I know you’re a busy individual.
You don’t have spare time and energy to waste on things that are not doing anything to take you towards your goals. That’s why I’m here to tell you that many things that you’re probably worried about don’t really matter.
If you take care of the fundamentals, the rest of the pieces will fall in place on their own.
Jim Rohn said:
Don’t major in minor things.
In the 21st century, we live in a world of abundant information.
And most of the information available to us is irrelevant.
The problem we face is the opposite of the one faced by our parents, our grandparents, our forefathers.
In the old days if someone wanted to learn a new skill or pursue a goal, they did not have access to resources and information that would give them more clarity regarding what needs to be done.
But today we have access to all kinds of information.
But as time passes, this information database is getting filled with more and more clutter. And it becomes increasingly difficult to filter the signal from the noise.
That’s why you see so many different kinds of dieting ideologies—
“You should do keto.” or “You should follow the carnivore diet.”
Paleo. Cutting out carbs. No refined foods. No white foods.
And then there are the exercise ideologies— CrossFit. Zumba. Yoga.
Different categories of yoga! Weight loss yoga, hot yoga.
People are coming up with different things just for the sake of it.
And all it’s doing is adding more to the prevailing clutter and confusion.
You may also like: Coping With Stress and Fatigue During a Weight Loss Phase
Don’t major in the minors.
Because if you major in the minors, you won’t move forward. You won’t make progress. And you’ll waste a lot of time and energy doing things that you don’t need to be doing.
I have been greatly influenced by philosophies of Bruce Lee and Steve Jobs— both of them proponents of minimalist thinking i.e., the idea that in order to achieve superior results, most times you don’t need to add more things into the system.
You need to in fact, take away things which are unnecessary. Bruce Lee is famously known to have quoted:
It is not the daily increase, but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.
Find what is unessential and remove that to make your systems more efficient.
If you have read Bruce Lee’s biography, you would know from his life story that when he came into the martial arts scene, the incumbents were not very pleased. Because he was opposed to the unnecessary flair in movements of the traditional martial artists. And he was against a lot of the things that were being promoted by traditional masters.
He was of the opinion that many of the moves were just for show and had no utility to the fighter. So he simplified his system into the bare-bones fundamentals. Every move he made had a purpose.
You too should strive to keep your systems lean and efficient.
This is the same reason why people are fans of Apple products. Steve Jobs said:
Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
This is why people love iPhones and iPads. Because the design is so simple. Even if you hand an Apple device to someone who has never used technology in their life. They would still have a fair idea of how to use it, how to open an app and play a game.
It is intuitive. This cannot happen if there’s a lot of clutter.
How are martial arts, iPhones and weight loss related you may ask.
The underlying philosophy of minimalism is a first principle.
Simplicity works no matter the domain.
It’s when you try to complicate things unnecessarily that you get confused. You end up not making progress and waste a lot of time and energy.
The fundamental principle when it comes to weight loss is if you’re eating less energy than what you’re expending.
Are you eating less energy in terms of calories (calories are a unit of energy)? If you’re eating less calories than what your body needs, you will lose weight.
This can be achieved by reducing portion sizes of your current meals. So you could be eating exactly what you’re eating right now. But if you just reduced the portion sizes, you will lose weight.
You could also follow some kind of restrictive diet like a keto diet, where you eliminate a food group completely. Not recommended.
But you’d still lose weight, provided you’re eating less calories than what your body needs.
You could stop eating entirely and you’ll lose weight. And this, I don’t even have to tell you. If you go look into the history books for incidents of famine, where people just ran out of food. And look at photographs from that time period, you’d see that people just shrunk; their skeletons were visible, their ribs were visible.
You would not find an obese person in such a situation because when your body runs out of food to eat. It taps into the stored energy reserves for survival.
That means that you will lose weight. But this is not something that you should experiment with. Don’t quit eating itself.
My point here being that if you internalize this fundamental principle— that you need to be eating less calories than what your body needs in order to lose weight. You would not go hunting for magical diets.
Any diet that gets you results will follow this law.
You may also like: Weekend Weight Gain— Will a Weekend of Bad Eating Ruin Your Diet?
The only way you can make weight loss sustainable for yourself is to figure out a dietary pattern that compliments your current lifestyle.
If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you need to find a diet which is not drastically different from whatever you’re used to eating currently.
You cannot become a carnivore who eats only meat, overnight.
Whenever you’re starting a diet, ask yourself:
“Is this something that I can adhere to for the next 15 years?”
If the answer is ‘No’, don’t do it.
You don’t need a magical diet to lose weight. All it requires is reducing your current energy consumption and increasing your energy expenditure.
Energy in vs energy out.
How do you increase energy output?
It isn’t by doing tons of cardio at the gym.
Contrary to popular belief, exercise isn’t a great tool for burning calories. One hour of intense cardio is not the best way to expend energy.
A better way is to make sure that you’re moving throughout the day.
Exercise is a minor factor when it comes to energy output. It is what you do throughout the day for the remainder of 23 hours outside the gym. That is what determines if you’re going to be losing weight.
If you’re a sedentary individual and don’t move at all besides during your gym hours. It’ll be hard for you to lose weight unless you drop your food intake very low (which will be unhealthy).
So it’s a fine balance between how much you reduce your calorie intake and how much you can increase your energy expenditure.
You may also like: How to Lose Weight While Traveling for Work
To increase energy expenditure, the best tool for you is to start tracking your daily steps.
Get a step tracker and set a daily goal of 5000 steps to start if you’re sedentary currently.
You can work your way up to 10,000 or even 15,000 steps a day.
There is research to show that your risk of mortality i.e., your risk of disease from being too sedentary reduces drastically when you start walking 8000 steps a day.
It’s a win-win situation. You’re losing weight. At the same time you’re also improving your health and general wellbeing.
So do things to focus on energy input and energy output. Keep it simple.
You also need to ensure that you don’t suffer from any deficiencies.
When you’re trying to eat less food, usually you would cut down on foods which are not nourishing for your body. This does not have to be complicated.
You don’t have to go hunting for a super-food (which again is just marketing lingo for nutrient-dense foods).
It is as simple as eating more vegetables, making sure you’re incorporating all kinds of food groups. That you’re not restricting yourself from eating grains, dairy, carbs, etc.
If you restrict yourself from eating foods from a certain food group, you’d have to rely on supplementation to make sure that you are not deficient in the minerals and vitamins that come from that specific group.
So as long as you’re eating a varied diet and not eliminating any kind of food groups, you’ll be good. Make sure you’re eating enough vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein and fats in sufficient quantity every day.
That would ensure you have a well-rounded diet.
All of this should also follow the principle of ‘energy in vs energy out’ like we talked of earlier.
You may also like: All about protein: what, when, why, how much…and more.
Next is making sure that you’re getting in 2-3 weekly weight-training sessions.
Lifting weights at the gym is essential because when you’re trying to lose weight, what you actually mean is you want to lose body fat.
You don’t want to lose muscle mass. You have to lose only the excess fat so that when you finally lean down, you look toned. That way you’ll end up with the beach-body look that you want.
If you have no muscle, then once you’ve lost the fat. All that will be remaining are skin and bones. You don’t want that.
All you have to do is pick 2-3 days a week. And perform some kind of full-body weight-training routine.
I have a free training program that you can use.
Or you can follow any other training program.
There is really nothing else. As long as you’re eating a well-balanced diet, you’re exercising portion control and making sure you’re eating less calories than what you’re burning. And you are weight-training at the gym 2-3 times a week.
And most importantly, you’re doing this consistently for a long period of time. You will see results.
Consistency is the prime determinant of success.
You could have the most optimal diet, the most optimal exercise program. But if you’re not consistent, you won’t see results.
On the other hand, someone following a sub-optimal program consistently will see great results.
Beyond this, whatever additional things you wish to do. If you want to add some kind of health supplement or you want to optimise your exercise timing, your meal frequency. These are all minor things.
And the benefits from making things more complicated here on have diminishing returns.
80% of results come from 20% of efforts.
That’s ‘Pareto Principle’. If you’re focusing on the 20% i.e., the fundamentals, you will get 80% of your results.
But if you’re instead focused on things like:
“Which is the best supplement?”
“What kind of fat-burners should I be taking?”
“Should I be eating breakfast or should I be intermittent fasting?”
“Should I be weight training 5 days a week? Or should I be doing a different split?”
Focusing on these won’t get you where you want to be.
When it comes to achieving your goals, as long as you’re doing the basics correctly, everything else comprises the minors.
So don’t major in the minors. Major in the majors.
Adding more just for the sake of it is only going to lead to frustration. If you have limited time and energy, focus on things which move the needle.
And do them consistently for a long timeframe.
And whenever you’re trying to learn something new, limit your sources. It will make sure that you don’t have a lot of noise in your brain.
It’s already difficult for us to filter signal from noise. If you’re exposing yourself constantly to a lot of new but irrelevant information (which is the case for most information out there today), you’ll just be more and more confused.
It’ll lead to paralysis by analysis. Avoid it.
If you have been trying to reach your weight loss goals for a while now, but are struggling a bit in the process.
It’s probably because of a lack of consistency, a lack of guidance or a lack of support.
If you’d like a 24×7 support system to hold your hand and guide you through the process till you get to your goals, you should consider 1-on-1 coaching with Workday Physique.