‘Keep it Simple Stupid’
A little harsh maybe? It’s the KISS principle (the acronym spells KISS) which originates from the world of computer programmers and was first used at the end of the seventies by mathematician and computer scientist Edsger Wybe Dijkstra. Since then it has been widely adopted in business practice and is generally taken to mean that the simplest solution should be taken in any given situation (for example in planning, marketing and development). What if we adopted those principles into our personal lives though?
So many of the clients I have seen across my career as a personal trainer have come with aspirations to look a certain way or be a certain size and that is the driving factor for them…now don’t get me wrong, having a goal is imperative because otherwise, how do you know if you’re succeeding and where does your motivation come from? My question though, is always this: if you balance your nutrition and calorific intake sufficiently to properly nourish your body, if you train enough to prevent disease as much as possible and if you are strong enough to resist injury and you are HEALTHY…what else is there? Now that’s not to say that if your goal is to run the Brighton Marathon (or any other marathon for that matter) that you should abandon that because of course there are goals beyond just being fit and healthy that we can and should strive for if we want to, but if your goal is to look like Kim Kardashian or Jane Fonda, ask yourself why?! You can bet your bottom dollar that they have both spent a lot of money on looking that way (and had a little help along the way in one way or another!) and that they work exceedingly hard at it. The problem is that they, and other celebrities like them are presented to us with the idea that we should all look like them…but the thing is, we are never going to look like Jane Fonda because we are in fact not Jane Fonda! If we all could set our goals towards being the best version of ourselves, I imagine we could all feel a lot happier in our own skin and life would be much simpler.
I am often asked ‘what’s the best diet to follow?’ and my answer is always; a healthy one that works for you and your body! There are so many companies and individuals out there ready to make a quick buck by promising fast results, and most of the time they will deliver results but at what cost. A meal replacement scheme usually restricts calories in a drastic way causing fast results by putting your body into a huge deficit and others advise cutting certain food groups all together but the likelihood of the weight staying off is almost zero because in order to make lasting changes to your body you need to make lasting and sustainable changes to your diet. My advice is to make small changes one at a time. Aim to eat as naturally as possible – i.e. fruits, vegetables, things that can be sourced naturally. Cook from scratch where possible so you know exactly what’s going into your body and eat things that you enjoy (there are tasty healthy foods out there!). Keep a food diary so you can see in black and white what your daily intake consists of and up your water intake. It will help with so much more than weight loss – clearer skin, more energy, clearer mind…the list goes on.
Similarly, people ask for the very best workout on the market. In my opinion, you can’t beat the basics. In terms of a gym workout, and particularly if you are new to the gym, keep it simple and learn the basic movement patterns to work all the major muscle groups (any gym instructor will be able to take you through these) and do enough cardiovascular exercise to look after your heart and help prevent diseases. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that we do 20 – 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3 times per week and that can be in the gym or otherwise. It can be anything from playing a game of tennis (Wimbledon always inspires me!), going for a run, doing a dance class or just going for a brisk walk. As long as you get your heart and breathing rate up, it counts! If you don’t enjoy the gym….don’t go!! It really is as simple as that! Find a class you enjoy instead, find an instructor that you love who is encouraging and educational and you’re on to a winner. There really is no ‘one size fits all’ to getting fit. If you find something you enjoy, do that. You’re much more likely to stick to it and that’s the part that produces lasting results!
The last piece of advice I have is to PLAN AHEAD! If you can plan out what your meals will be for the week and do your food shopping to correlate to that then eating healthily becomes instantly easier. You might even choose to do a batch cook and freeze things so you always have a healthy option. Diarise your workouts and for the first little while, don’t think, just do! Pretty soon it will feel like a habit and you won’t have to work so hard to convince yourself to go. You might even start to look forward to it! Remember people: Failing to plan is planning to fail!
In summary then, plan ahead, eat simple natural foods, cook from scratch where possible, find a workout that you enjoy doing and stick to it and start with the basics, always!