It’s important to strive for what is realistic rather than idealistic. In this spirit, The Simple Life Healthy Lifestyle Plan follows five truth-based, real-world principles designed to keep you on track. These form the practical foundation of The Simple Life concept as a whole, not just regarding health:
- Knowledge is power
- Avoid extremes
- Keep it simple
- Something is better than nothing
- Take action today and every day
Principle 1: Knowledge is Power
As you read this material, you may wonder why I have taken the time to go over why to do things and not just what to do. Well, it’s because changing your life for the better long term is not about fads or quick fixes. Moreover, I have a simple philosophy when it comes to health: Knowledge is power. With correct, in-depth information, you will see that nutrition and healthy living are simple to maintain.
But what is not simple is trying to change decades of bad health decisions based on bad information. Almost every day, another article or news program promotes a means to be healthy, yet most of the information is just flat-out wrong, often dangerous, and sometimes a bit of both.
Following advice you don’t fully understand rarely results in success. Instead, new habits are most effective when you know why you are doing something. Otherwise, you’re likely to be swayed by the next fad “miracle” diet or 10-minute workout program that comes along, without really understanding how it works (or more likely, that it doesn’t).
Fad diets are often shrouded in vague pseudo-science and cheesy ads; I want you to have the truth about what you are eating and an understanding of the basics of exercise.
Principle 2: Avoid Extremes
It’s time to stop the fad madness!
Anytime I hear a phrase like “flat abs in just minutes a day!” or “lose five (or 10 or 12) pounds by the weekend!” I get really ticked off. Why? Because extreme claims may sound appealing, but they don’t work. Once again, John Q. Public is the one to pay the price. While less sexy, a slow-and-steady healthy lifestyle approach, day after day, week after week, delivers true health and wellness – year after year!
Here’s the bottom line: Any so-called health program that has you eating only one kind of “miracle” food (papaya and cabbage soup all day?), nuking something pre-packaged in a cardboard box for dinner, or paying for an expensive and complex piece of exercise equipment that an aging TV star favors is to be avoided. If it seems odd and sounds ridiculous, it is.
Extreme diet and exercise programs don’t work in the long term!
Nevertheless, just like everyone else, I have fallen victim to numerous eating and exercise fads.
One of the most vivid memories I have on the topic is of a younger version of myself waking up two or three times a night with a friend to do hundreds of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and other exercises, in addition to eating thousands of additional calories our bodies could never process. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but the results begged to differ – we just ended up fat and tired!
From such experiences I have learned a very important lesson: A fad is merely a fad for a reason, and diet and exercise fads have no basis in the continued pursuit of genuine health. Their main focus is to sell you something short-term. The purveyors of such works-for-the-moment “cures” don’t care if their product or system works for the long term or not. When the diet-trick-of-the-month doesn’t work, or stops working, guess who’s ready to sell you the next miracle product?
But removing symptoms of poor health (such as excess fat) for a limited period of time does not cut to the real concern – the need to better care for our individual health statuses! Avoiding extremes is an important part of getting there.
Principle 3: Keep it Simple
Eating should be simple. If you pick up a food product in a grocery store and it contains ingredients you can’t pronounce, or a list of ingredients so long that it takes up an entire side of the container, it’s probably a bad choice. Plus, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be recognized as food by our prehistoric ancestors.
As a culture, we have turned our concepts of eating and exercise into a confusing and overwhelming selection of products, regulations and fad diets. The government’s involvement in the creation of nutritional guidelines shows how far we’ve drifted away from the basics of proper health and nutrition.
Against this backdrop of confusion, Americans spend more time worrying about how, when and what to eat than do the people of any other country. Did you know the average supermarket is 48,745 square feet in size and contains nearly 50,000 items? If you bought one item each day, it would take you over 125 years to sample all of them. No wonder we’re confused about what to eat!
You don’t need to understand biochemistry or be a nutritionist to feel good and be healthy. This book will cover a lot of in-depth information. However, it will be as user-friendly as possible.
Because, in reality, health is simple. Think of a primitive man or woman – they just had active lives, moved steadily throughout their days, and ate whole, natural foods.
Principle 4: Something is Better than Nothing
At first, overhauling your entire lifestyle can seem daunting, especially if you have really let it get out of hand.
But here’s a thought that always bears repeating: Little changes and choices add up. When it comes to doing nothing versus doing at least something, something is always the right choice. Think of it like dropping a dollar into a piggy bank every hour of the day for years and years . . . eventually you’d have a nice nest egg.
You can always do something! Instead of bemoaning your stressful, unhealthy life, answer this question: What would it take to make a healthier choice in this situation, at this exact moment? Even if it’s only an incrementally better option, that little bit counts!
• Can’t get to the gym? Do 10 minutes of push-ups, crunches and stretches in your living room. Even a few push-ups are better than none!
• No time to cook a healthy dinner? Skip the dollar-meal fast food takeout and pick up some pre-cooked chicken and a pre-made salad at the grocery store.
• Missed breakfast? Eat some nuts and a banana in your car on the way to work (kept there for just this purpose!)
• Sit at a desk all day with an aching back? Make it a point to stand up and move around each hour – even if only for two or three minutes!
• Exhausted and haven’t seen your kids all day? Turn off the TV and catch up together on a brisk walk around the neighborhood (yes, they may complain, but try it anyway!)
When circumstances aren’t ideal, don’t assume you have no control. You always do. So instead of feeling bad that you can’t do everything, do something!
Principle 5: Take Action Today and Every Day
Look, America is full of people who want to be lean and strong and look good in a bathing suit. But, statistically, very few of us are. So what’s the difference between those that wish and those that win?
Here’s the simplest answer: Fit people take action, today and every day. Their lives are an answer to the question: What’s it going to take to stay healthy today?
Maybe that means getting up a bit earlier to get to the gym. Maybe it means having a kitchen that doesn’t get cleaned right away in order to make time for an exercise video while the kids nap. Maybe it means making a bagged lunch on Sunday night so that Monday’s midday meal is healthy and inexpensive. Fit people think like this and take action, today and every day. Small choices add up to a lifestyle that dictates long-term success. That’s the real-world truth.
So, what’s it going to take for you to be fit and healthy today? Every day? This ties into Principle 4: Something is Better Than Nothing. If you can’t get to the gym today, do some push-ups in your living room . . . today. Don’t let not getting to the gym be an excuse for doing nothing. Always ask, if I can’t do the ideal, what else can I do?
No time for a full workout today? How about taking the stairs instead of the elevator at every opportunity this week?
If you hurt your knee and can’t run, what else can you do? Besides knee-friendly swimming and cycling, you could do a few bicep curls and ab exercises in your living room while watching the news. It won’t make you an athlete, but it will help maintain fitness momentum.
Life gets hard, and healthy choices are sometimes inconvenient. Want to be lean and healthy? The secret is to make the right choices, slowly and surely, today and every day. Today’s choices matter, and are under your control, every day.
That’s the hard truth. But the good news is, once it’s a habit it gets easy. Taking action is always the key.