diet will only make you bitter and more likely to gorge on them during times of weak willpower (which we all have).
The key here is to stick to small amounts of the foods you totally adore—don’t “waste” your calories on junk you’re not even excited about. Think good dark chocolate, mouthwatering cookies, a glass or two of red wine.
If you eat your favorite foods in moderation, you’ll feel happy, satisfied, and full. And when you feel like you indulge yourself often, it won’t be hard for you to eat healthy the rest of the time.
Just as a heads up, if you’re looking to get really lean—like bodybuilder lean—you’ll have to avoid these foods completely and stick to pure veggies and protein (once again, you can see why I’m not pro bodybuilder physique—it’s just no fun!).
5. Learn to cook
If you’re having trouble getting to your happy weight, it might be time to learn to cook.
Because there’s no doubt about it that one of the best ways to watch what you eat is to make it yourself.
Once you start to see how much butter, oil and cheese goes into some of your very favorite foods, you’ll begin to realize why you’re not making the progress you want.
And not only will learning to cook trim your waistline, you’ll start to develop a different relationship with food when you make what’s going in to your own body.
When you put together a meal from scratch, you’re more connected to it than when you make something from a box. And rather than seeing food as the enemy, you’ll see it as fuel and nourishment for your body.
Not sure where to start?
There’s obviously a gazillion cookbooks out there, and you can choose one based on your tastes.
Or, if you want to learn to be an awesome cook in the shortest amount of time possible, I’d definitely recommend you check out Tim Ferris’ new book, “The 4-Hour Chef.”
Though as of the time of this post, it’s not quite out yet, if his past two books are any indication it’s going to be a bestseller and certainly will have the potential of how you look at cooking forever. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
It’s not as hard as you think
Reaching a place where you don’t have to think about it your weight isn’t as hard as you think.
If you take these steps detailed above, and more importantly, stick with them—you’ll be well on your way to a lean, healthy body and lifestyle.
And once you get there, you won’t want to go back to your old ways. Trust me. I’ve been there.
So good luck on your journey. I believe in you.
And most of all, have some fun along the way.
Image credit: © Felixcasio